Oct 25, 2018 Updated 19 hrs To The Daily Sun,
With the midterm elections upon us, we are all acutely aware of the party lines that exist, "the blue wave"and the lack of bipartisanship on both sides of the aisle. However in New Hampshire there is another wave intensifying as it reaches communities across our state. It is for the benefit of all people. It is about democracy in its purest form. It is about bringing forth a Community Rights Amendment and it has been gaining momentum.
Communities in our state have been targeted by corporations seeking profit over protection of people and the natural environment. Whether it be energy companies wanting to trample across our state, others dumping toxic waste and poisoning our water, water extraction, industrial wind or other harms targeting communities, the people are routinely restricted as to what they are allowed to do. They are often told by lawmakers that "we're beyond their authority" or that "it is a state issue not a local issue." This is unacceptable. This should not be tolerated.
Why do large corporations possess more rights than the communities that they are doing business in?
Communities need to be able to say "no" to harmful projects and "yes" to sustainability in our state. A Community Rights Amendment would elevate the rights of communities above the claimed "rights" of corporations and the governing structures that support them. It will secure the right of local self government. It will free communities from legislative ceiling pre-emption that prevents how much you are allowed to protect the health, safety and welfare of your community.
This would not and is not intended to limit already protected state and federal rights of individuals. This is democracy that is rooted in equal rights for all and special privileges or advantages for none.
In 2018 the proposed Community Rights Amendment garnered one-third House support and will be back in 2019. I am optimistic that in the coming year the proposed amendment will gather even more support. I believe that regardless of people's political affiliation we can agree that we live in a flawed democracy which demands that change be made to secure the rights of all people.
If you would like to learn more, I encourage reader's to contact New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) by email at email@example.com or through their website at www.nhcommunityrights.org. NHCRN is a statewide, grass roots nonprofit that informs citizens and legislators about the inalienable right we have to local self government.
NHCRN Board Member
By Douglas Darrell
Posted Oct 9, 2018 at 10:06 AMUpdated Oct 9, 2018 at 10:06 AM
All people are born with inalienable rights — the right to practice one’s chosen religion, to exercise free speech, etc. These rights define our personhood and cannot be transferred from person to person; they are inherent. They are also the core of our country’s founding principles and the riveting power behind the phrase “We the People”: each person is created equal and deserves the same human and legal rights.
However, courts have dictated that corporations have the same ‘personhood.’ Their rulings have applied the rights of a single human to the conglomerate of individuals who make up a corporation. In other words, by virtue of individuals in a corporation having inalienable rights, the corporation has these same rights, even though, by definition, inalienable rights aren’t transferable.
These claimed corporate ‘rights’ were first recognized in 1886′s State of California vs. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court decision. Despite dissenting opinions, presiding Justice Waite stated that corporations “are guaranteed the property right written in the 14th Amendment.” Over the next 30 years, the 14th amendment was used less than 20 times to defend the rights of freed slaves and over 200 times to defend the property rights of corporations.
So even though corporations are man-made, they are court-recognized as having “God-given” or “Creator-given” or “DNA-given” (fill in your worldview) rights, i.e. we have given the power of individual personhood to a special class. This reality is unseemly considering that both our federal and state Bill of Rights were written for the protection of the rights of sovereign individuals, not for a special class of people (e.g. those in a corporation) who are unified in the pursuit of special privilege, which is different than rights.
Nonetheless, the recognition of corporate personhood has created special privilege that pits class against class and draws to mind the quote “a house divided against itself will fall.” Corporate personhood creates division in our country by impeding citizen sovereignty to seek public good via government that is incorporated—to quote NH Bill of Rights Article 1 — “through the consent of the governed,” meaning through the consent of individuals, not through the consent of corporations court-recognized as individuals.
This division has been sowed via authoritarianism exercised under the mantle of democracy — democracy swayed in function by corporate influence. What sounds like conspiracy theory is just the people’s lobster unknowingly boiling in the corporate ‘rights’ pot. Namely, court-appointed corporate personhood has been strengthened through subsequent court rulings like Citizen’s United and Dillon’s Rule, the latter of the two generating the function of New Hampshire’s state preemption, i.e. New Hampshire municipalities and the residents in them cannot make laws unless the state says they can.
Put another way, we don’t live free or die because despite our New Hampshire Bill of Rights declaring the unconstitutionality of it, the reality of New Hampshire residents is that corporations now have equal and even more standing than we do: 1) state preemption disallows citizens from elevating their rights above those of corporate claimed rights; 2) if citizens sue a corporation for harms its project has exacted on their community, the corporation’s project permit is recognized as an individual’s legal property, and corporate ‘personhood’ is allowed to undermine our attempt to collectively exercise individual rights in the municipalities where we live.
But New Hampshire communities have pushed back with rights-based ordinances (RBOs) based on our inalienable right to self-govern. According to New Hampshire Bill of Rights Article 10, these RBOs reform our government, rewriting our social contract with the state by providing our communities with protection when our government is not doing so for us as it says it must in NH Bill of Rights Article 2. Almost a dozen New Hampshire towns and counting have adopted these RBOs, turning off the heat on themselves in the boiling pot of claimed corporate ‘rights’ by envisioning communities in which the rights of people and ecosystems are not subjugated to the ‘rights’ of corporations and in which corporations are welcome if they are forward thinking and innovative enough to recognize the need for and rightness of this paradigm shift.
Residents up and down New Hampshire have called for a state constitutional amendment to recognize citizens’ right to self-govern for the protection of our and our ecosystems’ health, safety, and welfare. The resulting NH Community Rights Amendment earned 1/3 the NH House’s support in 2018 and will be back some time again after September’s election season. Visit http://www.nhcommunityrights.org/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
— Douglas Darrell is a New Hampshire Community Rights Network board member
Encourage your district's 2018 general election candidates to take this local choice survey!
Inform them that before voting on their candidacy, you want
to know their stance on our inherent and inalienable
right to local self-government and on the
NH Community Rights People's Amendment.
Primary Election Survey Results
In early August, NHCRN published the results of a survey sent to NH's state primary candidates running for Governor, Executive Council, and for State Representative or Senator. The survey asked them for their positions on local choice, including whether or not they will support the people of NH’s call for the NH Community Rights People's Amendment, which in 2018’s legislative season earned support from one third of NH’s House. Of the candidates who responded to the survey on local choice and the amendment, 71% said they would support the amendment, 29% that they would not.
General Election Survey
With general elections taking place this November 6th, NHCRN is sending out thislocal choice survey to NH candidates still in the running to gain positions that will afford them a deciding say on whether or not you and your fellow people of NH will get the chance to cast a vote on the people's call for the NH Community Rights People's Amendment.
Be on the look out for 2019's reintroduction of the
NH Community Rights People's Amendment
We hope to see your engagement with it at the State House and in letters to the editor!
What The Amendment Would Do
The NH Community Rights People's Amendment seeks to codify in our NH Constitution's Bill of Rights the community right to local decision-making authority regarding social and environmental issues that affect the health, safety, and well-being of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. While this right and authority is already affirmed in Articles 1, 2, 8, 10, and 32 of our NH State Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is not yet specifically recognized.
Enumerating this right to local self-government in our Bill of Rights would address an underlying NH civil rights problem in two main ways. Firstly, it would recognize that local self-determination is an inherent and unalienable right. Secondly, it would nullify corporate use of ceiling preemption and permitting bodies to override the collective will of a community to adopt local laws that expand and protect rights of people and ecosystems. Importantly, the amendment could not be used to protect local laws that restrict or weaken existing local, state, or federal rights and protections for people and natural environments.
This amendment is an ongoing topic of NHCRN educational outreach to help secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all NH inhabitants to economic, social, and environmental justice—including securing the rights of nature.
As we usher in 2019's legislative season,
please join us in welcoming NHCRN's new Legislative Coordinator, Jennifer Dube!
Jennifer is a NH native who grew up in Concord, NH's state capital. Passionate about social and environmental justice, Jennifer will assist NHCRN in the mission of advancing the
NH Community Rights People's Amendment to secure the inalienable right to local self-government for all NH inhabitants.
Thank you for your continued part in
NH's Community Rights Movement.
Michelle, Diane, Doug, Monica, Peter, and Sue
NHCRN Board of Directors
By Kathleen D. Bailey / email@example.com
Posted Oct 3, 2018 at 10:46 AMUpdated Oct 3, 2018 at 10:46 AM
EPPING -- Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria looked over a roomful of people in the Harvey-Mitchell Library Children’s Room. “Who can define what ‘community rights’ means?” she asked.
One woman said, “to protect the environment,” while a man said, “to protect whatever rights the community may have.” But one woman made it even more succinct, calling out, “it’s the right to say ‘no.’”
About 20 people crammed into the library’s main meeting space last week to learn about their rights as citizens and the rights of property, which can’t speak for itself.
The group assembled to hear what residents of the Route 101 corridor could do to stop the proposed Granite Bridge natural gas pipeline, an initiative of Liberty Utilities that would link natural gas conduits in the Merrimack Valley region with the Seacoast. The pipeline is scheduled to run along a state right-of-way through Candia, Raymond, Brentwood, Epping and Exeter, ending in Stratham. A storage tank is slated for an abandoned quarry in Epping.
Sanborn, president of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network and an organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, was the speaker. The Community Rights Network exists to educate communities and their elected officials on the need to amend the Bill of Rights to recognize and protect the rights of local communities, she explained.
According to Sanborn, those rights are an endangered species. She pointed to two recent efforts in the state Legislature. House Bill 1233 preempts all local regulation of seeds and fertilizer and became law this past August. HB 1749 is still in study and would give the state the authority to regulate or prohibit firearms and knives. “This won’t even be voted on in town meeting,” Sanborn said. “And we are the lawmakers?”
Restrictions and “punishment” are making local government irrelevant, Sanborn argued, and easy to override and ignore.
“What is town meeting for,” Sanborn asked rhetorically, noting the “purest form of democracy” is being superseded by state and federal authorities. And these, she said, are weighted toward corporations and not local needs or opinions.
“The system isn’t broken,” Sanborn said. “It’s fixed. It’s fixed against you and me.”
People can still fight within the system, Sanborn said, though it’s weighted against them. She and her group prefer to work through what she calls a rights-based ordinance.
“It’s a binding local law, passed by the voting body, that makes it illegal to harm the environment or society,” she said. “It’s the right of individuals to enact local laws protecting social and environmental health, safety and welfare.”
Several New Hampshire towns have enacted RBOs, according to Sanborn.
There’s also what she calls the “rights of nature.” She noted “ecosystems as entities have the right to exist and flourish.” A rights of nature ordinance changes the status of ecosystems from right-less to right-bearing, she said, and gives them legal standing to be protected from “unsustainable corporate exploitation.” A dozen Granite State communities are partnered with the CELDF to draft first-in-the-nation laws on the rights of nature.
Sanborn urged people living along the proposed pipeline to get organized, talk to their neighbors and decide what they want. Once a core group is formed, the CELDF is available to help it draft a rights-based ordinance, she said. It can then petition to have its local governing body adopt the RBO.
Mark Vallone, a lifelong Epping resident and intervenor for the project, urged his fellow residents to act quickly. “The awareness of what is going on is still low,” he told the group. “We need to get this into Town Meeting and generate more conversation.”
Resident Joe Perry said a local group has been formed to oppose the storage tank.
For more information, email Sanborn at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.celdf.org or www.nhcommunityrights.org.
NHCRN sent surveys to all 2018 state primary candidates for their positions on local choice, including whether or not they will support the people of New Hampshire’s call for the NH Community Rights Amendment, which earned support from 1/3 of New Hampshire’s House. (You can scroll below for the survey questions and candidates’ responses.)
44 of NH’s 2018 primary candidates responded to the survey. Below are their summarized responses ordered alphabetically by last name for State House candidates and then for State Senate candidates. If you’d like to see a particular candidate’s full response, you can click here to look it up alphabetically by the candidate’s last name.
The NH Community Rights Amendment seeks to codify in our NH Constitution's Bill of Rights the community right to local democratic decision-making authority regarding social and environmental issues that affect the health, safety, and well-being of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. While this right and authority is already supported in Articles 1, 2, 8, 10, and 32 of our N.H. State Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is not yet specifically recognized. Enumerating this right to local self-government in our Bill of Rights would address our underlying civil rights problems in two main ways. Firstly, it would recognize that local self-determination is an inherent and unalienable right. Secondly, it would nullify corporate use of state preemption and permitting bodies to override the collective will of a community to adopt local laws to protect its municipality’s people and ecosystems. Importantly, the amendment could not be used to adopt local laws attempting to restrict or weaken existing state and federal rights and protections for people.