Smart Voter
Humboldt County, CA November 3, 1998 General
Measure F
Democracy and Corporations
City of Arcata

Advisory Initiative

3193 / 60.83% Yes votes ...... 2056 / 39.17% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Infomation shown below: Arguments | Full Text
Shall the City Council: (1) co-sponsor two town hall meetings on the topic, "Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under law?" (2) create a committee to recommend the adoption of policies and programs in regard to Democracy and Corporations, and (3) forward copies of the ballot measure to all elected representatives at the county, state and federal levels, as well as to the press?  
Suggest a link related to this contest
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure F
How did it come to pass that large corporations won the right to destroy our salmon streams, poison our water and air, frame our news, interfere with our government, and influence our children? How did We The People become so powerless over these decisions and our future? We were taught that we inherited a democracy. But what we are coming to understand is that democracy requires the active participation of everyone. Unfortunately, corporations today have more rights than we do.

Our nation's founders never intended for corporations to have any of the rights they now claim. Prior to the turn of the century, most states prohibited corporations from owning other corporations, prohibited corporate political contributions (still a felony in Wisconsin until 1953), and held corporate directors and stockholders fully liable for all harms and debts.

California's leaders were equally clear about corporations. Our state's Constitution once stated that corporations were not permitted "to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the state." Unfortunately, in the late 19th century, corporate leaders began to dismantle these laws, ultimately resulting in a society where corporations control citizens rather than citizens controlling corporations.

If Arcatans reclaimed their authority over corporations doing business in our community, we could:

  • Stop corporate chain stores from bankrupting locally-owned businesses
  • Prohibit rather than simply regulate the poisoning of our water and air
  • Refuse business licenses to corporations which have a history of consistently violating environmental or labor law
  • and much more

PLEASE VOTE YES ON ADVISORY MEASURE F. Your support will begin a city wide democratic discussion (that includes YOU!) on the proper role of corporations in our community. Let's reclaim our democracy from corporations.


s/ Paul Cienfuegos
Executive Director, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County
s/ Stephan Brinkley
18-year Arcata Resident
s/ Jason Kirkpatrick
Vice-Mayor, Arcata
s/ Kevin Johnson
Co-Owner, Solutions
s/ Barbara Turner
Co-Owner, Northtown Books

(No arguments against Measure F were submitted)

Text for Measure F
The people of the City of Arcata do ordain as follows:

WHEREAS, the U.S. Constitution established the principle that "We the People" hold sovereign power to govern ourselves;

WHEREAS, Historically in this nation, corporations were created to be and were regarded as artificial entities, chartered only to serve the public interest, cause ho harm, and at all times be subordinate to the sovereign people;

WHEREAS, The California Constitution of 1879 contained the following passage (similar to many other state constitutions): "......the exercise of the police power of the state shall never be so abridged or construed as to permit corporations to conduct their business in such manner as to infringe the rights of individuals or the general well-being of the State." (Article XII, Section 8)

WHEREAS, A century ago, large corporations began an effort to transform the law and claim civil and political rights and privileges which were intended only for real human beings under the Constitution, including full participation in our democratic processes (such as unlimited spending to influence elections);

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That the People of Arcata support the amending of the California Constitution so as to clearly declare the authority of citizens over all corporations. To this end, we request that our City Council co-sponsor (in cooperation with the drafters of this Initiative) two town hall meetings in the five months following passage of this ballot measure on the topic: "Can we have democracy when large corporations wield so much power and wealth under the law?";

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the People of Arcata request that the city government of Arcata immediately act to establish, through the creation of an official committee, policies and programs which ensure democratic control over corporations conducting business within the city, in whatever ways are necessary to ensure the health and well-being of our community and its environment;

AND BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That the People of Arcata request our city government to immediately forward copies of this ballot measure to all of our elected representatives at the county, state and federal levels, and to members of the press.

Humboldt Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback

Created: February 16, 1999 18:54
Smart Voter '98 <>
Copyright © 1998 League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.