The Labor Party will seek to consolidate its first two years of organization
with its first constitutional convention November 13-15 in Pittsburgh. The
party, which held an organizational convention in 1996, has the support
of five international unions, several regional labor bodies, scores of local
unions and thousands of individual members, according to the monthly Labor
Labor Party Ponders Next Step
The party will debate its approach to elections, with its Electoral Commission
proposing that the party start running its own candidates, who will be held
accountable to the party and its platform. According to the proposal the
party would not endorse candidates of other parties or allow Labor Party
candidates to run simultaneously on other party tickets, as the New Party
promotes with its "fusion" campaigns, usually with Democratic
candidates. Local Labor Party campaigns would need approval of the National
Council and campaigns would have to be "credible," rather than
"Many chapter activists believe that the requirements preclude any
campaigns in the near term," Kim Moody and Jane Slaughter wrote in
Labor Notes. "The sad fact is that there is probably not a single
city in the country where the labor movement is both strong enough and willing
to mount a credible Labor Party campaign."
The convention also will discuss organizing around issues such as national
health care, protecting Social Security, trade and labor law reform. For
more information, call the Labor Party at 202-234-5194.
Arcata, Calif., Measures Democracy, Corporations
Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, a small grassroots group centered
in Arcata, Calif., has managed through its offshoot Citizens Concerned About
Corporations to get a local initiative on the Nov. 3 general election ballot
challenging corporate rule. Measure F, the Arcata Advisory Initiative on
Democracy and Corporations, calls for amending the California Constitution
to clearly declare the authority of citizens over all corporations. It also
calls on the city government to establish policies that ensure democratic
control over corporations conducting business within the city.
"We believe that it is the first ballot initiative in U.S. history
on the subject of dismantling corporate rule," said Paul Cienfuegos,
founding director of Democracy Unlimited.
The group gathered 1,110 legal signatures in just 26 days to place the initiative
on the Arcata ballot. "We made a point of meeting with many local business
owners to let them know that we were not targeting local businesses, and
most of them were either supportive or neutral, with two businesses ultimately
endorsing the Initiative," Cienfuegos said.
The only opposition was an editorial in the Eureka Times-Standard,
the local daily, owned by MediaNews Group Corporation, the seventh-largest
newspaper corporation in the country. The newspaper refused to allow the
group a prompt editorial response, but the local community-access radio
station gave them a platform where they could reframe the editor's refusal
as "yet another perfect example of a distant corporation lecturing
a community about how it should spend its money, and in the process, banning
the community from even responding." After the radio station aired
the story, the newspaper printed the group's response.
For information, contact Democracy Unlimited, P.O. Box 27, Arcata CA 95518;
email firstname.lastname@example.org; web: (www.monitor.net/duhc).
RIGHT TO LIE--The Washington state Supreme Court has found that politicians
and their committees have a right to lie. The court, in a 5-4 decision in
June, declared that a law that sought to punish politicians and political
committees for telling lies in campaign advertising violates free speech
rights. The law, passed in 1985 and revised in 1989 to make it more restrictive,
authorizes a judge to void the election and/or fine offending politicians
up to $10,000 if the state can show the person who made the false statement
knew it was false and made it with "actual malice."
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