Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (Calif.)
January 25, 2006


Rachel's summary: In Humboldt County, California, citizens have
proposed a ballot initiative to stop out-of-county corporations from
contributing money to local elections. If it passed, big national firms
wouldn't be able to buy influence in local races. You might call this
"precautionary action to curb corporate power and retain local control."

Eureka, Calif. -- The Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights (HCCR)
has collected over 7,600 signatures in support of its proposed ballot
initiative, the Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair
Elections and Local Democracy. If passed, this ordinance will prohibit
out-of-county corporations from contributing to any Humboldt County
campaigns, including candidate campaigns, initiatives, referenda, or

HCCR is a broad-based coalition of county residents, labor unions,
local elected officials and community organizations. The entire
signature-gathering effort was conducted by volunteers. No other
ballot initiative in Humboldt County has successfully gathered this
amount of signatures on any issue brought before the public.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, Director of Democracy for Democracy
Unlimited (one of the founding organizations of the Coalition)
stated, "It is a great day for democracy when the people of our local
community come together by donating their time, getting involved, and
recognizing the vital principle that we have the authority to create
laws that benefit our local community. This is the way the initiative
process is supposed to work."

The group announced its success to over 50 volunteers and supporters
at a January 19 press conference at the Humboldt County Elections
Office in Eureka. Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos
joined representatives from organized labor and numerous social
justice organizations in support of the group's work. "I want to thank
the volunteers who dedicated many hours for the benefit of their
fellow citizens. I know that you weren't doing this for personal gain,
and your commitment to improving the integrity of our local elections
is admirable," said Gallegos.

The Humboldt County Elections Office has 30 working days to verify
that 4389 of the collected signatures are valid. It is anticipated
that the initiative will be on the June 2006 ballot.

"This campaign is what democracy is all about -- regular people
engaging their fellow citizens in the process and making sure that the
system works," said Patrick Riggs, Chair of the Humboldt County
Democratic Central Committee. "When this law passes in June, our
elections will be more just and our community will be better off. The
vast support this campaign has received so far just shows what a solid
initiative this is."

Some have questioned whether Humboldt County has the legal authority
to pass this measure. Gallegos addressed this concern head-on, "Of
course we do! The ability to protect the integrity of our elections is
not merely our right -- it is our responsibility. As a lawyer, I am
acutely aware that there are times when the courts have been wrong.
And on those occasions, it is the responsibility of citizens to engage
in the process to change such laws. Remember that the courts once held
that indigenous people were not legally "persons," that Africans could
be held in slavery, that women had "lesser" legal rights than men,
that trade unions were a criminal conspiracy, and that Jim Crow
segregation did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Courts and judges were profoundly
wrong in each of those instances, and thank goodness engaged and
active citizens challenged those legal doctrines."

"This campaign will have implications for communities across the
country. Humboldt is not unique in being targeted by large
corporations like Walmart, who seek to use the democratic process for
economic gain. We hope that other communities will recognize how a
local ordinance like ours will ensure local control over their
community. This campaign is our attempt to act local and think
global," said Sopoci-Belknap.

For more information on HCCR and the proposed ordinance, call
707-444-0407 or visit the campaign website.

Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County educates citizens about the
illegitimate seizure of our authority to govern ourselves. We design
and implement grassroots strategies which exercise democratic power
over corporations and governments. We seek to create a truly
democratic society by provoking a non-violent popular uprising against
corporate rule in Humboldt County that can serve as a model for other
communities across the United States.

We invite you to join us as we educate, agitate, organize, and
strategize to build a grassroots movement for democracy and against
corporate rule!

Democracy Unlimited
Post Office Box 610
Eureka, California 95502
(707) 269-0984