First County in Ohio to assert their right to local self-government through direct initiative
April 14, 2015
Contact: Tish O’Dell, Ohio Organizer CELDF.org Tish@celdf.org 440-552-6774
MEDINA COUNTY: Yesterday, Community Rights expands in Ohio as residents of Medina County make history as the first County in the state to launch a community rights Charter campaign by direct initiative of the people.
Medina County communities, like many other communities across the state, are slated for industrial pipelines that measure up to 42-inches in diameter and operate under high pressure. These pipelines threaten aquifers and drinking water sources, pollute the air through the release of methane and potentially the release of radioactive radon and other toxic gases, risk explosions, contaminate the soil, and threaten local ecosystems.
When residents first learned of the pipelines and insisted that protecting the people’s health, safety, and welfare meant saying “NO” to them, they were told by government representatives and environmental agencies that there was “no way to stop them.” Thus, they contacted the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) for help. CELDF is providing grassroots organizing and education, and assisted in drafting the community rights Charter initiative. The Ohio Community Rights Network (OHCRN) is allying with CELDF and Medina County residents as well.
The people of Medina County joined together to assert their right to govern themselves, and are seeking a County charter to secure and protect that right. The Charter includes a Bill of Rights for all people in the County, including the right to make the decisions about those things directly impacting their communities, and the right to clean air, water and soil.
Under the Charter, the current structure of county government remains intact, county elected officials’ authority to protect residents from corporate harms is recognized, and the people’s right to initiative and referendum is codified. Residents are contacting local elected officials to ally with the people of Medina County to protect their rights, protect communities, and stop new, industrial pipelines.
Emilie Judy of Montville Township in Medina County, stated, “Community Rights is growing across the state as more and more communities realize that government and agencies that are supposed to protect us, instead protect the oil and gas industry. We have an inalienable right to protect the places where we live, and Medina County residents are working to codify that right in our County Charter.”
OHCRN Board President Tish O’Dell added, “A people’s movement is building in the state of Ohio – one that crosses boundaries that traditionally keep us separated. We all want to protect our communities, our children, our clean air, water, and soil. We not only have the right to do so – it is our obligation to do so. There are no corporate claimed “rights” that include the right to cause harm. Medina County is paving the way for other Ohio counties to advance Community Rights.”
Residents need to collect 4900 valid signatures to place their Charter initiative on the November ballot.
Through grassroots organizing and public interest law, CELDF works with communities across the country to establish Community Rights to democratic, local self-governance and sustainability. CELDF has assisted nearly 200 communities to ban shale gas drilling and fracking, factory farming, and water privatization, and eliminate corporate “rights” when they violate community and nature’s rights. This includes assisting the first communities in the U.S. to establish Rights of Nature in law, as well as the first communities to elevate the rights of communities above the “rights” of corporations.