The right of local, community self-government is a fundamental, individual political right – exercised collectively – of people to govern the local communities in which they reside.
Petitioners of the citizen initiative to enact a local bill of rights received the official “Authorization to Circulate” from the Coos County Clerk, Wednesday. In order to qualify for the May 2015 ballot we must collect 1,521 valid signatures from voters registered in Coos County. In essence the ordinance declares that this is our community and we decide, not FERC, not the State of Oregon and not even local elected officials if they fail to consider the will of the people, what type of development we want to live with in Coos County.
Read this brief essay on the right to local self-government. The People’s Right of Local, Community Self-Government
Once it passes the ordinance will make it unlawful for any individual, corporate, state or federal entity to violate the following rights.
Section 3. Statements of Law – Community Bill of Rights
(a) Right to a Sustainable Energy Future. All residents in Coos County possess a right to a sustainable energy future, and the people of Coos County have the right to adopt laws and policies to secure that right. That right shall include the authority to require the development, production, and use of sustainable energy.
(b) Right to Scenic and Recreational Preservation. All residents of Coos County possess a right to the preservation and enhancement of the scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the County, including unspoiled vistas and outdoor recreational opportunities, thereby improving the area’s appeal to tourists and future residents. That right shall include the right of the residents of the County to be free from activities which threaten scenic, historic, and aesthetic values as related to the construction, siting, or operation of non-sustainable energy systems.
(c) Rights of Natural Communities and Ecosystems to Thrive. Natural communities and ecosystems within Coos County, including but not limited to, forests, rivers, streams, wetlands, aquifers, near shore habitats, and intertidal zones possess the right to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve unaffected by the construction, siting, or operation of non-sustainable energy systems.
(d) Governmental Legitimacy. All governments owe their existence to the people of the community that those governments serve, and governments exist to secure and protect the rights of the people and those communities. Any system of government that becomes destructive of those ends is not legitimate, lawful, or constitutional.
(e) Right to Local, Community Self-Government. The people of Coos County possess both a collective and individual right to self-government in their community, a right to a system of government that embodies that right, and the right to a system of government that protects and secures their human, civil, and collective rights.
(f) Right to Assert the Right to Self-Government. The people of Coos County possess the right to use their local government to make law, and the making and enforcement of law by the people through a municipal corporation or any other institution shall not eliminate, limit, or reduce their sovereign right to local, community self-government.
(g) Rights are Self-Executing. All rights delineated and secured by this ordinance are inherent, fundamental, and unalienable, and shall be self-executing and enforceable against both private and public actors.
The ordinance will make it unlawful to acquire land by use of eminent domain or other means for purposes of constructing “(d) “Non-sustainable energy systems” means those systems that are controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community controlled energy policies; hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated; energy systems using fossil fuels, including but not limited to coal, natural gas, petroleum products, nuclear and radioactive materials and other fuel sources that are non-renewable, or which produce toxins and substances that cause injury to humans or natural communities and ecosystems, or that are in violation of resident’s right to a sustainable energy future. The phrase shall also include any energy system which violates the rights secured under this Ordinance or under other laws. The term shall not include the combustion of wood or wood products, propane, kerosene, heating oil, coal, or natural gas when those fuels is used solely to generate on-site heat or power and the energy produced is not commercially sold, transmitted, or distributed.”
There may be the inevitable and probably necessary legal challenges by industry groups once the ordinance passes claiming that our bill of rights violates the “rights” of the corporations to pollute our community, endanger our lives and destroy our health. Jordan Cove and Pacific Connector Pipeline may not take too kindly to this ordinance because they are only used to dealing with the regulatory agencies whose job it is to grant permits.
In upcoming posts I will provide examples of other communities that stood up to say NO by passing democratically enacted laws only to have the industry cry foul.
Signature gathering will be post haste so please help put this initiative on the ballot. We are also allowed to collect individual signatures with this form. Print the form, follow the instructions on the form and mail your signed petition sheet to PO Box 2042, Bandon, OR 97411
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!