Towards a county-wide uprising of citizens asserting our authority to govern ourselves by wresting control of land use decision-making away from Maxxam Corporation and putting it in the hands of the people where it rightfully belongs…
(This is the third draft of one of many draft documents produced by the Steering Committee of the 'Democratic Logging Project' in Humboldt County, California - which never made it to public launch for lack of a critical mass of people, but which nonetheless engendered more than a year's worth of very fine small group discussions in 2002/2003 across Humboldt County. I have chosen to not name the other Steering Committee members at this time, to respect their privacy, in case this document causes upset to any who view it. Members included two community organizers, a restorationist, an eco-forester, a laid-off mill worker, a rancher, and a building contractor.)
Our goals for this campaign are two-fold:
==> To remove Maxxam Corporation from all of its holdings in the county, and to arrange for its directors to hand over or sell all holdings to a worker and community-controlled new business or non-profit institution which would focus its energies on seeking to employ local timber industry workers while maintaining appropriate levels of ecoforestry and providing employment also through restoring the health of the forest lands.
==> To build a democratic movement in Humboldt County that sees itself as part of the national movement to reclaim citizen sovereignty and democracy from large corporations who effectively rule the United States at this time.
The strategies we plan to use to achieve these goals are:
We are forming and developing a steering committee that reflects the diverse interests and cultures of the county, to coordinate the campaign.
Steering committee members will be required to attend a full-day orientation session to help them to understand the new framework, language, and strategy of the campaign, and will be asked to commit at least 5 hours/week to the campaign OR would be asked to commit a significant amount of time on a weekly basis for a minimum of one year.
First Steps for the Steering Committee (immediate undertakings)
==> To create an affordable and easily available reading packet to help county residents understand the campaign, and which all new members would be asked to read. This packet will include:
* a cover letter from the steering committee
* a description of this campaign
* background history of corporate power in the US
* an outline of our legal rights as sovereign citizens of the United States of America
* a list of written resources (books, pamphlets, articles) relevant to this campaign
* an explanation of why this campaign is specifically operating outside of, and ignoring the regulatory arena
* how this campaign is part of a democratic movement around the country to reclaim citizen sovereignty over the corporation as an institution.
==> To better understand and articulate how Maxxam's corporate personhood rights undermine the rights of private property owners, timber industry workers, ranchers and farmers, local business owners, and environmentalists.
==> To encourage additional people and groups to join the campaign.
All new members would be encouraged to attend a full-day orientation session to help them to understand the new framework, language, and strategy of the campaign.
==> To launch an alliance of local Humboldt groups intent on stopping Maxxam Corporation's continuing assault on the communities, jobs, watersheds, and democratic institutions of Humboldt County.
==> To expand, strengthen and develop our steering committee by reaching out and building working relationships and alliances with diverse groups such as timber industry workers, labor unions, faith-based groups, ranchers and farmers, and environmental organizations.
==> To launch a major educational campaign county-wide to help local residents to:
1) learn to distinguish between the legitimate rights of human persons (protected by the 'Bill of Rights') and the illegitimate "rights" of corporate institutions currently interpreted as "persons" under law,
2) learn how a democratic local citizens' movement to remove Maxxam Corporation's legal personhood status would provide for much more local control over both land use decisions, and stable job opportunities for timber industry workers,
3) see themselves as sovereign citizens in a democracy with the knowledge to act accordingly.
==> To reframe the debate about Maxxam Corporation from one which is defined by timber corporation executives (i.e. jobs vs. environment), to one which is defined by the people of Humboldt County because the issue is really that the people of our county should be in charge of local land use decisions, not the leaders of giant absentee timber corporations.
==> To call attention to the ways Maxxam Corporation is violating the First Amendment rights of local citizens to speak and assemble when it:
1) prohibits its employees from publicly stating their concerns about current logging practices or the closing of mills--for fear of being fired,
2) files a SLAPP suit against those who are attempting to organize against corporate harms in their communities (SLAPP stands for 'Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation', and is designed not to win in court, but to tie up people's time, energy, and resources as well as create fear of speaking out in order to render them ineffective).
==> To name and hold accountable the key decision-makers and spokespeople of Maxxam Corporation and our government officials who are providing political cover to the corporation and it's crimes against the county
Longer term undertakings
==> To remove from Maxxam Corporation its ability to utilize various "rights" it claims to possess by withdrawing the corporation's personhood status by a popular referendum for the county.
==> To ultimately pass one or more county ballot initiatives, and run and elect candidates which will formally implement these changes in the local culture.
==> To prepare the groundwork for a statewide ballot initiative to withdraw personhood status from all corporations chartered or doing business in California.