Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Resisting Corporate Government And Whipping The Vote Against Corporate Welfare In Maine

A Bath Iron Works executive tried to convince LD1781's sponsor that constituent "Bruce [Gagnon] is a one man band" back in December. There are now so many members of the band that I can no longer fit their names in a legible font on my cartoon. 

Tireless tax resister Ginny Schneider sent a great email to all the legislators she could reach via organizer Bob Klotz's "whip" list for opposing LD1781. You can, too, using this handy tool that looks up your state representative and senator and sends them a message you can customize. If you're out of state but want to send a message, the whip list has email addresses for you to use. There is also a toll-free message center: (800) 423-2900.

Ginny's email signature includes some quotes. This one is pertinent:

This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is a government of corporations, by corporations, and for corporations. — U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, 3/11/1888

A successful marijuana lobbyist in Maine, Paul Carrier, shared this tip:

Try to find a Republican member of the House that is willing to speak against LD1781 in caucus. Emphasize that many small business owners in Maine are struggling and could use tax relief -- why give it to a corporation that had $3.5 billion in free cash flow last year?

Meanwhile, organizer Jason Rawn has been doing his homework on corporate extortion at the state government level. He shared these articles with me and with many of the legislators on the whip list:

Corporations lead taxpayers to the shearing by Michael Hiltzik (Los Angeles Times, 1/5/14)

Several of us went on WERU yesterday for Amy Browne's Maine Currents show. Bruce Gagnon explained how effective the citizen lobbying effort against this bill has been. A senator told his constituent yesterday at the State House that he had never received as many message about any other issue or bill. Based on that, I'd say Bruce's hunger strike --which many of us joined by fasting for one or more days -- was a success. He had vowed to hold out until the bill came to a vote, but yesterday he ended his 37 day hunger strike in favor of his health.

Emails between the bill's sponsor Rep. Jennifer DeChant (D) of Bath and General Dynamics subsidiary Bath Iron Works vice president John Fitzgerald indicated both hoped the bill would be rushed through the legislature early in this session. Instead, the battle has dragged on for months while hundreds of letters opposing the bill have been sent to Maine newspapers; so many, they've stopped publishing them all.

The biggest argument for these bills is always the same: support the corporations who generate jobs. But BIW's largest union, S6, has declined to endorse the bill. Perhaps because GD has used past tax relief to further mechanize the shipyard and has cut thousands of jobs at BIW in recent years?

Bob Klotz spoke on WERU about how Democrats and Republicans in Maine can be seen to be drinking the "jobs, jobs, jobs Kool-Aid" and Bruce mentioned how former Democrat and legislator Ralph Chapman described the corporate money flowing to the leadership[sic] of both parties. Chapman explained that eaders who follow corporate directives are the ones promoted to chair the committees that send bills to the legislature.

Alex Nunes has been investigating and reporting on tax heists by General Dynamics in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine. He told Amy yesterday about stock buybacks indicating the vast wealth that weapons corporation GD holds, and an alarming development in the town of Bath. The police chief there has declined to comply with his Freedom of Access request for communications between BIW and the police around their collaborations to have protesters at the shipyard arrested during warship "christenings" recently. The chief cited an exception to Maine's FAA law: if it's planning about security around terrorism, he doesn't have to reveal it.

Jessica Stewart being arrested with eight of us at Bath Iron Works on April 1, 2017. Judge Daniel Billings ruled that our arrests for criminal trespass were wrong, and that "basically the police department is outsourced to BIW on these events. It was pretty clear that Lieutenant Savary was taking his direction [from] Mr. Cielinkski, [BIW’s chief of security]." The judge added, "And that’s not how this is supposed to work.” Jessica was subsequently arrested at Senator Susan Collins' Bangor office protesting Collins' vote for the federal tax bill that provides enormous cuts for wealthy corporations and individuals. Her trial for that arrest begins today in federal court today at 10am. FMI: Mainers for Accountable Leadership.

Pressed by Nunes, Chief Michael Fields denied that he was characterizing nonviolent protesters at BIW as terrorists. But, he still won't release the requested information. Hopefully Nunes will appeal the denial.

Violence is not actually as effective as its proponents would have you believe. Nonviolent direct action is powerful. And look how much we've accomplished by wielding pens (and radio ads) mightier than swords. Onward to defeat LD1781!

1 comment:

loveEliz said...

Excellent advocacy! I know that clear west of you in Tennessee, this action against the corporate boat builder [I know they won't like "boat"] is of benefit to our landlocked state. No matter where we are, every time we can shave a little power from a greedy corporation, we add strength to democracy everywhere.