A couple weeks ago came the news that an "awkwardly-worded" question may or may not appear on ballots in the City of Champaign Township this fall. On Monday, the Cunningham Township Board (which governs Urbana) approved two ballot referendums -- the same one as Champaign and a new one.
Before voting on whether to certify the referendums for the ballot, town board member Brandon Bowersox-Johnson raised the same question that was raised in Champaign and by Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten: Is it the duty of the town board to judge the legality and the merits of the proposed ballot questions, or do they vote simply to certify that the voters at a town hall meeting earlier this year wanted those questions to be on the ballot?
Here's Cunningham Township Attorney Fred Grosser's response: "I found no authority by which you can change the wording. It would have been better if they had given it more thought before they voted on it."
"OK, well, that answers that," said town board member Charlie Smyth.
So, moral of the story, the following advisory referendum likely will appear on ballots in both Champaign and Urbana, unless Hulten takes some kind of action to prevent that. He does not know whether he can do that or if he even wants to.
The ballot question would read, "The U.S. Supreme Court held, in 'Citizens United v. FEC', that corporations have the rights of real human citizens and are entitled to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of political campaigns. To undo that decision, the people of the City of Champaign Township support an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that: 1. A corporation does not have the same rights as an actual person, and 2. Money is not speech and, therefore, regulating political spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech. We further request that our city, state and federal representatives enact resolutions and legislation to advance the two positions proposed as part of the Amendment, with reference to the need for an Amendment."
And this one could appear on Urbana residents' ballots:
“Whereas expensive media campaigns have recently largely replaced ordinary political conversations between citizens, and, Whereas much of the public space in which such conversations used to take place has been replaced with private malls, and, Whereas since 1980 the state of California has successfully required that polite non-disruptive political speech be allowed at certain privately owned public spaces such as malls and parking lots. We request that the City of Urbana establish by ordinance that such privately owned public spaces respect the right of polite, non-disruptive free political speech.”
Well, they're only symbolic.