Mendocino County Becomes First in California to pass a Community Bill of Rights

photo[2]At 8:00 pm on Election Night 2014, residents of picturesque Mendocino County concerned about the availability and quality of local water waited anxiously for the first results on Measure “S”, the Community Bill of Rights Ordinance that bans fracking, dumping of frack waste and protects their water from being used for fracking anywhere in the state. Global Exchange and our partners and allies were proud to support the Community Rights Network of Mendocino County (CRNMC), the group behind this initiative.

Just after midnight it was clear they had made California history, passing Measure S by a whopping 67% of the county vote. It was not the only measure in the state to ban fracking—San Benito, CA voters passed Measure J despite the heavy influx of Big Oil funding to defeat it, while Santa Barbara’s anti-fracking measure succumbed to corporate money influence.

But residents of Mendocino county did far more than ban fracking this election.

With the passage of Measure S, residents in Mendocino County made history as the first California community to adopt a Community Bill of Rights, placing their rights above corporate interests. Residents see enactment of this ordinance as the first step in asserting their right to local self-government, and a rejection of the idea that their community will be a sacrifice zone for corporate profits. This is a huge milestone for the community rights movement in California—joining with over 180 communities across the country who have also changed the structure of law by passingphoto[3] rights-based legislation.

The Mendocino County Community Bill of Rights Fracking and Water Use Initiative, (Measure S) establishes the rights of the people of Mendocino County to a healthy environment, including clean air and water, and the rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish. The measure also secures the rights of residents to local self-governance. Fracking is banned as a violation of those rights, and directly challenges constitutional so-called “rights” of corporations to frack in their County. The extraction or sale of local water for use in fracking anywhere in the state is also banned, along with the dumping of toxic frack waste. Further, the measure bans the transfer of offshore fracking oil or waste through the County.

Jamie Lee, a community-based farmer in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino attended the very first Democracy School, a weekend rights-based training, in California in 2006, hosted by Global Exchange and CELDF. “Who knew back then that we would be celebrating this victory today.”  Over the years Jamie Lee brought Global Exchange’s Shannon Biggs to Mendocino many times to meet with groups and residents, hold public lectures, along with other practicioners and educators of the Community Rights framework, including long time advocate Paul Cienfuegos.

So by the time Peter Norris of Willits reached out to Global Exchange in 2013, there was already a strong sense of community self-governance throughout the far-flung county. A county wide Democracy School was held with 50 people, followed by steady flow of rights-based organizing support from Global Exchange, and the encouragement of the anti-fracking movement of California.   David Braun, part of the coalition Californians Against Fracking was a regular visitor to Mendocino throughout the election cycle, “Starting today, in Mendocino, community rights trump those of big money and corporations, but they also ensure that fracking doesn’t destroy precious and irreplaceable water air soil and biodiversity.  Big congratulations are in order to the people of Mendocino for their hard won battle against big oil.   Now we need to double down and make sure all the people of California and around the country are protected from fracking.  There is a lot to build on for all of us – and we will.”


Resident members of CRNMC turning in signatures for the ballot in June, 2014


But it was the community that came together to put this into law. A core group of 30 and countless volunteers worked tirelessly throughout 2014 to collect the signatures for the ballot, host public events, write letters to the editor, paint lawn signs and go door-to-door with the message that decisions about water protection in Mendocino belong to residents and residents alone. As key CRNMC member Kelly Larson said, “Measure S was organized around a network model, rather than the old hierarchical top-down leadership, thereby modeling the ‘community’ in community rights.”

CELDF’s Ben Price offered congratulations to the people of Mendocino County, and to the organizers of the effort, stating, “With this vote, the people of Mendocino are challenging a legal structure that protects a corporate “right” to frack above the rights of communities to not be fracked.”

As resident Carrie Durkee proclaimed, “The passage of Measure S looks like a milestone to me. I’m filled with appreciation, admiration, and gratitude to all for the creation of the Community Bill of Rights.”

Kelly Larson added, Measure S is an important challenge to corporate constitutional rights, and the oil and gas industry.    We’re grateful that the voters of Mendocino County so strongly support community rights…Local people deciding for local control and decision making.  Democracy won here today!” Jamie Lee echoed this, saying, “this is only the beginning of local self-governance for us up here in Mendocino, the first step of many toward changing the rules about ‘who decides’ what happens here. WE do.”




California Congresswoman Barbara Lee with her very own “Do Not Disturb Democracy” door hanger

Update 4/30/2013: Congresswoman Barbara Lee shows off her very own “Do Not Disturb Democracy” door hanger. Please “Share” this photo on Facebook to spread the word.

Do Not Disturb… Democracy!

We did it. Together, Global Exchange supporters from nearly all 50 states mailed over 600 ‘Do Not Disturb Democracy’ door hangers to Congress.



Global Exchange members Jessica Nuti, Hillary Lehr, and Jenny White deliver ‘Do Not Disturb Democracy’ door hangers to Congresswoman Pelosi’s office. April 17, 2013

These door hangers – a cheeky method for engaging with elected officials to communicate our concerns about corporate money in politics – provide a fun and strategic way for constituents to move past frustration with Congress to spark communication, dialogue and action about the critical condition of our democracy.

Screen shot 2013-04-18 at 10.58.41 AMLast Monday, elected officials in Congress were called by constituents to follow up. Dozens of participants called their Senators and Representative wanting to know if their door hangers had arrived and if they had been hung on their doors. Constituents also asked for public statements from elected officials willing to go ‘On the Record’ with their official position on money in politics. This follow up puts direct pressure on elected officials to represent US instead of prioritizing relationships with high-powered corporate lobbyists.

Since our Global Exchange office is in San Francisco, we brought our door hangers to Congresswoman Pelosi’s office. It was good to meet with folks from Congresswoman Pelosi’s team and hear about her official support for the DISCLOSE Act and her aversion to the SCOTUS Citizens United decision. Previously, Congresswoman Pelosi has stated, “I promise you this, and I know it for certain. You lower the role of money in campaigns, you increase the level of civility, and you will elect more women to public office, more minorities, more young people.” (Source: United Republic)
We weren’t able to take a photo inside Congresswoman Pelosi’s office sadly, but we have a photo from just before our delivery at the San Francisco Federal Building. While many callers had a similar experience of reluctance from elected officials to tweet or comment on the door hangers, we are still making a difference. How? Together, we are contributing to the grassroots foundation of a movement to end the corrosive influence of money in politics. Calling and, whenever possible, meeting with, elected officials and staff is crucial to communicating the true urgency of money in politics… and it makes it clear that this is an issue voters all over the country will be thinking about during election season.

Regardless of the issues at hand, whether it is gun control, immigration, budget, or regulating Wall Street, we must free our democracy from the clutches of corporate money, and from the undue level of influence corporate lobbyists assert. Once we do, we will be able to make steady progress on a plethora of urgent issues. I hope you agree and will stay tuned for what’s next. Thank you for participating with us. Your action makes all the difference. Together, we can organize to build power to protect and reclaim our democracy.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to call your elected officials re: the door hangers, there is still time! Simply visit our call-in-page to look up your Senators and Representative along with the phone numbers, and follow our step-by-step guide. You can do it, and it only takes a few minutes!


This April Fool’s day, prank with purpose.

DoorHandleFront2Send your Senator and Representative a ‘Do Not Disturb’ door hanger that keeps corporate lobbyists OUT of their office.

These door hangers are a little funny, but the corrosive influence of money in politics is no laughing matter.

Sign up to send a door hanger today.

Take a stand in the spirit of April Fool’s day. It takes less than a minute to sign up. You can select for us to email your door hanger directly to your Senator and Representative, or we can mail it to you so you can send it directly to your elected official.

Sign up by March 22nd to get your door hanger to elected officials in time for April Fool’s Day.

Why Tell Corporate Lobbyists ‘Do Not Disturb’ Democracy?

  • Since 2007, nearly $20 billion has been spent on lobbying government.
  • The vast majority of lobbying spending is at the behest of corporations which can afford to lobby for policies that protect and expend profits and minimize even the most essential regulations, often at the expense of the well-being of constituents, our economy and our environment.
  •  Nearly a third of that $20 billion spent lobbying is from just three sectors: Wall Street, Dirty Energy (Oil & Gas) Industries, and the Defense Sector, which spent $2.7 billion, $2.3 billion, and $821 million lobbying, respectively.
  • Calculated another way, Dirty Trinity has spent $2,252 per minute, every minute, for the past five years to influence *your* elected officials.
  • It costs us around $5 to print and mail these door hangers to your elected official. 


1) Sign Up!
2) Spread the word– help get others to sign up and send a Do Not Disturb door hanger to their elected officials.

Facebook: Share this doorhanger image and encourage your friends to sign up!
Twitter: Click here to tweet, “Your Congressman needs this doorhanger. Srsly.  Sign up and send one for free:

 3) Learn more about Wall Street money in politics and what our Elect Democracy campaign does to stop it.

4) Chip In: Help us raise $1,883 to print and mail ‘Do Not Disturb” door hangers to every single member of Congress!


… Tell Your Congressperson to Have Goodwill Toward Their Constituents!

In the results of the election, a lot of truths have been unearthed- the demographics and values of the United States, the power and limits of corporate money to influence elections, and the real significance of votes.

Over $629 million in Super PAC spending didn’t sway U.S. voters as significantly as expected, but in the coming months will the billions spent in corporate lobbying sway Congress?

Lobbying is a multi-billion dollar industry. While it’s technically true that you and I (or any constituent really) can lobby or try to persuade their legislators, most lobbying is funded by -and promotes- corporate interests. Since 2008, Wall Street has spent over $2.2 billion on lobbying, largely in order to weaken and squirm out of financial regulation. Add in the pharmaceutical, HMO, agribusiness, business, oil & energy, and defense/militarism sectors and we’re talking nearly $4 billion spent specifically to get corporations unprecedented (and undue) influence over all those folks we just elected to office.

We need to make sure all the new and re-elected members of Congress know that we elected them to represent us, not Wall Street and its cadre of lobbyists.

Can you take just a few hours in December to make a world of difference on this issue?

You and your representatives will both be back in your hometowns and districts during the month of December. Congress takes a recess, but you can still easily set up a meeting with your Congressperson in their district. Take the time to set up a meeting, put on a nice sweater and go tell your representative that you want them to commit to not being overrun by big bank lobbyists.

Here’s how:

  1. Look up your representative: {}
  2. Call their office and set up a meeting for when you’re both home just before the holiday break.
  3. Do some research- look up how much campaign money your representative received from different companies and look into the DC connections of lobbyists representing those companies.
  4. Write this information down in a notepad, along with other questions you’d like to ask. If you need ideas, here are some of our favorites:
  • How many lobbyists from Wall Street arrange meetings with you?
  • How many lobbyists do you plan to meet with during this term?
  • If lobbyists give lots of gifts and throw lavish parties, does it influence your vote on their issues?
  • Are some lobbyists in DC perceived as bullies? Is there any way we can help you focus on your job without all these lobbyists trying to influence you all the time?
  • Have you ever seen a scorecard that shows campaign contributions before? Do you feel comfortable with how much money you received from Wall Street and your ability to put your constituents first? (If they were in office last year, you can show them Global Exchange’s Legislative Scorecard and measure  their ‘loyalty rate’ to Wall Street’s lobby position on key bills like Dodd-Frank!)
  • What would you like to see change in DC in the realm on campaign contributions and lobbying?
  1. When you meet, dress neatly and write down the answers!
  2. Take a picture with your senator/representative and an Elect Democracy sticker if you can.
  3. Email them to Global Exchange since students around the country will be sending in answers. Together, we’ll be able to see who’s willing to make some real commitments to say NO to lobbyists next year!

Boom- you’re done! All in all, it should take less than 3 hours, but it makes a huge difference not only for your Congressperson, but in helping to create a culture where politicians become more wary of the lobbyists and campaign contributions coming from Wall Street and other industries that want to put their profits before a healthy democratic process.

TAKE ACTION: Leave a comment confirming you can meet with your Representative in December!