3 of 4 Referenda Approved in Champaign, Urbana Township Meetings


All but one vote for non-binding referenda in Champaign and Urbana's annual town meetings will mean questions on November's ballot.

On a 23 to 10 vote, those in the City of Champaign town meeting Tuesday night backed the idea of a constitutional amendment, placing limits on the legal status of corporations and how much can be spent on campaigns.

Speaking at the meeting, Al Kagan says campaign finance reform isn't a partisan issue. With a U.S. Supreme Court opening the door to large donors he says individuals don't really have a say anymore about what happens in U-S government.

"Think about the kinds of campaign finance reform that have been proposed from both sides of the political spectrum," said Kagan. "And to try to get our elections back on track so that individuals have a voice."

The same item passed unanimously in Urbana's Cunningham town meeting on a 25 -to-nothing vote. Three additional participants there voted yes on a referendum on whether private citizens could exercise certain free speech rights - producing a 28-to nothing tally.

The idea is to let private citizens to engage in non-disruptive activity, like handing out leaflets on private properties like malls or parking lots. Backer Michael Weissman says the idea needed some clarification to ensure the idea was fairly limited, and wasn't extended to sites like apartment buildings.

"It's difficult to just do ordinary leafleting because typically the place where people get out of their cars is some dozens of feet off the public sidewalk," Weissman said. "You don't want to leaflet people in their cars. Just being able to extent to things that feel like public spaces but are technically under private ownership."

The idea was backed unanimously in Urbana's Cunningham Township meeting 28-nothing. Weissman says such activity has already been allowed through the courts in California and New York.

The same issue narrowly failed in City of Champaign Township on a 16 to 15 vote.

The two referenda had been supported by members of the local Occupy C-U movement.

Story source: WILL