CCR Submits 2016 Ballot Initiative

Press Release


Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR)
Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN)


Merrily Mazza, 720-556-1286

Cliff Willmeng, 303-478-6613

Tom Groover, 303-709-3327


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Coloradans for Community Rights Submits

2016 State Ballot Initiative

Denver, CO, Monday, August 17, 2015: Today Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR) officially submitted ballot language for the 2016 Colorado Community Rights Amendment to the Colorado Legislative Council. Once the ballot language is approved by the Legislative Council, CCR will be organizing a state-wide campaign to gather the necessary signatures to qualify the ballot initiative for the November 2016 election. That means in November 2016, Coloradans can vote for local democracy.

“We begin the fight yet again for Colorado communities and the right of local self-government. People and communities like mine are tired of being manipulated and deceived by politicians and industry. And we’re outraged at being threatened and sued by industry lobbying groups. It’s time for the people to take action. The Community Rights Amendment is democracy in action.”

– Merrily Mazza, Lafayette, President Colorado Community Rights Network

The Community Rights Amendment doesn’t ban anything. Instead, it establishes communities’ right of local self-government. It gives people, not corporations, the authority to decide how best to protect their health, safety and welfare, their communities, and the natural environment. It establishes the fundamental rights of individuals, communities, and nature. And it allows communities to decide for themselves, free of corporate/state interference, whether to allow corporate projects or enforce corporate standards that violate the community’s fundamental rights.

“We have been repeatedly told by our city council representatives that oil and gas drilling in our backyards is out of the hands of the city and into the hands of the state. I believe community members are the decision makers—not the state and not the industry—when it comes to protecting our communities’ health and safety and welfare.”

– Nicole Johnston Zipsie, Aurora, East Aurora Community Development

By establishing the right of local self-government, the Community Rights Amendment directly confronts a structure of law that gives corporations more power to decide the fate of communities than the people who live there. Under the current corporatized legal system, elected officials have to ignore the desires, needs, and rights of their own citizens and defer to corporate interests. And residents must accept that a corporate few have greater rights than community majorities, that property rights trump people’s rights, that they can’t protect their health, safety and welfare from unwanted industrial activities, that it’s OK for corporations backed by state power to make decisions for their communities.

The oil and gas industry is like a king whose nobles are the courts and whose troops are their lawyers. Communities are serfs to be used, abused, and cast aside. Restoring real democracy begins with the Community Rights Amendment.

-Maydean Worley, Greeley, Colorado Community Rights Network, Windsor Community Rights Network

Although Coloradans for Community Rights expects industry and others to sponsor competing ballot initiatives in 2016, the Community Rights Amendment is the only ballot initiative that:

1. Is led by the grassroots actions of Colorado community members

2. Won’t be bargained away in a bait-and-switch compromise with industry and politicians.

3. Views the issue of state/corporate control as a violation of peoples’ democratic rights and that addresses the problem directly through that framework.

We worked to get open pit cyanide leach gold mining banned in 5 Colorado counties. A lawsuit by the Colorado Mining Association overturned our county bans at the Colorado Supreme Court. Colorado waterways have been repeatedly contaminated by open pit cyanide leach gold mining, yet current state law ties the hands of local efforts to protect communities and water sources from this very real threat. This ballot initiative would restore county land use authority, and enforce laws like those already passed in five Colorado counties. And it would allow other counties to pass similar laws.

– Colin Henderson, MD, La Jara, Alliance for Responsible Mining

Colorado is not alone in the fight to secure the right of local self-government. Communities across the nation, experiencing similar limitations on their ability to protect residents’ health, safety and welfare, are enacting their own local laws advancing community self-determination. In 2016, Colorado will be joined by Oregonians for Community Rights as they campaign for a parallel ballot initiative to amend Oregon’s state constitution. Together, we will advance the national movement for community rights and begin a process to bring greater power and freedom to our people, workforces, and environment.

Abraham Lincoln said, ‘This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.’ The community rights advocates in Oregon and Colorado have a very simple wish, to offer our children and grandchildren a viable future and the right to protect our families and communities from those who seek to do us harm for private profit and gain. We are exercising our constitutional right to change our government.

-Stacy McLaughlin, Myrtle Creek, OR, Oregon Community Rights Network, South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership

About the Colorado Community Rights Network and Coloradans for Community Rights

The Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN) was formed in 2013 to advance local and statewide democracy, economic justice, and environmental sustainability and to support local and state community rights efforts through grassroots organizing, education and outreach. Colorado joins New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington as part of the National Community Rights Network. In each state, communities work to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws as well as working towards similar state constitutional amendments to recognize the right to local, community self-government. Coloradans for Community Rights is the Issue Committee for the 2016 Community Rights ballot initiative.