2001: A Chlymidia Mountain OdysseyBy Lisa James
     With the latest election in Chlymidia Mountain having come in for the Democratic-Socialists, specifically Terrence Sloan, the new district 9 legislator, who defeated Republican John McCallister in the race for the second Chlymidia Mountain downtown seat, giving the Democratic-Socialists the upper hand.   A new day has dawned upon this Podpadic Mountain enclave.  For the first time ever, progressives are in complete control of the city.   What began in 1998 with the unlikely election of Socialist-Democrat Stanley Grouke as mayor, has since blossomed into a vigorous clamor for social justice and economic responsibility, culminating with the election of Terrence Sloan, putting an end to the political stalemate in the City Legislature, created a year prior, when Gert Silvers and Woodland Valey evenned up the partisan lines 4-4.   "Were interpreting this as a mandate."  Explains Leg. Harvey Hooper (DS-Gonorrhea Heights, President of the City Legislature).   "The people have spoken, and we have heard them loud and clear.   And we will proceed with the agenda that we laid out prior to the election."  
     On account of the possibly temporary nature of the current government, the new leadership in the city is likely to act fast, implementing itís biggest and most  sweeping policies early on in the governing session, which begins  March 4th.   First will be the furthering of city defense spending decreases, which were partly implemented last year.   This claim the socialists will cut down on wasteful spending, and will free up fiscal resources.  Next, the socialists plan to increase education funding by fifty percent, half of which will go to increasing tuition assistance programs for needy families.  Under the proposed program, many may end up not having to pay any tuition at all.  The Social Services and Welfare budget will likely get the bulk of new funding increases, with expenditures going to food kitchens, homeless shelters, job programs, drug treatment programs, battered spouse shelters, childcare programs, and a variety of other social programs, some even yet to be announced.   Other measures certain to be enacted are the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act, which will increase from 24 weeks to 48 weeks of paid, job-protected leave, at anywhere from 75 to 100 percent replacement rates.  Passing universal healthcare is also high on the list, as well as a near doubling of the minimum wage.  Which currently stands at 6.50 and hour.   And this is all likely to happen before the Fourth of July.  
     Expect Stan Grouke to make good on his promise to crack down on corporate fraud.   Although he has made great strides over the last few years on reining in corporate shenanigans, despite being roadblocked at every turn, by the conservative-controlled city legislature.  There still remains much work to be done.   In 1998  Stan Grouke pledged to "end corporate welfare as we know it."  He also vowed to rein in the rampant economic inequities  wrought by corporate greed.  Since his election three years ago, he has for the most part delivered on his pledges.   He has successfully cut direct monetary subsidies to corporations by around 89 percent, passed the Mandatory HealthCare Act of 1998, which forced employers to give all employees access to full health benefits, and in 1999 he passed the Fair Warning Act, which mandated that all employers give workers at least six weeks notice before being laid off, he also raised the minimum wage to 6.50 an hour.   This in turn, prompted the ruling conservatives on the City Legislature to respond with The Free Enterprise Empowerment Act of 1999,  which would have reversed much of that.   When that failed, corporate execs like Kirsten Aasbo of Schorex Chemicals Inc., and Doug Castleton CEO of Klein-Rollins Weaponry, decided to roll up their sleeves and take matters into their own hands by placing The Corporate Bill Of Rights on the 2001 ballot.  This would have amended the cities charter to assert a variety of the so-called rights of private industry.   In addition to negating much of the progressive reforms enacted by Mayor Grouke, the charter amendment would have drastically limited the governments power to enforce even the most basic public safety and environmental regulations.   It included versions of the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments.   Chief advocate of this measure, Kirsten Aasbo, CEO of Schorex Chemicals Inc., claims that "there is a growing tendency on the part of city government to ignore the rights of tax paying industries."  However, Ms. Aasbo fails to point out, that for the last 5 years Schorex, along with a host of other Chlymidia Mountain-based businesses have not been paying any taxes at all.  Back in 1995 when Bill Walling began building up Chlymidia Mountainís industrial sector, he was giving out tax-free land deals like they were going out of style.  And so Schorex Chemicals, hasnít paid a cent in city taxes on the land itís manufacturing site currently occupies since itís arrival in 1995.  All the while straining municipal water supplies, city energy resources, and enjoying police and fire protection services.    These corporations when taking advantage of city services, and not compensating the city for them, leave the city with a deficit in revenue.  This deficit usually translates into a higher tax burden on middle income and lower income city residents.    Contrary to popular conservative rhetoric.  These corporate tax inequities are responsible for a much greater portion of city taxes, then the expenditures of all social programs over the last couple years combined.   
     Schorex, arenít the only corporate welfare recipients in the city, hogging municipal resources while passing the tax burden down to the working family.  Central Leatherstocking Industries, sailed in to CM in 1995 on a sea of subsidies, couple hundred thousand here, couple hundred thousand there.  Klein Rollins, Plassert Industries, Thompson Manufacturing, APO Bensen, all of these companies have gotten away with not paying any taxes to the city.  Yes Mayor Grouke has cut most direct monetary subsidies, however these corporations cannot be allowed to shirk their financial obligations to the people of Chlymidia Mountain any longer.  Especially in a time of unprecedented profits.  And now Mayor Grouke has the political clout, to forward a progressive/socialist agenda in ways never imagined.    
     Although the corporate bill of rights failed pitifully, it illustrated the extent to which local industry was willing to go to further their own agenda.   And most agree that big business represents the single biggest obstacle to progressive reform.  So indeed, breaking the patterns of corporate irresponsibility that have for so long been the status quo in Chlymidia Mountain, will be easier demanded than done.  However, the road ahead looks promising.   Because of the efforts of local journalists and artists, more citizens are becoming aware of the negative effects corporate greed has on their communities.  
     In addition to the dramatic failure of the corporate bill of rights, several quite progressive measures were passed in January that underscore a leftward trend in CM politics.  Proposition 51, a measure that would legalize hemp for industrial use, was passed by about 63 percent of the electorate.  Despite fierce, and extremely well-funded opposition from timber giant Central Leatherstocking Industries.  Additionally, the radical campaign finance reform measure Prop 67 was passed.  This is the law that would limit all campaign contributions to 20 dollars, and prescribes that all donations collected above 5000 dollars, must be collected by panhandling on the street corner.   This law is set to go into effect just in time for the 2002 elections.  Providing it isnít overturned by city courts this summer.  As several prominent conservative attorneyís such as Adam Deemer have began an effort to challenge the new law.  Another proposition related to campaign finance reform that passed overwhelmingly was a bill, to have the city Board of Elections subsidize political advertisements on television, radio, and in newspapers.   Which will give all candidates equal footing during campaigns regardless of their level of contributions.    
     The reforms approved on the ballot box, combined with the fact that Democratic-Socialists are in control of city government, paints a picture of the road ahead as one of progressive reform, social and economic justice, and a government that is unequivocally dedicated and responsive to the needs of the people it serves.  The Democratic-Socialists are in the drivers seat.   Now itís time to step on the gas.       
This story originally appeared in The Chlymidia Mountain Voice
























With the latest election in Chlymidia Mountain having come in for the socialists, particularly Terrence Sloan, the 9nth legislator, who defeated John McCallister in the race for the second Chlymidia Mountain Park seat, giving Socialists the upper hand.   A new day has dawned upon this Podpadic Mountain enclave.  For the first time ever, socialists  are in complete control of the city.   What began in 1998 with the unlikely election of socialist Stanley Grouke as mayor, has since blossomed into a vigorous clamor for social justice and economic responsibility, culminating with the election of Terrence Sloan, putting an end to the political stalemate in the City Legislature, created a year prior, when Gert Silvers and Woodland Valey evenned up the partisan lines 4-4.   "Were interpreting this as a mandate."  Explains Leg. Harvey Hooper (S-Gonorrhea Heights, President of the City Legislature).   "The people have spoken, and we have heard them loud and clear.   And we will proceed with the agenda that we laid out prior to the election."  
     On account of the possibly temporary nature of the current government, the new leadership in the city is likely to act fast, implementing itís biggest and most  sweeping policies early on in the governing session, which begins  March 4th.   First will be the furthering of city defense spending decreases, which were partly implemented last year.   This claim the socialists will cut down on wasteful spending, and will free up fiscal resources.  Next, the socialists plan to increase education funding by fifty percent, half of which will go to increasing tuition assistance programs for needy families.  Under the proposed program, many may end up not having to pay any tuition at all.  The Social Services and Welfare budget will likely get the bulk of new funding increases, with expenditures going to food kitchens, homeless shelters, job programs, drug treatment programs, battered spouse shelters, childcare programs, and a variety of other social programs, some even yet to be announced.   Other measures certain to be enacted are the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act, which will increase from 24 weeks to 48 weeks of paid, job-protected leave, at anywhere from 75 to 100 percent replacement rates.  Passing universal healthcare is also high on the list, as well as a near doubling of the minimum wage.  Which currently stands at 6.50 and hour.   And this is all likely to happen before the Fourth of July.  
     Expect Stan Grouke to make good on his promise to crack down on corporate fraud.   Although he has made great strides over the last few years on reining in corporate shenanigans, despite being roadblocked at every turn, by the conservative-controlled city legislature.  There still remains much work to be done.   In 1998  Stan Grouke pledged to "end corporate welfare as we know it."  He also vowed to rein in the rampant economic inequities  wrought by corporate greed.  Since his election three years ago.   He has successfully cut direct monetary subsidies to corporations by around 89 percent, passed the Mandatory HealthCare Act of 1998, which forced employers to give all employees access to full health benefits, and in 1999 he passed the Fair Warning Act, which mandated all employers to give workers at least six weeks notice before being laid off, he also raised the minimum wage to 6.50 an hour.   This in turn, prompted the ruling conservatives on the City Legislature to respond with The Free Enterprise Empowerment Act of 1999,  which would have reversed much of that.   When that failed, corporate execs like Kirsten Aasbo of Schorex Chemicals Inc., and Doug Castleton CEO of Klein-Rollins Weaponry, decided to roll up their sleaves and take matters into their own hands by placing The Corporate Bill Of Rights on the 2001 ballot.  This would have amended the cities charter to assert a variety of the so-called rights of private industry to, for example freedom of expression, the right to furnish political causes with unlimited monetary contributions, unfettered of government interference. It also included corporate versions of the 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments.   Chief advocate of this measure, Kirsten Aasbo, CEO of Schorex Chemicals Inc., claims that "there is a growing tendency on the part of city government to ignore the rights of tax paying industries."  However, Ms. Aasbo fails to point out, that for the last 5 years Schorex, along with a host of other Chlymidia Mountain-based businesses have not been paying any taxes at all.  Back in 1995 when Bill Walling began building up Chlymidia Mountainís industrial sector, he was giving out tax-free land deals like they were going out of style.  And so Schorex Chemicals, hasnít paid a cent in city taxes on the land itís manufacturing site currently occupies since itís arrival in 1995.  All the while straining municipal water supplies, city energy resources, and enjoying police and fire protection services.   When an entity is benefiting from municipal services, but not providing fair compensation for them, a deficit incurs, and must be passed on to whom to make up for it?  You and I.  The result is higher taxes on lower and middle income residents.  Contrary to popular conservative rhetoric.  These corporate tax inequities are responsible for a much greater portion of city taxes, then the expenditures of all social programs over the last couple years combined.   Schorex, arenít the only corporate welfare recipients in the city, hogging municipal resources while passing the tax burden down to the working family.  Central Leatherstocking Industries, sailed in to CM in 1995 on a sea of subsidies, couple hundred thousand here, couple hundred thousand there, here a tax break, there a tax break, everywhere a tax break.  Klein Rollins, Plassert Industries, Thompson Manufacturing, APO Bensen, all of these companies have gotten away with not paying any taxes to the city.  Of course Stan Grouke, has been able to cut most direct monetary subsidies, however these corporations cannot be allowed to shirk their financial obligations to the people of Chlymidia Mountain any longer.  Especially in a time of unprecedented profits.  And now Mayor Grouke has the political clout, to forward a progressive/socialist agenda in ways never imagined.    
     Although the corporate bill of rights failed pitifully, it illustrated the extent to which local industry was willing to go to further their own agenda.   And most agree that big business represents the single biggest obstacle to progressive reform.  So indeed, breaking the patterns of corporate irresponsibility that have for so long been the status quo in Chlymidia Mountain, will be easier demanded than done.  However, the road ahead looks promising.
     In addition to the dramatic failure of the corporate bill of rights, several quite progressive measures were passed in January that seem to indicate a leftward trend in CM politics.  Proposition 51, a measure that would legalize hemp for industrial use, was passed by about 63 percent.  Despite fierce, and extremely well-funded opposition from timber giant Central Leatherstocking Industries.  As well, the radical campaign finance reform measure Prop 67 was passed.  This is the law that would limit all campaign contributions to 20 dollars, and prescribes that all donations collected above 5000 dollars, must be collected by panhandling on the street corner.   This law is set to go into effect just in time for the 2002 elections.  Providing it isnít overturned by city courts this summer.  As several prominent conservative attorneyís such as Adam Deemer have began an effort to challenge the new law.  Another proposition related to campaign finance reform that passed overwhelmingly was a bill, to have the city Board of Elections subsidize political advertisements on television, radio, and in newspapers.   Which will give all candidates equal footing during campaigns regardless of their level of contributions.     If the so-called panhandling bill, get's dumped by the courts this summer, which is highly likely.  Campaign finance reform advocates have an alternative, that would be viable under the city charter's free speech provisions.   If insofar as campaign contributions are a representation of an entities political expression, they cannot be abridged or limited, then insofar as they are monetary transactions, they can be taxed, and taxed quite heavily, so as to create a disincentive effect.