BANGOR, Maine — After debating the merits of the city taking over an abandoned property and approving ordinance changes, Bangor’s City Council debated the merits of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The majority of time at Monday’s regular council meeting was taken up by councilor debate and public comment over Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick’s proposed resolution against the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, voted that the First Amendment kept the U.S. government from restricting political spending by corporations and unions.
Gratwick’s resolution, which has no legislative or authoritative impact, was approved 5-3 by the council on Monday night. It reads as follows: “Support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to provide that corporations are not entitled to the rights of natural persons with regard to the expenditure of money to influence elections.”
Councilors Gratwick, Ben Sprague, Charlie Longo, Joe Baldacci and Sue Hawes voted in favor of the resolution.
“That 2010 decision reversed a century of U.S. political understanding of the role of corporations,” said Baldacci, who added that allowing that decision to stand was akin to allowing the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott case decision, which held that blacks were not free, the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, and slavery was legal.
Councilors Cary Weston, Nelson Durgin and James Gallant voted against the resolution.
Durgin cited a half dozen Supreme Court decisions holding corporations liable for restitution and damages much like individuals are, and that millions of people currently support and contribute corporate efforts through businesses and unions.
Six people voiced their support of the resolution through public comment at the meeting.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to approve the sale of .23 acres, 10,000-plus square feet, of land behind and adjacent to Geaghan’s Roundhouse Restaurant by the city for $14,040. The deal will allow Geaghan’s to create 25 additional parking spaces.
The council also voted to take possession of the house and property at 55 Grant St., which was condemned and abandoned and upon which property taxes had not been paid for the last five years.