Is ALEC Jr. Coming to Whatcom County or Bellingham Soon?
“ALEC, Jr.” from the American Legislative Exchange Council could be coming our way in the near future. As many of you may already know, ALEC is a decades-old front organization for corporations pushing “free market” and ultra-right type legislation throughout the state legislatures under the guise of providing “non-partisan” information to legislators. The American City County Exchange (ACCE), roughly the Rosemary’s Baby of its father, ALEC, has been brought forth to target cities and counties across the U.S. in the same way that the father organization has wrought havoc with its influence in state legislatures since its creation in 1973. ALEC is largely responsible for the infamous stand-your-ground type legislation that has a version now in 20 states. This right-wing organization also mucks about in privatizing education, relaxing or eliminating environmental legislation, corporate tax reduction, et cetera, et ad nauseam. Having had tremendous success at the state level on many issues, ALEC now sees ripe fruit hanging at the city and county level. So get ready. In the meantime, enjoy a short primer on ALEC here.
According to a recent article in the Guardian, “The new organisation [ACCE] will offer corporate America a direct conduit into the policy making process of city councils and municipalities. Lobbyists acting on behalf of major businesses will be able to propose resolutions and argue for new profit-enhancing legislation in front of elected city officials, who will then return to their council chambers and seek to implement the proposals.” Even for those familiar with the antics of ALEC, you may want to read a piece that appeared in Truthdig several years ago entitled “Corporate Front Group Burns Americans.” Having junior versions of this secretive organization mucking about with our city and county councils should make your hair stand on end.
Local tactics may resemble the following, according to the Guardian. “By joining ACCE’s council committee, corporate lobbyists can ‘participate in policy development and network with other entrepreneurs and municipal officials from around the country.’ In committee meetings, lobbyists will be allowed to ‘present facts and opinions for discussion’ and introduce resolutions for new policies that they want to see implemented in a city. At the end of such meetings, the elected officials present in the room will take a vote before returning to their respective council chambers armed with new legislative proposals.”
Although there is no direct evidence that Belllingham or Whatcom County is presently in the legislative sights of ACCE, issues like the Gateway Pacific Terminal may attract its attention much like the smell of offal attracts hyenas.