Arcata California voter initiative on recruitment

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Arcata Youth Protection Ordinance – Voter Initiative on November 2008 Ballot

PRESS RELEASE:

“Arcata Youth Protection Ordinance” on the November 2008 ballot as a voter initiative.

February 6, 2008

Arcata , California

Local group submits proposed voter initiative ordinance.

On Monday, February 4, a group of local parents, teachers, students and counter-recruiting activists filed with the Arcata City Clerk a “Notice of Intention to Circulate an Initiative Petition” and a “Request for Ballot Title and Summary” for a proposed ordinance that they hope to see on the November 2008 ballot. The “The Arcata Youth Protection Act” prohibits military recruiting of any person under the age of eighteen within the City of Arcata .

The City Attorney has fifteen days to review the ordinance and prepare a ballot title and summary. The proponents may then begin to collect signatures of registered Arcata voters on a petition to place the measure on the ballot. Approximately 1500 valid signatures are required by early June in order to qualify for the November 2008 general election.

The actual Statement of Law in the ordinance reads:

“No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the City of Arcata, in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen into any branch of the United States Armed Forces.”

The group meets regularly, and anyone interested in helping to get this ordinance on the ballot in Arcata or elsewhere is encouraged to call 834-3612.

An update will be issued when signature gathering begins.

A few points about the Arcata Youth Protection Act:

It is intended to be a ballot initiative, an ordinance to be voted on by the community.

It is not intended to be introduced as an ordinance to be voted on by the city council.

Its main premise is that military recruiting is a threat to youth, and that those who are considered too young to vote are also too young to be urged to enlist in the military.

“No Child Left Behind” allows federal funding to be cut if local school boards restrict recruiter access to schools; it says nothing about people voting to protect youth from military recruiting.

The ordinance will likely be challenged by the federal government on the grounds of preemption, but when the federal government is destructive of our rights or threatens the welfare of our youth, we must challenge its authority.

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Full Text of the Ordinance:

ARCATA YOUTH PROTECTION ACT

AN ORDINANCE TO PROHIBIT THE MILITARY RECRUITMENT OF ANY PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN

To protect the welfare of our youth, the People of Arcata Ordain as Follows:

No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the City of Arcata , in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen into any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Authority:

This Ordinance is adopted and enacted pursuant to the authority guaranteed to the people of Arcata by the California Constitution (Article 2, Section1) and the U.S. Constitution (Amendments IX and X) which guarantee political power to the people and recognize the right to exercise that power through initiative and referendum (California Constitution Article 4, Section I).

Findings

1) Military Recruiters Target Teens.

Military recruiters target teens through ad campaigns, mailings, telephone calls, email, and direct personal contact. They promote enlistment by glorifying military service and exaggerating the educational and career benefits, while ignoring the dangers. Recruiters are rewarded for meeting enlistment quotas and risk reassignment if quotas are not met. College and business recruiters lack equivalent resources and incentives to promote non-military careers to teens.

2) People under the age of eighteen are not permitted to vote.

As a society, we believe that people under eighteen lack the life experience to make informed choices; they cannot vote, sign contracts, or make medical and other legal decisions. Although people under eighteen cannot enlist in the military without parental consent, sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in our community are routinely urged by recruiters to commit themselves to future enlistment after their eighteenth birthdays. Those who do enlist in the military may be ordered to participate in actions that violate Constitutional and International Law including bombings of civilian targets, invasions and occupations of sovereign nations, or illegal detention and mistreatment of suspected terrorists. Young soldiers risk their lives and sanity without a developed ability to comprehend the consequences of their actions. Unlike civilian employees, military enlistees may be prosecuted and imprisoned if they refuse to obey an order, or if they change their minds and want to quit their jobs in the military. If we believe that people under the age of eighteen lack the experience and maturity necessary for voting, then they should not be subjected to the highly sophisticated and well- fun ded efforts of military recruiters to enlist them in the armed forces.

3) The First Amendment protects the free speech of people, not the government.

While some may argue that recruiting is “speech” protected by the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights protects the rights of people from the excesses of government.

4) This Ordinance does not violate provisions of No Child Left Behind.

The No Child Left Behind Act (PL 117-110, Section 9528.3) mandates that: “Each local educational agency receiving assistance under this Act shall provide military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as is provided generally to post secondary educational institutions or to prospective employers of those students.” This Ordinance is to be approved by the voters, not by any local educational agency. Under the Ordinance, schools may still provide access to military recruiters, but recruiters are prohibited from recruiting or promoting the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen.

Specific Purpose:

The specific purpose of this Ordinance is to protect youth under the age of eighteen from military recruiting.

Statement of Law:

No person who is employed by or an agent of the United States government shall, within the City of Arcata , in the execution of his or her job duties, recruit, initiate contact with for the purpose of recruiting, or promote the future enlistment of any person under the age of eighteen into any branch of the United States Armed Forces.

Nothing in this Ordinance shall prevent any person from voluntarily visiting a military recruitment office or specifically initiating a request to meet with a recruiter.

Nothing in this Ordinance shall prevent individuals who are not employed by or agents of the U.S. government from encouraging people under the age of eighteen to join the military.

Enforcement

The City of Arcata shall inform all local military recruiters and their commanding officers of this Ordinance, which prohibits military recruiting of any person under the age of eighteen within the City of Arcata . Any military recruiter who violates this Ordinance, as well as his or her commanding officer, shall be held responsible for said violation. Both shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and shall be subject to the penalties stated in the Arcata Municipal Code. (A.M.C. I-3-1200) A citizen complaint of any unsolicited military recruiting activity involving people under the age of eighteen shall initiate investigation and possible citation by the Arcata Police Department for violation of this Ordinance. If recruiters violate this Ordinance five or more times within one month, military recruiting of persons under the age of eighteen shall be deemed a public nuisance and shall be summarily abated.

(A.M.C. I-3-1201)

Severability

The provisions of this Ordinance are severable. If any section or provision of this Ordinance is determined to be illegal, invalid or unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, such decision of the court shall not affect or invalidate any of the remaining sections or provisions of this Ordinance. It is the express intent of the people of Arcata , California that this Ordinance would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional section or provision had not been included.

Effective Date

This Ordinance shall take effect thirty (30) days after adoption by the voters.

Interpretation

In the event this Ordinance requires interpretation (by courts, county officials, or anyone else), it is the express intent of the people of Arcata that this Ordinance be construed in such a manner to carry out the original intent of this Initiative, which is to prohibit military recruitment of any person under the age of eighteen within the City of Arcata.