The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) would threaten a broad range of local economic development policy, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, Affirmative Action policies, local job creation, health and safety measures, selective-purchasing laws and much more. Already San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Arcata, California; Olympia and Tummwater, Washington; the Association of Washington Cities; and Boulder, Colorado have successfully passed resolutions declaring themselves "MAI-Free!" while dozens more are expected to pass! Even Geneva, Switzerland, home of the WTO, has now joined a growing list of cities in Canada, Europe, Australia and other countries whose city councils have voted for MAI Free Zone resolutions. The key purpose of introducing (and hopefully passing) a resolution is to: build local elected official involvement on the MAI issues, to generate local press and to spark a much needed discussion in your community about the MAI and the broader impacts of globalization on local sovereignty. Each city/county council will have their own unique procedures for adopting resolutions, but the following steps will guide you through the process generally.
1. Form a local coalition: The merit of your resolution will inevitably be judged by the strength and breadth of your coalition. Before contacting your council, identify key activists and leaders in your community from labor unions, environmental groups, churches, human rights organizations, women's groups etc. As a coalition, you will support the resolution process through the following steps.
2. Identify sympathetic council members to introduce and promote the resolution: Once you have enlisted the support of one or two council members, they can familiarize you with the exact procedure and appropriate strategy for passing the resolution.
3. Offer support to the Council Member(s): Share sample resolutions from other councils, offer research support to investigate and identify specific local laws potentially impacted by the MAI, and provide necessary support in drafting the final resolution. Keep your council apprized of resolutions introduced or passed in other communities by checking in with our office. Councils may be less reluctant to make a bold stand against the MAI if they know they are not alone.
4. Lobby City/County Council Members: Using a concise cover letter and materials that identify specific local examples, personally contact each council member and urge their support. Work with your coalition to develop these materials then hand deliver packets of MAI information to City Hall, mail to their home addresses, and follow-up with additional calls.
5. Keep the local press informed: As stated earlier, generating local press is a critical benefit of the resolution. At every stage of the resolution process (introduction, debate & vote) send media advisories to local newsprint, cable access and radio. The greater the debate, the better the coverage!
6. Attend all council meetings: From the moment of introduction to the time for vote, make sure your coalition turns out crowds of supports who can speak on behalf of the resolution. It is especially helpful to recruit local experts (lawyers, professors, economists etc) who can speak on behalf of the resolution. Embrace every opportunity to raise the debate!
7. Forward all clips to state and federal representatives! Send all local clips by fax or mail to your local state rep, Congress member and Senators. This will make them aware that people in your community are concerned about the broad impacts of the MAI and the threat to local sovereignty.
8. Organize a press conference: When your council successfully passes the resolution, organize a press conference and ask council members to speak. If sympathetic to the issue, invite state and federal reps to speak as well.
Additional Tips and Resources:
Your coalition is critical for success. Engage local activists from diverse constituencies.
The key purpose is to generate local press and education.
Make sure all your materials are concise and specific to the local community.
Use all the support you need from other groups who are working on the MAI. Here are some web sites with essential information: Public Citizen: www.tradewatch.org, The Preamble Center for Public Policy www.preamble.org, Western Governors Association report "MAI: Potential Effects on State and Local Government." found at www.westgov.org/wga/publicat/maiweb.htm, Appleton &Associates International Lawyers - briefing on the MAI and municipalities at www.appletonlaw.com/MAI/MAI-municipal.htm.
You can contact our office to help identify other people in your community working on the MAI or for research questions and analysis. Our information is provided below.
Be consistent, follow-up and send us all your clips so we can share them with others!
Win or lose, the mere debate of passing a resolution will draw much needed attention to the MAI. GOOD LUCK!
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