NEWBURYPORT — The City Council voted unanimously this week to support a national resolution for a constitutional amendment that would reverse a Supreme Court decision permitting corporations to contribute generously to political candidates.
The resolution, introduced by councilors Ari Herzog and Katy O'Connor Ives, reads, "Resolved that the Newburyport City Council calls upon the U.S. Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to restore the First Amendment and fair elections to the people."
The council also called for the city clerk to send a copy of the resolution to U.S. Rep. John Tierney, state Sen. Steven Baddour, D-Methuen, and state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport.
The reference to the First Amendment was that the Supreme Court has transformed it into "a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate democratically enacted reforms."
The petition said that the high court in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission "overturned long-standing precedent prohibiting corporations from spending their general treasury funds in our elections."
Herzog spoke in favor of the resolution, saying "hundreds" of communities nationwide, including many in Massachusetts, have passed a similar one.
Two representatives of the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist, in Newburyport and several residents also spoke in support of the resolution.
The resolution won the support of all councilors in attendance. Councilors Barry Connell and Brian Derrivan were absent.
In other action, the council approved a transfer of $12,500 to a planning and professional services account as part of its eventual payment for services related to a study of the development of the waterfront.
The city and the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority are each contributing $12,500 for the study. The money will be combined with an additional $25,000 from MassDevelopment, a quasi-public institution the city is partnering with for the planning studies.
Mayor Donna Holaday and NRA Chairman James Shanley were among local officials who met with consultants, architects and MassDevelopment representatives on Monday in Boston to discuss early steps in creating a plan for the use of 4.2 acres the NRA controls along the waterfront.
The council took no action on several other municipal matters.
Councilors declined to release from committee a $25,000 contribution to fund a "place-based" program that helps middle-school students learn about the coastal environment. School officials have touted it as a valuable program, but some councilors said this week they wanted to learn more about how the money will be used.
Also remaining in committee is a recommendation for approving a new program for streetlights. Again, councilors asked for more information about finances before voting.
And a measure focusing on rezoning part of Storey Avenue, purportedly for a CVS branch, remains in committee. The Planning and Development Committee was scheduled to act on the request, but its decision has been delayed.
A meeting that had been scheduled for tonight to consider the rezoning proposal has been canceled because Chairman Barry Connell is ill.
Also remaining in the Planning and Development Committee is a revised tree ordinance, which one committee member said has been revised 21 times thus far.