28 Feb 2012

National Defense Authorization Act discussed at Bowling Green City Council

Author: Danae King | Filed under: Bowling Green City Council, Spring 2012, Student Contributor

By Danae King

Students from Bowling Green State University chose the city council meeting as the place to begin their campaign against the National Defense Authorization Act.

BGSU freshman Daniel Johnson led the efforts of People Against the National Defense Act, a group that wrote a resolution to nullify the NDAA, to get the council to pass the resolution and two ordinances granting it the legal backing to sue the government if it takes a citizen.

Johnson, founder and president of PANDA, expected approximately 100 supporters to walk to the city council meeting with him Tuesday night, however, 13 made the walk from University Hall at BGSU and around 10 more met the group there, Johnson said.

“The local support was disappointing,” Johnson said. “But that was because of the weather.”

During a portion of the meeting when citizens can express their concerns, Johnson and other PANDA members as well as group supporters protested the council’s previous decision not to take any action on the legislation.

“We want to implore them to reconsider and protest their decision,” Johnson said. “We want to accomplish awareness of the movement.”

PANDA members wore reflective bands across their torsos to reflect unity as well as the more practical purpose of protection from traffic while walking to the meeting, Johnson said.

After PANDA supporters spoke to council, a few council members responded to the supporters.

“Thank you for being engaged,” said Greg Robinette, a council member representing Ward four, during the meeting. “I too am offended by the NDAA … but I respectfully disagree with the resolution being a good measure.”

Michael Marsh, the city council attorney, said the act could not be nullified by the council.

“That doesn’t mean cities haven’t taken some act,” Marsh said during the meeting. “It’s more along the lines of making a statement about what you think about it.”

The council was not obligated to support the resolution, Robinette said.

“We have a system in our country, and we’ve got to allow our system to work,” Robinette said after the meeting. “My concern with the proposed legislation is that both the ordinances required an action on part of the city employees that I think would be inappropriate.”

Johnson expected such a response.

“It didn’t go over well, it’s just forcing us to rethink our strategy,” Johnson said.

As far as a next step, Johnson said PANDA plans to take its initiative to the county or state level, as city council seems to “have it a dead end.”

“We would get the requisite number of signatures to put the resolution on the ballot and then the vote would override city council’s decision,” Johnson said.

If the vote were to pass at the county level, Johnson said it would raise awareness about the act in Ohio and give the county legal ground to fight the federal government.

As far as taking the resolution to the federal level, Johnson said that route won’t work.

“It [the NDAA] was voted in 93 to seven in the senate and 283 to 136 in the House with 14 abstentions,” Johnson said. “The Supreme Court is also quoting the bill in cases, because of that the judicial branch is not a way to go with it.”

Johnson hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue the legislation in Wood County or at the state level. He said he will get advice from supporting organizations and make a decision by the end of BGSU’s spring break.

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