The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Pennsylvania Community Rights Network
P.O. Box 360 Mercersburg, PA 17236

Pennsylvania Community Rights Network (PCRN) Seats Founding Board of Directors
Goal: Local Self-Governing Rights through State Constitutional Change
June 17, 2013
CONTACT: Chad Nicholson

(BOWMANSTOWN, Monday, June 17, 2013) A three member founding Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network (PCRN) reviewed bylaws and officially launched the organization today in Bowmanstown, Carbon County. Kara Scott, Cathy Miorelli and Dennis Lieb will preside over the state-wide effort to assemble representatives from the sixty-seven counties of the Commonwealth. The organizational goal is to create a process and structure for assembling a People’s Constitutional Convention with a focus on state constitutional change that will guarantee that the people in each municipality have the ability to protect the health, safety, welfare and fundamental rights of residents, free from state preemption or interference.

In a statement released after today’s seating, the new Board declared that “the legitimate foundation of government is the right to self-governance, and every Pennsylvanian retains an inalienable right to participate in community local self-government in the place where they live. We believe the protection of the residents and the natural environment constitutes the highest obligation of the local government, and this obligation is mandated by the doctrine of consent of the governed. We have come to the conclusion that the very limited authority of Pennsylvania municipalities to locally administer State-dictated regulations does not constitute community local self-government and that legislative and constitutional preemptions that deny the authority of the people to use their local governments to protect health, safety, and welfare violate fundamental rights.”

The Board called for the right to community local self-government to be recognized in the Pennsylvania Constitution, as a limitation on the ability of the State to nullify protective ordinances and laws adopted locally. It also called for:

  • The establishment of a statewide Community Rights Network, charged with authority to organize a People’s Constitutional Convention, with delegates chosen from each Township, Borough, and City ward, to amend or re-write the Pennsylvania Constitution so that it recognizes the fundamental right to community local self-government, unimpeded by state preemption and other political, legal, and cultural doctrines that interfere with that right.
  • The establishment of County Chapters of the statewide Community Rights Network in each of the sixty-seven Pennsylvania Counties.
  • The enactment of a County Bill of Rights in each County, to protect residents from harms associated with resource extraction and other activities by corporations issued permits by the State and federal government in violation of the rights of community members.
  • Each County Chapter to endorse the Chambersburg Declaration, which was issued by the original founders of PCRN in February of 2010.
  • The County Chapters to convene a larger gathering of delegates representing their municipal communities, who will propose constitutional changes to secure the right of local, community self-government.
  • The creation of the people’s movement necessary to ensure changes to the Pennsylvania Constitution are realized.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), located in Mercersburg, is working with the PCRN Board to assist in the Network’s formal establishment.

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