Two advisory referenda passed at the Village Township meeting on Tuesday, April 8. The first calls on the federal government to enact legislation requiring universal background checks of criminal and mental health history records for transfers of ownership or possession of firearms. This received unanimous approval. Congratulations!

The second asks voters of Oak Park to reject the secretly-negotiated rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and call upon the village board of Oak Park to enact an ordinance declaring village a TPP-Free Zone. This engendered debate. One who spoke against it felt we were powerless to affect national policy. One who spoke in support stated that the referendum provided a democratic opportunity for the voters of our community to take a public position. When the vote was taken, this referendum also passed. 

The TPP is a trade agreement likened to NAFTA on steroids. NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. Note that the expression “free trade” has been dropped from the TPP title. Negotiated behind closed doors on behalf of transnational corporations, TPP is not a trade agreement. It is a power grab by and for these trans-national corporations. 

Twelve countries are currently working for passage: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. This represents approximately 40% of the global economy. The document is structured to allow additional governments to join at a later date. 

The U.S. negotiations involve approximately 600 lobbyists, mostly from multi-national corporations. Our elected representatives have only limited access to the document, and they are not allowed to discuss the contents with anyone, including their staff and other legislators. 

TPP accelerates the race to the bottom by undermining financial industry regulations; dismantling “Buy Local” preferences; extending drug patents for pharmaceutical companies, stifling the opportunity for lower-cost generic medicines; challenging food safety, chemical safety and labeling requirements; and threatening environmental policies.

TPP will help global corporations sue sovereign governments in an international trade tribunal. Governments will be sued to abandon laws that protect the public, workers and the environment if these transnational corporations can show that the laws impinge on their ability to earn profits today or in the future. 

The only way this anti-democratic agreement can pass is if Congress first allows Trade Promotion Authority (aka Fast Track) to pass. Fast Track strips our elected officials from their rights and responsibilities for trade negotiation and amplifies the power of the U.S. Trade Representative, the executive branch and the representatives of the transnational corporations who have been shaping TPP. 

Fast Track would allow TPP to be brought to Congress, allowing our elected officials no chance for careful study, debate or amendment. Our elected officials would be allowed only the opportunity to vote “up” or “down.” House members from both major political parties have publicly come out against Fast Track, including Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th District, Illinois). 

Stop Fast Track and TPP will suffer the fate of Dracula in the sunlight.

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