In the Oct. 15 issue of Wednesday Journal, staff writer Timothy Inklebarger asks “What the heck is a Trans-Pacific Partnership-Free zone?” [Advisory referendum on free trade? News] That’s a question many others likely are asking, hence the lengthy wording of one of the referenda that will appear on the Oak Park ballot.

To get on the ballot, someone has to write the text of the referendum and then signatures must be gathered to get it considered for approval at a meeting of the Oak Park Township. Residents then vote to approve them or not.

Unlike some places, staff at the township has a history of working well with villagers seeking to work on ballot initiatives. I would particularly like to mention Township Clerk Greg White and Township Attorney John Garofalo for their advice and assistance in getting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) referendum on the ballot.

Referenda can be a tool for education. In the case of the TPP, education was a key element in my work to get the referendum on the ballot. The negotiating process of the TPP has been kept under wraps, yet portions of the text have been leaked to the public. Various Oak Park residents have provided critiques of different aspects of the TPP in this very newspaper.

One tool used to pass previous international trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) is Trade Promotion Authority, better known as “Fast Track.” The U.S. Congress would have to vote to cede trade authority to the executive branch. The President would present a finished trade deal to Congress to vote up or down with no amendments and a short window of time to review the document.

Referenda offer an opportunity to make a choice. The reason to vote “Yes” on the TPP-Free Zone referendum is to make a statement against an undemocratic process. 

Tom Broderick

Oak Park

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