Greenbelt resident Eugenia Kalnay helped lead a Greenbelt campaign against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At the Greenbelt City Council's last regular meeting, she and other concerned citizens stormed the and
In Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment gives corporations and unions the same political speech rights as individuals — and it opened the door for corporations to use their general treasury funds to make election-related independent expenditures.
When it comes to politics, “That was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that," Kalnay said in an interview Thursday.
This may be the first time Kalnay has led a political campaign, but she is no stranger to taking up challenges. In 2010, the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) presented her with its gold medal award, the International Meteorological Organization Prize, as reported by the Greenbelt News Review.
Kalnay was recognized for being a leader in developing the techniques that made it possible for two- and three-day weather forecasts to eventually expand to seven-day predictions, among other accomplishments.
Now, Kalnay has become a part of a Citizens United movement that has been gaining momentum in Greenbelt from house to house.
Greenbelt resident Lore Rosenthal was key in inspiring Greenbelt house parties to educate residents and rally supporters behind a constitutional amendment. Rosenthal hosted her first party on Dec. 15, 2011, with participation from Public Citizen, which is teaming up with Common Cause, Free Speech for People, Move to Amend and People For the American Way to host house parties all over the country.
It was at Rosenthal's party that Kalnay signed up to host one in her home on Jan. 13. A key discussion point at Kalnay's party was how to lobby city council. Kalnay said there were people at the meeting who warned against it, saying it would be difficult to accomplish.
But in the end, the group decided to go for it and rally others to their cause. On Jan. 23, citizens showed up en masse at council's meeting, packing the room to the point that people had to line the wall by the entry door to fit in.
Jennifer Robinson, a leader in the effort to persuade city council, presented council members with a letter containing 45 signatures asking them to urge the Maryland General Assembly to take a stand. It specifically requested the assembly send a letter to the U.S. Congress expressing the state’s disagreement with the Citizen’s United ruling.
Council voted unanimously to draft a letter and send it to the Maryland General Assembly and other government officials. Council did not specify what the letter would state, but indicated that it would support Sen. Jamie Raskin's (D-Montgomery) approach to a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United.
Euphoric over the unanimous vote, Kalnay said, “We did it as a team.”
Then turning her weather forecasting abilities onto the political atmosphere, Kalnay foresaw a day when citizens would stand up to Citizens United. She predicted referendums across the country, where 60 to 90 percent of participating citizens, probably closer to 90 percent, would voice their support for a constitutional amendment.