Published: Tue, October 20, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.
There isn’t a newspaper in the country – ours included – that would criticize a citizen for petitioning his or her government.
Indeed, government accessibility and transparency are the foundation of democracy and the mainstay of a free press.
That said, we wonder how many newspapers would sit idly by while a citizens group petitions government – through the ballot box – not once, not twice, but five times. Not many, we suspect.
Thus, we have no qualms about telling the bunch of self-righteous, self- important individuals who are pushing an anti-fracking charter amendment in the city of Youngstown to please go away.
No one is trying to silence the advocates of the Community Bill of Rights or deprive them of their right to put the issue before the voters of Youngstown. But most reasonable people would admit defeat after four rejections. In our view, the “three strikes and you’re out” rule is applicable.
But, Susie and Ray Beiersdorfer, the masterminds of the anti-fracking campaign in Youngstown, have no shame when it comes to being snubbed by the residents of the city.
“It’s a very important issue to the people of Youngstown,” Susie Beiersdorfer said in an election-related story in The Vindicator. “It’s about local control.”
Implicit in that comment was a message to the residents of Youngstown who have voted “no” on the issue on four separate occasions: You’re too dumb to know what’s in your best interest.
The issue was turned down twice in 2013 and twice in 2014.
Last November, it was rejected by a vote of 7,323 to 5,373. In the May primary last year, it went down to defeat by a vote of 3,691 to 3,128.
In other words, the more the Beiersdorfers and their self-absorbed allies in the anti-fracking movement keep up this exercise in futility, the more they feel the wrath of the people of Youngstown.
In the past two years, we have used every argument we could think of to show why the bill of rights is absolutely wrong for the city.
Supreme court ruling
The centerpiece of our argument is that even if the voters approved the issue, it could not be enforced because the Ohio Supreme Court already has ruled in another case that only the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has authority over oil and gas drilling in the state.
Thus, the attempt to ban oil and gas drilling and related activities in the city will not pass judicial review.
It is no accident, therefore, that Mayor John A. McNally and city Law Director Martin Hume are opposed to the Community Bill of Rights, as are business and community leaders and other thoughtful people.
“The residents of the city are tired of hearing about this issue,” Mayor McNally said.
Not only tired, but disgusted with the arrogance of the Beiersdorfer and others who believe they know better than a majority of the voters who have said “no” on four occasions.
It doesn’t matter to the anti-frackers that there are no plans by any oil and gas companies to drill in the city using the hydraulic fracturing – fracking – method.
And, it certainly doesn’t matter to them that the charter amendment is so broadly written that there are companies in Youngstown, such as Vallourec Star, that could be in jeopardy if the issue passes and is upheld by the courts. Vallourec Star makes steel pipes for the oil and gas industry.
As we said at the outset, this is not about prohibiting citizens from petitioning their government, nor dissuading individuals from being involved in their communities.
It is, however, about a few people who have convinced themselves that the last four votes on the charter amendment did not reflect the true feelings of Youngstown residents and, therefore, should be ignored.
Thus, on Nov. 3, the Community Bill of Rights issue will again be on the ballot. We urge a firm “no” vote that will say to the anti-fracking advocates, “Go away – forever.”