Appalachian Basin

Voters for Ballot Integrity Formed to Combat Costly CELDF “Bill of Rights”

Ohio voters announced the formation of a new group this week, Voters for Ballot Integrity, after learning petitions were being circulated to put the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) authored so-called Community Bill of Rights charter amendment on the ballot in Youngstown for the fifth time. The measure has been defeated on four separate occasions, costing Youngstown taxpayers $50,000 to administer the elections.

There have been several major milestones in Ohio since the fourth defeat of the November 2014 Youngstown Community Bill of Rights charter amendment, including the noteworthy Ohio Supreme Court decision (State ex rel. Morrison v. Beck Energy Corp.) that makes it improper for the measure to go on the ballot again. The case makes it clear that the amendment is outside the purview of the city’s jurisdiction, and that the Ohio Constitution prohibits such measures from appearing on the ballot.

Despite this decision, however, CELDF is again circulating an anti-hydraulic fracturing Bill of Rights amendment for the Youngstown ballot. The newly formed Voters for Ballot Integrity group, made up of local labor and business officials and concerned citizens, is aimed at stopping the abuse of the ballot process by those pushing the “job killing” Community Bill of Rights charter amendments. According to Bill Padisak, President of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council and Voters for Ballot Integrity, the group will bring new awareness to the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision and the impacts of the Bill of Rights on taxpayers and Youngstown businesses. From the press conference:

“Our concern is that this is costing the taxpayers of Youngstown a lot of money. It’s time for this to stop. I’m an environmentalist. I believe in responsible environmental controls. But this is not the way to do it. They need to take their fight to the state because that’s who controls this legislation. Therefore, there is no point in putting this on the ballot yet again. We’re calling on the board of elections and local leaders to do everything they can to stop this from being put back on the ballot and wasting more money.”-Bill Padisak, President of the Mahoning-Trumbull AFL-CIO

Small business folks were also on hand at the press conference, a local bowling alley owner, Bob Smith acknowledged the host of consequences included in the CELDF authored ballot measure, noting that it would have impact on business of all shapes and sizes.

“I’m concerned, as a small-businessman, that we could have all the appropriate permits and do everything by the letter of the law, but there could be a few people who come in and stop jobs because it’s against what they want to be done.”-Bob Smith, Co-owner, Camelot Lanes

In addition to the efforts from Voters for Ballot Integrity, education on the CELDF authored Community Bill of Rights is also gaining traction throughout Ohio. Just this week, CELDF was dealt two other significant defeats with a court ruling in Cuyahoga County and the Athens County Board of Elections overwhelming unanimous rejection of allowing the measure to appear on the November ballot.

The newly formed Voters for Ballot Integrity is another important example that Ohio voters are opposed to these costly ballot measures, and are dedicated to defending their taxpayer dollars. The coalition is encouraging concerned citizens to join them by contacting their local leaders at

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