10/15/2019Ohio Court Allows Referendum On Speed Cameras
Court green lights vote on citizen initiative that would ban the use of speed cameras in East Liverpool, Ohio.
Residents of East Liverpool, Ohio, will have a chance to vote for or against speed cameras on November 5, but the vote still might not count. Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge Scott A. Washam last week decided not to pull the proposed initiative from the ballot through the temporary restraining order that city officials had requested.
"An injunction is an extraordinary remedy," Judge Washam wrote in his ruling.
In 2017, city auditor Marilyn Bosco blocked the referendum by refusing to certify that the initiative received the correct number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. A county Judge C. Ashley Pike ruled that she had no right to do that and ordered her to certify the measure. In August, Bosco did certify the citizen's initiative with a letter reserving the right to revoke the certification if the Ohio Court of Appeals rejected Judge Pike's reasoning. Even though the appellate court ruled against the citizens of East Liverpool (view ruling), Judge Washam pointed out it was not Bosco's job to interpret court rulings.
"If Ms. Bosco did not certify the initiative by virtue of her August 7, 2019 letter, it is hard to understand how she can claim to reserve any right to revoke it," Judge Washam ruled. "Because Revised Code Section 731.28 confers no such authority on Ms. Bosco, her letter to the Board of Elections dated September 23, 2019 must be viewed as a legal nullity."
The court pointed out that East Liverpool is to blame for dragging its feet in filing an appeal, as prompt filing is essential in election matters.
"The ballot for the November 5, 2019 general election is now printed and the language of the initiative petition appears thereon," Judge Washam wrote. "The language of the initiative petition cannot now be removed from the ballot without interfering with and/or perhaps jeopardizing the integrity of the results of other matters to be decided at the November 5, 2019 general election. Under these circumstances, the delay of the city of East Liverpool and the resulting prejudice it caused cannot be excused."
The court has yet to decide on a second proposal from the city that the measure appear on the ballot, but the city will just refuse to count the votes. The group East Liverpool Citizens Against Traffic Cameras is stepping up efforts to educate residents about next month's vote.
"The ballot language for our issue is confusing," the group explained. "Remember, vote yes to end traffic cameras. Our initiative is proposing a new ordinance. This is why voters must vote yes. Citizens are being asked if they want to adopt the new law."
So far, the residents of Ashtabula, Cleveland, Chillicothe, Heath, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, South Euclid and Steubenville have voted to outlaw automated ticketing machines.
A copy of last week's ruling is available in a 250k PDF file at the source link below.