Thu, November 5, 2015 @ 12:00 a.m.
Why won’t the advocates of the absurd proposal to ban fracking in the city of Youngstown just go away? Because like all other self-appointed protectors of society, they can’t fathom not being embraced by a majority of the public.
And so it is that the leaders of FrackFree Mahoning Valley are contemplating a sixth attempt to pass a charter amendment that would prohibit the use of fracking to extract oil and gas in the city of Youngstown.
In Tuesday’s general election, Youngstown voters again said no to the anti-fracking Community Bill of Rights charter amendment. It was the fifth rejection at the polls, but Ray and Susie Beiersdorfer and their compatriots aren’t ready to concede defeat.
Why use the words “absurd proposal” in reference to the amendment? Because the Beiersdorfers know that it could not be enforced even if voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of the charter amendment.
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.
While the Beiersdorfers and others obviously believe that residents of the city aren’t intelligent enough to know what’s in their best interest, the outcome of the five attempts to ram through the Community Bill of Rights is a clear repudiation of the do-gooders.
The charter amendment was rejected twice in 2013 and twice in 2014 and now in Tuesday’s general election.
To be sure, the vote count this time showed the smallest margin of defeat, but a loss is still a loss. Indeed, had the issue passed by one vote, the proponents would be hailing the outcome as a major victory for the anti-fracking forces
The unofficial but complete vote count Tuesday night was 6,028 against the charter amendment, and 5,683 for it.
Last year, the mislabeled Community Bill of Rights was rejected by a vote of 7,323 to 5,373 in the November 2014 general election and 3,691 to 3,128 in the May primary of that year.
“It’s great we came so close,” said Susie Beiersdorfer of this week’s result. “I can’t say we’ll put another initiative on the Youngstown ballot. It’s very close. We may want to look into a recount.”
Contemplating a recount is a reasonable reaction to such a close vote.
On the other hand, toying with the idea of putting the issue back on the ballot if the unofficial result holds up is not only unreasonable but would be an abuse of the citizen-initiative provision of the constitution.
And, as we have contended in the past, repeatedly going to the ballot is a clear indication that the anti-fracking advocates have little respect for the voters of the city of Youngstown.
If the third time the issue was presented to the voters wasn’t the charm, and the fourth and fifth times were more of the same – rejection – why would FrackFree Mahoning Valley even contemplate a sixth?
The answer: It keeps alive an issue that is not on the minds of most Youngstown residents.
In addition to being declared unconstitutional if it passed, the Community Bill of Rights seeks to address a phantom in the city called fracking.
As Mayor John A. McNally has noted time and again, there are no companies from the region, state or nation that have plans to drill for oil and gas in the city.
On the other hand, if the charter amendment were approved and ultimately upheld by the courts, there are businesses in the city, including Vallourec Star, manufacturer of steel pipe for the oil and gas industry, which would be prohibited from operating.