Several minority advocacy organizations are putting on the pressure.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
and DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITERS
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County Board of Elections officials say those organizing a petition drive to place the school construction bond issue back on the ballot for possible repeal in November are wasting their time.
Atty. E. Winther McCroom of Youngstown, legal counsel for the state and local NAACP, said at Tuesday's board of education meeting the recall is being sought because not enough has been done to assure sufficient minority participation in the project.
"At every step of the way, we have been greater disillusioned by your efforts. We have been further despondent," McCroom told the board. "You are failing miserably to meet the obligation before you.
"I hope that it will not have to go to a recall, because the only ones that will be hurt in the end are those children. They need suitable buildings," said board member Tracey Winbush.
She added that she will do everything she can to ensure that minorities who wish to participate are represented.
But after researching the issue today and checking with the Ohio Secretary of State's office, county election board officials said there is no such thing as a bond issue repeal.
"The law says that bond issues are not to be repealed," said Michael V. Sciortino, elections board director. "There is no provision anywhere in the law for such a repeal. It can't be done."
Approval: Voters approved the bond issue in November to pay the $33 million local share of the $163.5 million schools construction project. The state will pay for the rest of the project, which includes construction of a new East Side High School and three new elementary schools, expansion of Chaney High School and extensive renovation of many other school buildings. Groundbreakings are set for the fall of 2002.
Besides the NAACP, organizations listed as supporters of the petition drive on a leaflet promoting the drive are: the Ohio Black Legislative Caucus, Youngstown Chapter, the Youngstown Area Urban League and Youngstown Area Development Corp.
Minority participation: Noting that the board awarded two architectural and engineering design contracts July 17 without reference to 20 percent minority participation and has not yet hired an equal employment opportunity officer, the leaflet says evidence suggests that the promise by the board and the building trades unions that at least 20 percent of construction jobs will go to minorities won't be realized.
The board Tuesday approved architect's reports concerning the new North Elementary School to be built adjacent to Harding Elementary School and the new South Elementary School to be built adjacent to Taft Elementary School. Each is designated for 485 pupils in kindergarten through grade four.
The board will meet in special session at 6 p.m. Aug. 8 to discuss the building project.