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Vote no on charter amendment

Published: Sun, April 28, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Think of a city’s charter as a Con- stitution, a document that succinctly sets forth the principles under which government is supposed to operate.

The preamble to the United States Constitution is 52 words long.

Now consider the proposed amendment to the Youngstown City Charter that will appear on the May 7 primary election ballot. It would add a 1,360-word section to the preamble to Youngstown’s city charter.

And it wasn’t even written in Youngstown for Youngstowners. It was lifted from a form prepared by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which is headquartered in Pennsylvania and is happy to provide the text to any group that wants to fight fracking — or coal mining, factory farming, the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer or uranium mining. That is the beauty of the document to those who see themselves as the only true protectors of the environment. It is written broadly enough that, if enforceable, it could be used to shut almost any enterprise down.

And that’s the best reason for its defeat.

An impractical exercise

This is not a serious piece of legislation. It clearly contradicts state law. If it were enforceable under Ohio law, it would be unenforceable under the U.S. Constitution. It would infringe on established property rights of people using a fanciful notion that ecosystems have inalienable rights.

Any Youngstowner who is inclined to vote for this amendment owes it to himself and to every other city resident to read the entire amendment. (It was printed in the April 15 Vindicator and can be found on the Mahoning County Board of Elections website and other Internet sites.)

A voter who wants a sense of how unrealistic this amendment is and only has time to read one paragraph, should try Section 6, which purports to supersede the Constitution of the United States.

There are legitimate questions to be asked about gas and oil extraction through hydraulic fracturing, and people would do well to be vigilant. But they shouldn’t waste time tilting at windmills.

The “Community Bill of Rights” on the May 7 ballot is not a serious response to whatever challenges fracking presents and should be defeated.

Vote no on the proposed charter amendment.


1mishmash(333 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

The VINDY got it right this time.

Well worded, now let us focus on doing this right in the Valley.

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2ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Have any of you actually read the charter amendment? Please do.


As you read through it, please consider the following.

1) a city charter cannot supersede state law, federal law and especially not the U.S. constitution, but this amendment proposes to do just that.
2) it could be construed that if you do as much as drive an automobile within city limits that any citizen could file suit against you for violating their inalienable right to clean air.
3) the text of this amendment was NOT WRITTEN by anyone in Youngstown or even anyone within this state, but was written by OUT OF STATE SPECIAL INTERESTS.
4) This amendment would prohibit any new economic development within the city related to oil and gas. Do you think that the city's finances would be better served if V&M never built their new plant here? If this amendment had been in place three years ago we would have denied ourselves OVER A BILLION DOLLARS of private investment and would have denied he city MILLIONS OF DOLLARS of tax revenue.
5) on top of it all, our water supplies are already safe, and this amendment would do nothing to protect meander which is NOT EVEN WITHIN THE CITY!!!!!!!!

If you want to ban the actual practice of fracking within the city then do that, but why support an amendment that not only bans fracking but bans just about all economic activity within the city? You should oppose this amendment even if you do want to ban fracking because of all the intended and unintended consequences that this very poorly thought out amendment will bring.

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3ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

A strict interpretation of the law would prohibit anyone from driving a car in the city, and any citizen could initiate a legal action against anyone found driving a car in the city. Here is the provision that gives me the authority:
"b. Right to Clean Air. All residents, natural communities and ecosystems in The City of Youngstown possess a fundamental and inalienable right to breathe air untainted by toxins, carcinogens, particulates and other substances known to cause harm to health."

Evidence that auto exhaust is carcinogenic: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307...

And here is the authority to file suit against you:

"9. Any person, corporation, other entity that violates any prohibition of this Law shall be guilty of a summary offense and, upon conviction shall be sentenced to pay the maximum fine allowable under state law for that violation, and shall be imprisoned to the extent allowed by law. A separate offense shall arise for each day or portion hereof in which a violation occurs and for each section of this Law found to be violated. Enforcement of this article may be initiated by the Youngstown Police Department, the Director of Public Safety, or other designee of City Council. Youngstown may also enforce this Law through an action in equity. In such an action, Youngstown shall be entitled to recover damages and all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney’s fees.

10. Any City resident shall have the authority to enforce this Law through an action in equity. "

Don't think I can do it?? I can even put you in jail. The word "shall" is included meaning that jail time is not an option but a requirement. Can you see now just how dangerous this amendment is, and how dangerous it is to support something that you know absolutely nothing about just because you bought into the propaganda?

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4DrGoo(297 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Other places in Ohio have picked up similar amendments, and they have yet to receive any type of backlash.

And if there were issues with it, it's not like it can't be "fixed" later..

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5howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

"The Declaration (of Independence) specifically mentions three rights which human beings possess by birth or by nature-life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No one may rightfully deny us these things. Nor, since they are "unalienable," may we rightfully surrender them.

It is worth remarking that the Declaration does not proclaim a right to happiness itself. Happiness is not something we have by nature. Rather we are born with minds and talents that we may use to pursue happiness.

The Declaration says that these three rights are "among" our natural rights. We have others in addition. Among the most important of these are the rights of conscience and property. These are among the rights specifically guaranteed in the Constitution's first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights.

The right of conscience means religious freedom. As explained in the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776: "religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience." Each of us has a right to worship God in his own way and time.

As for property rights, they were at the heart of the dispute which led to the American Revolution. When Americans at the time listed the rights of man, they often said "life, liberty, and property." Boston's 1772 "Rights of the Colonists" were typical: "Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First, a right to life; secondly to liberty; thirdly to property." As with happiness, this is not a right to property itself, but a right to use one's talents to acquire property, and to use it as one sees fit, as long as one does not injure oneself or others." -- from The Claremont Institute website www.Founding.com

The argument for the Community Bill of Rights is based the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights which are the the highest laws of our nation and have precedence over state or local laws.

We, the people of Youngstown, have the right to define additional inalienable rights in order to protect our bodies and property from toxic trespass and the potential for financial harm that high volume slick water hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will cause to our local environment; to wait until our bodies or our property are irreversibly harmed would be irresponsible.

In the many communities that have enacted Community Bill of RIghts laws or charter amendments over the last 3 years NONE have ever been challenged in court; to do so would require the plaintiff to argue that citizens do not have such rights.

Early voting has already started, please vote YES on the Community Bill of RIghts; to protect yourself and your family.

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6howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

As more and more scientific studies come out the evidence is overwhelming that slick water hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is dangerous and potentially deadly.

This is why we can not allow this activity in the Meander Reservoir Watershed.

"“We found measurable amounts of methane in 85 percent of the samples, but levels were 17 times higher on average in wells located within a kilometer of active hydrofracking sites,” says Stephen Osborn, postdoctoral research associate at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. "


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7ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

If you wanted to ban fracking within the city, a simple one paragraph charter amendment would have sufficed. Why the rest? Why set it up so that it is clear contradiction to the supremacy clause of the constitution? You would have been better served to write an amendment that would stand a chance of not being successfully challenged. Did your group just cut and paste this amendment from an outside source without having even a first year law student review it?

If you are indeed concerned about Meander reservoir, this amendment will do nothing to prevent fracking near it as that is not part of the City of Youngstown.

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8ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

A 150 years ago a bunch of states thought they had an inalienable right to own slaves and even went beyond a charter amendment so far as to form their own country to do it, and we all know how well that turned out.

You just cannot make up new rights out of thin air and think that the state and federal govts. are just going to roll over and permit it.

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9Debbie(22 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

When a multi-billion dollar industry buys your government and takes over lands....and a group of citizens commit themselves to protecting our source of life, the equation speaks for itself (making it "self-evident")!

Vote *YES* on the Youngstown COMMUNITY BILL of RIGHTS.

*YES*, it is enforceable! *YES* it will wake up our local representatives to explore and support jobs in clean & re-newable energy! *YES* it will push us into the 21st Century where we belong! Vote *YES* on May 7th.

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10Metz10987(145 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Ban you from driving cars in the city. About as bad as this amedment is racial warfare against the blacks of Youngstown. Both are nothing but scare tactics. If this is unenforceable then all this talk is just that talk. If it can be enforced the people decided they agree with it and we have to live with it and deal with it.

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11EllenM(3 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Vote YES for the Community Bill of Rights. The CBR will not only stop Toxic Fracking in Youngstown, but will also stop any short sited investment into this finite fossil fuel.
The Jobs story is a lie...

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12infraredvideoofgaswells(2 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

infrared video of gas wells proves they all leak beyound belief. radioactive methanne now, company respounds we will use rubber gaskets at the well heads but what about the ground water below the gas has already contaminated . I bet they"say it is safe if you dont breath air and live on the dark side of the moon!

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13infraredvideoofgaswells(2 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

infrared video is the secrete on a calm day or night to show they will lie too you anyway for a buck ! you and your future familys will pay the ultimate price for their lies if you believe them! Greatest undergroundwater source in america will be destroyed if you dont stop them.And you will breath radioactive gas ,I bet thats healthy.

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14republicanRick(1735 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Kooky, low class, under-employed and under-educated tree huggers trying to stop progress.

A NO vote is needed to stop the tree huggers insane and job killing scheme.

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