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Youngstown voters reject anti-fracking amendment again

Published: Wed, November 6, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

By David Skolnick



For the second time this year, Youngstown voters rejected a citizen-initiative charter amendment to ban fracking in the city.

But supporters of the proposal that failed Tuesday and in the May primary said they’ll be back for a third time next year.

“We’re going again,” said Lynn Anderson, a member of the Community Bill of Rights Committee, the lead group supporting the ban.

“This will not stop. We have to save our lives, our air and our water. We’ll keep putting it on the ballot until it passes.”

Also, Youngstown voters overwhelmingly supported a charter amendment, put on the ballot by city council, to eliminate the park and recreation commission, created in 1935. It was defeated 64.2 percent to 35.8 percent Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Mahoning County Board of Elections.

The Community Bill of Rights Committee was greatly outspent by opponents to the proposed charter amendment. Between June 8 and Oct. 16, the most recent finance reporting period, the committee spent $693 compared with $74,449 by the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, the organization funding the successful effort to defeat the amendment.

“This amendment was a jobs killer,” said Butch Taylor, the union’s business manager.

In May, the anti-fracking charter amendment failed by 13.7 percentage points compared with 9.7 percentage points Tuesday. But there were 6,749 votes on this issue in May. There were 10,506 on this issue in this election, according to unofficial results.

“This is two-consecutive decisive victories in support of these [fracking] jobs and this investment,” said Mike Chadsey, spokesman for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “My hope is it sends a message” to opponents.

Susie Beiersdorfer, a Community Bill of Rights Committee member, said, “We’ll continue on. It will be back in some form or another. We’re not quitting. We’re coming back.”

Tom Humphries, president and chief executive officer of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, which helped create the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, a group opposed to the amendment, said, “The voters have spoken twice and they are clear. It sends a good message to the [oil and gas] industry that the community understands the importance of this opportunity to grow our economy. It’s more than the drilling; it’s the supply chain that goes along with it.”

Attorney Alan Wenger, a coalition member and chairman of the oil and gas group at the Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell law firm, said the language on the proposed amendment wasn’t constitutional as it conflicts with state law. But he added that a case likely to be heard by the Ohio Supreme Court on the issue should clear up any confusion regarding a city’s right to supercede state law.

“These folks are very ardent and sincere in their concerns, but I feel the law is very flawed,” he said.

Also Tuesday, Youngstown voters approved a charter amendment to get rid of the five-person park and recreation committee.

There’s been long-standing tension between the commission members, who aren’t paid for their services, and city council and the administration.

City voters in November 2007 approved charter amendments that stripped the power of the commission to hire park employees except the director, and required all commission contracts and purchases to be approved by city council and the board of control.

City council members said the commission had become a hindrance to the effectiveness of the park and recreation department. Commission members complained that city council and the administration had enough to handle in the rest of the city and don’t need to run the park and recreation department.

“I never felt we needed a park board,” said Mayor Charles Sammarone, elected council president Tuesday.


1Notbuythepeople(1 comment)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

"committee spent $693 compared with $74,449 by the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396". Fracking is a boom and bust industry. The dangers to the air, water, and land are severe and often permanent. Workers' health is at risk when they come in contact with fracking chemicals in the air or through spills, etc. As a union member I am saddened to see the short sighted action of the UAPP

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2walter_sobchak(2246 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

You make some interesting points except that they can't be substantiated with any FACTS! The pipefitters know that they are making good money off of this industry locally.

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3Silence_Dogood(1512 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

I found it a little bit odd that the champion of the Green Party and leader of the anti-fracking crusade Susie Beiersdorfer is going around to the various voting locations (with only two people on board) in a twenty foot long truck painted green that can't possible get more then 8 miles to a gallon. So much for environmental concerns , this is making Susie Beiersdorfer look like a fool and a total hypocrite.

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4JoeFromHubbard(1431 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Can you imagine if these environmentalists lived in Youngstown in it's hayday?

They would want to shut down the steel mills!

There actually were such people around then and they finally got their wish. The mills are gone.

And so are the jobs.

Look at the city today to see what such thinking can do to the landscape.

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5Silence_Dogood(1512 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

City resident , yes I can say with certainty that it did not run on used cooking oil, it would have smelled like french fries. This truck smelled of hypocrisy.

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6CE_OSU(2 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

I am currently a fourth year chemical engineering student at the Ohio State University, and I am from the city of youngstown. I plan to work in the oil industry after graduation, and learned about all aspects of the industry while in school.

I would like to ask yourself a question. Who are the customers of American universities? At first glance you may think the students, but you would be incorrect. The customers of american universities are the companies located all around the world. They provide institutions with what they need in an employee, and the universities deliver them a product (a graduate).

Currently in the United States the majority of new jobs for the brightest individuals within our country are in the oil industry. This is not something that can be argued. Everyday I am with hundreds of students like myself. We share every aspect of our future careers with one another. We share salary, location, hours, and even who we may of know to obtain the position. AMERICAN and FOREIGN *OIL* (not every industry is hiring) companies throw dollar signs at us like we are the next Lebron James.

America needs these talented individuals to work in our country. They need them to make money for our country. We need to believe that we can extract the oil from our land in a way that is safe and efficient. I could talk to you for hours explaining why oil extraction is safe, and will not damage land or water other than the physical space it will take up for plants, wells, etc. I know because I research it. Scientifically. I understand the process. I used a different approach to oppose this bill because most people who oppose the bill do not understand who they are hurting. If I ever want to return to the city of Youngstown, and work as a chemical engineer it will be in the oil industry. Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania will always be there to offer me a job, but it will be up to the people in Ohio to allow me to work in my hometown ever again.

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7bmanresident(607 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

How many times must the Youngstown voter be asked to decide on this issue. Enough is enough Ms Susan! Go back to hugging trees and leave the issue alone, the voters have spoken, TWICE!
I've said it before, if you are so worried about the environment please quit wasting all of the oxygen by breathing. Do us all that favor.

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