Youngstown voters turn down anti-fracking proposal — again

The headline reflects a truth that the self-styled protectors of the earth refuse to admit: a majority of the residents of the city of Youngstown who have expressed an opinion think that a ban on fracking is a goofy idea.

How do we know this? Because city dwellers have said so in the voting booth on four occasions.

They rejected a proposed charter amendment to ban fracking and other related oil and gas exploration activities in May 2013, November 2013, May of this year, and on Tuesday.

Three days ago, the so-called Community Bill of Rights was summarily rejected by a vote of 7,231 to 5,268.

In the May primary, the charter amendment went down, 3,674 to 3,100. The fracking foes, led by Ray and Susie Beiersdorfer, spun that defeat by saying the turnout at the primary election was so small that the vote did not reflect the attitude of city residents.

Just wait until the November general election, they said. Well, the vote totals tell the story.

A reasonable person — with emphasis on the word reasonable— would conclude, therefore, that the outcome of the general election should be the final word on this self-serving issue. After all, the people have spoken, over and over.

But the Beiersdorfers and others, who are determined to save us from ourselves, continue to believe they represent a majority of the residents of the city — despite evidence to the contrary.

So when the charter amendment suffered its biggest loss to date Tuesday night, these advocates of a fracking ban — it is important to note that there’s no fracking going on in the city today and there won’t be in the foreseeable future — served notice that they weren’t done.

“We don’t lose until we quit and we won’t quit because this is too important,” said Susie Beiersdorfer after the complete but unofficial vote totals were announced.

The 15.7 percentage point margin of defeat — 57.85 to 42.15 percent — was the largest in the four attempts to push through the anti-fracking initiative.

That’s a crushing blow by any definition, and yet the proponents plan to keep returning to the ballot.

We have presented every argument we can think of against the charter amendment, and while the voters have made up their minds, the advocates continue to turn a deaf ear to government and business leaders who have warned of the economic fallout if the Community Bill of Rights is enshrined in the Youngstown Home Rule Charter.

There’s a definition of “insanity” that fits this effort to a T: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Exercise in futility

It would be an exercise in futility to ask the Beiersdorfers and their colleagues to abandon this fool’s errand and to turn their attention to another more important issue.

A charter amendment designed to peg the number of council wards to the city’s population was narrowly rejected Tuesday night.

Despite intense opposition to the ballot issue that would result in the number of wards dropping to five from the current seven, the final vote total was extremely close: 6,295 against; 6.175 for.

Shrinking the size of city council isn’t some cockamamie idea. Youngstown’s population is in the mid-60,000s and declining, the tax base is shrinking, neighborhoods have deteriorated and the cost of government is unsustainable.

The city does not need seven wards, and a goodly number of residents said so Tuesday.

The backers of the ward-reduction measure should not give up.

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