Youngstown voters reject anti-fracking issue for 6th time

By David Skolnick


For the sixth time, voters rejected the Community Bill of Rights that would ban fracking in the city but approved a charter amendment that gives additional rights to part-time workers that was on the ballot for the first time.

City voters also approved four charter amendments backed by city council, including three that aren’t enforced by the city and a fourth that requires Youngstown’s seven wards to be redistricted no more than 180 days after a census if it shows at least a 10 percent difference between its least- and most-populous wards.

Susie Beiersdorfer, a member of the Community Bill of Rights Committee, said, “We’re not going to quit. We’re looking at the success of the part-time workers bill of rights, and we’re not going to quit trying to protect Youngstown.”

Voters rejected the charter amendment 55.45 percent to 44.55 percent, according to final but unofficial results.

The proposal failed twice in 2013 and 2014, and in the November 2015 election. The result for last year’s issue was the closest of the six, losing by 2.5 percentage points.

“We’re shocked” by the margin of defeat Tuesday, Beiersdorfer said. “It’s really disheartening, but we’ll be gathering signatures for the [2017] primary.”

Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth’s Ohio state director, said, “This is obviously a huge blow to activist groups” that “have tried and failed to get these measures passed six times now. Voters have soundly rejected their anti-fracking ideologies.”

Energy in Depth is the education and research arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

“You don’t call it a victory because they will be back; they’ve implied they’ll do it forever and they’ve proven that,” said Thomas Humphries, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s president and chief executive officer, and member of the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, which opposes the proposal.

The part-time bill of rights charter amendment was approved 55.27 percent to 44.73 percent, according to final but unofficial results.

The amendment will require part-timers to receive the same benefits – such as paid personal days and vacation time – as full-time workers in the same job classification, but in proportion to the amount of hours they work.

The amendment also requires employers to publicly post part- timers’ shift schedules two weeks in advance if requested.

Bob Goodrich of Grand Rapids, Mich., who put the issue on the ballot, said he is concerned city council will try to overturn the amendment next year.

But on Tuesday, he said, “It’s a marvelous victory. It’s giving me a very big smile.”

Mayor John A. McNally said he was surprised the amendment passed.

“We’ll have to figure out what the city’s responsibilities will be and what the employers’ responsibilities around the city will be,” he said.

“It’s not good for business. It makes it harder to schedule part-time workers. Some of the issues might violate state work laws. We’ll look at it.”

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