Reject eighth try for ban on fracking; say no to end of term limits for council


What part of “no” – multiplied tens of thousands of times over in votes over five years – do the self-appointed do-gooder backers of the Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights don’t understand?

Apparently not much, given their foolish and unrelenting pursuit of their misguided and foolhardy proposal.

After all, responsible and civic-minded Youngstown residents have convincingly and resoundingly said no to the jobs-killing initiative seven times over now – from 2013 to the 2018 primary election.

We therefore urge the city’s 43,874 voters registered for next month’s general election to do likewise at the polls on or before Nov. 6.

Various versions of the amendment to ban hydraulic fracturing and other related gas and oil exploration activities in the city have been on the ballot in those five years. Each time voters said no by credible margins.

WHY VOTERS JUST SAY NO

They said no to the illogical premise of the initiative. The anti-frackers’ bill of goods would remain unenforceable and unconstitutional as the Ohio Constitution clearly gives the state Department of Natural Resources exclusive authority to oversee and regulate all oil and gas drilling activity in every nook and cranny of the Buckeye State, including its cities.

Just as illogical is the fact that no fracking activity is taking place or is planned in Youngstown proper.

Those same voters – including 3,590 of them in last May’s failed attempt alone – also said no to the potential adverse economic impact the charter amendment would invite. Even though no fracking activities are taking place in the city, hundreds of jobs here are directly tied to the health and well-being of drilling for oil and natural gas.

Most notably among them in Youngs-town is Vallourec Star, which is currently in the midst of a major hiring boom.

As the Mahoning Valley Jobs and Growth Coalition argue, the issue simply presents a radical, anti-development agenda. The bipartisan coalition of local business, labor, elected and community leaders are actively working once again to defeat the initiative.

The group points out on its website that “Youngstown has been through some tough times, but we’re working hard to rebuild our city and our economy. The out-of-state activists pushing the job-killing ‘Youngstown Drinking Water Protection Bill of Rights’ don’t care about the hardworking families in Youngstown and their jobs.”

Many voters in the city also have just said no to the charter amendment time and time again for the waste of taxpayer dollars the long-doomed issue continues to create. The costs to the Board of Elections associated with the issue could better be used for real needs in the county.

In addition to renaming the issue with a feel-good emphasis on clean drinking water, the organizers of this incarnation of the charter amendment also have included a provision that would outlaw transferring monies from the city’s water and wastewater funds to benefit economic development projects in the downtown and throughout the city, as has become a common practice.

As a standalone issue, that controversial topic might be worthy of detailed exploration and robust debate. But given that it is packaged as a combo deal with the malodorous fracking boondoggle, it, too, cannot be afforded serious consideration in this election.

ABOLISHING TERM LIMITS

Two other charter amendments on the Youngstown ballot would, if approved, eliminate term limits for city council members and council president. Council members, who support the proposals, say they would balance the power among branches of the municipal government.

In 2012, voters OK’d a charter amendment to remove term limits for the mayor. That amendment, however, grew out of a citizens advisory board that invested considerable time in drafting and recommending charter changes.

This year, city council acted independently of any citizen input on the matter. Particularly given that term limits kick in next year for three sitting council members, many might view the council-initiated amendment this year as self-serving.

While we can understand arguments for the proposal, we also feel that such substantive changes in municipal law demand maximum public input and full debate within a citizens advisory panel.

We therefore urge a “no” vote on both term-limits amendments.

Editor’s Note: Details of the candidates’ positions on a range of issues can be found in Vindicator news stories, videos of Editorial Board interviews posted on Vindy.com and by accessing the candidate surveys on the website.

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