Campaign launched against proposed Community Bill of Rights

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Voters in Youngstown will get to decide on the Community Bill of Rights for the sixth time this November.

The charter amendment is being placed on the ballot again by the group that’s opposed to fracking and injection wells.

Tuesday, the Mahoning County Coalition for Job Growth and Investment launched its campaign against the Community Bill of Rights at the Teamsters’ Union Hall.

“Voters have rejected the Community Bill of Rights five times and this is the sixth time, and I expect they’re going to reject it this fall,” said Youngstown Mayor John McNally.

The charter amendment would ban most oil and gas activity, along with fracking in the city limits. Opponents have said they don’t think that’s constitutional.

“To get to that argument, you have to have an issue that gets approved by the voters and I don’t think that’s going to happen over the next month, month and a half,” McNally said.

The city doesn’t have the right to regulate the oil and gas business. That job falls with the state.

“This is an unenforceable amendment to a charter that oversees the operations of the city,” said Ron Massullo, vice chair of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

At the same time, Bill of Rights supporters gathered outside the union hall to protest. They say the idea has grown on voters. Last time, it lost by less than 300 votes.

“It takes time for people to realize that our system isn’t broken. It’s fixed, and it’s fixed against us,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, of FrackFree Mahoning Valley.

Beiersdorfer says they see the amendment as the first step in a long process.

“We are under no illusion that winning this Bill of Rights on the ballot will all of a sudden make everything great,” she said.

While she expects some of the charter amendment to be struck down by the courts, Beiersdorfer is confident some of it will survive legal challenges.

Community Bill of Rights official tally:

May 2013:

2912 FOR, 3837 AGAINST

NOVEMBER 2013:

4831 FOR, 5824 AGAINST

May 2014

3128 FOR, 3691 AGAINST

November 2014:

5373 FOR, 7323 AGAINST

November 2015:

5862 FOR, 6151 AGAINST

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