September 26, 2014
It was one of the more unusual chapters in our firm’s public interest law practice. Tuesday night in a vote before Maple Heights Council. that battle ended.
In July and August, a group of citizen volunteers in the small northeast Ohio City of Maple Heights followed the procedures set forth in the Ohio Constitution, gathering signatures of 10% of the electorate in that burb to place before the voters a Charter Amendment that would ban red light and speeding cameras.
The petitions met the complicated and exacting requirements of the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code, and the additional requirements set forth in the Maple Heights Charter, for ballot access. Indeed, they collected nearly twice the minimum number of signatures required.
Immediately upon turn-in of the petitions, the haughty City Law Director announced that the City would refuse to place the issue on the ballot. His reasoning? The matter is currently before the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio General Assembly, and “they should decide,” not local voters.
Finney Law Firm attorneys wrote a taxpayer demand letter, a sort of warning letter: If you don’t act, we will sue. The Law Director continued to thumb his nose at the local taxpayers.
We took the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court in a Mandamus action. The Court accepted briefing. The City’s defense before the Court? Well, we never said we would not put the issue on the ballot, we just have not had adequate time to think about it just yet.
Within 24 hours of the conclusion of briefing, last Friday the Court issued the Mandamus and ordered the Council to follow the Constitution by voting “forthwith” to place the issue on the November ballot.
That vote finally occurred Tuesday night, and on Wednesday the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections certified the matter to the ballot as Issue 99.
Maple Heights voters will have a chance to ban Red Light and Speeding Cameras on the November 4 ballot.