Council is out of step
To the editor:
In a 4-3 vote by Steubenville Council, the city snuck through and passed Ordinance No. 2017-88 requiring citizens to register with the council clerk four days prior to any council meeting if he or she desires to be heard regarding any city business. Alarmingly, council did not have any discussions on the floor of council chambers weeks prior to the vote, but instead held discussions and communications through back alley meetings, cell phone text messaging and communications through the city’s web server. This is how a consensus, an accord, on the proposed ordinance was conducted among members of council outside the ears of the citizens — clearly a destruction of Ohio’s Sunshine Laws. This is how council conducted its unpopular business in passing this law.
Now what? Answer: A citizen-initiated referendum, a veto or popular referendum. A citizen-initiated referendum offers the voters of Steubenville the opportunity to say “no” to, or veto, an unpopular law that is out-of-step with the will of the people. Voters then will be allowed to vote on the piece of legislation for a passage or failure at the next general election.
Citizens can exercise their democratic right to petition their government. First, citizens need to collect enough valid qualified voter signatures (registered voters) within the statutory timeframe allowed in order to place the new law or ordinance on the ballot for the voters to either ratify the new law or reject. Once enough signatures are gathered and verified by the Jefferson County Board of Elections, the new law appears on the general election for a popular vote.
When matters of council involve city business, the public should be involved. The more our elected officials do publicly, the more the public knows what is going on. The more public discussions council has, the better off the citizens are.
During the time between signature verification by the board of elections and the election, Ordinance No. 2017-88 may not take effect. Then, if voters reject the law, the law is voided.