Ohio Supreme Court Clears Anti-Speed Camera Referendum for Vote

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

Chillicothe, Ohio residents will retain the right to vote out speed cameras on November 3, thanks to a Ohio Supreme Court ruling yesterday. Fearing the public would shut down his signature program, Chillicothe Mayor Joseph Sulzer had asked the high court for an emergency injunction blocking the citizen-led initiative. Sulzer argued that this step was needed because the proposed initiative was unconstitutional and the city was denied a fair chance to argue against it before the Ross County Board of Elections ( view Sulzer’s court filing). The supreme court justices unanimously rejected his complaint.

“Chillicothe failed to act with the requisite diligence in asserting its claim for extraordinary relief in mandamus and prohibition,” the court explained. “Instead, the city delayed filing its protest until 119 days after the signed initiative petition was filed with the city auditor and 56 days after the city auditor certified the initiative petition to the board of elections. Chillicothe delayed an additional 26 days after the board denied its protest and certified the initiative to the election ballot to file this action for extraordinary relief.”

In previous election cases the court has thrown out challenges for delays as brief as nine days. The justices noted that timely protests are more than a mere formality because absentee ballots must be printed at least thirty-five days in advance of the election date. Sulzer’s protest was filed just one day before that deadline, September 29. Hearing the merits of a challenge at such a late date would have prejudiced the other side’s ability to prepare a compelling defense.

“Chillicothe has no legitimate excuse for its prolonged periods of delay in this case,” the court concluded. “The city did not need to wait for certification of the petition to file its protest… Based on the foregoing, Chillicothe failed to exercise the diligence required of relators in election cases, and we deny the writs based on laches. By so holding, we need not address the city’s claims.”

Rebekah Valentich, head of Citizens Against Photo Enforcement (CAPE), expressed relief at the decision. CAPE volunteers gathered the required signatures to put the measure on the ballot.

“After reading the Supreme court ruling, I think that I can safely speak on behalf of every CAPE member who fought for the citizens of Chillicothe and their right to vote,” Valentich told TheNewspaper. “Victory is sweet.”

CAPE members are not only attempting to remove speed cameras from the city limits on November 3, but they are also encouraging voters to boot the city council members responsible for putting the program in place. At-large Councilman Dustin Proehl is the only incumbent who voted against cameras and, as a result, enjoys CAPE support.

The rest of the council, save for the sixth ward, is being challenged by opponents of automated ticketing machines. Valentich herself is running for the second ward seat. Beth Neal is running in the first ward, Dan Evans in the third ward, Larry Depew in the fourth ward, Jeremy Siberell in the fifth ward and Bruce Arnold is running for council president.

Chillicothe v. Ross County Board of Elections (Supreme Court of Ohio, 10/21/2009)

[courtesy thenewspaper.com]

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  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Oct 22, 2009

    Choke on it, Chillicothe. And, by the way, you better have alternate work lined up.

  • RichardD RichardD on Oct 22, 2009
    kericf : "There has NEVER been a photo enforcement system that has survived a public vote (in the US anyway)." No need for a disclaimer. European serfs have no right to vote out cameras. Watch your election results on November 3 in: Heath and Chillicothe, Ohio College Station, Texas The bureaucrats overturned a petition in Toledo on a technicality.
  • Mike Some Evs are hitting their 3 year lease residual values in 6 months.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I am just here for the beer! (did I say it right?)
  • El scotto Tim, to be tactful I think a great many of us would like a transcript of TTAC's podcast. 90 minutes is just too long for most of us to listen. -evil El Scotto kicking in- The blog at best provides amusement, 90 minutes is just too much. Way too much.
  • TooManyCars VoGhost; I was referring more to the Canadian context, but the same graft is occurring in the US of A and Europe. Political affiliation appears to be irrelevant.
  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.