By Jackie Stewart, EnergyInDepth
The Coalition for Job Growth and Investment recently hosted a press conference announcing its plans to fight back against the sixth so-called Community Bill of Rights ballot attempt by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and Frack Free Mahoning.
Elected officials, unions, Republicans, Democrats, business and religious leaders from all cross sections of the community joined together to voice their strong opposition to CELDF’s 6th costly ballot measure in the City of Youngstown, calling it an “attack on jobs. It’s ridiculous, irresponsible, and was not written by people here but outsiders.”
The recent show of force by the community underscores just how fed up the people of Youngstown are with the abuse they have received from CELDF.
As a reminder, Youngstown voters have rejected CELDF’s so-called Community Bill of Rights five consecutive times and spent tens of thousands along the way just putting the failed measures on the ballot.
Coalition for Job Growth and Investment Highlights Bipartisan Fight Against CELDF (Photo fromwfmj.com)
Particularly in a presidential year, you rarely see a group such as this join forces in a unified voice. To underscore just how diverse and large this coalition has grown to be over the years, theYoungstown Business Journal reported that practically every major group has come out to oppose this colossally bad idea, including famed football coach and current President of Youngstown State University, Jim Tressel. Here’s the full list of participants:
“Inside the union hall, McNally, acting as emcee, led off the rebuttal followed by Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber; Rocky DiGennaro, president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council; Ron Massullo, executive vice chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party; the Rev. Ken Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church; and Jaladah Aslam, staff representative for AFSCME Council 8 and representing Bill Padisak, president of the Mahoning Trumbull AFL-CIO Labor Council. In the audience were Jim Tressel, president of Youngstown State University; Mark Munroe, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party; Dave Deibel, president and CEO of Boardman Steel Inc.; attorney Martha Bushey of Manchester, Newman & Bennett; Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti; and several members of the building trades unions including Local 396 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 171 of the Carpenters, Local 66 of the Operating Engineers and Local 377 of the Teamsters.”
While these groups may differ on their ideologies come Election Day, there is one ideology they have all loudly rejected and it’s the failed CELDF campaign.
Youngstown, Mayor John McNally this week pushed back stating that CELDF and Frack Free have engaged in “half-truths and incomplete statements” in their arguments to persuade Youngstown voters to pass the charter amendment.
He went on to debunk the activists by calling out their claims of groundwater contamination from injection wells and fracking stating that the U.S. EPA “notified the city only once,” and the notification was “not related to injection wells or fracking.”
One member of the coalition, Jaladah Aslam, staff representative for AFSCME Council 8 rightly pointed out that the so-called Community Bill of Rights is a much larger scheme that just fracking:
“[I]t has nothing to do with fracking. All it is an attack on jobs. It’s ridiculous, irresponsible, and was not written by people here but outsiders.”
She went on to say,
“This language makes it clear that some citizen who believes that something or some business is polluting the air or the water can bring a lawsuit. That can be anybody. And that’s dangerous for the citizens of Youngstown, that’s dangerous for working families, and it’s just ridiculous and it’s really irresponsible.” (emphasis added)
The Youngstown unions echoed this sentiment as well. Rocky DiGennaro, president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council said,
“If this destructive bill passes, it will devastate our local contractors and local [union] members” and said the amendment “is a waste of money and resources.”
As EID has reported 83 per cent of these ballot measures have failed or been ruled invalid and it has become painfully obvious that the only goal of these groups pushing “local control” measures is to cash in on Ohio taxpayers by any means possible.
Whether it means selling books, a play at Hollywood stardom, or direct legal services, this election season proves that CELDF and the lawyers they work with are only in it for themselves, and the City of Youngstown has simply had enough.
Originally posted Sept 14, 2016 at EnergyInDepth