As a member of the ballot initiative committee, I would like to make a few comments, from my perspective, at this point.
Of course, we were disappointed with the Board of Election’s ruling. But that is not the end of this, as we certainly can file an ‘appeal’ (mandamus) or pursue a “class action lawsuit.”
But the behavior of the City’s elected officials in the course of this electric rate overcharging issue has been absolutely outrageous —- lying, withholding public records, and using the citizens’ money to hire a high-priced attorney to fight the citizens’ Constitutional right to have a ballot issue. Our City government overcharging citizens and then acting in ‘bad faith’ when the citizens want an audit indicates that the citizens need to look at other options as well, such as removal of public officials, and a taxpayers’ revolt to lower City income tax. City officials first complained where will we get the money to pay for an audit (which I estimate at $ 25,000 – $ 30,000) and now they hire an attorney (who could conceivably cost more than that) to fight the citizens’ Constitution right for a ballot issue instead. It is just outrageous behavior on the part of City officials, and should not be tolerated. How could anyone have any confidence in a City government like this?
I want to point out that City officials first starting meeting in Executive Session to oppose the ballot issue on June 9th. The ballot issue did not even exist on June 9th. On June 11th, we filed a copy of the proposed ballot Ordinance with the City and then began to circulate our Initiative Petitions obtaining signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. So on June 9th when the City officials met and decided to oppose the ballot issue, they did not even have the ballot issue to review and analyze. That meeting (without any ballot issue) was not an objective evaluation of the ballot issue itself, but rather that meeting was just a conspiracy to deny the citizens’ Constitutional rights to have a ballot issue, any ballot issue. After that meeting, the City Council took measures to oppose the ballot issue.
Additionally, the City’s “special counsel” to fight the ballot issue was not hired until the August 11th Council Meeting. But at that August 11th Council Meeting, City Law Director Palmer announced that the “special counsel” had prepared a brief for the City. Now, how did he do that — the “special counsel” wasn’t even hired yet. The only way is that the City hired the “special counsel” in an Executive Session, which is illegal and makes that action invalid. Taxpayers in Galion should not be paying for the City’s high-priced attorney, and City Council members should be held personally responsible for that expense.
Our group is all about “good government” and holding the City accountable. The more we work for these goals, the more we see more serious problems that need to be addressed. We have been discussing a variety of options, and a variety of strategies.
One thing for sure, the City’s opposition to this audit of the electric rates is proof that we are right that the overcharging for electric is a significant amount. Right now, the Mayor wants to use those ‘stolen’ funds to subsidize rates for the large power users while increasing the rates for the residential customers. Is that fair? Our group wants to return the overcharged amount to every electric rate payer that was overcharged —- large power customers, business customers, and residential customers. And remember that the 6000 or so residential customers are the voters, so they have the power of their vote. We just need to get an issue to them ‘on the ballot’ whether it be the current audit/refund issue, removal of elected officials, a tax reduction issue, or some other issue.
It is not over. We have a lot of options, and we will keep the citizens posted.