The City of Brecksville today filed their brief in opposition to our citizen’s initiative petition. In addition to filing their brief, they have also requested to have oral arguments. This is not customary in these types of proceedings. We are not sure why the oral arguments have been requested. Possible reasons could be: 1) They could be desperate. Why can’t they just rely on their brief? 2) They are trying to stretch this out until it’s too late to put our initiative on the ballot. Oral arguments take time.
What is distressing to me is that our city is at war with the 1,176 residents who signed our petition (10% of the city population). The local officials have decided that they are the “gatekeepers” of the democratic process.
The right to petition our government is a right given to us in the first amendment. Why would this right not extend to the citizens at the local level? The issue of money in politics directly affects us at the city level.
It’s important to remember why we have the right of citizen petition in Ohio. We have this right because in 1912 the Ohio legislature, responding to the Progressive Movement of the time passed, along with a majority of other states, an amendment to the Ohio constitution granting citizens the right to petition, referendum and recall. Petition is the right to introduce laws, referendum is the right to repeal laws and recall is the right to recall elected officials. States amended their constitutions to include these rights to fight back against wide spread political corruption.
Now we see the City of Brecksville, Ohio is trying to limit that hard fought right to petition.