Lots of smiling white people male and female leaning toward each other all wearing blue T-shirts in a city council chambers

The third time was a charm for the Columbus Community Bill of Rights initiative which is confirmed to be on the Columbus ballot this November. The following is what one of their tireless activists said before Columbus City Council on Monday, July 9 after their signatures were validated.

Columbus City Council Speech
By William Lyons 

Good evening members of Columbus City Council, my name is Bill Lyons and I am a member of a group of concerned citizens called Columbus Community Bill of Rights. We appreciate it that most of you have met with us several times over the past couple of years.

Our initiative petition, for which the City Clerk just reported the number of valid signatures, is the result of our third campaign for a Community Bill of Rights ordinance that asserts our inalienable rights to clean water, clean air, safe soil, and our right of local self-governance, especially the right to say NO to the dumping of harmful Frack Waste in our community. This has been an amazing all-volunteer, grass-roots effort in democracy in which more than 18,400 signatures were collected and submitted to City Hall! In fact, in our three campaigns we have collected more than 43,000 signatures!

We are very concerned because there are currently 13 injection wells of toxic radioactive frack waste in our Upper Scioto Watershed area. This waste contains radium 226 and 228 and up to 700 chemicals. Many of the chemicals we know about are carcinogenic, neurotoxins, and hormone disruptors. In addition, the solid waste from fracking is also radioactive, but since the state of Ohio does not regulate these so-called “drill cutting” they are being dumped in landfills throughout the state. Columbus needs to be proactive in banning from our city any injection wells, the dumping of drill cuttings, the transportation of frack waste, and the processing of the byproducts of this hazardous industry by adopting our ordinance.

In 2004, the Ohio legislature, after heavy industry lobbying, granted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources sole authority over Oil and Gas activities. Even though Ohio is supposed to be a home-rule state and state law now preempts local communities from protecting themselves from the harms of the oil and gas industry, we know that this is inherently unjust and must be resisted. We applaud City Council and City Attorney Zach Klein for currently challenging the state of Ohio’s aggressive practice of trying to preempt local communities when it comes to gun restrictions. In April in the Columbus Dispatch, City Attorney Klein was quoted with the following, “Having the state legislature step in and continually erode our ability to make decisions for what’s best for us undermines the principles of representative democracy and the goals we all seek in trying to do the right thing and legislating and protection our communities …” We could not agree more.

In our history, there have been unjust and immoral laws. It used to be legal to own slaves, that women could not vote, and African-American were deprived of their civil rights. These injustices were challenged at the grass-roots level that drove change upwards. So, we are calling on you, City Council members to have the courage to adopt our ordinance. In Ohio, Athens, Broadview Heights, Yellow Springs, Oberlin, and Waterville have all passed similar Community Bills of Rights, as have about 200 communities around the country. It is time that Columbus do the same.

We have a moral obligation to leave the world safer and better off for our children and future generations.

Thank you.
July 9, 2018