CLASH Lawyers Up, Demands that City Accept Lead Safe Petitions


Former Councilman Jeff Johnson at a CLASH press conference. - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • Former Councilman Jeff Johnson at a CLASH press conference.
In a letter filed yesterday, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH) demanded that Cleveland Law Director Barbara Langhenry compel city council clerk Patricia Britt to accept the 6,350 signatures that CLASH submitted last month with the hopes of putting a lead-safe ordinance on the November ballot.

Those signatures were rejected by council because the petitions failed to include an all-caps disclaimer about election falsification required by the Ohio Revised Code.

CLASH has maintained, and reiterated in its letter to Langhenry, (attached below), that the City Charter, not the Ohio Revised Code, dictates the local government response. It has cited numerous legal precedents, including the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in the Q Deal referendum dispute, to argue that Britt must accept the petitions, regardless of their form or substance. 

"If there had ever been any doubt," the letter states, "the Supreme Court's decision in [the Q Deal case] makes clear that the Clerk must accept the petitions and perform her duties in determining the sufficiency of the signatures."

The letter was signed by attorneys Marc Dann and Donna Taylor-Kolis, from the Dann Law Firm, whom CLASH has retained as legal counsel.

"Our hope is that the Council Clerk and Law Director will do the right thing so that we can avoid the time and expense of seeking a Writ of Mandamus," said Dann, in a statement provided to the press.

CLASH said that if Langhenry refuses to compel Britt to accept the signatures and refuses to file a Mandamus action in court to force her hand, then CLASH would do so itself, a procedure that it says is allowed under state and local laws.

Just like in the Q Deal case, CLASH has officially requested that they be named defendants in any Mandamus action against Britt so that they can present material to the court. 

This legal action runs parallel to the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition (LSCC) effort. Monday, that public-private group presented 33 recommendations to City Council to help local lawmakers craft their own ordinance. These recommendations hew closely to CLASH's proposal but fail to include a few key provisions, including a requirement that Day Care Centers be subject to a lead-safe mandate. 

See related PDF 2019_05_08_CLASH_Mandamus_Letter.pdf

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