The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


        To backers of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights ballot initiative, its passage Tuesday by voters in Toledo marks an historic turn in how a community regards the lake and its entire ecosystem.

        LEBOR grants legal rights to the Great Lake and its watershed as an amendment to the city’s charter. According to those who pushed for it to be on the ballot, it will be the first U.S. law of its kind.

        “We’ve been using the same laws for decades to try and protect Lake Erie. They’re clearly not working,” said Toledoans for Safe Water activist Markie Miller. “Beginning today, with this historic vote, the people of Toledo and our allies are ushering in a new era of environmental rights by securing the rights of the Great Lake Erie.”

        The initiative passed with more than 61 percent of the vote: 9,867 for to 6,211 against. Another initiative, Keep the Jail in Downtown Toledo, also passed: 12,910 for to 3,250 against. Voter turnout was low at about 9 percent.

        Crystal Jankowski, an organizer with Toledoans for Safe Water, said the group had to overcome several challenges since starting the ballot initiative process.

        “It was definitely a long, hard struggle to get to this day, but all the hard work and countless volunteer hours by everyone in our local community group has paid off, she said. “We started this more than two years ago and had to overcome election board decisions and protests in court just to get on the ballot.”

        No sooner than the election results were announced than a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation filed a lawsuit to prevent the ballot measure’s enactment.

        Mark Drewes, a director of The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association and whose family farms in Custar, O., filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Federal District Court for Northern Ohio challenging the constitutionality of LEBOR.

        The suit argues LEBOR violates federal constitutional rights, including equal protection, freedom of speech and is unenforceable for its vagueness. A request for preliminary and permanent injunction was also filed seeking to prevent enforcement of the law.

        Drewes’ attorney, Thomas Fusonie, said the ballot measure would harm family farms if enacted.

        “The charter amendment is an unconstitutional and unlawful assault on the fundamental rights of family farms in the Lake Erie Watershed – like the Drewes’ 5th generation family farm. The lawsuit seeks to protect the Drewes’ family farm from this unconstitutional assault,” Fusonie said.

        Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau, said Drewes and other farmers are already employing conservation practices that benefit the lake’s watershed.

        “Mark’s farm is an example of the right way of doing things. He’s employing a variety of conservation practices, water monitoring systems, water control structures and uses variable rate enabled equipment and yet he’s vulnerable to frivolous lawsuits,” he said.

        The amendment was drafted with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund and supported locally by Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie.

        ACLE coordinator, Mike Ferner, issued a statement about the court challenge: "For decades the U.S. and Ohio E.P.A.have allowed corporate polluters, factory farm operators and others to use Lake Erie as a toilet for their waste. They have been getting away with murder but using our democratic rights as citizens, we will not allow them to kill our Lake.  We are examining the particulars of this challenge and with Toledoans for Safe Water, ACLE will respond to this and any other attack on our lake."


Universal Income

What do you think of presidential candidate Andrew Yang's proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every adult?
32550042 [{"id":"323","title":"It will help millions of people who are increasingly losing their jobs to automation.","votes":"1","pct":8.33,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"324","title":"No, if the proposal is paid for by tax payers.","votes":"10","pct":83.33,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"325","title":"Yes, if billionaires pay for it, as labor costs disappear due to automation.","votes":"1","pct":8.33,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /component/communitypolls/vote/118-universal-income No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...