Saturday, August 14, 1999

Warren prosecutor says term limits aren't valid

Mason group wants 2 men off ballot

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Powell wants the Ohio Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit that would prevent City Councilmen James “Dick” Staten and William Kidder from running in this fall's general election.

        Mr. Powell has filed a motion asking summary judgment in favor of the defendant, the Warren County Board of Elections, and dismissal of charges by a group of residents that the board breached its legal duty to uphold the city charter. He sent his 10-page response Thursday.

        Last week, Richard Inskeep, Rickey Dotson, Thomas Anderson and Charles Beatty asked for a court order upholding the two-term limit and instructing the board of elections to deny petitions of candidacy for Mr. Staten, in his fifth term, and Mr. Kidder, in his third. The board has refused to deny their candidacies.

        “Mason's city charter term-limitation amendment is in all important respects identical to the term-limitation amendment found unconstitutional by the (Supreme) Court in the Mirlisena case,” Mr. Powell said Friday. “I believe for that reason alone we are entitled to summary judgment.”

        Former Cincinnati Councilman John Mirlisena convinced the court that Cincinnati's retroactive term-limit amendment was unconstitutional. Mr. Powell also cited timing, failure to exhaust administrative remedies, and failure to involve the two incumbents as grounds for dismissal.

        “I don't think it's going to happen,” Mr. Inskeep said, while declining to discuss specifics of the case. “I mean you never know how things will go in court, but we wouldn't have filed the suit if we didn't think we could win.”

        Mason voters passed a charter amendment in 1993 limiting council members to two consecutive four-year terms and requiring they sit out two years before they can run again. It was made retroactive, so that council service before the November 1993 election counted.

        Mr. Powell said the retroactive provision violates Mssrs. Kidder's and Staten's rights under the U.S. and state constitutions. He said failure to name the two councilmen in the lawsuit also impedes their ability to protect their interests to run for re-election to City Council.

        He also questions the plaintiffs' timing and points to possible alternative remedies.

        “It is not apparent to me why they waited until Aug. 6 to file this thing when they had all the information they need to file it back at the beginning of June,” Mr. Powell said, noting that Mr. Kidder filed his petitions in May and Mr. Staten in April.

        “The Supreme Court has on many occasions addressed the importance of diligence and promptness as regards to election issues,” he said. “The (plaintiffs) failed to exercise that promptness.”

        Mr. Powell added that under Ohio law, the plaintiffs could have filed a protest with the board of elections — something they did not do. He said the board would have been bound by law to conduct a hearing on the matter, then decide the validity of the claim.

        “We've got a lot of valid reasons why the court should dismiss this case,” said Mr. Powell. “I've been around too long to feel like I've got a sure thing, but I'm very optimistic about our chances with this motion.”


This garden's victory is lasting hope
Springer declines Senate run
Coleslaw blamed for E. coli outbreak
Trucker faces 4 felonies after fatal crash on I-275
No escape for center's escapees
Ujima festival was bust for businesses, survey says
Mentally ill learn to cope
Renovated seminary will provide housing for elderly
Boone property valuator admits stealing thousands
DARE confronts criticism, seeks improvements
Hoxworth goes begging for blood
Quirk in sex law: No car means felony charge
Record crowd expected at 'Taste of Blue Ash'
'Nunsense' often dated, flat and lacking warmth
At Adventure Outpost, risk rules
Clearcreek to try again on levy
Cruise-in helps boy who can't walk or talk
Deal killed on Klan rally; judge to decide
Drought hit Ky. farmers hardest
Garage construction to tangle NKU traffic
Groups ask for Ohio EPA fix
Hamilton street-scape may finish early
Kids program hits grown-up issues
Landfill foes aim to join BFI suit
Missing woman's body found in creek
Monroe replacing official
Mother sues school over expulsion
N.Ky. counties will collect old tires
School voucher foes press for speedy ruling
Talawanda schools pass safety audit
Tent jail relieves crowding
- Warren prosecutor says term limits aren't valid
Youth to get tips on surviving growing up