Maple Heights, OH: The City of Maple Heights has wasted more than $30,000 in needlessly fighting the traffic camera petition in September. The Ohio Supreme Court required the City to pay attorney’s fees on behalf of the relators in the Mandamus Action, which came to $16,000 (the plaintiff’s counsel was COAST).
Additionally, the City hired a firm in Solon to represent them in the action. According to a conversation with Law Director John Montello this evening, the City is paying Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co., L.P.A. fees totaling $15,000 for writing a seven-page response. This brings the total cost of fighting the residents to more than $30,000.
(Neither of these expenses have come before Council for approval yet, even though the City cut a check to COAST weeks ago.)
On August 18th, Councilman Brownlee strongly warned the City against this action in an email to the Law Department and all the members of Council. He also clearly outlined the legal requirements for the City and warned of possible consequences. The following is an excerpt from that email:
It is apparent that the administration and Council would like to keep the revenue from the traffic cameras. Nonetheless, I must warn against trying to stop this Charter Amendment Initiation from reaching the ballot box in a timely fashion. To do so would only display disdain for the people of Maple Heights and trample upon due process.
Once the Board of Elections certifies the signatures, we must act quickly to place this amendment on the ballot in November. If we do not, we will need to call a special election for this issue, or face a lawsuit.
Members of Council have said many times before that we must “let the people decide.” The people of our City have spoken; it is our duty to listen.
Nevertheless, City Hall thumbed its nose at legal precedent and moved to thwart the rights of the residents to petition their government.
To add insult to injury, Maple Heights Mayor Jeffery Lansky is now trying to blame residents for the costs incurred by the City’s reckless actions. In a flyer sent out at the end of October, Lansky claims that the petitioners cost “Maple Hts. Taxpayers $16,000 in legal fees” (see attachment: Issue 99 – Lansky Mailer).
Councilman Brownlee responded this evening, “The actions of City Hall and Mayor Lansky over the past two months are grievous betrayals of the public’s trust. They have squandered money from of the public purse. Furthermore, they did so for the sole purpose of thwarting the rights of the people they have sworn to protect.”
Press Release from Maple Heights Councilman Bill Brownlee