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April 23rd, 2013 By German Lopez | News | Posted In: 2013 Election, News, Parking

Video Questions Legitimacy of Parking Petitions

Board of Elections looking into anonymous video, but no formal challenge filed

downtown groceryRendition of proposed downtown grocery store and luxury apartment tower. - Image: Provided
A YouTube video posted Sunday suggests that some of the parking plan referendum petition signatures might have been gathered without a legitimate witness, but city and county officials are so far unsure whether the video, which was posted anonymously, will amount to much.

Under Ohio law, petitions require signatures from both a supporter, who must reside in Cincinnati in the case of parking petitions, and a witness, who must be an Ohio resident and witness the act of someone signing the petition.

The video shows what seems to be parking petitions placed on business counters with limited supervision — potential evidence that some of the parking petitions were signed without a witness present.

Tim Burke, chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and Hamilton County Board of Elections, says the Board of Elections is currently looking into what process needs to be followed as a result of the video.

Traditionally, Burke says, someone has to file a challenge, which would then be investigated by the board. At that point, the board would rely on subpoenas to get testimony from witnesses to determine whether their petitions were valid.

“Under oath, circulators are likely to tell us the truth,” Burke says. “Did you witness all the signatures on that parking petition? If he says no or she says no, ...

then none of those signatures are valid.”

But Burke says it’s so far unclear whether that process will happen.

“The video is interesting, but it doesn’t prove anything,” he says. “Any challenger would have to link each one of those shots in the video to specific petitions that were signed by the circulator of the petition that was on those counters.”

Even if someone did bring a challenge, it would require nearly 4,000 invalid signatures to halt the parking plan referendum effort. Yesterday, the Board of Elections announced the referendum effort had gathered 12,446 valid signatures — considerably more than the 8,522 required.

“Because they are so far over, there’s going to have to be more evidence by any petitioner that there are problems well beyond those five or six sights shown in the video,” Burke says.

Circulators who mishandled the process would not face charges; instead, the signatures would simply be discarded, according to Burke.

City Solicitor John Curp says the city’s law department is taking “no side on whether there’s a vote,” and the city administration has not taken action based on the video.

Curp says he would like to confirm whether those are parking petitions and if the video is factual in its presentation.

“If those were parking petitions, that was certainly troubling,” he says. “I hope this gets worked out in a timely manner.”

The parking plan would lease the city’s parking assets to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority to help balance the city’s operating budget deficits for the next two years and fund development projects around the city, including a downtown grocery store (“Parking Stimulus,” issue of Feb. 27).

Opponents say they’re concerned the plan will lead to higher parking rates and extended hours that will hurt the local economy. With 12,466 valid signatures, their referendum effort is expected to culminate in a vote this November.

City officials previously warned that without the parking plan the city will have to lay off cops and firefighters.

The full video is embedded below:

 
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