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What's the emergency?

October 1, 2012
By KATIE SCHWENDEMAN - Staff Writer ( , Morning Journal News

EAST PALESTINE - Village Council members say they are passing too many pieces of legislation as emergencies and newest member Alan Cohen said doing so strips residents of the right to challenge the legislation.

Council began expressing displeasure a few months ago over how often agenda items were listed as emergencies. Over the course of the last year a majority of legislation was presented as an emergency.

The most recent discussion came about after a member of council questioned why the sale of a municipal truck was considered an emergency matter.

When considered an emergency, the legislation is not required the normal three readings and takes effect immediately.

Village Solicitor Shirley Smith explained the truck sale was listed as an emergency in order to sell it quickly and therefore stop the village's payment on the insurance.

She explained that legislation is considered an emergency when it affects the health, preservation or welfare of the community.

Councilman Fran Figley, who has been against emergency legislation since he took council at the beginning of the year, argued that "with that description you can justify anything as an emergency."

Cohen, who is a retired attorney, said that if council passes legislation as an emergency it takes away the residents' right to challenge the legislation.

"There is a process under the law-and it's in the charter-they can have an ordinance repealed by putting it on the ballot as a referendum. I think that is a crucial right taken away from them and that's one of the reasons I don't like to see (legislation) passed as an emergency," he said.

Mayor Margo Zuch said it appears everyone is in agreement that legislation shouldn't be presented as an emergency measure so often, and Smith said future legislation would be presented in the normal manner.

Council passed first reading of the sale of the 1983 Chevy truck deemed not needed for municipal use. Village Manager Pete Monteleone said the truck is being sold because it's in need of repair.



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