CLEVELAND, OH – The 70 day statutory deadline Bill Ritter missed on January 7th to withdraw the Cleveland city council reduction petitions he suckered 22,000 Cleveland registered voters into signing as a high pressure scheme he concocted with Tony George to intimidate city council was for good “personal reasons.” Ritter’s “personal reasons” weren’t identified in a story Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard wrote after interviewing him to learn why the petitions were being pulled.
What Westlake George’s Cleveland puppet admitted to Allard is that his lawyers have acknowledged the flaw in the timing of his petition withdrawal and are seeking a way around Section 35109.08(A) of the Ohio Revised Code. Under the state’s general election law George’s boy was required to submit his request in writing to the Secretary of State 70 days before the March 17, 2020 primary election. Ritter calls George “Mister.”
There is no other statutory language for withdrawing initiative petitions than what’s written in plain English language in Title 35 of Ohio’s Revised Code no official of this state can change or choose not to enforce as written. Section 3519.08(A) of Ohio’s Revised Code is in language Ritter, as an American, should be able to easily understand.
Notwithstanding division (I)(2) of section 3501.38 of the Revised Code, at any time prior to the seventieth day before the day of an election at which an initiative or referendum is scheduled to appear on the ballot, a majority of the members of the committee named to represent the petitioners in the petition proposing that initiative or referendum under section 3519.02 of the Revised Code may withdraw the petition by giving written notice of the withdrawal to the secretary of state.“
The use of the word “shall” in any law imposes “mandatory duties” on the official or individual being instructed by it. The use of the word “may” is permissive in that it gives the official or individual an option. In this case Ritter had the option of withdrawing the petitions but only if he did it “prior to the 70th day before” the day of the March 17, 2020 primary election.
Had Ritter or his Westlake boss any knowledge of U.S. Supreme Court cases they’d know the two words “statutory construction” prevents Ritter’s request to the Cuyahoga Elections board or Secretary of State to withdraw from going forward. Anyone who’s written laws like this writer has knows well the two words all legislators should study before they enact them.
“We begin with the familiar canon of statutory construction that the starting point for interpreting a statute is the language of the statute itself. Absent a clearly expressed legislative intention to the contrary, that language must ordinarily be regarded as conclusive.:” Consumer Product Safety Commission et al. v. GTE Sylvania, Inc. et al.,447 U.S. 102 (1980). “[I]n interpreting a statute a court should always turn to one cardinal canon before all others. . . .[C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there.”
Ritter announced on January 31st that he was withdrawing petitions to shrink council he should have withdrawn by “giving written notice of the withdrawal to the secretary of state” on January 7th. He missed the deadline by 24 days. There is no language in Title 35 of Ohio’s Revised Code that falls within the date of Ritter’s act or his published reasons for it.
What Ritter appears to hope for is for the board to for added language through an interpretation by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The problem is those officials can’t insert themselves in an area where the General Assembly has reserved the right of the “office” to the secretary of state. So Ritter’s only recourse is to ask the Secretary of State for withdrawal permission and to be told no.
It doesn’t matter as he told Cleveland Scene’s Sam Allard that preachers Aaron Phillips and E. Theophilis Caviness told him the campaign was racially-divisive. Had he known anything about the signers he’d know the majority of signers were not white.
What Ritter seems not to understand is that his decision to deprive 22,000 majority black signers of the right to exercise their vote at the election is vote suppressing racism. It’s also racism to think two black people who don’t live in Cleveland can decide for black Clevelanders the outcome of a petition they signed in order to vote at an election.
Phillips and Caviness speaks for themselves. No one has appointed them to lead or speak for “the Black community” and Ritter is a foolish racist for even believing that their voices carry the thoughts of 230,000 Black Clevelanders out of 389,000 Clevelanders overall.