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  • Marion changes canvassing restrictions

    Saturday, April 14, 2001

    Holly Zachariah
    Dispatch Staff Reporter

    Marion officials have agreed to settle an environmental group's lawsuit by paying $25,000 in damages and changing its door-to-door canvassing curfew.

    Ohio Citizen Action sued the city in February, stating that Marion's law limiting door-to-door canvassing, peddling and solicitation to before 7 p.m. was unconstitutional.

    Both sides agreed to the settlement this week.

    Mayor Jack Kellogg said groups can now canvass until 9 p.m.

    "The citizens of Marion aren't going to like people knocking on their doors after dark,'' he said. "But now we have to allow it.''

    Beginning Monday, Ohio Citizen Action will have 14 people canvassing Marion neighborhoods from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., offering information about the investigation into contamination at River Valley school sites, said Simona Vaclavikova, the group's Columbus-area director.

    "This is a victory,'' she said. "But, unfortunately, it's not out of the ordinary that we have to fight for our First Amendment rights to be able to talk to people.''

    Vaclavikova said although Ohio Citizen Action had canvassed in Marion for a variety of issues in the past, its efforts were stymied by city officials in 1999 when the group sought permission to talk about the schools.

    "It was only when we wanted to talk about these schools and the fact that these students were on campuses that are contaminated that the city began enforcing this ordinance that's been on the books since 1970.''

    Kellogg said that's ridiculous.

    "River Valley had nothing to do with this,'' he said. "But we're glad to get this behind us. We'll change our law to comply with the settlement and we'll go forward. No problem.''

    City insurance will cover the $25,000 in damages and additional attorney fees.

    hzachari@dispatch.com




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