published February 25, 2001
A little mess in
When a 30-year-old law is dusted off right
after folks come to town to shake things up, they can bet they’re
rubbing people the wrong way.
So officials in Marion should
not be surprised to find themselves sued in a challenge that
involves their 7 p.m. curfew and $7.50 registration fee for each
canvasser Ohio Citizen Action sent to town to tell residents about
residual pollution at the River Valley Schools complex.
pollution is worrisome because in 1997 the Ohio Health Department
announced an unusually high rate of leukemia in and around Marion.
Trichloroethylene, a solvent that stays in the soil, has been
identified on school grounds, along with benzo(a)pyrene, a known
While scientists don’t know whether exposure to
pollutants caused leukemia or other illnesses, the school system
plans to rebuild on other property, a prospect that leaves students
in the school complex in question until 2003.
the middle and high schools are safe, provided contaminated areas
are avoided and the air continues to be monitored. Citizen Action,
for its part, is demanding that other structures be found for
classes in the interim.
The environmental group maintains
that the city began enforcing the curfew as the situation with the
schools - built in 1962 on acres where the military burned or buried
toxic chemicals - heated up. Citizen Action canvassers went
door-to-door in areas around the school, which is not within city
limits, as well as in the city itself.
Until 1999, Citizen
Action maintains it had its people out on other matters, knocking on
doors in Marion until 9 p.m., a time various federal court decisions
have cited as proper to cease such activity.
have a few weeks in which to respond to the Citizen Action
complaint, filed in federal court in Toledo. In that time its
attorneys should come to terms with this citizens’ group without
wasting taxpayer money on defending an indefensible policy. Choking
off the voice of the messenger won’t make pollution go away.