Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer


Special interests, electeds, and industry outspend residents, barely defeat community bill of rights


Youngstown, OH  — November 4, 2015

In a dramatic election night, and despite being well outspent by opposition,  the people of Youngstown garnered 49% of the vote in favor of a Community Bill of Rights charter amendment that would have protected the City’s clean air, clean water, and local self-government, and banned fracking activities as a violation of those rights.

While rights-based laws are part of a growing Community Rights Movement, and are being adopted by municipalities across the country to protect themselves from corporate harms, all efforts were made by Youngstown local government, industry, media, chamber of commerce, and others to quash the residents’ rights-based charter amendment.

Youngstown residents have been working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) since 2012, when the first frack-related earthquakes struck the area. Spurred by concern for protecting their air and water, residents have engaged in five campaigns to advance their bill of rights. Each time, opposition by well funded elected and business interests has placed community members at a significant disadvantage in campaigning. Despite this, they have made tremendous gains at the polls.  

Supporters of the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights remain determined to advance those rights. Resident Heidi Kroeck stated, “We are proud of the grit and determination of our people, and neither we, nor community rights, are going away. It’s a growing movement of people who refuse to allow their communities to be resource colonies or dumping grounds for corporate profit, and who insist on their right to local self-government. Youngstown cannot survive without clean air and water. We didn’t give up our rights before, and we’re not giving up our rights now –  for ourselves or future generations.”

Following yesterday’s vote, CELDF Community Organizer Tish O’Dell stated, “Community rights advocates in this City are strong, persistent, and courageous. They understand they are coming up against a legal and governing structure designed to stifle the rights of real people and advance the claimed ‘rights’ of corporations – and they will not let that stand. They may be outspent – but they are not outnumbered. Onward!”

Additional Information


About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, the local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

Additional Resources