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Columbus Voters Reject Controversial Energy Issue

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Scott Good / WOSU
Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin speaks Wednesday at a press conference held by city and state leaders voicing opposition to Issue 7.

Columbus residents have voted against a ballot measure that would have taken $87 million from the general fund to promote what supporters called 'green energy use' in the city.

Columbus City Council members opposed the ordinance earlier in the year but were required by the Ohio Supreme Court to put it on November's ballot.

In an interview with WOSU in June, council member Rob Dorans said the group that petitioned for the initiative, ProEnergy Ohio LLC, was not specific about where the money would go, which is why the council members were skeptical about it and denied the initial petition request.

Legal issues faced by an individual involved with Issue 7 have brought additional scrutiny to the group. Last December, John A. Clark, who was part of the initiative for the ordinance, was indicted with two counts of election falsification and two counts of tampering with records.

Many other state and local officials, including Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, also voiced their concern over the ballot issue in the weeks leading up to the election. Mayor Ginther called the issue a scam, saying the issue's proponents manipulated the democratic process to deal themselves public tax dollars through a ballot issue.

Community organizations such as the Columbus Urban League and The Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund also voiced their disapproval of the ballot issue.

A Columbus attorney representing ProEnergy Ohio LLC said despite the criticism the issue received, there is nothing nefarious going on, and that Columbus City Council would have been the delegated authority to manage the funds received through the ballot initiative.