Taxi man wants to drive city commissioners out

SANDUSKY About $12,000. That's how much Jason Brake is willing to cost the city
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



About $12,000.

That's how much Jason Brake is willing to cost the city to get justice. A campaign he launched this week to recall the entire city commission could require a special election carrying that price tag.

"If the city's got to spend extra money to put this on the ballot, then that's what the city has to do," he said. "Maybe the commissioners should put the well-being of the citizens of Sandusky first, and not on the back burner."

The taxi owner was inspired to pursue the commission's collective dismissal following yet another head-butting session regarding the city's taxi cab ordinance. One commissioner said Brake misinterprets the law regarding registration. But Brake claims the rules -- which require all vehicles-for-hire to have permanent lettering or signs stating they're a taxi company and to display a city-issued sticker -- create an unlevel playing field among cab companies.

He will spend Labor Day weekend downtown collecting the 1,086 signatures of registered voters necessary per petition to boot the panel of seven out of office. He already has the support of about 20 citizens who agree with his efforts.

"Believe me, I am persistent, and I don't care if I have to go door to door and request signatures," he said. "(The commissioners) need to quit blowing people off."

Beyond his concern about the taxi ordinance and its enforcement, he's also upset with the commission's general performance, which he thinks is lackluster and driving residents away.

"It's the Marina District, and the complaint with (former police chief Kim) Nuesse, and the way they handled it," Brake said. "The city commissioners should be bringing jobs to the city of Sandusky. Instead, Sandusky's pushing everybody out of town."

City law director Don Icsman said once Brake's petitions are filed through finance director Ed

Widman's office, the commissioners would be given five days to respond. Copies of the petitions and the responses would then be on public display at city firehouses for 30 days.

Should Brake fail to supply the requisite number of signatures from registered voters, the petitions would be dropped.

He said he plans to turn in the necessary signatures by Sept. 3.

According to the Erie County Board of Elections, should Brake file the necessary signatures not less than 30 or more than 60 days before a scheduled election, a special ballot would be convened. After hiring four poll workers for each of the 16 city precincts, programming the election into computers, printing about 3,000 ballots and providing the precincts with rented tables and chairs, the special vote would cost the city about $12,000.

Commissioner Craig Stahl said Brake was scheduled to sit with commissioner Bob Warner and other city officials Friday to discuss the cab ordinance, but Brake canceled the meeting.

Warner, the city liaison for cab owners, didn't return calls seeking comment Friday.

Stahl said Brake should check his facts before he makes accusations of mistreatment by the city.

"We are advisors, and we listen, and we act properly in our authority," Stahl said. "I'd be very disappointed if he proceeds with (the petitions), but that's his right."

Brake disagrees with the city's taxi statute, and there's not much more the city can do to appease him, commission president Dennis Murray Jr. said. Yet, he doesn't begrudge Brake's attempt to recall him.

"Mr. Brake has a right as a citizen of the city to take those steps if he believes that's appropriate," Murray said. "Democracy can be expensive. I would defend his right to take these steps."

Community members criticizing his actions don't have the best interests of Sandusky at heart, Brake asserted.

"They know that I have a problem with the city, and if they say I'm whining it's because they really don't care," he said.