The lead story this week in the Business Courier is COAST legal demand upon the City Solicitor to stop the foolish and illegal plan by the City to build the City's new $130 Million streetcar project on top of existing sewer lines downtown.
The City's plan is foolish from an engineering perspective, as it will cause repeated and prolonged service interruptions for the new Streetcar line, but also dramatically increase the cost of maintaining and repairing sewer lines, and extend the period of sewer outages when they occur.
The story highlights one important legal strategy utilized by COAST in the fight against excessive government taxes and spending: the Ohio taxpayer statute.
The way the statute works is that a City taxpayer can challenge an illegal act or an impermissible expenditure by the City before it occurs by writing to the City Solicitor pointing out the illegality of the behavior. Then, the Solicitor can preempt COAST from ever acting by himself intervening to stop the illegal conduct. If the Solicitor refuses to do so, and only if the Solicitor so passes on his legal obligations to stop the illegal conduct, then COAST may act, in the name of the City, and bring a suit to stop the claimed illegal conduct.
This is what COAST did in the Laure Quinlivan matter, and there, the City Solicitor refused to take legal action to stop the illegal conduct on the part of Quinlivan. This gave COAST standing to stop the illegal behavior.
Thus, for the City Solicitor to keep COAST out of Court against the City, all he must do is himself act to stop the offensive behavior, and COAST is deprived of standing even to file suit.
We will soon see how this one evolves.