NEWS ARTICLE from THE MORNING JOURNAL, 5-25-99, By COLLEEN MYTNICK, Morning Journal Writer
"Court asked to kill anti-election suit
AVON - Three separate groups filed motions yesterday [5-24-99] asking the Ohio Supreme Court to throw out a lawsuit that attempts to stop a special election to decide the fate of the Avon Commons shopping center.
The motions came just days after attorneys Gerald Phillips and [Stark/Jacobs lawyer] Timothy Grendell filed a lawsuit [5-13-99] claiming the special June 1 election for Avon Commons should should not be held because not enough valid signatures were collected to force the issue onto the ballot.
Though the Lorain County Board of Elections last week [5-20-99] ruled the election should go forward, the Ohio Supreme Court is not expected to rule on Phillips' complaint until after the special election.
The results of the June 1 election were ordered to be impounded and kept secret until the Supreme Court completes its review of Phillips' complaint.
Yesterday, three groups asked the Court to dismiss Phillips' lawsuit, including the elections board, Avon Commons developer Mitchell Schneider, and the group of residents [Avon Citizens for Avon Commons] that collected signatures to put the shopping center on the ballot. Avon Law Director Dan Stringer said the City also plans to file a motion to dismiss.
In its brief, the elections board claimed that instead of cooperating with the elections board, Phillips and Grendell have 'engaged in a deliberate effort to conceal information,' according to the brief.
The brief stated the elections board 'repeatedly and literally begged (Phillips and Grendell) to provide information to help in the investigation.' Instead the attorneys 'played a hide and seek game impeding rather than assisting the investigation.'
Phillips' and Grendell's strategy, according to the brief, was to file every possible complaint that exists, even though they knew most of them were 'bogus.'
The brief goes on to say that Phillips and Grendell hoped they could 'trick' the Board of Elections into making a mistake that would cancel the election ...
Schneider expressed a similar opinion of the campaign waged against his development:
'I think it's the same shotgun approach filled with baseless allegations with no factual backup and intended to mislead the court into taking an action that there is no basis for at law,' Schneider said.
Resident Bob Barnhart, who led the petition drive, said that both Avon and the elections board have ruled in his favor and the case in the Ohio Supreme Court should be dropped."