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Government and Politics

Environmental group sues over Bay Village door-to-door curfew
Solicitors -- including non-profits and political canvasser -- want to be able to visit until 9 p.m.; the city says no

Kabir Bhatia
In The Region:
The environmental advocacy group, Ohio Citizen Action, is suing Bay Village over the city’s new restrictions on door-to-door canvassing. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports.
Environmental group sues over Bay Village door-to-door curfew

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Ohio Citizen Action had notified Bay Village in December of its objection to the Cuyahoga County town’s curfew for solicitors, including those from nonprofit and political groups. The new rules enacted last summer moved the cut off from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. or sundown, whichever comes first.

The group wants a federal judge to declare the law unconstitutional and is also asking for damages. Its attorney, Daniel Kobil, says the new restriction takes away valuable time to talk about important political issues, and infringes on free speech. 

“In this day and age when people are working long hours, it’s hard enough to reach them before 9 o’clock. The highest court that I know of to consider an 8 o’clock curfew has found it unconstitutional and that’s the 7th Circuit in Chicago.”

Ohio Citizen Action won a similar lawsuit against Bay Village in 1995, and prevailed in a case last year near Cincinnati involving a 6 p.m. curfew.

Bay Village Law Director Gary Ebert says the change is due to increased complaints to City Council about privacy and safety. He says the city is particularly sensitive due to the case of 10-year-old Amy Mihaljevic, who was abducted and killed in 1989.

Both sides had wanted to avoid a lawsuit. Ebert said last week that another restriction – that solicitors register with the city and pay a licensing fee -- had been revised for non-profits, and Ohio Citizen Action had agreed in principle. 

He says the lawsuit will be discussed by City Council at tonight’s meeting.
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