An ad hoc committee to study Reynoldsburg's ban on pit bulls apparently is on hold until City Council members can agree on how to balance the member list between pro-pit bull people and those who want to keep the law that calls the dogs "vicious and dangerous."
The original ad hoc committee was approved by a 3-2 vote Nov. 12, with five council members present.
Speaking Monday, Dec. 2, Councilman Chris Long said he made a motion to "reconsider" the ad hoc committee member list at the Nov. 25 safety committee meeting "to correct two technicalities that President (Doug) Joseph overlooked."
"Council rules state that the creation of an ad hoc committee requires a majority of council to pass," he said. "That would be four votes, but (Joseph) only had three. The president of council is required to submit an agenda with a clear termination date for the committee to complete its work.
"President Joseph did not follow that requirement," Long said, "so technically, the committee didn't exist."
Long said he called for another vote on the committee two weeks later by the full council. He made a motion to accept the members of the ad hoc committee who were appointed by Joseph, but then voted against the motion, along with Leslie Kelly, Cornelius McGrady III and Mel Clemens.
Council members Barth Cotner, Monica DeBrock and Scott Barrett voted yes, according to Clerk of Council April Beggerow. However, since a majority of four members voted not to accept the structure of the ad hoc committee as written, the committee was dissolved, Beggerow said.
City Attorney Jed Hood said the city's official rules of business state that for ordinary business, four members constitute a majority.
"We have not had this issue come up in the past," Hood said, "but because Mr. Long voted for the ad hoc committee, he could move to reconsider the motion when all members were present.
"The question was whether or not the motion to appoint the committee garnered a majority," he said. "I thought the best way to resolve the dispute was to call it before the full council. They voted not to allow those people to serve on the ad hoc committee."
People on the original ad hoc committee list were Stephen J. Smith, an attorney who has experience with breed-specific issues, including the prosecution of canine cases; Dr. Joel Melin, Reynoldsburg veterinarian and founder of the Animal Care Hospital of Reynoldsburg; Dr. Heath Jolliff, Nationwide Children's Hospital emergency department physician; Bradley Hauser, Reynoldsburg resident and representative of Pit Bulls for Reynoldsburg; Pamela Evans, humane agent with the Licking County Humane Society; and Scott Mueller, a Reynoldsburg-area professional dog trainer and founder of the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers.
Hood and Reynoldsburg Police Chief Jim O'Neill also were on the committee list.
Long said he thought the committee "had been stacked with almost all pro-pit bull people."
"Leslie Kelly and I both agreed that the formation of a committee is a good step in showing we've completed our due diligence in this matter," he said. "Hopefully, we can come up with a balanced committee to replace the original one."
DeBrock said she thought council should begin with the original list and go from there.
"We should add additional names of people who will bring their concerns about pit bulls to the discussion," she said.
Hauser said any assumption that the original members of the ad hoc committee would be biased toward revising the ban on pit bulls was "blatantly inaccurate."
"Council spoke to absolutely none of the original members prior to the dissolution in order to ascertain their viewpoints," he said.
Hauser said Pit Bulls for Reynoldsburg is not going away.
"We're in this for the long haul," he said. "We will be closely following the formation of the new ad hoc committee, assuming it actually comes to fruition. We hope that Chris Long and Leslie Kelly will expeditiously follow through on their commitments to aid in the search for alternate members."
He said his group will push for more resident involvement and is not "ruling out an initiative petition."
"Probably one of the most frustrating things has been Mel Clemens' and Chris Long's outright refusals to work with us and discuss their viewpoints in greater depth," Hauser said. "People continue to say that the current law is effective and are unable to offer any data in support of that claim. In fact, based on the data we have compiled and presented publicly, the opposite is true."