MAHONING DEMOCRATS Leaders drop plan to give 5 percent back to their party

The backlash to the assessment policy from politicians was overwhelming, the Democratic committee chairman said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Forget about that plan requiring all elected and endorsed Mahoning County Democratic officials to give 5 percent of their annual salary to the organization.
Upon further review, party officials say the plan is unfair and has no chance of being approved by the party's precinct committee members, so it is being withdrawn.
"That's worse than child support," Democratic Chairman David Ditzler said of the proposed 5-percent assessment fee. "Five-percent is pretty crazy. You wouldn't need that kind of money to run the party."
If every elected Democratic in the county gave the 5 percent -- and a number of them were on record as saying they wouldn't give it -- the party would have raised about $125,000 annually.
"The assessment issue became a big bugaboo," said Kenneth Carano, chairman of the party's constitution committee, which recommended the assessment fee last month.
Intended use: The assessments were going to be used to run party operations. Candidates are still responsible for paying the costs to cover advertising done on their behalf by the party during primary and general elections.
Carano said he will either reconvene a meeting of his committee or send them a questionnaire regarding the withdrawal of the assessment plan.
Committee members began rethinking the proposal when elected officials told The Vindicator they had no intention of paying 5 percent of their annual salary to the party.
"The backlash from a lot of politicians was overwhelming," said Carano, a state representative.
Another factor was the disclosure in the newspaper by former party Chairman Don L. Hanni II that the party under his 16-year reign had trouble collecting assessment fees from politicians.
"They never collected it in the past so how were we going to collect it now?" Carano said.
When Michael Morley replaced Hanni as chairman in 1994, the party's precinct committee members voted to eliminate assessment fees and endorsements of candidate in primary elections. Those two policies were among Morley's core issues when he took office. Ditzler replaced Morley in 1999.
But the party has fallen on hard financial times in recent years and the assessment and primary endorsement polices were seen by loyalists as ways to improve its financial condition and unity.
The party's precinct committee members will vote on reinstating endorsements for candidates during primary elections, a plan endorsed last month by Carano's committee. A meeting date has not been scheduled.

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