On behalf of the Grow Mahoning Valley committee, I would like to thank Gov. Bob Taft for his recent reappointment of Pat Ungaro, former mayor of Youngstown, to the Transportation Review Advisory Council.
TRAC is the arm of the Ohio Department of Transportation that decides which highway projects get funded for construction.
Pat's position on this commission has helped to secure valuable infrastructure dollars for our area, including state funding for the King-Graves Road Interchange at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the S.R. 711 Connector, the replacement of the Interchange at S.R. 46 and I-80 in Austintown and the twin bridges over Meander Reservoir on I-80.
Pat has also helped to ensure that progress continues to be made on the Hubbard Arterial and the completion of U.S. 62 in Stark, Columbiana and Mahoning Counties.
We sincerely appreciate the governor's consideration of Pat for this position. He has once again demonstrated his support for our area.
X The writer is the chairman of Grow Mahoning Valley, a public/private/labor partnership formed by the Youngstown/ Warren Regional Chamber to promote economic development through the completion of infrastructure projects.
Hanssen's crimes warrant much harsher penalty
I was distressed to learn in a recent Vindicator of the terms of the plea bargain agreement reached between admitted spy and former senior FBI agent, Robert Hanssen and the U.S. Department of Justice. In that plea agreement, the U.S. attorney will recommend to the court that Hanssen be sentenced to life imprisonment without the opportunity for parole in return for Hanssen's disclosure of the details of his treachery.
In addition to his avoiding the possibility of receiving the death penalty for his years of criminal espionage conducted against the United States and on behalf of first the Soviets and then the Russians, Hanssen's wife will be allowed to receive his U.S. government pension and to retain his property without chance of forfeit.
I do understand the position of the Justice Department in attempting to exchange a measure of leniency to the traitor Hanssen in exchange for a valuable look into the life of a double agent, but I cannot agree with it.
My thoughts turn to lives ruined and the deaths caused by the calculated betrayal of this man. A man who held high office and a position of great trust with what should be one of our most trusted institutions.
Yet despite his treason, this plea agreement allows Hanssen's family to retain the fruits of his crime even at the continued expense of the U.S. taxpayers.
Over the past two decades, none of those convicted of espionage against their country have been executed for their costly crimes and betrayal. In considering plea agreements with traitors such as Hanssen, the Justice Department must look beyond the expediency of a guaranteed conviction and consider what type of message these plea agreements are sending to those considering similar actions when admitted spies are allowed to avoid the death penalty and their families are permitted to retain the assets they acquired with the blood money they earned from their spy masters.
It has been reported that the some of the information sold to the Russians by Hanssen has resulted in the deaths of U.S. operatives who provided vital information necessary for the protection of U.S. interests both at home and abroad. Let the traitor Hanssen suffer the same fate as those he so easily betrayed.
DAVID A. SHEPHERD