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STRUTHERS On the air, council president apologizes to Mayor Mamula



Published: Tue, May 8, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The council president said he didn't know about the interview until he heard it at work.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

STRUTHERS -- Mayor Dan Mamula said he didn't expect to hear council President Michael Orenic's voice on the phone during Mamula's radio interview Monday morning.

He also doesn't know why Orenic chose to apologize on "The Dan Ryan Show," after saying in a faxed message to The Vindicator on Friday that the mayor lacks morals and a conscience.

"I'm having a hard time with this," Mamula said.

Politics: All of this stems over Mamula's public support of Orenic's political rival, Councilman Danny Thomas Jr., D-1st.

Mamula said his worsening relationship with Orenic will make council matters difficult but shouldn't affect the city.

"We've already had a very estranged relationship," he said. "I'll do my job as best I can with anybody who wins."

Orenic, principal of Byzantine Catholic Central School, said he didn't even know about the radio interview until he heard it at work and phoned in. He said he tried to apologize to Mamula over the phone at a previous time.

After seeing the newspaper The Journal last week, Orenic left a voice mail message for Mamula, proclaiming that the mayor sold his soul to the devil -- and threatening to pray that Mamula's children and grandchildren get hooked on drugs.

Explanation: Orenic said his hatred for drugs, some family problems with them, and Mamula's support of Thomas spawned the message. Thomas was convicted in 1997 of a federal felony related to cocaine distribution. President Clinton pardoned Thomas on Christmas Day 1999.

Despite the explanation, Councilmen Mark Sandine, D-2nd, and Dexter Hollen, D-at large, thought Orenic's voice-mail message was inappropriate.

Sandine said he tried to get through to the radio show, but the phone lines were jammed. He and Thomas have been labeled by Orenic as troublemakers since being elected four years ago.

Sandine said he had refused to begin his first council caucus meeting until council agreed to record it, which started the bad blood. Before that, Struthers caucus meetings were not recorded.

"If asking questions is causing problems, then yes, I cause problems," he said.

On Orenic's side: Robert Carcelli, D-at large, said Orenic made a mistake, apologized for it and Mamula shouldn't have gotten involved in the political race in the first place by supporting Thomas.

Other council members could not be reached.

Monsignor Victor Romza of St. Michael Church, Campbell, an affiliate of Byzantine Catholic Central School, supports Orenic as principal and believes he should be forgiven, despite the message he left.




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