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Orenic's election defeat speaks well of Struthers



Published: Fri, May 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Michael Orenic has resigned as president of Struthers City Council in the wake of his defeat in Tuesday's Democratic primary. To Orenic we say, "Good riddance to bad rubbish."

Harsh words, indeed, but considering the vitriolic message he left on Mayor Daniel Mamula's answering machine on the eve of the election, we believe that such a sentiment is justified. "Bad rubbish" doesn't come close to describing his behavior.

Orenic needs to recognize that he alone is to blame for voters rejecting him, and that his opponent in the race, Danny Thomas, was simply the beneficiary of the turn of events. "If the community wants this guy [Thomas] so badly as president of council, he can start tomorrow," he said after the votes were counted.

No, Mr. Orenic, the voters didn't want Thomas so badly, they just didn't want you around -- not after you telephoned the mayor and said in the message that you would pray to God every night that his children and grandchildren get hooked on drugs.

You, a Catholic school principal, are willing to pray to God to punish the innocent just because of a political disagreement. Have you no shame? Even the rough-and-tumble of politics has its limits and you went beyond them.

Thuggish behavior: Orenic was angry with Mamula for endorsing Thomas, whose 1987 conviction for using a telephone to distribute cocaine was erased by a pardon in 1999 from President Clinton. He contends that the mayor had pledged not to get involved in the race. If what he's saying is true, he had every reason to feel betrayed. But his "a plague on your house" type of reaction reflected the kind of thuggish behavior that has no place in politics.

Why are we so strident in our criticism of the former council president? Because we endorsed him for re-election over Thomas. We weren't sold on the challenger, who is in his second term as the 1st Ward councilman, and we concluded after interviewing both candidates that the incumbent, after nine terms, had made a persuasive case for re-election.

But that was before he revealed a side of himself that we had not previously seen. Yes, he was animated when he talked to members of the newspaper's editorial board about Thomas' drug conviction. He explained that a relative of his had died from a drug overdose. But there wasn't any of the venom that he spewed in his telephone call to Mamula.

We are hard-pressed to understand how a school teacher who comes into daily contact with young people can wish evil upon the children or grandchildren of a political opponent with whom he has a political difference.

Forgiveness: Orenic's last-minute apology for bringing Mamula's family into the race did not sway the electorate -- and certainly doesn't impress us. Even though he is no longer a public official, he has the duty as a human being to tell the Mamula family that he is sorry for what he said and to ask God's forgiveness and mercy.




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