It should be evident by now, not only to the residents of the Mahoning Valley but to the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate and House, that Warren Mayor Henry Angelo and Trumbull County Commissioner Joseph Angelo are on a fool's errand as they push to have Trumbull County placed in a separate congressional district from Mahoning County.
When someone as politically astute and knowledgeable as former Warren mayor and now state Rep. Daniel Sferra, D-66th, not only refuses to jump on the Angelo brothers' bandwagon but warns that Trumbull County could end up with the short end of the stick, you would think that the current mayor and the county commissioner would see the error of their ways.
Consider the following statement from Henry Angelo in reaction to a suggestion from state Sen. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-32nd, that splitting Mahoning and Trumbull counties could result in Trumbull being divided three or four ways and the city of Warren being split between districts:
"Nobody can tell me that having more people to speak on our behalf won't help us."
We can, Mr. Mayor. If most of Trumbull County, most of which is now part of one congressional district, is chopped up and scattered to the winds, its political influence is greatly reduced. Does Angelo really believe that three or four members of Congress whose districts include snippets of the county will form an alliance to address the needs of the whole?
And does Angelo believe that having his city represented by even two members of Congress is better than having one congressman or woman fighting on its behalf in Washington?
Discretionary dollars: Whether the Angelo brothers want to admit it, having Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in the current 17th Congressional District has been good for all three counties. Don't take our word for it, just look at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce's analysis of federal discretionary dollars that have come into the region in the past decade.
For the Angelo brothers to contend that Trumbull County has not received its fair share of federal dollars is pure poppycock. If they want to argue that the 17th District would have done a lot better with someone other than James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland as the congressman, we're certain they would have many Valley residents agreeing with them. But that's a political argument and has nothing to do with their specious claim that Trumbull County would be a lot better off on its own -- even if that meant chopping up the county as a whole and cities such as Warren within it.
It is fortunate that the Angelo brothers are being largely ignored in Columbus, but that does not mean the proponents of unity should let up on their campaign to persuade Republican Gov. Bob Taft, Republican President of the Senate Richard Finan and Republican Speaker of the House Larry Householder that Mahoning and Trumbull counties have a commonality of interest and, therefore, should be treated as one.
Loss: Because of the decline in population Ohio will lose one of its 19 congressional districts, and with Republicans in charge of the redistricting, it should come as no surprise that a Democratic district will be targeted for elimination.
That said, this region is not without some influence in state government. And that influence should be used to ensure that Mahoning and Trumbull counties remain joined at the hip.