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CNN report finds support is flagging



Published: Tue, February 26, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The CNN piece said there is a 'growing chorus' against Traficant in the Mahoning Valley.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A CNN news report described Youngstown as "a once-great and noble city [that] continues to suffer hard times," pointing in particular to the federal corruption trial of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

During the more-than-six-minute piece Monday on CNN's "NewsNight" program called "The Man from Youngstown," reporter Kate Snow said although Traficant has his defenders, "there's a growing chorus against" him in the Mahoning Valley.

Like several other national news pieces on the Valley, the CNN report described the area as being unable to rebound from the steel mill closings of the 1970s.

Snow said her visit to Youngstown was not on the nicest of days.

"The city looked even bleaker than it normally does," she said. "It's a city that's really trying to pull itself up, trying to clean itself up, and get out of a long-growing economic depression."

During the area's steel heyday, Snow said, workers spent their money in "mob-run gambling parlors, and downtown was hopping. Now, downtown is a series of boarded-up storefronts."

Mob influence: The story discussed the Mafia's influence on the Valley, with James Seivert, a retired Steelworker interviewed at the Newport Cafe on Hillman Way, saying if a person got a traffic ticket or was charged with drunken driving, all they had to do was get $1,000 together and the case was "washed under the table."

Snow also interviewed Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul J. Gains about the failed mob hit on him.

Thoughts on Traficant: One patron at the Newport Cafe, Edward McFarland, said about Traficant: "Maybe you can put his brain in a teacup, but you can't put his heart in a barn. The guy's got guts."

Snow said Traficant embodies "working-class grit," but she didn't broadcast any statements from those who support the Poland Democrat.

Traficant, a nine-term congressman, is on trial in federal court in Cleveland on charges including bribery and racketeering.

"Everybody testifying against him, [if] they're all lying [then] that's a lot of liars in there, & quot; said Bob Daloise, a skeptic who was interviewed at the Newport Cafe.

Regarding Traficant's trial, Snow said, "The drama in the courtroom is absolutely impressive." But she added that Traficant is not doing well defending himself, adding that eight witnesses have testified that he "flagrantly broke the law."

Economic outlook: Thomas Humphries of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce said during the CNN broadcast that area residents want to put the Traficant controversy behind them and move forward.

Among the area's successes he mentioned were the chamber's development of the industrial park near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna Township and the growth of the Valley's suburbs.

Aaron Brown, who anchors "NewsNight," said, "It would be easy to see [the Traficant] story as a farce. ... It reads like a farce, but there's a very serious side to it."




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