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17th District Dems want sales tax on Nov. ballot



Published: Sun, January 27, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



17th District Dems want sales tax on Nov. ballot

EDITOR:

The Mahoning County commissioners have indicated that they will place the 0.5 percent sales tax on the primary ballot. This decision comes on the heels of the audit conducted by state Auditor James Petro, who made a number of recommendations to make county government more efficient. Before this audit of selective departments the county commissioned a study by Peat Marwick which also made a number of recommendations to be implemented.

As the largest volunteer political organization in Mahoning County, the Democrats of the 17th District would respectfully urge the commissioners to place the sales tax issue on the November ballot. We do so for a number of reasons.

First, the number of voters who participate in a primary election, or even a special election, pale by comparison with those who vote in the general election. Historically, the lack of contested Republican primaries in our area and the lack of incentive for independents to vote result in relatively small turnouts during primaries

By placing an important issue on the ballot in the primary, the decision will be made by a fraction of the community. We all agree that people should exercise their right to vote no matter the nature of the election. But experience and reality tell us otherwise.

Second, the additional time between the primary and the general election will allow a longer period of debate and discussion of the issue. Two conflicting conclusions can be deduced from Mr. Petro's report. On the one hand, he made many recommendations to reduce spending which suggests that county officials have not been serious when it comes to belt tightening. Moreover, the audit only encompassed a small part of county operations. A full audit may generate savings exponentially.

On the other hand, one can conclude from the audit that the 0.5 percent sales tax is necessary. The correlation between the proposed savings and the need for revenues should be explored, debated and placed before the voters in a thoughtful way; not the hurried approach the commissioners are adopting.

Finally, the additional period of time between Mr. Petro's audit and the general election will allow the voters to judge whether the commissioners are serious about the implementation of the cost savings measures set forth in the audit. With the general distrust of government that exists in this community and the embarrassing revelations of credit card usage, the voters are entitled to determine whether this is a government that spends recklessly or has turned over a new leaf and is taking the steps necessary to be efficient, thereby winning the confidence of its constituents.

MARK BELINKY

Youngstown

X The writer is the president of the Democrats of the 17th District.

More drug companies could give seniors a break

EDITOR:

I follow your "Who Said So" column on the editorial page and hoped you might feature a recent quote of Hank McKinnell, chairman and chief executive officer of the drug company Pfizer Inc. Mr. McKinnell stated as follows: "I don't doubt this program in the short term is going to cost us money, but quire frankly, it is the right thing to do."

The program he refers to will begin March 1 and will be enrolling and offering low-income senior citizens drugs from Viagra to Lipitar for $15 for a one-month supply. There is no limit on how many Pfizer drugs can be bought nor any limit on how many months they can be refilled at same price. Seniors must be enrolled in Medicare and have an annual gross income of below $18,000 for singles and $34,000 for a married couple. They can have no other prescription coverage. Wal-Mart and CVS will be participating in the program. A huge publicity campaign is now in place, but we can all help by making sure that no qualifying senior falls through the cracks and doesn't hear of this wonderful program.

Most of us have said some pretty nasty things about drug companies as the price of our drugs go up and up, but Mr. McKinnell's statement shows us that Pfizer has taken a good look at this and realized things are getting out of hand. People are doing without vital medications. Kudos to Pfizer! May other drug companies give some thought to this.

SALLY WALKER

Boardman

Has the concept of 'choice' gone too far?

EDITOR:

On Jan 22 The Vindicator opinion pages carried a special column written to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The column was written by Karen Hackenberry, CEO/President of Planned Parenthood of Mahoning Valley, Inc., and was titled & quot;Reproductive choice, a necessary right. & quot;

Yes, the Supreme Court says you can choose at any time during the nine months: even after the heart starts beating, after its arms and legs appear, after all organs are present, after the sex is apparent, after it sucks its thumb, after it responds to pain, even after it could survive outside the womb.

Abortion -- have we gone too far?

MELINDA KNIGHT

Youngstown

Coming together works

EDITOR:

Congratulations are in order to all of those involved to have the city of Youngstown designated as a federal renewal commmunity. There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into projects like this, and no one is ever sure of the outcome.

The success of this effort is a positive sign for the city and region. It is a positive sign because as Reed Dulberger states; & quot;It proves we can come together. & quot;

Let this be the beginning.

JOSEPH NAPLES

Youngstown




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