Don't say 'no' to progress

Don't say 'no' to progress
This Tuesday, when voters approach the ballot box, I hope that they will consider the future of this county before they vote. If you vote no because you believe the ignorance propagated on the television and radio news media, instead of investigating the facts, then you, the voter, are at fault for the demise of this area. Every time you pull a no lever for a school levy, when you say no to county services, when you say no to the disabled and the mentally ill, you say no to the advancement of this area. Mahoning County is only what the voters make it. Our county commissioners, judges, police and sheriff can only do what you, the voter, allow them to do with the money you grant them by voting yes When professionals, young families and businesses move out of Mahoning County, the only ones to blame are the voters.
So many of our children went to college and moved home again to be professionals in this area, hoping that they could revitalize it beyond the loss of the mills. Some are public servants that serve this community, who are grossly underpaid compared to their colleagues in the surrounding counties. They moved home, they had their children, only to have to relocate out of state, away from their children's grandparents and families in order to find other positions. Their hope is gone for this area. How much more hope should they have when certain people of this county are destined to see it fail?
Too many complain about our courts, our county officials wasting funds, and they know no better. Our court of common pleas is one of the best fiscally run courts in the state. Our county officials have cut costs wherever possible, hoping that they would not have to do away with the health care and basic benefits of their employees, unless of course, the voters believe that they and their families should be without health care. If the voters vote no on this sales tax, a half penny that won't matter to most of them one way or another, unless they truly do not care about this county. I certainly hope they will realize their error before all that's left are criminals, sex offenders and drug addicts.
Girard voters: A golf course is a terrible thing to waste
Recently I was searching the Internet for "History of Golf in the Mahoning Valley" and I found a website that chronicles the history of Girard, most of it year by year. In 1898 I found this partial quote from a newspaper article "fifty businessmen from Youngstown get together and buy 50 acres on the north end of Girard for a golf course." Francis Ouimet would not become the first American born winner of the U.S. Open Championship for another 15 years. Our predecessors knew something then that some people today cannot fathom. There is something mystical about the game of golf. These businessmen were obviously successful enough to purchase and create a place where they could explore the mysteries of the game.
If we were in almost any other area of the country the plan to destroy a heavily played golf course for a new high school on 10 times the acreage presently in use of one-half of the graduating class 30 years ago would never even reach the table. But the steel mills bite me from the grave. Because of the wealth they created we are blessed with over 50 courses in the area, and to a man, our school board has deemed Mahoning Country Club expendable. They are missing the point. It's ours. Girard's golf course. Right there for everybody to see.
Another thing that troubles me about this whole affair is the complete agreement of everyone involved with the school board. Not even one dissenting opinion. Since when did everyone agree about anything? What am I missing?
Nowadays high school is four years. Yet when I talk to the supporters of the school levy they act as if it is the single most monumental, destiny defining, world changing time of their lives and if we don't take this opportunity to build them an over priced, costly to maintain and twice as big as necessary facility we might not get the chance again. If you ask the head of the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission how many schools are re-built on their current location he will tell you 45 percent. There must be some reason why some school districts choose not to opt for a brand spanking new high school on 10 times the property they now use. I'd like to think that those communities had done some cost-benefit analysis. The OSFC will give Girard $12 million towards the rebuilding of the existing school. To quote councilman Lambert, D-at large, and members of the finance committee, "We have a shrinking population, an elderly population. Income tax is down for a reason. These are some of the realities of our town. You just have to know that." (Council meeting, April 2005). My biggest fear is that these levy loving lunatics will slip beneath the radar.
If you asked any student what effect the building they were taught in had on them, what would they say? The windows aren't airtight. That they heard there was some water in the basement. Parking wasn't the best. Sometimes some of the rooms were too hot. Teachers might answer that way but never students. They could care less. This isn't about the kids but rather someone else even closer to the situation, the teachers and administrators who account for over 80 percent of the budget in salary and benefits.
It will be hard to rebuild the high school. But please don't tell me that it can't be done. That's insulting. It will take years. But it will be done. And when it is our children who this is supposedly about, will have seen how a community can rally behind the kind of grass roots campaign that can see the value of preservation and tradition. The prudence of fiscal responsibility. It is obvious to me that the primary reason for complete agreement on the part of the school board, teachers and administrators is that it is the easiest way to go. Sure, it will cost more they tell me, but look what you'll get. Higher taxes, no golf course, overgrown vacant lot in the middle of town, (who's gonna' cut it?) lower property values for the homes adjacent to the golf course, new high school with no football stadium or auditorium and a hundred graduating students who will have no choice but to look somewhere else for a job. There's reality and there's fantasy. Let's stop the insanity.
County just can't get by
The debate about the Mahoning Couynty sales tax issue has been good, but much of it misses the key question: can essential county general fund services be run effectively without the extra half percent sales tax?
Experience in the 94 percent of Ohio counties that have higher rates clearly says no. The other 6 percent make it up from sky-high real estate taxes (like Medina County), or else they are in the same mess we're in (like Trumbull County).
Let's stop & quot;rearranging the deck chairs, & quot; and reinstate this tax before the state comes in and forces the issue.
The damge of defeat
I believe we have had the 0.5 percent sales tax since 1977. Just before the November 2004 election on the tax, one of the former commissioners supposedly made a remark opposing the tax. How can people who heard this remark vote for the tax?
Many of the people who voted against the 0.5 percent tax, don't think about paying high taxes on cigarettes, alcohol or playing the lottery.
The people who voted against the 0.5 percent sales tax, should be happy for all the damage caused by the defeat of the tax.
Now the Mahoning County sheriff had to layoff all there reserve deputies and many of there regular deputies, plus more are being laid off. Then losing all the federal prisoners and about $3 million a year. The federal prisoners are lost for ever. Marshal Peter Elliot will not use the Mahoning County jail again because this has happened before. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be layoffs in the court system, auditors, recorders, treasurer and possibly other departments.
As a reminder, laid off employees receive 26 weeks of unemployment and county employees have a pension the county must pay during the 26 weeks.
Think of the good that will come out of passage of the 0.5 percent sales tax.