Reardon touted for Commerce director
Atty. William Wei-mer, who works for Youngstown businessman Bruce Zol-dan, had this reaction to last week's column warning new Attorney General Marc Dann that he risked alienating his friends in the press because of some staff appointments:
"I think you blew it.
"The appointments from Strickland will come within the next week or so, and a meaningful Cabinet appointment for the Mahoning Valley is hanging by a thin thread. A positive piece by you touting the fact that we need and deserve a meaningful appointment would have been helpful. You can always take shots at Marc Dann. I'm sure he will provide you with much fodder over the next months and years.
"We'll see what comes from Columbus this week. I hope I am wrong."
The column noted that Dann's initial appointments left the impression that he is surrounding himself with individuals who will put a positive spin on whatever he does.
It was pointed out that Dann of Liberty Township received extensive front-page coverage when he was in the Ohio Senate because of his willingness to be completely open with reporters about the details of "coingate," the investment scam involving the Ohio Bureau of Worker's Compensation and Republican Party mover-and-shaker Thomas Noe, a rare coin dealer from Toledo.
Democrat Dann and members of his inner circle insist that he is not walking away from his commitment to transparency.
As for Weimer, he isn't wrong in his contention that the Valley needs and deserves residents in top positions in the administration of Gov. Ted Strickland, who has acknowledged a debt to this region for his successful bid for governor. Strickland took up residence in Lisbon three years ago because the lines of the congressional district he had been representing were redrawn.
The new 6th District encompassed Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County. Strickland was quickly embraced by local Democrats and used that support, and the backing of such financial heavyweights as Zoldan, to first secure the party nomination and then the big prize.
After the election, it became clear that Zoldan had established himself as Strickland's "go-to" man in the Mahoning Valley. Hence, Atty. Weimer's interest in "meaningful" appointments.
Zoldan is supporting Mahoning County Treasurer John Reardon for director of the Ohio Department of Commerce.
According to the department's web site, the director oversees the following divisions: administration; financial institutions; industrial compliance; labor and worker safety; liquor control; real estate; securities; state fire marshal; unclaimed funds.
Reardon, who also established a relationship with Strickland during the campaign and served on the governor-elect's transition team, has expressed an interest in the position.
Zoldan, who held fund-raisers at his home for Strickland, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, now speaker of the House of Representatives, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, among others, must know that his support of Reardon for commerce director will be viewed by some Valley residents, and even others across the state, as nothing more than an attempt to exert influence over the operation of the fire marshal's office.
If Reardon does get the appointment, Zoldan's every move will be closely watched by reporters in Columbus who already have a jaundiced view of the Mahoning Valley.
But in fairness to the Youngstown businessman, he began talking about the region's having a presence in various state departments and agencies long before Strickland won the Democratic nomination.
Indeed, after this writer recently suggested in this space that the Ohio Department of Development should be a prime target, Zoldan agreed to use his connections to ensure the appointment of a Valley resident.
Since that column, a consensus candidate has emerged for the position of deputy director of ODOD: Reid Dulberger, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber's executive vice president.
Dulberger has vast experience in putting development deals together and has worked closely with local, state and federal officials.
He would be especially valuable to the Strickland administration in dealing with General Motors Corp., which is assessing the future of its assembly plant in Lordstown.