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What would Traficant say?

Published: Sun, August 16, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

A telepathic conversation with former Congressman-turned-federal inmate James A. Traficant Jr.:

Columnist: It has been a while, congressman.

Traficant: Don’t call me names.

Columnist: I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor. Still tossing out those one-liners.

Traficant: The last seven years have been a barrel of laughs. You haven’t done much with your career, I see. Still trying to ride the Traficant train.

Columnist: Who would have thought that when we first met almost 30 years ago it would be the start of a rollercoaster relationship. But here we are on the verge of your release from prison and you’re once again the center of attention. Before we talk about your homecoming, how about a couple of bars of your favorite Elvis Presley song. I hear you’ve learned to play the guitar and have been memorizing The King’s song book.

Traficant: Just for you, de Souza, because you’ve been so fair with me, you [expletive] journalistic hack.

(The former congressman-turned-prisoner and soon-to-be airport hotel lounge singer belts out his rendition of that favorite “I did it my way.”)

Columnist: Are you referring to your time behind bars, or your tenure as sheriff and congressman?

Traficant: Still taking your cheap shots. You’ll die a miserable human being unless you change. Stop and smell the roses, tiptoe through the tulips, join hands with your fellow workers and sing “Kumbayah!”

Kinder, gentler man?

Columnist: I hope you don’t return to the Mahoning Valley on Sept. 2 a kinder, gentler man. It would be a great disappointment. After seven years in prison, you should be shouting, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” After all, your were railroaded by the feds, right? You were the target of a grand conspiracy cooked up by the folks in Washington that caused friends like mall developer J.J. Cafaro to turn on you, right?

Traficant: You’re not going to get me say something that can be used against me. I’m just looking forward to being with my family and old friends and taking a tour of my convocation center in downtown Youngstown.

Columnist: You do know that the sports/entertainment facility you made possible with a $26.8 million grant now bears the name “Covelli Centre” — after Sam Covelli. Before that it was named the “Chevrolet Centre.”

Traficant: Those [expletive] city government officials led by George Mc- Kelvey knew that my name should have been on the building, but they were too chicken---- to do it.

Columnist: I imagine you know there’s going to be a “Jim Traficant Appreciation Dinner” on Sept. 6 at Mr. Anthony’s banquet hall. It’s being organized by your friend Linda Kovachik. Even though folks have been told that you may not even show up there still could be more than a thousand people on hand.

Traficant: If Linda and the rest want to have a celebration, I’m not going to stop them. She and others have stood by me through all the tough times. When even people who never met me, talked to me or followed my career from the beginning jumped on the anti-Traficant bandwagon just to attract attention to themselves, people like Linda and Dominic and Diane Marchese remained faithful. That’s real friendship.

Columnist: But during the many quiet moments over the years did you ever wonder to yourself, “Why didn’t these friends tell me I was headed down the wrong path when I surrounded myself with creeps like Georgie Alexander, and why didn’t they warn me about keeping Chuck O’Nesti on the payroll after he admitted that he was getting special medicine for his cancer from Mafia boss Lenine Strollo?”

Traficant: Remember what I told you when you asked me that question years ago? “‘I’m loyal to my friends.”

Future plans

Columnist: So, do you have any plans for when you come out of prison?

Traficant: You know my cousin, Pat Traficant, is well-known in Las Vegas and has been associated with several major casinos. He has agreed to set me up as an Elvis impersonator. All I have to do is stop by my house in Poland and pick up my suits with the bell-bottom pants. Vegas, baby. See you on the Strip.

Columnist: But Elvis had a full head of hair ... Jim, you there?


1gmann415(268 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Jimbo, you said it best when you said that you were going to spend some time with family and friends and check out YOUR CONVOCATION CENTER. THAT is DAMN WELL RIGHT it is YOURS. you made this happen. you fought and fought for it. alot of times when i,d read a script about maby what the name should be or whatever i,d always post that the name on that building should read WELCOME TO THE TRAFFICANT CENTER.

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2gmann415(268 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

my post,s and support for BIG JIM IS AS FOLLOWS.
pg1 "story title" welcome home JIMBO.
pg2 " " good thing area wasnt on feds radar.
pg7" " do you like the name covelli centre
pg19" " patience now name of game for the centre.
pg20 " " hockey at the chevy centre.
"" "" " " still no chevrolet naming rights.
pg23 " " open arms for Trafficant.
pg25 " " will Trafficants address change Monday.

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3bobhogue(102 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

"I,d" should be "I'd."

"maby" should be "maybe."

"Trafficant" should be "Traficant." (This is especially curious, given your apparently slavish reverence for him.)

Spelling errors aside, any homage to him simply represents a desperate desire for people to cling to the "they might be crooks, but at least they're OUR crooks" reputation that this area earned for itself decades ago.

Let it go. The more you live in the past, the more the future will pass you by.

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4Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

JT would run out of power with the flick of a switch if the media would just turn off their cameras. But the cold reality is that this kind of drama is a real ratings-booster. It would be like telling lions to lay off that dead elephant carcass. Left alone, the media (local news in particular) continue to turn him into a cultural hero. They couldn't turn their backs on this if the republic depended on it.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Betram was losing attention so he used the well beaten path down memory lane to pull a Traficant satire out of his hat . Are ya coming to the dinner Betram ?

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6Attis(1129 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

vintage deSouza: sophomoric writing; unmitigated arrogance; woeful ignorance; pathetic diatribe parading as journalism, all reflective of a deeply troubled soul and very confused mind. Give it a break Bert and check yourself into rehab.

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7epicfail(217 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

"...pathetic diatribe parading as journalism..."

This is opinion, not news. And I would say that given this writer's penchant for poking fun at stupid people in the valley he's probably laughing at you.

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8Woody(491 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


If Jimbo is responsible for the Covelli Center, can Youngstown send him all the bills for the debts it is racking up for the city.

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9steelerman09(111 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

I could care less about Jim Traficant, but Bertram, without a doubt, this is the most worthless article I have ever read in my life. I see you threw this together in about 4 minutes....4 being the equivilent of your I.Q. Write a good article, just ONCE!!!! You are washed up!

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10gmann415(268 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

woody, im sure if Jim was running the Trafficant center it wouldnt be in debt. the only people who is to blame for this is the people who aren,t bringing the shows in.

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11saddad(655 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Another column by the goofy BD to illustrate why so few will pay for the Vindy anymore.

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12Woody(491 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago


First, learn how to spell his name!! It is not Trafficant, it is Traficant. Only one F.

You are probably right, it would be solvent, Jimbo would have found ways to get kickback to make up the gap. I mean, what did Pavlik make from his fight there? Jimmy would have gotten at least a 15% cut from it.

What shows do you want them to bring?

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13Max(98 comments)posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Bertram, are you hearing voices in your head again? Apparently so. You really need to get a real job and a life, buddy. Pathetic.

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