There are none so blind as those ...

By Bertram de Souza



Those are starters for the 500 times members of council in the city of Newton Falls, members of the Niles Board of Education and members of the McDonald Board of Education should be required to write “Stupid,” and “Dumb” as punishment (tossing them out of office will come later) for their inexplicable decisions to boost the compensation of employees — IN THE MIDST OF A RECESSION.

Who would have thunk it. At a time of major employees cutbacks in the private sector — can any one of the dunderheads say “General Motors Lordstown?” “Delphi Packard Electric?” — and layoffs in the public sector, including the city of Warren’s police and fire departments, the Mahoning County sheriff’s department and the county juvenile justice center, Jack Haney, city manager in Newton Falls, got a new three-year contract that includes a salary of ... $92,000 (yes, dear laid off private sector worker, a community with a population that could fit in a telephone booth is being managed by an individual who is paid more than many of the homes are worth) ... and a 5 percent raise (Damn the fiscal potholes, full speed ahead!) each year. But that’s not all. Haney’s new contract includes medical coverage and four weeks’ vacation annually.

“We are very fortunate and blessed to have Haney work for Newton Falls,” said Councilman Ralph Gillespie.

As it says in the Bible

Where’s that Biblical citation? Ah, here it is: “Blessed are the public officials for they shall inherit the earth.” Isn’t there another one about pillaging?

To his credit, Mayor Pat Layshock publicly opposed the three-year contract, contending that the city manager had failed to address the financial, infrastructure and road concerns of the city and did not do enough to simulate local economy.

In Niles, the school board voted unanimously (that means without conscience) to rehire Superintendent Rocco Adduci with a two-year contract that grants him pay raises of 2 percent and 2.75 percent. Adduci’s salary will go from $87,647 to $92,000 a year. (Can anyone say, “Three High?” Public employees certainly can, because public pensions paid for with tax dollars are based on a formula that includes the average of the three highest earning years.)

In and of itself, the decision of the Niles school board to boost the superintendent’s salary is enough to trigger a kidney stone attack. But consider this:

The vote came as Treasurer Linda Molinaro warned that the school system is imploding financially. In hifalutin education lingo, the Niles school district is going broke. Molinaro, who presented her five-year financial forecast, said revenues for the current fiscal year and the next four years are flat to decreasing.

And then she raised the specter of a tax increase.

“We’ll see no additional income,” the treasurer told the school board. “We’ll need 12 [additional] mills to operate at our current and anticipated levels without significant budget cuts.”

To which Superintendent Adduci quipped: “I am not in favor of more taxes.”

How do you spell ironic?

Another fringe

In the village of McDonald, the school board decided that the system’s employees are so valuable, they deserve another fringe benefit. (It’s generally agreed that in the public sector, wages and fringes gobble up at least 80 percent of an operating budget.)

The new fringe allows employees to begin drawing money from a savings plan — it’s a 457 plan — as soon as they retire. The district now has a 403B plan that permits employees to begin collecting when they turn 591‚Ñ2.

It might not seem like much, but when most private sector — and some public sector — workers are giving back, another fringe benefit is simply a poke in the eye of taxpayers struggling to keep their jobs.

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