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Betras passionate about defeating State Issue 3

Published: Fri, October 9, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

By David Skolnick

When “I’ll try to talk without getting too emotional” came out of his mouth, it was time for Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras to betray his words.

The volume of his monologue grew louder and louder until he was yelling.

If someone opened a window in Youngstown City Council chambers on the 6th floor of city hall, people outside could have heard Betras.

It’s easy for Betras, a skilled attorney, to work himself into a frenzy — or at least appear to do so.

Issue 3, a state constitutional amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot to build four gambling casinos in the state, is one that Betras publicly and passionately opposes.

Youngstown City Council voted 7-0 in opposition to Issue 3, and were going to do so regardless of what Betras said. Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, also at the council meeting, is among several co-chairmen of a group opposed to the casino issue.

Just because he was in front of a friendly crowd Betras wasn’t going to stop.

Betras opposes the issue not because it changes the Ohio Constitution. He also doesn’t oppose it because he doesn’t want to legalize gambling in the state.

His opposition is based solely on the fact that none of those four proposed casinos are being located in the Mahoning Valley.

“The issue isn’t whether you support or oppose gambling,” he said. “The issue is they passed us up.”

If voters approve the issue, the future locations of casinos would be in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo.

Betras points out that the Valley has a higher unemployment rate than those four cities and is an area in desperate need of jobs and revenue.

“This area is hurting the most,” he said. The gambling proposal is “insulting and it’s a joke.”

Supporters of the gambling initiative say Youngstown and Mahoning County would each receive $3.5 million annually under their plan.

That’s $3.5 million than the city and county are receiving now from gambling.

But it’s not enough for Betras. The cities where the casinos would be located would receive considerably more money than this area.

“Columbus needs another job plan like we need another steel mill closing,” said Betras, who I presume was exaggerating.

And Betras apparently doesn’t have much faith in the state government, run largely by fellow Democrats.

“Whatever money we get [from the casinos] will be taken from the state” through reductions in the Local Government Fund, he said.

Betras said this issue needs the support of Valley voters to be passed statewide. [A recent Ohio Newspaper Poll shows the issue with 59 percent support statewide and only 38 percent in opposition.]

He then threw in another exaggeration for emphasis.

Betras claims the Mahoning Valley provides 20 percent to 25 percent of the Democratic vote in each election.

The Valley is definitely a Democratic stronghold. But even in the best of elections, Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties combined don’t come close to the Democratic vote totals from just Cuyahoga County.

For example, in 2006, when Democrat Ted Strickland was elected governor, 6.4 percent of his total general election vote came from the three Valley counties compared to 13.8 percent from Cuyahoga.

In that same year, the Valley provided 7.4 percent of the vote for Democrat Marc Dann, who won as attorney general and then resigned less than a year later. Cuyahoga gave Dann 12.8 percent of his total vote.

Also, playing on the premise that Democrats need the Valley is a flawed argument in this case.

Issue 3 isn’t a Democratic Party-backed bill. The passage of Issue 3 takes control of legalized gambling away from the state, which doesn’t please Democrats.

It will be interesting to see the vote totals from the Valley on this issue to see how much political strength Betras truly has.


1valleyred(1102 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Listen you guys, the Vindicator published polls for last years casino issue that had it up 20%+ and it lost by 22%!

This thing does not stand a chance.


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2DavidSkolnick(54 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

I don't recall the newspaper publishing such a poll, Valleyred. Can you provide a link to that article or at least give the date it was published?

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3SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Betras (aka JIMBO/Timmy Ryan)

Maybe Youngstown's average income can't support a casino!
Maybe Betras needs to have his "15 minute of fame" tv spot evey once in a while like JIMBO.
What's with the Ranting and raving about?
Who's interests is he trying to protect?

Betras needs to listen to himself ranting and raving and he should do it in the confines of his bedroom mirror. He would do the Valley well by having a nice warm cup of
"SHUT THE F--- UP" when he gets up. Have it with JIMBO

Betras is so out of touch with what the "Joe-bag-of-donuts" average person in the Mahoning Valley thinks it's unbelievable.

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4valleyred(1102 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Although I could have sworn one of the following three polls was published in the Vindicator, I may have been mistaken and perhaps one had actually been published in the Plain Dealer.

August 2008
Quinnipiac University 60% in favor 35% against

September 2008
Columbus Dispatch 50% in favor 41% against

September 2008
SurveyUSA 62% in favor 31% against

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5valleyred(1102 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Found it Dave:

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6DavidSkolnick(54 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago


The link you provided was for the most recent poll taken on THIS YEAR'S gambling initiative.

You had stated there were articles in The Vindicator about polls for the previous gambling initiative that showed it winning.

Again, I haven't found an article about that (and neither have you - though I appreciate the effort). I don't believe we ever published such an article.

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7valleyred(1102 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

That one went right over my head, I can't believe I posted that... whoops. Again I read a lot of the Plain Dealer around Election Time last year, I must have gotten the two mixed up, but that is not the issue.

The issue is the polls showed the measure passing by 20% in 2008 and it lost by 20%.

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8ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Just for reference, Betras is right about the residual budgeting, we've seen it happen before, but mr.skolnick, would you please look into and exploit the truth of if this will make illegal 501c(3) type charity gambling. this will ruin church bingo's and such. I believe the issue will, but am not 100% certain.

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9andersonathan(682 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Well I look at it this way, this area will never have a Casino. Pit has a new one, WVA is close. All the other ohio cities are at least stable or growing or was until 08. Vote as you feel you must but this ship has sailed once again. So either support it and hope the area gets paid. Or vote no.

Remember nothing is coming this way big enough to change things in a hurry. It is simple economics and population. If anyone is upset that Y-Town is not in the mix for a casino. Then they should have been on the Band wagon years ago pushing for one.

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10SkyKing310B(299 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Why would a business of any kind want to move to Youngstown? Let's see what we have to offer?

1. No Local Leadership
2. 2nd highest tax rate in the state
3. Worst school district in the state
4. Highest crime rate in the state

Gee, I'd sure want to move here, wouldn't you?

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11DavidBetras(18 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Sky king here is a novel idea if you dislike it so much leave! We have outstanding local leaders lead by Tim Ryan and Jay Williams. We have by far the best cadre of leaders I have seen in a long time.

I agree with you the school district is a problem but the community needs to get more involved to fix this problem and somone needs to be held accountable for the problems with the schools.

We do not have the "highest" crime rate in the state as a region.

The most pressing problem is the school system. I suggest you examine the persons running for school board and see their ideas to fix it.

I hate taxes as much as you do and i also agree taxes are too high.

And for gosh sakes be more positive about our area it is a great place to live and raise a family.

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12JUST1OPINION(10 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I really hope that was not really Dave Betras in that last post. If it was, I really am amazed and offended at this. I am a Democrat for almost all cases and have often donated money to the party and its candidates. Then our so called leader tells someone that is displeased with the state of the area to get out if he is not satisfied! Then you go on to agree with every point he makes. That is a real unique attitude you have there, your true calling may be politics. I think we can all agree that the area is in a bad way and is not making very many major advancements to change this. Being "positive" about these things that we are dissatisfied with will not fix a single thing. Not really proud to see you a a leader if that is the rhetoric that you see as appropriate in a public forum. For the record I am voting yes on issue 3, just because we can only see a benefit from it with non of the risk to our area directly. In either case, Mr Betras I don't wish for you to move because you don't agree with me.
If that was not the actual Mr. Betras, my apologies

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