Traficant greeted as hero

Traficant at TEA Party

inline tease photo

Former Congressman James A. Traficant Jr.'s entire speech from the Columbiana County TEA Party Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 in Firestone Park.



COLUMBIANA — Former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. had some advice for those opposed to big government bailouts, a growing federal deficit and costly programs.

Don’t just expound on what you oppose, he said.

“Advocate what you propose, that which you want to see happen,” Traficant told hundreds of area residents attending a Taxed Enough Already party Saturday afternoon in Firestone Park.

Traficant, released from federal prison Sept. 2 after serving seven years for racketeering, bribery, obstruction of justice and tax evasion, was the last of seven speakers to address the event, and it was clear that many in the crowd were there to hear him speak.

He was greeted with a standing ovation as he walked from a park pavilion to the rally, and there were plenty of “Welcome Home Jimbo” signs and T-shirts to be seen.

He was greeted by many as a hero, and there were calls for him to run again for the House of Representatives or the Senate, and, although he addressed those calls indirectly, he offered no commitment.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said in response.

“If I do go, you don’t have to give me any money. You just get me those votes,” he said, as the crowd roared its approval.

Members of Tri-County TEA said the crowd numbered around 1,500, but a more conservative estimate put the number at closer to 800.

Ed Wilhelm of Austintown, owner of YCS Concrete in Youngstown, said he came to hear Traficant speak, but he also supports the TEA party.

“I’m saying that we’re taxed enough,” he said, as he sat waiting for the rally to begin.

Wilhelm said he opposed the stimulus package for the banking and auto industries.

Other countries ended their economic depressions by a cash infusion to the public who spent the money they were given. That’s how it should have been done here, he said.

Traficant said he might disagree on certain issues with some of the other speakers, but he had high praise for their daring to stand up in public to tell their stories and say what they think.

They all agreed on one thing, and Traficant voiced it:

“It’s time the American people take the government back, because you don’t own it anymore,” he told the crowd.

That was a common rallying cry among the speakers who included Dr. Chuck McGowan, a retired physician; Dave Johnson, Columbiana County Republican Party chairman and a small business owner; grocer Henry Nemenz; Dr. Donald Allen, a veterinarian and small business owner; Roger Martig, a dairy farmer; and Bill Johnson, executive director of the Ohio Sales Tax Reform Incentive.

It’s time to announce loudly and clearly that, “We’re taking back our government,” Bill Johnson said, claiming that politicians aren’t listening to the people.

“They spend and spend and we pay and pay,” he said.

McGowan challenged the Obama administration’s claims about its proposed federal health-care plan, charging that it will limit health care to senior citizens and increase the cost of health care.

Obama is pushing socialism, McGowan said.

Dave Johnson called for “a revolt at the polls,” urging people to get organized now to recruit responsible candidates for all levels of government.

Nemenz predicted that the proposed “cap-and-trade” legislation that would penalize all emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will destroy small business in this country, just as big-box stores have destroyed American jobs by importing products made in overseas manufacturing facilities.

Allen suggested that it is time to tell the elected officials to, “Do as we ask, or clear out your desk.” Cap and trade will filter down to the individual, he said, predicting that it will result in higher costs for every service that people require.

Ken Hale, a welder from McDonald, attended the rally with his wife, Lorraine, and son, Zach, 12.

“People have lost their voice over the years,” he said, adding that it has become “big government telling us what we can and can’t do.”

He came to the TEA party to voice his opinion about big government and big spending, he said.

Lorraine, sitting behind a large cardboard sign that said, “Obama lies,” said she is concerned the president has put the country trillions of dollars in debt.

Our children and grandchildren will have to pay it off, she said, estimating that her 12-year-old son’s share of that debt is already $38,000, and he doesn’t even have a job.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.