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They rise up in defense of their man

Published: Sun, September 27, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

By Bertram de Souza

You’ve got to hand it to the supporters of ex congressman-turned-criminal James A. Traficant Jr., they certainly wax eloquent when their man is being attacked — especially by a newspaper columnist who has made no secret of his disdain for “Jimbo.”

On Sunday, Sept. 6, four days after Traficant was released from federal prison after a seven-year stint for using his public position for personal gain, there was a much-heralded “Welcome Home Jimbo” party at Mr. Anthony’s banquet hall in Boardman.

This writer had planned to attend, but on the day before, the event’s chief organizer, Linda Kovachik, delivered the following message from The Man: “Jim doesn’t want you there.”

Since it was a private event where tickets were sold for $20 a piece, the ex-con got his wish. But being banned from the celebration — 1,200 people showed up — prompted a column on that Sunday. It was headlined, “Traficant bans writer from bash.”

At 4:18 p.m., there was this e-mail message from “who@cares.com” sent via the Web:

“Just sitting at the Traficant dinner reading your article.

“Please take a copy and shove it up your a--.]


(There could be some medical benefit to what the messenger suggested given that the color ink used by The Vindicator is soy-based — you know, soy the miracle bean.)

Morning mail

That Sunday morning, there was this e-mail from “CHINKSAM816@AOL.COM”:

“Bertram, I always thought you were a smart man. After reading all the bashing of Jim Traficant I think you are a ignorant a------. The man served his time, leave him alone. If you read the book about Jim he was innocent. The stuff he got accused of was not just for all the yrs. in prison he spent. Every politician out there has done the same or more but haven’t been caught.”

And there was a letter via snail-mail that read in part:

“I strongly disagree with you.

“Jim Traficant did a lot of projects for this area. We should be grateful to this man.

The letter was signed “A Fan.” (Of Traficant’s?)

But there also were readers who offered words of support and encouragement.

This one from “GiangardellaM@salemhosp.com” echoes the sentiments of a sizable number of Mahoning Valley residents”

“I just wanted to congratulate you on being banned from Traficant’s party. You should view that as a badge of honor. He has been, and appears to continue to be, a big [expletive.]

“I’m sure you received allot of hate mail from his vocal, cult like following, but I’m thinking the silent majority agree with you.

“And people wonder why our Valley is stuck in the seventies and our bright youth move away — could it be the mentality? Only in the Mahoning Valley would they hold a reception for a criminal!”

And there was this from ewoloshyn@rhsnet.org (former Valley reporter who had covered Traficant during his political heyday):

“I have been reading and enjoying your commentary on the Congressman here in Chicago. It takes me back. Keep writing — it is very hard to explain here why he is getting such a warm welcome home!”

Political corruption

While it might be hard to explain the welcome from the outside looking in, it makes perfect sense when you’re inside. Political corruption, like organized crime, is part of the Mahoning Valley’s DNA. The same arguments now being used to justify Traficant’s criminal acts — he was convicted of 10 federal charges, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion — were applied to the members of the Mafia: Good guys who care about the down-trodden; church-going, salt-of-the-earth types; they didn’t do anything that others haven’t done; they didn’t hurt me.

But Traficant, through his corruption of politics, and mobsters, through their corruption of society, have hurt us — at least those among us who believe in standards of behavior.

Having a former congressman who spent seven years in prison isn’t a chamber of commerce moment. Neither is this region’s history of organized crime.


1SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago


You have seen Traficant for what he was way before the average person. I applaud you for keeping the "Trafican-the-leachate-political-wannabe" stories in the forefront.
Traficant needs to listen to himself ranting and raving and he should do it in the confines of his bathroom mirror. He would do the Valley well by having a nice warm cup of
"SHUT THE F--- UP" when he gets up.

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2Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Folks need to read letter in Louie Free blog. Then let's talk/write about something else as we ask ourselves - "who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to write about than Jim Traficant?"

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3SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey Tugboat

If "Traficant-the-leachate-political-wannabe"would just enjoy his freedom from prison with his family etc. I think Bert would comment less on him. But the more the "Traficant-the-leachate-political-wannabe" yaps it up it gets be all worked up so why shouldn't Bert comment?

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4Tugboat(759 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

SickofJim asks: "..so why shouldn't Bert comment?"

Because once the media starts to ignore him(Traficant), he goes away. Quite simple. Why not focus on November's election which is a little more than a month away and truly more a factor in our lives than...you know...what was his name?

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5SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Hey Tugboat

Not that simple! "Traficant-the-leachate-political-wannabe" likes when Bert writes about him and that is the simple bi-polar fact. (I would love to see his scrapbook) When you have to dress in a 1970's double polyester bell bottom suit and plant a terrible looking rug on top of your head and go out and proclaim the government is against you, you are a CLOWN. A bi-polar paranoid clown is sometimes just a bi-polar paranoid clown named JIMBO. To not write about it may risk the chance that he validates himself.

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6TAXEDOFF(118 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

I have to tell you Bertram I'm very proud of yopu taking this stand, you have been pointing out to all the fools who worship this corrupt, criminal no good LIAR.

People talk about the good he did on the Arena project. All he did was saddle the city of Youngstown with a $12 million debt that they can't pay,

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Now here is the dilema for those who expect Jim to lead The Valley to prosperity . He has been on the bench for seven years while the game of politics was going on . During this period he hasn't gotten any younger . Would he be up to the task at hand ?

Here in The Valley many there are many needs that demand attention . Many jobs need to be generated to bring the area back to prosperity . We need someone who can turn the wheels of industry to head them in our direction . In my opinion Jim is too busy dwelling on how he has been wronged to devote enough attention to the real issues facing us .

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8Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Simple question for everyone. Was Jim Traficant wrong about government? Having seen everything you have seen this past year and the last few years, was he wrong?

Lest I remind some of you that many of you probably were in fact fans of Traficant when he was in office. The Vindicator endorsed Traficant a few times, and they also endorsed the same corrupt politicians that Mr. de Souza attacks so frequently.

Maybe your beef should be with the Vindicator for not doing a better job vetting people like Philomena

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9Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Gary Van Brocklin was the one who really knew the value of a mafia dollar . Jim's problems came from squeezing dollars from every easy avenue .



Strollo preferred to exercise his power quietly, as in the virtual lock he held on the county prosecutor's office for at least twelve years. As if bribes and campaign contributions weren't enough, one of Strollo's own lawyers, Gary Van Brocklin, was elected to that office in 1984.

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