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Rift forms between mayor and council

Published: Fri, July 2, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

It’s parade time: Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce, a Democrat seeking election in November, will walk in the Fourth of July Parade in Austintown on Sunday. The parade begins at 2 p.m.

As regular readers of my column know, this is my favorite local political event of the year.

Hopefully, politicians know their chances of winning heavily relies on their choice of parade candy. You’re going to get a lot more votes with Sweet Tarts, Now and Laters, Starbursts and Tootsie Rolls than you do with butterscotch and blue mints.

Right on target: The political action committee of Sarah Palin, everyone’s favorite ex-Alaska governor/failed Republican vice presidential candidate, has given $3,500 to the campaign of Bill Johnson of Poland, the Republican nominee for the 6th Congressional District seat.

Johnson’s campaign e-mailed his supporters touting the contribution and asked others to donate. Palin is targeting — using gun sights on a map — 20 House seat currently held by Democrats who voted for health care reform and represent districts won in 2008 by U.S. Sen. John McCain and her.

In public, it’s been all smiles between the current Youngstown City Council, seated in January 2008, and the Mayor Jay Williams’ administration.

But lately, including twice earlier this week, council members have replaced the smiles with sharp criticism of the administration.

It’s not unusual for friction to exist between members of the legislative and executive branches of government.

Years ago, with different mayors and different council members, disagreements and loud arguments in Youngstown were common.

Williams has shown great diplomacy with city council members since he took office in January 2006. His proposals are almost always embraced and approved by council.

Council let the administration handle delicate negotiations that led to V&M Star’s decision to build a $650 million expansion here.

“We give the administration the freedom to do what they think is best,” said Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd.

There have only been a handful of times that complaints were aired in public.

That is until recently.

Members of council — particularly Kitchen, and Jamael Tito Brown, D-3rd — complained this week about being ignored by the administration on some key issues.

“The frustration is so strong,” Brown said.

Williams tried to smooth things by saying he understands the frustration, but council isn’t being ignored by the administration.

Kitchen quickly disagreed with the mayor.

Council members complained that their requests for demolitions are being ignored.

That issue came a day after members of council criticized Finance Director David Bozanich for recommending that the city buy the dilapidated former Paramount Theatre downtown and for failing to tell them about a side-deal with that property’s owner.

Bozanich fired back saying if council had approved his recommendation last year to lay off 60 city workers, there would be $2 million for commercial demolition projects.

It was uncharacteristic for Bozanich, who rarely loses his cool with council at public meetings.

The situation has escalated to the point that Kitchen said: “We may stop authorizing the administration for work it wants done.”

What’s causing the dissent?

Some in the administration say council members, who will seek re-election next year, are trying to show their constituents that they’re in control.

It could also be posturing to replace Williams, who can’t run for re-election in three years because of the city’s term-limits law.

Council members say the complaints come after being repeatedly ignored by the administration. They say council won’t be considered a rubber stamp for what the administration wants.

It will be interesting to see if these flare-ups are isolated or a sign of more friction between council and the administration.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Are you telling us that some members of this council think they should be mayor?

Now that's funny!

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2jeffyrose(3 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from http://bit.ly/9sfoMb obama has to put up with the wo0rld judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he sas done. some people are just so ignorant.

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3Sarahdipity(3 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Dave's talking about the mayor and council, not the president and congress, so this has nothing to do with health care. Quit preaching an agenda you know nothing about. I'm sure people would give him a break if the country wasn't in such terrible shape.

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4dright1(9 comments)posted 5 years, 12 months ago

Disagreements are common. Still, is losing your 'cool' and threatening to withold authorization for needed work the way to solve problems and promote good government? Maybe we need to elect some adults to city council who will act like grownups. Or maybe some sessions on conflict resolution and communication skills.

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

Jay's done a good job. Leave the guy alone. Youngstown never got anything done before him. The city was an eyesore with no hope, no business infrastructure and delapidated sections of the city no one wanted to go in. The city does need nore police and that new(er) jail needs to be opened back up.

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