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Oakhill — the new Caddyshack

Published: Sun, June 27, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

There’s a scene in the movie “Caddyshack” that I thought of this week in the wake of the calamity that occurred at Oakhill Renaissance Place during Mahoning County’s Great Earthquake of 2010.

Here’s the scene: Actor Rodney Dangerfield is in the midst of a horrid golf match versus his nemesis in the film, played by Ted Knight. They have a steep bet on the outcome.

Dangerfield drives his ball square into a ball washer. The ball caroms off the ball washer and nails him square on the arm. All was well with Dangerfield — until a second or two passed and he realized this bit of bad luck was actually good luck. He now had a way out of his disastrous match.

Looking at the folks around him, Dangerfield flailed his perfect arm like a broken hinge, and uttered the legendary words:

“Oh, my arm! It’s broken!”

He got out of his golf match, just like many Mahoning County workers got out of work due to the quake.

As most of you now know, there was an earthquake Wednesday in Canada. There, it measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.

By the time it rumbled its way down past a couple of lakes to get here, experts say it measured 2.0. For reference sake, 2.0 is somewhere between a good Thanksgiving dinner belch and a cement truck driving by your house.

Though unnerving, that range is generally acceptable to just about every person known to exist on Earth.

In Akron, people strolled from their desks and buildings, shrugged, and went back to work.

Same for Cleveland, Buffalo and Toronto.

But in Youngstown, more specifically, Oakhill, county workers were sent home due to building safety. Adding to that ridiculousness, a firetruck and a sheriff’s car were parked outside the facility due to the “danger” that the facility now presented to the public.

“Oh, my arm! It’s broken!”

It’s hard to target who exactly is the Rodney Dangerfield in the Oak-hill fleece. But as sure as “Caddyshack” has several absurd characters, so too does Oakhill.

Helen Youngblood, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2001, might be the most Rodney-like of all.

There’s a push currently afoot inside Oakhill to make anything a grievance. (I am guessing their unearned wages Wednesday won’t be grieved.)

It’s what some disgruntled workers do when they want to be disruptive and raise any minor nuisance to a major, more time- consuming level.

Here’s the deal: Workers could not wait to get out of Cafaros’ old JFS building. And taxpayers got them out of that mess and even supplied raises to boot.

Now, under Youngblood’s leadership, these grateful workers are doing whatever they can to treat Oakhill like a shack — Caddyshack.

George Tablack and the three commissioners, as reports go from Wednesday’s debacle, were as comedic as any of the other cast members in determining what to do after the quake. Ultimately, the closure came down to this:

God forbid the slightest bit of bad karma befall any of Youngblood’s staffers, even if it were something that would have happened without a minor quake. Whoever let them back into the building would be “personally responsible.”

So on to TV news that night went the county’s emergency-management official to explain why it was critical to close Oakhill to ensure occupant safety, etc. (He’s the boss in natural disasters.)

But at no point was any emergency official rushing to ensure the safety of taller structures such as International Tower, Realty Tower or any tall buildings in the Valley potentially set to come tumbling down on taxpayers.

So, when Mahoning taxpayers were allegedly vulnerable to an earthquake that threatened their surroundings, the Oakhill workers worried about themselves.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 6 years ago

There was a rumor going around that in the past month, one of the workers at Oakhill was viewing YOUTUBE -- the beans eating scene from Blazing Saddles and the sound shook the building so the workers all went home. This will be a good place to install the Board of Elections.

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2mrblue(1175 comments)posted 6 years ago

Oakhill is nothing but a joke and so are the commissioners.

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3burford(95 comments)posted 6 years ago

Well, who are these guys?

Anthony Traficanti -Judge Smail's grandson Spaulding who said he wanted a hot dog and a cheeseburger and a....

David Ludt-Carl Spackler, the Bill Murray character who was out there to say the least.

John McNally-Danny Noonan who always seemed in a bit over his head.

George Tablack-Dr. Beeper who was indifferent to a patient in the hospital and said just stick a tube down her throat.

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years ago

Well at least a Tsunami warning for a tidal wave off Lake Erie wasn't issued . They could have used that as an excuse to go to the lake ,get their cars washed on the taxpayers dime and vacated the building before the quake hit .


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5youngstowntransplant(28 comments)posted 6 years ago

You know what I am about sick of everyone ragging on the workers at Jobs and Family services. I was on the 4th floor when the building swayed and stuff started moving in my office. How dare you act like I am not important enough to be safe we didnt know it was a earthquake at that point. All we knew is the building moved. So we got out, if you people think we made this up think again, it happened.We were told to go home..........so we did and the next day we had to work even harder to see the people who didnt get seen when we closed, so oh yes it was so great to get to leave early!! I am also sick of all the politics in this County GROW UP find something else to complain about. Leave the workers alone. We were moved to Oak Hill, I go where the job goes, everyone acts like we make a boatload of money and all we do is complain, seems to me you guys are the ones that all you wanna do is stir the pot. All we want as workers and a union is to be treated fairly! I work my tush off everyday and deserve everything I make. You have no right to talk about our jobs or what we work thru. And to the person that likes to report whatever is going on within the union shame on you......God hates ugly...........and to the Vindicator you only show one side of this story be fair show both sides!!!

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6burford(95 comments)posted 6 years ago

Lighten up youngsowntransplant. Despite the pathetic behavior of the commissioners and Tablack, this is funny stuff. You cannot make this up.

By the way while God hates ugly, God loves Caddy Shack!

God, I think this club is restricted so don't tell them you are Jewish.

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7tookie(64 comments)posted 6 years ago

It's about time we stop coddling county workers. Yea, the building shook. You go outside, get the all clear sign and go back to work. What's so wrong with that. It's really ridiculous. Well done, Todd.

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8walter_sobchak(2672 comments)posted 6 years ago

My wife worked at Southside Hospital when an earthquake struck back in the mid-80's. I think it was 1986 or 1987. She said the bldg. moved a little, some bottles tinkled and that was it. Nobody left early for home because there were people who needed attention. But, now with the union "leader" making all the noise, nobody wants to take a chance.

And, remember, the Greek philosopher Basho once said " A flute with no holes is not a flute, and a donut with no holes is a Danish". He was a very funny guy!

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9Valleys_Voice(149 comments)posted 6 years ago

Their acting ridiculously on purpose because ole" J.J. got fined $250,000 and slapped on the wrist. One of those "Rodney Dangerfields" must be one of J.J.'s little puppets.

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10toddfranko(101 comments)posted 6 years ago


We would love to tell the other side -- your side -- of the story.

One problem:

George, Anthony, John or Dave will not call us back.

One week later -- and they still will not talk to us. Anthony did talk to reporter Pete Milliken for about 30 seconds today. It was a laughable chat.

Alas, whether the quake be in Mexico or in Quebec or in a county official's shoes, we'll keep asking them -- until the next levy vote.

Four guys pulling in more than $400,000 in salary and benefits should be able to make a better decision than what was made -- or at least come forward and explain and apologize.

I have, in all of this, rationalized one bright spot -- they were not in charge when it was a hospital.

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11Nunya(1356 comments)posted 6 years ago

It was quiet peculiar,..

It reeks of the stench of playing to a rabid rabies filled raccoon named,.. Youngblood.

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12Nunya(1356 comments)posted 6 years ago


No doubt they won't return your calls,..

They're all embarrassed and rest assured they not only read this forum but they try to mount defenses under assumed names.

Which is to say they know with absolute certainty that their days are numbered and those $400,000 plus paydays they aren't worthy of. Most certainly are soon to end because people are onto the games now.

See where they'd became accustomed to loving the spin in print. But not more than they likely fault Vindy for hosting a social feedback forum.

Where otherwise everyday non Vindy affiliated or staffed individuals sound off. Telling the damning truth and facts about how indefensible they are as rogue variety representatives.

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13burford(95 comments)posted 6 years ago

Mr. Franko:

I apprciate that you seem to be willing to write what you believe and are willing to part with the other members of your Editorial staff.

Since Tablack has returned, the other members of the Editorial board have defended Tablack and the Three Stooges (sorry about the non-Caddyshack reference) and criticized those who oppose this incompetent administration.

When Traficanti says over and over again that he has reduced his office from 35 to 8 or 9 employees, your papaer prints it without question. No one in their right mind would believe that this office reduced the number of employees by 70+%. That just doesn't happen in government. They play games and hide their employees in other departments and budget line items.

It is the role of the paper to be skeptical and question these people, not regurgitate what they tell you. It is not enough for the paper to say down the road that you had your doubts about these people after much damage has been caused to the community. The public needs to know now so they can vote them out of office.

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14youngstowntransplant(28 comments)posted 6 years ago

Todd our side is not the commisioners side, maybe you need to talk to the Union. I mean only bits and pieces of what was said at commissioners meeting was reported, the parts that make us all look like we are nit-picking not the real issuses we have. Tell the whole story not just the parts that make people make fun of us and Put down our Union president. So you don't like the Commissioners or how they are running things Sorry but we work for the commissioners and all these comments are effecting us as workers, the ones on the front lines working are tushes off. Times are hard alot of people are in need and we are there everyday helping them doing what we love to do, but everyone on here wants to bash us every chance they get.

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15bd(2 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I am amazed that anyone can defend the actions of the people who are supposed to run that building (supervisors and administrators) and the ones that really do (union reps.). In a depressed area like ours in a time of nationwide economic decline, you find ways to be LESS productive than you already are, and then defend the actions!!! I have said it before and I will repeat it. I will NEVER vote for any tax issue in this county again, new tax, renewal it doesn't matter, not one dime. Irresponsible leadership does not need more of my money to waste. If I made decsions like that in running my business I would fire myself.

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