de Souza: Jokester insults serious voters


In sharp contrast to Monday’s circuslike atmosphere created by the Mahoning Valley’s political jokester, James A. Traficant Jr., thousands of area voters participated in Tuesday’s primary election in a demonstration of true democracy.

Government is serious business — and should not be demeaned by an individual, Traficant, who not long ago was a resident of the federal penitentiary.

It does matter that he served seven-plus years behind bars, just as it matters that a jury in federal court in Cleveland found him guilty of 10 criminal charges, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion.

Traficant filed petitions at the Trumbull County Board of Elections to run as an independent for the 17th District congressional seat in the November general election. He also indicated to reporters that he was going to file petitions at the Columbiana County Board of Elections to run in the 6th congressional district. He said he would hold a news conference.

Members of the press rushed to Lisbon, but Traficant was a no-show.

He and the hapless members of his inner circle may have been in stitches over the way Jimbo pulled a fast one on the press. But, all that Monday’s event proved is that Traficant is not a

serious man.

Residents who took the time to cast ballots, either as absentee voters or in person at the polls, should be insulted that this important expression of citizenship is demeaned so easily by an ex-con.

The Mahoning Valley is facing a challenging time, and it does not need to be distracted.

As the outcome of the sales-tax renewal issues in Mahoning and Columbiana counties demonstrated, taxpayers are willing to give their money to government if they believe officeholders will be good stewards of the public treasury — and will address their needs.

Last November, the voters in Mahoning and Columbiana counties said no to renewing the sales taxes. It is generally agreed that the wording of the ballot language — specifically the word “additional” — caused confusion and even concern. To their credit, commissioners David Ludt, Anthony Traficanti and John A. McNally IV in Mahoning, and Jim Hoppel, Penny Traina and Daniel Bing took the rejection as a call to action.

In both counties, there have been spending cuts, forcing department heads to do more with less.

Has government caught up with the private sector in responding to the national economic recession? No. Are there elected officials who have yet to recognize reality when it comes to spending? Yes, there are.

But, the decline in sales-tax revenue has ensured that business as usual is no longer sustainable.

The passage of the sales-tax renewals in Mahoning and Columbiana counties is not an invitation to return to the bad old days of government.

One more thing: Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti’s victory over Commissioner Ludt should be put in perspective. Rimedio-Righetti is not an outsider. She receives a full public pension from her board of elections service and is paid for serving on council.

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