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Government — and its disconnect



Published: Sun, November 7, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


When The Vindicator launched Neighbors last year, it created a couple of new jobs here.

We also launched a $10 million press expansion last March.

And Elton John sold out the Covelli Centre in, like, 47 seconds.

That last thing has nothing to do with the first two — except that none of them benefited from federal stimulus funds.

Those might be the only things.

Seemingly everything else in the Valley that was big or impactful got cloaked in the banner of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package or state funds sweetened by stimulus.

Lordstown and V&M certainly got gala treatment, as did all the elected Democrats in attendance — Tim Ryan, Ted Strickland, Sherrod Brown, Charlie Wilson, etc.

Stimulus. Say it enough, and eventually people will start believing it.

Even two weeks ago, the stimulus funds were touted for 700 more call-center jobs in downtown Youngstown. Tying the stimulus to just about everything essentially made it nothing in the eyes of too many voters.

The same October that local leaders were selling 700 call-center jobs as stimulus success, the U.S. lost 7,000 manufacturing jobs. The U.S. did add 151,000 jobs in October, which I imagine includes our 700 call-center jobs.

But a Los Angeles Times report assessed those jobs as largely temporary and lower-paying service jobs.

The jobs are nice, mind you, but it’s unseemly to sell them for more than what they are. And also transparent.

It’s a unique marriage of desperation and disconnect.

Further disconnected were the thousands of government jobs tied to the stimulus.

Obama and other Democrats staunchly defended millions of stimulus dollars that kept government workers working. Heck, in Georgia, pay raises to 77 Head Start workers were counted as 77 jobs saved by the stimulus.

And that message was sold to out-of-work bankers, construction workers and, um, journalists.

A top Democratic friend from Columbus said as much about a year ago: squandered and out-of-touch is how he characterized the Obama impact on Ohio just one year after dominating the state.

Locally, as well, you can argue there’s a gap between how government thinks and what people want or can do.

Boardman wanted new cops to the tune of $3.7 million. Rejected.

Canfield schools wanted a $3.8 million permanent levy, and that lost.

In my beloved Poland (where the kids are all 5.0 and we dads are required to always eat oatmeal for breakfast), our schools wanted $1.4 million and our township wanted $600,000 annually. Those lost.

On the flip side, $7.2 million was OK’d for the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, and $1.7 million was approved for Mahoning County Children Services Board.

If pay raises result at the library as they appear to be set at children services, consider those victories “one and done.”

You can trace the disconnect from the alleged stimulus jobs through the defeats and into the children services pay raises.

You also can trace it in my beloved Poland Township. Our current levy generates $193,296. The township has lost approximately $250,000 in other revenues.

So, down about $450,000, the defeated levy asked for ... nearly $600,000.

That’s a fiscal disconnect here that wouldn’t work in budgeting my oatmeal.

It shouldn’t work in government budgeting offices, either.


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