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County urged to defund chamber

Published: Sat, October 16, 2010 @ 12:04 a.m.


Rep. Robert F. Hagan, D-Youngstown. (AP Photo/Larry Phillips)


Tom Humphries

Humphries should resign, Hagan says

By Elise Franco



State Rep. Robert Hagan is the latest to question the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber’s ability to be politically unbiased.

In a letter to the Mahoning County commissioners and county administrator Friday, Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th, pressed the commissioners office to stop funding the chamber for further economic-development projects.

This letter comes a little more than one week after David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman, and Bruce Zoldan, chief executive officer for B.J. Alan Co., withdrew their memberships and support for the local chamber because chamber President Tom Humphries co-hosted a fundraising event for John Kasich, Republican candidate for governor.

“There is no integrity in allowing the primary business-advocacy institution in our county to use public dollars in a quest for partisan political supremacy,” Hagan said in the letter. “The Chamber’s excessive partisan activity this cycle has raised sobering concerns as to whether or not they are able to bring serious and realized economic benefits and business resources to our communities in an unbiased manner.”

Hagan told The Vindicator he expects the commissioners to take his letter seriously and act on it accordingly.

“I’m expecting them to tell me exactly how much money is spent on the chamber [for county economic development purposes]. ... I’m expecting them to withhold those funds and get a commitment that [the chamber] is not going to get involved in politics like that again.”

Commissioners David Ludt, Anthony Traficanti and John McNally didn’t return calls to comment Friday evening.

It’s not just the local level that Hagan has concerns about, however.

“I’m deeply disturbed about the chamber, from the national to the state to the local level, and their involvement in politics,” he said. “We tried desperately to work in a bipartisan way at the state and local level.

“Using money that could be construed as economic-development dollars to push their candidate is wrong.”

Hagan said the chamber needs to do two things to regain its reputation as a credible economic developer.

“They have to make amends by getting rid of Tom Humphries by asking for his resignation,” he said. “They need to work with public officials. ... Bring us back in and say, ‘Somebody made a mistake, and we’re not going to make that mistake again.’”


1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Wasn't Hagan calling us racists if we didn't vote for Obama in 2008? Wasn't Betras a law partner of Mark Dann and treasurer of Dann's campaign for Attorney General? Can't the voters see that all these guys want is to eliminate any opposing political views and fortify their own political offices?

Zoldan probably wants to import fireworks from China not caring one bit about the lhe poor working conditions of the Chinese laborers making the fireworks. He'll back both parties so he can get the political influence he needs. Thomas Fok and the Cafaro are masters at this.

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2VINDYAK(1812 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

All this political stench coming from my computer and tv is making my house smell so bad I cannot even open my windows to let it out because more just pours in. I can't wait for the elections to be over.

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3palbubba(697 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Hagan is the dumbest box of rocks in a truckload of boxes of rocks. He has done nothing for his constituents his entire time in political office except take a pay check. I've heard people say that Traficant was a political clown, but for my money Hagan is the dean of clowns.

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4glbtactivist(285 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

It's about time the chamber is let go on it's own. They are a front for the Republican "eliminate the middle class" party. Especially the national chamber.

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5faith(200 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I applaud Hagen for taking a stance on this. Humphries has no business using chamber resources to help any one get elected. He is just mad his personal business didn't get payed. pathetic.

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6saddad(646 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

I didnt know the local Chamber got public money. That makes a huge difference and I am pretty sure the early reporting failed to point that out.

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7burford(95 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

There is no evidence that Humphries used Chamber resources to support soon to be governor Kasich. He is allowed on his personal time to engage in political activity just like any other Anerican. Apparently everywhere except the Mahoning Valley, the area time forgot.

This is an old Democratic style of attack. Like accusing the US Chamber of using foreign money to affect the outcome of US elections. Even the very liberal NY Times stated that there was no evidence of this. Yet Axelrod told a disbeleiving Bob Schieffer, a liberal himself, do you have any proof that they aren't using foreign money. This is McCarthy like and should be condemned by all liberals as well as conservatives.

Hagan, Betras, Zoldan. That is a trio of highly respected individuals, right. No one will follow their lead. Thank God.

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8valleyop(14 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

This entire valley needs to thank Tom Humphries. Smart business people support both sides. Anyone looking at the polls for the past six months can see that Strickland is not a lock. Why would we put all of our eggs in one basket?

Betras would like to be the party chair from the 1950’s, one that had much power and control. He has two problems, first, no one respects him professionally or personally and second, he really does not understand politics. No candidate, office holder or president of the local chamber should take advice from or listen to David Betras. Mr. Betras has one agenda, Mr. Betras.

Tom Humphries should keep doing what he has been doing, running a successful Chamber of Commerce. Let’s hope he continues to support both sides.

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9mrblue(1136 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Betras, Hagan, Zoldan, and Humphries------------will you all just go away.

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10csky(10 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

There are wonderful people who live here, great communities, and neighborhoods. People will always come through to help each other. What passes for leadership is what holds this area back. Face it, the Democratic party and unions have held power here and should be held accountable. Instead, of being productive and positive they spend their time attacking and tearing down. Pitiful.

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11DOLE2(595 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Hagan always finds a bandwagon to jump on.If Humphries backed a Dem there would have been no uproar.

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12author50(1121 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Hagan is about 12 years too late on this. Then again, he still thinks the Berlin Wall is standing.

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13Progress(58 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Please Hagan, resign.

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14valleyop(14 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

Marcus57 is Mark Meszaros

The State of Ohio is after you Mark, 44 open cases in Trumbull County alone. STATE OF OHIO DEPT OF TAXATION, you need to call them! Would you like me to post the case numbers for you????

You are a loser with an agenda.

Go away already.

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15thirdthink(11 comments)posted 4 years, 8 months ago

It's about time someone had the guts to take a stand against the corporate interests that:

1. Heap more job responsibilities on to current employees (without increased pay or benefits) while laying off countless working fathers and mothers.

2. "Can't afford to hire new employees" during the leadership of a Democratic government.

3. Yet, somehow they have billions of dollars sitting around to blow on getting Republicans elected today.

AWESOME! Let's give these guys bigger tax breaks so they can get ready to bust the bank for Campaign 2012 using extra money from tax subsidies that you and I are paying for.

Corporate Ohio-Corporate America: Didn't get the jobs done.

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