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Chamber loses more members over Senate bill

Published: Wed, April 6, 2011 @ 12:09 a.m.

2 law firms, cafe opt out; Boardman business renews

By Kristen Russo



Three more companies have left the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber as a result of the chamber board’s endorsement of Senate Bill 5, but one has renewed its membership.

Last week, Gov. John Kasich signed the bill, which will curtail some collective-bargaining rights of public employees.

Early this week, two Youngstown law firms — Heller, Maas, Moro & Magill Co. L.P.A., and Green Haines Sgambati Co. L.P.A. — sent letters to the chamber terminating their memberships.

The Mocha House, a cafe with locations in Warren and Boardman, also has canceled its membership.

On Monday, however, Timothy Ryan, president of Ryan Alternative Staffing Inc., Boardman, sent a letter to the chamber and The Vindicator stating his support for the business-advocacy organization.

Ryan has renewed his company’s chamber membership.

“Those that have decided to withdraw from the Chamber certainly have that right. They cannot however hide from the fact that the political and organized labor cultures that have dominated this area for decades have significantly contributed to the continuing decline of the Mahoning Valley,” Ryan wrote.

“In fact, it is apparent to me that this entire Chamber/S.B. 5 controversy is a further attempt to distract the population from their [political and organized labor] own failed records of the past 35 years. Honestly, are we better off as a community than we were in 1977 or 1990 or even 2005? I don’t think anyone can honestly answer yes to that question,” Ryan said in the letter.

“The Chamber deserves to be supported by everyone that does business in the region. I hope that our token show of support will encourage others to step up to the plate and do the same,” Ryan wrote.

Bill Axiotis, co-owner of The Mocha House, said his business has taken a neutral stand on politics since it opened in 1992.

“By the chamber endorsing [SB 5], it put us in an awkward position. We felt it was better for us to be on the sidelines, and that’s what we decided to do,” Axiotis said.

In the letter Green Haines Sgambati sent to the chamber, managing partner Dennis Haines said the 1983 Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act removed public employees from second-class citizenship.

“Senate Bill 5 is a cynical insult to [public employees] and will relegate them to a worse status than they held before the enactment of the 1983 law,” Haines said.

“As longtime advocates of injured workers in the Mahoning Valley, we strongly oppose your support of SB 5. We represent many public employees and support their right to collective bargaining,” Joseph A. Moro, a partner with Heller, Maas, Moro and Magill, said in his company’s letter to the chamber.

Other companies that have terminated their memberships with the chamber because of the board’s endorsement of SB 5 are: A.B. Crane & Steel Service Inc., Fireline Inc. and Turning Technologies.

All three companies are based in Youngstown.

Last week, Mike Broderick, president and chief executive officer of Turning Technologies, also resigned from the chamber’s board of directors.

Bruce Zoldan, CEO of B.J. Alan Co., removed his company from chamber membership in October 2010 after Tom Humphries, the chamber’s president and CEO, co-hosted a fundraiser for Kasich, who was then the Republican candidate for governor.

The law firm of attorney David Betras left the chamber at that time as well. Betras is Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.


1InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Thumbs up to those who've dumped the Chamber. I'll definitely stop at the coffee shop next time I'm in Boardman! .

I see that the Chamber's membership directory has been put off line "under construction" ( http://regionalchamber.com/MemberReso... ) . Too bad, because you could use that to avoid Chamber members. Still won't hurt to look for those wall plaques and ask on the phone before doing business with people. You can still browse their event calendar and see some of the members listed as event sponsors.

I tried to look around their web site, but most of it doesn't work right... about par for the course for people who don't want kids educated, but will turn around and use an educated workforce as an excuse to to ship jobs off-shore.

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2InColumbiana(63 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

oops, last line above should have read "use an uneducated workforce as an excuse to to ship jobs off-shore."

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3Mondoman(6 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps Mike Broderick or Mr. Betras could assist us in this matter of discovering what businesses still belong to the chamber.

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4Sickofit2(9 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I guess Mr. Ryan doesn't realize that those "organized labor cultures that have dominated this area for decades" are also the same people that have made HIS businesses successful. If "the Chamber deserves to be supported by everyone that does business in the region," then the Chamber should also support everyone that does business in the region and should remain neutral in this controversy.

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5James_S(268 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

When I first read "Timothy Ryan" I immediately thought of our Congressman... but then realized that can't be him, Congressman and owner of Ryan Alternative Staffing and sticking up for the Chamber...

We are witnessing the socialization of America entering the final game plan. And the pieces in the game that the Socialists (both Democrats AND Republicans) are playing don't even realize (for the most part- except of course for most of our politicians)
that they are pieces in THEIR game.

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6author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

It doesnt matter how many members the chamber has as long as THE DEMOCRATS in political office continue to fund them.

The Chamber exists off taxpayers money - not dues.

Now that is irony at it's best!

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7Miki(99 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

In 2 years or less, these 2 firms with be asking to rejoin the Chamber. Does anyone really think that Dave is not out twisting arms of lawyers? He is only trying to keep himself relevant.

AND - OH NO! Where will I go in Warren to buy an over priced cup of coffee and stale Danish? I'll be boycotting the Mocha House.

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8author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago


Your not that knee-jerk. I read your posts. The Chamber gets commissions from any company that they help "bring" to Mahoning County and offer tax-abatement to. The Chamber gets money for being the "grant-writer" and other 'economic development titles' from Mahoning County. The Chamber gets money for managing the state owned buildings in downtown Youngstown. The Chamber received 'development fees' for those very same buildings. Tim Ryan and Charlie Wilson dumped thousands into the chamber over the years.

Again, with DEMOCRATS like these in office, the chamber doesn't need membership fees, just keep that big snout of theirs in the public trough.


All I do is read the Chambers tax-returns to find out where the funding comes from.

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9outsideobserver(31 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

author50 (Sam Moffie) why don't you tell everyone how much money Mr. Betras is paying you?

You like disclosure Sam, what besides money has Mr. Betras promissed you?

When you were a Republican Sam you didn't mind having the Chamber support you. Tell us, are you really a Democrat now or just a double agent working against Betras?

This is serious business for serious people. Sam go back to your bar and have a glass of wine and let the adults do the real work.

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10palbubba(811 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

As is normal in the Valley, politics trumps reason. Another in a long line of events that will move the Valley further into decline. Betras and his thugs can support or criticize whoever or whatever they please, but any opinion contrary to theirs is reason for unreasonable action. The chamber is in place to promote the Valley, these thugs are in place to enrich themselves.

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11outsideobserver(31 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

palbubba you are right! A boycott of Betras Kopp & Harshman and Bill's Place is just what Betras and Moffie need, the tables turned on them!

Tell everyone they can find a much better lawyer than Betras and to stop drinking at author50's Bill's Place now!

I can't wait to see the going out of business signs. Goodbye to two big mouths.

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

For anyone interested, the Chamber's membership list has been posted on the Mahoning County Democratic Party Website...www.mahoningcountydems.org

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13author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

@outsideobserver & jessedavid

Chamber never helped any candidates that were AGAINST the Mahoning County Sales Tax Issues that have been on the ballot 3-4 times in the past 10 years.

Moffie and many others were against the sales tax - highly doubt that the Chamber
gave Moffie or anyone else who was out leading the fight against the Sales Tax any support.

If Moffie couldn't even get appointed to the Mill Creek Park Board by his ally Probate Judge Mark Belinky - how could anyone in their right mind think that David Betras could get Moffie on any political board?

The tax returns do not lie - The Chamber exists because of taxpayer money. That money has come from many democratic office holders over the years - how ironic.

BTW: Bills Place is the most successful locally owned non-chain bar in Mahoning County. Just check with the folks at RL Lipton, Superior Beverage and the department of liquor control for total sales by location. David Betras is the most successful lawyer because he works the hardest and gets the best results for his clients.

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14JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

"The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is the most effective state-wide business advocacy organization in Ohio. We work hard every day to educate state legislators and government officials about policies that will strengthen Ohio's economy and help businesses succeed"

"The Ohio Chamber of Commerce applauds Gov. John Kasich for proposing a two-year budget that, while difficult, is focused squarely on job creation and transforming government into a 21st century institution."

It would appear that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce supports Kasich's policies including SB5.

Sorry Betras, your wrong and one of the reason's the Valley is not business friendly, and why jobs are disappearing.




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15author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago


I guess you see nothing wrong with Tom Humphries using his posistion as Chamber President to pitch his private business DataVoice to companies he is trying to lure to the valley for tax abatement which the chamber gets a piece of? Heck Humphries tried to pitch DataVoice to Congressman's Ryan's office and admitted to it on Dan Rivers show a few months ago!

Guess you didn't see anything wrong with The Chamber and some of their inside crowd buying up real estate under Lake to River Holdings (both non-profit and for profit entities) near the airport hoping that the development tax would pass in both Mahoning County and Trumbull County? Oh that's right, you have stated that was Traficant's idea. BS jessedavid - the Chamber financed that entire campaign and LOST!

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16borylie(951 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

I've had my last tea from the Mocha House and I'll never set foot in that ladies restaurant by YSU.

If you don't think it's okay for the Chamber to take sides,then you should be smart enough not to take sides.

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17author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago


It's Humphries business - who you trying to kid?

BTW: Is Oz and Tom still trying to get tax money to get the film commission back on track - LOL!

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18300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

ahhh, Jessie, if only you had the required education, you too could have been a teacher.

One day, you'll have to overcome the jealousy that you've got toward whomever it is who became one.

You never answered, to my knowledge a previous question I had. What is the sector in which you work?

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