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Maybe county should have closed for the week



Published: Sun, February 6, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


If we had the passion of the Egyptians, how would we address our Mahoning County leaders?

I think that’s where Americans fall short compared with our world counterparts: We don’t walk our talk enough.

Our talk this week has been pretty heated as we analyze recent pay-raise information coming out of Mahoning County:

In recent weeks, more than $360,000 in pay raises were handed out to county workers who serve a community that has 10 percent unemployment, is a foreclosure poster child and has a retail corridor replete with cash-advance stores.

Adding to that unrosy picture, the county specifically has closed jail cells, has workers laid off across many departments, has continuing costs to move into the earthquake- ravaged Oakhill compound and enormous legal bills pending for nine death-penalty defendants on trial this year — all at our expense.

Despite all of this, there were funds to dole out enough 10 percent and 20 percent pay hikes in January that you would need a buddy’s fingers to count them all.

My column last week started some rich debate. Thank you, e-mailers and message boarders. Thank you, talk radio. Thank you, Prosecutor Paul Gains for getting on Channels 27 and 33 the Friday before the column to spin your $288,000 in pay hikes.

Then, amid that debate, God weighed in. He brought a relatively minor snowstorm to Northeast Ohio in February. Go figure. And the above- referenced county government did what no other county in Northeast Ohio did: It closed.

County EMA director Clark Jones, county Administrator George Tablack and Judge Mark A. Belinky were the power triumvirate to order the closing that became a $200,000-plus taxpayer freebie.

Among their excuses is that they follow Youngstown State University’s lead in when to close. With that logic, I imagine if those three men took over the Springfield Grille, they’d advise the chef to get burger advice from Burger King.

Legitimately, YSU operates on different parallels than a government. It pulls young drivers from everywhere, it has miles of sidewalks to maintain, it has autistic children and other noncollege activities to manage — many things that have nothing to do with a 45-year-old title-and-deeds clerk carefully driving in from Boardman.

And, do they not read the headlines of YSU bonuses and cushy union contracts? This is an operation to model without question?

Here’s a standard for Team Clark, Mark & George to consider: WRTA did not miss one bus route over the two-day, um, “blizzard.” All workers got to work and drove buses from 5 a.m. to midnight without catastrophe.

I would measure up to that the next time.

But don’t look for that. You see, it is unwise to second-guess Jones, suggested Tablack in his continuing charade of leadership. He cornered me Thursday in the basement of the courthouse — which was open despite the partly cloudy skies and the threat of more clouds to come. (Plus, we are knee-deep in earthquake season.) The cornering was another episode of getting “tablacked,” which Webster’s defines as “the appearance of two people having a back-forth conversation when in actuality it is one person talking and the other person resigned to listening.”

Tablack does not want to revisit the wisdom employed in wasting $200,000 in taxpayer funds and being the laughingstock of other government operations because some day, in some county building — real or imagined or yet to be purchased or rented — a pipe might break, and he doesn’t want county guys such as Jones to not act on their immediate instinct to shut off the water and fix that pipe.

Seriously, he said that. I have a witness.

If coach Mike Tomlin reasoned like Tablack, the Pittsburgh Steelers would still have Jeff Reed as their kicker: “Sure, Jeff’s missing from everywhere on the field, but from 10 yards and in, he’s perfect.”

Yeah, and the Steelers would not be in the Super Bowl today.

I am out of space to share with you my exchange this week with Judge Theresa Dellick — which was as fruitful as the tablacking I took for the benefit of you kind readers. (But I have plenty of space online. Go to my blog on vindy.com to read about that episode.)

As you watch the courage being displayed in Egypt and wonder what you can do as you process all of this, consider:

The issue is not necessarily the money we pay, because I think $32,000 for CSB workers, and $50,000 for lawyers and $11.92 an hour for deputies is a great deal. There are great deals at Belleria Pizzeria, and even those don’t match the deals on salaries with rank-and-file county workers.

The issue is how our money is spent.

And that means who is in charge. And you should start keeping score of them:

Tablack and Jones are employed at the mercy of the commissioners.

Paul Gains and Engineer Rich Marsico, who also doled out raises in his department, are up for re-election next year.

Judge Dellick is up for re-election in 2016.

Keep score. And let them know you are.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


Comments

11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Todd: You are the best editor the paper has ever had. Earthquake season! Priceless. Keep it up!

What you write is so true, and it is not hatred of govt or govt employees. It is disgust with stupid decisions and subsequent stupid attempts to defend their actions.

And the facts and comparisons you use are right on the money.

Please please please don't stop. We need you to continue to expose the absurdity of it all.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Nice job Mr. Todd. Lucky you didn't get "Belinkied" after being "Tablacked and Dellicked".

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3Jadedpast(19 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Great article Todd....I drive to Akron(and my sister to Canton) daily to go to work. Of course we are in the private sector and don't get paid if we don't show up. To be a part of the valley citizenry that is good, maintain your work ethic. Go to work and do your best while you're there. You are getting paid !!! And Todd although I love this column and know you speak the truth, you might want to think about having a remote starter put on your car.....this is Youngstown. :>)

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4Lifes2Short(3875 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Wonderful piece.

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5mrblue(981 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Gains, Marsico, Tablack, Jones --- these people have to go. I agree with the article. Todd,--- you have to keep digging and keep us informed. I don't believe that these people care about those who are laid off and those who took concessions.

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6Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

With so many lay offs the spender offenders need to be held accountable.

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7YOUNGSTOWNPUNISHER(19 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Todd,

Excellent job with your editorials and reporting.
Be mindful do not include the deputies they did show up because regardless of weather they have a job to do! They showed up and were reassigned to other duties within scope of their jobs! I hope they City prosecutor does run this year! Gains is a drunk and likes to harrass his females at county, but that is kept under wraps because of fear of retaliation or losing their nice paying jobs! As for the raises; people keep harping that some of the money used for some departments that recieved raises does not come from the general fund! It does not matter!! 10% unemployment! Deputies 50 plus still on layoff! Ohhh lets not forget some higher ups at the Sheriff department put retirement papers with PERS got their titles changed and know they will double dip! A pension and still working at Sheriff office! DOUBLE DIPPING? while they have Deputies yes making 11.90 for last 4 years without a pay raise, gave up concessions to help county and they get slapped with the news of other offices hnding out raises while their administrators at their office take care of their own! You can argue that some offices do not get money out of general fund......keep smoking that pipe to justify yourselfs! but it is morally and fiscally wrong! However you spin it! Plus rumor has it that Tablack is making deals with his buddies so he can go work at the Sheriff Department as a fiscal controller since he is scared that the New "Comish" is after his head! lets keep an eye on this story! Todd you need to check into those tips! it is happening under closed doors! Good luck and keep the fight on!

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8seminole(476 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Excellent write-up. These elected pieces of sh-- need to be held accountable. Funny thing is, the elf Belinky speeds through the neighborhood where he lives through out the day like he's some bad-a-- yet he punks out when there is a bit of snow so he can collect a days pay for not working. Typical of this area and the big-headed officials that think they walk on water. Gains has plea bargained far too many cases of late and he will continue to do so while getting a raise. He had the audacity to say they he hasn't had a raise for three years yet he continued to do his job. Wow, way to step up you jacka--. Maybe the unemployeed citizens would like to take your job even though they didn't get a raise. Somehow you keep your job, even with the horrible record you gloss over every time your mouth opens. Try actually doing your job and holding your office of puppets accountable for their lack of sack. Stop making plea deals and offering probations, forcing the judge to stop the circus and enforce the sentence your office so graciously offers to drop. You and your pals like Belinky should be ashamed at your pitiful performances. I know most of us are.

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9frato(9 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

In the private sector, my coworkers and I have endured 3 different bankruptcies in the last 4 years between 2 companies with no raises in the last 4 years. This is hardly the economy to be dishing out raises to any government employees. Your raise is that you don't have to give concessions. That is more that enough right now. If its good enough for me in the private sector it is way good enough for you. And I made it to work every day last week. No problem. No roads were closed in Mahoning County as a result of the weather. End if story. What are you people running a grade school??

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10TheLostPatrol(756 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Gotta love hitting all those potholes, right when you get your property tax statement that is due on March 4th, and Marilyn Kenner gets a Ten-Thousand-dollar raise to $95,000.00. All you sucker private-industry workers go out and tackle the bad road conditions as you keep passing levies for these poor county workers that will be sitting at home till the salt kicks in so that they can go out to Lunch, then on to the Mall.

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11borylie(790 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Franko,A few weeks ago I posted that the Vindy was afraid of the politicians,especially the democrats. Once again I'm wrong as you called them out and named names. If the people in this valley are to be educated enough to make better decisions at the polls,we need good,fair,honest and hard hitting reporting. Plus republicans may even want to run for office if they knew that the media will give them a fair shake. Help clean up our valley,keep up the good work. You may not work for The Daily Planet,but you can be our Superman. Thank you.

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12kimhalls(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Refinancing means taking out a new mortgage with a lower interest rate to pay off your existing mortgage, search online for 123 Mortgage Refinance I got 2.831% rate on refinance!

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13UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

We'll see if the voters of Mahoning County vote out Prosecutor Paul Gains and Engineer Rich Marsico for what they did here. I'll bet they won't. Any takers?

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14CompMan(125 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Future snow events are actually very easy to determine action. "A county sheriff may, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code sections 311.07 and 311.08, declare a snow emergency and temporarily close the state roads and municipal streets within his/her jurisdiction when such action is reasonably necessary for the preservation of the public peace. Ohio Attorney General’s Opinion 97-015, issued April 1, 1997, concluded that this authority includes state roads, county and township roads and municipal streets." There are 3 levels and we need to start using them. Of course this does not include earthquakes. Hmm, wonder if they actually have earthquake insurance on county buildings?

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15davidjohn(144 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

went to work on monday

and tuesday and wednesday

and thursday and friday

despite all the hub bub

wonder how hard the newspaper staff works

mr desouza leaves up his stir fry blogs for weeks on end

how much effort does it take to write an opinion every few days

like you see on other news web sites

how many columns or editorials does he write a week

how about franko

3 4 5

shame on the county employees for not going to work

but the editorial writers are probably just as lazy

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