Parallel universe: The federal government sometimes operates in a parallel universe.
That became apparent when I received a call from a federal agency official.
I was offered information for an article about Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams being appointed by the president as the executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, also called the auto czar.
But the story came with conditions.
I could write an article to be posted on the newspaper’s website at 6 a.m. Wednesday, but it couldn’t be in the print edition until Thursday. No flexibility and no negotiations, even though most Vindicator subscribers don’t see the paper any earlier than 6 a.m.
So there was a lengthy article on Vindy.com on Wednesday and nothing in The Vindicator until the next day.
I was standing next to a guy with a beagle waiting for the Austintown Fourth of July Parade to start, who asked, “You’re going to write about this, aren’t you?”
Ahh, a fan — or at least someone who knows I write about the parade every year.
The Austintown parade is an event my family has enjoyed every year since we moved here in 1995. We’ve gone in the pouring rain and in the hot sun — and ate wet and melted candy.
It’s my favorite political event.
It turned out to be a hot day. Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti was wearing black dress pants and walked the parade route. He looked a bit warm and I was glad I didn’t have to shake his hand as I’m sure it was a bit sweaty.
A word of advice to Traficanti, who should know better, and others in summer parades: shorts are OK.
All right, on to the candy!
Throwing candy at parades is as American as illegally shooting off expensive fireworks making your neighborhood look and sound like a war zone.
For some reason, it’s become tradition for some parade participants to throw as much candy at me as possible. It’s also a tradition for the Austintown trustees to throw as much candy at me as possible.
Trustee Jim Davis was the first to spot me, yelled my name, and Trustees David Ditzler and Lisa Oles and Fiscal Officer Michael Kurish threw what seemed like thousands of miniature Tootsie Rolls at me and my family.
The smiles on their faces made me think they enjoy this annual ritual.
My wife got a mini to the top of her head. Among the few that hit me included one that got me in a tooth.
When the candy drive-by concluded, there was a hill of mini-Tootsie Rolls at our feet. We [mostly me] ate well for 15 minutes.
People standing nearby gave us strange looks. My wife explained the situation, which didn’t seem to satisfy them as the distance between us and them grew a little bit wider as the parade continued.
State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry threw Dum Dum pops to the crowd. He spotted me and threw a handful in my direction, nearly taking out an eye. Not really, but it could have happened.
I casually mentioned in last week’s column certain candies I like.
The Mahoning County Republican Party made up a nice bag of many of my favorites and hand-delivered it to me. With such attention to detail, I have a feeling the Republicans are going to make a huge impact in next year’s election.
A volunteer for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan gave me a gigantic bag filled with about two pounds of assorted candy. It was so full that the handle ripped.
A day later, Ryan told me he did it to get his name in my column, though I suspect the volunteer, who I know, was more responsible for the candy than the congressman.
My lone complaint is there was soft toffee candy and some bad-flavored Dum Dum pops in the bag.
At least it wasn’t thrown at me. I put the not-so-good candy into The Vindicator newsroom candy jar, but don’t tell anyone.