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Mayor’s exit ends city’s HUD bid


Published: Thu, July 14, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

The list of cities that beat out Youngstown for the Strong Cities, Strong Communities pilot program:

Detroit

Cleveland

Chester, Pa.

Fresno, Calif.

Memphis, Tenn.

New Orleans

Source: HUD

photo

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Youngstown, Ohio, Mayor Jay Williams, center, talks to the press following the announcement of his new role as the Director of the Office of Recovery for Autoworkers and Communities by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on Wednesday July 6, 2011, at Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy in Flint, Mich., which was redeveloped from a General Motors auto factory. Williams starts as head the Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers on Aug. 8. He will step down as mayor Aug. 1 and will work in the Labor Department. (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Ryan Garza) (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Ryan Garza)

By Karl Henkel

khenkel@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Jay Williams is out as Youngstown’s mayor and so is federal assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Youngstown was not selected as one of six cities for President Barack Obama’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, a pilot program to spark economic growth.

Presley Gillespie, executive director of the Youngstown Community Development Corp., told The Vindicator this week that Derek Douglas, White House director of urban affairs, told him that Williams’ departure was the reason Youngstown, thought to be a front-runner for one of six spots, won’t receive federal assistance.

The office of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, an advocate for the assistance, released a statement Wednesday that backed up Gillespie’s claim.

“This program was always intended to be driven by the vision of the mayor,” said Jerid Kurtz, Ryan’s press secretary. “Due to Jay Williams’ appointment to the [Obama] administration, it became necessary to put Youngstown’s participation in this program on hold.

“Congressman Ryan will ensure the White House and the new mayor have an opportunity to talk about Youngstown’s future participation in this program.”

Williams will leave as mayor Aug. 1 and will take over the position of executive director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers on Aug. 8.

Under the Strong Cities program, federal agencies will work with local government officials and provide fellowship programs to give cities additional resources.

Gillespie said because of the close work with officials, and because HUD officials were fond of Williams, who instituted the nationally acclaimed Youngstown 2010 initiative, Williams’ departure was the reason Youngstown didn’t receive a bid.

“He [Douglas] clearly articulated that across the country with this program, the mayors’ offices are really the pivotal points of entry into the cities,” Gillespie said. “My instinct is that is that they [HUD] aren’t familiar with the remaining political leadership.”

Douglas did not return a call placed to his Washington, D.C., office Wednesday.

Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd, who took part in meetings with HUD officials when they visited Youngstown during the interview process, said all indications were that the city would eventually receive the federal assistance.

“We have to question whether the support was geared toward the mayor or toward the city,” he said. “If the decision didn’t have anything to do with the mayor leaving, I’d like to know what the reasons were.”

But a HUD spokeswoman told The Vindicator on Tuesday that Williams’ departure didn’t play into the organization’s decision.

“We recognize that there are other cities across the country that need help,” she said.

A White House official did not comment on whether Williams’ departure played a role but said there wasn’t one factor that weighed more heavily than others.

Williams did not respond to calls to his cell or office phones on Tuesday or Wednesday seeking comment.

Chuck Sammarone, city council president who will take over as mayor in August, said he did not attend meetings with HUD officials and said he was disappointed it based the decision on Williams.

“Either we deserved it or we didn’t deserve it,” he said.

Sammarone said he didn’t believe all members of city government needed to attend the HUD meetings, but that if he had been asked, he would have attended.

Losing out on the Strong Cities program is the second major blow dealt to the Valley in the last two years.

In January 2010, HUD rejected Youngstown’s $32.4 million, nine-community proposal to develop hard-hit communities and to create jobs.

After HUD rejected what was revealed as a flawed city application, local leaders including Williams traveled to Washington to meet with White House and HUD officials to make the city’s case about additional funding in March 2010.

After the meeting — which included representatives from Detroit and Cleveland, two cities selected for the pilot program — Williams told The Vindicator, “I came away with the continuing and increased belief that these [talks] will result in federal government and national philanthropic investments” in Youngstown.

Chester, Pa., Fresno, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans were the other cities chosen for the program.

HUD hasn’t completely ignored the Mahoning Valley.

Last week, it approved a $20 million to $22 million demolition and replacement of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Westlake Terrace project.


Comments

1redcent(38 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

“Either we deserved it or we didn’t deserve it.”

Emphasis on we - not he.

We are not the representatives we elect, we are the people who elect them.

We are providing the reources for the programs which are intended to benefit the communities within which we live.

How could this get so far askew?

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2lee(544 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

That's what happens when Govt. gets to big

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3streetsmartt(127 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Thanks, Jay!

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4Firdaus(12 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

"Thanks Jay"???? really? The man has a spot to be on the president of the United States staff, and you're MAD towards him?

You dirty piece of sh*t DNA. I'm amazed your pitiful family bloodline made it this far. Please go back to flipping burgers. PLEASE! we need you people.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

How could this happen ? New housing needs to be built on the SouthSide to allow the people to feel good about themselves .

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6commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

johnyoung, THEN WHAT is the reason? Why wouldn't the
Vindy print the story, it's based on what happened.If it's so bad WHY are YOU reading it? Sign up for the Warren paper.

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7commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Firdaus, WOW, Streetsmart must have hit a nerve!!! Are you related to Williams or just bro's?
Makes you wonder if Williams knew that this would happen when he was "considering" the new job.

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8pgurney(282 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Well first they say that the rejection of Y'town has everything to do with Jay Williams leavning - "Presley Gillespie, executive director of the Youngstown Community Development Corp., told The Vindicator this week that Derek Douglas, White House director of urban affairs, told him that Williams’ departure was the reason Youngstown, thought to be a front-runner for one of six spots, won’t receive federal assistance".

NOTE that Derek Douglas, WH director of Urban affairs said this.

Then we read "But a HUD spokeswoman told The Vindicator on Tuesday that Williams’ departure didn’t play into the organization’s decision".

So WTH? Which is it?? They can't even get their stories straight in the HUD department. I'm tired of being lied to, and Youngstown being overlooked for VERY needed services!

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9pgurney(282 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

@johnyoung - read the story again. Derek Douglas of WHITE HOUSE Urban Affairs said himself that Jay Williams departure is THE reason Youngstown was pulled from the program. Rep Tim Ryan backed that up.

So the Vindicator has not reported this in error.

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10msweetwood(162 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

"Johnyoung:" So, you think we should weigh a HUD spokesman's spin HIGHER than the White House director of urban affairs AND a congressman? Really? Ryan's office said point-blank: "Due to Jay Williams' appointment ... it became necessary to put Youngstown's participation in this program on hold." And THAT doesn't justify "Mayor's exit ends city's HUD bid?" I think it's fair to criticize us when we do something wrong, but to work this hard to find fault in a story we broke strikes me as a bit strange...

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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11Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

"HUD hasn’t completely ignored the Mahoning Valley.

Last week, it approved a $20 million to $22 million demolition and replacement of the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Westlake Terrace project."

Let's get past the hype . Jay indeed is in good standing with the Obama administration . Why else would they be bringing him to DC ? I'm sure that more money is on the way to insure Obama's re-election .

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12TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I thought you anti-big government types would be happy to see tax monies withheld. There's no pleasing some people.

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13LargeCar(6 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Hey, Commomcitizen, the Vindy IS the Warren paper! Buy today's Vindy, then wait a couple of days and buy the Trib...samey-same private cowboy!

I really wish the best to Mayor Jay. I think he did as good a job at delivering the cold hard truth as anyone could have done. He stuck to his guns and helped make Youngstown a better place. Let us just hope that all future administrations pack the very same necessary gear in their battle bags.

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14Westsider(224 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Stan - you know that Obama will be re-elected in this valley even if he takes away every federal cent ever provided by the feds. . .

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15AnotherAverageCitizen(1175 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Carl,

Is columbus destroying them selves with a 2.5% city tax? Is canton, Green, Akron and Cleveland destroying themselves also? Don't blame taxes for killing a city when other cities do the same thing and still prosper.

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16Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Westsider :

"Stan - you know that Obama will be re-elected in this valley even if he takes away every federal cent ever provided by the feds. . ."

Ya, but I don't think Obama knows that . . ..

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17mark(60 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

As if Fresno, Nashville, and New Orleans need it... Those are all big cities. That's like giving a technology investment to Silicon Valley.

Chester, PA is the only city I see on that list that actually needs the Strong Cities assistance.

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18Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see a big development and mones spent on the SouthSide . The area is long overdue . Are ya listenin Chuck ? Perhaps you can steer any monies that Jay sends back to the SouthSide .

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19redeye1(4702 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Averagecitizen Those other cities put their taxes to good use not like y_town does. They use their monies to improve their infrastructure and attract new businesses

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20walter_sobchak(1981 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

True that Jay-Jay was instrumental in developing and implementing Youngstown2010. But, now that he is leaving, is he taking the program with him? If it is such a sucess, wouldn't the new mayor and council want to continue it? Obviously, the executive branch in Washington believe that Jay Williams, like Barack Hussein Obama, has messianic characteristics that only the chosen few receive.

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21mabell(25 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

Sooo...let me understand this,williams quit to take a job with obama,,,,so he sold y-town down the river for a 1 year job.Aint noway obama is getting re-elected.Then what will williams do?Come back to y-town and run for county commissioner?

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22TB(1167 comments)posted 3 years, 5 months ago

"Chester, PA is the only city I see on that list that actually needs the Strong Cities assistance."

hahaha not New Orleans? hahaha

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