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Betras presses chamber to release financial records

Published: Tue, May 3, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.


David Betras, Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.


Tom Humphries

By Karl Henkel



Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras wants some answers.

Specifically, he wants them from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, and after asking once, he filed a records request Friday after he said the chamber refused to answer questions regarding its political and government interactions and how it spends taxpayer money.

It all stems from the chamber’s public pro-Senate Bill 5 stance.

SB 5 curbs collective bargaining rights for government employees and was implemented by legislators to cut the state deficit.

“If they want to talk about sacrifices ... we’re going to see what belt-tightening they did,” said Betras, a lawyer.

Betras isn’t sure what he’s going to find, but he cited a Ohio Revised Code section that he said indicates the chamber is required to release the requested documents because it receives federal, state and local money.

Though private entities normally are not required to conform to public-records requests as government entities must do under Ohio’s Sunshine Laws, according to ORC section 149.431, “Any governmental entity or agency and any nonprofit corporation or association ... that enters into a contract or other agreement with [the government] shall keep accurate and complete financial records of any moneys expended in relation to the performance of the services pursuant to such contract. ... Such contract or agreement and such financial records shall be deemed to be public records.”

Betras previously asked for information in March, but Friday sent the board of directors — Tom Humphries, president and CEO, and Tony Paglia, vice president of government affairs — an official records request.

Betras also is seeking information about the pay and benefits of the chamber’s employees and whether Humphries’ privately owned company, Warren-based Data Voice Systems Review, has received tax abatements from working with the chamber.

When reached to comment Monday, Humphries declined to answer questions, instead referring to a statement released by Paglia.

Paglia said the chamber is in receipt of Betras’ request but did not comment further.

Betras said nonprofit tax forms would not be an acceptable response in his mind; he was adamant that the chamber is a public organization.

“I know they get money from the federal, state and local government,” he said.

As for the requests about Humphries’ company, Betras says he would like to see documents because of something Humphries said in an Oct. 9, 2010, edition of The Vindicator.

Humphries co-hosted a fundraising event for then-Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich and voiced his displeasure with then-Gov. Ted Strickland, who in 2007 didn’t hire Data Voice for a contract with the state’s lottery commission.

“I hate to talk about that,” Humphries said at the time. “I never let it affect the chamber. It’s one of the issues [I have with Strickland]. There are many, many things, but that’s the one that broke the camel’s back.”


1lovethiscity(169 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Betras...when you are trying to figure out Tom Humphries' "belt tightening" salary, look at the compensation he receives from ALL the various Chamber owned organizations, not just from the Chamber itself.

And Humphries...if you are so pleased to endorse SB5...and you're members are so solidly behind you...why is the Chamber's member page still "temporarily under construction". Hmmm... you took it off-line months ago. What are you afraid of?

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2NoBS(2832 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Strickland didn't hire Humphries' company to do work for the state, and Humphries' comment is that that's the straw that broke the camel's back?!?! How can he say that and that he never let it affect the chamber? And how can the Vindy just give him a pass about it?

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3outsideobserver(31 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

WFMJ-TV and WKBN-AM both need to find a new "Legal Eagle" that is just concerned with the law. Mr. Betras has become a bad joke and no one believes he is doing this for anything other than a future run for office and or to get his law firm new business, not to “help the people”.

With all of his extra curricular activities, failing law firm, and complete statewide democratic loses why are we paying any attention to this blowhard loser?

The chamber made a mistake with SB5, but overall they have done a good job of promoting the area. Who benefits from this war Mr. Betras has started? All of the other areas we are competing against for new jobs, that's who.

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4author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Look under the Chamber of Horrors rock David and educated the people of this community how they have taken us for a ride that only benefited the select few.

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5rocky14(839 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

I think he may be on to something.

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6TAXEDOFF(118 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago


Your quote "The chamber made a mistake with SB5, but overall they have done a good job of promoting the area. "

Saying The Chamber does a good job is like saying Hitler promoted the Jewish culture.

Considering the millions spent the results can only be described as MISERABLE!!!

Betras should get a complete accounting of all funds and if necessary should have the state auditor called in.

STEAL TO SCHOLARS is one example of The Chamber enriching themselves with ZERO benefits to the community.

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7outsideobserver(31 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago


Your quote "Considering the millions spent the results can only be described as MISERABLE!!!"

What millions! No one has had even a single million no less "millions" - please!

You sound like a guy who doesn't pay his own taxes, yet enjoys the benefits of taxpayer supported healthcare. Tell us, how many cases are still open against you??? What's the total tax bill you owe?

You are a perfect example of why we can't ever move forward, dead weight draging us down.

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8saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Atta boy David

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9300(573 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Like you work all that much, Jessie.

I don't particularly care for Betras, or the way he carries himself publicly, but he's right on this. The Chamber receives public dollars, and as such should have to be transparent in all its financials.

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10AtownAugie(892 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

He had time to send the letter to the Chamber on Friday? Might mean another news story: "No ambulances in the tri-state area were utilized on Friday."

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11Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Is there a reason why the Vinidcator gives this egomaniac the time of day? Spare us the insanity, we already have enough self serving egotistical narcissists in the tri county area. We don't need Dave Betras to reaffirm that by being in the news everyday. In a word, he is unimpressive.

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12saddad(655 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Its the right wing shills that are dangerous. If they are not pure con men they are fools. Stand together working people.

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13assiseeit(36 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Its about time someone looks into the accountability of the Regional Chamber!

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14JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber (Regional Chamber) is a private, non-profit organization that provides leadership and business services to promote the growth of our nearly 3,000 members"

The accountability is to it's memebers, not the public.

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15assiseeit(36 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

Are these the same board of directors who voted by internet email on the SB5 issue because if they are the ones who are doing the watching we're in trouble!!!

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16JME(802 comments)posted 5 years, 2 months ago

"The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Mission
As the state’s leading business advocate and resource,
the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise,
economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans."

And that means to support any legislation that "will strengthen Ohio's economy and help businesses succeed."


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