Don’t be a twit on Twitter

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Bypassing the Valley: With the March 6 Republican presidential primary only a week-plus away, it’s obvious none of the four candidates are coming to the Mahoning Valley. Tonight’s Mahoning Valley McKinley Club dinner in Niles would have been an ideal stop for any of the candidates.

The dinner brings together Republicans from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, and usually attracts statewide officeholders and candidates. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who’s endorsed Mitt Romney, is the keynote speaker.

As for Republican candidates, Romney’s campaign is flooding my emailbox with a majority of the emails attacking Rick Santorum.

I sent an email request a week ago to Santorum’s campaign to get on their media list as well as signed up on their official website to get information sent to supporters. How organized are they? I still haven’t received anything from the Santorum campaign.

Democrats gather: Tickets are available at the door for the Mahoning County Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame dinner at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Maronite Center in Youngstown. Tickets are $50 each. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is the guest speaker.

It should be painfully obvious to adults involved in politics that cell phones and computers can be dangerous weapons.

How can they not realize that whatever they text, post or tweet doesn’t magically go away, particularly the ones that are insulting, mean-spirited, sent in a heated exchange or embarrassing?

Less than a year ago, then-U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, resigned from Congress after he tweeted a picture of his crotch on his Twitter account.

He meant to send it as a direct message to a woman, which would have been very bad. Instead, he made matters worse tweeting it to all of his Twitter followers. (Ahh, the confusion that is TwitterDeck!)

It turns out the guy was into sending inappropriate photos of himself, and that ended his political career.

While we haven’t had anything rise to that level in the Mahoning Valley, we’ve seen some officeholders, politicians and candidates use poor judgment when text messaging.

If you read the front page of Wednesday’s Vindicator, you’d think sending inappropriate text messages is the norm for local politicians.

One article was about messages sent between Youngstown Prosecutor Jay Macejko, who is running for Mahoning County prosecutor, and Bret Hartup, an assistant city prosecutor.

The texts in question were sent about Bassil Ally, also an assistant city prosecutor, who ended up suing Youngstown claiming he was the victim of discrimination based on his Muslim faith.

The city settled the case before it went to trial with Ally receiving a $110,000 payment and a $4,000 annual raise.

Macejko said he had employer-employee issues with Ally, but insists he didn’t discriminate against Ally because he is Muslim.

That hasn’t stopped incumbent Prosecutor Paul J. Gains from largely basing his campaign on Macejko’s handling of the Ally matter.

Macejko sent a number of derogatory text messages about Ally to Hartup in the months leading to the lawsuit.

In one on Jan. 5, 2009, he refers to Ally as a “POS,” an acronym for a piece of well, I’ll let you figure out what the “S” stands for.

Two days later, Macejko sent a text sarcastically referring to Ally as the “prince.”

The other article was about a series of text messages Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras sent to a county commissioner candidate, who used to work for him.

The split Betras had with Richard Oz Ouzounian wasn’t a pleasant one.

In a number of text messages, Betras insulted Ouzounian about his appearance, how he was going to finish last in the commissioner race, and general smack talk.

Betras, who is surgically attached to his cell phone, apologized for the “tone and tenor of the messages. The language I used is unacceptable.”

Ouzounian shouldn’t be considered an innocent victim as he insulted Betras, though without expletives.

Many people lose their patience and say things they regret.

In an age when more and more the communications of choice are instant texting, emails, tweets and Facebook conversations, it’s a lot easier to “say” the wrong thing without being concerned about going too far.

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