When stations gave service

When stations gave service

Many, many years ago there were businesses called service stations. These service stations represented the major oil companies — Sinclair, Amoco, Standard Oil etc., and were run by local businessmen. These stations offered full service attendants who pumped the gas, cleaned the windshield, and checked fluid levels. These stations were a respected part of the community.

Gasoline prices were based on an old concept — supply and demand rather than a group of speculators who set the highest possible prices no matter the effect on the consumer or economy.

There was also competition between the oil companies for their customers — premiums with purchases, price competition and quality service repairs offered.

Like so many other businesses the service station has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

These thoughts have brought a new question to mind — how many of the speculators own stock in the oil companies or receive some form of compensation for aiding and abetting the oil company goals?

Oh, for the good old days when the customer had power.

Patricia Turk, Boardman

Misplaced priorities in Poland

I’m sure it was heartening for all Poland residents to see the seriousness with which their school board is determined to balance the district’s budget — on the backs of students who participate in the athletic and music programs.

Board member James Lavorini’s statement that “Everybody is going to have to give. We’re in this together,” would have been ever so much more believable had he and his board colleagues first announced they were relinquishing all pay and benefits paid by taxpayers so that more funds would be available for educational purposes — of which sports and the arts are a significant part.

We wait to hear soon that because of their dedication to Poland’s children receiving a well rounded education, all administrative personnel will be donating 10 percent of their salaries to provide funds to offset costs for the families who can ill-afford to shoulder the burden of the schools’ less than stellar management.

Patricia R. Kelvin, Poland

Bertram’s column got it right

I would like to add to Ber- tram de Souza’s column in Sunday’s Vindicator, specifically in which he mentions that certain parties in the city are trying to close independent stores in the city. He is 100 percent right. In fact, they are systematically trying to close these stores.

The stores that are being targeted are all owned by immigrants. In his column, de Souza quotes Ian Beniston and James London saying that these stores, “Peddle the tools of destruction to a neighborhood.” Referring to alcohol. If they really believe this, then why didn’t they oppose all the liquor permits granted to the drug stores? In fact the Bottom Dollar food store in the Newport area sells beer. Also, why haven’t they targeted stores not owned by immigrants?

I believe these people have cost these store owners tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves. In some cases they have cost them their livelihoods.

Finally, what’s good for the goose ought to be good for the gander. Maybe some enterprising lawyer should sign up these store owners to file a civil rights discrimination lawsuit.

Edward Alleman, New Castle, Pa.

Neighborhood values are key to MVOC’s dispute with some stores

In last Sunday’s column by Bertram de Souza, “Attack on store owner was obscene,” de Souza asks, “What will happen to the inner city residents who depend on [neighborhood stores] for their daily needs if the stores close?” The questioner is misguided in his criticism of the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative; however, the question is valid as it underscores the lack of healthy food options in urban neighborhoods which is the driving force behind MVOC’s Healthy Neighborhood Store Initiative. It is the goal of the Initiative to work with residents, neighborhood groups and especially store owners to provide healthy food offerings, strengthen neighborhood bonds and create a culture of mutual accountability that helps stores become assets in the neighborhoods in which they do business.

It is not the goal of the MVOC’s Healthy Neighborhood Store Initiative to put stores out of business as Mr. de Souza suggests. While MVOC has worked with neighborhood groups to create dry precincts where crime and safety issues have been documented at store sites, the campaigns have occurred at the request of the community at large and only after much effort to bring the store into compliance with the values of its neighborhood. Unfortunately, not all store owners can be convinced to be good neighbors.

To this day the MVOC continues its work with neighborhood leaders and corner stores to ensure that relationships based on the community’s needs and a culture of mutual accountability continue to grow. As an example, the Wick Park Neighborhood Association, a flagship MVOC member, has been working with Al Adi, owner of the Downtown Circle, to open a new store near the YSU campus. This collaboration demonstrates how store owners, MVOC and neighbors can, and do, work together to serve a neighborhood’s needs. Additionally, the Healthy Neighborhood Store Initiative is currently engaged in discussions with the Greater Valley Grocers Association about store standards and accountability citywide and is working to bring in other partners such as the Youngstown Police Department.

Mr. de Souza unfortunately neglects all these facts and instead uses old information unrelated to the terrible incident at Jihad Niser’s store and old quotations taken out of context. His implications that MVOC is targeting these stores undermine the relationships that the MVOC, its leaders, and partners have worked hard to develop. His column does not reflect the mission or values of the MVOC or any of its campaigns.

Patricia Dougan, Esq., Youngstown

The writer is a member of the board of the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative.

Bishop moves to protect the faith

I am grateful for the lead- ership Bishop George Murry showed in his public disagreement with our local politician, state Rep. Bob Hagan.

For years, Catholic leadership has been reticent about proclaiming the error of public pronouncements from people claiming to be Catholic. His public stand on family planning has been well known, but he seems to have escaped any criticism from those who know better. He seems to have forgotten “lead us not into temptation.”

My grandmother used to say that sinners must repent not only for their sins, but also again for the scandal the sins may have caused. While Mr. Hagan’s relationship with God is not my business (I do pray for him), I think he needs to know that his public actions on my behalf are not acceptable and are harmful.

Now if only the bishop could extend his counsel to Tim Ryan and Nancy Pelosi and all those who vote with them on these critical issues. We need to know that our bishops are the custodians of our faith and pillars of constancy.

Revelation ended when Christ died. There is no reason to think that He has changed His mind about anything He told us. I am so grateful to the bishop for restoring my hope that this will be promulgated as it needs to be.

Joann Knuth, Hubbard