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Mayor-elect McNally is the decider

Published: Sun, December 8, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Youngstown’s soon-to-be mayor, John A. McNally IV, has chosen not to have a committee (of outstanding community leaders) screen the applicants for top level jobs in city government, which prompts an important question: Can someone who has not served as a chief executive officer be trusted to make the right decisions about staffing?

The answer: It doesn’t really matter. McNally won the November general election and will be in office for the next four years — unless something drastic occurs that would cause him to resign.

Meanwhile, the former Mahoning County commissioner and city law director has the authority to appoint department heads and to fill other positions that are not covered by civil service.

About 75 people have submitted applications for Cabinet positions, many of them already serving in Mayor Charles Sammarone’s administration. Sammarone, who chose not to seek a full four-year term, was elected city council president last month. He had held that position until August 2011 when he replaced Mayor Jay Williams, who resigned to join the Obama White House.

With no incumbent in last year’s race for mayor, McNally, the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, barely won the May primary over council President Jamael Tito Brown.

Weak challenger

He had an easier time in the general election against DeMaine Kitchen, the former chief of staff to Sammarone who was accused of sexual harassment by a city employee and had an IRS claim against him for nonpayment of taxes.

McNally takes office in January and is expected to announce his appointments beginning this week.

It is not surprising that so many department heads want to keep their jobs. The public pension system is based on the age of the employee, the number of years of service and the average of the three highest annual salaries.

While it might seem that the city of Youngstown would certainly benefit from the experience of the top managers, McNally would be doing the taxpayers a disservice by not conducting an in-depth job-performance evaluation.

His decision not to have a screening committee assist him in selecting the best and the brightest — of those who have applied, of course — places the onus on him to conduct a thorough vetting of each applicant.

The mayor-elect should not assume that just because an individual has been on the public payroll for a length of time he or she deserves to be retained.

Indeed, of all the positions McNally should be closely evaluating, two require special attention: law director and finance director. They, along with the mayor, make up the board of control.

Under the charter form of government, the board negotiates and enters into all contracts.

The three city officials are responsible for spending millions of taxpayer dollars for goods and services.

City government is a $100 million-plus business, with the residents as the shareholders. Trust is the key.

Invisible hand?

Given that the mayor-elect is keeping his own counsel — there’s no indication of an invisible hand — with regard to his appointments, the public has a right to know the criteria, such as qualifications and experience, he’s using in filling the positions.

Youngstown residents also should be told whether McNally believes that those in the upper echelon of government should live in the city. Although the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that residency cannot be a condition of employment, those who work at the will of the mayor should be required to demonstrate their commitment to the city that’s providing them with decent salaries and benefits.

They need to remember that the median income of a family of four in Youngstown is $24,000. As for retirement, public employees’ pensions are much more lucrative than what the average private sector retiree earns.

In other words, working for the city of Youngstown is a gift that keeps on giving — compliments of the taxpayers. Historically, education and qualifications have taken a back seat to political connections and family ties.

But times, they must change — or else Youngstown could easily become another Detroit.


1johnyoung(241 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

Once again, the community can count on the Vindicator to state (and re-state and re-state and re-state) the obvious.

I am willing to give any new duly elected
office holder duly such as Mr. McNally the benefit of the doubt, and the opportunity to show that his administration will truly operate in the best interests of the public. If this turns out not to be the case, then the voters must be prepared to vote him out at the next election.

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2Photoman(1003 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

I, too, like kittens, puppies, blue skies and rainbows but these are elected (and appointed) persons who are responsible for the control of our hard earned tax dollars. We should be looking over the shoulder of every single one of them if we wish to maximize the effect of those dollars in our community.

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3Ianacek(909 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

What difference does it make where the officials live , so long as they are adding value for the City ? The old policy simply resulted in ineffective officials mostly living on the west side as the rest of the City crumbled .

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4Knightcap(698 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

For the new mayor - use commonsense and think of the taxpayers first (not too many left) who on average make 24K, before handing out raises and maintaining low healthcare contribution premiums. When new business looks to come into this area, welcome and do your best to offer any assistance you can to attract jobs. Don't use mafia tactics like paying for extra protection, under the table campaign contributions and JEDDS.

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5jwhitehawke(91 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

This is only the beginning of McNally's agenda. He, along with his ties with VIBRANT NEO 2040 will be catering to HUD, DOT and elite developers under the UN Agenda 21. As is happening in Colombiana now, making life around 'Open Land' more expensive is one of the next steps in NE Ohio to advance the agenda of "VIBRANT NEO 2040". Mahoning county voters just voted in one of the directors of this (Agenda 21) move to create one zoning board to limit and define use of open land. Mayor McNally has his 'pick list' of those under him to move this agenda forward WITHOUT input from his constitutants.
Like the previous mayor changing the rules to get his 'diverse' fire fighters hired instead of those who scored highest, McNally will be calling the shots without respect for community growth and outlying land owned by citizens.
I told Bertram BEFORE the election (on his little online talk show) VIBRANT NEO was moving against open lands in NEO, but he made a joke about its insignificance and hung up on me..... Those who still think it's a 'conspiracy theory', look it up. VIBRANT NEO 2040.

Form 990 ( 2011) Page 8
Cortinn A nfflrarc lirertnrc Trrictppc Kev Emnlovees_ and Highest Compensated Emnlovees !continued)
(A) (B) (C) (D ) (E) (F)
Name and title Average Position Reportable Reportable Estimated
hours per (do not check more than one compensation compensation from amount of
week box, unless person is both an from related other
(describe officer and a director/ trustee
the organizations compensation
hours for °a >a >9 o M = 3,5 -on organization ( W-2/1099-MISC) from the
related 5Q CD 3 s N 3„ (W-2 /1099 - MISC) organization

26) JOHN MCNALLY - DIRECTOR 2.00 X 0 0 0

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6kurtw(848 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

Of course our new Mayor is playing his cards "close to the vest" where his appointments are concerned. Why wouldn't he in his position- who is he accountable to?

The voters? That's a joke- if McNally nosedives the Betras/Cafaro Machine will simply churn out somebody else just like him or much worse.

Did you ever hear of Tammany Hall and "Boss Tweed"- the corrupt Democrat Machine that ran NYC in the late 1800's?

If you read about them, it's like visiting a prototype of the city of Youngstown and, Bertram, you mention Detroit- flat out broke; Well, Detroit 10-15 years ago is- Youngstown, Ohio now. Except it may not take us that long to go belly up- we're moving along at a pretty good clip

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7kurtw(848 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

It's getting late and I've pushed the air out of my 8 oz wine glass 3 or 4 times now, but I'm still- without any success- trying to understand Comment No: 5- What's it about?

Maybe if the writer would post again in normal English, it would help.

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8kurtw(848 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

About the residency requirement for City Workers- there's a certain amount of logic in that: it's ironic that city employment should be so lucrative and desirable, when a high percentage of the taxpayers who fund those salaries, are destitute.

Why shouldn't City Workers share the pain and actually live in the city they pilfer?

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9kurtw(848 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

Knightcap, Are you serious?

Your advice to the "new" (same as the old) Mayor: "use commonsense and think of the taxpayers first (what a joke!)... don't use Mafia tactics, etc., etc. ( cmon, that's all they ever do). How naive can you possibly be?

Asking a politician like McNally, a product of Machine Politics, to behave that way is like asking a Crocodile to refrain from pulling people under water and swallowing them- it's not in their nature.

McNally will do exactly what his Handlers tell him to do- he's already been bought and paid for by the Betras/Cafaro political machine. The Voters Don't Count.

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10Knightcap(698 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago


It's not so much being naive as I'm willing to give the man a chance before I throw him under the WRTA. He hasn't done anything illegal. I'm sure their are a lot of business people in this area who give campaign contributions to all politicians. It's the politician who when accepts that contribution has his other hand out for that brown bag I've heard about.
McNally can begin by to show some character by going to Penn National and say" I'm not that same as my predecessors. Welcome to the Valley and how can I help". Not some shakedown for the use of water. This whole area will benefit in some way from that racino not just Austintown. Also, I was not in favor of Oakhill. Building a new ground up would have been a better choice. And hey @kurtw, I do have a pitchfork just in case he f's up.

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11uptowngirl(111 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

I bet he has his screening committee--Dave, Anthony and JJ.

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12kurtw(848 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

I know what you're saying, Knightcap, I want to be fair minded too and say: "THIS ONE is different- give him a fair chance, etc. But, they never are different, are they? 15 or so years ago the Feds came in and, supposedly, cleaned out all the corruption in this area with the indictments and imprisonments of Traficant, Chance, Philomena, Kerrigan, Saadey, Strollo, etc.- too many to remember- but, today, we still have the same problems- with the corruption and incompetence of our public officials, as we're seeing now, with the Sciortino mess, and the disaster in City Hall with Demaine Kitchen and our wonderful Mayor.

The point is: all these people are cloned out by the same corrupt political machine and until we replace that machine with a good two party system- with Independents in the middle- NOTHING WILL CHANGE. You might as well ask a dog to walk on it's hind legs and recite the "Declaration of Independence".

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13TERRAPINST(302 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago

Again KURTW agreed. We have been absolutely destroyed by the Democratic Party and the voter's unwillingness to see the damage. What I don't understand is that this area is extremely conservative in most ways, hard-working, hate taxes, strongly pro-choice, ardently strong on defense issues, extremely hard on crime -if you read this board, not very liberal in most areas. However the dimwitted union mentality which has laid waste to manufacturing and therefore collapsed our local economy motivates many still. We deserve what we get because we expect different results despite continuing to support the same officials and their brand who are responsible for making us a joke nationally.

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14AndJusticeForAll(16 comments)posted 9 months, 1 week ago


And, that is part of the issue, this myopic focus on what you think unions did to this country. You need look no further than Democratic and Republican politicians, alike, who voted to ratify international trade agreement, and continue to do so, with countries that are not at parity with our economy. Thus, we get junk steel from China, junk parts from South Korea, and yet, you want to blame the unions for what happened here?! Go take your beer goggles off.

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