Dem chairman works to build diversity in party leadership

Dem chairman works to build diversity in party leadership

Last Sunday, The Vindicator published a letter to the editor that contained so many scurrilous accusations and downright lies — why mince words, the author of the letter certainly didn’t — that I find myself forced to reply. Not because I was upset by what he said about me, my skin’s far too thick at this point in my political career to be offended by the insults that are hurled my way on a regular basis. I respond because he chose to make ludicrous accusations about the Mahoning County Democratic Party and citizens of Youngstown.

So let’s set the record straight. The writer implies that I and the Democratic Party are racially insensitive and that I have done nothing to build a diverse coalition within the MCDP. That charge is patently and demonstrably false.

When I became chair, I immediately expanded the executive committee to include most Democratic elected officials in Mahoning County. That one act instantly made the party’s leadership substantially more diverse than it has ever been. In addition, two of the MCDP’s top officers, Sylvester Patton and Jaladah Aslam, are African-American. I am proud of the fact that the voices of women as well as those of members of the African-American, Hispanic, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) communities are heard and heeded whenever the leadership of the party meets.

I would have been shirking my duty had I ignored the fact that party officials openly and aggressively opposed the MCDP’s endorsed candidate for mayor. As I said at the time, those individuals are certainly free to support whomever they want whenever they want, but they should have had the courage of their convictions and stepped down from their leadership positions. When they chose not to do so, I removed them.

Yes, racial tensions exist here as they do in many communities, and the voting patterns in the recent election underscore the point that a divide exists that must be healed. But in castigating people who live “west of Glenwood Avenue” (a thinly veiled euphemism for white voters) for voting overwhelmingly for Mayor-elect John McNally while ignoring the fact that voters who live east of Glenwood cast the vast majority of their ballots for DeMaine Kitchen, the author reveals his own bias and intellectual dishonesty.

As we move forward, the party and I as chairman, will continue to strive to bridge the gap that exists in the city. The best way to do that is for all of us to work together to improve our schools, attract new businesses and jobs, and make and keep our neighborhoods safe. The Democratic Party will continue to support candidates who are committed to achieving those goals regardless of their race because that is the key to building a brighter future for our city.

David Betras, Canfield

Betras is chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party.

It’s time to rethink pay levels for Dunn, other YSU bigwigs

After reading The Vindicator SFlb article “Budget cuts cast doubts on future of arts program,” the only doubts should be on how the YSU budget is being handled in the first place.

Where does the buck start, and where does it end? When you consider the president of YSU brings in a whopping salary of $375,000 and the former president received an even heftier sum of $400,000 annually, you don’t have to be smarter than a fifth-grader to perhaps rethink the pay that some staff members are receiving.

The article describes how Youngstown State University’s Students Motivated by the Arts program celebrated its 15th anniversary this year but is now facing financial difficulties and an uncertain future, which have resulted in the budget cuts.

To cut expenses, some staff members have been laid off, and for good reason, when you consider the $71,249 salary of the SMARTS programs director who, incidentally, is one of those laid off. Other cuts are being considered that will not negatively affect the free arts education programming to Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana county students.

President Randy Dunn said his core mission is trimming a $6.5 million deficit. Maybe he could look to reducing some of the outrageous salaries of university presidents along with the perks, such as car allowances, his professional fees paid, and what about that $4.5 million it cost to renovate the former Wick-Pollock Inn, which has now become the “grace and favor” home to the new president and his wife? YSU also picked up the tab for relocating him from Kentucky to Youngstown, not to mention entertainment expenses, ad nauseam.

Meanwhile YSU is losing enrollment, and students are struggling to meet their ever-increasing tuition fees. (Do the math. If your university is struggling and losing enrollment, paying nearly half a million to bring in a new president doesn’t seem like the wisest course to inspire confidence. )If you want to increase enrollment score some enticements, like a downtown with stores to shop in, movie theatres, instead of new bars. Oh, and tear down some of the eyesores paying YSU students still have to look at as they walk to class.

Sharon Mercado, Campbell

Don’t brainwash kids against guns

What in the name of com- mon sense is happening to this country? When a child at the tender age of 6 brings a miniature gun the size of a quarter to school, and another child cuts the image of a hand gun from paper, what kind of hysterical behavior on the part of the schools are we dealing with when these kids are expelled from their classes as though they had committed a grievous offense?

Going back to my school days, had a teacher stood in front of the class and attempted to disavow the use of guns, he would have been greeted with loud boos.

This policy of zero tolerance involving firearms that is taking place in many of our grade schools is the handiwork of the far left and other groups that I cannot put my finger on.

It appears there is an ongoing attempt to erase an entire culture from our society — a culture that has played a major role in the creation and sustaining of this country.

What better place to begin then than with those young minds who are too young to evaluate and decide for themselves. Our kids are being brainwashed by many of our schools and teachers whose apparent goal is to abolish our current system of values and government and replace it with a government that will be in control of all aspects of our lives. Are we people who have known the sweet taste of personal freedom for so long willing to give it all up for the fake promises of a non-existing utopia?

We had better wake up and become aware of what is going on around us because this is just another step towards a socialist government and to quote our president, “the fundamental transformation” of our current system of government.”

Leon White, Columbiana

Republicans aren’t all evil; it’s time to let the facts be known

A recent writer put all the blame for the fiasco presently unfolding on those evil Republicans.

In the interest of truth, I write to set the record straight.

In response to the claim that former President Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction, I contend he believed mistaken information from several sources as did most other folks in the government including the “Goddess Hillary.” A mistake is not a lie.

As to an “illegal war,” I would say if any Democrats believed that was true they would have started impeachment proceedings against Bush. It was a good rally cry at election time but nothing more.

I do give President Obama credit for convincing a large portion of folks that the lies he told were for the good of the people and the country. Many believe this makes it all OK. I say lying is never OK. Honesty is the best policy and never expires.

Robert Husted, New Springfield