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Contest for mayor certainly is odd

Published: Fri, October 4, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By David Skolnick (Contact)

On the side

Shutdown: U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, isn’t accepting his salary during the federal government shutdown and is sponsoring legislation to prohibit members of Congress from receiving pay during shutdowns.

But he’s going to get paid anyway as the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restricts Congress from freezing or cutting its own pay.

House members receive $174,000 annually.

Johnson said he will have his salary during the shutdown donated to charity.

“I’m frustrated with the dig-in-your-heels-at-any-cost-to-America crowd in Washington, and so are the people I represent,” he said.

U.S. Rep. David Joyce of Russell, R-14th, is donating his salary during the shutdown to two charities: the Cleveland Food Bank and a foundation that assists and treats military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’ve spent the past days meeting with Democrats and Republicans alike who agree that partisan fights are not worth a shutdown,” he said.

While the Youngstown mayoral Democratic primary wasn’t that compelling, the general election race is likely the most unusual I’ve covered.

As in the primary, Democrat John McNally IV’s indictment, dismissed two years ago, on political corruption charges has been an issue.

But it’s taken a back seat to other events.

DeMaine Kitchen — an independent and considered a leading candidate for mayor along with McNally — first had to address delinquent taxes he owed to the city, Mahoning County and the state as well as a foreclosure and other financial problems.

Then county Democratic Chairman David Betras removed three black members of the party’s executive committee, including two sitting Youngstown City Council members and a former one, because they support Kitchen.

That resulted in racist accusations by some Youngstown-area black leaders against Betras. Betras calls the claims offensive and wrong, and that the removal had to do with party disloyalty and not race.

Then allegations of sexual harassment by a city council employee against Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary and a former 2nd Ward councilman, came to light a few days ago — just before the start of early voting and five weeks before the Nov. 5 election.

Kitchen has strongly denied the claims of Lyndsey Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing, that he sexually harassed her on and off since January 2011.

Kitchen also questions the timing of the allegations, calling them “politically motivated” because Hughes supports McNally.

As for waiting until now to come forward, Emily Gilbert, one of Hughes’ three attorneys, said the harassment stopped for a while, then started and stopped, and then continued this past June.

The law department is hiring an investigator to review this case that could end up becoming a lawsuit.

Of concern is that Hughes went to Charles Sammarone, then city council president and now mayor, in January 2011 about the alleged sexual harassment.

Sammarone’s response, according to Hughes’ attorneys, was: “What do you expect? You are a pretty, young girl.”

Rather than conduct an investigation, Sammarone met with Hughes and Jamael Tito Brown, then the 3rd Ward councilman, to discuss the issue.

Kitchen came into the meeting after it started and in response to Hughes asking why he was there, Sammarone said, “Because this ... needs to stop,” according to her attorneys.

It did for a while, but resumed, then stopped and started again this past June, her attorneys contend. They also claim that Hughes’ five-day suspension in July was in “retaliation” for her complaints about Kitchen.

Kitchen said that isn’t true, and that’s been supported by members of council.

How this impacts the mayoral race remains to be seen, but it can’t possibly help Kitchen’s campaign.

Finally, there is John M. Crea, an independent mayoral candidate, who has been arrested twice since Aug. 30, refused to undergo a mental health evaluation, is in the county jail and appears to be in serious need of help that he apparently isn’t interested in receiving.

He’s already been convicted of aggravated menacing and disorderly conduct and is on probation, and now faces three counts of aggravated menacing.

This certainly isn’t just another Mahoning Valley political race.


1peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Sorry Kernal, but it is John himself who has snowballed his own campaign - as witnessed by more than a few attendees at the church he attended just this past week. The man needs mental health help, which is denies. You couldn't pay me to vote for him now.

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2peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Sorry, which *he* denies.

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3jailbirds93(16 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Let's lay out the plan:

1. Accuse Kitchen of sexual harassment
2. Make sure the investigation does not end before the election
3. No matter who wins on election day, Board of Fixed elections ensures McNally wins
4. The excuse for what seems to be low turnout in black wards is the harassment charges
5. Power brokers get their candidate in office
6. FBI continues to investigate with their eyes closed
7. Things are back to normal in Youngstown

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4Westsider(269 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I'm not voting for any of the mayoral candidates.

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5Silence_Dogood(1675 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

jailbird and Flick the conspiracy that you two speak of is a really well thought out one. One that has been several years in the making, long before Kitchen thought about running.The part that I don't understand is how did they get Sammarone to brush it under the table and ignore a City policy. Every one that works downtown knows that Sammarone screams at the top of his lungs at his City workers when they make a mistake. He can be heard for several blocks downtown, calling his Department heads fat , lazy, stupid, morons, retards, ect. ect. ect.. It really is no wonder he has not been sued yet. EVERY ONE in City Hall has heard this BULLY'S rantings. So how is it that Sammarone let Kitchen slide? And who gets to scream at Sammarone for not following city policies on sexual harassment cases now that his inaction has led us to this point.

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6Rooster(80 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Poor Crea isn't the worst of this bunch, and his wall scratching habit isn't near as bothersome or harmful as what the rest of that bunch has been up to. Paying off Kitchen's women, having folks not pay taxes, having that McNally scamp under the table with who knows what all investigatees, is all pretty costly compared to just having to fix up some clawed up drywall from time to time. Unless this newspaper tells us anything hopeful about this Claudette woman, Crea is the most harmless. I guess that's the best we can expect. Hope someone is taking care of the man's dog. Shouldn't have to lose his dog over all this mess. No telling what set off poor Crea, but he wasn't the only one de-railed over this election mess and it might be that scratching walls up was less acting out than some other folks who made the news lately

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