It was a tough week to lead or watch local government

When a mayor announces that “cellphones and computers are the lazy man’s way of communicating,” and that is not the craziest government official news story of the week, rest assured, you had a crazy week of news.

Consider that:

Judge Theresa Dellick declared her son wrongfully charged in a road rage incident before complete facts were even presented.

County Auditor Mike Sciortino, in announcing final charges for his DUI fail, said he is done talking about an incident he has not addressed at all publicly in the first place.

Mrs. Hagan wants to assume Mr. Hagan’s state representative seat.

And mayoral candidate DeMaine Kitchen outlined a theory of a strong outsider/Cleveland influence on the election that is nine days out.

The week’s events probably pale to our other eras of government oddities, but it all still made for a complex week.

Judge Dellick’s situation is most troubling for several reasons.

First and foremost — it’s a family situation that’s become a public spectacle for two reasons:

One, her son’s actions show a pattern of concern for just about any automobile owner in the Valley.

Secondly, she had an uncharacteristic misstep in how she handled it publicly.

We’ve grown to appreciate Judge Dellick as a tough leader. We’ve not always seen eye-to-eye, but she’s shown a willingness to work with us as we pursue juvenile-crime coverage. But we’ve never mistaken that she is a boss who wants to be reckoned with.

That was clearly the person who jumped out to the front of her son’s arrest this week for a road-rage incident.

But in being the powerful judge and not simply the powerful mom, she took a page A6 story and made it front page by offering essentially a legal judgment about the case, regardless of the presiding judge, the prosecutor or even the victim.

And that was the best of her week.

It only got worse.

She made her “wrongful charge” statement knowing there were many more incidents in the last couple of years. His driving incidents rolled out this week as rapidly as did Tiger Woods’ mistresses.

She positioned herself at best as a judge acting out of line, and at worst, the Hollywood cliche suburban mom whose son “could never do something like this.”

Clearly the kid has some issues — or he has the worst luck in the free world to have coincidentally happened upon some of the most asinine road-ragers in 16 months.

Our legal community must not continue the bad path. Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains is set to get outside counsel on the case. And Judge Scott Hunter recused himself Friday.

It’s the best path for everyone — including young Dellick. If he deserves diversion treatment in the form of counseling, such a decision from locals will get ridiculed. Yet if he gets a tough sentence due to his repetitive behavior, the argument would be that locals had to be tough on him due to the spectacle.

Complete outside eyes will not be immune from some arm-chair prosecution, but it’s the best our system allows.

Sciortino’s issues are clearly not the best our system allows.

It was poor leadership from the beginning, and even still when the results of the state attorney general’s probe were announced Thursday — by Sciortino.

Mike’s been silent, absent and unavailable since Day 1 on this incident. A graceful exit from this debacle would have been to remain silent as the state’s redefined wrist-slap was meted out Thursday.

Instead, he, all of a sudden, had a voice, then further emasculated himself by announcing he’s done talking about it.

When did he talk about it in the first place?

Reporter Dave Skolnick’s questions at a press conference a couple of weeks ago were ignored in the first press event Sciortino had since the arrest.

Real leaders who embarrass themselves — thinking quickly about Spitzer, Weiner, Sanford, etc. — at least step to the mic for 5 minutes of “I was wrong.”

As an aside, I’m not completely opposed to the thinking that a.) Mrs. Hagan would do OK in leadership, and b.) Others have an interest in the Youngstown mayoral situation beyond city residents. It’s somewhat a normal occurrence, especially when you consider the many outside investors in Youngstown’s growth.

I count myself as one believing that the city stirs the county in so many ways, that it’s not just a city resident election.

What will this week bring?

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at He blogs, too, on Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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