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It was a tough week to lead or watch local government

Published: Sun, October 27, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

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 tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.


1lovethiscity(169 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Look...let's just hope this kid gets the obvious help he needs before something tragic happens. You're right, had the Judge not opened her mouth, it would have been A6. But the fact that she so stupidly did, perhaps is a good thing. It might finally get the parents to seek treatment for their son.

What continues to bother me the most is that the Judge's original statement was clearly crafted to protect her political life and not for her son's well being. Therein lies the reason this kid is still on the road.

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2Photoman(1248 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

This young Dellick man should, I suspect, get his psychological assistance very soon. Should he not do this, he may well meet up with someone who cares little about his being the son of a judge-someone who is likely to make him just another statistic.

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3questionreality(736 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

"Our legal community must not continue the bad path. Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains is set to get outside counsel on the case."

Please explain WHY?

" And Judge Scott Hunter recused himself Friday."

Please explain WHY?

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4Roger_Thornhill(1068 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

I understand that AG office had hands tied because of previous investigation with the Garrity Rule. Don't like it, but understand it.

The thing I find troubling is why did the investigation before the AG use the Garrity method? There are tons of officials who are investigated who do not get that break. It almost makes it feel like the fix is in.

Was not impressed with that first investigation before AG got involved. On the first page I think it was the report addresses about how they met at a McDonald's off Route 76 "in Mahoning County." Might be a little thing, but that McDonald's is MILES outside of Mahoning County. If they couldn't get that simple detail correct, well then little hope in the rest of the report.

Has Vindy asked Greene if the deputies involved have made up their lost wages through overtime?

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5peggygurney(408 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

He did explain why and why. Read it again.

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6questionreality(736 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

The locals should just do their job.

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7soccermomrules(3 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Nice admission, Mr. Franko. A mother makes a comment in support of her son (probably after being badgered by the press to do so) and the Vindicator acknowledges that it crucified her and her family for exercising her freedom of speech. You probably have worked too long for the Vindicator to remember that the FIRST AMENDMENT involves more than just the freedom of the press.

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8lovethiscity(169 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

So a "soccer mom" blatantly ignores her son's serious issues, and his history of road rage attacks, and indefensibly attempts to defend him, all for the sake of her political career, while causing an A6 story to be driven to the front page, and you want to blame the press for doing their job?

Wow. What planet do you live on?

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9ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Talk to skolnick, he has more, an investigation and accusations about the Austintown township trustee candidate that if he receives the sentence, he would not be allowed to hold the seat if elected. Why is the paper continually ignoring that?

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