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A tale of two party chairmen

Published: Sun, February 9, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Shame on the chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party, Mark Munroe, for not fielding a candidate in this year’s county probate judge race, and for not coming up with a candidate with countywide political credentials for the office of auditor.

The sentence above was written at 6:05 p.m. Thursday — 26 hours after the deadline for filing candidacy petitions for this year’s election, and about 24 hours before it became public that Probate Judge Mark Belinky is the target of a state investigation.

One of the main responsibilities of a party chairman is to offer a full slate of candidates. In that regard, Munroe has failed miserably, He should consider resigning.

Why? Because Belinky could well be indicted this year, which means it’s a whole new political ballgame. He does have two primary challengers, Atty. Susan Maruca, who lost to him six years ago, and Atty. Christopher Sammarone, son of former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone.

By failing to field a challenger, the GOP chairman has guaranteed that a Democrat will continue to hold the seat until the end of 2020.

That’s unconscionable.

Auditor’s race

As for the county auditor’s race, incumbent Michael Sciortino, a Democrat, has such a huge black cloud hanging over his head that he has little political credibility left.

And yet, the only challenger to the former chairman of the county Board of Elections — he was appointed to the position of auditor in 2005 with no qualifications for the job — is Republican Bill Reese, who served as Canfield Township trustee for eight years.

Again, the GOP chairman is guilty of incompetence — at best. Not to take anything away from Reese, but could the party not have found a Republican who is tried and tested countywide?

A recent incident involving the auditor is a doozie. He was stopped by sheriff’s deputies on U.S. Route 224 on suspicion of drunken driving, but in the midst of his arrest, a high-ranking guardian angel from the department arrived on the scene, stopped the investigation and drove Sciortino home.

Talk about a political gift for the Republicans that could have kept on giving.

Contrast Chairman Munroe’s incompetence with the steely determination of his Democratic counterpart, David Betras, who has remained steadfast in the face of intense pressure.

In this year’s election, Betras has already earned high points for refusing to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with Atty. Mark Hanni, son of the late, long-time Democratic Party chairman, Don L. Hanni Jr., and Atty. David Engler, one-time Mahoning Democrats For Change adherent and now a Hanni disciple.

Engler has filed nominating petitions in the race for the vacant seat on the 7th District Court of Appeals. Judge Joseph J. Vukovich III is not seeking re-election. Also pursuing the Democratic nomination in the May 6 primary is Atty. Anthony Donofrio, Youngstown’s deputy law director and the brother of appeals court Judge Gene Donofrio.

Hanni has filed petitions to challenge appellate Judge Cheryl Waite.

Prior to Wednesday’s filing deadline, Hanni and Engler, who practice law in the same building in Boardman, met with Betras to discuss their political aspirations and their possible roles in the party’s hierarchy.

Betras made it clear from the outset that he wasn’t looking for political partners, and there would be no bartering.

The chairman’s refusal to kowtow may stem from the fact that neither Engler nor Hanni is operating from a position of strength.


Each one has obstacles to overcome. For Engler, a former county commissioner, it’s his admitted professional misbehavior, which resulted in a public reprimand from the Ohio Supreme Court.

“We generally impose a public reprimand when a sexual relationship develops during an attorney-client relationship if the affair is legal and consensual and has not compromised client interests,” the unanimous decision read.

“Therefore, we find the recommended sanction appropriate. [Engler] is therefore publicly reprimanded.”

He did not challenge the reprimand and considers the matter closed.

For Hanni, it’s the fact that he made a bid for the 7th District Court of Appeals in 2012 and lost — to a Republican, Judge Mary DeGenaro.

The first test of their political standing will come at the party’s endorsement meeting.


1kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

That's funny. Munroe's failure to field a Republican Candidate (for Probate Judge) is like "failing" to throw a Snowball into Hell and- expecting it not to melt! Why bother. I've lived in Y-town for many years and I know that Republican Candidates don't stand a chance around here. If a highly qualified dog-catcher ran as a Republican the people would still vote him down- and bring in a Democrat confined to a hospital bed- Hell, he can't chase down dogs, but at least he's one of us!

"Munroe should consider resigning". Give me a break! What else is he supposed to do? He's like the "Maytag Repairman"- he has no function- except to sit around and wait for the Youngstown Electorate to, finally, realize they're being screwed by the Democrats. Until that time, the Republican Party, in Y-town, is no more than a joke- and good fodder for another one of your Sunday Columns.

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2kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

Bertram, why don't you get down to the "nitty-gritty" and talk about what's really ailing the Mahoning Valley? We all know it- it's the Elephant in the Living Room- the problem with this area is that a large proportion of the people (at least ones who buy the Vindicator- crucial to remember) have been brainwashed into a One-party (totalitarian) state of mind- they vote Democrat- because that's what they've been taught all their lives. For them, a Republican is- well, somebody with horns and a devil tail.

Until that perception changes, exhorting the Chairman of the Mahoning Valley Republicans to "greater efforts" is nothing more than an "exercise in futility".

When the people of the Mahoning Valley get tired of being "crapped on" by the Democrats they will, of their own accord, turn to the other party. Can't come too soon, I say.

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

In 2000 the local GOP put up a full slate of candidates. Clarence Smith, Mark Munroe, Tom McCabe, and their minions didn't like that. The majority of these candidates rallied around defeating the sales tax until Peat-Marwick was implemented in full. After this, the aforementioned went out of their way to de-ball their own party in order to maintain their own lofty places at the trough EXCEPT when it came to county Judge races, state and federal races (where the real money to steal trickles down from national campaigns for voter drives, yard signs, etc.).

I still swear that Betras and De Souza meet once a week to go over material.
Why isn't Betras smacked upside the head for failing to run competent democrats against incumbent republican judges? No one has run against Queen Theresa, "Scotty", Judge Sweeney, and the part-time duo of Hunter and Houser. Gosh, I forgot for a second that Betras was a lawyer :'). What lawyer who practices law in front of the aforementioned republican judges is going to field candidates against them?

Mr. De Souza you should have written a column on how pathetic the local GOP is when they anointed Tracy Winbush as the second in command at the local Board of fixed Elections. Anyone who listens to her racist radio show on her 'one-lung' station would ask "Is the best they can do?"

Mr. Munroe will never resign. Where else can he make $15,000.00 + bennies for part-time work and play lickspittle to David Betras and Joyce Kale-Pasta?

The larger story should have been this: In 2000, if someone would have told me that Mark Hanni and David Engler would share a law practice, be political allies and both have a decent shot at being elected to the appeals court in 2014 I would have had Mark Belinky file papers in probate court to question your sanity.

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4PrimaryVoter(2 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

The ineptness of this column is beyond belief, a 10 year old has this understanding of politics in Mahoning County, why don’t you have more Mr. DeSouza? Munroe made his deal long ago with Wasko and Morley, and it continues with Betras, and they ALL want it that way.

I will call it the “lazy syndrome” and it affects not only our politics, it affects every part of life here in the valley including the Vindicator. Most of the government workers and elected officials don’t want to work, just collect a paycheck and most important for the government workers is PERS, but work, no.

I will give Betras credit, he does work, but the problem is he works at continuing the traditional corruptness that has plagued Mahoning County for decades. My understanding is that Betras is under investigation like Belinky it’s just not public yet. Haven’t we had enough wheeling and dealing? How about some new jobs!

For me the real crime is that this is happening right under the noses of you Mr. DeSouza and Mr. Skolnick. Betras should not be the source for your political stories and certainly his facts should be vetted, he is the world’s biggest liar and everyone knows that.

Some weeks ago someone posted on here that they should rename the Board of Elections the Board of Fixed Elections and I would have to agree. Until everyone is satisfied that their house is in order, all elections need to be questioned. All four board members need to resign and the two directors need to be let go. The Sheriff should monitor the board during elections to give the public confidence that the people they voted for are the winners, not the candidates that the board members know would play along with their games.

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5Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

"A tale of two party chairmen"
You must be using the definition " an intentionally untrue report" for the meaning of tale. With that said, this reads as if you are blaming the lady for the clothes that she was wearing for the reason that she was raped. Collectively we are all being raped, but the Democrat party is the one holding us down and giving it to us against our will. David Betras has the mindset that as long as the party members wear a condom he is willing to look the other way. Just relax stay calm and it will all be over before you know it. The translation of that is indicated by his silence on the stellar field of candidates his party is putting forth.
The two faced Vindy has only to look at its endorsement's over the last twenty plus years, count up the number or Republican's that have been endorsed by this paper (hint,it will only take one hand) and compare that number to the thousand plus endorsement's it has declared over the same period.
You reap what you sow.

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6Roger_Thornhill(1063 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

GDOG are you on the pipe?

Bertram isn't a Republican. The Vindy has endorsed Obama twice and Strickland twice. And most of the candidates it endorses are Dems. And most of the editorials are very left leaning.

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7RustOnMyBelt(172 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

"It was the best of times,it was the worst of times".The best because there are so many positive things to be printed that can lift this city and its people up.The worst because de Souza can only focus on some narrow dark alley in all of his rants which helps no one but himself and his bank account."de" as in desperate for subject matter.

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8tnmartin(518 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

having watched this silly game for more than 40 years now, it's been pretty clear what goes on with the Vindy. They figure out who is likely to win, and then endorse that candidate. Since it's long been obvious that a large chunk of the voters would support Beelzebub himself, horns, pitchfork, pointed tail, smell of sulfur and all, so long as he was an endorsed Democrat, it's generally not all that hard a call.
Does anyone really need any examples of that habit in the electorate here? Perhaps we could give out, as door prizes, stock in Airship Enterprises. Or collections of old Esther Hamilton columns.

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9kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

I'd like to see the Tribune Chronicle become a truly regional paper and compete with the Vindicator- competition is good for the consumer as anyone- all of us- who purchase groceries surely understands.

Number one reason the Trib doesn't do well beyond their Trumbull County base, in my view, is their Obituary Coverage- they don't list deaths in our area- Youngstown, southern Mahoning County, etc- and death notices are one of the primary reasons people, especially seniors, take a daily paper.

Also, their printing plant and distribution center is much smaller than the Vindicator's and that may be a factor, as well. I'd be happy if we had two papers in Youngstown competing against each other- everyone would benefit.

One thing about the Trib I prefer to the Vindy is their "open door policy" for visitors. You can actually walk into that building and have access to the News Room and talk to the reporters- I've done it several times. They're very open and friendly. By comparison, try getting into the Vindy Newsroom- it can't be done- the place is more secure than the Pentagon. There's one entrance, guarded, and you can't get past without an ID. There's absolutely no way to get into that building (the new building) with out a pass or authorization from someone inside. That's always bothered me about them- the physical remoteness from the community they serve- the building doesn't even have windows- which tells you something.

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10andersonathan(683 comments)posted 2 years, 4 months ago

On a average 60% Democrat voting in Mahoning County. Yes you do get a occasional "R" in a position in the county but seriously folks. Any one who wants a "R" presence or viable candidates in the county is living a pipe dream. MC is a infected infestation of a parasite. Who has attached itself to a host and will not let go. Detroit, Chicago to name a few and take a good look of what happens to a "D" controlled area, evidently it does not work.

You want new business to come in you want capitalism you want industry to come in. But you toss unions at them, water rights tax here tax there all because red tape might create a few more dollars. Another artical mention Jay Williams in the position to help with federal $$$$. Seriously schools, housing, crime? You paved this area blue and live for a hope from your elected "D's" and complain. Teach people to think tell them you can vote for a "R"

I am not a R or a D, I am awake! If you voted out all incumbents it is the closet thing you will ever have to a revolution. So let it begin loose them all in 2014

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