Dock the pay of director Daniel over closing of Mahoning libraries

Dock the pay of director Daniel over closing of Mahoning libraries

This is a request to the trust- ees of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County to deduct the $74,969.68 cost of Tuesday’s countywide library closing from the salary paid the system’s director, Heidi Daniel.

The calculation is based on the library’s $22,265,997 annual budget, divided by 297, the number of days per year the library is supposed to be open — the cost per day to run the library system. Costs to taxpayers driving to the library, then finding it closed, are not included.

Taxpayers are entitled to a fair return on their investment, but by arbitrarily closing the library system due to cold weather, we did not receive what we paid for. Instead, Daniel elected to deny service for no reasonable reason.

Police, fire and city hall workers throughout the county met their obligations, as did those who plow the roads, fix waterlines, power lines and phone lines. Youngstown State University, including its Maag Library staff, reported for work — just blocks from the main library of the county system. Columbiana and Trumbull county libraries remained open. Mail was delivered. WRTA buses ran. Area malls and shopping centers maintained hours. Even McDonald’s workers reported for work.

Daniel clearly fails to understand the library system’s stated mission: “The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is a dependable source of reliable information and of guidance in locating and evaluating the information people need to be successful in all aspects of their lives.” The key word being “dependable.”

Her primary mission is to keep the library open. She needs contingency plans in place to staff the libraries for all but the most major of weather emergencies.

Area school districts elected to close to protect the children. What possible reason is there to give taxpayer-paid library workers the day off? These people are adults, and one assumes, quite capable of determining if their safety in terms of the weather is an issue. They have the option of using vacation or personal time should they decide the cold was too harsh to bear.

The board searched long and hard before hiring Daniel. They need to go back to the drawing board. She is not working for the taxpayers or the library patrons she was hired to serve.

Except for orders issued by the governor, the library should observe its posted work schedule. To waste $74,969.68 in taxpayer money is unforgivable.

Karl E. Schwab, Canfield

Congress deserves shame, blame for cutting pensions of veterans

Before Congress moves on to new business for 2014, it should first fix one of its more shameful mistakes of last year: raiding veterans’ pensions in December’s budget deal.

Why are veterans being singled out? If Congress wants to address entitlements, it should do so for everyone. And if Congress really wants to cut spending, aren’t there better places to start?

Congress’s budget deal cuts $6 billion from veterans’ pensions, but we are spending more than twice that each year to build the new Joint Strike Fighter, despite the fact that well known problems with this fighter jet continue to inflate its cost beyond taxpayers’ worst nightmares.

We should not break promises to veterans by reneging on their pensions, particularly while obvious boondoggles continue to waste taxpayer dollars.

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dwight Johnson, Dayton

Union leader decries Vindicator ‘attack’ on child-support workers

Recently, The Vindicator launched an unwarranted attack on American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union workers at the Mahoning County Child Support Enforcement Agency. Apparently without checking the facts, you accused them of making “ridiculous demands” and “having their heads in the clouds.” You also suggested cutting their pay by 9.5 percent.

I expect this knee-jerk anti-public employee tirade from the tea party but not from an editorial board, which in recent years has shown itself to be thoughtful and fairly even-handed.

You declared, “The private sector in the Mahoning Valley should serve as a guide to government in matters of wages and benefits.” Frankly, we in AFSCME wish this would happen. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says private-sector wages in the Mahoning Valley increased 9.1 percent from 2009 to 2012 and (while reports are not yet complete) appeared to increase again in 2013. By contrast, these child-support workers have not received an across-the-board wage increase since 2007. Nor did they ask for one in this wage reopener.

Instead, they asked only for what the county commissioners have approved voluntarily for Child Support management and for seven other unions — including one in the Treasurer’s Office the same day they voted down this fact-finder’s report. That is, they offered to give back the 9.5 percent employee pension contribution they received years ago instead of several wage increases. In return, they asked the county to increase their wages by an amount that would allow them only to break even. This switch would have slightly increased costs for the county by an amount equal to 0.000431 of its General Fund, but that increase would not have gone to employees.

The fact-finder did not award what the union had requested. Instead, he recommended that the employees bear the cost of the switch for the first nine months of 2014 — thereby reducing their pay. To compensate them for this lost pay, he also recommended that they receive three one-time days off in 2014. While other county employees did not receive these days, they also did not pay the cost of the switch.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 51,000 fewer public employees in Ohio since the recession. Long after the private sector has begun to enjoy job and wage gains, the public sector is still seeing job loss, frozen wages and increased employee health care costs. So much for coming through the recession “unscathed.”

John J. Filak, Youngstown

The writer is regional director for AFSCME Ohio Council 8.

Shale jobs beat soup kitchens

Wow! Another new year has arrived and good grief, here they come again — the lost children of the fracking movement are at it again with their smoke and mirrors and hocus-pocus seeking to ask voters a third time to ban fracking in Youngstown.

Children of the movement, what part of “no” don’t you understand? The voters have turned you down twice now, and you still don’t get it. Have you lost all sense of direction or just common sense?

The shale industry has ignited an economic recovery that the area has never seen, yet you stand in front of TV cameras and newspaper reporters waving your signs telling the rest of the country that Youngstown is closed for business. How do you think that looks to the rest of the country? The voters have sent you a message that they would rather see 1,000 people working in the shale industry, making good money, than 1,000 people standing in line at soup kitchens and food pantries.

Jim Eidel, Beaver Township

Prohibiting pot is anti-Christian

Regarding your editorial of Jan. 6, “Legalize medical marijuana in Ohio? Let the debate begin,” a sane argument for caging sick humans for using the God-given plant cannabis (marijuana) doesn’t exist. Exactly what kind of people strive to cage sick citizens from using a natural plant?

Prohibiting sick people from using cannabis is vile, criminal, anti-Christian and uncompassionate.

Stan White, Dillon, Colo.