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A chance to kiss mayor’s claddagh

Published: Sun, January 19, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

The moment Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally announced that he was launching a meet-and-greet with residents of the city, two images flashed by: James “Whitey” Bulger and Vito “Don” Corleone.

This is not to suggest that the mayor, who has been in office since Jan. 1, leads an organized-crime enterprise or is looking to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

It’s only that Whitey Bulger, the world-famous murderous head of the Irish Mafia in Boston, and Don Corleone, the central character in the world- famous “Godfather” movie, spent part of their days granting audiences to their supplicants, and doing favors.

In return, they earned gratitude and loyalty from those they listened to and helped.

Consider this scene from “The Godfather” when Don Corleone meets with Bonasera, the undertaker, during the wedding of his daughter Connie:

The Don: We have known each other many years, but this is the first time you’ve come to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship. And you feared to be in my debt.

Bonasera: I didn’t want to get into trouble.

Corleone: I understand. You found paradise in America. You had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you, and there were courts of law. So you didn’t need a friend like me. Now you come and say, “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me “Godfather.” You come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married and you ask me to do murder — for money.

Bonasera: I ask for justice

OK, enough of the preoccupation with the Mafia — Italian or Irish. (If only there were a way to shut off the theme song from “The Godfather.”)


Youngstown’s mayor, who formerly served as county commissioner and city law director, wants to connect with the people because, as he said recently, he needs their help in making the community the “jewel of Northeast Ohio.”

The first session of “Five Minutes with the Mayor” will take place Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. Residents will get to chat with McNally in his office on the first floor of Youngstown City Hall.

“Citizens can rant, rave or praise or have a quick cup of coffee with the mayor,” he said last week in announcing the initiative. “If you have an issue that will take 30 minutes, this event isn’t for you.”

So, what’s it about?

“It gives more people access to city hall and the mayor to talk about your concerns,” McNally said. “You can talk about a problem with a nearby property or if you’re upset with a department head or want to praise a city employee. It’s first-come, first-served. Whether it takes an hour or five hours, I’ll be there.”

The mayor is to be commended for his willingness to let the stakeholders in the city have their say. But, he must know that when residents complain about crime, deteriorating neighborhoods, the lack of jobs, the failing public school system or potholes as big as craters, it isn’t the first time they have complained.

This newspaper’s reporters and editors get calls daily from residents who are unhappy with the way things are.

Of particular concern these days are the roads. You’re lucky if the only thing that happens to your car is a bent tire rim. There have been reports (unconfirmed, of course) of cars being swallowed up by the craters and ending up in China. (See the cartoon on this page).

It would be helpful if the mayor made note of the complaints — and the compliments — from residents and then publicized them. That not only would give residents the opportunity to see what their neighbors are concerned about, but he could also keep track of how quickly city workers respond in addressing the problems.

More importantly, such a record would give McNally the chance to see how his orders are being carried out by his department heads.

Indeed, if long-standing problems in Youngstown are solved quickly, the mayor will find that residents will certainly want to kiss his claddagh. (If you don’t know what that is, find someone who’s Irish, and he or she will tell you.)


1Millerh113(216 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Why do you read his column? Do yourself a favor and stick to the funnies.

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2Letstryagain(218 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Bertram loves to right about the embarrassment various personalities have caused the Mahoning Valley.

None more so than himself.

My only conclusion is that if this is the best he can do for commentary, then life must be pretty good in the Valley.

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3TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Hey Kurt W-are we all wrong here or are we truly missing some type of journalistic brilliance? This guy is LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME

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4kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I've defended Bertram in the past when I've felt he was being picked on unfairly (for his haircut and clothes, say), but, on this one, his critics are dead on- It's a stupid (defamatory?) column that should never have been written. Bertie must be running short of material to dredge up something like this.

First of all, the comparison is invalid. The meetings are open to any city resident- whether they voted for him or not- so, how is that comparable to a Mob Boss meeting with his "supplicants"? It's ridiculous and defamatory. If I were McNally- I'd be livid that a lead columnist of the areas lead- "only"- daily would produce such drivel.

(Actually, on a personal note, I'm not a Y-town resident, but, if I were, I wouldn't mind attending one of those meetings with the Mayor- could be fun!- especially with free refreshments- only problem- choice of beverages- Coffee- 5:00 Pm is about the time I transition from Caffeine to Alcohol, so, if the Mayor would offer me a Beer or a Glass of Burgundy- I'd Come with Bells On!)

P.S. I said Bert's critics- first three comments of thread- were "dead-on": I have just one criticism of Comment One by Johnyoung: You say: "To compare this process to an organized crime meeting is just absurd! (agreed)", but, then you go on to say: "Wrong Mayor, Bertram, he's already left the building (or at least the office)."

Of course, that's a reference to ex-mayor- and now head of council- Charles Sammarone. I googled him and looked up his entire record- Chief of Council, Mayor, before that Teacher, Coach, Graduate of Westminster, etc., etc. I didn't see any references to Organized Crime, Indictments or anything of that kind.

Maybe, you have "inside information" or, could it be, that his Italian Heritage led you to make that statement?- In which case, you're guilty of the same sin as Bertram- Guilt by Association (similar to calling every German a Nazi, every Irishman a Drunk, every Jew Money Hungry, every Arab a Terrorist, Every Newspaper Columnist a Useless Hack, etc., etc. The list goes on...)

One Final Note: I listen to Rush Limbaugh all the time- he's not a Bigot- at least not toward ethnic minorities or Races- maybe, a little over the top at times- toward Liberals- but they have it coming!

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5kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

You know, I've always tried to be fair minded in all my comments and- considering again Desouza's Columns and, specifically, what a lousy, superficially written one this one is- did you ever stop to think that maybe the poor guy is being overworked- that he has too much on his plate- and so can't devote as much time to carefully crafting his columns as he did before?

I'm referring to the fact that DeSouza is now the Lead Editorial Writer- replacing Dennis Mangin, who retired a short while ago- in addition to his work as a Columnist- in other words- a Doubling (at least) of his work load for, I'm imagining (knowing how the Newspaper business operates: Publishers are notoriously stingy!)- No More Money.

So, if we see a decline in Desouzas Columns from their previously high standard- who should we blame? I'm thinking- if I'm right in this- the Vindy owners for gouging the Poor Guy and pressuring him to produce too much.

Of course, I may be wrong in this- it's just my theory- I'm just a long-time- Vindy paid Subscriber- 40 plus years- not a Newspaper Insider. (So, if I'm wrong- Mark and Mrs. J.- please forgive me. As I said, I've always bent over backwards to be scrupulously fair in all my comments).

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6MikiJ(6 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Sad to say: Bert you have gone over the edge. There should be no time or space for a bigot! Shame on you and I would be very surprised if you were able to keep your job.

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7Adifferentview(7 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I think the poster who believes this is about not having or taking time to write a column might be right. Notice how he spends at least half the page simply quoting a movie. But unfortunately I believe Bert believes that any attention, even if it is criticism, is that he has caused discussion. I don't believe he sees this as people actually asking the guy to do better and be more creative...he views it as job well done.

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8kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

No, I completely disagree with the previous comment. You don't fire a man for producing one hastily, poorly thought out- or badly written column.

Last night, I scrolled through all Desouza's past columns going back to 01- took a while, let me tell you- couldn't read them all- but, I read many and, let me tell you, there is a body of work that any journalist should be proud of. DeSouza is the only writer in this area that took on the Local Political Establishment- The Democrat Machine currently controlled by Chairman Dave and the Cafaro's- that has been the Ruination of this area. For that he is to be respected.

P.S. Sounds like the writer of that comment has, perhaps, an Axe to Grind- perhaps a friend, relative, political associate, or employee of the Good Mayors?

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9Silence_Dogood(1670 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Pog mo thoin would seem to be the one thing that Mayor McNally would be telling this so called Journalist to do.

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10Nom_De_Plume(60 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

I am just as guilty as others who read this moron's column only to then come on here and vent about his idiotic rantings. I realize how odd that is and continually ask myself, "Why do I do that?" The only sound reason is that it is a common forum where you find others who generally agree about the worthlessness of this writer and his columns. It's kind of like the "Howard Stern effect" - people who reported in polls that they hated his show drove up the numbers because they "wanted to hear what he would say next." I'll have to ponder this some more.

Most interestingly, though, is that Bert has never publicly come onto this forum to defend or explain himself. Sweetwood has, at times, chimed in but never Bert. I suspect he looks at it but, at least to me, it says a lot about his psyche and attitude towards readers and people who post on this board. And, it's not pretty. Dismissive, arrogant, narcissistic, and single-minded immediately come to mind.

I have to somewhat disagree with KurtW's statement about Bert being "the only writer in this area that took on the Local Political Establishment." I don't think he has done that. Carrying out your own agenda and picking and choosing which official he will lambaste is not taking on the political establishment. His toying with Betras is not taking on the establishment. You are not taking on the establishment when you turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing of other officials with whom you have developed a relationship. Hell, many years ago, I believe Bert wanted to be part of the establishment (in my humble opinion). Another poster pointed out that he seemed to benefit in his DUI cases from lax local attitudes and, if I am correct, he rubbed elbows, ate dinner with, and considered to be friends a certain family about whom he regularly complains.

As to McNally, Bert will continue to be an annoying gnat to him and continue to wish ill will on him and others. McNally seems to be in the enviable position where he does not have to worry about pleasing Bert or the paper. Good for him. If I were him, I would dismiss them at every turn and only speak with the other media outlets. This really has to stick in Bert's craw so, like the incessantly petulant child that he is, he will take his little digs when he can.


P.S. Stay out of the bottle, KurtW. Hasn't it already done enough harm to you and those around you? This is not an attack, just words of caution based upon how regularly you mention booze in your posts.

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11billdog1(5771 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Never been a fan of Bert. He just spends to much spinning a web to look at anything realistically.

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12TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Hey Nome de Plumartist!! Kurt W isn't the Kurt W you think he is.

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13Nom_De_Plume(60 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for that clarification. I was really scratching my head sometimes with comments that I felt were inconsistent with the Kurt W that I thought he was. So, to the dude on here, my apologies. Drink up.

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14TERRAPINST(320 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Probably should apologize to both of them. You are one of the most sound thinking posters on this Board --emotion gets to all of us..

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15kurtw(1758 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Probably, too late for this- just came across it 4 days after post- but Nom- did you ever stop to think my mentioning drinking in my posts is a "put on". Dean Martin used to joke about his heavy drinking on his show - often appearing with what looked like a "High Ball" when it was actually Tea.

I drink Red Wine every evening for my circulation and because I enjoy it and that's about the extent of it. It's kind of stupid for somebody to try to use that against me whenever they read something of mine they disagree with. Better to stick with facts than innuendo- but it takes brain power to do that.

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