Cellar full of coal

As the keeper of Christmas’ “Naughty List” – a “Nice List” would be a waste of precious newsprint – this writer had the privilege of choosing the individuals who were deserving of lumps of coal in their stockings.

It will come as no surprise to readers of this column that the No. 1 spot on the list goes to President-elect Donald J. Trump, the billionaire businessman from New York City who first hijacked the Republican Party and then took the nation hostage on Nov. 8.

Trump will be sworn in Jan. 20 as the 45th president of the United States by virtue of winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, ended up with a whopping 2.8-plus million more votes than the GOP nominee.

But that isn’t the reason for Trump’s appearance on the “Naughty List.” He has been given a lump of coal this Christmas because he bamboozled a whole lot of Mahoning Valley voters into believing that he’s the champion of the blue- collar worker – especially the white-male kind.

Is it fair to judge Trump before he has even taken office? Of course it is, considering there hasn’t been a peep out of him about the 1,245 employees of General Motors’ assembly plant in Lordstown who will lose their jobs next month.

GM has announced that it is cutting the third shift because demand for the Chevrolet Cruze compact car built at the Lordstown plant has declined.

On Nov. 14 in this space, the argument was made that Trump owes a political debt to the workers of the Valley because of the support he received in this predominantly Democratic region.

Area vote count

The Republican nominee defeated Democrat Clinton by 6,010 votes – 49,024 to 43,014 – in Trumbull County, and almost scored an upset in Mahoning County. The result: Clinton, 57,381; Trump, 53,616.

Here’s what was said in the Nov. 14 column:

“And so on Jan. 23 when 1,245 autoworkers in the Valley say farewell to their decent-paying jobs with great benefits, the question that will be asked is this: What will President Trump do?”

Thus far, he has given no indication that the elimination of the jobs at the GM Lordstown plant is even on his radar.

That’s in sharp contrast to his very public and highly publicized intervention in the Indiana-based Carrier Corp. plant that planned to ship hundreds of jobs out of the U.S.

Trump has taken credit for the company agreeing to keep the jobs in America – with the help of financial incentives from the state of Indiana. Vice President-elect Mike Pence is Indiana’s governor.

However, the president-elect’s silence with regard to the 1,000-plus Valley autoworkers facing uncertain futures has earned him a huge lump of coal.

Another name on the “Naughty List” that Valley residents will recognize is Mike DeWine, the attorney general of the state of Ohio.

DeWine is deserving of public scorn because of his decision to end the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal enterprise investigation without going after the mastermind of the scheme, Valley businessman Anthony M. Cafaro Sr.

Cafaro led the conspiracy to derail Mahoning County government’s purchase of Oakhill Renaissance, the former South Side Medical Center. He failed in that endeavor, but not before luring county government officials into the criminal enterprise.

Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally, a county commissioner at the time of the Oakhill Renaissance scandal, and then-county Auditor Michael Sciortino faced a slew of criminal charges for their roles in the enterprise.

However, before they could stand trial, they entered into plea agreements with the attorney general’s office that enabled them to avoid prison time.

The deal was so sweet that McNally has announced he will seek re-election next year for a second four-year term as mayor.

If there ever were two individuals deserving of lumps of coal it would be McNally and Sciortino.

Indeed, considering all the press coverage the Oakhill Renaissance Place scandal received, it is only fitting for the mastermind of the criminal enterprise, Cafaro, to get the recognition he deserves: a boulder of coal.

Also deserving of a spot on the “Naughty List” is the former mayor of Niles, Ralph Infante. He has been indicted on 54 criminal counts stemming from his tenure in office and his ownership of a social club that facilitated illegal gambling.

Infante’s flirting with the law is a reminder that the more things change in the Mahoning Valley, the more they stay the same.

The former mayor of Niles, who was a political force to contend with in the city, in particular, and Trumbull County, in general, has earned the lump of coal specifically because he is accused of running an illegal gambling operation. He has honored the memory of so many of our outstanding citizens who made illegal gambling our favorite pastime.

Although the indictments of Infante, his wife, Judy, and a Niles city employee provide details of the charges against them, the individuals who participated in the former mayor’s alleged criminality or were part of his gambling operation are not identified.

Once again, law-abiding citizens of the Valley are left to marvel at Attorney General DeWine’s lopsided view of public corruption. He doesn’t seem to think there’s any value in going after the individuals who corrupt government officials. His goal is simply to get elected officials and other public employees who have been corrupted out of government.

Of course, DeWine’s fakery was exposed when he allowed Youngstown Mayor McNally to not only remain in office, but to run for re-election next year.

On second thought, Ohio’s attorney general is deserving of two lumps of coal.

Finally, members of the Youngstown Board of Education have all earned a heavy sprinkling of coal dust for being nattering nabobs of negativism with regard to the academic recovery plan developed by the school district’s Chief Executive Officer Krish Mohip.

Board members don’t like the idea of being marginalized by a state law that is designed to prevent the Youngstown system and others like it from total academic collapse.

There’s lots more coal in the cellar for those who weren’t included in the “Naughty List.” You know who you are.

Merry Christmas.

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