Even supporters of Youngs- town Mayor John A. McNally – especially those who have been willing to ignore his criminal record – must have felt a deep sense of betrayal after reading about his latest stunt.
Fortunately, McNally will be leaving office at the end of the year, and his successor, Jamael Tito Brown, has made it clear he intends to launch his four-year term with a clean slate.
If Brown stays true to his word, he will reverse an irresponsible decision by the mayor to fatten the wallets of several city employees – just weeks before he is to depart.
As Vindicator Reporter David Skolnick reported in a front-page story last Sunday, McNally promoted four law department employees and gave three of them raises of more than 10 percent. He also gave the city’s code enforcement and blight remediation superintendent a 15 percent raise after adjusting her job description.
To add insult to the injury the action has caused to the psyche of the city, McNally is not only unapologetic but is downright defiant.
Here’s how he responded to Skolnick’s questions about his decision:
“I’m comfortable with the amounts of the raises. The next administration will have to make its decision. But our administration doesn’t end until Dec. 31. There will be other staffing decisions made by this administration. It’s a four-year term.”
In other words, the raid on city government’s treasury will continue until the end of the year.
The irony, however, is that while McNally is staying true to form and ignoring what’s in the best interest of the community, his finance director, David Bozanich, is warning of a $2.5 million to $3 million deficit next year in the general fund.
Given that most of the operating budget is dedicated to employee wages and benefits, layoffs are inevitable. There isn’t any conceivable way of generating enough revenue to make up the projected shortfall.
Bozanich, who has worked in the finance department for more than three decades and has been finance director for 15 years under several mayors, has discussed with city council what lies ahead.
Police and fire
If job cuts are necessary, Bozanich says the largest savings would be derived from eliminating positions in the police, fire, park, street and health departments and the courts.
That’s why McNally’s decision to give five employees pay raises and his threat of other such personnel moves must be reversed as soon as the new administration takes office.
The mayor’s irresponsible behavior in light of the city’s budget crisis vindicates Democratic voters who refused to support him in the May primary.
Despite his conviction on four misdemeanor charges stemming from his role in the Oakhill Renaissance Place criminal conspiracy, McNally was undaunted as he sought a second four-year term.
Brown made McNally’s guilty plea a major issue in the primary, and pledged to have an honest, transparent and open administration.
Brown, who defeated McNally in the primary, went on to win the Nov. 7 general election. He was challenged by three independent candidates.
The former member of city council and Youngstown Board of Education is putting together an advisory committee to assist him in filling key noncivil service positions.
Of singular importance to the new mayor will be the appointment of the finance director. A national search is essential given the budgetary chal- lenges confronting the city.
We would urge Brown to consider the advice of former city Finance Director Gary Kubic, one of the most respected public officials in the Mahoning Valley.
Kubic, who left Youngstown government to serve as Mahoning County administrator and then was hired as administrator of Beaufort County, S.C., said the new finance director should be a certified public accountant and an expert in government financing.
It’s also important for the new mayor to find someone with an unblemished record.
There’s a dark cloud of public corruption hanging over the city, and it isn’t only because of Mayor McNally’s criminal record.
Bozanich is the target of a state criminal investigation of several downtown development projects. An indictment is imminent.
Dominic Marchionda, the developer of the projects under review by the Ohio Auditor’s Office, has pleaded not guilty to 105 criminal counts.
Mayor-elect Brown will have to move quickly to drain the swamp of undesirables.