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« Stirfry

Storm clouds over airport?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published November 15, 2005

Why would Don L. Hanni Jr., former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party and the 80-something dean of the region's criminal bar, agree to serve on the Western Reserve Port Authority, which operates the Youngstown-Warren Municipal Airport?

Hanni says it's because he has some ideas on how to make the airport in Vienna Township profitable and he's looking for a new challenge now that he has lightened his case load. That may well be, but anyone who knows the "Bull Moose" can't help but wonder if there is an ulterior motive.

Consider a comment from Clarence Smith, chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party and long a critic of Hanni's, on the night of the general election. Smith, who serves on the Western Reserve Port Authority, was asked about the new member.

"I have two years to irritate him," Smith quipped.

Remember it was Hanni's son, Mark, who four years ago as a Democrat got involved in the Republican Party chairman's race by attempting to get precinct committeemen and women elected who would vote against Smith. Mark Hanni's coup attempt failed miserably.

It's clear Smith has not forgiven the Hanni clan.

The prospect of two old powerbrokers locking horns certainly tingles the senses. The meetings of the port authority will never be the same.


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