Perhaps it was his hobnobbing with bikers from around the country in Sturgis, or his desire to prove to his detractors that he isn't a dud as an officeholder, but Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains was spitting nails Monday when he talked about the Cafaro Co.'s effort to block the county's purchase of Oakhill Renaissance Place, the former Southside Medical Center.
"I'm going to fight this," Gains said, in very un-Gains-like fashion. Enthusiasm has not been the hallmark of his tenure as the county's chief lawyer. Indeed, there has been instances of his office blowing the big one. But not this time.
So, what's different? On Monday, in talking about the Cafaro Co., he made mention of his 2000 election. That's when he was challenged by Atty. Leonard D. Hall.
Hall worked for the Cafaro Co. and Gains, like most politicians, doesn't forget.
Of course, he insists that Hall's presence in the race isn't the overarching reason for his decision to go all the way with the Cafaro-Mahoning County battle. The prosecutor just thinks that the shopping center developer has no legal leg to stand on. The company is fighting the purchase because commissioners David Ludt and Anthony Traficanti have announced that they are moving the Job and Family Services and the Child Support Enforcement Agency out of the Cafaro-owned Garland Plaza and into the Oakhill Renaissance Place.
In a moment of rare political honesty, Gains showed that Hall's bid for the prosecutor's seat still rankles and that he believes members of the Cafaro family could have persuaded their employee to get out of the race.
Old political slights die hard in the Mahoning Valley.