My sincere thanks to the 300 or so Mahoning Valley residents who attended the Vindy.com/WFMJ-Channel 21 community forum at the Chevrolet Centre in downtown Youngstown. For those of you who questioned why we would make former congressman and now federal prisoner James A. Traficant Jr. the topic of the debate, the answer my friends is evident by the turnout and the enthusiastic discussion.
Traficant may be serving an eight-year prison sentence, but the file on him isn't closed, as Maurice Hurley of Virginia, neighbor of Richard Detore, told the gathering. He and others have charged the United States Attorney's Office in Cleveland with prosecutorial misconduct and Hurley read a letter from the U.S. Justice Department that said the complaint has been forwarded to the division that deals with such matters.
Hurley and other Traficant supporters have also begun a campaign in Congress for a special hearing on the Traficant trial.
In addition, there is local effort to recognize Traficant's role in making the Chevrolet Centre a reality by having a plaque or some other form of honor established at the facility.
As the forum picket up steam it lasted for more than an hour and could have gone longer had the VIP Lounge not been needed for Saturday's night SteelHounds game there was this thought: Is there is any other elected official in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys who could have drawn such a crowd while serving time behind bars? The answer is an unequivocal "no."
Like him or hate him, Traficant is in a class his own when it comes the loyalty of his supporters.
Thus the question: Given all the allegations that have been made public since his conviction Juror No. 8 attended the forum and said he would have voted for acquittal had he known some of the things he has since learned about witnesses, etc. is a formal review of the trial justified?
Let's hear from you.
By the way, look for the a resurrection of the effort by some of Traficant's close friends to secure a presidential pardon or a commutation of his sentence. When a prominent Republican like Dr. William Binning, chairman of Youngstown State University's political science deparment and former chair of the Mahoning County Republican Party, says that an eight-year sentence is ridiculous and that the former congressman has been behind bars long enough, Republicans around the state and in Washington will pay attention.