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Criticism or fair comment?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published October 5, 2007

Following is the letter ex-Youngstown Municipal Court Judge Patrick V. Kerrigan submitted in withdrawing his name from consideration for the position of executive director of Lien Forward Ohio, a program designed to return abandoned real estate in Mahoning County to productive use:

Kerrigan to Lien Forward Ohio

While the reason for Kerrigan's decision is not to be challenged, what is revealing about the letter is his reference to "my critics."

Are the Mahoning County residents who have taken exception to this convicted felon being given another public job "critics," or are they individuals who believe that the violation of public trust is inexcusable?

Is pointing out Kerrigan's criminal record he pleaded guilty to three charges of extortion, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison but served 13 months through a plea bargain criticism or is it fair comment?

And does urging the board of directors of Lien Forward Ohio, a partnership between Mahoning County and Youngstown governments, not to appoint him executive director make one a critic?

The answers to those and other such questions are clear: Patrick V. Kerrigan had the brass ring (a public sector job with its lucrative salary and benefits) in his grasp and he let it slip away.

He has only himself to blame.

By withdrawing his name from consideration, he gave the board of directors, which includes county Treasurer John Reardon and Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, a way out. What would the board have done had Kerrigan not pulled out?


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