Published June 7, 2009
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras would do well to channel the late party boss Don L. Hanni Jr. Betras' failure in court last week to block the statewide casino gambling initiative from going forward prompts this question: How would Hanni, as county party chairman, have handled the legal challenge to signature petitions that are being circulated?
Here's how: He would have made sure that the judge assigned to the case seeking a temporary restraining order did exactly what he wanted. That is how the leading criminal lawyer in the Mahoning Valley would have used the power of his political office. Hanni had a simple philosophy: Never pick a fight unless you know you're going to win.
Betras, on the other hand, was operating under the belief that his public pronouncements about the lies being told by some circulators of the petitions really mattered in the overall scheme of things.
But as common pleas Judge James Evans saw it, Betras' attempt to block the circulation of petitions was not justified. Judge Evans merely ordered the proponents of the casino gambling initiative to make sure the circulators do not lie.
And yet Betras tried to declare victory.
The party chairman should stop believing his own press releases and ask himself this question before he dives off the legal cliff: What would Hanni do?