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'They’re not corrupt, they’re incompetent'

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published September 6, 2010

Untitled document

A long-time employee of the Mahoning County Board of Elections — a Republican, no less — reacting to this writer’s contention that the four members of the board should resign or be fired, offered his insight into why things have gone from bad to worse at the elections office: It has to do with incompetence, not corruption.

There are staff members who are just so dumb, they can’t get the job done, he said.  So, why are they on the public payroll when there are loads of college graduates who are leaving the area because they can’t find jobs? the deputy clerk was asked. Because they’re political appointees, replied the man who got his job through politics.

He is not being identified because his appraisal of what’s going on at the elections office was refreshingly candid — and could have repercussions.

But what about the basic premise of the board of elections system, which is that having an equal number of Democrats and Republicans means employees looking over each other’s shoulders and the four members of the board serving as watchdogs.

The blurring of the party lines, along too cozy a relationship among the four board members, Democrats Michael Morley and Robert Wasko and Republicans Clarence Smith and Mark Munroe, have meant that glaring mistakes by staff are swept under the rug.

Indeed, the board’s failure to enforce a three-day suspension without pay on Director Thomas McCabe, a Republican, and a five-day suspension without pay on deputy clerk Danielle O’Neill, a Democrat and sister-in-law of Probate Judge Mark Belinky, for the glaring mishandling of the sales tax issue last year shows a disregard for the public.

The recent flap over the independent candidacy petitions for the 17th District congressional seat filed by Congressman-turned-federal prisoner James A. Traficant Jr. once again spotlighted the dysfunctional operation of the board of elections.

As for the unnamed deputy clerk’s assertion that the folks at the board aren’t corrupt, they’re just incompetent, this jury of one is still out. There are lots of questions that need to be answered.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

"He is not being identified because his appraisal of what’s going on at the elections office was refreshingly candid — and could have repercussions."

How many GOP men work at MCBOE? Five or six? With this article, you have just made every one of them a suspect as being your source, and therefore made ALL of their lives miserable.

That's a pretty slimy thing to do. Or maybe your source has been disguised, and it was really a female Dem. Or maybe your source is retired (you didn't say the source is a current employee).

Very mean spirited thing to do on your part.

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2davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

this is a nasty article

they are all dumb because they are political appointees

or all political employees are dumb

how insulting

and who is McCabe related to

or Morley

or Wasko

or Smith

or Munroe

did judge belinky use his influence to get her this job

or to keep her job

what is desouza suggesting

that is a pretty cheap shot without saying why

and to keep the informant anonymous means you can write anything

true or false

about anyone or anything

like a blogger

dont we expect more from a journalist

to be a professional

rather then like a blogger

they all should be fired if they tried to keep traficant off the ballot

but this is very unfair

guilty by rumor without an investigation

maybe they are all dumb because they work for the vindicator

or maybe the vindicator is dumb because it employs these people

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3author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Notice how Bertie doesn't drag up the past ten years of corrupt and incompetent things that the MCBOFE has given us. I'll just list two. 1) The millions of taxpayers dollars spent on electronic voting machines that has never been explained. 2) Opening up absentee ballots behind locked doors on a Saturday before the primary in 2004.

PS The MCBOFE IS scared of Belinky, that is why his sister in law hasn't been suspended. I bet she finally told him plenty, when they were thinking of firing her last year.

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4burford(95 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

What is Bert's source did not tell him is that the BOE is loaded with people who don't work. Dave Ludts daughter. Casey Malone and Rick Durkin were on the payroll but seldom at work. Same for Sam Matheny. How about Kennedy's time at his bar as opposed to the BOE..

What is ironic is that Ms. O'Neil is the one of the few who actually works and who will help you. The others like Mr. Butler sit there when you come to the counter like you aren't even there. Same for Bill Binning's wife.

And I agree with author 50. There have been criminal acts covered up by the BOE. Mr. Gains ought to look into phantom employees getting paid by the auditor when they weren't there. Who certified the employment records like the time cards? Who represented these people were actually there?

Time for another grand jury..

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5HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

What's awesome is that every time Bert does a piece on the incompetence of local government, the local government employees get on here and bash Bert for his truthfulness. No wonder the citizens are tired of the political patronage, constant corruption, incompetence, and malfeasance.

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6theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

RE:"Heads must.."I think you can get a pretty good chinese guillotine on e-bay for a cheap buy-it-now. They're made of plastic but they seem to work okay, the guy has 100% positive feedback. Shipping might be kind of a deal, though.

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7saddad(646 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Wouldnt ya think that after a number of articles -something about how the Board of Elections members are appointed and how removal would be effected would be written? But that would require some real reporter work and we know that all Bert does is superficial and pursuant to an agenda that doesnt include any serious journalism. And yes its true--only those that work can be blamed for the mistakes-weve seen the poor old work horses at the board take the heat before.

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8mrblue(1144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

The board of elections is a den of political appointments and these people are not qualified. Not all, because there are actually a few that do work. The state needs to come in and investigate the entire department from top to bottom. Get rid of the dead heads and give the jobs to people who really need a job.

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9republicanRick(1506 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Bertram is right -- a lot of incompetent political appointees at Board of Elections -- just wait til Belinky unveils his choice as head of Mill Creek Park -- another political hack will be coming your way./

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10burford(95 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Rick Durkin known as Republican Rick was one of the incompetent appointees he rails about. And it is the Park board that appoints the park director not the judge.But like some of his ex co-workers saying stupid stuff is not unusual for an incompetent former employee of the BOE.

Maybe Bert is right.

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11theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

He should (Revernd) Wright a book. May I suggest a title: EYE THE JURY

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12Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

This isn't mean spirited,..

There are times when journalist discovery sources have to be protected in order to get the truth out.

Where if done in a slanderous manner it's despicable and at times culpably criminal. However, in this case I feel Bertram did a clean job of conveying known problems at that board of elections but his angle is off,.. WAY Off.

Where I'll go for there's incompetency there but it's playing on ones public populous stupidity. To try to obscure it's criminally corrupt when such improprieties are known internally and yet allowed to continue.

See the incompetency alibi goes for volunteer help in a given capacity. Or possible discovering an individual can't perform a given task they're assigned. But see when public funds pay is involved and the outcome of democratic process is at stakes,.. IT'S FLAT OUT CRIMINAL !!!

If nothing less it's deliberate theft and denial of service to the public. To knowingly not provide and ensure competency of all within the ranks of their assigned duties { for PAY },.. and I don't see how Bertram or anybody else can't understand that.

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13saddad(646 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Holy cripe--Beam these two up Scottie.

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14theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago


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15mrblue(1144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

We will never rid ourselves of corruption in the Mahoning Valley. Not until we, as voters, wipe the slate clean and demand accountability from all elected officials.

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16ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Why is Joyce Kale never mentioned Bert? All she is is a lap dog for betras to control even more corruption than the crooks he fights to keep out on our streets. She's hardly there and if she is there she is as useless as can be. The woman is just there to make sure good candidates dont stand a chance and the "party" system can keep us having to elect the same old crooks.

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17Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago


@ gdog4766 - You clearly know your local history of who, what, when and where and you didn't lie a single bit.

Irony is when having went into that office I've routinely saw Ms. O'Neill and not many others. In fact without bias she's actually been the only one I can recall helping me every time I went there.

@ mrblue - You're absolutely correct. In order for local residents to reclaim local governance from the current state of mass corruption.

Without bias every single member now serving their own self interest at the cost of taxpayers has to be removed.

There's no other way to do it and there's not a single department that's to receive immunity. Where after you get rid of the puppet handlers the workforce in departments will either show proficiency or prove to be expendable.

@ ipaidattention - Great question but come on now. How long haven't you been reading Bertam's fanhood for Betras?

If you note the comments of those on both sides of the differing isle of political perspective. You'll discover it's quiet unanimous that Bertram's views are regarded as an absolute serial comic strip the way he tries to do the Boogaloo for Betras,.. ROTFL !!!

Irony is a few months back an affiliate in Cleveland said it's apparent that everybody in Youngstown. Has caught on to having come to recognizing Bertram is merely hailed as Betras's version of Joe Bell for the Cafaro's.

Where in this episode ole Bertram now has everybody laughing. At his typographical attempt of party in print. Where he's trying to learn what appears to be a hilarious version of the Moon Walk,.. ROTFFLMAO !!!

In political speak if one is to have an operative that works in mass publication. If they want to be seen as legit or in anyway favorable.

The absolute last thing they want or need is to expose the viewership to a Bertram for Betras accord.

But hey,.. at least it's good for an all too predictable laugh and in satirical gist we can coin it something like Fozie and the Fiddler.

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18theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

To the Bat-poles, Bertram!

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19Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

While a lot of negative information is being spread around here, I think it is important to note a few things.

As far as elections go, the Mahoning County BOE (with all of its alleged imperfections) tends to be one of the best elections boards in the state. That is a point hard to argue when there are other boards, like in Cuyahoga County, where there is complete and utter chaos every single election. Things go smoothly in Mahoning County, results come in quickly and with good accuracy, and McCabe and company deserve a pat on the back for making things run that well during both the primaries and the general.

Second, an internal policy regarding the language of the sales tax is at issue. This is an internal policy, NOT A LAW folks. And frankly, maybe the individuals responsible for sending the language to the Board in the first place ought have done a better job proofreading it.

I have a feeling I know who this source is. In fact, I'd be willing to put money down on who it is. But that is another story.

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20davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

hope bertram reads these responses

there are lots of matters that should be looked into by paul gains

employees-there seems to be no doubt that people who go to the board rarely see employees working

maybe gains should ask ms o'neill who most agree is there all the time what employees are not

board members-they are responsible for the operation of the board

sounds like a lot of corruption going on

maybe they should be removed.

candidates-the feds removed copies of finance reports

what do they show

contributors-it seems like people of influence flaunt election laws

that is clear in the yavorcik case

how about others

a number of posters here write thoughtful comments

but unless bertram is really interested in getting to the truth these comments will be written in vain

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21Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

@ davidjohn

For what it's worth I and I'd bet a great number of others agree with 99% of what you stated here. Where the only thing I disagree with is independent voices being expressed in vain.

See in public forums you get a pulse and a lot more of the eclectic truth and facts than you do from a scribe with a slant.

Where in this case the independent voices have not only taken Bertram and Vindy to task in that regard. But there's a clear detection that the vast majority of the populous doesn't form their voices according to Bertram.

In fact it's became all to common that his angles aren't just soundly rebutted. But even taken to satirically panning his views as comic relief material.

For which you can best believe it's so widely noticed. That now far more than Bertram is tuning in to the awareness, intelligence and differing perspectives of these independent voices. To include the bloom is off the rose in regards to readers and voters knowing who's shilling for who too.

Hence, things are going to change in Youngstown and that improvement crusade is being formed, shaped and exacted by independent voices.

Where we agreed and disagree at times and even chide and barb one another from time to time. But we're getting through to more than one another.

Thus we're way beyond being swayed by Bertram or anybody else that collectively we're providing more objectivity and congruent sense than.

You can best believe our showings are dispelling any notion that alleged, that valley residents be it current or former are stupid or Bertram clones or cosigners.

In fact I don't visit to read Bertram. I'm far more interested in checking the more non biased perspectives of a particular group of independent voices,.. and it's apparent I'm not alone in that regard either.

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22davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago


appreciate the comments

just get frustrated

have seen good people trying to make a difference

they make a small splash

then they get frustrated and give up

the vindicator had the power to change things

but they have not

not sure why

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23Alexinytown(246 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

As far as this goes, with all of the talk of political appointments at the BOE to address some earlier comments, if we are going to go down that road, you cannot ignore every other office in this county with political appointments. They are everywhere you look, and they are all patronage positions.

As I recall as a Don Hanni-ism, upon being asked about hiring his friends for jobs, he replied "What do you expect me to do? Hire my enemies?"

Political patonage positions are a reality anywhere you go, but to call for an investigation of the BOE for "lazy" political appointees should probably warrant an investigation of the entire Mahoning County government. There are plenty of county employees that would fit the descriptions being used here in this thread, and quite a fair amount of them are Democratic appointees.

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24davidjohn(144 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

it is not a question of laziness

it is phantom employees who are hired paid by the taxpayers who never show up

that is theft not laziness.

political appointees litter government

that is the nature of the beast

but we are talking about people who punch time cards for employees who are not there submitting that false info to the auditor for payment

that is criminal not laziness

and then doing things that pervert the electoral process that have been mentioned on this board

shady voting machine buys

approving false campaign reports

keeping people off the ballot

that is criminal not laziness

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25burford(95 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

I agree with the comments.In some ways Bert's column is a cover up for the corruption. By writing off all this ongoing activity at the BOE to incompetence (which there is plenty of) rather then corruption you can minimize the outrage and law enforcement will not take a serious look at this. This is a planned distraction by Bertram.

Hooray to the bloggers for being specific in their comments as to the historical corruption and criminal behavior not incompetence.

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26teabagparty(14 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Nothing's going to happen! No one's leaving. Beatras wants a seat.

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27theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

Don't leave out a note of appreciation to Traficant and the campaign workers for creating the platform upon which the insects, and various amphibians are being dissected. Thanks

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28cambridge(3467 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

republicans are crazy!


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29theCaliforniaKid(56 comments)posted 5 years, 1 month ago

yeh but democrats are demented..and Jim's presumed disloyalty to The Party possibly being the cause of his, um er, ahh problems. Bingo!

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30ipaidattention(68 comments)posted 5 years ago

investigate joyce kale and what she uses her position to rig!!!

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