Published February 25, 2012
Detractors of Youngstown City Prosecutor Jay Macejko are blasting Mayor Charles Sammarone for not taking action in relation to a racial comment about President Barack Obama that was retrieved from the cell phone of assistant prosecutor Bret Hartup. The criticism of the mayor is unfair because he has not turned a blind eye to what has become a major issue in Macejko’s challenge of Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains for the Democratic primary in the March 6 primary.
Sammarone has decided to launch an investigation of the Obama text message that was either sent by the city prosecutor to Hartup, or was sent to him by Hartup. Macejko denies having seen the message. Hartup has not made any public comments about the text log he provided to the federal judge who presided over the religious discrimination lawsuit filed by city assistant prosecutor Bassil Ally against Macejko.
By launching an independent probe of the texts, Mayor Sammarone has clearly indicated that he is not swayed by the city prosecutor’s denial of any knowledge of the racial comment about Obama. It is also clear that he will take whatever action is necessary to protect the city of Youngstown from future racial or religious discrimination lawsuits against Macejko.
To believe the city prosecutor when he says he had never seen the Obama text until it was made public is to believe that Hartup’s cell phone was hacked by someone who wanted to undermine Macejko’s credibility. It is noteworthy that Hartup has hired a lawyer.
Mayor Sammarone isn’t going to jeopardize the city’s reputation or financial well being by protecting Macejko. If the investigation shows that the city prosecutor either sent the anti-Obama text message or received it and did nothing about it, he will be fired. The only question is whether all this will come to a head before the March 6 primary.