By Todd Franko (Contact)
Published December 20, 2008
The politics run so deep here, it takes a newcomer a while to get up to speed. I still have some work to do.
But even a newcomer can spot the stupidity that can exist in local politics as evidenced by the initial effort to fill John Boccieri’s seat in the Ohio Senate.
We are the home of Marc Dann, Leo Jennings and Anthony Gutierrez. No need to explain any more. Yet local Democrat Party bosses offered up two guys with checkered pasts — David Engler and Robert Lidle -- as Boccieri successors.
From our reports recently:
The Ohio Supreme Court issued a “public reprimand” to Engler, an attorney, in August 2006 for having engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with a client. Engler said the one issue shouldn’t define his years of public service.
Lidle was found guilty in 2002 and 2003 of driving under the influence. Lidle takes responsibility for the convictions, but said he’s learned from them and has proved himself to be an effective officeholder.
Given this, Lidle and Engler were laughable recommendations. Laughable, I said.
I don’t think Lidle and Engler should be eliminated for life from all public service. But for this seat, in light of Dann and Co., whose pineapple pizzas still can’t go unordered in Columbus without a snicker, the successor to Boccieri must be instantly remarkable in character and history.
So there were low expectations when the Dems took another whack at the process. In addition to Dann, we’re the home of $16,000 back raises for county bosses and township trustees creating jobs for themselves.
So Thursday came word that Joe Schiavoni got the job.
I had to laugh again. Only this time, it was a good laugh because I think they got it right.
I don’t know Joe well, but what I know of him, I like — and I like a lot.
Joe had a key role immediately in Kelly Pavlik’s championship life.
In those few weeks after Kelly’s September 2007 victory, bits and pieces of tales would squeak out of folks on the fringes of the Pavlik camp trying to cash in maybe a little more than they should have. Never Kelly or the very inner circle, but others. Joe was in the middle of all that activity. But you never got the cashing in from Joe.
I had to talk to him many, many times on Pavlik affairs. There were plenty of times he could have tried to pull the “I’m Pavlik’s lawyer blah, blah, blah” ... and “We’ll call the shots blah, blah, blah.”
But it never came. Joe seemed to take on the role of Pavlik’s lawyer as a personal and public duty, not a personal or public ticket to the front row of any event.
I remember after a charity softball event this summer, after the Pavlik crew had long moved on to post-game events, Kelly was still signing autographs. About 50 more people waited for Kelly in yet another corner of the park.
Joe was among the few still there trying to sort through rescuing Kelly from another long night of signatures. It was the unsexy part of being on Team Pavlik. Kelly eventually surrendered to his popularity and signed away, and Joe was among the last of Team Pavlik to leave the park.
Not only could taxpayers have found a lot worse, it’s true local Democrat leaders did with their initial suggestions. But more importantly, time may show that we couldn’t have found anyone better than Joe.
Engler, the No. 1 pick of Mahoning County Democrats, was less than congratulatory about Joe’s appointment.
“In a fiscal crisis and a time when Ohio is hemorrhaging jobs, Sen. Cafaro handpicked a friend with no experience to do the difficult work of the people.”
I can’t help but read between the lines of this quote and see further evidence that the right guy got the chance to serve the valley.