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A unique interruption at mayor's lunch

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published February 20, 2008

You just never know who's going to stop by when you're having lunch with the mayor.

Mayor Williams and I were having lunch Tuesday. Having it downtown at Rosetta Stone meant we were not about to have a private lunch, but that's OK.

But our fifth or so interruption was a surprise: "Hi, I'm Andrew Jacobs from the New York Times. Can I talk to you?"

First lesson learned: This New Yorker, especially with the " ... from the New York Times" after his name didn't do much to diffuse the NYC stereotype. I might as well have been a salt shaker on the table when he came over. He saw one person at the table.

But he eventually turned out to be OK.  

He's doing a story centering on the thing we're all seeing now: The Valley is all of a sudden relevant in the presidential race. Hillary twice, Barack, Kennedy, Gephardt, etc.

Check Thursday's or Friday's Times. Andrew expected the story to be in by then. He also chatted with our loveable Bertram DeSouza.

So his first question to the mayor was, essentially, "Why you guys? Why is the area so important to the candidates."

The mayor had a good answer. I imagine he's had to answer for Youngstown a million or so times in the last two years.

(He did a better job than HBO does. In both of their hype pieces for the Pavlik-Taylor fights, there weren't enough rotted buildings or rusted steel mills for them to film. They never heard of YSU, north side, 224, etc.)

Anyway, the mayor said that we're the perfect backdrop for good and bad reasons. He then ran down the laundry list of items we know well: bootstrap survival, steel history, new visions, deep poverty, etc.

Being a newspaper guy, it was fun watching another newspaper guy go about his work — even if I was the largest invisible guy in the restaurant.


1planforthebest(53 comments)posted 7 years, 11 months ago

Youngstown is such a great place and has so much potential, I wish the NYT guy had stuck around to find out why the candidates are beating a path to our door instead of just seeking out a sound bite. I think I'll pop over to nytimes.com and see if I can see what he had to say about us. Hopefully it won't include the words, "rust belt," "delapidated," "gray," or "derelict." I hate that those are the only words people can seem to muster up to describe our towns. How about, "ethnically rich," "full of potential," "a place where education is valued." I wish they'd take quotes from people like me: I could live anywhere in the world, and I came home to the Youngstown area because I was homesick for the beautiful valley, the ethnic diversity, the educational opportunties, the love of knowledge, and all the other things that are underrated by just about everyone who never lived here. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy reading it. I can tell you love this place as much as we do. It's a nice counterpoint to some of the bitter complaining of a few other journalists who keep dragging our image through the gutter and keep us from rebounding into the great city we deserve to be.

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