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Coroner Kennedy — our $61K part-timer — gives more reason to vote against Mahoning sales tax

By Todd Franko (Contact)

Published April 26, 2010

Untitled document

Today is the day the community and the families are getting the official announcement of the identities of the three young people who died in a Campbell car wreck at 5:03 a.m. Saturday morning.

They are: Elijah B. Paige, 20, of Gordon Avenue, Campbell, the driver; Poetry H. Dotson, 21, of Reed Avenue, Campbell; and Ian A. Stores, 17, of East Parkside Drive, Boardman, who was identified this morning by The Vindicator after his family confirmed his death.

It normally does not take this long to have the victims of such a tragedy identified. As a result, decisions made by the county coroner’s office are under fire.

While the families learned the tragic consequences almost immediately, the lack of coroner’s confirmation keeps too many aspects of their lives on hold.

Mahoning County Coroner Dr. David Kennedy announced a layoff and a change in services two weeks ago. That announcement centered on not being able to go to all death scenes, the lost investigative opportunities, the forensic detail that could help determine that a fall might actually be a push, etc.

The announcement did not layout the potential that three young people killed in a car accident would have to sit for two days before an official could say “Yes, this is indeed John Smith.”

Here are some things to note about this:
• Kennedy earns at least $61,000 per year working part-time as coroner.
• The lost staffing for his office has not even taken place yet. It is set to happen Friday. But at the time of the accident, Kennedy was staffed as he had been.

All of it is perfect timing for the upcoming sales tax renewal vote.

Add Kennedy’s case to Judge Belinky and his under-investigation investigator, the commissioners’ spending decisions, the engineer’s office, the three officials under the Oakhill probe, etc.

All of it reinforces that no matter how much or how little we spend on government, we still have leaders with a sense of entitlement and “What’s in it for me?”

There is no real-world reality in government these days.  

In the case of Dr. Kennedy’s office, with two remaining investigators and a deputy coroner, here’s how it would work in the real world:

One staffer’s schedule gets shifted to Sunday to Thursday; another works Tuesday to Saturday.  For weekend nights, the coroner and his deputy could create a system of who’s on call, at no cost to county taxpayers since they are salaried.

In any case, under the worst-case scenarios, say, a triple-fatal accident, if you’re the boss of the department, you handle it yourself if “it has to be done.”

I think three dead teenagers ranks up there with “it has to be done.”

This may seem over-simplistic, and I’m sure under-estimating some nuance of coroner operations. But this is how the private sector deals with staff adjustments.

We can approve the sales tax or not. But the level of service we get is ultimately not attached to how much we give government to spend.

When incidents like what happened this weekend occur, it convinces you that if we give government more to spend, we simply ensure the workers will get more for their pensions, more of their cronies get hired, more raises will happen, etc. — all of things that taxpayers no longer enjoy. And three dead kids will still be allowed to sit.

Nothing about voting for the sales tax assures me that we will get better service as long as we have leadership like was exhibited this weekend from a $61,000 part-time government official.


1ytown1(398 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Franko, What I do not understand is that the current sales tax being discussed is still in full effect? Although it being a little short (Or a lot depends who you believe) and even if this sales tax is passed, with no new taxes, "Not 1 Dime more" in the words of Commissioner Ludt broadcast tonight on channel 21 news, how is anything going to change with the financial situation for the county?

With no new money and all budgets being cut and still the threat of 100's Deputies to be laid off, how are we going to avoid this? Remember "Not 1 Dime More in tax Money"

What exactly is the truth, with the tax being passed, will the officers still be laid off? Or is this another of the scare tactics by our elected officials?

Drastic measures need to be addressed now not later, If the budgets are way over the income now, they will still be way over when and if the tax passes. I do not believe the right questions are being asked of our elected officials, many times I feel the local news and you the Vindicator only facilitate the usual smoke and mirror Politics we are so used to here in the valley.

I truly expect you and others to ask these hard questions of the Commissioners and County Administrators and report the real answers. We are all adults here and can take the truth, whether it be good or bad. The county is not going to be fixed by passing this sales tax, this is only status quot, and another tax is not the answer. Corrective actions by all of the bloated government departments is what is needed, and should be demanded by yourself and other news investigative reporters on the behalf of all taxpayers.

The ball is in your court Mr. Franko, do what your conscious tells you to report, not what the powers to be tell you to report.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

"Nothing about voting for the sales tax assures me that we will get better service as long as we have leadership like was exhibited this weekend from a $61,000 part-time government official."

The big question is, what does motivate Dr. David Kennedy ? Sixty one grand isn't chump change .

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3bobhogue(102 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

"Nothing about voting for the sales tax assures me that we will get better service as long as we have leadership like was exhibited this weekend from a $61,000 part-time government official."

First of all, I don't know a lot about the normal operation of the Coroner's office. Serious questions have been raised about this matter, and I hope that some meaningful answers will be provided.

But do you think that rejecting the continuation of the 1/2-percent sales tax will improve anything? How can bringing in less money result in improvement? I think there are two issues here, and they both need to be addressed: (1) How much is needed to continue county services, and (2) What systems or procedures need to be put in place to ensure that local government officials do their jobs?

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4UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Just say NO to the 1/2% sales tax and it's Tax & Spend continuation results. We need to lower taxes to attract businesses and jobs to the valley, not increase taxes. This is an increase because the tax has already been turned down and we are waiting for that NO vote to take effect. Dr. Kennedy is just yet another example of an overgenerously paid county empolyee with cheap healthcare and pension benefits that needs to understand he works for the citizens of this county. Did he have a golf date he couldn't miss to id the dead?Say NO and send the right message.

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51970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

FINALLY a Vindy editorial that does not blindly say the same old "We just have to have this tax levy or the world will end."

Some tax levies are necessary, some are not. What this article does is FINALLY show that someone at the paper understands the frustration of people who are tired of taxes and WHY they are tired of taxes.

I am not against tax levies because I want all govt. to shut down, but I DO want govt. officials to be accountable. I am tired of hearing "We got the message, but don't make us become more efficient or make difficult choices."

This coroner should be voted out ASAP. I am glad Traficanti has been vocal about how awful this situation in Campbell was.

And the fact of the matter is that the commissioners can impose this tax if it fails. And if the tax is TRULY that important, they should make cuts (and that means unions will have to make concessions) and/or impose the tax.

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6JME(802 comments)posted 6 years, 2 months ago

Why didn't Traficanti and the other Commissioners make an issue when Kennedy announced his reduced operating plans after the budget cut?
They didn't have a problem before the accident, and but they're on a witch hunt for political gain.
For comparison purposes, what do the surrounding county coroners make per year? I realize some are pathologist (unlike Kennedy) and would require a higher pay rate, but Kennedy's rate might be in line with standards. The Vindy showed Mahoning's coroner load is higher than other counties. I just don't think the Vindy can criticize Kennedy's pay until they compare apples to apples, which the Vindy has yet to do.

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71970mach1(1005 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Hopefully Vindy will pick up this story for print edition too.

NY police tell parents that son is dead _ he's not

(AP) – 20 hours ago

NEW YORK — Police told a family that their youngest son had been killed in a car crash with a tractor-trailer. It took 90 minutes for the parents to realize their son hadn't been in the car at all — and was at home, asleep.

Alfred and Geri Esposito of Mastic Beach were told Saturday that their son Freddy and another passenger had been killed in a collision in Pennsylvania. A trooper had found the driver's license of 26-year-old Alfred "Freddy" Esposito III in the hands of one of the dead men.

Calls were made to relatives, and someone was sent to tell his grandmother.

Older brother Chris Esposito rushed home from work Saturday to find Freddy asleep at the Bay Shore home they shared. He thought he was seeing a ghost.

The deceased was later identified as 18-year-old Paul Richards of Santa Cruz, Calif. — Freddy Esposito's one-time frat brother.

The Espositos say they do not know why Richards had a copy of their son's license.

Capt. James Murtin, commanding officer of Pennsylvania State Police's Troop N, apologized for the error. He said the identification was based on Esposito's license and a "general match" with Richards.

Alfred Esposito Jr. said he feels lucky. "I vacillate between being overjoyed and being overcome with grief, like it really happened, but then I say, 'Stop it,'" he said. "I have my son."

Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com

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844509resident(46 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

for the first time i agree with you STAN lol

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