Episode 17 of the Mahoning Valley Podcast

Please listen or download this episode here. You can also subscribe from this link.

Show Summary: Ohio Posts Record Year for New Business Formation. Harlem Globetrotters Tall Enough to Install Smoke Detectors. Austintown School Counselor Recognized by The First Lady. Idora Neighborhood Workday. McDonough Museum of Arts Receptions. Pet Look-a-Like Contest Starts Friday.

According to the Business Journal, Business formation in Ohio saw a seventh consecutive record-breaking year in 2016, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted reported. Last year, 105,009 new filings were made with the secretary of state’s office, up from the 97,746 new businesses that filed in 2015, setting the previous record.

“We are offering better services to entrepreneurs at a lower cost and as a result, more are choosing Ohio for their new business than ever before,” Husted said in a news release announcing the 2016 results.

Making it simpler and less costly to do business in Ohio has been a top priority for Husted since taking office in 2011, according to the release. Initiatives toward that goal include the launch of Ohio Business Central, which enables Ohio-based businesses to form and renew their business status online; establishing a partnership with Google’s “Let’s Get Our Cities on the Map” program to put additional tools in the hands of new and growing Ohio businesses; and partnering with the Cleveland Sight Center to reduce wait time for callers into the Business Services Call Center.

The initiatives have enabled Husted to reduce spending in his office by $14.5 million in his first term when compared to the previous administration, he reported. In his second term, he requested a cut, not an increase, in his budget, and last December he requested a 100% cut in General Revenue Funds for the next biennium while announcing his plan to run the office for the remainder of his term without the use of taxpayer funds.

This is the sort of thing that deserves recognition. Growing opportunity without growing cost. I figure that anytime anyone can figure out a way to increase opportunities for the Mahoning Valley without asking for more money to do it, they deserve some props. So well done, Mr Husted. And Thanks.

According to WKBN, A Harlem Globetrotter helped the American Red Cross install free smoke detectors in Youngstown homes on Wednesday. To prevent fire tragedies, the Red Cross is working to set up free smoke detectors in homes across northeast Ohio.

On Monday, volunteers installed 61 smoke detectors as part of the Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign. Volunteers were back at the life-saving project again on Wednesday. Most of the time, a volunteer needs a ladder to install a smoke detector, but not Zeus McClurkin. The Harlem Globetrotter is 6’8″.

He said the Globetrotters partnered with the Red Cross for this project. “We’re doing an amazing initiative trying to help install some smoke detectors to underprivileged areas in the city. One thing that we’re going to be doing is replacing old smoke detectors and giving people free, new smoke detectors.”

He installed smoke detectors in two homes Wednesday afternoon. At one of the stops, he and the Red Cross installed three brand new smoke detectors for a man on the east side of Youngstown.

McClurkin said he’s happy to be part of such a great program.

“There are actually three home fires in northeast Ohio every night and we’re hoping to make that number go down every day,” he said. “Hopefully, we can do that with these free smoke detectors that we’re installing.”

But it wasn’t all work for McClurkin. He showed off some of his Globetrotter moves and even had a homeowner join in. The smoke detector program is ongoing. For more information on how to get a smoke alarm or volunteer with the program, visit the Red Cross’ website. Volunteers work about three to four hours a week to install them.

FEMA PSA

According to the Vindicator, Austintown Elementary School counselor Kelley Mills was among the school counselors from across the country who stood onstage with the First Lady during her final speech in that position.

Mills was in Washington, D.C., to be recognized as the 2017 Counselor of the Year State Representative for Ohio after being selected as Ohio’s Elementary School Counselor of the Year and overall School Counselor of the Year.

Education has been a centerpiece of the first lady’s agenda during her eight years in the White House. In her final speech, she talked about her “Reach Higher” initiative, which launched in 2014.

“Now, when we first came up with this idea, we had one clear goal in mind: We wanted to make higher education cool. We wanted to change the conversation around what it means and what it takes to be a success in this country,” Obama said. “Because let’s be honest, if we’re always shining the spotlight on professional athletes or recording artists or Hollywood celebrities, if those are the only achievements we celebrate, then why would we ever think kids would see college as a priority? So we decided to flip the script and shine a big, bright spotlight on all things educational.”

Obama credited school counselors such as Mills with helping to make her initiative a success.

“And we know that school counselors like all of the folks standing with me on this stage have played a critical role in helping us get there,” she said. “So our school counselors are truly among the heroes of the ‘Reach Higher’ story. And that’s why we created this event two years ago, because we thought that they should finally get some recognition. We wanted everyone to know about the difference that these phenomenal men and women have been making in the lives of our young people every day.”

Obama went on to tell the assembled counselors, “You see the promise in each of your students. You believe in them even when they can’t believe in themselves, and you work tirelessly to help them be who they were truly meant to be. … These men and women show them that those kids matter; that they have something to offer; that no matter where they’re from or how much money their parents have, no matter what they look like or who they love or how they worship or what language they speak at home, they have a place in this country.

“And as I end my time in the White House, I can think of no better message to send our young people in my last official remarks as first lady,” she said.

The experience was inspiring and rejuvenating, Mills said. “I thought it was really powerful, and I was really excited because the little ones at Austintown Elementary live-streamed her message, so they were able to see me as well as hear her message,” she said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me – for anyone, really.” Well done Ms Mills and congratulations.

Saturday January 21, 2017 Join the YNDC for a day of cleaning up and working in the Idora Neghborhood of Youngstown. Meet at YNDC Office, 820 Canfield Road. Parking available around the corner at 822 Billingsgate Avenue.

McDonough Museum of Art Events,

Selections from the collection of the Richard M. Ross Art Museum, Ohio Wesleyan University

January 20-March 3, 2017 Public Reception, Friday, January 20, 6-8pm

The permanent collection at the Ross Art Museum consists of more than 2,500 works of art including American and European prints, drawings, photographs, paintings and sculpture. Artists featured in the exhibition include Elliot Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Alen MacWeeney and Frank Stella. We are grateful to the exhibition sponsors Dr. Albert and Suzanne Cinelli for introducing us to the Ross and its outstanding staff.

Alex Webb: La Calle, Photographs from Mexico

January 20-March 3, 2017

Public Reception, Friday, January 20, 6-8pm

An elusive presence identified as “no one” wanders, strays, gets lost, and finds itself again in the poem “La Calle” (The Street) by Octavio Paz, which is set in a silent, desolate territory bordering the world of sleep, where dreamlike street corners always lead to the same place. It is from this extraordinary literary work that photographer Alex Webb (born in San Francisco, 1952) took the title for his compendium of street photographs of Mexico, which he’s taken over three decades. However, the street that appears in Webb’s images, in contrast to Paz’s, is an often crowded, vibrant, ever-changing place, where “no one” becomes a metaphor for the precarious, the chaotic, the multitudinous.

First in black and white (1975–78) and then in color (1978–2007), Webb has documented the multicultural, syncretic, lively, overcharged, and at times turbulent reality of a nation that during this period has known all sorts of political and economic crises, but has also offered ample evidence of its capabilities for resistance and survival, despite the relentless pressure of threats and tragedies, most recently the ferocious violence caused by the growth of organized crime and the government’s erratic fight against it.

The Business Journal will be sponsoring it’s annual Pet Look A Like Contest starting January 20. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love between people, but there are plenty of kinds of love in the world. That’s why The Business Journal is celebrating furry, four-legged friends in our newest contest.

The Pet Look-Alike photo contest wants to see who loves their pet so much that they actually look like each other!

Beginning Friday, The Business Journal will hold a photo contest on their Facebook page to see who loves their pet the most. The contest closes Feb. 19, with the winner announced on National Love Your Pet Day, Feb. 20.

Entries are limited to one picture per email address. Voting is limited to one vote per Facebook user per day. The Business Journal reserves the right to remove submitted pictures that are inappropriate.

WWF PSA

Mahoning Valley Podcast Episode 8 Transcript

Get this episode here.

This Episode goes back to the topic of the podcast. Local stuff. Although no one called me on it, I am apologizing for the last episode first. It may seem surprising to some of you who hear this episode, but I am sorry about the last episode. If you heard it, then you may know why. Anyway, Back to why I started doing this in the first place.

Cockfighting continues to be a problem here in the Valley. According to the Vindicator For the second time in less than a week, police and humane agents have served a search warrant as part of a broader investigation of cockfighting.

Members of the vice squad, Community Police Unit and Animal Charity served the warrant at a 1413 Forest View Drive home on the East Side today.

Unlike a warrant served Dec. 15 at an Ives Street home where police found roosters, heroin and cocaine, the Forest View Drive homeowners were cited only for violating housing codes prohibiting farm animals in the city.

About 30 roosters were found in a makeshift coop covered with a tarp in the backyard. It had wooden floors with straw and portable heaters inside. A detective described it as one of the cleanest he has ever seen.

This may seem somewhat insensitive to some listeners, but: Why is this illegal? Who cares if people want to set a couple of cocks in a ring and watch them tear each other up? Obviously some people do care, but for many it is a nonstarter. It does not harm any people. It does not cause property damage, unless you count the damage done to the fowls themselves. And it is not posing a health threat unless you happen to find some of that chicken in your chop suey or mcnuggets and it has not been cooked or stored properly. What about you? Do you care if people go to or organize cockfighting?

Then up in Niles, or down in Niles: I guess depending on your perspective the Vindicator is reporting that some more of the public officials announced that they are quitting. Robert Marino, council president since 2004 and a fixture on council for more than 20 years, shocked his fellow council members tonight by announcing he will not seek re-election next year when his term expires.

Two other council members, Steve Papalas, D-at large, and Frank Pezzano, D-1st, immediately followed Marino’s statement by announcing that they, too, will not run again in 2017.

And as if those announcements were not enough, long-time Law Director Terry Dull said he will retire next February.

The four revealed their plans at the conclusion of Wednesday’s council meeting.

Yeah, well for those of you who missed it, their alleged ringleader was indicted last month on more than 50 counts of various corrupt activities. According to the Vindicator, Two years after news of an investigation of possible corruption in Niles government began, an indictment of former Mayor Ralph Infante laid bare allegations of public corruption few could have imagined.

The 56-count indictment of Infante, released Tuesday, references bribery dating back to 1993, unreported gifts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, including envelopes of cash around Christmas time, accepting money for a job with the city and a vice that harkens back to the Niles of yesteryear – gambling.

The indictments unsealed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court contain a variety of allegations, including 17 counts of felony tampering with records, five counts of money laundering, two counts of theft in office, four counts of bribery and others.

The most serious charge Infante faces is engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, which carries a 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.

The other charges, especially the 17 counts of tampering, could make his possible sentence rise to more than 100 years.

The charges date back to 1993, just one year after Infante began his career as Niles mayor, which spanned 24 years, ending in 2015.

So I say good. It is apparent that Niles needed a good laxative. And so the rest of the excrement that had been running that town is voluntarily evacuating itself. And it is about time. Who knows how many people were oppressed by that group of alleged criminals. Notice I keep saying alleged. That is because an indictment does not a conviction make. But at least, the rest of our allegedly organized criminal element in this town has been put on notice. You are being watched and recorded. It won’t be long before we come for you too. Or you can skink off like the cowards you are and find some other rock to crawl under in some other Valley. Are you getting the idea? Aint everyone affeared of you.

And related to this story the Vindicator is also reporting that Niles Oversight Committee is grappling with another or revised plan to bring it’s finances back into balance.

Despite some reservations, the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission unanimously approved the city’s latest amended recovery plan from fiscal emergency – the fifth such revision.

“You have demonstrated quite a bit of progress since the emergency was declared,” said Quentin Potter, commission chairman. However, Potter and several other commission members are concerned about one of the plan’s key elements – the leasing of the financially troubled Wellness Center.

The city hopes to lease the building for $240,000 annually for three years with an option by the tenant for a three-year renewal. John Davis, a commission member, was skeptical about finding a tenant and questioned Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia as to the level or probability of success from low to high.

“If it’s low, then it shouldn’t be in the plan,” said Davis, who earlier this month in an interview with The Vindicator called for the mayor’s resignation after council rejected his fourth revision to the plan.

“I would say it is a high probability,” the mayor promptly responded.

And that is what a mayor is supposed to say isn’t it? He is not supposed to say, “well: you know for the last 20 or so years our community has been allegedly raped by it’s governing officials who were to busy enriching themselves to bother trying to actually serve the public interest” No, any descent mayor is going to say, “this is the plan and it will work. Or at least there is a good probability it is going to work.” And let’s hope for the sakes of the beleaguered residents of Niles, now that the crap is clearing itself out of the area, it can start living up to it’s potential instead of being a haven for alleged criminals.

St Jude PSA

So in brighter more Holidayesque news, The WFMJ Channel 21 News reported that Youngstown has passed a budget for the first quarter of 2017.

Youngstown City Council approved its quarterly 2017 budget Wednesday evening December 21, 2016.

A total amount of 40 million dollars will be used until March, with almost no changes from this year’s budget.

Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray says no changes will be made to police and fire departments, and that the council does not see any future layoffs within the next year.

The downtown amphitheater project will also not affect the budget.

Council will meet again in the coming months to decide the budget for the full year.

Now there is some good news. Police and Fire protection for the City will not be affected. That is progress. Not only that, but one of them wonderfully free venues will be added to the Downtown area, an amphitheater. Not that it will be free to build, but many times; such a venue actually will provide free entertainment to the community. Not to mention the fact that when it is not hosting an event, it makes a great place for childrens and adults alike to play. It may not be a playground, but who when they were growing up didn’t love to hop up on an empty stage and look out over a large space and act like Robert Plant? Or Cher? Depending on what gender you identify with.

Now this is not exactly Valley related, but before you click on Cher’s website: I want you to make sure that you are not at work for 2 reasons. First, she is forward thinking enough to welcome people with audio onto her site. Yes, I said forward thinking. She welcomes you with her own voice to her website. That is so smart, If you have a website and are that smart; you need to get in touch with me. Because that is part of what I do here at Mahoning Valley Podcast.

Second reason. Cher has a tendency to put her best features forward. And if you never have seen Cher, then in her case and in my opinion one of her best features is behind her. Yes she is a good singer, but like wow, she has an incredibly attractive behind. And she is not shy. So, if you click over to her website, within 1 minute you will be graced with a very nice picture of one of her more revealing outfits. I almost was delayed in the writing of this transcript the view is so nice. Anyway int may not be safe for work.

Let’s get back into local news and commentary. Apparently the Austintown PTA thinks that perpetuating myths is more important than raising their youngins with the truth. According to the Vindicator, As Austintown Elementary School student Bryan Fleshman stood in line to meet Santa Claus, he confessed he was a little nervous.

“I’m not ready for Christmas yet,” said Bryan, a red Santa hat perched on his head and green face paint coating his cheeks.

The second-grader was one of about 1,000 of the school’s students who got to meet Santa on today, thanks to the school’s Parent Teacher Association. An annual Santa Claus visit is a school tradition.

“We try to bring in any kind of fun or educational activities that we can,” said PTA president Bethany Martinez. “Some of the kids, it’s the only time they’re going to get to see Santa.”

A flurry of holiday happenings took place district wide over the last few weeks. The intermediate school also got a visit from Santa this week, thanks to the PTA there. AIS and AES both hosted a “Santa’s Shop” for students.

That is great, but the fact is that Santa is a myth. A figment of the imagination. And that is why no living or dead person has EVER seen Santa. News flash, the dude doesn’t exist. Why am I being such a grinch you may ask yourself? Because when I was growing up, my parents (God rest their souls) had me going for a few years with the myth of Santa. I know they were just doing their best to be entertaining and even fun, but it would have served me better to learn from an early age that there is no such person. That in order for them presents to appear on Christmas morning, someone had to work their ass off and make sacrifices and even cause themselves to pay horribly high interest rates on Credit Card balances. That way, when I found out that Santa is a fake, I wouldn’t have started wondering in my young mind, “What else did my parents lie to me about?”

FEMA PSA

Now because this is a podcast and it represents for the most part a mobile form of communication here is one headline about Mobile Internetting. According to The Verge, The European Commission has accused Facebook of providing “incorrect or misleading information” in the run-up to its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in 2014. Information requested by the Commission is used to vet large mergers and takeovers, aiming to find out if the resulting business would be anti-competitive. If Facebook cannot provide a decent excuse for misleading the Commission before January 31st it could be fined up to $179 million.

The Commission’s complaint refers specifically to the nature of the data-sharing agreement between Facebook and WhatsApp. In 2014, Facebook told the Commission that it would be unable to automatically link data between accounts on the two services, but in August this year, the social network introduced a new privacy policy that does exactly that. WhatsApp user data — including phone numbers — is shared with Facebook in order to map social connections and deliver more relevant ads on both services.

Does this surprise anyone of my listeners? If so, let’s talk. Contact me for a free and very quick consultation on privacy on the internet and if you want in modern society. And then if you want we will talk about how you can start using the internet to your advantage as well. Because I know some of you out there in the cyber audience know that the Internet can be used for more then jut sharing pictures of your dog eating your lunch. Or emailing grandma that your sled needs a tuneup so you can’t make Christmas dinner this year.

Lets wrap it up with some more examples of how people can actually do some good in this community. According to the Vindicator, Owens Construction helped Youngs-town Community School celebrate Christmas in style with a dance and pizza party.

Mike Owens, owner of Owens Construction of Youngstown, and a few other company employees wanted to give back through a donation of some kind for this holiday season.

His choice was made easy when he heard the gifts students wanted for Christmas.

“One kid wanted a blanket, and another, a mechanical pencil,” Owens said Tuesday afternoon. “These were just such basic needs, not really wants. That’s what got to me.”

In addition to the dance party, pizza, snacks and drinks, students received nearly $2,500 worth in Christmas gifts for students and their families.

Principal Heidi Cope-Barker said the holiday party is a symbol of what the YCS represents – being a child.

“We want to make sure we are celebrating our kids everyday,” she said. “Having a holiday party for them reminds us we are all kids at heart, and we get to be kids, too.”

Beyond that engaging in such charitable activities benefits the Owens Construction Company too. Everyone hears this time of year about how it is more blessed to give then receive. Well due to this act of generosity, they are not only getting a free plug in the local paper, but I shared their facebook page post on my timeline. I am sharing this story on the podcast, I am sharing the link to my twitter account and I gave them some link juice too by linking back to their website with a Search Engine Optimized Link that will point back to them from at least 4 different locations where I post these transcripts. All that from one act of generosity. And a nice attaboy from me too. Well done Owens.

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