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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?”
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.
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.