Fun downtown Saturday

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ron-clownThis Saturday will see a National Poetry Month celebration at The Trumbull Art Gallery (158 North Park Avenue), which will include a live interactive video and photography installation to compliment the poetry, including simultaneous live video streaming of some of the nights performances hosted on the website http://www.downtownwarrenohio.com/.

There will be a Youth Poetry segment from 2-4 p.m., an “Open Mic” from 5-7 p.m., followed by published authors performing their works from 7-9 p.m. The Youth Poetry Contest is open to all local middle and high school students. The top three Youth poems will be selected for prizes.

I know there will be wine served after 5, because I’m bringing some, and I think there may be some Keck & Sons served as well. Our host for the evening will be local poet and raconteur Ron Book, above. The photo is a publicity still from Ron’s 1997 appearance as Pagliacci at the Met in Lincoln Center, taken by local photographer Sarah Bokone. See more Booker photos from Sarah’s “where’s Ron?” collection here.

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The pinwheels of your mind

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12963385_1144682982222753_8909962214471094938_nI have a list or several “good-news” stories I’ve been meaning to post, and planned to get one in today. But some days I’m like the cat owner who opens the front door to pick up the newspaper and finds that his feline friend has deposited, yet another, dead mouse on his doorstep.

In this analogy, the dead mouse is another example of the gross mismanagement of our city. The Tribune hasn’t covered it, so let me recap it for you.

Earlier this month, Trumbull County Children’s Services planted more than 1600 purple pinwheels on the lawn at Warren City Hall in honor of the victims of child abuse. Presumably, this was done with the knowledge and consent of Doug and Enzo.

The next day, according to the city’s Department of Human Resources, Celestino Divieste, an operations department employee, and Enzo’s uncle, simply mowed them down rather than removing them before cutting the grass at city hall. (Please see the “photoshop artist’s interpretation” of the actual event, above.)

The pinwheels cost more than $1600 — although one has to assume this didn’t do the mower any good either. According to a report on WFMJ, in a pre-disciplinary hearing, Divieste was ordered to pay restitution or face a three day suspension. One or the other. Not both.

The act itself is so moronic it really requires no comment. However, what the act says about the way the city is run speaks volumes; especially in light of the recent incident in which a Water Department employee, the son of the former director, was caught urinating in the coffee cup of a coworker.

These brazen, disrespectful acts show that “connected” city employees have little fear that unprofessional, socially unacceptable behavior, that would be grounds for dismissal almost anywhere else, will be punished with more than a three day unpaid vacation here. They assume that because they have relatives in charge of the city that they will be protected. They don’t care about the people of the city they serve because no one holds them to a standard in which the citizens needs are to be respected.

Most city employees are hard working people trying to do a good job, and there’s nothing wrong, in my view, with hiring a few relatives and friends; it’s a small town and that is inevitable. But please, show a little gratitude. You’d think these people would try not to make their relations look bad. You’d think their relations would make the effort to keep them in line.

But, no. This is Warren.

[Correction: An earlier version of this post overstated the value of the pinwheels. We regret the error.]

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Back from the Crossroads

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01_CrossroadsHello all. It’s been quiet here at Warren Expressed for ten days or so, but not because nothing was happening. I just thought I’d take a little time off to see what retirement might feel like and enjoy my almost annual trip to the Mississippi delta to listen to some blues and share a few laughs with some old pals. Here’s a little spoonful of Mississippi: IMG_0975.MOV.

The Juke Joint Blues Festival is held in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the place where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil; a town about half the size of Warren that’s never had much to offer the world except cotton and the blues, and yet somehow seems to inch its way a little closer to a real future every year. The town has spirit and they make it work for them. It reminded me of a piece I saw on CBS recently, about a little village in Italy that is economically depressed and “on the road to a slow death” until Americans discovered it thanks to HGTV.

What stuck me was how appreciative the residents are of the influx of people looking for a “glass of fine wine on a beer budget.” The locals — or at least some of them — realize that as they lost their young people it was killing the local culture, too, and that the new comers were just what they needed to give the local culture, and the local economy, a boost. These are the principals behind the idea of Warren Homecoming.

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The JAC Contracts

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Here are links to where you can download the JAC Management contracts as PDF’s. Click the link, which will take you to another page and then click the link again; it will open in your browser window.

Youngstown Covelli Center: Youngstown/JAC/Covelli contract

Warren Packard Music Hall: PMH/JAC_Agreement

 

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Your $85,000 Malibu

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mm_gal_item_c2.img_resize.img_stage._1-2Imagine you and your spouse are watching TV one night and you see an ad for the new Chevy Malibu — the one where rich people mistake it for a BMW and are shocked to discover that they start at under $25,000.

Your spouse says, “let’s get one. Our ’99 Sentra is on its last legs and that looks so nice.” You agree, in that general sort of way that really means, “we need to get more information and study the situation.”

But when you come home from work the next day there is a brand new Malibu in the driveway and your spouse informs you that it’s yours — as in: she/he  bought it today. You think to yourself, “wow, this really is nice; leather seats, power everything, back-up camera, super safety features, a great sound system — everything the Sentra isn’t.” You are feeling pretty good.

Until you discover that your Malibu was not $25,000, or even $35,000. Your new Malibu cost you $85,000! Not only that, but as you and your spouse “discuss” the wisdom of this purchase, which he/she made in secret, you discover that your spouse took the first offer she/he received and didn’t bother to get a quote from any of the other five Chevy dealers within a 30 minute drive.

On top of that, your spouse paid for the car with a second mortgage on your house, in violation of the terms of your first mortgage. Now the first lender will be within his rights to foreclose on your home because of this; so now you’re going to have to hire a lawyer to keep that from happening.

Just how upset would you be about all this?

Well, however upset you are, you should be at least that upset with Doug and Enzo over the Packard Music Hall contract with JAC Management. I apologize for sneaking this story in on you again, but there was yet another misguided letter in the Tribune last Sunday defending the contract, and I feel it is necessary to push back every time this happens so that history does not get rewritten. The Tribune letter writer based his argument that the deal is good, on the fact that the shows are better, and JAC is doing a good job. And they are. No question. But at what cost?

The PMH/JAC contract in an $85,000 Malibu.

You paid for it with your tax dollars, and the way it was done (by Enzo the lawyer) could have caused the city to lose ownership of PMH and Packard Park because it violated the terms of the WD Packard Trust.

Thanks to the probate court, the contract must now be rewritten, but only to fix certain specific violations of the Packard Trust. The financial terms will not change unless enough Warren voters demand that those terms be revisited.

If you want to let the Mayor or your Councilperson know how you feel you can find their phone numbers here.

If you want to know more details on how bad a deal this is for Warren, you can read that here.

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