Update on tax increase


As promised, we will continue to update you on the results of the 1/2% city tax increase implemented this year. I recently attended a City Council Finance Committee meeting, and later met with the key players from the Citizens Committee which has been advising the administration on use of those funds.

I’m happy to report that all is going well. The generally financial condition of the City is the best it has been in more than a few years, and, in the view of the Citizens Committee, all promises related to use of the funds are being kept. Specifically:

  • The Fire Department is up to full strength and funds are being set aside for the date when the federal subsidies expire
  • Police hiring is lagging due to a shortage of qualified candidates; however, a new Civil Service test will be held shortly and the effort to bring the WPD up to authorized strength continues
  • The city is on target to spend at least a half million dollars on street repairs in 2017, as planned
  • An effort to initiate an economic development program for the city is also underway, and concrete results of that effort should be announced within 30 days
  • Through August, the city budget has operated in the black for the year and we currently have a cash balance of over $1.5 million.


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Important article


800x-1Normally, if there is a good article someplace worth reading, we just post a link on Facebook, but I came across something yesterday that deserves it’s own post. Bloomberg posted “There is Something the Matter with Ohio Too” that we should all read.

Sadly, our Buckeye homeland is lagging the nation in too many ways that are holding us back from growth. Ohio is steadily slipping into the ranks of lessor states, and the reasons go beyond the shrinking of rust belt industries. We lag in education, we lag in immigration and diversity, and we lag in technology. The one place in Ohio that doesn’t lag in these respects — Columbus — is thriving.

We can’t move forward if we don’t understand why we are where we are, which makes this worth reading.

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Another secret


Its-a-Secret-300x300The overarching rule of local government is that everything is a secret unless you can pry it out of them. I called Trumbull County Assistant Prosecuting  Attorney William Danso today, to follow up on TC Engineer Randy Smith’s request to be freed from the burden of assisting the TC Planning Commission in their efforts to spend taxpayer’s money efficiently. Smith had copied Danso on his letter to the County Commissioners announcing his intended session from the rest of Trumbull County government.

Mr. Danso was very pleasant, but informed me that he could not tell me what his response was to Mr. Smith, siting “attorney-client privilege.”

I was surprised at this response and asked if his response wasn’t public business that any citizen has the right to know. Danso suggested that I ask Mr. Smith, which I suspect would not be my most productive course of action. He also stated that legal ethics were of a “higher standard” than government business, which led me to remember a host of lawyer jokes.

Later I spoke to another elected official about Danso’s position, who said this was, at most, a short term set back, and that the information is certain to become public very soon. We’ll see. I’ll keep trying.

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“Double D” to the rescue


13000253_BG1We hadn’t planned to make Randy Smith‘s hissy fit regarding the Trumbull County Planning Commission an ongoing series, but the situation just keeps getting weirder, the way that only Warren-Trumbull County politics can be. Smith is attempting to withdraw the county Engineer’s services to the Planning Commission and is trying to get the County Prosecutor’s office to give his ridiculous plan legitimacy.

Now, in steps former County Engineer David DeChristofaro. According to a recent Tribune article he is offering his services to the PC, free of charge, if Smith’s plan succeeds. The Tribune quotes him:

“DeChristofaro stated in an email to Nuskievicz that he “could not believe Randy Smith would even consider refusing to assist your office with engineering or surveying services needed for the good of the public.””

Of course DeChristofaro has had his own issues. Again, quoting the Tribune:

“Although the record of the conviction was expunged last year, DeChristofaro pleaded guilty to a charge of felony theft and misdemeanor conflict-of-interest in July 2011. He was accused of using materials from his county office to send thank-you cards and Christmas cards to Democratic precinct committee members.”

It looks like we’ll follow this for a while. There is no shortage of people volunteering other horror stories about Smith’s “management style” and his lack of concern for taxpayers priorities. We want to note that we’ve never met either Smith, DeChristofaro or Trish Nuskievicz the head of the Planning Commission. Our only interest is good government, and this is a stunning example of its antipode.

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Putting the people last


Randy Smith letterBuilding and maintain our roads and sewer systems are among the most important tasks of the The County Engineers. Most people would agree that good planning is an essential component of doing that job well, so good relations between the Engineers and the Planning Commission would seem to be critical to providing the best service possible to the citizens of Trumbull County.

Randy Smith, the County Engineer, proudly lists his degrees after his signature. He’s worked for the County long enough to be drawing his pension plus his salary. So given his education and experience, one could reasonably expect someone like him to bring enough foresight and maturity to his work to find a way to make this relationship work.

Instead, take a look at the letter he wrote to the County Commissioners, pouting and bullying his way to ending any relationship between good planning and execution. We the people of Trumbull County are the losers in this petty, vindictive tantrum Smith is in the middle of throwing, and which lead to yesterday’s Tribune article (see yesterday’s WE post for the full transcript.)

We will follow up with Mr. William Danso in the Prosecutor’s office to get his response.

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