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March 24, 2011
Salem News

Responds to recent letter to editor

To the editor:

It has been said that the last refuge of a desperate demagogue is the Ad hominem or personal attack. Mr. Stephen May's recent letter (published May 13) to the editor is a perfect example of this.

While Mr. May fails miserably in his quest to justify Ohio's antiquated public sector collective bargaining laws, which are bankrupting the state, he leaps to the spurious conclusion that Ohio's multi-billion dollar indebtedness is somehow the fault of Wall Street bankers, GM executives and even the few remaining manufacturing companies of the area that are still in existence. Typical Obama class warfare.

By Mr. May's warped thinking, moreover, it is industry's "fault" that we find ourselves in economic decline and unable to afford state employees' gold-plated health and pension plans and their multi-millions of dollars in unfunded accumulated sick day benefits, for example. Oh really?

He singles out Summitville Tiles, in particular, as being one of the real "villains" of the area, a company that has somehow "cheated" its employees and the communities in which it has operated for the past 100 years. Hogwash.

While I hate to burst Mr. May's bubble, I am compelled to set the record straight on a few of his more flippant suppositions as they relate to Summitville Tiles:

In the wake of NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, most of America's domestic ceramic tile industry was completely wiped out of business. Summitville Tiles was forced to restructure its operations, and yes "cut to the bone" in order to survive. Had we not done so, the 150 remaining employees of the company with a combined 2,700 years of seniority would have perished. We would have gone the way of Eljer, Crane Deming and scores of other area manufacturing companies that gave up the fight.

I might add that during the period of restructuring at Summitville Tiles, 2002-2010, the company pumped more than $190 million into the local economy, $8.4 million of which was in federal, state and local taxes. I guess this is chump change to Mr. May.

The County Port Authority's "buy-lease" agreement with Summitville merely positions the company to remediate defunct tunnel kilns in a manner compliant with federal and state environmental regulations. Without these regulations, we could have safely undertaken this project at a fraction of the cost.

Of course, we could go offshore, and avoid this expense and hassle altogether. We could bulldoze the plant in Summitville to the ground. Maybe that would make Mr. May happy.

Well I hate to disappoint him: I have no intention of succumbing to the personal attacks. Our record at Summitville speaks for itself - the last remaining charter member of the tile industry's national trade association to remain alive. Not a bad record by most accounts.

David W. Johnson,

CEO-Summitville Tiles, Inc.,

County GOP Chairman



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