Republican Chairman's audit question remains
To the editor: Salem Mayor Jerry Wolford's recent guest column appeared to be more about bolstering his troubled campaign for re-election than addressing the one issue that may end up defining his four years as mayor - his responsibility for a city in serious decline.
Why so strenuously oppose an independent audit that would not cost the city a single dime unless, of course, it were to save more than it costs? The mayor claims such an audit would be a waste of money because there is just "no way" to cut costs other than in areas that have "already been tried or discussed." Oh really? He wrongly contends, moreover, that the city's "contractual obligations" (i.e. union contracts) simply cannot be touched. This may be his platform for re-election but that doesn't make it so. Certain provisions of these contracts are, frankly, at the core of Salem's looming fiscal crisis.
Consider the following:
1.) The city's so called "pension pick-up" whereby city employees have a zero percent contribution (the mayor pays a paltry 1.5 percent) to what is essentially a "gold plated" retirement plan, permitting some to retire at age 55 with up to 80 percent of their best three years income (including overtime), plus health care, for life. This pension pick-up provision alone is estimated to cost the city some $300,000 annually.
2.) A health care package to which employees contribute a mere 7 percent of premium with a zero percent deductible vs. the private sector's average 31 percent contribution of premium and $2,000 deductible. Proposing a 15 percent contribution of premium and reasonable deductible paid by the employee could generate another estimated $200,000 in annual savings.
3.) Extraordinarily generous "paid days off" can amount to as much as nine weeks paid time off per year, per city employee. Additionally, the city has absorbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in excessive overtime in recent years due largely to arcane work rules that bind the city into an untenable and unaffordable spiral of unnecessary spending.
These are just a few of the enormously costly "contractual obligations" which the mayor suggests are "untouchable"but which an audit might well identify as being beyond the norm. The mayor, of course, wants to hurry up and conclude current, secret contract negotiations (with perhaps some slight adjustments) in advance of the November election, prior to the potential passage of a new state law that would put a stop to the excesses highlighted above. Would an independent audit expose this to the public? He fears it would.
Ultimately, it will be the voters of Salem who will decide whether or not there should be an audit of the city's finances as this will be a defining issue in the Salem mayoral campaign.
More importantly, it will be the voters who will decide whether or not the city will continue down its current path of ever increasing spending with the promise of ever increasing taxes. This hasn't worked at the federal level, nor at the state level. And it is an unwise and unsustainable course for this already economically depressed community to pursue.
DAVE JOHNSON, Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman and Salem resident
Thanks for supporting SHS Athletic Hall of Fame
To the editor: On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Salem Community Center was once again the site of the Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony. Inducted as the Class of 2011 were Louis Juliano, Shannon Leininger, George Spack, Michael Rea, and Walt DeShields. Recognized as this year's recipients of the Spirit of Salem Award were Paul and Carol Sue Headland. The sold-out crowd enjoyed a fabulous meal and fellowship along with many moving speeches and comments shared by our inductees. This memorable event would not have been possible without the generous support of the following businesses and individuals:
BB Rooners, Bailey Financial Planning,
Barclay Machine, Inc,
Campf's Service Co., Inc.,
Crabb Insurance Agency, Inc.,
D. T. Moore & Company,
Dental Health Group,
Dr. Matt Yerkey,
Dr. Kevin Madjarac,
Excel Physical Therapy,
Friends of George Spack,
Gene's Drive Thru,
Gordon Brothers Water,
The Heart Center of Northeastern Ohio,
Insurance Center of Salem,
J.H. Lease Drug Company,
Jesko Associates, Inc.,
Julian Electric Service, Inc.,
Morris Financial Group,
Refresh Dental Management,
Salem Community Hospital,
Salem Computer Center,
Salem Chrysler Jeep Dodge,
Salem Giant Eagle,
Salem Girls Soccer Boosters,
Salem Twin Cinema,
Salem Welding & Supply Co.,
Stadium GM Superstore,
Stadium GM Superstore: John Benson,
State Farm: Bridgett Cutlip,
Tolson Comfort Systems,
A big thank you to all of them! In addition, we would like to thank the Salem Community Center and Mindy Wertenbach, Nick Cool of The Image Works, and The Salem News for all of their support and assistance.
Please remember that open nominations for the Class of 2012 will start in December. Those can be sent to P. O. Box 662, Salem, OH 44460.
Spirit of Salem recipients express their gratitude
To the editor: We would like to thank the Salem High School Athletic Hall of Fame Committee for such an awesome banquet. Everything was fantastic about the evening. All the people honored had interesting stories. The food was great. Mark Equizi was an excellent MC. It was fun talking with many of the people that we haven't seen for years.
David Janofa did an excellent job of introducing us. Some of the stories he told were true ... just kidding. Mike Lesch wrote a great article. We enjoyed talking with him about Salem history.
It was a great night for the city of Salem. Salem people honoring Salem people. I think there will be many more sell-outs of this Banquet.
Thanks to Stephanie Headland Linder for all the work she did. Love you Putter. Thanks Salem, "We love you." PAUL HEADLAND, CAROL SUE HEADLAND, Salem
LaBrae apologizes for any perceived disrespect
To the editor: To the Salem Band, Football Team and Community Members:
Last Friday night (Sept. 2) our football team exited the locker room late and regrettably decided to cross the field while the Salem Marching Band was playing. We apologize for our actions and do not intend any disrespect toward the band members, players, or the fans. Salem is an outstanding community and it is our pleasure to be able to enjoy a competitive relationship through our high school athletic programs.
LaBrae High School
Spay/neuter is a reasonable solution
To the editor:As I read of the continuing cuts by county commissioners in order to preserve money, an area that seems to be overlooked is the Columbiana County Dog Pound and Adoption Center. Let me be clear, in no way am I endorsing reduction in manpower or any service they provide. God knows, they can't keep up with the overwhelming demand for their assistance, now. However, a common sense step to reducing expenses is to reduce the flow of dogs into the pound. Obviously, handling over 1,000 dogs in a year has great associated expense. Isn't it time to implement some form of mandatory spay and neuter of dogs in this county in order to stop the flow and curb the expense? As president of the Humane Society of Columbiana County, I often speak to business and civic groups on animal welfare and related topics. In explaining that there are costs to taxpayers and donors that directly result from animal pollution (my term for animal overpopulation), I use this analogy which gets right to the heart of the issue. Imagine that instead of being a county dog pound, we are talking of a municipal sewage disposal plant and imagine that the governing administration ordered the staff to cut operations and expenses. But at the same time, the administration knowingly distributed a laxative to the population, thereby increasing the flow into the sewage disposal plant. This is exactly what we are doing in the animal welfare community. Cuts to budgets are dictated and donor dollars dwindle, but the flow of dogs (and cats) just keeps coming and someone is expected to handle it. Please, if you don't know what mandatory spay and neuter of pets is about, look it up on the internet, or contact me via the Humane Society of Columbiana County. I would be glad to speak to you or your group on the topic. Although the humane society is funded solely by donor dollars and does not receive any taxpayer dollars, we are asked constantly to accept unwanted pets as if they were used tires. Financially, we simply cannot keep pace with the demand. Currently, we must refuse the pet unless related to a humane case. Mandatory spay/neuter is a reasonable solution to a very outdated and unnecessary problem. JENNY R. PIKE, Salem
Urges all to fly flag with pride and honor
To the editor: Come see my house on Roosevelt, especially at night when it's lit up.
After 9/11 everyone was so patriotic but now hardly anyone flies their flag.
I am very patriotic. All the time I fly my flag with pride and honor I am thankful to be an American, for all our freedoms and am so honored to know our guys and gals that fight to give us those freedoms. My family fought and I so appreciate what they do for all of us!
When I hear our national anthem- put my hand on my heart-there are tears in my eyes. To think of all blood shed - soldiers hurt and ones who gave it all-their lives so we can be free!
So come on people. Fly your flag with pride and honor. Show your respect for all who fought and all that are still fighting and thank all in your prayers tonight. Outside my home I will fly all my flags, all 275, on this Labor Day, 9/11, Fourth of July, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and any special day but on inside I have tons of American items in all rooms. I have been saving for years and if they would last I would leave up all the time. But wind, rain and weather destroys them and their wood, so I display on holidays. I am so proud to be an American. Are you?!
DOTTIE SELL, Salem
We need positive action in Washington
To the editor: An article appeared in the newspaper titled "We Need More Than Mere Words." The author was "Jules Witcover, an excellent writer and I never fail to read his column.
Mr. Witcover writes of the lack of positive action in Congress and what appears to be a continuous war of words with no results. Some of us remember Harry Truman when he referred to his do nothing Congress. History is repeating itself, but this time the results can be far more disastrous. Some people think the stimulus program was the way to go and refer to President Roosevelt and President Eisenhower administrations as positive examples. Roosevelt had to deal with a severe depression and high unemployment and his government financed programs did create many needed jobs. Some people took issue with Roosevelt and his so- called New Deal. They feared a complete government take over. Eisenhower was elected in 1951. By then the depression was receding, but with the war over and so many war factories now idle millions were still out of work. Eisenhower's ambition was to construct super highways throughout the country, a worthwhile project and jobs were created. These programs could not be considered stimulus, because the funds went directly to the job sites and jobs were created on the spot. I cannot believe after absorbing the tremendous cost of financing WWII and the cost of reconstruction that followed that our treasury was fat with dollars. So we must assume the government was forced to borrow or printed the money to finance these projects. However, there was one glaring difference between then and today. Now we have $14 trillion national debt staring us in the face increasing by the hour and we're struggling to pay the interest alone.
Attempting to stimulate our economy with borrowed and printed money was a serious mistake and any further stimulation will only shorten the life span of our already crippled economy. Mr. Witcover suggests the President should start now with a much more ambitious and aggressive public works scheme and pin his chance of reelection on it.
With due respect to Mr. Witcover I must ask, where will the money come from to finance any new government projects? And why should the re-election of President Obama be a factor in solving the financial problems of this country? This problem will never go away until we find the intestinal fortitude to attack the welfare system we have allowed to smother us.
As long as we are spending more money than were taking in we will continue to sink ever deeper into the quagmire of economic ruin. We must replace those people in Washington who are too timid to face the truth. We need people who will stand tall, tell us the truth, take the necessary action and do it now no matter how unpleasant it is for any of us.
LEON J. WHITE, Columbiana