Mr. Cahill responds...
To the editor:
On Feb. 25 Tammy Hettinga asked a number of questions. I will try to answer them here for her benefit and for the benefit of all who have such questions:
As I stated many times, we are not interested in determining what stores stay and what stores go.
What we are promoting is a healthy downtown. In a healthy downtown, stores that are successful occupy the primary locations stores that are less successful occupy secondary locations or fail. This is not my idea. This is capitalism and it is a core tenet of our country and our government. In a healthy downtown capital is available for improvement. In a healthy downtown the best business plan thrives.
As I have stated publicly many times, the increased tax base would be recouped by the additional and appreciated rentals that the building owners could charge in a healthy downtown.
Almost all of the buildings that occupy the development corridor of our downtown have elevated floors. Certainly they must be served by proper exits. This is not a requirement of mine; this is a requirement of code. It has always been. Many of these structures access the upstairs through the downstairs.
I own a few downtown buildings. I intend to upgrade my buildings whether or not the city is successful with the redevelopment effort. It is responsible to maintain your property and to rent proper and safe facilities regardless of what any code mandates as the minimum standards.
I have tenants in some of my buildings, I have tenants in mind for the others.
I spent the first five years of my career building retail shopping malls in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Indiana. Generally I do understand the requirements of these and other retailers. I am not an expert on leasing to these and other tenants. This is why we are asking the developer to employ a leasing agent.
I have some of the listed businesses lined up. Others I am willing to help with start-up or to start myself. This is the reasoning behind the proposed Business Incubator Project.
None of the proposed tax, or debt that we are asking the city to assume will be used for building renovation. All cost of building renovation will be shouldered by the building owners.
I would be happy to have my daughter live in Salem. The fires, drugs, and crime is symptomatic of the failure that we intend to repair. I could live any place in the United States. I chose Salem to grow old in and for my wife to grow old in after I am gone. I truly love Salem. It is not about the buildings for me, it is about the character of the people. My father and his father walked these streets. It is my home.
I believe, we believe, that the downtown is the problem. Like a cancer, it will destroy all that Salem is if not made right. We start with the city because it is the most difficult, not because it is the simplest. Our plan will cause the sickness to be abated and our entire city will thrive.
I have nothing against tattoo parlors. I have nothing against churches. I discussed churches in answering a question asked of me and I discussed tattoo parlors in the same way. There are great churches and there are very bad churches. There are wonderful tattoo parlors and there are dumps. I don't want old ladies fleeced of their wealth by unscrupulous churches and I don't want people getting diseases from dirty needles. Every decent church and every proper tattoo artist feels as I do.
If we fail, we all fail. There is no Salem where everyone else fails and, somehow you and your business are left behind. We are in this together and it is high time that we all started acting like brothers and sisters.
You should be leading the way instead of following. I do not mean this to be cruel, but read some of the things on the shelves in your store!
Tammy, I understand that you are worried that the changes that the TAC proposes will hurt your business. I can't promise you that you will be successful or that you will fail. What I can promise, is that you will have an opportunity for success that you never had before. What you do with that opportunity is entirely up to you.
Contact attempts ignored
To the editor:
I have repeatedly asked for the link to the TAC report by going to the savedowntownsalem email address given in the Salem News, but have gotten no reply (possibly because my downtown business name is my email address).
I would rather ask questions directly, but it's impossible when various attempts to make contact are ignored.
I have managed to read the report and find I have more unanswered questions for Scott Cahill and TAC.
Please correct any misunderstandings, but this is what I read:
You want the city to "draft a new building code as per TAC recommendations" and then want "compliance of a new code so elevated floors can be occupied safely." So your new code would force building owners to make second/third floors usable, whether they want to use them or not, correct? We're not talking structure, you want to force them to be up to a "new" code for usage.
Then, "if a building owner opts to do nothing, The city will take the building... and offer it to the developer at it's(sic) static value." Or, a building owner can apply for a loan to upgrade "but the city or the developer may guarantee the loan and may take a position of lien."
While everyone wants buildings with bricks falling to be repaired or razed, that is not the subject of your new code. Goodwill and TriCounty Church may have structurally sound buildings, but your new code would force them to have their upper floors able to be occupied and up to (your) code, to which you already "wish to add additional requirements" "including monitored alarms" at $100/month (after installation).
Then, besides the "total costs of development accruing to the city" of $922,000, this all "may require the city to take proactive actions to assist in land acquisition...and abatement of certain taxes." I understand you wanting the city's help with your building grab, but please explain the "abatement of taxes." As a building/business owner (were any of us contacted by TAC?) I would love a tax abatement. You say the city should break even in eight to 11 years "upon the sunset of the real estate abatement." Please tell us why, after residents contribute $100 apiece, and you acquire buildings if they don't meet your new code, you also don't want to pay taxes for awhile?
Also, a personal concern of mine, is that Broadway at State "was suggested to accommodate green space" as "a handful of parking spaces and roadway could be given up." Now you are talking about taking away access to more than just a handful of us on this block who own our buildings and have our businesses in them. We have improved our buildings without handouts, and we already have put in businesses.
I wish I thought you were just hot air, but I am afraid if we don't speak up, many of us will lose because some part of this "report" will be enacted.
Fix structurally unsound buildings and I'll applaud you. Try to take what's not yours to take and I will criticize.
(I do understand venture capitalists, seed money, and series LLCs.)
Was a rally not protest
To the editor:
After reading the article and the editorial "The UAW comes knocking," I would just like to say, as a member of UAW local 1714 I feel I attended a rally not a protest. These rallies were held across the US at Flex N Gate facilities, for a show of support for the Flex N Gate workers in danger of losing their jobs for trying to unionize.
The UAW doesn't come knocking, we are always there in support of union and non-union workers. What we stand for is a fair wage, respect for the employees and their families, and safe and humane working conditions. We are always watching. These are the jobs that some of our children will be working someday, they need to provide a decent and honorable living.
Labor is what built this country from the bottom up. I take a great deal of pride in the fact that I work a physical and challenging job. As a member of the UAW we the workers have great input in problem solving, improving our product and the environment we work in.
We are not absolved from discipline for infractions of behavior, absenteeism or bad work habits. We are held accountable. We own our mistakes. We cannot however be fired or discriminated against because our managers dislike us, what we look like, or what they judge us to be.
We may not all have Thanksgiving dinner together, but together we give thanks, we are a huge family that come together when one of our brothers, sisters, managers, or communities need help. We promote buy "American made products."
Our membership, committees, teams and individuals devote time for various charities and causes to benefit others. I understand that we fear what we don't know, but if you look back through history organized labor have been fighting to improve working conditions from day one.
As one of those people rallying in support of your rights to unionize or not, raise your cold middle finger to me and I will take it in my warm hand to keep it from harm. It is after all your right of freedom of expression. I will still stand and support your rights for a living wage, a safe work environment and worker respect. I am neither against management nor the wealthy owner of a company. I am for a prosperous United States of America, for when we prosper the world prospers. If you want to know more ask a union brother or sister.
Member of UAW Local 1714
Upset with 'toxic corridor'
To the editor:
One afternoon when I came home from work, my grandson's friend was sitting on the couch with his head in his hands. He told me, "I just found out that another one of my good friends was diagnosed with cancer."
Austin is a junior in high school. Unfortunately, I was not surprised. When you live in the toxic corridor of the Ohio River, serious, fatal, and debilitating diseases are not unusual.
East Liverpool, Ohio, is an area being studied by the American Cancer Society because of cancer rates and by U. of Cincinnati researchers, cooperating with Dr. Roxanne Burns, KSU faculty member, for manganese levels. Because of the work of Alonzo Spencer, the county has been declared an Environmental Justice Area.
A major problem that contributes to global warming is coal fired power plants: First Energy's Sammis plant at Stratton and the Cardinal Plant farther down river. First Energy installed scrubbers that were supposed to clean emissions. However, the smoke and steam coming out of the smokestack is still dark. Some say only one of the scrubbers is working; others say the scrubbers were never placed in operation.
"Little Blue," a fly-ash dumping ground for the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant changed a bucolic environment to a fenced-in nightmare. The site sits just above the Ohio River. First Energy has plans to "clean-up" by 2016. Ironically, although the clean-up calls for treating and releasing the water into the Ohio River, for a number of years local residents have reported that Little Blue is shrinking. Where did that water go? Only one place is possible: into the river.
Burning coal contributes to mountaintop removal mining. We know that the greatest contributor to global warming is the power plant cycle.
In his State of the Union message, President Obama pledged to act administratively to reduce pollution that will affect climate change and environmental health. A poll conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environment America, following the State of the Union, shows that 65 percent of Americans believe climate change is a serious problem and a strong majority (i.e., 60 percent) support President Obama's use of executive authority to reduce the dangerous industrial carbon pollution that is causing climate change.
Although he charged Congress to act first, President Obama made it clear that if Congress did not act, his administration would do so.
In this time of inaction on the part of Congress, given the importance of the issues we face with climate change the President and his Administration must hold fossil fuel corporations accountable, reject proposals to import dirty fuels, support development of clean energy, and protect communities from future climate disasters like Hurricane Sandy.
It is evident that we cannot wait. We must imagine a world in which a junior in high school does not have to mourn over the cancers and cancer deaths of his friends. The time for the President to act is now.
PATTI CAPEL SWARTZ,
Kind words for late coach
To the editor:
He was a strict disciplinarian coach who made his athletes work hard to earn success in sports, but also in their chosen lifetime careers.
He encouraged his athletes to excel academically, to respect their teachers while taking the toughest subjects preparing them for life's many struggles.
His athletes could be seen, even doing off-season practicing to improve the sports they enjoyed as team members.
He was Salem High School's track and field coach for several years and many of his athletes won state titles.
He was the assistant varsity coach for John Cabas at Salem High School for several years.
He was varsity basketball coach nine seasons for the Salem Kent State University regional branch men's teams.
His seven win, one loss, one tie record at Salem KSU branch campus was the all-time Cougar record, which included 15 straight victories during the 1969-70 season.
His Cougars' 1970-71 team (13-3) scored 100 or more points seven times on its way to an all-time high of 98 points as it outscored its opponent, 1,540 to 1,252 points.
He was humble and gave his athletes praise always for their efforts that earned those teams respect from opponents throughout his coaching career.
He always told the news media, area newspapers, radio, TV, when key conference, Columbiana County, sectional, district, regional, state events were held and those athletes who went on to win or place at state tournaments.
A longtime friend during my 53 years as a sports writer (13 years at the Salem News, seven at the Warren Tribune, 31 at the Youngstown Vindicator).
Coach Karl Zellers recently passed away and he'll be missed for years by Salem and area athletes and sports fans.
MARK M. MILLER,