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Your Morning Matters: Asking tough questions

The Youngstown State University faculty union said the university administration is “endangering all our lives” with its COVID-19 policies.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It's Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, and as Jess Hardin mentioned Friday, Mahoning Matters finds itself in need of a reporter. You can find the job listing by going here.

My favorite part of the job description: “The job’s demands are great, but the returns are even greater. This is a progressive, inclusive team environment with a two-year track record of breaking big stories and asking tough questions.” This is also apropos: “Our team might be small, but we are on a first-name basis with everyone on our beats, from local sources who admire our work to Ohio’s governor who regularly engages with us.”

One of my favorite Jess stories occurred when we did a virtual roundtable with Gov. Mike DeWine at the end of 2020. Jess, like many of us, had long grown weary of how the governor would couch certain points while attempting to straddle that line between the reality of COVID-19 and the push back from fellow Republicans who were, at worst, COVID deniers, and, at best, pushing back at state mandates imposed by the DeWine administration. And in asking a question, she referenced his frequent nods to “Republican talking points.”

I’ve sat in on DeWine editorial boards before. At the Youngstown Vindicator, he and Bertram de Souza used to go round and round. After one of those sessions, Bertram and DeWine got into a heated exchange behind closed doors. So I’ve seen him get exasperated before. But I rarely saw him flash anger and exasperation at the same time. 

From that point forward, in his coronavirus news conferences, every time it was Jess’ turn to ask a question, there was that familiar look from DeWine as he said, “Hello, Jess.” Sometimes it reminded me of when Jerry Seinfeld said, “Hello, Newman.” To his credit, he stood there and took our questions, and I gave him credit for standing in the arena. And I think he respected our efforts. 

Anyway, that’s what we are looking for: Someone to ask tough questions of everyone. If you think you’ve got what it takes and the job description lines up with your resume, apply! You’ve got some big shoes to fill. I miss Jess already, though I was sending her TikToks at 8 a.m.

And let’s all go make today count!

Here's what you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

The Youngstown State University faculty union said the university administration is “endangering all our lives” with its COVID-19 policies and calls the university “a ‘super-spreader event’ waiting to happen.”

The administration says: “The COVID-19 pandemic is an ever-changing moving target beyond anyone’s control; every day, we all learn new approaches to keeping ourselves and those around us safe.” Who’s right? We have the details.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 41,199,021 confirmed cases; 661,492 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 8 p.m. Sept. 13.
  • In Ohio: 1,304,193 confirmed or suspected cases; 21,154 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,350,719 confirmed cases; 28,568 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 25,688 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 18,942 in Trumbull; and 10,937 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 34,869.63, up 261.91 points, or 0.76%.

Other matters

In this week's "An Inclusive Table," Eartha A. Hopkins notes: "The wealth gap between local African American small businesses and their counterparts will require a reckoning of personal and policy resolve." She shares her thoughts. Mahoning Matters

Beginning Tuesday, sections of roads in Mill Creek Park will be closed for resurfacing, and various parking lots throughout Mill Creek MetroParks will be closed for asphalt preventative maintenance. Mahoning Matters

While it’s difficult to predict how the flu season will fare this year, experts say it may be worse and begin earlier than in 2020, partly because influenza viruses were virtually nonexistent due to coronavirus preventive measures. Here's what you need to know. Mahoning Matters

Big changes are coming to the Mahoning County Board of Elections with the retirement of Director Joyce Kale-Pesta and the departure of two longtime board members. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

Increased police presence, more lighting and installation of more security cameras were among the solutions presented at a meeting about downtown Youngstown safety. More than 30 downtown business owners, landlords and other interested parties joined city officials, including Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and members of his administration, for the discussion. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

The public comment portion in connection with the next construction phase of Mill Creek MetroParks’ East Park Hike and Bike Trail is open. Comments must be submitted by Oct. 18. WKBN

Youngstown Air Reserve Station announced Monday that it will mandate vaccines for all Reserve Citizen Airmen by Dec. 2. WFMJ

The second annual Michael's Miracle Blind Scramble is Saturday to benefit 7-year-old Michael Parteleno, who has been diagnosed with a rare disease that will eventually take his life. WFMJ

In case you missed it

Beth Kotwis Carmichael, Trumbull County Tourism executive director, said the bureau aims to cater to varying interests of locals and travelers alike. For it’s efforts the bureau's 2020 Trumbull County Visitors Guide received a 2021 Destiny Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Your comments matter

“A great lady doing a great job.”

Mo Ray, on Beth Kotwis Carmichael, executive director of the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau. In August, the bureau's 2020 Trumbull County Visitors Guide received a 2021 Destiny Award presented by the U.S. Travel Association.

Registered readers can comment on a selection of our stories, and all readers can comment on stories on our Facebook page. Opinions published here do not reflect the views of Mahoning Matters.

Event of the day

Kill the Imposter, with special guest Paradox Rift, will perform at Westside Bowl, 2617 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at

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Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 37 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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