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Your Morning Matters: More views on stimulus funds

News that a jury declared George Floyd was murdered last year by a former Minneapolis police officer came as a relief to Youngstown’s Black leaders.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters.

It’s Wednesday, April 21, 2021, and last week I shared my idea for using a piece of the $88.6 million in federal stimulus funds to pay off the Covelli Centre and use the center's future revenue for the ongoing benefit of the city.

I'll admit that sometimes my words are less than artful. Heck, I write a couple hundred of these morning missives per year. Some are better than others. Yet I learned a long time ago that readers can interpret another's words through their own experiences and come to a conclusion that bears no resemblance to the original intent.

In writing about potential uses for the funds, I said: "Sidewalks, snowplows and even the repayment of the general fund are all short-term improvements that either engender more spending (sidewalks and snowplows will eventually need to be repaired or replaced) or, while important, are dead ends in terms of a return on investment."

By "return on investment" I was speaking only about the financial bottom line, not the soul-enriching, neighborhood-enhancing experience of getting a dilapidated sidewalk or street fixed. That's why I said they were "important," and also "there are many, many needs out there that deserve attention — and this is not to discount many of them." 

So I was a little surprised by a column submitted by Sarah Lowry of the Healthy Community Partnership Active Transportation Action Team. When I read the interpretation of my words as if I said such improvements are "a dead end deal” and then to be told “Not investing in sidewalks is ableist, classist, and probably racist,” I got a bit defensive. I wondered how my words could be so misconstrued. 

Sarah and I talked, and as I reflected, I realized these folks thought I was dismissing their earnest efforts. That was never my intent. And since we value a vigorous exchange of all views, we are publishing their column today. 

To be clear: I am confident that even if the Covelli Centre was paid off per my idea, the remaining $83.6 million will enhance life in many neighborhoods, and I share the hope we make neighborhoods more walkable. I also hope we invest some of the funds wisely, so they work for generations to come. The right mechanisms will ensure those new sidewalks are cared for properly, unlike the ones we see today all over the city.

And here are more of the things you need to know about what's happening in the Mahoning Valley:

Tuesday’s image of convicted murderer Derek Chauvin being led out of a Minnesota courtroom in handcuffs should be a “wake-up call” for police officers who unfairly abuse those they’ve sworn to protect, local leaders said Tuesday. News that a jury declared George Floyd was murdered May 25, 2020, by the former Minneapolis police officer came as a relief to Youngstown’s Black leaders — and with it, a reminder that the entire community must still fight for change.

“Honestly, I’m so glad to see the world is changing in real time, right in front of my eyes,” said Ty’onna Powell of Warren, a 20-year-old who helped coordinate a June march in downtown Warren. Reporters Justin Dennis, Jess Hardin and Ellen Wagner collected reactions from across the Valley.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 31,789,209 confirmed cases; 568,439 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 9 p.m. April 20.
  • In Ohio: 1,056,606 confirmed or suspected cases; the new adjusted COVID-19 death total is 19,033.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,113,868 confirmed cases; 25,767 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 20,991 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 15,653 in Trumbull; and 8,577 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 33,821.30, down 256.33 points, or 0.75 percent.

Other matters

As noted, members of the Healthy Community Partnership’s Active Transportation Team are responding to a recent column by yours truly. They seek "to underscore the importance of sidewalks in our communities and the multiple benefits of centering sidewalks in conversations about infrastructure spending and investments for the long-term public good." Mahoning Matters

Valley entities making news in today's Business Updates are Burgan Real Estate, Chromaticity Technologies, Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, Youngstown Business Incubator, Glass Gallery & Wellness, Patton Building Service, Suite Magnolias on the Green, CertaSite and Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio. Mahoning Matters

A GOP-backed bill introduced Monday by state Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, would change the name of Mosquito Lake State Park to honor former President Donald Trump. Mahoning Matters

Students in the Newton Falls Exempted School District have returned to fully remote learning for a couple of days due to a COVID-19 outbreak. WFMJ

Youngstown City Council is expected today to approve transferring $4,415,332 from the general fund to three other accounts to resolve issues raised in its last two audits that the money was improperly spent. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

Valley police departments will take part in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 20th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day at select drop-off locations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. WKBN

Youngstown and Warren posted large drops in unemployment rates for March compared with a year ago. Youngstown’s rate, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, was 7.9 percent last month, down from 9.6 percent in March 2020. Warren’s rate fell to 7.1 percent in March, down from the March 2020 rate of 9.1 percent. The Business Journal [May require registration.]

In case you missed it

As part of our ongoing mission to provide readers insight on key stories to help them make informed decisions, we are expanding our coverage of Youngstown’s mayoral race in several ways this week. Mahoning Matters

Your comments matter

“Nice effort!”

Judy Ramsey Pike, on students and staff painting panels on the outside of Boardman Glenwood Junior High School for a Global Youth Service Day project.

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.

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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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