Monthly Archives: August 2009

Help Spread the Welcome Mat

I promised this post to  list some of our valley’s best businesses and services. This would be something that could aid any new neighbors that are settling in our valley. I asked for your help in suggesting some and only Katie was kind enough to send along a list (see  under comments in my last post).  Since hers was the only one I received I’m going to ask again and wait until next post to form a list.

I need you to think about suggesting the best business you’ve dealt with for categories such as the following: Realtors, home repair, plumber, electrician, roofer, window and siding companies, garage doors, hardware store, lumber yards,  furniture store,  carpeting and flooring, carpet cleaners, auto mechanic, tire sales, brake and exhaust work, barber, beautician, doctor, lawyer, dentist, best clothing shop, best department store, best shoe store,  best cleaners, best antique store, best thrift store, grocer, meat store, fruit supplier, candy store, florist, flea market, pizza shop, best hamburger, best ethnic food, best wings, best fish dinner, best church food, best BBQ, best breakfast, best lunch, best buffet, best coffee shop, best ice cream, best vegetarian restaurant, best salad, best steak, best bar, unique stores, unique sites not to miss, art venues, music  venues, organizations,  etc.

I realize I should have given the above categories last time and I ask you to send me something even if it is just one suggestion from any category. Post it in my comment section or e-mail it to me.

A list like this is needed because think about how you find out about a community when you are visiting it. How do you learn something about that community? For me I usually pick up a local newspaper or if I’ve already arrived at my destination I watch the local news. Would you want a visitor to get an impression of our valley by those methods? I think not. First off local news shows tend to open with a, “If it bleeds it leads” format which never shows communities in a good light.

As far as newspapers the days of local newspapers are pretty much gone. I get the Warren Tribune and everyday when I read  the editorial page I ask myself why I still subscribe to this corporate owned rag. The ultra-conservative syndicated columnists certainly don’t represent our community. The local editor doesn’t represent our valley when he writes columns taking great delight when any area workforce takes a big concessionary contract.

On August 27, 2009 a front page article from the wire service exclaimed, “Cash for Clunkers under budget with 690,000 sales.” It contained the following quotes : “The popular Cash for Clunkers program generated nearly 700,000 new car sales during the past month, giving the U.S. auto industry a badly needed jolt of activity during the deepest decline in auto sales in two decades.” “It proved far more popular than lawmakers originally thought. Congress added another $2 billion to the original $1 billion budget when the first pot of money nearly ran out in a week.”  “The Toyota Corolla was the most popular new vehicle purchased under the program. The Honda Civic, Toyota Camry and Ford Focus held the next three top spots. All four are built in the United States.” “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel-efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.”

What would the normal person make of that article? It would be that  “Cash for Clunkers” was such a success that the money had to be tripled because the plan was liked by consumers and beneficial to auto dealers. The article was on the front page of the Warren Tribune Chronicle and continued on page three.

A couple of pages later the editor writes a column titled, “Car, health programs are real clunkers.” This lets me know the editor has not even read the front page of his newspaper. That leaves we thinking that if the editor doesn’t read the newspaper he works at why should I?

In his editorial the editor  says, ” We have a way to examine the proposition that government can do things better. It is the ”Cash for Clunkers” program, which ended this week.” He ended by saying, ” If this is an example of how government does things efficiently, we think most Americans are going to conclude that Obama’s health care program is, well, a clunker.” To be fair in between he say that dealers had quite a bit of paper work to do and that their checks had not come yet from the government. I’m sorry but to sell 700,000 cars I’m sure they didn’t mind the paper work and that’s what they  already pay a guy to do. As far as waiting on a check I don’t get my tax refund very quickly either. I note that corporations are even slower as I’ve waited for rebates from some for months on end.

So I’m saying the Tribune is a pathetic rag and their editor is a moronic corporate puppet who only sees the government as being evil and worships corporations as his god. He’s all, profits before people which is far from the mentality of our community. He’s just a corporate employee who knows where his bread is buttered.  I certainly wouldn’t want a visitor to our community to think we collectively think like the editor at the Tribune who doesn’t even read his front page.

In our modern times I think communities aren’t just judged by their newspapers and TV stations. I know when I am visiting a community I turn to the Internet. I find sites that list places to see, restaurants etc.  that  local people have commented on. I also read blogs about the place I am visiting to find out the best the area has to offer. That is what I am trying to do by making up a list of the best of our valley. I also would like the list to help welcome newbies that have settled in our community to be able to find goods and services that area residents think highly of. That way when a newbie or visitor searches the Internet for things in the valley to enjoy this list will be available. I welcome your two cents as part of the welcome committee.

Bon Jovi: Who Says You Can’t Go Home

Welcome to Wherever You Are

“Life is not about the things that you could have done, but of what that can be still done.”   Author (Jonathan Danieli)

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A Call for: Tips for Newbies

I hate how some of our area people talk discouragingly about life in the Mahoning Valley. We need to be reminded from time to time about  all the things that make this area great. A few weeks ago I saw this story in the Warren Tribune about a visitor to Warren that couldn’t believe how kind the area was to him.

On a similar note a family that has just recently moved here and loves it couldn’t believe how area folks talk down about our valley. In the past the Elecpencil has declared that some of these families that settle here become our biggest advocates because they are looking at the area with fresh eyes. I love how  some of these people really throw their spirit into making this a better  community. These new pioneers become our biggest assets!

The family that just became new members of our community have set up a blog called, “A Shiny New Life in the Rust Belt” I think you’ll like the blog and I have added it to my blog roll. They are certainly a welcome addition to our section of the Rust Belt.

I’d also like you to check out a new blog I added called, “Margaret and Helen.” I think we are never to old to learn and we can all learn from our elders. These two ladies dispense a world of wisdom with plenty of humor. What more could you ask for? Well, maybe, someway you could help change the world without being Atlas and taking the whole planets problems physically on your back. I’ve got that for you with my always fresh Armchair Activist section.  It only takes less than a minute to sign each call to action and you won’t feel exhausted from doing it and you’ll have made a difference in the world!

In my next post I will give our new Rust Belt Residents info they can use. I’m talking about where to shop, things to see, where to eat, etc.  Send me your tips on favorite local pizza shops, best hardware stores, best plumber, electrician, furniture store, best recreational sites, things not to miss and places and services to aid our newbies. I’m counting on all of you so don’t make me do this alone.

We are a community which means “common unity” and we are always better together.

Jack Johnson sings it: Better When We’re Together

Upside Down

A home is not a place, it is a people. ~ Lois McMaster Bujold


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First Amendment Fence

In recent town hall meetings about health care folks  from New Hampshire to Arizona, have been seen displaying loaded firearms. These protesters tell the media that gravitates toward them that they are displaying their gun as a symbolic free speech act. It’s funny that these gun totters who   seemed to think the only amendment we ever had was the second one about bearing arms are now interested in the first amendment about free speech.

These protesters claim they are at the town hall meeting to fight Obama and his socialist tyrannical government.  They are opposed to any government health care plan because they hate the government and they claim such plans will put their children into debt.

Of course many of us are asking, where were these patriots when GW Bush was killing our kids in an war based on lies?  Where were they when GW Bush ran up the debt for our children with his oil war and his deficit? Where were they when Bush  I ran up the deficit? Where were they when he said, “No new taxes” and then raised taxes? Where were they when Regan ran up the deficit?  Where were they when Reagan ran and illegal war against Nicaragua? I guess they were at home playing with their guns.

When GW Bush was president people were not allowed to protest anywhere near him. People were detained or arrested for wearing anti-Bush shirts or carrying signs against him. He also had the same policy when he was governor of Texas. His brother Jeb who was governor of Florida had the same policy. It was as if  they couldn’t handle the fact that people disagreed with them.

Listen I don’t want to take any ones gun away. I do feel those who even legally are allowed to stand on the sidewalk carrying a gun near where a politician is speaking bear watching as I’m sure the authorities do. Seeing these people interviewed I sense some real psychological problems.

I just want to know where these gun totting “Real Americans” were to defend my right to protest GW Bush? I suspect they were the Hummer driving Bush lovers who taunted the Elecpencil and others who were stuck behind the “First Amendment Fence” when I protested GW a few years back. Here is the article I wrote about it at the time:

Signs of the Times

I had just been reading that AFL-CIO President Tom Sweeny had called GW Bush the worst president for labor in 50 years. That fact was lost on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners who invited “Resident” Bush to come to their training center at Neville Island, Pennsylvania on Labor Day.

I thought what could be a better way to spend Labor Day than protesting the unelected President. I assumed many unionist would be there picketing. I was thinking area local unions would probably suspend their Labor Day parades, which celebrate their history and look to their future by confronting Bush.

I headed off with two cohorts or as they would be known in Kafka and GW Bush’s America, as co-conspirators. I won’t mention their names because to do so without contacting them would make me a participant in Attorney General John Ashcroft’s  “snitch on your neighbors and friends” program.

Upon arrival it seems my “He’s not my President” t-shirt and my “Evict Resident Bu$h” sign marked me to the local and state police as a malcontent. I was henceforth directed to the “free speech area” which was behind a chain link fence. Not quite what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment concerning freedom of speech. Meanwhile, people with pro-Bush signs were able to line the streets. The dozen state policemen stationed near our “freedom fence” arrested a senior citizen and his sister. They had refused to move behind the fence with their signs. They had been threatened with a felony but were just given a citation after being detained for a few hours and released after GW’s motorcade passed by at 2 pm.

The 60+ protesters were there voicing different concerns from Bush’s questionable election to impending wars in the Middle East over oil. On the latter, I noted with some irony, the six oil tankers that passed by and how many of the Bush supporters were driving gas guzzling SUVs. Two girls, members of the “radical cheerleaders” livened things up with chants like…”GW stole the election, he loves lethal injections. The Supreme Court made him legit, now my 401K is shit.” The crowd sang along to “All we are saying is give impeachment a chance.”

The most fun was trading banter with those passing by. A twenty-something couple walking by shouted a mindless, moldy oldie slogan at me, “Get a job.” I explained to them I had one but now in the Bush economy I needed a second one. ” I continued with, “at least my daddy or the Supreme Court didn’t give me every job I ever had.”

The other stale remark aimed at us was, “love it or leave it.” I explained I was willing to move to any country that could be found that wasn’t at the mercy of America’s foreign policy.

The protesters, a mix from children to seniors, expressed concern why people, even if they voted for Bush didn’t seem concerned that protesters were caged. They wondered why other people in the same class as them don’t realize there’s a class war going on.

I was left wondering if protests and slogans really bother the powers that be then I ran across this quote to realize they do. “We have 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of it’s population…In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity. We should cease to talk about raising of living standards, human rights, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.” –George Kennen, Director of Policy Planning of the U.S. Department of State, 1948.

We are hated by much of the world because this quote has been carried out even more so since 1948. Supporting democracy and human rights and fighting disparity even if it means fighting your own government is patriotic. So lets break out the signs and the slogans.

I’m not for breaking out signs to defend corporate rights over citizens rights as many of today’s “patriots” are.

Tom Paxton: Buy a Gun for Your Son

GW Told the Nation

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross. ~ Sinclair Lewis

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Even the Poor Need a Night Out

I know I spend a lot of time here talking about politics. That is because the things my state and federal “representatives” do so influences my kids future and things aren’t looking good in that situation.  Today instead I need to take a break and  talk about how lucky we are to live in this area.  I need to do more praising of the businesses and venues we are lucky to have in our valley.

Last night Mr. and Mrs. Elecpencil along with two ladies who happen to be a couple of our area’s finest teachers went to take in dinner and a play. We started out by going to Barry Dyngles for dinner. The wife had the BBQ Ribs and Chicken dinner which is what we usually get when we dine there while the Elecpencil had pulled pork. Our friends had a steak and some ribs. All of us were very happy with our meals and the prompt friendly service.  Our baked potatoes could have been fresher and I should have remembered to get their excellent baked beans instead. Barry’ Dyngles features Armadillos award winning BBQ sauce if you remember the late Armadillos in Boardman and Austintown. Their dinner salad was nice sized and very good They have a ton of beers to select from to suit any taste.

I was able to use an $8 off coupon that was in my entertainment book which came in handy for my broke ass. I’m so poor without the coupon I would have had to lick someone else’s fingers.

We are lucky to have Barrys along with other great BBQ joints like Staples and the Royal Oaks. I’ve eaten many times at each and all three get the Elecpencil’s highest review of ten sticky fingers! Don’t be caught dead in a chain restaurant when we have such excellent area owned restaurants.

Next we headed down to Cedars which had three bands playing. Where else are you going to hear three bands for a mere $5. I had taken vows of poverty a decade ago to do the service sector job I now do. I love my job but it does make going out and having a nice time difficult. I was sad to see that Cedars no longer carries my beloved Straub Beer on Draft or even in the bottle. We really only had time to see the first band called, “The Psychic Assassins” who featured three different singers on lead which made for an interesting variety of sound. While mostly young folks were in attendance there were enough older folks about to not make me feel my age. Hey we never get to old to rock!

While in the bathroom I saw carved in to the wall, “Get out of Youngstown.” It made me think about how people don’t appreciate what great things we have here in our valley. The two teachers who accompanied us had not been in downtown Youngstown for quite a while and were stunned at seeing so many people lined up outside various nightclubs  at 11:30 at night.

We headed over to the Oakland Theater for the Arts to see the midnight showing of, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” We learned that the 8 PM show had sold out and I’d say the midnight show had about two-thirds of the theater full. What do I know about reviewing plays? Not much but by damn all four of us and the rest of the audience laughed our fanny’s off so that means it doesn’t get much better. Great songs, great singing, great cast, great directing, and a wonderful set. It’s amazing that this venue gets everything done with volunteers which speaks highly of our community.

One of the teachers with us directs plays and she gave it a still BBQ sticky two thumbs up. I was lucky enough to have won two free complimentary tickets so it was really a Greattttttt event! Truth is I would have paid big bucks to have seen this show but  I’m so damn poor even a Republican would give me welfare.

This play is over but I encourage you to go to their website and attend any of their events and you’ll be damn glad you did. If you won’t take my word for it the Oakland is having their: Third Annual Free Open House/Season Announcement Party August 29 from 6-9 pm. They will feature acts from their upcoming shows.

As I said we are damn lucky to live in this area with the entertainment and restaurants we have not to mention the great and kind folks who call this area home.

Don’t you dare say there is nothing to do around here. You can check links on my blog under: Valley Entertainment Info and find plenty to do. Well, that’s my two cents which is more money than I thought I had.

Bobby Blue Bland:  Poverty


“The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.” ~ Harry Kemp


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Over 25? We’re Doomed

Oh my God! I just learned that Obamacare is going to kill off  everyone over 25 and let 14-25 year-olds run the country. I saw this info  when I watched a new congresswoman speaking on CSPAN:

The inside of my cheek is hurting from having my tongue against it. I hope that is covered under Obamacare and I hope we get it soon. Damn I’ve been waiting since Hillarycare. Have you notice that the people against funding a national  health care plan already have plans that their employer is paying?

The above video is from the movie, “Wild in the Streets” from 1967. It puts anyone over 25 in “camps.”

Music from the movie: The Shape of Things to Come

Fourteen or Fight

Some help in debunking the lies against health care reform.

Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.

Pete Seeger

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Unfinished Business

I tend not to get comments in the comment section of my blog but instead get e-mails about something I have written. I don’t have any quibble with that as it’s nice hearing from folks even when they don’t agree with me.

That said I got an e-mail from someone saying they didn’t understand if my last post was condoning violence or not. I would reply that I feel every option should be used before violence as it should only ever be a last option or it does more damage than good.

A hero of mine is Jim Carey from Chicago who became Padre Guadalupe Carey, who was a Jesuit priest in Honduras. He lived among that countries poor for twenty years. He worked with co-ops on land reform and spoke against U.S. businesses exploiting Latin American workers. Padre Carey preached and used non-violent methods for years. Finally he picked up a machine gun and fought with rebels against the corrupt government of Honduras. He came to realize love sometimes means fighting back. He felt love for your oppressors demands an armed struggle to take the oppressors guns from them by which they are sinning repressing the poor and thus liberate the opponents and the oppressors.

He wrote. ” That to be killed for my following of Christ would be my greatest joy.” He disappeared in the jungles of Honduras in 1983 at age fifty-eight and is rumored to have been killed.

It is not always easy to understand why people might resort to violence unless you have had the same personal experiences. I’m not talking about random acts of violence against innocent victims. I’m talking about situations where people feel they are fighting an injustice and have no other option.

I wrote the following poem when the  plant I worked at for 28 years closed in 1999. The Joe (not his real name) in the poem was a fellow worker who had over 30 years in the mill. His son committed suicide in the mid 1990’s  and his brother in the late 1980’s.  I feared this worker would do what Joe did in the following poem.  Many fellow workers and I had a long talk with “Joe” to try and prevent such a thing from happening. Given the injustices and stress we workers had undergone for years I will never condone but am not surprised when I see workplace shootings involving management as the victims.

I give you: Unfinished Business

Damn near 28 years
Joe had given
to the company
along with his knees,
back, and shoulders.
The plant was sold to new owners
every few years who had big plans.
It always meant more concessions
from the already poor workforce
and more corporate welfare
from the local community.
The new owners would always reinstate
the failed methods of the last owners.
First off they’d get
leaner and meaner.
That was always a good way
to drive the stock price up.
You can call it downsizing or right-sizing
but the reality of growing smaller is that
having less workers on the shop floor
means less products out the loading dock door.
Since they eliminated his helper,
Joe now did the work of 2 men.
He roasted in the summer
and froze in the winter.
Not one of the owners ever cared about that
because they’d never actually been in the mill.
So they would not spend money
on air conditioners or heaters.
The workers were treated as pieces of machinery
to be used up then discarded and replaced.
Much to the workers credit they
still took pride in the product they made.
The companies thought only
about their short term goals.
Every owner wanted more and more quantity
and could have cared less about the quality.
In the end the buyers of the product
saw it for the junk it had become.
The plant closed for in the end
no amount of worker’s concessions
will ever save an industry from
bad management decisions.
The workers found they’d never get
their pensions or health care
as the owner had filed
in court for bankruptcy.
Joe came to the office on payday
to pick up his final check.
In the office sat the smug soulless owner
and a bible thumping, backstabbing supervisor
who started out on the shop floor
and slithered his way to the top.
Joe gave them an icy stare
as he put a 357 magnum to his temple
ending five decades of memories
and any future pain.
His fellow broken and battered
union brother and sisters
outside the same office door
all understood Joe’s agony.
Together they shared
the same dark thought,
though no one said it aloud.
They all secretly wished
that when Joe was in that office,
he wouldn’t have been so frugal
with the other bullets in his gun.

Brad Paisley: Welcome to the Future

Kris Kristofferson: In the News

“Poverty is the worst form of violence”~ Mahatma Gandhi



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Direct Action/Grow a Pair

Vestas Blades a wind turbine factory in the United Kingdom on the Isle of Wright was due to close on 31st July 2009. 600 jobs would be lost immediately, many more jobs that depend on Vestas would follow. These are the jobs of the future the “green jobs” we hear about.  The plant closing comes as a surprise because the government had just announced a major expansion of renewable energy including wind power.

Since July 20, 2009 the Vestas plant has been occupied by two dozen workers. To help support the plant occupation there have been peaceful  rallies by workers, families, trade unions, green organisations and various other groups. The workers are calling on the government to intervene to save jobs at Vestas through nationalization to show that it is serious about saving the planet.

On July 27, 2009 thousands of Chinese steel workers in the rust belt city of Tonghua gathered to protest the takeover of their company and threatened layoffs. The state-owned Tonghua Iron and Steel Group, was being sold to  privately owned Jianlong Steel. Chen Guojun, an executive at Jianlong Steel sparked a riot by announcing 30,000 workers would be laid off. The angry mob beat him to death and then blocked ambulances from reaching him. The workers dispersed only after they were assured by authorities the sale would not go through.

While I believe in direct action I don’t condone violence and think a plant occupation would have been the way to go. I do understand that a company that doesn’t care what will happen to 30,000 workers or their families can generate enough anger to make people act in ways that they never normally would.

Meanwhile back in the USA GM is declining to continue health care for 70,000 retirees and workers represented by the IUE-CWA and other non-union salaried workers and retirees. GM is saying the federal government prevents it from honoring its health care commitments under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On Wednesday July 29, 2009 a rally was held at the Warren Community Amphitheatre by IUE and UAW leaders to fight for their pensions and health care. As contrasted to the above two workers direct actions I use the term fight loosely when it comes to the Warren event.

These local union leaders said they will continue working with politicians and the courts to further their cause. They rejected the idea of asking anyone to boycott GM products.  The retired shop chairman of IUE -CWA said, “You can’t win a war by making more enemies than friends.”  The Elecpencil says, “You can’t win a war unless you know who your enemies are.” Yes I do feel sorry for what has happened to auto dealers already and I’d say buy used cars from them (they make more money on used ones anyway) and get your car serviced there but don’t buy a new GM vehicle. Yes I know that doesn’t help current GM workers but it’s time to have some balls like workers in other parts of the world.

I did see one woman at a local rally with a sign saying, ‘”Boycott GM.” I thought right on sister. She took some heat from fellow workers and a trashing from WKBN’s local radio talk show hosts. WKBN does advertising for many of the local GM dealers so they of course know where their bread is buttered. WKBN is owned by Clear Channel who has a history of union busting. I am curious myself as to what happened to the union that use to be at WKBN.

While I don’t want to see any violence in the fight labor needs to wage against what is happening in to our country it’s time to realize the days of winning anything by being civil never existed. In the end you only deserve what you are willing to fight for.

The Alarm: Blaze of Glory

The Stand

All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


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