Monthly Archives: February 2010

Good News for a Change/ A Change is Coming

First off I want to thank the good folks at Town & Country Veterinarian Hospital in Howland, OH. They helped ease the pain of a member of the Elecpencil family. Our 16 year-old mongrel, Sheba has been suffering with a heart murmur and lots of arthritic pain for some period now. The really down side to owning a pet is when you have to decide to euthanasia it. The compassionate staff at Town and Country understood that and was as helpful as they could have been. Bless you all and R.I.P. Sheba one gentle dog.

Now for some good new for our valley as miracles are happening! The following news was gathered from the Warren Tribune and Youngstown Vindicator. GM’s Lordstown complex will be building the new subcompact Chevrolet, Cruze. A third shift will return to the plant employing 1,200 more workers. Of that 1,200 workers 400 jobs will go to area laid-off GM workers the rest will be open to GM workers across the U.S. Local suppliers like Falcon Transport, Jamestown and Magna Seating will also benefit from the Cruze.

It was only a short while ago that, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner said, “One of the key reasons for the success of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 is the Lordstown workforce and the strong partnerships with the UAW and local and state officials,” He continued, “Based on the quality of work and these strong partnerships, we are pleased to announce our plans to invest $500 million in the Chevy Cruze product program in the U.S., including more than $350 million in Lordstown.”

There is a lot of other area good news to also celebrate. V&M Star Steel announced its $650 million expansion and up to 400 well-paying jobs along the Youngstown-Girard border. Ultra Premium Oilfield Services announced a $10 million expansion at its Brookfield location that will grow by somewhere between 50 and 120 high-paying jobs. Along with those and GM add in announced expansions or new facilities for Exal Corp., Reinforcement Systems, Patriot Special Metals and VXI Global Solutions. That all amounts to more than $1.4 billion being invested and nearly 3,500 jobs being created in and around the Mahoning Valley. That does not include Severstal Steel who is recalling more than 1,000 steel workers after more than a year of idling.

We also have, Eastern Gateway Community College who is bringing offices and classes to downtown Warren. Also tentatively scheduled to open in downtown Warren is the Warren Technology and Business Center for Energy Sustainability a techbelt incubator. The incubators would exist to support start-up companies in the sustainable energy field. The Warren incubator would be modeled after the success of the Youngstown incubator that has been praised in the Wall Street Journal. The Youngstown incubator has created 300 downtown jobs that average $58,000 in annual salaries. The anchor start-up, Turning Technologies, grossed $34 million last year and is expected to hire 20 employees this year.

I’ve missed a few other companies who are coming or expanding. To be fair I also have to mention that it looks like Denman Tire is closing if a new owner isn’t found. Also Delphi’s salaried workers are still struggling for their pensions. For the most part things are looking up in the Mahoning Valley!

That does not mean that the naysayers aren’t still active. First we have the anti-union conservatives in the valley. You hear them trashing unions while remaining anonymous on talk radio.  They also make anonymous comments trashing unions at the Warren Tribune and  Youngstown Vindicator’s online websites. GM’s CEO, Rick Wagner has thanked Lordstown’s UAW for concessions and co-operations that has resulted in GM investing $350 million in the Lordstown plant. That is not enough proof for the anti-union crowd. They will still go on about how our area has “tough” unions  that keep companies from locating here. These “tough” unions include the IUE who have established three tiers at Delphi and were well on their way to a fourth.

Then we have the crowd who says our area gets nothing because we always vote for anyone with a D after their name. Seems to me we have a Democrat in the White House, the Statehouse and as local mayors and our Rep. Tim Ryan and it looks like they are delivering to me. I guess these naysayers didn’t notice the failed eight years of the Bush administration.  I guess they forgot about the corrupt Taft administration we had in Ohio. As late as last Friday I heard one of the three Republican candidates running against Rep. Ryan on the radio saying, Ryan has done nothing for our area. OK I knew these conservative naysayers were deaf and dumb now I guess they are blind also.

Area conservatives would have us elect more losers like this fool.

I marvel at some of the naysayers that have moved from our area but still find it necessary to read our local newspapers on-line and send comments trashing the area. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Thank you for moving as you were part of the problem. One of the trash talkers to Vindy. com has made over 3,500 comments. Wow, pal I have to say,  you need to  spend some time instead on Ebay shopping for a life.

Here are comments trashing our city by a former YSU student who wrote for the Jambar, Bob Mackey.

Bob you never were funny and I’m sorry it took 25 years to get your useless keister out of our community. I’m sure you will be happier in some vanilla suburbia: where they tear out the trees and then name streets after them. Only the strong survive and we survive better when the weak get out-of-the-way. Thanks for getting out-of-the-way.

How about this blog that does nothing but trash our area, Youngstown Sucks.

This guy’s camera seems to be a tracking device that finds empty buildings. Somehow he can drive past a newly remodeled Eastwood Mall and go another half mile and find an empty Burlington Store.  Burlinton didn’t leave Bozo it moved behind the mall into a bigger building. What possesses a guy to see so much nothing but empty buildings? I believe it would be an empty soul.

Lots of good happening but the deaf, dumb and blind refuse to be healed by any miracle.

Eddie St. Clair: Youngstown Video

Vanessa Bell Armstrong: Good News

For our area naysayers: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

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Snow Bound and FEEBLE

If you are not eating meat for Lent be sure and check out, Aladdin’s Eatery in Boardman, Ohio. Mrs. Elecpencil and I enjoyed their pita pitzas. We also shared a smoothie that was big enough for both of us. You’ll be amazed at the case featuring their deserts. I’m not a fan of  chain restaurants but this is my exception and I highly recommend it!

I needed a garage door on the garage I have outback as the cable snapped. I called the place that gave me the best price and service on the garage door I had put on my attached garage in, 2007.  I called them last Monday and they came two hours later and measured my door. Two days later I came home from work to a new door and garage opener. They hauled away my old door and did a great job on the new one! That is why I highly recommend, Omega Garage Doors, in Youngstown, OH.

Is the snow getting you down? It could be worse as seen here.

The best laugh I had this week was from the Jimmy Kimmel Show. He said, “Sarah Palin would be smarter if she had bigger hands.”  I almost fell out of the official Elecpencil recliner when I heard that. Send me  a comment if you don’t get it.

Next we have the FEEBLE count. FEEBLE stands for, Frank’s erroneous, editorials, bashing, liberals endlessly. This is where I count how many times the Warren Tribune’s editor, Frank Robinson uses the word liberal negatively in an editorial.

On Feb. 10: 1 use of the word liberal.

On Feb. 11: 3 uses of the word liberal.

On Feb 15: 1 use of the word liberal.

From Feb.8 – 20  Frank scores:  8 big GOP brownie point huzzahs for saying: bureaucratic bumbling, lackadaisical attitude, tax payer money pit, tax burden, government waste, blatant biases, political hot air, and a call for pay cuts for city workers.

Frank’s Feb. 19 editorial attacked, President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board nominee,  Craig Becker. The editor doesn’t like Becker because he worked for the AFL-CIO and SEIU unions. Frank would have had no problem if Obama would have picked corporate attorneys like Reagan and two Buses did.

Editor Frank knows his editorial page does not represent the working-class makeup of our community. He is paid to represent the corporate policies of the Nutting family, that owns the newspaper and Frank delivers. In a previous post I had a link to the strange behaviors of members of the Nutting family. I now note that the link is nowhere to be found. I do know that my post was seen by a worker in the Trib’s editorial department as she commented a few times on my post. The link disappeared shortly after that.

A note to Frank, your newspaper lost it’s last bit of credibility when it purchased racist, Michelle Malkin’s syndicated column. Can a column by David Duke be far off?

Aorta: Ode to Missy Mxyzosptlk

Aotra: What’s in My Minds Eye

“I am not the editor of a newspaper and shall always try to do right so that God will not make me one.” ~ Mark Twain

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Time in a Bottle (Rocket)

It’s been a very strange week. Monday, I was a high school student looking out the window of my history class. Sure I loved history but I was thinking about the future that day. I decided there was no future as that day was never going to end. I was convinced high school would never have a conclusion. I was just one more awkward teenager without a damn clue. Like most goofs my age I was sure I’d be dead before I hit thirty. Hell, who’d want to live longer than that when these days are going so slooooow.

Tuesday, I was a sophomore at college. I was going for art but had switched to commercial art. That was a bad move as now I had to take business classes. Being in art is more brutal than you might think. In a lot of classes your classmates have no clue as to your progress. In an art class when all one has to do is look around at your neighbor’s easel it’s apparent when you suck. It is quite intimidating to realize that on a daily basis. Especially if you are the guy like me who didn’t measure up.

I was in a writing class that I really enjoyed. The young associate professor told me some of my writing struck a chord with her. She asked me to bring in some of my art. I did and she suggested I was wasting my time with art and should think about writing. If you’ve followed my writing on these pages you know by now she was wrong. I will readily admit I hate grammar and loath commas so it even makes it worse. I liked abstract art so now I do what I call, abstract writing. Commas be damned.

I went to a management class where the professor taught us the Maslow Hierarchy of  Needs Laws. He told us the theory was to give workers a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. That way you would get the best performance out of them. After spending a week on that and passing a test on it we came to next weeks class. We were then told to now throw what we learned about  the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs out the window. Instead we were told, give your workers just enough pay for food, clothing and shelter. That way they will make sure they drag their ass into work everyday. I realized this was pretty typical of the crap I was getting from business classes. My father  is a union barber who had been his union president. My grandfather was a steelworker, my two grandmothers and  all my aunts and uncles worked at Westinghouse. I was the proud descendent of a working-class family. Screw this business B.S. I headed to admissions and quit school.

Wednesday, I was off to be a steelworker and tell my union brothers and sisters about what the next bunch of young managers coming up were being taught at colleges. I said, how they were being taught to be even bigger a-hole bosses than the bunch already at the plant. Some of my fellow workers actually resented that news. Many of them were busting their cans off working overtime to put their kids through college. They did not want to believe their kids would forget where their roots were. I felt their pain but the next decades brought us what became known as, yuppie scum or soulless pricks as my fellow workers would say. An alarming number of this ilk turned their backs on their blue-collar upbringing.

I imagined my life as a steelworker would be to join in solidarity with my fellow Joe Six-packs and fight for the coming worker revolution. Workers of the world unite! Instead our political “representatives” didn’t represent the U.S. and our corporations had no patriotism so the companies up and left. Joe-Six-pack had been reduced to Joe-Two-pack after years of concessions that didn’t save his job in the end. Joe was rewarded with a tiny 401-K fund or worse a stolen pension and no health care.

Thursday, I started in the new economy. The service-sector economy which should be called, the anorexic paying-sector. I work with autistic kids and love the kids and staff but if my wife wasn’t working, we’d easily be eligible for food stamps. I volunteer to coach my eight-year old son, Adam and five-year old daughter, Mac’s recreational league soccer team. I learn along with them and meet some great parents and their great kids! I also met John, a coach from Lordstown who was so sick he actually taught his 5-9 year-old players how to injure their opponents. He finally was thrown out by the county’s soccer organization, as a coach. Without volunteering for coaching I never would have realize people that sick actually walk among us.

Friday, Mrs. Elecpencil and I picked up our daughter, the Mac from college in Pittsburgh. My son, Adam is the other way in college near Erie. Mac soon borrows the car and goes to visit her grandmother (my mother-in-law) . She is 87 and doing well enough that she still lives in her home. Grandma loves to play cards and Mac beats her three out of three times. The only one that ever beats grandma is Mac.  Grandma calls her one lucky kid. I realize I am one lucky guy to have her and Adam as children and Mrs. Elecpencil.

I am still fighting a nasty cold. I try some oregano oil that I bought some time ago and figure it can’t hurt. Actually, it did hurt in the fact it tasted  like liquid metal. I had just read this article about oregano oil being a good anti-biotic (Do some research on side-effects).

Saturday, I go to Youngstown and someone tries to kill me. I’m only kidding to see if you are still with me. Truth is  it’s one of the few times in Youngstown when I don’t face death. Every time I go some idiot waiting at  a red light takes off  before it turns green and pulls  in front of me. I am told by suburbanites that they’re afraid to wait at red lights in Youngstown. I guess actually waiting would make them pee their pants in fear. Damn it Janet (Rocky Horror reference), put on a pair of depends when in Youngstown and stop at the lights. I have said this before and I will say it again, “the life you save may be mine.”

I went to the, “Artist of the Rustbelt” event down at the Rust Belt Brewery in, Youngstown. I am proud of how many talented artists we have in the area. I wanted to try the beer but why waste the money when it would have tasted like oregano oil ale. That still would have been a step up from that right-wing skunk water, Coors. I am not feeling good so I head home to rest after getting Mac some supplies she can take back to school on Sunday. I wanted to attend an event about, Rachel Corrie, at YSU this evening. She was a hero of mine but I decide no one wants me coughing and hacking on them. I stay home and hack and take some more oregano oil. Yuckkkkkk.

I get the newspaper and bring it in from the cold. I head right for the obituary page first, like I always do. It’s sad but I have reached that age where it’s what we do. I note that four people younger than me have died. I have been finding this disturbing for a couple of decades now. Are you shaking your head agreeing with me? If not you’re still young. I see one of those younger than me who died was an accident. Somehow that makes it less  frightening to me. Then I note it’s a guy I know named, Russell. He was the father of one of the boys on the soccer team I coached for half-a-dozen years (or Thursday). His kid was a great player and he was a guy who always offered to help. Russ died in a fire and it’s noted he didn’t have a smoke detector. If you don’t like one thing I just wrote that’s fine but please make sure you have a smoke detector. Promise me. I certainly don’t want to see your name in the obituaries for not doing so. Especially, if you are younger than me.

Five for Fighting: 100 Years

The Police: Born in the 50’s

Youth is a disease from which we all recover.  ~Dorothy Fulheim

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Soups On

First off we have the FEEBLE count. FEEBLE stands for, Frank’s erroneous, editorials, bashing, liberals endlessly. This is where I count how many times the Warren Tribune’s editor, Frank Robinson uses the word liberal negatively in an editorial.

February 8: 1 time. Frank scores a bonus for using the word cronies after the word liberal.

Feb. 10: 1 time.

On Feb. 5 Frank scores: 1 GOP huzzah for saying: bureaucratic boondoggle.

On Feb. 8 Frank scores: 3 big GOP huzzahs for saying: fiscal conservatives 3 times.

Here we are all trapped in our homes during a winter snow storm. I am down with a nasty cold that I feel will never end. I am wondering what I can do for others while stuck indoors? Well, one of the Elecpencil’s many talents is he is a pretty good cook. I make a potato soup that would be excellent for such a wintery day.  It’s a recipe that always gets lots of compliments. It’s pretty easy to make and I don’t know what better way to help other shut ins.

Baked Potato Soup

6 or 7  medium potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup diced white onion

2 tablespoons flour

4 cups canned chicken stock

2 cups water

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cups instant mashed potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoons pepper

1/2 teaspoons basil

1/8 teaspoons thyme

1 cup half and half


Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the potatoes 1 hour or until done. When potatoes have cooked remove them from the oven to cool. (If you are in a hurry skin the potatoes cut them up and put in the microwave).

As potatoes cool, prepare soup by melting butter in a large saucepan, and saute onion until light brown. Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux.

Add stock, water, cornstarch, mashed potatoes, and spices to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out contents with a large spoon. Discard skin. Chop baked potato with a large knife to make chunks that are about 1/2-inch in size.

Add chopped baked potato and half-and-half to the saucepan, bring soup back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the soup for another 15 minutes or until it is thick.

Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of soup into a bowl and top with about a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese, a half tablespoon of crumbled bacon, and a teaspoon or so of chopped green onion. Repeat for remaining servings.

Makes enough for 6 or 8 people. Soups on enjoy!

Fountains of Wayne: Valley Winter Song

Pat Dailey: Winter in Ohio

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.  ~Edith Sitwell

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Here’s to You, Editor Robinson (Wo, wo, wo)

I want you to know the Elecpencil suffers for his readers so they don’t have to. I do something for you no mortal should have to do. I read the Warren Tribune Chronicle so you don’t have to. The least I expect from you is a thanks or condolences in my comment section.

In my last post I mentioned the editor of the Warren Tribune Chronicle, Frank Robinson. I said “Frank can’t write a column without using the word liberal.” That is the case anytime Frank writes about the federal government.

To have some fun I am introducing a new item, I will call, FEEBLE. FEEBLE stands for, Frank endlessly, erroneously,  berates liberals everyday. It could also stand for, Frank’s exaggerated, editorials bluntly lacking ethics. Give me your vote on which one you like. I will give you dates that Frank used the word liberal. I will  also count how many times he used it on that day.  Remember the word, when written by Frank, is always used as a negative.

This weeks FEEBLE count:

Jan. 27 : Liberal is used: 11 times.

Feb. 2, 2010: 3 times

Feb. 3, 2010: 1 time

Frank would have used the word more but he substituted other words for it in the past week. Those words were: bureaucratic boondoggle, radical animal rights activists, animal rights crowd, teachers’ unions, unyielding union contracts, government regulations, ridiculous social engineering, building codes, big-government blueprint and far-left wing.

On Jan. 29, 2010 Frank showed he is so far to the right he even ridiculed the conservative media. On the earthquake in Haiti even the conservative media has stated, “enforcing new building codes would mean fewer structures collapsing if another major earthquake hits Haiti.” Frank is against building codes as they are a big-government idea. Yes, the people of Haiti are poor but surely some standards can be taken but not according to Editor Robinson.

The  commenter LJC327 on the Trib’s web page addressed Frank better than I can, “Get a grip! Your libertarian, laissez-faire neo-Reaganism only goes so far.  What’s next? Take out the stop signs and traffic lights in order to save money on gas?”

Speaking of Reagan, Frank scores a big GOP huzzah for one  mention  last week of their God of gods, light of lights, President Ronald Reagan.

The two things that right-wingers like Editor Frank really hate are research and the truth. I have written letters to the editor at the Tribune in the past. Many were on how the editor was wrong on a column he had written. I pointed out how he seemed to have formed an opinion and not checked out all the facts. I can tell you those are the letters that I never got published. Letters I wrote pointing out omissions in writers to the editor or in syndicated columnists were mostly published but ones criticizing the editor never saw the light of day.

It’s nice to have a blog to be able to point out the editor’s B.S. The latest case in point was a column by the editor on February 1, 2010. The editor stated, “Venezuela has sent virtually no assistance to Haiti, despite Chavez’s oil wealth. Sometimes actions do speak louder than words.”

I question both the editor’s words and his biased action in writing the column. Had Editor Robinson done 10 seconds of research he would have found, that on January 17, 2010  President Chavez of Venezuela forgave Haiti’s oil debt to Venezuela. President Chavez also sent $20 million in immediate aid and a promise of $100 million more to come. Venezuela also sent mobile service stations and, along with Cuba, provided medical doctors and supplies within 24 hours of the earthquake hitting Haiti. If $120 million  means virtually no assistance to the Tribune’s editor he must be one Richie Rich.

When the media like Frank play loosey goosey with the facts what is accomplished? The public is misinformed and reacts wrongheaded attacking liberal thought. Look no further than to the comments on the Trib’s webpage to see how lies affect people. The commenters call for a boycott on Venezuela owned CITGO gas stations. What if this lie spread and you owned a CITGO staion that was losing business? Looks to me like the editor could be called, anti-business. He could cost someone their business just because his biased opinion meant more to him than facts.

What if such media lies led to people organizing and wanting to go after the ones lied about not the liars? Ladies and gentlemen I give you….the Tea Party Movement.

Those on the right like Frank long for the old days when Venezuela was run by right-wing  Dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez. Dictator Jimenez had U.S. support because he was friendly to U.S. oil interests. So what if Jimenez incarcerated, tortured and murdered rivals and associates. So what if he closed the national universities, banned unions, controlled the press, fixed elections and stole $25 million. For all of his misdeeds the U.S. awarded  Jimenez the Legion of Merit. If only the hard right could accomplish that agenda here it would be a dream come true for them. Don’t let it happen, never let a lie stand.

Dan Reed: The Dictator

Unabashedly Political Song

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” ~ Malcom X

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