Council wants a letter to governor

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2000

After nearly 45 minutes of debate, Ironton City Council narrowly passed a resolution that will ultimately send a letter to Gov.

Friday, January 14, 2000

After nearly 45 minutes of debate, Ironton City Council narrowly passed a resolution that will ultimately send a letter to Gov. Bob Taft’s office requesting his presence in the city.

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In a 4 to 3 vote, with council members Jesse Roberts, Jim Tordiff and Leo Ullery voting no and council members Joe Black, Robert Lipker, Hugh Scott and Bob Vauhgn in agreement, council agreed to request Taft visit Ironton personally.

Although the resolution to send the letter to Taft originally was sponsored by all seven council members, some council members said the recent public meeting and show of support from state leaders is enough for now.

The letter, written by Vaughn, cites the need for personal involvement by the governor in light of the more than 1,000 jobs lost in Ironton in the last eight months.

"This resolution is a request, not a demand," Black said. "(Taft) can tell us all day long through his intermediaries that he cares, but sometimes the presences does lend comfort to the community and shows that he does notice."

Dissenting council members, however, said the letter would possibly offend Taft, who has lent support for the city in the form of placing top staff members at the city’s disposal.

"The governor has obviously made a commitment to the city," Tordiff said, adding that there is a possibility Taft will visit the city later when Region 7 has its next turn as a selection site for the Capital For A Day program. "From the assistance and attention they are offering to us now, we can see that the governor truly has made Ironton a top priority."

But, for a community in crisis, a personal visit is in no way unreasonable, Vaughn argued.

"The old saying ‘seeing is believing’ is directly applicable in this case," Vaughn said. "After meeting with our local workers, I am sure Gov. Taft will be convinced that the people of this city not only want to work, but can work when given the opportunity. I think that Gov. Taft needs to meet some of our displaced workers and see what they are really made of."

Given a little more time, however, the governor likely will visit the city on his own, without requests or resolutions from council, Roberts said. A demand for personal attention from the governor after receiving assistance from his staff could be considered offensive, he added.

"At the recent public meeting at Ohio University Southern Campus, there was an absolute conveyance of the governor’s intention to work with Ironton and Lawrence County," Roberts said. "It is my feeling that it is premature to take a chance at offending the governor when he is trying to reach out and help us."

Council’s vote ensures the request will be sent unless a mayoral veto within the seven-day limit returns the issue to council unresolved.

Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary did not say he plans to veto the resolution, but rather that he is concerned with the letter’s timing.

"I think the timing today is wrong," Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said. "We are receiving help and personal attention from the governor’s top staff and there has been discussion of these staff members actually keeping office hours in the city twice a month. The governor coming to Ironton, at this point, is the only thing that can be done that hasn’t been done, and I’d just like to give the governor a chance to show us what he can do before we send a request like this."