A Paramount Opportunity

26 06 2007

So after a year of skepticism, foot-tapping and generally leaving the issue on the back burner, the Paramount Theater project is dead. Different sources warned of the “conning” ways of Grand Venues, the developer who promised to restore the movie palace to its former glory, and while they didn’t quite, by definition, con the city, they certainly had little credibility. After all, a company should have SOME capital in its bank account, rather than rely entirely on locals to invest the money, shouldn’t they?

If you haven’t seen downtownyoungstown.com’s photos of the place, do so. Between the debris, mold and every other piece of matter cluttering the auditorium, it’s enough to convince even the most optimistic people that the Paramount is a dinosaur and there’s no point in saving it. I knew the interiors were bad beforehand, but I also believed it could’ve been cleaned up. Now, I’m not so sure.

Anyway, our friend Phil Kidd of Defend Youngstown, who is much more “in the know” than I’ll ever be, has announced that the property has “alternate plans” instead of restoration that he “cannot discuss”  but thinks “if the plan goes forward, most people will be very pleased”.

Let me begin by saying that if this plan calls for a new government building or municipal courthouse, I will not be very pleased. I’m all for moving the government agencies into downtown (in fact, I’m sure bombing Oak Hill would do the county good in the longrun), but it should be spread out. West Federal shouldn’t from the former shopping center into the government center, so why not spread things out? East downtown, over by the Chevrolet Centre? Plentiful opportunities there.

But I digress. That probably isn’t what Kidd had in mind if everyone will be pleased, but then again you never know. As for speculation on what the plans are, I’d hope it’d involve putting the structure out of its misery, and possibly building on the original plan of a dual level movie theater/stage and bar area building. I’ve longed for the return of both a working movie theater and concert club in downtown, and this plan was intended to be the one-two punch. As I write this, I’m actually more excited than ever about the possibilities, because this could be the opportunity for a new building that ISN’T government-supported. So instead of the visually bland, brick-monsters of structures that are the Voinovich Center and CS, we could see a building whose exteriors will surely entice people to check it out.

If this were to be the case, I’d like to follow the lead of the technology center, but more detailed. The Technology Center plans show it blending in with the rest of the early 20th century downtown architecture. With whatever might go here, I’d hope architects would take a “neo-deco” approach, as I’d like to term it, applying some real geometry to it instead of just building a giant box. It’s completely bland for starters, and it demonstrates laziness and lack of creativity.

However, these plans could entail something entirely different, something far removed from an entertainment facility. Since Mr. Kidd is keeping a tight lip on the details, we’ll have to wait an see…

Photos

I went on a photo shoot for the first time since late March last week, and with this new album comes a new host for my photography. Yahoo Photos is being dissolved in September, so everything is being transferred to Flickr. When everything’s back up, take a look! I covered an expansive area, from downtown to Smoky Hollow and into the east and south sides of the city.





Politics as Usual

11 06 2007

Getting back to things that are at least in relation to Youngstown, the Plain Dealer reported four days ago that Rep. Tim Ryan has after all become like every other politician and has discreetly started a Political Action Committee. It’s called Penguin PAC and it’s a modern-day political machine, with its last FEC report stating it has $18.10 in its account. These funds, which the PD said went to various Democratic congressional candidates around Ohio, including Charlie Wilson (Strickland’s successor) and Zack Space (now representing Bob Ney’s old district, so you knew he’d win anyway).

You can find that entry here.

Also in my free time, I recalled his acceptance of this challenge to live on food stamps, then breaking the rules when he ate a pork chop, and subsequently pledging he’ll “put in a couple hours at a food bank” to make up for it. I also swung by the Washington Post’s website to check out his voting record for the current (110th) congress…

I found he’s a real decisive dude.

There’s a string of “not voting” marks on some rather hot-button bills.

While I don’t know where he exactly was on June 6th and 7th, our representative was marked “not voting” for Round 2 of the battle over funding for stem cell research, taking a route of neuturality when the rest of the Dem’s overwhelmingly voted in favor of it (Ryan joined 5 other Dems in “not voting”). Like other things, this is a touchy issue, but this is something I’ve come to strongly support recently, and with the latest report that Alzheimer’s rates are expected to quadruple by 2050, I feel it’s more pressing that ever advancements are made.

Ryan also hasn’t cared much lately about internet privacy, not voting in the “Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act”, which outlaws spyware programs transmitting personal information. He also didn’t vote on a law that showcased bipartisan unity, the Green Energy Education Act (harmless law, lets colleges advance “green” energy and technolgies in their curriculum).

He voted against the Republican bill for Iraq funding based on “government benchmarks of progress”, but didn’t vote on a bill to give 6 billion in aid to Afghanistan, which many Democrats are fond of saying is “the right place to invade”. I don’t know. I mean he wasn’t there to authorize that invasion, but when everyone’s pretty much in agreement on it, wouldn’t you want to support the government you wanted to install? No matter, really, since it passed.

Further, he voted for the re-authorization to fund activities in the Department of Defense on May 17, with 25 Democrats voting nea. This one gets me. Here is a guy who gets on C-SPAN and denounces the administration and how they say they won’t plan a draft. He won’t fund Iraq unless there’s a timetable for troop withdrawl. That’s plently well and good-I am very much interested in getting the hell out of the region altogether, including Israel- but when you turn around and authorize department funding anyway, more than likely in the name of “supporting troops”, you’re pussyfooting. Ryan, who put himself on a pedestal denouncing the war, should really stick by it and live by it, like a devout Christian always going by the Ten Commandments. If it were me, I’d stand behind my judgement of the war so much that I’d vote against authorizing the department’s activities, like 25 Democrats and 2 Republicans actually did. It would be the ultimate testament to his disapproval of the war, because if you chop off the hand that feeds, what’s the dog supposed to do? This is activities beyond Iraq, but without the billions in aid, will the Pentagon finally use that spitball artillery Zell Miller so passionately warned us about in protecting America? If anything, Democrats could’ve sparked a serious evaluation of our defense practices with this bill but alas, like their chosen speaker of the house, they do not possess balls to do so.

And by the way, I wouldn’t call voting against the re-authorization of funds an act of “supporting the troops”. That is quite contradictory. Many of them want to be in Iraq, whether it’s because they believe in what their mission or because the armed forces made life much easier than it is back home (this, from Radar Magazine in summer 2005. An excellent expose on the day-to-day life of a platoon in Iraq), it is a fact most military personnel want to see the Iraq operation carried out to the end, whenever that is.

Also, if you’re in any way offended by that quip about Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, send me an e-mail indicating you’ve been offended and I’ll issue a Jerry Falwell-esque “non-apology” in reply.

To be fair, he’s voted yes on “safe” issues, like the resolution calling on China to use its “unique influence and economic leverage” to stop Sudanese genocide, but only pricks and/or officials with great business connections in China and/or Sudan wouldn’t vote yes.  He also voted for the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act” which says will enforce stricter rules and regulations on lobbying laws. It passed 396-22-13-1 (yea-nay-not voting-present, respectively), and personally, I appreiate the 36 people who know this bill is bullshit.

But what may be the most important issue surrounding Tim Ryan is this: when is this appropriations committee appointment going to pay off for us???? When will the pointless government funding come the way of the Steel Valley??? This was made how long ago?? Anybody? We’re gonna get some multi million-dollar government contract sometime, right?

So amid all this political talk, Youngstown is indirectly involved. In a large way. Because although this is only what 1 man out of a legislative body of 535 has been doing in the last month, it is the man we (for the most part anyway), as a valley, chose to lead us in the District.

And we’re coming back swinging!





At a standstill

10 06 2007

As you can see, the New YTOWN blog, like we did at the end of last year, went on an unanounced hiatus again, having not posted since April.

There’s a good reason.

Since our article favoring the Steelhounds move to the ECHL, there aren’t many updates on downtown news, although yesterday’s Vindicator did report on an ECHL move, but with very little insight into what the ‘Hounds might actually do.

ThunderWatch will be removed. My bad, guys.

As to the rest of the city, everything ebbs and flows, and development downtown has reached a low point. Downtownyoungstown.com has virtually no activity. Friday Night Fights and a handful of concerts will play the Chevy Centre, and the Brier Hill Festival and YSU summer festival of the arts will come in the near future, but these are regular occurances.

I’m gonna try to come back regularly now, feeling I’m way overdue with getting back to writing. I’ll at least try to be Youngstown-related.