Editorial: Youngstown Caught With Its Pants Down on Bar Rescue

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

The closing line of the classic 1974 film embodies an attitude that is all too common around Youngstown.

Even though the mob lost its grip on the local government after Lenny Strollo turned state’s witness in 1999, corruption still persists in Youngstown. Corruption persists in most cities. The difference is the blase attitude we greet it with.

You mean that politician is likely going to be indicted on corruption charges by the FBI? You know what? Let’s go ahead and elect him mayor.

The first Youngstown-based episode of “Bar Rescue” aired on Sunday. Mayor McNally sat outside with host Jon Taffer as he looked in on the owners. McNally looked horrified as bar owner Louie Kennedy exposed himself to patrons of the bar.

Hello America, welcome to Youngstown.

Next week, the episode featuring the newly rechristened Federal — formerly Martini Bros. Burger Bar — will follow.

Shortly after film crews packed up and left, Dan Martini — who operates The Federal — plead guilty to his part in what investigators called the largest case of domestic fraud in the history of eBay. He was laundering money for a ring of people peddling counterfeit autographed sports memorabilia.

Reports said Martini allowed participants to use an eBay account in his name, and then he withdrew the money and gave it to the leaders of the ring.

On Sunday, citizens of the Mahoning Valley will sit by their television sets, watching as Martini’s bar receives a makeover as more evidence of the city’s corruption is broadcast to the world.

This is why so many people say Youngstown will never change. The mayor awaiting trial on corruption charges will watch as the money launderer’s bar receives a free makeover while kids walk by on the sidewalks wearing “Straight Outta Youngstown” T-shirts celebrating the city’s resemblance to a Los Angeles suburb known primarily for its gang activity and the few who managed to rise from that milieu to establish themselves as groundbreaking rappers.

As the city gets back on track, one of the things we need to leave behind in order to continue to grow is our nostalgia for the days when car bombs and con men held court on Federal Street.

If we want citizens to trust the politicians and leaders in the city — and investment in the area will not continue without that trust — we can’t keep viewing corruption as business as usual in Youngstown.

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the adviser does not have final approval.