We're having another meeting of Mahoning Valley for Change tonight - http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gptpx4. We're continuing to concentrate on the local angle of the Obama economic stimulus package since yesterday's unemployment figures only confirmed what everyone around here already knew, Youngstown and Warren have the highest rates of unemployment in the state (14.4% and 15.5% respectively -http://www.vindy.com/news/2009/mar/04/experienced-workers-could-squeeze-youths-job-marke/).
What we're shooting for is a large public forum on the stimulus package and job creation. We're trying to get elected officials from the local, state, and the federal level to attend and discuss how they're (hopefully) cooperating in a regional approach to fight for as much stimulus money as possible.
Based on the lack of response to my emails to various community leaders, I'm worried that each local entity just threw together a wishlist without any cooperation with other towns or imput from the public.
So here are some of the questions a public forum could answer:
1) Have local governments and agencies cooperated in submitting funding proposals? If not, why not?
2) Do we have 1 unified plan for the Mahoning Valley area or dozens of smaller stand-alone proposals?
3) Who's in charge of advocating at the highest levels (ie. White House/Obama administration) for maximum federal funding for our area based on our extreme need?
4) How are citizens included in the process of
a) determining funding priorities, and
b) lobbying Washington and Columbus for maximum funds?