Friday, July 4, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


As I threw away my calendar at work (which was still on June) this week, I wondered what happened to the last half of 2007? When did 2008 get here?

Needless to say, I guess I've been a little busy. I hope to resume posts soon!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

This Buckeye Says "Go Blue!"

Although the timing of this post may seem to coincide with Michigan’s 0-2 start to the football season, this is not a knock on the Wolverines and has nothing to do with football. It’s a post about 14 University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning Masters Program Students. Their summer project was to spend some time in the City of Youngstown, specifically the Downtown and YSU Campus areas and work on creating the kind of downtown environment that they envisioned.

I had the privilege to sit in on an initial meeting with the students and propose some ideas as well as spend some time with them while they were visiting. What an impressive group! They not only represent the United States, but the countries of Korea, India, Taiwan, China, and Ghana. They are the best and brightest of the Architecture and Urban Design world and have real-world experience to back them up. They brought in a fresh perspective and new ideas.

On August 27th, they presented their final project to us. They broke up into 5 teams assigned to different topics (Corridors, Tram Connector/Green Connector, Activity Spaces, Parking and Park/River Park, and Follies). Wow! Their work blew me away. They touched on linking the University not only to Downtown, but also to the River. They presented ideas on parking consolidation, green spaces, outdoor amphitheatres and parks, museums and arts incubators, and plenty of new uses for existing structures. Too much to write here.

No need to worry, though. Their work will soon be available online to check out.

Many may say that these ideas are “pie in the sky” and cannot happen. I, along with many others, believe that many, if not all of their ideas can and will happen. But the most important thing to take from this experience is this: Outsiders came here without knowing Youngstown and saw Opportunity. They knew very little of the past and saw what some of our very own often fail to see…Potential.

Youngstown captured their spirit. Many addressed the crowd with, “We need to do this…” instead of “You need to do this.” Even if it was just for a month, they felt a part of Youngstown and the revitalization happening here.

When the project is available online check it out. Capture their spirit and think of the possibilities we have when we work together. These Michigan students saw potential and opportunity where many haven’t. We need to as well.

Thanks again to the students for their time and effort.

Who knows, maybe a few will locate here when they are done with school to help build their dream…Our Dream.

For that, this Buckeye gives a big shout out to these UM students and (maybe only once) a “Go Blue!”

Friday, August 24, 2007


I started this blog to unveil the Forever Youngstown platform initiative of my short-lived campaign for Youngstown City Council as well as to initiate dialogue on issues that we all face and generate ideas for a better city.

Below are some excerpts from my campaign launch announcement, ironically scheduled to be delivered 1 hour after I found out about the independent issue. Although I will not be running, a majority of this remains true:

For those of you who may (or may not) have known, I filed to run as an independent for 7th Ward City Council in May. It was something I contemplated for the last year or so. I really wanted to run in the primary, but there were just too many circumstances that I needed to resolve in order to run. I was able to clear up some of those and decided at the very least to file my petition for November and go from there.

During the first few weeks of June, I spent some time figuring out what decision to make. Certainly I needed to weigh the pros and cons. The list of reasons not to run were many (the margin of John Swierz’s victory in the primary, many uncertainties involved in my own personal life, the fact that I didn’t run in the primary, experience, funding, time, etc. – the list can go on and on). As you can see, the reasons not to run for City Council are many; the odds are certainly stacked against me. Even so, one item on the “pro” list stood out to me: I want to serve as a member of City Council and work to make Youngstown a better place for all of us. The latter won out.

Therefore, even against all odds, I am officially announcing today that I will pursue a seat on City Council and continue on with my “TEAM Latessa” campaign (let’s just say I have a little unfinished business). I want to let the citizens of the 7th Ward know that there is a new vision in place, along with a new group of leaders ready, willing, and able to take on the challenge and do our part to make Youngstown greater than it ever has been. They need to know that we are ready to put personal differences aside and work together toward a better tomorrow. I am ready to join forces with that team and serve the people of Youngstown.

We owe a lot to the leaders of yesterday for keeping us afloat and preserving some of the great assets we have, even through some trying times. But those leaders, at times, built some barriers, a “wall” that has prevented many from serving and achieving results for a better tomorrow.
Things are beginning to change. Over the last few years, I began to see that there are many enthusiastic, dedicated people gathering behind that "wall"...with their ideas and energy, with their skills and passion, with their hammers and chisels, slowly chipping away at the barrier set before them. The momentum has steadily grown. I am ready to join forces with those behind the wall. I am ready to give one final push and finally knock our barriers down, roll-up my sleeves, and get to work to make Youngstown greater than ever.

The time is now. I want to represent you on City Council and promise that…

I will Shout Youngstown…

I will Defend Youngstown…

Because I am
Forever Youngstown!

See you soon on the campaign front….bring your hammers.


I will soon launch the platform as well as some of the key points in future posts and use this blog anyway. Stay tuned!

One Simple Meeting

The following is what I sent out after the meeting on Monday, August 6th. Probably don't need to say much else:
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your assistance regarding the issue of the West Federal Street Plans. No matter what role you might have played, you were an important part to something that was much more than a simple protest or disagreement with a city process. You witnessed 21st Century Democracy in action, the ability to express your concerns to our public officials in multiple formats. A chance to be heard when it comes to public matters.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Jay Williams and Director of Public Works Carmen Conglose for their professionalism and willingness to hear our concerns regarding this project. What they did was not easy. Opening your doors to an opposing voice can be quite challenging to say the least. They did so when they didn’t really have to. You wouldn’t have seen that a few years ago. I believe those doors will remain open much longer than 5pm on Monday, August 6th. Again, I thank them for their assistance.

I’m sure most of you caught the Vindicator headline yesterday “Tree Lovers Win.” Although it shows that our group made progress, the statement is not indicative of what truly happened. There were no opposing sides, no individual winners and losers in this matter. The City of Youngstown won, the Mahoning Valley won, we all won. No matter what comes of this endeavor in the next few weeks and months, the process is not over and Monday’s meeting was definitely not an ending of any means. What we all experienced over the last week or so was the start of something special, a positive force to be reckoned with.

A force that came together from different paths, different walks of life. A force of many. We are businessmen & women. We are educators. We are students. We are young professionals just starting a journey. We are the respected and the experienced passing on wisdom. We are architects and urban planners. We are political leaders. We are judges. We are government workers. We are artists. We are authors. We are entrepreneurs. We are community activists. We are parents. We are children. We wear blue collars. We wear white collars. We are creative. We are innovative. We are young. We are ready.

Ready to show that we are here (and want to be); ready to show that we are ONE! One voice of passion. One voice of reason. One voice of optimism. One voice of concern. One voice that believes in this community. One voice that has witnessed negativity and hardship, but will no longer rest idle by them. One voice of the future that is proud of our past. One voice that is willing to roll up our sleeves and do something about it, what ever it happens to be. One voice that is willing to put aside the minor differences that occur in society and work together towards a common goal: a community we can all be proud of.

Monday indeed was not a simple meeting. It was a launching point, one that will take all of us to new heights and the best days this Valley has ever seen!

I’m proud to be a part of this group. I’m proud to be a citizen of Youngstown., OH + the Mahoning Valley + Northeast Ohio. I’m just glad I found so many others saying the same thing.

We really do have it all. Together. Thanks for all that you do.


P.S. I usually don’t like to mention other people’s names in e-mails even when I want to thank them (I know I will ultimately forget someone). But I have to give a big “Shout” out to John Slanina for getting this group together, Phil Kidd for his Defense (and rallying the troops), to Tyler Clark, Paul Hagman, Heather McMahon, and Brooke Slanina for their efforts and insight on this project and for flooding my inbox with an abundance of useful information (see the whitepaper at, Julie Scarsella for her leadership on the Brain Gain initiative (see for a link to the report), State Representative Bob Hagan for being what I believe to be the only politician to sign the petition (yep that’s coming from me, a candidate he beat…I’m not a poor loser!!), the local media for all of their participation, and to Mike Garvey, Jim Cossler, and Hunter Morrison for all their wisdom and encouragement. It goes a long way. You certainly will hear more from this impressive group in the future. I look forward to working with them and all of you on a project soon (and now that the positive energy is out…we have a ton of work to do!!!!). Bear with me. I stare at numbers all day. Sometimes the enthusiasm gets a little bottled up.