Business Journal Editorial: What about Dominic Marchionda

Business Journal Editorial: What about Marchionda?

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — It was uncomfortable and somewhat sad – knowing all that Dominic Marchionda has done for Youngstown and the trials he faces in the months ahead – to watch him speak May 16 at the opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton. Marchionda thanked his wife (pictured with him above) his family, his partners in the $32 million project, his construction team and city officials as he credited them for its success. “This has been a trying time for us and a difficult task,” he said. “But I can’t thank you enough.”

Uncomfortable and somewhat sad because Marchionda has earned the gratitude of all those who have witnessed downtown’s comeback. Without him, there would be no new housing for Youngstown State University students, no apartments in the Erie Terminal and Wick Building, and certainly no hotel giving new life to the all but dead Stambaugh Building.

“It’s projects like this that require an incredible amount of time, commitment and patience and perseverance. And there’s a lot of sacrifices that go with it and unfortunately that happens with things like this,” he said. “You’re so entrenched with what you’re doing, unfortunate things happen.”

And, of course, things did happen. Not in relation to Marchionda’s hotel project, today the crown jewel in a 40-year-downtown renewal that was more fits than starts for the first 25 of those years. But in relation to the public funds used to help finance his earlier projects – the focus of the criminal indictment handed down Oct. 2 that accuses Marchionda of records tampering and telecommunications fraud, aggravated theft and money laundering.

Watching him speak May 16, a day when the entire city celebrated the new downtown hotel, we thought of how a jury might hear his defense when (and if) his criminal trial begins.

At trial, would his attorney argue that he did what he had to do for the greater good? Would the jury be told that co-mingling sources of funding to keep bills paid is what developers of multi-million dollar projects often have to do? Would the defense rebut the charges as politically motivated? Or blame and defame the investigators in the office of the Republican state auditor who is running for attorney general for carrying out a witch-hunt so they could give the Democratic stronghold of Youngstown a black eye?

Recall how “whataboutism” was fabulously employed by Jim Traficant to win acquittal in his first bribery trial. In today’s tribal political discourse as displayed on cable news, this defensive deflection – “If everyone is guilty of something, is no one guilty of anything?” as Merriam-Webster defines it – is on an endless loop. What about Russians doing business with Donald Trump? What about millions in foreign money that funded the Clinton Foundation?

So what about Dominic Marchionda? In no way should the allegations against him take away from his accomplishments. And he remains innocent until proven guilty. Marchionda, his family, partners and construction associates have every right to be proud of the projects they have developed. Our city is the better for their work. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: This editorial, published in the June edition of The Business Journal, has drawn more comment than any we’ve published in recent memory. For that reason, we’re publishing it online as well. To subscribe to our print edition, CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.