Ney: Government plagued by squabbling

BOB NEY returned to his roots Wednesday night.

The former U.S. Congressman was the featured speaker at a fund-raising dinner at his alma mater — St. John Central. The Bellaire native attracted a nice-sized turnout to the Fighting Irish gym.

Ney was entertaining, incisive while displaying a great sense of humor. His address centered on the dysfunctional activity of the federal government, noting that important issues take a backseat to partisan fighting.

He was quick to address his Congressional legal problems that he and lobbyist Jack Abramoff encountered, which resulted in Ney resigning his post. He did note that what those two were found guilty of has now been made legal by Congress.

Ney noted that his jail time was a blessing.

“My time in prison saved my life. I had a drinking problem, was overweight and taking a ton of medications,” Ney said. “Now I have turned into a workout junkie.”

Ney’s new lifestyle is paying huge dividends. He turned 60 Saturday but looks years younger and enjoying life.

He told me he hasn’t ruled out a return to political life. In fact, he said he was close to entering a race in this November’s race.

For now, however, he is enjoying life as a radio political analyst.

“I do some 75 radios shows a week. They are aired from coast-to-coast,” Ney said. “They are a mix between liberal and conservative. I am not getting rich but radio pays the bills.”

Ney, who now resides in Newark, harbors no bitterness about his political fall. In fact it is not his biggest regret. Rather, it is voting to send troops to Iraq. He said he did so on the basis of information that turned out bogus.

Ney stated his disdain for how the federal government is currently operating.

“There is too much partisan squabbling going on. Important issues that should come to the surface sit because of the conflicts between President Obama and Speaker (John) Boehner,” he said. “Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich were able to work together and get things done.”

“There is no focus on jobs or balancing the budget. We need more civility,” he added. “Also, letters to politicians do make a difference.”

He also touched about his days at SJC. He graduated in 1972 in a class of some 150.

“St. John’s provided me a great Catholic education,” he said. “It provided the strong foundation I needed to be successful.”

COLLEGE ASCENT

FORMER ST. JOHN Central all-Ohio hoopster Michelle Bielanski Filander received a nice promotion recently. She is head coach of the Austin College women’s basketball team in Sherman, Texas. Filander is also now the school’s assistant athletic director.

Filander graduated SJC in 1997, after scoring 1,436 points and leading the Lady Irish to three OVAC titles. She was a three-time all-Ohioan and landed a Division I scholarship to play at Robert Morris.

Prior to landing the Austin job, Filander was the assistant at Washington & Jefferson, helping the Presidents to three trips to the NCAA tourney. Prior to W&J, she was an assistant at Bethany College, helping guide the Bison to an overall record of 61-22.

She earned her master’s degree in Athletic Coaching Education from West Virginia University in 2004.

BUBBA’S BITS

BELLAIRE SCHOOL Superintendent Tony Scott lost out in his quest to become superintendent of the Kent City School District. The Kent Board of Education Monday night named George Joseph to the post. He is executive director of administration services at Worthington City Schools in central Ohio.

ALTHOUGH IT was an unscientific survey, I put stock in a recent sampling of Bellaire residents by Jim Piatt in regard to the establishment of a volunteer fire department for the All-American Town. The former councilman polled 201 village residents. Of that number, 189 opted to keep the Neffs VFD as fire protectors for the village while 7 favored a new VFD and 5 were undecided.

I AM as patriotic as the next guy and wanted the U.S. soccer team to do well, but winning only one of four World Cup games is nothing to get excited about. Tim Howard was exceptional in goal for the Red, White & Blue but Belgium dominated us in the knockout game. The soccer fad will start waning soon in the U.S.

OHIO ENDED the fiscal year with an $800 million surplus. That may seen an excessive amount but $300 million is earmarked for a Medicaid reserve, $76 million in tax credits for low- and middle-income Ohioans; $91 million in accelerated income-tax cuts; and $229 million for expanded income-tax breaks for small-business owners. Anything left of that $800 million will be soaked up by the state’s rainy day fund. It appears $800 million doesn’t go as far as it used to.

THE TOLL-FREE number of the Belmont County Veterans Service Office is no longer active. Anyone needing to contact the office can reach it at 740-325-1042. Work is continuing at the satellite office in Barnesville and will be opening soon.

DR. MARK Furda is the new director of Graduate Education at Franciscan University of Steubenville. Furda, who took on his new duties June 1, oversees Franciscan University’s Master of Science in Education, Master of Science in Educational Administration, and Online Master of Science in Education programs. Furda is a former head football coach at St. John Central and Southern Local. Prior to going to Franciscan, Dr. Furda was superintendent of the Indian Creek School District

THE CLEVELAND Cavaliers made a tremendous move, locking Kyrie Irving up with a five-year extension. LeBron would make the Cavaliers title contenders.

MARTINS FERRY’S financial picture may brighten very nicely. It was discussed at its city council meeting Wednesday that the town has 145 acres available to sell for gas and oil leasing rights. If successful, that would be a nice chunk of change for the Purple City to solve a lot of ills.

WE MUST hand out kudos to the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad officials. We have received glowing reports that the company has repaired the much-discussed railroad crossing on Ohio 150 near Rayland. The crossing was the source of a myriad of complaints for months for its deplorable condition.

JEREMY MIDEI is returning as St. John Central cross country coach. He led the Fighting Irish boys’ harriers to a state title in 2008. Midei will be assisted by Ian Gulley. Midei replaces Zach Foster.

RUMORS ARE abounding that between $50,000 to $80,000 is missing from the Yorkville VFD coffers. A check with the village solicitor Thursday quashed that notion. He says the department is audited regularly and that everything is in order.

Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleaderonline.com