It came as no surprise to me that a proposal to dissolve the United Way of Trumbull County failed. Donors to the agency rejected the idea to join forces with the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley by a good margin.
Here is why it was not surprising. Anyone I asked early last week spoke negatively about the idea. Then, when I went to my Rotary Club of Warren meeting Wednesday, I knew the fate of the vote for sure. Just about anyone I talked to at that meeting seemed wanting for more information or they were just pessimistic about the proposal in general.
The vote on Thursday was 51-35 to defeat the plan to dissolve the Trumbull agency. That would have allowed a new agency to serve both counties to be created since the Youngstown group's board of directors had already voted to dissolve their side of the plan.
What was surprising to me, however, was the turnout. Only 86 votes were cast. I thought the turnout would have been much higher, with perhaps as many as 200-300 people voting. Eighty-six votes determining the outcome of something as important as the structure of the United Way agency seems a little odd. Two letters to the editor published just days before the vote had me thinking turnout might be strong. Turns out, it wasn't.
It boils down to, I think, that people who donate to the organization want to make sure the money is spent in Trumbull County and nowhere else. By keeping the United Way of Trumbull County intact, many think that is what will happen. I also think that if the two agencies merged, many people would have lost interest in the cause and donations, then, would have dropped off.
John Guarnieri, Trumbull County United Way chairman and co-author of a letter to the editor supporting the change, said ''Our members have spoken; that is the best way to put it at this point.'' I doubt the issue will come back up any time soon. And that might be a good thing because who knows what this area's economy will look like as the shale boom gets off the ground in the next few years.
I talked with a gentleman who was at the meeting - who asked not to be named - about why the vote failed. His answers came easily for him. He said there are ''real feelings of mistrust from things that have happened in the past'' when regional approaches have been attempted. Then, he threw out an interesting analogy he said reflected the way people who voted were thinking: ''Don't steal my cattle and then invite me over for a steak dinner.''
I guess that kind of sums up the tone of the meeting pretty well.
Robinson is the editor of the Tribune Chronicle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.