Tom Letson is in the middle of a struggle with residents on and around Foster Drive N.E. in Warren, where the state representative owns a home at the center of a mess.
Neighbors of the home the Democrat has rented to two men who are using it to help people recover from addiction are upset and complaining of reported drug use, increased traffic and of other disturbances. Residents also say the neighborhood isn't zoned for how the home is being used, which is pretty much as a board or rooming house.
They got a chance Aug. 22 to express their displeasure to the city's Zoning Appeals Board.
Letson was there, too, to state his case. He's challenging the city's definition of ''single-family dwelling'' and arguing what is being called a ''sober house'' should be allowed to stay. The Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act make discrimination against the home's eight occupants unconstitutional, he says.
But instead of listening to residents, Letson was paying more attention to a crossword puzzle on his tablet. He was caught by a television camera doing the crossword.
Fans of 'The Office'' might see a connection to show character Stanley Hudson, the Dunder Mifflin paper salesman who is often preoccupied in staff meetings with what ... a crossword puzzle. Rather than pay attention or show even the slightest amount of interest to what manager Michael Scott has to say, Hudson's attention is focused on the puzzle book.
Hudson doesn't respect Scott enough to not play puzzles. Letson didn't respect the people speaking that afternoon enough to not play puzzles.
I'm sure some of those people complaining were among the voters who first elected Letson to the Ohio legislature and kept sending him back to Columbus for four consecutive terms. But that aside, his actions have led to displeasure and genuine concern among residents in one of the city's nicest and quietest neighborhoods, so he should have had more regard for them instead of trying to find the answer for 17 down.
The matter is not close to being resolved. Letson has been cited in Warren Municipal Court with a zoning violation, for which he is scheduled to appear this week.
High ranking visits
The Canfield Fair is under way and that means visits from some high-ranking elected officials, at least for Republicans.
According to a news release from the Mahoning County Republican Party, U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson of Marietta will be at the party's tent around 11:30 a.m. today.
On Monday, Labor Day, another GOP heavyweight, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, will visit the Republican tent at the fair.
As for Democratic officials, ''they get a pass this year,'' said David Betras, chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party. Last year, if you remember (I do because I was the local pool reporter and followed him from Lordstown to Warren to Canfield), Vice President Joe Biden stumped at the fair and visited volunteers in the Democratic Party tent.
Betras said expect the higher-level officials to return next year, which, by the way, is a gubernatorial election year.