By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello, CNN
How angry are some voters in Youngstown, Ohio?
Here's a clue. Remember that NY Daily news headline, "Ford to New York: Drop Dead"?
It was October of 1975. President Ford was refusing to bail out financially struggling New York City. Voters were furious when the president said he'd veto any bill that aimed to help out the city with its budget woes. He suggested bankruptcy as a better option for the nation's largest city.
Flash forward to 2010. Youngstown, Ohio, a much smaller city, is also struggling mightily with its economy. So we couldn't help but recall the Daily News when we saw this headline recently from the online edition of the Vindicator, a newspaper based in Youngstown: "HUD to Mahoning Valley: Drop Dead"
What's it all about?
Youngstown's once thriving manufacturing base has disintegrated. The city has been in an economic black hole for decades. It's hard to miss the abandoned buildings and foreclosed homes. So, when the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill, was signed by President Obama, cities like Youngstown were hopeful that they'd get a big enough piece of the pie to help them through their financial troubles.
As stimulus funds were distributed to states and localities throughout the year, Youngstown discovered that it had been turned down on one of its requests, funding through HUD's (Department of Housing and Urban Development) "Neighborhood Stabilization Program." That $2 billion program is designed to dole out money to cities so that they can rehabilitate abandoned neighborhoods.
The HUD denial shocked the eastern Ohio community.
"It literally defies belief and explanation," Youngstown's Mayor Jay Williams told Vindy.com.
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat whose district includes Youngstown, told Vindy.com he was "stunned…for us to be this blatantly shortchanged is outrageous."
We decided to go to Youngstown to find out more.
Voters there are angry. Mickey Wolf, jobless for a year, told us, "they ask us for their votes and they come here with a lot of promises … it's just frustrating we are in this predicament."
He's talking about Barack Obama's 14 campaign visits to Ohio in 2008, and that includes a pair of stop-overs in Youngstown.
Mayor Williams was angry too: "There is a frustration that Washington just isn't getting it."
But we also discovered there is more here than meets the eye.
While Youngstown was turned down for those rehabilitation funds, it did receive stimulus funding from other sources. Jared Bernstein, who is Vice President Biden's top economic adviser, says Youngstown already has received $52 million in stimulus funds.
That money, says Bernstein, "has certainly helped in job creation there." And while he says he wishes more could be done for Youngstown and cities like it, there's only so much money to go around. There were 482 cities and towns vying for the particular program that Youngstown lost out on – all competing for a piece of the $2 billion pie.