Monessen is dead.
It suffered serious wounds when Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel shut down the mill many years ago. A city that once had over 25,000 people and hundreds of businesses is reduced to next to nothing.
And over the last 25 or 30 years, that death was hastened by the political infighting that has the city in its clutches and won’t let go.
My hometown did not have to die. Of course, it will never be the hub of activity it once was in the Mon Valley during the heydays of the steel industry. But it could have morphed into a better situation with solid leadership that included minds working together for the betterment of the community and coming up with ways over the years to attract business and families to the city.
That hasn’t happened and, unfortunately, it is never going to happen as long as the current warring factions that have brought this once-proud city to its knees are not dissolved.
The recent actions by Monessen City Council against new Mayor Matt Shorraw simply reminded us all how wide the wounds still are and how deep of a hole the city is in.
When I was the managing editor of the Mon Valley Independent in 2016, I wrote a column saying the only hope for the city and its beaten down taxpayers is if every member of city government is removed and all of their allies on various community boards are also tossed out. I said then that there was no other way, even if it meant losing a couple of good people.
Things haven’t changed. Everybody stands on a soap box and says how much they love Monessen, but at the same time proclaim their deep hatred and unwillingness to work with the “other side” or anyone who was involved with the “past administration.”
To this day nobody … I repeat NOBODY … has been willing to sit down and put their minds together and work for the best interests of the city.
Isn’t that what politicians are elected to do?
Shorraw says he loves the city and so do the three councilmen who at the recent meeting issued a demand for the mayor to resign. But the truth is, none of them have openly tried to work together to come up with any plan for pulling the city out of the hell hole it has become. When they should be tossing around ideas and alternatives to help taxpayers, they choose to throw stones and insults.
I don’t even know what the fourth councilman is thinking because he hasn’t shown up for a meeting since February.
So, again, I feel they all need to go and an entire free thinking board needs to step in and roll up their collective sleeves and WORK TOGETHER.
When Shorraw defeated the former mayor twice in the same election year, I wrote that I was looking forward to seeing what two committed individuals like the young, eager, well-intentioned Shorraw and the veteran, savvy Councilman Ron Chiarvalle could do IF they put their minds together and tried to work as a team.
Obviously, that isn’t happening. I still think both are good people, but they won’t even try to listen to each other.
The taxpayers have been hammered too long with excuses of “it’s the past administration’s fault” and instead of hope every four years were left with the reality of more dilapidated houses, crumbling roads and infrastructure and less services for higher taxes.
And our current “leaders” wonder why people are fleeing Monessen like it has the plague, why the most popular signs in the city are “For Sale” signs on houses and while school colors are black and white the most common color in the city is orange for the many cones placed on streets, sewers and unsafe sidewalks and property.
But, yeah, keep fighting, mayor and council. Keep throwing daggers at each other. It may be all you know how to do, but it is the reason the city is in the shape it is in and is getting worse every day.
As a life-long resident who recently moved out because of the fighting, high taxes and less service for my money, it eats me alive to see what continues to go on with no hope in sight.
And it is sad as hell how blatantly each side shows its arrogance to the other while holding the good people of the city hostage.
Sure, each side will profess that it is doing the best for the city and will continue to blame the other for its woes. But the reality is this city is not and never has been any better off and none of its leaders have noticed that it has been years since the city has enjoyed a two-term mayor.
Yes, Monessen is dead. But it really didn’t have to be this way if elected officials would have only tried to work togrther.