Monday, April 24, 2017

"Sitting on an island in the Pacific" CONTEMPLATING THE FUTURE OF "THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT."

UPDATED:  3:45 p.m.


I have not done a blog since November 9, 2016.

The reason(s)?

I have been doing The Stark County Political Report for going on ten years (started March 2012, 2008)  and I figured that post-election was a good breaking point to step back and reassess whether or not I wanted to continue the effort and, if I do, what, if any changes, will there be to the content I focus on.

And what better place to take stock than "sitting on an island in the Pacific" as the Hawaiian Islands chain of islands was described this week by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The day after our arrival was December 7th and as any American student knows is the day in 1941 which Imperial Japan bombed the U.S. Fleet in harbor at Pearl Harbor.


I was privileged to witness a commemoration of that day of infamy 75 years later.  Casualties number numbered 2,335 for U.S. military forces.

Moreover, 68 civilians lost their lives.


Wish I were in Hawaii err "... an island in the Pacific" today so I could take a firsthand poll on local reaction to what at least one Hawaiian thinks of the Sessions comment as being an insult on the people  of the 50th state of the our union.

With the attack by the Japanese attack on Hawaii, the nexus of the then island nation was fixed and it was only a matter of time until Hawaii became the 50th state (August 21, 1959)

On December 6th, wife Mary and I took the long flight via Detroit and Seattle to Honolulu to visit daughter Kasi (a USAF medical doctor); her husband Will (a flight surgeon) and grandchildren Austin and Aspen.

In 1963 I had a stopover in a Hawaii on my way to South Korea for a one year stint as a member of the United States Air Force.

We were greeted at Honolulu International airport at about 5:00 p.m. on the 6th having left Akron-Canton airport on the 6th early, early, early in the morning (about 5:00 a.m.)

Festooned with leis by the grandchildren we knew instantly that we were going to thoroughly enjoy two months in the warmth experienced in "sitting in the island in the Pacific" having left behind the frigid months of northeast Ohio.

And indeed we did.

My own take away from the Sessions description of "sitting in the island of the Pacific" was a typical Trump administration slam on anybody (in this case, a Hawaii based federal judge who ruled against the administration's immigration travel executive order) only to deny that obvious insult import of the words that Sessions uttered is aptly expressed by Senator Shatz.

Sessions fits in perfectly with a boss (i.e. Trump) who tweet-slams any and everybody who differs with him.

One has to suspect that the Sessions remark was also an aside at former president Barack Obama who was according to all but the lunatic fringe of American politics was born in the "state" of Hawaii.

While President Trump has admitted (one of the few times he has owned up to being wrong about anything) he was wrong to join the "birthers" in asserting that Obama was not born in America, the Sessions' nasty suggests that the attorney general acts as a surrogate for the "Chief of Political Ugliness."

Trump has provided the climate for the likes of Sessions to pick up on insulting innuendo direct at the disagreeing.  It is obvious that Donald J. Trump will say and do whatever it takes to divert and deflect his gargantuan inadequacies.

It is apparent that he is a consummate transactionlist who has no political agenda other than what he thinks will make Donald J. Trump look good.  Among the many examples, "If [Putin] says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him." (September 7, 2016, to NBC's Matt Lauer at a townhall meeting)

It is interesting that Hawaiians dissented from Trump's election as president by a 62% to 30% margin.


Might that have been a factor in the Sessions put down?  Just another juvenile "tit for tat?"

By and large, ugliness does not play in Hawaii.

Sessions' Alabama does have a history of political and racial nastiness.  All one has to do is to draw up our memories of "Bloody Sunday, Selma, Alabama of 1965.


Weather-wise, picturesque-wise and diversity-wise, "... the island in the Pacific" is more or less a paradise.


I had ample opportunity to mix with local while in the Aloha state.

Native Hawaiians, Japanese, Anglos, Blacks, Filipinos, Koreans and Chinese.

Take a look at his chart based on year 2015 data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Rather than casting implicated aspersions because a Hawaiian based federal judge does not see the law his way and Trump's way, Sessions, America's top lawyer charged with ensuring civil rights for all Americans, should be praising Hawaii-as a full throated state of the United States of America-and top model of how diverse populations can work together for the common good.

In the context of complementarity, the 50 states as a whole demonstrate the greatness of the American demographic landscape, in over span of more than two centuries, in melding immigrating diverse cultures into a melting pot that has proved to be a win-win for particular cultures and the grand scheme of American culture.

Many Americans are not surprised at what Trump's electoral college majority election has wrought on the nation's body politic in terms of vitriolic political discourse which largely emanates from the president, a few of his cabinet officials and quite a number of his close in political advisers (e.g. Stephen K. Bannon, Stephen Miller and the like).

But of course a majority of voting Americans did not vote for Donald J. Trump unless, of course, perhaps one buys into the Trump fabrication and fantasy of three to five million voters voting illegally.


Many of the anti-Trump voters were less than enthusiastic about Clinton.

As stale and tied to the Washington swamp as Clinton was likely to be, it was highly predictable that Trump would bring a brand of in politics and governance worse for ordinary Americans than the self-serving Clintons demonstrated in terms of moral leadership in the years they occupied the White House.

And as far as Trump dealing with the swamp is concerned, many think the swamp continues on supplemented by nepotism.

"... only 34 percent approve of his having given his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, major positions in his administration (61 percent disapprove)."  (see ABC News report citing the above)

Clinton represents the established political order and is a specific manifestation of America's political/ruling class (also includes the Bushes, Kennedys and others who trade on well known surnames) which vast numbers of us are growing tired ,of because of their self-serving, personal wealth building dominating of Democratic and Republican political party structures as vehicles to lording it over the rest of us.

Many of us yearn for a presidential election which French voters have before them on May 7th.

Two candidates unconnected to major French political parties.

Both candidates outside the established political party setup.

How refreshing, no?  And one of them is a political centrist.  Wow!

GROWING DISAFFECTION FOR DEM/GOP POLITICAL PARTIES
WITH A STARK COUNTY TIE-IN

Yesterday a ABC/Washington Post poll came out showing U.S. voter disenchantment with the Democratic and Republican political parties



With a mere 54.7% of registered voters voting in 2016, it is abundantly clear that about 45% of the national electorate do not see the importance and relevance to them in participate in a national election.

That 45% is nearly as high as Trump received (46.1%) of the national popular vote totals.

Futility in participating in elections seems to be setting in big time.

Nevertheless, Stark County's Republican and Democratic organizations go on in apparent disregard of "the out-of-touch" factor.

In 1992, 1996 and predominantly ever since, Stark County Democratic Party leaders lined up on the basis of "establishment factor" political party allegiance in support of nearly everything if not everything that the Clintons have done and stood for.

I don't recall one single Stark County Democratic Party leader come out in support of Bill Clinton's impeachment.  And no Democratic U.S. Senator voted to convict Clinton.

Though she lost to Barack Obama in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she was clearly the candidate of establishment Democratic leadership including local leaders.


I think that Hillary Clinton in part failed in her 2016 presidential bid because of the legacy she shared with husband Bill which, when added, to her penchant for secrecy (i.e. her maintaining a private e-mail server) and other politically arrogant stances; gave the totally unprepared in demeanor, veracity and competence Donald J. Trump the opportunity to slip through with a electoral college victory.

Just like in the Healy/Perez Canton Democratic primary mayoralty race of 2015 in which everyday Canton Democrats were underwhelmed with the qualities of the candidates.

As a corollary, many voters in November, 2016 including myself felt bereft of the opportunity to vote for a viable alternative to Clinton or Trump.

Amazing to me from a local standpoint in the 2016 presidential race was the number of candidate/elected official Stark County Republicans who openly supported and perhaps continue to support Trump's outrageousness.

In contrast to local Democratic leaders of 1998 and the Clinton/Lewinsky matter, the Stark County Republican Party organization did put out this statement:


But the "Donald Trump's behavior is indefensible" comes up a bit empty in light of the number of local Republican candidates/elected officials who showed up at his Canton rally in September, 2016.


As far as The Stark County Political Report is concerned, these folks of Stark County Republican political/governance leadership are accountable for their public support and perhaps continuing allegiance to the obviously unprepared and unfit by temperament and personal conduct Donald J. Trump who, of course, is the de facto head of the national Republican Party.

It seems pretty clear that political party loyalty is more important to our locals than the welfare of the nation.

What quality of judgment do our local Republican leaders have anyway?


It is interesting that Stark's only countywide newspaper has failed to put local Republican leaders on the spot for their having and continuing to openly support a clearly deficient person as leader of this great nation of ours.

Granted, Hillary Clinton was not a deserving alternative for them.

Independent minded and acting voters had to hold their noses in voting for Clinton.  There likely was also a number of staunch registered Democrats who had the same experience.

By boycotting the Canton sited Trump campaign event, local Republican could have in their own small way communicated to Trump that his deficiencies as a candidate were unacceptable for a leader of the free world.

One of the loudest cheerers for Donald Trump was then-Stark County Republican Party vice president Jane Timken who went on to become the Trump endorsed candidate for chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

Shame on her!

As the nation suffers with the leadership debacle now in full swing in Washington, she is a local person who bears a special responsibility for having put the nation at risk to sustain a political/governance catastrophe.

I understand the need for political parties and some semblance of political organization loyalty, just not all consuming.  Notice I did not use the phrase "political party loyalty."

Trump has been/is so over the top that the welfare of the nation calls for Republican leaders locally and across the nation to send him a loud and clear message that they will back off and withhold support until and unless he changes his ways.

Jane Timken (and Stark County GOP chair Jeff Matthews) have proved to be highly ineffective during her time as a local Republican Party official in working to make Canton city politics and governance competitive.

So not only has she let the nation down, Jane Timken has as a Republican Party operative let Canton, Stark's county seat, down.

While necessary in some format in our democratic-republic, political party organizations as presently constituted under the banner Republican/Democrat are failing Stark Countians, Ohioans and, indeed, the entire U.S. population.

There is hope that the likes of the Tea Party (politically right) and Indivisible (politically left) will equalize as offering different outside of the political party structure contenders and going forward provide an alternative to the increasingly moribund American mainstream political party system.

To be politically healthy, there needs to be a centrist alternative not embedded in the current political party structure.

Going forward, The Stark County Political Report will focus on encouraging the development of local political organizations a vehicles to make government accountable to everyday people.

The Stark County Political Report:  your source of equal opportunity critiques of politics and governance affecting Stark County.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

11/08/2016 ELECTION: STARK COUNTY OFFICE ANALYSIS & ASSESSMENT



Stark County came within 552 votes (unofficial vote tally) of getting a non-political prosecutor in office yesterday.


It will be interesting to comb through precinct results and determine where Republican Jeff Jakmides of Alliance came up short.

With Stark having 288 precincts, he needed two more votes on average per precinct to come out a winner.

While Jakmides individually lost, the bigger loser was the Stark County public.

Stark County is not dealing effectively with crime as indicated on crime statistics on Canton, the Stark's county seat, to wit:


THE PROSECUTOR RACE

The Stark County Political Report believes that Prosecutor John Ferrero is more focused on the politics of retaining office than he is on effective and lasting (in the sense of being sparing on plea bargaining) prosecution of criminals "as charged" and thereby keep criminals out of our neighborhoods for longer period of time.

When you couple Ferrero and his "quick to plea bargain" approach to plea bargaining with Sheriff George T. Maier who the SCPR thinks has made his office a haven of appointees whose first duty appears to be personal political loyalty and effective law enforcement a secondary priority,  Stark Countians ought to be feeling less secure in their persons today than yesterday.

Maier too was on the ballot yesterday as an unopposed candidate.

In the 2014 elections, Stark Countians blew it in electing Maier over his Republican opponent Larry Dordea currently the police chief in Hartville and formerly the chief in Alliance.

In Alliance, Dordea is credited with having cleaned up a illegal drug problem.

And, Dordea tells the SCPR he was committed to doing the same for all of Stark County.

Maier makes a big show about cleaning up a current epidemic level heroin supply/use and overdose problem, but the problem continues to grow.

A Jakmides/Dordea law enforcement team would have made Canton and all of Stark County as much more crime free/illegal drug free community.

Elections do matter and The Report thinks that we Stark Countians are about to experience lax prosecution and law enforcement at an unprecedented level with Ferrero and Maier in place.

OTHER RACES

SMITH/SLESNICK - STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER

Stark County did avoid another election results disaster yesterday in Canton Township trustee Bill Smith's resounding victory over Democrat Stephen Slesnick.


Slesnick, in the opinion of the SCPR, was a do-nothing state representative for eight years which likely had he been elected Stark County commissioner yesterday.

Hopefully, Canton/Stark County has seen the last of Slesnick as a candidate for elective office.

SHRIVER/GIAVASIS - CLERK OF COMMON PLEAS COURT

Plain Township's Claude Shriver in lambasting former Plain Township trustee Louis G. Giavasis (who is the brother of Stark Co. Dems chair Phil Giavasis) for political cronyism apparently was on to something that resonated with a number of Stark County voters.


Giavasis bears watching very closely in his administration of the clerk of courts office in terms of his employment practices.

ARNOLD/CAMPBELL - RECORDER

Democrat Rick Campbell is another countywide official who the SCPR thinks is way too political in how/who (i.e. the politically connected) he has hired into his office.  And besides that, there are those who think he is pretty much an absentee recorder.

Republican John Arnold (a Lake Township trustee) gave Campbell a big time "wake-up" call in yesterday's election.


Campbell could be ripe for the political plucking in the 2020 elections.

CAIN/ZUMBAR - TREASURER


Of all of yesterday's candidates, the most qualitative was Republican Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar.

In the past, Zumbar has had some relatively close races notwithstanding the excellent job he has done in restoring public confidence in the treasurer's office post-theft-of-upwards of $3 million by former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci (found out in April, 2009).

His 24% victory over Lake Board of Education member (former president of the state board of education under Democratic governor Ted Strickland) Debbie Cain is well deserved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

NOVEMBER 8, 2016 - ELECTION DAY

UPDATED:  10:44 PM 

IT IS LOOKING VERY GOOD FOR JEFF JAKMIDES!  CAN HE PULL THE UPSET OFF?


Post 11:  (10:45)  88% of precincts have been reported.

Post 10:  (10:39)  Jakmides pulling even closer.  Only 649 votes behind with perhaps as many as 20,000 votes to count.  Could we be saying Prosecutor-elect Jakmides within the hour?



Post 9:  (10:25)  Jakmides pulling closer.  Less than 2,000 votes behind.  Are there enough votes out in the county for him to defeat incumbent prosecutor Ferrero?



Post 8:  (10:17)  With as many as perhaps 50,000 or more votes to count, it is looking likely that Republican Jeff Jakmides will overcome incumbent Democrat prosecutor John Ferrero and become Stark County's next prosecutor, to wit:




Post 7:  (5:40 p.m.)  From The Upshot (LINK, NYTimes) prediction of presidential winner.



Post 6:  (5:12 p.m.)  From Stark County commissioner candidate Bill Smith:

Hi Martin, voted this morning at 8 ,no line but the voting booths were all being used. Thanks to all who supported my campaign and helped in so many ways. If elected,. I will work hard to maintain their trust in me. 

Post 5:  (1:21 p.m.)  From Stark County commissioner candidate Richard Regula:


Just voted, took 5 min they said turnout has been good in Bethlehem Township.

Post 4:  (12:38 p.m.)  From Stark County commissioner candidate John Mariol:  

Hi Martin, Kallie and I both voted early so I do not have any information about the waiting time. 

Hope all is well!!

Post 3:  (12:29 p.m.) The best source for "live" coverage  (LINK) of the presidential election:




Post 2:  (12:17 p.m.)



Post 1:  (11:20 a.m.)

Wife and I showed up to Lake, Precinct 13 polling station at about 6:45 a.m.  About 12 voters ahead of us.  Line wait to complete voting about 30 minutes.  What a wonderful opportunity we in America have to participate in the selection of our leadership.

You be sure to vote today!


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Links to SCPR Recommendations  (contested races wholly within Stark County)
Sample Ballot for SCPR's Martin Olson
(Source:  Stark Co BOE)


Monday, November 7, 2016

PART 3 - SCPR 2016 (WITHIN STARK CO) CANDIDATE RECOMMENDATIONS

UPDATED:  1:00 PM


TODAY

CLERK OF COURTS

CORONER

FAMILY COURT

PROSECUTOR

RECORDER

TREASURER

Links to prior blogs on 2016 races:

2016 is the first year in the nearly nine year history of The Stark County Political Report for The Report to make candidate recommendations.

Although previous to this blog the SCPR has not made recommendations, it is not hard to tell from the tone of SCPR coverage of Stark's political landscape whom The Report thinks "well of" as contrasted with "not so well of."

As with the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivision Top 10 "Elected" Official List, to earn a SCPR recommendation as being thought "well of" is tough to come by.

Many of the "within Stark County 'only'" races listed in this blog, quite a number are "pick-em" listings.

"Pick-em" is a term The Report uses to say that neither candidate possesses qualities that earn a SCPR recommendation.

The Report has already weighed in on what Ohio House seats wholly within Stark County that exist and the two county commissioner races.

Today, The Report deals with the remainder of "competitive, wholly within Stark County election contests."  (All races as listed on the Stark County Board of Elections website)



Recommendation: Pick-em

Democrat Louis P. Giavasis (a former long time Plain Township trustee) may be Stark County's foremost political cronyism public officials.  

Giavasis' current status is that he is the appointee as clerk of courts of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee.  His brother Phil is chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party and a former Stark County clerk of courts himself.

The SCPR has written quite a few blogs citing chapter and verse on the Giavasises political "wheelin and dealin."

Seems like the Giavasis want "to keep it all in the family, no?"

Kudos to Republican challenger Claude W. Shriver, for having the fortitude to step forward at an October, 2016 League of Women Voters candidates forum and say so.

While Shriver does have 17 years under his belt as a Plain Township trustee, he is an unknown quantity in terms of his qualification to be the county clerk of courts.

He might be fine.  But the SCPR does not know enough about his governance abilities to recommend him to Stark County voters.

The clerk of courts office is in the process of completing implementation of electronic filing.  It could be that Shriver might be able to step in without missing a beat.

Giavasis, despite his highly politicized character, has, when he sticks to his duties has done a workmanlike job as a county official, and likely has nursemaided the electronic filing project from when it first was conceived as a thing for Stark County to bring on board as an "efficiency in government" factor.

Readers of the SCPR know how utterly The Report detests the political cronyism of the likes of Louis Giavasis.

But there is a argument to be made why Giavasis should continue in office.

Not being willing (Giavasis) or able due to lack of knowledge (Shriver), the SCRP assigns this particular contest as being a PICK 'EM choice for Stark County voters.


Recommendation: Murthy

P.S. Murthy, M.D. has been Stark County coroner since 2004.

And, as far as the SCPR knows, has gotten the job done in terms of competently discharging the duties of county coroner.

The Report did have some communication difficulties with Murthy's office within the past 30 days regarding the retrieving information on overdose drug deaths since 2013 in Stark County.

To his credit, Murthy did resolve the difficulties quickly when the matter was brought to his attention.

At the October LWV forum, Murthy Republican opponent Brian Briggs offered that he would be a "part-time" coroner.

Unless Murthy had shown over his 12 years as coroner that he was not up to doing a workmanlike job, why would Stark Countians want to take a chance on an unknown quantity who from the get-go says he only wants to be part-time.

Accordingly, the SCPR recommends P.S. Murthy for re-election.


Recommendation: Reese

The Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division (Family Court) has long been a bastion of Republican lawyers becoming judges.

The SCPR goes back to the days of John R. Milligan and W. Don Reader.

While underlying political philosophy should play no role in the administration of justice to Stark's troubled families, the reality is and there is no question about it with The Report that many Republicans (including, of course, those who become judges) have a different perspective as to what constitutes appropriate family lifestyles.

For The Report, given the differences in underlying philosophy on what is and what is not societal defined acceptable family lifestyle, it is important to have variant perspectives on and understanding of family lifestyle realities

A for instance can be found in the judicial conduct for former Republican Stark County Family Court judge David Stucki in this LINK.

For 16 years, Democrat Jason Reese has actually practiced Family Court law from a day-in, day-out citizen perspective.

Republican opponent David Nist has been a Family Court magistrate since 1997.

Two different perspectives, no?

The SCPR thinks it would be value added to the court to have the Reese perspective added to the administration of Family Court justice.

Accordingly, the SCPR recommends Jason Reese for election to judge of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division.


Recommendation: Jakmides

The SCPR has written numerous blogs on this race.

To cut to the chase and in a few words state why The Report is recommending Republican Jeffrey Jakmides for election as Stark County prosecutor is the SCPR thinks he has indulged in political considerations in the prosecutor's part of the administration of justice in Stark County.

To cite a number of eamples of a political factor being present in the prosecutor's office:
  • the Devies case, (LINK)
  • his fight with George T. Maier over Maier's qualification to be Stark County sheriff, 
  • having a staff member, who a number of county officials and lawyers tell the SCPR, seems to have very little to do but take care of the politics factor in John Ferrero retaining the office of prosecutor, 
  • using his taxpayer supported place in the Stark County justice system in a manner to enhance the politics of his remaining prosecutor,
  • taking political contributions from staff members who, of course, worry about preserving their jobs,
  • taking political contributions from lawyers with a criminal law practice in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas which, of course, makes his office susceptible to suspicion of doing excessive plea bargaining down of serious criminal law 
Beyond the political factor, John Ferrero is nothing more than a super administrator and is open to question how much he functions in this capacity.

A few years ago, during the Stark County budget crisis, the SCPR Ferrero tried to bully and intimidate the Stark County commissioners into providing him a disproportionate share of county finances.

There is talk that he might retire if re-elected tomorrow before the end of 2016 and then take office anew on January 1, 2017.

Ferrero is definitely under political pressure not to do so, but the SCPR thinks that John Ferrero is all about John Ferrero and would not be surprised in the slightest, should he be re-elected, were he do take a political hit and do what is most remunerative for John Ferrero.

Ferrero likes to advertise that his office has a 97% conviction rate on criminal charges his office prosecutes as some sort of distinguishing factor on his being prosecutor.

The fact of the matter is most prosecutors throughout Ohio and the nation have similar if not better convictions rates.

To repeat the point made above, his office plea bargains down way too many cases which opens up the possibility if not the probability that these convicted felons will once again traversing the streets, avenues and cul-de-sacs of Stark County neighborhoods before they should have been.

Ferrero's Republican opponent Jeff Jakmides of Alliance has the capacity of being a real prosecutor and not simply a pencil pusher.

Jamides is an energized lawyer who:
  • has vast jury trial experience that equips him be "hands on" as a prosecutor,
  • is self-financing his campaign,
  • says he will leverage illicit drug charges to get to and reduce Stark County drug dealer network, 
  • promises to make the prosecutor's office far less susceptible to political influence on who gets charged or not charged with a crime, who gets reduced charges, and 
  • is likely to implement a full blown direct indictment program and thereby save Stark County taxpayers lots of money to be redirected to financing other criminal justice projects designed to insulate Stark Countians from the ravages of criminal activity
The SCPR thinks that of all of the truly competitive offices up for voter decision tomorrow, this one commands that The Report recommend Jeff Jakmides to Stark's voters,


Recommendation: Pick 'em

The SCPR used to have a very high opinion of Stark County recorder Rick Campbell.  Before Campbell became recorder (2001), the office in the modern era the office was held by a succession of Republicans who were at best "mind the store" types who used the office as a political patronage perch.

Campbell on taking office embarked on a bevy of efficiency moves that saved Stark County taxpayers and users of the recorder's office tons of money and time.

But over a span of time,  Campbell came more and more the resemble his Republican forebearers in terms of using the office as a resting place for political connected Stark County Democrats.

The highlight of his placing a political imprimatur on the office was his hiring of Kody Gonzalez from "out of the blue" (no pun intended) circa 2006.

At the time, Kody's father was chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party who denies that he had anything to do with Campbell hiring his son.

And Randy Gonzalez's contention may be true, but who is going to believe it.

For his part, Campbell claimed to the SCPR that Kody possessed qualities so obvious and clear so as to rise to the level of being a "no brainer" as justification for Campbell to have brought him into county government as chief deputy recorder as his first county government job.

The SCPR's take on Campbell is that nobody has to tell him to do a politically expedient thing; doing so seemingly comes naturally to him.

Kody Gonzalez has since moved on to become the Canton clerk of courts chief deputy (hired by the elected clerk Phil Giavasis who is currently the chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) to take on where father Randy left off when he retired a year or so ago.

Accordingly, he has taken on tones of being of the shame shades of Democratic blue as Sheriff George T. Maier, Clerk of Courts Louis Giavasis and Prosecutor John Ferrero.

His opponent, Republican John Arnold, a Lake Township trustee (mind you, being a trustee is "non-partisan) probably, if elected, would be equally political in how he staffed the office.

The SCPR thinks that Arnold used his position as Lake trustee to help Canton Municipal Court judge Curtis Werren use the reopening of the Uniontown Police Department event as an opportunity for Werren to get political exposure in Lake which is a large part of the Canton Municipal Court district when he ran against Canton Law Department Democrat and  prosecutor Kristen Guardado.

Arnold is an able person who is part of the 127 year old Arnold Funeral Home business and is up to being county recorder.

However, because of the highly partisan factor with both Arnold and Campbell, this race is definitely a Pick-em for Stark County voters.

There are no distinguishing qualities between Campbell and Arnold in terms of ability to get the job done effectively and efficiently going forward.


Recommendation: Zumbar

You talk about a "no-brainer," the Cain versus Zumbar race is it!

Former state board of education president (currently a member of the Lake Schools Board of Education) Debbie Cain is a markedly unqualified candidate for Stark County treasurer.

She may be okay in education circles.  But she is clearly "a fish out of water" as a candidate for Stark County treasurer.

Cain is a substitute candidate for the original filer who the SCPR is told quit the race because he became convinced that the Stark County Democratic Party would not be adequately supporting him to make taking on Zumbar competitive.

Stark's Democrats have put up some credible candidates to oppose Republican Alex Zumbar since he first took office in 2010.

Zumbar has been in and out of office since his initial appointment and set aside by the Ohio Supreme Court election (November, 2010) because the-then Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) unconstitutionally removed former Democratic treasurer Gary D. Zeigler.

In April, 2009, it surfaced that Chief Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci had been stealing taxpayer dollars which in the end turned out to be upwards of some $3 million.

The State of Ohio Auditor (SOA, under then auditor and Republican Mary Taylor) cited Zeigler for not having had policies, practices, programs, procedures and physically secure facilities in place so as to make it impossible for something like the Frustaci theft to have taken place.

By October 19, 2011 Zeigler cut a deal whereby he agreed to resign/retire and on October 31st, believe it or not the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee was put in the position (because of the excellent remedial work Zumbar had already done in rectifying the SOA citations) to appoint Republican Zumbar to the position.

In 2012, Zumbar was elected in his own right.

Of all of the offices up for election within Stark County in this election cycle, Alex Zumbar without question is the most accomplished and qualified of all the candidates.

Accordingly, the SCPR enthusiastically recommends Zumbar's re-election.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

PART 2: - 2016 (WITHIN STARK CO) CANDIDATE RECOMMENDATIONS: COMMISSIONER RACES



There are two countywide commissioner races in our Hall of Fame county this presidential election year.


Being a successful Stark County commissioner is a challenge that few understand.

A challenge?

Indeed!

For the commissioners have little governance power inasmuch as most county offices administering to the Stark County public have heads that are themselves elected and therefore are free to ignore (accountable only to the electorate) much of what the commissioners collectively think is best policy and practice for the county at large.

But they do have the "bully pulpit."

One of the best "preachers" of the current set of commissioners is Republican Janet Creighton.

Creighton and then-Democrat Thomas Bernabei (now a political independent and mayor of Canton) elected in November, 2010 when Stark County was in the midst of a crisis of confidence in county government as an outgrowth of then-Chief Deputy of the Stark County treasury having stolen Stark County taxpayer money which, it turns out, was upwards of $3 million.

And preach she did that "the good old boys" model of county government were over.

Alongside her and the Rock of Gibraltar of "head-knocking" was Bernabei who in steel hand in soft glove fashion provided oomph to the Creighton preachments.

But now Bernabei is gone and off to Canton as its "independent" minded mayor in a quest to solve the decades long in the making severe problems that the Hall of Fame City is experiencing.


David Bridenstine has done a solid job as interim commissioner since January when Bernabei took over as chief executive at Canton City Hall.  But he accepted the appointment with the understanding he would not seek election as commissioner.

So the first order of election business for Stark Countians on Tuesday is whom to replace Benabei with.

SMITH VERSUS SLESNICK


Of all the "wholly within Stark County" contested races that The Stark County Political Report is weighing in upon, this election cycle, that Republican Bill Smith is the highest quality candidate of them all in terms of being prepared for the office he seeks is clear to The Report.

The election of term-limited-out as of December 31st state Representative Stephen D. Slesnick would make the job of the other two commissioners much more challenging.

Smith as a 13 year Canton Township trustee with an adult life of being a highly successful businessman.

Slesnick, the other hand, as state representative has amounted to no more than being a place holder in the Ohio General Assembly in a legislative district "rigged" (i.e. gerrymandered) by the supermajority Republicans.

Kirk Schuring (the 48th), Christina Hagan (the 50th ) and Scott Oelslager have conspired with their fellows in the Ohio General Assembly to isolate Democrats into urban districts so that Republicans could and have in fact achieved supermajority control of an Ohio which presidential, governorship and U.S. Senate races more often than not demonstrate that Ohio—given quality candidates—is pretty much a 50/50 state.

But such was the perfect place for the vegetating Slesnick to be.

Stark County does not need a place holding commissioner.

There are still many challenges that future Stark boards of commissioners face and the board needs to be composed of office holders who have demonstrated leadership ability.

Accordingly, Bill Smith gets the SCPR's highest recommendation ranking of all the "wholly within Stark County" candidate races on Tuesday's ballot.

MARIOL VERSUS REGULA



Democrat and Canton councilman (Ward 7) John Mariol is one of the SCPR's favorite Canton councilpersons.

In the early days of being a Canton councilman, Mariol along with Ward 5 councilman Kevin Fisher, Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack and Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris, III (all Democrats, of course) made up a group of energetic, progressive and independent (of then-mayor William J. Healy, II) which the SCPR termed as being "the four young turks."


But alas their vigor and independence was not to last.

By the 2015 elections all four were firmly committed to the re-election of William J. Healy, II as mayor of Canton.

Almost from the beginning of his political career in Canton, the SCPR assessed Healy to be a self-serving, manipulative politician of the first order.

He proved too skilled at political manipulation for Mariol, Fisher, Mack and Morris to resist being drawn into his web of political support.

Healy achieved his objective by using the overarching concept of political party loyalty as the snare to suck them into being part of his core of support.

It was a profound disappointment to see Mariol, Fisher, Mack and Morris to place political party loyalty over the well being of the county seat of Stark County.

Fisher is now out of Canton government.  Mack has said he is leaving at the end of 2017.  And by virtue of running for commissioner, Mariol is saying he wants out.

Only trouble is with Mariol is that he wants to leave Canton government without having left much of a mark on improving Canton's overall situation.

His Market Square project is promising, but far from realized.

It could be that over time John Mariol will prove to be a worthy leader who is equipped to spread his wings and one of three governors of all of Stark County.

But that day is not November 8, 2016.

Accordingly, he needs to stay the course in Canton government and focus on Mayor Bernabei as a model of what real leadership qualities look like in effective government improvement action.

Incumbent Republican commissioner Richard Regula, on the other hand, has grown into be being a somewhat effective commissioner.

His big thing is improving Stark County's infrastructure (e.g. non-flooding ditches, highways [Route 30 widening], and countywide broadband) and he has had significant impact on improving and expanding upon all of the examples.

One troubling aspect of Regula's tenure in Stark County government is that he continues to live under the shadow of his father Ralph Regula, the long-time congressman of the 16th congressional district who distinguished himself as congressman especially in terms of "bringing home the 'federal' bacon" to Stark County.

It is unreal that as the son of revered congressman that Richard has a track record of having lost two elections.

In 2000, he lost to of all people Gary D. Zeigler (who at the time had run unsuccessfully some eight times) in a race for Stark County treasurer.

Then in 2006, he lost to Democrat Nimishillen trustee Todd Bosley in one of the all time upsets in Stark County political history.

The SCPR senses that Richard is making headway in making his own mark as a Stark County leader.

Up to now, he has been mostly talk on infrastructure improvement and has demonstrated as commissioner that he is apparently content with piecemeal improvements as exemplified by the commissioners spending a million here and a million there on unplugging Stark's drainage ditches.

At the current pace of drainage ditch infrastructure repair,  the problem will not be solve during Richard Regula's political lifetime.

He has not developed a creative financing mechanism for funding the critically needed infrastructure projects he advocates for.

Richard Regula needs to get to work on a viable funding option to provide the financing needed countywide infrastructure development and realization.

In the judgment of the SCPR, he has the political/governance wherewithal to make his own Regula mark on benefiting Stark County.

The SCPR recommends the election of Richard Regula over John Mariol this coming Tuesday.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

PART 1: SCPR 2016 (WITHIN STARK CO.) CANDIDATE RECOMMENDATIONS

WHOLLY WITHIN STARK COUNTY

OHIO HOUSE CONTESTS



UPDATED:  10:37 AM

2016 is the first year in the nearly nine year history of The Stark County Political Report for The Report to make candidate recommendations.

Although previous to this blog the SCPR has not made recommendations, it is not hard to tell from the tone of SCPR coverage of Stark's political landscape whom The Report thinks "well of" as contrasted with "not so well of."

As with the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivision Top 10 "Elected" Official List, to earn a SCPR recommendation as being thought "well of" is tough to come by.

Many of the "within Stark County 'only'" races listed in this blog, quite a number are "pick-em" listings.

"Pick-em" is a term The Report uses to say that neither candidate possesses qualities that earn a SCPR recommendation.

McMASTERS/WEST
49TH OHIO HOUSE SEAT



and
DISCUSSION OF THE 48TH & 50TH DISTRICT RACES

For instance, let's take the 49th Ohio House District race as a SCPR "Pick-em" race.

Canton Ward 2 councilman Thomas West (a Democrat) is running in an "open" seat (Democrat Stephen Slesnick  (who the SCPR has a very low opinion of as a public official) having been term-limited out after eight years in the Ohio House) against Republican Dan McMasters.

The 49th district is a seat which has been rigged (actually the proper term is "gerrymandered) by the heavily Republican dominated Ohio General Assembly including the likes of Stark Countian Republicans Christina Hagan (the 50th), Kirk Schuring (the 48th) and Scott Oelslager (the 29th, Ohio Senate) to weight down the 49th with a heavy predominance of voter registered Democrats (e.g. Canton and Massillon residents) so as to make it virtually impossible for a Republican to win.

As we shall see when we get to the Hagan race, she and her fellow Republicans have "rigged" the 50th House District to make it virtually impossible for a Democrat to win.  A couple of months ago, Hagan's Democratic opponent John Juergensen announced he was suspending his campaign because of a personal matter he had to focus on.  It was thought he he actually withdraw, but he has not.  But whether he did or did not, in the view of the SCPR he had no realistic chance to defeat Hagan happily ensconced in her "rigged" Republican 50th.

Samo-samo with Kirk Schuring in the 48th.  This year he has no opponent at all.  He did, but she did and there is no replacement.  Again, as in the 50th, the 48th is "rigged" Republican.

But the SCPR thinks Schuring has qualities as a candidate/legislator that leave Hagan in the dust. Christina Hagan is "a chip off the old block."  The "old block" being father John who represented a somewhat different configured 50th from 2000 through 2008.

The Report sees Hagan as a "religious right" representative who wants to use state government to control the reproductive life of Ohio and Stark County women.

John Hagan, now a Marlboro Township trustee (from whence he came) is a highly marginal guy who was constantly being propped up, during his time in Columbus, by the Ohio and Stark County Republican establishment.

Once John was term limited out of the Ohio House, he decided like Democrat Stephen Slesnick to run for Stark County commissioner.

Despite receiving tons and tons of newspaper ink promoting his very limited accomplishments as a state representative, he lost to political neophyte and Democrat Pete Ferguson who the SCPR sees as having been a lightweight government official in his own right.

In a contest of the politically and/governance inept, Ferguson, (a former Stark County commissioner) believe it or not, came in third in a field four candidates.

The SCPR will have more to say about Slesnick's race against Republican Bill Smith in tomorrow's blog.

It seems to the SCPR that marginal types like  John Hagan and Slesnick once they have sucked on the tit of governance they adopt a feeling of entitlement and seek out some office, any office, to stay on the tit the seemingly need in order to go on.

Christina's marginality dictates that she receives the same kind of "propping up" attention that father John did and has, again, like him,  a "rigged" district to run in.

Schuring has been Stark County's
  • most productive and responsive to the needs from Ohio government to Stark County political subdivisions
    • especially in garnering state money and taxing authority (i.e. tourism district that Stark County alone qualifies for) for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP),
Ohio General Assembly member.

Of late the SCPR thinks Schuring has turned much more Republican political than he has demonstrated heretofore.  Within the past year he was selected by House Republican as their majority leader and as such has hued the Republican Party line on every issue before the Ohio General Assembly including but not limited to:
  • the undermining of Ohio's public school system by support of the for-profit charter school movement, and  W
  • accomplishing nothing in relieving the financial stress of Stark County cities caused by the Republican dominated legislature (a complicit Republican governor John Kasic) gutting of local government funding while building up a $2 billion surplus in the state's "rainy day" fund.
In West versus McMasters, initially the SCPR thought McMaster might be cut from a different mold than Schuring and Hagan.  But as The Report has gotten to know him, that kind of thinking has evaporated.

McMasters main claimed strength as a candidate is that since the Republican Party hold supermajority edge, it makes sense that the Democrat voter registered majorities would find him an attractive candidate for as representative he would be in a better position to advocate for and perhaps deliver local government funding relief to the likes of Canton and Massillon.

The SCPR thinks that a Representative McMasters would melt like butter on a hot stove top in the face of fellow Stark Countian Republican Schuring who is undoubtedly committed to hueing the party line on making financial life for Ohio's Democratically controlled cities as much as they possibly can.

McMasters presents himself has being an independent minded candidate thereby suggesting that he might be apt to take on "the powers that be" in the Ohio Republican establishment.

A 49th District voter should not believe the McMasters presentment.  The SCPR thinks that the McMasters self portrayal in a political mirage and he would be more of the same of the Schuring /Hagan model.

So is the SCPR bullish of Democrat Thomas West?

Not in the slightest!

He has been a Canton legislator for years and has produced very little for the citizens of Canton in terms of reversing the deterioration (financial, economic development and neighborhoods) of Canton that has occurred  over those years and the years before he became a member of council.

A argument to be made is that West with a majority of his fellow Democratic councilpersons were aiders and abettors with electoral disposed Democratic mayor (for eight years) William J. Healy, II in creating a $5.1 million deficit for Canton for fiscal year 2016 when political independent Thomas Bernabei unseated Healy in November, 2015.

West was one of Healy's main supporters in council and for re-election.

While Ohio's cuts in local government funding clearly hurt both Canton and Massillon, in the case of Canton much of the $5.1 million deficit was owing to irresponsible administration and legislating a the Canton level.

West refused to appear with McMasters in a SCPR interview in which he and McMasters would have to answer the tough questions that would have been forthcoming as suggested by this blog.

West is very out front with his reasons why not.

Why would he provide voters with an opportunity the weigh the relative merits of he and McMasters in a side-by-side forum?

After all, if he does not stumble and bumble, he should win hands down by virtue of Ohio General Assembly Republicans having created a safe district for a Canton/Massillon area Democrat to run it.

Can't be more self-serving than that, no?

To Hell with fundamental democratic-republican constiutional government values!  That seems to be West's attitude.

So the SCPR's conclusion in West/McMasters?

"Pick-em!"

Neither candidate meets the SCPR's high standard for a recommendation.

The same of course for the Juergensen/Hagan 50th District race.

There is no race in the 48th.