Tuesday, September 27, 2016

TONIGHT: CANTON WOMEN VOTERS' (C-LWV) CANDIDATES FORUM-COUNTYWIDE OFFICES!!!


IS IT WORTH THE TIME & EFFORT TO ATTEND?

(Source for text  information, Canton LWV, LINK)

Answer:  Maybe?

Let's sift through a bit of history of Canton League of Women Voters candidate forums to come to a more definite answer.

Last week the Canton League of Women Voters on conjunction with The Repository sponsored a candidates forum involving one of two Stark County commissioners races.  The one between Republican Canton Township trustee Bill Smith (15 years as a trustee) and Democrat state Rep. Stephen D. Slesnick (8 years as a representative).  It is likely Smith/Slesnick will be the only one of the two that "might" be competitive on November 8th.


As run-of-the-mill LWV sponsored events go, last week's may have been the best the SCPR has ever witnessed given local attorney Richard Kuhn was the moderator with no other persons involved in asking the questions tendered.

Kuhn, left to his own devices, historically, has left a lot to be desired in terms of his management of LWV candidate forums.

It is a credit to Stark County-sited office seekers who, by and large, participate in these sparsely attended events.

And it appears that Kuhn might be squaring up with political reality more than he has in the past in his management function.

Take a look at this promotion for tonight's event suggestion that the Stark County prosecutor's race could get testy.



Last Tuesday Kuhn was on his game and the questions actually produced answers up which could be difference makers for some Stark County voters.  Of course, the questions weren't his.  They came from LWV members, The Rep and individual audience members.

In past forums, Kuhn has manage to botch up even this minimalist role.

Getting by a chancy moderator performance, the worthwhileness is that many of the forums have virtually nobody in attendance and among those who attend there were very few if any Stark County "yet to decide" voters present.

In sparsely attended forums, most of the attendees were in some way connected to the candidates, the C-LWV or local media.

In October, 2015, it was quite a different picture as The Rep, The Indie (Massillon's daily) and the C-LWV teamed up to present a very worthwhile in the sense of being informative Q&A of Massillon's mayoralty candidates.

Look at the Massillon crowd (actually two-thirds of it).


An important part of the success of the Massillon forum were the questioners.


Why the LWV wouldn't ask at least Rep editorial board director Matt Rink and Veronica Van Dress of The Massillon Independent and perhaps someone from The Alliance Review to do the questioning, is beyond comprehension.

Maybe even eliminate the moderator?

Take a point that Candidate Slesnick made last week that he as state representative he had brought tens of millions of dollars back to Stark County over his eight years in Columbus.  And that a major reason why he with his Columbus lingering connections would be an value-added commissioner if elected.

Rink, et al, would have, if they followed their excellent follow through Q&A of the Massillon event, would have pressed Slesnick to give chapter and verse on the "tens of millions of dollars" assertion of Slesnick and moreover would have pressed him to present concrete evidence of his having significant influence in the Ohio General Assembly that had great promise to benefit Stark County going forward.

The foregoing is offered as an example of the weakness of last Wednesday's event structure.

The structure of the forum did not allow for a back and forth between the questioners (through moderator Kuhn), Slesnick and Smith on Slesnick's claim.

So given the low historical turnouts of C-LWV sponsored events going back years excluding the Massillon 2015 forum,  the lack of a structure to follow up on claims such as Slesnick's and the like make the C-LWV conceived candidate forums less worthwhile than the might be.

As presently constituted the C-LWV candidate forums may or may not provide valuable information on which attendees might base their votes.

One also has to wonder who is in charge of pre-event publicity.

The SCPR missed the West/McMasters candidate forum for a basic reason:  no one had bothered to send The Report a press release.

Other Stark County based organizations as a matter of Communications 101 send the SCPR notice of their events.

For instance, the Stark County District Library (SCDL) sent The Report not only a notice but an individually tailored notice to last Wednesday's event  featuring nationally renowned presidential elections analyst Kyle Kondik at the SCDL's Lake Community Branch, to wit:

Jennifer Walencik <jwalencik@starklibrary.org>  Sep 14 at 11:52 AM

To:  'tramols@att.net'

The Library is hosting Kyle Kondik next Wednesday at Lake Community Branch. He’s a political analyst for the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of “The Bellwether, Why Ohio Picks the President.” He’ll talk about swing states, Ohio's role as a national model and his predictions for November. Given the current election cycle and today’s Trump rally, I thought this could be a timely story and an event readers will want to check out. Is this something you would be interested in sharing with your readers?

An excerpt from the press release:
 Kyle Kondik, our first local author this fall, is a Cleveland native living in Washington, DC. He will join us on September 21 at 6:30 at the Lake Community Branch. He works as a political analyst for the University of Virginia Center for Politics and is the Managing Editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Learn why they say “As Ohio goes, so goes the Nation” as this expert on campaigns fills our evening with history, politics and intrigue. Kyle will discuss his book “The Bellwether”, share his predictions for November and discuss Ohio’s pivotal role as a national model.

I’ve attached the official press release for you and am happy to answer any questions you may have about this event.

Thank you!

JEN WALENCIK
Community Engagement Specialist
Stark County District Library

Think maybe the C-LWV might need a "Community Engagement Specialist?"

The SCDL was productive.

The Stark County Political Report gave the Kondik event "wall-to-wall" coverage (LINK) including video of 12 everyday Stark County citizens asking questions of the national political expert.

(one-half the total crowd)

So anyone who attends tonight forum is taking a chance that the time expended could turn out to be a waste of time.

The C-LWV certainly are intent in doing good for Stark County voters.  However, they need to figure out how to be effective "do gooders."

A little more "thoughtful" effort and these events could be a "do not miss" for information on Stark County-based candidates, no?

With so many candidates to present their views in a relatively short period of time, it is unlikely that tonight's forum will be productive for voters with the C-LWV seemingly set to do the same old thing in terms of forum format and structure.

To pose the question again.

Is it worth the time and effort to attend?

Answer:  Probably!

For the SCPR, even "probably" is short of what the answer ought to be which is:  "definitely!!!"

If changes are not made and made soon, is this potentially valuable public destined for abandonment?

Monday, September 26, 2016

"AS THE WORM TURNS" ON STATE GRADING K-12 STARK CO. EDUCATION

STARK CO. EDUCATION LEADERSHIP SHOWS A "MARKED" HYPOCRISY?




It was not that long ago that the state of Ohio Department of Education (ODE) was issuing a bevy of "A" grades for many of Ohio's (including Stark County's districts) school districts.

When such was the case, superintendents of the "A" perhaps even "B" graded districts were ballyhooing their respective achievements.

But recently, with the issuance of the 2014-2015 school year Report Cards and within the last few weeks the 2015-2016 school year Report CARD, "the worm has turned" and the ODE has decided to quit coddling school administrators in giving a pollyannish look at what is going on in education in Ohio has now taken a turn to what is "really" going on, to wit:


there is a great "hue and cry" being broadcast throughout the villages, cities, townships and school districts of the Buckeye State seeking the "explain away" the dramatic change in picture with the onset of a new reality.

The SCPR applauds the ODE's "worm-about" and thinks that superintendents across the state and emphatically in Stark County need to toughen up their curriculums and education instructional processes and, over time, get ranks "authentically" on the up tick.

Instead of bellyaching, big-pay collectively, and, in some instances individually (e.g. Adrian Allison in Canton City Schools), school administrations need to own up to the largely "non-value added" education that all too many Ohio/Stark County school children are receiving from the 21st Century Ohio school model.

It appears that the "bellyaching" approach is the one that Stark County education leaders had decided to employ.

Recently, a sampling of the folks met with The Repository bigs in a damage control session.  It seems to have worked.  The Repository recently published a article giving voice to the excuse making.


Readers should take seven minutes (LINK) to view this video of a Saturday appearance of Cleveland City Schools superintendent Eric Gordon as likely being representative of what The Repository folks heard of the delegation of Stark County-based superintendant in their rec

It it well known that the American education model is not faring well in comparison made in the international community.  See this LINK to a BBC report which ranks the United States at 28th on science and math among the nations of the world.

Recently the SCPR published a chart summary of how Stark County school districts fared in the 2015-2016 school year report.


Recently, the Cleveland Plain Dealer took the report card grades of all 608 Ohio school districts and assigned them a GPA (grade point average).  (LINK to article).

Here is how Stark County school districts fared:


There you have Massillon with a GPA of F+ on academic related matters and recently embroiled with the Ohio High School Athletic Association (LINK 1, LINK 2) on a football player recruiting/eligibility questions.

Interesting.

This is Mayor Kathy Catazarro-Perry's touted "City of Champions," no?

And not slight perennial Massillon athletic rival Canton McKinley;  the Bulldogs may excel in at many athletic endeavors, but a GPA of 0.20 is very telling the academic state of affairs in showing in the GPA rankings in "the race to the bottom" in that Canton school system is exceeded only by the Cleveland public school system which marks barely a blip on the education achievement radar at 0.10.

Apparently, neither the Massillon nor Canton school districts have their priorities straight.  Moreover, the likes of North Canton not even achieving a B should be raising alarm bells in Stark even at the top of the relative to the rest of Ohio grading scale.

Accordingly, it is fitting and proper for the state of Ohio to do what it has been doing for a couple of years now and raising the bar.

Rather than doing "damage control," Stark County's school administrators ought be about "undoing the damage" that years, probably decades now, has done to the quality of education in Stark County's 17 school districts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

STARK COUNTIANS GET TO ASK AN AUTHENTIC PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS EXPERT ABOUT 2016 RACE

UPDATE  08:20 AM


Stark Countians (perhaps, as many as 50) who showed up for the Stark County District Library (SCDL, Friends of the Library, Lake Branch) presentation of presidential elections and elections analysis featuring expert Kyle Kondik of the Sabato Virginia Center for Politics are quite a different crowd from the 4,500 who turned out for Republican Donald Trump's September 14th campaign rally at the Canton Memorial Civic Center.

The former are students of how America selects our president whereas the latter were—for the most part—on an emotional political binge where thought and due consideration were not allowed in.

The SCPR is disappointed that a considerable number of Stark County elected officials who could be taken as endorsing the over-the-top insults of incivility that Trump has demonstrated consistently from the day he entered the presidential campaign in June, 2015.


The Report knows some of these folks well.

And has never known any of them to display the ugliness of personal attack and insult that Trump does.

Yet, the SCPR has not seen one quote from any of the above distancing themselves from the Trump excesses.

It was refreshing break from the skulduggery and personal nastiness of the politics of the Trump/Clinton face off to be at the SCDL sponsored Kondik event on Wednesday evening.

Everyday Stark Countians thoughtfully and respectively asked elections expert Kyle Kondik about a dozen questions about presidential politics.

He had to be impressed.

Here is a one-on one-video between the SCPR and Kondik. (4:12)



In this blog, The Report focuses on thoughtful citizen questions asked of Kyle Kondik who had his book Bellwether:  Why Ohio Picks Presidents published (Ohio University Press) on June 15, 2016 on display at the event.

At the end of this blog, is a video of the entire 38 minute Kondik presentation.

Warning!  Only the civic minded and studious will find the presentation appealing.

It was no surprise at all to the SCPR that none of Stark County's elected officials (Republicans or Democrats) were in attendance on Wednesday evening.

Now to the citizens' questions.

QUESTION:  IS STARK COUNTY A BELLWETHER FOR THIS ELECTION?

Video answer: (3:48)



QUESTION:  THE RELEVANCE THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY ELECTION?

Video answer: (2:35)




QUESTION:  HOW DID WE GET TO THE POINT IN AMERICA POLITICAL PARTY LIFE THAT THE CHOICE BOILS DOWN TO A CONTEST BETWEEN HIGH NEGATIVE CANDIDATES TRUMP & CLINTON?

Video answer: (4:29)



QUESTION:  CONTRASTING BELLWETHER VOTING PATTERN WITH NON-BELLWETHER VOTING

Video answer: (3:16)



QUESTION:  WHY THE CHANGE IN OHIO'S ELECTORAL VOTES FROM 1896 TO 2012

Video answer: (1:59)



QUESTION:  VOTERS WHO MOVE, TAKE THEIR POLITICS WITH THEM OR DO THE ADOPT THE POLITICS OF THEIR NEW LOCALE?

Video answer: (3:34)



QUESTION:  EFFECT OF MILITARY VOTE ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Video answer:  (2:41)




QUESTION:  WHY ONLY TWO PROMINENT POLITICAL PARTIES IN UNITED STATES?

Video answer:  (8:22)



QUESTION:  EFFECT OF MEDIA ON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN?

Video answer:  (1:36)



QUESTION:  KASICH EFFECT ON TRUMP CANDIDACY?

Video answer:  (4:32)




QUESTION:  IMPACT OF OUTCOME OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE ON CONGRESSIONAL GRIDLOCK

Video answer:  (2:58)




QUESTION:  EFFECT OF US SUPREME COURT DECISION "CITIZENS' UNITED" ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Video answer:  (1:38)



Here is video of the 38 minute long presentation by Kondik on Why Ohio—as Bellwether—Picks U.S. Presidents.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

09/20/2015 CANDIDATES FORUM: SLESNICK/SMITH FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONER

A DRAW OR PERHAPS A SLIGHT EDGE TO SLESNICK?




As readers of The Stark County Political Report know, The Report has a negative view of state Representative Stephen Slesnick in his performance as a public official.

LINKS to prior Slesnick oriented blogs starting with June 27, 2016:


Another link:
So the bar was pretty low for Slesnick going into last night's League of Women Voters/Repository sponsored candidates forum featuring him as the Democratic candidate and Bill Smith (currently a Canton Township trustee [going back 15 years]), the Republican candidate.

Here is the SCPR "on the issues" analysis of the responses of the candidates:

CANDIDATEPEFORMANCE AS AN ELECTED OFFICIAL
PRE COUNTY COMMISSIONER CANDIDACY

By far the worst question of the night for Slesnick in terms of his response.

Slesnick claims to have brought back tens of millions dollars in capital improvement dollars to Stark County during his eight years of being a state representative for the Canton area.

This grandiose claim has a tint of Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's "I'm the greatest" to it which lacks chapter and verse substantiation.

Knowing how this kind of thing happens, the SCPR thinks that Democrat Slesnick is appropriating to himself the work of the entire Ohio General Assembly which is overwhelming controlled by the Ohio Republican Party.

He also made a claim about saving pension benefits for United Steel workers which the SCPR did not follow at all.

The SCPR has written at least one blog detailing how ineffective Slesnick as been as a state legislator.

It is more reasonable to believe that bringing state money back to Stark County is much more the work of Republican Stark County based legislators Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan.

Smith, on the other hand, talked about his effort to work with the city of Canton as a Canton Township trustee to avoid having some 880 acres of the township annexed by Canton in the form of negotiating a CEDA agreement.

A demonstrably concrete achievement.

On this question:  advantage Smith

Video (4:20)



MANAGEMENT OF $64 MILLION COUNTY BUDGET & STEWARDSHIP

Slesnick started out alright on this question in discussing his experience in working in a leadership role with state of Ohio ($8 billion) but devolved into talking about his plans for economic development in Stark County.

Why did he get off topic?

Maybe because he had nothing in the way of particulars on how he affected budgeting for the state of Ohio the "stewardship" aspect of the question presented.

Smith bested Slesnick on the responses to this question in sharing his work on Canton Township's finances in specificity in doing what he needed to do to keep Canton Township fiscally solvent.

Video (5:03)



RESOLVING STARK'S DITCHING/FLOODING PROBLEM

A clear win for Slesnick.

He at least was thinking of ways and means of coming with the millions of dollars to solve the flooding which takes place annually in many places in Stark County.

Smith as commissioner would want to continue to piecemeal.

The SCPR thinks the piecemeal approach is a mere "treading water" approach that will, if ever, take decades to get an upper hand on the perennial problem.

VideO (3:53)



TOURISM AS A ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOL

Another win for Slesnick.

The SCPR shares with Slesnick his view that economic development should be at the top of priorities for whomever sits in a Stark County commissioner chair and agrees that one has to be mystified at the obvious distancing on the part of the current set of commissioners in helping with the $500 million plus needs for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project.

And The Report agrees with him that in the nearly nine years of SCPR coverage of the coverage, the commissioners in toto have not embraced economic development as a top priority in terms of direct involvement.

Only former commissioners Todd Bosley (now a Nimishillen Township trustee, a volkswagen plant) and Tom Harmon (now a Canton councilman, equine center), both Democrats, have shown much interest in economic develop.

On the Republican side, Commissioner Regula has on the U.S. 30 upgrade and bringing broadband to Stark County.

But by and large the commissioners have been "hands-off" in favor of contributing to the Stark Development Board and letting that be it.

Slesnick in his response to this question distinguishes himself in a manner had heretofore thought he was not capable of.

Candidate Smith said nothing on this question to separate himself from the stance of the current board of commissioners.

Video (5:19)



ADVISABILITY OF CHARTER GOV'T FOR STARK COUNTY

An interesting question, but a non-starter in Stark County except for some the county's cities.

Canton recently rejected a move towards charter government despite the herculean effort of Canton Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack.

Both Slesnick and Smith came down with about the same answer.

More study needed to determine whether or not charter government would be beneficial for Stark Countians.

Accordingly, the two tie on their answer to this question.

Video (2:11)



MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ACCOMPLISH AS COMMISSIONER

Another win for Slesnick in the view of the SCPR.

From the previous footage in this blog, readers undoubtedly have gotten the often repeated theme from Slesnick is that his foremost attractiveness as a candidate for commissioner is his aggressive stance (compared to opponent Smith) on the issue of economic development.

It is apparent to the SCPR that Slesnick has been schooled by his cousin Canton councilman Bill Smuckler (a Democrat who in 2012 ran for commissioner against Richard Regula) since the debate hosted back in June by the NextChapter book store.

Slesnick would do well to soak in every bit he can from the studious but practical Smuckler.

One would expect from his comments, should Slesnick be elected is that he will not rest until the commissioners hire an economic development director.

On this issue, both candidate are in favor of economic development and fiscal responsibility.  But for Slesnick the county picking up the pace on direct involvement on economic development is his top priority whereas for Smith it is fiscal responsibility first and then economic development somewhere down the line in what commissioners do.

A particularly weak response on the part of Smith was his apparent "let others do it" coupled with a passive role for the commissioners themselves.

Video (4:07)



TIMING OF COUNTY COMMISSIONER MEETINGS

A SCPR Shame! on Stark County citizens for not attending weekly Stark County commissioners' meetings in greater numbers at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays in the commissioners' meeting room on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Currently, if half dozen members of the general public attend any given meeting, the commissioners would likely be doing cartwheels in celebration.

But just let some hot issue surface and its SRO.

Such is irresponsible citizenship.

The SCPR has had plenty to say about malfeasant, misfeasant public officials who serve in various elective capacities throughout Stark County.

The time meetings is held is irrelevant to a citizenry that is engaged.

Accordingly, there is no better answer as between candidates Slesnick and Smith.

On this question, it is a tie.

Video (3:36)



MAKING STARK COUNTY GOV'T MORE USER FRIENDLY

Stephen Slesnick was completely out on lunch break on this question.

To repeat from above in this blog, he appears to have been preprogrammed to response wherever remotely relevant in his own mind Economic Development, Economic Development, Economic Development despite his caveat in his response to this particular question that economic development is not a cure to everything that ails Stark County.

His lack of familiarity with Stark County's administrative infrastructure in dealing with businesses and citizens was telling in his missing the mark completely in his response.

Smith, on the other hand, scored a bullseye in giving a specific action already taken by Stark's commissioners to facilitate the interaction between the general public and county regulators in going to a one-stop-shop for permits and the like.

It should be encouraging to Stark Countians that Smith is committed to following the Stark County Building Department model as a template for future consolidations of county government services that makes local government more user friendly.

Slesnick completely blew it on this question.

A hands down win for Smith on this question.

Video (4:34)




STATE LAW & ACTIONS THAT HAVE AN EFFECT STARK CO GOV'T

On the fiscal side of county government, the state of Ohio with its 2010 Republican dominated legislature and Republican governor combo did serious damage to the county and other local governments (villages, cities and townships) with his cuts in local government funding and its elimination of the Ohio Estate Tax.

More recently, a change in federal regulatory law is going to cost Stark County $1.9 million in loss revenue having to do with not allowing Ohio's sales tax to be applied to Medicaid matching funds.

Slesnick did during this forum beat the drum for local officials to lean on state government to restore some of the state perpetrated cuts.  But he said not a word about the $1.9 million.  Probably because he is unaware of the change.

To his credit, Smith brought up the $1.9 factor.

But his solution was not impressive.

The SCPR takes it as "roll over, accept the state not make up the shortfall" and take the nearly $2 million from Stark's $14 million carryover.

Some like to call the carryover as surplus.

But that is not how the SCPR sees carryovers.

Every level of local government have unmet needs, show how can one term carryover as being a surplus?

Both candidates missed the many "unfunded" by the state of Ohio mandates that cost local taxpayers millions of dollars.

Shocking, absolutely shocking!!!

Overall SCPR evaluation of these responses:  a tie.

Video (3:09)



ONGOING POPULATION DECLINE AND "BRAIN DRAIN"

Neither candidate had a "real" answer or proposed solution for the point of this question.

Slesnick:  glittering generalities.  Work with Stark's higher education community, push economic development.

Smith:  hope and prayer that the Professional Football Hall of Fame Project will be successful and be the attraction that reverses the trend in Stark County population/brain power decline.

Grading the two candidates?  A tie in their lackluster dealing with the question.

Video (4:34)



COUNTY INFRASTRUCTURE IN LIGHT OF STATE FUNDING CUTS & COUNTYWIDE BROADBAND

Candidate Smith says that local governments, which includes, of course, county government, needs to square up with the reality that state support with local government funding is not coming back and develop ways of doing needed infrastructure with the resources available.

Broadband, he says, is a private enterprise function and not one government at the county level ought to be getting into.

For his part, Slesnick contrasts himself to Smith in being for county government being involved in the provision of 1Gb broadband across Stark County.  And he reiterates that he will press on in pushing for a restoration of some measure of local government funding from the state of Ohio.

One does not see it all that often.

But that Smith is a Republican and Slesnick is a Democrat is a telltale in explaining their positions on broadband.

Republicans in general want things done where feasible by private enterprise.

Democrats in general favor government takeovers of a normally private enterprise factor when the private sector is not measuring up when it comes to providing services.

The SCPR's assessment is that both in their responses are reflecting their political party differences.

Accordingly, the SCPR rates the response to this question as being a tie.

Video (6:34)




REPAIRING STARK COUNTY'S SOON TO BE OUT OF DATE RADIO SYSTEM
(MARCS) "MULTI-AGENCY RADIO COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

Another instance of Slesnick appearing to be without a clue on the topic.

While the county's radio system is tied to the county's 9-1-1 emergency response mechanism,  by and large Stark's 9-1-1 system is healthy.  MARCS or some viable alternative needs to be in place by 2019.

Smith in that Canton Township uses MARCS is familiar with what is going on with the county's need to update it radio system.

It was surprising that Smith did not give maintaining a healthy carryover (currently about $14 million) is the way to deal with looming expenses such as adopting and implementing MARCS.

Perhaps county officials can come up with some creative financing to meet

Smith does imply that renewing the county sales tax in 2019 is an imperative.

And it is.

On this question, the SCPR gives the edge to Smith.  The video show that he is aware and conversant on the topic.   To say it again, Slesnick appears to be "out-to-lunch" on the matter.

Video (4:54)



CONCLUSION

On balance the September Slesnick/Smith candidates forum was pretty much a tie.

Back in June at NextChapter it was obvious that Slesnick was not having a good night.

However, if one measures the vast improvement in Slesnick's grasp of county government issues; one might want to give an edge in the overall gestalt grounded in dramatic improvement from June to September.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A SCPR "SHOUTOUT!"



NPR Video:  Kyle Kondik in Warren, Ohio


Tomorrow evening the Stark County District Library presents—at its Lake (Township) Community Branch—a unique opportunity (free to the public) to see and hear one of America's most astute observers of Ohio and Stark County politics as it unfolds in presidential politics.


From the Virginia Center of Politics website:

Kyle Kondik is managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ authoritative, nonpartisan newsletter on American campaigns and elections. Kyle’s analysis of presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial politics has been cited by the BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, and numerous other publications, and he is a frequent contributor to Politico Magazine. He also serves as the Center’s communications director and is based in Washington, where he manages the Center’s DC office.

Kyle has analyzed American politics on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and he has given speeches to groups at the U.S. Department of State, National Governors Association, Congressional Summer Intern Lecture Series, Princeton University, University of Virginia, and many others.

Before joining the Center for Politics in 2011, Kyle served as director of policy and research for former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and as a reporter, editorial page editor, and political columnist at newspapers in Northeast Ohio. He is a 2006 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he also served as editor of the university’s student-run newspaper, The Post.

At the 3:58 mark of a Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBS) video (LINK), see an example of Kondik's political analysis of the Clinton/Trump campaign in Trumbull County (Warren), Ohio.

Kondik's appearance is a "must see" event Stark Countians who wish to take in a scholarly political analysis on how the presidential race will play out across Ohio right down to the county and city level.


Monday, September 19, 2016

IS NORTH CANTON GOVERNMENT IMPROVING IN ADMINISTRATION-COUNCIL/CITIZEN RELATIONS?

UPDATE:  09/23/2016  12:12 PM


READER RESPONSE TO BLOG

Martin,

     Just a quick comment to disagree with your Monday blog. You criticized my husband, Chuck Osborne, for not taking advantage of the chance to thank North Canton Council for opening up the dialogue process between Council and citizens during Public Speaks. 

The problem is he would have had to "thank them" for breaking their own rules; there is to be NO dialogue from the dais to the audience during Public Speaks.

       If the Council truly wants to open the door to dialogue, it needs to CHANGE the rules so they apply to ALL CITIZENS. This was not a "new day dawning in North Canton." This was a selective breaking of the rules for any citizen except Chuck and some others in the "raucous citizen activist core." 

His cynicism--that you criticize--is perhaps his showing his "'due diligent' citizen activism ...the key to making hopes and prayer into reality," no?

        Thank you, Rita Palmer

ORIGINAL BLOG

It could be that relations between North Canton City Council and the citizen activist core (probably the most vibrant in all of Stark County) are improving.

No Stark County media has been as critical of North Canton government in terms of administration/council lack of receptiveness to citizen input as has been The Stark County Political Report.

Two of council's members (council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters and long time Councilwoman-at-Large Marcia Kiesling) have prominent places on the SCPR Worst Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials Top 10 List.

And the primary basis of the attribution of "worst" has been their "in your face" attitude towards any who critique the processes of North Canton government and sometimes even on the substance of North Canton policies.

But, perhaps, at least on Peters part, change may be in the wind.  And being council president and how he handles himself is a tone setter for all of council.


Up until last Monday's meeting, Peters has been a "negative" tone setter example

At that meeting, the SCPR was astonished to witness the back and forth that occurred between council members and various administration officials and the "Public Speaks" participant North Canton citizens.

Had he wanted to, Peters could have put a stop to that with the rap of the president's gavel.

But he didn't and North Cantonians should be hopeful that "change is in the air."

But, apparently, there are those who are not hopeful.

Listen and watch citizen activist Chuck Osborne's consternation at the easy and free council/citizen dialogue that took place.



Osborne and the SCPR have a different take on the night's interaction.

To Osborne, the change from the "rules are the rules" in terms of previous enforced "n o dialogue allowed between a Public Speaks participant and North Canton officialdom" is mind boggling (not Osborne's words, but the SCPR's interpretation) and therefore, the SCPR infers, to be criticized.

The Report agrees with Osborne that the "apparent" turnabout is confusing.

 But welcome.

Let as trust that it is for real.

Does Osborne not welcome such a change, if last Monday's meeting was an indication of such?

What a missed opportunity on his part, no?

How about a:  "Thank you President Peters, Mayor Held and council for opening up the process."

Monday's—September, 12, 2016—was presided over in a much, much, much different manner by President Peters than previously for most in not all of his time of being president of council.

But again, an unwelcome change?

Not at all!

The SCPR has taken the media lead in criticizing North Canton council for stifling dialogue with the city's activist citizens in the Public Speaks forum.

These citizens have operated as "a check and balance" on council and in doing so have done a terrific service to North Cantonians to have their government be accountable.

The "apparent" shift in Peters' attitude might lead to a constructive exchange of points of view which bring productive results to government.

In the past, council under Peters' leadership has only given ground to and listened to the activists grudgingly.

An example of the "grudgingly" was council adopting Osborne's legislative initiative of November, 2012 (passed 72% to 28% by North Canton voters, but invalidated in a court challenge) denying health care premium subsidy to part-time council members who have no alternative for health care coverage.

In the mix of council adopting Osborne's initiative, North Canton government officials (elected and unelected)  taunted the citizen-activists about having lost in court on that issue and other issues that have been litigated over recent years.

How immature, no?

Maybe, just maybe the likes of Peters, Kiesling, Warren and Law Director Tim Fox are starting to gain some political maturity?

Only time will tell, but all of us who want civil, open, respectful and "I am listening to you" communication between the governed and the governors in Stark County are hopeful that "a turning of the page" is occurring North Canton.

An indicator of whether or not "real" change is taking place might come in the context of the consideration of council of what to do about North Canton Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) legislation.

An example of North Canton Council hearing its citizens and moving to correct "an error in judgment" in what many, including the mayor of North Canton (Held), believes to have occurred at
 the hand of former economic development director/housing officer Eric Bowles.

Correcting the error may subject North Canton to a lawsuit, but The Report believes that failing negotiations between the beneficiary (North Ridge Place, LTD) and the city (note:  North Canton schools stand to lose nearly $900,000 over the next 11 years on account of the Bowles' action).

Mayor Held tells the SCPR that he agrees with Citizen Glenn Saylor's overall assessment (i.e. that North Canton should not abide the North Ridge Place abatement) as presented at last Monday's meeting.

Watch and listen:



The Report thinks that council/citizen relationships pell-melled into a dramatic nosedive when council hired former councilman Tim Fox (Republican, Ward 3) as the city's law director back in September, 2012.

It is hard to know why North Canton council chose to become hostile to anyone who came to council to take exception to the actions of council.

Was it because Fox (a former chief master sergeant in the United States Air Force, [the "enlisted ranks" equivalent to the highest level commissioned officer ranks]) at his initiative was out to prove what a tough guy he is, having read the "tea leaves" on the temperament of a majority of council members?

Or was it because "being tough" on anyone who questioned North Canton Council was an unwritten understanding between council (if true, likely communicated by personnel committee chair at the time Daniel "Jeff" Peters) that council expected him to rein-in North Cantons raucous citizen activist core?

That was the approach that Fox took with the SCPR as The Report sought to interview him at the conclusion of his very first meeting after being appointed law director.

As everybody who reads the SCPR on a regular basis knows, this blog is by far the most reliable Stark County media that citizens can rely upon to get to "the truth of the matter" on governance and/or political issues.

Even before the Fox's "I'm a tough guy, Martin,  Councilperson Marcia Kiesling (councilwoman-at-large) had served up a "I'm a tough gal, Martin" initiative.

A clear messaging of "I am a really insecure government official," no?

That's how the SCPR always takes that kind of stuff.

From finesse attempts to bullying maneuvers, the SCPR has been the object of many different endeavors on the part of quite a number of Stark County government officials and/or political figures to blunt the candor of this blog.

This manipulation/bullhying phenomenon runs the whole way up the political chain to the national level of politics as exemplified by:
  • the Trump campaign's refusing to credential critical media outlets (e.g. the Washington Post), and 
  • the Clinton campaign going seemingly forever in having press conferences.
One of the primary reasons The Stark County Political Report came into existence going on 9 years ago was to create journalistic space for citizen activists and to herald productive efforts on their part to make Stark County political subdivision government (i.e. county, city, village, township and board of education) more accountable.

But that does not mean that citizen activists get a blank check from the SCPR.

From time-to-time, The Report will get into the excesses of these well-meaning but perhaps have become misdirected folks.

Why would anybody criticize—even impliedly—a refashioning of the way North Canton government interacts with its citizens?

Skepticism is understandable.

But Osborne's seeming cynicism is something else.

A model example of how a citizen ought to interact with government is exemplified by former council president now everyday citizen Daryl Revoldt, to wit:



North Canton's citizens activists provide an invaluable service to the North Canton public and would be well advised to adopt the Revoldt way of dealing with North Canton government.

These good folks have much more to do in keeping the pressure on for North Canton government to be "of the people, by the people and for the people" in both democratic-republican processes and in promoting the substantive general welfare of North Cantonians.

We should all hope and pray that a new day in dawning in North Canton and that going forward citizen participation in the peoples' government will be welcome with wide open arms.

But "due diligent" citizen activism is the key to making hopes and prayer into reality.

Friday, September 16, 2016

STARK'S LEADING EDUCATORS INTO "DAMAGE CONTROL?"

UPDATE: 1:45 pm


Earlier this week, the SCPR received this e-mail:

... Sep 13 at 6:07 PM
To:  tramols@att.net

Hi Martin:

A future topic for your radar... If it was not already. 

I'd love to read your independent thoughts on the 12:00am Thursday online release from the state of the school district report cards. 

You have a very unique perspective... And are, to your credit, always transparent with respect to your wife's board seat at the county. 

I understand some seven or eight superintendents, likely with some support at the ESC level, recently visited with the folks who run the Repository in an effort to:

1) Obtain less than critical review/coverage of the scores from the Repository, which said report card scores are measurably lower than school leaders would like (pay careful attention to Canton Local's scores compared to, say, the City of Canton scores)

2) Showcase for the Repository what area schools are doing to improve

3) Explain why the expectations and evolvement of testing has hampered educational efforts - allegedly not making excuses for missing the grades, but also explaining why the schools won't take full ownership of the scores earned

Personally, I don't know what to make of the situation and do enjoy your perspective. 

I'm also somewhat bothered by the preemptive effort to speak with the Repository, but can understand the attempt from their seats. 

The pen is quite powerful, as they say. 

I've read where the Repository is making a concerted effort to provide more positive review and coverage of public education. 

Sometimes, perhaps they are getting too cozy. 

Thanks!
...

(Note:  the SCPR eliminated the writer's name and other identifying information [i.e. ...] so that the writer does not become the object harassment on the part of those who might take offense at comments made.  The writer did NOT request anonymity.  AND the views expressed is this blog are the views of Martin Olson and not the views of Martin's spouse)

In the extended Olson family, we have always highly prized the value of formal education.
  • four professional degrees (medical, legal),
  • three PHDs, and
  • two masters degrees
While there are certainly many outstanding examples of highly productive/intelligent individuals across America who do not have a lot of "formal" (meaning classroom) education; for most of part a huge advantage that the United States has had over the rest of the world going back quite a few decades is the nations' commitment to making a formal education (K-12) to each and everyone of us.

At the K-12, the quality of American education has empowered the nation to become an economic juggernaut.

Moveover, the K-12 base often has sufficed as a solid educational base for many of us to go on to achieve advanced higher education degrees and their attendant increase in intellectual power.

But those times appear to have come to an end (LINK) in Ohio and perhaps across America as a whole and maybe in greater western civilization.

According to Education Week's Research Center (LINK), Ohio ranks 25th among the 50 states in educational achievement K-12 in being assessed a C- grade.

Ohio is America's 7th most populated state which means the financial/economic clout to do much better than coming in 25th of the 405 U.S. states.

It appears that state of Ohio education officials are working hard to change that picture.

From a Columbus Dispatch article (LINK):
As state Superintendent Paolo DeMaria has emphasized over the past week, Ohio needs to sets its sights higher for students if it wants them to compete and succeed when they leave high school. 
“After all, what we want is the best for our kids.” 
But the effort is not going over well with local school districts across Ohio including, of course, Stark County education leadership officials because the results are not flattering of the quality of  that leadership.

The Report eagerly awaited The Repository publication (which occurred today) as confirmation of the e-mail writer's point that Stark's school leadership is now full bore into damage control (a public relations based mechanism, paid for in this instance by local school district tax dollars) apparently has persuaded the bigs at The Rep to be the vehicle of their excuse making.

In earlier blogs done by the SCPR, only four of Stark County educational leaders have spoken with or offered to talk with the SCPR about 2014-2015 school year ODE rankings.

Anybody who knows anything about The Stark County Political Report is that this blog has no sweetheart relationships with any subject/entity/institution who/which The Report scrutinizes.

Consequently, a number of Stark County political/government leaders refuse to engage a Q&A with The Report.

So be it.

The SCPR is undeterred and continues to provide Stark Countians a look at Stark County government and politics unaffected by the desire on part of some in Stark County government and political leadership to manage how they are presented in the media.

Apparently, the "powers that be" at The Rep have no qualms about being a medium in which subjects of newsworthy events can massage news articles and reports to lessen the public outrage at the obvious deficiencies in leadership that has been going on for some time now.

Here in highly vivid format is a jarring picture of how Stark County's 17 school districts fared in the latest ratings.

The SCPR picked three measures to get a picture of the "deplorable" state of affairs with Stark County educational infrastructure:  (Here is a LINK to the ODE for readers who want to see the entire report)

(NOTE CELL COLORS ADDED)


And here a chart for the 2014-2015 school year: (performance index criterion only)


On "performance index," only Canton Local (Canton South) improved.

The SCPR applauds the effort of ODE officials to put the spotlight on the unacceptable level of educational accomplishment across Ohio.

Stark County taxpaying school district citizens should be very unhappy indeed that most of the county's 17 districts are "underperforming" the expectations of those of us footing the bills for the millions of taxpayer dollars that teachers and administrators walk away not to mention the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that have gone into providing "state of the art" facilities.