Thursday, July 20, 2017

STARK COUNTY'S NEW COMMISSIONER: BILL SMITH, A PROMISING ADDITION?



VIDEO

Commissioner Bill Smith
Auditor Alan Harold
to
N.L. Construction of Canton

"We Will be Watching!"


At the end of 2015, then Stark County commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei resigned his commissionership in order to take office as mayor of Canton having been elected as a political independent in November.

Bernabei, as the SCPR sees it, was a linchpin of regaining public confidence in the operations of county government,  in working closely with former Canton mayor Janet Creighton, also elected as Stark County commissioner in November, 2010, as the county was in the process of recovering from the theft of upwards of $3 million from the county treasury by former chief deputy treasurer Vince Frustaci (publicly identified by law enforcement authorities on April 1, 2009).

Of course, nobody is irreplaceable.

Nonetheless, I was skeptical that either of the candidates for the Bernabei vacated post were up to filling the void of quality leadership left by Bernabei's departure.

I was sure that former state Representative Stephen Slesnick (Democrat, Ohio House, the 49th for eight years; term limited out as of the end of 2016) was not up to the task.


Slesnick was "Mr. Where-Are-You" as far as I was concerned in gauging the effectiveness of Stark County-based Ohio General Assembly members.  Because he was so utterly ineffective, he seemingly avoided at all cost, any interaction with The Stark County Political Report (SCPR).

Like so many politicians, Slesnick had gotten used to the "public tit" and in order to continue his political/governance addiction focused on the vacated by Bernabei seat to continue his heretofore ineffective public officeholder-self on the Stark County public.

But what about his Republican opponent; namely, Bill Smith of Canton Township.

Could he approximate the first-rate county leadership that Bernabei provided Stark County as commissioner?

The results of the Slesnick/Smith matchup:


A look at his biography suggested that he might be somewhat of an answer.
Bill Smith lives in Canton Township with his wife Diana, to whom he has been married since 1975.  They have two married children who also live in Stark County; Bill and his wife Amy and Jennifer and her husband Jerry.  Together they enjoy nine beautiful grandchildren.  Bill graduated in 1974 from East Canton High School and has been in business at Smith’s Waco Market since 1976. After purchasing the store, he and Diana lived above the store for several years as the business grew. Bill also manages several commercial properties through Smith Properties and owns Mary Ann's Donuts Cafe in Canton South. 
Bill has been a Hot Air Balloon pilot since 1988 and holds a Commercial/Instructor rating in Lighter-than-Air, Hot Air Balloons.  He has served on the Hall of Fame Balloon Classic Committee and is the field announcer for the event.
Bill served as a Canton Township Trustee from 2002 through 2016, and is a past member of the Canton South Jaycees; Canton South Athletic & Band Booster Clubs; and a past Board Member of the Canton South YMCA.  He has served on the Canton Local Long Range Planning Committee as a Levy Chairman, as well as, on a variety of other levy committees.  Bill is an Honorary Board Member of the East Central Ohio Food Dealers Association where he served as Chairman of the Board and on several other association committees. 
Bill enjoys helping people and is honored for the opportunity to assist the people of Stark County as a Commissioner.
At yesterday's regular weekly (Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m.), Smith demonstrated that he has the potential to be a straight talking, "hold'em accountable" commissioner.

The occasion?

Commissioners were considering a Stark County auditor's office awarding of a contract for the remodeling of the office complex housed for the most part in the Stark County Office Building complex located at 110 Central Plaza in downtown Canton, to wit:


After the motion to approve the resolution was presented, moved for adoption the following Smith-initiated discussion took place:



Stark Countians should be thoroughly impressed with just-a-little-over-six-months as commissioner Bill Smith having done his homework and quite willing to go the public record with a message to N.L. Construction that the company will be closely monitored

Unlike prior boards of commissioners (for example: including the likes of Todd Bosley,  Tom Harmon, Jane Vignos ["imposed" a 1/2 cent county sales tax in 2008] and Steve Meeks), from  January 1, 2011 on, the county has had a pretty good quality of commissioners.

Only Pete Ferguson  (a really nice guy) as a commissioner in the Bernabei era seemed to me to be lacking in minimal basic effectiveness as a commissioner.

Smith's comments in terms of his intention to follow the "on-the-job" performance record of N.L. Construction (i.e. will N.L. complete the contract at the $367,601 bid-awarded specs) seem to imply that a completion at the $367,601 will determinative of whether or not commissioners should approve future N.L. "lowest bid" in the event that there are future contract bids in which N.L. comes in as the lowest bid.

Smith is obviously skeptical witness his comments in the video above that N.L. will actually complete the remodeling at its $367,601 bid.

The SCPR was able to come up with one instance in which N.L. was low bidder on a Stark County Metropolitan Housing Authority (SCMHA) "put out to bid" contract and, when, the company was not awarded the business, it sued.

Eventually the SCMHA settled with N.L. for $88,000.

Smith's initiated discussion pre-vote on the resolution observations (e.g. "We will be Watching") based on his research into N.L.'s performance history set the tone for Auditor Alan Harold in promising to assist the commissioners in ensuring that Stark County taxpayers get quality work at the bid price.

The SCPR commends Commissioner Smith for his demonstration of due diligence and his willingness to go "on-the-record" with his reservations about where N.L. Construction will end up in terms of staying within the $367.601 it bid.

Yesterday's action suggests to the SCPR that former long time Canton Township trustee Bill Smith is "made of the right stuff" to be a county commissioner and seems to have the potential to a highly effective commissioner.

And it appears that Stark Countians made "the right choice" in last November's general election.

But it is still too early to tell conclusively.

Stay tuned to the SCPR for your best opportunity to see how Smith and Stark County political subdivision elected officials actually do on the job.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

FIRST IN A SERIES ON CANTON GOV'T FINANCES: CANTON'S "DEFICIT" FINANCES CAUSING LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO A MAJOR HEADACHE?

UPDATED:  11:16 AM


VIDEOS

Canton Law Director
Joe Martuccio
Pleads for $50,000 More in His Budget

....

Finance Chairman John Mariol
Speaks
to the
Issue

...

Citizen Pete DiGiacomo
Support
Martuccio Request


One can be sure that Canton mayor Thomas Bernabei would like nothing better than to come out full bore in favor of Law Director Joe Martuccio getting $50,000 added to the law department's annual operating budget.


Watch Martuccio's plea at Monday night's (July 17, 2017) council meeting.



For one thing, Martuccio likely is law director today because he received the blessing or former law director Thomas Bernabei some 17 years ago when he gave up the position.

For another thing, Martuccio was among the first high ranking Canton city officials to come out for Bernabei in 2015 when Bernabei announced that he was abandoning the Stark County Democratic Party to become a political "independent" to take on third-term-seeking-Democrat William J. Healy, II for the mayorship of Canton.

But Bernabei sat back and watched on Monday as Martuccio twisted in the political winds of Canton City Council as members were seemingly at a loss as how to accommodate Canton's long time law director in light of the 2017 projected shortfall expenditures over revenues leaving about Three-Thousand-Dollars to carryover to 2018.

In the video Martuccio's main finances-based justification for council to act on his request was his office's highly successful negotiation with utilities proving utility service to Canton government and a resultant claimed by Martuccio savings to Canton of "hundreds of thousand of dollars, if not a million, in utility costs to Canton over the next several years.

There is a problem with this justification.

Finance director Mark Crouse tells the SCPR that it is likely that whatever revenues show up in Canton financial portfolio will likely be deposits into Canton's enterprise fund (users pay) operations and very little if any into Canton's general fund.

Hence the struggle on the part of council to find funding with which to fund the hiring of a new lawyer in the law department.

Director Martuccio points out to the SCPR that his staff provides legal services to several Canton enterprise fund operations and therefore there is justification from his perspective of tapping those funds as a means of financing the $50,000 he has asked for.

The better argument for saving Canton's stressed finances money was his expressed reluctance to hire out to private legal counsel on a project-by-project basis at $200 per hour which—compared at about $50,000 to support an additional in-house hire—would get Canton only 250 hours of legal work contrasted to about 2,080 added capability for an in-house hire.

Watch finance committee chairman John Mariol (Ward 7 Democrat) as he responds to a Stark County Political Report query on Martuccio's request.



I asked the mayor to weigh in on the matter post-council-work-session.

He declined saying that restoring $50,000 of a 2017 law department reduction of $90,000 was a council matter and not an administration matter.

In all due respect to the mayor whom I have cited as being "far and away" Stark County's most capable most disciplined and most future calculating government leader; I believe that the mayor has likely weighed-in "off-the-record."

I can't get anybody to say it, but I think Bernabei has told council leaders privately that restoring the $50,000 would send a message to the rest of general fund funded departments of government that their respective reductions in budget are "elastic" and one can override the fiscal discipline that the mayor has instituted by in effect going over his head and pleading with council as Martuccio did on Monday.

You can bet your bottom dollar that Martuccio absolutely hated to be doing so on Monday especially in light of Bernabei being his mentor and political benefactor.  However, he does say that he thinks the $90,000 or so cut was disproportional to cuts made to other general fund funded departments of Canton government.

It appears that council under Mariol's finance committee chairmanship will find a way to muster up the $50,000 so that the law department can be better positioned to deal with the massive infusion of legal work that has inundated the department over the past year or so.

Yesterday, the SCPR reported in a third blog on a continuing series on the headache that Canton has on its hand with the recent revelation of a Rover pipeline contaminated (with diesel fuel) drilling mud spill near Canton's most vital financial/economic resource that being its abundant water supply and a concern that the contamination could potentially leach into that supply.

The law department is devoting hours and hours of its in-short-supply "time" resources to ensure in a legal monitoring context that Canton is protected by state (OhoEPA) and federal (FERC) regulators and, alternatively, to set Canton up to recover from the perpetrator of the spill losses that Canton might incur as a consequence of the spill.

Beside the Rover pipeline matter, there are other more or less unexpected matters that require large time expenditures in legal analysis.

One such major item is the complexity of working with Pro Football Hall of Fame officials in working out financial (i.e. special sales tax district) and property matters for the $700/$800 million dollars "Village" project that was announced a couple of years ago.

And then there are items like the desire of council to weigh in on the president's announced intention to withdraw America from the Paris Climate Accords.

Martuccio says that because of the influx of work generally he has had putting together a legally appropriate resolution/ordinance on the backburner.

It appears that council will at its July 31st meeting come up with a way to finance a new lawyer position in the Canton law department.

Sometimes citizens do not see the ramifications of deficit budgets in concrete terms.

Here is a video of Citizen Pete DiGiacomo at Monday's meeting.



He seems to think that it is relatively easy for Mariol et al to find a mere $50,000 out of a $50,000 million plus annual budget.

But it isn't

Lurking in the background of this is the stir caused by Stark County clerk of courts Louis Giavasis in a recent Facebook post that he has been encouraged by dozens of Cantonians to challenge Bernabei's continuation beyond 2019, should he decide to run.


While I think Giavasis is doing a Donald Trump in terms of engaging excessive, braggadocio talk, Cantonians who care about the long term welfare of Canton government should take the Giavasis threat seriously.

Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris (majority leader [only Democrats hold council positions in Canton]) has come out of the political closet to endorse Giavasis more than two years before the election.

Giavasis said he would provide the SCPR other names.

To-date, nothing.  Hmmm?  Why is Giavais hiding those names?

Just as it appears that Trump is plunging America into the dark ages of politics and government, I think Louis Giavasis as mayor would be a complete reversal of all the very, very,very difficult fiscal discipline and responsibility work that Mayor Bernabei has instituted.

Louis Giavasis as mayor of Canton would be a return to the days of William J. Healy, II, if not worse.

Of course, it was on Phil Giavasis watch as Dems' Stark County chair that Bernabei bolted to "independent" status in order to take on Healy.

Maybe a little revenge factor at play with Louis' threat to run against Bernabei?

Maybe, just maybe, no?

One of the touchstones of effective fiscal work is sustainability of whatever financial obligations a government takes on.

"Sustainability, " in a word, is the most significant factor of John Mariol's uttered words in the above-presented video.

The SCPR applauds Canton council under Mariol's leadership in vetting the continuing financial viability of granting Law Director Martuccio's work.

When council acts to approve Martuccio's request, members should make it clear that council fully support the Bernabei instituted fiscal austerity and that the law department deviation is merited by an infusion of unforeseen legal work into the law department's operations.

This blog is the first in a series in which the SCPR will be taking a detailed look at Canton's financial picture.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

CANTON WATER SUPPLY STILL AT RISK? PERHAPS, ALSO HILLS & DALES, JACKSON, LAKE, LAWRENCE, MASSILLON, NORTH CANTON, PERRY, PLAIN AND TUSCARAWAS?

UPDATED WITH VIDEO:  10:10 AM




VIDEOS

CANTON WATER SUPERINTENDENT

TYLER CONVERSE

FIRST VIDEO

SCPR "EXCLUSIVE" VIDEO INTERVIEW
ON
STATUS OF CANTON WATER SUPPLY

SECOND VIDEO

UPDATING COUNCIL
WITH INPUT BY

CANTON LAW DIRECTOR
JOE MARTUCCIO

On April 13th of this year, there was a spill of what turned out to be diesel fuel contaminated drilling mud being used in the installation of the Rover natural gas carrying pipeline.

The accidental spill occurred in the process of boring a passageway for the pipeline under the Tuscarawas River near Canton's Sugarcreek well field and near water sources used by Aqua Ohio to service homes and businesses of a number of Stark County's townships.

The contractor installing the pipeline placed the accidently spilled—contaminated with diesel fuel drilling mud—in two quarries:  one near Beach City and Sugarcreek; one near Massillon near Aqua Ohio wells.

There are concerns that notwithstanding Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) and Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) finding and demands made on Rover Pipeline LLC ("Rover," Houston, TX) that Rover is not acting quickly enough to remove the contaminated mud from the vicinity of well fields that service the homes and businesses of Canton and highly populated areas of Stark County.

Canton's water superintendent Tyler Converse updated Canton City Council at last night's regular council meeting on the issue of the potential pollution of Canton's Sugarcreek well field water resource that is the source for water supplied to Canton-based homes and businesses.



In the foregoing video, Converse says that his Canton city enterprise department is continuing to monitor the location of the contaminated mud.

Council members last night were front and center in expressing concerns that Canton government would simply sit back and let Rover dictate the timetable for dealing with the problem.



There was talk that Rover might resist moving on to remediation in appealing an Ohio EPA directive (see entire OEPA finding/remediating directive report at the end of this blog) issued about one week ago.

Converse reassured council that such is not and would not be the case.

Canton has retained a consultant and law firm to assist in dealing with getting a satisfactory solution to the spill induced threat.

Superintendent Converse says that each day that the contaminated drilling mud stays in place is another day that the mud might migrate towards the Canton owned well field.

A resource which council president Allen Schulman says is Canton's most valuable financial/economic asset.

Even more important than Canton's approved investment of $5 million in the $700/$800 million Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project

Stark County stakeholders who should be paying close attention to remediation efforts include residents of:
  • Jackson Township,
  • Hills & Dales,
  • Lake Township,
  • Lawrence Township,
  • Massillon,
  • North Canton,
  • Perry Township,
  • Plain Township, and
  • Tuscarawas Township,
The SCPR has published two prior blogs on this highly important issue which has the "potential" to threaten the well-being of Cantonians/Stark Countians, to wit:
  • Blog of June 22, 2017 featuring a video of Stark County commissioner Richard Regula who lives in the general area in which the contaminated drilling mud is located,
  • Blog of July 10, 2017 which has a copy of the OEPA findings of contamination and corollary demand for clean up action to be taken,
As reported in the July 10th blog, the SCPR has learned that initially Rover officials told the OEPA that the company was only going to deal with FERC on the matter as it deemed the OEPA not to have jurisdiction over its operations.

However, as can be seen in the FERC document below, the federal agency is having none of it in terms of playing a federal agency off against a state agency and has in the document fully embraced the Ohio EPA findings and demanded action.

Area media reports indicate that Aqua Ohio is also monitoring the situation on a continuing basis and so far is not detecting any problem with its wells water quality.

Recently, the Stark County Water District on its website published a report on Aqua Ohio water quality as of December 31, 2016, to wit:




Here are the two base documents from FERC and the Ohio EPA.

FERC



OHIO EPA



Sunday, July 16, 2017

COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON LAUDS STARK CO. JOB & FAMILY SERVICES



VIDEOS

COMMISSIONER JANET CREIGHTON
RE: STARK CO. JOB & FAMILY SVCS
DOES
A
GREAT JOB!
-------------------------------------
COMMISSIONERS
Q&A
SCPR FOLLOW UP
DETAIL SJ&FS PERFORMANCE


From time-to-time, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) publishes a blog which focuses on the positives of Ohio, Stark County, the cities, the villages, townships and boards of education and the county's ordinary citizens as they function in making Stark County a good place to live, work and play.

By and large, the SCPR is a "hold 'em accountable" media outlet.

No "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall Fame-esque" line on the masthead of this publication.

How can a media outlet hold itself out as being "the official newspaper" of anything and have readers believe that—that "whatever" can in any sense of objectivity be held accountable by that same official newspaper?

Answer that one Mr. Executive Editor (Derosiers) of The Repository!

Moreover, the focus of The Report is a dedication to telling the stories of "everyday," unheralded Stark Countians who work day-in, day-out to make our county a better place to live.

There is no play in this blog to the "pooh-bah," elitist, credential collecting segment of Stark County society.

It was a serendipitous moment at yesterday's Board of Stark County Commissioners meeting as Commissioner Janet Creighton departed from the normal course of county government considerations to heap praise on the manner in which the Stark County Job & Family Services functions on an everyday basis for the well-being of Stark County's families.

Many commissioner meeting agendas have over the course of a year a number of Stark County Job & Family Services (SCJ&FS) items for commissioners to consider.

It was inspiring to hear Commissioner Creighton to extol the manner in which the agency handles the critically important matters dealing with quality life of family issues that the agency is charged with as a matter of Ohio law to handle 365 days each and every year.

Here are Creighton's SCPR videotaped initial comments.



In a Stark County Political Report follow up after the meeting was adjourned, I drilled down with the commissioners on the specifics of why SCF&JS deserved being held out as a superb example of what local government services should be and which is exemplified by an "actual" functioning government unit.

Here is a video of that follow up session:

As Commissioner Creighton stated in the video, the excellence in service at SJ&FS starts at the top with Executive Director Deborah Forkas.

Forkas competed with 81 other applicants to fill the shoes of former director Julie Barnes when Barnes was hired away to Summit County.

That she won out over 81 other applicants (selected, February, 2014) some of whom were prominent Stark County political/government notables, tells a lot about how clear it must have been to the-then commissioners (Bernabei, Creighton and Regula) that she stood out as having superior qualities that militated her hiring.

She has not disappointed.

Here is her bio from the SJ&FS website:
DEBORAH FORKAS, M.ED.
Executive Director
When Deborah Forkas, M.Ed., joined Stark County Job and Family Services (SCJFS) as executive director in 2014, she brought with her 30 years of extensive experience and commitment to children. 
Ms. Forkas has served as Director of Children, Youth and Families in Fairfax County, Virginia; Director of Children and Family Services, Cuyahoga County; Deputy Executive Director of Social Services, Summit County Children Services, and as a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Juvenile Division Deputy Director. 
As executive director, Ms. Forkas is responsible for a triple-combined agency—Human Services, Children Services and Child Support—with an annual budget of nearly 52 million dollars. SCJFS provides programs and services which include Medicaid, food assistance, child care, Ohio Works First, establishment, enforcement, collection and disbursement of child support orders, assessment of child abuse and neglect, and foster care and adoptions services. 
Ms. Forkas earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toledo and a Master’s in Education from John Carroll University. She enjoys reading, gardening, cooking and entertaining with her husband Ronald.
Standing out among Forkas' achievements as executive director, has been the agency's performance (one of a few agencies selected) in implementing a "pilot" project in manner in which child support payments are collected.



Specifically singled out for "kudos" by Commissioner Creighton are SJ&FS representatives (on Wednesday of last week) Rob Myers (with agency since 1990) and Brian Kandel (with the agency since 2012), the latter of whom doubles down as Nimishillen Township's fiscal officer.  They along with other representatives, including Forkas herself (all equally prepared on and committed to transparency of agency operations) from this unit of Ohio/Stark County government appear frequently before the commissioners "at the ready" to handle "in depth" questioning by the commissioners antecedent to the commissioners acting on various resolutions before them regarding SJ&FS operations.



However, I took Creighton's comments (fully endorsed by Commissioners Bill Smith and Richard Regula) to another level.

While I appreciate hearing accounts of "job well done" by local government officials and give same full play in these pages, the SCPR does not cheerlead for any entity or person.

This second video is the SCPR digging deeper (as The Report always does) with the commissioners for concrete examples upon which Commissioner Creighton took (as she mentioned) the extraordinary move by her or any other commissioner to pause the meeting to accord a recognition of the exemplary work of an agency of Ohio and Stark County government.



It gives me great joy to do this type of blog.

But I am not about to give up the nearly ten-year-old SCPR format of holding Stark County sited government at all levels to the highest standard of living up to being the servants of the people of Stark County.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

AT IT AGAIN!!!!! PROBATE JUDGE DIXIE PARK DENIES "DUE PROCESS OF LAW:" APPELLATE DECISION OF JULY 10, 2017

UPDATED:  5:44 PM

for
Park's Most Egregious "Unconstitutional" Decision


No surprise to The Stark County Political Report!  (SCPR).

Here is a copy of the entire decision:




It was with an August 14, 2014 Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals decision (In re:  Finan) blogged upon on September 22, 2014 that the SCPR picked up on Stark County Court of Common Pleas - Probate Division Judge Dixie Park's gross deficiency in her understanding of constitutional law of the United States of America and Ohio.

An "not" understanding the law can be very costly indeed.

A consequence of Park's 2013 misapplication of constitutional law, a "everyday" Stark Countian spent 11 days in jail.

Sometimes folks dismiss dire consequences of court decisions as "only going to happen to someone else."

Undoubtedly, that was the thinking of the Alliance "day-in, day-out" citizen who was jailed by Judge Park's manifest lack of understanding of how to apply the due process of law clauses of our federal and state constitutions.

The SCPR thinks any citizen who appears before Judge Park in which fundamental constitutional considerations are in play should expect the worst of her.

This demonstrated application of "constitutional law" legal jeopardy notwithstanding (see links at the end of this blog); Park was selected by the University of Mount Union in October, 2014 to deliver its annual Constitution Day speech.

As an amusing aside, as a matter of "fair use," I used a Mount Union taken picture of Judge Park delivering her the Constitution Day speech.  It was just a few hours after I published the blog that I received a telephone call from Mount Union officialdom demanding that I take town the photo.

It was apparent to me that either Judge Park or somebody close to her had contacted Mount Union officialdom demanding that they get petty, if not wrong on the law of "fair use," with me.

Believe me, I have plenty of photos of Judge Park from her periodic appearances before the Stark County commissioners whose meeting I cover on a regular basis.

So even though I think I could have prevailed in any legal action had I stuck to using the Mount Union photo as a matter of "fair use," I opted to substitute my own photo of her.

If my surmise as is articulated above is correct, the objection to the use of the Mount Union photo only shows how utterly petty Judge Park or somebody close to her and perhaps at her direction can be.

One more thing.

Think maybe Mount Union officialdom needs to do some vetting before selecting Constitutional Law Day speakers?

As it turns out, the August, 2014 "run afoul of the fundamental law of the U.S. and Ohio" decision has been follow up by a number of 5th District Court of Appeals reversals of Park on a misapplication of constitutional law grounds.

The July 10th decision is a continuation of Park's constitutional law "blind spot."

What should be alarming to Stark Countians, is the "passes" it appears that the Stark County bar including the bench is giving Park.

For the SCPR, this is a no doubter.  Judge Dixieline Park does not belong on the bench of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

And yet there she sits.

Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has been alone in his quest to get Park off the bench.



Having been a active attorney (inactive since June, 2014) for 41 years (and, "no," I never had a problem with Park in my appearances before her as an active practitioner), it is simply unbelievable that Conley pretty much stands alone in courageously and publicly telling the world about Park's deficiencies as a judge.

One of Conley's favorite quotes is:  "The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men[women] to do nothing."

While I do not think Judge Park is evil but merely "incompetent" (opinion based on her being reversed multiple times on constitutional grounds) in applying the "due process of law" provisions of the U.S./Ohio constitutions.   If you are the lady who spent 11 days in the Stark County jail on account of a misapplication of due process of law, I could fully understand it if that lady was to think of Park as being evil.

Not too long ago, in a blog I renewed by call for Park to resign her position.  The focus of that particular blog is on her volatile relationship with probate court employess.

That blog drew this comment.
De Ploribus Uno  May 17 at 2:53 PM 
To:  tramols@att.net 
De Ploribus Uno has left a new comment on your post "PROBATE COURT JUDGE DIXIE PARK: A SIMON LEGREE-ES...":  
Still Carrying that Craig Conley torch eh Martin? 
For the record, I have not exchanged communications with Conley as I prepared to write this blog.

I did miss seeing the decision when it was first published by the court.

But a person other than Conley who knows that The Stark County Political Report is the only Stark County media outlet that has the spunk to critique "performance in office" of Stark County elected officials (and, yes even judges), gave me the "heads up" on this latest infringement of constitutional law by Judge Park.

Let me pause here to say that the Stark County Court of Common Pleas bench is a quality group.  However, it is a puzzlement to me that they appear to be standing idly by as Judge Park with her string of "unconstitutional" reversals taints the quality of justice meted out by the Stark County justice system.

I have discussed Judge Park's administration of the probate court with persons who have had a inside look at the imperious manner in which she runs not hers but the peoples court.

To say such is not a distancing from Conley.  I received the "heads up" late yesterday and have not had the space to be in touch with him for his reaction.

Conley pretty much, among Stark County jurists, stands alone in bringing Park (and other judges) to public accountability.

How sad!

Though I appreciate all that Conley does (whether I agree with him or not on a particular matter), "I know, you (he) knows and everybody knows" that I am my own person and do not take marching orders from anybody.

That is why Stark Countians who want the unvarnished truth read these pages.

Readers do not necessarily agree with what I write, but they know what I write is me speaking for myself and not the handmaiden for anybody else.

De Plorbus Uno holds himself out as a blogger.  He has, so far as I can determine, written two blogs.  One in February and one in April of this year.

But the coward he/she is, De Plorbus Uno writes anonymously.

No such thing for The Stark County Political Report.

Here is a list of previous blogs I have written on Judge Park:
Judge Park needs to do the right thing and step down from the Stark County Probate Court bench.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

OSBORNE "SUBTLY" ADMINISTERS "EXERCISE OF FREE SPEECH" TEST ON NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL?

UPDATED:  09:31 AM

STILL UNCLEAR 
WHETHER OR NOT
NORTH CANTON COUNCIL
HAS HAD AN ATTITUDE CHANGE
ON 
EXERCISE OF FREE SPEECH


At the June 26, 2017 meeting of North Canton City Council, long, long, long time North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne (a former councilman), got tossed from council meeting by acting council president Doug Foltz for displaying an sign that was sure to offend North Canton law director Tim Fox.


Osborne feels that his removal was a violation of his U.S. Constitution rights as extended to the states (including its political subdivisions such as city governments) by virtue of the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

Here are parts of e-mails (except the entire July 10 e-mail) that he sent (or copies of) to The Stark County Political Report, to wit:

July 10th
For tomorrow night, I have a shirt with the words “Remove Law Director Tim Fox” printed, front and back, that I intend to wear. I have consulted my attorney ...  on both the sign and the shirt and he did NOT think it should be an issue. He took pictures of both items when I was in his office last Wednesday.
July 8th
Hello Martin,
The attached state statute [see insert below] has been brought to my attention in regards to interference with the civil rights of citizens by public officials .

Wanted to share this with you.

Generally, Law Director Tim Fox is obsessed with following state law. Do you think he will be influenced to any degree with this law?

I would like to clarify a point you made in your blog of the North Canton meeting where Vice-President of Council, Doug Foltz, at the urging of Law Director Tim Fox, took exception to my little protest sign.

I had not spoken out until Mr. Foltz addressed me, and then at that point I was simply responding to Mr. Foltz.

Until that time, I was sitting there quietly.

I think you mischaracterized the situation incorrectly in your blog post.   
(Note:  My recollection does not match Osborne's, LINK to that blog) 
When Mr. Fox took notice of my little sign and prompted Mr. Foltz to act (after it had been on display for about five minutes and which no one else in the chamber knew of or could see), only then did I speak out and that was to respond to Mr. Foltz.

At any rate, I will provide this for the moment and we will see where all of this leads.

Thank you,
Chuck
June 27th
Hello Guys,

I know most of you did not get to see the small sign I had displayed at Council tonight so I have attached the 8 ½ x 11 inch sign for you to see.  (note:  see SCPR blog link above)

From thirty feet or more, I am surprised it was readable from the front of the Council Chamber but apparently it was.
...

For something so small and unobtrusive, I believe Council is overreacting but that is what they do. And always at the direction of Law Director Tim Fox.
...

Several weeks ago, I used the word “Hell” and Law Director Tim Fox made a Federal case out of it, but when Councilmember Domonic Fonte used the word “Hell” tonight, Mr. Fox had nothing to say.

In the 2004 hearings to remove former Mayor Tom Rice from office, a resident wore a complete body suit of a Kangaroo to the hearings and no one questioned it.

A small 8 ½ x 11 inch sign and I get removed from the Council Chamber.

No tolerance for democracy in North Canton.

A little “civil disobedience” is a good thing but it is not tolerated in North Canton.

It is what it is.

...
I had no doubt Citizen Osborne would follow through on his plan as set out in his July 10th e-mail.

What I was unprepared for was the timid manner in which he exercised his First Amendment rights at Monday's meeting.

My take on Osborne is that he has not in my experience of seeing him in action had any reluctance whatsoever to do a "in your face" routine when sparring with a North Canton government official.

On Monday, as he often does, Osborne spoke during a time allotted by council (5 minutes) to members of the general public under agenda item Recognition of Visitors which the SCPR tabs as being "public speaks."



Notice that he was wearing a sport jacket which in my recollection is not something that he generally, if ever, does.

To me, doffing the jacket would have been a true test of whether or not North Canton Council president Dan Peters would have been prompted to gavel him down and compel him to cover up or remove the "Remove Law Director Tim Fox" shirt.

To repeat, I am surprised that Osborne was so reticent about "showing his 'civil rights' colors" on Monday.

Could it be that Osborne is changing his ways in terms of less confrontation?

Insofar as I could tell, Osborne's jacket masked the Fox message during the entirety his addressing of council.

It was only when he sat down near his camera set up with which he records council meetings that one could discern the "Remove Law Director Tim Fox" on blue shirt imprinted plea.


In a post-meeting Q&A, Osborne told me that a motivating reason for his covering up the shirt was to ensure that he would be permitted to do his public speaks in the first place.

He had noted that a North Canton policeman was stationed just outside council chambers.   Was the policeman placed at the ready by council leadership in case needed to escort Osborne from the meeting room.  That, apparently, was Osborne's thought as another reason why the jacket remained on covering the anti-Fox slogan.

Near the end of the meeting during his space to address any matter he wished with council and the Held administration , Fox pointed out that he had noticed Osborne's "Remove Law Director Tim Fox" shirt.

In doing so, he proceeded to launch an attack (my take) on Citizen Osborne in saying that he (Fox) considered it a "badge of honor" that Osborne was calling for his removal as law director and as justification for his deeming the call a "badge of honor" he recited a number of causes that he says Osborne opposed over Fox's five year tenure as law director which causes Fox said were good for North Canton.



Monday was not the first time Fox has used a North Canton taxpayer forum to single out Osborne for a tongue lashing.

Here is a LINK (July, 2015) to a SCPR blog in which it appears that Fox used the city's website to in effect excoriate Oborne for using a citizen's right to challenge city actions in a court of law.

And, my recollection is, that Fox has caused to be published at least one other account of holding Osborne up to what I think was purposeful public ridicule (i.e. costing North Canton taxpayers money to defend against an Osborne initiative) for his use of various constitutional devices to hold the city accountable.

I missed it, but Osborne tells me that Fox took his picture with him wearing the "Remove Law Director Tim Fox" shirt at an earlier point in the meeting.

On reviewing my video, apparently Fox pulled out his cellphone and snapped Osborne's picture during Councilman Dominic Fonte's report time.  Fonte sits at the end of the council dais and looking at Fonte meant that Fox could not miss Osborne's sitting in the line of sight with his jacket open revealing the "Remove Law Director Tim Fox" script.

Just to be a little bit funny, one has to wonder whether or not the picture Fox is said to have taken is a public record subject to a public records request.

While done with his "personal" cellphone, he is an appointed North Canton official participating in an official meeting of North Canton City Council.

Could make for an interesting courtroom challenge, if Fox resisted such a request, no?

Backing up a bit, what was the picture taking all about?

A case of public official intimidation?

A picture he wants to have framed and placed in a prominent place in his home for all to see the likeness of his favorite civic activist?

Or, perhaps, to throw darts at?  That's how much animosity that I think North Canton public official Tim Fox has for Citizen Osborne.

To be fair, I think the feeling is mutual.

I do not disagree with Osborne that since Fox has come on board as North Canton's law director, he, and number of council's members (mostly through whomever happened to be president of council at the time) and even Mayor Held, on occasion, have exhibited considerable hostility to Osborne.

Osborne has given at least given as much as he has gotten.

At times, it seems as if there are no adults in the room when it comes to Osborne's interaction with council, the law director and other city officials.

However, one always hopes that there are some "cooler heads" in the room among officialdom to play the adult and calm things down and, where called for, tell their fellows (Fox in this case) that he has gone too far.

Democracy can be messy.

Government officials are certainly entitled to defend themselves when criticized by citizens, but it is part of the territory for elected and appointed officials to be critiqued and they need to have a temperament of measured response.

For the rest of North Canton government (i.e. council members and the mayor) to sit by and allow the city law director (selected in North Canton by council) to chastise a citizen for opposing this or that policy, practice or program suggests to me that they are enablers of Law Director Fox going on the attack on a citizen exercising his/her due process rights (i.e. the right to be heard) and that folks puts them in a pretty bad light in my judgment.

It's not only Osborne who appears to be a target of the law director and the council through its president.

There are  a number of North Cantonians who, since Fox came on as the hiree of council, had the audacity in coming before council in the manner of not being there to "praise Ceasar" but rather to tell the "King, he had no clothes."

North Canton officials seem to obsess about being told how great they are.  Undoubtedly, they are out to make "North Canton Great Again."  Not unlike a certain person who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.

I have written quite a few blogs providing chapter, verse and video of some of those occasions when things get testy when council members are being told they are not so great.

The shy way Osborne exercised what he thinks is his exercise free speech Monday evening, leaves it open to question whether or not there has been a change of attitude on the part of council expressed through its president and its legal advisor on the matter of citizens exercising their constitutional free speech (verbal and non-verbal) rights.

It is always a constructive thing when the public's business can be conducted without disruption.

That Osborne did not flagrantly show off his shirt as I expected that he would was refreshing.

He says that his low key approach was purposeful so as not to inflame.

It is encouraging that President Peters did not react to obvious Fox's unhappiness that Osborne was wearing a protest-Fox shirt.

However, it is disappointing that we really do not know if Osborne's removal from the June 26th meeting (Foltz as acting president) provoked a reevaluation of silent protests on the part of the council president/law director and that going forward there will be no reactions so long as there is no verbal interjection outside the "Recognition of Visitors" forum.

It is totally out of order and disruptive for Osborne or anybody else to shout out from the audience during an ongoing council meeting.

That he did none of that on Monday, is also encouraging.

The only discouraging thing that happened at Monday's meeting was Fox's "badge of honor" speech.

As I said earlier in this blog, Fox should have been called out for what I think was an attack on Osborne.  Very unbecoming of a professional and city official, no?

If there is a change of approach vis-a-vis the likes of Osborne underway, it would have been helpful for President Peters to have articulated same, no?

But maybe his "silence" and non-action is the best we can hope for given the present climate.


Monday, July 10, 2017

BREAKING NEWS! OHIO EPA TAKES STRONG REMEDIAL ACTION TO PROTECT STARK COUNTY SITED WATER RESOURCES!



Ohio EPA issues comprehensive findings on potential Canton/Stark County-sited townships (the latter through Aqua Ohio) drinking water supplies that shows The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) that Canton City Council in inquiring of the Mayor Thomas Bernabei administration (specifically, Tyler Converse, Canton water supervisor) and, of course, the Bernabei administration itself working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Administration (OH EPA) have been successful in getting the Ohio EPA to take strong remedial action vis-a-vis an April 13, 2017 discovered spill at the hand of Energy Transfers Partners ([ETP], apparently a subcontractor of Rover Pipelines, LLC,  against whom the OH EPA findings/orders were issued) at least with regard to the Navarre area, Stark County spill as set out in area media reports including the SCPR in a June 22nd blog.

The SCPR has learned that there was a challenge to the authority of the OH EPA to deal with Stark County spill.

Here is a copy of the OH EPA report (more commentary later is this blog) for readers to see for themselves the effectiveness of local and state government working together to protect this highly important resource:



With the April 13 discovered by the Ohio EPA Energy Transfers Partners (ETP) spill in Navarre (potentially jeopardizing the city of Canton's Sugarcreek well field), the question arose as to whether not government would act swiftly to protect Canton's most important resource.

According to Canton City Council president, Canton's water resources are more important as an economic development factor than the reportedly $800 million, more or less, Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project.

More commentary to follow.