Thursday, April 16, 2015


UPDATED:  08:40 a.m.

The once "great" city of Canton, Ohio finds itself in 2015 slogging towards the "finale" in a primary election to determine who will be the mayor of Canton for the term January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2019.

Wait a minute, Olson, there is a general election in November!

That is surely the case but in this heavily Democratic city with a 9 to 1 registration majority Stark County Republican chairman Jeff Matthews has "given up the ghost" and Stark's Republicans will not be fielding a candidate to oppose the winner of the Healy/Perez match up.

Matthews' lack of effective leadership in terms of recruiting political competition in Canton must be utterly stunning to the likes of former Stark County GOP chairman Charles Brown: the GOP's most effective - in terms of partisan political leadership - and therefore hated by Stark County Democratic leaders in recent annals of Stark County politics.

Brown is one of the few staunchly partisan Stark County public figures that the SCPR has a high degree of respect for.

He went on to become a judge in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.  Although yours truly never appeared before Brown, he gets high marks as being a fair judge from those attorneys that The Report has spoken with about his conduct on the bench.

Here's what Brown and his "effective" GOP county chairman predecessors produced in terms of electing Republican mayors going back to 1964:

What a fall the Republicans have experienced since Stark County's foremost elective Republican Janet Creighton (now a Stark County commissioner) believe it or not succumbed to Healy in the 2007 general election.

Just yesterday yours truly and a former powerful figure in the Stark County Republican Party discussed Creighton's "hard-to-explain" defeat to Healy in 2007.

What went wrong?

For Creighton remains Stark County's most popular in terms of electoral politics Republican.

Perhaps Healy's 2007 victory is explained more in terms of his political skills in a fertile field of a Democratic voter registration majority rather than Creighton's political appeal demise.

Because Healy is so obviously in 24/7 political calculation mode, many discount him as a serious government official.

At least insofar as one's ability to get elected to office is concerned, such thinking is a big, big mistake.

Unless and until a new generation of Canton-based leader that can convince the voting public that she/he authentically cares primarily about the welfare of the Canton community as compared to political self interest (which the SCPR sees Healy and Perez being essentially about), the likes of Healy and Perez will be the order of the day from the menu of offerings for Canton voters to select from.

Accordingly, in today's blog the SCPR suggests that the State of Ohio might incorporate a "vote of no confidence" factor in the recorded vote for any given office being sought in Ohio.

While under the ballot proposed by The Report either Perez or Healy would be elected as a matter of plurality between the two; the victor would accede to office (presuming no opposition in the general election) with a dissatisfaction factor with "things as they are" having been recorded.

While there is chatter along lines of traditional and therefore unimaginative media coverage of political campaigns about the SCPR considers mundane about whether or not Healy is being disinformational on the questions of:

  • the authenticity of the carryover of some $2.4 million from the 2014 to 2015 Canton budget, and 
  • whether or not the mayor promoting the delaying of (to a post-primary-election date; presumably because it contains negative implications for the mayor's 7.5 years in office ) the release of the Canton City Council (hence taxpayer paid for) financing of a Canton Citywide Comprehensive Plan,
such chatter "begs the question" that for Cantonians yearning for leadership that has real promise of lifting Canton from the financial and economic doldrums as Healy/Perez match up as offering Cantonians "a real difference."

Accordingly, shouldn't there be a electoral outlet: that is to say, "none of the above?"

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


UPDATED:  10:00 a.m.

There is no doubt about it.

Angela Alexander is a phenomenal candidate for Canton Municipal Court judge in the Democratic primary which includes registered Democrats from these Stark County locales:

But there is a major, major problem for Alexander in getting that nomination.

And her name is Kristen Guardado.

It appears to The Stark County Political Report that the long time Canton law department and Plain Township board of education member and highly qualified in her own right, Guardado  has the overwhelming support of the established "organized" Stark Democratic Party leadership.

Look at this list of prominent Dems who attended her March fundraiser at Skyland Pines:

Looks pretty overwhelming, no?

But it would be a huge mistake for Guaradado and "the bigs" who pretty much run the Stark County Democratic Party to count Alexander out.

And The Report does not think they are.

It seems to yours truly that the party poohbahs are more than a tad unhappy to have to choose between the two because both are superlative candidates either of whom the SCPR thinks will best Republican appointee (in January by GOP Governor John Kasich) Curtis Werren in November. 

However, the road to victory in November is likely much easier for Guardado because of her storied political success history in Plain Township, a large part of the Canton Municipal Court District.

The Report thinks Guardado, if the nominee, will defeat Werren by a comfortable margin on the condition that the Democratic leaders who support her get Democrats to the polls in this November's off-year election.

Of course, should she get the nomination, the same applies to Alexander.  However, if she defeats Werren her margin would much slimmer than Guardado's.

Alexander, of course, has to concern herself with being the Democratic nominee.

While the odds are clearly against her, she does has a pathway to victory.

And that would be through an energized African-American community vote.

Energized in terms of turnout for Barrack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

In her presentation to the Northern Stark County Democratic Club about a week ago, Alexander shared with her fellow Dems her experience as a poll watcher in a predominantly African American precinct and how she had to stand her ground against her Republican counterpart to ensure that Obama voters were not discouraged to the point of walking away and not voting.

It is a truism that getting voters to vote in elections even in presidential years takes a major political party organizing and follow through effort.

What are decent (not exemplary) voting numbers in presidential years completely evaporates in off-year (odd numbered) years.

Back in May, 2014, the SCPR did a series of blogs on the pathetic numbers of Stark Countians voting in the 2014 primary.

Overall, in Stark, 13.7% of registered (and, of course not all citizens are registered to vote) voted.

With that number voting, no part of Stark County was particularly impressive.

But Republican areas did better than the Democrats.

Here is a LINK to a blog done in that series which shows the numbers for all 284 Stark County precincts.

Particularly pathetic in voter turnout were predominantly African American wards in Canton, Alliance and Massillon.

Today the SCPR focuses on Canton's African American wards in the 2014 primary election because two of Alexander's biggest supporters  are Councilman Thomas West (Ward 2) and Chris Smith (Ward 4).

The Report conjectures that West and Smith have already been hard at work for Candidate Alexander as evidenced by the base of support that is coming out of Canton City Council and the mayor's office for Alexander's candidacy.

But if Alexander is to pull off a major political upset on May 5th, West and Smith have to be working super-hard and effectively to get the African American vote out in Wards 2 and 4.

Look at these numbers for the 2014 primary election:

A mere 553 voters out of a potential field of nearly 10,000 voters for a total average voting percentage of less than 6%.

If West and Smith can't do hugely better than that in the 2015 primary, their candidate is going to get absolutely clobbered on the 5th of May.

And that would be a shame.  Alexander deserves better than that.  She is first-rate and deserves a realistic shot at pulling off an upset.

So we will see how West and Smith do.

And the SCPR puts the burden squarely on their shoulders to show that they can be effective in political organizing and at GOTV ("get[ing] out the vote").

Skepticism has to be the expectation given the 2014 Ward 2 and 4 primary election turnout rate.

West has a personal interest in ginning up the African American voting numbers.

He tells the SCPR that he expects to run for term limited Stephen Slesnick's 49th Ohio House seat in the 2016 elections.

It is unlikely he will get a free ride to Columbus.

Therefore, he'd better be sharpening up his political organizing skills in the Alexander campaign.

It has been a very, very long time since Canton has had an African American Canton Municipal Court judge.  Even longer than since Stark County has had an African American elected countywide.  As far as the SCPR knows, the only African American that has ever been elected countywide has been Ira Turpin back in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of Alexander's elected official supporters has told the SCPR that the main reason for supporting Alexander what that "it is high time for an African American to be elected to the Canton Municipal Court."

The SCPR has heard out of the mouth of Councilman West a sort of fatalism about the ability to elect blacks citywide and by implication countywide.

And yet when he ran for the Ohio senate in 2006 against top Republican vote getter J. Kirk Schuring, West did very well in capturing some 44% of the vote.

President Obama proved twice that a black man can win countywide in Stark by winning over McCain (2008) and Romney (2012).

The SCPR can see a scenario that if West and Smith (in their announced role as Alexander supporters) can marshal great numbers of African American votes for Alexander, she just might pull off a political upset.

Should Alexander lose the primary vote, to show that it is was not a race based thing to have advocated for her;  then it is incumbent on Smith and West to work every bit as hard - as loyal Democrats - for Candidate Guardado.

And, naturally, if Alexander does pull off the upset; then Guardado's supporters should vigorously support her.

Alexander's hope, the SCPR thinks, rests on solid black community voter support and voters at large not holding it against her that the major share of her legal experience has occurred in Summit County.

Let it be clearly understood.

The SCPR does not think nor has The Report heard anyone else say that any voter should vote for Angela Alexander merely because she is African America.

The primary consideration is whether or not she is qualified to be a judge.

And she definitely is.  As is Kristen Guardado.

It is important that in the United States of America that diversity in leadership be a real opportunity and not merely a matter of rhetorical flourish.

In that vein, let the Alexander and Guardado supporters "fight the good fight" of political competition and may the best woman win.

For the SCPR's part, either candidate will be quality competition for the Republican candidate.

Projecting the Hartnett-Werren Court of Common Pleas race (which Hartnett won by the narrowest of margins) onto a Alexander/Guardado versus Werren Canton Municipal Court contest, political competition is going to be the winner in that is likely to produce a first-rate judge.

Let us have more of this in Stark County.

Alexander, in her presentation last Thursday described a Summit County strength over Stark County in that in Summit it is unheard of "not" to have political competition on judgeships.

May Hartnett's successfully defying the odds and Alexander perhaps defying the odds might prompt the folks who run Stark County's political parties to better serve the public interest in recruiting well qualified candidates for each and every judicial race going forward.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015



(about 45 min)
(at end of blog)





Some of the best theater in Stark County is the "political theater" being played out by various city councils which dot the county.

The SCPR understands that North Canton City had a raucous time at last night's meeting as the battle between Law Director Tim Fox and the Concerned Citizens of North Canton (CCNC) got heated.

A source tells the SCPR that the Public Speaks phase of North Canton council meeting lasted from 7:00 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. rivaling some of Canton City Council's Public Speaks session which is quite something for a city (North Canton) which is about one-fourth the size of Canton.

Here is what is what one North Cantonian wrote to the SCPR following council's meeting:
You missed a very heated meeting. Public speaks lasted from 7:00 to 8:15.
Miriam hit the ball out of the ballpark with challenges to the law director on public records and the zoning appeals process.
The topics in North Canton were the Zoning Appeals process and Public Records policy.  CCNC stalwart Miriam Baughman is said to have put on quite a show in confronting Law Director Fox on the appeals and records matter.

The Report is thinking that the "up to now" unfettered council support of Fox may be showing signs as cracking under the pressure that the CCNC is putting on council in this election year.

It appears to yours truly that Fox with his legal advice on various points of legislation (e.g. the health care ordinance supported by nearly 80% of North Cantonians), processes (zoning appeals and obtaining public records) has the effect of putting council and one difficult position, after another and after another.

Here is how Repository reporter Robert Wang reported on Baughman's effect:
Tabled an ordinance that would have eliminated council from hearing appeals of decisions by the city planning commission. Resident Miriam Baughman said she called other area cities, and officials told her they all had an appeals process for zoning decisions.

Put off final approval of a new public records policy as an emergency as Baughman requested language in the policy telling residents denied records their options.
Baughman is an absolutely fabulous civic activist who is more than the match of Lawyer Fox.

Who knows?  The CCNC may be the impetus for a sitting councilperson or two may not be re-elected.

The Report has written before that the only way to rein-in Fox is for ideally four sitting councilpersons to be put on the outside looking in as a consequence of the upcoming November election.

The Report thinks that CCNC member Jamie McCleaster will win one of three at-large seats come November with Dan Griffith likely being the victim of some very bad publicity that Fox has put council through.

Unfortunately, the SCPR can only be in one place on a given Monday night.

On many a Monday, it is a last minute decision as to which council meeting among Stark County's major cities that The Report is going to show up with camera in hand.

Last night, the SCPR was in Massillon.  And, council did not disappoint.

Things got a little testy and frustrating one would think from Councilman Paul Manson's perspective.

He and Councilman Ed Lewis got a little prickly with one another over whatever council comes up with in terms of a new or modified Financial Restoration (FRP) for the Massillon Financial Planning & Supervision Commission (MFP&SC, Commission) to consider in early May (the plan is due to the Commission by May 8th) that it be - as chided by Lewis - "in perfect condition."

The Commission on April 7th rejected council's second plan (the first failed with Massillon's voters defeat of an income tax levy in November, 2015) because it had some errors in it and therefore the Commission was not clear on exactly what the plan was.

Council's clerk has readily admitted that errors cropped in due to her mistake.

Manson's position is that council understands that a mistake was made that is easily corrected and the error(s) should not be dwelt on.

Another wrinkle was presented to Manson in the form of Councilwoman Halter saying that getting an income tax is going to be a piece of work.

Manson posed that the only alternative was the mayor's property tax proposal which, of course, in formulating its plan, council has rejected.

So this exchange is why the SCPR headed this blog up with a graphic that "Between a Rock & Hard Place" is now playing in Massillon City Council's political theater these days.

Yet another wrinkle to last night's meeting was Councilwoman Michelle Del Rio-Keller's suggestion that council obtain numbers from Massillon Budget Director and Income Tax Administrator Ken Koher as to how much of a savings would be realized by council directing cuts - as a part of a new/revised plan - of 5%, 7% or even 10% to non-safety-force departments of Massillon city government.

And as if there was not enough for the "Between a Rock & Hard Place" drama already, Councilman Lewis chimed in that any cuts should start with legislation reducing the salaries of Massillon elected officials by 10%.

As noted in the videos of Councilpersons Chovan, Del Rio-Keller and Lewis himself; there seems to be solid support for the Lewis recommendation as a show of their sincereness to Massillonian voters that their elected officials are willing to personally sacrifice so as to match that of Massillonians who of course if an income tax or property tax were to pass would be making a financial sacrifice.

However, the SCPR did hear a murmur last night that Lewis' idea may not be all that magnanimous.

The murmurer suggested that Lewis is likely to be the one council-at-large candidate from among present councilpersons Manson, Chovan and Lewis (Ward 6 presently) himself who may be vulnerable to not being elected and that the "let us elected officials take a 10% salary cut" may be a political play to help him get elected.

To top things off in Massillon last night was the moaning and groaning by some on council about the burden to the city's general fund of outlays to the Massillon Municipal Court.

Such has long been a sore point to various council member chief of whom has been Councilman Manson.

The SCPR thinks that council will pretty much end up where it was when its original error ladened plan was submitted on March 18th with the exception that there may be a less ambitious version of Councilman Milan Chovan's plan/passed ordinance to restore the Massillon Police Department to full strength over a period of time.

Here is council's discussion on the concern that the Commission expressed on April 7th about the viability of the "beef up the police" plan given Massillon's fragile financial condition.

Over the long haul, Chovan's plan/ordinance will pay for itself in terms of hiring startup costs in overtime savings.

To say it again.

Massillon City Council appears to be "between a rock and a hard place" with nowhere to go but to go back to the Commission with "a perfect version" of the March 18th plan.

After the meeting, the SCPR spoke with Councilman Chovan (on police),  Councilwoman Del Rio Keller (on cuts), Councilman Lewis (on elected officials 10% cuts) and Councilman Manson in his takeaway from the night's discussion.

Councilman Chovan

Councilwoman Del Rio Keller

Councilman Lewis

Video in process.

Councilman Manson

Here is the complete video of that part of last night's work session dealing with council'
s consideration of and new/revised Restoration Plan.

Monday, April 13, 2015







Martin Olson <> 4/13/2015 7:17 AM

Could you fill me in on the complete background on your knowledge of and connection to Seth Peterson and the particulars of how you came to recruit him (his words, not mine - see video) to come to Stark County?


Alan Harold  Today at 11:57 AM
To:  Martin Olson

Hi Martin, thanks for the note.

Seth and I attended Mount Union College at the same time.  We had stayed in touch through his various professional positions, notably when he was IT Director for Canton City Schools.  We spoke first about his coming to work for the County two/three years ago when I was looking to hire an assistant director for the IT department.  The timing wasn't right for him at the time and we moved on here at the County.

Last spring, recall we had a backroom incident at IT related to a power surge.  As we analyzed our needs and the future direction of the department, I reached out to Seth about the possibility of him coming on board in the role he has now.  I'm glad we were able to bring him on board as having two high caliber professionals (Seth & Anita) in the IT department allows us to have the best infrastructure, new collaborations across all government, and better solutions for all of our users.

Lastly, I don't know that it was covered in the meeting or in the video, but this is not all "new" money being invested into the Microsoft agreement.  We have a similar agreement with Oracle right now for various systems licensing that will be, in large part, phased out as Microsoft comes on-line.  While it will not be dollar-for-dollar savings, there will be a substantial reduction in other licensing expenses that will offset the costs of this new contract.

This is probably the most exciting time in the County IT department in at least a generation and I am so glad and so proud to have a great team in place to create and implement a better way to manage this critical asset of our local government.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or if you need anything else.


Alan Harold
Stark County Auditor

The rumor is that some Stark County government offices are using the abacus (invented about 2700 BCE) to do their accounting work.

The SCPR is only kidding of course.

But there is little doubt that large parts of Stark County government and many Stark County political subdivisions are in the dark ages of technology.

One of the foremost advocates of updating the county's technology is Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.

Harold is kind of a "Luddite in reverse."

In reverse?

Yes, the original Luddites according to Wikipedia:

... were 19th-century English textile workers who protested newly developed labour-economizing technologies from 1811 to 1816. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.
Recently, Harold (whose office handles information technology for Stark County government) hired a chief information technology person to smash (the SCPR's term not Harold's nor the technology chief) the antiquated information technology systems that are pervasive in offices across Stark county government.

At last Wednesday's regular 1:30 p.m. Stark County commissioners' meeting, newly hired (at $120,404 [now $122,404] Chief Information Technology Officer Seth Peterson (August, 2014) was present to address a resolution up for consideration by the commissioners, to wit:

At his rate of pay, Peterson is the third highest paid Stark County employee.

He says that he came out of the healthcare industry last employed in Atlanta, Georgia (see above) and that he was recruited by Harold to come to Stark County.

He is a graduate of Mount Union University.

Here is a video of the exchange between the commissioners and Peterson as he was present to justify the appropriation of nearly $1.3 million over the next six years.

And here is a SCPR computation of the projected cost of the upgrade.

The SCPR believes that "a conservative cost estimate" puts county general fund dollars outlay at about $2.1 million.

If one includes all the costs in implementing the upgrade, the SCPR thinks the upgrade "in reality" will end up much higher.

Note that The Report includes in the cost the projected base salary (not included pay increases over the next 6 years) of Mr. Peterson inasmuch as yours truly believes that the major share of his time will be devoted to the upgrade.

Also not included is the salary of other Auditor Department employees who most certainly will be involved in the upgrade process.

This is a cost in terms of being of the nature of an "opportunity cost" which is to say that to the degree Auditor Department IT employees are devoting time to the upgrade they will not be available to spend time on other departmental functions.

As Peterson stepped out of the meeting to return to work, the SCPR prevailed upon him (joined by Akron Beacon Journal reporter Nancy Molnar) to query him in more detail about the upgrade.

And in a Q&A part of the commissioners' meeting, the SCPR had this exchange with commissioners:

All-in-all the SCPR is pleased with Harold's action in playing the role of being a Luddite in reverse.

And it appears from Commissioner Creighton's description in the video above of the Data Board vetting process that Harold's plan has been gone over with "a fine toothed comb."  But we will not know for sure until the returns begin to come in.

The Report will be watching the project as it goes forward and will from time-to-time be reporting to the Stark County public as to whether or not the expenditure of what most certainly be several millions of Stark County taxpayer general fund dollars turns out to be a case of our money being efficiently and effectively spent.

We know already that county officials have no choice but to bring the county technologically speaking into the 21st century.

The need to do so should cause all of us to reflect on the apparent failure of previous auditors and commissioners and other county officials to have kept pace on the county's technology needs and thereby have exacerbated the 2014 through 2020 costs of catching up.

Watching government officials and how they administer our local government is an unending task for all of us.

Saturday, April 11, 2015



APRIL 09, 2015



Kristen Guardado
Qualifications to be Judge
Angela Alexander
Qualifications to be Judge
The Stark County Political Report commends the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party ("Party;" specifically, the "Northern Stark County Democratic Party" [NSCDP]) for putting together and hosting - not a debate - but a "get to know our candidates" event at the Stark County Democratic Party's new headquarters site in Oakwood Square on Easton Street in Plain Township last evening.

The Party itself did not give the SCPR a "heads up" on the event but rather one of Stark County civic/ political activists who constitute a rich, rich, rich resource of tips, information and notice on which yours truly develops many of blogs which appear in these pages.

Likely the Party officialdom has highly charged mixed feelings about The Report.

As regular readers know, some of the most scalding criticism of those officials as well as those of the "organized" Stark County Republican Pary come from one and only one source; namely, The Stark County Political Report.

Many, but not all of those officials, try to make it personal.

But those who know Martin Olson know and understand that the critiques are designed to have political party officials look inward on their leadership qualities and lack thereof and the qualities of their loyalists in a sincere effort to ferret out the manipulative and develop an authentic basis on which to relate to the larger Stark County voting public.

On the "mixed feelings" thing and "on the other hand" - as a balance to the criticism - both the Dems and the GOP know that The Stark County Political Report in the only Stark County media outlet to delve in depth into the qualities of the candidates the parties offer up to the Stark County voting public for consideration of getting the voters' vote.

Either the Dems, the Republicans, the Libertarians or any other political grouping or individual candidates or issue promoters miss a terrific opportunity to get their message to the Stark County Political when they fail to notice and/or invite yours truly to their event - not as a supporter, but as a independent minded political analyst.

The SCPR does show up at political party public events when informed of their existence (provided there is no conflict with other SCPR obligations) so as to provide the Stark County voting public with information on which to determine whom to vote for.

The Report's experience is that Stark's "organized" Democrats are much more accommodating to the eye of the SCPR camera than are the Republicans.

However, the Jefferson-Jackson Democrats have banned the SCPR's camera from their meetings at which candidates "for public office" make presentations.

Moreover, the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr faction of the Stark County Democratic Party issue strict instructions to Maier, Jr's loyalists not to deal with the SCPR.

What a bunch of insecure politicos, no?

The Republicans banned the SCPR camera after the Phil Davison video went viral on the Internet back in September, 2010 as the former Minerva councilman made an "over-the-top" partisan Republican pitch in quest of being named the Republican candidate for Stark County treasurer when the-then Stark County commissioners unconstitutionally (reference:  Ohio Supreme Court decision, June, 2011) removed then-treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office.

Yours truly believes that the Stark GOP sent an emissary to the SCPR with a mission to quash the Davison video.

Anybody who knows yours truly knows that that was a mission bound for unequivocal rejection.

After that episode, Stark GOP chairman Jeff Matthews banned the SCPR's camera from future Stark Republican Party events.  However, the print media is allowed to have their notepad in hand at such events.

Those who frequent the SCPR will note that the SCPR camera is the "more accurate" version of the notepad.

It is interesting to note that Matthews is reported to have said after Republican Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton made an awe-inspiring speech on behalf of the Kasich for Governor campaign in 2014:  "Where is Martin when you need him?."

What a hypocrite, no?

What the Jefferson-Jackson Dems and GOP Chairman Matthews and the Maier, Jr. Dems need to square up with is that it is not the SCPR that they are punishing for showcasing the truth about their candidates but it is the Stark County voting public who is being deprived of seeing the folks for what they really are.

It is difficult to understand how the Jefferson-Jackson Dems, Matthews and Maier, Jr think their conduct vis-a-vis the SCPR is consistent with democratic-republican values of our great nation.

Notwithstanding the censoring, the denial of access; the SCPR has many sources located throughout Stark County who provide "inside" information as to the seamier side of Stark County political party politics.

The Report likes to kid Maier brother and Stark County sheriff George T.Maier on being elected in November, 2015 that one of the first hires he needed to hire was a plumber inasmuch as there are many, many political leaks to the SCPR emanating from his offices to The Report.

The Report is not primarily a "report the facts" type of journalistic effort.

Primarily, the SCPR is an column or if you will an "opinion blog" which The Report works very hard to develop factual information (not factual as in "handed down from God," but in as what the numbers show, what somebody has said in a SCPR "on camera" or as reported in other media, and the like) in support of The Report's opinion.

Make no mistake about it.

The SCPR is out to convince readers that yours truly's opinion on issues, candidates and Stark County political and governmental happenings is an opinion which ought to influence if not convince SCPR readers

It may have been by happenstance, but Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis (an announced Guarado supporter) and by implication his brother Phil who is the Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts and chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party outdid themselves in coming up with bringing high quality Canton Municipal Court judicial candidates Kristen Guardado and Angela Alexander before the NSCDP political subgroup.

The photograph of Kristen Guardado and Angela Alexander shaking hands at the behest of yours truly was asked for because of the manner in which both candidates handled themselves last night.

Moreover, the SCPR was impressed with how NSCDP honcho Louis Giavasis directed the event.

As introduced by Giavasis, each candidate was to take four minutes to do general introduction and then the forum was to be opened up for questions.

Well, a problem developed immediately.

Candidate Alexander took way over four minutes as the start off candidate to present her introduction material.

One could see Giavasis getting just a little itchy about the overrun.

But he maintained his cool until Alexander took all the time she wanted to make her presentation.

Guardado was much more in tune with the four minute thing.

The Report did the foregoing run through of seemingly trivia for two reasons.

First, to complement Giavasis for maintaining his composure during an obviously trying time for him.

Second, to alert the SCPR video viewers of the candidates' presentation that The Report has trimmed and therefore necessarily edited Alexander's presentation to be the equal (time wise) to that of Guardado.

Hopefully, if there are future appearances by the duo - at other events between now and May 5th, - they will self-discipline to follow the announced format and thereby empower the media present  to report "all" that was said.

In fairness to Candidate Guardado, the SCPR feels compelled to size-down Alexander's video to about 9 minutes and 35 seconds.

Before getting into a presentation of SCPR videos from last evening, The Report pauses to compliment Ms. Alexander and Ms. Guardado for the civility if not friendliness expressed towards one another.

Neither attacked the other politically nor the qualities that each brings to the race.

Rather each "put her best foot forward" in terms of offering positive reasons as a basis upon which those gathered last night and those viewing the SCPR videos can be persuaded to vote for the respective presenter.

Had she not taken "the high road," Candidate Guardado might well have jumped all over Alexander for having most of her judicial preparatory legal experience in Summit County whereas she has all of her experience in Stark County.

To The Report, Ms. Guardado thereby demonstrated that she has a measured temperament which is a highly desired quality in who serves as a judge.

One of the problems with the person who retired/resigned (Judge Stephen Belden) and thereby provided the opportunity for Alexander, Guardado and Republican appointee Curtis Werren to contend for a Canton Municipal Court judgeship was that he is alleged to have lacked measured judicial temperament that most lawyers and judges think one should have when dispensing justice in the American system of justice.

Now onto the videos.

First up on video is Kristen Guardado.

Next up is Angela Alexander.



Candidate Alexander made a major mistake in "gilding the lily" in her response to criticisms that when compared to opponent Kristen Guardado she does not have an adequate Stark County professional legal connection to merit Democratic voter selection over Guardado.

The Northern Stark County Democratic Club (NSCDC) forum guidelines spelled out by club leader Louis Giavasis called for each candidate to speak in an introductory fashion for four minutes and then take questions written out beforehand by audience members.

Well, neither of the criteria took hold.

On the four minute rule, Alexander seemingly went on ad nauseam (probably about 20 minutes) mostly dwelling on justifications as to why she doesn't have have much of a Stark County legal profession connection (most of it being in Summit County) but nonetheless because of personal connections with Stark County merits consideration by Canton Municipal Court District voters, that is to say to voters living in the following communities:

as being the equivalent of Guardado.

The written questions thing because Ohio Supreme Court rules are strict on what a judicial candidate can and cannot say during a campaign did not work because attendees apparently wrote no questions out to be screened for rule compliance.

Nevertheless, the candidates did field questions and there were no rule offending questions.

Alexander was doing reasonably well in her endeavor to convince that she had no alternative to embark on her legal career in Summit (i.e. she was a single mom in need of a job and the Summit job was the first available) and that she has stayed the professional development course in Summit because Summit is where advancement opportunities opened up given her growing competence as an attorney in the Summit venue which was picked up on by Summit County officials who provided her with promotions.

Had she cut the account summarized above short at that, Alexander would have made the best of her situation.

But she didn't.

She went on and on and on and on in that vein and thereby inadvertently emphasized that she cannot match up with Kristen Guardado on that point.

It also needs to be pointed out that on her Facebook page, on her website and on campaign literature she focuses all too much on her Summit County professional legal background and connections.

Guardado, on the other hand, played it very smart on Thursday evening.

She just sat patiently and let Alexander go on and on and on about a topic that will play big in the outcome of the Alexander/Guardado match up.

But she never said a word about the obvious Alexander weakness.  And the SCPR thinks she never will in public. If she is really smart, she will not say anything in private either.

You can be sure that Guardado supporters without prompting by Guardado will, or perhaps have already started a whisper campaign to the effect that Alexander not home-grown legal professional.

To be sure, Angela Alexander is a well qualified judicial candidate.

Her emphasis should of been:  "My experience, my growing expertise (without constantly repeating the Summit County factor), my performance recognized in the form of a prestigious award exudes a highly merited person to be a Stark County-based judge."

Her punch line should have been somewhat along the lines:  "After all is said and done, folks.  The most important thing is for we Democrats to nominate the most merited candidate.  And I think I have laid out a case, in all due respect to Kristen Guardado, that I am that person."

And she flirted with making such a case.

Alexander compared herself to the recently elected Democrat Chryssa Hartnett as Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge on a number of levels.

She did touch on Harnett obvious stark qualification advantage over Curtis Werren in her victorious November, 2014 win over him.

By the way, the victor of the Guardado/Alexander face off will go up against Werren in November of this year.  Werren was appointed a second time as judge by Republican governor John Kasich in January.

However, the qualitative legal difference between Hartnett and Werren was clearly in Hartnett's favor.  Such is not the case in a comparison between Alexander and Guardado.

The SCPR could not quarrel with anyone who wanted to assess that Guardado is more legal profession merited than Alexander.

The merit of the these two candidates is a close call.

So all in all the Alexander/Hartnett comparison was probably a mistake.  Especially on the Stark County connection thing.

While Hartnett is not as Stark County native (Alexander is), the bulk of her legal career if not all of it is Stark County-based and Alexander's is not.

Former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez- who the SCPR thinks is clearly a Guardado supporter but he did not disclaim on the matter - asked an interesting question directed only to Alexander.

Why, he asked, (acknowledging Alexander's excellent credentials) didn't she run against an unopposed Republican (Kristin Farmer, also, like Werren a Governor Kasich appointee) in the November, 2014 election for the Stark County Court of Common Pleas judgeship?

This was a set up question if the SCPR has ever heard one.

Alexander made a plausible response.

Had Gonzalez wanted to be fair about it, he should have addressed the question to Guardado also.  There is no reason why she shouldn't have considered not leaving Kristin Farmer unopposed.

And to carry this discussion one step further, why didn't Gonzalez know about Alexander and her interest in running for a Stark County-based judgeship and recruit her to do so.

Alexander put Gonzalez to shame the SCPR thinks in talking about how utterly competitive Summit County judgeship races are whereas many, many Stark County judgeships go uncontested.

And who has been Stark County Democratic Party chairman or a top level Democratic leader all the while?  You've got it.  None other than Randy Gonzalez.

It has amazing to the SCPR:
  • that he had the gall to ask such a question in the first place given his recruitment track record,
  • not direct the question to Guardado also, and
  • not having declared his support for Guardado
And how about the Stark Dems' leadership not prevailing upon either E.E. Wise, Jr., or Natalite Haupt not to run against each other in the 2014 Democratic primary for a 5th District Court of Appeals judgeship but rather one of them taking on Kristin Farmer.

But in reality nothing surprises the SCPR about the hubris of Randy Gonzalez.

As seen in the Guardado video, she played it safe in her presentation.

While Alexander has some impressive Canton City Council member endorsements especially that of council president Allen Schulman and the endorsement of Mayor William J. Healy, II, it is clear to the SCPR that Kristen Guardado is the choice of the overwhelming majority of Stark County's leading elected and office holding Democrats.

Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei is her campaign treasurer and her current boss is Canton law director Joseph Martuccio who will himself be on the May 5th ballot and who was in attendance in obvious support of Guardado on Thursday night.

It is clear to The Stark County Political Report that Kristen Guardado will be the choice of Canton Municipal Court District Democrats to take on Republican Curtis Werren in November.

And the SCPR thinks she will go on in November to make Werren a two time loser. 

The lingering question is:  What will become of the the highly qualified and impressive Angela Alexander.

Nobody knows what will happen in terms of judgeships opening up in Canton and at the county level going foward.

Republican Richard Kubilus who attended Guardado's March fundraiser has told the SCPR that he is undecided whether or not he will seek a new term in 2017.

Moreover, one has to wonder whether or not Democrat John Haas (age 71) will serve out his full term which expires on April 15, 2019?

Haas cannot, due to age restrictions (70 and above), run for reelection.

Alexander indicated on Thursday that when she picked up the newspaper when Stephen Belden retired/resigned recently from Canton Municipal Court bench, she immediately started pondering whether or not to plant her legal career flag in her home county Stark County.

Was this decision one of sheer political opportunism?

Or is she really, really intent on bringing her magnificent legal profession qualifications home to Stark County?

If she is, she will implement preparing herself through shifting her legal career from Summit to Stark County and thereby be in a more viable position to challenge for a Stark County-base judgeship.

As pointed out in a prior SCPR blog, Stark County needs to have African American representation on the Stark County bench.

Angela Alexander is a high quality lawyer who is ideally situated to fill that void.

But will she make the shift?

If she doesn't, it will be "deja vu all over again" in a future campaign.

Thursday, April 9, 2015




At Monday evening's Canton City Council Committee of the Whole work session, Canton Parks and Recreation director Derek Gordon presented a range of management models and funding models for the soon to be reconfigured parks and recreation system.

Right now the system is split in two.

Canton's parks are managed (in an overall sense, not "day-to-day" which of course is Director Gordon's job) by a Park Commission which was put into existence by Canton voters in 1920.

In 2013, Cantonians voted to fund the city's parks at 4 mills as a prelude to the reorganization which is projected to take hold on or about January 1, 2017.

Canton's recreation system is managed (again, in an overall sense) by a body named the Canton Joint Recreation District (CJRD).

Back in 2014 when reorganization of Canton's parks and recreation facilities and activities became a "hot button issue" in the wake of Canton voters having approved in November, 2013 the 4 mill levy (referenced above) which was the first step in Canton mayor William J. Healy's desire to reorganize parks and recreation functions for Canton; a challenge to the reorganization was mounted by an attorney connected with the provision of legal services to the CJRD (LINK).

There are those who think that former CJRD president Eric Resnick was in the thick of being a part of the challenge.  And there was a controversy as to whether or not Resnick was entitled to serve on the CJRD itself inasmuch as his term on the Canton City Schools (CCS-BOE; which he was an appointee of) had expired on December 31, 2013.

Resnick has been replaced on the CJRD by CCS-BOE member Ida Ross-Freeman.

With J.R. Rinaldi replacing Resnick as president, it seems that a much more conciliatory relationship between the Canton Park Commission and the CJRD has taken hold which portends and meshing of the two organizations on a more or less amicable basis.
  • SCPR Note:  Rinaldi and Resnick appear to be bitter political enemies in that they ran against each other in November, 2013 for a seat on the CCS-BOE with Rinaldi coming out the victor.
    • However, the "never say die" Resnick has taken out petitions to run once again for a CCS-BOE seat.
    • Resnick was at the center of a controversy earlier this year over the merger (he prefers the term "takeover") of Timken High School under the banner of McKinley High School which was part of a three phase Brighter Tomorrow project of the CCS Board of Education and being pushed by Superintendent Adrian Allison.

Resnick has taken out a petition to run again for school board (not for Rinaldi's seat).

Betcha John Rinaldi is cheering for Eric, no?

Anyway, with Resnick out-of-picture for now,  it appears not IF the CJRD will blend into the Canton Park Commission but rather WHEN and HOW and the amount (in terms of millage) officials will ask Cantonians to approve in November, 2015 and, if it fails, in November, 2016.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Resnick becomes a leader to defeat the funding initiative and thereby stop the merger, no?

Putting that question aside, the focus now is the model of the reorganization and how much Cantonians will be asked to fund the new entity with.

Yesterday the SCPR attended the April meeting of the Canton Park Commission (Commission) and is making available at the end of this blog the entire videotaped discussion among board members on those issues.

The Commission voted yesterday to recommend to Canton City Council (which has the final say on how the merger will be structured and financed), to wit:
  • that the current Park Commission model be the framework of the reorganization,
  • that it be funded at 5 mills (on the City of Canton tax base), and 
    • expressed a desire that the newly constituted entity would embrace a total community encompassing citizens advisory board that has meaningful input into Park Commission board decisions, and
    • expressed a desire that a strong connection be formed/maintained with the Canton City Schools and the Plain Local School District inasmuch city of Canton students utilize both school systems,
President Andy Black effectively articulated reasons that the SCPR agrees with as being persuasive factors compelling the Park Board Commission model as the one that Canton City Council ought to adopt.

On having a citizens advisory board as part of a Park Commission new entity model, here is the discussion from yesterday's meeting:

As seen in the video below, there was some contention about the amount of the millage.

Park Board Commissioner member and president Black references Canton City Council vice president and majority leader Frank Morris, Ill's comment - in response to Gordon's city council presentation:  "Go BIG, or go home!" comment.

And, trying to avoid being an advocate for higher millage, Director Gordon did point out to members Andy Black, Wuyanbu Zutali and Drew Pelger that 5 mills on the City of Canton tax base will not financially sustain Canton's parks and recreation functions and that if 5 mills is the ultimate millage presented to voters and they approve same such would necessitate cuts to a parks and recreation system that is already substantially undermanned when compared to government entities across the nation that provide parks and recreation services.

One possibility discussed to try to make a Parks Commission 5 mill model work was that cuts in annual funding to the J. Babe Stern Center and the Southeast Community Center would have to be made.

The extract below shows the numbers that will work going through 2021 on the basis of a 5.5 mill levy on the Canton city tax base.

A 5 mill levy is projected to put a Park Commission model entity at a $3.75 million deficit by 2021 if no cuts are made.

A CJRD model 5 mill levy is projected to keep Canton's park and recreation not only solvent but indications are that there would be nearly a $875,000 carryover going into 2022.

There is no doubt to the SCPR that cuts to the Stern Center (located in Ward 5) would be vehemently opposed by Ward 5 councilman Kevin Fisher not only because the center sits in his ward but because he used the center's facility during his growing up years in Canton and knows firsthand the value of the center in providing wholesome activities for the youth of Canton.

So one can see Fisher joining Morris to ramp up the proposed Park Commission Board recommendation to at least 5.5 mills which Gordon says will keep operations on an even keel through 2021.

On the other hand there is Councilman Edmond Mack (Ward 8).

While he clearly wants the best for Canton's parks and recreation needs, he is also mindful that the burden of property taxation is on properties in Canton's most wealthy section of the section, that, of course, being Ward 8.

While Mack, Fisher, Mariol (Ward 7) and Morris (Ward 9) are in agreement on many issues facing city council, the millage issue might be an example of differences which they have with one another from time-to-time.

Yesterday's Park Commission Board action was primarily designed to give the go ahead for Canton's law department to go to work in fashioning properly worded legal documents for the accomplishment of parks and recreation reorganization and to ensure that whatever millage is asked of Canton's voters will stand a test of judicial scrutiny if challenged by opponents of a merger of the CJRD into the Park Commission.

For the SCPR's part, yours truly finds the Morris admonition appealing:  that is to say "Go BIG, or go home!"

Perhaps rather than BIG, the mantra should be "bigger than 5.0 mills."

The Report sees a fully funded and therefore vibrant parks and recreation function as being a vital part of the upcoming Canton Citywide Plan which has the potential to hold Canton's population stable and perhaps be a lure for young families to take advantage of some very good home purchase values on the condition that city officials can:
  • get a grip on Canton's continuing crime problems,
  • devise a long term plan to replace the substructure of Canton's streets and highways so that repaving is no longer like pouring money down a rat hole, and
  • bring living wage jobs to Canton so that new generations will "work and live" within the city
Being a city councilman in an American city these days can be an overwhelming task.
That is why voters have to learn to be very selective in determining who constitutes having those qualities that will enable a body such as Canton City Council to cope with the overwhelmingness and over time turn despair into, to borrow the CCS expression,:  "A Brighter Tomorrow!"

Here is the SCPR's video (about 35 minutes) of the complete discussion that the Park Commission Board had at its regular monthly meeting this past Wednesday:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015







Today's blog has on the lead graphic above "mud" (source) superimposed on the SCPR group photo as an oval center in the rectangular space between four tables set up for yesterday's Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission (MFP&SC, Commission) "special meeting" that had as its assignment to either accept or reject a Massillon City Council submitted Financial Restoration Plan (FRP, Plan).

Massillon's need to come up with a FRP arose, the SCPR thinks, because of a Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry politically motivated (going back to December, 2011 though elected but not yet sworn-in as mayor) insistence that Ohio state government place Massillon into fiscal emergency.

She finally got her way and thereby, The Report thinks, unnecessarily humiliated Massillon government nearly two years later (October 9, 2013) when State of Ohio Auditor David Yost placed Massillon in fiscal emergency on the flimsiest of grounds, to wit:

And here is some more background so that Massillonians fully understand what the SCPR believes their mayor and her genius "Kitchen Cabinet" advisers (Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, Shane Jackson and Eddie Elum)  has put this proud city through.

From a prior blog:
As it turns out, the State uses six criteria to determine whether or not a city is in fiscal crisis.  And Massillon barely fit into one of the six on State of Ohio Auditor Steve Yost acceding to the Catazaro-Perry wish. 
The placement of Massillon in fiscal emergency is one of the key battlegrounds in which the mayor and council have battled. 
Because Massillon is in fiscal emergency, the mayor and council need to agree on a "restoration" plan or face 15% across-the-board cuts to all departments of Massillon government.
Catazaro-Perry (grudgingly) and council recently formulated a second restoration plan after the first (also agreed to after much acrimony between the mayor and council) failed in November, 2014 with the overwhelming defeat of an income tax increase among other measures.
The second council FRP formulation of March 18th of this year and submitted by the mayor on the following day to the MFP&SC lacked clarity; that is to say it was not specific enough due, in part, to clerical errors and therefore confusing.

The Commission did the right thing in voting unanimously yesterday to reject the Plan.

Taking the lead in identifying the blurriness of the Plan was Commission chairman and Massillon Cable TV president Bob Gessner.


The SCPR is impressed with Gessner's quick grasp of the confusion that was inherent in the joint plan (joint because the mayor "reluctantly" signed on to council's plan) documents submitted by the mayor to the Commission.

Gessner is clearly the lead assessor from among all the Commission members and appeared to be donning a statesman-like attitude in yesterday's meeting.

Being the skeptic that the SCPR is on nearly all things Catazaro-Perry, Maier, Jr., Jackson and Elum, The Report wonders whether or not the Administration has known since the 19th all about the somewhat confusing condition of the submitted documents and was content to sit back and watch council be embarrassed.

Four members of council were present at yesterday's meeting; namely, Councilpersons Manson, Halter, Lewis and Del Rio-Keller.

Also present, of course, was Commission member former Ward 4 councilman Tony Townsend who The Report views as a Catazaro-Perry apologist.

And the SCPR is impressed with Commission chair Sharon Hanrahan of the State of Ohio Office of Budget and Management Commission.

She kept the meeting moving and civil and did not let it devolve into hostility towards council which The Report is told marked previous Commission meetings in varying degrees.

A major factor that could have led to yesterday's "confusion" problems may have been in large part be owing to the compressed time frame (about 10 days) that council had within which to put the second plan together.

If the SCPR understands the abbreviated timeline within which (about 10 days) council had to obtain due diligence type information from the Administration needed to analyze the mayor's plan or to put together a council's own plan, it appears understandable that errors would crop into the process.

The Administration used most of the 30 day time period allotted for the formation of a plan agreed upon by council and the mayor as a condition precedent to the MFP&SC taking the matter up on an up or down vote.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, Mayor Kathy is to blame for creating conditions that led to yesterday's rejection.

As Councilman Paul Manson said in a SCPR post-meeting interview "haste makes waste."

Manson played the role of a gentleman in not landing on the mayor for putting council "under the gun."  It was abundantly clear in council's March 11th work session that it was scrambling to cobble together its own plan which was in effect of the mayor's real property tax increase plan.

Again, being the skeptic the SCPR is prone to be of the good faith of the mayor, The Report tends to believe that the delay in providing council with critical data as being a political calculus designed to put council in a time crunch and thereby pressure council to throw up their hands in frustration and be left with no alternative but to accept the mayor's plan.

Well, council showed its mettle in not caving into the Administration generated compacted time span. But in doing so, it probably disserved itself in the public relations that seems to be part of a political game the mayor is playing on Massillon government finances.

If such is the mayor's gameplan, council is to be credited under the bipartisan leadership of Councilmen Manson (a Democrat) and Ed Lewis (a Republican) in persisting in due diligence deliberation and coming up with an alternative to the mayor's plan.

However, in allowing itself to be boxed in by the mayor timeline wise, yesterday was a PR coup for the mayor.

Yesterday's rejection is only temporary and council will fix things rather easily and quickly as articulated upon by Councilman Lewis in the following SCPR post-meeting interview.

But one can only imagine the chortling that is going on between the mayor and her political loyalists.

The Report has learned that the mayor's plan had its own defect which is interesting in view of the Administration taking the lion's share of the time available before the deadline for submitting a plan to the Commission.

The called for a property tax of 1.5 mills to be voted on in February of 2016.

The Report is told that Ohio law does not allow property taxi issues to be voted on in "special elections" and, if it did, the cost to Massillon would have been $15,000.

While $15,000 isn't a huge amount, every single dollar counts for a city said by the mayor to have been in need of being placed in fiscal emergency, no?

Chairman Hanrahan distinguished herself with her leadership of the Commission yesterday in keeping the discussion civil and in setting the time for councils' rework of its plan for Commission consideration on May 19th.

The chairman yesterday and has had over the course of Commission meetings had to walk a very fine line between the battling branches of Massillon city government.

She impressively has functioned as "quite the diplomat" and is slowly but surely inching Massillon government to a "all on the same page" solution to what the SCPR thinks from the very beginning has been nothing other than a cash flow problem.

Here is a SCPR interview on her assessment on how yesterday's meeting went.

Her bosses in Columbus should be pleased with her leadership.

The bottom line for all this with the SCPR is that as long as Catazaro-Perry is mayor and her confidant Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. is clerk of courts in Massillon, it is hard see Tigerland in any mode other than a political turmoil.

And The Report thinks that both could be around as Massillon elected officials for the forseeable future.

The political drama that the likes of Catazaro-Perry and Maier, Jr. foster is good for The Stark County Political Report but it is absolutely gut-wrenching for the good citizens of Massillon!

Here is the full video of yesterday's Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission.

This video is about 55 minutes long.