Sunday, July 13, 2008


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) commends Dennis Willard of the Akron Beacon Journal for his revealing series on the purchasing of Ohio State football tickets. The main impetus for Willard to do this fine investigative piece, is an allegation that former Republican state representative John Widowfield (Summit County) sold his preferentially obtained tickets (by virtue of being a state legislator) for a profit.

Williard is undoubtedly opening a can of worms that will "displeasure" current and former members of the Ohio legislature.

Of course, the focus of The Report will be the involvement of Stark Countians who have served in the Legislature.

In fact, Willard's initial piece refreshed The Report's recollection of a couple of instances of Ohio State football tickets and former representative Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (now chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party and the elected Massillon City Clerk of Courts.)

For some background and stepping aside from the nominating myself as The Report and speaking personally because there was no "The Report" in 1994, I (Martin Olson) was a staunch supporter of Maier in those days. I worked hard to provide Maier entry into the inner circles of Lake Township leadership (my home area which is mostly Republican in its politics).

My effort was successful. To this day, one will hear Lake Township folks (remember - mostly Republican) speak supportively of Maier.

Now to my point. I was delightedly surprised in 1994 to be given tickets to the Ohio State/Penn State game of October 30, 1994 by Maier. My daughter Heidi (to become Maier's page in the Ohio House in 1995) made the trek to Columbus to take in the game.

Another surprise. When we got to our seats, lo and behold, people we knew. A hometown newspaper publisher was seated right next to us.

It registered instantly! Oh, I know what this is all about - influencing favorable area press. Who else, I asked myself, in the Stark County press corps had been gifted with "free" Ohio State football tickets?

The Olsons receiving gifted Ohio State football tickets did not last long. The following year I was asked if I wanted OSU tickets for the Houston game. Yes, I answered through our then page daughter Heidi. Somewhere in the process, though, it became apparent to me that I was expected to pay for the tickets (presumably at the price they were initially purchased at).

Stepping back into my role as being The Report. The clear point of Willard's series is how these tickets are used by THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY (as the university want to be referred to) lobbyist and by legislators to advance their own interests.

Having had a personal experience with the process,
The Report is interested in determining what area Ohio General Assembly members from Stark County (past and present) are doing (or have done) in terms of buying and parceling out these tickets. Get ready Boccieri, Hagan, Healy, Oelslager, Okey, Schuring, Slesnick and Stevens; The Report will be asking what use you have put to these tickets?

Of course, The Report invites these folks to comment on this blog with the answer without having been asked. Do The Report readers think there is much chance of our area representatives (past and present) being so forthcoming?

The Report's question: Will voters be interested in the knowing how their legislators have been affected (by their votes on OSU money measures) or how they have tried to affect (area media) through the buying, gifting and selling of Ohio State football tickets?

No comments: