Saturday, September 27, 2008


Years ago, Bob Horowitz (now deceased), who served as Stark County prosecutor and Stark County probate judge, extolled - to yours truly - the virtues of the Akron Beacon Journal over The (Canton) Repository in terms of the depth of reporting on Stark County news.

The negative evaluation of the "hometown" newspaper was rather astonishing to hear from a man who had a stake in supporting all things Stark County.

But when something is bad, it is bad. And The Repository does leave a lot to be desired. The remedy is to push The Rep and its ownership to "be all it can be" rather than advocate Stark Countians becoming Beacon Journal users.

Having said that, it is clear to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that the Beacon Journal article today gives Stark County voters insights (not available so far from The Rep's reporting) into the "plans for action" among the various candidates for the two commissioner offices.

It was surprising to see in this piece that the marquee issue for candidate John Hagan that he is for continuing Stark County's increased (over the state mandated minimum) county sales tax, to wit:
Hagan sees a need to persuade the public to renew a 0.25 percent county sales tax in 2010. That tax generates about a fifth of the county's revenue.
The irony here is that when Hagan ran against then incumbent state Representative Mike Stevens (now a Lawrence Township trustee), he won a very close race by painting Stevens as being a tax increaser.

Will the Ferguson campaign use this tack on Hagan?

Speaking of Ferguson, Hagan's opponent, his apparent remedy for Stark's financial woes is to make each department/agency of Stark County government that gets money from the county commissioners to justify its existence or get the ax or, if permitted continued existence, to have to "do more with less" (this approach is popularly known as "zero-based budgeting"); to wit:
''If I'm successful,'' he said, ''I'm going to meet with every elected official, every department head and every board whose budget falls under the authority of the county commissioners. If I'm elected Nov. 4, Nov. 5 I will begin that process."
In the other county commissioner race, the quote of the day goes to challenger Travis Secrest. His obvious problem to overcome with voters is his youth. He's in his early 20s having just graduated from Baldwin-Wallace College, to wit:
''I think we've been stuck on 'old think' for quite a while,'' he said. ''Yes, my opponent has more experience than I do, but what's that experience gotten us?''
The Report agrees with Secrest, Harmon does seem to be a stagnated thinker who is thoroughly caught up in the "if you always do what you always done; you will always get what you have always gotten."

These are Harmon ideas. Do they indicate fresh thinking? To wit:
Harmon points out that $627,000 of the sheriff's budget pays utility costs. He and his fellow commissioners have started the process of selling long-idle property, including the 430-acre county farm, to fund improvements in long-term energy efficiency.

Harmon said he has joined with fellow commissioners to create jobs by investigating the feasibility of building an agricultural exposition center and reviving a dormant community improvement corporation dedicated to nurturing business through grants and loans.
When Harmon was originally appointed, The Report supported the appointment. What a disappointment Harmon has been! His experience in government and politics indicates that he would be a positive introduction into the search for ways to revitalize Stark's economy. But it seems to The Report he has chosen to be a key part of Stark County's "good ole boy" network which sees government as an opportunity for "meism" (i.e. what is in government for me and my friends?)

Is Secrest ready for primetime? His major idea is, to wit:
Secrest sees cutting crime as the key to cutting county spending, since 70 percent of Stark's general fund goes toward criminal justice.
Don't all of these candidates have serious flaws? Which, in each race, is least flawed?

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