Many Stark Countians (including the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT - The Report) are up-in-arms about the proposed 52%/62% (residential/business) rate increase by Ohio Power (AEP) now before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
Okay, if one lives in the Ohio Power area of service, opposition is understandable.
How about those (like The Report) who are located outside Ohio Power's area of service in Ohio Edison's service area. Why would these folks want to get into the fray?
This is a discussion that came up between The Report and citizen-activist Kevin Ellis of Louisville who is one of a number of Stark Countians fighting the increase "tooth and nail."
Also, a topic of discussion was the "scant attention" The Repository is paying to this issue.
The first topic.
Ohio Edison users should be involved in the Ohio Power fight because of the precedential nature of the PUCO decision. Whatever the PUCO grants Ohio Power in an increase will be a "guideline" for future Ohio Edison requests for increases. And there will be Ohio Edison future requests. Unfortunately for Ohio Edison users, rates are some of the highest, if not the highest, in Ohio. But they will be back for more.
Moreover, all of Stark County is an economic unit. The commissioners understand this reality and have sent a strongly worded resolution to the PUCO. Readers of this blog who have seen the first part of Timken's presentation and Union Metal's presentation (to see - search the previously made posts using the "search" button) made at a PUCO hearing conducted in Canton on October 16th will no doubt be convinced of the significance of the increase to keeping and increasing jobs in Stark County. Undoubtedly, Timken and Union Metal as well as a myriad of other Stark County businesses hire employees who just happen to reside in the Ohio Edison service area.
The second topic.
The Repository, never a great newspaper, has gone downhill since being taken over by its new owner. The new ownership has no Stark County roots. Early on in his writing, Executive Editor Jeff Gauger wrote about needing to get acquained with the Stark County area leadership. Perhaps, Gauger - a Rockford, Illinois native - in his quest to get acquainted is a "work-in-progress."
There has been a huge turnover of key personnel exiting The Rep. Hanke, Kiminski, Shultze, ... and on and on goes the list. Whether one cottoned to their writing and concomitant positions or not, they were throughly ensconsced Stark Countians.
The Report asked former general manger Mike Hanke (now chief Stark County administrator) about The Rep's low-key handing of the Ohio Power rate increase. The Response? (The Report's words) "Beats me, The Rep has huge electric bills and I know. Because as general manager I saw and had deal with those bills."
One more thing. Just think about it. The Repository is a Stark County private enterprise monopoly (a real life oxymoron). Only The Rep of all of Stark County newspapers, even tries to cover all of Stark County. This means that The Rep has more ability to increase its prices for subscriptions, advertising et cetera with a decided advantage over the Timken's and Union Metals of Stark County. Timken and Union Metal et al do have the compete head-to-head. And utility costs are a "real" competitive factor.
The Rep did not cover the Canton PUCO meeting. Wow!
It did do an editorial and a few short pieces and a letter to editor (written by Commissioner Todd Bosley) or so.
What could have The Rep done and still can do is "people living on main street" interviews. The Rep alone in Stark County media has the staff to conduct such interviews. Then the Kevin Ellis' of Stark County could clip and collect and send these points of view to the PUCO.
What do you think? Should Ohio Edison customers come to the defense of Stark County Ohio Power customers? Should The Rep be doing more.