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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

DISCUSSION: HAGAN BULLYING HIMSELF RIGHT OUT OF THE STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER RACE


Yesterday Paul Koystu The Repository's Columbus Bureau Chief reported what yours truly (before the days of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT) has been saying about John Hagan for years.

Hagan is the Republican candidate for the seat being vacated by Jane Vignos. His opponent is Democrat Peter Ferguson. The election is this November.

In my days of writing comments in the Comment section of The Rep, I repeatedly observed how this guy was not representing the interests of the 50th House District and Stark County, but was a consummate "suck up" to House Speaker Jon Husted.

In the work up to putting together an energy bill Husted and his accolyte Hagan were fronting for First Energy and other big business and in the process attempted to have you and I pay much higher small business and residential electricity bills. Governor Ted Strickland stepped in with the threat of a veto to prevent Husted and Hagan from pummeling the people.

Why, I ask, would a representative for a largely rural district be so hooked into the interests of big business?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY "911" BATTLE - PROXY FIGHT; MASSILLON V. ALLIANCE?


Recently, Stark County Commissioner Jane Vignos visited Alliance City Council and Massillon City Council to get a resolution of support for a county wide 911 dispatch center.

Massillon without much discussion endorsed the idea. Alliance, at the urging of former police chief Larry Dordea (who is running to be Stark County Sheriff) tabled the matter.

Not much happens on the football field between Massillon and Alliance these days but it used to be a major Stark County gridiron contest.

As the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT sees it, this difference between the western most Stark County city and the eastern most Stark County city is representative of the differences on this issue; hence, the Massillon/Alliance divide may well be the surface expression of deep divisions on this issue which exists in Stark.

Elsewhere on this blog, Dordea denies that he is against a county wide 911, but the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT believes he is the personification of the resistance to centralized 911 dispatch.

Last evening the Lake Township Trustees lined up behind Dordea and the Alliance City Council.

Stark Countians can expect more governmental posturing and positioning on this issue. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT believes that EMS forces, local police chiefs and fire chiefs protecting their turf are behind this resistance.

Lake Township went through a similar episode with its EMS service a number of years ago. Lake formed a centralized organization (Lake EMS) to deal with emergency services for the township, however, local fire chiefs torpedoed the effort.

The bottom line. This is really a turf war. Agree or disagree?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

DISCUSSION: WILL STARK COUNTY VOTERS HAVE A PROBLEM WITH JUDGE HOFFMAN'S RETIRE/REHIRE PLAN?

Justice Scalia told 60 Minutes today (broadcast on April 27, 2008) that he thought he would retire at age 65 (he's now 72) because monetarily there would be no point in continuing. At age 65 U.S. Supreme Court Justices can retire at full salary.

Thus he is working for the love of his job! Unless, he wants to take a page out of the Hoffman play book and retire and then have the president reappoint him. Of course, that could be risky. Could Scalia get through a confirmation hearing with U.S. Senate Democrats being in charge?

Apparently, Stark County's Judge Hoffman is not working for the mere love of the job.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice, Thomas Moyer, while not naming Hoffman, says judges who get re-elected and retire prior to re-taking office are "working the system."

Retired Stark County Common Pleas Judge Harry Klide opposes the Hoffman plan for well articulated reasons in a Rep column he recent wrote.

It could be that the Ohio Legislature will intervene and upset the Hoffman plan. (Reference:"State legislators should change law on double dipping," Thursday, April 17, 2008, The Repository.)

For right now, the question is: Will Stark Countians and voters throughout the 5th District Court of Appeals give a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" come November?

DISCUSSION: WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN EFFECTIVE "COUNTY CORONER?"

Not too long ago, Dr. P.S. Murthy was worried whether or not former coroner James Pritchard (click on Pritchard to learn about the complexity of the coroner's office) was going to come out of retirement and run against him in the Democratic primary. Well, Pritchard didn't and now the general election race is on.

Murthy (an M.D.) versus Guy Blaser (a D.O.).

Murthy says that challenger Blaser is not qualified because he is a medical clinician.

Murthy's claim might command attention if it were not for the fact tht Blaser does coroner work for P.S. himself and did work for former coroner Jim Pritchard.

By implication Blaser (a native of Attleboro, Massachusetts - graduate of University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine) says that Murthy is not innovative in bringing efficiencies and effectiveness to the office, does not have the necessary communication skills, is not organized nor creative.

Blaser does two things in campaign statements that ought to be disturbing to Stark County voters. First, in the opinion of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL, he refers to Murthy's halting use of the English language in his emphasis on his spin that Murthy lacks communication skills. Second, he fear mongers (xenophobia) on Murthy's foreign-born, foreign-trained personal history signaling the former by supplying the S in the name P.S. Murthy as being "Screenivasha."

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT roundly criticizes Blaser for his inflammatory campaign tactic. The rest of his criticism is within proper bounds. But shame on Blaser for the "fear the foreigner" aspect of his campaign.

Do you agree or disagree with the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT on the criticism of candidate Blaser?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS TOM HARMON INVINCIBLE?

Democrat Tom Harmon is not an elected officeholder. A confidant of Stark County Democratic chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., Harmon is the hand-picked candidate of party chair Maier and his group of six or so personal loyalists who control the Stark County Democratic Party.

Former Stark County Republican chair Curt Braden prevailed on Travis Secrest to take on the Stark County Democratic Party political machine.

One of the reasons that Republicans hold only one county wide office (Commissioner Jane Vignos - who is retiring), in the view of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT, is the ineptness Braden demonstrated as party chair in finding attractive candidates.

Maybe that has changed with Secrest. Fresh out of college, Secrest has an impressive campaign platform.

According to Harmon's answer to a Repository questionnaire, Harmon wants to continue as county commissioner because "[he] enjoy[s] public service. [He] want[s] to initiate or support efforts to improve Stark County's infrastructure, streamline and consolidate government functions when possible and collaborate with business leaders on economic development opportunities. [He] believes in promoting a regional approach to public resource management."

The question. Has Harmon done well enough in his first year as commissioner in achieving his self-defined goals to merit to be actually elected county commissioner?

Friday, April 25, 2008

DISCUSSION: DEHOFF AND SNITCHLER BLOW OFF THE OEA AND HUNDREDS OF AREA TEACHERS?

Whether one likes unions or not, or a particular constituent or not, by the very definition of being an elected representative, an officeholder is not entitled to ignore a political stakeholder who seeks an officeholder's - office seeker’s - ear.

It does not bode well for residents of the 50th Ohio House District that both the contestants for this seat failed to show up for the invitation of the Ohio Education for an endorsement interview. Whom else will they ignore if the person or issue is not to liking.

Both, because they very likely have philosophical differences with unions, may not want the endorsement. But, because the OEA represents hundreds of teachers who live in the 50th District, DeHoff and Snitchler are not entitled to refuse sharing their policy views with this political stakeholder and derivatively their very own constituents.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has reason to believe that both DeHoff and Snitcher strongly dislike unions (DeHoff by her anti-union action as a Tuscarawas Township trustee and the fact she got no union support in her primary election battle [highly unusual for a Democrat] and Snitchler because of his hand-in-glove relationship with the Ohio and Lake Township Chambers of Commerce, and the reality that Republican officeholders/seekers are generally anti-union).

This apparent snub should not be acceptable to 50th District voters. The current seat holder John Hagan (Republican - Marlboro who is now running for Stark County Commissioner) in an “in your face" type of encounter told OEA representatives a few years ago that since the OEA had not endorsed him but his opponent (yours truly), he would not give them the time of day.

Does anyone accept the premise that an elected official is entitled to ignore those with whom she/he disagrees?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

DISCUSSION: PETE FEGUSON WILL BE YOUR COUNTY COMMISSIONER FOR LESS THAN $70,000 A YEAR. HOW MUCH LESS?


Chiropractor Pete Ferguson's campaign priority is the Stark County Economy and more specifically - but not specific enough - job growth.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT challenges Ferguson to come out with a particularized plan. Everyone running for county commissioner (including Hagan - Ferguson's opponent) is for economic development.

Stark County voters' eyes should glaze over at the mention of this non-specific bromide on the mere reading of the words.

What's your specific economic development (living wage job growth) plan commissioner candidates - Pete? John? Tom? Travis?

Getting back to Ferguson, in particular. He has announced he's willing to take a pay cut from the $70,000 annual salary as a county commissioner for a county that is having financial problems (and Stark County is - witness the commissioners' recent cuts and county office layoffs.) If Ferguson gets elected STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT will be pushing him to prod Commissioners Bosley and Harmon (Harmon? - I presume Harmon - because the Republicans under former party chair Curt Braden put up a novice candidate) to enact the cuts.

And, if the good doctor is not successful, he ought to go on record that he will donate half his salary to some worthy Stark County charity.

Other Ferguson goals include Stark County coming up with better technology to deal with water drainage problems that county residents are experiencing (5,000 in 2007, according to Ferguson). He says that commissioners are only solving 10-12 problems a year. He also says the county needs more manpower to work on these problems.

Duh? Let's see. The county has recently made budget cuts. Sheriff Swanson, Auditor Perez, Recorder Campbell and others are laying off. Ferguson's remedy? Take a salary cut. Stark Countians will take it - but - it is a drop in the bucket. Is a salary cut going to provide monies for the manpower needs of the county? Get real!

One final thing about Ferguson. He wants to take the commissioners on a road show: that is, taking county government to the townships, cities and villages of Stark County.

There you have it - the Ferguson platform for Stark County. Are you impressed?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

DISCUSSION: GOVERNOR STRICKLAND STOPS JOHN HAGAN FROM DRAMATICALLY RAISING STARK COUNTIANS' ELECTRIC BILLS


The question is: Will Stark Countians punish John Hagan in his bid to succeed Commissioner Jane Vignos for his long standing efforts to give FirstEnergy its way on a pathway to much higher residential electric bills.

In the end Hagan (who is chair of the House Public Utilities Committee) and his mentor, Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted, caved into Governor Strickland's threat of a veto.

A House bill passed 93 to 1 yesterday.

The compromise legislation preserves regulatory authority to protect Ohioans against dramatic increases in their residential electric bills.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT will be reminding Stark County voters from time-to-time of our home grown state representative's failure to protect ordinary Stark Countians from the ravages of skyrocketing energy prices.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS LARRY DORDEA TOO PROVINCIAL TO BE STARK COUNTY SHERIFF?

On April 7th Stark County Commissioner Jane Vignos appeared at a Alliance City Council session asking the Council to give a "thumbs up" to supporting a centralized 911 dispatch over the 10 dispatch center configuration Stark County currently has.

Who stood front and center in opposition? Fellow Republican, and former Alliance police chief, Larry Dordea who is now running against incumbent Tim Swanson for county sheriff.

Recently, an area woman who had been in an auto accident, had to wait 20 minutes for dispatchers to figure out whose jurisdiction she was in before dispatching assistance even though she was less that one-half mile away from the nearest fire department.

So candidate Dordea, is your message that you favor fragmentation and turfism over efficiency? Is this what Stark County voters want in a county sheriff?

Friday, April 18, 2008

DISCUSSION: Has John Boccieri Moved into the 16th?


Republicans are making a big deal of it. They suggest Boccieri still has not moved into the district? Has he or hasn't.

The STARK POLITICAL BLOG is on a mission to find out where John Boccieri is.

Search our picture. Find him? Make a comment, tell us which number he is?

Does it make a difference to you whether or not Boccieri actually lives in the district. Why, why not?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

DISCUSSION: Can anybody find Ohio state Senator Kirk "I want to be your Congressman" Schuring?


We have a question. Will his proposed constitutional amendment on public school funding ever see the light of day?

If he cannot deliver in a Republican majority Ohio General Assembly, how can Stark Countians depend on him to 'bring the bacon home" in a U.S. Congress controlled by the Democrats?

How do you answer that one state Sen. Schuring?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

DISCUSSION: Ferguson county commissioner foe Hagan showing he's anti-consumer?





How is John Hagan going to explain to Stark County voters his role as of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee chairman his anti-consumer stance. Is Dr. Peter Ferguson up to hanging this albatross around John Hagan's neck?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

DISCUSSION: Hey, Stark Democrats - want a "do-over" on this one?

Did Canton mayor William Healy, III see the Dann debacle coming?

I remember attending Healy's end of the year 2005 get acquainted party for Subodh Chandra who was preparing to run for Ohio attorney general.

Marc Dann with very little qualifying attorney credentials was making a lot of noise in the Ohio Legislature to get max publicity in his run for attorney general.

Chandra on the other hand is a quiet, measured, scholarly type with impressive attorney credentials. But he didn't play to the crowd like Dann did and still does.

Playing to crowd is one thing but now allegations galore are surfacing in the MSM accusing Dann with favoritism in appointing his Youngstown cronies (who have questionable qualifications) to serve the people of Ohio (including, of course, Stark Countians). Now there is this recent Columbus Dispatch report insinuating that there may be some sexual improprieties going on within the Dann "official family" entourage.

Well all I can say is that I was one of the 7,851 Stark County votes for Chandra. I believe Mayor Healy was too. I shan't forget to mention that Stark County Tim Swanson was a Betty Montgomery supporter in the general election. Now I wish I had been. I should have followed the Sheriff's lead and my hunch that Marc Dann was not worthy of my vote. Who do you think Healy voted in the general election: Dann or Montgomery?

Some of the Stark County MARC DANN campaign contributors over the course of the Dann 2006 campaign include:

Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio (political committee - $50),
Canton personal injury attorney and Canton City Council president
Alan Schulman ($10,000),
Christine Schulman ($10,000),
Canton attorney Richard Brian ($500) and
Attorney Steven Brian ($500),
Stark County Prosecutor's office civil attorney John Kurtzman ($100), Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero ($100 and political committee $645),
Stark County Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold ($50),
Stark County Board of Elections member and local attorney Samuel Ferruccio,
Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Reinbold ($50), Massillon City Councilman Larry Slagle ($50),
Lee Plakas ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al),
James Manos ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas, et al),
Elizabeth Raies ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al),
James McHugh ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al),
Gary Corroto ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al),
Dav
id Dingwell ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al),
Denise Houston ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas, et al), and
Megan Frantz ($500 - attorney with Tzangos, Plakas et al).

Undoubtedly, the Republicans are already have plans well underway to defeat Marc Dann in 2010.

Question: is it already too late for Dann to redeem 2010? Can he repair the damage done in the 32 months remaining in his term? Will he be forced out early?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

DISCUSSION: Hold on Stark Countians. A man who wants to be Stark County commissioner is about to raise your residential and company electric rates!



Republican John P. Hagan (Marlboro Township) is spearheading an effort at the behest of Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted to get into law legislation which will raise every Ohians home and business electric bills. The question is: will Stark Countians hold it against him in November, 2008 when he appears on the Stark County ballot as a Republican candidate for county commissioner?

Governor Ted Strickland says he will veto Hagan's legislation as it now stands because:

(1) it threatens the state's ability to keep and create jobs,

(2) doesn't protect consumers against unwarranted and unjust rate increases, and

(3) gives public utilities, like FirstEnergy, unfettered access to take their business to the open market at the end of this year and other utilities to follow a similar path starting in 2013.

It is interesting that First Energy in November, 2007 hired former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson (Bush administration) to fight the Strickland administration's effort to continue to regulate electricity prices.

True to his word, Hagan, (House Public Utilities chair) who at a Strickland tour of the Brewster Cheese Factory in January, 2008 where Hagan said he was committed to putting electricity on the free market.

Will Stark County voters hear anything in response from Hagan's November opponent, Dr. Peter Ferguson? Will Stark County Ohio Legislature candidates Snichler (R), DeHoff (D), Slesnick (D), Easterday (R), Okey (D), Ray (I) and Susany (R) speak up on this issue?

Friday, April 11, 2008

DISCUSSION: (Regarding Ohio House 50th) Will Stark County Organized Labor bolt the Democratic Party to support Republican Snitchler ?


A reliable source tells the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT that there is talk within Stark County organized labor that their consistent support for Democrat candidates in Stark County will not hold in the DeHoff (Democrat) and Snitchler (Republican) contest.

At least one Stark County union is considering inviting Republican Snitchler to present his case for the union's endorsement. Will this be the opening that Republicans have been hoping for in Stark County?

A few months ago the head of one of Stark County's trade unions relayed to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT a contact he had with current Republican North Canton Council and council president Daryl Revoldt (also formerly of Republican Governor Taft's Office of Economic Development) in which Revoldt asked the unions to listen to Republican candidates more attentively.

Couple all of the foregoing with a general falling out that Stark County organized labor has had with Stark County Democratic party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. over the past year.

Does this spell disaster for the personal political fortunes of Democrat Celeste DeHoff? Is this the race that will keep the Ohio House in Republican hands?

Maier is DeHoff's political patron. But the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT believes that "guilt by association" is not the only factor working against DeHoff getting organized labor support. For some time now DeHoff as a trustee of the Tuscarawas Township Board of Trustees has been involved in a legal controversy over the firing of union workers from the township workforce. Finally, area unions are well aware that DeHoff has been a registered Republican up until as least four years ago.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT believes that most Stark County unions will not support DeHoff. The best she can hope for is the unions sitting on their hands. Is that a realistic hope?

Monday, April 7, 2008

DISCUSSION POINT: Leading Lake Township Republicans supporting Democrat Celeste DeHoff?

Does this bode ill in the November election for Republican candidate in the Ohio House (50th District) Todd Snitchler.

And just who are these Republicans anyway who are supporting neo-Democrat DeHoff?

According to the Ohio Secretary of State website, Lake Township trustees Ellis Erb (a Republican) and Galen Stoll (also a Republican) made contributions to former Republican now turned Democrat Celeste DeHoff in a pre-primary fundraiser.

Does this mean that Erb, Stoll and Lake Township clerk Ben Sommers (also a Republican) are going to be out campaigning in Lake Township for DeHoff? Predominantly Republican Lake Township should be fertile ground for Snitchler who is a former president of the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce. But maybe not.

Will this be a tough call for Lake Township Republicans? Actual Republican Snitchler against a recent Republican (going back a mere four years at best) DeHoff, who to choose?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

DISCUSSION POINT: Has Sheriff Swanson jeopardized his re-election by announcing his retire/rehire plan?

Not long ago Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson announced his plan to retire IF he gets re-elected in November prior to taking office under the newly elected term so that he starts getting his pension benefits under his public retirement plan.

This is a de facto retire/rehire scheme. Similar arrangements have caused a furor with taxpayers voting on local school district levies. Many taxpayers complain about top level administrators (e.g. superintendents of local school districts) retiring on the understanding that the boards of education will rehire them. The objections are two-fold. First, the rehire is not competitive. Second, some taxpayers question whether or not the boards are getting enough financial benefit for taxpayers on the rehire.

The Stark County Political Report does not think the the Swanson plan is directly comparable to the school retire/rehire situation .

Swanson has reported his plan in advance to Stark County voters as required by Ohio law. Being on notice, the Stark County electorate via the vote has the power to stop Swanson's plan. Voters are clearly within their rights to say to the sheriff: "No, we are going to allow you to do this," by not re-electing Swanson.

If Stark Countians do not want Swanson to continue in office, shouldn't there be job performance reasons and not merely his desire to take retirement benefits after he knows he has been re-elected?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

DISCUSSION POINT: Stark County Ohio House (50th) candidate Celeste DeHoff won the Democratic primary without a plan for education. Shocking?

Democratic primary winner Celeste DeHoff has in her own words admitted in the local press she had no plan to fix Ohio's public education woes.

Shouldn't voters be demanding more of candidates.

Check out this video.

Discussion Point: Can Celeste DeHoff catch Snitchler - Ohio House: 50th

A BATTLEGROUND DISTRICT THAT DEMOCRATS MUST WIN IF THEY ARE TO GAIN CONTROL OF THE OHIO HOUSE

Historically, since the days that Ohio Republicans gerrymandered the 50th District to ensure that no one other than a Republican can win this seat, Republicans have indeed won this seat by an approximate 58% to 42% margin since the 2000 election.

So in my estimation Democrat (recently a Republican) Celeste DeHoff (acolyte to Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) has a long way to go to catch up to the true Republican candidate Todd Snitchler on the numbers alone - let alone a discussion on the relative merits of the two candidacies.

As if those odds are not enough to overcome (i.e. 58% to 42% historically), DeHoff who got only 38% of the primary vote in the Democratic primary on March 4th, has to convince yours truly, Mike Stevens, Vincent Strasavich and Nick Guarnari (the other candidates in the field) to support her candidacy.

It may seem to be a no brainer. Why wouldn't Democrats (in my case, a former Democrat - now self-declared independent), support the party nominee?

A possible answer? State party chair Chris Redfern at the behest of DeHoff patron saint Maier put state party money into the DeHoff campaign - not a smart thing to do especially in the case of Lawrence Township Trustee Mike Stevens who narrowly lost to DeHoff.

Especially bitter in my opinion: Mike Stevens, a former state representative, had asked for but was denied state party assistance going back the last two elections cycles.

Friday, April 4, 2008

DISCUSSION POINT: Will Kirk Schuring ever produce on education?


The graphic on the left from the Kirk Schuring website gives a big clue on the state senator's campaign approach. The 16th District Congressional candidate (borrowing from George Bush) bills himself as a "reformer with results."

Slogneering is apparently what the Schuring campaign is to be all about. Republicans desperate to hold the 16th District have resorted to a favorite Karl Rove operation: running a name-branding strategy.

As many of us who live in the 16th District know, Kirk Schuring has spent 14 years in the Ohio Legislature accomplishing very little but appearing prodigiously in print in The Repository (mainly) as if The Repository was his public relations arm. In a one-to-one conversation Kirk shared with me that he understands that he is a favorite political figure of The Repository editors.

My point here is that you cannot trust The Repository editorial page to give a thorough going analysis on the 16th District race.

Stay tuned for the next Schuring slogan. Something like "Education Reform in Your Lifetime - I promise it." Candidate Schuring has a political life about the same as the famous DeRolph line of cases in which the Ohio Supreme Court held Ohio's way of funding public education is unconstitutional.