Monday, June 30, 2008

DISCUSSION: SWANSON V. DORDEA - WHO WILL BE STARK COUNTY'S SHERIFF COME 11/4/2008 - INSTALLMENT #1




This article is the first in a series the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) will be doing in the race for sheriff.

The Report has parsed the Dordea website to decipher what Larry Dordea (former Alliance police chief) is saying about his opponent - Sheriff Tim Swanson.

Dordea's campaign is a "campaign by indirection." In print he says very little, if anything, directly about Swanson's administration. But by implication (i.e. he says what he will do/be as sheriff which by implication means that Swanson doesn't do or isn't as sheriff.)

The Report has asked Dordea for a sit down interview but he is non-responsive. Apparently, Dordea is ticked about an article done by The Report on his position on the 9-1-1 issue in which The Report suggested Dordea might be "too provincial" to be a countywide official.

Look up that article in the search box on The Report. Read the article and read Dordea's comment. In his comment he says "when [The Report] gets to know him." Well, The Report is still waiting. Perhaps, after a sit down, The Report would come to a different point-of-view.

The Report promises readers that between now and November The Report will find Dordea out on the campaign trail and ask him the questions we have. In the meantime, The Report will garner Dordea's criticisms of Swanson from his written (i.e. campaign website) "campaign by indirection."

The Report did sit down with Tim Swanson for over an hour and went over Dodea's criticism point-by-point. Readers can visit the Swanson website here.

The Report will approach a consideration of this campaign issue-by-issue: one per blog.

First, The Report considers the general tenor of the campaign.

A close reading of the Dordea website indicated to The Report that Dordea has over a dozen problems with how Tim Swanson run the sheriff's office.

On the other hand, the only criticism that The Report could gather in the interview with Swanson is that being police chief is not like being sheriff.

Swanson compared the Dordea campaign to one that long time Stark County residents will vividly remember. In a very ugly campaign in November, 1980; Republican Robert C. Berens ran against and unseated long time (13 years) sitting sheriff George Papadopulos.

Berens served one term and Swanson (who was in the department at the time) says Berens did not have a clue. Swanson does distinguish Dordea in that Dordea does have police experience whereas Berens didn't (he was an insurance man). But Sheriff Swanson says Dordea does not have the breath of experience one needs to make a credible criticism of Swanson's overall administration of the sheriff's office.

Otherwise, Swanson is mystified by the Dordea attacks, even if by indirection. Swanson says he feels Dordea was a good police chief of Alliance and that his (Swanson's) office worked with Dordea on a number of occasions (e.g. drug busts) in a harmonious way. Swanson says he will not attack Dordea directly as Dordea is doing to him.

Question: Was Berens v. Papadopulos the equivalent to Dordea v. Swanson? How so/how not?


Sunday, June 29, 2008

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT MIGHT OFFEND SOME CANDIDATES BY ASKING THE HARD QUESTIONS?


Thursday of this past week the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) received a phone call from Dr. (as he likes to be called) and Democrat Peter Ferguson who is running against Republican John Hagan for county commissioner.

Ferguson complained that "someone" had told him that The Report called him a lazy campaigner.

"Not true," The Report told the good doctor.

What The Report did do was publish the comment of an elected countywide official about both Ferguson and Hagan.

The comment: "Whoever was the least lazy campaigner among Ferguson and Hagan would win the election."

The comment was no surprise when it comes to Hagan. The Report knows how utterly lazy Hagan is first hand. He latches on to the likes of Jon Husted (Ohio Speaker of the House) and others (e.g. the folks who created a gerrymandered Republican 50th House District tailored for him) and lives off the host. If Hagan were to be elected county commissioner, The Report is convinced he would feast off the likes of Republican chairman Jeff Matthews and, perhaps, former and the last effective Republican chairman - Judge Charles Brown. John Hagan is in over his head at any level of government he has ever served in.

The Report only has a casual political acquaintance with Ferguson. The Report has no direct basis whatsoever to know what Ferguson's political work ethic is and therefore relies on other knowledgeable Stark County political people who see more of him to assess his industry on the political front.

No one likes to be called lazy. What is probably the most significant thing to Ferguson should be identity of the person has assessed him to be a lazy campaigner.

While The Report was on the phone with Ferguson, there were questions to be asked? What about publicly made claim in January, 2008 that the commissioners had room to make more budget cuts? Ironically, (if one believes the "lazy campaigner assessment") Ferguson begged off saying he had patients to see (remember - Ferguson initiated the call), but that he would call back to answer The Report's questions.

The Report does not believe that Ferguson will be calling back. Why? The Report doesn't think he can handle the tough questions. Hagan, certainly will try to avoid The Report. Why? He only deals with "softballs!"

Just ask Kirk Schuring about The Report's tough questions. That is a story for another time. Stay tuned.

Question: Are candidates who won't take the tough questions deserving of voter support?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

DISCUSSION: DID SCHURNG PICK THE WRONG TIME TO RUN FOR CONGRESSMAN?

He has been planning for this run for years. But he picked the wrong time to run.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that a number of Stark County office holding Democrats like Kirk Schuring.

These are folks who openly attended Schuring's fundraisers in the past and very likely voted for him in contests such as Schuring v. West (29th District - Ohio Senate).

Running against war hero John Boccieri is another matter.

An example of a leading Stark County Democrat who attended at least one Schuring fundraiser over the years is Stark County sheriff Tim Swanson. And, it wasn't without consequences. Stark County Democratic chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. took Swanson to the "woodshed" over the matter, but Swanson was unrepentant. He told the chairman that he had to work with Schuring in order to get support from Columbus and that is a political reality, pure and simple.

Swanson told The Report he will not be supporting Schuring in his 16 Congressional District run against Boccieri.

The Report has heard similar stories from other Stark County Democrat office holders.

Last night, The Report was surfing the political talk shows on TV and what was the advice to Republican candidates from the RNCC - "don't run as a Republican." Find an issue and run on it. Do not run as a Republican.

The Report believes Schuring is not following this advice. Readers will recall that Schuring got himself into hot water for - what some thought - was ragging on Canton as an unsafe place to be - period. The Report thinks the Schuring comment was a reference to the large number of Democrats in Canton as a mass of voters that would not be friendly to Schuring and his Stark County history of being a "high profile" Republican.

The only issue that apparently works for the Republican presidential candidate and Republican congressional aspirants is the "they (Republicans) keep us safer" (from terrorists argument).

A hard sell indeed for Schuring in his race. Schuring (with no military service in his bio) running against "on the front lines of war" Boccieri is going to use that issue. No way!

The question: Can Schuring defeat Boccieri? If yes, on what basis?

Friday, June 27, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS TOM HARMON SELF-DESTRUCTING?



The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has had some very interesting conversations of late.

First, with a member of United Steel Workers 9187 who is livid with Harmon over the commissioners' disparate treatment (from the perspective of union members), in terms of discipline, between Stark County Jobs and Family Services agency headed by Beth Whitmore and 9187 union head Tom Davidson.

The union appears to be taking its ire out on Commissioner Tom Harmon. According to The Report's source, USW 9187 will not be backing Harmon in the November election, and, carrying their unhappiness further, plan to campaign for Harmon's opponent Republican Travis Secrest.

Second, with the organizer of PUAMA (People United Against Massillon Annexation), Mike Moore. PUAMA has been organized to defeat Harmon because he has supported Massillon annexation of Tuscarawas Township properties.

Moore says that so far PUAMA has signed up 641 supporters, mostly Democrats (50 or 60 of whom are from Lawrence Township). He says that they will actively campaign for Travis Secrest with voter registration drives from the ranks of high school seniors at Tuslaw High School, Northwest High and Fairliess High. PUAMA will be holding a fundraiser for Secrest on the last Sunday in July.

PUAMA plans to expand its effort into Jackson and Perry Townships.

Moore referenced a comment by Secrest saying "There are too many brown areas in Massillon now."

The question: Is Tom Harmon on his way out by his own hand?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

DISCUSSION: MAYOR HEALY ANNOUNCES RETENTION OF CANTON YMCA. IS CANTON/STARK COUNTY ON-THE-MOVE IN REBUILDING THE LOCAL ECONOMY?



The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) had a lengthy discussion with Mayor Healy at his Mayor's Night, June 25th.

The Report applauds Healy for making himself available one-on-one as a highly accessible mayor to talk with Cantonians. And, as a matter of fact, to any Stark Countian. Mayor Healy is a "regionalist" who believes that Canton is inextricably tied to Stark County and all northeast Ohio communities stretching from Canton to Lake Erie. Healy predicted that northeast Ohio (Cleveland) will be the leading edge of a national economic recovery.

As seen in the accompanying video clip, the mayor describes how he made a huge, forceful and determined successful effort to keep the Canton YMCA (YMCA of Central Stark County) within the city limits of Canton.

But it appears that the mayor is only beginning. With economic development director Robert Torres at his side, Mayor Healy talked energetically about projects now underway to jump-start Canton into recovery.

Healy said that with Services Director Tom Bernabi and Safety Director Tom Nesbitt taking good care of their areas of responsibility, he is spending 75% to 85% of his time working on economic development projects. He ticked the projects off: Hercules ($178 million - 600 permanent jobs), the Federal project ($30 million), and the Mahonning Road revitalization program ($17 million which received a $650,000 grant on Wednesday).

Healy wouldn't reveal new projects in the making but asserted that before long he would be making additional announcements on new enterprise taking hold in Canton. The mayor sees himself as a "broker" who is out finding deals for those willing to take on the risk.

The Report did ask Healy about a comment made on The Report to the effect that council members had difficulties with him. The mayor denied any difficulties with Council other than referring to an understandable need for members to get used to working with a new administration that has a different approach than Janet Creighton did.

The Report caught a different perspective from a high administrations source who acknowledged to The Report that there are, in fact, troubles between Council and the mayor. But the source expressed confidence that the rancor would abate with the passage of time.

One other note. Although he applauds county Commissioner Todd Bosley for his effort to bring an auto manufacturing facility to Stark County, he assessed the effort to be in its infancy and indicated that the Bosley effort would not bear fruit anytime soon.

The question: Is Mayor on the right track in leading the way to a recovered Canton/Stark County economy?

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY'S FUTURE DEPENDS ON STARK GOP REVIVAL?


The editor of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report - yours truly), wrote the headlined "letter to the editor," on February 27, 2007.

In the nearly 18 months since, matters have gotten worse for the Stark County Republican organization.

Being a "one-party-county" is not good for Stark County. Ohio being a "one-party-state" (Republican in this instance) for nearly two decades is probably a key reason why Ohio languishes in 2008.

In Stark County we have only Commissioner Jane Vignos serving in one the county wide administrative offices.

Oh yes, The Report realizes we have a number of Common Pleas judges Ted Strickland will be appointing Democrats to replace the Republicans. That's how Republicans gained the upper hand in the first hand.

How did Stark County get to where we are in terms of currently having a "non-competitive" political environment?

In the main, it is the fault of former Stark County Republican chairman Curt Braden. He wasn't able to attract substantive Republicans to run for county wide office. He did get Richard Regula (the Congressman's son) to run and win a county commissioner seat. Even with a politically powerful name of Regula, Richard was so insubstantial as a public official that he was knocked off by political neophyte Todd Bosley in November, 2006.

Braden had his first-line candidate for Canton Municipal Clerk of Courts bail out on him in November, 2007 and promising county treasurer candidate Allan Harold did not follow through on his position for the November, 2008 race.

Braden came up with no one to run against Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero and county engineer Mike Rehfus. As reported by The Report yesterday, Rick Campbell (the county recorder) has only token opposition.

The only viable county wide Republican candidates this go around are John Hagan (for a commissioner's seat), Travis Secrest (for a commissioner's seat) and sheriff candidate Larry Dorea.

Yesterday, Jennifer Brunner (Ohio secretary of state) estimated that 80% of Ohioans would vote in November. If she is correct, this is not good news for Stark County Republican candidates.

Most of the new voters will be Democrats or Democrat-leaning independents. Moreover, the city of Canton should be the stomping grounds for Democrats Ferguson, Harmon and Swanson as it will, with Obama as the Democrat presidential standard-bearer, produce huge majorities (especially among Afrian-Americans) for Democrat candidates in the fall election.

Not all the blame belongs on Braden's shoulders. The Republican statewide scandals (emanating from the power of one-party-rule), the unpopular Governor Bob Taft (19% voter approval rating) and President George Bush (high 20s/low 30s voter approval rating) have left a bad taste in voters mouths for Republican candidates in general.

One bright spot for the Republicans is the fact they hold 3 of the 5 legislative districts that include any part of Stark County. But if Schuring (state senator - 29th) loses to John Boccieri (as The Report expects) leaving him term limited in the senate with the 2010 election and Celeste DeHoff can take away the gerrymandered Republican 50th, the picture at this level will be fading.

You can bet that Columbus-Democrats (including the governor) will be going all out for DeHoff. Unless Democrats can take control of the Ohio House, Strickland will continue to have an uphill battle to "turnaround Ohio."

So new Stark County party chair Jeff Matthews has a gigantic task in front of him. Matthews styled himself as an "elections expert."

This question is: Is Jeff Matthews made of the "right stuff" to turn around GOP fortunes in Stark County? Is it in the interest of all Stark Countians, regardless of political affiliation, to have the Stark Republicans rebound?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHAT CHANCE DO THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TO RE-GAIN THE RECORDER'S OFFICE THAT IT LAST HAD UNDER JANE VIGNOS?


Recent campaign finance reports show that Rick Campbell (Stark County recorder) has raised $35,000 plus to $1 for his opponent Republican Jeffrey K. Nickles, Jr.

Needless to say, on finances alone Nickles has an huge uphill climb. Nickles who lives in Massillon hasn't placed a bio on The Repository's Election 2008 website.

One has to wonder why a little known figure like Nickles wouldn't take every opportunity to get publicity for his campaign.

If the campaign money deficit wasn't enough, Campbell's superior administration of the recorder's office gives him another edge in the contest for this office.

Campbell has fully computerized the office making recorded documents available free to the general public over the Internet. Any Stark County property owner can get a copy of the property deed. Stark County veterans can get copies of the DD 214. This availability goes for any document recorded at with the recorder's office. Anyone filing a document for record can get the original immediately rather than weeks later as was the case with Campbell's predecessor - Republican Jane Vignos (now county commissioner).

Campbell is the son-in-law of former county commissioner Gayle Jackson. Campbell's wife, Lisa, used to work for Campbell but now is employed as the Plain Township chief administrator.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) counts Recorder Campbell as being part of the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. wing of the Stark County Democratic Party.

Campbell's operation of his office is superior in terms of efficiencies but not flawless. Like all government offices, his is afflicted - probably to a lesser degree than most - with the bureaucratic mindset.

Several years ago The Report had a run-in with a customer service representative staffing the office. In this incident The Report was processing a routine document (as had been done for years, without difficulty) through the office, only to be compelled to run through unnecessary procedures.

At the end of the process when the run-around was obvious, The Report made a complaint with Campbell. To The Report's surprise, Campbell took great exception to the critique and got just a tad ugly about it.

Question: Why does a guy like Nickles run, if he is not going to put more into a campaign than what we have seen so far?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DISCUSSION: HELLO THERE TUSCARAWAS TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES, THERE IS A STARK COUNTY RADIO SYSTEM

The Massillon Independent recently reported on discussions that the Tuscarawas Township trustees are having about their garage radio system.

Among the various options discussed by trustees and township fiscal officer Debbie Maier who is the wife of Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (according to a STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT [The Report] Tuscarawas Township source)

The Report believes it would be a disservice to township residents and taxpayers for the trustees to buy the radio system they are considering for the $17,000 quoted them unless the system would integrate completely into the Stark County 800 radio system that eventually will adopted by all of Stark County's emergency forces.

The Stark County system is a "state of the art system" which enables all users to talk to one another without the need for three or four radios/cellphones, et cetera. Moreover, The Report believes it is a safety issue (e.g. mutual aid) for Tuscarawas Township residents to integrated access to the Stark County system.

The Report suggests that township taxpayers insist the trustees (including state representative candidate [50th] Celeste DeHoff) look into whether or not the county system would be the best service for Tuscarawas Township's citizens.

Question: Are the reports of Tuscarawas Township public officials discussing upgrading the township's radios and example of counter-productive intergovernmental fragmentation that is so rampant in the county?

DISCUSSION: ARE EVERYDAYS TO BE TRUSTED?


It was everyday people bashing time at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon yesterday! (June 23rd)

No surprise here.

Chamber types are well-known for their disdain for the average person.

Republican Schuring (running against John Boccieri in the 16th Congressional District) and Republican Hagan (running against Pete Ferguson for Stark County commissioner) could pay a political price for being against legislation designed to improve the lot of working class folks who work for employers employing 25 or more people. Why? Because a recent Quinnipiac poll shows that this kind of legislation is widely support across political party affiliation lines (83%, Democrats, 56%, Republicans and 68%, Independents)

The reported comments of Schuring and State Rep. Stephen Slesnick (52nd) clearly indicate they do not trust beneficiaries of this law (if it passes) to handle the new benefit responsibly. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is taken aback how openly suspicious of the honesty of working class people that the reported statements of Schuring and Slesnick indicate.

Noted in absence from the event (The Report take to be a distancing maneuver) is state Senator Boccieri. Chamber types want to make it the chamber versus unions issue. But the poll seems to undercut this spin. Boccieri does, indeed, have union support in his 16 District Congression race whereas Schuring virtually has none. So for a number of reasons, The Report believes that Boccieri is at - the very least - neutral on the effort to pass this legislation.

If this law passes a vote of the people in November, scores of Ohioans and, of course, Stark Countians, who currently have no sick leave will be entitled to 7 days in any given year.

Democrat Slesnick, who is a shoe-in [given his heavily Democratic "working class" district] in November and Republican Oelslager, who is running unopposed thanks to Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., will pay no price. One does have to wonder if Slesnick is spawning a Democrat opponent (more friendly to organized labor causes) in the 2010 Democratic primary by taking such a pro-business stance on this issue.

Question: How much is this issue likely to cost Schuring and Hagan in the November, 2008 election? Will it help Boccieri defeat Schuring in November?

Monday, June 23, 2008

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY REPUBLICANS KNOW WHO IS LIKELY TO WIN SHERIFF'S RACE?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned from a Stark County political insider that the Stark County Republican Party has in its possession a "voter approval poll" on the Sheriff Tim Swanson (Dem) v. ex-Alliance Police Chief Larry Dordea race.

In The Report's interview of Sheriff Swanson this past Friday, he denied knowing the existence of any poll on his race against Dordea.

The Report believes that the Stark GOP thought the "retire/rehire" flap generated by The Repository would make Swanson vulnerable. But this poll punctures that balloon. The retire/rehire issue is not one Dordea can use. Why? Because he himself is a "public" service retiree who wants to be rehired by the voters.

The Report's source speculated that now that the Stark Republicans know that Dordea is way behind, they will not put significant money into his campaign and he will be "hung out to dry."

Question: What's your take on the Swanson/Dordea race?

DISCUSSION: CARNATION CITY DOWN ECONOMY AFFECTING CITIZENS' ABILITY TO HAVE FUN!


The Alliance Review reports that the city's festival goers have experienced less Carnation City revelry last year and times are tough this year.

An excerpt of The Review's interview with festival president:




What the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) wants to know is when will Mayor Middleton (Republican) and Democrats in Alliance City Council get the economy moving in Alliance.

In process is an effort to refinance a bond and reduce the interest paid out to bond holders. But that is not economic development.

Question: Where is Alliance's economic development plan?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS COUNTY SHERIFF CANDIDATE DORDEA DEVELOPING A CAMPAIGN CREDIBILITY PROBELM?

The very first commenter on the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) was Republican candidate for Stark County sheriff - Larry Dordea (a retired Alliance police chief).

The Report did a piece on Dordea suggesting that, perhaps, he was too provincial to be a county wide official. Dordea showed up at Alliance City Council when Commissioner Jane Vignos appeared asking for a resolution in support of county wide 9-1-1. An important public figure on the Alliance political landscape, he asked Council to defer on the resolution.

The Report suspects that Dordea is geographically challenged and is more interested in protection police, fire and EMS turfs than in moving Stark County emergency services into the 21st century.

In this email to The Report, Dordea chastised yours truly for writing in such a vein in light of the fact I did not personally know him and his public policy positions.

Dordea made a good point. The Report is open to changing views. But, despite making several requests of Dordea for a sit down interview, he gives The Report the silent treatment. Moreover, Dodea's website heralds "assessability (sic)" as a strength that he possess that, impliedly, his opponent Sheriff Tim Swanson does not have.

Well, all The Report can say is that Swanson has already sat down with The Report this past Friday, June 20th. The Report summarized all of Dordea's negatives on Swanson (direct and implied) and pressed Swanson for a response.

The Report is ready to go with its series on the Stark County sheriff's race and will do so with or without Dordea. It will run between now and November 4th. If Dordea persists in running from The Report and he does make publicized public appearances, he can be sure The Report will be there with camera in hand to ask questions.

Stark Countians are in for a treat. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT is and will continue to be the primary place to get information on the candidates running for any Stark County based office.

Question: Will fair minded Stark County voters allow (in the sense of voting for or against) Dordea to "cherry-pick" the media he will talk to?

DISCUSSION: NEW KING OF POLITICAL PATRONAGE IN STARK COUNTY?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned from a reliable source that Canton Municipal Court Clerk - Phil Giavasis - is playing patron saint (see prior blog on Nancy Reinbold - wife of Court of Common Pleas judge - Richard Reinbold), king maker, political patron or whatever at the expense of taxpayers.

The source has suggested to The Report that the appointment of former Stark County commissioner candidate Pat DeOrio (a long time Republican who recently switched over at the encouragement of Stark County Democratic chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. to run for commissioner) was at the behest of Phil's brother Louis (who is a Plain Township trustee).

The source further suggested that the justification given for the appointment was to enable DeOrio to have a source of income in order to pay off campaign debt incurred in the run for commissioner.

The Report remembers how former Canton mayor Janet Creighton (when she was county auditor) used the auditor's office to reward loyal county Republicans for their service to the Stark County Republican Party. Again, this was at the expense of county taxpayers.

Republicans will not doing much of this politicizing of local government for one simple reason; they hold very few county wide offices. Republicans can thank former chairman Curt Braden for this state of affairs.

Long out of power in Stark County, county Democrats now that they are ascendant are mimicking the Republicans. The difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the Republicans were much more unified. All appointments were filtered through, then, party chair, Curt Braden.

With the Democrats, there are at least three factions that squabble of which loyalist Democrat gets what political plum at taxpayer expense.

There are at least three factions in the Stark County Democratic Party.

Of course, one starts off with Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. His click most likely includes - as a partial listing - right-hand-man Shane Jackson (an employee of Maier at the Massillion Municipal Court Clerk's office and son of Gayle Jackson), former Stark County commissioner (now a political appointee Lottery official) Gayle Jackson (whose daugher works for the Plain Township trustees), the Giavasis brothers, Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez (whose son works for Rick Campbell), appointed Stark County clerk of courts Nancy Reinbold, Stark County recorder RickCampbell, Stark County commissioner Tom Harmon, Tuscarawas Township trustee Celeste DeHoff (a former Republican who is running for state representative in the 50th District), Stark County coroner P.S. Murthy, Stark County prosecutor (former chairman John Ferrero, Judge Eddie Elum (Massillon Municipal Court), Massillon City Council persons Catazaro-Perry and Maier's brother Chuck et cetera.

Another click is headed up by Stark County auditor Kim Perez and includes Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler, Stark County sheriff Tim Swanson, Lawrence Township trustee Mike Stevens, political activists and son of a former Canton mayor Jimmy Babcock, et cetera.

A definite third faction within the Stark Democratic Party is the "union group." Headed up by Hall of Fame AFL-CIO chief Dan Scuiry and includes virtually every politically active organized labor group within the party.

The Report believes that there are two other centers of influence within the party. One headed by Stark County engineer Mike Rehfus and includes for Stark County Party chair Roy Gutierrez, who (in the opinion of The Report) ired the Maier camp by trying to run a candidate against Gayle Jackson the last time she ran for commissioner.

Finally, one shouldn't discount Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley. Although a political maverick which gives Maier, in particular, fits; Bosley has a significant following among Stark County Democrats and if he gain public notice as an elected official who gets things done in the county could, one day, rival the Maier faction as the preeminent political group in Stark County.

Question: How do the citizens/voters of Stark County benefit from public officials (Democrat and Republican) appointing their loyalists, relatives and friends to public jobs at taxpayer expense?

Are politically inspired appointments/hirings a betrayal of the public's trust?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT FACILITATES A "Q&A" BETWEEN CANDIDATES


One of the objectives of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is to get the candidates to "debate" via The Report.

A STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT thank you to Commissioner Tom Harmon for posing the question.

As The Report understands Secrest's position, it appears that tax cutting means not voting for a tax increase. Now isn't that interesting.

The Report did ask Secrest, whom, on the current board of commissioners favors a tax increase. He declined to specify because the information on the ground that it was provided him in confidence.

The Report did ask Commissioner Todd Bosley about this allegation by Secrest. Bosley said that there have been discussions (by whom he did not say, except that he was against a tax increase).
Perhaps candidate Secrest is operating on old information?

The Report is well aware of what power of taxation the commissioners have and do not have.
The Report directs the question to Mr. Secrest - does he know?

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY POLTICAL REPORT POSTING #100: ARE HAGAN & FERGUSON STARK COUNTY'S LAZIEST CANDIDATES?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has long known how lazy John Hagan (Republican - Ohio House - District #50) is as an elected official.

But The Report was taken aback when a sitting elected county official opined that the winner of the contest to replace Jane Vignos as county commissioner would be the least lazy (in terms of campaign effort) between Republican Hagan and Democrat Dr. (as he likes to be called) Peter Ferguson.

On reflection, The Report believes the official is "right on the money!"

So, apparently, the task for Stark County voters is to determine who is least lazy: Hagan or Ferguson.

The stakes are huge. Stark County's economy has been and continues to head south. All the county needs is a new commissioner that's - comme ci, comme ├ža (so-so), or, even worse - LAZY.

Stark County voters need to light a fire under Hagan and Ferguson, the county's future depends on the winner in November being highly energized when he takes office.

Question: Can Hagan or Ferguson be ignited to provide the spark Stark County needs to get the engine of Stark County economic development going?

DISCUSSION: WHICH STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER IS GOING TO TAKE THE LEAD ON STARK COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?


Commissioner Todd Bosley tells the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that shortly after taking office nearly two years ago, he discovered that the prior board (Jackson, Regula and Vignos [who remains on the current board]), had no Stark County development plan.

At best, the commissioners cobbled together a patchwork of "fits and starts," but no comprehensive plan.

The basic chart accompanying this report (from COMPASS, which stands for Community Objectives Met through a Partnership of All Segments of Society) shows a stagnated Stark County economy in a best case scenario but a lagging economy when compared to the rest of the United States.

Commissioner Bosley seems to be the only commissioner "stepping up to the plate" to get economic hits for Stark County. Bosley, who agrees with The Report that county economic development is a prime responsibility of each commissioner. He has started an effort to bring an auto manufacturer and auto parts suppliers to Stark County.

The Report is pleased that Commissioner Vignos is stepping down given her dismal economic development track record. However, The Report is unimpressed with the field of candidates questing to staff the board's two vacancies in the November elections.

For Republican John Hagan, economic development? "What's that?" he would say. For Democrat Pete Ferguson, economic development? "Can't we make more tax cuts?" he would say.

For Democrat Tom Harmon, economic development? "I'm for it and I'm working on a plan, but it takes time" he would say. For Travis Secrest, economic development. "I have some glittering generalities to offer, in the meantime - can't we cut taxes more or not raise taxes," he would say.

The Report encourages voters to put the heat on Hagan, Ferguson, Harmon and Secret to "step up to the plate" and offer a comprehensive plan with specific ideas - whomever does so should be the candidate for voters to support in November.

Question: What should the candidates for Stark County commissioner be saying about Stark County economic development?

Friday, June 20, 2008

What readers of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) have to like is The Report's commitment to "fair play."

How many times has The Repository or other media done an editorial or a reporter piece making or insinuating certain things about the person being written about but does not afford that person to defend/explain him/herself.

Many, many. As Gayle Beck, the editorial page editor of The Rep has said: "It's our newspaper and we will run it our way" (paraphrase). And, The Rep (in the opinion of The Report) does exactly that. The Rep has an agenda to promote/protect certain Stark County public figures/officials (e.g. former Canton mayor Janet Creighton)

This will not happen on The Report.

In an earlier piece, The Report questioned how Republican Travis Secrest (running against Democrat Tom Harmon) as part of his campaign could be promising to cut Stark Countians taxes in light of the crisis in funding the county is experienceing: Here is Secrest's reply:

Cut taxes - First of all, there is support coming from the board of commissioners for raising the county sales tax. I do not support raising our counties sales tax. With our counties economy struggling as it is, this is the wrong time to raise the sales tax. We also need to make things easier on the businesses in the county. This will be used as a way to attract new businesses to the county as well. I would like to cut taxes for companies or businesses who take the time and money to clean and use brown spaces in our cities.
I feel that Chief Dordea will manage his budget more efficiently than Sheriff Swanson. The criminal justice system (jails, courts ect.) take the largest chunk of the counties budget. They receive $18 million of the $56 million budget. I believe that public safety is one of the top priorities for our commissioners and that they should have the proper funding to do so. I also believe that their budget should be properly managed.
So there you have it folks. When you see the the "soapbox," you know that you are about to read the words of the candidate him/herself.

The Report running a sequenced interview format with candidates. For instance, note that Secrest in his remarks impliedly knows that one of the commissioners favors raising Stark Countians taxes. The Report has gotten back to Secrest asking him to identify and the basis of his knowledge.

The Report awaits Secrest's response. Once it is received, The Report will publish it. Of course, the response may generate more questions. You can depend on The Report to be thorough but fair.

DISCUSSION: SECREST ISSUES PRESS RELEASE ON CAMPAIGN ECONOMIC PLAN - DOES IT SAY ANYTHING?

Today the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) received a "press release' from the Travis Secrest campaign for county commissioner.

Unlike other media outlets, The Report will publish press releases.

The catch is that The Report will be dissecting the releases and pointing out glaring weaknesses. And, The Report will give the candidate an opportunity to respond to The Report's critique.

So let us start out with the Secrest press release:

Travis Secrest Releases Economic Plan for Stark County

CANTON TOWNSHIP, OHIO– Earlier today, Stark County Republican Nominee for County Commissioner, Travis Secrest released the first point of his campaign platform to help revitalize Stark County entitled, “Stimulating Stark County’s Economy and Protecting our Jobs.”

After releasing the first point of his platform, Secrest said the following:

“Stark County has the potential to be an economic stronghold for the state of Ohio. However, jobs are bleeding. College graduates do not want to stay in the area due to a lack of opportunity. Many peope have been laid off and are struggling to find a good job. These are issues which are important to the county and ones which I will be focusing on during this campaign. Quite simply, we are tired of ‘business as usual’ in Stark County.

As County Commissioner, I will protect the jobs that we already have while attracting new businesses and taking into consideration the new and expanding demands for these businesses. I want to make it easy for a small business owner or a corporation to start their business here in Stark. We can do that by cutting senseless regulation, cutting taxes and by creating economic and cultural districts which will provide a firm foundation for our new economy.”

The Report has been very tough on Democrat Pete Ferguson who is also running for county commissioner for saying during the primary that the Stark County commissioners need to do more tax cutting. Of course, he could not be specific. But The Report will keep after Ferguson to either come up with the specifics or admit that there is no more cutting to be done. This is called "accountability."

No we have Republican Travis Secrest doing the easy political thing making reckless a reckless statement, at least on the tax cutting thing.

The Report has contacted Secrest and asked him to provide specifics.

Question: Is Secrest blowing smoke, or, is there room for tax cutting by the Stark County commissioners?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

DISCUSSION: SCHURING "MIS-SPEAKS" FOR HIMSELF?

Candidates: Be careful what you say on the political stump. Those cameras will be rolling this political season including the camera of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHAT DO OKEY OPPONENTS STAND FOR? REPUBLICAN SUSANY? INDEPENDENT RAY?


Apparently, 61st Ohio House District Mark D. Okey (Democrat) is going to waltz into a second term as state representative.

Okey, who succeeded John Boccieri (now running for Congress) in the 61st.

Most of this district encompasses Carroll County but has a small slice of Mahonning and the eastern most part of Stark County as well as a part of Tuscarawas County.

Okey is a lawyer who worked out of the family law firm located in Canton.

Okey has focused on economic development and fixing the funding of public education financing in Ohio.

He is opposed by Kirk Susany and independent candidate Paul Ray.

About all the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has been able to learn about Susany is it appears he is a construction company owner Columbiana County and who hails from Canfield.

In the primary electon Okey garnered 16,995 votes and Susany 7,016.

As for independent candiate Paul Ray, The Report found this Google search engine result:
Paul Ray, 2832 Blenheim, Alliance- thanked Council for their hard work and dedication and for celebrating President’s Day. (February 24, 2004)
Question: Is there any reason to believe that Mark Okey will not be returning to Columbus as the 61st District representative?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DISCUSSION; DOES CANTON SCHOOL BOARD REEK OF POLITICS?

Republican and Jackson High School graduate Ron Duff was appointed to take Democrat John Rinaldi's place on the Canton City Schools Board of Education this week.

His chief sponsor was Democrat Jennifer Keaton.

To the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report), it doesn't seem to be a political party thing.

But a least one other application for the position claims "foul ball."

Long term Democratic political activist Eric Resnick in a comment to a Repository story on the appointment points out that sitting board member Jennifer Keaton calls Duff her friend. So much a friend that Duff used Keaton as a reference (information reported in The Rep's story) Resnick also rumors that Duff ran Keaton's campaign when she ran successfully for the board.

Board member Nadine McIlwain complained that the board missed a chance to appoint a male African-American who she believed to be well qualified for the position and she voted NO on the Duff appointment.

The Report is very familiar with school board politics. It is no surprise to see dissent arise on this selection.

As The Report sees it, personal friendship should not have been a factor at all in choosing Rinaldi's successor. Indeed, if Keaton has the close association as appears, then she should have abstained from the voting - at the very least. And, she should not have been part of the deliberations in which she apparently convinced other board members that her friend should get the job.

Perhaps McIlwain makes the most persuasive point that a predominantly African-American school district that a qualified African-Amercan male would be the logical choice. Even Keaton saw the wisdom of McIlwain position initially.

Only this week Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama chastised African-American fathers for being absent from the home and not affording their children that all important parental role model.

On the surface McIlwain's candidate seems to make more sense for Canton.

What changed Keaton's mind? Is there more to this story?

The Report thinks there is and is not at all convinced, despite Keaton's protestations to the contrary, that "friendship" was not the main criterion used to select Duff.

Was Ron Duff the best selection for the Canton City Schools Board of Education?

Monday, June 16, 2008

DISCUSSION: 52ND DISTRICT - DOES AGE MAKE A DIFFERENCE? EASTERDAY , AGE 69 VERSUS SLESNICK, AGE 30?

John M. Easterday (Republican - Canton) has been in business for 37 years.

Stephen D. Slesnick (Democrat - Canton and the sitting "appointed" successor to William Healy, II) is only 30 years old.

At age 69, Easterday makes the point that he is not likely to be a career politician. Slesnick was a surprise nominee coming out of Democratic primary because he did run against a number of career politicians. Does his youth and early political success suggest that Slesnick is on his way to becoming a career politician himself?

Easterday promotes, as an advantage to his candidacy, that he doesn't have to learn by his mistakes; that he as a business person for decades now, knows what works and what doesn't. In effect, Easterday is trying to use his age as a positive.

Slesnick is from a well-known Canton area scrap metal business who has been provided an avenue into business by his family. By virtue of his youth, it stands to reason that Slesnick has much to learn about the "lessons of life" that Easterday claims he has already mastered.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) in reviewing the contestants answers to questionnaires constructed by and published by The Repository (link to Easterday and Slesnick), assesses that Slesnick has a better handle on Ohio issues that impact Stark County. In fact, Easterday failed to respond to the question: "What are the Stark County issues that need attention in Columbus?"

In a previous write-up on this race, The Report noted that Slesnick impresses as a sitting "appointed" representative by his virtue of his initiative in communication with constituents and the media on his early work in the Legislature.

Easterday has a huge uphill climb to best Slesnick in November - a task that The Report believes in not doable; provided, of course, that nothing lurks in Slesnick's past or in his conduct through November 4th that dramatically changes the complexion of the 52nd District contest.

The Report believea that this contest's outcome is a safe bet for Slesnick and he will be focusing on helping Celeste DeHoff in the 50th to take away a Republican seat.

It makes sense for Slesnick to do so. If the Democrats gain control of the Ohio House; control will empower Slesnick to make headway on his twin campaign goals of fixing public education financing and Ohio's economical development.

The difference between Slesnick and DeHoff is that The Report looks for Slesnick to be given a leadership role in the Ohio General Assembly whereas DeHoff will not, if she makes it at all.

The questions: Will the Slesnick/Easterday contest devolve into a age issue? Is this a race at all? Will Slesnick be energizing the DeHoff face off with Todd Snitchler?
In today's Repository, executive editor Jeff Gauger attempts to assume the role of gatekeeper in the Boccieri/Schuring race (16th Congressional District).

This is pretty arrogant stuff. And, suspect to boot.

About a year ago Schuring told the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that he was confident (my words, not Schuring's) of Repository support. Perhaps Schuring knows that the Timken family will lean on Gauger et al or whomever residing in the ivory towers of The Rep, over some cocktail "elite" soiree, to sway Schuring's way.

Such was clearly the case before Gauger (from Rockford, Ill) took over. Maybe things have changed and The Rep Editorial Board will be more thorough and even-handed in vetting candidates in siding with one candidate or another in its endorsement process.

But The Report thinks that Gauger is exercising editorial sleight of hand (thereby tipping his hand that Rep editorial bias hasn't changed), which is designed to mask a pre-determined editorial endorsement in favor of Schuring, which Schuring desperately needs to have any chance at all in winning this election.

The Report's person-to-person impression of Gauger is that he is a cocky guy who does not have a full grip on political realities. Moreover, he lives in a fictional land where he thinks that The Repository is in control of political commentary in Stark County.

The Repository Editorial Board has developed a smug, "view-from-the-penthouse" approach to editorial journalism because of its being the "only newspaper in town" (Canton).

Heavy irony afflicts The Repository's positions on issues and candidates. On the one hand The Rep's movers and shakers proclaim themselves to be the beacons of openness, access and overall democratic processes. On the other, you get self-arrogated roles heralded by Gauger in today's "Editor's Notebook."

The mirage presented by Gauger is that The Rep will somehow keep partisans from using its pages to promote one candidate or the other. What a laugh! Just look how it has historically handled its online comments sections and its letters to the editor section. Moreover, the implication of Gauger's work is that it is open-minded on which candidate between Schuring and Boccieri The Rep's Editorial Board endorses. What Stark Countian of longevity believes that?

No doubt, The Rep gatekeepers will filter out certain letter writers and commenters. But the process will be highly arbitrary and therefore self-deceptive. But discerning readers will figure out the high-handed nature of The Rep's ways and the editorial moralizing will fall on deaf ears.

A final note: The Rep editors are trying to set the 16th District race as being "too close to call." The Report recalls how many including folks like Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., started out trying to make the Strickland/Blackwell out to be a real race.

It never was. The Report from the get-go said in would be a massive Strickland victory. Strickland ended up winning 60% to 40%.

The same goes for the Schuring/Boccieri race here in mid-June; four and one-half months until the election. It will be closer than Strickland/Blackwell. Anywhere from 52% to 48% (Boccieri over Schuring) to 55% to 45%.

This race is, indeed, Boccieri's to lose. Now we can sit back and see if John Boccieri will attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It will be a Democratic year. Canton proper will go heavily Democratic. The Report does not deal in the fiction that The Rep does. And, The Report will not arrogate itself to the role of gatekeeper.

If Boccieri/Schuring supporters want to advocate for his/her/its candidate on the pages of The Report; please come and comment.

The Report believes that independent minded voters (Republican or Democrat or folks who never take a partisan ballot at a primary election) have the ability to filter through the "spin" and come to a decision of his/her own making.

DISCUSSION: SCHOOL FUNDING PROBLEMS? JACKSON RESIDENTS CAN'T BE HAPPY ABOUT OELSLAGER RUNNING UNOPPOSED

Jackson Township residents (who are paying up to $1,000 per household for their school-aged children to participate in extra-curricular activities) can't be very happy about the fact they cannot register a "no confidence" vote on 51st Ohio House District Representative Scott Oelslager.

Why can't they?

Because he's running unopposed!

Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., has a lot of reason to be puffed up about the Democrats' success across Stark County. But he should be ashamed about how under his chairmanship, for many years now, Stark County Republicans have controlled the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) seats for the county.

Jacksonians have to be particularly perturbed because they have no way to impress upon the Republican dominated OGA - let's say by defeating an Oelslager - of the extreme importance that the Republican-led OGA deal with fixing public school education funding.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) lays "the running unopposed" right at the feet of Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. It is super-easy for The Report to come up with a Democrat name that would be a strong opponent to Oelslager - let's say a Randy Gonzalez: Jackson Township Fiscal Officer.

Not Randy's political neophyte son Kody (now working for Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell), who Maier put up as a "sacrificial lamb" candidate last time around.

The Report posits that in certain races, Stark Republican and Democrat chairman have "wink and nod" agreements that certain offices will be uncontested (mostly judgeships). These agreements serve the parties well but not the voters.

The question: Do you agree/disagree with The Report - Party chairmen Maier (Democrats) and Matthews (Republicans) have an special obligation of trust to the voting public to make each and every partisan political race in Stark County competitive.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

DISCUSSION: 50TH DISTRICT DETERMINES THE FUTURE OF OHIO?

Ohio’s 50th House District is a key district in determining whether the Republicans continue to control the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) or control becomes a split decision.

This Stark County district, should it decide to send Democrat candidate Celeste DeHoff to Columbus, could shape policy decisions emanating from Columbus. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) belives that this district which has been gerrymander to ensure that a Republicans continue to hold the seat is a key to the direction that Ohio is be headed in.

Should Republican Todd Snitchler be elected, the Republicans may still control the OGA. There are contested districts among Ohio’s 99 that are likely to go Democratic in 2008 which are competitive in most election cycles and therefore do not necessarily harbinger a shift.

The election of DeHoff would certainly indicate a shift because the 50th going Democratic would likely be part of a number of gerrymandered Republican districts (four to six in number) breaking with their past and turning Democratic.

The Report has questions as to whether or not DeHoff has the kind of political heft to turn over the 50th. She is in the thrall of Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., of the Stark County Democratic Party (who drafted her out of a lifelong involvement with the Stark County Republican Party) and will be taking her marching orders from the chairman. Moreover, looking at her website (which was a long time in coming), it appears as if she will not be contributing her ideas to the legislative mix but will be accepting lock-stock-and-barrel the legislative agenda of the Strickland administration (which is congruent with her being controlled by Maier).

But Republican Snitchler is not exactly a candidate to write home about. He is married to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce which in the eyes of The Report has less and less clout with voters these days.

As pointed out in previous articles by The Report, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has been linked arm-in-arm with the Ohio Republican Party over the nearly two decades the GOP has had absolute control over Ohio government. What is the significance of the bonded relationship? Ohio’s economy has sunk to it lowest levels in modern times while the Chamber has more or less been in charge of Ohio economic development.

So why voters support a candidate who has wedded himself to a failed organization?

Considering the foregoing points about both candidates, The Report posits that the voters will have a very difficult time deciding between these two.

If the choice boils down to DeHoff and Snitchler, The Report believes that each candidate has enough negatives and virtually no positives that voters will be voting on the flip of a coin.

A variant that may be introduced into this race is the possibility that Democrat Mike Stevens who narrowly lost to DeHoff in the Democratic primary may run as a “write-in” candidate.

Assuming that it will be DeHoff versus Snitchler, The Report believes that this race is “to close to call” in mid-June.

Agree or disagree?

Friday, June 13, 2008

DISCUSSION: HARMON (THE LION) VERSUS SECREST (THE LAMB): STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS RACE?


As of mid-June, Tom Harmon comes as close as you can get (except for the unopposed candidates) as you can come to as a "unbeatable candidate" in the November 4th elections.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) tabs Harmon as the most powerful politician in Stark County politics.

He rivals, (and, in the opinion of The Report trumps - when he needs to) Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. as a power center in Stark County Democratic Party politics.

Harmon schmoozes with and has the ear of power brokers in both Stark County political parties. He has the ear of the "captains of industry" and business and has a solid relationship with organized labor. He dominated all his races for Canton City Municipal Court over his years in that office. For the foregoing reasons, The Report tabs him as the "lion" in this race.

His opponent, Travis Secrest, is indeed the "sacrificial lamb" offered up by Stark Republicans. Secrest will learn a lot in this campaign an could develop in to a formidable Republican standard bearer in future elections. But not in 2008.

Secrest's issues as articulated on his website bespeaks of a thoughtful candidate:








Harmon's vision for himself was spelled out in a Repository report (June 14, 2007) on his selection as a replacement for a resigned Stark County commissioner as being:











Undoubtedly, Secrest sees that Harmon has not made sufficient progress on public safety, economic development and government efficiencies, and, he may be right.

Unfortunately, Secrest's campaign will not be heard by Stark County voters. He will, in the end, be the sacrificial lamb of this campaign season barring catastrophic events overtaking the Harmon campaign.

Agree or disagree?

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY'S TOUGHEST RACE TO CALL? - FERGUSON VERSUS HAGAN


Ohio Representative John Hagan should be the odds on favorite to win this race.

He has represented the 50th House District (Lawrence, Tuscarawas, parts of Perry, Sugarcreek, Sandy, Osnaburg, Nimishillen, Marlboro and Lake Townships) in the Ohio General Assembly for eight years.

For a number of reasons the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes this race is neck-and-neck with the edge to Peter Ferguson who likes to trade on the fact that he is a well known Stark County based chiropractor.

First, Ferguson is a longtime friend Tom Harmon (a sitting Stark County commissioner) who is, perhaps, Stark County's most powerful politician.

Harmon is usually reserved about who he supports for public office. This will not be the case with Ferguson.

Second, Hagan has distinguished himself in the Legislature by being the manservant of Ohio Speaker of House Jon Husted. While Husted did reward Hagan for his devoted loyalty with a leadership position (chair - public utilities), he kept Hagan on a short leash and therefore Hagan has never been anything but a conduit for Husted's policies and positions.

So what should be a strong advantage for Hagan is no advantage at all. Ferguson has no government leadership experience. Who would be better for Stark County. It is a flip of the coin.

Third, to indeed have an edge in this very close race, Ferguson will need get the other sitting Stark County commissioner (Todd Bosley) to a neutral position. Bosley has said that he is okay with Hagan. The Report interprets this as a Bosley perceived opportunity to seize control of the Stark County Board of Commissioners.

Current commissioner Jane Vignos is generally allied with Tom Harmon. Bosley, who privately has never been complimentary of John Hagan, likely sees Hagan as a potential ally on issues that he disagrees with Harmon on.

Fourth, favoring Ferguson, is the political reality that Stark County is trending Democratic of late. Just look at who controls most Stark County offices these days. Moreover, Canton (which Hagan has never run in - he has been ensconced in the gerrymandered Republican 50th District), will produce a heavy Democratic majority this year.

This is is a strong plus for Ferguson.

There you have it Stark Countians. As of mid-June, The Report gives a slight edge for Ferguson. This could be the tightest race in Stark County: mirroring the Stevens/Vignos race of four years ago.

Agree or disagree? Who do you think will win and what are your reasons for saying so?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

DISCUSSION: 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT - BOCCIERI VERSUS SCHURING

Throughout the 2008 election cycle the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) will be periodically analyzing Stark County political contests.

First up is the 16th District congressional race pitting state Senator Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson) against John Boccieri (Democrat - Alliance).

The issues in this campaign will center on:

(1) The Economy

(2) The Iraq War

(3) Heath Care

Already in this campaign we have a signicant mistake by one of he candidates. Recently, Schuring joked that Canton is a place that congregant Republicans rallying for their candidates risk getting shot.

The Report has already taken the position that this careless expression was a reference to the fact that Republicans in Canton are a rare breed and Canton is not a place for a Republican candidate to get many votes. Stark County political observers understand this reality. But Schuring reckless framing of the reality may cause some offended Canton Republicans to vote for Boccieri. So the goof is likely to cause Schuring to lose some votes that otherwise would have gone to him.

What compounds the problem for Schuring in Canton is the significant African-American vote which will be dramatically higher this year because Barack Obama is the Democratic presidential standard bearer.

You can be sure that John Boccieri will join the Obama campaign to push the Canton/Stark County African-American vote to all time highs. African-Americans generally vote overwhelmingly Democratic and this year the numbers will be in the 90% plus range.

All three of the major issues are trending across the county in favor of Democratic candidates. Stark County will follow this pattern.

Schuring will run strong in Ashland, Medina and Medina counties. How strong? It depends on Matt Miller whom Schuring narrowly defeated in the March Republican primary election. Will Miller and his extremely conservative supporters enthusiastically support Schuring. The Report doesn’t think so. There will be some “sitting on hands” going on among Republicans in these counties, especially Ashland County - Miller’s home base. Sc The Report believes Schuring will win these counties in the general election but by a surprising narrow margin.

One part of Stark County that offers possibilities for Schuring is in some of the townships, small cities and villages of Stark County. Lake Township and Jackson Township, Hartville, Marlboro Township, Hills and Dales. Glenmoor and North Canton could turn out sizeable pluralities for Senator Schuring.

As of mid-June The Report believes this election is Boccieri’s to loose. He will run a safe campaign because the stars are aligned in his favor.

Do you agree or disagree with The Report’s analysis. If you disagree, point out which parts of the analysis you disagree with and the basis of the disagreement.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

DISCUSSION: ISN'T THE DEMOCRATS CHARGE THAT CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE KIRK SCHURING IS ANTI-CANTON SILLY?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has gone after Schuring - the 16th District congressional candidate for his ineffectiveness as a state legislator. That’s one thing. The attempt to paint Schuring as anti-Canton is absurd.

The Report’s take on the election is that it is Boccieri’s to lose. The latest Democratic engendered flap about Schuring’s “slam” on Canton is silly. Very few, if any, Stark Countians (including the complainers) really believe that Kirk Schuring was smearing Canton.

Canton Councilman Thomas West and the Ohio Democratic Party lead by Chris Redfern should examine Schuring’s very deficient legislative record and focus on that. Forget the silliness that turns the public off on politicians.

The Report takes Schuring at his word. There are indeed few votes for Republican Schuring in Canton. Canton has a Democratic mayor, 12 Democratic city councilpersons and well as other elected officials. There are a few elected Republicans (a couple of judges is all that comes to mind) in Canton.

Republican Schuring is apparently ceding Canton to Democrat Boccieri. Being the smart politician he is, The Report believes that Boccieri will be working hard to get all those Canton Democrats to the polls on November 4th. Let Schuring spend his time in Ashland, Wooster and Medina.

Schuring’s ill-conceived reference to Canton is a signal that he will not be seriously campaigning in Canton nor Massillon nor Alliance.

The real battle will be in the townships and small cities and villages of Stark County.

Question: Has the “silly season” started in the 16th District race?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHAT IS KIRK SCHURING UP TO ON HIS PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDING CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT?

On December 4, 2007 state Senator Kirk Schuring introduced his bill to amend the Ohio Constitution on the issue of school funding. So Schuring, who has been in the Legislature for 14 years, waits until he is running Congress to give the appearance of doing something on this festering problem.

On substance alone, the major effect of Schuring’s amendment would be to stabilize funding at 1970s levels.

But the bill was DOA. Governor Ted Strickland was not about to allow the man (John Boccieri - Schuring’s opponent) he describes as “being like a brother” be upstaged by Schuring.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that proposal was a political stunt by the senator who had to know his gambit had no chance from the get-go. Stark County school districts struggle with financing and Schuring seizes on their desperation for a politically motivated publicity gain.

When Schuring introduced his bill, he heralded Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut (a Democrat) as supporting his amendment.

Well, Fingerhut must have had a chat with Schuring and told him to quit using his name as a supporter. Have you heard Schuring using the Fingerhut name lately?

The question: Is Schuring lying low for now only to spring into action in September? Or, is The Report right? Schuring proposal was never a serious effort to solve the public school funding crises.

Monday, June 9, 2008

CORRECTION: STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER TOM HARMON - PROTECTING THE TAXPAYERS!

A STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) thank you to Commissioner Tom Harmon.

Commissioner Harmon emailed The Report pointing out that his initiative to raise Held’s salary from $72,800 to $90,000 per annum did not come from taxpayer money.

The Report stands corrected.

The money, in fact, comes from consumers who patronize trash haulers.

This is the first correction issued by The Report. But undoubtedly it will not be the last. The Report above all else endeavors to have the facts right. From time-to-time there will be inadvertent errors. And, The Report will issue front and center corrections.

The Report will not bury corrections in an obscure location as The Repository does.

Again, thank you Commissioner for pointing out The Report’s mistake.

The Report goes one step further and republishes the email in its entirety in the interest of providing space to Commissioner Harmon to explain the total circumstances of how the pay increase unfolded and amplify on the reporting or lack of reporting by The Rep as well on whether or not Held had threatened to leave.

(A note: The Report does have reliable information to the effect that Held did request more money but accepts Harmon’s word that Held did not threaten to leave. Moreover, The Report does not accept the notion that The Rep is somehow exonerated by the New Philadelphia Times Reporter not getting the job done with incisive questioning. The Rep should have been present since the pay increase issue involved a number of Stark Countians and The Rep did not disclaim by crediting the report to the Times-Reporter)

Hi Martin.

Just wanted to set the record straight about your recent posting concerning Mr. Helds (sic) increase in compensation.

1) No tax dollars are involved. The District receives funding from tipping fees paid by solid waste providers.

2) The average Director's salary of $94,000 is the state wide average. However, our solid waste district by any measure is the largest in Ohio and the average of the largest five districts is $108,000.

3) There was no press release issued. The Ray and Barney report was debated in an open and public meeting and the Repository did not have a reporter present. GateHouse Media owns the New Philly Times Reporter and they picked the story up from their report.
4) David Held has never informed me he was thinking of taking another job. However, I know if we had to replace him with someone experienced in solid waste management the salary demands would have been in line with the survey.

I hope you are well and I enjoy reading the report even when it is sometimes at my expense. ....

Tom

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER TOM HARMON - PROTECTING THE TAXPAYERS!


Stark County Commissioner Tom Harmon with a “straight” face tells the media that he has saved taxpayers money.

A whopping $4,000!

He initiated action to raise Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District Executive Director David Held’s $72,800 to $90,000.

But it could have ben $94,000.

Harmon heroically resisted the recommendation of a Franklin County wage analysis firm to raise Held’s income about 30% and held (no pun intended) out for 25%.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT wonders why the announcement was made at a press conference. For all the penetrating questions The Repository reporter asked, the announcement could have been make by press release which would have satisfied The Rep’s curiosity.

Not a word in The Rep’s report that Held was demanding a wage increase as a condition for staying on the job. And, of course, The Rep did not report that David Held draws income from North Canton as it elected mayor.

Those of us who have read The Rep for years note how “less favored” public figures, when reported on by Canton’s only newspaper, get everything but the “kitchen sink” thrown in the news article.

The questions: Does Tom Harmon deserve a “big thank you” for saving taxpayer money? Does The Rep deserve a Pulitzer for investigative reporting?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS A NEW LEGISLATIVE STAR RISING IN STARK COUNTY?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) was not impressed with one of newly appointed Stephen Slesnick’s first public pronouncements - his initial equivocation on the severity of the sins of former Ohio attorney general Marc Dann.

But his timidity probably can be attributed to his being new. Stark County needs a strong legislator. Something we haven’t had in Boccieri (D), Healy (D), Hagan (R), Oelslager (R), Okey (D) and Schuring (R).

The Democrats in the group have some excuse. They have been in a minority as is Slesnick. The Republicans have none. They’ve been in a majority/super-majority for a long time, but our Stark County Republicans have very little to show for being part of political dominance.

Other than the Dann matter, Slesnick does seem to be “starting right,” especially on the communication front.

The Report (located in the 50th House District) received Slesnick’s email newsletter within the past few days. Slesnick talks to his constituents about cleaning up Ohio’s environment, stemming foreclosure and economic development.

The Report will be watching Slesnick closely. He shows promise to bring a strength of legislative leadership that Stark County has not seen for a very long time.

The question: Are you encouraged by Stephen Slesknick’s first days in office?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

DISCUSSION: DOES STARK DEMOCRATIC CHAIR HAVE A PROBLEM?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that an official within the Stark County Democratic Party is planning to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Local Obama supporters are outraged that a party official is planning not support the Democratic Party nominee.

The Report's source is not reporting the name of the official but promises to do so when the source feels the time is right. The Report will follow up on this article with the name when the name becomes available. The Report does know that the official is connected precinct committeemen/women operation of the party.

If this defection becomes more widespread, then it could mean that Chairman Johnnie Maier has a major problem on his hand carrying Stark for Obama.

Question: Is this defection likely to be an isolated occurrence, or, it is bound to be commonplace?

Friday, June 6, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHO'S LOOKING OUT FOR STARK COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

The Repository reports ballyhoo after ballyhoo on Canton/Stark County efforts to get the local economy going. One wonders if The Rep editors will ever (in the light of many previous false starts) develop a healthy skepticism to these supercharged announcements. Or, will they remain cheerleaders as a mimic of their longtime favorite Janet Creighton (former Canton mayor)?

The latest report centers on a tag-along-effort promoted by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT supports this effort to streamline government. But it is not a Stark County economic development plan.

The Chamber is a well-meaning organization that is currently on a hunt to ferret out every last penny of ill-spent public school funds. Who can quarrel with eliminating all waste and inefficiency? In addition to his “cost-cutting” modality, wouldn’t it be impressive if Chamber came up with a positive plan to provide the proper finances for Stark County’s public schools?

One other note on the Chamber. If you are conscious, it should be apparent that the Chamber (i.e. the Ohio Chamber of Commerce) has an incestuous relationship with the Ohio Republican Party. This is the same party that has controlled Ohio for most of the past two decades. The Chamber has been used as the economic development tool for Ohio by the Republicans. Have the Republicans and the Chamber been a success story for Ohio over these two decades?

If the leaders of 21st Century Government Initiative can get localities to stop bickering among themselves, more power to them. Stark County, in particular, has a gaggle of elected officeholders (not necessarily leaders) who spar with one another and lose sight of common community economic goals.

It is disturbing to read that governments in Stark County are costing more than can be explained by inflationary factors. While costs are important, what is more important is producing high paying jobs which yield higher government revenues. Just ask Mayor Healy (Canton).

Stark County has no articulated, comprehensive plan to create such jobs. And, The Repository turns a blind eye on accountability. For example, The Repository sends its reporters to Tom Harmon’s press conference announcing his appointment as county commissioner . The reporters report his promise to lead Stark County’s economic revitalization. But The Rep does no follow-up by pressing Harmon (and Bosley - who, at least, has initiated fragmented efforts) to publish an “ in writing” plan with benchmarks subject to review to determine whether or not they are being met.

Evidence that The Rep editors have their collective heads in the sand is indicated by their recent editorial characterizing North Canton’s raid of a Massillon based business as “win-win.” Aren’t they aware of other businesses located in Stark County who get tax breaks who produce no new jobs? Shouldn’t these folks withhold judgment until the result is known?

Even if the North Canton raid turns out to be beneficial, intra-county competition is not a wholesome economic development approach. At best, it is a tactic; not a plan, and certainly not an economic development strategy.

Questions: Isn’t the long term and continuing Stark County economic downturn an indictment of Stark County leadership? When will The Rep and its editors stop giving a pass to area Chambers, the Stark Development Board, the Stark/Canton Convention & Visitors’ Bureau on their deficiencies?