Sunday, November 30, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS JEFF MATTHEWS BEGINNING TO THINK ABOUT THE RESURRECTION OF THE STARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY?

It has been suggested to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that Stark County Republicans are already at work planning a political comeback in two years.

Stark Countians should hope that there is reality to this political tip to The Report. It's about time.

Stark Republicans will hold no "non-judicial" offices in Stark County as of January 1, 2009.

The Report faults former chairman Curt Braden for the this state of affairs. But The Report has learned that there are leading Stark County Republicans who have no confidence whatsoever that Jeff Matthews will be any better.

Time will tell the truth on Matthews and his abilities.

Critics point out that he and Braden have about the same relationship as Gonzalez and Maier do on the Democratic side and therefore see little likelihood for improvement. These same critics point out as proof of their point that Stark Republicans failed to field candidates against county prosecutor John Ferrero, county treasurer Gary Zeigler and county engineer Mike Rehfus.

Local political talk is that local Republicans will target Democratic Stark County auditor Kim Perez in 2010. This is an office that was held for what seemed forever by Republicans until Perez wrestled it away in 2004.

Who are some likelies among Stark Republicans? How about former auditor and Canton Mayor Janet Creighton? With the Bush Administration vacating Washington, if Creighton comes back to Stark County rather than opting for a retirement in Florida, then she would be the best bet for Republicans because she is a proven vote-getter countywide.

Another name being bandied about is Perry Township trustee Anna Capaldi. It is impressive for a Republican to win in Democratic-Perry. Winning in Perry does suggest that she would run strong countywide.

Perez has not run against a strong Republican candidate. First time out he ran against Brant Luther who had been appointed to the office when Creighton was elected mayor of Canton.

Then he ran against underling/Republican holdover Patricia Fallot (holdover - to Perez's regret) for a full term in 2006. She was an experienced deputy auditor but not an experienced candidate running for public office and therefore was no match for Perez.

Question: Is it too early for the Republicans to begin thinking about 2010 countywide races?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

DISCUSSION: SHALL WE RENAME AKRON-CANTON AIRPORT (CAK) TO " RALPH REGULA AIRPORT?"

The Stark County commissioners are hard at work trying to rehabilitate Stark County's economy.

One of the more important aspects of economic development is to have essential infrastructure in place.

Transportation infrastructure is a key component in attracting out-of-area, out-of-state, out-of-country companies to Stark County.

Stark County took one giant step by beefing up its already impressive array of air connections out of Akron/Canton Airport (CAK) on Wednesday when US Transportation Department officials announced an award of flight rights to US Airways between Washington's Reagan National Airport and CAK.

The chief contributor to getting approval? Retiring Congressman Ralph Regula. A fitting end to a distinguished congressional career.

Also impressive was the local concerted effort to bring the CAK/Washington connection to reality. As published in The Repository, the following analysis of the united local effort by CAK Airport CEO Rick McQueen, to wit:
Airport President and CEO Rick McQueen said the flight approval also got help from 13 local chambers of commerce, the state auditor, hundreds of petition signers, more than 30 corporations and 17 community leaders.

"We got tons of letters from politicians. We got tons of letters from citizens. We got tons of letters from businesses," McQueen said.
With Regula retiring on this "sweet note," wouldn't renaming Akron/Canton Airport to Ralph Regula Airport be an appropriate honoring of the 16th Congressional District's retiring congressman?

Friday, November 28, 2008

STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT "FIRST ANNUAL - LUMP OF COAL - AWARDS" COMING DECEMBER 25TH



In honor of former Canton Repository Statehouse reporter Paul Kostyu, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is hard at work determining which Stark County politicians deserve a "lump of coal" for Christmas because of their "disservice" to Stark County.

Why in honor of Paul Kostyu?

Because the idea came from Kostyu from the days he served as The Rep's chief of its Columbus Bureau.

Kostyu - Canton's connection to Columbus - is no more because GateHouse Media, Inc (the Repository's owner) which bills itself as "one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States" axed him as a cost cutting measure.

Since October, 2008 Paul has been writing for Business First Columbus.

Question: Who do you think some of the recipients of a "lump of coal" for Christman will be?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A TIME FOR THANKSGIVING

Stark County has had a number of local political figures step forward with a positive contribution to the well-being of our county in 2008.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) recognizes the following for their contributions to better government and/or making current officeholders more accountable.

TODD BOSLEY stands at the top of the list. Bosley is completing his second year as commissioner and is already demonstrating that he is a breath of fresh air in providing energized leadership that the county has not experienced in some time.

Highlights during Bosley's first two years include his work to make 9-1-1 more effective and efficient. Also, he has been effective for the commissioners to avoid a showdown with the Stark County Veterans Commission over funding, spearheading economic development efforts for the county (e.g. working to get Fiat to take a look at Stark County) including his role in getting $5 million for North Canton so that "the dogwood city" can regain its economic legs after loosing the Hoover operation. Bosley led the move by the commissioners to protest the excessive rate increase asked by AEP of the Public Utilities of Ohio on Stark County residents, commercial enterprises and industries.

MIKE REHFUS (Stark County Engineer) showed courageous leadership in pushing for an increased license plate fee so that the county can construct new roads and rehabilitate roads and bridges greatly in need of repairs. He convinced Commissioners Bosley and Vignos to support imposition of the fee over Commissioner Gayle Jackson's objection. Rehfus is the quintessential county official for streamlining operations and thereby doing more with less in terms of personnel. Lastly, he is working hard with Commissioners Bosley and Harmon to effectuate a merger between the engineer's operations with that of the Stark County Sanitary Engineer which will prove to be highly beneficial for Stark County taxpayers who will enjoy more performance for less money because of the merger.

LARRY DORDEA took on a popular sheriff in the recent election and raised an number of issues that Sheriff Swanson will have to pay attention to and consider reforms in line with Dordea-advanced proposals. Dordea's suggestion of ways to use deputization program to provide more law enforcement coverage in Stark County is particularly compelling as a low cost way to overcome so staffing deficiencies at the sheriff's department. Sheriff Swanson would also be wise to make more effective use of forfeiture as a way to gain assets used in criminal activity as additional resources to curtail that activity.

FRANCIS CICCHINELLI who as mayor of Massillon has done the best job of all the mayors of Stark County in providing municipal leadership. In an economy that is bad all over Stark County, the mayor has worked hard and effectively to keep Massillon head and shoulders above other Stark County cities in bringing in new business and industry and maintaining much of Massillon's economic base in an environment in which doing so is very difficult indeed.

TRAVIS SECREST never really had a chance to unseat sitting Commissioner Tom Harmon because, deservedly or underservedly, Harmon is somewhat of a political icon in Stark County. But Secrest did put the heat on Harmon to be a more active and accountable commissioner. The Report, for one, has recorded Secrest's ideas for bettering Stark County and will be holding them up before Harmon as food for thought and action.

JANE VIGNOS. Though she is retiring at year's end, 2008 is Vignos's best year as commissioner. Her work pushing a centralized 9-1-1 is probably her most important contribution to the future well-being of Stark. Her support of the Bosley initiative on the license plate fee increase was courageous and important for the enhancement and repair of Stark County's infrastructure.

JOHN BOOCIERI is a Obama-esque "hope for change" figure. Middle income and working class folks will be looking to Boccieri to deliver attention to their needs and futures. It has been since 1948 that Stark County has had a congressman who has everyday people at the forefront of his concerns.

DARYL REVOLDT offers leadership that just might rescue North Canton from the economic doldrums after the collapse of Hoover operations. No one in North Canton is better prepared to provide the leadership that the city needs if it is to rebound from the economic devastation wrought by the Hoover plant demise. Revoldt, a council member (past and present - now as president of council), a member of Governor Taft's economic development team and a former North Canton mayor, has all the credentials to lead North Canton out of its economic morass. His most significant contribution in this regard is the leading of a series of townhall meetings to solicit, listen to and consider asking council to implement the ideas of North Canton citizens.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DISCUSSION: THE REAL LEADERS IN STARK COUNTY?


American Electric Power (Ohio Power) has a huge advertising budget.

One thing the second largest energy producer did to spend it advertising dollars on was to inform its users that it had requested that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) allow it to increase its residential rates (52%) and commercial/industrial rates (62%).

But Ohio Power did make sure that its friends (e.g. the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) knew at about the hearing held at Glenwood Middle School in Canton on October 16th.

Ohio Power's friends showed up in spades (mostly economic development folks) at the PUCO hearing. They had been "advertised" to. And, those that owe Ohio Power knew what was expected of them.

We all know that the Bible tells us that in terms of almsgiving that "the right hand should not know what left hand is doing." Well, Ohio Power demonstrates in its lobbying PUCO for its increase that it very much knows that it is a generous giver to various Ohio charities and has prevailed on the donees to now speak up on behalf of the increase. Take a look at the testimonials on the PUCO website.

Undaunted though Stark County government officials, businesses and citzens also showed up on the 16th and spoke against the increase. Others have written letters and continue their work beyond giving testimony, passing resolutions and writing letters to fight the large requested increase.

Recently the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) wrote of the impressive efforts of Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis on this issue.
Giavaisis' response:
The Commissioners and individuals leaders such as Todd Bosley especially deserve the all of the credit for getting this thing going not me.
His response is typical of the advocates of keeping electric costs manageable for the residents, commerical enterprises and industries of the Ohio Power service area.

As we approach the Thanskgiving holiday, aren't these folks and their community activision something for all of us to be thankful for?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

DISCUSSION: CAN SCHURING RECOVER FROM LOSS TO BOCCIERI? YES, AND THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT HAS A PLAN FOR HIM!

In the opinion of STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report), state Senator Kirk Schuring lost his 16th District Congressional race against Democrat John Boccieri for two reasons:

First, he ran in a Democratic sweep year.

Second, he and his musical chair buddy (Scott Oelslager) have not produced for public education as promised. And Stark Countians, at least partially, had that in mind when they voted 57% to 42% for John Boccieri.

It was cool and could have been a brilliant move by Schuring to come up with an idea of getting the Ohio General Assembly to place his constitutional amendment proposal to "sorta - partially" fix public education on the ballot. But the plan had to be more than just talk.

Schuring's big problem has always been that though he's a smooth guy that nearly everybody likes on a personal basis, including yours truly, some of us question whether or not he can produce on "really" important matters for Stark Countians.

John Boccieri is also a guy that everybody likes. On this count, the race was a wash. And voters gave Boccieri a pass on the education thing because he has always been in the minority while a member of the Legislature.

For added value, Schuring really did need to produce on his proposal. Especially for being in a majority/supermarjority.

The Report noticed that his talk about Ohio Board of Regeants Chairman Eric Fingerhut supporting his idea didn't last long. Governor Strickland must have sat on Eric real quick.

You know, the governor came to North Canton to be at the Boccieri political coming out for Congress and told the folks gathered that he loved John like a brother. So the governor's going to let Schuring go into the election with his education initiative on the ballot?

Now that Boccieri is on his way to Washington, maybe Schuring can become his second favorite "like a brother." How could this happen?

Well, the Democrats did capture control of the Ohio House this November. But the Senate remains solidly Republican.

So the governor needs a Republican in the Senate to help out with the governor's education intiative that is going to be announced in his State of the State message in January.

Who better than Kirk Schuring with his education bona fides?

If Schuring were to help the governor out, he might recover from that 57% to 42% shellacking he took in Stark County. Because there is no way that the 15% difference was due to the Democratic tide.

Of course, it didn't help his campaign that Schuring gaffed on describing core city Cantonians.

A more significant part of the difference had to be Stark Countians buying into The Report's take on Schuring for years. More talk than action.

Isn't this the perfect situation for Schuring to step forward and link arm-in-arm with the governor to do something that could elevate him in to being thought of as a statesman-like Stark Countian?

Monday, November 24, 2008

DISCUSSION: HOW WILL SNITCHLER (R - THE 50TH) LEGISLATE?

One of arguments against the election of Republican Todd Snitchler by his opponent (Celeste DeHoff) was that he would be looking out for corporate interests as a legislator and not the interest of everyday citizens.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) thinks it is very likely that DeHoff was correct in her take on Snitchler.

Snitchler has made no secret of his close alliance with the business community. He has been heavily involved with local chambers of commerce (e.g. past president of the Lake Chamber of Commerce) and was an eager solicitor of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce's endorsement in his race.

The Ohio Chamber (through its political arm) defended Snitchler on charges made by DeHoff in her campaign literature that Snitchler is (The Report's words) "a captive of corporate interests" to the detriment of everydays.

A relatively new book out entitled "The Predator State" by economist James K. Galbraith seeks to show how many conservative Republicans have not fought for "smaller government" as they (including Snitchler) have argued, but rather they have legislated for a de facto take over of government by corporations in acting to open the public treasury to be doled out, under the guise of one program or another (examples: charter schools, vouchers, healthcare et cetera), into corporate bank accounts.

Recently, Bill Moyers interviewed Galbraith. Here is an excerpt:
BILL MOYERS: You call your book THE PREDATOR STATE, what do you mean predator?

JAMES GALBRAITH:
What I mean is the people who took over the government were not interested in reducing the government and having a small government, the conservative principle. They were interested in using these great institutions for private benefit, to place them in the control of their friends and to put them to the use of their clients.
The Report will be watching Snitchler's votes and paying close attention to his statements.

With all the mismanagement, fraudulent mangement and the like that we hear about seemingly day after every day in local, state and national media; shouldn't Stark Countians (and 50th District voters, in particular) be very scrutinizing of whose interest Todd Snitchler votes in the Ohio House?

DISCUSSION: PART II - TIMKEN TESTIMONY BEFORE AEP RATE INCREASE REQUEST: HOW MUCH WEIGHT WITH IT CARRY WITH THE PUCO?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DISCUSSION: FROM A "SORE WINNER" TO A "SORE LOSER?"

Defeated Ohio House 50th District candidate Celeste DeHoff is said to be a "bit unhappy" about losing her race against Republican Todd Snitchler.

Readers of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) will recall prior posts wherein The Report passed along source information to the effect that DeHoff was so ... off with primary opponent Lawrence Township trustee Mike Stevens (whom she defeated by the narrowest of margins) that she expressed displeasure to Massillon City Council members (probably through her campaign treasurer Kathy Catazaro-Perry) of his being hired by the city of Massillon Cicchinelli Administration.

Of course, DeHoff could not go directly to the mayor because of the acrimonous relationship she has with him over various issues between Tuscarawas Township (where she is a sitting trustee) and the city of Massillon (thoroughly documented various reports by The Massillon Independent).

As pointed out by The Report, if DeHoff was going to win in the 50th in the general election, she had to seek to mend fences with Stevens as well as his local supporters in organized labor.

One would think that her political tactician, strategist, adviser and handler Shane Jackson would have insisted (as a condition of staying on in her campaign) on an Obama-Clintonesque coming together.

Why? Because unless DeHoff had a united front in the general election, she could not win the 50th - even in the Obama effect for Democratic candidates in her favor.

Even if Mike Stevens and his local union allies plus other area oppositionists had come out full bore for DeHoff, given the gerrymandered Republican nature of the district; it would still would have been tough for DeHoff to win. But in the general with bad blood still boiling, there was no path to victory for DeHoff.

Looking at the numbers in her home Tuscarawas Township in the accompanying graphic, one would think DeHoff would be into mending fences post-general election, if she would like to be re-elected Tuscarawas Township trustee.

The Report has learned that DeHoff is not of the "let bygones be bongones" frame of mind - post general election. Sources have told The Report, that their take is that she is in a "comeuppance" modality.

The question: Is DeHoff right to be . . . off, as The Report's sources indicate she is?

If so, does she seek to use the generated steam of being ". . . off" to retribute against those she views as her political enemies if and when the opportunity presents itself?

Or, should she get over it and move forward in a mending fences mode and thusly prepare for new opportunities in the Stark County political realm - perhaps, as a 29th District Democratic Ohio Senate candidate in 2010?

If she choose were to chose the positive tack, doesn't the work have to begin now?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS STARK COUNTY HEADING TOWARDS "CHAPTER 9" BANKRUPTCY? CAN NEWLY ELECTED BOCCIERI HIT THE GROUND RUNNING & HELP STARK AVOID DISASTER?


We all know that Stark County is in dire financial straits. The commissioners have gotten hit from the Sheriff, the Stark County Veterans Commission and the local Board of Elections for more money as 2008 has marched by notwithstanding a $2 million commissioners' shortfall this year.

It gets worse next year.

A $4 million shortfall.

Believe it or not, state (e.g. the state of Ohio) subdivisions (cities, counties, villages and townships, et cetera) can and do go bankrupt under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Yes, it is rare indeed, when this happens.

But, given the current financial crisis in Stark County, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) asks: Could a federal bankruptcy be in the offing for Stark County?

The Report makes it perfectly clear that The Report has NOT been in discussion with any Stark County commissioner or other county official suggesting that Chapter 9 is being looked at.


One person who could be of immense help to Stark County and all other political subdivisions throughout Stark, the state of Ohio and the nation is Congressman-elect John Boccieri.

The temptation for Boccieri has to be take time to "settle-in." But can the 16th Congressional District (especially, the Stark County part of the district) wait for Boccieri to settle in?

The Report says NO!

Boccieri, like Obama, must hit the ground running.

The Report advocates that Boccieri do so by pushing hard for a re-start of the federal revenue sharing program that once greatly aided local government finances.

To refresh readers, here is a Wikipeidia description of the program:
United States government revenue sharing was in place from 1972-1987. Under this policy, Congress gave an annual amount of federal tax revenue to the states and their cities, counties and townships. Revenue sharing was extremely popular with state officials, but it lost federal support during the Reagan Administration.
The federal revenue sharing renewal idea comes from economist James K. Galbraith of the University of Texas.

A bold, aggressive John Boccieri has an opportunity in the midst of the national/local financial crisis to be a "top gun," does he not?

DISCUSSION: PLAIN TOWNSHIP LOUIS GIAVASIS SHOWS "REAL" LEADERSHIP ON THE "STOP THE EXCESSIVE OHIO POWER" INCREASE REQUEST?


"Time is of the essence." A phrase that lawyers often place in contracts when a date certain for contract completion is part of the terms and conditions of a given contract.

Well, time is of the essence for Stark County citizens and their representatives in local government to weigh in against the mammoth increase (52% - residential, 62% business) requested by Ohio Power to be approved by the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO).

Stark County is fortunate to have public official Louis Giavasis (Plain Township trustee) out beating the bushes among his fellow of local government to get them all to object to the proposed increase.

How successful has Trustee Gisvasis been?

Highly successful! But more work needs to be done.

Residents of East Sparta, East Canton, Louisville, Minerva, Magnolia and Waynesburg need to be calling their mayors and councilpersons and insisting that they participate in the Giavasis-led effort.

Even though Lake (for the most part) and Lawrence will not be directly affected by the projected increase, Giavasis has brought these communities on board THE STOP AEP HUGE INCREASE EXPRESS.

Louis Giavasis, isn't he an example of behaving as a government official ought to be? If more Stark County local government officials led like Giavasis leads, wouldn't Stark Countians have more confidence in local government leadership?

Friday, November 21, 2008

DISCUSSION: REPUBLICANS LOSE THE 16TH, WHO IS AT FAULT?

Stark County Republicans may say that Democrat Congressman-elect John Boccieri won the 16th District because of a Democratic tide sweeping the nation in reaction to the unpopularity of the Bush administration.

But is Bush really to blame?

Maybe, just maybe they should be blaming Ralph Regula?

There has been rampant speculation over at least the last ten years that Regula was on the cusp of retiring. Speculation ballooned as to who would "inherit" this long held Republican seat.

Scott Oelslager (at one time Regula staffer), tried years ago to nudge Regula out so he could run. But Ralph wouldn't budge and Scott incured the ire of Mary Regula (the congressman's wife) and she let it be known that "when the time came for Ralph to step aside," the successor would not be Scott Oelslager.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that the 16th was a seat to be "inheritied" through the 2004 election. After 2004, the odds shifted markedly against the Republicans.

"Youngstown John" (only kidding John), was the first to sense that the "Regula seat" was vulnerable EVEN IF RALPH HIMSELF decided to run. Before Regula decided not to run, Boccieri was running whether or not Regula was the Republican candidate.

Boccieri was correct in his analysis as was The Report in predicting from the get-go that Boccieri would win by as much as 10 percentage points (actually it turned out to be nine).

But who is to blame - really?

The Report says Ralph Regula himself.

Had he stepped aside not later than the 2004 election, it is very likely that a Republican candidate would have succeeded Regula. And, as a consequence, Schuring would have been running against the Democrat as an incumbent.

All politicos know the power of incumbency.

So Schuring, Oelslager and other have taken one for Team Regula but at the loss to Team Republican? Yes or no? What do you think?

DISCUSSION: WHO DO TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES REPRESENT ANYWAY?

"Yours truly" has been following the township form of government since the early 1980s.

It is apparent that this form of government is a vestige of the past and is not equipped to meet the needs of 21st century Ohioans.

A case in point? The failure of many of Stark County's trustees to even be aware of the gigantic increase that Ohio Power is asking of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), let alone step-up-to-the-plate on behalf of their constituents and object to the requested increase.

With the local economy in a tallspin at least co-incidental with the national economy, and perhaps on it own; for the most basic of Ohio government to stand by an allow its residents to be pillaged without uttering a word of protest is beyond belief.

But maybe this unawareness and failure to act should not be surprising. After all, Tuscarawas Township trustee Celeste DeHoff is the association's president.

In the November 4th election, she, as a candidate for the Ohio House 50th, proved to be one of the most uninformed and lacking candidates of the entire field of candidates. Moreover, her township is not served by Ohio Power, so why should she pick up on an issue which affects most of Stark County's township residents and businesses?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that not a "mere mention" of the Ohio Power issue was brought up at this week's Stark County Township Association meeting.

A source of The Report indicates that:
(M)embers that were present at that meeting told me that they were not even aware of what AEP was proposing and asked for me to send them information ASAP.
Many of their residents and businesses are about to get socked with a 52%/62% increase and many Stark County trustees don't know?

DISCUSSION: WHO "REALLY" RUNS THE STARK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY?


Did Stark County Democratic de jure chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. make a deal with Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez allowing Maier (when he first ran for chairman) to become chairman unchallenged by Gonzalez in exchange for Maier's promise to allow Gonzalez to assume the role of becoming the de facto chairman?

Sounds plausible to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report).

Maier named Gonzalez not merely a vice president of the party BUT "EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIRMAN."

The Report has had a number of conversations with area leaders of both political parties and there appears to be a consensus that Gonzalez is the "brains of the party" and that Maier does nothing of party signifcance without first clearing with Gonzalez.

So again, the question: Who "really" runs the Stark County Democratic Party?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PUCO/AEP SERIES, VOLUME 3 - STARK COUNTIANS WRITE PUCO ON OHIO POWER INCREASE REQUEST - CANTON TOWNSHIP WEIGHS IN



DISCUSSION: ISSUE #15 - CITY OF MASSILLON - DO THE RESULTS PRESAGE A CATAZARO-PERRY/CICCHINELLI RACE IN 2011


When Massillon Mayor Francis Cichinelli was challenge by then Councilman Tim Bryan in the 2007 Democratic primary, the results: Cichinelli 52% to Bryan 47%.

Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry has been challenging Mayor Cicchinelli going back several years on various issues.

The latest: backing developer Carl Oser in his attempt to get property in Catazaro-Perry's ward re-zoned. The forum? Election - November 4, 2008.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that the political tug-a-war between Catazaro-Perry and Cicchinelli will conclude in the spring of 2011 when The Report predicts Catazaro-Perry will be on the ballot head-to-head to wrestle the mayor's chair from Cicchinelli.

How does one measure the possible outcome of such a race? Perhaps, by the outcome of the Issue #15 race. The Catazaro-Perry led forces lost to the Cicchinelli political cohort 52% to 47%. A coincidence or a harginger of things to come.

Of course, a lot can change in a little over two years. But, if the status quo remains about the saem, the question is.

Does the Issue #15 vote predict a Cicchinelli victory in the Democratic primary in early 2011 - presuming, of course, the race materializes? Do you think that it is likely or unlikely that Massillon will see a Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli race?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

IN MEMORIUM: MARTIN OLSON WRITES ABOUT LIVING IN THE MIDST OF HISTORY


I can't imagine a better place (with all due respect to the rest of America) to grow up than in Gettysburg, PA.

Early on, I realized that my town was different from most other towns in the land.

As a first-grader I remember going to a nearby neighbor who was donating flowers, from her prized flower garden, to neighborhood school children. Then it was off to High Street elementary school where at the first through fourth graders were marshaled and sent off march through the streets of Gettysburg to the annual Memorial Day parade staging ares.

What an awesome event to participate in and behold: "remembering the solders who made the ultimate sacrifice so that the union was preserved."

Summer after summer in my youth the battleground served as a great adventure place to roam and soak in the history that saturated those grounds.

I remember how proud I was as a high school junior that I had been equipped by my schooling to give my Jamestown, NY Swedish relatives a grand tour of the hallowed ground.

I remember as if it were yesterday how on milestone anniversary date the re-enactments of bring Lincoln back to Gettysburg. The huffing, puffing steam engine pulling up at Gettysburg station. What pageantry, what excitement!

My memories of Gettysburg are too voluminous to recount here.

But every Memorial Day, every July 1-3 and every November 19th, my mind get preoccupied with the Gettysburg growing up experience.

As we elected Barack Obama in 2008, it is stirring to hear that, perhaps, Obama will be shaping a cabinet seeking to unite a divided nation along the Lincoln lines.

It is so "fitting and proper" that Obama would honor "The Great Emancipator" and thereby unite the nation once again.

DISCUSSION: WHY ALL THE FUSS ON THE AEP/OHIO POWER RATE INCREASE REQUEST?

Many Stark Countians (including the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT - The Report) are up-in-arms about the proposed 52%/62% (residential/business) rate increase by Ohio Power (AEP) now before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Okay, if one lives in the Ohio Power area of service, opposition is understandable.

How about those (like The Report) who are located outside Ohio Power's area of service in Ohio Edison's service area. Why would these folks want to get into the fray?

This is a discussion that came up between The Report and citizen-activist Kevin Ellis of Louisville who is one of a number of Stark Countians fighting the increase "tooth and nail."

Also, a topic of discussion was the "scant attention" The Repository is paying to this issue.

The first topic.

Ohio Edison users should be involved in the Ohio Power fight because of the precedential nature of the PUCO decision. Whatever the PUCO grants Ohio Power in an increase will be a "guideline" for future Ohio Edison requests for increases. And there will be Ohio Edison future requests. Unfortunately for Ohio Edison users, rates are some of the highest, if not the highest, in Ohio. But they will be back for more.

Moreover, all of Stark County is an economic unit. The commissioners understand this reality and have sent a strongly worded resolution to the PUCO. Readers of this blog who have seen the first part of Timken's presentation and Union Metal's presentation (to see - search the previously made posts using the "search" button) made at a PUCO hearing conducted in Canton on October 16th will no doubt be convinced of the significance of the increase to keeping and increasing jobs in Stark County. Undoubtedly, Timken and Union Metal as well as a myriad of other Stark County businesses hire employees who just happen to reside in the Ohio Edison service area.

The second topic.

The Repository, never a great newspaper, has gone downhill since being taken over by its new owner. The new ownership has no Stark County roots. Early on in his writing, Executive Editor Jeff Gauger wrote about needing to get acquained with the Stark County area leadership. Perhaps, Gauger - a Rockford, Illinois native - in his quest to get acquainted is a "work-in-progress."

There has been a huge turnover of key personnel exiting The Rep. Hanke, Kiminski, Shultze, ... and on and on goes the list. Whether one cottoned to their writing and concomitant positions or not, they were throughly ensconsced Stark Countians.

The Report asked former general manger Mike Hanke (now chief Stark County administrator) about The Rep's low-key handing of the Ohio Power rate increase. The Response? (The Report's words) "Beats me, The Rep has huge electric bills and I know. Because as general manager I saw and had deal with those bills."

One more thing. Just think about it. The Repository is a Stark County private enterprise monopoly (a real life oxymoron). Only The Rep of all of Stark County newspapers, even tries to cover all of Stark County. This means that The Rep has more ability to increase its prices for subscriptions, advertising et cetera with a decided advantage over the Timken's and Union Metals of Stark County. Timken and Union Metal et al do have the compete head-to-head. And utility costs are a "real" competitive factor.

The Rep did not cover the Canton PUCO meeting. Wow!

It did do an editorial and a few short pieces and a letter to editor (written by Commissioner Todd Bosley) or so.

What could have The Rep done and still can do is "people living on main street" interviews. The Rep alone in Stark County media has the staff to conduct such interviews. Then the Kevin Ellis' of Stark County could clip and collect and send these points of view to the PUCO.

What do you think? Should Ohio Edison customers come to the defense of Stark County Ohio Power customers? Should The Rep be doing more.

DISCUSSION: REALLY? IS IT AN OPTION THAT NORTH CANTON WON'T TAKE OHIO'S $5 MILLION GRANT?


Mayor David Held (Republican) could not have been more effusive with praise in a conversation with the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) about Governor Ted Strickland (Democrat) and Strickland having kept a promise made to Held at John Boccieri's coming out party (announcing for Congress) at a park in the center of North Canton right across from - the then dying - Hoover plant.

The promise? The governor would do everything he could to help North Canton recover from the economic blow sustained by "the dogwood city" with the closing of the Hoover plant.

Imagine, if you will, The Report's astonishment when told by another member of North Canton's official family (not the administration) that there was some possibility that North Canton would turn down the $5 million because the grant requires the payment of "prevailing wages" to workers employed with the money.

Prevailing wages are an organized labor "holy grail."

So the question becomes this.

Who is in charge of the message coming out of North Canton? If The Report has been told of the "possibility," who else?

Isn't it hard to imagine that this topic - "I don't like prevailing wages" was even brought up in official discussions?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

DISCUSSION: TWO MORE STARK COUNTY GOVERNMENTS (NIMISHILLEN & NORTH CANTON) GO ON RECORD WITH PUCO AGAINST LARGE AEP INCREASE




The list is growing. More and more Stark County government units are weighing in against the AEP/Ohio Power requested increase in electric rates (52% compounded over three years/62% for businesses).

Above the text material see a graphic of Nimishillen Township's filing with the PUCO. Note the cc: to Mr. Bill Daugherty. Daugherty is a citizen-activist who along with Kevin Ellis of Louisville have been persistent in their efforts to get Stark County government units to fight the AEP/Ohio requested large increase.

Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis deserves special mention for his strong efforta to fight the increase.

Last evening the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) visited the North Canton City Council meeting to record for your viewing Council's approval of Mayor David Held's letter directed to the PUCO objecting to the size of the proposed increase.

View the Held video below.

Question: Will the Stark County input (Stark County being the volume base of Ohio Power's customer base) be the tipping point against AEP's ESP as presently constituted?

DISCUSSION: COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY - STARK COUNTY'S "GREAT COMPROMISER?"


Commissioner Todd Bosley may be the "second coming" of an 19th century political figure Henry Clay, Sr., of the state of Kentucky:

Wikipedia (the online dictionary) describes Clay this way:

Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777June 29, 1852) ... an American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Known as "The Great Compromiser" and "The Great Pacifier" for his ability to bring others to agreement ...
In the assessment of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report), Bosley has come a long way from his days as a Nimishillen Township trustee. Bosley had the admirable quality of being a battler as trustee but he did create some political enemies along the way in Nimshillen because of his pugnacious ways which had the effect of showing up at least one public figure. And most likely, more than one.

The Report believes that Bosley now realizes that finding common ground while sticking with one's principles is an art form that he has adopted and which he is well on his way to perfecting.

It all started with the Stark County Veterans Commission funding issue. As we all know, Ohio law requires that counties fund veteran commissions at a much higher rate than Stark County has been doing of late. Fed up, the veterans decided to sue for compliance with Ohio law.

Neither Commissioners Harmon nor Vignos had an answer. But Bosley did. "Let's talk," he said to the veterans. And they did. Bosley negotiated a compromise thereby positioned Stark County to avoid a lawsuit which most likely would benefit neither side.

The Report has learned that in the process his individual dealing with the Veterans Commission matter, Commissioner Harmon has earned the antagonism of Stark County veterans because they think he "thumbed his nose at them" and their lawful request for more compliant funding.

It was only through the exercising of skills that Bosley is honing, that Stark County did not find itself in messy litigation.

Now there is another difficult situation that the Stark County Board of Commissioners must resolve.

It involves the sticky matter of an area developer making application to develop some land in Summit County that can only be accessed through a Stark County (Lawrence Township) neighborhood. There are noise issues, wear and tear issues, traffic issues, sanitary sewer issues and other issues for Stark Countians whose neighborhood would be violated by those accessing the Summit County development.

What to do?

Fight, fight, fight - right?

It could still come down to that, but maybe not with the entry of Commissioner Bosley into the matter.

Bosley, Harmon and Vignos have been meeting with the affected Stark Countians in an quest to find a solution to the problem.

Lo and behold! Bosley has come up with a possible answer that satisfies everyone.

What could the solution be?

Here it is. Get a Clean Ohio "open spaces" grand from the $200 million bond recently renewed by Ohioans on November 4th.

Watch the accompanying video of a meeting held last Thursday evening at Lawrence Township Hall to see Bosley skillfully at work selling the Clean Ohio solution to affected residents as well as Stark's Summit County neighbors.

The question: Is Bosley on a trek towards achieving "diplomatic" greatness in developing his blossoming ability to bring opponents together?

Monday, November 17, 2008

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, CANTON & PLAIN TOWNSHIP? IS THIS IT? NO OTHER STARK GOVERNMENTS FIGHTING OHIO POWER'S BIG RATE INCREASE?


So far the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) sees that only the Stark County Commissioners (see the entire resolution by clicking here), the Plain Township trustees and the city of Canton (after city council straightened the mayor out) have weighed in for the people and against AEP/Ohio Power on the utilities' gigantic rate increase request.

Massillon, North Canton, Louisville, Alliance, Hartville, Minerva, Lake Township, Canal Fulton, Lawrence Township, Tuscarawas Township, Perry Township, Sugarcreek Township, Navarre, Brewster, Wilmot, Beach City, Magnolia, Waynesburg, East Canton, Sandy Township, Bethlehem Township, Pike Township, Osnaburg Township, Jackson Township, Nimishillen Township, Washington Township, Lexington Township, Canton Township, Marlboro Township and Paris Township are among the missing together with all of Stark County's school districts.

To pick out a few of these entities:

1. Jackson Township trustees and the school board. With the failed operating levies, how do the trustees and school board members think that an Ohio Power 52% over three years increase for residential users (62% on businesses) is going to enhance their effort to get an operating levy passed? Isn't this an opportunity for public officials to go to bat for township residents.

2. Ditto for Canal Fulton council, Lawrence Township trustees and the Northwest Board of Education.

3. North Canton council is looking into ways and means to increase revenues (via a tax issue, increased services fees, et cetera) given the hard times "the dogwood city" has fallen on. Wouldn't it be prudent for council to object to the Ohio Power increase? If North Canton taxpayers see their electric rates skyrocket, where is the money going to come from for an increase in revenues?

Why aren't area residents flooding the aformentioned township halls, city halls and boards of education with demands for action against the increases? Or, are they and these entities are ignoring their constituents?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

DISCUSSION: STRICKLAND ADMINISTRATION BAILS OUT NORTH CANTON?

Earlier in 2008 when there was a public announcement that Myers Industries (then of Massillon) was relocating from Massillon to North Canton, Mayor Francis Cicchinelli of Massillon claimed this was an intra-county raid designed to solve North Canton's economic woes but - in the end - would not advance Stark County's economic profile.

Mayor David Held of North Canton countered that the transfer was good for Stark County because unless the North Canton (Hoover) site was not available, then Myers was going elsewhere with elsewhere being outside Stark County.

Deal done?

Not really. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that the "expert" economic development planners in North Canton failed to calculate that there was no way to get Myers Industries' heavy equipment to the Hoover site because access streets were too narrow and needed widening.

The cost? $2 million.

So the movers and shakers in Stark County including the Stark County Development Board (which is to look after all of Stark County's economic development including Massillon's) went all out to get the necessary money from the state of Ohio (aka "the Strickland administration").

If North Canton does not get the $2 million, there appears to be no way that Myers Industries could have completed the move from Massillon to North Canton.

Questions: Should Cicchinelli/Massillonians be ticked off about the Strickland administration intervention on behalf of North Canton? Was this "intra-county" move good in the sense of whether or not t will prove to be a "net gain" for Stark County's "down-the-road" economy?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

DISCUSSION: A PLAN RUN AMOK? SCHURING TO WASHINGTON; NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARYL REVOLDT TO COLUMBUS?

Everyone knows that things are tough in North Canton these days.

The question is: Are they getting too tough for North Canton City Council President Daryl L. Revoldt (Republican at large)?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that had Kirk Schuring defeated John Boccieri for retiring 16th District Congressman Ralph Regula's position, the Republican plan was for the Ohio Senate Republican caucus to appoint North Canton City Council President Daryl Revoldt as Schuring's replacement.

Let's see. What's the expression? "The best laid plans of mice and men ... "

Although North Canton city officials are desperate to put a "good face" on the city's economic future, the truth of the matter is that the city is on life support; apparently its "savior figure" (on the basis of having been a Taft administration economic official and former mayor of North Canton) is looking for a "way out of Dodge" - err - North Canton.

At a recent public townhall-esque meeting moderated by Revoldt at the North Canton Civic Center (October, 2008), Revoldt painted a very negative picture of North Canton's financial future notwithstanding the ballyhoo in The Repository (within the past week) of financial grants coming North Canton's way.

Another sidelight is what The Report believes is a difficult relationship between Revoldt and North Canton's Mayor David Held. Another councilman (not Revoldt) has told The Report that council views Held as a weak mayor. The Report suspects this is a view that is being pushed by Revoldt.

Held did not speak at all at the October 21st meeting at the Civic Center. Isn't that a bit strange? Perhaps this indicates that Held's relationship with council is not the greatest. The Report believes that there is a coincidence of the fading of David Held with the resurrection of Daryl Revoldt.

The question: The Held/Revoldt thing aside, now that Reovldt has seen "up close and personal" how dire the financial condition of North Canton is; the best course for him is not to be in charge of a sinking ship but to find a face-saving way out-of-town?

Friday, November 14, 2008

PUCO/AEP SERIES, VOLUME 2 - STARK COUNTIANS WRITE PUCO ON OHIO POWER INCREASE REQUEST - MAYOR HEALY REVERSES HIMSELF?




DISCUSSION: REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR JEFF MATTHEWS NEEDS TO REFASHION THE POLITICAL BLUEPRINT OF STARK COUNTY?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has been saying for some time that there is no way for John Hagan (or any other Republican) to win countywide, IF the Democrat running runs even a marginally credible campaign.

Peter Ferguson is not the most skilled politician in Stark County. But he ran enough of a campaign to beat John Hagan, who is a well-known politician, and whom Ferguson never should have been able to defeat based on that factor alone.

It did help Ferguson that Hagan is probably the "laziest" politician in Stark County. He got so used to running in the gerrymandered Republican 50th House District that he adopted the same "ho-hum" posture running countywide. Ferguson (probably because of his political inexperience) ran only a slightly more energized campaign than Hagan - and yet he won.

Todd Bosley won over household Stark County Republican name Richard REGULA for county commissioner because Bosley hugely out hustled Richard (another lazy Republican). Initially, The Report did not think Bosley could win. But he did and he won because he worked the county as outlined by Robert Wang in the November 13th Repository in an article describing Obama's victory in Stark County on November 4th, to wit:

Obama won by wide margins in urban areas such as Canton, Massillon and Alliance, with the help of strong support from black voters. In Canton Wards 2, 4 and 6, which have significant number of blacks on the city's east side, Obama captured roughly 80 percent to 90 percent of the vote. Black voters in Alliance Ward 2 and Massillon Ward 4 apparently boosted Obama's percentages to about 70 percent.

Obama, who won 70 of 71 Canton precincts, also kept Perry Township, Canton Township, Pike Township and Sandy Township in the Democratic column.
The Report writes this article as yet another wake up call to the leadership of the Stark County Republican Party. If Chairman Jeff Matthews and his fellows (where is Sarah Brown when you need her?) don't get their act together soon, no realistic Republican will want to run in Stark countywide. The consequence? Stark Countians will be the loser for it.

How's that? Because "political competition" is the primary means to keeping local governance open, transparent, honest, energetic and accountable.

It has be proven many times over that one-party-rule becomes abusive and corrupt over time (Republican or Democrat). While one party can be dominant and not slip in to arrogance and disregard of the public interest, it cannot be permitted to become automatic. Just look at Cuyahoga County these days and the state of Ohio pre-Strickland.

To you Republicans out there, go to Matthews and insist on forming a task force to develop a plan to (borrowing a Ted Strickland expression) "turnaround Stark County" into Republicans being competitive countywide.

Yes, Republican can and do win locally (school boards, townships, villages, et cetera better than Democrats). But not countywide. On January 1, 2009 there will be no non-judicial countywide Republican officeholders. Not good for Republicans but, more importantly, not good for day-in, day-out Stark Countians.

Is The Report correct? Is the Stark County Republican Party on life support in fielding and winning countywide candidates? Are the Matthews et al of the Stark County Republican Party responsible?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PUCO/AEP SERIES, VOLUME 1 - STARK COUNTIANS WRITE PUCO ON OHIO POWER INCREASE REQUEST

DISCUSSION: WILL OELSLAGER & SCHURING EVER STOP PLAYING MUSICAL CHAIRS?


Once upon a time, in the days of Vern Riffe (the then all powerful Ohio Speaker of the Ohio House, a hero figure to Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.), the Ohio Republican Party General Assembly caucuses devised a plan to change from being a minority party to a majority party, in fact - in time, a super-majority party.

The plan?

Term limits! Impose term limits to create open seats and then pour tons of money into legislative races to capture control of the Legislature.

And, the plan worked.

In 1994 the Republicans and their opportunistic term limits plan created enough "open" seats to wrest control from the Democrats.

Yes, the plan worked magnificently and, in particular, right here in Stark County. The Stark County target: yes, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. In 1999, Maier quit the House early because he couldn't run again in 2000.

Initially, Maier won election (1992 - the 56 House District) in a solidly Democratic district (which included Massillon, all of Perry Township and Canton Township) but his appointed successor Micheal Stevens (now a Lawrence Township trustee) could not hold the Republican gerrymandered seat (redesignated the 50th) as Maier did (beating John P. Hagan in 1998 by a 71% to 29% margin - which shows the power of incumbency).

We went through all this political history to show how the Republicans have moved the goal posts as personified here in Stark County by Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager. This duo has become accomplished at playing "SAFE (two chairs - instead of one - for two people) musical chairs" with the public trust by violating the spirit of term limits while not violating the letter of the law.

And this "entitlement" attitude demonstrated not only by Schuring and Oelslager, but by all too many public officials, is at the heart and soul at what ails America, Ohio and, indeed, Stark County in terms of public officials getting comfortable and stale.

These officials' own political preservation seems to triumph over the public good. Only a few seem to put community over self.

One might look the other way on these two gaming the electorate had they achieved much for Stark County over their combined 35 years, more or less, in the statehouse.

But they haven't.

Despite being in the super-majority for many of their years in the Legislature. On their watch, in concert with their super-majority/simple majority partisans, Ohio's economy has fallen off a cliff, public education has not been fixed and many other problems fester lost in the milieu the higher priorities. And Ohio continues its march downward.

Schuring even had the gall to pretend he was going to get Ohio's troubles with education remedied by offering a faux constitutional amendment as a publicity stunt prelude to his race against John Boccieri for the Regula vacated 16th District Congressional seat. Schuring absolutely had to know that his gambit was exactly that - a gambit, with no chance at all of getting his proposal out of the Legislature even in the favorable environment of the Legislature being controlled by his fellow Republicans.

It is more than a touch ironic that THE Stark County victim of term limits has, in his role of Stark County Democratic Party chairman, has consistently rolled over for both Schuring and Oelslager. Under Maier's leadership, Stark County Democrats did not field any candidate at all against Oelsager this November 4th. Moreover, the party under Maier has never gone all out to achieve "real" term limits by defeating Schuring and Oelslager at the polls.

When the general public sees these political machinations, they become more and more jaundiced with the political process. That's why one increasingly hears that there is not "a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats."

While the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that there are significant philosophical differences, The Report doesn't fault the voting public for failing to see these differences in the overwhelming light of individual politicians focusing on their own self-preservation over the public good.

So look for it again in 2010, the hypocritical Schuring and Oelslager playing "musical chairs" with an accommodating twist (two players, two chairs - isn't there just to be one?).

Isn't it time to break up the Schuring/Oelslager charade on complying with term limits? Doesn't Stark County, indeed, need - as never before - fresh perspective, energized and effective representation in Columbus?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHAT IS GOING ON WITH "THE REP?" HUGE NEWS IN AEP (OHIO POWER) RATE INCREASE REQUEST BUT NOTHING IN THE REP?

Courtesy of an e-mail by STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) reader Kevin Ellis of Louisville, The Report graphic is an Akron Beacon Journal piece today giving the outline of an PUCO recommendation that the AEP request for a 52% electric rate increases over the next three years be pared down to 29%.

Ellis remains opposed to any increase as evidenced by his e-mail to the PUCO, to wit:

REFERENCE: OCC 150251104

Hi Again Brian Vogt,

I would imagine that the OCC is well aware of this 11/10/08 "PUCO STAFF RECOMMENDATION" but those of us sitting in the bleachers most definitely are not impressed!! WE NEED A HOME RUN or A TOUCHDOWN!!

Shares of General Motors selling at less than THREE DOLLARS and PUCO thinks that a 29% AEP increase is FAIR?? GIVE ME A BREAK!!

Kevin R. Ellis
Louisville OH
330-875-0676
Note that the PUCO report is carried by the Akron Beacon Journal whose readers most likely get serviced by First Energy (Ohio Edison) not AEP (Ohio Power) which serves most of Stark County.

Yet Stark County's largest newspaper - The Repository - has nothing of the PUCO recommendation as of 11:00 a.m. this morning on it online edition.

The Repository went the better part of the a week before paying any attention to the original AEP request of a 52% residential and 62% business increase which was the subject of a local hearing held at Glennwood Middle School located within the city of Canton on October 16th.

So what is up with The Rep? Probably the hottest story in Stark County in terms of its potential adverse economic effect on Stark Countians, and, The Rep keeps getting scooped by the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT and the Summit County based Akron Beacon Journal?

Have an opinion on the requested increase? Vote in the poll set up below.

DISCUSSION: "JANE VIGNOS," WILL SHE LEAVE A "+" MARK ON STARK COUNTY?

Now that her successor has been elected and less that two months remain in her term, the question becomes: what will be the "Jane Vignos legacy as a county official?"

After Rick Campbell was elected Stark County recorder, Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. went to great pains to slam Jane Vignos (Campbell's predecessor in office) whenever he was called upon to introduce Campbell at a political event?

The slam?

As recorder, Vignos (if you believe Maier) nearly caused the destruction of recorded historical documents that bore the signature of the likes of Thomas Jefferson.

Who to the rescue? Need it be said? Of course, Rick Campbell.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has always been skeptical of Maier's assertion. Weren't these blasts just a matter of Maier's hamming it up to the Democratic base precisely in order to fire up the troops?

What The Report focuses on today is information to the effect that Jane Vignos is working against the combining of the Stark County Engineer/Sanitary Engineer even though Sanitary Engineer Armogida is apparently on board with the idea.

If true, this would not be a positive note on which Vignos ends her public office career.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Vignos opposes the merger of the County/Sanitary engineers because it will create a large base from which Stark County Engineer Mike Rehfus can raise mega bucks in political fundraising.

Such is a strange argument. First, Mike Rehfus does not need the money because he seems to always run unopposed (something The Report is not particularly fond of even though it appear Rehfus is a first-rate county official). In fact, he was just re-elected over, guess who? Unopposed. Second, Mike Rehfus has never been a big hitter in the Stark County Democratic Party. Probably because he has as many Repubiicans on his staff as Democrats. Refus tells The Report is only intested in hiring the best and does not screen perspective employees for their politics.

Also, some in the Stark County Democratic Party think that Rehfus and former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Roy Guitierrez and formerly a Rehfus employee as legal counsel worked together to put a candidate (who eventually switched to run opposite Mike Stevens) against former commissioner Gayle Jackson in the Democratic primary the last time Jackson ran.

Over the years The Report has been involved in Stark County politics, Vignos has been widely viewed (a view bought by The Report initially) as a high partisan whose strong suit was not policy making nor making Stark County more fiscally responsible but keeping the faith with Stark County Republican politics.

The Report's view begin the change on her with Vignos fanning out over the Stark County political entities advocating for a centralized 9-1-1. A little disturbing factor on the 9-1-1 matter though - as a sidenote - Vignos has been quiet on this matter lately. Is she changing her position on this issue?

Also impressive was her strong stance in support fellow Commissioner Todd Bosley's resolution opposing AEP's 52%/62% (residential/industrial) electric rate increase request.

This is just to highlight a couple of a number of noteworthy positions that Vignos has taken recently that The Report thinks speak for Stark County's well-being.

So The Report implores Commissioner Vignos: Say, this (fighting the combining) is not true. Why would the commissioner want to leave office tarnished by making this silly fight?

Refus says a msjor benefit of a merger (other than the obvious administrative savings) will be his ability to bring at least a million or two in grants (after the merger) to what used to be the Stark County Sanitary Engineer. This is new money which has not historically been and would be clearly beneficial to Stark Countians.

The Report has learned that a study is in progress and should be complete by the end of November. Refus believes that whether or not Vignos chooses to support the merger, it will become a reality; perhaps, by the end of 2008.

The question: If Vignos does, as The Report's source suggests, fight the combining of the Stark County Engineer/Sanitary Engineer, won't she be spoiling her legacy?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DISCUSSION: ALLOWING AEP (OHIO POWER) TO INCREASE ITS RATES: COMMENT & VOTE

Search the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) for prior videos showing testimony by The Timken Company, Union Metal, Mayor Healy's administration, Citizen Kevin Ellis and others in the issue of whether or not the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio should allow Ohio Power Company to increase electric rates for its Stark County residential (52% over three years) and business users (62% over three years).

Vote in the poll posted below.





<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=130256">SHOULD AEP BE ALLOWED TO INCREASE ITS RATES AT 52% OVER NEXT 3 YEARS?</a> | <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash polls</a>

Monday, November 10, 2008

FROM STARK COUNTY POLITICAL PAST: COMPETITIORS HAVE BECOME ALLIES?

What a difference 13 years can make?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) digging into the Stark County electoral past found this gem.

Most Stark County political observers understand that the famous Will Rogers quote: "I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat!" is in full play in Stark County.

Right now Maier and Harmon are political pals - Maier being responsible for Harmon getting the appointment to succeed Gayle Jackson as county commissioner. But as the accompanying graphic shows, such has not always been the case.

And who knows what tomorrow holds?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

DISCUSSION: DID LARRY DODEA "RUN IN VAIN" FOR STARK COUNTY SHERIFF?

For anyone who has run for political office - if properly done, it is a gigantic sacrifice to have done so.

Serious candidates make their case for their ideas or approaches to government.

All too many candidates are running just to run. Celeste DeHoff (candidate - 50th House District seems to have been such a candidate to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT [The Report]. DeHoff was totally deficient in grasping Ohio issues and having a prescription for what ails Ohio. While The Report does not agree with many of winner Todd Snitchler's ideas/approaches, he was a credible candidate who will have an agenda in Columbus. The Report will be monitoring his activities in Columbus and having him give an accounting as to how he is being effective to improve the lives of everyday people of the 50th District.

To give a Republican equal time, The Report singles out Jason Wise (Nancy Reinbold's opponent for clerk of courts). The Report was at an event on election evening and Wise, being there, criticized The Report face-to-face for describing him as being a "sacrificial lamb" candidate. Well, The Report stands by its assessment and does not consider Wise to be a good bet for the Stark County Republican Party to run for countywide office in the future.

What Stark County voters ought to be looking for in the candidates are ideas that should be embraced, even if advanced by a losing candidate. Quality losing candidate expend large amounts of time, effort and treasurer and advancing the public discourse.

For example, Larry Dordea who ran a competitive race against sitting Sheriff Tim Swanson, offered a number of ideas/approaches that Swanson should take an in-depth look at implementing. Stark Countians want the best ideas to be brought to bear on government processes.

One such idea from a prior post by the Report:
Dordea also says that Sheriff Swanson has not effectively used "asset forfeiture dollars" as a source of revenues to support the operations of the department. He promises to reconstitute the narcotics law enforcement group of the department and make it profitable to Stark County taxpayers by seizing and selling illicit drug-connected property.
Dordea is to be honored for making a race of it and presenting substantive ideas/approaches to improve the operations of the sheriff's department.

The Report will be pressing Swanson on considering Dordea's ideas/approaches and either implementing them in varying degrees or giving reasons why they are an improvement on current ways of operating the sheriff's department.

As much as Dordea would like to have won, being the public servant he has been (former Alliance police chief), he in running was contesting the office because he thought he had ides/approaches that could benefit Stark Countians.

Question: Does Swanson have an obligation (in the sense of benefiting the entire Stark County community) to take a thorough look at whether or not Larry Dordea's ideas/approaches will make Stark County a more secure community to live in?

To the sheriff: What about the "forfeiture of assets" factor? Do you need to re-examine this revenue generating idea in the light of budgeting problems?

DISCUSSION: STARK COUNTIANS: WHOM IS TO BLAME ON THE ECONOMY GOING SOUTH?

in today's Repository, Governor Ted Strickland is referred to as saying:
He [Strickland] says Ohio and other states now are paying the price of what he calls the irresponsible economic policies of the Bush administration.

As a Stark Countian, take the poll below, whom is to blame?
<a href="http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=129737">WHO IS TO BLAME ON STARK COUNTY'S/OHIO'S ECONOMIC TROUBLES?</a> | <a href="http://www.buzzdash.com">BuzzDash polls</a>

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DISCUSSION: HOPE FOR STARK COUNTY?


Normally, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) does not like "one-party-government." Especially when the party head is a Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (an old style political boss).

But when the choice is "one-party-government" and having a John Hagan as an elected official, The Report opts for "one-party-government" with The Report being the watchdog.

Congratulations to Doctor Peter Ferguson on being elected.

Readers of The Report will recall that during the election we had very little positive to say about Ferguson because he was not nearly specific enough to assure voters he would be a good choice for commissioner and because party-insiders were telling The Report that he was running a lackluster campaign.

Ferguson was fortunate to be matched up against lame duck state Rep. John Hagan. Hagan. At the end of his campaign, Ferguson did pick it up by detailing how Hagan shafted Stark Countians and all Ohioans in being a major force behind Senate Bill 221. A bill which enabled the likes of American Electric Power (AEP [Ohio Power]) to ask for gigantic rate increases (52% residents; 62% industrial users - over the next 3 years).

So congratulations to Stark County voters for reassigning John Hagan from public official to being "Joe - err - John the Plumber." The Report hopes that Hagan can be Stark County's greatest plumber but encourages him to give up public officialdom. Hagan is devastation in public office to the interests of ordinary people.

Under the leadership of the now "senior" commissioner (in terms of service) Todd Bosley, the board can now get down to the business of working harmoniously to bring Stark County into the 21st century.

A bevy of former Republican commissioners (but the list does include Democrat Gayle Jackson [now a Strickland appointee as a lottery official) over the last several decades has put Stark County in negative territory in terms being "behind the eight ball" on its economic viability front.

The Report hopes that this new board will harmonically work together to pull Stark County of the economic doldrums. Tom Harmon has the potential to be a critical factor is turning things around. But whether or not he can break free of his "old school" political ties to do so, remains a serious question.

The Report encourages Ferguson to look to Bosley for leadership. Bosley's work as Nimishillen Township trustee and in his first two years as commissioner show that he does have an eye properly directed towards efficiencies, empowerment and enlightened, energetic leadership.

With Bosley, Harmon and Ferguson, will Stark County pick up the pace in bringing Stark County into the 21st century as a enlivened poltical entity?

Friday, November 7, 2008

DISCUSSION: WILL STARK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR SUPPORT A STARK COUNTIAN TO BE BOCCIERI'S SUCCESSOR?

Who Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (Chairman - Stark County Demcratic Party) will support to succeed John Boccieri in the Ohio Senate may seem to be a "no-brainer?"

But is it?

The Alliance Review reports in today's edition that state Representative Ron Gerberry wants to succeed John Boccieri in Ohio 33rd Senate District now that Boccieri is off to Congress.

So?

Well, so does Stark County's Steve Okey who currently serves as an Alliance City Council. And, Okey served as Boccieri's campaign treasurer.

The rub for Maier is this.

When Maier was state representative from Ohio's (then) 56th District, he was very close to guess who? You've got it. None other than Ron Gerberry who was a fellow Democratic caucus member.

Although only a slice of Stark County is in the 33rd, Stark Countians, one would think, favor Alliance resident Okey.

But is it that easy for Maier? Will he weigh in for Okey? Will he stay neutral?

Of course, these could be a moot questions. Boccieri himself may seek to name his successor a la Phil Giavasis when he left the Stark County Clerk of Courts office for the Canton Municipal Clerk of Courts post.

DISCUSSION: WILL JOHN BOCCIERI BE A ONE-TERM CONGRESSMAN?

Aah - the life of a political blogger.

John Boccieri is not yet sworn in and the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is already speculating on his next challenger.

An easy one, huh?

Matt Miller of Ashland County.

By 2010, Boccieri will have created a record of voting with the "liberal" Nancy Pelosi and the "right-wingish" Matt Miller will be "chomping at the bit" to take him on.

And, you know what? Miller is likely to get a clear path to the Republican nomination.

Miller, the man who embarrassed Ralph Regula in 2006 and nearly defeated Schuring in 2008, probably already has the campaign machinery geared up and running.

Miller has to be thinking that this seat belongs to the Republicans. You know, the Regula/Frank T. Bow longevity thing.

If this race materializes, it will get ugly. Left/right matchups are always cut throat. It will make the Boccieri/Schuring contest look like child's play.

Question: Do you expect Ashland County's Matt Miller to be the Republican nominee in 2010?