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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DISCUSSION: THE REP, SLESNICK & OELSLAGER STILL "AMONG THE MISSING" IN FENDING FOR STARK COUNTY ORDINARIES & BUSINESSES ON EXPECTED OH POWER INCREASE

As Stark Countians get set to enter 2009, one prospect that should be getting all of us excited is the reality that Ohio Power users are going to see an increase in the monthly electric bills.

Many area elected officials have chimed in to object.

Two notable exceptions. Stephen Slesnick, who represents the 52nd Ohio House District and Scott Oelslager (unopposed in the November, 2008 election - thanks to Stark County Democratic chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr).

What gives guys?

Another non-elected official who doesn't seem to care much? The Canton Repository.

Look at the adjoining chart of the most profitable industries (2007) published by Fortune 500. At the rate that AEP companies Columbus Southern and Ohio Power (Stark County's most voluminous provider of electric power), these AEP entities would have ranked 1 and 4, respectively; only problem is - they are monopolies and not "free-market" competitors.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT'S (The Report) friend who resides in Louisville has written a blurb which aptly describes the work over AEP is doing to Stark Countians, to wit:

For the first nine months of 2008, the after-tax returns on common equity earned by CSP and OPC were 23.48% and 13.5%, respectively. These extremely high earnings mean that the Companies are currently recovering all of their costs, plus a healthy profit, under existing rates. Their proposal to increase rates by $2.816 billion annually by 2011, assuming the fuel adjustment clause increases are at the maximum annual amounts and that there are no deferrals (total of $5.823 billion over three years) has not been justified as prudent or reasonable, especially in this time of state-wide economic depression.


A BILLION HERE AND A BILLION THERE, AND SOON AEP WILL HAVE ALL THE MONEY AND WE'LL HAVE NONE. AIN'T LIFE GRAND?

Apparently Representatives Slesnick, Oelslager and The Repository have no apprehension at all about what is about to happen to most Stark Countians come 2009?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DISCUSSION: 2008 ENDING ON A BRIGHT NOTE FOR STARK COUNTY

Leadership had it's day on Tuesday, as Stark County Commissioners did the right thing for the future of Stark County. Commissioners Vignos and Harmon joined with Commissioner Bosley to vote 3 - 0 to impose a 1/4% sales/use tax increase.

9-1-1 will now get properly fixed and the county will be able to maintain solvency in the face of growing demands by Stark County citizens for local government services.

Notwithstanding the naysayers who wanted to make "a federal case" out of that maybe the mean consumer in Stark County may pay $75 per year (probably less for most Stark Countians) in additional consumption taxes for a vastly improved 9-1-1 and reliable county services (e.g. safety, election, administration of justtice et cetera.)

Compare this to American Electric Power (AEP) Ohio Power wanting raise electric bills on a Stark County residence (assumming a current bill of $100 per month) a total of $600 plus per year. For what? Nothing additional, that's what! Same amount of electricity, same lousy service.

County commissioner candidate (November, 2008) Travis Secrest (he ran against Tom Harmon) explained to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that he favors the tax increase because he agrees that 9-1-1 sorely needs fixing.

In his own words, Secrest puts it this way:
I think you and I can both agree that something needs to be donewithin the 911 system. This much is clear. These changes are going to have to be drastic and would be best with a fresh, clean slate. This of course....costs money. And lots of it. And with the budget situation, this is money which the county simply does not have. Nothing I have said is under dispute, or is something that isn'tcommon knowledge.

I also think that it is time for a sales tax increase in this county.I called for fiscal responsibility many times during the campaign, however the costs of everything has gone up. Health care alone is up 23% from last year. So, in order to come close to making ends meet, a sales tax increase needs to be done.

However.....when it comes to raising taxes, I have a passionate feeling that the process is more important than the end result. I do not believe it is a responsible act for the Commissioners to raise the sales tax without voter approval.
In normal times The Report would be solidly in Secrest's corner. Put it to the vote of the voters. And, even now, The Report does not oppose a vote. However, the commissioners did the leadership thing by imposing the tax under authority granted by the Ohio General Assembly.

Yours truly has been a Stark County resident for nearly 35 years now and has seen Stark struggle and struggle and struggle to keep its head above water. Not able to do bold economic initiatives designed to attract good paying jobs to Stark because it barely has the money to get from month-to-month.

This is what Stark Countians got from the Gayle Jacksons, Richard Regulas and their ilk who have served on the Board of Commissioners in recent years. Let's call them "let's tread water" public officials. Under them and their "think alikes" (someone say like recently defeated commissioner candidate John Hagan) Stark County would remain stagnated at best; more likely, headed towards decline.

The Report believes that Canal Fulton resident and former city councilman Michael Mouse, as reported in Kelli Young's recent Repository article on the December 29th hearing on the tax matter, will make good on his promise to get the necessary signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November, 2009.

As Secrest pointed out to The Report, it will take leadership to get the "imposed" sales/use tax validated by the voters.

With Jackson and Regula (the "finger in the wind" politicians they were as elected officials), there was no chance to get voter approval.

But Commissioner Bosley does have the passion, energy and the mind to convince voters to support his plan. He will need and will undoubtedly get the help of Tom Harmon (who early on was disposed not to vote to impose) and the newly elected Dr. Pete Ferguson to convince Stark Countians to confirm the imposed tax.

After the first of the year, commissioners will approve the merger of the Stark County Sanitary Engineer with the Stark County Engineer's officer which will save the county $1.2 million. Also, the county engineer is much more expert at attracting grant money to Stark County and therefore will bring millions more into the county that Stark would not have gotten with separated government engineering functions.

Of course, the 9-1-1 re-work is in and of itself a huge effciency project. Cities, townships and villages will save big time.

Yes, the commissioners must be efficient. But they cannot "make silk out of a sow's ear." To move Stark County into the 21st century in terms of quality of services provided, they needed to demonstrated leadership and impose the sales/use tax.

DISCUSSION: TERIFFIC NEWS FOR STARK COUNTY: MAYORS UNITE FOR ECOMOMIC DEVELOPMENT!

Outstanding news for Stark County as reported in The Repository (12/29/2008).

Massillon's Mayor Francis H. Cicchinell, Jr., William Healy, II (Canton's mayor), Mayor David Held of North Canton and Louisville Mayor Cynthia Kerchner have gotten together to form the Stark County Mayors Association to work out mutual problems and to spur economic development.

Remaining Stark County mayors have been invited to join in.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has long cherished the notion of Stark Countians working together to rebuild Stark County into a strong, economically viable and thriving community.

The Report sees this development as a complement to the efforts of Stark County Commissioners Todd Bosley, Tom Harmon and, now retiring, Jane Vignos efforts at Stark County rejuvenation.

Though times are now tough in Stark County, collaborations like these are harbingers of a better future for all Stark Countians.

Hats off! to the forward looking chief executives!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS THE "CIRELLI PLAN' FOR FIXING 9-1-1 FOR STARK COUNTY POLITICALLY VIABLE?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) highly recommends to all Stark Countians that they read the current series being run by The Repository (Sunday through Wednesday) on the details underlying the justification of why Stark County's 9-1-1 emergency response system needs fixing and fixing now.

As an aside, The Report evaluates that The Reps 9-1-1 series will prove to be "award-winning" journalism.

One of The Repository's most knowledgeable and articulate commenters - Don Cirelli (son of Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli), whose comments can be found on the "online" Rep, immediately following the base article he is commenting on), has proposed (The Report's characterization) in a comment to The Reps Sunday publication of the story: EMS: How long does an emergency rescue crew take to get to your house? - the following as - his way - to fix Stark County's 9-1-1, to wit:
I am concerned about the effect that rationalization would have upon the response time and level of service in the City of Canton. Our own emergency system is second to none, in my opinion. Having worked as a 9-1-1 operator, I witnessed first-hand the professionalism of our highly organized Fire and ambulance system we enjoy here in Canton. There is none better in Stark County. One lesson I have learned in life the hard way is 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Canton's system is not broken and never has been. I am very concerned what bringing in a committee of disparate individuals from across the county to 'fix' 9-1-1 will do to our local emergency response system. 'Watered down' is the phrase that comes to my mind. I trust the people who run Canton's 9-1-1 system. I don't know these other folks, and clearly some of them have screwed up royally in other parts of the county. I don't want them to 'share' their 'expertise' (and authority) with anyone in Canton. I don't buy into the idea that rationalization will improve service in the City of Canton. It's already as good as it gets here. Been there, done that with the 'fixing' of things that don't need to be fixed. The only way I would feel confident about combining our own system with the rest of the county is if our own officials ran the whole thing.
Is the Cirelli proposal politically viable in the milieu of current Stark County politics?

DISCUSSION: THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT'S RECOMMENDED "TURNAROUNDS" FOR AREA POLITICIANS COMING ON 01/01/2009

Sunday, December 28, 2008

DISCUSSION: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NIGHT & DAY: SNITCHLER V. HAGAN?

Ohio's 50th District has gotten the shaft in terms of quality of representation going back to the days when it was Ohio's 56th District and the days of now Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and Republican and Canton South Basketball Coach Red Ash.

Maybe just maybe newly elected Republican Todd Snitchler will prove to be a marked improvement over all his predecessors.

The standard for Snitchler is not very high.

Ash was a popular figure because of his on-court success as a coach. But he did not leave a mark in a positive, signifcant sense as a state representative.

Maier is nothing more than a political operative who wouldn't know how to identify and promote a "productive for the people" substantive policy initiative if it hit him square in the face. As if his own limitations as a legislator wasn't enough, Maier tried to inflict Tuscarawas Township trustee Celeste DeHoff on the 50th. The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that, had she been elected, Democrat DeHoff would have challenged the vacating Republican John Hagan as a literal "bottom of the barrel" variety of politician in terms of being in the thrall of others (highly partisan politicians like Maier, Matthews, Budoff, Batchelder, Harris and Cafaro) and not a tough, independent minded elected official looking to do good for the people he/she represents.

The Report has not exactly been overflowing about the prospect of having Snitchler. But The Report sees promise in this new legislator.

Snitchler has vulnerabilities:

As new representative he will be "learning the ropes" and MAY become enthralled by an experienced politico, let's say a Scott Oelslager. Oelslager is one of those politicos who loves to be helpful. Even to a Democrat (e.g. William Healy - when he represented the 52nd House District). And this is nice of him. But Scott is essentially a "go along to get along" politician that doesn't have the leadership fortitude to press forward with innovative programs and policies that will pull Stark/Ohio out of the economic nightmare we are now in.

Another trap for Snitchler is his symbiotic relationship with the chamber of commerce movement. The Report keeps reminding Stark Countians that the Ohio Chamber of Commerce (OCOC) has been the main "economic policy" adviser for the Ohio Republican Party as it controlled Ohio government over most of the past 20 years, some of it in supermajority control - to what end? Ohio is one the most desperate cases of economic depression in the entire nation. So you rely on a failed organization (the OCOC) as a source to undo its own past misjudgments?

So The Report will be looking at Snitchler to see whether or not he is his own person who demonstrates that he has a first-rate mind coupled with political courage (like a Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley) to do what is effective to solving the 50th's, Stark County's and Ohio's problems in addition to making meaningful progress towards meeting his self-defined goals as set forth below - notwithstanding that he is a minority party representative.

In a article on his swearing-in, The Repository provides a pithy quote on Snitchler's communication to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), to wit:
“We are in an economy where Ohio families are struggling to make ends meet, and where Stark County has been among the hardest hit,” said Snitchler. “A request for this large of a rate increase by an already profitable company, particularly for a basic need like electricity, is out of step with good corporate citizenship. It also would likely make Stark County less attractive to existing and future employers.”
An equally important part of The Rep's piece are the three standards of success or failure that Snitchler sets for himself (much like Governor Strickland set for himself on the issue of fixing public education or "he will be a failed governor") at his swearing-in:
When Snitchler takes office, his plans include pushing [FIRST] for creation of a more business-friendly climate in the state to attract new jobs, as well as [SECOND] a comprehensive review of the state's school funding formula and [THIRD] working to help Ohioans find more affordable health care.
Snitchler has an opportunity to be the best area legislator since the days that former Ohio Senate president Oliver Ocasek to serve in the Ohio General Assembly. What was Ocacek's forte and contribution to the future well-being of Ohio: yes, education!

For the sake of Stark County and, indeed, all of Ohio we all should be pulling for Snitchler.

The Report will be here to analyze, question and evaluate each step-of-the-way.

Congratulations Representative Snitchler, here's wishing you well!

DISCUSSION: GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY A GO IN STARK COUNTY? RETIRING COMMISSIONER JANE VIGNOS DROPS INSISTENCE REGISTERING HER OPPOSITION WITH A VOTE?


Apparently, retiring Stark County Commissioner Jane Vignos is dropping her insistence that she go on record as voting NO on the proposed merger between the Stark County Sanitary Engineer and the Stark County Engineer's office before her term ends at the end of December.

If this report to the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is on the money, The Report applauds this decision to end her political career on a positive note.

While The Report disagrees with Vignos' analysis that the merger is not a good move for Stark County, The Report likes Vignos' willingness to sharpen the dialogue in the obvious face of community wide disagreement. Such is the mark of a mature politician.

The Report read The Rep's piece on Vignos ('She's no plain Jane': Vignos wraps up nearly 30 years in politics ) published in the December 27th edition which provided some detail Vignos' work on behalf of Stark County woment, to wit:
In 1974, Vignos fought for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, organizing the Stark County Coalition for ERA to educate the community about the proposed law that would provide equal rights regardless of gender. About the same time, Vignos helped organize the Canton chapter of the National Organization for Women and took the message of women’s rights to the television airwaves and women's homes.
Yours truly, as the father of three daughters who are professionally credentialed and accomplished women, appreciates women like Jane Vignos who have helped pave the way for future generations of women such as the writer's daughters.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

DISCUSSION: HOW RESPONSIVE, LEADERSHIP CAPABLE ARE STARK COUNTY LEGISLATORS?

The Repository Editorial Board hit the nail on the head with its December 24th piece, "Don't blame the sheriff."

The most poignant observation of the editors is this line: (speaking of the retire/rehire of Sheriff Swanson and Apellate Judge William B. Hoffman) "Any beef shouldn’t be with the judge and sheriff. If you don’t like the law, it’s time to take it up with the Ohio Legislature."

The problem is that Stark County's legislators ARE NOT responsive to the desires of Stark Countians by and large and basically congeal with their respective cacuses even when the interests of Stark County are adverse to caucus interests.

Kirk Schuring (Republican - Ohio's 29th Senate) has told the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that he is not a "cookie cutter" Republican. But The Report asks for more than a self-serving declaration. To quote Burger King Clara: "Where's the beef" to make the assertion more than that - a mere assertion?

The Report personally likes Schuring, but is hard pressed to name one legislative success he has had in his 14 years or so in the Legislature that has had a profound positive effect on Stark County.

Scott Oelslager (Republican - 51st Ohio House) has an equally dismal record. Everyone likes Scott and that's fine. But what has he done to move Stark forward? He has had success with his "open records" legislation. However, most Stark Countians just glaze over when the hear this achievement trumpeted. This is not a "bread and butter" issue which Stark Countians ardently desire (i.e. creating a productive economic climate in Ohio and derivatively to Stark County, fixing Ohio's school funding problem and derivatively Stark County's, et cetera).

Stephen Slesnick (Democrat - 52nd Ohio House) shows every indication of being a stodgy business oriented type who supports solutions that haven't work and therefore Ohio (and Stark County) keeps getting the same old "bad" results.

Representative-elect Todd Snitchler. Ditto the Slesnick remark but with the added burden of being an Ohio Chamber of Commerce "Kook Aid" drinker who is very unlikely to being an innovative, creative legislator that Ohio and Stark County so desperately needs.

For its part, The Repository editorial board points to the Legislature but has never named names when it comes to Stark County legislators as bearing any part of the responsibility for Ohio's deficient legislature.

It seems as if the Stark County legislative delegation is some sort of gentlemen's club that does not want to offend anyone in Columbus and certainly not Stark County.

Can you imagine any of the aforementioned antagonizing the sheriff and Judge Hoffman types (which The Report can assure readers - there are more in the brink of replication the Swanson/Hoffman move), by introducing corrective legislation.

The Report says there is no chance for any of Stark's legislators to initiate such legislation.

While The Rep's editors do "hit the nail on the head," they have been remiss in naming Stark County names with specific legislative agenda failures. With The Rep editors, it is always someone else, their generalities never hits home to the Stark County legislative delegation.

The Report believes The Rep's editors have a "favored-son" relationship with all the elected Statehouse Stark County representatives and therefore are incapable to criticizing their lackluster performance in a repetitive and consistent manner.

Stark Countians know that The Rep editors can get behind a politician they like - in a repetitive and consistent manner (e.g. Janet Creighton Weir).

How about the flipside? When the job isn't get done, why are these editors beating the drum for them to get productive - in specific - or, promise to weigh-in on the becoming unelected?

Friday, December 26, 2008

DISCUSSION: AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT AN "IN-TOUCH" COUNTYWIDE NEWSPAPER OUGHT TO BE DOING?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) spotted this promotion on the online Repository today (edited and rearranged for conciseness and brevity sake).

It is always gratifying to see Stark County's main local news source to be doing what it ought to be doing so that we have better informed Stark County citizenry.

The Rep has failed Stark Countians on the AEP/Ohio Power rate increase issue. One has to wonder what interests Repository "powers-that-be" are afraid of offending on this issue. Maybe someday we will find out?

The issue of AEP/Ohio Power aside, Stark Countians should be devouring the series starting Sunday in The Rep on justifying data and anecdotal accounts which substantiate Commissioner Todd Bosley's call for reforming Stark County's 9-1-1 system consonant with raising county sales/use tax revenues (1/4%).

The Report commends Executive Editor Jeff Gauger and the staff at The Repository for taking a thorough look at 9-1-1 as presently constituted.

DISCUSSION: ALLIANCE REFUSES TO ENDORSE 9-1-1. DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE?

Led by Police Chief Scott Griffith's opposition to the consolidation of a 11 dispatch center to four to two to one dispatch centers over the next few years, Alliance City Council (as reported by the Alliance Review) refused to get on board a Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley plan to reform the county's 9-1-1 system at a council meeting held this past Tuesday.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) thinks council's action is irrelevent and will not stop the Bosley plan.

Certainly there are questions about the process and mechanics of making the transition, but The Report believes the commissioners will impose the project 1/4% increase in the county sales/use tax on December 29th.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

1ST ANNUAL "LUMP OF COAL" AWARDS


In the spirit of bipartisanship, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) makes two awards for Christmas, 2008.

First on tap is Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. for the following reasons:

Maier failed to field a Democratic candidate against Republican Scott Oelslager in the 51st House District.

Maier did field a candidate for the 50th Ohio House District but chose personal political loyalist Celeste DeHoff (who he had to know could not win). He not only supported DeHoff . He went out and helped her raise over $200,000 and brought leading state Democrats (e.g. Strickland, Brown, Cordray, Glenn) to Stark County to campaign on her behalf and made robo calls for her.

What he didn't do was get Lawrence Township trustee Michael Stevens to wholeheartedly support DeHoff after he narrowly lost the Democratic primary to her.

Maier has always made a big deal out of being a political realist. But it must be that everyone has their exceptions.

Sad thing for Democrats is that this was a winnable "open seat" with the right candidate.

Second up, John P. Hagan (Republican - Marlboro).

Senate Bill 221 is this politician's legacy. The bill that was suppost to protect electric users from gigantic increases.

SB 221 was a monumental failure and consequently many Stark Countians have a 52% (residential users), 62% (commercial and industrial users) American Electric Power (AEP)/Ohio Power increase in electric rates on the table.

On the other hand, Hagan opposes a proposal by Commissioner Todd Boxley to impose the Stark County sales/use tax by 1/4% to fix 9-1-1 deficiencies and to provide county revenues to match 2007 levels.

It is truly astounding that John Hagan had the temerity to run for county commissioner (after being term limited out of the Ohio House - 50th) with a track record like this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

DISCUSSION: ITS ALLIANCE VERUS CENCOM (NIMISHILLEN TWP) FOR 4TH DISPATCH CENTER?


Everything seemed "honkey-dorey" with the plan to reorganize Stark County's 9-1-1 into four centers, then to two centers and - ultimately - to one center.

But something has happened, or has it, on the way from the current 11 centers to 4.

Alliance Review reporter Stephanie Ujhely reports (December 23rd) that there is a division in opinion between the carnation city's police and fire chiefs this way:

Griffith, who became police chief three months ago, is skeptical of centralized dispatching. Just recently, he explained, two calls were misrouted to Alliance dispatch from 911, and he expressed his concern that more lives would be at risk from the police standpoint with this proposal.

Cochran, on the other hand, [the fire chief] called himself an "eternal optimist." "I've seen it work in other places, and it very well could be some of our dispatchers answering calls at CenCom," he concluded.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that there is more to this story.

Remember how former chief and sheriff candidate Larry Dordea was somewhat unhappy with The Report because of The Report's assessment that Dordea was against a reformed 9-1-1.

Well, it you have the current police chief resisting a good plan for all of Stark County.

Why? Turfism that's why.

Ujhely's article references two very important factors in The Report coming to the turfism conclusion.

First, the Alliance dispatch center gets significantly more calls than CenCom which operates out of Nimishillen Township.

Second, hich county commissioner has strong ties to Nimishillen Township?

Todd Bosley.

So the Alliance police chief and other Alliance city officials opposed to Alliance being cut out of being one of the four dispatch centers are claiming (in The Report's opinion) that Todd Bosley has exercised political pressure on the Governing Committee of the Stark County Council of Governments to name Nimishillen's CenCom rather the more used Alliance dispatch center as among the initial four centers.

Is this why Alliance officials are resisting?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DISCUSSION: THE HAGAN (MISSING) & REGULA "DOG & PONY" SHOW AT 9-1-1 HEARINGS. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?


Blustery Republican John P. Hagan (who lost to Pete Ferguson on November 4th for a county commissioner post) bragged on Akron radio a week ago or so that he was going to do a “smack-down” (paraphrase) on Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley’s plan for the county commissioners to impose a 1/4% sales/use tax increase in order to reform 9-1-1 while restoring sanity to the Stark County budget.

Well, in apparently chicken-esque fashion he didn’t show up at the December 22nd hearing. Will he show on December 29th? Probably not. As reported in a earlier piece by the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report), he was told to stay away by sitting commissioner Jane Vignos. Hagan can be assured that Bosley will be ready should he does show up at a scheduled December 29th hearing.

If there was any doubt in Hagan’s mind that Bosley would defend his plan and go on the offensive against opponents, all doubt vanished as Bosley dressed down former commissioner Richard Regula (whom Bosley defeated in November, 2006) on Regula’s timid appearance at the December 22nd hearing. Regula was not objecting to the Bosley plan on the condition it ultimately be approved by voters.

Bosley chastised Regula for his half-hearted support for the plan inasmuch as Regula failed to act to reform 9-1-1 and shore up county finances during Regula’s four years as commissioner.

The moral of this story is that proven political cowards do not belong in the same ring with Commissioner Todd Bosley.

In The Report’s estimate both John P. Hagan and Richard Regula are cowardly types who have no leadership ability whatsoever and need to vanish from the Stark County political scene.

if the Stark County Republican Party cannot do better than this duo, it is in for a long, long time as a minority party countywide in Stark County.

DISCUSSION: "YOUNGSTOWN HARRY" BESTS "MASSILLON JOHNNIE?"

Recently the Ohio Democratic Senate Caucus announced that a Youngstown area 29 year old lawyer and political novice has been selected to fill out the term of Congressman-elect John Boccieri for the 33rd District of the Ohio Senate.

In a news report concerning the pick, Maier's words indicate a party boss spurned and filled with the concomitant "furry" that goes with the well-known phrase adapted to this piece.

Anyone with an ounce of "realpolitik" knew the replacement would be from Mahoning County and that Maier's pick (Alliance Councilman Steve Okey had no chance at all).

Anyone but Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., that is.

Maier got bested by the obviously still powerful Harry Mestel of Youngstown.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has heard Maier opine frequently about his continuing ties to Democrats in the Ohio General Assembly.

Well, Harry Mestel hasn't been there since 1993 (when he was in the Senate) whereas Maier was last there in early 2000. Apparently, Mestel has more of a voice in the Ohio General Assembly than Maier despite Maier being more proximately connected to Legislature.

Rather than accept "realpolitik" as he constantly preaches to one and all, Maier hurled insults at the Democrats currently serving in the Senate. Undoubtedly, this will endear Maier to Governor Ted Strickland who needs all the goodwill he can garner from legislative Democrats.

This is the way the Youngstown Vindicator described Maier's reaction:
... Stark Democratic Chairman Johnnie Maier had a lot to say.

Maier complained about the lack of communication he received from the caucus, saying he had to rely on a reporter from The Vindicator for information about the process.

The 11-member caucus, which will add Schiavoni as its 12th member Jan. 5, “disrespected” the Democratic parties in all four counties with the appointment.

“Nobody knows him; I’m sure they’ll have great success in getting him elected” in 2010, Maier said with sarcasm. “There’s only 12 of them for a reason.”

This the second of political humiliations suffered by Maier over the last two months.

First, there was the DeHoff debacle. Notwithstanding the support of the open pockets of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus and of leading Ohio Democrats Strickland, Glenn, Cordray and Brown; Maier was not able to engineer anything close to a victory in Ohio House District #50 for his political protege and loyalist Celeste DeHoff.

Now the Okey snub.

Maier had better pick his next challenge to be one he can win (he is usually good at picking straw men). Or, even his most loyal of the loyalists to his political leadership will have to start entertaining nagging doubts.

If they can look at the political reality of their chairman's failure, certainly DeHoff and Okey have to be wondering how much political wisdom/clout remains with the chairman.

Could the day be not that far away that no one who wants to win will seek the political advice and counsel of Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr? Is the Maier mystique vanishing?

Monday, December 22, 2008

DISCUSSION: VIGNOS - A FRIGHTFUL FINISH?

Commissioner Jane Vignos. Stark County's very own "got milk" celebrity?

Has milk gotten to Jane?

First, she opposes the merger of the Stark County Sanitary Engineer's office with the Stark County Engineer's office which will save Stark Countians $1.2 million annually.

Second, she opposes "cost cutting" measures being instituted by the Stark County sheriff which will result in a $65,000 annual savings. Prisoners will still get adequate milk; just not "the sky is the limit" quantities.

Perhaps, a compromise is in the offing. How about giving the prisoners all the "powdered" milk they want.

This would be "win, win." There would be a substantial savings to the county and the prisoners could drink to their heart's delight. But would they drink powdered milk? Probably not, but are they in a position to make demands?

Back to the commissioner. What's up with Jane? Is she working hard to achieve "got milk" celebrity status with this latest move.

Whatever, she ending her government career on a "sour" milk note, heh?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHY DOES THE REP CONTINUE TO IGNORE THE AEP/OHIO POWER RATE INCREASE ISSUE?


A number of Stark County citizen-activists are mystified as to why Stark County's only countywide newspaper continues to ignore a major issue to many, many Stark Countians.

Yes, it's The Repository that is clearly sitting this one out on the sidelines.

Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis describes the numbers of interested Stark Countians in this way:
The PUCO has the The Stark County Commissioners, the Communities of Plain, Jackson, Perry, Nimishillan, Lawrence, Lake, Canton, Louisville and North Canton on record against these increases. These communities represent approximately 270,000 residents of Stark County, that is well over 3/4 of our counties total population, I just can not see how the PUCO can ignore that.
But apparently The Repository can ignore the scores of Stark Countians who will be affected by whatever actions the PUCO takes.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) says "shame on the powers that be" at The Rep for not siding with the hoi pollio in this fight.

On Saturday, December 20th (yesterday), Louisville citizens Kevin Ellis wrote an e-mail pleading with the "movers and shakers" to weigh-in for the people/businesses of Stark County.

Does The Rep care anything about hard pressed Stark Countians and the financial devastation that the requested AEP/Ohio Power increase would cause day-in, day-out Stark Countians?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

DISCUSSION: SCHURING SHOWS UP IN FIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE IN FIGHT AGAINST AEP/OHIO POWER GIGANTIC RATE INCREASE REQUEST

On December 19th (yesterday), state Senator Kirk Schuring registered a "for the people" complaint to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on the AEP/Ohio Power request for a 52% (residential)/62% (commercial/industrial) rate increase over the next three years.

Schuring is late as evidenced by the timetable in which the PUCO has been taking testimony since October.

See his strong letter to the PUCO by clicking here.

Truly, it is "better late than never."

Who are some of the notable Stark County "nevers" (in terms of speaking up for the people on the proposed rate increase) among our public officials.

First and foremost, a key player as Public Utilities Committee (Ohio House) chair Republican John P. Hagan. Hagan is a true hypocrite of the greatest magnitude. He failed the people of Stark County by not putting more restraints on the size of rate increase requests as chairman in Senate Bill 221. Yet he strains at 1/4% increase in the county sales/use tax to fix 9-1-1 and keep Stark County solvent.

Second, state Rep and Republican Scott Oelslager (51st). A man who brags about being in the Ohio legislature for better than 20 years but has relatively little to show for it. To expect "Mr. Establishment" himself to fight for everydays is bit much. Oelslager is running true to form.

Third, Republican Todd Snitchler, newly elected in the 50th district. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and our local Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce have taken a "Pontius Pilate" stance on the requested increase therefore one wouldn't expect, perhaps, the strongest chamber of commerce type - to be - in the entire Ohio House to come out for everyday people and businesses. Only, and only if the Ohio Chamber of Commerce gives its blessing will Snitchler speak out.

Fourth, Democrat Stephen Slesnick. Some Canton union officials have told the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) that Slesnick cannot be depended on to look out for ordinary Ohioans even though his district is largely made up of working class people.

Fifth, Democrat Mark Okey. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Sixth, Democrat state Senator John Boccieri is probably preoccupied with learning to be Congressman Boccieri that he has forgotten that Stark Countians voted for him by a substantial 57% to 42% margin. How's that for "what have you done for me lately?"

Friday, December 19, 2008

DISCUSSION: A POLITICAL "POST MORTEM:" WHY DID SCHURING LOSE?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that the finger pointing these days from the Schuring congressional campaign in explaining its loss to Democrat John Boccieri is in the direction of the Ohio Republican Party.

There are two factors emphasized in the finger pointing.

First, Robert T. Bennett (chairman) and Kevin DeWine (deputy chairman), masterminds of the Columbus-based Ohio GOP headquarters, presided over the development of the “Youngstown John” strategy as the primary way for the Schuring campaign to attract a simple majority of voters to the Schuring side.

Second, headquarters group decided to put disproportional funding into the Snichler/DeHoff 50th District Ohio House race. Money that was sorely needed by the Schuring campaign.

The Report adds a third as a contributory reason for Schuring nearly 10% loss. It seemed as if Republican political strategists believed Schuring could offset an expected loss (having miscalculated the margin of loss) in Stark by winning in Ashland, Medina and Wayne counties.

The Report comes away with the impression that the Schuring folks were never convinced that the “Youngstown John” approach would be effective. And, as it turned out, it wasn’t.

With the economy coming apart at the seams, the “Youngstown John” emphasis seems trivial at best. At worst, it indicates that an out-of-touch reality that has taken hold of the deep thinkers of the Ohio Republican Party.

Were the Republicans really buying into the notion that Democrat Celeste DeHoff could defeat Republican Todd Snitchler in the gerrymandered Republican 50th Ohio House district?

For the Republicans to have had a realistic possibility of losing this seat, Stark Democrats would have had to field a strong candidate. As it turns out, DeHoff was the weakest candidate that the Democrats could have gotten behind. Certainly, the Ohio GOP had polling information to indicate that reality and yet it funneled money into the Snitchler campaign even to the point of putting him on expensive Cleveland network station television.

This is money that could have and should have gone into the contribution-deficient Schuring campaign.

The 57% to 42% loss by Schuring in Stark County (the largest in the district comprising of Stark, Wayne, part of Medina and Ashland counties), was way too substantial for Schuring to make up in the other counties. For veteran Stark County political observers, it was astounding to see Schuring lose Stark by such a wide margin. Part of the reason for the margin of loss had to be strategizing that had Schuring spending too much time in the decidedly Republican counties.

What Schuring lacked was an abiding Stark presence articulating an economic message that resonated with the voters, At least enough to make Stark County competitive.

For Schuring to win in the context of the Democratic tide that pretty much swept the country, he had to have the very best in political advice and run a flawless campaign.

So in the final analysis, is the Ohio Republican Party and strategizing deficiencies in its leadership duo of Bennett and DeWine to blame for the Schuring loss?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

DISCUSSION: STACIA ERDOS LITTLETON TO BE BOCCIERI REPLACEMENT?



The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that WPXI (Pittsburgh) Weekend Anchor Stacia Erdos Littleton may well be the next state senator from Ohio's 33rd Senate District.

Littleton was not the top choice of any of the county Democratic parties which are part of the 33rd who made recommendations to the Democratic Senate Caucus.

If selected, Littleton would be a compromise choice.

The leading candidstes have been former Mahoning County commissioner David Engler and Poland Township trustee Robert Lidle. Both appear to have lost favor with the caucus because of "political baggage" reported by the Youngstown Vindicator in a December 9th article.

Stark County candidate Steve Okey has a major problem because Stark is a very small part of the 33rd and conventional political wisdom suggests the post will go to a Mahoning County candidate because Mahoning County is the largest voting population factor in the district.

The Report has learned that John Boccieri seems to be favoring Littleton. If, indeed, Boccieri is in her corner, then Littleton could end up as his successor.

Biographical information can be viewed on the WPXI website.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DISCUSSION: IS JANE VIGNOS PLAYING POLITICS WITH STARK COUNTY GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY?

The STARK COUNTY POLTICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Republican Commissioner Jane Vignos saying ugly things about Democrat Stark County Engineer Mike Refus about the proposed merger of the Stark County Engineer's office with the Stark County Sanitary Engineer's office.

This merger will save Stark County $1.2 million a year and will result an increased Stark County capacity to attract millions of dollars in federal and state government grants to underwrite infrastructure improvements and repairs in the county.

Apparently, Vignos is playing politics with the matter as she exits county government on December 31st in retirement. The Report hears that her objection is grounded on Vignos' fear that the newly constituted engineer's office will turned into a huge fundraising apparatus for the Stark County Democratic Party by Rehfus.

There are Stark County Democrats who would do exactly as Vignos fears, if in charge. But not Mike Rehfus.

The Report knows Rehfus well and posits that he is the least partisan Democrat officeholder in Stark County. Vignos' concern is not well-founded and she needs to back off.

Supporting the merger is the thing to do. If Vignos chooses not to do so then she will leave office with a blemish on her legacy.

How so?

Jane Vignos: the commissioner who left office opposing local government efficiency.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

DISCUSSION: WILL DIRECTOR WERSTLER BE IN, OUT OR DIMINISHED IN A RE-WORKED STARK COUNTY 9-1-1?


Pictured to the left is Tim Werstler, a Stark County native, who is Director of Stark County's EMA (Emergency Management Agency) & 9-1-1 Dispatch Center (located in the basement of the Sheriff's Department).

This center is set to be shut down with the dispatch center consolidation which is to take place in the near future.

Werstler is bullish for the Bosley Plan (which includes an increase of 1/4% in the Stark County Sales/Use Tax) to resolve 9-1-1 funding, configuration, structuring and organizational problems. But will he be a key figure in the re-work?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Werstler does not have universal support among Stark County's emergency force leadership.

Seen in the video accompanying the posting, Werstler at the Stark County commissioners meeting of December 2nd, tells the commissioners that he is ready to go to get a revamped 9-1-1 system up and running. But, of course, his work will have to be in the context of the remaining dispach centers: the CenCom (Nimishillen Township), the RED (Regional Emergency Dispatch), Canton City dispatch and Stark Sherrif's dispatch.

The Report spoke with Werstler on Friday about Bosley's Plan and how 9-1-1 is currently set up. The basis of the conversation was in the context of three 9-1-1 calls received by Stark County EMA and 9-1-1 Dispatch Center on December 7th pertaining to a tense unfolding Stark County emergency.

The scene is an accident at Georgetown Rd & Miday Ave in Nimishillen Township. Three 9-1-1 audio files for calls made are included in this blog below for readers to listen in (click on a file a time which should bring up your default audio player) on the progression of the event from the 9-1-1 perspective.



The question is: what is the significance in terms of response times of the three 9-1-1 phone calls (edited to remove name references and phone numbers)?

Werstler indicates that maybe the response of his dispatchers cost a minute or two in terms (shuttling the caller over to the Ohio Patrol rather than to a fire department) of getting the Nimishillen Township Fire Department to the scene of the accident.

A knowledgeable alternative source has told The Report that a "common sense" dispatcher response would have, within 15 to 20 seconds after the dispatcher received the 9-1-1 call and an additional 20 or 30 seconds spent ascertaining that this was clearly a fire/medical situation, had the first caller in touch with the appropriate fire department - and, not re-directed to the Ohio Patrol. This source estimates that two minutes were lost in getting the message to the appropriate fire department.

Of course, a minute or two can be a critical difference when it comes to responding to an emergency.

The Bosley Plan of reconfiguring/reorganizing/restructuring and properly funding 9-1-1 is, as The Report understands it, designed to eliminate dispatching problems as experienced in the Georgetown Rd/Miday Avenue incident as well as the more complicated situations which involve boundary issues and cellphone caller locations.

The Report is lead to understand that dispatching problems like the Georgetown/Miday one are not uncommon under the currently functioning Stark County EMA and 9-1-1 Dispatch Center operations.

Director Werstler's primary goal is for a more thoroughly trained dispatcher core as Stark County evolves to a "one dispatch center" (e.g. a core, perhaps, that will be trained and equipped to make more effective and efficient dispatch decisions and maybe even be trained to provide on-the-line instruction such as emergency CPR walk-throughs to a 9-1-1 caller).

All well and good, but in view of the demise of the Stark County Dispatch Center and at least some some dissatisfaction with the quality of his leadership, the question becomes:

What will be Werstler's role in a reconstituted Stark County 9-1-1?

Monday, December 15, 2008

DISCUSSION: READY FOR A LAUGH? JOHN HAGAN GOING AFTER COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that "the word on the 'political' street" is that defeated Republican Stark County commissioner candidate John Hagan is going after Todd Bosley.

For what?

On the Bosley Plan to have the Board of Commissioners impose an increase of the county sales/use tax by 1/4 of a percent for the primary purpose of fixing Stark County's badly broken 9-1-1 system.

The Report's reaction?

This is like "sending a boy to do man's job."

The Report has further learned that fellow Republican and Commissioner Jane Vignos has told Hagan to stay away from the projected encounter on December 22nd, the day commissioners begin hearings on the proposed increase.

The Report's take?

John Hagan doesn't have the smarts to take Vignos' advice.

If Hagan chooses to take on Bosley, The Report expects him to absorb a ______ ______, (hint: two word phrase related to a donkey) the likes of which Stark County politicos haven't seen in decades.

DISCUSSION: PART III - WILL OSNABURG TOWNSHIP'S FIGHT TO KEEP ESLICH ENVIRONMENTAL, INC'S C & D OPERATION FROM EXPANDING - SUCCEED?

This post in Part III of a three part serious presenting the issues revolving around the future of a Construction and Demolition Debris site located now in Osnaburg Township.

What is the fight?

Township trustees, a number of township residents as well as a collection of East Canton citizens fear that a re-zone ordinance now under consideration by East Canton Village Council (which is a prelude to annexation of the disputed iste) will allow the C&DD to expand way beyond its present size of approximately 20 acres.

East Canton takes the position that it is in the best position to protect area residents from the C&DD becoming a community problem.

The township has zoning violation and environmental violation legal proceedings in progress and wants East Canton to stand aside until the legal wranglings are decided.

The township is confident that it will win in the legal arena and that there will be no expansion beyond the C&DD's current size.

Part I of this series dealt with legal counsel explaining from his perspective what the proposed re-zone/annexation would achieve.

Part II of the series covers expressed citizen skepticism and a plea by these opponents of East Canton's contemplated action that the village not act and give the township an opportunity "to have its day in Court," so to speak.

Part III presents an exchance between various village councilmen and Trustee Donna Middaugh on village intentions and consequences of village action/inaction.

What follows is the text of an e-mail received by the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) on December 10th. To wit:

I did talk to Kirk Norris at the Health Department about the size of the landfill. The original application filed in September 2005 was for a total footprint of 117.4 acres.
If the setback of 1,000 feet from water wells is considered, the landfill would be about 80 acres total. The 80 acres includes the present landfill of 20 acres ALDA (active) and 8.5 acres ILDA (Inactive - future growth). I was wrong with the 108.5 acre size that would be 80 acres in addition to the present landfill.
However, if the Village water lines were extended out to the water wells involved, the setbacks would not be needed and the landfill would be over 100 acres. The proposed setback of 300 feet from the property lines would reduce the 117.4 acre footprint by only a few acres - maybe 10 acres. If the Township would lose the zoning court case, our worst case situation and the Village I-2 district would only differ by a few acres. If the Township wins the zoning case, we could set the size at 20 acres. Big difference!
I hope the Village will wait until our zoning court case and the ERAC cases are resolved before trying to annex again.
What follows is a video of the exchange between village council members, Trustee Middaugh and the presentation of a Motion to Table by Councilman Nick Collins followed at the end of the video with a vote approving the motion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

DISCUSSION: ISN'T THIS A STRANGE NOTION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

Whether or not the William Healy, II can get re-elected will depend, in large part, on Cantonians believe he has the city heading in the right direction.

A huge part of the "heading in the right direction" enhancing job opportunities for Canton residents.

The revelation in today's edition of The Repository that the Healy administration has farmed out the city's workers' compensation business to a Cuyahoga County firm with the "merely" co-incidental factor that some of the firm's officials contributed to the Healy mayor campaign of yore, does not bode well for a second Healy term.

"Team Healy" apparently thinks that Canton voters are completely uninitiated about politics and buy the story that there is no connected between campaign contributions and the placing of business.

Even if The Rep's investigative reporter cannot directly tie the awarding of the contract some sort of "pro quid quo," Healy can rest assured that his action will be a major issue through his re-election bid.

There still will be whispers in the nooks and crannies of the voting precincts of Canton.

What will be talked about in public in a glaring sort of way in mayoralty debates and other public appearance by the candidate, is the snubbing of Canton-based AultComp.

The Healy administration says it is on a Canton/Stark County-centered economic development revival model. Really?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that on economic development issues alone, the mayor has caused severe damage to his re-election prospects.

The Report believes that the Healy decision to go outside Canton/Stark County was unwise on every count.

And for him to become an evangelist for re-directing the Stark County commissioners from the county's present association with AultComp to 1-888-OHIOCOMP should be and is offensive to those of us who live outside of Canton but who demand that our government officials favor local business when they are competitive.

Is Healy really this politically uninformed? Wow?

One more question: Why did Kim Perez (Stark County auditor) receive political contributions from Cuyahoga Countians?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

DISCUSSION: EXAMPLES OF "TAX & SPEND DEMOCRATS" OR "CITY PLANNERS?"

Today, The Repository ran a piece detailing a change in parking fees/fines in the city of Canton.

When the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) read this article, a certain thought rushed to the forefront.

What was it?

Well, with a 267% increase in parking fees at Canton's parking meters and a 100% increase in parking meter violations producing an estimated $250,000 more in revenue to city coffers - what else could it be?

Yes, you have it.

"Tax and spend Democrats" at it again!

Justified or not, nationwide, Republicans have done a job on Democrats in their concerted and sustained effort to tag them as being "taxers and spenders." The Report believes that every time a Democrat votes for a revenue increase (either as a direct purpose - or - as claimed here - indirectly); this Republican "mantra-esque" phrase pops up in the mind of most voters.

The official reason given for the increases are so that Stark Countians can find "parking space" in downtown Canton during business hours (parking meter spaces are free after 6:00 p.m.).

Apparently, the thinking is, now that spaces will presumably be freed up; folks who don't ordinarily go to downtown Canton from 8 through 5 will flock there in droves. Why? Because of open and easy parking.

So downtown merchants and business centers (ironically - most likely owned by Republicans) need to be bracing for the onslaught of an increase in business?

But who really believes that the measure is "primarily" to create space?

Canton and most likely all other Stark County political subdivisions (a number of which are controlled by Republicans - e.g. North Canton) are combing ways and means to make up for the short fall in revenue with the American economy being in the throes of a recession which began in December, 2007.

The Report again asks: Is this a case of primarily raising revenues or freeing up parking space in downtown Canton?

DISCUSSION: OHIO POWER TO "GET A CHARGE" SOONER THAN EXPECTED?

Courtesy of reader and community contributor and citizen-activist Kevin Ellis of Louisville, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that the staff of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) are on the verge or raising electric rates of Stark Countians who are Ohio Power customers a whopping 11%, perhaps, as soon as January, 2009.

Ellis referred The Report to an article (dated 12/12/2008) by Business First Columbus (byline - Jeff Bell) which indicated that PUCO will not be in a position to rule on AEP's request for a 52%/62% (residential/business-industry) over the next three years until after January 14, 2009 because legal proceedings will remain open until that date.

The Report points out to readers that the opportunity for this sudden and draconian increase is a legacy of term-limited out Ohio Representative John P. Hagan (50th Ohio District located in Stark County). Republican Hagan, as a member of the Ohio General Assembly, has been chair of the House's Public Utilities Committee and a proponent of Senate Bill 221 which - now being the law of Ohio - allows for the interim rate increase action.

Hagan, who recently lost his bid to continue as an elected official, is said to be depressed by is loss to Democrat Pete Ferguson.

One has to wonder if Hagan can now relate to the loss and concomitant depression that users of Ohio Power are likely to experience in the near future when reality sets with the receipt of dramatically higher electric bills?

Friday, December 12, 2008

DISCUSSION: A CONVERSATION WITH CANTON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR ROBERT TORRES

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) touched base with Robert Torres, Director of Economic Development for the city of Canton this past week.

On the American Electric Power (AEP) rate increase. The Report asked Torres whether or not he had been contacted by AEP in his capacity as Canton's economic development person and asked to appear on behalf of AEP at the Canton hearing (Glenwood Middle School - October 16th).

The Report noted to Torres that it appeared, because of the number of economic development types testifying, that AEP had gone out and solicitied these folks in sort of a coordinated fashion to be at the hearing to buttress the AEP request for a 52%/62% increase in AEP/Ohio Power.

Torres denied that Canton was part of a coordinated AEP effort. Torres expressed regret (The Report's word) that Canton had made any appearance at all because many at the hearing took his statment (speaking for himself) and Mayor Healy's statement as being pro-AEP rate increase. He said Canton should have remained on the sidelines and neutral as Canton needs an economically viable AEP/Ohio Power while keeping business/industry competitive.

Mayor Healy did eventually issue a supplemental communication expressing concern about the financial stress that the requested increase would cause to Canton business, industry and residents.

On government giving subsidies to lure to businesses into Canton. Torres said that whether or not subsidies are granted in dependent on a cost/benefit analysis. He cited a number of examples to give the concreteness to his position.

Torres talked about a business which was 99% completed in terms of relocated to Canton. At the end of the process, the ownership asked about the availability of a subsidy. Torres' response was to say none were available in light of the fact the the business was not going to be backtracking on the relocation when the process was at the 99% completed stag.

Another example. If a business, let's say a retail pizza business operation expresses interest in relocated to Canton. Torres says there would be likely be no chance that Canton would offer any kind of subsidy since Canton has as many pizza businesses as it needs.

Asked about doing economic development in times like these (i.e. the United States has been in a recession since December, 2007), Torres said that tough economic times like these make it imperative that economic planners get very creative in luring and maintaining new businesses and that he welcomed the challenge.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

DISCUSSION: STEVE OKEY IS NOT A GOOD CHOICE TO REPLACE JOHN BOCCIERI IN OHIO SENATE

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that all Stark County's elected officials have signed on as endorsing the application of Democrat Alliance Councilman Steve Okey to succeed Congressman-elect John Boccieri in representing Ohio's 33rd Ohio Senate district which includes only the eastern slice of Stark County.

The Report takes a contraian point of view to Stark's elected Democrats.

It is becoming apparent to The Report that Steve Okey only abides and communicates with those who agree with him 100%; a hallmark of public official arrogance.

Only yesterday The Report telephoned Okey to get his take on his chances to become state Senator Okey. Okey answered the phone but begged off because he had a meeting to attend promising to get back to The Report.

Well, a day and one-half later, Okey hasn't gotten back.

A month or so ago The Report sent an inquiry to Okey via e-mail. No response. The matter was not important enough for The Report to pursue. But a mental note was made.

Now the telephone incident.

Putting two and two together, The Report recalls a piece published in this blog in which Okey was criticized for a position he took as an Alliance city councilman (reference: "Democrats on Alliance City Council Not Lookin Too Good," August 5, 2008).

Aha. Eureka! It appears Okey is punishing The Report for being critical.

Sounds a lot like something Republican state Rep. John Hagan (50th) does. Hagan is probably the most arrogant politician in Stark County and perhaps Okey sees him as a person to emulate.

One thing that voters have had their fill of is political arrogance. As much as The Report would like to see a Stark Countians get the nod, Steve Okey does not appear to be the right fit.

If The Report's assessment of Okey is correct - just on a public official accessiblity factor alone - it would be a huge mistake for the Ohio Democratic Senate Caucus to appoint Steve Okey as John Boccieri's replacement.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DISCUSSION: IN VIEW OF OHIO'S ECONOMY PLUNGING, WHAT IS STRICKLAND'S LIKELIHOOD OF BEING RE-ELECTED?

Today Quinnipiac University (located in Connecticut) release a poll showing that 54% of Ohioans say Ted Strickland will be re-elected in November 2010.

Though still very respectable, 54% is a drop from the 60% that Strickland won by in 2006.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) wants to know whether not this polling sentiment (54%) is shared by Stark Countians.

Watch the video of Strickland speaking to Stark Countians (in Canal Fulton) on October 26th.

Then come back to the poll which appears next and cast your vote as to whether or not you think Strickland will be re-elected in 2010.

DISCUSSION: DID THE PUCO MISLEAD PLAIN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES ON A HEARING DATE?

This morning the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) received an e-mail from Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis about deficiencies in a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) notice on hearings concerning an electric rate increase case pending before the PUCO.

Giavasis, who is a Stark County leading light in fighting the AEP/Ohio Power 52% over three years rate increase request, complained that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had led the township trustees to believe that there would be at least one additional opportunity for the trustee and any other interested Ohioan to appear in Columbus to give additional testimony on the AEP request.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) contacted Paul Duffy, chief legal counsel for the PUCO, and addressed questions to him about the notice that Plain trustees received.

Duffy said that he didn't think the PUCO did any thing wrong in terms of the content of a letter it sent to the township on November 28th acknowledge receiving the trustees' resolution opposing the AEP increase, but that he could see how the trustees could misconstrue the reference to the hearing aspect of the letter (see the yellow/green highlighted portions of the accompanying graphic to see the relevant language).

The Report too sees why the Plain trustees would (as they did) call the PUCO about the specifics of a hearing (location, date and time of day) looking at the language contained in the letter.

Imagine the trustees' consternation when told that THE hearing was in progress as they spoke.

Well, there was a hearing in progress but it was a hearing for "officially" entered intervenors only. As this is the last day that the hearing will be open (as The Report understands Duffy) barring a request that it be held open for an additional time for rebuttal of testimony given today.

So The Report thinks it is the job of Stark County's legislators (listen up Slesnick, legislator-elect Snitchler, Schuring and Oelslger to make inquiry with the PUCO as to how rephrase the letter so that future misapprehension of the hearing matter can be avoided.

In a nutshell, The Report does believe that the language is ripe to mislead and encourages the PUCO, with coaching from Stark County's area legislators, to restructure the discussion in its "stock letter" response to make it crystal clear that the letter IS NOT notice of a specific hearing.

DISCUSSION: IMPRESSIVE - STARK DEVELOPMENT BOARD OBJECTS TO AEP/OHIO POWER INCREASE. WHY? AEP IS DEPENDING ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PEOPLE!


How did this happen? An entity focusing on economic development objects to the gigantic 52%/62% AEP/Ohio Power proposed increase?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) remembers the seeming unending line of economic development types who appeared - obviously at AEP's behest - at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio hearing of October 16th at Glenwood Middle School located in Canton.

Even Canton's economic development director showed up to support AEP only to back off later when Mayor Healy reversed the city's position.

So it had to take some courage for the Stark Development Board to go to bat for the small businesses of Stark County who will not get any breaks from AEP when the higher rates (whatever they turn out to be) go into effect.

DISCUSSION: WILL THIS GUY EVER GO AWAY - JOHN HAGAN - STARK COUNTY'S HYPOCRITE-IN-CHIEF?

It is becoming clear that Stark County Republican John P. Hagan (lame ducking his way through his final days as Ohio Rep - 50th) is already aiming for the 2010 elections.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that John P. Hagan, recently defeated by Pete Ferguson for county commissioner (in an effort to stay on the public payroll), is out making a fuss about Commissioner Todd Bosley's plan to fix Stark's 9-1-1 and Stark's longer term financial budgeting problems.

The Report has heard from a reliable source that the grandstanding Hagan blustered on WHLO (Akron) 640 AM that he was going to the hearings scheduled for December 22nd and 29th by the commissioners to lead the fight against the Bosley plan.

Well, if he follows through on his bellicose rhetoric, it will be the first time this guy has fought for anything. Moreover, it will show - yet again - what a shameless hypocrite he is.

As chairman of the Public Utilities Committee of the the Ohio House, he was one of Speaker Jon Husted's handmaidens in putting the screws to everyday people by constructing legislation that enabled AEP/Ohio Power to ask for an outrageous 52% increase in electric rates over the next three years.

And, if Governor Strickland had not intevened; the shafting of everydays would even have been greater.

So on the one hand - because of Hagan's failure to protect - many Stark Countians (assuming an electric bill of $100 monthly now) may be paying $52 a month ($616 annually) more to Ohio Power three years down the road.

On the other hand, Hagan wants to "go to the wall" to stop an increase of , on the average, $7 dollars a month ($84 annually) in a 1/4% sales/use tax increase so that Stark County commissioners can fix a "broken" 9-1-1 system and get Stark back to 2007 levels of funding for vital public services.

That's how John Hagan's mind functions. Screw everydays by lining the pockets of Ohio Power. Screw everydays by fighting the fixing of 9-1-1 and and other vital public services that mostly connect to day-in, day-out citizens than anyone else.

As poor of a county commissioner The Report thinks Pete Ferguson will make, he is a world ahead of John P. Hagan especially in caring about middle income and working class folks.

So The Report thinks this guy with his poltical stunt is taking aim at Commissioner Todd Bosley in 2010 when he is up for re-election.

In the meantime, it will be a struggle for Hagan. He will have to go back to being Joe err John the Plumber.

It has never ever occurred to The Report that Hagan has a "biblical" aspect to him. But this exercise he's got going now is clearly a modern day Stark County example of a guy "straining at a gnat" while "swallowing a camel."

Nice going John. You finally gotten good at something - "being a first-rate hypocrite!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

DISCUSSION: WHO IS MORE IN TUNE WITH THE FUTURE OF STARK COUNTY? THE "CANTON" REPOSITORY OR THE "AKRON" BEACON JOURNAL?

The Repository, in the opinion of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) feeds Stark County negativity.

A week ago today an editorial writer at The Rep wrote an editorial that was not helpful to Stark County digging itself out of its economical/financial hole.

Stark County's commissioners have demonstrated to The Report that they want and facilitate public input on all matters. For the specific editorial writer to imply (by encouraging the commissioners to listen to Stark Countians in multiple ways) that such is not the case, is proof-positive that the writer and, perhaps, the whole body of the editorial room folks at The Rep are out-of-touch with how the commissioners relate to everyday Stark Countians.

Moreover, for editorialist to advocate for a "renewable" tax increase, if the commissioners decide to impose one, is the epitome of short sightedness. As The Report has said before, "Oh yes, improve 9-1-1 only to have it subject to being dismantled because the public will not vote for a renewal" (given Stark County's historical anti-tax attitude) is not having very much of a grip on Stark County's political realities.

The AKRON Beacon Journal - on the other hand - does get it and its editorial board does a splendid job articulating upon and supporting (as seen in the accompanying graphic which only has the first paragraph of the editorial) the "bold and creative local leader[ship] that Commissioner Todd Bosley has brought to the commissioners' office.

So it seems that for encouragement these days, Stark Countians ought to be going online to www.ohio.com rather that www.cantonrep.com.

That's how The Report sees it. How do you see it?

DISCUSSION: THE NAYSAYERS ON BOSLEY PROPOSAL TO GET FUNDING FOR A REVAMPED 9-1-1 ARE IN THE MINORITY?


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley has received about 67 e-mails as feedback on the Stark County public's reaction to his "Reform 9-1-1 Now" plan (The Report's characterization).

Bosley says that the feedback is more positive than negative with some of it being in the middle.

Bosley further says that for those in the middle or even against the plan, once he explains the details of the plan - then they become more favorable.

Of the 67 Bosley says that about 44 were positive with most the remainder falling in the middle with a few being outright negative.

The question: Are you suprised for the generally favorable take on the Bosley plan?

DISCUSSION: WHO REALLY LOST IN OHIO'S 50TH HOUSE DISTRICT?

In the video posted below, Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. tells a Celeste DeHoff campaign rally how important the 50th Ohio House District was?

Maier put everything he had as a veteran Stark County and Ohio politician into this race.

The stakes could not be higher for Maier.

Win and be celebrated in Columbus as a re-validated mythological-esque party chieftain that can - when devoted and committed to the cause - make a winner out of even the most non-descript candidate (as the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT [The Report] believes DeHoff was).

Lose and tarnishment of the mythological image as the handiwork of losing begins its erosive work.

Undoubtedly, Maier pushed the Ohio Democratic House caucus to put tons of money into DeHoff's campaign. He got Governor Strickland, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio Treasurer (now attorney general) Richard Cordray as well as former senator and U.S. astronaut John Glenn to come to Stark County to campaign for DeHoff. Stark County Democratic political strategist and tactician Shane Jackson was put to work on the campaign. Massillon councilwoman (and, in the opinion of The Report - likely candidate for Massillon mayor in 2011) Kathy Catazaro-Perry was brought on board as campaign treasurer.

And, the field was ripe to be harvested! The 50th was an open seat. Veteran politicians covet running for an open seat. Especailly a seat like this one which was gerrymanndered Republican to keep it Republican. The time to turn a gerrymandered seat over is when it is open.

So why did DeHoff err Maier lose?

The Report believes that Maier chose DeHoff because of personal political loyalty factors. It's hard to believe that a political warhorse like Maier would do such a politically foolish thing. In a Republican district you pick a candidate

For a politico like Maier and consummate politicos everywhere - winning is everything, especially when that politico has put his/her political prestige on the line.

You notice that Barack Obama did not go to Georgia, as president-elect, to campaign for the Democrat senatorial candidate in his run-off against Saxbe Chambliss. Why? Because the on-the-ground-politicos knew the odds of the Democrat winning were between "slim and none" and slim just left town.

Obama's political people were not about to allow party loyalty to tarnish his impressive political victory over McCain.

So yes, The Report says that the "real" loser in the 2008 Ohio House 50th District was none other than Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

In the 50th District House race, personal political loyalties trumped everything Maier knows about political realities.

Monday, December 8, 2008

DISCUSSION: PART II - WILL OSNABURG TOWNSHIP'S FIGHT TO KEEP ESLICH ENVIRONMENTAL, INC'S C & DD OPERATION FROM EXPANDING - SUCCEED?

In the video that follows, watch as East Canton/Osnaburg Township residents step up and tell East Canton's Village Council what action they want council to take on the Eslich Environmental, Inc. move to get a re-zone it can live with as a prelude to being annexed by East Canton.

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is impressed with these citizens who do not sit idly by and let things happen to them. But rather seize the inltiative in their quest to shape their future.

Hats off to the citizens of East Canton and Osnaburg Township for "seizing the day" and being active to control the community's destiny.

Watch the accompany video for the the argument that these citizens make for themselves and future generations of East Cantonians.

DISCUSSION: HE WANTED THE JOB. NOW HE HAS IT. IS HE UP TO IT?

When he was campaigning in the Democratic primary, Pete Ferguson was firm in his conviction that more could be cut from the Stark County budget.

He couldn't provide the specifics. But he was confident there was still slack to be cut.

Well, Commissioner-elect Ferguson will have his chance to comb county operations for cost-cutting opportunities.

Could it be that Ferguson has a magic pair of eyes that enable him to spot excessive spending that neither Commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos have been able to discern?

Stark County operated on $58 million plus revenue in 2007. In 2009 it is slated to be about $52 million. Five or so million is a lot of cutting to do.

Of course, Ferguson could vote to impose the Commissioner Bosley proposal to increase the county sales/use tax by a net 1/4 of a percent and then not have to do any cutting at all. If he votes to impose the additional tax, it will be interesting to see how he get from his Democratic primary position of "there are more cuts that can be made" to "no there aren't" and Stark County needs additional revenue. Isn't this an example of the box some politicians put themselves in?

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) is skeptical that Ferguson can find anything to cut. More power to him, if he can. But it is one thing to engage in campaign rhetoric and it is another to have to deliver.

Whether it is the judges, the Veterans Commission, the Board of Elections or Sheriff Swanson, Ferguson can be sure that the budgetary pressures "upward" will be the reality he has to deal with.

Is Ferguson up to handling the political realities of holding office?