Sunday, January 18, 2009


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has long advocated that there be a consensus among area legislators as to developing a list of legislative priorities for the "particular" good of Stark County.

Area Republican and Democrat legislators need to join together in agreeing on a consensus of what the legislative priorities are for our county and agree to vote together on the agreed items irrespective of the Ohio House/Senate Democratic/Republican caucus positions.

There is an "unwritten" rule in each caucus that if 80% of the caucus members vote on a certain position on an issue before the House/Senate, then the remaining 20% will vote to support the caucus position.

That's what political parties do for the citizens of Ohio.

It is all about the political parties and their respective leadership. Not about legislators voting (win or lose) for the direct interests of their specific sets of constituents.

More and more Stark Countians and Ohioans consider themselves very fluid on their politics. Citizens are beginning to realize that political parties are in the main out to aggrandize themselves and, secondarily, work for the good of everyday citizens.

A good example of the parties "screwing the people" is SB 221, the bill which supposedly protected Ohio's electric consumers from the ravages of "free market" electric rates.

"Free market" electric rates were the brainchild of supermajority Republicans who controlled the Ohio General Assembly in 1999. They placed "free market" electric rates in motion in 1999 when they included a "free market" structure and mechanism in SB 3.

In 1999 the Stark County delegation to Columbus would have included Democrat Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, (Ohio House) as well as Mary Cirelli (Ohio House) and Republican Scott Oelslager (Ohio Senate) together with Kirk Schuring (Ohio House).

The Report assumes Maier and Cirelli voted against SB 3. So Stark Countians Oelslager and Schuring were part of the "cram-down" by the supermajority Republicans.

SB 3 constructed a phase-in through 2005 when full-fledged market rates were to hit full force on Ohio residential and business users.

Only problem? There was no COMPETITIVE "free market" (no matter what former 50th District Ohio House Republican John Hagan says) in 2005 nor in 2008 or 2009 - you name the year. So the Legislature, fearing a political backlash went to a regulatory scheme call the "Rate Stabilization Plan."

Rate Stabilization Plans, which did protect residents and businesses from spikes in their electric bills, expired on December 31, 2008. Hence you get SB 221.

We all know that SB 221 was a total shaft of Ohioans and derivatively Stark Countians - especially the part that gives electric companies the right via an "absolute veto mechanism" to increase their rates to whatever level they wish.

Oh yes, there is in SB 221 the Electric Security Plan (ESP) that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has final say on, BUT NOT REALLY.


Because the electric company who proposes an ESP can, under SB 221, veto any modified ESP and go to market rate.

All Stark County legislators were "asleep at the switch" on this one: Hagan, Healy, Oelslager, Okey, Boccieri and Schuring (remember how he - as head of the Ohio Retirement Study Commission - was "asleep at the switch" on STRS abuses of educator retirees' money and his responsibility to oversee the STRS) and even Governor Ted Strickland!

Now that the damage is done, those pictured above need to come together to amend SB 221 to take out the veto power.

You the citizens of Stark County ought to be flooding their offices with e-mails, letters and telephone calls insisting on it.

To prevent this from happening in the future we need to have a Stark County Legislative Caucus that meets with area citizens and has a dialogue with Stark Countians to determine the contents of proposed legislation that is good for or bad for Stark Countians.

Citizens who meet with the legislators should not just take the elected officials' word for what is contained in a given bill. No! Never!

Read the bill. Go to the website of the House/Senate get the analysis of the Legislative Service Commission (LSC).

Stark Countians should insist that the Stark County delegation vote Stark County's interest. Not the Republican/Democratic parties interest. Or, the governor's interest.

The Report will be putting pressure on area legislators to put together a structure to meet collectively with everyday Stark Countians and from the dialogue construct a Stark County agenda which the make known to the Stark County public.

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