Saturday, November 21, 2009


The SCPR believes that the effort to rework Stark County's 9-1-1 centralized dispatch to one center (with a backup) out of the currently existing 10 centers suffered a grievous blow on Thursday.

How's that?

The resignation of Chief Tom Burgasser (Massillon FD) was not good for the Governance Committee (of the Stark County Council on Governments - SCOG).

At Wednesday's Stark County commissioner's meeting Commissioner Tom Harmon expressed surprise that Burgasser had voted "no" on presenting the refashioned plan formulated by Gonzalez and Project Manager Tom Concatto.

He (Harmon) said "it [the Burgasser vote] was confusing to him."

Well, the SCPR talked with Tom Burgasser today and he told the SCPR that he  the plan presented by the Governance Committee was not the plan he got on board with back in December, 2008.  Burgasser was clear.  Under the original sales/use tax plan, the 9-1-1 project was to get $5.5 million or thereabouts.

What would have kept Burgasser on board, notwithstanding the repeal of the the county imposed sales/use tax of 0.50 of a percent?

Commissioner Harmon keeping his December, 2008 promise to provide the 9-1-1 project about $5.5 million rather than the $2.7 million now projected.

Governance Committee chair Randy Gonzalez puts it this way to the SCPR:  "The funding beyond what we requested  [$2.7 million]  is not about the plan, we were promised what we asked for."


Burgasser says that he understands the press of budget squeezes.  He has how own to deal with in Massillon.  But Harmon's fudging on the initial understanding was key to Burgasser.

The SCPR take on Burgasser is that he is not a politician.  He is direct and to the point.  Exactly the kind of guy that the Governance Committee needs to have asking pointed questions and getting satisfactory answers, if the 9-1-1 reformation is to happen in a unified sort of way.

The SCPR thinks what happened to fracture the "apparent" harmony is this:

After the repeal of the sales tax, Harmon and Gonzalez had a conversation.   In this conversation, Harmon shared with Gonzalez the critically-dire financial that Stark County will be in come 2011, if Stark voters fail to renew and add to the soon-to-expire 1/4 of a percent sales tax tax exists.

Gonzalez says "okay, how about if we (SCOG) scrap the plan to buy 800 megahertz radios for all and dip into the $6.8 million currently collected to fund paying the centralized dispatchers and then we will publicly say we are satisfied with the $2.7 million that was collected through the first six months of collection on the imposed tax."

To repeat, the foregoing is what the SCPR thinks happened - post repeal of the sales tax.

Obviously, Harmon and Gonzalez will never, ever own up to the SCPR's version.

To the rest of the story.

All who have covered Gonzalez should recognize that Gonzalez is a "might-makes right-type-of-guy."

An example:

Gonzalez got up with Sam "Darth Vader to the Township" Sliman when Jackson Township and Canton worked out a joint economic agreement which was "in-the-face" of North Canton.  So much so, that North Canton has litgation going to undo the deal.

At the Stark County commissioners meeting where the commissioners were asked to approve the Canton/Jackson plan, Gonzalez talked about how Canton and Jackson with their dominant population numbers ("2/3rds of all of Stark County's population")  constituted an irresistible force that would and should control Stark County's economic development.

The Canton/Jackson Township "overwhelming numbers argument" was the first time the SCPR heard it, but certainly was not to be the last.

Another example:

The "overwhelming numbers argument" in the 9-1-1 discussion is this:  fire departments only represent 20% of the calls that dispatchers get countywide, police departments get 80% of the calls.  Therefore, according to "Gonzalez "might-makes-right" logic, the police factor controls and Stark County's fire departments had better sign on or get steamrolled.

Are not, the SCPR asks, the Canton/Jackson and the 9-1--1 as examples of the Gonzalez overwhelming numbers argument, indicative of a pattern for a man who is now chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party?

The pattern:

The party Gonzalez heads up controls all countywide elected offices except for some judgeships;

Gonzalez  holds multiple government positions within county:  he works for Democratic kingpin Phil and Canton Muny clerk of courts Giavasis as his chief deputy, he is fiscal officer in Jackson Township and  he has has friends and relatives sprinkled throughout Stark County government drawing paychecks from the Stark County public only to deny he has any hand in the hirings?

What Gonzalez is creating for himself and perhaps, unfortunately, a sorely need fix for a "state-of-the-art" 9-1-1 centralized dispatch?

A backlash!

Wise leaders do not bully.

Although - on the surface - Gonzalez seems congenial enough, the SCPR believes he is a political bully who cuts deals in political backrooms and then goes about bulldozing all opposition to the conjured plans.

Gongzalez also fictionalizes.  In the the video that follows, readers/viewers of the SCPR can hear/see talk about "turf wars" being over.

Gonzalez above all, knows better.  And rather than work for plans to bring those with particular interests on board, he fantasizes, papers over and cajoles those with real - not simply turf - concerns.

Yet another instance of an "overwhelming numbers argument" follows:

Gonzalez deals with Rich Peterson (fire chief/Nimishillen) by saying "Nimishillen only dispatches for one police department [Magnolia], the rest are fire departments" and thereby by the "might-is-right" mode of thinking (remember the 80/20 factor) marginalizes Peterson into the inconsequential.

In doing his "might-is-right" schtick, Gonzalez  may take some very worthy causes down with him as he creates conditions for a backlash to take hold.

Burgasser probably would not think of himself in terms of being a harbinger/personification of backlash, but the SCPR sees that Gonzalez may unwittingly be creating conditions for a backlash that is fueled by folks feeling they are being ramrodded.  

Burgasser made a compelling point to yours truly in our conversation today.

Paraphrasing:  "What is this putting up of defectively responded to 9-1-1 calls on the "Vote Yes for Public Safety" website which were all (i.e. 100%) fire/ems calls and then saying that the 80% police factor should prevail over the the 20% fire/ems factor as controlling?"

A great question and Burgasser's ability to "cut-to-the-chase" is a compelling reason why SCOG's Governance Committee should insist that Tom Burgasser get back on the committee.

Gonzalez would like to convince the public that opponents or even questioners of the SCOG plan as being a case of "the tail wagging the dog."  But are they?

The SCPR is not a big fan of Rich Peterson who is fire chief in Nimshillen.  The Report continues to think that his resistance to the countywide centralized dispatch using one center and a backup is more personal than based on critical technical deficiencies in the SCOG Governance Committee plan.  And Peterson may be impossible to deal with.  But the Gonzalez approach engenders more resistance among Stark County's fire chiefs than Rich Peterson.

Nimishillen citizen and community cohesion promoter (who ran for and lost in the Nimishillen trustees race several weeks ago) Ron Derry is shown on the accompanying video asking Stark commissioners (11/18/2009) about the existence of a "Vote No Increased Taxes Committee" plan alternative to the SCOG plan.

The answer:  there is no alternative plan, except for the "discredited" (in the opinion of the SCPR "Peterson Plan."  And the SCPR believes there will be none from the Vote No people.  If one comes, it will be from the Stark County Fire Chiefs Asslociation.

North Canton's Chief Bacon (fire department) is trying to cobble together a plan for the Stark County Fire Chiefs Association.

Will he get the delay he asks for next Tuesday?

If Gonzalez is consistent, the fire chiefs will not.  You have to remember that the determining group is a SCOG group.

Yesterday, this from Chairman Gonzalez:
Police calls are 80% of dispatching in Stark County, as for fire; Canton city, Jackson twp, Plain twp are on board. With all that combined I believe close to 90% of dispatching in Stark County is part of the Governance Brd Plan.

Think they won't have Gonzalez  and his "overwhelming numbers argument" in mind when they make their decision?

The SCPR likes the SCOG Plan, but is not opposed to another concrete plan being presented.  Just like yours truly voted to retain the "imposed" sales/use tax, while decrying the circumventing of our democratic processes.

An alternative plan should not have a Peterson stamp of approval.

Because he appears to have too much of a personal interest (i.e. being rejected for 9-1-1 project manager and having sold the Nimishillen trustees a "bill of goods" on the viability of the CenCom Center, Peterson should remove himself as being a factor in the formulation of a "fire chiefs" plan or any other plan that would apply to all of Stark County.  If he does not,  any plan presented with his imprimatur will be suspect in terms of the benefit to be derived by most Stark Countians.

Citizen Derry as well as all Stark Countians are better served when there are options.

But they must be credible options!

Here is the video.

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