Friday, November 27, 2009


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) hereby recognizes Doctor Peter D. Ferguson (Stark County commissioner - elected November, 2008) for his efforts to bring a Veterans Clinic/Hospital to the former Doctors Hospital now Affinity Medical Center to Perry Township.

The effort "apparently" has proved unavailing as the SCPR predicted and which was anticipated by Pete Ferguson himself.

In a recent conversation with Commissioner Ferguson, he bemoaned to The Report the inertia in place at the Veterans Administration (VA) in Washington.  Ferguson was struck by the reality that even elected officials (i.e. Congressman Boccieri and Senator Sherrod Brown) couldn't seem to get the ball rolling with the VA.

The "Ferguson VA project" - for any chance of success - had to have begun even before Ferguson became commissioner.  Hindsight being 20/20, Ferguson could have and should have made such a project a cornerstone of his campaign to replace Gayle Jackson as commissioner.

Readers of the SCPR will recall the steep criticsm that The Report directed at Ferguson and his Republican opponent John Hagan for their laziness and lack of definition in the presentation of their campaigns.

Had Ferguson heeded the critique, he could have gotten a jump start on this project while yet "an ordinary citizen" and in the process have given himself a fair chance at success.

But he didn't and the SCPR will not belabor spilled milk.

What should be the focus now is that the Ferguson effort, no matter how late in the game it is, should not have been in vain.

When Affinity announced its recent decision to raze the medical center by year's end, it cited one clearly compelling reason:  the expenses!   It costs Affinity $100,000 a month to maintain the facility.  Moreover, there are about $1.2 million in taxes in the offing to be paid Ohio in prospective franchise taxes and $40,000 to Perry Township in property taxes.

What business/business person wouldn't go for bottom line efficiency?  Affinity is doing what a focused business model commands:, "act yesterday" to stop a drain on its investment monies.

Can Stark County salvage the Ferguson initiative?

Probably not.

But here's an idea.

The Stark County commissioners (one of whom, obviously is Ferguson) should go to North Canton City Council president Daryl Revoldt and ask him to "on a volunteer basis" take on the task of buying more time for Stark County to get the VA moving on the Ferguson idea.

Why Revoldt?

Because he is the most talented economic development person in all of Stark County.

In recent conversations with Revoldt, he has outlined to the SCPR a 36 month plan of action to get Stark County economic development going in high gear.

Of course, for Revoldt to take on an extended economic plan, commissioners would have to find the money to hire Revoldt for that specific task.

However, being the public service minded guy he is, he might be willing to take on a "salvage Ferguson's plan" project.

One the huge problems with the "Vote No Increased Taxes" people, who showed their political muscle in trouncing the 0.50 "imposed" sales/use tax by a 64% of Stark Countians rejecting retension of the tax, is this:  they seem to be totally focused on cutting county expenses.

And there is a case to be made for eliminating wasteful expenditures and/or reallocation of existing revenues to high priority functions of Stark County government.

But is there a positive aspect to Conley, Snyder. et al.

If there is a proactive factor with the "Vote Nos", in the context of their working with the "citizens review committee" being be put together by the Stark County Common Pleas judges; it could give authenticity to the cohort's claim that they are not purebred expense cutters and that they are willing "to be part of the solution of government," if they propose/promote a long range Stark County economic development plan which is adequately resourced.

If the citizens review effort does not produce an adequately resourced Stark County economic development plan, the Stark County voters should be set, once again, to reject a new tax initiative.

Commissioners Bosley (BioMass), Harmon (Horse Show Arena) and Ferguson (VA facility) are starting to get it as to what their primary positive priority should be:  A LONG TERM "ARTICULATED" STARK COUNTY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM LED BY THE BEST LEADERSHIP THAT STARK COUNTY HAS TO OFFER AND WITH BUILT-IN BENCH MARKS AND ACOUNTABLITY.

Congratulations to Commissioner Ferguson on being the recipient of the coveted SCPR "Good Try!" award.

But The Report believes that Ferguson would be the first to say that a "good try" is just that.

But, again, from the SCPR to Commissioner Ferguson:  thanks for trying.

Stark County could show its appreciation for his initiative by acting to keep Ferguson's idea alive!

But are Stark's "movers and shakers" up to it?

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