Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Since the SCPR first published the blog questioning whether or not appointing a Hammontree official (i.e. Keith Bennett, president and managing partner) as Stark County engineer, SCPR's sources have been sending yours truly information that confirms to The Report that not nearly enough questions were asked of Bennett before Stark County Democratic Party leaders tapped Bennett to be the new Stark County engineer.

One such souce referred the SCPR to a Repository report done by Robert Wang (Emerald estate flooding being addressed) on May 7, 2002 wherein he refers to a Hammontree assessment made by, then, Jackson Township trustee Steven M. Meeks.

Meeks is reported to have had this reaction to the flooding problem:
Trustee Steven Meeks said. Therefore, the township will have to pay at least part of the costs.   Meeks said that construction in the Emerald Estates development has made an existing flooding problem worse. It didn't help, he said, that the county approved a flawed and inadequate drainage plan drafted by Hammontree & Associates Ltd. 
So, the SCPR asks, when Meeks says that Hammontree put together "a flawed and inadequate drainage plan" at Emerald Estates, and then not have misgivings about one of Hammontree's top people becoming the Stark County engineer:  what gives Steve?

Why didn't Meeks caution his "joined-at-the-hip" friend, confidant and fellow (before Meeks became Governor Strickland's Region 9 director) Jackson Township official Randy Gonzalez (now chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) about appointing Bennett?

If you can take Meeks' assessment of the Hammontree work as being accurate, shouldn't this have sent alarm bells ringing loudly to Meeks when he learned that Bennett of Hammontree was to be appointed Stark County engineer?

Should not Meeks have been saying to himself:  "Gee, there may be other Hammontree generated problems out there in the county, if Bennett (who is permitted to continue his financial ties to Hammontree - according to Gonzalez) is the engineer, how does Stark County get redress of its legal grievances without conflicts-in-interests problems surfacing."

According to Meeks,  Emerald Estates Hammontree "flawed" work contributed to flooding at Portage/High Mill and would cost Jackson Township taxpayers.

So, again, the SCPR asks; how can Meeks not see potential conflicts-in-interest problems with a former Hammontree man in charge at the engineer's office?

Did Stark County get nailed twice when the Gonzalez directed effort on behalf of Meeks and Bennett resulted in these two getting the party appointment for county commissioner and county engineer, respectively?

Once in pushing for an engineer who may be too close to a major player in Stark County political subdivision engineering and surveying projects to fully and adequate protect the public interest?

A second time in pushing for a person as commissioner who appears to be more politician than public servant?

Focusing on Meeks:

Did Meeks forget about the flooding problem that he says Hammontree factored into and the concomitant cost to Jackson taxpayers or, is this an instance of  his "going along to get along" with Chairman Gonzalez and the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party?

The Report suspects that most readers of the SCPR will think Meeks' actions indicate the latter rather than the former; as does yours truly.

Meeks seems to the SCPR to be "of politics, by politics and for politics."   Who does Meeks say he is going to rely on as a model for being commissioner?  Tom Harmon and Gayle Jackson, that's who.  If there are two more politically atuned and astute people in all of Stark County, The Report would like to know who they are.  Neither Harmon nor Jackson achieved much, if anything, of substance for Stark Countians while commissioner. But they were accomplished politicians.

If the SCPR analysis of Meeks is anywhere close to being on the mark, then Stark Countians need to assess his every move as commissioner -  looking for the political angle.

Sometimes highly political people surprise you and become public servants above all else.

Stark Countians should be holding prayer vigils beseeching the Almighty to effect a transformation in Commissioner Steven M. Meeks.

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