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Sunday, May 31, 2009

SCHURING STANDS BY AS OHIO SENATE KILLS STRICKLAND EDUCATION REFORM BILL?

Republicans have controlled the Ohio Senate from 1985 through today: 24 continuous years.

For 17 of those years (1985 - 1992) Republican Scott Oelslager was Stark County's state senator.

For the last seven, its has been state Senator J. Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson).

In the build up to running against Democrat John Boccieri, Schuring, early in 2008, tried to talk his fellow Republicans (which controlled both the Ohio House and Senate) into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would have done two things:
  • required the Ohio General Assembly to fund the education budget first; not last as is currently the order of things
  • stabilized the percentage of the Ohio budget that would fund education year-in and year-out
Schuring's bill was an improvement over the way things have been. But hardly an overhaul of a system of funding which was declared by the Ohio Supreme Court to be unconstitutional four different times before the Court washed its hands of the entire matter.

The percentage of Ohio's budget?

Consider this.

Akron Beacon Journal Statehouse reporter Dennis Willard wrote this today (GOP Senate boots chance to fix school funding):
In the late 1960s, almost every school district in Ohio was on the guarantee. [guarantee is a bad thing because district funding is at rock bottom - SCPR] It was a result of lawmakers, beginning in 1946, reducing the state share of education funding from 50 percent to 30 percent.
What Republicans have done since the first Ohio Supreme Court decision is throw millions into the education put without appreciably change the percents of the Ohio budget going towards education. It has hoovered between 37% to 40% which is not anywhere near the 1946 level of 50%. As a consequence, local taxpayers have anted
up the deficiency which is the reason Ohio's system of funding remains unconstitutional.

So where is Schuring now?

He could have helped Strickland by leading the fight to put rationality into funding. But he didn't. The man who claims he is no "cookie cutter" Republican, consistently acts as if he is.

Though an affable guy who is responsive to the housekeeping needs of his constituents, Schuring is an utter failure on policy grounds and fighting for meaningful reform on education funding.

Schuring sat by and let his Republican colleagues take Ohio into the dark ages of public education finance. As Willard points out, though the current funding on the basis of "number of students" system is deeply flawed; it's head and shoulders above what Schuring et al have done: make school funding an arbitrary - no criteria - "whatever the Ohio General Assembly says" process.

In its editorial today on the Senate action, The Repository speaks of another casualty of the Senate action: the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT) stays put; not to be replaced the ACT scores for purposes of high school graduation and college entrance.

Retired judge of the Stark County Common Pleas Court W. Don Reader (a Republican who has undoubtedly supported Schuring over his years in the Legislature) will be outraged when he sees the OGT factor.

In May, 2008 Reader was in the audience when Eric Fingerhut came to Stark State College of Technology for a higher education forum and scolded Ohio for staying with the OGT.

Finerhut promised to try to achieve the change Reader (who is a board member at the Stark Education Partnership) advocated.

And try Fingerhut and the Strickland administration did. But the Ohio Senate scuttled the change.

What The Rep fails to point out is this.

Where was J. Kirk Schuring in "at least" fighting to the bitter end to save Judge Reader's proposal embraced by the Democrats?

Of course, we all know how protective that The Rep editorial board has been of Kirk Schuring for all of his years in politics. It must be the Timken Company connection.

Watch as Judge Reader makes his impassioned plea.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

MAIER RESIGNS AS STARK DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR. WHY? STARK COMMISSIONER BOSLEY SET TO RUN TO SUCCEED MAIER?

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The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report/SCPR) has been hearing for some time that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. was about to resign as Stark County Democratic Party chairman

The rumor became fact on May 29th in a letter written by Maier to local Democratic party officials which were first received by a number of them today, May 30th.

What is not clear, is: why?

And the SCPR knows from one-on-ones with Maier, that he is constantly calculating "what's in it for Johnnie?"

The reason that The Report has been given is so outlandish that yours truly is not prepared to publish the specific speculation. The SCPR is at a minimum skeptical of what's being said.

A leading Stark County Democrat has been heard to say something to the effect: "A lot of us [leading Stark Dems] think that in Johnnie's mind, he is going to become _____." (emphasis added)

So has Maier resigned as party chair to be in a position "to become _____." Hum?

If the conjecture (hint: a position in state government) proves to be accurate, then many Stark/Ohio politicos will be truly astounded.

Comeback to The Report frequently to see whether or not yours truly has been able to nail down the precise reason for the Maier resignation. This one could take some time.

The Report has learned that when a union golf outing entourage heard of the Maier resignation, there was a thunderous cheer and the unionists and friends were engaging in a lot of "high fives" and backslapping.

Maier made enemies of Stark County's trade unions when he dumped the popular and retired (from the Ironworkers) Billy Sherer from what had been known as "the union seat" on the Stark County Board of Elections.

Another potentially momentous development on the heels of the Maier resignation is news that Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley is weighing whether or not he is going to get into the race to succeed Maier.

Undoubtedly, Maier likely thinks he has handpicked Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez to take over. But Bosley has told the SCPR that if he decides to get into the race, it will be to win and not to place or show.

Bosley says he wants the party to be open to all and not the captive of folks who think they are entitled. Under a Bosley chairmanship, organized labor would have a "table of honor." Moreover, he pledges that there will be no free passes to the likes of David Stucki, Scott Oelslager, Charles Brown and the considerable number of Republicans who have run unopposed over the Maier years.

It would be great if Stark Countians would wake up to the news in the next day or two that Jeff Matthews has resigned as chairman of the Stark County Republican Party and the successor chairman would pledge that no Democrat (e.g. Ferrero, Zeigler and Rehfus - 2008) would ever run unopposed again.

One of the main goals of the SCPR is to goad each party into making Stark County a hotbed of political competition. Such is one of a number of ways to make public officials responsive and accountable to Stark's citizens.

Interesting times loom in the immediate future of Stark County politics!

WAYNE COUNTY GETS IT ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; STARK DOESN'T?


Since 1991 Wayne County has had an Economic Development Council. Here is a link to the Council website.

Stark County? Nada.

Stark County commissioners Tom Harmon and Pete Ferguson are comatose when it comes to economic development. Ferguson did a few meeting ago bring up (the SCPR believes "on the spur of the moment") the idea of converting the closed Doctors Hospital (Perry Township) into a Veterans treatment center. He alluded to his contacts with the U.S. Defense Department which the SCPR is highly skeptical of.

Commissioner Todd Bosley is working on a promising project in biomass with Chevron Energy Solutions to supplement fueling of Stark County jail boilers. But it is primarily a energy savings project and does very little if anything in terms of creating jobs for Stark Countians. Moveover, he has tried to interest Volkswagen and Fiat to come to Stark.

Even if (and it is A BIG IF) the commissioners (collectively or individually) are looking into job creating opportunities for Stark, are they doing it effectively.

Obviously, the answer is no.

Stark needs to send emissaries to Wayne to find out what Wayne County has done, how their efforts are working and what mistakes have they made that Stark can learn from.

Stark County needs its own economic development council and needs it now!

Moreover, Stark County should be looking at North Canton Council president Daryl Revoldt to lead the effort. He has economic development experience galore both from the private sector standpoint and from a government perspective.

Indeed Wayne County has a "leg up" on Stark. For citizens who care about Stark County and its 11.5% current unemployment rate, they should be knocking down the commissioners' doors demanding the creation of a Stark County Economic Development Council.

The SCPR will continue hammering away at the commissioners to get rolling on Stark's organized effort.

And you should too!

Friday, May 29, 2009

HAS STARK COUNTY GROWN "STALE" WITH THE LIKES OF SCOTT OELSLAGER IN THE OHIO LEGISLATURE?

Scott Oelslager has announced he is again doing an "in your face" to the spirit of term limits. He is term limited out of the Ohio House. But he is not about to give up a good thing for himself. He is running for the Ohio Senate for a seat he has already held once.

This is not news to the SCPR. Oelslager told yours truly at the Stark County Fair last Labor Day weekend that he would be running for the Senate. His musical chair capers with Kirk Schuring have been treated in a number SCPR blogs since.

It is very likely that state Representative Scott Oelslager will be elected to the Ohio Senate in 2010.

How can the SCPR say that on May 29, 2009?

Easy.

Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. has "no answer" for Oelslager or Schuring (should he chose to play musical chairs with Oelslager and return to the Ohio House in 2010) at the state legislature level.

It took the more personable (than Schuring), "war hero," highly financed John Boccieri (running amidst a huge Democratic year) to wrestle the 16th congressional seat from the Republicans.

Maier had "political" sweetheart relationships with both Oelslager and Schuring since the days he was in the legislature with them. In fact, he got along better with them than he with Canton Mayor William Healy, II's father (also William but called "Bill" by most).

Maier's politically cozy relationship with Oelslager may be the reason he gave Oelslager a free ride (no opponent in 2008; very weak opponents 2000 thru 2006) for all of his time in the Ohio House.

So why would things change in 2010?

They won't.

Stark Countians are used to Oelslager smiling, talking about solving the problems of school funding because his parents were educators (which proved to make no difference in achievement), riding the horse of his solitary significant legislative success (Open Records) and generally being a dull, vanilla-ish and ineffectual legislator.

Just to pause on Oelslager and the fixing public education funding issue.

At one time in his treatment of the topic, he was saying that the Republicans had fixed the funding problem - citing the millions they added to the funding pot.

For him to banter this official Republican Party line at the time, was disingenuous at the very least. He knew or should have now that as a percentage of the Ohio budget, the funding of education was well under historic highs that had been attained by the Ohio legislature decades earlier.

Both Oelslager and Schuring have been "less than spectacular" legislators (to state the obvious) notwithstanding being the majority and sometimes supermajority most of their legislative careers.

There are plenty of powerful Stark County Democrats that could take on Oelslager. Maier, Strickland, Boccieri, Healy could lean on any number Stark Democratic warhorses to take Oelslager on. But they won't.

These Democratic power brokers will stand aside and let Oelslager skate right back into the Senate.

The SCPR won't want to hear local Democrats make excuses for Strickland in his second administration, to wit: "but the Senate is in Republican hands." No, not for a group that lets Oelslager sail back into the Senate

Ohio and, more importantly, Stark County will suffer because Oelslager continues his undistinguished career in the Legislature.

Undoubtedly, devoted Stark Republicans who will dutifully surface in 2014 to help Oelslager celebrate being in the Ohio General Assembly for 30 years. And that may be the first of many celebrations: thirty-five, forty, forty-five and fifty may follow.

However, those Stark Countians who want to see an effective legislator from Stark County will not be celebrating. They will be lamenting how much Stark has lost because of having this colorless, bland and the unadventurous man represent them.

The Stark Democrats themselves have a unexciting representative in Columbus. Stephen Slesnick of the 52nd, from reports the SCPR is getting out of Columbus, is schlepping around in Ohio House hearings.

Back to Oelslager for a final note.

Indeed, Scott Oelslager is getting to be like yesterday's newspaper; stale news.

But it appears all but certain that Stark Countians will be in for a steady diet of "stale - political - bread" from Oelslager at least through 2014. Maybe longer.

Lamentations, lamentations, lamentations!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

CANTON UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASES NEARLY 1% FROM MARCH TO APRIL 2009 - ARE HEALY ET AL POWERLESS TO STOP THE BLEEDING?

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IT'S THE SHERIFF'S 800 MEGAHERTZ, IT'S CONCATTO, IT'S CENCOM - ONE THING AFTER ANOTHER CONSPIRING TO UNDO STARK COUNTY CENTRALIZED 9-1-1 DISPATCH?

The word on the street that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and Nimishillen Township Fire Chief Rich Peterson recently got into a huge argument about the utility of Swanson's baby: the 800 megahertz communication system.

Swanson went out a got grants to put this system together. Now get this. In Swanson's mind the system was "free" to Stark County because the money came from government grants. "Free," heh?

On with the story.

Swanson has been pushing the "free" equipment and system on all of first responders in Stark County. The mission? To vastly improve communication among first responders throughout the county.

What wrong with that?

Nothing, other that passing around the fiction that is "free."

And except to Fire Chief Peterson. He objects because he thinks that a better system called MARCS (see graphic for definition). In shorthand, it is a state of Ohio system to get all of Ohio's first responders in instant contact with one another.

A source says that there is one simple problem with the MARCS system: it is not up and running. The SCPR has a call into MARCS and when the exact status is available, yours truly will update this blog reporting same.

The SCPR believes Peterson is pushing to ultimately make Nimishillen's CenCom the prime unit in the centralized 9-1-1 Stark County dispatch system.

But he has a problem in that quest.

Randy Gonzales and, perhaps, Peterson's long time political pal Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley.

In political reality, Gonzales (and Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) and Bosley are big time foes. The SCPR believes that over the longer haul this internal Stark County Democratic competition will escalate into a battle over who controls the local Democratic party.

Back to the main point.

So you have Gonzales and Bosley doing a "strange bedfellows" political operation to defeat the Peterson effort to shape 9-1-1 his way.

Another qualm that Peterson and his highly supportive Nimshillen Township trustees have with the direction in which centralized 9-1-1 dispatch is heading (note: Nimshillen has pulled out of the effort, maybe?), is Joseph Concatto's unpreparedness to be project manager for the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG) shepherded centralization.

Peterson points out that Concatto (sponsored by Gonzales who also happens to be Executive Vice President of the Stark County Democratic Party) himself has said that he wasn't specifically prepared to be 9-1-1 project manager and that it will take time for him to get up and running as leader. Peterson snipes at Concatto for going on boondoggle-esque trips at taxpayer expense in his drive "to become prepared."

Now why did the SCPR write above that Nimishillen pulled out of the 9-1-1 project "maybe?"

Because in the background are negotiations for SCOG to buy the console at CenCom. Additionally, there is talk of SCOG buying all of CenCom's equipment eventually. Now does that sound like Nimishillen is really puling out?

It sounds more like "we (Nimishillen Township) know we are going out of business and are not going to be the central 9-1-1 dispatch unit and therefore we are going to do the best we can to be made whole" out of Stark County taxpayer money (the money dedicated to 9-1-1 from the commissioner imposed 1/2% imposed sales/use tax).

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has been a supporter of a re-worked, centralized 9-1-1 dispatch operation.

But one has to wonder, with all the political machinations taking place in the construction, whether or not Stark County is going to end up with a politically gerrymandered system that is no better - perhaps worse - than the current system.

It seems to make no difference to Stark County's politicians that lives may hang in the balance.

What does appear to be the priority is: "protect my political turf."

The SCPR has been told that SCOG will iron out all of these differences and that Stark County will achieve a unified, streamlined and much more efficient and effective centralized 9-1-1.

The SCPR's response.

It's a miracle! - if it happens - given all the turfism alive and well among Stark County's political leaders.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

HAS RICK PEREZ'S CONDUCT IN "DEVIES" CASE DAMAGED SHERIFF'S OFFICE RELATIONSHIP WITH ALL OF STARK COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT?


When Stark County Sheriff Chief Deputy Rick Perez took the witness stand in the Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies, he - at the very minimum - in his testimony embarrassed the Stark County Sheriff's department, or - at the worse - did irreparable harm to Stark County law enforcement.

Who says?

A leading Stark County law enforcement person has told the SCPR that Perez's testimony shook the Stark law enforcement community.

How so?

The response. "How can we ever trust the Sheriff's department ever again?" "Perez's conduct will have a chilling effect on how non-sheriff-department police relate to and deal with the sheriff's office."

What did the testimony reveal?

First, he testified that when he appeared at Township Hall on January 7, 2009 to investigate allegations by Trustee Tim Wise that criminal conduct may have been committed by Police Chief Devies and his son Kyle involving township computers; he was wearing a "secretly" placed wire.

It was obvious from the wire recording played in court that Ron Devies was being very forthcoming on his version of the incident. In fact, from an evidence standpoint, Prosecutor Dennis Barr's introduction of the wire recording was a dumb move because it helped the defense much more than the prosecution.

Defense attorneys Jeff Jakimedes and Dick Reinbold objected to the use of the recording (which they should be glad Judge Sinclair overruled), alleging possible violations of federal/state wiretapping laws.

Aside from the damage the recording did to the prosecution's case, when word got out that Chief Deputy Rick Perez might be wearing a "secret" wire when dealing with area police officers; a disbelieving murmur likely arose among Stark County law enforcers.

Second, Perez testified that he initiated the investigation of the Devies on the "hearsay" of Trustee Tim Wise. The import? Charging into an investigation of a township law enforcement official on the basis of "hearsay." Really? How many "hearsay" reports of law enforcement officials violations of law does Sheriff Swanson's department launch investigations on, anyway?

It is reported that Sheriff Swanson is grooming Perez to succeed him. Some Stark County politicos see it this way. Swanson will serve the better part of his term and then step down and have the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee appoint Perez as his successor.

This way Perez can run as "retain Sheriff Perez."

When Larry Dordea ran against Sheriff Swanson in 2008, a considerable number of Stark County police officials supported Dordea including Police Chief Devies (hum?).

Wouldn't it be an interesting twist, if the Devies investigation and prosecution became the undoing of the aspirations of Chief Deputy Perez to be the next Stark County sheriff?

Dordea is openly telling one and all that he plans to run for sheriff again in 2012.

You can bet that Ron Devies will be at the forefront in the campaign.

And, given what many Stark County law enforcers view as "a breach in trust" as manifested in the Devies case, it is likely that Rick Perez - if he is the Democratic candidate - will have nearly all of Stark County law enforcers supporting Dordea.

The consequences to Perez?

Rick Perez can kiss his "I want to be sheriff" aspirations - goodbye!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

IS THE ANTI-SALES/USE TAX PETITION DRIVE FLOUNDERING?


2ND UPDATE: (05/26/2009) The opinion expressed in the "original article" below is the opinion of Martin Olson and is not intended to represent the view of a source Michael Mouse who yours truly used as a source for the article.

Mouse as asked The Report to affirmatively express his point of view that the collectors of signatures will be successful in their quest.

1ST UPDATE:

The SCPR has learned that Tom Marcelli was in Paris Township on Memorial Day collecting signatures.

Marcelli even approached Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley (who was the Memorial Day speaker in Paris) and asked him to sign the petition.

Approaching Bosley was one matter, but apparently not all attending the Paris Memorial Day parade were as cordial as Bosley when asked to sign the Marcelli's petition to get vote on whether or not the commissioner imposed tax should stand. Reportedly, Marcelli got into a shouting match with a parade watcher when Marcelli asked for a petition signature.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE (PUBLISHED 05/16/2009)

Is anyone signing up? Of course.

But are the petition circulators getting enough signers? (about 14,000 are needed) Are they getting qualified signers?

The SCPR has learned that the originator of the petition drive, Michael Mouse of Canal Fulton, is no longer a member of the group of a half-a-dozen or so circulators.

Why not?

The SCPR believes it is because the circulating group has become a renegade (the SCPR's term) effort.

Mouse, who was formerly an elected official in Canal Fulton (city councilman), knows how one circulates petitions effectively. The first step is to obtain what is known is political circles is a "walking list" of registered voters. Secondly, from that list, one focuses on voters who do what? Vote consistently. Petition signers might actually show up at the polls and vote for the issue, if it gets on the ballot.

Commissioner Todd Bosley is on record as chiding almost taunting the circulators about their ability to get the repeal effort to the ballot.

Could he be on the mark with his observation?

It appears so.

Mouse says he was not pleased with the focus, dedication and leadership of the group.

Focus?

Towards the end of Mouse's direct involvement with the petition drive, it became apparent to him that circulators were just collecting signatures. No walking list, no nothing, except - of course - the petition itself.

A main reason petition drives fail is just this way of getting signatures. When the board of election folks start checking the voters rolls, many signers get stricken from the list for a very simple reason; they are not registered voters. Duh?

Dedication?

When Mouse organized the group, he was careful to ask each participant to ante up a equal share of the expenses that the effort was going to engender. Feeling assured that the money would be there, Mouse advanced $220 to get the drive underway. A Defiance attorney was hired to draft the petition and off and running was Mouse and friends.

It soon became apparent to Mouse that promising to share in the expense is one thing; actually forking over the money proved to be another. Mouse did get some members to pay but got discouraged with the hassle of pushing for the promised monetary participation.

Leadership?

Initially, Michel Mouse was to be the leader. He would be working closely with the Defiance attorney and he would organize and monitor the collection of signatures.

Before the petition was finalized, it dawned on Mouse that the he had lost control of the group; if he ever had control. Petitions were being circulated before a circulation plan was agreed to and one Thomas Marcelli appeared to be emerging as the de facto leader.

So?

Well, Mouse didn't seem to think putting Marceilli front and center was a good idea.

Why?

Because Marcelli has been the subject of several local media pieces detailing how Marcelli is way behind in paying his Stark County property tax bills and providing chapter and verse about Marcelli challenging Commissioner Bosley and Stark County auditor Kim Perez to what appears to be a physical confrontation.

Another troubling development to Mouse was the suggestion by group member James Bailey that he go to the Stark County Republican Party and ask the party leadership to get behind the repeal effort.

Mouse wanted to make the effort an "across the board" grassroots movement; not the capture of the Stark GOP.

The SCPR believes that is exactly what Bailey did and the result was a Stark GOP (engineered by Stark Republican operative Jason Wise) coup d'etat of the Tax Day, Tea Day - Canton, Ohio April 15, 2009 event crowned by the appearance of Stark County Republican chair Jeff Matthews.

What does all this "trouble" mean to the success or failure of the petition drive.

The SCPR believes that the incorrigibility some of the petition-drive-group-members, that Mouse describes could cause two things:

First, they fail to come up with the needed nearly 14,000 valid signatures, and

Second, if they do, when Bosley et al come out with their political canons; all the discord and dissonance of the petitioner-group may prove to be the group's undoing at the polls.

While the SCPR supports the need for the 1/2% sales/use tax increase (which will be parceled out to a reworked 9-1-1 countywide emergency system and to the county general fund); yours truly also supports the notion that Stark County voters should have a right to vote on the measure.

GOOD FOR MARLBORO! TRUSTEE WISE BLUSTERS; THEN FADES





It is not often that one is thankful when a public official turns wimpish.

But Marlboro Township residents should be appreciative that Trustee Tim Wise turned into jelly on Friday, May 22, 2009.

A sudden onset of Wise mellowness (excuse the pun), likely, spared Marlboro more bitterness and strife.

Reports were that he was still bristling that Ron and Kyle Devies were victorious in their felony trial that got started with Trustees Wise and Wolf (Schilg was slated to be a witness for the Devies) referring an incident involving township computers to Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero's office.

Sources indicate that Wise was balking at reinstating Ron Deives as police chief unless certain unspecified conditions were met.

So the stage was set for a possible confrontation when the trustees were to meet on Friday evening to consider whether or not Devies was to be reinstated.

Just to back up a little.

The Report has reason to believe that on Wednesday (presumably before Judge Sinclair dismissed all charges against Ron and Kyle Devies), an area policeman had been put on alert to prepare for a Marlboro Township meeting that night to be sworn in as the "new" Marlboro chief of police.

Then came Judge Sinclair's decision which set Wise and Wolf back on their heels and all of a sudden plans for a replacement police chief were changed.

But Wise, for one, was not done. With the conditions/stipulation talk, it was clear that he was not going to capitulate easily. His opening line of "nothing personal" (see video below) has to be hard to take for Ron and Kyle Devies in the light of all the acrimony that has coursed through the relationships between Wise and Trustee Wolf and the Devies duo (mostly Ron Devies), since Wise and Wolf took office in January, 2006.

In fact, in a conversation with Marlboro fiscal officer Pete Brelish immediately after the restoration of Devies to police chief status. Brelish described to the SCPR the uncertainty he was experiencing during the day as whether not to release township money to buy a cake to celebrate the return of Devies. Would or wouldn't it happen? Brelish was relieved that the chief was put back on the job.

Reading between the lines of all that has been said and written, The Report believes that Wise was subjected to intense conversation from friend and foe alike in an effort to get him to drop the conditions/stipulations he had been insisting on.

In unleashing their silly quest (not silly to the Devies nor the Marlboro community who suffered greatly, of course, but as perceived by outside observers) to build a mole hill into a mountain, the SCPR believes that Wise and Wolf set in motion strong tremors that will shake the Stark County law enforcement establishment.

The SCPR will have more to say on the countywide ramification aspect of the case in a later blog.

As seen in the video clip, Wise is still infected with a tinge of bravado at the emergency meeting. The Report is not sure why Wise ultimately caved in. It most likely the pressure that the SCPR speculates was being applied to him from the time Judge Sinclair handed down his legal shellacking of the prosecution through Friday was the cause.

In a little bit of theater, the SCPR understands a number of Stark County deputies escorted Trustee Wise to his car after the judgment of the Court.

As, again, can be seen in the video, Marlboro citizens who supported the Devies heeded the admonition of Trustee Schilig to be orderly at the Friday emergency meeting.

The Report has not seen nor heard anything from involved Marlboro citizens that indicated a need for the demonstrated Swanson forces reaction. It appears to be another in a continuing line of insults visited on the good folks of Marlboro.

Trustee Tim Wise has taken out a petition to run for reelection. It boggles the mind that he thinks he can win. Of course, taking out a petition is not filing a petition. It will be interesting to see if he actually follows through and files.

If Wise wants to say he stood strong through it all, let him believe what he wants.

The SCPR believes that in the end, Wise bent to the will of the good folks of Marlboro Township. Sometimes it's a good thing when someone turns wimpish!

Here is the video of the reinstatement.

Monday, May 25, 2009

TRACKING OUR LEGISLATOR SERIES: DOES BOCCIERI HAVE IT RIGHT? IS THE DOWNTURN ON OHIO MANUFACTURING DUE TO TRADE POLICY? OR, ARE THERE OTHER FACTORS?

Recently Congressman John Boccieri (Democrat - Alliance) appeared in Alliance before a group of citizens. In an exchange with a constituent who wanted the Congressman to explain why Ohio, and by implication the 16th Congressional District, could not stop the loss of manufacturing jobs and, in fact, attract new jobs.

In the video below, see Boccieri blame the loss of manufacturing jobs on "unfair" trade policies.

Is Boccieri correct in his analysis?

Look at the charts above showing Ohio 47th out of the 50 states in achieving a "business-friendly" tax policy. Note how Ohio is a disadvantage to all of its neighbors except perennially high-tax New York.

Also noteworthy (not shown on chart) shortly after the Ohio Republican controlled legislator (in concert with Republican governor Bob Taft) passed tax reform to make Ohio more "business-friendly," Ohio was ranked 47th.

Governor Strickland took a wait and see posture on the "tax reform" when he took office in January, 2007.

Well, has Congressman Boccieri's close friend Ted Strickland seen enough? Did the tax reform effort change anything?

Maybe, just maybe John Boccieri is on the wrong track on blaming trade policy.

All 50 states have the same problem when it comes to trade policy.

But, on a relative basis, isn't the main problem with Ohio attracting and keeping jobs (obviously, including manufacturing jobs) due to Ohio's tax policy?

For all the hoopla that the Republicans made back in 2005 on trimming Ohio's business tax, to what effect? Forty-seventh then, 47th now. And Boccieri was part of the Ohio Legislature that supposedly made Ohio more business friendly.

Here's the video of Boccieri at Alliance.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

$2.2 MILLION TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT WORK?



What was good for Hoover Company employees - is - apparently, not good for the employees of companies occupying the Stu Lichter Hoover rehab project in North Canton.

What's that?

Well, Hoover Company employees, probably from the inception of the company, who parked in the parking lot directly south of the sweeper factory (requiring the crossing of East Maple Street) dodged traffic to get to and from the factory/office complex and the parking lot.

When company profits were at stake, a pedestrian traffic control light would do. But apparently no more.

When Ohio (not just North Canton) money is available, this "other peoples' money" can be used to luxuriate.

If the plan goes forward, North Canton government will spend $2.2 million of our money to unburden employees crossing East Maple Street from having to push a traffic control button to go to and fro to work.

On North Councilman Jeff Davies appears to oppose the plan so far.

This plan promotes a twofold question:

A. Is the bypass a wise, efficient and productive use of taxpayer money (remember, all of Ohio participating), and

B. Is it a permitted use under the funding law that provides the money?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

IS MICHAEL MILLER OR ARE THE STARK MRDD BOARD MEMBERS THE PROBLEM?

In January, 2009 MRDD Superintendent/CEO was asked to step down at the MRDD's January 22nd board meeting.

Only four months later, Miller yielded to this critics and announced he would be retiring as of January, 2010.

But will he and the Stark MRDD board, which - according to sources - does whatever Michael says, gut Stark MRDD operations in the meantime.

Recently, the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report/SCPR) met with persons connected with Stark MRDD operations in one fashion or another. Ironically, the meeting was only one day before Miller's resignation announcment.

The Report's sources cited chapter and verse on how Miller and staffers under his direction have pretty much gutted the services the agency is supposed to deliver to Stark's mentally and developmentally disabled.

According to these sources, MRDD's workshop centers are mainly centers for clients to sit around and do next to nothing. In the pre-Michael Miller days, these centers were beehives of productive activities. So say his critics. However, Miller is not alone in absorbing criticism. The board members are painted as being "whatever Michael says" types.

The sources expressed their amazement that board member Roger Gines (who had a history of being "in your face" vis-a-vis Miller before being appointed to the board on 12/16/2008 by Stark County commissioners), has knuckled under to Miller and is, in the view of the critics, How is it that Miller has managed to shut up Gines, they ask among themselves.

These friends of MRDD tell about how Miller is undoing many of the contracts that MRDD has had with area business to provide MRDD clients doing such things as janitorial work, restaurant work, et cetera at a certain dollar amount.

How is that Miller has done this?

Here is an example.

MRDD let's say signs an agreement with XYZ Bank to provide five MRRD clients to do janitorial work at $10.00 per worker. The worker gets $7.80 per hour and MRDD pockets $2.20.

As explained to the SCPR, in ensuing years Miller (or a staff member at his direction) hikes the hourly rate, let's say to $11.00 per worker.

Maybe the business goes along with the hike a year or so. But as MRDD continues to raise the hourly rate contract year after contract year, the business start bailing out.

The result: able MRDD clients are left with nothing to do. There is the obvious loss of income and what may be even worse, a capable client just wiling away his/her time.

Undoubtedly, Miller's detractors are elated that he is stepping. Their concern has to be whether or not there will be anything left for a new superintendent pick up with. Thse folks are convinced that Miller came to Stark County as a designated "close down MRDD" to a mere administrative apparatus. Send the clients out to "private" providers and just manage the money.

Seven months appears to be plenty of time for Miller to do his thing; assuming that those watching him are correct in their assessments.

A new superintendent may be the answer. However, the critics suspect that Miller has only been doing what the Strickland administration has been demanding. If this is the case, a new superintendent is likely to be more of the same.

The only other alternative is for the Stark County commissioners, over time, to appoint persons who will ask questions, who will scrutinize and who are willing to differ with the superintendent and assume control of a superintendent.

Of course, commissioners thought they had done this with Roger Gines.

So the moral of this story is that the commissioners have to check and recheck an potential appointee as to his/her willingness to be someone who does not walk "in-lock-step" with the superintendent and each other.

Friday, May 22, 2009

DOES STARK COUNTY NEED A NEW CHIEF CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR?


Yours truly had never seen Stark County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Dennis Barr try a case before. However, the word on the street has been that he's a great prosecutor.

Well, he either had a bad time of it with Ohio v. Devies or whoever was mouthing the adjective "great" doesn't know how to assess lawyer skills.

Dennis Barr and his boss, the elected prosecutor - John D. Ferrero - suffered a humiliating loss in the Devies case. Anyway you cut it, dice it or whatever, Dennis Barr has owned this case from the get-go.

Who was one of the first people in Stark County law enforcement that Marlboro Township trustee Tim Wise talked with? Dennis Barr, that's who.

So it is clear to the SCPR that Barr just didn't have something dumped in his lap and told: "I know, it's a weak case, but it's yours to try."

Even from the outside, yours truly (being a licensed attorney for 35 years) knew that there was going to be an acquittal (if the case went to trial) or, perhaps, the prosecutor would try to plea bargain is way out of what was certain to be a humiliating loss.

And plea bargain the prosecutor's tried (as confirmed to the SCPR by Kyle Devies attorney Jeff Jakimedes). The prosecutors offered to bargain down to misdemeanors which normally would be tempting to any defendant: i.e. going from a felony to a misdemeanor.

But, the highly competent Jeff Jakimedes and Dick Reinbold (Ron Devies - a former Stark County Common Pleas judge) knew they were going to win this case. That's how weak it was. So they rejected the plea bargain offer out-of-hand!

Prosecutor Barr couldn't even force Jakimedes and Reinbold to put on a defense. That folks - in the legal profession - is known as being a "slam dunk."

While the SCPR is gratified that what appears to be an attempted miscarriage of justice failed, it does raise questions about the qualities of the legal analysis going on inside the Stark County prosecutor's office.

John Ferrero is one of three Democrats running countywide in 2008 that Stark County Republican Party Jeff Matthews couldn't find someone to run against. And Stark Countians are the loser for it.

Ferrero apparently has grown comfortable in his public position and either lacks the skill to analyze the prosecutable from the non-prosecutable or perhaps allows other factors to filter in that have no place in the decision. One would think that Dennis Barr wouldn't want the humiliation of being directed out by the judge. But, as pointed out above, he was involved in the Devies analysis from the very beginning.

As an aside, an interesting dynamic of the Devies case is that the chief criminal prosecutor would be trying this case in the first place. Really? Why put your "top gun" on a fourth degree felony case. The SCPR has not checked, but yours truly would be very surprised to learn that Barr tries fourth degree felonies as a matter of course.

In the end, the failure of Ferrero and Barr to analyze the obvious, brings in to question as to whether or not Stark County is well served with Dennis Barr being the chief of the criminal division.

Nothing can be done about Ferrero because of the failure of Jeff Matthews and the Stark County Republican Executive Committee in fielding a candidate in 2008 until 2012, when Ferrero will have to face the electorate again.

But shouldn't Stark Countians be demanding that Ferrero be taking a look at Dennis Barr and the quality of legal analysis and prosecution coming out of the criminal division?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

REPOSITORY EDITORIAL BOARD INSULTS RON/KYLE DEVIES & SNICKERS AT "SMALL TOWN" MARLBORO?

In his own mind Repository Executive Editor Jeff Gauger - even though he hails from Rockford, Illinois (Rockford where?) - is a very important guy.

From the tone and the smugness that emanates from yesterday's Rep editorial Chief, trustees must move on, the SCPR is guessing that Gauger was the editorial writer.

Yours truly would e-mail Gauger and find out who wrote the editorial, but it would probably be blown off; like his sidekick Gayle Beck blew off an e-mail asking a mundane question about whether or not The Rep had endorsed in the Chandra/Dann attorney general primary race in 2008.

The SCPR had been hearing that the Rep editors were unhappy with the penetrating critiques that The Report has been doing on their work.

Beck's blow off was all the confirmation the SCPR needed. The SCPR is pleased to put "only countywide newspaper" under the microscope. As former editor David Kaminski once said, The Rep likes being the 800-pound gorilla. Even though he is gone, his statement accurately reflects the attitude among the editors at The Rep today.

The Canton Repository is fast fading as a respected investigatory newspaper. Staff cuts galore are being made at The Rep except for the sports department - of course, many Stark Countians cannot do without their sports.

New owner GateHouse Media Ohio is disliked by the folks who work at The Rep about 60/40 (with 60 being the negative number) according to a source from deep inside the bowels of the Canton daily.

The biggest drop off at The Repository has been with the quality of the editorial staff headed by Jeff Gauger. Let's put it thise way: he is no M.L. Schultze!

The editorial being commented by the SCPR on is about as bush as editors get.

It's done in what the editorial writer thinks is a clever way to demean the Devies and Marlboro Township without it being clearly apparent.

Some examples.

"Let’s put aside the snickering about small towns ... " The writer goes on to cover his/her tracks by bringing in Canton, Massillon and North Canton and their "silly politics."

Not so fast. Apparently, Gauger (et al?) betray themselves and conversation that has been going on in The Rep editorial board room. Frequently, such is the case. He who disses "anonymous" others is covering up his own dissing.

A clever attempt to ridicule Marlboro, while appearing to take the high road.

The clincher is this line: "It’s time for the trustees to put Devies back to work, for him to drop any thought of a lawsuit, and for both sides, now, to put the public first."

The Devies have always put the public first. But not Wise and Wolf. No! They got this mess started. And Marlboro has suffered at their hands. Not the Devies.

To equate the Devies with Wise and Wolf is a huge insult.

And, the Devies are "to drop any thought of a lawsuit."

No, no and no again.

It is obvious that the member(s) of The Repository editorial board do not fully understand the American system of justice.

There is a civil side to our system of justice. The Devies unjustifiably experienced the criminal justice side. Now is their turn to have justice. That is the beauty of the American system.

If the Marlboro trustees damaged the Devies in violation of legally recognized rights in established tort law, then making them pay money damages is the civil side of the American system of justice way sending a message that such conduct could be costly and therefore is check on any who would follow their example.

Where were the editors when the trustees made a mole hill of a matter into a gigantic mountain?

Why weren't the editors editorializing the trustees to not make this a criminal justice matter? Why weren't they editorializing the Stark County sheriff to proceed on a criminal basis with the greatest reluctance. Why weren't they editorializing the Stark County prosecutor to make double, double sure they had a solid case before going to the grand jury?

It is said that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

The Devies matter is a classic case of the Stark County prosecutor doing just that? Except the Devies are not ham sandwiches. The Devies are real breathing, feeling and thinking human beings. With his sloppy work (as confirmed by Judge Sinclair), Ferrero and his involved staff deeply hurt and damaged a pillar of the Marlboro community. Feel good about that John?

There was no case against the Devies. As one who attended a good part of the trial, that became apparent to me by noon of Tuesday, the 19th. Of course, yours truly knew that long before the indictments came down. Check The Report's blogs.

But where was The Rep editorial board?

Nowhere to be seen!

But now they want to weigh in.

Go get a life Rep editors - outside the editorial board room!

MARLBORO TRUSTEE WISE CHURNS IN QUICKSAND. THIS GUY IS HIS OWN WORST ENEMY, NO?

Tomorrow night (Friday) at 8:00 PM an emergency meeting of the Marlboro Township Board of Trustees at township hall has been called for the purpose of considering the reinstatement of Police Chief Ron Devies (currently on paid administrative leave) at the initiative of Trustee Wayne Schilig.

But there is likely to be trouble.

Why?

Because Trustee Tim Wise (and, perhaps Dave Wolf) is/are mired in political quicksand of their own making and are struggling to find a "face-saving" way out.

Trustee Wise has let it be known that he will only agree to reinstatement under certain conditions.

Chief Ron Devies has told the SCPR that he will only accept discussion of the conditions in public and will not allow the matter to be discussed in executive session.

The SCPR believes that Trustees and Wolf are not done in trying to make the knuckle under. Although both, in all likelihood, only have until December 31st remaining as trustees (for surely they will be defeated if they stand for reelection); all signs point that they will go down fighting with Chief Devies.

According to Devies, Wise and Wofl began their fight with him shortly after they took office in January, 2006.

Chief Devies is in the catbird seat vis-a-vis Wise and Wolf. He announced some time ago that he would exercise is constitutional rights as a Marlboro citizen to work for the defeat of his two antagonists.

If for some reason, Devies is unwilling to accept Wise's edict of conditions (assuming Wolf is on board with him), the Chief will simply bide his time until they are no longer in office. Then, presumably, the new trustees would join Trustee Wayne Schilig to rehire Ron Devies.

Who would take the job as chief in the meantime?

For a lame duck trustee or trustees to impose conditions indicates to the SCPR that someone does not have a handle on the political reality of the situation.

When your truly was a kid, we used to watch the "Friday Night Fights" on TV.

Will Friday, May 22, 2009 be a visitation of a "political Friday Night Fight?"

Or will Wise and Wolf get politically real and begin a conciliatory departure process as township trustees?

WILL "BANKRUPTCY" - ELEPHANT IN ROOM - ALLOW CONGRESSMAN BOCCIERI TO HELP LOCAL CHRYSLER/GM DEALERSHIPS?

16th District Congressman John Boccieri (D-Alliance) on Monday at Downtown Ford in Canton outlined a 5-pronged plan he was going to push with the White House Task Force dealing with the American auto manufacturers' crises as a way to help soften the landing for area Chrysler and GM dealerships.

The SCPR asked the congressman what effect the fact that Chrysler is currently in bankruptcy would have on his plan of action.

Watch the video below to see the congressman's reaction:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WILL WISE AND WOLF APOLOGIZE TO THE DEVIES AND TO THE MARLBORO COMMUNITY?

"EGG ON THE FACE" is a graphical euphemism for how Marlboro trustee Tim Wise and Dave Wolf came out of the trial of Kyle Devies and his father and Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies.

From the beginning the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has said that the Wise/Wolf generated investigation and resulting indictment of Kyle and Ron Devies was way over the edge.

The SCPR repeats its criticism of Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero for not putting the breaks on Trustees Wise and Wolf. Anyone who knows the history of the relationship between Wise and Wolf and Chief Devies (or who should have probed into what the relationship was) could figure readily that there was more to this situation than being put out there to law enforcement by Trustee Wise, in particular.

Chief Devies has told The Report that he believes that political factors were the bases on which the sheriff and prosecutor failed to screen out the bringing of criminal charges on what obviously was a communication problem between Kyle Devies and the trustees.

Chief Deputy Rick Perez (with the vast police experience he has - being the retire/rehire person he is) bears a special burden for not having figured out that the computer incident was just that and not something that merited further processing through the criminal justice system. Perhaps he should be calling a press conference and owning up to his rookie-esque way of handling this matter, and apologizing?

Moreover, Swanson and Fererro owe the Devies, Marlboro citizens and Stark Countians public apologies for their failure - in the first place - to opt out of the investigation and prosecution in favor of out-of-county law enforcement officials whenever there is any political sensitivity whatsoever about a matter that comes before them.

It hurts all of Stark County law enforcement when there is a public perception that politics has anything to do with who gets prosecuted and who does not.

For Swanson and Ferrero to disrespect public perception - right or wrong - is unacceptable.

The remedy for Swanson and Ferreo was all so obvious and all so easy to implement.

Bring someone in from outside Stark County the next time a political figure (e.g. Devies out to defeat Trustees Wolf and Wise as well as supporting Swanson's opponent in 2008 [Larry Dordea]) is the subject of a complaint.

LAST RITES FOR STARK COUNTY 9-1-1 CENTRAL DISPATCH?

Whom should the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report/SCPR) send a "get well soon" card to?

The SCPR is solidly behind the effort to re-create 9-1-1 in Stark County into an effective countywide - centralized - dispatching operations.

But it is beginning to appear as if the leadership coming out of the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) is not up to getting the job done.

First, there was the fight between SCOG designated 9-1-1 leader Randy Gonzales and Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley as to whom was going to be appointed project manager of the effort.

Boxley wanted Rich Peterson who is the fire chief of Nimishillen township. Gonzales wanted Tom Nesbitt who is the safety director of Canton. These two Stark County Democratic political powers had to compromise and settled on Joseph Concatto who - ironically - served as safety cirector and chief-of-staff in Republican Janet Creighton's Canton city administration.

Did Bosley and Gonzales settle on the wrong guy?

Secondly, it appears to the SCPR that centralized 9-1-1 is unraveling "faster than the speed of light." Not really. But at least a third of the total number of localized dispatch centers have grave concerns about the plan to centralize 9-1-1 and to use a favorite expression of Governor Ted Strickland: they "are keeping their powder dry."

Last week Nimishillen Fire Chief Rick Peterson recommended that trustees withdraw from the centralized countywide dispatch plan as currently conceived.

On Monday this week, North Canton City Council and the North Canton administration decided to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. North Canton's governors assured safety force leaders that currently unallocated monies for 4th quarter 9-1-1 dispatching operations would be there, if need be. Another interesting nuance coming out of North Canton, is the thinking that the 1/2% sales/use tax imposed in January by Commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Ferguson may not withstand a repeal petition effort currently underway.

And, of course, everyone who is familiar with the move to sell centralized 9-1-1 to local entities with their own dispatch centers, recognizes that Alliance from the get-go has be skeptical of the benefit of centralized 9-1-1 to the Carnation City.

The question that remains is whether or not Project Manager Tom Concatto is the person for the job?

The SCPR suggests that Bosley and Gonzales had better do a reassessment real quick before the whole notion of a centralized Stark County 9-1-1 system is "dead and buried!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PART I - BOCCIERI'S ACTION PLAN FOR 16TH DISTRICT CHRYSLER & GM DEALERSHIPS - CAN HE BE EFFECTIVE?


About four weeks ago 16th District Congressman John Boccieri (D-Alliance) contacted area auto dealer officials to arrange for a sit down to discuss problems they may experience with Chrysler's and GM's impending paring down of their dealership across the country.

It turned out that yesterday's sit down at Downtown Ford in Canton could not have been more timely.

Congressman Boccieri met with some twenty 16th District Chrysler, GM and Ford dealers or their representatives.

Why Ford?

Because area Ford dealers, according to Canton's Downtown Ford owner Bud Black, are in solidarity with their peers having Chrysler and GM dealerships.

An ironic twist to the press conference at the conclusion of the Boccieri sit down with dealers is that no Chrysler or GM dealers or their reps would make themselves available to answer media questions.

In Part II of this SCPR series on fate of local dealership, yours truly asked an "elephant in the room" type question. Be sure to come back to see/hear the question and Congressman Boccieri's response.

In the video below, Congress Boccieri outlines a 5 point plan of action that he will be taking to a White House Taskforce dealing with the troubled U.S. auto industry.

Monday, May 18, 2009

WOW! NIMISHILLEN'S FIRE CHIEF RICH PETERSON LOSES OUT TO CONCATTO FOR 9-1-1 PROJECT MGR - THEN TAKES BALL AND GOES HOME?

UPDATE: CHIEF PETERSON RESPONDS - MAY 18, 2009 AT 2:00 PM

Martin: ...You know through our conversations that no one wants to see the delivery of 911 emergency dispatching services improved more than me.

I have worked very hard at great personal sacrifice to see that happen.

But the plan to do that has shifted once again. Not by me, but by those placed in positions to make it happen. I base my beliefs on facts and my personal experiences having constructed, designed, equipped, and staffed the current emergency communications center which provides services to 20 fire, law, and emergency agencies in Stark and Portage County.

It is my job to advise my Board and make recommendations based on real information ...

And as far as not getting the director's job, Ive made it clear that Mr. Mark Busto (the current RED Center Director) was the most qualified for the county 911/dispatch position and he didn't even get a second interview before the hiring committee. I have a job. I run a communications center today. I was asked to apply to add legitimacy to the process.
.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW

Not too long ago Nimishillen fire chief Rich Peterson was a top level candidate to be Stark County Central Dispatch re-work project manager.

However, the person who the SCPR thinks 9-1-1 committee chair (Stark County Council of Governments - SCOG) had promised the job to was Canton safety director Tom Nesbitt.

Nesbitt is on his way out (being pushed out by Mayor Healy - in the opinion of the SCPR) as safety director. Yours truly believes Gonzalez cut a deal with Healy to take a problem (in terms of not being a "yes man" for the Mayor) off his hands. But Gonzalez had not counted on Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley being so strong for his man.

Bosley's man?

Yes, Commissioner Todd Bosley has long had strong ties to Peterson from the days that Bosley was a Nimishillen Township trustee.

Bosley pushed hard, hard, hard for Peterson but was forced to compromise with Gonzalez on for Safety Director Joseph Concatto who served in the Janet Creighton administration.

Now we learn that Peterson has convinced Nimishillen Township trustees to pull out of the SCOG 9-1-1 effort at last week's trustee meeting.

No wonder Stark County cannot make much consolidation progress. Folks like Peterson are fine with merging operations as long as he is in charge. Peterson is the personification of turfism in Stark County.

Nimishillen's pullout is a blow to SCOG and Bosley. The exit makes it much more difficult for Bosley et al defeat the 1/2% sales/use tax repeal effort if it makes it to the ballot.

Why?

Because it is beginning to look like it is a real possibility that the SCOG 9-1-1 project will not fly.

Other local governments are taking a long, hard look at whether or not they are going to participate in the effort. If others go official, then the project is likely dead.

The SCPR believes it would be a political blow to Bosley if the 9-1-1 reconfiguration fails. His main campaign theme in the 2006 election campaign was: guess what?

Yes, fixing Stark's broken 9-1-1 system.

Stay tuned.

There are interesting days ahead on the SCOG 9-1-1 project.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

IS THE CORK ABOUT TO "POP-OFF" THE STARK COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY BOTTLE?


The SCPR suspects that part of Canton City Council manifest inability to deal with the scheming Mayor William J. Healy, II has something to do with the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party and peripheral Democrat office holders weighing in on council members to hold their fire on Healy.

Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr is no friend of Mayor Healy. Yours truly has heard Maier inveigh against Healy frequently. Moreover, Maier - under the right conversational conditions - will tell how Healy's father, when he was state representative, worked to undermine Maier when both were in the state legislators.

But Maier does have a county party to hold together. Maier likely sees that it does Democrats no good to be viewed countywide as a squabllng, bickering and infighting collection of politicos. Accordingly, he is probably pushing key Council Democrat such as Council president Allen Schulman to tamp down on the anti-Healy rhetoric.

Schulman has to be restive under the clamp down. Schulman suspects that Denczak-Henderhan (daughter of former Council president and Democratic stalwart Ray Denczak - who [Denczak-Henderhan] voted twice in recent primaries as a Republican), is another Healy generated opponent of a sitting Canton City Council member.

Healy was heavily invested in the Bob Harper (a former Republican) campaign to unseat Healy-critic Greg Hawk. Healy even resorted to double-hearsay rumors touching on Hawk and even tried to elevate the "rumors" to a law enforcement issue (through others - the coward Healy is).

If Schulman concludes that the Denczak-Henderhan candidacy is a Healy effort to get him, then the gloves will come off and Healy will have put himself in open warfare with one of the most powerful Democrats in Canton city politics in Schulman.

Schulman speaks warmly and highly of Chairman Maier (a view obviously not shared by the SCPR).

Yours truly has heard Maier wax eloquent (or at least, as eloquent as Maier can get) about Schulman is probably the chief individual financier of the Stark County Democratic Party.

So Healy has to figure that in a mano-a-mano confrontation (even if by proxy, i.e. Denczak-Henderhand) with Schulman, Maier, as he is so apt to do, will project the facade of being neutral for the sake of party unity but will in reality side up with Schulman.

The SCPR sees this Schulman/Denczak-Henderhan battle as a public eruption of the simmering Council/Mayor fight that is ongoing but largely unseen by the public.

Organized labor will openly side with Schulman. They will pressure individual council members to declare for Schulman.

An opening shot at Healy was taken in today's Repository by letter to editor writer Captain Jack Angelo, Fraternal Order of Police - Ohio Labor Council.

A little background, please.

In The Rep's Ed Balint's piece on May 12th reporting an contract agreement between Canton and its police unions, Mayor Healy portrayed thusly:
Healy said [Gary C.] Johnson's involvement was "integral" to reaching an agreement with the FOP. Given his statewide experience with government labor talks, Johnson recommended a fact-finder (the neutral third-party). Healy said the selection of the arbitrator may have influenced the negotiations.
Lawyer Gary C. Johnson of Cleveland is a one time protege of Healy campaign consultant Jack DeSario, who Healy appears to be enthralled by. Johnson made campaign contributions to Healy in 2008.

Now, Angelo's response:
Mr. Johnson wrote a proposal that was so outlandish, the FOP walked out of negotiations after 30 minutes.

Mr. Johnson did help to make the negotiations last nearly six months while he ran up the tab for the city.

The reason we were able to come to agreement was because of attorney Kristen Bates Aylward [of the Canton Law Department specifically hired to do union negotiations], Safety Director Tom Nesbitt, police Chief Dean McKimm and Chief Deputy Thomas Ream being able to see that Mr. Johnson was clueless about negotiations and to write a sensible proposal that benefited both the city and the union.

It is disturbing to read the comments made by the mayor after the union acted in good faith during terrible economic times. Mr. Johnson took more than $8,600 from the city and laughed all the way to the bank.
In the end Healy's scheming, craftiness, agressiveness and maliciousness will not work. The Mayor keeps digging himself a deeper hole.

Sooner or later, open Demcratic warfare will erupt in Canton and not even pleas for "party unity" will save Mayor Healy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

HEALY PLAN TO INSTALL JACK DESARIO AS STARK MAYORS ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DESTROYS THE ASSOCIATION?


Because Mayor William J. Healy, II cannot shake the Jack DeSario habit, his idea of forming a Stark County Mayors Association is now a dead letter.

The SCPR has learned that the mayors of Massillon and Alliance recently declined further participation in the Healy planned organization to bring the mayors of Stark County together in a collaboration of economic strengths to benefit all of Stark County.

The real reason why Mayor Cicchinelli and Middleton faded from the association two fold. First, Healy was insisting that the organization bring TeamHealy (Healy's campaign committee) political consultant Jack DeSario on as the group's executive director. Second, Healy had in mind structuring the effort so that it had a specific agenda that would require constant attention by the major players' mayors (i.e. Canton, Alliance and Massillon).

What is it about Jack DeSario with Healy?

DeSario is a Mount Union political science professor and area political consultant (involved in a number of Stark County political campaigns) who has been interviewed by the FBI in its Cuyahoga County government corruption investigation.

The SCPR has learned that DeSario went on a screaming rampage recently with some Stark County Democratic officials about the adverse publicity that he has been getting in area media of late.

The same source has told the SCPR that DeSario was behind Mayor Healy's ethics legislation proposal that Healy made at his State of the City address in late April. The source also offered that this is a typical DeSario-esque maneuver to change the conversation when one of his clients is under political fire which Healy has been since lste 2008.

To the SCPR, the failure of the Stark County Mayors Association is confirmation that Mayor Healy is not the positive leader he thinks he is. In fact, a stronger case can be made that he is dragging Canton and Stark County down economically with all the distractions his political antics are generating.

What business wants to come to or exapnd in a city caught up in political intrigue and infighting?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MARLBORO TRUSTEE WOLF - JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER?

Trustee David Wolf (Marlboro Township) was out looking for a replacement for Marlboro police chief Ron Devies by mid-January?

Yes. That is what the SCPR has learned from a highly reliable source.

Remember, this was during the time that Stark County Deputy Sheriff Rick Perez was investigating whether or not the chief and his son, Kyle, had done anything to the Township's computer system to merit charges being brought.

On February 23rd, at a trustee meeting, Wolf said in a public meeting that "we will just have to wait and see what happens with the investigation." (a paraphrase)

So why is Wolf out scouting for a replacement after mid-January? Kyle Devies had been fired and Ron Devies had placed on paid administrative leave on or about January 12th?

Doesn't sound like "waiting and seeing" to yours truly. Does this mean that Wolf intends on firing Devies even if he is acquitted in his May 19th trial?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DOES IT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE WHOM CONTACTED WHOM IN THE NORTH CANTON - ACME "ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?" FLAP?

UPDATE: May 14, 2009 at 4:00 P.M.

The SCPR has received a reaction from Mayor Francis Cicchinell, Jr of Massillon. Mayor Cicchinelli takes exception to North Canton Council president Daryl Revoldt's assertion that Massillon could not find an adequate facility for Myers Industries to relocate within Massillon.

Mayor Cicchinellli says that Myers Industries officials told Massillon officials that the facilities Fleming Foods had vacated were large enough, if retrofitted, for Myers' needs.

Cicchinelli says he believes that North Canton (Ohio Department of Development) money trumped the adequacy of facilities question.

UPDATE: May 13, 2009 at 12:30 P.M.


REVOLDT RESPONSE:
Wooster paid a very heavy price for denying Rubbermaid a small abatement.

In the end, as noted, the situation helped sever the emotional relationship and the company declined to work with the community upon exit...

Wayne County is now recognized as one of the nation's fastest growing microcommunities. Visit the Wayne Economic Council Website for details.

I would submit that one of the reasons for the county's success (Wooster and Orrville) after losing Rubbermaid was the change in its development thought process. The mind set today re development assistance is 180 degrees from 10 years ago. Ask yourself, why is Wooster more successful than Stark County in business growth? What differentiates the two? It's not like they are in two different time zones.

If this situation occurred in Wooster or Orrville, there would be little debate. Why? Because both took the Rubbermaid lesson to heart.

Just last week, Wooster placed $100,000 into a city business development account. In effect, it did what NC did recently (and which Chuck attempted to strip away). Why? Because the account can be a useful lending instrument.

There's no point in beating a dead horse. But if one wants to be successful in business, one needs to think like a business person. And that means a strategy to attract AND RETAIN business. As in many relationships, the little things matter. There is a psychology to these relationships. Communities ignore it at their own peril. The city discounted the cost of the Acme project.

North Canton does have a plan: it added an economic development director. It has multiple incentives, including a long standing and large community reinvestment area. It has a well funded CIC. It has established a good working relationship with its primary industrial partner, IRG. It has attempted to hold down taxes. It has applied for and received state and federal grants for economic development related infrastructure and industrial sites.

One final note, relocations within stark county are inevitable. Sites, like shoes, no longer fit companies when they grow. When the state helped Hoover research move 200 jobs from the city to TTI's Cleveland facility, the city didn't whine. The move made business sense.

When Brown Mackey outgrew its W Maple location in N Canton, the city HELPED it find space in Jackson township. No one read about Jackson poaching from NC or moaning about lost imcome etc. It was a good situation for all of us... Brown Mackey was GROWING. Great!

Myers could have relocated to PA. The company worked with Massillon for nearly two years (and I called Bob Sanderson and directly asked if Massillon had any viable site.... it did not). So, the jobs came to NC.

With regard to Schorer, it had outgrown its Whipple site. It literally had become the Old Woman and the Shoe. People were jammed into every corner. DeHoff had ample opportunity to relocate the company to another facility. None worked. Jackson Twp in fact knew the company was looking and could not
provide an alternative

Would we have preferred the Schorer Headquarters go to Akron? Or do we wish it stayed in Stark County? We know the answer here.

Right now, IRG is working on a $900M Goodyear project (headquarters, general office, retail) in Akron. It has a JRS grant, state loans and city and port authority funding. The project is deemed vital to the revitalization of the East Akron area. It keeps Goodyear in Akron.... both the jobs and the PRESTIGE (here we go with an intangible) were deemed important.

Do you actually believe that every tenant in the general office will be NEW to OHIO? If we insist that be the case because public money isinvolved, the project will fail and with it hopes for the revitalization of East Akron.

Keep this in mind: most economic development is the expansion of an existing business. Rare are the new starts or the new to Ohio projects. So, if we acknowledge that expansions can occur in one of two ways, at the existing site or at a new site, we can cut the debate. As a stark county [sic] strategy, we should encourage expansion at the existing site, but when circumstances don't allow it, help it happen at the new stark county site.

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW
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North Canton citizen and one time North Canton councilman Chuck Osborne generated a controversy in North Canton Council over a $6,600 property tax abatement that North Canton has granted Acme (actually the F.W. Albrecht Grocery Company - Acme's official name) for some improvements that are going to made ($1.2 million worth) at the company's North Canton store.

North Canton Council approved the abatement this past Monday.

The apparent issue was whether or not North Canton went running to Acme with the abatement dole out without Acme having ever asked for it.

As the SCPR is wont to do, yours truly created a "tongue-in-check" graphic to poke a little fun at North Canton officials. Obviously, North Canton does not have a vehicular unit, as pictured, designed to go out a spread the "good news of tax abatement" for North Canton connected businesses in hopes of inspiring thoughts of job creating expansion.

But the reaction by some members of Council to Osborne begs the question: why so sensitive?

Is there a grain of truth or more to Osborne's allegation that North Canton's economic development team is working hard to give away taxpayer money for nothing in exchange?

Hum?

Councilmen DeOrio and Davies (whom abstained in the Acme vote for conflict reasons) for two seem not to favor creating an "anticipatory business environment friendly" economic development tool that Council president Daryl Revoldt (a former Ohio Department of Development official and mayor of North Canton) promotes. DeOrio and Davies favor a BUT FOR approach, that is to say: Company X will not come North Canton unless the company gets a subsidy."

Revoldt, if asked, will go into great detail as to why the annexation agreement recently worked out between Canton and Jackson Township on a specific Jackson-located strip of land is not a sustainable economic development model.

The SCPR agrees with Revoldt on his Canton/Jackson Township analysis which is based on calculable plus and minus tax revenue factors.

But not on his "anticipatory business environment friendly" model.

It is hard to believe Revoldt jettisons his numerical approach so easily in promoting this latter model. For him to do so, is utterly un-Revoldt like. The "anticipatory business environment friendly" model is more like a hope and a prayer approach that, at best, can only serve as an augmentation to a "real" economic development plan.

Even at that, shelling out taxpayer dollars and getting "no value added" in return? Tax revenues are in short, short supply in North Canton, aren't they?

To get a more complete picture of Revoldt's concept, Council's reaction, Osborne's input, Economic Development Director Eric Bowles take and Acme's response, CLICK HERE to see the minutes of the April 27, 2009 North Canton Council meeting.

Interestingly enough, Canton economic development director Robert Torres says he is a BUT FOR administrator.

Now back to the original question.

Does it make any difference whom contacted whom first in the North Canton/Acme scenario.

Clearly, it doesn't.

Let's assume Osborne is incorrect: North Canton did not run the SCPR fictional mobile unit up to F.W. Abrecht Company located at 2700 Gilchrist Road in Akron and rain showers of financial blessing on the company at North Canton's initiative.

Does anyone believe that Revoldt (whom the SCPR believes controls North Canton Council and perhaps is even the de facto mayor of the Dogwood City), given his anticipatory economic development philosophy, wouldn't have shepherded through an abatement request once Acme officials realized subsidies are to be had for the asking and invoked the formality?

The larger issue is not whom asked whom. Such is like the doomed passengers arguing about rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titantic.

The main issue is this: what entity in Stark County is going to develop a "real" economic development plan with long term infrastructure creation and improvement that in time reinvents the entity's economic viability?

The SCPR believes that there is no township, village or city in all of Stark County that has a viable (sustainable) economic development plan. Nor does Stark County itself.

North Canton is out getting business from Massillon and Jackson Township (using Ohio tax dollars via Job Ready Site money) to relocate a few miles into the city and rewarding its businesses for being a "good corporate citizens" with tax breaks.

Canton (with Annexation Director Sam Sliman, who self describes as the "Darth Vader to the townships," is targeting the unwilling in his quest to solve Canton's severe economic woes through militant annexation.

Jackson Township is consorting with Canton in a vain attempt to preserve its identity for the next 100 years.

Massillon is mimicking Canton's Sliman.

Only one of Stark County's three commissioners has the slightest clue about economic development.

What a mess!