Tuesday, June 30, 2009

WHAT'S UP IN PERRY? IS THE CHIEF'S RESIGNATION LETTER TO BE TAKEN AT FACE VALUE?

It's hush, hush time in Perry. The SCPR believes that nobody is telling the "real" reason Chief of Police Tim Escola has resigned.

The SCPR hears (from different sources) that Escola resigned in hopes of avoiding an embarrassing public discussion and consideration of a personal relationship situation. It's hard believe he thinks this gambit will work in 2009. But you can't fault the guy for trying.

Perry Township authorities have (according to a Repository report yesterday) launched an investigation of Escola on a basis of an anonymous "tip" received by officials on Thursday.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that, if true, the anonymous allegation has explosive qualities with the potential to impact on the township governing authority. Accordingly, the trustees are right to be out front in responding with an immediate investigation.

Escola denies any wrongdoing. But what does he mean by wrongdoing? If he is denying any "criminal" misconduct, then - according to what the SCPR's sources are saying - he seems to be correct.

Outside the criminal realm, there are different classes of wrongdoing: moral, civil, ethical, sexual, financial, and on and on goes the list.

Whether or not Escola's denial of wrongdoing will hold up is dependent on the outcome of the Township's investigation and the success of consequential action (or there is a determination of no need for action) by Perry officials or, perhaps, by a stakeholder connected to the situation.

In the end, the SCPR doesn't buy Escola's given reason, to wit: (as set out in the referenced Repository piece)
Many goals have been accomplished, and through the efforts of many we had secured future financing through successful levies.
Good try, Chief!

COMMISSIONER PETE FERGUSON'S PLAN FOR AFFINTIY-DOCTORS CAMPUS IS NOT GONNA HAPPEN?

On April 4, 2009 (a regularly scheduled Stark County commissioners' meeting) Commissioner Pete Ferguson "out-of-the-blue," in the opinion of the SCPR, came up with the idea of converting Affinity Medical Center's "Doctors Campus" into a medical center for veterans.

This is how the SCPR put Ferguson's presentation in an April 13th blog:
The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report/SCPR) believes that this is an "off-the-cuff" proposal by Ferguson who is obviously feeling the pressure to do something has commissioner. He has been in office about 100 days and the only thing he has succeeded at is get his brother-in-law (to the exclusion of the general public) appointed Project Compliance Officer on prevailing wages.
At the April 4th meeting Ferguson intimated that he had contacts within the U.S. Department of Defense who might be helpful. He also did a whole lot of other name dropping as you will see in looking once again at a video (posted below) of that part of the commissioners' meeting.

The SCPR believed at the time that this was "bull" and now has even more reason to think this is grandstanding by a commissioner who has very little going for himself in terms of providing desperately needed leadership for Stark County.

The SCPR hears that recently Ferguson held a meeting at the Stark County Office Building that was supposed to have U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman John Boccieri in attendance.

But did they show?

No.

United States senators and congressmen only show up when something "real" is about to happen. They probably have a sense that this is a case of Ferguson wishful thinking. But hedging their bets, they did send aides.

Apparently, Ferguson did not initally include the local head of Affinity in the meeting. Somehow he got wind of it and was _ _ _ _ _ _ big time with Doctor Peter Ferguson (as he likes to refer to himself and be addressed by others). However, the SCPR understands that the Affinity honcho did make it to the meeting.

In the November, 2008 Stark Countians had a "hobson's choice between Democrat Ferguson and term limited out Republican Ohio House Rep. John Hagan (R - Marlboro). Both political parties were saying how incredibly lazy each was in conducting their respective campaigns.

Whichever one was elected, Stark County was going to be the loser.

And Commissioner Tom Harmon is nothing to write home about.

These are, indeed, tougher times for Stark than they need be. But does that bother Ferguson and Harmon? Apparently not!

As a refresher, here is the video of Ferguson "springing" his grand scheme on Commissioners Bosley and Harmon.

MULE PETERSON "CAN-NOT-A" GO SCOG ON 9-1-1?

UPDATE: (06/30/2009 - TUESDAY AT 12:30 AM)
STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY

The fact that Mrs. Shafer does not know there is a definitive plan illustrates my point. They have not been to a meeting for many months and are making decisions based on hear say (second hand information)!! The Stark Council of Governments wants to hear why they are opposed, but they (the Trustees) will not make themselves available.

Here are some facts -

1) Cencom has an operating budget greater than $400,000.00 per year which is subsidized by Nimishillen Township residents for other communities dispatching needs. That means Nimishillen Township residents pay for the dispatching of other communities such as Perry and Canton Township.

2) Cencom cannot add any additional users until it purchases additional equipment which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars

3) The Trustees have not attended a SCOG Governance Committee meeting in over a year

4) Cencom will be forced to close if the SCOG Central dispatch system opens because no community will pay for dispatching if the County offers it for free

5) Even if Cencom remained open to service itself, it would not recieve 911 calls directly, they would still have to be transferred. This would create further delays and confusion for residents of Nimishillen in need of help. How could any Trustee say this would benefit the Township? It would create greater delays and put the Township in bankruptcy.

The conclusion to this matter is very simple. Nimishillen Township residents cannot shoulder the cost of dispatching on its own. The $400,000 plus operating cost would put the Township into bankruptcy and residents would suffer greatly by the decreased response time. There is no good old boys club as Mrs. Shafer describes, but how would she know since she has not taken the time to show up for a meeting in over a year.

I CHALLENGE ALL THREE NIMISHILLEN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE'S TO SHOW UP AT THE NEXT SCOG GOVERANCE MEETING AND PRESENT THEIR CASE TO THE BOARD!

Todd Bosley
Your Stark County Commissioner

UPDATE: (06/29/2009 - MONDAY AT 11:30 AM)

NIMISHILLEN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE LISA SHAFER

Dear Martin,

After reading the article, "Mule Peterson can-not-a go SCOG on 9-1-1" it is more apparent that even Commissioner Todd Bosley has lost touch with the direction that the 9-1-1 Project is headed.

First of all, Commissioner Bosley must be very confused because over the past 18 months or so I have attended many SCOGS meetings as well as Chief Peterson thru out the process. Attending the meetings however is more of a spectator status rather than being a participant.

In addition, I can assure you that the Nimishillen Township Trustees and the Chief are making educated decisions based on what is best for our community and the agencies that we serve. Our Board voted unanimously to remove ourselves from participation on the 9-1-1 committee which should not be confused with our participation in SCOGS.

The 9-1-1 project continues whether we participate or not . Why is it that Nimishillen and Cencom is the center of attention? Could it be because we refuse to be part of the "good old boys club?" The county has no definitive plan and too many unanswered questions... Not to mention, a sales tax that was imposed on the people that is still in question. Will it be on the ballot? This project should be about saving lives and making Stark County a leader in 9-1-1. Somewhere along the way the 9-1-1 Project has turned into a political three ring circus. Politicians serving their best interests not the interests of those they are sworn to serve.

For those who may be confused by Commissioner Bosley's statements, let me make this perfectly clear. Cencom is not closing.

Lisa Shafer
Nimishillen Township Trustee

UPDATE: (06/28/2009 - SUNDAY - AT 12:15 PM)
COMMISSIONER BOSLEY RESPONDS TO NIMISHILLEN FIRE CHIEF PETERSON

I respect Chief Peterson and his views on this matter. I know he believes in the safety and well being of the public. He truely cares about Nimishillen Township residents.

I believe all three Nimishillen Township Trustee's are making decisions based on hear say with regards to SCOG dispatch plans. Had any of the Nimishillen Township Trustee's actually attended the SCOG meetings held on this subject, they might have been able to give Chief Peterson and the people of Nimishillen Township more accurate information regarding 9-1-1.

SCOG is willing to work with Nimishillen Township and incorporate their dispatch equipment into the County plan. SCOG will have to purchase additional equipment and I believe it should be at the benefit of Nimishillen Township residents. The Participation of the Nimishillen Trustees in this process would be beneficial towards moving thingsforward. It's impossible to have a meaningful discussion when the decision makers (The Trustee's) refuse to come to a meeting.

It is not a secret that we have the worst dispatch system in the entire United States. This fact was revealed in the Geocom Report in 2008. The restructuring of 911 is very territorial, but the Stark Council of Governments has proposed a solution that will bring Stark County to the forefront in dispatching services. It is my responsibility to represent all residents of Stark County and keep them safe. All that matters to me is that once these changes are implemented, every person in Stark County can be confident that when they dial 9-1-1, help will be on the way. I look forward to continued work with my friend Chief Peterson and the other Safety Leaders in Stark County.


Todd Bosley
Your Stark County Commissioner

RICH PETERSON COMMENT - POSTED 06/27/2009 AT 10:15 PM (SCPR HAS ASKED COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY TO RESPOND. IF BOSLEY CHOOSES TO RESPOND, THE SCPR WILL UPDATE THIS STORY

For the record, Commissioner Bosley did not support a "centralized 911 dispatch center" when he was a township trustee and a candidate for county commissioner. He wanted to see the fire station / regional communications center become a reality in Nimishillen Township as a part of a countywide system. After a Nimishillen Township resident's little girl had a less than satisfactory experience with the current 911 system, Bosley took on the charge to "fix" 911 by having the calls answered in the regional centers that actually send the police officers, the ambulance units, and the firefighters. Meetings were held with many agencies and political factions regarding this regionalized proposal. Participants included Bosley, RED Center representatives, Sheriff Swanson, Kirk Shuring, Congressman Regula's office, the EMA/911 Director, and Stark County Commissioners.

It seems now the focus is no longer getting help to the little girl who wasn't breathing but is now about political favors and money for the county via the sales tax. So Martin, that's why I'm not participating in this charade any longer. I want no part of the creation of a system that is based on anything other than the best interest of the end user calling 911 and the dispatchers and emergency safety forces that use it every day and depend on it working.

I think the "taking my toys and going home" is just an easy excuse instead of tackling the truth head on. I've told you before, I never wanted the 911/dispatching position and quite frankly believed that the RED Center Director (Mark Busto) was the man for the job. Even you admit that Joe Concatto is not qualified and was a political appointee. Joe Concatto is a fine person. He just wasn't the best candidate for the job. And one has to question how he could go around telling people he had the job in the fall of 2008 and amazingly was hires for the job. I would think that your investigative curiosity would have prompted you to look into these allegations.

The issue about SCOG purchasing CENCOM's equipment is simply not true. The SCOG Committee and its Director have already decided that they are not interested in purchasing any agency's current equipment other than giving free dispatching to Canton City and the Stark County Sheriff in exchange for a $1 per year fee to use their existing centers. Nimishillen Township and the agencies making up its CENCOM dispatch center are not interesting in having a "garage sale" and ceasing operations for a proposed county system that doesn't currently exist, has far too many unanswered questions, and so far offers no advantages over CENCOM's current features and offers a facility (Canton's site) that is structurally inferior to CENCOM's tornado proof, below grade construction design.

And the need for a fire station was determined and was planned to be constructed since 1999. The idea to incorporate the communications center into the lower level of the fire station was after the initial plans were started and came about out of necessity due to the fact that a private dispatching company was going out of business and the agencies of that center had no alternatives for dispatching services. (Where were all of the experts then?) CENCOM was built and created out of necessity, not ego which is more than can be said about the current county dispatch proposal. There are way too many egos and too many folks just wanting to create a legacy. So let's be clear. The fire station and the dispatch center are not closing. We will continue to operate CENCOM for those agencies that seek quality, customized, state of the art dispatching at an affordable price.



ORIGINAL STORY

The big sticking point for Nimishillen Fire Chief Rich Peterson on the SCOG 9-1-1 is project manager Joseph Concatto.

Piercing the veil of all the rhetoric that Peterson has unleashed as to why Nimishillen is going its own way on 9-1-1 dispatch, it is clear to the SCPR that the real reason is the appointment of former Canton Fire Chief and Creighton administration official Joseph Concatto.

Peterson does make a valid point that Concatto had no previous experience in emergency dispatch and that he has had to work hard to get conversant in emergency services (necessitating the expense of taking trips to seminar sites such as San Diego).

Moreover, the SCPR buys into the notion that Concatto's appointment was wrapped up in Stark County politics under the direction of Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (executive vice president at the time of the appointment). Gonzalez battled with Stark Commissioner Todd Bosley over whom the project manager would be.

Bosley was pushing for Peterson. Gonzalez was pushing for departing Canton Safety Director Tom Nesbitt initially and then went to Concatto as his first alternative. Some Stark emergency force officials feel that Concatto was Gonzalez's first choice all along and that the Nesbitt thing was a political sleight-of-hand gambit.

Why Nesbitt or Concatto?

Because Gonzalez apparently feels that he can control/direct either one.

Back to the Nimishillen Township aspect of the 9-1-1 project.

How Rich Peterson goes, so goes the Nimishillen Township trustees.

At a Stark County Township Trustees Association (SCTA) meeting (June 18th - Louisville Baptist Temple), Nimishillen Trustee Allen Gress got into a "disagreement" (to put it nicely) with Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley over the county's remake of Stark County centralized dispatch.

Listen to the audio tape (below) of Trustee Allen Gress (trustee since January, 2007) at the June, 2009 SCTA meeting.

You will hear Commissioner Bosley correct Gress on his facts regarding Sheriff Swanson and what he did/did not or could have done with regard to a centralized 9-1-1 dispatch.

As an aside, the SCPR takes exception to Gress's comment to the effect that the SCPR took the position that the Nimishillen wanted Commissioner Bosley defeated in the upcoming 2010 election.

What the SCPR actually said was that "the effect" of the Nimishillen trustees/Peterson position on the CenCom/SCOG Governance Committee tete-a-tete (via the media) "could" undermine Bosley's re-election drive because he ran on fixing 9-1-1 as his primary campaign theme when he defeated Republican incumbent Richard Regula whom he accused of dwaddling on repairing 9-1-1.

Historically, Peterson of Nimishillen and Bosley (a former Nimishillen trustee) have been pretty much joined at the hip on the need to redo centralized 9-1-1 in Stark County.

Now that Peterson, who Bosley fought hard for to make the 9-1-1 project manager, is - yes - Mr. Gress - "taking his marbles and going home" since he lost out to Concatto; he and the Nimshillen trustees are - ironically, in the opinion of the SCPR, undermining Bosley's re-election chances.

Gress is a newspaper man who comes out of Morrow County and presently works as an independent contractor (as the SCPR understands the relationship) for the Louisville Herald. It is interesting that he cannot seem to get the SCPR's take on the 9-1-1 centralization straight nor the correct take on Sheriff Swanson and 9-1-1 centralization efforts.

As another aside, the SCPR has been told that at the SCTA meeting, fellow trustee Mike Lynch advised Gress that the SCTA forum was not the appropriate place to air his grievances with the SCPR, Bosley, Sheriff Swanson and the 9-1-1 Governance Committee.

One final point. The SCPR believes that Nimishillen local government is in a world of hurt on this issue. They have expensive dispatch equipment that will become inefficient when most if not all of its Stark County local government customers migrate to Stark County's centralized dispatch which they surely will do. How could local governments pay Nimishillen for a service that is "free" from Stark County centralized dispatch?

Moreover, there is that fire station that houses CenCom in its basement. If CenCom ceases to exist in its broader context; is there a justification to keep the fire station open?

Apparently, Commissioner Bosley is not holding it against Peterson and the Nimishillen trustees for (again, in the opinion of the SCPR) undermining his prized 9-1-1 centralization project.

Why would the SCPR surmise that?

Because he is trying to find a way for Stark County centralized dispatch to procure the Nimishillen equipment.

That folks, is interesting, indeed.

Now listen to the audio, as Gress fulminates.

Monday, June 29, 2009

INDICTMENT "S" TO COME DOWN SOON ON STARK TREASURY INVESTIGATION?

Matters are beginning to stir on the alleged theft of monies from the Stark County treasurer's office.

News broke on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 that Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had been fired by Treasurer Gary Zeigler on suspicion of theft. However, three months have passed since the firing but there still is no indictment naming anyone as being responsible for the theft.

The SCPR has learned that the indictments, when the come down, will name more than one person.

When are the indictments to come down?

Possibly, by the end of July.

Another question. How much money was stolen?

The SCPR is being told by a law enforcement official in a position to know that it is in the 2 to 3 million neighborhood.

The Stark treasury is being audited by Mary Taylor. She is the elected auditor for all of Ohio. Her report is said to be four to six weeks in the offing.

Ten year Stark treasury employee Frustaci is presumably the focus of an FBI investigation. A source has told The Report that it was known (certainly Zeigler had to know) that Frustaci liked to play high stakes poker and go to Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort to gamble. The SCPR's source says that Frustaci was known at Mountaineer as being a "Whale." Moreover, video cameras have reportedly shown Frustaci, in a time period running up to his firing, gambling at Mountaineer.

Did this Whale get head over heels in gambling debt? Was this one of the underlying reasons he was fired for suspicion of theft?

Did Zeigler know about this red flag, but chose to ignore it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

TRACKING OUR LEGISLAGTORS SERIES - BOCCIERI: DIFFERS FROM OBAMA IN OPPOSING "CAP-AND-TRADE" - APRIL FOOLS? MAYBE IN APRIL, BUT NOT IN JUNE!

UPDATE: SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2009 AT 9:00 PM

COMMENT


Rep. John Boccieri (D-OH): “‘My understanding from what I’ve heard is it’s going to cause a big increase in our utility bills.’ Boccieri said the White House has been lobbying him heavily, but, ‘in its present form, cap and trade would be devastating to Ohio.’” (Robert Wang, “Boccieri Holds Telephone Town Hall Meeting,” Canton Repository, 3/25/09)
And this Bone he's so grateful for makes cap and trade less 'devastating' to Ohio??? I pray for a candidate of integrity and principle to make Boccieri a one timer.

BeaReady

ORIGINAL POST

First, view this video.

Can you believe it?

Against Cap and Trade on April 9th. For Cap and Trade on June 26th.

What's more, in spinning (Boccieri must have learned this art form from his good friend Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II) there is not one single reference to "Cap and Trade."

Think that's an oversight.

No way, Jose!

The SCPR was skeptical that Congressman Boccieri would vote against the Obama position on a crucial vote that was close as the vote on Cap and Trade (219 for, 212 against).

A switch of 4 votes and the Obama initiative fails.

Yours truly has always been in favor of Cap and Trade. The hypocrisy is being highlighted because the SCPR believes that Boccieri never intended to vote against Obama especially in a context in which every vote truly counts, but was being disingenuous with 16th district voters.

If there was any doubt about about Boccieri's vote, the Obama people tossed him a bone. From Boccieri's press release:
Congressman John Boccieri, who voted for the bill, was particularly grateful for the inclusion of language he requested that will establish a $30 billion Manufacturing Revolving Loan Fund to assist small and medium-sized firms in retooling, expanding or establishing domestic clean energy manufacturing operations, and in becoming more energy efficient; and expand and focus Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs) on Clean Energy Manufacturing.
And this becomes the basis for justifying his flip-flop.

But that was not enough.

He had the president's people send out a press release to provide additional political cover for him, to wit:

Statement by President Obama on Rep. Boccieri’s Vote for the American Clean Energy and Security Act

“Rep. Boccieri’s courageous vote marks an historic step to break our dependence on foreign oil. The American Clean Energy and Security Act will create millions of new jobs and ensure America will continue to lead in the 21st century global economy.

“For more than three decades, we've talked about our dependence on foreign oil, and today, Rep. Boccieri voted end that dangerous dependence. This is a very courageous vote from a true leader in Congress.”

There you have it folks.

John Boccieri proving that he is no different from any other politician!

HAS OHIO'S "DUCK RUN" GOVERNOR BECOME OHIO'S "DUCK & RUN" GOVERNOR?


Yours truly was impressed with Ted Strickland in terms of his "apparent" humility, accessibility and responsiveness when he ran for governor in 2006.

He may still have his humility on a "personal" level, but he is not accessible to the average guy and gal and he certainly is not responsive in June, 2009 at the same standard he possessed in pre-November, 2006. Strickland has been taken over by Columbus politics, politicians and statewide by the likes of Stark County's Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (former head of the Stark County Democratic Party).

Because the Republicans are likely to run Wall Street (financial crisis) connected John Kasich (a former congressman, as is Strickland), chances are that Strickland will be re-elected. But to what end?

The way he is heading, Strickland is likely - by the end of his second term in 2014 - to rival past Republican governor Bob Taft in terms of his in-state popularity. It hard for people to see now. But recent political events demonstrate with disturbing regularity that the mighty can fall fast indeed.

However, he does have time to right the ship. Doing so, will necessitate getting away from his excessive reliance on political professionals and following his heart-felt instincts he learned as a boy growing up in Duck Run.

It is understandable that he was grateful to Maier when he, as the first county Democratic Party chairman, endorsed him. When it became apparent that Maier and his ilk had Strickland's ear, then the Strickland fall began.

The SCPR first developed questions about Stricklands sincerity in tackling the many difficult problems that Ohio faces on the basis of a conversation he had with yours truly's spouse at the John Boccieri coming out for congress in North Canton.

She quizzed him hard and persistent about getting going on fixing Ohio's public education infrastructure. His core response: "I'm keeping my powder dry."

Well, fast forward some two years down the road, Strickland's powder is getting so dry that it is evaporating before our very eyes.

Now we hear he is embracing gambling (slots at the racetracks) after opposing gambling in the first 30 months of his tenure. And, he and his allies in the Ohio General Assembly, are taking it out of the public accountability realm by putting into the state budget bill to provide political cover to legislators who - whether honestly or not - can say "I would never have voted allow the slots, but I had to vote for the budget.

Even Strickland can say, "I have always opposed gambling as being a unsound revenue source for government, but I could not veto the budget bill to get at the gamb ling thing."

Months ago his administration conceived a plan to raise taxes by raising fees ($236 million's worth). The sin? Trying to make out that fee increases are not tax increases.

Strickland knows that Republicans jump all over Democrats as being "taxers and spenders" merely by virtue of being Democrats. Despite the clear need to suspend state tax reductions and to do an "no holds barred" analysis of whether or not the Republican sponsored tax reform of five years ago is the ultimate answer to Ohio's revenue woes, he sits and watches.

Is this another case of "keeping one's powder dry?"

There are other instances that the SCPR could bring up as more evidence that Ted Strickland is a changed man - for the worse; even assuming the "man from Duck Run" was somewhat of a fairytale or mirage from the get-go.

It is becoming more and more clear that the idyllic man from Duck Run is well on his way to being a "duck and run" politician that Stark Countians and Ohioans know all too well.

As long as he holds court with the consummate political pros who hang out in Columbus and Tuscarawas Township, Ohio; there is little hope that Ohio will rebound during a second Strickland term.

So governor, what should we expect: "a genuine man from Duck Run, or a "duck and run" politician hanging out with the fellowship of the political cognoscenti?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

HEALY HOT ON TRAIL OF CANTON POLICE CHIEF MCKIMM?

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) has learned that Canton Police Chief Dean McKimm is being brought up on disciplinary hearing by outgoing Safety Director Tom Nesbitt. The Report understands that this hearing will be held within a matter of days and will be adjudicated by Service Director Warren Price.

Whatever decision Price makes is subject to review by the Canton Civil Service Commission.

McKimm has been the target not only of the Healy administration but also by the preceding Creighton administration.

That SCPR did a records request several months ago with the city of Canton and the documents obtained verify numerous admonitions being communicated by Director Nesbitt to McKimm. Apparently, the acrimony has not abated over time; hence the new action and a hearing.

The Report has opinioned previously that one of the reasons Nesbitt is departing the Healy administration is Healy's dissatisfaction with Nesbitt's inability to deal with McKimm in accordance with Healy's objectives.

Tom Nesbitt is another Canton official that professionals, who work with him, have a high opinion of, but nonetheless has fallen into disfavor with Healy.

The SCPR has also learned that Deputy Police Chief (Captain) Thomas Ream is a leading candidate to succeed Director Nesbitt.

An area law enforcement official has told the SCPR that his view is that Ream is too much of a "shiny new badge" to be Safety Director and that it would also be troublesome if McKimm remains chief to have to account to his former subordinate.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on in Canton. Distractions galore emanating from Mayor Healy appear to debilitating the city from moving forward in revitalizing itself for the good of its citizens.

RON PONDER THROWING SOFTBALLS TO JOHNNIE A. MAIER,JR ? JESTS GALORE IN THIS POWDER PUFF PIECE BUT PONDER TAKES MAIER SERIOUSLY



Ron Ponder of "Points to Ponder" of WHBC-AM radio (1480 on your radio dial) ends his recent interview with the now former Stark County Democratic Party chair telling Maier that he is the best Stark Democratic Party chairman ever.

Well, yours truly posits that it depends on your criteria of evaluation.

One way to look at the Ponder assessment is that Maier has succeeded by default.

How's that?

In the interview Ponder and Maier refer to a telephone call that Maier received from Stark County Republican Party chair Jeff Matthews when it became known that Maier was retiring (effective: June 1st) "jesting" with Maier that he was retiring because Maier was fearful of appearing head-to-head with Matthews on Ponder's show.

Really?

Here's a guy, who in cahoots with his predecessor Curt Braden, has wrecked the Stark County Republican Party. Consequently, in many parts of Stark, there is no meaningful Republican competition.

A second way is to evaluate of how Maier is the SCPR's belief that he has used his leadership to the benefit of himself, some of his relatives, his political friends and loyalists.

In the audio tape of part of the Ponder/Maier interview, Maier says that he "believes in government."

Holy Hannah, why wouldn't he!

Look at a previous SCPR blog pointing out some of the Maier benefits from his connection to Ohio/Stark government and the clout he had as Stark County Democratic Party chair (CLICK HERE).

A third way is the Strickland/Maier connection. It was political genius on Maier's part to be the first county Democratic party chair to endorse Strickland when he ran in 2006. Strickland will never forget him for "the first" and has and will continue to reward Maier and friends handsomely.

Even though Strickland faces a difficult re-election bid next year, Maier will continue to fall on a sword for the politically weakened governor. If Srickland survives to serve another terms, even more political riches await Maier at the hand of the "aw shucks" governor from Duck Run.

Fourthly, there is Randy Gonzalez as the vehicle to Maier's success. In the opinion of yours truly, Gonzalez is a ton smarter than Maier. The SCPR has named Gonzalez the de facto Stark Dems chairman for some time now. Maier did nothing as chairman without clearing matters with Gonzalez.

The big laugh of the interview is how Maier pretends that there is competition for leadership among the Stark Dems.

To make the point, yours truly has the following illustration.

Early on in Maier's tenure, at a party made an obligatory call (now realized to be highly qualified) to "fill all those vacant precinct committee slots. Being from Lake Township, yours truly set out to help (naively) to fill those slots. On submitting a name, the question was: "How do I know this person will support me." Me? How about the programs and activities of the party?

This incident was a clear tip-off that Maier viewed the party as his personal fiefdom.

The message is that precinct committee persons are clearly expected to be personally loyal to the party chairman and support his recommendations. So all the Maier talk about "Randy needs to be elected" and "any Democrat can run" are total jokes in terms of the reality of how the internals of the Stark County Democrat Party are set up. Ponder gives him a pass. Great, Ron, great.

Maier also has relied on his "hand-on-for-dear-life appendage" Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark Dems - Heaven only knows why) for sycophantish reaffirmation. To repeat, it is not Jackson, but Gonzalez who provides the brain power for Stark Dems.

It is reported that Gonzalez is saying that he is going to be his own man as party chair. No doubt about it. The curtain is now ripped away and Stark's political version of the Wizard of Oz is outed and - yes, yes, yes - the real man appears.

Ron Ponder is a nice man who has a handle on public relations-esque "talk radio," but he very rarely asks his guests hard questions. And even when he gets adventuresome he back down quicker than "lager turns to _ _ _ _."

All the local politicians like to talk with Ron Ponder on his "Points to Ponder" because they have pondered Ponder and realize he is a "slow-pitch" pitcher who lets the interviewees hit the ball out of the park with regularity.

Listen to the selected portion of the interview for yourself below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NEED THE SHERIFF'S HELP - FIND HIS FAVORITE "FISHIN" HOLE

Are Stark Countians having second thoughts about re-electing Sheriff Tim Swanson after he announced he would be retiring before the end of his term ending December 31, 2008?

They certainly ought to be.

The SCPR has learned that Sheriff Swanson is spending many of his days "fishin" these days. His favorite spot is said to be Pastore's on Route 44.

Several months ago, Swanson made an "in-your-face-taxpayers" speech at a Stark County commissioners meeting indicating that the "public be damned," he had his retirement, he had earned it. Note that this little ditty took place after election day, November, 2008; the politically courageous person Swanson is.

Here's the exact quote:
If you don’t like it, don’t vote for me in four years because I’m retired. And I’m one of those double dippers. And I’m proud that I’m a double dipper. And in two more years I’m going to retire from the military and I’m going to double dip there, too. Ok?
At the same commissioners' meeting, Swanson took no responsibility for being creative and innovative to try to provide Stark's outlying unincorporated areas with police protection in the face of the county budget crisis:

Here is Swanson in his own words:
I’ll do what you want. No tax. No deputies. I’m lucky to have two people on the road now. If you live in an unincorporated area, I’ll get the car there when I can get it there. If I can’t – poop them. They just don’t come out of the sky. You’ve got to pay them. They deserve a salary just like everybody else who works.

...

If you don’t like it, move somewhere else where you will like it.
Swanson in the above-quoted text plays the dutiful role of caring about his deputies.

But does he?

The SCPR has learned that one of Swanson's top administrative sergeants recently retired. As the day ended, one would think that Swanson would have been there to express his appreciation for work well done.

But he wasn't.

Later on the retiree was honored with a "retirement party" at Esbers.

Was Swanson there to share in honoring the sergeant for his long term faithful service.

No he wasn't.

Recently, there were rampant reports that Swanson was about ready to quit. The SCPR e-mailed Swanson for a response. The response? A terse NO.

the "NO" makes sense to the SCPR.

Why would he quit?

He's got two retirements and he spends many of his days - not providing leadership on the job on Atlantic Boulevard.

No, not like in his early days as sheriff.

Now he has a sign out: "Gone Fishin!"

And if you don't like it - well, in the sheriff's unique style, he would probably say: "poop" you!

NORTH CANTON COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARYL REVOLDT: A CANDIDATE FOR THE SCPR "THOMAS JEFFERSON AWARD" FOR HIS PROMOTION OF FREE SPEECH?


The main event at Monday's North Canton Council meeting was the approval by Council of an ordinance to approve the Construction Management Agreement (CMA) proposed between Maple Street Commerce LLC and the city of North Canton.A close second though was a mini-debate among council members as to community activist and former councilman Chuck Osborne's time allocation to address Council on various aspects of the agreement.

By the SCPR account of Osborne's time (verified by video recording), Osborne spoke well in excess of 10 minutes and waded in with frequent interruptions.

He spoke during "visitors recognitiion," and in response to economic development Director Eric Bowles initial failure to own up to having spoken with Osborne during the preceding week about any aspect of the CMA only on Osborne's interjection to correct himself. Moreover, he spoke at the tail end of the meeting at the issuance of a general invitation by Revodt, which the SCPR understands is a common Revoldt practice.

In Osborne's defense to his interjecting "out-of-order," the SCPR noted how various Administration officials or Council members would make comments that either directly or implicitly reflected on Osborne.

So the question becomes, wouldn't a fair minded person accord him an opportunity to respond on the spot?

And the SCPR believes that Revoldt was fair to Osborne. Revodt is bright enough to the know the difference between out-of-control interruption and when fairness demands the opportunity to respond.

The Report understands that Revoldt subscribes to the 5 minute rule but exercises discretion as president to expand the limit under the dynamics of the discussion.

Councilman Doug Foltz apparently is a "hardliner" in clamping down on public discourse with Council. He could even be a candidate to become part of the distinguished "Jefferson Muzzles." CLICK HERE to learn about the Jefferson Muzzles.

He addressed his fellow Council members about his frustration with Osborne (though he did not specifically name Osborne) and the time accorded him by Council President Daryl Revoldt.

The SCPR has learned that Foltz, who immediately preceded Revodlt as Council president, on at least one occasion had Osborne removed from Council chambers.

In the course of his comments on Monday, he specifically recommended that persistent commenters be removed from Council meetings by the president.

Although other Council members did not address the "visitors recognition" mechanism or Osborne's conduct directly, it appeared to the SCPR from facial expressions and bodily movements that a number of them were growing impatient with Osborne.

Nonetheless, President Revoldt permitted Osborne and others who spoke pretty much unrestricted leeway in addressing Council. He did, however, refuse to recognize Osborne on one occasion.

In the intra-Council discussion about the "visitors recognition" mechanism, there was some light-hearted banter about Revoldt being a "liberal." Revoldt is known in Stark County as being a conservative Republican whereas Councilman Foltz is a Democrat which apparently struck many as being an ironic twist on the matter of receptivity to unfettered expression.

What follows is a video of a North Canton citizen George Daniluck complimenting Revoldt for his generous management of the"visitor recognition" forum. By implication, he criticizes Councilman Foltz who was Revoldt's immediate predecessor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

HARD TIMES EQUAL HARD CHOICES?



A few years ago Tuscarawas Township trustee Celeste DeHoff had caught the eye of the then Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. She landed a job working for him in the Massillon clerk of courts office which, of course, he head as the elected office holder.

Then two years ago, she, as a recent grad from law school and admitted to the Ohio Bar, had another stroke of good fortune in being hired by Jackson Township. A key figure in Jackson is fiscal officer and former trustee Randy Gonzalez who is current Stark County Dems chair and close, close political ally of Maier.

But, alas for her, when economic times get hard for government, even political loyalists are not safe. Her $47,560 is a bit too steep for Jackson Township these financially stressed days. The cut was one of a number to be made within 30 days according to a report in the Massillon Independent yesterday.

One reader of the Stark County Political Report apparently believes the initial hire was a political boondoggle. Witness this comment:
How can you turn such an expenditure into looking like a budget cut when there is no justification for the initial expense? I would be curious to see her work product for this two year project.
DeHoff appears to be on on her way out as trustee in Tuscarawas Township, too.

A source has told the SCPR that DeHoff took out a "blank" petition from the Board of Elections.

Why a blank petition?

Maybe she's trying to sandbag. If so, it's not working. Three non-incumbents have taken out petitions for the two slots up this time (one of which is one currently held by DeHoff).

She got clobbered by Republican Todd Snitchler in her race against him in 2008 for the Ohio House (50th) - in her home area Tuscarawas Township and across the entire district despite huge help from Maier getting big Columbus-generated bucks to put into the race and despite Maier getting the Stricklands, John Glenn, Sherrod Brown and Richard Cordray to come to the district to campaign for her.

Undoubtedly, Maier is grieving over the hard times his political loyalist DeHoff is experiencing.

Don't be surprised to see DeHoff surface on the staff of a Democratic elected official somewhere across Stark County.

Could she be in for another stint at the Massillon clerk of courts office?

Monday, June 22, 2009

WHY CAN'T STARK COUNTY GET INVIGORATED EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP?



The Repository has an excellent topic in today's edition: Combating 'brain drain' no easy task.

Notice I say topic and leave my description at that.

Why?

Because all the prescriptions for the Stark County phase of correcting the problem of Ohio's "brain drain" are the samo-samo, "in-the-box" thinking that is the equivalent of continuing to dig the hole deeper.

If one wants to get out of a hole, what is the first thing to do? You[ve got it: quit digging. If one wants to get something other than one as always gotten, then "change" is what the doctor orders.

For starters readers of this blog should CLICK HERE and read the Fordham Institute (Fordham) report on Ohio's brain drain, which, of course, includes Stark County.

Brain drain is a topic near and dear to yours truly. As the father of three daughters who graduated from Lake High School and Ohio colleges (Kent State University, The Ohio State University and the University of Akron (also NEOUCOM) and all young professions), yours truly knows firsthand that Ohio is not a lure for our university graduates. One daughter is in Colorado, another in Oklahoma and the third in Texas)

Fordham's analysis of the problem based on a thoroughgoing survey is right on, but the SCPR doesn't think much of Fordham's prescription especially for Stark County.

However, the focus of this blog is to parse the comments of Stark's college graduate retention leadership as published in The Rep's piece.

Let's start with Doctor Adrienne O'Neill. She is one of Stark County's most respected educational leaders and is president of the Stark Education Partnership.

Here's what she had to say:
Adrienne O’Neill, president of the Stark Education Partnership, said many of the county’s college graduates receiving associate’s degrees plan on staying in the area.

“We are trying really hard to make our area attractive to young people,”
Nothing against folks with associate degrees, but one of the key points of Fordham is that the higher up the degree scale one goes, the least likely the graduates are to stay in Ohio. So Ohio puts a lot of taxpayer money into educating our "best and brightest" and they are leaving in droves.

No personal disrespect intended, but O'Neill's comment is clearly of the educational leadership deadhead variety.

Another one of Stark educational leaders in the area of keeping Ohio college graduates in Ohio is Ann Motayer, director of Kent State's Career Service Center.

Here is what she had to say:
Ann Motayar ... said the university is working ... with area businesses to provide more internships and co-op opportunities for Kent students.

“We have been well aware of the trend and working, in many ways, to help connect students with local experiences to help retain them in the state, Many students would prefer to stay local. They are connected to their families and their communities.”

“We know that is No. 1 — that employers recruit our graduates, And it’s a way for students to get hands-on experience, moving them from the college experience into a full-time position. We hope to be the driver to help employers connect with graduates, who are key in helping rejuvenate our communities and our state.”
Director Motayar has to be kidding.

Internships and co-ops as a solution? No, these are absolute perequisities to even be in the game.

What Motayar and her fellows at Kent State have failed Ohio and Stark County in is a lack of visioning a comprehensive plan which would include area universities working collaboratively with local government, business and industry to create an "attractive community model" (a la Richard Florida's Creative Class model) that would likely be the compelling lure to keep the majority of Ohio graduates in Ohio.

Again, no personal disrespect intended, but Director Motayar with her prescription is indicative of more Stark deadhead educational leadership.

The one spark of life in The Rep's article comes from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's Aimee Belden who is director of the Chamber's "Brain Gain" initiative.

His is what Director Belden had to say:

... the chamber has focused its efforts on maintaining young people through initiatives, such as YStark!, [a network of about 900 professionals] a group which aims to engage young professionals in Stark County through social gatherings, a newly launched fellowship program and more.

“We certainly haven’t fixed all of the challenges we face, I would agree with the study in that, at some point, I think it is going to come down to the job, and I hope we can deliver on that.”

A more skillful reporter would have drawn Director Belden out on her description of the Chamber's effort. Belden should have been asked about the economic/cultural/lifelong learning aspects of the YStark! seemed to be implicit in the reporter's all too brief description of the specifics of the initiative.

Perhaps Director Belden might want to be in contact with the El Paso, Texas Creative Class Leadership Project (CCLP). Here is what the group has to say about itself:
“The El Paso CCLP raises the consciousness of our community's quest for a better business environment based on a creative approach to technological businesses. The interaction of our participants and their ideas is generating communication across cultural, professional and personal roles and allows our region to look at ourselves in a fresh manner.”
Could Director Belden and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce the first in Stark County to break the "deadhead educational leadership" cycle in the county?

Let's hope so.

Stark County's future depends on keeping our "best and brightest" at home putting their thinking power to work for a better Stark County for future generations.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

MAYOR HEALY WILL NOT LIKE READING THIS REP "LETTER TO EDITOR"

Just ask William J. Healy, II whether or not he has been a successful mayor so far into his term.

What answer will you receive?

Undoubtedly, he will tell you an "unqualified yes."

Healy will always put the best spin on himself while knocking others (in a just between you and me fashion).

Publicly he plays the political game by saying the politically correct things for media consumption. But privately he bashes others who are not out-and-out loyalists or, heaven forbid, disagree with him.

So it was no surprise that the mayor was quick to jump on reported crime statistics in February showing a reduction in major crime in Canton.

The Repository editors rightly cautioned him for claiming credit because you can't have it just one way. When crime statistics show increases (which it is likely they will), guess who gets the credit? Of course, Healy will get it. And he deserves it, now that he has jumped on the public relations model of governing.

Healy prides himself on being an educated man. He brags about his advanced degree ad nauseam. Part and parcel of being educated by all too many with credentialed folks, is the notion that you can talk you way to success.

In addition to Healy's Zero Tolerance policy, the city is the beneficiary of a federal grant of $175,000 obtained by the J.R. Coleman Community Renovation Corporation which is described by the Community Capacity Development Office (CCDO) as being:
... a community-based strategy sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), is an innovative, comprehensive multiagency approach to law enforcement, crime prevention, and community revitalization. CCDO oversees the Weed and Seed initiative.
Well, the question has been raised in a letter to the editor in today's Repository (How has Weed and Seed grant helped? Crimes seems to ba as bad as ever) whether or not the Canton-based initiative is working.

The SCPR thinks its too early to tell whether or not the crime eradication efforts of the Healy administration will develop a downward trend line on crime.

But life experience does instruct that it is "on the ground" work that gets any job done; not public relations.

This is a lesson that Mayor Healy has yet to learn.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"HOW LONG, O LORD, HOW LONG!"



On October 25, 2006 William Faber of Tuscarawas Township was fired from his job. Faber and fa ellow employee (Knerr - who also got fired) had gotten into a verbal altercation while on the job.

In November, 2006, Faber and Knerr were denied arbitration under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement between Tuscarawas Township and the workers' union. They were denied based on the Trustees' asserting that the contract was not binding because contract had been rendered void by virtue of a merger between the local union that Faber and Knerr were members of and another.

In January, 2007, the fired workers' union filed an unfair labor practice claims with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB).

In April, 2007, SERB found probable cause that an unfair labor practice had occurred.

In July, 2008, SERB Administrative Law Judge Beth Jewell rules that there was no break in the contract because of the merger and that Tucarawas Township trustees are obligated to provide arbitration.

December 11, 2008, SERB adopts the ruling of Judge Jewell.

March, 2009. Faber asks her state representative (Todd Snitchler) to check with SERB as to why SERB has notified Tuscarawas trustees of it action.

Answer: "Due to budget cuts they [SERB is] behind"

May/June, 2009. The SCPR got these responses from
J. Russell Keith, General Counsel & Assistant Executive Director (SERB), to wit:
If the Board directs the matter to hearing, such as finding that probable cause exists in a ULP case or that a question concerning representation exists in a REP case, they are handled as expeditiously as possible given the schedules of the attorneys representing the parties, but there is no "hard" timeline currently in place.

Like most state boards and commissions, SERB has absorbed several budget reductions during this fiscal year. To achieve further economic savings, the staff, equipment, and operations of the State Personnel Board of Review have moved into existing space at SERB. In addition, House Bill 1 includes a provision that would consolidate the staffs of SERB and the State Personnel Board of Review, making all of the employees of SERB. These developments temporarily drained some staff resources away from other matters.
So who knows when the December 11, 2008 SERB decision will make it to the Tuscarawas Township trustees.

And, of course, that will not be the end of the matter.

The trustees have already voted to appeal the decision to the Stark Court of Common Pleas. Not surprising given these quotes in The Independent (Massillon) Small victory for fired workers, August 3, 2008 and Tusc. trustees will appeal SERB ruling, January 15, 2009:

Trustee Green: “We told (Clemans, Nelson & Associates) to file the paperwork ... We are not going to arbitration.”
Trustee Speicher: One, if we accept arbitration, people will think, ‘See, they admitted they were wrong.’ If we (vote not) to go to arbitration it’s, ‘Oh, the attorney is milking you for more money.’

Trustee DeHoff: “I think they should’ve been fired,” ... Of course I believe we have a strong case ... ."

Dug in, indeed, these trustees are. All the fired workers can do is beseech the Lord.

"How long O LORD, how long?"

Friday, June 19, 2009

TRACKING OUR LEGISLAGTORS SERIES: SENATORS VOINOVICH & BROWN - HOW MUCH DO THEY SPEND ON STAFF? READ LETTER BROWN SENT TO US EPA ON UNIONTOWN IEL

Republican Senator George Voinovich is paid a salary of $174,000 each year for serving as one of Ohio's two U.S. Senator. Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown is paid the same amount.

Each is entitled to "expense" money to staff their offices to do the administrative work of being a senator.

As is evident from the graphic that leads this post, Brown gets about $78,000 more a year for his office operations.

The question becomes: Are Ohioans (including Stark Countians) getting their monies worth?

Over $5 million a year should provide able resources for Voinovich and Brown to be responsive to the needs of their constituents.

See the complete list of how each senator spends your money on staff by clicking here.

Why the question?

Recently the SCPR ran into a situation involving Chris Borello of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT) who was not having her inquires answered by Senator Brown's office. Borello has worked tirelessly since the early 1980s to get a proper remediation of hazardous materials dumped at a site abutting Cleveland Avenue about a mile south of the center of town. The site is known as the Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL).

The SCPR contacted Brown's office asking why a constituent would not be responded to by the Senator.

Perhaps, the SCPR inquiry was helpful. Shortly after the inquiry, Senator Brown's office has been in touch with Stark Countian Borello and has contacted U.S. EPA head administrator Lisa Jackson and asked for answers that CCLT has not been able to get.

One of the primary missions of the SCPR is to ensure that elected officials who serve Stark Countians are responsive to the needs and inquiries of Stark County citizens.

See the actual Brown letter in the video below.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

NORTHWEST BOARD OF EDUCATION DOES NOT TRUST CITIZENS OF LAWRENCE/CANAL FULTON TO DO THE RIGHT THING AT THE BALLOT BOX? *

* Posed question was derived from a conversation that the SCPR had with a Canal Fulton resident shortly before the publication of this blog.

A month ago or so, yours truly came across the path of a Northwest Board of Education member at an area shopping establishment.

Mind you, this was close after the failure of the the 12.9 mill operating levy in May.

What struck the SCPR about this encounter was the perceived attitude of the board member. The best word that comes to mind in "cavalier." The member seemed to be dismissive of the significance of the defeat. A kind of que sera, que sera projection.

From the discussion of the levy defeat, the conversation turned to the shortfall on the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission funding. The member again, seemingly, evinced a perceived (by the SCPR) "I'm not concerned" frame of mind. We will transfer inside millage and take care of the problem that way."

So now we have the news that the imposition of a new tax in what appears to be planned for this Saturday, when the board meets at 9:00 a.m.

A very few days advance notice and on a Saturday at 9:00 a.m.?

Undoubtedly, a lead-notice time frame, a day and time that will lure Lawrence Township and Canal Fulton residents to participate. Huh?

A letter recently written by Superintendent William Stetler, on-the-face-of-it, presents a "damned if we do, damned, if we don't" dilemma. Really? A dilemma? $29 million at stake. Again, one must ask, a dilemma? Stetler has to be kidding.

Sounds more like passing the buck to the SCPR or, more sinisterly, an secretive manipulation.

Who believes that this board all of a sudden has gotten religion and now is is touch with its constituency?

As an interesting aside, Stetler and board president Steven Jones do not talk about in the letter, is the failure of the board in place in 2002 to anticipate delays that quite predictably would up the locals' share.

Not long ago the Northwest Board of Education appointed member Nikki Metzger to replace her deceased husband (who tragically died after a battle with cancer) in what President Jones termed a "no brainer" course of action as justification of making the appointment without opening the process to applications from the public at large.

The point being is that the Northwest Board of Education has a storied history of acting without minding the public.

In addition to the "no one but Metzger process," the SCPR is informed that member Gindelsberger was a board president's choice (rubber stamped by a compliant board) as was Superintendent Stetler.

Accordingly, to the SCPR, the "letter" is disingenuous to say the least.

There is no way this board is going to pass on $29 million, no matter if citizens are clearly against the maneuver at Saturday's meeting.

The end result is going to be that the Northwest Board of Education is sewing more seeds of distrust.

By imposing the millage transfer rather than putting it up for a vote, the board makes it abundantly clear that it distrusts the citizens of Lawrence Township and Canal Fulton.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WHAT IS COUNCIL PRESIDENT DARYL REVOLDT'S HURRY?

Does anyone on North Canton City Council, besides Councilman Jeff Davies, have any backbone?

North Canton is about to finalize an agreement with Maple Street Commerce (Stu Lichter) on the continuing development of the former Hoover complex into a facility reconfigured, refitted for new tenants.

North Canton officials released the proposal at the past Monday's council meeting as emergency legislation. The SCPR's sources have no idea what the emergency is and even after asking Council president Daryl Revoldt still do not know.

Councilman Davies did try to put the breaks on by asking for a second reading prior to the vote. Council President Revoldt was having none of that.

Of course, there are other concilpersons. Let's see there is Doug Foltz (Ward 1), Daniel Peters (Ward 2), Jon Snyder (Ward 4) and Marcie Kiesling (at-large). Pat DeOrio (at-large) was on vacation.

Apparently, Foltz, Peters, Snyder and Kiesling sat there mum. No support at all for Davies.

We all know that when someone (in this case, Revoldt) is giving something the "bum's rush," watch out. Someone is about to get the shaft. In this case, it is likely the "someone" is going to be North Canton taxpayers.

Deals with developers are notorious for not protecting taxpayers.

Public officials are under enormous pressure to give developers everything they ask for because of the politics of producing jobs to replace rapidly vanishing jobs.

If Council sits back and let's Revoldt rush this agreement through without being properly vetted, then they share in the public accountability should things go wrong.

As we all know from life experience, "haste makes waste."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WHY IS STARK COUNTY EXPERIENCING SO MUCH INTERGOVERNMENTAL FIGHTING?

Why so much intergovernmental fighting in Stark County?

As the SCPR sees it, for two basic reasons.

First, Stark County is a bastion of turfism.

A little over a year ago Merle Kinsey of COMPASS (Community Objectives Met through a Partnership with all Segments of Society) appeared at the Belden-Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce meeting (reference: Are 'turf wars' hurting county, The Repository, Monsewicz, May 21, 2008).

Kinsey had some revealing comments, to wit:
"People here, when they meet you, they want to know what high school you went to because they know each other there, or at least they know something about each other. We're at a point in time where we have to move out of that."

"Stark County has 23 government jurisdictions, 18 school districts, five library systems, four health departments. ... Why do we need 18 school superintendents in Stark County? ... We have 11 dispatchers in Stark County. You have one point in Stark County where you have four dispatchers for one accident,"
Second, Stark County has mediocre leadership at best.

Only Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley seems to be making much of an effort to bring the county together. He has mediated between the Stark Veterans Service Commission and the Stark County commissioners, a neighborhood access dispute out in Lawrence Township and attempted to mediate between Sheriff Swanson and the cities of Alliance and Massillon over the cities failure to pay for county incarceration services.

But Bosley is more the exception than the rule. And, to be fair, he can go to war as well as if not better than most. However, when he does so, it is usually for larger community issues rather than parochial interests.

More typical is the leadership (if that's what you can call it) of Trustees Celeste DeHoff and Dean Green). It seems as if it is one fight after another with these two against Massillon. They seem to want to fight with Massillon at the drop of a hat. But, then again, they even fight with their own citizens (e.g. Tuscarawas Township v. Faber, et al)

It is a more than a little bit interesting that Celeste DeHoff''s campaign treasurer when she ran for state representative in 2008 was, guess who?

Massillon Councilperson Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

Who is Catazaro-Perry always at war with?

Hmm?

Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr., that's who.

Maybe these fights are more personal that meets the eye?

If such is the case, doesn't that say something about the quality of government leadership coming out of Tuscarawas Township.

Currently there is a road maintenance issue going on between Massillon and Tuscarawas Township.

It is a bitter war of words as evidenced by Massillon Public Service and Safety Director Mike Loudiana calling Trustee Green a liar. In the past DeHoff has talked how she cannot trust Mayor Cicchinelli.

Who loses in these battles?

The good folks of Tuscarawas Township and Massillon, that's who.

As a specific consequence of the acrimony (mostly, if not completely, emanating from DeHoff and Green), Tuscarawas Township residents now have a "partially" repaved road.

Who pays the the legal fees that are engendered in these skirmishes when they escalate into lawsuits? Of course, the taxpayers.

It is not just Massillon and Tuscarawas Township who are at intergovernmental war.

There are many more:
  • Massillon versus North Canton (economic development competition)
  • North Canton against Canton and Jackson Township (economic development)
  • Canton v. East Canton (annexation)
  • Nimishillen Township contending Stark County Central Dispatch
And on and on goes the list.

No wonder Stark County can't seem get its act together.

What company would want to come to Stark County with all the intergovernmental warfare that is going on?

NIMISHILLEN'S CENCOM BEING DISINVITED FROM THE 9-1-1 GAME PLAN?


UPDATE: 06/16/2009 (09:20 AM)

COMMENT: NIMISHILLEN FIRE CHIEF RICH PETERSON

Martin: Some points of order to your article:

* CenCom is currently providing the level of emergency dispatching services that Director Concatto is proposing and for substancially (sic) less than the 12 million dollar price tag and the 5.5 million dollar annual operating fee.

* CenCom will remain an alternative for those communities seeking professional emergency dispatching services tailored to their individual dispatching needs.

* CenCom was constructed in a secure, below grade, concrete reinforced facility designed from the ground up (not renovated as an after thought) with technological and redundant qualities not found in the sites selected by Director Concatto as the county dispatching centers.

* Chief Peterson did not convince then Trustee now Commissioner Bosley to get behind fixing Stark County's 911 system, Mr. Bosley took that cause as his own because of a mishandled 911 call within Nimishillen Township.

* I do not need nor did I seek a "reward" from Commissioner Bosley. Successfully constructing and operating a regional communication center that is instrumental in saving lives and property is reward enough. (Isn't that what it's all about...saving lives?)

* Anyone can "say" they are going to design, construct, and implement a successfull (sic) 911 / emergency dispatching operation. Delivering on the promise is much more difficult.

* Please don't confuse being proud of our operation with "boasting".

* I would appreciate not being the focal point of the SCOG dispatching initiative. By removing myself and CenCom from the process, I hoped to allow the SCOG to succeed or fail on its own merit. I find it odd that folks still want to drag me back into the SCOG arena. I respect Mr. Loudiana's opinions but I suggest he concentrate his energy on following thru with his promise of providing high quality emergency dispatching services to Stark County agencies for "free" and not chastising a small, unimportant operation such as CenCom.

ORIGINAL POST

Mike Loudiana was speaking only for himself; not the Stark County Council on Governments (SCOG). However, Rich Peterson (Fire Chief/Nimishillen & CenCom head) ought to be a bit worried that his cat and mouse game with SCOG will end up with SCOG being the cat that catches and eats the mouse.

Loudiana told the SCPR he is pleased with the direction in which the SCOG Governance Committee is heading and that he is satisfied that the countywide 9-1-1 reconfiguration is proceeding in a manner promised to the Stark County public.

Moreover, he seem unconcerned with the Nimishillen Township antics even to the point of suggesting that CenCom can do whatever it pleases for now, but in the long run he is convinced that CenCom will be absorbed into the reworked countywide system.

His rationale? Once the new 9-1-1 gets up and running and Stark County's villages, cities and townships see how well it is working; any malcontents outside the system (including CenCom) will tuck tail and make their way into the centralized countywide system.

Loudiana firmly believes that Stark centralized dispatch will be a reality on a schedule promised to Stark Countians in the context of one dispatch center and a backup.

The last time the SCPR talked with Peterson, he was boasting about the number of non-Nimishillen communities CenCom is serving.

But what he did not address is this question that Loudiana raised anew.

Why would community residents want to pay twice? Pay the imposed 0.5 per cent sales/use tax imposed by commissioners in January, 2009 and then pay CenCom to provide the same but disconnected (to the rest of the county, in a fully integrated sense) services.

Loudiana make another good point. Stark Countians provide a lot of emergency services to out-of-towners (non-Stark Countians). How better to have them share in the cost of those services, but through a sales/use tax.

It is more than touch ironic that Rich Peterson and his "lone wolf" strategy could hurt Commissioner Todd Bosley in his re-election chances. If for some reason Peterson's foot dragging causes delays in moving the reconfigured 9-1-1 along, it could come back to haunt Bosley in the 2010 election cycle.

And this would be ironic.

Peterson convinced Bosley in the first place (back in the days that Bosley was a Nimishillen Township trustee) to get squarely behind fixing Stark's 9-1-1 system. So much so that Bosley made it the centerpiece of his campaign when he ran against and defeated incumbent Republican commissioner Richard Regula.

Undoubtedly, Bosley appreciates Peterson's winning idea and has tried to reward him

What he and Peterson didn't calculate was Bosley's inability to deliver the 9-1-1 chief job to him. Bosley argued vehemently for Peterson, but Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez has proved in the selection process that he has more political clout than Bosley does.

Being the spoil sports they are turning into, the SCPR believes that Peterson and the Nimishillen Township trustees are primary factors in undermining Bosley's 2010 reelection effort.

In the end, however; the Nimishillen folks will not win this battle and Bosley should be unaffected by their pot stirring.

The more serious political threat to Bosley remains the Stark County Citizens for the Right to Vote.

If these folks get the repeal of the imposed sales/use tax on the ballot, then it's anybody's guess whether or not the imposed tax will stand.

In tough economic times, the advantage is clearly with the would-be repealers; notwithstanding the huge political effort (manpower wise, money wise) the pro 9-1-1 forces will muster.

Monday, June 15, 2009

ARE STARK OFFICIALS/PUBLIC FIGURES FBI TARGETS?


Second shoes are beginning to drop out of the FBI Cuyahoga County government corruption probe.

The first shoe was the public announcement by the Cleveland office of the FBI over a year ago that it had opened up an investigation of corruption in government in Cuyahoga County. However, it is clear that the FBi has interviewed persons who the FBI must think have relevant information in other counties including Stark.

Is the falling of second shoes underway?

On Friday last, criminal informations were filed against four Cuyahoga Countians.

Are the four it? Or, are there many more to come?

And, if so - will any of the second shoes be dropping in Stark County?

A Stark County law enforcement official believes they will.

In conversations with the SCPR, this official has told The Report that he has it from the highest level of Stark County law enforcement that the FBI has an active investigation, as an offshoot of the Cuyahoga County probe, going on in Stark.

Criminal informations being filed on Stark County government corruption? Let's hope not. Not exactly what Stark County needs!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

TRACKING OUR LEGISLAGTORS SERIES - BOCCIERI: DIFFERS FROM OBAMA IN OPPOSING "CAP-AND-TRADE"

What is "cap-and-trade," anyway?

According to Wikipedia, a shorthand definition is an:
approach in which an aggregate cap on all sources [of pollution] is established and these sources [companies, for the most part] are then allowed to trade amongst themselves to determine which sources actually emit the total pollution load.
In the accompanying video, Congressman John Boccieri (Democrat - Alliance - 16th congressional district) gives his reasons for opposing President Obama's "cap-and-trade" legislation and spells out his alternative.

Boccieri spoke in April at his "Congressman on Your Corner" event in Alliance.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MARLBORO TOWNSHIP RESIDENTS TO STAY AWAY IN LARGE NUMBERS FROM TRUSTEES "DEVIES" WORK SESSION ON MONDAY?


UPDATE: 12:30 P.M.

COMMENT FROM LARRY DORDEA. Officer Dordea was Sheriff Swanson's opponent in November, 2008 and plans to run for sheriff again in November, 2012.

COMMENT FOLLOWS:

Mr Olson,


I spent two days outside the courtroom so I was not privy to the opening statements. The Devies' are fine men and their attorneys some [sic] up the situation with a level of clarity that needs to be seen all throughout Marlboro Township. This was a political witch hunt that was aided and abetted by the Stark County Sheriff's Office and the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office. There is no excuse for the way this went down, both county offices were represented by their "heavy hitters", their notorious "big guns". You have done a much needed service by making this video available to the public. Thank you for taking the time and putting forth the effort to follow this unwarranted criminal case to its conclusion.


I agree with you that apologies are in order but these offices and their representatives have a history of the hard line. No apologies and no explanations. I sincerely doubt that they are sorry for anything but losing the case and I doubt they are ashamed of the shoddy work that they did. What has happened to our once outstanding sheriff’s office?


To Ron and Kyle, I am ashamed, both as a lifetime law enforcement officer and as a life time Stark County resident. Neither of you deserved the mistreatment that you suffered and you have proven the quality of your character both during this prolonged persecution and every day since your vindication. I have no idea where all of this will eventually lead but know that many good people believe in you and will stand with you. May god bless you and keep you safe.


Larry Dordea



ORIGINAL POST

Marlboro Township trustees (except for Wayne Schilig) are still on the hot seat for the way they handled a misunderstanding between them and former employee Kyle Devies.

On January 5, 2009, the trustees decided to dismiss township computer specialist Devies, but gave him a very short timeline (one day) to transition the computer system from software he personally owned to that owned by the township.

Consequently, there was a glitch that caused some of the township's computers to be inoperative for a period of time.

Relationships between Kyle's father Ron (Marlboro police chief) and Trustees Wise and Wolf have been strained from the time the two first took office in January, 2010.

The SCPR's understanding of the Devies' position is that Wise and Wolf have been on Ron's case ever since, looking for a reason to get at him - one way or another.

SCPR blog readers can search the blog for videos featuring Chief Devies describing the run-ins with the Wise/Wolf duo searching per the graphic to the immediate left of this text.


A number of township residents believe that Wlse and Wolf pounced on the computer glitch and Ron's effort (an advisory role) to help Kyle to make the switch properly and lawfully as an opportunity to make a law enforcement matter out of the incident.

The result was that Ron and Kyle were charged with one count each with 4th degree felonies (obstructing public business) and Ron with additional misdemeanor count (dereliction of duty).

The SCPR has already opinionated in this blog about the monumental failure of the Stark County sheriff and prosecutor to screen out what the SCPR believed from the get-go as being a obvious non law enforcement matter.

Stark County Common Pleas Judge Lee Sinclair did his part to see that justice was done to the Devies by dismissing the case at the end of the prosecutor's presentation of evidence.

But the battle rages on to restore the Devies - as nearly as possible - to the situation they were in before being put through a totally uncalled for law enforcement process (i.e. being formally indicted).

No apologies from the sheriff, the prosecutor nor Trustees Wise and Wolf.

Ron Devies says that Trustee Wise is adamantly opposed to compensating he and his son for their expenses incurred in connection with the event. Wolf reportedly is waffling on the matter, while Trustee Schilig is for compensating.

So has justice been done?

Only partly: Judge Sinclair's decision.

For the fullest measure of justice to occur (in the opinion of the SCPR), Sheriff Swanson, Prosecutor Ferrero and Trustees Wise and Wolf would have to write public apologies. Moreover, the trustees would have to compensate the Devies for their expenses.

The trustee have called a "work session" for Monday, June 15th to hear township residents on the Devies matter. The SCPR hears that residents are so skeptical of the sincerity of the meeting, that many do not plan to attend. Ron Devies himself has told The Report that he will be unable to attend.

The SCPR is including in this blog posting a video of the opening statements of Prosecutor Dennis Barr and defense attorneys Jeff Jakimedes (Kyle Devies) and Richard Reinbold (Ron Devies).

The video provides an outline of how the trial proceeded.

The video is immediately below.http: