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Monday, August 31, 2009

HOW IS THAT A "RAGGED UPON" MAYOR RUNS UNOPPOSED? IS POLITICAL COMPETITION DEAD IN STARK COUNTY?


Mayor David Held of North Canton seems to be dissatisfying to a number of North Canton elected officials and certainly to community activist and former city councilman Chuck Osborne.

Yet Held runs unopposed in November. Doesn't quite square up, does it?

At the August 24th council meeting (speaking for nearly 13 minutes), Osborne climbed all over Held for Held's part as city administrator and mayor over the lease arrangement and enforcement of the city owned Arrowhead Country Club which has amounts owing to the city in the amount (according to Osborne) of $104,311.74 (55,000 in unpaid security deposits and 49,311.74 in unpaid taxes which North Canton advanced to the Stark County treasurer)

Osborne says that since October 7, 2008, North Canton has been trying to collect the owed amount of Larizza Management Group, LTD (Larizza) under a contract signed by North Canton during the Rice administration (Held was then city administrator) in December, 2003.

Osborne faults Held on these grounds:
  • For not requiring in the lease contract language , as recommended by legal council, the posting of a $500,000 performance bond which Osborne says would have cost Larizza $1.500.
  • For hiring "expert" legal counsel on lease contract provisions, at a cost of $4,000 or so, out of Texas rather than completely relying on North Canton's law director.
  • For the need of North Canton to pay $49,311.74 out of its taxpayer revenues to avoid a tax delinquency on Arrowhead.
  • For not requiring a clause in the lease agreement whereby the owner of Larriza would be personally liable if the company failed to pay according to the terms of the lease.
  • For not requiring, as provided for in Ohio law, that the North Canton law director sign off on the lease agreement with Larizzaa prior to execution of the agreement.
Osborne tells the SCPR that a number of council members and some of Held's administrators agree with him on his criticism of Held.

Several council members has told yours truly that they view Held as a "weak" administrator with a lot of growing to do.

So, the SCPR asks this question.

If Held is so deficient as a mayor, how is it that out of a city of 14,000 plus, no one runs against Held?

Complaining about elected officials, but doing nothing to change things seems to be a prevalent political phenomenon in Stark County.

In 2008 countywide Zeigler (treasurer), Ferrero (prosecutor) and Rehfus (engineerj) had no opponents.

What gives Matthews (Stark Republican chairman)?

What gives Stark County public-at-large?

What gives North Canton?

Where's the political competition?

Republicans are famous for their bromide that free enterprise and its inherent appendage "competition" is a cure all.

Yet Stark County's Republican leadership is "not at home" when electoral politics screams out for competition at the polls.

And the Democrats are not blameless.

State Representative Scott Oelslager: no competition in 2008.

David Held: no competition 2009.

Because Stark County's political parties want no part of political races that "seem" to be unwinnable, Stark Countians lose in the pocketbook and they lose in the overall quality of government.

Shame on Jeff Matthews and shame on Randy Gonzalez (chair of the Dems).

Apparently, neither cares about the overall quality of government in Stark County but only how to pick the "low hanging" political fruit.

If it is tough to see how the party can win, count the party out!

WHY DID STARK CITIZENS FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE LEADER TOM MARCELLI ASK STARK CO FAIR OFFICIALS FOR PERMISSION TO HAVE DARTS AT GROUPS' FAIR BOOTH?


While the SCPR has been in favor of Stark Countians having the right to vote on the December, 2008 imposed sales and use tax, yours truly was skeptical of the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote Committee's (Committee) ability to get enough signatures (13,950) to qualify for the ballot.

Why?

Because the SCPR does not think much of the methods of leadership of the public figures handing the Committee's work.

In particular, Tom Marcelli's leadership style is troublesome to yours truly.

Why's that?

Because he is prone to make intemperate, outlandish remarks and challenges about/ to certain Stark County public officials.

For more detail on the SCPR's misgivings about Marcelli's leadership, go to the SCPR search box and type in "Marcelli."

Anyone who reads the SCPR on a regular basis, knows that The Report has been highly critical of some of these same officials. So its not the criticism per se.

It is impressive that the Stark Citizens Right for the Vote Committee easily surpassed the 13,950 needed signatures (19,309).

But does this translate into a "yes for repeal" victory?

Republican Jackson trustee James Walters (a potential Todd Bosley opponent) thinks so as told to the SCPR last Thusday in a telephone interview. In fact, Walters believes that the Committee will win in a rout. If that happens, look for Walters and, perhaps, others to want to have a go at Bosley next year.

Bosley says he's not worried. Even if the tax increase is repealed as he thinks voters will pretty muchhave forgotten about his connection to the issue by November, 2010.

On the flip side, if Bosley prevails, then he is in a political catbird seat.

With a tough economy all around us, conventional wisdom suggests that Walters may be correct about the fate of the issue.

The main difficulty may lie with the public approach taken by the Marcelli-led Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee.

To recap the original SCPR position: the right to vote - yea; repeal the tax - no.

Yours truly is now on the fence as to whether or not to vote for the repeal.

So, why the rethinking?

A number of reasons.

First, as the committee and many other Stark Countians have pointed out, the "apparent" reason that the tax was imposed was to fix 9-1-1. But another - but buried (or let's say de-emphasized) reason was to get more money for the county's general fund. The SCPR takes a dim view of this kind of political operation. The general fund factor should have received equal billing with 9-1-1, but it clearly was not.

Second, the more the SCPR gets into the machinations of many elected county officials in terms of employing each other's friends, relatives and political supporters, the less enthusiasm yours truly has for providing more funds for these officials. There is a need for more county revenue, but can the current set of countywide elected officials (except for the judges) be trusted to use them for sorely needed public purposes.

Third, there is another anti-democratic element to the commissioners' action. By imposing the tax and relieving city, village and township officials of the expense of 9-1-1 dispatching costs, taxpayers in those localities are paying twice for 9-1-1 services.

Does anyone think for one moment that city, village and township officials will not divert these monies to other local government services?

For yours truly to support "no" on repeal, Bosley et al will have to convince that the referenced officials, indeed all county elected officials, are trustworthy and the commissioners will be accountable with detailed monthly reports of how the new money is being put to the use. Moreover, the commissioners will need to compile a list of county public employees who are related by blood or marriage to a county elected official prior to the November election. More money must not mean taking the money for this purpose. With a "before the election" list, Stark Countians will be able to use this as a standard to determine whether or not the new money got diverted in this fashion.

The only other way for the SCPR to end up voting "no" would be for the leadership of the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee to get ugly, nasty and personal in its campaign for repeal while the Bosley forces take the high road.

And this could happen.

On Friday of last week the SCPR learned that Marcelli (for the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee) asked Stark County Fair officials for permission to bring darts into the Fair pavilion site of the groups' booth (confirmed to the SCPR by Stark County Fair president Jim Tressel).

Tressel did not know why Marcelli wanted to bring darts into the Fair, but Tressel said "absolutely not. No darts!"

Another source tells the SCPR that the reason Marcelli wanted to bring darts in to the Fair was to set up some kind of participation event whereby Fair attenders could throw darts at targets emblazoned with pictures/names of various county officials.

If the report is true, which county officials and what about the political fallout?

Most likely Commissioners Harmon and Bosley (who voted for the sales/use tax imposition) and county treasurer Gary Zeigler and county auditor Kim Perez (whom Marcelli is reported to had seemingly "personal" differences. But there may be other elected officials in mind, hence the shadow figures/question marks in the graphic above.

Undoubtedly, a dart board game could be viewed by some as being all in good humor. But it can also be viewed (the SCPR believes the more likely view) as being in poor taste, if not ugly and nasty. Moreover, such a plan might be viewed as indicative of Committee thinking/approaches in general and be a turn off to "fence sitters."

Marcelli et al need to stick to the issues inherent in whether or not the techniques/strategy the Committee embraces will be best for Stark County to retain/repeal the imposed tax.

The Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote Committee have a number of powerful arguments.

The question is whether they will use these arguments or sink into the politics of personal attack.

And, of course, the same goes for Bosley et al.

If it gets down to "tit for tat," then the Bosley et al lose and the Committee, obviously, wins.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

WHY DON'T ALL STARK CO SCHOOLS VALUE GOD? SCPR COMPARES STARK'S 16 OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS ' MISSION STATEMENTS TO LAKE: TODAY CANTON CITY


A couple of Lake Township residents contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation with complaints about a part of Lake Local School's Mission Statement. Lake is the home district of the SCPR and three Olson children graduated from Lake and the Mrs. served on the Lake Board of Education twice.

The first thing that occurred to yours truly is how the mission statements of Stark's other 16 school districts compare to Lake's.

Today we compare Lake"s controversial statement to that of the Canton City schools.

No mention of God in Canton City schools statement of Mission, Vision and Beliefs.

Why not?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

WHY DOESN'T EVERY STARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT VALUE GOD? THE SCPR COMPARING STARK'S 17 SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND THEIR MISSION STATEMENTS: TODAY ALLIANCE


A couple of Lake Township residents contacted the Freedom from Religion Foundation with complaints about a part of Lake Local School's Mission Statement. Lake is the home district of the SCPR and three Olson children graduated from Lake and the Mrs. served on the Lake Board of Education twice.

The first thing that occurred to yours truly is how the mission statements of Stark's other 16 school districts compare to Lake's.

Today we compare Lake"s controversial statement to that of the Alliance City schools.

No mention of God in Alliance.

Why not?

DO THE STEFFEY/DYSHKO CASE SETTLEMENTS MEAN THAT SHERIFF SWANSON IS NOT RUNNING A TIGHT SHIP AT THE STARK COUNTY JAIL?

The SCPR recently received an e-mail from a reader who is dissatisfied with both Sheriff Swanson and sheriff candidate Larry Dordea (2008.)

First, read the e-mail:Reader

Now let's deal with the questions and points made:

READER POINT ONE: The SCPR pushes Larry Dordea?

Larry Dordea was a challenging candidate to Sheriff Swanson. When yours truly interviewed the sheriff during the 2008 campaign, he had nothing but good things to say about Dordea.

Initially, the SCPR and Dordea got off to a rocky start. There was a SCPR article on Dordea suggesting that he was too parochial to be a countywide official. The issue? Centralizing 9-1-1.

Dordea took issue with the SCPR piece and said so in a comment to the published story.

Over time the SCPR has been somewhat impressed with Dordea and his ideas for restructuring operations at the sheriff's office.

The way things stand now, Dordea plans to run again for sheriff in 2012. However, the SCPR does not believe Swanson will run again and Dodea's likely foe will be Rick Perez.

All the reader has to do is to make telephone calls to the subjects of all the SCPR reports and ask them whether or not he/she thinks yours truly gives them a pass on specific issues even if overall the SCPR thinks well of the subject.

The SCPR is an "equal opportunity" critic.

READER POINT TWO: The Repository and the SCPR did not report the Dyshko settlement?

Here is a partial copy of The Rep's "online" report which came several hours after the reader's e-mail posting time.

As for the SCPR. Well, yours truly is not a reporter. My focus on commentary/opinion. Oh, sure. Here and there the SCPR does come on breaking news and scoops The Rep. But reporting cannot be a focus of a "one-person-operation."

This story is an example of what the SCPR does and which readers say does very well: "expansive opinion pieces."

READER POINT THREE: The Steffey/Dyshko settlements are evidence that Sheriff Swanson is not running a competent operation (including the jail) and does not have policies in effect to prevent Steffey/Dyshko-esque occurrences.

Moreover, the readers says Dordea (whom he supported in 2008) is back off his criticism of Swanson

The SCPR has gone out and gotten detailed responses from Dordea and Swanson. Here they are:

DORDEA:Dordea on Steffey and Dyshko
SWANSON:Swanson on Jail

What do you think?

Friday, August 28, 2009

AND HIS STRONG SUIT IS BUSINESS ACUMEN?


When Governor Ted Strickland came to Stark County to tour the Brewster Cheese Factory in early 2008 just after William J. Healy, II had taken office, yours truly spoke with Healy about the condition he found City Hall in on taking office.

Healy said, "Martin, you wouldn't believe it. Janet left things in an absolute mess."

Really?

With all the discussion that is going on these days to get Canton solvent again (a meeting Tuesday at the Civic Center on city finances and Allen Schulman - Council president - floating a "trial balloon" on a "temporary" income tax increase), yours truly decided to do a little fact checking.

So, the SCPR placed a telephone call to Auditor Richard A. Mallonn.

SCPR: "Richard, I have been hearing from readers of the SCPR that Janet Creighton left Mayor Healy with s carryover surplus, is this so?"

MALLONN: "Here is the number Martin: on January 01, 2008 the Healy administration had a cash carryover from the Creighton administration of $3,549.333.00.

The SCPR never has been a fan of Janet Creighton, but you got to hand it to her. She did a heck of a lot better job handling Canton finances than our NYU Stern School of Business graduate who is running things now.

So who created the mess?

Of course, the political cover for Healy is that the national, state and local economies have tanked.

And that is so.

But does that explain going from a $3.5 million surplus to a $3.0 million deficit?

Not to the SCPR. does it.

Could it be that Creighton (with no business degree) was better with finances that our MBA mayor?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

STARK CITIZENS RIGHT TO VOTE COMMITTEE SUCCEEDS IN SPADES!

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The Alliance Review reports that the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee scored big time in its effort to get 13,950 signatures to place the Stark County commissioner "imposed" sales/use tax increase (0.5 of a percent) on Stark County purchases.

Not only did the committee get the 13,950, they went well beyond and the minimum and ended up with 19,309.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly has been skeptical of the committee's ability to collect the minimum number of valid signatures because of a perceived weakness in the leadership of the group.

Clearly, the group has proved yours truly's skepticism as being unfounded.

Hats off! to the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee.

You have to wonder whether or not Commissioner Todd Bosley (who was the driving force behind imposing the increase) is beginning to have concerns that this effort may have on his re-election chances.

Last evening, the SCPR talked with Jackson Township trustee Republican James Walters who indicated that he is taking a serious look at challenging Bosley in 2010.

Walters says that the sales/use tax increase repeal will be approved in "slam-dunk" fashion.

If Walters is correct, then Bosley has a lot to worry about in terms of his re-election prospects because of how he is "joined at the hip" with the increase.

A LESSON IN HOW POLITICIANS WORK

Canton City Council president Allen Schulman just delivered a "classic" political lesson to Cantonians.

What lesson?

The lesson of the "political" trial balloon, that's what.

SOME BACKGROUND FIRST

Because Canton is in a financial mess (despite having a graduate of the New York University Stern School of Business at its helm), city officials are desperately looking for ways out.

If you read The Rep's account of the meeting (Canton looks for ways to cut budget deficit) held at the Canton Civic Center this past Tuesday, you know that Canton is facing a nearly $3 million deficit when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2009.

City officials say that they have cut $1.2 million (leaving $1.8 million to be cut) and are looking at ways to cut more.

Here's a list of what they are looking to cut:

Dismissing 15 cadet firefighters, $153,000
Furloughing management types one day a week, $16,500
Furloughing all non essential employees one day a week $168,000
Limiting city cellphone and vehicle use $5,000
Increasing health premiums for non-union city employees $46,480
Cuts in the operational costs of the mayor's office $25,250

The total?

$414,230.

The remaining deficit?

$1.4 million

Doesn't make much of a dent, right?

So what is left to be done?

You've got it - RAISE TAXES!

NOW TO THE DISCUSSION ON COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN'S LESSON ON POLITICAL "TRIAL BALLOONS."

Let's go to another Repository article: Canton officials discuss raising income tax rates (Ed Balint, August 26th).

Everyone knows that it can be instant political death for a politician to out-and-out advocate for a tax increase. Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley may become a casualty next year because he was a front and center proponent of "imposing" (which the commissioners did) a .5 of a percent sales/use tax increase to build general fund revenues and to fix the county's broken 9-1-1 emergency dispatch system.

So Schulman, perhaps a tad more politically suave than Bosley, approaches advocating a tax increase by denying that he is for a tax increase BUT it is something to talk about. After all, "everything has to be on the table."

Here is how The Rep's Balint characterized Schulman's position:
But Council President Allen Schulman says the city should explore a modest and temporary increase of its 2 percent income tax strictly as a last resort and as one of many options to climb out of the city’s budget hole.
Mayor Healy (an arch enemy of Schulman's) and most likely the reason Canton is in a budget crisis, gets coy and cute.

The SCPR believes that in reality Healy wanted to immediately go to Schulman and give him a big hug and kiss.

However, one maintain his dignity and political appearances.

So Healy says he is against a tax increase.

Here are his exact words:
“There’s been no conversation, no consideration whatsoever in reference to a tax increase at this point, I just think the recommendation of a tax increase is just a sign of being out of touch right now, and is just the last thing the people of Canton need.” We have an income tax right now, (and) we know what it generates. I haven’t even wasted 10 seconds on this.”
You've got to be kidding Mayor Healy. "Out of touch," who is more out-of-touch than Healy.

So the SCPR believes that his reaction is "phony-baloney" and, that has far-fetched (Schulman/Canton City Council and Healy working on anything together) as it might seem, a tax increase has been considered in the inter recesses of city government and Schulman bringing it up in an politically oblique fashion is likely some kind of grand plan formulated in the back rooms of City Hall to see how the idea flies when it hits the streets of Canton.

As we all know, "politics makes for strange bed fellows," especially in the context of the financial crisis that Canton currently faces.

Schulman dances all over the place as if he is dancing with a "hot" potato rather than a delightful lady.

Balint does a beautiful job "undressing" Schulman's game by allowing the Council president to ramble on:
Schulman said the city should examine the possibility of a temporary income tax increase that would expire or “sunset” after a specified amount of time and not be permanent. Income tax revenue is the largest single funding source for the city’s general fund, which supports the police and fire departments and the offices of elected officials and other city services.

Schulman said Wednesday that he’s not advocating an income tax increase. Schulman said he posed the question to find out “whether that could be one of the remedies they could look at to cover these enormous deficits.

“Clearly, our people don’t need to be taxed anymore,” Schulman said. But “I understand that we have to do what’s in the best interest of the city irrespective of political consequences.”
"Irrespective of political consequences." Another "you've got to be kidding." Allen Schulman never does anything in the public arena with out considering the political consequences.

He may and has on a number of occasion made faulty considerations, but "the political consequences" of what he says and does is always at the forefront.

THE SCPR FINAL ANALYSIS OF SCHULMAN'S FORAY INTO "TRIAL BALLOONING"

Good try Allen, but these balloons are not going to fly. As Law Director Martuccio reminded one and all. The people of Canton have to vote on this.

No trial balloon is going to fly in air that includes a 13% plus unemployment rate!

EVER WONDER WHY STARK COUNTY HAS AN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE OF 12.1%?

Could Stark County being in the economic doldrums have anything with what the commissioners are dealing with at their weekly meetings these days?

The date for Halloween trick and treaters in Stark County. When is Halloween? Commissioners getting preoccupied with how the county dog warden is dealing with a pack of "reportedly" vicious dogs and one commissioner (Bosley) actually micromanaging the techniques used to deal with the dogs. Why does Stark County have a dog warden?

Wow!

No wonder why Harmon can't get on with his "promised" (when appointed and in his re-election) campaign to work on creating jobs for Stark Countians.

No wonder why Bosley can't make any headway with his "economic development?" biomass project with Chevron.

No wonder why Ferguson can't seem to put his self-described influence with the U.S. Department of Defense to convert the former Doctors Hospital into a Veterans Administration veteran health care facility.

More and more these days, Stark County government seems as if the "Dog Days of Summer" are becoming a yearlong event!

But you can be sure that they will "awaken" and "spring into action" if the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote get the repeal of the commissioner (Bosley and Harmon) sales/use tax on the ballot.

Can't get economic development and its concomitant of job creation going, but you can always raise taxes. No?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TRACKING OUR LEGISLATORS SERIES - BOCCIERI : OH YES, A TELEPHONE CALL IS JUST LIKE PERSON-TO-PERSON!


Congressman Boccieri is at it again. Trying to spin things.

While many congressmen have the courage to meet with their constituents face-to-face on the very important congressional consideration of health care reform (the SCPR watched Congressman Moran - Dem VA - on CSPAN just last night), Congressmen Boccieri chooses to put a telephone between himself and us and then insult us by insisting that the distancing instrument (the telephone) is "better than" person-to-person.

The SCPR suspects that only Boccieri devotees will buy the spin.

Another interesting thing about the Boccieri tele-townhall is that getting word out to constituents was a "spring it on you at the last minute" operation. In fact, listen to the audio of calling a local person (a SCPR reader) at 7:39 p.m. on August 25th.

Excuse me, Congressman.

Wasn't the townhall in progress at the moment your telephone call was received by the constituents voice mail?

This incongruence within Boccieri ranks let the SCPR to recall Abbott and Costello's famous routine of "Who's on First?" described by Wikipedia thusly:
Who's on First? is a vaudeville comedy routine a made most famous by Abbott and Costello. In Abbott and Costello's version, the premise of the routine is that Abbott that is identifying the players on a baseball a team to Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello's questions. In this context, the first baseman is named "Who"; thus, the utterance "Who's on first" is ambiguous between the question ("which person is the first baseman?") and the answer ("Who is the name of the first baseman.").
Isn't the perfect setup for Congressman Boccieri who has a "claim to fame" as a baseball player during his college days at St. Bonaventure University.

Here is the audio:

There is one more interesting thing about the Boccieri "distance" connection.

To a question posed by one teleconferencing constituent, to wit:

Mary of Hartville asked Boccieri if he was concerned that he wouldn’t be re-elected based on this legislation, which appears to be still evolving.

Boccieri responded, “I’m not going to be held hostage by a strong political fist over my head or the loudest voice. I had a life before Congress, and I’ll have one after Congress.” (Source: Stephane Ujhelyi - Boccieri talks health care with 3,100 via phone conference, Alliance Review, 8/25/90)

Really Congressman?

AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE!

As a rule public school board members and do not respond to media requests for answers to questions.

Since yours truly has been blogging on Stark County political issues and education issues, the "blow-off" rate by Stark County board members and officials they hire to run the public institutions has been very high.

One of this is not James Carmen, Jr., president of the Canton City Schools Board of Education.

So he is an "exception" to the rule and is a model for all Stark County education officials to follow.

Board members and school officials across Stark County wonder why they have troubles getting public participation and public financial support. It is no mystery to the SCPR. Far too many board members and school administrators - over many years now - have "blown off" the public. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Only the likes of James Carman, Jr. and his accessibility/openess offer any hope to reversing the public negativity. But it is going to be a long road back even if they were to adopt the Caman model today.

A reader of the SCPR asked yours truly to get some answers on a matter of concern on a neighborhood issue involving the Canton City Schools and the former Lehman High School/Junior High School building.

Here is the question:
... [Regarding Lehman] the "new" building was sold to the public with a "plan" for the use of the old building. But, neither the school district nor the city have done anything with the old building except let it sit there and decay, with the decay spreading to the neighborhood. The CCS and the city both say that no one will buy it....but what methods have they used to try and sell it? Even if they sold it for $1.00 it would be used by someone else, and the neighborhood would improve. Let them sell it on ebay or something creative like that!
Here is Canton City Schools board president James Carmen, Jr's answer (bulleted by the SCPR for structural clarity):

  • Unfortunately as for the public being told there was a plan for the old building when construction of the new building was announced, I have to apologize and admit I don't know what that plan would have been.
  • The district wide renovation project that was done in partnership with the Ohio School Facilities Committee was planned in 1999 and begun shortly there after.
  • The plan was done in partnership with the OSFC, the school district's administration and the board of education. Since that time the OSFC has gone through many configurations and the district has had four different superintendents, two business managers and there is currently no board member serving that was on the board at the time.
  • If there was some sort of plan for the building established at the time it has apparently been lost through the transitions.
  • Honestly, I am not sure why there was not money allocated for the demolition of the old building as was the case with several of our other buildings (Cedar Elem, Worley Elem and Belden Elem just to name a few). My only guess would be that Lehman Middle School was, up until 1976, Lehman High School and several influential citizens are alumni from that building which may have made the idea of demolition unattractive at the time.
  • .... What I do know, is that we currently have a decaying building that we are responsible for and we need to either find a use for the building or find money for demolition. Currently we are exploring both options. Demolition is estimated to cost in excess of $1 million and the district currently does not have the funds available for such a project. The district has also been working with local developers to try and find someone interested in renovating the building (early estimates on renovation have ranged from $10 to $15 million), to date we have been unsuccessful in our efforts. In the meantime, we have met with both the Lehman neighborhood association and the Lehman alumni association to combine our efforts to find a use for the site. We have also taken steps to better secure the building to hopefully stop future vandalism.
  • As for your emailer's suggestion to randomly sell the building on ebay for $1.00, that is actually something we have promised the neighborhood association we would not do. Whether the building is renovated or torn down there is a hefty price tag associated with it and we do not want to turn the building over to a private individual that does not have the means to do something with the property. If a private individual is holding the building, the neighbors have very little say, if we continue to hold the property the neighbors can have more input in what happens to it. They also can hold us accountable if they do not feel it is being maintained properly, which they have recently done.
  • The district was not doing a good job in maintaining the property and we have committed to the neighbors that we will do a better job.
  • ... we are working to do something with the property as soon as possible and we are doing everything we can to keep it from being a problem for the neighborhood.
To the SCPR, this is a splendid example of being accountable!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NEW SCPR FEATURE: POLITICAL JOKE OF THE DAY

The Stark County Political Report is adding a new feature today: "The Political Joke of the Day."

Enjoy!

GONZALEZ "THE POLAR BEAR" ON A RAMPAGE?

Step aside North Canton unless you want to get run over!

Jackson fiscal officer and Stark County Democratic Party chair Randy "I use Stark County government as a family employment agency, Gonzalez has donned his "polar bear" personality and is "huffing and puffing" as if he is going to blow your house down.

Benjamin Duer in writing an account of a Jackson trustees meeting of last night (Jackson officials finalize economic development deal with Canton) and the Canton-Jackson frustration with North Canton's legal challenge to their joint economic venture, reported this statement made by Gonzalez, to wit:
Township Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez said Canton and Jackson represent nearly one-third of Stark County’s population, and that this economic development agreement has been delayed by a community of 14,000 people. ... Gonzalez estimated Canton and Jackson’s combined population at 124,000.
So that makes Gonzalez a "might makes right" guy.

Folks like Gonzalez in government often turn out to be very dangerous people. We already see how he uses government for his family advantage plan. What's next?

Is he going to use his considerable political power to punish North Canton for fending for its own interests?

Of course, he has a "higher purpose." He is only about "start working on and start economic development, and maybe create jobs" for Canton and Jackson. North Canton and the rest of Stark County can just go hang themselves in their state of economic despair?

The truth of the matter is that the Canton/Jackson economic development plan is a "House of Cards." Sam "the self-proclaimed 'Darth Vader to the Townships'" Sliman thinks he can bail out the Healy administration through annexation.

Healy himself has his eye on Kent State Stark and the Stark State College of Technology as a treasurer trove of more income tax revenue. What a deal for Canton. Not so good for the employees of the colleges. Pay the tax and get nothing for it.

Gonzalez in his capacity as a Jackson community leader hasn't be able to convince Jacksonians that their future lies in incorporating. Not this nonsense of making agreements whereby Canton/North Canton/Massillon will not annex for a zillion years.

If Gonzalez, Sliman and Healy are examples of what the future holds for Stark County in terms of style and quality of leadership, then these are the best of times for Stark (on a relative scale of being higher on the scale today than we will be tomorrow) and things will only get measurably worse as time passes unless and until Stark Countians reject leaders who continue like the aformentioned who persist in doing the same old things that produce negative results.

These are indeed troubled times for Stark.

And we all better run for cover for "da bear is on a rampage!"

WHO WOULD HAVE EVER FIGURED HEALY FOR THIS ONE?


Truly astonishing?

Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II hosting an ethics seminar?

What is this world coming to anyway?

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) applauds Hizzoner for coming up with this one. If this little ditty doesn't divert attention from the ethics problems that some Cantonians/Stark Countians think the mayor has, then nothing will.

First he proposes ethics reform to Canton City Council. Now he's out to make all of Stark County government more ethical.

Wow!

Who is next?

The Strickland administration, the Ohio General Assembly?

After that?

On to the feds?

And the list of topics at this seminar are exactly what any good "ethics" doctor would order for her patients. Take a look to the left. Isn't it an impressive list?

So the SCPR hopes that it is SRO (Standing Room Only) for this seminar which is to be held at the Edward "Peel" Coleman Community Center, 1400 Sherrick Road SE, Canton on September 9th from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Now this is only a rumor, but the SCPR has heard that each and every attendee will be getting his/her very own "free" bottle of ethics pills with unlimited "free" refills as long as the official is a public official.

The irony of this simply leaves yours truly "speechless!"

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!

According to the 1964 Walt Disney film [Mary Poppins], [SUPERCALIFRAGILLISTICXPLALIDOCIOUS] is defined as "what you say when you don't know what to say". (from Wikipedia - emphasis added).

Monday, August 24, 2009

WHAT DOES MAYOR HEALY HAVE IN COMMON WITH JOHN ASHCROFT & DON RUMSFELD?

UPDATE: 9:08 A.M.

Rosario Carcione (president of the Canton Professional Firefighters Association - CPFA) told the SCPR this morning that the CPFA has filed a grievance against the Healy administration over the administration's dismissal of 15 fire cadets as being a violation of an agreement on staffing levels in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding supplemented by e-mails between the CPFA and the Healy administration.

Also, President Carcione revealed to the SCPR that the CPFA has filed an "unfair labor practice" against the Healy administration on the grounds that the fire cadets were dismissed because the Healy administration is retaliating against the CPFA for its filing of the grievance by the union.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Within the past week, a story (as told by former Department of Homeland Security head Tom Ridge) has broken that former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld pressured Ridge to raise the "color" threat level immediately before the 2004 presidential elections.

What does this have to do with Canton mayor William J. Healy, II"?

The Rumsfeld/Ashcroft bullying tactics have been adopted by the Healy administration to bring the Canton Professional Firefighters Association (CPFA) into line in his desperation attempts to make up a $2.8 million budget deficit.

Pure and simple, as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft were willing to play politics with the nation's security warning mechanism so apparently are Mayor Healy and his newly appointed safety director Thomas Ream are playing political "hardball" with the fire and medical safety of Cantonians.

Healy has had to know for some time that the budget was going to be in big time shortfall. One has to ponder as to whether or not he is using the city's financial crisis as a way to gain political control over the firefighter/medic aspect of Canton's safety forces much as he has waged war with Police Chief Dean McKimm to get rid of him so as to have a more direct line of control over Canton's policemen (presumably by a more Healy friendly police chief).

Is this a play on White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's dictum: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

A source tells the SCPR that the real reasons the 15 firefighter cadets were sacrificed by the Healyites is because the CPFA did not roll over immediately on a demand that a re-open on the collective bargaining agreement occur. Yours truly is told that the union was considering a "limited" re-open but was not allowed consideration time (demand was made about 6:00 p.m. on Thursday; the union was accused of "breaking their promise? to re-negotiate" as of 7:00 a.m. on Friday).

Seems like a "straw-man" maneuver to the SCPR, which is consistent with what yours truly knows about Healy and his penchant for political machinations. Only this time, the personal safety of Cantonians has been put in jeopardy.

Hold on to your hats for this one.

The SCPR is about to compliment The Repository Editorial Board.

On Thursday, August 20 (August 20th just happens to be yours truly's birth date), The Rep editors did a very nifty job of posing some important questions for Healy to answer:

Here is the editorial in toto:
Where is Canton’s mayor? Why is William J. Healy II not out in front, literally and figuratively, in addressing a city budget deficit we’re now told will hit $2.8 million this year?

Why has Healy not spoken clearly and publicly to city employees, members of City Council and city taxpayers about the budget crisis?

Why has he not made the case for shared sacrifice to all of these stakeholders?

Why has he not started with making sacrifices in his own office budget?

Why, when he decided to lay off 15 cadet firefighters to save money, was he AWOL in actually delivering the pink slips?

Why can’t the public get a straight answer from the Healy administration about how much money will be saved from laying off firefighters?

Why has he not told City Council or the public what other cuts he plans?

Why, when the news about Canton is bad — layoffs, budget difficulties, triple homicides — must the public hear from a surrogate and not the boss himself?

Healy ran for mayor by trumpeting his experience in running a business. The budget crisis and the attendant political risks are the cost of being the boss.

Why isn’t the mayor willing to pay it?
To The Rep's questions, the SCPR asks these:

The way that the city is to tighten its financial belt is to first layoff part-time and seasonal employees which Canton has 33 of, then and only then is the city to look at laying off probationary employees. Why isn't this order of things not being implemented the Healy administration especially in light of the fact that the targeted probationary employees are "safety (firefighters and medics) forces?"

The SCPR is told that Healy kept the "budget thing" to himself and a few confidants resident on the 8th floor. Hmm? How much of a role did Communication Director Adam Herman (Healy's most loyal subordinate) play in formulation the budget?

The affected parties (city workers and their unions) were not consulted, Canton City Council was not included and most importantly Finance committee chairman Greg Hawk was closed out.

Of course, in the Healy way of thinking, these are not trustworthy people.

As if Healy did not have enough problems with Council.

Now he has a new enemies list. The SCPR has learned that Councilmen Kraus, Smuckler, Barton and Prater are with the CPFA are definitely against the mayor on the cadets issue. Yours truly believes that Healy by his cavalier actions has likely created a majority in councilmembers who oppose his continuing on as mayor.

There is a certain irony is all of this too.

A SCPR source relayed a anecdotal account of Healy and the firefighters brouhaha.

It occurred during the O'Jays event at Fawcett Stadium on August 15th attended by about 15,000 people. During the event, the SCPR is told, there were 9 squad calls for medics because of the heat and humidity. Problem was, because of Canton's budget difficulities, only one medic unit was available to service the suffering.

Well, Mayor Healy was at the event. He approached one firefighter and asked "why the the delay." Answer: "Your honor, we were told that there would be no more discretionary overtime." To which Healy said "Hmm, you got me on that one."

Healy then went into action and immediately ordered two additional units to service the OJays crowd.

Hmm? No overtime, unless the mayor is being embarrassed?

The background to the cadet - "do they stay or do they go" saga is that Ream announced to CPFA president Rosario Carcione and the CPFA executive board that there was now in effect a 100% reduction in firefighter overtime and that the city adminstration was no longer going to honor a Memorandum of Understanding (negotiated between the union and former safety director Tom Nesbitt) that 37 firefighter employees each and every day was the "minimum" standard at which city of Canton firefighter/medic forces were to be staffed.

Moreover, if the CPFA went to the media with the Ream decrees, then the CPFA was threatened to do worse to the union than simply dismissing the probationary cadets.

No surprise to the SCPR.

As matters stand now, only 22 or so firefighters are on the job as Cantonians awake each morning. The number would be higher (probably 25 or so) if the cadets had not been let go by Healy. Clearly, Healy's decision has affected public safety coverage in Canton whereas Tom Ridge was there to stop Rumsfeld and Ashcroft.

Healy is clearly a "my way or the highway" type of guy. He requires the same of his subordinates or they become history very quickly. Nobody gets in the mayor's way.

The SCPR believes that Canton's "political animal" is about to do himself in. He is creating enemy after enemy after enemy.

Though he mimics Rumsfeld and Ashcroft in politicalization of nearly all that he touches, he is it. He has no president to back him up. It's all his call.

Cantonians are being worked over big time by the mayor.

"How much longer, O Lord, how much longer?"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WHAT ROLE DO SUPERINTENDENTS OF SCHOOLS PLAY IN BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTIONS?

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) has long believed that "behind the scenes" many of Stark County's school superintendents get involved in who is going to sit on their districts' boards of education.

Each of the county boards have 5 elected members and they run as "nonpartisans."

Yours truly does not believe for one minute that board of educations races are "really" nonpartisan.

Moreover, depending on who sits on the boards, the life of superintendent can be an "easy street - rubber stamp" existence or they just might have to answer a continuing parade of incisive questions.

If you were superintendent, which would you prefer?

Superintendents work hard at creating the impression that they deal with the hand they are dealt. But the SCPR thinks all too often, some work equally hard (underground) to ensure that they have compliant board members and the hoped for "impression" in reality is an "illusion."

What is going on in Canal Fulton/Clinton/Lawrence Township(Northwest Local School District) may be a case study of a superintendent who is heavily involved in orchestrating the make up of the board he has to work with.

William Stetler is the superintendent at Northwest. Stetler is a person that yours truly knows pretty well inasmuch as he was last (other than a gap at the Ohio Department of Education as the appointee of now politically deposed former state superintendent Susan Zelman [ousted by Governor Strickland]) superintendent in The Report's home district - Lake.

In fact, yours truly's spouse (Mary) served on the Lake Board while Stetler was superintendent.

One of the reasons that Mary ran (at the urging of yours truly) was because it appeared to me that some political gaming was going on and that an "approved" candidate was waiting in the wings waiting to file a petition at the last moment. Only two had filed right up to near or at the filing deadline for three positions. As it turned out, had Mary not filed, the election for Lake for the three "open" slots for the board would not have been a competitive process. Moreover, Mary does dig in and ask incisive questions.

Mary had served on the Lake board previously while Robert Dunnerstick was superintendent. Even her election in the Dunnerstick era was as a superintendent "nonfavored" candidate.

In 2007 she decided it was time to run for the Stark County Educational Service Center (which was formerly known as the Stark County Board of Education). And lo and behold what did she find? What appears to me to be another, "approved" candidate.

Ironically, yours truly believes the "approved" candidate to have been Robert "Skip" Blowers who at the time was a member of the Northwest School District Board of Education.

But if the SCPR is correct in this analysis, "the best laid plans of mice and men" did not work. Mary was elected.

The moral of the story for voters for boards of education candidates is that they should seek to find out who the "superintendent" favors.

Why so?

Well, the SCPR imagines that many superintendents favor board members who will accept the wisdom of the superintendent and his fellow administrators unflinchingly and are loathe to ask penetrating questions, or, heaven forbid, might even vote "no" on the administration recommended action here and there.

School districts which lack scrutinizing board members get into trouble with the voting public very quickly.

Decisions not properly vetted start falling apart which causes community members to get upset which over time leads to distrust and concomitant hostility between the community and the schools.

It all leads back to the superintendents trying to create a cushy environment for themselves and their administration.

Is this what is happening in Northwest?

Perhaps.

A week or so ago, The Report noticed that Nicole Metzger (appointed to fill the term of her husband who tragically died earlier this year) had added a petition.

Her first petition was for one of the "regularly" expiring terms. Her second (only added very recently) was for one of the two "unexpired" terms. Board president Steven Jones filed for an "unexpired" term as did former Canal Fulton councilman Victor Colaianni.

The SCPR's take on this turn of events?

Yours truly thinks that Victor Colaianni is persona non grata from the administration's point of view.

As things stood before Metzer pulled her "unexpired term" petition, Colaianni was going to become a board member (unless someone else stepped in at the last minute to file a petition) because there were two vacancies, two candidates.

Why would Stetler et al (and probably some of the sitting board members) object to Colaianni?

Victor is not as good a questioner as he thinks in his own mind, but he is not likely to be the rubber stamp that Jones and Metzger have demonstrated in their time on the board. However, Stetler and friends might be surprised. Colaianni was not exactly a beacon of inquiry when he served on the Canal Fulton City Council.

A second more subtle reason might be that Stetler and his administrative team see an embarrassing potential conflict-in-interest in the offing if Colaianni is elected.

Public records show that Victor lives at 1708 Bruce St NW, Canal Fulton, Ohio, apparently as a renter.


So?

Well, it so happens that 1708 Bruce Street is owned by John Hexamer who is assistant superintendent of the Northwest Local School District. The ties are shown from redacted public records displayed below.


Could it be that the administration doesn't have the heart to tell Victor that it is not a good idea for him to be on the Northwest school board for a perceived possible "conflict-in-interest" problem and that the Metzger switch is the way to deal with the situation?

More likely, to the SCPR's way of thinking, is Colaianni is an unknown quantity and therefore it is better to be safe rather than sorry.

When you add the above articulated SCPR speculated political intrigue with the Board's history of appointing to board vacancy spots without taking applications from the public-at-large, it is no wonder that Northwest has "trust" problems with its voting public.

The overall moral to the story for this blog is that superintendents make a huge mistake in their and the board of educations members' relationships with the public-at-large when they work backstage to create ideal working conditions for themselves.

Will superintendents ever figure out, that in the end, clandestine efforts to fashion board of education makeup are counterproductive to their own trustworthiness and builds into an insidious undermining of the public's confidence in how public schools are run?

Friday, August 21, 2009

CANTON'S "ETHICALLY CHALLENGED" MAYOR STRIKES AGAIN?


Has a Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) reader connected the dots?

A reader alerted The Report to an item on one of Team Healy's campaign finance reports listing Donald G. Jones with an occupation of "security services" as being a contributed to Healy's successful 2007 campaign to become mayor of Canton.

Here is the specific excerpt from The Repository report on the Healy administration's decison to make Buckeye Protective Service, Inc. a grantee of some of the $421,000 stimulus money:
At the very least, the SCPR believes that the Healy administration should have alerted the public to the fact of the campaign contribution and issued what undoubtedly have been a "disclaimer" that there was no connection whatsoever between the campaign contribution and the exercise of discretion by the administration to direct stimulus money to Buckeye.

In the end, it is the Canton public that assesses the facts and forms an opinion on what is "politically" at play here, if anything.

But the public is entitled to have all the relevant information.

"Hats off" to the SCPR reader who dug out this information and provided it to yours truly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

CENSOR-IN-CHIEF: JEFF GAUGER "EXECUTIVE EDITOR" OF THE CANTON REPOSITORY!!!

UPDATE 08212009 AT 5:34 AM

PLEASE GO DOWN THIS UPDATE AND READ JEFF GAUGER'S EXPLANATION AS TO WHY THE REP TOOK DOWN THE COMMENTS ON THE MORRIS/HORNER STORY.

Here's the SCPR reaction to Gauger:

If the Gauger account is accurate, then there is a serious problem with the managers of The Rep's comments in terms of their ability to monitor and select out abusive comments. Yours truly has much experience in screening out abusers. In fact, the SCPR used to allow anonymous comments but found that under the cloak of anonymity far too many anonymous commenters got way off message and said ugly things that did not meet standards of basic civility. These were "easily" screened out without interfering with the many quality comments received. However, the screening was time consuming.

Now that the SCPR has gone to the simple process of requiring commenters to register with Google first prior to commenting, the quality of comments have picked up considerably and the monitoring function much less of a burden.

The Rep reputedly has much tighter controls over comments than the SCPR in terms of identifying the abusers and dealing with them on a long term basis, but the need to wipe out all of the comments seems to be a huge over reaction to a few claimed abusive comments.

The SCPR is skeptical of Gauger's explanation.

Why is that?

Because Gauger (and, of course, he is the person who sets the standard for his stand-in comments section monitors) has a history of mismanaging the comments and generally is prone to stifling full-blown discussion of important public issues.

A case in point is the Boccieri/Schuring race.

At the outset he announced that The Rep (meaning Gauger himself) was going to be very much in control of who got published in their comments and letters to the editor. And their have been other clear indicators that The Rep editors have an editorial agenda that disfavors "nonabusive" comments/letters to the editors which vary from The Rep's point-of-view.

So in the end the SCPR remains skeptical of Gauger and his "internal mechanism" explanation.

The SCPR is prone to believe that Stark County Democratic Party heavy hitters generated the furor that caused the "over-reaction" at The Rep.

Moreover, the SCPR is probably why the comments reappeared with Gauger's lame explanation>

Note that the SCPR's original blog anticipated the "restoration." And, accordingly, yours truly claims credit for The Rep's reversal.

MARY PARKER'S COMMENTS DIRECT TO SCPR

mary has left a new comment on your post "CENSOR-IN-CHIEF: JEFF GAUGER "EXECUTIVE EDITOR" O...":

When I first heard the breaking news that Frank Morris had been overlooked by the precinct committee persons to take over the seat as the ninth ward council person, I thought two things. One; I can't believe it. Two, I can't wait to see what Martin Olson has to say about this. I have much respect for Mr. Olson, and much respect for his opinions. He's a straight shooter. Had he wrote an editorial saying, that the committee did the right thing in appointing Mr.Brian Horner to fill the vacancy left by Joe Carbenia, I would have had to re-examine my thoughts on Mr. Morris being sidestepped. That's how much value I place on Martin Olson's opinions. When it comes to anything political, I trust his judgment more than my own.

When I finally got to go to his Blog tonight and read his take on the whole affair, I got a bonus. I also got his take on Jeff Gauger. Moments before, I had, while revisiting the Ward 9 story, saw a comment by Jeff, explaining why the thread on this story had been shut down, much to my surprise the previous evening. I accepted Jeff's explanation, knowing how outrageously obnoxious commentors can get.

Then, I come to SCP Blog and read Martin's take on the closing down of the comments in question. So, now I have to wonder, 'What came first, the chicken or the egg?' Did Jeff by chance see Martins write-up about him and the editorial staff at the Rep, and decide to put the thread back on? I'm certainly not going to call Jeff a liar, but I do have my doubts now about why the thread was shut down.

I'm not nearly as wise as Martin or most political astute politicians or other commentors on the Rep comments. I usually keep a low profile on the political threads. That doesn't mean I'm stupid, or easily duped by politicians or editors. I've been following the political stance of the Repository since high school. Only difference between then and now is the change in the editors, and the move from the right to the left. For all intents and purposes, the Rep was a conservative Republican newspaper, and made no bones about it. Now it seems to be either a pro Democratic newspaper, or a cross-dresseer.

"The management at The Rep is so much in bed with the Stark County political and government establishment, that Stark Countians are denied the truth about what is really happening in our local government and, to add insult to injury, Gauger et al deny the public their voice."

Well, if the Rep wants to get in bed with the Stark County political establishment, that's their business. I can't tell them what to do. They can sleep with who they want to, but when you stifle my voice. and the voices of others who supported Frank Morris in the ward 9 fiasco, then you're dragging us into bed with you. I'd rather chose who I want to get in bed with. If you're going to have a true comment section on the Rep website, than no one, conforming to rules should be gagged. I hope this wasn't the case. I said on the Rep, and I'll say here, Frank Morris should be sitting at the council table next Monday night. I wouldn't be anything other than a Democrat, but I'm really disappointed in my party on this one.

GAUGER'S COMMENT ON THE REPOSITORY'S COMMENT PAGE

Jeff Gauger
19 hours ago
Report Abuse
I was unaware that comments on this story had been shut down until hearing about it in an e-mail from a reader this morning. I then read the comment thread for the first time and saw nothing that I thought merited shutting them down. Then, I talked with the editors who monitored comments yesterday, and here is what one told me in an e-mail:

We shut down comments yesterday after being besieged with a massive abuse report attack. We received more than 40 abuse reports all about two separate comments on the story in less than 20 minutes, making it impossible to do anything else, so we shut it down. Well put it back on now that the abusive comments have had time to be purged and the hysteria has calmed down.

I support the decision by editors to shut off the comments for the reason cited above. As you know, you may not abuse other commenters. You also may not abuse Repository staff by forcing them to drop all other work to monitor a single thread full time. Im sure that only a couple of people were responsible for the abuse. Nevertheless, its a case where the vandals win.

The thread is back until and unless the vandals strike again.

Jeff Gauger
Executive Editor

ORIGINAL BLOG

During the week of March 14 - 20, 2010 the American Society of Newspaper Editors will be pushing its annual "Sunshine Week" which is a Main Street Written Media attempt to be a driving force for more public access to government information.
The editors at The Canton Repository - though the subject matter of their sins differ - are like Senator John Ensign of Nevada.

Ensign has been one of the great moralizers in the United States Senate who has turned hypocrite-in-chief with the revelation that he had an affair with a campaign staffer whom his family has allegedly paid hush money.

Wikipedia has a nice summation of Ensign's hypocrisy/moralizing:

In 1998, after President Bill Clinton admitted to having committed adultery with Monica Lewinsky, Ensign called on him to resign, saying, "He has no credibility left.

In 2004, Ensign spoke on the Senate floor in favor of the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have barred states from recognizing same-sex marriage. Ensign said:

Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation.

For the editors at The Rep and, in particular, Executive Editor Jeff Gauger to participate in, pontificate about and castigate others about thwarting democracy for one special week a year and then on the other hand muzzle their readers (who happen to be Stark County citizens who enjoy exercising their First Amendment rights) when political hanky-panky appears to have taken place and the parties believed to be part of the hanky-panky call and complain.

The local case in point: Yesterday The Rep published a piece entitled: Political newcomer named Ward 9 representative. As readers of The Rep online edition know, each and every article allows for reader comment. And did the readers of The Rep comment on this story. Go check the comments on this story today. Unless this blog causes a reversal; they are no more. The Rep has censored its readers.

By and large the commenters were incensed that Frank Morris, III who ran a very close race against incumbent (recently deceased) Councilman Joe Carbenia. Morris lost by 7 votes and was declared the loser only after a recount.

But Stark Dems (9th Ward council precinct persons) ignored the 341 voters of the 9th Ward and appointed Stark Democratic political insider Brian Horner as Carbenia's successor. What is so rank about this process is that 6 people trumped 341.

Yours truly, knowing politics as I do, do not believe for one moment that Stark County Democratic Party chairman did not have his hands all over this decision. Precinct committee persons are known by political cognoscenti to be selected because of their devotion to party chairmen.

Horner works for Nancy Reinbold (Stark Common Pleas clerk of courts) who got her job at the instigation Phil Giavasis initiallly who Randy Gonzalez now works for.

Need there be a clearer line?

These people think we are all fools!

And The Repository plays the game with them.

Make no mistake about it, the SCPR applauds the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

However, The Report roundly condemns The Canton Repository Editorial Board and its Executive Editor Jeff Gauger.

Whether its Mayor Healy or some other Stark County politically powerful person, The Repository consistently shows that it bends to political pressure and buries public reaction to the what the public perceives to be political and governmental abuses of power which plague the Stark County community.

So we have a "one-newspaper-town" (The Canton Repository) working hand-in-glove with a "one-party-county-organization" to deprive everyday Stark Countians from exercising their First Amendment rights.

We all know about how some organizations and business keep "cooked books." In a sense that is what The Repository has turned into. A journalistic "cooked book."

The management at The Rep is so much in bed with the Stark County political and government establishment, that Stark Countians are denied the truth about what is really happening in our local government and, to add insult to injury, Gauger et al deny the public their voice.

In theory the SCPR would like to see newspapers thrive and prosper, but when it comes to our local countywide newspaper, wouldn't we be better off just relying on the Internet to get our news and to make our comments.

Although The Rep is a private entity, it trades on the public trust.

What is the biblical expression?

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN: "You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting."

The Canton Repository has fast losing if they have not already losing the public trust!

TRACKING OUR LEGISLATORS SERIES - BOCCIERI : HIDING OUT IN MINERVA?

UPDATE: 08/20/2009 6:39 AM

E-MAIL RESPONSE TO ORIGINAL POST BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF MINERVA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

I was provided a copy of your blog and wanted to clarify some items for your readers.

The Minerva Area Chamber of Commerce asked Congressman Boccieri to come to Minerva shortly after his vote on Cap & Trade; to address our chamber members, various issues affecting our businesses in Minerva, and in this case, specifically on his vote on CAP & TRADE and the potential impacts. The congressman agreed to meet with us sometime over the recess session. Working with the congressman’s staff we were able to identify a mutually agreeable date to hold the event. In addition, the chamber, not the congressman nor his staff, set the forum and the agenda. As a benefit to being a chamber member, the chamber, not the congressman nor his staff, limited the invitations to our current chamber members as a benefit of being a member. This forum will allow our chamber members, our businesses leaders, the opportunity to be heard on issues directly impacting them, and to have a direct dialogue with the congressman.

Our chamber members are faced with serious issues regarding various legislative initiatives such as CAP & TRADE, CARD CHECK, Health Care Reform, Bush era tax relief rollback, etc.; and the impending impacts they will have on their operations. We are pleased that Congressman Boccieri has accepted our invitation, which will allow Minerva area business leaders the forum to address issues impacting their business directly with the congressman. A “town hall” meeting is beyond the scope of the mission of the chamber and is well beyond the capability of this office. Should any of your readers wish to join the Minerva chamber and attend the event, they may contact me directly at the number listed below.

V/R

Lawrence A. Kosiba

Executive Director

Minerva Area Chamber of Commerce &

Economic Development

Ph: 330-868-7979

If you are a United States congressman, it is hard to "hide-out." But 16th District Congressman John Boccieri is trying.

The SCPR has received a copy of an e-mail generated by the executive director of the Minerva Chamber of Commerce which makes it abundantly clear that in these days of "town hall meetings" at which congressmen, U.S. senators and even the president have to answer tough questions, John Boccieri has gone low profile.

What is interesting here is that one wouldn't think that Democrat John Boccieri would seek refuge with chamber of commerce of types.

But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Note in the e-mail (see contents below) that the Minerva Chamber has given the Boccieri staff the final call on who gets in and who doesn't at Boccieri's appearance at the chamber on August 24th.

Here is a list of chamber/Boccieri people who you might contact if you "really, really" want to attend this event.

And here is the e-mail:
Subject: Congressman Boccieri Breakfast - Not Releasable Yet

I’ve arranged to have Congressman Boccieri come here to Minerva on Monday August 24 from 8:30 – 9:30 to talk with our Chamber Members.

THIS IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND IS NOT A TOWN HALL MEETING AND NOT A HEALTH CARE FORUM

The meeting will be presented as a BENEFIT to our CURRENT chamber members; be limited to current chambers members ONLY; and will focus on what the proposed legislation in congress will have on our businesses.

Anyone from the public wishing to attend will be directed to contact the Congressman’s office to find out where and when he will be conducting Town Hall meetings that they can attend – this is being presented as a benefit to our chamber members.


Each Chamber member will be allowed ONE individual from the company (must be a senior employee – no relatives/associates/etc) to attend via prior reservation/approval to get a head count;
Cost will be $10 per person to cover the cost of the meal;
Although not confirmed yet, the breakfast will be held at Classic 57;
Board members will have a separate invitation so if you are on the Board such as American Road & Machine; Dave Hank will have an invite and his business will have one invitation;

We are looking at four areas for discussion and how they will impact Minerva businesses: CARD CHECK; CAP & TRADE; Health Care Reform; and Banking legislation.

Any questions – let me know – we will discuss more at Monday’s Board meeting.

Larry

Lawrence A. Kosiba
Executive Director
Minerva Area Chamber of Commerce &
Economic Development

Ph: 330-868-7979
FAX: 330-868-3347