Thursday, December 31, 2009

WHERE'S THE 80% INCREASE CANTON HOMICIDES "PRESS RELEASE," MINISTER HERMAN?



Zero tolerance enforcement reduces Canton crime by 14%

Photo Credit: Staff Illustration
[photo]


Double-digit decline brings crime rate below 2004 levels

By Adam Herman
Released/Published: Feb 23, 2009

CANTON, Ohio — Mayor William Healy released statistics this week that indicate the city saw a 14% reduction in crime during his first year in office as a result of his administration’s “zero tolerance” crime policies.  Healy said the statistics are an indication that the administration’s aggressive police efforts are having their intended effect.  ... . (emphasis added).
CantonRep.com staff writer
Posted Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:15 AM
Last update Dec 29, 2009 @ 12:22 AM


Stark County’s homicide count is the highest it has been in five years. (emphasis added)





One Stark County Political Report reader terms Healy administration communications director Adam Herman as being the "Minister of Propaganda."

The SCPR's opinion of  Herman is not that brutal, but he certainly qualifies as a "spin artist."

Back in February Herman was trumpeting Healy's "tough guy - zero tolerance talk" as being the reason for a 14% crime drop.

On December 30, 2009 there is nary a word from Herman on a report by The Rep's Malcolm Hall showing a 100% increase in the homicide rate in Stark County

The Stark County coroner's office tells the SCPR that most of the increase came from the city of Canton:  eighty (80%) percent, mind you.





In an earlier blog on the "necessity" of Adam Herman as communications director to the Healy administration, the SCPR took the position that Herman should go as a part of a larger reduction in force in Canton city government for those slots which are "useful, but not essential."

The Report now makes a change of position.

The SCPR now believes that Herman is both "not useful and certainly not essential," and, perhaps - thirdly -  detrimental to the effective functioning (i.e. administration communications that citizens feel they can trust) of Canton government information services flowing from the 8th floor.  Moreover, The Report believes that Canton City Council president Allen Schulman has the right take on Herman, to wit:
"it is my informed view that Herman is a bully and a political hack for the Mayor. ... ."
Why would Canton taxpayers want to pay out over $70,000 for a person who appears to think it is his job to try to bully/spin journalists, government officials and, likely, members of the general public who ask Healy probing questions?

The Report believes that most Cantonians don't. 

However, will Healy hear them?

Not likely.

Cantonians are witnessing Mayor Healy orchestrating his own political demise.  Undoubtedly, he will keep Herman at his side to open and close the door as Healy walks out of City Hall for the final time!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BENNETT NOW A PUBLIC OFFICIAL: WILL HE ACT LIKE HE IS STILL AT HAMMONTREE AND BLOW OFF THE SCPR'S QUESTIONS?



The Stark County Political Report has learned that Keith Bennett was sworn in as the successor engineer to Mike Rehfus who tragically passed away on November 10th.

The Report has a lot of video on file of Rehfus answering any and all questions posed by yours truly about the operation of the Stark County engineer's office.  Mike was accessible to the SCPR via his cellphone.

Will Keith Bennett follow suit?

Doesn't seem like it.

When the SCPR learned that Bennett was to be appointed county engineer by the Stark County Democratic Party, yours truly called him to ask him questions about the transition from being president of Hammontree & Associates, Ltd to being the county engineer.

No response to the call made over two weeks ago.

Now that he is a public official, the SCPR will be pushing him to answer questions about potential conflict-in-interest problems he may have given Hammontree's integral role in providing engineering/surveying services to Stark County (for past projects) and to Stark's political subdivisions (villages, cities, township and boards of education).

The public should be playing close attention to Bennett.  How he responds to incisive questioning by the likes of the SCPR (do not expect such questioning from The Repository), should go a long way towards the Stark County voting public determining whether or not he is a worthy successor to Mike Rehfus.

So far, he is off to a bad start.

Hmm?

WILL STARK COUNTY EDUCATORS AND PARENTS OF SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN EVER GET IT ON SCHURING?



On December 17, 2009 state Senator Kirk Schuring voted to put the funding of 17 Stark County school districts in jeopardy.

 

House Bill 318 in its essential part delayed the effective date of a 4.2% state of Ohio income tax decrease so as to come up with about $850 million to balance Ohio's 2010's budget.

Had it not passed, Governor Strickland was set to do an "across the board" funding cut of about 10% for each and every school district in Ohio including, of course, Stark's 17.  The core of the 51st, which Schuring is running for in 2010, Jackson, GlenOak and Massillon schools would have suffered big time had Schuring's "no" side prevailed.

Who would think that Schuring would put Stark County education at risk?  Schuring, when he ran for Congress against John Boccieri, had a backdrop on his website of his visiting a school within the 16th Congressional District.

Before he began his campaign against Boccieri, Schuring did a political grandstand move in proposing that the Ohio General Assembly place a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot (November, 2008 - at the same time his race with Boccieri was to be decided) that Schuring said would solve Ohio's unconstitutional funding of public schools problem.

The fact of the matter is that it would not have and, being the astute politician that Schuring is, he had to know that the proposal had no chance to make it to the ballot.

The SCPR has long maintained that neither Schuring nor Oelslager are serious about solving Ohio's education funding problem but that they do play the obligatory "lip service" to the cause.

Stark County educators and parents of school age children could, if they would make it their cause, send a huge message to the Ohio General Assembly by defeating Schuring and Oelslager at the polls and make it clear that the defeat was inextricably tied to this Republican duo's failure to solve the problem over more than 40 years in the Legislature and much of it when Republicans were in the majority and supermajority.

Oelslager and Schuring play musical chairs in an "in your face" voters (on your having approved term limits) every 8 years move between Ohio's 51st House District and 29th Senate District.  Schuring now wants to move from the Ohio Senate to the Ohio House.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Schuring's announced opponent - Andrew Haines - will be able to hang Schuring's no vote on House Bill 318 and his chronic failure to achieve results solving the pubic education funding problem like a albatross around the good senator's neck?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WHAT WILL COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY DO?



Originally, Commissioner Todd Bosley told the SCPR that he would make a decision on whether to run for re-election as Stark County commissioner or Ohio state representative (the 50th) by Christmas.

Christmas has come and gone and guess what?  No decision!

Bosley tells The Report that he is torn on which is the right decision for him.

He says that he has always wanted to be commissioner (remembering when his father ran and lost years ago) and it would be difficult for him to relinquish being commissioner now that he has achieved the office.  Stark Countians will recall the stunning political upset Bosley engineered in defeating sitting Republican commissioner Richard Regula (son of former congressman Ralph Regula) in 2006.

Bosley had every intention of running again for commissioner notwithstanding the trouncing the commissioner "imposed" sales/use tax took this past November.  Bosley had joined retiring Republican commissioner Jayne Vignos and Commissioner Tom Harmon (recently resigned) in voting to impose a 0.50 of a percent sales/use tax to fund 9-1-1 being reworked into a true countywide system and to raise money for the county general fund.

With Harmon and Vignos moving on, Bosley would be the only remaining political target this coming November of those who want to vent on somebody for tax having been imposed.

Bosley says he is unafraid to face Stark County voters, if he decides to run for re-election as commissioner.  He maintains that  he has initiated a number of programs and policies that will bear fruit for Stark.  Bosley is confident that he can convince Stark Countians that he has Stark County headed in a positive direction and that the tax shoud not be determinative as to whether or not he continues as commissioner.

Ohio House Speaker shows up at Bosley's home.

Bosley was a surprised as anybody when Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish showed up on his Marlboro Township doorstep.

Why did Budish make this surprise call on Bosley?

Because Ohio House Democratic Caucus polling showed Bosley being the caucus' best chance to take a Republican seat.  Democrats now control the Ohio House 53 to 46.  However, a number of those seats are marginal, to say the least.  The SCPR believes the thinking of the House Dems is that an aggressive offensive effort will serve to preserve their majority.

Commissioner Bosley is flattered by the attention.  But he has a number of concerns about making the run for Ohio's 50th House District currently held by Todd Snitchler (Lake).

One of them is not defeating Snitchler.  Rather his concerns appear to the SCPR to center on being away from his family (Tuesday through Thursday during the legislative session; even longer if he gets into leadership) and his ability to be effective in a 99 member body.

It is far from a sure thing that Bosley will be part of a majority.  And one need look no further than Snitchler to see how ineffective a representative of a minority party is.  

Of course, Democrat Steve Slesnick (the 52nd - Canton), though a member of gthe majority, is not all that effective.  The SCPR  believes because he simply is not leadership material.

Even if Democrats are still in a majority after November, Bosley would be a rookie in the Legislature.  Knowing Bosley as the SCPR does, he would not be a rookie long in terms of moving up.  The Report believes, that if the Dems remain in the majority, Bosley will start off in leadership (he only has 8 years to make his mark because of term limits) and rise to the top levels quickly.

However, as commissioner, he is "top dog" now!

Even the newly appointed Steve Meeks, with experience as Governor Strickland's Region 9 director, a former Jackson Township trustee and one of Stark County's best connected Democrats, would likely defer to Bosley as the "senior" most commissioner.

So how will Bosley choose?

A terrific question!

One that Commissioner Todd Bosley likely doesn't know as of December 29, 2009.

STARK COUNTY WILL NOT LOSE MONEY ON IN ALLEGED THEFT THAT CAME TO LIGHT ON APRIL 01, 2009?



The SCPR has learned from a person in a position to know that Stark County may not lose any money from the loss detected by auditors in late March, early April 2009 from the Stark County treasury.

Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler fired his chief deputy at the time, Vince Frustaci, saying that he believed  Frustaci had stolen the missing money.

 

During the campaign to retain the Stark County commissioner "imposed" sales/use tax (December, 2008), the "Vote No Increased Taxes Committee" in its fall, 2009 campaign seemed to take it as esablished fact that Stark County would lose money from the alleged theft as one of several reasons Stark Countians should vote "not]" to retain the tax.

Apparently, whatever amount of money was lost might be covered entirely by bonds carried and paid for by commissioners on officials such as Zeigler.

It has been nearly 9 months since the story broke on April 01, 2009.

The SCPR understanding is that the investigation is being conducted by federal officials because there is a banking aspect to it. 

One has to believe that the results of the investigation will be forthcoming in short order.

The discussion of how much Stark County will be out-of-pocket could be a indicator that there is definition as to the actual amount of money involved. 

It seems reasonable to believe that whom is to be charged is just around the corner.

Monday, December 28, 2009

HEALY'S SIDE OF BREAKDOWN IN NEGOTIATIONS WITH CANTON PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTER ASS'N



As a lawyer, yours truly knows that there is always "two sides" to a lawsuit.

And the same play true with life in general.

Such is the case with the Canton Professional Firefighters Association (CPFFA) and the Healy administration flap over who is right and who is wrong in the fight to win the public relations battle.

The SCPR has presented CPFFA side of thing on this blog (CLICK HERE) to refresh on the CPFFA position.

Today, the SCPR presents the Healy version of events:


TRAVIS SECREST EXPLAINS WHAT'S GOING ON INSIDE THE STARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY



UPDATE:  12/29/09


Monique Moore (president of the Stark County Young Republicans) as weighed in on the SCPR's discussion about the relationship between the YRs and the Stark County Republican Party with the following 

"We have enjoyed and benefited from the support of Chairman Matthews and continue to look for ways to enhance his County Party.  We were able to win some hard fought local elections this year as a foundation for 2010.  Chairman Matthews was instrumental in those successes.  The SCYR leadership is a strong supporter of Chairman Matthews and understands that a unified County Republican Party is essential to victory in 2010 and beyond."


ORIGINAL POST

Yesterday, the SCPR wrote a blog on the goings on within the Stark County Republican Parfty between Stark's "regular" party people headed up by Jeff Matthews and Stark's Young Republicans which is lead by Monique Moore.


 

The SCPR wrote that the YRs were trying a "friendly takeover" of the Stark County Republican Party.

Friendly?

Maybe not.

Here is the core of an email from Travis Secrest to The Report that reveals some of the "inside" stuff going on out in the Fulton Road party headquarters confines.


 

Martin,

Good afternoon. I hope you had a great holiday and that you are ready for 2010.

I read your blog this morning regarding the Stark County Young Republicans, and I wanted to comment on a few points.

First, a little history. The Stark YR group that is in place now was started in late spring of 2008. Just getting started, they were primarily focused on supporting the young candidates on the ballot. Those candidates were Todd Snitchler, Jason Wise, Jeff Nickels and myself. They raised a little money for us and that was about all they did.

For just getting started, I was somewhat pleased, but still concerned with their direction. I was an active member and worked to bring on new members. The larger the group, the more we are able to spread the message of what it means to be a Republican in Stark County.

However, once 2009 rolled around, the mission of the group started to stray from supporting local young Republicans to trying to trump the local party and claim a power grab. The group took on new leadership, against the will of the charter members, and all of a sudden, they were picking and choosing which candidate to support, and what candidates not to support.

What was their reason for supporting one candidate over another? One easy response...Money. The  Stark YR's have become a business tool for the group leadership.

As an active member of the Republican Party, you can understand my frustration. I regularly attend their meetings and help plan events, and it is clear that their main objective is to grab more power and more money. They don't believe in the Republican creed, just their own personal gain.

The party needs to come together, stand up for what we believe in, and WIN!  We cannot have one group thinking they can do better and undermining everything that the leadership of the party does/says.

Chairmen Matthews has been very supportive of the Stark YR's but does not receive any sort of courtesy, or help, in return.  Socializing and having drinks is good to a point, but when it is time to get busy and help candidates, the Stark YRs disappear.

One thing that I would like to point out about Chairman Matthews: He inherited a ticket, and a national anti-Republican movement. We got him, and he got us.  I would never blame Jeff Matthews for the losses we suffered in 2008. The blame is on me. The blame is on Larry Dordea. The blame is on John Hagan. The blame is on Jason Wise. The blame is on Kirk Schuring. WE were the candidates. It is our job to work hard every day and WIN. The Chairman can't do that for us.

There is nothing that the Stark County Republican Party under the leadership of either Jeff Matthews or Curt Braden could have done to change the losses of 2008.  Obviously the party has a function, however, their function is not enough to change the outcome of an election. Long since forgotten are the days of the political machines....well, in Stark County at least.

Chairman Matthews wants to win with a passion, and he is working hard to win in 2010.  This is why I believe you are going to see a strong ticket in 2010 from the Republican Party.

I don't want you to think that I am just sending this e-mail to you today to stand in front of Jeff Matthews. That is not the case. I am sending this e-mail because I do not believe in what the Stark County Young Republicans are trying to do. If they are tired of loosing, which your blog refers to, then they are going about it the wrong way. Who is their alternative chairman? Who is their chosen son/daughter to take the reigns of the Republican Party, raise the money, recruit the candidates and win elections? I want what is best for the Stark County Republican Party. I believe in Jeff Matthews and his ability to win.

Rome wasn't built in a day.

Again, I hope you have a great start to 2010 this week!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A MAJOR SHIFT TAKING PLACE IN THE STARK COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY?



The SCPR has reason to believe that a power shift is occurring within the Stark County Republican Party.

You might liken the shift to a "friendly corporate takeover."

Under former chairman Curt Braden and current chairman Jeff Matthews (whom some Republicans say are clones of one another) the Stark Republican Party is largely moribund.

In ganging up with the chairmen of the Medina County and Wayne County Republican chairmen, Stark chairman Jeff Matthews has lined up with an old school politician in Jim Renacci of Wadsworth (a former mayor of Wadsworth) in an attempt to deny the youthful and vigorous Matt Miller of Ashland County his shot at becoming congressman for the 16th congressional district; young Republicans are chaffing.

Some  Stark Republicans believe that Miller is the future of Republicanism in the 16th district which includes Stark County.

Matthews incurred the wrath of some Stark Republicans in failing to rally behind former Stark Countian Phil Kiko (now living in the Washington, DC area) of the prominent auctioneer Kiko family of Canton who was interested in taking on Democrat John  Boccieri come November, 2010.

The SCPR believes that Matthews made a serious misstep in joining the "endorse Renacci" move.

Here is a link to a SCPR blog that deals with various Republican candidates including Kiko (CLICK HERE).

The SCPR believes there is a gentlemanly/lady-like "behind the scenes tussle" taking place among Stark Republicans over control of the Stark GOP. The SCPR is told that Young Republicans are the heart and soul of the Stark Republican Party and have made great inroads into the leadership of the Party and that Matthews is on the brink of losing control.

The YRs are sick and tired of losing countywide and municipal elections.  Under Matthews and Braden, the Stark GOP had lost all its seats in Canton (until Mark Butterworth upset Democrat Karl "Butch" Kraus this past November)  and all but one in Massillon.  Only in Alliance are Republicans competitive and that is due to the leadership of the likes of Alan Andreani and Larry Dordea from their perch in the Alliance Republican Club.

A new breed of Republican as evidenced by the likes of Scott Haws (newly elected trustee in Plain Township), Butterworth (newly elected councilman in Canton's 8th Ward), and Jamie Walters (a Jackson trustee who has filed to challenge in the Stark County commissioners race for a seat currently held by Democrat Todd Bosley).

The SCPR believes that Matt Miller might well upset the chairmen's (Medina, Stark & Wayne with Ashland voting "no") endorsed congressional candidate Renacci.  If Miller prevails, there will be apparent unity, but unity will not be the reality.

Once the election is over, look for significant change in the leadership of the Stark Republican Party.   Win or lose, look for Miller et al (the youth movement) to take steps to replace the Matthew types within the Stark GOP with younger leadership.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

IN ANNOUCING HE FILED PETITONS TO RUN FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONER, JAMIE WALTERS "ASSUMES" A VICTORY OVER FELLOW-REPUBLICAN STEVE CURTICIAN?


UPDATE:  12/26/2009 AT 3:00 PM


EMAIL FROM STEVE CURTICIAN

 

Mr. Olson,

Am I still the most arrogant, over the top, holier than God self promoting candidate. I think this shows the inexperience of Jamie's life in the real world. He may be a trustee, but I will say this again and probably many more times, never underestimate the resolve of an ex Marine Desert Storm veteran. 

I look forward to the challenge in May, but even more so, the relentlessnes of your expecting more out of stark counties elected officials and hopefuls.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year sir

Sincerely,

Steve Curtician
ORIGINAL POST

In his press release of earlier this week, Jackson trustee James N. (calls himself "Jamie") Walters tees off on sitting commissioner Todd Bosley as arrogantly (the SCPR's word) disregarding the people in voting in new taxes.

Walters' focusing on Bosley presents two problems for him.

First, he does have to win the Republican primary on May 4, 2010.  Walters seems to think his name identity (implicit in his not addressing differences with Steve Curtician)  with Stark County voters countywide will carry him to victory in the primary.




Assuming anything in politics is not very smart.  Walters just needs to ask Allen Schulman about that.  Years ago Schulman lost a congressional primary to a relatively unknown Democrat opponent because Schulman was focusing on Republican Ralph Regula.

In ignoring Curtician, isn't Walters demonstrating the same characteristic (arrogance) that he criticizes Bosley for:  Why would Stark Countians want to exchange one arrogant politician for another?

Second, Walters assumes he will be running against Bosley.  Such is not a safe assumption.

Bosley told the SCPR this past Wednesday that he is still mulling over a run for state representative in the 50th Ohio House district.

In assuming that Bosley will be the Democratic standard bearer as commissioner candidate may be incorrect.

Does Walters know the adage:  "He who assumes is open to being tabbed
"ass-u- [or] me."

Hmm?

Friday, December 25, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! CANTON MAYOR WILLIAM J. HEALY, II; NORTH CANTON COUNCIL PRESIDENT REVOLDT AND STARK COUNTY PROSECUTOR JOHN FERRERO - AWARDEES OF THE "COVETED" SCPR "ANNUAL 'LUMP OF COAL' AWARD!



You might say that Canton mayor William J. Healy, II is the "bah-humbug" SCPR "Lump of Coal" Award.

Healy is a man who cannot work with anyone who differs in any significant way with him.  On January 26, 2009, Healy fired his chief-of-staff and service director Thomas Bernabei.  Later in the year, he rid himself of safety directory Thomas Nesbitt (who left "voluntarily"), but who had publicly been on the outs with Healy.

Morover, he has been in fracases with de facto Canton City Council head Bill Smuckler, Council president Allen Schulman, Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, Councilman Greg Hawk, Canton police chief Dean McKimm, the Canton Professional Firefighters Association, the Canton Police Patrolmen's Association and a whoe host of other.

Healy, singlehandedly has ruined the lot of Christmases in 2009 and therefore is at the top of the SCPR list of "Lump of Coal" awardees with a special desigination of being the "bah humbug" award winner.

Sadly, this Christmas, the entire city of Canton is under a cloud of despair because of the deficient, even harmful "leadership" (using the term loosely) of  Mayor Healy.

Healy could do a lot to lift the spirits of Cantonians by starting 2010 with a precious gift to Cantonians:  a resignation!



Daryl Revoldt is one Stark County's most talented economic development people.  But he is no "civil libertarian."

A hallmark of our American democracy is to afford citizens their constitutional rights.  Foremost among those rights, is the right to free speech.  Revoldt, president of North Canton City Council has found that right troublesome and denied it to North Canton citizen Chuck Osborne in late November, 2009.

Osborne, as he is wont to do, wanted to bring to the attention of Council his belief that Mayor David Held and some of his administrators were remiss (to put it kindly) in allowing street sweepings to be dumped on "rented" land next to a city site up on Freedom Avenue in Jackson Township.

But Revoldt said NO!

Why?

Because Revoldt wanted to protect Held and his fellow city councilpersons from themselves.  Revoldt feared that these North Canton's government officials did not have the wisdom and self-discipline to restrain themselves in making "unwise" statements (from a potential liability standpoint in terms of Stark County Health Department/Ohio EPA fines).

Daryl, listen up.  Suppressing free speech is not an appropriate way to deal with your problem.  Get a grip on North Canton's government.

The SCPR has been to many local government meetings where citizens get up at "public speaks" sessions and make very serious charges on officials.  What is almost always the officials' response?  "Mum is the word!"

Hopefully, Revoldt, who otherwise appears to be an effective government official, will have learned his lesson.

But time will tell.



In some ways Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero should have topped the 2009 SCPR "Lump of Coal" list.

His failure to stop a bad Marlboro Township generated process short of prosecution should be very worrisome to all Stark Countians; especially those of us involved in Stark County politics.

What should have been assessed as a communications problem by Ferrero and Sheriff Tim Swanson (January, 2009), turned into a nightmare for Police Chief Ron Devies and his son Kyle in that the communication problem over transitioning from one computer maintenance caretaker to another turned into 5th degree felony indictments.

Of course, Prosecutor Ferrero would never admit that politics had anything whatsoever to do with the his asking for and obtaining the indictments of the Devies family members, but the SCPR suspects and believes that politics (perhaps and hopefully at the unconscious level) did play a role in Ferrero's decision. 

Ferrero is a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman who has many, many political contacts/friends/enemies throughout Stark County.

What Ferrero should have done when he realized who the players were in this situation, was to bow out and bring in a prosecutor from outside Stark County to make any and all determinations involving any "taint" of having a political factor.

No, Ferrero couldn't do that.

His solution?

Sanitize it by filtering the indictments through a grand jury.

Ferrero must have disdain and contempt for the Stark County public.

Even non-lawyers know the truism:  "a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich."

The SCPR said from the very beginning that the criminal justice process invoked by Swanson and Ferrero was going nowhere and 5th degree felonies certainly did not merit Ferrero assigning his top criminal division prosecutor Dennis Barr the task of trying the case.

Desperation soon set in for the prosecution.  They were virtually begging Ron and Kyle to accept a plea bargain as a face-saving way out for Ferrero.

Stark Countians owe the Devies' father and son a debt of gratitude.  They would not bend and they forced the prosecution's hand.  To trial, it was to be.

In an almost never heard-of judicial action; after the "chief"  Stark County criminal prosecutor put on his case, Stark County Common Pleas judge Lee Sinclair "directed out" the prosecution.

The SCPR believes most prosecutors would have gotten the message and apologized profusely to the Devies family.  But not John Ferrero.  Apparently, it was "well, you win some and you lose some" attitude.

For his failure and his "apparent" attitude, Ferrero richly deserves his "Lump of Coal" on Christmas Day, 2009.

Moreover, Stark Countians should never forget this chapter of Ferrero's public performance, and, should he choose to run again in 2012; give him a collective heave-ho!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

CANTON CITY HALL'S ACRIMONY CUP "RUNNETH OVER;!" COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN LEADING THE FIGHT TO REIN-IN THE HEALY ADMINISTRATION?


The Stark County Political Report knows that politics is "hand-to-hand" combat.  And the pugilism is in full swing at the moment at Canton City Hall.

Council president Allen Schulman (yesterday) wrote the following comment on an earlier story by the SCPR:
Martin... 

I read with interest your two part commentary on Herman and the Mayor. I trust you now understand my total disgust with the idea of retaining a " communications director"in this time of economic calamity. Moreover, it is my informed view that Herman is a bully and a political hack for the Mayor. Check out the city web site and you will see what I mean. I will continue to call him out.

Allen Schulman 
Schulman's comment was published by the report under "comments" at the bottom of the original story.

But the "I will continue to call him out" part of Schulman's comment deserve special attention.

Why's that?

It means that warfare at City Hall will not be stopping anytime soon.

The SCPR has a report that a nasty exchange took place between Schulman and Healy immediatly after the regular Council meeting on Monday.

It is totally believable that the exchange as reported actually took place, but The Report is in the process of getting the principals (sort of) to respond.

What do you mean by "sort of?"

Well, Mayor Healy will not talk to the SCPR so yours truly asked Herman, Allen Schulman's favorite "bully" and "political hack."

Herman, who was quick to jump in with an email denying that the Healy administration had blocked the SCPR access to city empoyeees, said he was not present at the alleged "verbal" altercation and therefore could not respond.

Hmm?

Let's see.

Herman knows that Healy will not talk with the SCPR and he is Healy's mouthpiece so why doesn't Herman go and get the Mayor's take?

Could it be that the report is totally accurate and Herman can't spin it in a positive way for Hizzoner?

We all know the history of the Schulman/Healy long standing acrimonious relationship that periodically breaks out into the press.

Folks, get used to it.  It is not going to end anytime soon.

By the SCPR calculus, the "hard feelings" between Canton City Council and Mayor Healy's administration (mostly limited to Healy himself and Adam Herman) will continue until the Democratic primary election, 2011?

"The Democratic primary election, 2011?

Yes!

If he lasts that long, that's when Schulman et al will have settled on a candidate to replace Healy as mayor.

The lamentable thing for Cantonians is that for two years they will have to wait until a new administration takes over for Canton to get on the move repairing itself from the damage done the city by Healy (I use the term loosely, folks) "leadership."

If Healy truely cared about Canton, he would resign today!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

IT IS NOW UP TO PLAIN "AFFECTED AREA" VOTERS TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO CREATE STARK COUNTY'S "NEW" CITY?


The Stark County commissioners approved sending the "Steering Committee City of Plain" petition to the Stark County Board of Elections for placement on the May 4, 2010 ballot for voters in the affected area of Plain Township (about 58% of the township according to SCPR calculations) to determine whether to separate from the township or remain there.

Committee chair Roy Barr expects some opposition.

What the SCPR will be watching is whether or not the current Plain Township trustees get into the issue one way or another.

The Report believes it is very unlikely that any of the trustees will be openly for the citification of part the township. 

The real question:  Will there be trustee background noise that will be hard for the Steering Committee to cope with?

Here is a video of Monday's commissioner meeting session which includes a post-passage of the resolution impromptu press conference with members of local media (including yours truly) asking Barr questions:

HMM? ARE WE IN CANTON, OHIO OR CANTON, CHINA? HEALY/HERMAN MOVE TO CENSOR CITY ACCESS TO STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT?



 

 UPDATE:  12/24/2009 - 6:00 AM


The SCPR has received an email form Healy administration Adam Herman denying the accuracy of the source email claiming the SCPR blog had been blocked by the administration denying Canton city employees access to The Report

When Americans look on from the outside, we often wonder how tyrants are made.

Well, we who live in Stark County, Ohio are getting an "up close and personal look!"

"Woe is us."  We Stark Countians are witnessing a "political control freak" in action.  Who might that be?

Canton mayor William J. Healy, II, that's who!!!

His latest effort, apparently, is contained in the email the SCPR received yesterday, to repeat the graphic above in the interest of readability, to wit:
In case you haven't heard already, your blog is no longer accessable from city computers. I guess you really touched a nerve with either the Mayor or his Communications Director/ head of IT. Thank you for getting the truth out from all sides.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
The more "political" - in the sense of style"  (than the SCPR) Repository Editorial Board has taken to calling him "Sir William."

In the view of the SCPR, calling him "Sir William" in a mocking way is their being extremely euphemistic and polite beyond politeness.

Fortunately for Ohioans and perhaps the nation, due - in large part - to the efforts of the SCPR; Healy's last "elected" political stop is likely to be Canton; unless, of course, he sees the error of his ways and becomes the small letter "d" democrat we demand of our politicians.

Ohio?  Well, he was a state representative with one eye focused on rising to the leadership level.  Only trouble for him was that he was swimming with "political carps" with sharper teeth than his own.

The nation?  He once told yours truly (when he was still gracing me with access) that the Democratic National Congressional Caucus offered to put $1 million into a campaign for him to succeed Ralph Regula as congressman.  But this SCPR never believed this from Healy; it clearly smacks of grandiose Healy spin.

If he does change, it will take years of work to convince voters he has changed.

Don't look for Healy to change; after all, why would a "fount of all knowledge" change?

Healy has sent several emissaries to the SCPR asking that The Report water down his political analysis of the conduct of the Healy administration.  

The carrot presented?

Then Mayor Healy might talk to you.

Whoopie dee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the SCPR is frothing at the mouth to talk to Healy.

The fact of the matter is that public officials are not entitled to deny citizens and the press the opportunity to ask questions.

But what if they won't?

Then the voting public will factor their uncommunicativeness in the calculus of whether or not to vote for them.  And, of course, the SCPR will make sure that the Stark County public knows who these officials are.

Meanwhile, the SCPR does have many sources and will get the Healy story without the mayor and his ventriloquist Adam Herman weighing-in. In fact, the SCPR is likely better off not talking to Healy because the Healy/Herman axis is "Spin City Central!"  Who wants to have to sift the fact from fiction when there is very little fact and almost all fiction?

As unrealistic as his quest is, Healy really does think he can stifle public discussion of the critical issues that Cantonians face.

But "tyrants-in-the-making" are never realistic as they create and live in a world of their own creation.

The only question that remains for Cantonians is this:  As William J. Healy, II self-destructs, how deep into the abyss will he take Canton?

Healy says he consummately cares about Canton.

But don't you believe it.

William J. Healy, II only cares about William J. Healy,II!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

ROSARIO CARCIONE - PRESIDENT OF CANTON PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS ASS'N - SPEAKS OUT ON HEALY'S IMPASSE WITH FIREFIGHTERS. SEE/HEAR HEALY PRESENT HIS SIDE TOMORROW


Yesterday was a turbulent day for both Rosario Carcione (president, Canton Professional Firefighters Ass'n - Local 249) as it was for Canton mayor William J. Healy, II.

Each took turns blaming the other for the failure of the union and the city to come to a "meeting of the minds" on a way to get 28 laid-off firefighters back on the job protecting the safety of Cantonians.

Today, the SCPR presents two statements by Carcione.  The first was made outside Canton City Hall in early afternoon yesterday as he stood with his rank-and-file fellow unionists as the walked Cleveland Avenue and 2nd St SW alongside and in front of City Hall in an "informational" picketing effort to rally public support to their cause.  The second was made before the regular meeting of Canton City Council meeting of December 21, 2009.

Tomorrow, the SCPR will present a compilation of Mayor Healy's response to the questions of City Council members on the failed negotiations.  Of particular interest to readers of the SCPR should be what the SCPR interprets to have been an acrimonious exhange between Council president Allen Schulman and Healy on what role City Council played in creating conditions (i.e. approving the original agreement city/union contract which the city now finds unsustainable in terms of requiring the layoff of 28 firefighters this past Saturday).

Here is President Rosario S. Carcione:

IS CANTON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN "SCAPEGOATING" COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR ADAM HERMAN?


A significant part of last night Canton City Council meeting was Council president Allen Schulman's grilling of Mayor Healy on his need for a communications director.

Here is Schulman grilling on video.

As yours truly was leaving the meeting last night, I heard "Martin" uttered from the distance.  Turning to see who had called for me, lo and behold it was Adam Herman, Mayor William J. Healy, II's communications director.

It soon became obvious that Director Herman was not happy with Schulman singling him out.

"You know," he said "there are other departments with employees that are similar in significance to me.  Why is Schulman's focus on me?"

To which, yours truly retorted:  "You have a good point and I am the guy to make good points to."

The Healy top-level administration thinks that the SCPR is dead set against the mayor.  Actually, the opposite is true.  The analyzing and critiquing is designed to prod the administration into doing better.  Healy is the mayor of Canton, like it or not, and everyone should be pushing him to become a better mayor.

If Healy can control his arrogance and demonstrate that he can work with others and take hard questions, governmental and political, and be responsive, and, above all, demonstrate that he has good, workable ideas to bring the city of Canton out of its funk, then The Report is open to revising his take on Healy et al.

Healy has been two years in creating a negative impression; it is likely to take that amount of time - perhaps longer - to reverse the impression.  Should Healy be of a mind to change himself, there is hope.  But he better get cracking because in a little over a year the 2011 Democratic primary will be upon us and Healy will have to had done enough by then to have any chance at all of surviving the primary.

Back to Adam Herman and the communications director job.

Herman does have a good point.  He appears to have been made the "poster child" of everything that Schulman and others do not like about Healy and his close-in staff and cabinet. 

Is it fair for Schulman and other critics to tie Herman's job to the $4.5 million projected city deficit for 2010?  Are there jobs in other departments that merit the same scrutiny that the communications director job has gotten?

Perhaps, Canton does need to eliminate the communications director job, but it should not be just that job.  There have to be others spread out over Canton's 35 departments of government.  If there were 15 such jobs (at a total cost of about $70,000 per), you would have $1 million in savings.


There was much talk about shared sacrifice at last night's Council meeting.  The SCPR gets the idea that there is an Animal Farm-esque (remember:  "more than equal") quality about the cuts that are going on.

There is some evidence that the firefighters are among the "less equals" with the Healy administration.  Healy never really answered Schulman's question on whether or not the director of communications job is essential.  Of course, everyone knows that firefighting and police jobs are essential.

It is obvious that there is a lot of political infighting going on among Canton city employees over who gets cut or the size of pay cuts or the number of furlough days.  And, the elected officials are doing a lot of demagoguing the "cuts" issue.

Schulman is, in the opinion of the SCPR, the brightest of all of Canton's Council.  Accordingly, he has to fully understand that he was grandstanding - on Herman - as a play to the Canton firefighters assembled at last night's meeting. He did seek to tamp down the raucous response of the safety forces, but he had achieved the desired reaction.  Kind of like asking the "inadmissible question," getting a response, and then having the judge to tell the jury to disregard, no?

Having said the "demagoguing" thing, the SCPR will say that Schulman has, over the years, been highly attentive to the voice of organized labor, while Mayor Healy has not.

So what is the SCPR position the director of communications job?

If the effort is to embarrass Healy and single out Herman, then the matter should be dropped.  All a move like this would accomplish would be to fan the fires of mutual animosity that now engulf City Council and Mayor Healy.  Yes, there would be some savings to be applied to saving a firefighter job or two; however, the "intangible" cost in terms of damaged relationships may not be a good trade off.

If Herman's fate is meted out to similarly situated employees (i.e. useful, but not essential) in other departments and the city can save a half-millon, a million or more, then by all means make the cuts.

Above all, scapegoating Adam Herman in his capacity of being the communications director will not help Canton through this financial crisis!

STEVE MEEKS (NEWLY APPOINTED STARK CO COMMISSIONER): STOOD BY AND WATCHED AS KEY HAMMONTREE OFFICIAL BECOMES STARK COUNTY ENGINEER? DOES MEEKS HAVE A SHORT MEMORY OR IS SOMETHING ELSE AT PLAY?



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focusing on Meeks:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

R.A. MALLONN - CANTON CITY AUDITOR - TAX LIENS ON MALLONN'S BUSINESS "MALLONN'S, INC" R.A. SAYS HE DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE LIENS, HOW CAN THAT BE?



Sources of the SCPR have e-mailed yours truly directing my attention to Court of Common Pleas records (on file with Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold) showing Workers' Compensation and Withholding tax liens filed on Canton City auditor (since 2004) R.A. Mallonn's business Mallonn's, Inc.

Here is a link to the city auditor's website (CLICK HERE) where Mallonn explains his duties as auditor.

A check with the clerk's office on Wednesday, December 16, 2009,  shows that the liens have not nullified (as of last Wednesday) by a subsequent filing showing they have been paid.



R.A. (who is well known to The Report), runs a restaurant (grill and bar ) located on Tuscarawas in Canton.  Mallonn is a Democrat and his restaurant serves as a "watering hole" for many Canton and Stark County Democrat officeholders.

Being the public official Mallonn is, the liens warranted being checked out.

Previously, the SCPR has done a blog on Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson regarding a foreclosure and a tax lien situation.

Why?

Because these kinds of matter raise in the public mind whether or not the public official, having trouble with personal/business matters, is up to doing the public's business.

The Report called Mallonn to discuss the liens.  At least one source had concerns about Mallonn being the city auditor and having tax liens to deal with on his business and what, if any, affect this combination had on his performance as auditor in light of the city of Canton's financial woes.

The Report found Mallonn to be totally open to answer any and all questions about the liens.

R.A. told The Report that he did not know about the existence of the liens.  He talked about the transition from the "old" Mallonn's to the "new" Mallonn's and, some communication problems and the like.  Moreover, he said he would have his attorney (Sam Ferruccio, Jr.) gather the information from the clerk's office and see to it that the liens got paid pronto.

Undoubtedly, some SCPR readers will be skeptical that Mallonn did not know about the liens.

The Report checked with the Ohio attorney general's office to learn whether or not it was possible that Mallonn did not know.  Here is the attorney general's office response:


So it is possible.

The SCPR believes him.  It is certainly arguable that he should have known.  But as the SCPR understands that he does not personally handle the books for the business.  Nevertheless, he told The Report that the "buck stops with him" and that he accepts full responsibility.

No one has come forth with any concrete information to The Report that suggests that the lien situation has any connection whatsoever with Mallonn's public office performance in terms of city finances.

One other thing came up in the interview.

It concerned a lawsuit filed against Freeway Tavern, Inc d/b/a Mallonn's Grill and Bar.

Here is a TMZ internet headline on the suit:



In legal parlance, the federal lawsuit (filed in the Northern District of Ohio) is over alleged Mallonn's Grill and Bar use of copyrighted music.

Mallonn says that his attorney is negotiating with the copyright owners to settle the lawsuit.

It is a policy of the SCPR to do blogs on public officials who appear in official Stark County or other governmental records as having this or that legal situation to deal with.

One of the points made in the Ferguson matter was that the candidate should have disclosed to the voting public that he was having the financial difficulties indicated by the foreclosure/lien filings, the reason therefor, and the remedial steps he was taking.

Once informed, then voters can make a determination as to how much of a factor the difficulties deserve in voting for or against a candidate.

Ferguson has refused to discuss these matters with the SCPR, which phenomenon (the refusal to discuss) The Report believes should be factored in by voters when Ferguson comes up for re-election in 2012.  The SCPR believes that public officials have a responsibility to give the public explanations on matters which bear on their ability to serve.

One has to wonder why Ferguson's opponent John Hagan did not flush Ferguson's legal difficulties out into the public.  Then again, knowing John Hagan, and his "unenergetic" (to put it nicely) way of campaigning because he was used to having a "safe seat," his failure is totally understandable.

One other thing about Ferguson.

He needs to take a page out of  the Mallonn book.  When the SCPR called Mallonn there was no avoiding, no stonewalling; he was willing to take all questions.

R.A. Mallonn was re-elected on November 6, 2007, well before the dates indicated on the legal proceedings which are the subject matter of this blog.  However, when R.A. runs again in 2011 he will have to account to voters for his legal difficulties so they are in a position to determine whether or not they are relevant to re-electing R.A.

To his credit, Mallonn revealed to the SCPR (a filing that The Report did not know about) that there was a lien filed against Mallonn's, Inc. in the Stark County recorder's office that had been recently satisfied (see graphic below:  Note - Mallonn says that he has not yet gotten around to filing the release, set forth below),



The SCPR thanks those sources who provided information on the Ferguson and Mallonn situations and encourages The Report readership to pass on information about other public officials of like kind to yours truly.

You can depend on the SCPR to dig in on the information provided.

WAS HAMMONTREE'S KEITH BENNETT A WISE CHOICE FOR STARK COUNTY AS COUNTY ENGINEER? THE SCPR THINKS NOT!


On December 15, 2009, the Stark County Democratic Central Committee appointed Keith Bennett as the replacement engineer for Mike Rehfus who, sadly, passed away on November 10th of this year.

Today, the SCPR takes a look at Keith Bennett in more detail.

The Canton Repository has been remiss in reporting very much information about Bennett to the Stark County public.

It cannot be because "the powers that be" at The Rep do not know Bennett, if for no other reason that he is married to Barbara Hammontree Bennett of Hammontree & Associates, Ltd  of Stark County "engineering" fame.

Moreover, Barbara served as the 2009 Hall of Fame festival general chairman.

Hammontree (on its website) proudly displays a picture of the Hall of Fame bridge which takes traffic from Whipple (west) over Dressler (where it does a sharp south turn) down into the Belden Village area.

So undoubtedly Jeff Gauger et al  know the Bennett/Hammontrees combo very well indeed.  Stark County's only countywide newspaper should be digging deep into its files and resources to inform Stark Countians about the Bennett/Hammontree connection.

Why?

Because of the crucial importance of the post of Stark County engineer to which Bennett has been appointed to.

The Stark County engineer is one of the most powerful political and economic figures in the county.  He controls a large number of employees and he is involved in the process of the state of Ohio and the federal government parceling out of and monitoring of numerous, in the multi-millions of dollars (including "local match" monies),  road, bridge and various infrastructure projects throughout Stark County.

Over a space of time (beginning with today's post), the SCPR will do what The Repository has failed and likely will continue to fail Stark Countians on; finding out what Hammontree & Associates, Ltd  have interests in  - in toto -  with regard to specific existing Hammontree Stark County projects as well as Stark County political subdivision contracts and projects; which are not - per se - county-based and informing the Stark County public of the signifcance, if any, of these interests and the fact that one of Hammontree's own is now county engineer.

Why is wife Barbara (sister of current Hammontree & Associates CEO Charles F. Hammontree), part of the SCPR examination; after all she is not a county official?



Because she does work advising local government units (e.g. Perry Township) on their engineering work as she is a P.E. and P.S. (secretary/treasurer and managing partner) with Hammontree & Associates, Ltd.  Moreover, she serves on the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Ohio Rail Development Commission.  And, of course, the Stark County engineer's office is intimately tied to ODOT.

The SCPR believes that the proper way to look at this whole picture is as if the picture is of a spider web which has many interrelated connections that might bear on the Stark County public interest.

A disturbing factor with Keith Bennett already is that the SCPR contacted him prior to his being appointed county engineer to discuss his imminent appointment, but he did not return the phone call.

Does Keith Bennett think he is unaccountable to the Stark County public?

What little reporting The Rep as done on Bennett has Stark County Party chairman saying that Bennett does not have to terminate his financial relationship with Hammontree.

Isn't that swell?

Would this knowledge prompt non-Hammontree firms to do business with Hammontree as an indirect way to ingratiate themselves to the county engineer?

The SCPR obtained a copy of an email sent by Hammontree & Associates, Ltd to its "customers and clients."

A number of things stand out about it.

It clearly connotes a "What's good for Hammontree & Associates, Ltd is good for Stark County" a la former General Motors CEO Charlie Wilson's famous 1956 dictum:  "What's good for General Motors is good for America."

A pretty cozy relationship for Hammontree, wouldn't you say?

This email does not sound like Hammontree and Bennett as engineer are going to be at an arm's length relations, to wit:
We expect Keith can fill the position and minimize the impact to our firm by careful coordination and budgeting of his time as allowed within the requirements and demands of this public office.
 "[M]inimize the impact to our firm by care coordination and budgeting of his time as allows within the requirements and demands of this public office."  Hmm?  The SCPR has lots of questions about this statement.

Another part of the email:
Not only do we see this as an opportunity to help our community in which we have so much invested but also an opportunity to strengthen our firm’s relationship with the public officials we work with so frequently. (emphasis added).
Hmm, again.  More questions.
We view this as a win-win-win-win situation for the Community of Stark County, Hammontree & Associates, Keith, and our treasured clients.

Hmm, a third time.  Even more questions.

Bennett seems to rule out any continuing "official connection" with Hammontree in quotes attributed to him by Nancy Molnar of the Akron Beacon Journal,  Democrats in Stark name new engineer, commissioner (12/16/2009), to wit:
Bennett said he will step down as president and chief financial officer of Hammontree & Associates. He works in the North Canton engineering firm with his wife, Barbara Hammontree Bennett, and her two brothers.

Although the firm may complete county projects in progress, Bennett said he understands the firm will not be able to take on any new work for the county.
"[T]he firm may complete county projects in progress."

But will he be able to?

What if there is a problem with Hammontree on existing contracts/projects?

What if there are problems with projects that Hammontree is working on now and into the future with Stark County's political subdivisions, will the Bennett as engineer be intervening?

Will Bennett be allowed to weigh-in?

Even if Bennett is to be a full timer, can he extricate himself from the Hammontree network to the satisfaction of the Stark County general public?

He is the brother-in-law to two company officials.

His wife is a partner and part of the Hammontree family.

Doesn't sound realistic to the SCPR.

The SCPR will be staying on this story and getting the answers for the reading public that, apparently, The Repository isn't interested in pursuing.

Here is the entire Hammontree email:



Doesn't this email prompt tons and tons of questions?

Indeed!

Bennett and Hammontree seem to be excellent professionals as engineers and surveyors.

But the SCPR goes on record as saying that Bennett being engineer with his de facto  if not de jure  inextricable (in the opinion of The Report) relationship with Hammontree is potentially problematical to the interests of  everyday Stark Countians.

The Bennett/Hammontree connections are simply too thick to be undone to the satisfaction of the general public.  The SCPR would be astounded if conflicts-in-interest did not materialize.

Accordingly, Bennett should consider not running to be retained in November, 2010.  The Stark County Democrats should be out looking for an alternative.  Moreover, Stark's Republicans should be working vigorously to offer political competition for this office.

The SCPR will be watching the Bennett/Hamontree relationship as it affects Stark County and its political subdivisions very, very closely.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

ARE ANY OF STARK COUNTY'S POLITICAL ENTITIES/OFFICIALS TRYING TO STOP THE EFFORT BY "CITY OF PLAIN" PROPONENTS FROM GETTING THEIR PROPOSAL TO THE BALLOT?



Last Wednesday, Debbie Dawson of the Stark County prosecutor's office (civil division) was on hand at the regular Stark County commissioners weekly meeting.  She was there to advise commissioners as to whether or not they should approve sending a proposal to incorporate about 58% of the land area of Plain Township to the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) for placement on the May, 2010 ballot.

At the December 16th meeting, Dawson did not recommend that the commissioners send the proposal on to the BOE.

She said there were three problems with the petition process as put together by the Steering Committee for the City of Plain.

First, she said, there appeared to be a problem with the map (required by Ohio statutory law:  ORC sections 707.29 and 707.30).  The law, she said, requires showing a parcel that is to be incorporated not include any noncontiguous property.  Moreover, Dawson pointed out that the law requires that the required map be accurate in every other respect.  She said that it appears that the map included a parcel that had been annexed by Canton recently and therefore needs to be removed.  Dawson's analysis of the map was based on information provided to her by the Stark County engineering office.

Second, she said the legal description of the land to be incorporated, (according to the  engineer's office) was not done in accordance with Ohio law.

And, third, Dawson said that the Stark County commissioners' records, as she understood the commissioners' administrators to be saying, did not show receipt of a certification by a newspaper of general circulation (The Repository, in this instance) of the publication of notice of the petition required by Ohio law.



Roy Barr, chairman of the Steering Committee, said at the meeting that if there were any errors in the map it was the fault of the local government engineer who drew the map up.  Barr said that the Committee gave specific instruction that any "noncontiguous" area not appear on the map and that the Committee had informed the map drawer of the annexation of a former Plain Township property into the city of Canton and had instructed the engineer to reflect the annexation in the map.

Moreover, Barr said that publication had been done and required by and certification of same had been submitted to the commissioners.

Will the the City of Plain question appear on the May, 2010 ballot?

The question will be answered on Monday, December 21st at 2:00 p.m. at a special meeting of the Stark commissioners to consider the question.

The SCPR asked Barr why he was having so much trouble.  Were there forces at work to stop the initiative?

Barr would not answer the questions directly.

He did say that the Board of Elections gave the Committee an "unwarranted" problem on validating petition signatures, and that while the Plain trustees have officially taken a noncommittal stance, he suspects that "in reality" they oppose the effort.  And there is the city of Canton and North Canton which Barr claims are looking to annex additional portions of Plain Township.

People who read the SCPR on a regular basis know how tough The Report is on Sam Sliman, the annexation director of Canton.  Yours truly repetitively tabs him as being Sam "Darth Vader to the Townships" Sliman.

Why?

One, because that is exactly has he described himself to Stark County commissioners in a session regarding the annexation battle involving Canton, Jackson Township and North Canton.

Two, because of anecdotal validations that come to the SCPR that Sliman is not merely rhetorical; he is out trolling areas like Plain Township seeking land area he might devour into Canton.

Barr confirmed to The Report that Sliman put him on notice that he was going to aggressively pursue annexation in Plain Township.

Sliman is a perfect fit for the arrogant, but dysfunctional Canton city government.  And, its not just Healy, the mayor who favors using annexation as an economic development tool.  Bill Smuckler (the defacto leader of Council) is probably more enthusiastic about Sliman's plan of annexing Canton out of its economic nightmare than Healy is.

The Sliman/Smuckler plan is a house of cards that will soon collapse and make Canton's economy even worse than it already is.

Barr and the Steering Committee is right to try to protect Plain from the likes of Sliman.  If the Committee is successful with the incorporation, the efforts will have the effect of protecting Canton citizens from the likes of Smuckler and Sliman and their ill-conceived plan.


Back to the incorporation petition.

Barr believes that the Committee has complied with the law and that he expects commissioners to approve sending the petitions onto the Board of Elections.

Monday's meeting could prove to be  interesting indeed!

Here is the video of Dawson's appearance before the Stark County commissioners last Wednesday: