UPDATE: 01/26/2010 AT 10:30 AM
Today, the SCPR received an email reponding to The Report's assessment that Randay Gonzalez chairman of the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) 9-1-1 had prevailed over Rich Peterson in their battle over which plan was going to be adopted by SCOG.
Here is an excerpted part of Peterson's email to the SCPR which contains the Nimishillen Township fire chief's response:
The battle over 9-1-1 is finished.
The SCPR declares "the Gonzalez Plan - as modified," the winner!!!
To the politically observing Stark County Political Report, Stark County has just witnessed the "Gonzalez Plan" coming back from the dead. It was two weeks ago or so that the SCPR was told by North Canton fire chief John Bacon that the fire chiefs had gotten behind Niimishillen fire chief Rich Peterson's Plan and would be presenting the "Peterson Plan" to the Stark County Council of Government's (SCOG) Technical Advisory Committee as an alternative to the "Gonzalez Plan."
CLICK HERE to see more detail on the ephemeral "Peterson Plan" victory.
The official line is that the interested parties have found "a third way" via a - slight - modification of the Gonzalez Plan made by Stark County Emergency Management"s director Tim Warstler.
The gist of the modification?
In the words of a person in a position to know, to wit:
Tim Warstler told me we could do remote hosting instead of primary or secondary PSAP's and the equipment could be assimilated into the new center when it's built.Moreover, the Gonzalez Modified Plan will go ahead without all users of the system on the 800 megahertz system (which the SCPR thinks is a huge mistake that will cost Stark County's countywide 9-1-1 dearly in tens of thousands of dollars in lost grant opportunities).
The Gonzalez Plan triumph is a testament to the political power wielded by Randy Gonzalez in Stark County.
Rich Peterson (the "Peterson Plan) gave all he hah, but he is no match for Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez and Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley.
A heavy irony plays in this match-up. It can be argued that Todd Bosley would not be Stark County commissioner without having latched onto the "Peterson Plan" for fixing 9-1-1 when he ran against sitting Republican commissioner Richard Regula.
Gonzalez, being the consummate politician he is, co-opted Bosley and brought on board Gonzalez's countywide plan (Gonzalez in his role as chairman of the 9-1-1 Governance Committee of the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG).
Gonzalez deserves credit for finessing Bosley into proposing a political career threatening "imposed" 0.5 percent sales/use tax.
Bosley probably thinks the imposed tax idea was his. But the SCPR isn't buying that take.
Gonzalez did not go to Bosley and say: "this is what I want you to do."
No, Gonzalez is far too politically sophisticated a politician to do that. He merely talked and talked and talked about needing money to get the 9-1-1 fix underway. Bosley seeing fixing 9-1-1 as being the gateway to higher political office jumped on the opportunity to coincidently please Gonzalez and boost his own political career.
Boost his own political career? How about the "political career threatening" stuff above?
Well, at the time Bosley thought to himself "Eureka! (I've found it)": the perfect plan to come up with the funding for countywide 9-1-1 and to put booster rockets on my political career.
Bosley did not think that "imposing" the tax was much of a political risk at the time. He had vetted "to himself" his plan and came out convinced it was a sure winner in every aspect.
Peterson, by now, is astounded that his former political ally had been lured off the Peterson Plan onto the Gonzalez Plan. But Peterson is a fire chief; he is not a politician. And that reality has been vexatious to Stark's well meaning, largely non-political fire chiefs.
An outstanding example of a non-political guy who just wants the best for all Stark Countians is Tom Burgasser, chief in Massillon. Tom wants to get to the bottom of things, get answers to the unanswered questions and move forward in the most efficient and effective way to serve all of Stark County.
Burgasser leaves the politics to the likes of Bosley, Gonzalez and the Nimishillen township trustees (who, by the way are controlled by Nimishillen fire chief Rich Peterson).
On Saturday, yours truly was talking with a highly respected source who has a keen intellect and the subject of Randy Gonzalez came up.
The Report's observation: "Randy Gonzalez has won the 9-1-1 battle which is a demonstration of his ability to outsmart and outmaneuver his adversaries."
Response: "If he uses those skills for the public good, it is a good thing."
As readers of the SCPR know, The Report believes that Gonzalez does a lot of self-serving for himself, his relatives, his political allies and loyalists - on the taxpayer's dime.
But on the 9-1-1 issue, the SCPR endorses the Gonzalez Plan as modified.
As an aside, to make the point of how Gonzalez covered all bases in his maneuvering on 9-1-1, the SCPR takes note of the question that Commissioner Bosley raised with respect to the "promised" 9-1-1 share of "to be collected" imposed tax which expires mid-year this year because Stark County voters rejected retention of the tax this past November.
Ex-commissioner Harmon, before he vacated office on December 1, 2009, teamed up with Commissioner Pete Ferguson to divert all of the "to be collected" revenues into the county general fund. Bosley portested loud and clear and asked "what about our promise?"
Enter Steve Meeks. (Harmon replacement appointed by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee - controlled by Randy Gonzalez)
Political insiders understand that Gonzalez and Meeks are indeed joined at the hip. Gonzalez (who wears many, many "political power" hats) is fiscal officer for Jackson Township and a former Jackson trustee. Meeks is a former guess what? You have it. Yes, a former Jackson Township trustee.
So these two have a poiitical relationship that makes it hard to know who is "really" commissioner; Meeks or Gonzalez.
As a sidenote, it appears that Meeks in more ensconced in Stark County government than the SCPR had known. The Report learned recently that Meeks' daughter works for Stark County clerk of courts Nancy Reinbold (the wife of former Common Pleas judge Richard Reinbold).
It appears that Reinbold's office may be a haven for family, friends and loyalists of the Stark County Democratic Party leadership heirarcy.
The connection? Phil Giavasis, the clerk of courts for Canton Municipal Court - formerly the Common Pleas clerk of courts, who handed that job off to Nancy Reinbold).
So where does Gonzalez come in?
He is Phil Giavasis' chief deputy.
Back to Gonzalez and his modified 9-1-1 plan.
Surely Gonzalez would prevail on Meeks to vote with Bosley to reverse the Harmon initiative?
Not at all.
Gonzalez wants Meeks to succeed as county commissioner, above all else. Meeks is Gonzalez's ticket to continued and extended political power in Stark County like Stark County has not seen in many a year.
Gonzalez knows that Stark County is facing a financial crisis of epic proportions in 2011. The SCPR has heard the county's administrator make this point ad nauseam in the many county commissioner meetings.
So what is Gonzalez to do?
No doubt, the Gonzalez Modified Plan could use the money. For one thing, because of the deficiency in revenues, countywide 9-1-1 will not be able to purchase 800 megahertz mobile radio for all emergency forces to be on the same communication system. Second, in order to fianance basic operations, countywide 9-1-1 dispatch will be exacting a "user" fee from all of Stark County political subdivisions (villages, cities and townships).
Well, being the bright guy he is, Gonzalez put his pencil to paper and figured it out.
"A 9-1-1 countywide plan which is a marked improvement over what exists, but not quite what it ought to be; can be cobbled together and the Stark County public will be appreciative - with the money we now have."
"Hmm? Now, I (Gonzalez) I think I can give Steve Meeks a pass on supporting Bosley's motion to undo Harmon's move and satisfy both of my concerns."
In fact, the SCPR received an email from Gonzalez (sent at 1:33 p.m. on that day's commissioner meeting) responding to The Report's question on this very matter saying that countywide 9-1-1 could proceed to fruition without the $2.75 million.
Before the commissioners meeting, the SCPR is told that Gonzalez's son Kody (chief deputy for Recorder Rick Campbell) was huddled up with Steve Meeks immediately before the meeting in which Bosley's motion was rejected by Commissioner Pete Ferguson and Steve Meeks.
Hmm? Last minute instructions on the vote?
The SCPR takes Bosley at his word that he was sincere about wanting to keep the commissioners' promise made in December, 2008; but as Steve Meeks said: (consistent with Gonzalez to SCPR email) "I was not part of the decision. I have been told by Randy Gonzalez that 9-1-1 countywide can get by without the $2.75 million; therefore, I stand behind putting the money in the county general fund (paraphrase)"
Now from the Peterson side.
When Rich Peterson lost Bosley's support for his plan, the "Peterson Plan" for a number of primary and secondary PSAP's was doomed.
He tried to work the "Vote No Increased Tax Committee," and the Stark County fire chiefs to give his plan new life. And he nearly succeeded.
Peterson's major failure?
He did not figure on Gonzalez having strong ideas about how Stark County should get to countywide 9-1-1. Peterson refused to dialog with Gonzalez et al. Moreover, he convinced Nimishillen Township trustees Gress, Lynch and Schafer to refuse engaging SCOG officials (which is another way of saying Gonzalez) on transitioning into a countywide system and the role CenCom (Nimishillen's dispatch center) could be integrated into the countywide plan.
A major, major mistake.
Now Peterson and Nimishillen will take what Gonzalez dishes out.
Knowing Gonzalez to be the highly skilled, intelligent (contrasted to his predecessor Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) and consummate politician he is, the SCPR believes, that although he won the battle with Peterson; he will be gracious in victory and make the change as painless as possible for the folks in Nimishillen.
So there you have it folks. A thumbnail sketch of the political ins and outs of getting to a countywide 9-1-1 system.