Correction: According to Ohio Revised Code 305.02(A): If a vacancy in the office of ... county treasurer ... occurs more than forty days before the next general election for state and county officers, a successor shall be elected at such election for the unexpired term unless such term expires within one year immediately following the date of such general election.
The SCPR interprets this language to mean that if Treasurer Gary Zeigler were to resign on or before September 22, 2010, then his successor appointee (as made by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee) would have to stand for election at the next general election which is November 2, 2010. From September 23rd on, The Report interprets this statute to delay a retain the appointee election to be in November, 2012.
The SCPR thanks a reader of The Report for catching the error in the original blog and bringing it to the attention of yours truly.
Why is it taking so much time and so much money (anywhere from $210,000 to $368,644; depending on whose numbers you believe) to audit the Stark County treasurer's office.
The answer: apparently, because "the bookkeeping" at the Stark County treasury and the Stark County auditor's office "is a mess."
Officially, Republican Mary Taylor's representative:
Our fraud investigation in Stark County is immense. We are taking the time necessary to ensure that each and every tax dollar stolen or misspent at the county level is identified and returned. (Steven Faulkner according to Kelli Young's Repository report: Stark County commissioners set aside more money for special audit, December 30, 2009)However, the SCPR has reason to believe (talking with a well placed Stark County Republican) that Taylor's office has let it be known to Stark County Republicans that the real reason is the chaotic condition of the bookkeeping at both Zeigler's office and Perez's office.
Does the SCPR believe that politics is at play in Republican Taylor' audit? Yes and no.
First, the "no."
At a professional level, the Ohio auditor's office, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, do audits in accordance with generally accepted auditing principles. So in this sense, the SCPR believes that Taylor is doing her work as a professional, unbiased auditor.
Second, the "yes." Go back up in this blog to the large print "let it be known" language. This is the way politics finds its way into the auditor's work - Republican or Democrat.
Kelli Young's piece was a fine work of reportorial journalism, but not being politically savvy, she missed digging into the political woodwork of the state auditor's office to find the political scuttlebutt that sppears to be passing from Columbus to the likes of Stark County Republican Party chairman Jeff Matthews.
Matthews is desperate these days. The SCPR believes, despite Young Republican official denials), that the YRs are putting heavy pressure on Matthews to stop the bleeding of county level of Republican losses over recent years.
You have to believe that the likes of Mary Taylor, working with putative GOP gubernatorial nominee John Kasich, is looking for ways to enhance Republican vote totals come this November. The Stark County treasurer's office trouble is "taylor" made to help Republicans this fall.
If the SCPR's calculation is correct, the time is pretty much run on giving Stark County Republicans a shot at the treasurer's office in 2010.
Hold on Olson, Zeigler is not up for re-election until 2012!
True. But what if the auditor's report was so damaging to Zeigler that he has to resign on the issuance of the state auditor's report?
If a Zeigler resignation is to come, it will have to happen soon indeed for it to give Republicans an opportunity to take this office in 2010.
The way The Report figures the calendar, Zeigler would have to resign not later than February 3rd which would require Stark's Democrats to appoint a successor (by Ohio law) not later than February 17th which would leave February 18th until the Stark Board of Elections closes - which would be the cut off for filing petitions for running in November, 2010.
If Taylor files her report on February 3rd or before, she will be hit by a barrage of Democratic complaints that the timing was political. However, Zeigler and the Democrats have an advantage.
Even if the Taylor report comes out before the 3rd and let's say it makes it untenable for Zeigler to remain as treasurer, surely he can hold out long enough to allow Democrats to make his replacement appointment good until December 31, 2012.
Such a scenario, of course, would leave the Democrats open to the charge of playing politics with the public trust.
So there you have it folks.
The political dynamics of the Stark County Treasurer's office saga!!!