Sunday, February 28, 2010



Today, in the second part of the SCPR treatment of Hartville police Chief Larry Dodrea's attempt to advance integrated Stark County emergency force communication, we deal with some key questions and answers posed at a recent appearance by Dordea before the Stark County commissioners about a plan proposed by TAC Computers, Inc utilizing the Summit County Emergency Management Agency's grant submission facilities.

The SCPR believes that the commissioners demonstrated a healthy skepticism in their exchange with Dordea.  However, Dordea is not a Stark County official (he also is an at-large elected Alliance city councilman) that gets offended by probing questions.  He embraced the questions.

The Report is impressed with Dordea's zeal and by his dedication to the notion that the proposal by TAC to provide hardware, and, more importantly - very, very expensive software (likely more than $1 million) to the 55 fire, police and EMS units that make up Stark's emergency forces, be scrutinized with the highest order of due diligence.

The SCPR does detect a concern by Dordea that his initiative might get derailed by political considerations.

One of the major problems that The Report sees that Stark County has is the reality that some Stark County officials rate their individual political agenda over the interests of Stark Countians in making governmental decisions.

A primary quest of the SCPR is to ferret out these officials and bring their clandestine activities into the light of day.

The video below represents a sampling of questions already asked.  Undoubtedly, more questions need to be asked.  Readers of The Report should be contacting any one of the commissioners and Chief Dordea with questions they have in mind.

Here is the video.

Saturday, February 27, 2010




Larry Dordea became a policeman in 1977 in Alliance, Ohio.

Eventually, he rose to become chief in Alliance and is credited with withering the crime problem in Alliance.  Like many, after retiring he became restless and decided he needed to get back into policing.

But he wanted to make a large impact on Stark County.  So what did he do?  He ran as a Republican for sheriff against long term Tim Swanson, a Democrat.

The SCPR had just gotten up and running as a political blog dedicated to Stark County politics and government.  Dordea was the very first person to comment on a SCPR blog that had to do with the effort that now retired commissioner Jane Vignos and Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez (now chair of Stark County Council of Governments 9-1-1- Governance Committee) to sell centralized 9-1-1 centralized dispatch to Stark County's political subdivisions.

One stop along the way for Vignos and Gonzalez was Alliance City Council.  A newspaper report indicated that Dordea had reservations about centralized dispatch.

The Report picked up on the article and questioned whether or not Dordea was too provincial to be Stark County sheriff.  Naturally, very few people like to be defined as being a narrow-minded person.  And Dordea really took exception.  In fact, the blog and Dordea's comment remain on the SCPR and can be accessed with the blog search engine.

So the SCPR and Dordea did not get off to a good start.  And he was being told by the likes of Jeff Matthews (the Stark GOP chairman) and Curt Braden (a former Stark GOP chairman and now 29th District Republican Committeeman) to stay away from Olson.

Since the rocky start, the SCPR and Dordea have had a fruitful dialog going as to how to improve Stark County government and politics which is the overriding goal for the both of us.

In December, 2008 (after losing to Swanson in the November general election) Dordea associated with the Hartville Police Department.  Chief George Dragovich had been talking about retiring since 2006 and, accordingly, village officials needed to bring someone in that was capable of taking over.

In December, 2009 Dordea became chief when Dragovich finally made good on the retirement talk.

One of the most obvious discovery that Dordea made about the Hartville department was that it was back in the "horse 'n buggy" days insofar as its information gathering and reporting technology was concerned.

We all know the cliche saying "knowledge is power."  The fact of the matter is that in law enforcement the saying is not a mere cliche, it is reality.  Dordea was one of Stark's first police officials to grasp the critical importance that gathering, reporting and coordinating the dissemination of information was a key to successful policing.  In the mid-1990s he was heavily involved in working with a communications technology specialist out of Cuyahoga County in setting up a records management system (RMS) in Alliance.

From those early days, Dordea and the technician, Tom Craven - owner of TAC Computers, Inc., have worked together to grow communications technology tailored to enhance local government police, fire and EMS operations.

The expression "We have come a long way baby" is clearly applicable to the Craven/Dordea relationship.

But it is not a business relationship.  Rather it is a connection forged to grow a rudimentary technology into one which has as its goal the establishment of a seamless, integrated law enforcement tool designed to keep the good guys and gals ahead of the baddies.

And the combo is working to the advantage of both in terms of increasing the learning, and by extrapolation, to all of law enforcement in northeast Ohio.

As stated above, when he took over in Hartville, one of Dordea's most pressing needs was to find a fix to the Hartville Police Department's backwater communications profile.

So he turned to Craven.

To make a short story of the contact and get to the main point of this blog, suffice it to say that Dordea may have struck gold for Hartville and all of Stark County in making the reconnection with Craven.

In the course of the conversation about the Hartville dilemma (a need, but not much money), Craven said that he could solve Hartville's and, indeed, all of Stark County's emergency force needs (Stark has 33 fire emergency units and 22 police units according to 9-1-1 project manager Joe Concatto) for free.


Depending on how one defines "free," yes - free.

The "freebie" is in the sense that the money (probably about $1 million or so), if it comes, will be in the form of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant through the Summit County Emergency Management Agency located in Akron.  Tom Craven tells Dordea that his company, TAC Computers, Inc., can provide for all of Stark County's emergency force communications needs with funds that can be obtained through the grant.

But Stark County officials must sell Summit County officials on Dordea's idea.  Presently, Summit is hooked in with another company which, Dordea says, does not have near Craven's proven quality.  To back up his claim, Dordea passes out a list of about 100 police departments through northeast Ohio in what is know as region five Homeland Security for disbelievers to contact for their read on Craven's work and equipment.

Clearly, with this effort to bring countywide emergency force communications, Dordea has made a telling rebuttal to The Report's 2008 suggestion that, perhaps, Larry Dorea was too provincial to be Stark County sheriff.

If he decides to run in 2012, he has positioned himself to be a prime contender for being elected Stark County's lead policeman.

The SCPR was at the Stark County commissioners meeting this past Wednesday and recorded Dordea's presentation on the need for Stark to pursue a FEMA grant.

Tomorrow, the SCPR will run Part 2 in this series and in the video portion of the blog, you will see Chief Dordea field the questions of Commissioners Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks and 9-1-1 project manager Joseph Concatto (a former Creighton City of Canton administration official and a former Canton City fire chief).

In this Part 1 video, see Dordea's core presentation to the commissioners.

Here is the video.

Friday, February 26, 2010


At Wednesday's Stark County commissioners meeting an interesting matter came up.

Board of Stark County commissioners president Todd Bosley paused commissioners' clerk Jean Young in her more or less "routine" approval presentations when the name of a Frank C. Braden travel reimbursement request was presented.

Over recent weeks the commissioners have been getting bugged with county employees who do not get prior authorization to travel at county expense on government business.

The SCPR captured one such exchange on camera on Wednesday.

One of the pleasures of covering local government for The Report comes to the fore in hearing revelations like the one concerning former Stark County GOP chairman Frank C. (Curt) Braden.  According to Bosley and Young, Braden made a trip to Columbus on board of election business, but failed to get prior fiscal authorization.


Well, Braden's failure perked up the SCPR's interest for several reasons.

First, Braden undoubtedly knows the rules about prior authorization (and this request was not to cover an emergency trip), but apparently thumbed his nose (as self-important people in government often do) at the rules and then submitted a request for reimbursement after-the-fact.

The Report finds this interesting because Braden is one of four rule enforcers at the Stark Board of Elections (SBOE).  Yours truly saw him in action this past Monday at the regular monthly meeting of the SBOE.  He, Maier, Cline and Ferruccio were observed by The Report poring over petitions for various candidates and a liquor sales initiative to determine whether or not they comported with election rules.

Point One:  Isn't Braden more than a tad hypocritical?  He is an enforcer in one context yet he demonstrates in the travel authorization context that he sees himself as an exception to the rule.

The SCPR would have like to included a video segments of the SBOE Monday meeting.  However Braden sat silent (as did members Maier and Ferruccio and Repository reporter Tim Botos) as Board chairman William Cline unilaterally and arbitrarily stopped The Report from filming a public meeting.

Cline (who is a lawyer for a well known local law firm) said the denial was based on the Ohio secretary of state (SOS) having provided no guidance on the videotapping of local board of elections public proceedings.  Cline, according to SOS legal counsel is wrong.  Counsel says that public meetings are covered by Ohio's Open Meeting law and not by SOS policy guidelines.

The SCPR has never been stopped by any other Stark County public entity from recording a public meeting.  In fact, many private organizations allow The Report to record their events.

Yours truly must say that it is understandable why the Board would not want to be shown on camera.  A video of the Monday meeting, for instance, would have, in the opinion of The Report, shown facial expressions and other mannerisms of some of the members that would have communicated an attitude that would not have impressed the viewing public favorably.

Back to Curt Braden and the travel reimbursement request.

Second, Braden stayed at one of the finest hotels in all of Columbus at taxpayer expense but did not get the lower cost government rate. 

The SCPR is in the process of tracking down the actual Braden bill, but indications are (see the accompanying video) that he paid $144 per night and failed to get the government rate which, according to the Hyatt Regency website, could be as l;ow as $80 per night.

So why couldn't Braden stay at a Motel 6?  Is he too good for a Motel 6?  Or, is it that when you are on the public's dime; you don't worry about the cost?

The SCPR does have a bone to pick with the Stark County commissioners over the Board's approval of the Braden request.

Why did they give Braden a pass on his not complying with the rules?  Bosley says "I don't want to be hard on him?"  Why not?  Braden, in the course of making assessments as a SBOE member makes judgments that the affected probably think are harsh. Think maybe he just might be just a tad more demanding on some than others; especially where the partisan stakes are high?

For the SCPR's part, the Stark commissioners should have made an example of Braden; especially Braden.

Why is that?

Because Braden is no novice at this sort of thing.  It is absolutely inexcusable for a man of his experience and longevity not to have complied with Stark County's fiscal rules.  Moreover, his conduct is specially grievous in light of the Bosley/Meeks contention that he did not even bother to get taxpayers the benefit of the very best rate at one of Columbus' finest hotels.

To the SCPR, Braden's flouting of the rule fits with The Report's take on Braden.  He obviously thinks he is up a rung or two over the rest of us.

Accordingly, the Stark County Board of Commissioners failed the taxpaying the Stark County public in approving the Braden request for reimbursement.

At the very least, the Board should have paid only at the government rate.

But then they would have offended one of the most powerful politicians in all of Stark County!

After all, they do have to live with Frank C. Braden in the political world!!!


Wednesday last was an eventful day at the regular Stark County commissioners meeting.

Hartville police chief Larry Dordea made an appearance in which he shared a spellbinding revelation that he has made a discovery that may turn out to lead to a $1 million, if not more, savings to Stark County's centralized 9-1-1 rehab.  The Report is in the process of editing extensive video that yours truly took on Wednesday that will give Stark County Political Report readers/viewers a good sense of Dordea's proposal.

Also, the SCPR is working on a story involving Stark County Board of Elections member Curt Braden and his travels to Columbus.

But in this story, the subject is the Stark County Dog Pound.

On January 27, readers will recall, the commissioners fired Evert Gibson from his position of dog warden of some five years.

Well, this week there was another citizen complaint that spurred Commissioner Todd Bosley into action.  Bosley called interim warden Kevin Fox before the board to discuss ways and means of making progress on Stark County rectifying the deficient public services that Bosley believes the pound is and has been, for some time, rendering to Stark Countians.

This session was not a blame Kevin Fox for the continuing problems.  Rather it seemed to be a "we are still dealing with the undone remediations of chronic problems that led to the firing of Evert Gibson.  In fact, Commissioner Pete Ferguson complimented Fox (who is handling management responsibilities while remaining a union member  - a kind of "high-wire act,")  for doing a good job.  Moreover, Commissioner Bosley was quick to make it clear that the problem that led to the Fox call in was a carryover and not a "on Fox's watch" problem.

The Report is presenting this edited version of Wednesday's meeting as it pertains to the dog pound problem so as to give readers/viewers insight into the historical problems of the pound and a look at measures that Fox and the commissioners are taking to remediate.

Of particular note is an exchange involving Commissioner Steve Meeks, county administrator Mike Hanke and Fox on the "bad" contract that had been negotiated by a prior board with the union which represents workers at the pound.

Another curiosity is why the prior board had hired an answering service (to take after-hours-calls) that is based in Pennsylvania (which Fox and Meeks say appears to be the failure point) in the face of Canton having a first-rate (according to Fox) answering service located at 12th Street and Cherry in Canton.

The message that the SCPR is driving home with this blog and the accompanying video is that prior boards of commissioners have made a number of questionable decisions in relative anonymity that have resulted in bad local government services to Stark Countians.

A further point.  With the work of the SCPR, the anonymity is gone and by following The Report Stark Countians can keep abreast of the decisions of the board and what they mean in terms of quality and effectiveness as being the focus of the board in discharging its singular local government function of  serving the citizens of Stark County in such a fashion that Stark Countians are getting the most bang for the taxpayer buck.

Here is the video.

Thursday, February 25, 2010



One of recently deceased Stark County engineer Mike Refus's contributions to the quality of Stark's roads and bridges was to get the commissioners to impose a $10 county allowed surcharge on Ohio license plates fees.

Commissioner Todd Bosley joined with fellow Commissioner Jane Vignos (now retired) in 2007 to impose the increased fee.  The third commissioner, Gayle Jackson, now a Strickland appointee to the Ohio Lottery Commission, voted no. 

In the accompanying video at yesterday's meeting, Mike Hanke (county administrator) is seen reading a report from the engineer's office detailing the condition of Stark's roads and bridges.
Newly appointed Commission Steve Meeks is seen making the point that the $2.4 raised so far by the increased fee has provided local match money that has enabled Stark County to grow the money to about $10 million in matching state and federal grants.

Apparently, not all imposed taxes are bad?

Here is the video.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Apparently, Sheriff Tim "Poop on the Public" Swanson is trying to jam his successor down the throat of the Stark County public.  Very consistent, wouldn't you say?  A man who, by his own words, demonstrates contempt for the Stark County citizenry.

Recently, the Signature Class of Leadership Stark County visited the Stark County Jail complex as part of its training program. It just so happens that one of Sheriff Swanson's chief deputies, Rick Perez, is a member of the Signature group.  Of course, Perez was the star attraction at his home base and his boss had to show off a bit in front of Perez's peers.

It is encouraging that Perez made it into the leadership class.  Either someone sees a potential in the man that many of the rest of us Stark Countians do not see or they see that Perez is a cop with a powerful position who needs some intense training on how to demonstrate quality, effective leadership.

Swanson, showing off in what way?

First, a little political history, please.

Undoubtedly, Swanson has been reading the SCPR and noticing that other Stark County elected officials are honing the fine art of dictating who succeeds them in office.  And Perez may be an opportunity for the sheriff to show off that he can do just as well.

Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts Phil Giavasis is Stark County's classic example.

When former Canton clerk Tom Harmon "sort of retired" (sort of because almost immediately after retiring, he     became a Stark County commissioner),  Phil Giavasis, who was Stark County clerk of courts at the time of the Harmon "sort of retirement," decided that he needed to jump ship for the greener pastures (more money which or course mean more money in the immediate sense and, of course, a better retirement).

A number of Stark Countians were interested in becoming Phil's successor; one being Lawrence Township trustee Mike Stevens.  He sought the county clerk Giavasis' blessing or maybe even anointing.

But Giavasis was having none of it.  He scolded Stevens for having the audacity to even ask.  This self-appointed Stark County kingmaker had already decided that his protege Nancy Reinbold (wife of former Common Pleas judge Richard Reinbold who is now running for the Ohio Senate against Scott Oleslager) would be the new county clerk.

Other examples abound, too.

In a famous one that backfired, appointed county commissioner Steve Meeks (when he went from being a Jackson trustee to being newly elected Governor Ted Strickland's region 9 "eyes and ears,"} tried to have wife Patty elected his successor.

Jackson voters were so offended at the Meeks move that they elected unknown and undistinguished Republican Jamie Walters as trustee.  And. by the way, Walters is still largely unknown outside of Jackson Township and certainly he remains undistinguished, but it is not keeping him from running for Stark County commissioner.

Many Stark County Democrat elected leaders don't appear to do a very good job providing leadership for the county, but they do excel at moving around among various county and municipal jobs in kind of a merry-go-round of "what's in it for me" politics. 

Back to Swanson and Perez.

The word is that as Swanson addressed the Leadership Stark County group he went way over the top and told the group that Perez would be "your" next Stark County sheriff.

The SCPR for one takes exception to the sheriff.  He may find that a whole host of other Stark Countians; that is, when Perez has to stand before the voters, might take exception too.  The Report believes that Perez will not be Stark County's next sheriff after the politicians appoint him and he has to stand for election.

Perez has a long line of political enemies within Stark County law enforcement.  He wasn't that well liked in the law enforcement community to begin with and then he blundered (in the exercise of judgment) big time in his conduct of the investigation into allegations made by then trustee Tim Wise of Marlboro Township about police Chief Ron Devies and his son over, what turned out to be, misunderstandings in the transitioning of the township's computer maintenance from the Devies son to an area company.


How so?

Perez decided to secretly wear a wire when interviewing Chief Devies.  The Perez wearing the wire caper swirled through Stark Copy policedom.  And the reaction  wasn't "what a terrific idea."  It was deemed as a grievous violation of trust by most.

Moreover, Perez's work product proved to be so deficient that Stark County chief criminal prosecutor Dennis Barr got his case dismissed without the defense to having to put on any evidence at all.

And there is the matter of Perez being a "retire, rehire" himself.  He didn't even stand for election like Swanson did.  Swanson himself accorded him this blessing by virtue of being the boss.

Perez may be able to bypass all of his negatives with an anointing - err appointing - when Swanson retires yet again, but all his public performance history will be out there in full view when he has to stand before the electorate.

Do  you think the Stark County voting public is going to embrace this guy?

Probably not.

But Tim Swanson does and he is apparently poised to  try to stack the deck for Perez.

The Report continues to think that Swanson will step down soon so that Perez can and very likely will be appointed (with Swanson's help) by the Stark County Central Committee which is controlled by Perez's good friend and Stark County Democratic Party chair Randy Gonzalez who is also real thick with the sheriff.

Don't you just love Stark County politics and how the likes of Giavasis, Meeks and Swanson think they are entitled to call the shots for all of us!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) is one of the most unaccountable units of Stark County government.

There is absolutely no way for citizens to get a grip on the operation of this aspect of local government.  Even the Ohio secretary of state has limited ability to control local boards of election.

The BOE budget is set to skyrocket this year to nearly $3 million dollars.Almost a whopping $1 million more in one year. 

The board is staffed by four political appointees (Cline - R, Braden - R, Maier - D and Ferruccio - D).  Taxpayers are paying upwards of $68,000 a year for this group of four.  No election, no way to even ask questions during their meetings. And they reject requests to "merely" consider a proposal in the light of public discussion.

For the most part, the SCPR sees the board of election members as being consummate political people who are looking out primarily for the interests of a political party.

Just go to one of the BOE meetings.  Two Republicans sit on one side.  The Dems on the other.  The setting has a comical tone to it.  But the surveillance factor, one side on the other, is ever present and serious.

An uneasy truce (somewhat like the 38th parallel between North and South Korea) maintains.  But partisan warfare can flare up in a heartbeat.  In these instances, the Ohio secretary of state has the deciding vote.

None of Stark's board members come across to the SCPR as being small "d" Democrats as a matter of passion. They are on the board because they are stanch Rs and Ds. Each side has it lawyer member ready - apparently - to do legal battle if the need arises.

Another instance where government has been skewed by Democrats and Republicans.  While paying lip service to protecting the right of the individual to vote, in reality these boards seem far more intent on preserving and protecting respective political party interests.

Ohio's board of elections structure needs redoing.  Civil servants should man them; not political warriors.  However, organizational Republicans and Democrats would fight such a move bitterly.  A move to non-partisanship staffing will not happen anytime soon.

With structural reform nowhere insight, what is a citizen to do?

It appears that the only thing left to do is cut off the money.

But even sending this message will have to be done indirectly.

Unfortunately, the responsive and "let us hear you" departments of county government will suffer while the unresponsive ones are brought to heel under the crush of financial reality.

The Report has supported many, many tax issues over the years.

However, this access/openness issue together with the use of public monies, in all too many Stark County departments of government, to provide employment at taxpayer expense for the politically connected militates for a change in course.

The change?  No more votes for renewed or new county taxes until the offending are brought to heel.

Unless and until the rest of Stark County government leans on the likes of the Stark BOE to be responsive and friendly to everyday citizens, then there should be no more voted-in new or renewal money for all of Stark government.

Stark County government officials will whine that punishing all for the sins of a few is unfair.

Fair or unfair, it is an effective power that citizens have.  And Stark County citizens should exercise that right to send all of Stark County government a message.

The first citizen shot across the bow was voter rejection, in November, of the imposed sales/use tax.

But apparently, the rejection was not enough.

Soon county government will have to be putting up at least a renewal of a levy.

Whatever the initiative is, Stark citizens should once again reject.

Undoubtedly, government will respond by cutting citizen services where it is felt most immediately by the public.  Public school districts have refined the cutting process into a fine art as a way of striking back.  Expect the same of county government.

At issue is who really controls government, the bureaucrats and those who feed at the trough of public largess, or, the people.

It is time for Stark Countians to step to the fore in this battle and go about shrinking the county financial pie.

The Stark County budget is somewhere in the realm of the mid-50s of millions.  Maybe it needs to get well down into the 40s.  The government entities with mandate authority will likely continue hog a growing annual share of the pie, but sooner or later the non-mandates will have to stand their ground just to continue existence.

Shrink the revenue until the lesser lights have no choice but to stand up and do something (e.g. institute institutional peer pressure) about what the SCPR sees as an anti-public accessibility and openness mentality currently being demonstrated all too much of county government.

The day and age of units of government thumbing their nose at the public and still getting public financial support needs to stop.

Judge Charles Brown (Stark County Common Pleas) and his court fellows commissioned a task force to find a way to get the public in a state of mind to agree to keep Stark County government solvent through increased revenues.

The way, of course, is to restore public trust.

But trust is built up over night in the first place, and, once lost, it takes twice as long to restore.

Most of Stark County government has lost the trust of the people.

For the SCPR, the Stark BOE is a prime example of stewards of the public trust throwing trust to the winds.  Filming a public event?  Getting consideration of an item on the public agenda?  Simple things.  But when you get members in a "show you" attitude; trust evaporates and regaining it will take different members in a different time.

It is not surprising that the Stark BOE would be a bastion of power play politics.  After all, it has been and continues to be a haven for powerful Stark County politicians.  One even has as his idol, Ohio's most recent, but last "old school" power politician Vern Riffe.

Stark County government appears to be a good fit for the Walt Kelly quote:  "We have met the enemy and he is us."

When financial disaster befalls county government which could be as little as a year or two away, they will point their collective fingers at the Stark County taxpayer and seek to punish.

But if they were honest with themselves, they should be pointing at themselves.

It has been a long time in coming, but the Stark Board of Elections and yesterday's performance has succeeded in flipping the SCPR over into being for "No Increased Taxes!"

Monday, February 22, 2010


The SCPR got up bright and early this morning to attend the Stark County Board of Elections regularly monthly meeting (BOE).

The meeting began at 8:00 a.m.  The hour of the meeting should be a clue about the basic attitude of the Board towards the public.

Well, why was the SCPR at this particular meeting anyway?

The Report had asked Director Jennette Mullane (an appointee of the Stark County Democratic Party which board member Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., is a former chairman of and who recently hired Mullane's sister to work for him as clerk of courts in Massillon), to place an item on the Board's agenda.

What was the item?

That the Board set up a plan with a timetable to scan in petitions and campaign finance reports as they are filed so that these documents are speedily and readily available to the Stark County Public.

Well, was the matter on the agenda?


So, what did The Report do next?

After the meeting, yours truly asked Mullane about the omission.

Her answer?

The Board would not allow her to place the matter on the public meeting agenda.

So that was complaint #2 filed with the Ohio secretary of state.

Complaint #1?

Board member and Chairman William Cline (Republican of North Canton) denied the SCPR's effort to video-tape the meeting.  No vote was taken of the entire board.  No.  Cline, unilaterally makes the decision. But after having to delay the meeting's start to have a private tete-a-tete with board member Maier.


What do you suppose that little confab might have been about?

While the discussion with The Report and Cline was going on, member Maier (in a sub voice) set upon disparaging blogs and the audacity of a blogger to be expected to be treated on a par with the likes of The Repository (which did have a reporter present).

The SCPR understands Maier's disdain for blogging because for him blogging appears to be a partisan political weapon; not the equal opportunity incisive critic that the SCPR is.

While Stark Politics was still up and running, Maier and his  Stark County Democratic Party political director Shane Jackson (who is Maier's chief deputy at the clerk of courts office) were going bananas over the blogs attacking Democrats and a scant few Republicans who were less extreme than the anonymous Stark Politics blogger..

They wanted yours truly to do a countervailing blog. 

What an insult! 

But Maier is, in the opinion of The Report, a master of political insult and arrogance.

Of course, the rest is history.  Not only did yours truly reject the request, but went totally the opposite and put together the SCPR to put both Republican and Democrat officeholders and candidates under intense scrutiny.

Mutual acquaintances have fed back to The Report that Maier has been known to go into spasm with some of the political critiques appearing in the SCPR.

In fact members of the Stark County Board of Elections, Director Mullane, Deputy Director Jeff Matthews (chairman of the Stark County Republican Party) have all been the subjects of various blogs by The Report.

The SCPR suspects that hostile attitude on the part of the Board and its executive leadership is comeuppance for the straightforward editorializing that The Report has done on several of personages cited above.

After the meeting, Cline very solicitously engaged The Repository reporter (ever wonder why you don't get hard-hitting journalism out of The Rep), but went out of his way to equate The Report to being "merely" (impliedly) a citizen attending a public meeting. 

Cline may even have been taunting The Report in pointing out that the recording that the BOE makes is available in transcript form.  

What exactly is the difference between an audio recording and a picture recording.  Aah, yes.  The picture.  Why wouldn't the board members want their facial expressions seen when they discuss matters?  Could it be that they betray a deeper meaning than would not appear on the printed page or necessarily in an audio?

The SCPR is the worst nightmare for many Stark County public officials and political candidates because of The Report's independence. 

No advertisers, beholden to no sources, no family in government and the SCPR is willing to go eyeball-to-eyeball with those whom The Report criticizes!!!


Sunday, February 21, 2010


It looking more and more like the plan of Steve Meeks, Stark Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez, former chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Tom Bernabei to keep control of the Stark County commissioners, with Meeks remaining in office, is unraveling.

For the record, the SCPR believes that the Democrats will continue to have a majority of commissioners, but it is not likely that former Jackson trustee Steve Meeks will be one of them.  Rather the Democratic line up will read more like Bernabei and Ferguson.

Why does the SCPR say "unraveling?"

On Friday, the SCPR had a conversation with a leading Stark County Democrat who says he might well come out publicly in support of Republican Janet Creighton in her race for county commissioner against the Democrat-hand-picked Steve Meeks.

If this Democrat endorsement materializes, The Report believes that the political floodgates will open in favor of Creighton and that she will win big; not just win - as the SCPR is already projecting unless the unexpected happens.

Creighton is one of two, maybe 2-1/2 Republicans who The Report hears from a number of Democrats that they like and will consider voting for.

Another is Kirk Schuring and to a lesser degree Scott Oelslager (he's the 1/2).

But, depending on the mix, Democrats "saying" they might vote for a Republican is just talk unless and until the walk into a voting booth and vote for the Republican.

The SCPR was astounded when Schuring got waxed 57 to 42% (Stark County only results) in his 2008 match up with John Boccieri in the 16th district congressional race.

How did that happen?

The Report's answer:  Schuring did it to himself.  He became too much of a Republican. Evidence of the SCPR's premise?  The famous YouTube video with Schuring trashing the folks of Canton at a Ashland  County campaign rally (remember? - "those people").  Moreover, Schuring hung out, on the advice of his NRCC handlers, in the very Republican parts of the district and only pushed his Stark County connection at the end.

Big mistake!

Do not look for Janet Creighton to make the Schuring mistake of  becoming too much of a Republican.  Creighton does not shy away from her Republican ties (after all she served in the very Republican Bush administration), but she demonstrates in the three offices she has held in Stark County (county recorder, county auditor and mayor of Canton) that she can and does work with Democrats.

The SCPR has more than a few Canton City Council Democrats say that the lines of communication between Creighton as mayor and Council were infinitely superior to what is going on between Council and Democrat mayor Jamie Healy.

If Creighton does not change into someone else on the advice of others, she should get a considerable number of Democratic votes across Stark County.

Perception is very important in these races.  While Creighton herself says that she is an unabashed Republican whereas you never hear Steve Meeks brag about being a card-carrying Democrat even in the face of being in office due to insider Democratic politics; the SCPR's take is that general public sees Creighton a far less partisan than Meeks.

This means that she should do well with independent voters.

The Report believes that Gonzalez et al should have sought to put Bernabei in a Bernabei/Creighton squaring off.


Because Bernabei might actually beat Creighton.  A Bernabei/Creighton face off would end up being a "get out the vote" political exercise.  Creighton would work the suburbs and Bernabei the urban vote.

Who wins?  It would be a "pick-em" type of situation.  Either one could win.  The best organized campaign would end up being the winning one. A Bernabei/Creighton clash would truly be a Stark County political toss-up.

At least in that scenario - in the leftover race, Meeks has a solid chance to win against Republicans Walters and Windham, depending on whom comes out of the Republican primary.

With or without the Democratic elected official endorsement, the Stark County Political Report is already projecting a Creighton win.

With the endorsement, its a Creighton slam-dunk win!

Saturday, February 20, 2010



One of the issues that the SCPR believes will certainly surface in Stark County Ohio General Assembly races is that of taxes.

Todd Snitchler reportedly told loyalist Republicans at the Stark GOP's annual McKinley fete on February 4th was that his November opponent (Democrat Todd Bosley) should carry the label of "Taxing Todd" or words to that effect.  Snitchler was referring to Bosley's lead role in getting fellow commissioners (Jane Vignos - R and Harmon - D) to impose a 0.50 of 1 percent increased sales/use tax on Stark Countians in order to support a fix of 9-1-1 and to beef up Stark County's general fund.

Undoubtedly, Snitchler will be adding:  "You know, the Democrats are a 'tax and spend' crowd, should we expect Democrat Todd Bosley to be any different?"

But Snitchler and Stark's other office-seeking Republicans have their own cross to bear on tax issues.

And the name of that cross is John Kasich who will be opposing Governor Ted Strickland in November.

Kasich has come out with a plan to eliminate Ohio's income tax which raises about one-third of the total revenue needed for Ohio government.

One effect of the Kasich plan will be to put more of the tax burden on the "less able to afford" crowd.  Look at the graph above.  The very rich in Ohio pay about 6.4%  (compared to 12% by the very poor) of the total tax burden; however, they (the very rich) pay more in income taxes than any other category of taxpayers.
So an elimination of the income tax means that the very well-off will be paying even less than 6.4% of Ohio's expense of government.

That's bad enough.  But there is more.

Kasich's plan will undermine local government big time.  

Remember Ken Blackwell (Strickland's opponent) in 2006?  He had a scheme, too.  Here is a general description of the Blackwell plan, (the Tax Expenditure Limitation - TEL) from the news archives of The Free Library (A Taft too far: the Ohio GOP is in shambles--can Blackwell save it?):
This issue is going to be the centerpiece of my gubernatorial campaign," says Blackwell. If approved, the Tax Expenditure Limitation would prevent Ohio's government from growing faster than 3.5 percent, or the combined rate of inflation and population growth, in any single year.
This issue, perhaps, more than any other sank the Blackwell campaign.  Government workers throughout Ohio united (whether Democrat or Republican) to condemn the Blackwell TEL plan. That's a whole lot of people to be "agin ya."

The problem for Republicans Snitchler, Secrest, Oelslager and Schuring as well as commissioner candidates Creighton, Walters and Windham is that the Kasich scheme is projected to cost local governments and libraries in Stark County dearly.

And this is not a bunch of Democrats saying so.  It is the highly respected Ohio General Assembly Legislative Service Commission.(LSC).

Todd Snitchler would, undoubtedly, vouch for the reliability of the LSC.  

In support of his House Bill 65 (calling for phased in performance audits for Ohio government operations) he cited to the SCPR data compiled by the LSC comparing Ohio's budget to the state of Washington which, according to the LSC, saved lots of Money for Washingtonians and therefore would likely to the same for Ohioans.

So what does the LSC (via a ABC News/Money) report have to say about the Kasich plan as it will affect Stark's political subdivisions?

Here is an excerpt on the LSC analysis from the ABC News article:
Legislative analysts have determined that the 10-year tax phase-out — the linchpin of Kasich's campaign to beat Gov. Ted Strickland in November — would cost state and local governments and libraries more than $12 billion by 2020.
An Ohio Legislative Service Commission report, dated Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press, found the first year of the phase-out would cost $768 million to the state general revenue fund, $30 million in state aid to local governments, and $16 million to public libraries. Those losses would amount to $79 million to cuts to county, city and township governments and local libraries in fiscal year 2011, the second year of the current state budget.
 How are Stark Republican candidates going to deal with:
  • $30 million in state aid cuts to local governments
  • $16 million in cuts to public libraries
  • $79 million in axing to county, city (presumably, also villages) and township governments.
To be sure, Governor Strickland has some hair-brained ideas that will hurt Stark Countians, if implemented.

The question is:  will local Democrat candidates just roll over for the governor?

The campaign has began and the overall concern of Stark Countians should be:

Will Stark's office-seekers be true to Stark Countians or will they parrot the party line coming out of Columbus?

Friday, February 19, 2010


For Stark County only, the Stark County Political Report believes that the four listed in the graphic above with prove to be the most interesting.

For sure there will be other exciting races for Stark Countians to pay attention to.  To mention a few, there is the governor's race as well as the 16th congressional district, a U.S. Senate seat and several statewide offices being contested.

But today the focus of the SCPR are four The Report believes could be very close races.


Former Canton mayor Janet Creighton entering this field for the full term commissioner seat being vacated by Commissioner Todd Bosley made this contest #1 on the SCPR's list.

Steve Meeks was appointed by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee to the seat formerly held by Tom Harmon.  But Meeks wants no part of coming up for re-election in two years.  The next two years may be the most difficult that Stark County (in the government sense) has ever faced.  


Because there is no money and there is not going to be any new money for the foreseeable future. Maybe, and only maybe, there might be a renewal of the existing sales tax.  

How will this impact running for commissioner in 2012 for an incumbent?

This way.

The commissioners will have to make draconian cuts in county services to Stark Countians.  And the cuts are not going to set well.  The public really does expect the commissioners to take care of the entire county with a few fishes and loaves.  When the manna from Heaven stops raining, then the grumbling will start and in the end sitting commissioners will be the butt of citizen anger.

So 2012 is not a time to be running for re-election.  That's why Meeks ducked out of the two years left on his term for the four years that Commissioner Bosley would have stood for if he had not decided to run for state representative (the 50th).

Meeks might have made an unwise choice.  Had he stayed in the two year term race, he would have won hands down as former Canton law director, city councilman, chief of staff and service director (Healy administration) will.  However, Bernabei likely just plans to be a commissioner for two years to do what he can to help straighten Stark County finances out and then move on with his life.

Another thing that Meeks had planned on was who his opponent would be on the full term.

Undoubtedly, his jaw dropped when he saw that former Canton mayor and countywide officeholder Janet Creighton had taken out a petition.

And so it should.

It is pretty clear to the SCPR that Meeks cannot defeat Creighton and that he will be giving up his commissioner's seat come December 31, 2010.

A Creighton victory will be good for Stark County.  Democrats have had a stranglehold over countywide offices for a number of years now which has turned out to be a bad trip for the county.


Number 2 on the SCPR list.  


Because this seat is a Republican gerrymandered one designed to keep a "safe district" Republican in the Ohio House.  The gerrymandering sheltered the lazy, politically inept John Hagan for a full 8 years in the House.  Hagan proved his political ineptness when - notwithstanding his long run as a Stark County politician -  he lost to political novice Pete Ferguson over a 2008 commissioners position in a politically competitive environment.

However, with the entry of Todd Bosley into the 50th Ohio House district seat, there is a chance that the Republican "fix" will become unfixed.

Had he not been the leading architect for imposing of a 0.50 of a percent countywide sales/use tax increase in December, 2008, Bosley likely would be a shoe-in to win the 50th.

Because he did the "politically" wrong thing to do, he is reduced in the SCPR's opinion to having a chance to win the 50th.

Bosley will be hammering away at Snitchler as being a "do-nothing," "right-wing ideologue" state representative. 

Snitchler, on the other hand, will - one way or another - play to the imposed tax as indicating that Bosley will be a "tax and spend" Democrat if he were to be sent to Columbus.

One other important note about the outcome of Bosley/Snitchler.
Could a loss by either be the end of a a Stark County political career?


Scott Oelslager should be vulnerable in playing musical chairs with now state Senator Kirk Schuring and they bounce from chair to chair between the 29th Ohio Senate district and the 51st Ohio House district. 

But he won't be.

The Stark County Democratic leadership decided to get behind former Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Dick Reinbold to contest Oelslager in the 29th.

This match up will go down in the annals of Stark County political history as one of the most boring on record.

Both Oelslager and Reinbold are colorless.

Oelslager has been in the Ohio General Assembly well over 20 years and has very little to show for it.

Anyone with much background in the huge funding of public education problem would be highly troublesome to Oelslager as an opponent.  Democrat Dick Reinbold is not that person.

Reinbold is one of a growing number of Stark County leaders who are leaders because they have ingratiated themselves to the political powers that be, not because he has innate qualities of leadership.

He and wife Nancy (Stark County clerk of courts) have used Stark County Democratic Party organized political apparatus for feathering their own nest.  The SCPR take on Reinbold is that he fits in very neatly with the likes of party chair Randy Gonzalez, Commissioner Steve Meeks and former chair Johnnie A. Maier as being consummate politicians.

While Oelslager has been a gigantic disappointment to The Report, Dick Reinbold, who has not legislative bona fides, would never, ever take exception to the Democratic Senate Caucus.  Oelslager, as a redeeming quality, has - here and there - done so.

Oelslager should be politically punished for not having been effective on not taking a leadership role in solving the public education funding problem.  But with the Democrats picking Reinbold, Oelslager got a huge boost in terms of not being that great until you look at the alternative.

Maybe Reinbold has qualities the SCPR hasn't been able to discern over the years.
If he does, he better not wait until September to make them apparent.  For such a delay will ensure the re-election of Oelslager.

The Report doubts that Reinbold will ever be anything other than a mediocre candidate that hopes against hope that he can out I.D. Scott Oelslager.

Talk about not having a handle on political reality!


The main question here is:  will Alan Harold stay in this race?

Two years ago he was slated to run against the now-beleaguered Gary Zeigler (Stark County treasurer).  But he didn't.  The "story on the street" is that Harold's employer asked him to step aside after high level state Democrats complained about Harold's candidacy to Huntington.

The SCPR asked Harold about this story.  His response:  "No comment."

Harold's whole handing of the Zeigler thing, leads The Report to believe that Harold has no stomach for "down and dirty" politics.

And if he gets queasy about roughhouse politics, taking on Stark County auditor Kim Perez is not the place to be in a run for political office.

Although somewhat of a maverick in Stark County Democratic politics with his own political base (much like Commissioner Todd Bosley), he is a political power broker and likely will teach Harold a political lesson that Harold will not forget for years.

Harold will learn that taking on Perez is not like showing up at a Congressman John Boccieri campaign event (at the Sunoco station on Tuscarawas) with a sign in hand and yelling at the top of one's lungs.

And it is not like running for a place on the Stark County Educational Service Center (formerly known as the Stark County Board of Education).

Apparently, the board candidacy was a "dry run" for taking on Perez.  Well, if Harold duplicates that effort in his vying with Perez, he will be looking wistfully at his numbers achieved in the board race (he narrowly lost).

Another campaign like that one will leave him a distant, distant second in a two man race!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Politics makes for strange bedfellows?

North Cantonians will fall off their kitchen table chairs when they hear this one.

The SCPR has learned that community activist and former North Canton councilman Chuck Osborne and North Canton City Council president Daryl Revoldt are united in a common quest to block the construction of a Sonic Drive-In restaurant (as presently proposed) on the north side of East Maple immediately west of Walgreens, in what is known as the Washington Square shopping complex, located at East Maple and Market Avenue North.

Osborne and Revoldt have a storied history of going after one another in the give and take of democracy in action at North Canton City Hall.  A little over a month ago, Revoldt muzzled Osborne as North Canton's political gadfly attempted to speak at a regular North Canton City Council meeting about allegations that North Canton was illegally dumping street sweepings.

Apparently, Revoldt's muzzling of Osborne is catching on in North Canton.

On January 26th of this year, Osborne appeared at a meeting of the North Canton Zoning and Building Standards Board of Appeals (BOA).

To hear Osborne tell it, a request for a lot size variance (from the code 150" to 128") got ramrodded through without he or any other North Canton citizen getting a chance to speak to the matter before the 3 to 1 vote approving the variance.

For Osborne, this (the approval) was a stunning reversal of what he expected to happen.

Councilman John Snyder was telling Council (two weeks before the BOA January 26th meeting) that the BOA was going to turn down the the variance request (how would Snyder have pre-known?) and that the Council needed to amend the North Canton's zoning to accommodate McKinley Development, Ltd (run by developer-partners Bill Lemmon and Bob DeHoff) which had asked for the Sonic variance.

Snyder says that his pre-information was not based on direct contact with any member of the BOA, but rather passed on to him by Bill Lemmon (who lives in Snyder's ward) as being  the assessment of board member William Cline, who, it turns out, did not end up attending the January 26 meeting.

Revoldt tells the SCPR that he was on board with Snyder's plea to change set back rules from 150 feet to 125 feet because 125 feet is what the neighboring townships of Plain and Jackson have in their zoning codes.  But he has never approved of the gradual change, over time, of the architectural design of Washington Square.

Lo and behold, changing North Canton's zoning on the lot size matter became moot when the BOA surprised everybody in granting the requested variance at its January 26 meeting.

Snyder says he did object to a re-vote (after the 3 to 1 vote) as not being in accord with Roberts Rules of Order (a re-vote having been suggested by one of the board members).

Why the consideration of a re-vote.

Osborne had protested that he and other citizens had not been allowed to weigh-in on the variance issue prior to the BOA's vote.

Snyder offered to The Report that he had no objection to the BOA taking Osborne's statement, but not on the condition to doing a re-vote.

Next step, the North Canton Planning Commission.

More political theatrics were the order of the day at the Planning Commission's meeting of February 10th to consider the site plan for the Sonic (through McKinley Development) proposal.  Site plans require Commission approval as a followup to the granting of the variance.

Chuck Osborne  appeared at the Planning Commission meeting and, this time, was allowed to speak to the issue "prior" to a vote.  Osborne had complained about his denial of the right to speak at the BOA session at City Council's February 8th meeting.

The real drama came with Council president Daryl Revoldt getting up and speaking to the Planning Commission on the issue.  He said he was opposed because of a lack of developer promised consistency in implementing a higher order of architecture at Washington Square on the last several projects. Revoldt cited city records and conversations between the parties (the developers and North Canton) going back to the first days of the Washington Square project.

Revoldt's critique did not set well with developer Bill Lemmon. And for good reason.

The SCPR believes that the Osborne/Revoldt combo was being effective in getting in the way of the fruition of the Sonic project.

How effective?  The Planning Commission tabled its consideration of the Sonic Drive-in site plan.

Though he likes to say that he has only one vote, Revoldt wields enormous control in North Canton City Council and Lemmon and DeHoff know this, and they have reacted swiftly to Revoldt's opposition.

Revoldt had written a pre-Planning Commission meeting letter to Bob DeHoff (February 9th).detailing his opposition.

In the letter he made the following points:
  • Developers Lemmon and DeHoff had made a commitment to a higher architectural standard in the planning for Washington Square complex.
  • They had "wandered" from their commitment.
  • The Sonic Drive-in plan is a violation of the commitment.
  • The plan flies in the face of efforts by Walsh University to make its' East Maple Street presence aesthetic.
  • "Sonic['s] architecture diminishes the investments made by others in the area."
  • Sonic's present plan "raises questions about the city's and developer's credibility."
  • Sonic's plan undermines North Canton's effort to rebuild its economy.
Pretty strong stuff, no?  But this is the public arena, this is America where citizens and public officials are allowed to discuss their concerns, their opinions.

Well, DeHoff hotfooted it off to McKinley Development's attorney Thomas W. Winkhart to have a rejoinder fashioned.

Here are some points of Winkhart's missive to Revoldt:
  • Washington Square is not owned by DeHoff and/or Lemmon but by McKinley Development Co., Ltd.
  • Questioned whether Revoldt is acting in an official capacity or in an individual capacity.
  • Makes a public records demand for documents that are relevant to Revoldt's accusations on McKinley, Lemmon and DeHoff.
 Moreover, Winkhart has the following to say (excerpts from the actual Winkhart letter):

"I intend to determine if they rise to the level of libel and perhaps slander ... determine if a cause of action exists on behalf of my clients as a result there of"


Undoubtedly, Revoldt is shaking in his boots.

One other thing about Winkhart's letter.  Why the big distinction between McKinley Development Co., Ltd and the DeHoff/Lemmon duo.  It appears that Winkhart makes a distinction  without a difference.  What is that all about?

The Report did ask the question directly to Attorney Winkhart via email.  Answer:  "no comment."

Whatever the outcome of this fuss turns out to be (Revoldt believes a compromise will be worked out), the political drama has been and continues to be fascinating:
  • Osborne and Revoldt allies?
  • Osborne being denied his right to speak, once again.
  • Councilman Jon Snyder thinking he knew and yet not knowing in advance (unreliable hearsay) what the Zoning and Building Standards Board of Appeals was going to do on the McKinley Development request for a Sonic Drive-in variance?
  • Revoldt being at odds with long time  friend Bob DeHoff (e.g."Dear Bob") to the point of speaking out in a public meeting (a la Osborne) and then writing a nasty-gram to "Dear Bob."
  • "Dear Bob" sicking his attorney on Revoldt; threatening a defamation suit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



For fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009) was not a porker spending your money and my money on wasteful government projects.


Encouraging, no?

Could be.

But remember he was elected in November, 2008 and therefore could not have been a porker.

So why do a blog on this topic.

Just to remind the Congressman that he is being watched.  Soon the 2010 Pig Book will be out and the SCPR will be doing a search the day it comes out to report on what the Congressman is doing with our money.