Revised at 11:15 AM
Is the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party close to collapsing?
A Party which has every non-judicial countywide office under its control, on the brink of collapse?
Not likely, but there are some "nervous nellies" surfacing these days among Stark Dems. Nervous Nellies? Nervous about what?
Nervous about the "imminent" unfolding of the legal consequences of the alleged theft of taxpayer money from the Stark County treasury! Nervous about being the Party (via Commissioner Todd Bosley and former Commissioner Tom Harmon) that imposed a 0.50 sales/use tax on Stark Countians taking away the fundamental democratic right of citizens!!
First, the Zeigler matter.
More and more one hears a castigation of Party officials for not learning hard on Treasurer Gary Zeigler to resign. These folks apparently feel that as long as Zeigler remains an a elected Democratic official, his presence will "rub-off" on the likes of Auditor Kim Perez and could cause their defeat in upcoming elections.
The SCPR does have indication that a least one key Democrat has been pressuring Zeigler to step down, but Zeigler is adamant that he has done nothing wrong and therefore is not about to quit.
A early test case of whether or not the controversy surrounding the Democrat-controlled treasurer's office will be the Republican Alan Harold versus Democrat Kim Perez auditor's contest coming up this November. Perez, rightly or wrongly, seems to The Report to be publicly perceived as being a close political ally.
If Perez were to fall in November, then political analysts will be turning their attention to November, 2012. Who could be next? Zeigler, the treasurer? Campbell, the recorder? Ferrero, the prosecutor? Swanson or Perez, the sheriff? Murthy, the coroner? Reinbold, the clerk of courts? Maybe even Engineer Bennett? (who seems most impervious, because of the requirement of special qualifications)
If Perez falls, will Stark's Republicans be emboldened to go all out to capture more countywide offices?
The SCPR has already chalked the Creighton/Meeks match up as going the Republicans' way. But it will be a relatively close race. In the work up to November, it will be interesting to see whether or not former Canton mayor Creighton tries to associate Meeks in any way, shape or form with the goings on in the treasurer's office.
Creighton has queried previously to the SCPR (a kind of thinking out loud type of question), whether or not county offcials should be looking to attempt to recover any deficiencies in county money (the loss, projected by some to be about $3 million, less any bond money recovered) from Treasurer Zeigler himself.
Perhaps, Creighton was thinking of Ohio Revised Code Section 321.04 Ohio's law on the subject since October 1, 1953 which was referred to the SCPR by Attorney Craig T. Conley), to wit:
321.04 Deputies. Each county treasurer may appoint one or more deputies, and he shall be liable and accountable for their proceedings and misconduct in office. Effective Date: 10-01-1953
Remember, Zeigler maintains he has done nothing wrong, and, in fact, affirmatively did what the law requires of him in reporting the alleged theft to law enforcement authorities. Notwithstanding Zeigler's position, the political reality among the Stark County electorate appears to be that Zeigler is in a "the buck stops here" modality and therefore should be held accountable.
Does Meeks say: "Treasurer Zeigler has said he's done nothing wrong, in fact, everything right. The alleged theft is an unfortunate incident. I have no basis to challenge Zeigler's position and therefore there is nothing to be done."
Or does Meeks say: "I understand what Treasurer Zeigler has to say about his non-culpability in the matter. I respectfully disagree with him and in terms of "the buck stopping with him" as the head of the Stark treasury, I think the county should consult with legal counsel with a eye towards pursuing a civil recovery from Zeigler for any deficiency and let a judge or jury decide whether or not Zeigler, in his performance as treasurer, bears any legal liability."
Second, the imposed sales/use tax.
While the SCPR does not believe that the Stark Democrats will suffer wholesale losses 2010/2012 election cycle, it could happen. Especially, if one adds into the political equation, the 0.50 county commissioner imposed sales/use tax increase as being a Democratic gig.
Yes, Republican Jane Vignos did support the imposed tax and she still stands by it as having been the right thing to do. But isn't the public perception, in the main, that it was a Democrat (Bosley, Harmon) thing?
Will Republican Harold press Perez and will Republican Creighton needle Meeks into disavowing the Bosley and Harmon decision?
How about the survivor of the Republican primary for the two-year commissioner term?: Windham or Jackson trustee James N. Walter. Will the nominated candidate join Harold an Creighton and force Democrat Tom Bernabei to stand up or stand down on the Bosley/Harmon action?
And there is one more dimension to the sales/use tax aspect of this blog? How will it impact on Bosley himself? Commissioner Bosley is running against Republican state Representative Todd Snitchler in Ohio's 50th House District.
The SCPR has every reason to believe that Bosley will stand squarely behind his December, 2008 "impose the tax" vote as the right thing to have done. Accordingly, this race - though covering only about one-third of the county - could be at least a partial measure of how much the Stark County electorate are disaffected with Stark County Democrat politicians.
To repeat, the SCPR does not expect the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party to collapse between now and the 2012 election and lose all of its currently held non-judicial county posts.
But it could happen.
It all depends on how skilled the political players involved turn out to be defining/positioning each other.
November, 2010 could be the election year that local politicos long remember?