Saturday, April 3, 2010


After the last Stark County commissioners meeting on Wednesday last (March 31), yours truly had a very enjoyable conversation with Commissioner Pete Ferguson.

More on that conversation later.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has been critical of Pete for "not being up to the job" as commissioner.

But The Report's take on Ferguson is evolving.  While The Report believes that Ferguson was ill-equipped to run for commissioner (Pat DeOrio, a North Canton Councilman,  likely was better prepared by virtue of his experience in government and business), now that he is in office he seems to be coming along rather nicely.

On a personal basis, few Stark County officeholders surpass Ferguson in terms of affability and enthusiasm for the county job they have been elected to.   He ranks right up there with state Senator Kirk Schuring (Republican - the 29th), Canton law director Joe Martuccio and former county official and mayor of Canton Janet Creighton.

However, affability and enthusiasm are just two of many other qualities a public official must have to be effective.  And the SCPR does not critique an officeholder on personal like or dislike.  Only whether or not the official, in the opinion of yours truly, is getting the job done for Stark Countians in direct administrative sense and in keeping politics - as much as possible - out of the administration of county level and political subdivision government.

The Report has written a number of blogs saying that Ferguson has not been effective.  But, the SCPR, does not "once and for all" say that The Report's assessment is fixed. Quite to the contrary.

A primary mission of the SCPR is to prompt officials to be all that they can be.  Heavens knows that Stark County needs the county's leadership to step up to the challenging as never before.  There has never been a more difficult time for governance than now.

One problem for all too many Stark officials is that they are too political and seemingly never accept a "the buck stops here-esque" responsibility for running their offices.  Being consummately political/self-serving/eely ultimately gets these folks.  They like to blame the press and anything else they can dig up, but the reality is that these folks are their own worst enemies. 

Being a consummate politico, however, does not appear to be a Pete Ferguson malady.

And being relatively non-political provides Ferguson with the opportunity to grow in his job and completely turn around the thinking of the likes of the SCPR.

Now back to the Ferguson conversation.

Earlier this week the SCPR wrote a blog criticizing the commissioners for not seeing to it that Board of Commissioner minutes were not kept relatively up-to-date.  The Report e-mailed each commissioner with a request that the minutes be brought up-to-date and kept up-to-date.

Of the three commissioners, only Ferguson broached yours truly with an explanation.

First, he protested that he had taken The Repository commenter seriously, and had worked on getting the minutes updated and keeping them that way, and had communicated such to the commenter.

Second, he talked about the impact that the draw down of personnel in the commissioners office was having on such things as keeping minutes up-to-date.

Ferguson only a few months ago would not have given yours truly the time of day.

The Report was impressed with Ferguson's effort to get a VA facility located at the old Doctors Hospital in Perry.  Hopefully, he is ginning up a new economic development project that can serve as a springboard for Stark County economic resurgence.

One thing that Ferguson and the commissioners will have to be careful about is cutting county administration personnel too much as The Report told Ferguson.

It is impressive that the commissioners have taken the lead in cutting their own budget (equals less personnel) to "lead by example."

However, at the price of what?

Meeting minutes running two, two and one-half months short?

Not a good choice.

The commissioners, all three of whom have put many unseen hours into being commissioner, need to have the administrative support required to serve the information, communication and access needs of Stark County's citizens.

After all the commissioners office is the gateway for Stark Countians to enter in order to understand and impact the operations of county government.

And Commissioner Pete Ferguson is showing more and more that he is making progress in leading the way towards creating a better public perception in how county government can work for everyday Stark Countians!

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