Anyone who has read the SCPR knows that The Report has a very low opinion of the work of the editorial writers at The Repository.
The editorial written on April 20th (State auditor's letter should be public) did nothing to rehabilitate the editorialists in The Report's eyes. If anything, the April 20th opinion was a reaffirmation of yours truly's view that these folks have to be among the worst editorial writers in America.
They completely missed the "real" issue on the hidden "letter of arrangement" initiated on June 16, 2009 by the Ohio auditor with the Stark County treasurer as amended on December 8, 2009.
The real issue is who is ultimately responsible for the letter being hidden from public view.
Answer: Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor, CPA, that's who.
The Rep editors demonstrated warped, twisted thinking in turning the blame on the Stark County commissioners.
They really went out-of-bounds in suggesting that somehow "all" the commissioners - being Democrats - was the reason they failed to exercise the necessary level of due diligence to dig out the secret letters. (emphasis added).
One expects this kind of "loosey-goosey" thinking from wildly partisan types who want to demonize for purely partisan purposes. But an editorial board? Wow!
The nub of the weak-minded editorial is clearly evident in this language from the editorial, to wit:
We’d bet that if even one of the commissioners belonged to a different political party from the treasurer (all are Democrats), he would have been using his bully pulpit to protest this arrangement — this loophole in the public records law — that keeps commissioners and the public in the dark.And, also:
Neither has the willingness of county commissioners to pay the bills for the investigation without knowing just what services they’re buying.First, the "loophole in the public records law."
Well, apparently nobody (except for the Ohio auditor and Stark treasury attorney Lem Green and Treasurer Zeigler himself), including The Repository (April 12th?) knew about the existence of the letter until this past week. Moreover, nobody, including government "Sunshine Law" guardian for Stark County (sarcasm folks) "The Repository" knew about the legal loophole.
So the "loosey-goosey" thinking Rep editorial writers want to hold the "out-of-the-loop" (as a matter of law as interpreted by the Ohio auditor's office) commissioners' feet to the fire to know about secretly held documents that are secret not because they contain confidential information in and of themselves but because they are associated with a confidential investigation in progress.
A logical Ohio auditor's official would think thusly: "Gee, I am doing an investigation. I want to be paid for the investigating work. Maybe, just maybe, I need to get a copy to of the letters outlining the expense of the investigation to the bill payer."
It is ludicrous for anyone to think (like the Ohio auditor's office apparently does) that a document which contains no confidential information in and of itself would itself be confidential. Moreover, how is the paying authority to know what to expect to have to pay.
As far as the SCPR is concerned the bogeymen in all of this reside in the Ohio auditor's office.
First, for suggesting to Zeigler's office in a leading way of how to avoid the document being a public document.
Lem Green, legal counsel for the Stark treasury told the SCPR yesterday that if he had it to do all over again he would advise Treasurer Zeigler not to take the suggestion of the Ohio auditor not to keep a copy of the document.
Second, for providing defective rationale for the document being a part of the investigation process and therefore confidential when the document does not contain any confidential information in and of itself.
The Rep editors do make one plausible point. If yours truly were a commissioner I would be more than a little uncomfortable paying bills in a year 2002 agreement. I would be pressing Taylor's office for something more current.
Question is, would such a discussion have prompted a revelation of the "letters of arrangement?"
The SCPR thinks not.
So the only resource of the commissioners would have been to press the point by refusing to pay until they had a more current document than the year 2002 "letter of arrangement."
Obviously, the commissioners felt comfortable with the 2002 document and therefore felt there was no need to press for something more recent. The SCPR does not think that they should have felt comfortable.
There is one more point to be discussed.
When did Kelli Young of The Rep find out about the existence of the June 16, 2009 and December 8, 2009 "letters of arrangement?"
The SCPR has reason to believe she found out on or about April 12, 2010.
Which, if substantiated, makes a hypocrite out of The Repository.
The Repository bills itself as an expert on Ohio's Sunshine Law. Do they mean to say that they did not know about the "loophole" until April 12, 2010? Not much of an expert, huh?
We (The Rep) didn't know about the loophole until April, 2010, but you, Mr. Commissioners, should have known the first time you paid an Ohio auditor's invoice (presumably sometime in 2009) for the ongoing forensic audit of the Stark treasury notwithstanding your year 2002 "letter of arrangement."
For thinking people, The Rep's editorial tells you more about these editors' flawed thinking qualities than anything else.
Until the SCPR arrived on the scene Stark Countians had no choice - in a one newspaper town - but to abide the opinionating of these deficient thinkers.
Now the bar is raised.
And The Rep's writers had better sharpen up or sooner rather than later virtually no one will be reading the editorial pieces appearing in The Repository.
Here is the video of yesterday's commissioner meeting in which Commissioners Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks defend themselves.