Saturday, May 1, 2010


 UPDATE:  05/01/2010 - 11:00 AM

Hi Martin, 

Thank you for thoroughly and objectively covering the dog warden issue.  It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I am in agreement with the Advisory Board that a "breeder," someone who makes money by producing and selling dogs for profit is hardly a prime candidate for an agency whose job it is to deal with too many dogs, not enough homes. 

Ironically, I have heard from several sources that candidate Chapman would be an outstanding choice in the effort to transform the Pound into a model facility.  While I am not on the Advisory Board I did contact Todd Bosley stating the reasons I felt an outsider, someone with no County "obligations" would be advantageous.  I have not had a reply, but after reading about this latest clandestine meeting, excluding the very people who work tirelessly to improve the Pound, costing tax payers not one bloody nickle it seems once again that something is fishy. 

Like I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Karen L. Kirsch
Freelance Writer


On Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Steve Swank, a member of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board appeared at the Stark County Commissioners office to participate in interviews that commissioners were conducting to hire a new county dog warden.

To his amazement, according to Swank, he was told by County Administrator Mike Hanke that he would not be allowed to participate.


Yes, amazement!

Why so?

Because back on April 7th, when Swank appeared before the commissioners to announce the recommendations of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (DPAB), the following exchange occurred, to wit:

Board members are indignant that Swank was excluded.  Here is the contents of an e-mail sent to the commissioners and to Administrator Hanke expressing their upset, to wit:
Dear Commissioners and Mr. Hanke

Members of the Stark Dog Warden Advisory Board were pleased to have the opportunity to review all the applications for the new dog warden position. With regards to all the facets this job entails, such as good management practices, dealing with labor unions and volunteers, budgeting, public relations , knowledge of basic dog handling, temperament and health issues, etc. , we carefully selected our top applicants from the 127 submissions.

All of us on the Board know we are not making the final decision; however we were shocked and angered to learn at the last minute - contrary to what we were previously told -   that a representative from the Board would  not be welcome during the final interview process. After almost two years  of dealing with Warden Gibson's indifference  to almost  all of our suggestions , it is extremely frustrating to realize that all the time and dedication the Advisory Board has spent trying to make the Stark Dog Pound a model for other pounds to follow and our community to be proud of, is likewise being disregarded by our commissioners. (emphasis added)

Stark County Dog Warden Advisory Board

Len Cooper, President
Steve Swank, Vice President
Nanci Miller, Secretary
Rosemary Hayne
Dana Muntean
Sally Roush

So what changed to cause Swank to be excluded?

It could be that a person was added to the list (hereinafter referred to as "lady" as identified by County Administrator Mike Hanke in an e-mail to DPAB president Len Cooper as set forth below) of those to be interviewed that was NOT on the top ten list of any of the DPAB members.

And what was a prime reason why the lady was not on anyone's top ten list?  Two of the members told the SCPR, it was because the "lady" has a history of dog breeding. 

The thinking of DPAB members seems to be that being a breeder is antithetical to being a dog pound warden.

How so?

One DPAB member told the SCPR that breeders get litters that have only a few (from the perspective of the breeder) "good" dogs in terms of saleability.  The remainder are cast aside and a number of them end up in dog pounds to be adopted out, if possible; if not, then euthanized.

Accordingly, the SCPR believes one reason that Swank and fellow DPAB member Cooper who was to be part of the Thursday, April 29th interviews were excluded may be because the commissioners perceived both to be set against dog breeders as viable candidates for dog warden.

Another reason why Swank/Cooper were kept out of the interview process could be because the suspicion of one DPAB member that the commissioners have a political agenda to appoint the "lady" and that the other three candidates are a charade to cover for a political agenda candidate.

Because yours truly knew, from previous conversations with him on, what seems to be,  unrelated matters, that Commissioner Bosley has had contact recently with the lady's spouse, inquiry was made of Bosley as to whether or not those contacts had anything to do with the lady surfacing as a finalist for the warden job.

Bosley said they did not.  However, yours truly is skeptical and told Bosley so.

After saying that he did not know how the "lady" ended up on the "final four" list (who would believe this disclaimer?), Bosley referred The Report to County Administrator Mike Hanke for information on how the lady got on the list.

Moreover, Bosley did say, however, that the "lady" is number one or two oh his list - post interview.  Apparently, it was one heck of an interview, no?

The Report is also struck with the disingenuous way that The Report believes County Administrator Mike Hanke handled yours truly's inquiries as to how the "lady" got on the final four list despite not being on the top ten list of any DPAB member.  The exchange of e-mails between the SCPR and Hanke is set forth below.


How so?

First, take a look at a SCPR and Hanke e-mail exchange.

Second, about three hours later, see  what Mike Hanke wrote to Len Cooper (president of the DPAB) yesterday at 2:19 p.m.
Hi, Len:

I understand your concern, but perhaps you didn't know that a couple of the commissioners talked to this lady before they asked the advisory board to review resumes. She impressed them then. Frankly, they were surprised that she wasn't among the advisory group's recommendations. (emphasis added)

The commissioners said to me that they really would like to interview her and compare her to the group's recommendations, and I recommended to them that they add her name to the list. This is not precedent setting.
In previous hiring situations, commissioners have interviewed candidates in addition to lists given to them by groups that screened resumes.

Certainly the board highly values the recommendations from its advisory group but, as you note, ultimately they must hire the individual and they must consider some important areas, not the least of which are how the new warden interacts with commissioners, how he or she interacts with the public -- including those calling about problem dogs in neighborhoods -- and how he or she will react to situations as a law enforcement officer.

Len, I don't think the commissioners took your list of recommended candidates as a recommendation against all other candidates. We looked at it as the group's recommendation of its top five.

As it turns out, two of them didn't schedule interviews. I also await with interest the hiring, although nothing has been scheduled for next Wednesday.

The second e-mail was after Commissioner Bosley had spoken with Hanke about the matter.

More forthcoming, but not entirely.

The SCPR is beginning to see indications that Mike Hanke may be singling out The Report for "special" treatment in a negative way as compared to the employees of his former employer - The Repository.

The Report reminds Mr. Hanke that he is no longer at The Repository, but rather an "appointed" public official.  Yours truly will not tolerate discriminatory treatment and will make a very public battle of any effort by Hanke to treat the Stark County Political Report disrespectfully.

Now back to Hanke's "lame points" (remember, a man who wouldn't want to put words in the mouths of commissioners):

First, consider:   "... perhaps you didn't know that a couple of commissioners talked to this lady before they asked the advisory board to review the resumes ..."

Really?  Which two commissioners?  What was the occasion for the conversations?  Were the two commissioners together when the "talked to" occurred?  If separate, when did the two different conversations take place?  And, if separate, did the two commissioners compare notes prior to the actual interview?

Of course, Administrator Hanke doesn't go into the intricate implications of what he has to say.  Why not?  Perhaps because "[he] wouldn't want to put words in the commissioners (sic) mouths."

Second, consider:  "Frankly, they were surprised that she wasn't among the advisory group's recommendations."

Surprised?  Really?  What jumped out about the lady that was so riveting to the commissioners?

The Report's review of the lady's resume shows (other than owning and breeding dogs) that since 2003 she has worked in a collections department and as a real property manager.  From September, 1984 through November, 2003, she was office manager and secretary/treasurer of an animal hospital.

Why would anyone be surprised that such a resume would not be compelling to a group of advisers who currently work with dogs (and have historically worked with dogs) in various capacities for quite a few years?


If anything, the Hanke letter lends credence to the notion that the commissioners had pretty much made their minds up some time ago.

Now it appears to The Report they may be building a justification for a hire that doesn't seem to make sense.

Readers will recall that the SCPR has never bought Bosley's account of how former Commissioner Tom Harmon's stepson came be named deputy dog warden several months back.

Nor does The Report buy the official line on how the "lady" found a way to jettison from relative anonymity to "the final four."

Soon county commissioners will be deciding whether or not to put a tax issue on November's ballot.

The SCPR believes that the county is in genuine need of new revenues.

However, when the commissioner allow procedures like the dog pound warden selection to get shrouded in inexplicable, suspicious and Byzantine maneuvers, then "seeds of distrust" get sown and when teamed up with previous such incidents,  the chances of getting the voting public to vote for tax increases or even renewals plummet.

Only about 20% of Americans trust government these days.

It is becoming readily apparent to the SCPR why trust is taking a nosedive.

What is crazy about this phenomenon of growing distrust is this.

Who would want to govern in a atmosphere of overwhelming distrust?

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