Thursday, May 13, 2010

SURPRISE! SURPRISE! SURPRISE!


As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has been pushing for months to get the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) to scan in candidate filed petitions, campaign finance reports and the like as they are filed and make them available to the general public on line instantly.

Yesterday, yours truly stopped by the BOE to get "paper" copies of the "Save Tomorrow" campaign finance report filed April 22nd.  The SCPR has in the works a public accountability project involving campaign contributions made and the disposition of monies flowing to the Northwest schools as a consequence of Northwest voters having approved a 1% earned income tax on May 4th.

This Northwest project will be one of many designed to inform Stark County voters of campaign contributions made to Stark County-based candidates/issue efforts so that voters - perhaps, with a little analytical help from the SCPR - can follow the money trail to whom is influencing whom to come to certain outcomes based on campaign contributions made.

So The Report was expecting to have to wade through the Save Tomorrow campaign finance report and make notes or, alternatively, to have paper copies made.

Lo and behold!  Surprise !  Surprise !! and Surprise!!! again.

The very helpful BOE employee (Christine Jones) astonished The Report with a statement to the effect:  "Mr. Olson, would you like a scanned copy of the Save Tomorrow report on CD-Rom?"

Would the SCPR want a scanned copy of the campaign report?

Of course!!!  In fact, The Report ordered a copy of each and every candidate and political action committee (PAC) campaign finance report on file with the Stark BOE in scanned format.

On the Save Tomorrow campaign finance documents, Ms. Jones went the extra step and e-mailed the report to The Report at her initiative.

While The Report is pleased with the "scanning" advance has been made at the Stark BOE, The Report's job to get them made available online is incomplete.

On further inquiry with Jones, she told yours truly that the documents are not available online and she does not know of any specific plans to place them online to be readily available to the Stark County public.

As happy as The Report is to have CD Rom access, yours truly is saddened that the leadership of the Stark BOE has been uncommunicative to the SCPR on the fact that the scanning has been underway.

But The Report is not surprised by the "mum is the word" posture of the Stark BOE leadership and yours truly.

As reported by The Repository this week, the Stark BOE (meaning the board members themselves) stopped the SCPR from videotaping a February, 2010 meeting in seeming contravention of Ohio's sunshine law.

Apparently, wiser counsels prevailed at the Stark BOE and now The Report or any other Stark County citizen can video tape a BOE meeting as long as they comply with guidelines recently published by the BOE.

Even though the SCPR has communicated (via email) with the director of the Stark BOE on the "draft" regulations on videotaping, The Report only learned about the promulgation of the regs through the above-referenced Repository article.  Hmm?

Accordingly, it is no surprise, despite a number of face-to-face and email communications on the topic with Director Mullane. that the SCPR was not informed (via follow up email) of the availability of scanned-in campaign finance reports.

The SCPR has been highly critical of the four politically member board for their cavalier way in dealing with yours truly on the videotaping issue and on the scanning issue  (i.e. refusing to put a SCPR request for discussion of BOE scanning plans on its agenda).

Two of the members (Maier and Braden) and the former director, now deputy Drector Jeff Matthews (in their varying other Stark County political and/or elective capacities) have been the subject of a number of SCPR blogs.

Could it be that the "find out about it the best way you can, Olson" attitude perceived by yours truly as emanating from the BOE leadership is comeuppance for The Report's incisive blogging on these various personages in their public capacities and, indeed, on the operations of the BOE itself?

1 comment:

Victor said...

Martin:
Kudos on getting the Stark BOE to "advance" technologically into the 21st Century!!

Also -- from your blog today (5/13) reference the Northwest "Save Tomorrow" finance trail -- specifically the quote: ...."can follow the money trail to whom is influencing whom to come to certain outcomes based on campaign contributions made."......

The passage of Issue 7 on May 4th has less to do with a money trail and more to do with the current board of ed doing what past board of ed's did not do -- TALK, listen, and dialogue with the public. Other school boards in Stark County (& elsewhere) could learn a lesson from how the NW board has conducted themselves the past 8 months. Hopefully they will continue along the path going forward.