Friday, July 23, 2010


Will Stark County's elected officials ever learn how to deal with the Stark County voting public?

The "fear factor" campaign for retention of the "imposed sales tax" (by Commissioners Bosley, Harmon & Vignos in December, 2008) did not work in November 2009.  Nor will such an approach work in May, 2011.

The imposed tax retention campaign featured, on its website, cherry-picked cases in which the patchwork of a 9-1-1 system in Stark County resulted in some scary and tragic consequences.  What was not featured was that one-half of the 0.50 of one percent increased tax was not for 9-1-1, but for county general fund operations.

The "Vote No Increased Taxes" Committee focused on the second part of the equation described above and thereby convinced a huge majority of Stark Countians that they were being bamboozled by county officials.

But don't tell some of Stark County's elected officials that a fear-based campaign is counterproductive.

Why is that?

Apparently, Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson has convinced them that "fear " is the way to go.  For Swanson it has repeatedly been and appears to continue to be (to paraphrase): "I will be closing wing(s) of the Stark County Jail" or "I will be laying off deputies."

The SCPR has learned that at a recent meeting of high level Stark County elected officials, Swanson painted his oft-repeated scenario of doom and gloom if he doesn't get the money he says is needed to keep the Stark County Jail fully operational. Reportedly, he is saying he will close part of the jail and release prisoners gearing down 400 prisoners by August 15th and to 300 after the end of this year. The Report is told that some were heard to say at the meeting words to the effect:  "that will scare- 'em good!"

The Report has also heard that Swanson has let it out that he could be letting up to 33 corrections officers go as budgetary cuts are imposed (presumably by commissioners) on the department.

It is unlikely that the sales tax will come up for a vote in November.  With the Stark treasury controversy going at fever pitch for over a year now (starting in April, 2009), there is no hope whatsoever that even a renewal of the 2011 expiring 0.25 of one percent sales tax can be renewed.

Stark commissioners are somewhat divided on whether or not to put the renewal on in November.  Bosley is for putting it on in November whereas Commissioners Ferguson and Meeks appear to oppose doing so.

The Report believes that it makes little difference when the renewal is put on the ballot.  Hard economic times, the treasury problem, the scare-em levy campaign approach, the public job set asides for relatives, friends and loyalist political supporters and voter dissatisfaction on the public's growing notion (a point often made by the SCPR and the Stark County commissioners themselves) that too many elected officials are not "voluntarily" making cuts that depressed general fund revenues demand will conspire to make a renewal impossible to pass November, 2

The reality that gets the SCPR up and going is the number of relatives, friends and staunch political supporters of county officials who are showing up on each other's payrolls.  It is as if these officials think the Stark County public is funding their private businesses.

But they aren't private businesses and The Report has been and will continue to lead the fight against these hiring practices.  These are public jobs that all Stark Countians should have an opportunity to qualify for irrespective of their political connections.

And if elected officials persist at thumbing their noses at the taxpaying public in this way, then this factor alone should prompt the Stark County voting public to put them on a starvation diet.

County Administrator Michael Hanke has repeatedly said over the past year that if the renewal issue does not pass, then county officials can expect a 30 to 35 percent across-the-board cuts in 2012.  Even with passage, cuts will range in the 15 to 20 percent range.  Commissioners have said that if elected officials do not make cuts for themselves, they (the commissioners) will make the cuts.

It appears that in Stark County we have a number of elected officials who are not self-disciplined and will, in fact, put the commissioners to the test in imposing draconian cuts on them.

Swanson can continue on a trek as if he were accountable to no one but himself.  He can be continue to be contemptuous  of the public (e.g. "poop on the public" at a Stark County commissioners meeting).  It is mystery what he thinks his attitude is going to gain him.  

Hopefully, Swanson will quit after September 7th as is being talked about in Stark County Democratic Party and law enforcement circles.

If Swanson gets his way and Rick Perez gets appointed by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee as his successor, then he will leave Perez with an a Swanson-era legacy to overcome when he has to come before the voters.

Do Stark Countians want a Swanson clone to continue the policies and practices of Timothy A. Swanson?

That would be the choice in November, 2012!

No comments: