Tuesday, August 17, 2010


 UPDATE:  08/18/2010

Here is an e-mail from Republican candidate Alan Harold on the reliability of the data published in the blog on the full time employees that Auditor Perez maintains.

To:  tramols@att.net

Martin - good evening!
To address a point you raised about the validity of the data in the State Auditor's report, please know the following:
1.  The scope of the performance audit was agreed to by AOS and the client (in this case, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners) prior to commencement and gathering of data.
2.  Once the scope is set, peers are established and data is requested.  Per Mate Rogonjic, a senior manager in the performance audit division, all peers must agree to participate.  In this instance, Stark County (like Franklin and Hamilton) was sought as a peer and Mr. Perez (or his designate) agreed to a) participate and b) provide data.  I spoke with Mate (pronounced "Matt") prior to issuing the press release to confirm this, as this was the procedure in place when I worked in the AOS Performance Audit division in summer 2002 while completing my graduate work at Ohio State.
Hope this helps clarify the authenticity of the data used.
Also, a point of interest brought to the attention of the SCPR is the fact that whomever wins the November election between Perez and Harold does not take office on the new term until March 14, 2011.


"Election by parade count," that is what one leading Stark County Republican seems to be suggesting to the SCPR in a recent telephone conversation.

As the conversation was going on, yours truly's mind drifted back to the 2004 election in which current auditor Kim Perez (a Democrat) was challenging Republican Brant Luther who was trying to retain office.  Luther had been appointed by the Stark County Central Committee to the auditor's post after Janet Creighton left to take over as mayor of Canton having defeated Canton City Councilman Bill Smuckler in November, 2003.

Brant Luther had the best parade operation in all of the 2004 election.  One of the very neat things he had his parade route workers do was to hand out plastic bag literature carriers with the "Luther for County Auditor" plastered on both sides of the bag.

So as one scanned down the crowd on both sides of the street of the parade route,  you were "assaulted" with a sea of "Luther for County Auditor" signs.

There is no doubt about it, Luther "out-paraded" Perez big time!

But who won the election?

So it is surprising to the SCPR that the veteran Stark County Republican with whom the conversation was taking place, put stock into the parade thing.

The Republican source was saying things to the effect:  "Perez is skipping parades all together," "interns from his office are handing out his literature, but Perez is nowhere to be seen," and "there is a car with signs on the sides in the parade, but no Perez."

While the SCPR wouldn't use the "parade thing" as a barometer, it could be that the phenomenon that local attorney and civic activist Craig Conley (who, by the way, is a Republican) calls "Zeiglergate" may reach out and envelope Perez and bring him down in November.

While acknowledging that Perez as auditor is not empowered by Ohio law to audit the Stark County treasury, the SCPR has criticized Perez for not going the extra step when it became apparent to him that there was a serious problem in the treasury's numbers (provided by Vince Frustaci - the man who admits to have stolen $2.46 million in taxpayer money), he should have found a way to get "original source documents" from FirstMerit Bank.

Of course, the SCPR is not the only one to criticize Perez on that count.

But the question is this:  will the Zeiglergate taint take him down in November?

It could.

To his credit Alan Harold is moving beyond Zeiglergate to some real telling numbers that suggest to the SCPR that Kim Perez may be one of the county elected officials who, according to Stark County officials, is not adequately paring staff to meeting the looming financial crisis coming to Stark County with the 2012 budget.

Harold's political friends at the Stark County Republican Party sent The Report a press release pointing to a Performance Audit (a panacea-esque strategy embraced largely by Republican candidates) released on August 3rd intending to show inefficiencies in the Cuyahoga County auditor's office, and it did, also show that Stark County is even less efficient.

A couple of points.  The Stark County Political Report does not like to use press releases as the basis for SCPR political analysis and, secondly, keep in mind that this report is issued by Republican Auditor of State Mary Taylor.  Remember, Taylor's office missed finding the Frustaci pilfering as well as other county treasury shortfalls going over quite a few years of auditing.

Notwithstanding the undesirability of the source of the numbers (in terms of possible "political" jaundice), they do suggest a compelling story of how inefficient Kim Perez's operations apparently are.

The SCPR forwarded a copy of the press release for response on Friday (August 13th), but The Report has not received a response from Perez, which is interesting in and of itself.

Let's look at the numbers again.

The standard appears to be about 10 fulltime employees per 100,000 population.  Cuyahoga County sits at about 16 employees per 100,000 whereas Stark County is close to 19 employees per 100,000.


If the Taylor numbers are reliable (remember Perez has not disputed the numbers to the SCPR), then this is an additional real campaign issue which could be the final nail in the political coffin of Stark County Auditor Kim Perez.

The SCPR does believe that a number of Perez's employees are there primarily for their political value.  However, this does not mean that they are not getting their assigned job done.  If they weren't, The Report believes that Perez would get rid of them in a "political" heartbeat.

The question becomes:  Are these employees the most productive that Perez can get for the money being paid?

Maybe Perez does understand that he has too many political liabilities (Zeiglergate, being an incumbent and office inefficiencies) to survive in November.

Somehow the SCPR does not see that he is "throwing in the towel."  He could be going "low profile" so as not to be in a storm of negativity that Stark County Gary Zeigler is engulfed in at the moment.

It would be a big mistake for Stark Republicans to think that the election is over (a la Tom Dewey - 1948).

Could Stark Countians be stunned to learn in the wee hours of November 3, 2010 that Kim Perez is a political survivor?

Indeed!  Just ask the parade master Brant Luther.

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