Thursday, October 28, 2010


Last night when yours truly arrived at the commissioners' debate sponsored by the Canton Area League of Women Voters, Commissioner Steve Meeks was spotted talking animatedly with League officials.

What could this conversation be about?

The SCPR had made a mental note that in none of the previous debates had anything been said about there being a Meeks/Creighton debate.

Meeks is a sitting Stark County commissioner who is filling out the term of Tom Harmon who quit on December 15, 2009.  As predicted by The Report, the Stark County Democratic Party poobahs saw to it that Meeks got the appointment. 

Rather than run for the term he was appointed to, Meeks decided that he wanted to run for the four-year term being vacated by Commissioner Todd Bosley who has decided to run for state representative - the 50th.  Again, something that the SCPR predicted that he would do.

Well, Republicans have been smarting that they are completely shut out of holding any non-judicial countywide offices.  So they did a smart thing.  And this was before "all hell broke loose" on what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has nominated as being "Zeiglergate."

Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler was removed from office on August 23, 2010 by county commissioners  under the authority of Ohio statutory law due to the loss of $2.96 million of county funds on his watch.  Zeigler was not implicated in any way in the actual loss of the money.  However, many Stark Countians (and, the State of Ohio auditor's office) take the position that he did not implement office procedures to prevent the opportunity for the loss to happen.

Now the Republicans are hoping to pick up the auditor's office and the treasurer's office.

In shifting from the two-year term, Meeks put himself in line for a sure electoral defeat.

How's that?

He drew former Bush administration official, former mayor of Canton, former Stark County auditor and former recorder Janet Weir Creighton as his opponent.

And one thing Janet knows how to do is campaign.  Meeks, not so much.

Meeks' campaigning inadequacies are readily apparent in this race.  But he did show up to the League of Women Voters event - which, but for the Canton City Schools covering the event with its television vocational school students and the SCPR videotaping the event, is pretty much a "non-event."

Attendance at the debates have ranged from about 15 to no more than 50 (if they are dripping wet).

Meeks has likely figured out by now that he is about to lose his commissioners' seat and lose it big.  So he is scrambling around at the last moment to try and salvage his seat.

It ain't gone to happen, but he can try.

Now this is where the Canton Area League of Women Voters comes in.

When the dates for the debates were being set up, a League representative gave candidates for the various offices (state representative, state senator, county commissioner, county treasurer and county auditor) a range of dates to select from.  Well, right out of the box, Creighton told them she could not make "any" Wednesday night.  The League's response:  (to paraphrase) - "Okay, then we won't have a debate for the four-year commissioner term."

Well, why not move it to a different night?

The SCPR believes it was because the League was locked into Wednesdays at the Timken High School auditorium and a time, place and availability for the television production facility and personnel to come together.  Apparently, no other night would do.

Steve Meeks had to know about this situation, but he showed up anyhow.

As The Report sees it, there was no reason why on "God's little acre" that the League could not have allowed Meeks to participate in the Bernabei/Todd/Walters debate held last night at Timken.

But no!  "The rules are the rules, the policy is the policy, and we'll look at it again but for tonight Steve Meeks is not allowed to participate."

The SCPR believes that there was an alternative to this inflexibility.

In talking with Janet Creighton today, she suggested that she could have, if asked, sent a representative were Meeks to be allowed to appear. 

But the League never suggested this alternative.

So the Meeks story is an anecdotal account of the League fumbling and bumbling with the debate/forum thing.

The SCPR has been all over the League to sharpen up its skills if it wants to sponsor debates/forums or whatever you want to call them.  It is hard for The Report to swallow the descriptor "debate" when Moderator Dick Kuhn seems to get unnerved when the candidates have a cross word for one another like Jamie Walters and Tom Bernabei did last night.

Todd Bosley and Todd Snitchler (candidates for the 50th Ohio House seat) are not exactly enamored with one another:  witness complaints being filed by them or their surrogates with the Ohio Elections commission.

Hello, Richard?  These folks are fighting for a public office.  Things might get a little heated here and there.  Nothing about to get out of control.  Just direct and pointed.  Ever heard the expression:  "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen."

Another beef the SCPR has with the League is the location of the forum (yours truly gives up on the word "debate," folks these events are not debates).

Timken High School and the core of downtown Canton?  Maybe for the 51st Ohio House seat.  But not for the 50th, the 51st and the 29th (Ohio Senate) or even the commissioners' forum.

Very few Stark Countians are interested in going to downtown Canton in the evening!

Final point.  Where is the PR?  Wow!  The League of Women Voters' forums are the best kept secret in all of Stark County.

A second "final point" (ha):  Go get Ron Ponder (WHBC) or Gayle Beck (The Rep) to moderate these events.  God love him, but Dick Kuhn is no moderator.

So there are the reasons that the SCPR gives the Canton Area League of Women Voters an F grade for the quality (or better, lack of quality) of their election forums.

We all got to love them for trying, but there is too much time and effort expended by the candidates, the League members, the media and even the meager number who attend, and too much at stake in getting loads of citizens to attend these forums so that they are better equipped to pick the leaders of tomorrow's Stark County leaders.

Thank you Canton Area League of Women Voters for your good intentions.

But please, please rethink whether nor not holding public candidate forums is "Your cup of tea."

Here is a video of LWV Vice President Richard Kuhn explaining why Commissioner Steven Meeks was not allowed to participate in the commissioners candidate forum last evening.

No comments: