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Friday, April 30, 2010

COMMISSIONERS TO APPOINT NEW DOG WARDEN ON MAY 5TH?



The SCPR has learned that the Stark County commissioners have completed all of their interviews of the four candidates to replace former Stark County Dog Warden Evert Gibson who was dismissed by commissioners earlier this year.

The four  interviewed were:
  • Regan Tetreault of Baltic, Ohio.  Tetreault is the current dog warden in Holmes County.
  • Steven Chapman of East Sandwich, Massachusetts.  Chapman has a strong law enforcement background in animal control and animal inspection.
  • Cynthia Harris of North Lawrence, OH with experience working in an animal hospital.
  • Jamie Hicks, a graduate of Walsh University of North Canton.  Hicks has worked in a couple spay/neuter clinics, an animal rescue clinic, an animal hospital setting and a kennel.
The Report is led to believe that commissioners will make their selection at their next regular meeting, Wednesday, May 5, 2010.

In addition to direct experience working with canines, The Report understands that commissioners were looking for personnel management skills and interpersonal skills in terms of being able to connect with the Stark Countians who use Pound services.  Moreover, they want someone who can work with dogs in an effective and caring manner.

Originally there were some 127 applicants which were narrowed down to six by the Dog Pound Advisory Board.  But two of the finalists bowed out at the interview stage.

A question that only will be answered with the hiring of a warden and time on the job is whether or not the commissioners have resolved a troublesome situation for them.

On time will tell.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

FOR THE NEXT YEAR WILL CANTON CITY COUNCIL BE THE BATTLEGROUND OF THE SMUCKLER & HEALY PRIMARY FIGHT OF 2011?


At the last Canton City Council meeting it appears that Councilman William Smuckler was the one playing politics rather than Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Smuckler is holding in committee a proposal for Canton to demolish 95 decrepit homes. 

Why is Smuckler getting in the way of progress "for the time being?"

According to a source in a position to know, it is because Smuckler is trying to advantage himself to the maximum degree possible on the matter. 

Okay, but why he looking for political advantage on this issue?

The SCPR believes he is positioning himself to cut his electoral losses in more blighted wards of Canton when he goes head to head with Healy in May, 2011 to determine who will be the Democratic nominee for mayor of Canton in November of 2011.  Accordingly, he appears to be scouring the list of properties to be demolished for any perceived political benefit he can derive by taking credit with voters in Canton's depressed neighborhoods.

Apparently, Smuckler has learned from his defeat to Janet Creighton in 2003 by 300 plus votes that he, as a Democrat, failed to appeal to voters in the core Democratic wards of the Hall of Fame City and therefore ended up a loser to a Republican in a city which had, at the time,  a 9 to 1 Democratic registration edge.

Democrat Smuckler, in fact, lost Wards 1 and 3 to Republican Creighton.

The SCPR believes that all of Canton's inner city wards will be a huge plus for Healy in 2011 and that Smuckler understands this and is trying to lessen the blow; hence the flap over demolition.  Moreover, The Report believes Healy was looking towards 2011 in holding yesterday's State of the City event at the Edward L. “Peel” Coleman Community Center on Sherrick Road SE located in Ward 4.

Councilwoman Chris Smith (Ward 4) and Councilman Tom West (Ward 2) will lead the way for Healy in core Canton.  However, Healy does have a problem in Ward 1 because of his antagonistic relationship with Councilman Greg Hawk who many believe Healy tried to unseat in the 2009 Council elections.

Expect a line of issues focusing on inner-city Canton a la the proposed water park and demolition conflicts to be the fare of choice at Canton City Council between now and May, 2011.  Smuckler seems determined to mire Canton City Council mayoralty politics over the next year.

So look for the 2011 Democratic primary battle between Smuckler as being a battle with Smuckler strength being in Wards 7, 8 and 9 and Healy with predominant strength in Wards 2, 3 and 4. 

The remaining wards?

Ward One

Councilman Greg Hawk a publicly proclaimed ally of Smuckler.

Depends on how effective Hawk is.  Does he have enough clout with ward voters to persuade them to provide Smuckler with a majority?


Ward Five

Councilman Terry Prater

First Vice President of Council (Assistant Majority Leader).

As a member of the leadership of Council and therefore (in the opinion of the SCPR) apparently in thrall to de facto Council leader Smuckler.

But maybe not.  As a lame duck councilman who cannot run again because he has a position with the Stark County Board of Elections. does this mean that he will not be that enthusiastic about going out into the neighborhoods for Smuckler?

Ward Six

David R. Dougherty

Vice President of Council (Majority Leader)

Dougherty is a definite to be likely to put forth a major effort to help Smuckler.  You can bet that Dougherty (as de jure Majority Leader) and Smuckler (as de facto Majority Leader) spend a lot of time together plotting political strategy in the looming Smuckler effort to retire Mayor Healy from office.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

CAN NORTHWEST SCHOOLS CONSTITUENTS "REALLY" GET THEIR QUESTIONS ANSWERED?

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One of the things that the Northwest Schools (Canal Fulton, Lawrence Twp, New Franklin and Clinton and small parts of Wayne County) have endeavored to do is to answer questions about the upcoming (May 4th) levy issue (1% earned income tax).

On its website, partially pictured above, readers will see that the district even has a "Rumor Mill Blog."  Commendable, no?

It is, but?

A SCPR source (a Northwest voter) recently sent to The Report a copy of answers to questions that the source obtained from Northwest Treasurer Dan Levengood (pictured above).

According to the source, it took Levengood quite a while to answer the questions which led the source to believe he would getting detailed and complete answers.

Well, the source thinks that the answers are neither detailed nor complete which The Report believes is a strange turn of events for an administration that puts a "Rumor Mill Blog" on its website.

So the question becomes:  Is the apparent willingness to answer any and all questions more "splash and dash" than reality? 

If so, the SCPR believes that the apparent Northwest approach to levy passage might be viewed by some voters as an attempt to "bamboozle" the public rather than in reality being a straightforward "give us your hardest questions and we will face up candidly and fully with them" approach.

The importance of the later over the former is that the Northwest school district desperately needs to be perceived to be rebuilding trust within the district.  Being transparent and fully forthcoming are vital elements in rebuilding trust.

For Northwest officials will have to be back to the voters in five years for a new levy by the very terms of the May 4th tax issue? 
In 2015, if the voters think they were finessed in 2010, it could be a Yogi Berra-esque "deja va, all over again" magnified in terms of ever getting Northwest voters to approve another tax issue.

What is done is done in Northwest for this 2010 election. 

It could be that what the board and administration have achieved a miracle in that they have restored trust (at least enough to get the 1% earned income tax issue passed) between August, 2009 (see Gindlesberger statement in the SCPR's next most recent blog on the Northwest tax issue) and May, 2010.

Anyway, below is a replication of Treasurer Levengood's answers.  Detailed and complete?  You be the judge. 

On the overall issue of trust rebuilding, Northwest voters will be come May 4, 2010!



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ONE OF THE OLDEST TRICKS IN THE BOOK: "DIVERT ATTENTION FROM ONESELF TO OTHERS." IS THAT WHAT REPOSITORY EXECUTIVE EDITOR JEFF GAUGER IS UP TO?


One of the oldest tricks in the book in humanity when one is not getting the job done is "to divert attention to another or others."

Such is what the SCPR is thinking that Repository Editor Jeff Gauger is up to with his latest two editorials (Until last week, public heard too little about investigator, April 26 and State auditor's letter should be public, April 20th).

Since the SCPR began in March, 2008, yours truly has been astounded to hear from many, many readers that in their view The Report does a better job of digging out the secrets of Stark County government officials than does The Rep.

Think about it.  The Repository has some 60 employees and a media holding company behind it and a storied history as being one of Ohio's prime newspapers.

Besides that, The Repository is Stark County's only countywide newspaper whose staff has easy access to the highest reaches of Stark County government, if not Ohio government.

Accordingly, it is more than a tad ironic and diversionary that The Rep's Gauger has taken to attacking the Stark County commissioners to get up and moving on leading public pressure on the United States Attorneys office, the FBI and the Ohio Auditor's office to conclude the investigation.

Despite its overwhelming resources and insider relationship with the circles of power in Stark County and Ohio, The Repository seems to the SCPR to be largely ineffective in ferreting out the details of the sorry way all too many Stark County officials as well as those of Stark's political subdivision serve the Stark County public.

Moreover, The Repository itself has sat on its collective duff and been highly unproductive in prodding federal and state law enforcement officials to conclude the investigation of the Stark County treasury and Treasurer Gary Zeigler's allegations with regard to former chief deputy Vince Frustaci.
Undoubtedly, numerous calls have been made to 500 Market Avenue, South to the editorial offices of The Repository with "nudges" (to use Gauger's term) for The Rep to get some answers on the investigation timeline.

Higher ups at The Rep know full well that federal and state law enforcement officials will take whatever time they need to do a thorough and complete investigation to ensure that the results are at a level at which they think they can be successful at when it comes to indictments and trial. 

The Report heretofore has not complained about The Repository's failure to take the lead and act according to the standard that Gauger assigns to the commissioners.

Why not?

It is important that justice be speedy, but it is more important that it be fair and thoroughly vetted.  Putting pressure on can result in mistakes being made.  The future of human lives are at stake.  It is essential that law enforcement take whatever space of time needed to get things right.

It is quite interesting to see Editor Gauger making his highly charged push on the commissioners.  It smacks of something that one sees come out of the New York Post.

The Stark County public should be asking Gauger this question, if he is so outraged by the delay why did it take until April 20, 2010 (over a year after the initial revelation by Zeigler) for The Repository to put pressure (on the wrong entity) in motion?  And why isn't he, as editor of the only Stark County countywide newspaper, applying pressure directly rather than trying to goad the commissioners into action?

The commissioners do not buy ink by the barrel, but The Repository does.  So who is better situated to press The Rep's agenda?  The county commissioners or The Repository itself?

Apparently, the bigwigs at The Rep do not have the guts to do so on their own.  So they want to hide behind the skirts of the county commissioners?

The SCPR believes Gauger is grandstanding to divert attention away from The Repository's failure (on its own standard and agenda,) and he has found a convenient scapegoat in the Stark County commissioners.

If anything, Gauger can read numbers.  He knows that the commissioner imposed sales/use tax of December, 2008 was wildly unpopular in Stark as evidence by its smashing defeat at the polls in November, 2009.  So who better to divert attention from The Repository's ineffectiveness?

You have it.  The Stark County commissioners.

As readers know, the SCPR has written many, many blogs critical of all of the Stark County commissioners and a number of former commissioners.

But those criticisms are things that the commissioners have control over.  Things like going all out with an economic development effort to bring jobs to everyday Stark Countians. You know there is 13.3% unemployment in Stark County.  Not all of it is due to the general national economic downturn.

The Stark County commissioners have expressed frustration at the length of the investigation in the hearing of the SCPR.  Moreover, Repository reporters have been present when these exasperations have been expressed.  Certainly, Gauger knows this.

The simple fact of the matter is that the commissioners have no say on the pace of the investigation. 

So let The Report get this straight.  Editor Gauger wants the commissioners to create an emotionally charged public furor (ref:  "the bully pulpit") over the delay?

How, Editor Gauger, does this advance cause of deliberate and due diligence justice?

The SCPR thinks not.

What the Gauger effort does do is divert public attention away from The Rep's failure to do what he and his fellows at The Rep are needling the commissioners to do.

Another thing.

For Gauger to inject the Republican/Democrat thing into how the commissioners handled the waiting for federal officials to complete their work is "way out there somewhere."

No one has been more adamant about the importance of political competition than the SCPR.  The Report has done countless blogs (and before that letters to the editor of The Repository) on anemic Stark Republican leadership in order to "nudge" (The Report just loves Gauger's word) the leadership into making the party more competitive.  Because political competition does make for better accountability.

But to suggest that the Democrat commissioners are less interested in the speedy administration of justice than Republicans suggests that Editor Gauger is drawing at straws to torturedly support his "diversionary" strategy.

It appears to the SCPR that Editor Gauger is feeling the heat from the Stark County public that The Repository itself has been remiss in pushing public authorities directly involved in the investigation to get it done.

So what does he do?

Create "diversionary theater!"

Yes, "diversionary theater," that's what the SCPR thinks the latest Gauger-led Repository initiative is all about!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR SCOTT OELSLAGER TO KEEP THE SUN SHINING IN OHIO?


Ohio Representative Scott Oelslager (R=51st) has made a legislative career of carrying on a Stark County history of bringing sunshine to Ohio's governmental meetings.

Back on July 25, 2004, Mike Hanke, (now Stark County's chief administrator) as general manager of The Repository  wrote a summary of the history of Stark County's Ohio General Assembly members' initiating and fostering Ohio's sunshine law.

Hanke wrote that in the 1970s Democratic state Senator Robert Freeman sponsored and secured passage of Ohio's very first sunshine law.  Moreover, he cited Scott Oelslager for continuing Freeman's work by working on enhancements to the law over his years in the Ohio General Assembly.

It appears to the SCPR that Oelslager once again needs to go to work  to correct a loophole in the sunshine law.in the collective sense with Ohio Revised Code Section 111.15 being the loophole in need of repair.

How's that?

In yesterday's Akron Beacon Journal, Dennis Willard wrote about an abuse of Ohio open meetings law (Finan's crazy democracy made public).  Willard writes:
"Someone has to stop Dick Finan from committing his bizarre form of democracy ever again."
The SCPR  says that the man for the job is none other than Stark's Scott Oeslager. Finan (term limited out of the Ohio General Assembly) is undoubtedly well known to Oelslager as he is a past president of the Ohio Senate. 

The Background.

Fianan is now chairman of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, to wit:


Willard says that Finan as chairman of the Board is using Ohio Revised Code Section (ORC) 111.15 to govern the Board (procedurally)  whereas most of Ohio's boards use ORC 119.03.  In fact, Willard says that former chairmen of the CSRAB have used ORC 119.03.

So what is the big deal?

Well ORC 119.03 provides for public hearings and notices whereas ORC 111.15 does not.

That is a big deal for democracy-loving Ohioans.

The independent (of Republicans and Democrats) Legislative Service Commission put it this way:
''Consequently, if it is thought important for an agency to consider public input in its rule making, the Revised Code Chapter 119 rule-making procedure is chosen. If, however, it is not important for an agency to consider public input in its rule making, the R.C. 111.15 rule-making procedure may be chosen. It is probably fair to say that the majority of rules are required to be adopted under the Chapter 119 rule-making procedure,'' (emphasis added)
Willard says that the CSRAB is proposing to put a lottery terminal in the statehouse.  Think Ohioans might want to have a say in that happening?  But we won't with Finan using ORC 111.15.

While the SCPR does not think well of Oelslager's overall legislative record given his being in the Ohio General Assembly for a quarter of a century, but he has been effective on open meetings and open records legislation.

So the someone the ABJ's Willard is looking for to stop Finan should be none other than Stark County's state Rep (likely to be state Senator - come November) Scott Oelslager!

One more thought.

It is certainly terrific that Stark County has nearby access to the Akron Beacon Journal.  Here it isn't even Sunshine Week and its statehouse reporter (The Repository has none) is looking out for increasing the amount of sunshine illuminating the actions of government.

With The Repository, journalistic sunshine seems to be a "once a year" weekly event.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

WHY DIDN'T REPUBLICANS WALTERS & WINDHAM JUST FIP-A-COIN?

A political love-in?

That's what the Republican race for the county commissioner (2 year term) race appears to be.

One has to wonder, if the two Republican candidates are so well taken with each other (as reported in today's Repository by Kelli Young - Commissioner candidates vow to restore trust, accountability to office), why didn't they save Republican voters the chore of trying to get to know who they are voting for in the May 4th GOP primary by merely flipping a coin; winner take all?

Candidates Walters and Windham are trying to put a good face on it, but the truth of the matter is that it appears that Stark Republicans have decided they are not putting any resources into a Walters/Windham versus Democrat Tom Bernabei race.

Both were pushed out of the county commissioner contest for a 4 year term in favor of former Stark County auditor, recorder and Canton mayor Janet Creighton.  Stark GOPers feel they are the favorite in a Creighton versus Democrat Steve Meeks and are and will be putting most, if not all, their resources in the Creighton/Meeks match up.

And if there is any doubt about the political leadership qualities of both Walters and Windham, they  completely removed them in the Young interview.  Both are shown to be reactive, "don't look to me for any bold initiative/proactive" ideas candidate types.

Cost cutting and break up the Democratic "good old boy" network (which seems to be the platform that either will be running on), are reactive and do not have "a snowball's chance in Hell" of working in a campaign against Democrat Bernabei in November.

As an aside, Walters (a Jackson Township trustee) once bragged to The Report about the great relationship he has with the head of "the good old boys" (Randy Gonzalez, chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party who is also fiscal officer of Jackson Township)

What might work is for the nominee to work on presenting a dynamic, innovative and imaginative Stark County economic development plan for the general election.  But don't look for this to happen.  Both Walters and Windham appear to be unimaginative candidates.

Not that political signs means anything much, but neither has put out (at least as the SCPR has seen) any signs.  Both have a voter familiarity problem as does county auditor candidate Alan Harold.

But Harold, (who did a smart thing in running countywide for a Stark Co Education Service Center position - in terms of name I.D.) running unopposed in the primary, is using the run-up to the primary to get his signs out there and help his familiarity factor with Stark voters.

Bottom line on the Walters/Windham race is that both know that the primary is a dead end street and the winner get the bragging rights to have been the Republican nominee for the 2 year commissioner term on a pathway to political oblivion.

For bragging rights, they could have flipped a coin, no?

Since they did not, that is exactly what Stark Republican primary voters will be doing on May 4th!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

JUST HOW IMPORTANT IS SPAYING/NEUTERING PETS? IN TOUGH FINANCIAL TIMES THE STARK COMMISSIONERS ARE PREPARED TO PUT UP TO $100,000 OF TAXPAYER MONEY INTO A "REHABILITATED" FACILITY

Pet overpopulation is a huge problem in Stark County as it is across the nation.

So much so that the Stark County commissioners are willing to put up to $100,000 in taxpayer money into helping a 501(c)(3) spay and neuter clinic (Animal Welfare Society of Stark County, Inc  [AWSSC] - which should have IRS approval soon) in the form of rehabilitating a building on the grounds of the Stark County Dog Pound to lease (at $1 per year) to the non-profit in furtherance of the AWSSC goal to curb animal overpopulation in Stark.

Current estimates put the total project at about $287,000 which is $87,000 over the planned budget for the clinic.  This project is a "pet project" of long standing of Commissioner Todd Bosley.  He is looking for ways to pare the building rehab cost downward to a total of $200,000 to ensure that the project is realized.

Stark Countian Nanci Miller who is a commissioner appointed member of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board is spearheading the spay and neuter project from the private sector. Ms. Miller is coordinating the creation of the 501(c)(3) and fund raising of a targeted $100,000.

The Animal Welfare Society of Stark County hopes to be up and running as a clinic by this time next year (2011).

Miller appeared at the Stark County commissioners on April 21st to answer questions that commissioners had as they needed to have assurances that the private aspect of the project was on track before committing taxpayer money.

The SCPR was at the April 21st meeting and took video of the dialogue between Miller and the commissioners.

The video which follows is a compilation of the major aspects of the discussion between Ms. Miller regarding  the concerns of the commissioners in discharging their fiduciary duties on behalf of Stark County taxpayers.


Friday, April 23, 2010

VIDEO: NORTH CANTON COUNCIL'S SIDE OF THE CITIZEN OSBORNE'S EFFECTIVENESS WITH COUNCIL


There is sort of a running battle in North Canton between North Canton Council (via spokesman Council president Daryl Revoldt) and citizen Chick Osborne who is a former North Canton councilman.

The SCPR has a bias in favor of folks like Osborne who courageously dig into the bowels of government (in this case, North Canton government) looking for errors in the implementation of policy and practices.

In Osborne's case, he  frequently uses the public forum at Council meetings to reveal his findings and advocate for corrective action.

The Report thinks that the Chuck Osbornes of Stark County provide a valuable public service and commends them for upholding the responsibility of every citizen to participate in  the activities of our institutions of government.

Osborne believes that Council treats him unfairly compared to other North Canton citizens who avail themselves of the public forum to address Council and Mayor David Held's administration on various issues.

Council and Held obviously disagree with Osborne and have told The Report that, from their perspective, they are more than fair to Osborne.

The SCPR has written a number of blogs presenting Osborne's side of the story.

In this blog, The Report presents the North Canton government's view (at least Council's view, assuming that Revoldt speaks for all of Council as he seems to be doing in the accompanying video. 

Here is a video of a recent North Canton Council meeting in which Council president Revoldt "advises" Osborne on how to be more effective.

View and listen to "Professor" Revoldt.  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

VIDEO: SEE STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS RESPOND TO REPOSITORY EDITORIAL THAT BLAMES COMMISSIONERS FOR ALLOWING OHIO AUDITOR TO HIDE "LETTER OF ARRANGEMENT" WITH STARK TREASURER. A SHAMEFUL PIECE OF EDITORIAL WRITING!


Anyone who has read the SCPR knows that The Report has a very low opinion of the work of the editorial writers at The Repository.

The editorial written on April 20th (State auditor's letter should be public) did nothing to rehabilitate the editorialists in The Report's eyes.  If anything, the April 20th opinion was a reaffirmation of yours truly's view that these folks have to be among the worst editorial writers in America.

They completely missed the "real" issue on the hidden "letter of arrangement" initiated on June 16, 2009 by the Ohio auditor with the Stark County treasurer as amended on December 8, 2009.

The real issue is who is ultimately responsible for the letter being hidden from public view.

Answer:  Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor, CPA, that's who.

The Rep editors demonstrated warped, twisted thinking in turning the blame on the Stark County commissioners.

They really went out-of-bounds in suggesting that somehow "all" the commissioners - being Democrats - was the reason they failed to exercise the necessary level of due diligence to dig out the secret letters.  (emphasis added).

One expects this kind of "loosey-goosey" thinking from wildly partisan types who want to demonize for purely partisan purposes.  But an editorial board?  Wow!

The nub of the weak-minded editorial is clearly evident in this language from the editorial, to wit:
We’d bet that if even one of the commissioners belonged to a different political party from the treasurer (all are Democrats), he would have been using his bully pulpit to protest this arrangement — this loophole in the public records law — that keeps commissioners and the public in the dark.
 And, also:
Neither has the willingness of county commissioners to pay the bills for the investigation without knowing just what services they’re buying.
First, the "loophole in the public records law."

Well, apparently nobody (except for the Ohio auditor and Stark treasury attorney Lem Green and Treasurer Zeigler himself), including The Repository (April 12th?) knew about the existence of the letter until this past week.  Moreover, nobody, including government "Sunshine Law" guardian for Stark County (sarcasm folks) "The Repository" knew about the legal loophole.

So the "loosey-goosey" thinking Rep editorial writers want to hold the "out-of-the-loop" (as a matter of law as interpreted by the Ohio auditor's office) commissioners' feet to the fire to know about secretly held documents that are secret not because they contain confidential information in and of themselves but because they are associated with a confidential investigation in progress.

Hmm?

A logical Ohio auditor's official would think thusly:  "Gee, I am doing an investigation.  I want to be paid for the investigating work.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to get a copy to of the letters outlining the expense of the investigation to the bill payer."

It is ludicrous for anyone to think (like the Ohio auditor's office apparently does) that a document which contains no confidential information in and of itself would itself be confidential.  Moreover, how is the paying authority to know what to expect to have to pay.

As far as the SCPR is concerned the bogeymen in all of this reside in the Ohio auditor's office.

First, for suggesting to Zeigler's office in a leading way of how to avoid the document being a public document.

Lem Green, legal counsel for the Stark treasury told the SCPR yesterday that if he had it to do all over again he would advise Treasurer Zeigler not to take the suggestion of the Ohio auditor not to keep a copy of the document.

Second, for providing defective rationale for the document being a part of the investigation process and therefore confidential when the document does not contain any confidential information in and of itself.

The Rep editors do make one plausible point. If yours truly were a commissioner I would be more than a little uncomfortable paying bills in a year 2002 agreement.  I would be pressing Taylor's office for something more current.

Question is, would such a discussion have prompted a revelation of the "letters of arrangement?"

The SCPR thinks not.

So the only resource of the commissioners would have been to press the point by refusing to pay until they had a more current document than the year 2002 "letter of arrangement."

Obviously, the commissioners felt comfortable with the 2002 document and therefore felt there was no need to press for something more recent. The SCPR does not think that they should have felt comfortable.

There is one more point to be discussed.

When did Kelli Young of The Rep find out about the existence of the June 16, 2009 and December 8, 2009 "letters of arrangement?"

The SCPR has reason to believe she found out on or about April 12, 2010.

Which, if substantiated, makes a hypocrite out of The Repository.

How so?

The Repository bills itself as an expert on Ohio's Sunshine Law.  Do they mean to say that they did not know about the "loophole" until April 12, 2010?  Not much of an expert, huh?

The hypocrisy?

We (The Rep) didn't know about the loophole until April, 2010, but you, Mr. Commissioners, should have known the first time you paid an Ohio auditor's invoice (presumably sometime in 2009) for the ongoing forensic audit of the Stark treasury notwithstanding your year 2002 "letter of arrangement."

For thinking people, The Rep's editorial tells you more about these editors' flawed thinking qualities than anything else.

Until the SCPR arrived on the scene Stark Countians had no choice - in a one newspaper town - but to abide the opinionating of these deficient thinkers.

Now the bar is raised.

And The Rep's writers had better sharpen up or sooner rather than later virtually no one will be reading the editorial pieces appearing in The Repository.

Here is the video of yesterday's commissioner meeting in which Commissioners Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks defend themselves.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WHAT IS THE QUESTION STARK COUNTIANS SHOULD BE ASKING THE COMMISSIONER CANDIDATES?

The question is:  WHAT IS YOUR PLAN TO TURN AROUND THE STARK COUNTY ECONOMY?

One of the reasons (in addition to the generally troubled U.S. and Ohio economies) that Stark County is worse off than most other Ohio counties is that, over recent decades, Stark County has had the misfortune to have had some of the least imaginative, foreseeing and visionary commissioners in the state.

And the current slate of commissioners is nothing to write home about.  Commissioner Todd Bosley (VW plant, Biomass, et cet) is the only one among himself, Commissioner Meeks and Commissioner Ferguson that seem to harbor any "economic development" characteristics.

Commissioner Ferguson did try to get the defunct Doctors Hospital facility in Perry Township converted into a Veterans hospital, but he was way too late (he should have been working on it before he became commissioner) to have any chance whatsoever to pull that off.

Of course, there is former commissioner Tom Harmon and his (err Elizabeth Burick's) horse show arena project at the Stark County Fairgrounds.  This one may even get off the ground, but it is way, way to small (compared to what it could have been) to impact the 13.3% unemployment figure very much.

Remember, Harmon, when he was appointed in 2007, was full of promises (search the archives of the SCPR under "Harmon" for the list).  But when he got into office, it was mostly to just hold office.  Then he gets elected in his own right, only to serve less than a year on his new term.  Obviously, Harmon had no plan.

The SCPR suspects that among Bernabei, Walters, Windham, Meeks and Creighton; none of them have a plan either.

The SCPR promises each one of them that The Report will not rest during the time of the run up to the general election until each of them comes up with a plan.

If they doubt that The Report will be pressing them, they need go no further than ask Commissioners Bosley and Ferguson and former Commissioner Harmon.

In putting together their plans, the commissioner candidates should keep in mind that the SCPR will use their individually formulated plan as a standard to judge whether or not the electorally successful candidates are getting the job done for Stark County.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THE STARK TREASURER'S OFFICE SAYS THE OHIO AUDITOR ALLEGEDLY SUGGESTED TO THE TREASURER IN TERMS OF PUBLIC RECORDS APPLICABILITY?


Exactly what the public likes about public officials?

Pointing the finger at each other!

Who is right?  God Almighty only knows!!!

The issue?

Who shielded, if anyone, the "letter of arrangement" memorializing the terms of conditions of the Ohio auditor' forensic audit of the Stark County treasury (April, 2009) from the public view? 

Letter of arrangement?
 

Yes, a "letter of arrangement."

According to Kelli Young (politics and government editor for The Rep - Special audit letter from the state absent from county files, online April 18, 2010), the Ohio auditor had a need to memorialize an arrangement between the auditor and the Stark County treasurer (circa April, 2009) that "outlines the nature and scope of services the state auditor’s office will provide, the timeline for the audit, the county’s required involvement and the associated fees" for forensic audit services growing out of the alleged theft of county funds with Treasurer Zeigler accusing and then firing his chief deputy Vince Frustaci.

An interesting revelation in the Young account is this Young statement:
Zeigler, who signed the letter without consulting with commissioners, said he didn’t keep the letter he signed or get a copy.
 Hmm?

Take a look at another excerpt from the March 12, 2002 "letter of arrangement."

Recognize any signatures?

How about then county auditor Creighton, county treasurer Zeigler and county commissionerJackson.

What has happened from 2002 to 2010 to obviate the need for Auditor Perez and Commissioner Bosley (president of the Board of Commissioners) to sign the "letter of arrangement?"

Was Treasurer Zeigler authorized by Ohio law to sign for the county on his own?  Was the Stark County prosecutor's office consulted by Zeigler prior to signing?

Other questions.  Were the commissioners empowered to pay the more than $209,000 plus paid so far on the basis of the 2002 "letter of arrangement?"
Was the prosecutor's office consulted prior to commissioner action?


Back to the discussion of how the 2009 "letter of arrangement" got removed from public view.

As the SCPR understands Young's account, Zeigler's office claims that Taylor's office advanced a suggested way for the county treasurer to avoid having the April, 2009 "letter of arrangement" in the public view.

Here is how the failsafe (in terms of shielding it from public scrutiny) plan seems to have unfolded.

Simple, the plan? apparently goes. thusly:

(From the Ohio auditor, again, according to Zeigler's office and recreated in The Report's words) 
Just don't maintain a copy of the letter in the county treasurer's file.  Return the original to our [the Ohio auditor] office.  And bingo!, while the the audit is in process the Ohio auditor can [and will?] legally withhold the letter from the public and its a win-win for both the county treasurer and the Ohio auditor. 
Now we hear that the Ohio auditor is, in fact, exercising its "claimed" legal prerogative and withholding a copy of the original from the public as represented by The Repository.  No surprise here. 

What will be the public reaction to the Young revelation of the the chain of events as interpreted by the SCPR?

Here is one reaction which The Report believes articulately expresses what most of the public will think of the Young expose..

The SCPR cannot say it any better than Mr. Fenno.

As Fenno points out, the net result is a further jading of the public attitude towards government.

Is this what government wants.  A complete breakdown in citizen trust of government?

Mary Taylor, who is the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, wants to govern - if elected - an increasingly skeptical, cynical public?

What joy would there be in that?

We know that Taylor likes to issue press releases.  Just go to her website or read your daily newspaper. 

One final question for Mary on a "yet to be issued press release."

When is her office "finally" going to issue an auditor's forensic report on the Stark treasury's missing funds?

Is she tied up running for lieutenant governor?

Is that the reason for the delay Auditor Taylor?

Hmm?

Monday, April 19, 2010

HAS THE NORTHWEST SCHOOL DISTRICT EARNED THE TRUST OF DISTRICT VOTERS?


Back in August, 2009 Northwest Local Schools Board of Education member Jim Gindlesberger said:
"The trust issue is huge.  It's something that we may not even correct by May. We are not one community. We are two communities and we have to fix that."
Well, here we are on the threshold of May and the pertinent question that the SCPR believes Northwest voters need to ask themselves in deciding whether or not to vote for the 1% earned income tax levy for Northwest Schools is the standard posed by member Gindlesberger in the above quote.

Has the Northwest board and administration reestablished trust?

The school district is banking on a community survey done last year, a bunch of coffee klatches and the formation of four "independent" committees to analyze the operations of the district and make recommendations to the community as the bases on which it hopes to reclaim trust admittedly lost.

But not so quick.  Questions remain.

For instance, independent committees? 

The SCPR is skeptical.

What has gone on since last August seems more like a "quick fix," than it is about building a solid foundation of trust.  However, it may be a move in the right direction. Whether or not it is depends on there being a persistent, consistent post-May 4th follow up.

If the May 4th issue passes and it proves to be back to "business as usual," then when the next Northwest levy comes up a few years henceforth; voters will be a lot more cynical and district officials will have a much tougher sell facing them.

Even if the earned income tax does pass next month, over the long term problems will likely plague the district because the SCPR does not believe the basis of the passing will - on reflection - be perceived as having been on "restored trust;" rather it will likely - in hindsight - be seen as having passed more on the "fear" of losing the Northwest Local School District as it is now identified.

Recently, The Repository editors wrote an editorial supporting the tax (see Northwest tax came from ground up, April 14, 2010) buying the Northwest line.  In the piece, the editors show how utterly lacking they seem to be in analytical ability or inclination.  They took the official Northwest spin on faith: "lock, stock and barrel." Apparently, the editors think Northwest officials have achieved a "miracle" and that the community trust has been restored in less than a year?

While the SCPR thinks he (Repository commenter TMelvill - commenting on the Northwest editorial) overstates the case questioning the basis of the need for the Northwest tax (The Report believes there is a need), folks who think as he does (perhaps some may even be Northwest residents?) need to be engaged by school officials.  But officials seem to just want to "preach to the choir."

"Preaching to the choir" (independent? committees) is how the SCPR views large parts of the post-August, 2009 board/administration effort.

Consider part of TMelvill comments:
This has less to do about the kids, other than to use them for a popular slogan.

This is about tenure, wages, medical-dental-eye care benefits for teachers and their families, vacations and sick days and their accumulation for selling back at retirement, keeping out competition (charter schools), unions, double-dipping, exclusion of a huge market of qualified and degreed teacher candidates willing to work at 20% less wages and reduced benefits, and the list goes on and on.
If such viewpoints are not addressed by Northwest and school boards throughout Stark County, then Northwest-esque situations will become the norm.

The Northwest revenue issue may pass.  If it does or doesn't, the work that Gindlesberger fingered (the matter of trust) remains. But if the issue passes, will the "trust building work" be abandoned?

The SCPR does not for one minute think that the lack of trust in government is limited to Northwest or even to school boards.  It permeates more and more of the American political system.  Not just national and state government, but also our local government units.  It is a large part of what has become popularly known as "the teabagger movement."

It is high time that all levels of government recognize how much distrust government abounds within the general population and take measures to restore public confidence in the institutions of government.

And let it begin in Stark County from the county level of government down through all the political subdivisions!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

DOES NORTH CANTON GOVERNMENT LISTEN TO/RESPECT ITS CITIZENS?


At least one North Canton resident thinks City leaders are not minding the store for the benefit of North Canton's families and businesses on the City water supply.

And that resident is not someone who has not done "gallons and gallons" of research on the topic.  This citizen appears to The Report to be better informed on the topic than some folks within North Canton city government with direct responsibility.

Yes, he is at it again.  Being a total annoyance to city administrators and councilpersons.  Who, who and who, again is this person?  Former Councilman Chuck Osborne that's who!

The SCPR believes that Osborne has completely embarrassed City officials on his revelations at weekly Council meeting of late and has been effective to get a few changes that are to the benefit of city residents and businesses.

However, Osborne himself does not believe that he has been effective enough.

Here is a list of what Osborne thinks still needs to be done to make the proposed new contract worthwhile for North Cantonians:
  • One: Water rates charged to Aqua should be handled as any other BULK WATER user and subject to rate increases as any other water customer the city serves. Restricting rate increases to Aqua will add inequities to the city’s water rate structure as other water user’s rates are increased at a higher rate over time and create greater problems in the future.
  • Two: The water rate charged to Aqua should take effect as soon as the contract is ratified. Given that the Arcadis Water Utility Rate Study has documented that the city is selling water to Aqua below the city’s production cost, it is not financially prudent to agree not to raise Aqua water rates in the first year of the new water agreement.
  • Three: The ten-year term for the new agreement is not prudent and exposes the city to a great deal of uncertainty and financial risks. There is no benefit to the city for a long term agreement. A two or three year term would be much better and allow the city to weather an unforeseen financial downturn arising from water sales.
  • Four: Reserving 2.0 million gallons per day (mgd) for possible sale to Aqua is an unfair provision in the agreement. In effect, Aqua is asking that North Canton provide the basis for Aqua’s future growth of water sales at the expense of the citizens of North Canton.
  • Five: Monthly billing, late payments, and penalties for late payments should be brought in line with North Canton’s policies that are presently in effect for all water users.
The SCPR's take on the Osborne proposal for further modification of the proposed contract is right on the mark and should be heeded.

Will he be?

Probably not.

Why not?  Because he is Chuck Osborne.

The Report believes that a number of North Canton councilpersons and city administrators oppose "anything Osborne" just because it is Chuck Osborne speaking.

Such is a common phenomenon among many Stark County based government officials; not just North Canton's.  And, then they wonder why levies fail.

These government officials might just try - for a change - respecting each and every citizen who come before them.

Think that might not be in order?

For those readers outside of North Canton, The Report reminds them that that Aqua has vowed to fight before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for a 20% (up front) increase in water rates on its customers which includes a goodly number of Stark Countians.

Aqua seems to be a company that wants it every which way, to wit:

Get a great deal at the "wholesale" end of the water supply line (North Canton) and then get a premium deal courtesy of the PUCO (which regulates monopolistic utilities) at the "retail" end (Jackson, Lake, Perry, Tuscarawas, Hills and Dales and Massillon).

Aqua has seemingly stirred up a hornet's nest in Stark among the citizens (as represented by affected township and city/village governments in Stark County) and, of course, with citizen Chuck Osborne of the City of North Canton!

The moral of the story?  Participation is the obligation of every citizen to make our democracy work.  Citizen participation does make a difference!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A PHANTOM CAMPAIGN FOR COUNTY COMMISSIONER?

An interesting campaign, no?

Jackson trustee Jamie Walters versus Lake Townhip home builder Dean Windham?

You talk about a "low profile" campaign for this abbreviated term as commissioner (2 years).

Has anyone seen a sign?

Yours truly hasn't.

Certainly there are signs somewhere throughout Stark County.  It just that the SCPR hasn't seen any.

Maybe the candidates are spending their effort doing mailers?

Neither is particularly well known.

Walters would have some I.D. in Jackson Township, where he is trustee.  But not likely very much.  He has only been trustee for four years and serves in the shadow of two other longer serving trustees and Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez.

But he does have a website.  Not much of one as far the the SCPR is concerned.  Here is a sample (excerpt):


The "Bosley" and the "Tips" subscripts are from headlines in area newspaper which Walters has integrated.

Why would a candidate want to focus on a "soon-to-be" former commissioner and on an issue which is a non-starter for the foreseeable future?

Sounds like a campaign going nowhere to The Report.

Walters was at the commissioners meeting on April 14th, but said nothing.

Windham, perhaps, has even less I.D. than Walters.  He is a Lake Township home builder whose main qualification (see  bio on The Rep's Election Central) it seems to the SCPR as having built hundreds of homes throughout Stark County.

He is also a CPA who has minimal government experience (apparently limited to Marlboro and Lake Township appointed positions).

Like the Walters' campaign, Windham's does not appear to have much life to it.  The SCPR has not been able to find a website.

From the beginning, the SCPR has said that Democrat Tom Bernabei has this one in the bag no matter which among Walters and Windham surfaces to run against him.

What this means is that it nearly a certainty that Stark's Dems will still control the commissioners' office after the November election.

The likely lineup:  Ferguson (Democrat), Bernabei (Democrat) and Creighton (Republican).

Friday, April 16, 2010

THE GOP 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT PRIMARY: IT IS ALL ABOUT "WINNING THE BATTLE" - "BUT LOSING THE WAR?"

Congressman John Boccieri must be smiling broadly to himself these days.

How's that?

The candidates for the GOP nomination to run against him are "racing to the right" so fast that by the time one of them (probably Matt Miller) wins that battle, he will have damaged himself so much with the political center of the electorate that John Boccieri will have an easier time than he could have expected (given two controversial votes - cap 'n trade, health care) and may come close to replicating his margin of victory over Republican J. Kirk Schuring (about 10%) over either Miller or Renacci.

Jim Renacci, if he loses to Matt Miller, has no one to blame except Jim Renacci.  He has tons more money than Miller and he has most of the established Republican leadership in the 16th behind him.

But in his zeal not to be out-righted by Miller and extreme right winger Paul Schiffer, he (if he survives to be the nominee) will lose some Republican votes, many independent votes and get almost no "disaffected with Boccieri" Democratic votes in the general election.

Miller, if nominated, will - ironically do better than Renacci.  At least Matt Miller is who he is.

Renacci, if nominated, will veer wildly towards the center in the run up to the general election.  But to the Republican right, he will appear (from their perspective) to going left.  Not a place one would want to appear to be going if one wants to keep his political base and add enough independents and disaffected Democrat to eke-out a victory.

If either Miller or Renacci wins in November, it will be by the slimmest of margins; perhaps, at the "re-count" level.

Winning battles and losing wars is what political idealogues do.  But Renacci is no political idealogue and that is why GOP leaders got behind him.  So his rush to the right defeats the notion that he can appeal to a political cross section of voters.

If Renacci wins, it will not be because of his flirtation with the Republican right.  Rather, it will be because Paul Schiffer (who has no chance whatsoever for the nomination) drains away enough votes from Matt Miller to let Renacci slip through.

In any event, this primary, which could have been a spellbinding square-off between the more moderately perceived Jim Renacci versus rightists Miller and Schiffer, has turned out to be very boring.

The ho-hum GOP primary has been advantage to Boccieri too.  He has been grabbing the headlines on the drama of which way he would vote on health care, while Renacci has been battling Miller/Schiffer on who is more right wing.

Most voters get bored to death with ideological battles.  Only the fringers get turned on by puritanical politics.

By putting the great political middle asleep with their ideological battles, the GOP candidates have hurt the Republican effort to win the political war with the Democrats immensely!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A BELLWEATHER RACE: IF ALAN HAROLD DEFEATS KIM PEREZ IN THE STARK COUNTY AUDITOR RACE, LOOK FOR WHOLESALE DEMOCRATIC LOSSES AT THE COUNTY LEVEL IN 2012?


Revised at 11:15 AM

Is the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party close to collapsing?

Hmm?

Collapsing?

A Party which has every non-judicial countywide office under its control, on the brink of collapse?

Not likely, but there are some "nervous nellies" surfacing these days among Stark Dems.  Nervous Nellies?  Nervous about what?

Nervous about the "imminent" unfolding of the legal consequences of the alleged theft of taxpayer money from the Stark County treasury!  Nervous about being the Party (via Commissioner Todd Bosley and former Commissioner Tom Harmon) that imposed a 0.50 sales/use tax on Stark Countians taking away the fundamental democratic right of citizens!!

First, the Zeigler matter.

More and more one hears a castigation of Party officials for not learning hard on Treasurer Gary Zeigler to resign.  These folks apparently feel that as long as Zeigler remains an a elected Democratic official, his presence will "rub-off" on the likes of Auditor Kim Perez and could cause their defeat in upcoming elections.

The SCPR does have indication that a least one key Democrat has been pressuring Zeigler to step down, but Zeigler is adamant that he has done nothing wrong and therefore is not about to quit.

A early test case of whether or not the controversy surrounding the Democrat-controlled treasurer's office will be the Republican Alan Harold versus Democrat Kim Perez auditor's contest coming up this November.  Perez, rightly or wrongly, seems to The Report to be publicly perceived as being a close political ally.

If Perez were to fall in November, then political analysts will be turning their attention to November, 2012.  Who could be next?  Zeigler, the treasurer?  Campbell, the recorder?  Ferrero, the prosecutor?  Swanson or Perez, the sheriff?  Murthy, the coroner?  Reinbold, the clerk of courts? Maybe even Engineer Bennett? (who seems most impervious, because of the requirement of special qualifications)

If Perez falls, will Stark's Republicans be emboldened to go all out to capture more countywide offices?

The SCPR has already chalked the Creighton/Meeks match up as going the Republicans' way.  But it will be a relatively close race.  In the work up to November, it will be interesting to see whether or not former Canton mayor Creighton tries to associate Meeks in any way, shape or form with the goings on in the treasurer's office.

Creighton has queried previously to the SCPR (a kind of thinking out loud type of question), whether or not county offcials should be looking to attempt to recover any deficiencies in county money (the loss, projected by some to be about $3 million, less any bond money recovered) from Treasurer Zeigler himself.

Perhaps, Creighton was thinking of Ohio Revised Code Section 321.04 Ohio's law on the subject since October 1, 1953 which was referred to the SCPR by Attorney Craig T. Conley), to wit:
321.04 Deputies. Each county treasurer may appoint one or more deputies, and he shall be liable and accountable for their proceedings and misconduct in office.  Effective Date: 10-01-1953
Will she be applying pressure on Meeks during the campaign to become a advocate of such an attempt?  If so, how does Meeks respond?

Remember, Zeigler maintains he has done nothing wrong, and, in fact, affirmatively did what the law requires of him in reporting the alleged theft to law enforcement authorities.  Notwithstanding Zeigler's position, the political reality among the Stark County electorate appears to be that Zeigler is in a "the buck stops here" modality and therefore should be held accountable.

Does Meeks say:  "Treasurer Zeigler has said he's done nothing wrong, in fact, everything right.  The alleged theft is an unfortunate incident.  I have no basis to challenge Zeigler's position and therefore there is nothing to be done."

Or does Meeks say:  "I understand what Treasurer Zeigler has to say about his non-culpability in the matter.  I respectfully disagree with him and in terms of "the buck stopping with him" as the head of the Stark treasury, I think the county should consult with legal counsel with a eye towards pursuing a civil recovery from Zeigler for any deficiency and let a judge or jury decide whether or not Zeigler, in his performance as treasurer, bears any legal liability."

Second, the imposed sales/use tax.

While the SCPR does not believe that the Stark Democrats will suffer wholesale losses 2010/2012 election cycle, it could happen.  Especially, if one adds into the political equation, the 0.50 county commissioner imposed sales/use tax increase as being a Democratic gig.

Yes, Republican Jane Vignos did support the imposed tax and she still stands by it as having been the right thing to do.  But isn't the public perception, in the main, that it was a Democrat (Bosley, Harmon) thing?

Will Republican Harold press Perez and will Republican Creighton needle Meeks into disavowing the Bosley and Harmon decision?

How about the survivor of the Republican primary for the two-year commissioner term?:  Windham or Jackson trustee James N. Walter.  Will the nominated candidate join Harold an Creighton and force Democrat Tom Bernabei to stand up or stand down on the Bosley/Harmon action?

And there is one more dimension to the sales/use tax aspect of this blog?  How will it impact on Bosley himself?  Commissioner Bosley is running against Republican state Representative Todd Snitchler in Ohio's 50th House District.

The SCPR has every reason to believe that Bosley will stand squarely behind his December, 2008 "impose the tax" vote as the right thing to have done.  Accordingly, this race - though covering only about one-third of the county - could be at least a partial measure of how much the Stark County electorate are disaffected with Stark County Democrat politicians.

Conclusion.

To repeat, the SCPR does not expect the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party to collapse between now and the 2012 election and lose all of its currently held non-judicial county posts.

But it could happen.

It all depends on how skilled the political players involved turn out to be defining/positioning each other.

November, 2010 could be the election year that local politicos long remember?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

HEALY VERSUS SMUCKLER: MAY, 2011 - THE MAIN ISSUE IS SHAPING UP?


Is the main issue shaping up in the looming primary battle for the Democratic nomination for mayor of Canton come May, 2011?

The SCPR thinks so.

What will the main issue be?

Healy will likely say that it is economic development and that Councilman-at-large Bill Smuckler has been a hindrance in equipping Canton government with the proper structure/staffing to go all out in reversing the slippage in Canton's economic development effort in recent months.

Smuckler will probably seize on Healy's "Zero Tolerance" campaign theme against former mayor Janet Creighton and the obvious reality that crime still exists in Canton's neighborhoods in intolerable quantities.

On Monday night, Canton City Council voted 10 to 2, with only out-and-out Healy loyalist councilmembers Thomas West and Chris Smith voting with the Mayor, to reject Healy's plan to reconstitute Canton's economic development effort in rejecting the creation of a new cabinet-level position.

In the post-vote discussion, what did Smuckler talk about?  Taking money saved with the resignation of the City's communications director (Adam Herman) and putting it into Canton's high crime neighborhoods.

The SCPR believes that Smuckler has hit a Healy nerve which has the Mayor on the defensive already.  Healy is disclaiming a George Bush-esque "Mission Accomplished" stance.

Why the need for a disclaimer?

Because Healy has been going around Canton with Police Chief Dean McKimm and Safety Director Thomas Ream touting FBI statistics showing that Canton crime is down.

Any yet what are Canton residents doing in significant numbers these days?  They are showing up at City Council meetings and complaining about what?

You guessed it!  Yes, crime in the neighborhoods.

Yes, we are more than a year out from May, 2011, but it appears that "the heart and soul" of the looming Smuckler versus Healy mayoralty battle is already becoming apparent.

Economic development on the one hand versus safety in the neighborhoods on the other!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

REPOSITORY FAILS TO BRING SUNSHINE TO STARK BOARD OF ELECTIONS - STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT GETS THE JOB DONE!

The SCPR could mimic the ownership of The Repository (GateHouse Media, Inc.) and give an award to itself (i.e. GateHouse awards The Rep for such an such), but The Report recognizes instead, the Stark County Board of Elections (BO#) for "letting the sunshine in."

About a month ago or so The SCPR showed up at a BOE in hand to videotape the regular monthly meeting of Board.  However, board president William Cline shut the SCPR camera down saying that the Stark Board had no guidance from the Ohio secretary of state office.

Another interesting side to the episode was that The Repository (which claims - once a year during "Sunshine Week" that it is at the vanguard of fighting for public access to government) reporter present at the meeting uttered not a word on behalf of "freedom of the press" and public to make a record of a public meeting.

The same reporter filed a report of the BOE's April 5th meeting describing the following, to wit:
"DISCUSSION  Introduced a draft version of guidelines and rules for public audio and video taping of meetings."
Notice not a word connecting the BOE's action to the SCPR's effort to record the meeting.  No question to the board members as to whether or not there was a connection.  Hmm?  Is The Rep really devoted to "journalistic/government sunshine?  Apparently, not.

Oh well, to carry on.

The SCPR did take up President Cline's challenge to check with the Ohio secretary of state office (SOS).  Answer:  It was not the role of the SOS to deal with such matters.

So at the next meeting, the SCPR showed up with camera in hand and videotaped the meeting. 

Now the guidelines. 


Recognition by the BOE of the public's right to access in terms of recording the event is a step in the right direction.

Rather than gloat, the SCPR chooses to thank the Stark BOE with an SCPR Sunhine Award.  It's up to the beholder to determine whether it is sincere or sarcastic.

Moreover,  there is additional work to be done by the BOE.  It needs to implement the SCPR request that it scan in candidate petitions an campaign finance documents as they are filed and make them immediately available to the general Stark County public in an electronic, over the Internet, format.

So far the BOE has been "in your face" with the SCPR on this issue.  If the board members think it is The Report that they are showing a thing or two to, they have it all wrong.  It is the Stark County public they are affecting.  Those many hard working Stark Countians who do not have the time to drive to Canton to get desired records as yours truly has the ability to do.

In the e-mail that yours truly sent to Director Jeanette Mullane for a copy of the "proposed" rules also asked about the status of the scanning request.  But no answer.  The last answer of any kind that The Report has gotten from the BOE, is something to the effect:  We will do with your request what we want to do and whenever we want to do it, if ever!"

Isn't that nice. 

As to the proposed rules themselves, they are highly insulting.  The emphasis seems to be on restrictive language highlighting that "no disruption" of board proceedings will be tolerated.  As if they anticipate that attendees would be predisposed to interrupt/disrupt.

The SCPR takes the language to be a signal from the leadership of the BOE that they view the mere presence of the public at BOE meetings to be intrusive, let alone the audacity of the public to think they can record the event. 

It is attutudes like the SCPR encounters from the BOE leadership that make The Report want to send the message to other Stark County departments of government that the SCPR will continue to oppose any sales/use tax reunewals/increases as long as your truly encounters perceived hostility to requests for making the public records of the BOE more accessible to all Stark Countians.

Rick Campbell (the recorder), Kim Perez (the auditor), the courts (through it CJIS operation) and other Stark County and political subdivision units of government have does a good job of increasing public access to their records.

The Report encourages these folks, the Stark County commissioners and all other Stark County officials to put pressure on the BOE to become more citizen-access-to-public-records friendly.

The issue of scanning is also one for the Citizen Review Committee (CRC)  to look into as a efficiency measure beneficial to the BOE and to everyday citizens.   The CRC needs use its influence to nudge the BOE into implementing the SCPR - on the behalf of the public - requested scanning project.

The SCPR doesn't like taking the position that there should be no tax renewal or increase (which affects all "general fund" county departments of government) when the main object of the SCPR's displeasure is pretty much focused on the BOE.  But such appears to The Report to be the only viable leverage left inasmuch s The Report cannot even get the matter on a BOE meeting agenda for discussion.

Unlike other departments of Stark County government, the board members of the BOE are unelected by the general public and therefore are not directly accountable to the public.  The members are "political appointees" and seem to the SCPR to have a "public be damned attitude" about them.

Such is not acceptable and it is in the interest of all of Stark County government to weigh-in on behalf of the public on this issue!

Monday, April 12, 2010

ONE TIME "POLITICAL FOES" ABOUT TO TURN INTO "POLITICAL FRIENDS?"


Long before Todd Bosley ever thought about running against Republican incumbent Todd Snitchler for the Ohio House 50th District seat, Jeffrey Ury had taken out petitions.

Then came January, 2010 and a visit by Ohio Speaker of the House Armond Budish to the Bosley home with a plea to Bosley that he consider running against Snitchler.

Why?

Because the Ohio House Democratic Caucus under the leadership of 'Liz' Brown (daughter of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown) had done some polling and learned that Bosley was showing head and shoulders above Ury and others as a candidate with the most potential to put Snitchler on the political sidelines. 

Consequently, it was just a matter of time that Ury would step aside.  Though Ury denied to the SCPR that he would do so, he failed to file his petitions and thereby left the field clear for Bosley to focus on Snitchler.

Apparently, Ury's move is now paying political dividends for the Lake Township resident. 

The SCPR understands that Ury was very unhappy to have to step aside.  So much so, The Report is getting indications that he may be making demands of Candidate Bosley and the Ohio House Democratic Caucus (OHDC) to soothe his ruffled "political" feathers.

What might he be demanding?

First, a key role in the Bosley campaign.  Say, like campaign manager?  And, apparently, matters were coming to a quick conclusion on naming Ury the head of his former putative opponent's campaign.  But someone from Columbus must have said:  "Hold on a minute!"

Why?

Because as far as the SCPR knows, Ury is a political novice and hardly, in the opinion of The Report, and, most likely, to the political pros who staff the Democratic Caucus, not up to managing a critically important political campaign which could determine who controls the Ohio House of Representatives.

After some reflections, the "deep thinkers" at the OHDC got a grip on themselves and Bosley and backed off appointing Ury Bosley's campaign manager.

Second, The Report has learned that Ury was casting about for a new opportunity after being swept aside by Bosley. The SCPR has reason to believe that Ury had applied for Stark County commissioner Steve Meeks old job as the "eyes and ears" of Governor Strickland in Region 9 as a regional economic development director.  Moreover, the SCPR has been told he was asking the likes of Bosley to support him in his quest.

The Report was surprised to hear the political insider talk about this Ury initiative.  Ury appears to The Report to be politically naive about how these jobs are handed out and also does not seem to understand that he does not have the political longevity and connections to be remotely considered for such a job.

Proof of The Report's premise:  guess who got the job?  Congressman Boccieri staffer Chris Cupples, that's who.  Maybe someday, Ury will get to that level within the Stark County/Ohio Democratic Party, but he's a long way from there now.

So what is left for Jeffrey "I pulled petitions for the 50th, but didn't file them" Ury? 

How about:  "a regional campaign directorship" - including Bosley's race -  for candidates (there are 99 candidates) running as Democrats across Ohio?

It is a significant position, but it appears to be something much less than Ury was expecting.

Next question.  Is all this talk just happenstance (unrelated) in terms of context of Ury having stepped aside or was Ury pursuing these opportunities as "what he had coming" for stepping aside from the 50th and thereby providing Bosley a clear path to go head-to-head against Republican Snitchler?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AN INTERESTING REVELATION IN CHICAGO ABOUT RICHARD REINBOLD NOT BEING THE TOP CHOICE OF THE OHIO DEMOCRATIC SENATE CAUCUS FOR THE 29TH

The SCPR is writing from Chicago today.

The Report, until today, has not revealed that periodically yours truly writes the Stark County Political Report while traveling across the country.

Why make the "traveling while still writing" point today?

Because there was the strangest confluence of events that clearly makes underscores that "it is a small, small world we live in," at least - sometimes.

As The Report got settled in to take a bus ride from the hotel in Chicago to McCormick Place (the convention center in the Windy City), a fellow-rider started talking with another Stark Countian in the Stark County traveling group about Stark County politics.  The fellow-rider was from a nearby northeast Ohio county.

Obviously, the conversation caught the attention of the SCPR.

Yours truly sort of interrupted to ask the fellow-rider about whether or not he knew certain Stark County politicos or politically connected persons.

Answer?  Indeed!

Just to name a few: Congressman John Boccieri, William J. Healy, II (Mayor of Canton),  David Held (Mayor of North Canton) and former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  And it became clear to The Report that Fellow-rider (his anonymous name for purposes of this blog) had/has extensive Columbus political connections, too.

It was Fellow-rider's Columbus connection which was the basis of the conversation becoming very interesting.

The Report made an observation to Fellow-rider about the significance of Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish having made a trip to Stark County to talk Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley into making a run against incumbent Republican Todd Snitchler (Ohio House - 50th).  Fellow-rider retorted:  "But you know, Bosley was  not Budish's first choice."

"Really?" The Report retorted.

Fellow-rider than went on to explain that Stark County Auditor Kim Perez was Budish's first choice.

Well, this assertion swung the SCPR into action, to wit:  making a serious of phone calls:

First to Bosley and then to Perez.  For yours truly knew that Perez is about as Canton-based (living outside the 50th) as one can get.

Bosley protested that Perez could not have been a candidate preferred over him.  For he had seen the names on the list of possible contenders to vie for the Snitchler-held seat and Perez's was nowhere to be seen.  Bosley speculated that the Perez as "top choice" was the Ohio Senate - 29th race.

Well, Bosley suggestion made sense to the SCPR inasmuch as The Report was astounded to learn of the Ohio Senate Caucus' interest in former Stark Common Pleas judge Richard Reinbold as a candidate.

As far as The Report is concerned, a Reinbold selection is about as close as one can get to running nobody as one could get (which happened last time when "musical chair" candidate and incumbent Scott Oelslager ran for his final term in Ohio's 51st Ohio House District).

Why is The Report so negative on Reinbold?  Because he has no political pizzaz, no legislative experience and no real experience in running for "competitive" political office.

The Report believes that Oelslager has been largely unproductive over much of his 25 years in the Ohio General Assembly.  Moreover,  the Democrats, under former chairmen Maier and Ferrero, have pretty much given him an "undeserved" pass in terms of meaningful opposition and is concerned.  Apparently, the Oelslager charm on the Democrats will continue under current chairman Randy Gonzalez - as a Reinbold choice seems to indicate.

Back to the Chicago story.

Next up on the "to call" list:   Kim Perez himself.

Perez, indeed, confirmed that the he had been approached by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus to run against Oelslager.

Aha!  The Report was vindicated in believing that the Ohio Senate Caucus had to know - one would think - that there were better choices - in terms of electability - than Reinbold

But Perez declined Caucus entreaty out-of-hand because he is in the midst of revamping and reconfiguring computer operations within the Stark County auditor's office.  However, he did not rule out a run against Oelslager in 2014.

The moral of this story?  No matter where The Report finds himself, readers can be assured that the SCPR is working to bring them the latest on the inside story of Stark County politics.

From Chicago, this is the SCPR signing off.

Have a good day!

And thanks for reading the Stark County Political Report!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

WILL THE REAL JOHN BOCCIERI STAND UP? A WARRIOR OR A MAN WHO PLAYS IT SAFE AND WANTS GUARANTEES?

It appears that Congressman John Boccieri is taking a page out of the book of his good friend William J. Healy, II.  When he is dealing with tough issues, he does not put himself out there with the public or tough minded journalists to take "hardball" questions.  Rather he cozies up with the softball players who staff The Repository's editorial board.

The word is out there so much so among Stark County politicians/officeholders that The Rep editors can be had that they "volunteer" to appear before the Stark County's only countywide newspaper's editors.

So now Boccieri wants "guarantees,"  if he is to face the public on his health care vote, to wit: 
[if] “they can guarantee we can get 3,000 people in a room who are going to interact and not be intimidated by the loudest voice in the room. ... I’m not afraid to meet with folks face to face, but I just want to make sure I’m having a dialogue and discussion with my constituents.” (See Boccieri discusses health care vote, The Repository, Robert Wang, April 09, 2010)
 The SCPR does not buy Boccieri's protest that he is willing to take hard questions.  When he first started out with "Congressman on Your Corner,"  The Report was impressed.  He did appear to be willing to put himself "in the line of fire" as he has done many, many times in flying a C-130 in and out of Baghdad Airport as an Air Force Reserve pilot.

But then his political handlers got a hold of him and he no longer appears willing to take on the political tough stuff.  The SCPR believes that his political caution took over when The Report showed how he feigned (via video from an Alliance "Congressman on Your Corner" event) being against Cap and Trade, while The Report is convinced he favored it "secretly" all along.  For the record, the SCPR liked his stance on Cap and Trade.  Just not his "sleight of hand" political manner.  Boccieri should not be gaming the voters as he appears to The Report to be doing.

Ditto for health care.

This time he actually voted to "kill the bill" (the Stupak amendment) months ago.  But then on March 19th he voted for the bill without guess what?  Yes, the Stupak amendment.  He only got the assurance of an Obama executive order.  Something significantly less than Supak.

Again, for the record, the SCPR likes where he ended up in voting yes for the bill.  Just not his "sleight of hand" political manner.  The Report repeats, "Boccier should not be gaming the voters as he appears to The Report to be doing.

So in interviewing with the the softball players who staff The Rep's editorial board, he plays it safe.

Boccieri is clearly a courageous person as amply demonstrated in his military service.  You might even call him a warrior.

But as a politician, he appears more and more that he is showing precious little of his military-esque grit.

If he would, his chances for re-election would be greatly enhanced. 

Boccieri's contradictory way of being could be his political undoing. 

Will John Boccieri ever learn to play to his strength as a person in every aspect of life - including politics?