Saturday, July 31, 2010

PART 3A - PRODUCING JOBS FOR OHIO - BOSLEY V. SNITCHLER DEBATE 07/28/2010 ("POINTS TO PONDER" WHBC-1480AM)

Ron Ponder who is a talk show host on WHBC-1480 with his program "Points to Ponder" very effectively managed a debate between incumbent Republican state Representative Todd Snitchler and challenger and Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley and thereby provided Stark Countians who live in the 50th Ohio House District (Marlboro, Nimishillen, Pike, Sandy, Sugarcreek, Perry [part], Tuscarawas, Lawrence and Lake Townships) with a good look at the varying views of the two Todds.

Ponder and his producer and  protege at WHBC, Stephon King, dubbed the debate as "The Battle of the Todds."

Ponder and WHBC are doing a tremendous public service for the Stark County public in doing this debate as well as arranging for a number of debates between Stark County candidates in other races.   Moreover, Ponder is working on putting together appearances by the likes of Governor Strickland and his Republican opponent John Kasich, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman and Democrat Lee Fisher among others.

Today's video of the "Battle of the Todds" focuses on their plans to create jobs in Ohio.

Snitchler says:
  • Ohio needs to correct its unfavorable tax structure to attract entrepreneurs and companies.
  • Ohio needs to reduce its regulatory burden of businesses.
  • More generally, state legislators need to work on creating a climate that attracts business and jobs.  Legislators, he says, do not create jobs.
  • Multiple bills designed collectively to attack the jobs shortage problem (presumably introduced by Republicans in the Ohio House) need to get a fair consideration.  More over he said that there is "no silver bullet" to create 500,000 jobs.
Bosley says:
  • Snitchler has mediocre ideas and no idea how to market his ideas.
  • Ohio needs to consider implementing an aggressive tax incentive program in which companies would not be taxed at all during the first year of coming to Ohio.
  • That the 50th district is languishing.
Here is the video, you be the judge of who states the better case.

Friday, July 30, 2010

WHO IS ALAN HAROLD RUNNING AGAINST? ZEIGLER? PEREZ? HIMSELF?


Nowadays it is understandable that every Stark County politician wants a piece of Gary Zeigler.  Why would a candidate want to run on the issues when he has a Stark County political/officeholding persona non grata to target.  In the case of Alan Harold, he wants credit for being the first Stark politico to ask Gary to resign.

Dare say that most Stark Countians (including yours truly) think that Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler "should" resign.  And, on Monday, the SCPR is told, the Stark County commissioners will remove Zeigler from office.

However it is a bit of a curiosity and a strong irony that Republican Alan Harold running for county auditor against Democrat Kim Perez is focusing on Zeigler.  Strongly ironic because Harold (see details below) was once slated to run against Zeigler (in 2008). In not getting his information right on Zeigler as to whether or not he MUST (capitalized for emphasis) resign under Ohio law, it might be said that he is running against himself.

Back on April 29, 2009, Stark County Republican (not then a candidate for auditor) Alan Harold wrote a letter to the editor of The Repository saying in effect that Ohio's law required that if former Chief Deputy was convicted of stealing from the Stark County treasury, then Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler "MUST" resign.

Well, here is the "official" law on the matter of the county treasurer and his longevity in office.


Does anyone see language in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 321.38 that the treasurer "must" resign?

"May remove" is "must resign?"  Hmm?

Should he resign?  Of course!  But he is not required to.

Why bring this up?

Because Alan Harold in a "comeuppance-esque way" wrote yours truly an e-mail yesterday saying in effect he was correct in saying that Zeigler "must" resign (back on April 29, 2009).  Harold pointed to the following statements (ignoring ORC 321.38) by Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and Attorney Craig Conley as validating his "must" argument.

Ferrero:  


''The state law is clear on that.  It says the county treasurer is responsible for the acts of their employees and that's why they are required to have bonds on themselves.''

Conley:

Anyone see anything in Harold's proffered supports to corroborate Harold's contention of "must?"

Harold in the e-mail is upset that The Report said, in a blog shortly after his April 29 letter to the editor, that he was "light on the law" on contending that the law of Ohio is that Zeigler "must" resign.

"Light on the law" was being kind.   The Report believes a better description would have been "wrong on the law; but correct on what Zeigler ought to do."

Harold's deficit legal analytical ability means that should he become county auditor, he needs to leave the lawyering to the Stark County prosecutor and to listen to and read what the prosecutor "actually" says.

Trying to be one's own lawyer, especially when one is the head of a major county department of government, is dangerous stuff.

So where are we "really" heading with this discussion?

While the SCPR has said in a previous blog that Stark County voters "should" seriously consider removing Stark County Auditor Kim Perez (because he could have done more to protect Stark County taxpayers in the Frustaci matter) from office in favor of Harold this November.  However, with missives like the e-mail he sent to The Report yesterday; yours truly has growing reservations about Harold and his fitness to serve as county auditor.

Even in the face of his MBA in accounting from The Ohio State University,  his banking experience (Huntington) and his comptroller employment at Steve Coon Restoration seemingly indicating excellent credentials to be Stark County auditor, the SCRP is becoming increasingly  leery of Harold becoming auditor.

But why?

First of all,  a number of sources say Harold caved into pressures from his employer at the time (Huntington Bank) not to run against Gary D. Zeigler back in 2008.  Who, with a family to support, is positioned to fend off that kind of pressure? 

But his yielding to Huntington does raise questions about his ability to act on what his heart tells him to do in the face of enormous pressure.  Will it be "deja vu all over again" (a la Yogi Berra) if he gets pressured as Stark County auditor?  Voter due diligence requires that voters factor in his ability to handle the heat of holding public office as a consideration of whether or not to vote for him.

Secondly, Harold seems to be a reasonable, articulate and intelligent guy who keeps his emotions in check, but is the appearance reality?

Back in July, 2009 at a John Boccieri rally at the Sunoco station on Tuscarawas west, he was in the thick of things of those holding up signs "Drill, Baby, Drill" and yelling at Boccieri as he attempted to hold a press conference.

As we all know, it is Harold's First Amendment U.S. Constitutional right to do the Boccieri rally thing.

So, why the concern?

Because this kind of activity might indicate a person who is a political party true believer that might carry his partisan fervor into his management of a government office.

The Report suspects that Harold is more into passionate partisan politics than most observers ascribe to him.

If Harold is elected, will his partisan passion mean a wholesale dismissal of the Perez-hired employees merely because they were hired by Democrat Perez and/or they are registered Democrats?  Such is a question that Stark County voters should be mulling over in deciding between Perez and Harold.

Stark Countians, including the SCPR, want an end to this "politics as usual" ritual that occurs in the change of office from one political party to the other.  Will Harold deliver?

Thirdly, his  e-mail with yours truly over the "should" and "must" thing is, perhaps, an indication of a person who does not take kindly to being corrected.  The Report is beginning to get a drift from Harold that he may be a "I'm always right" sort of guy.

How will this play in managing the many employees of the Stark County auditor's office?  Will he defer to legal counsel on questions of law?  Can he take any kind of counsel from others?  Or will he take on an arrogant tone about himself and be accountable to nobody.  More questions for Stark County voters, no?

Haven't Stark Countians had enough of the "I'm accountable to nobody"  type of attitude emanating from all too many Stark County officeholders these days?

Right now the SCPR is leaning towards advocating that voters replace Perez with Harold in November.

But Alan Harold is doing his damnest to change The Report's lean!

Oh, one more thing.

Let's see.  Republican candidate Alan Harold versus Gary Zeigler?  Kim Perez?  Himself?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

PART TWO - DEALING WITH THE $8 BILLION DEFICIENT OHIO BUDGET - BOSLEY V. SNITCHLER DEBATE 07/28/2010 ("POINTS TO PONDER" WHBC-1480AM)

Ron Ponder who is a talk show host on WHBC-1480 with his program "Points to Ponder" very effectively managed a debate between incumbent Republican state Representative Todd Snitchler and challenger and Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley and thereby provided Stark Countians who live in the 50th Ohio House District (Marlboro, Nimishillen, Pike, Sandy, Sugarcreek, Perry [part], Tuscarawas, Lawrence and Lake Townships) with a good look at the varying views of the two Todds.

Ponder and his producer and  protege at WHBC, Stephon King, dubbed the debate as "The Battle of the Todds."

Ponder and WHBC are doing a tremendous public service for the Stark County public in doing this debate as well as arranging for a number of debates between Stark County candidates in other races.   Moreover, Ponder is working on putting together appearances by the likes of Governor Strickland and his Republican opponent John Kasich, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman and Democrat Lee Fisher among others.

In today's debate Ponder drew the candidates out on what each would do to solve the projected $8 billion shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2012 - 2013 Ohio budget that is to be balanced by June 1, 2011.

Neither candidate seemed to have much of an answer. 

To sum the offerings up, the SCPR took Snitchler's view to, in essence, be to "cost cut into balance" whereas Bosley's view boiled down to create jobs and "grow the economy into balance."

For readers who want to get a more realistic and complete grasp of what needs to be done, go to the Center for Community Solutions at read Thinking the Unthinkable:  Finding Common Ground for Resolving Ohio's Fiscal Crisis.

PART ONE - OPENING STATEMENTS - BOSLEY V. SNITCHLER DEBATE 07/28/2010 ("POINTS TO PONDER" WHBC-1480AM)


In the opinion of the SCPR, the "Todds Debate" (Democrat challenger [Stark County Commissioner] Todd Bosley versus Republican incumbent state Representative Todd Snitchler) was a draw.

Ron Ponder who is a talk show host on WHBC-1480 with his program "Points to Ponder" very effectively managed the debate and thereby provided Stark Countians who live in the 50th Ohio House District (Marlboro, Nimishillen, Pike, Sandy, Sugarcreek, Perry [part], Tuscarawas, Lawrence and Lake Townships) with a good look at the varying views of the two Todds.

Ponder and WHBC are doing a tremendous public service for the Stark County public in doing this debate as well as arranging for a number of debates between Stark County candidates in other races.   Moreover, Ponder is working on putting together appearances by the likes of Governor Strickland and his Republican opponent John Kasich, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rob Portman and Democrat Lee Fisher among others.

Over the next several days the SCPR will be posting the "Todds Debate" in segments.  Each posting will contain a posting of five minutes or so that are broken down into the opening statements, the issues that Ponder raised with the candidates - one by one - and the closing statements.

The Report thanks Ron Ponder and WHBC for allowing the SCPR to videotape this debate.

As the SCPR learns of other Ponder programming focusing on candidates running in November, The Report will endeavor to get the information to blog readers.

Here is the first segment of the "Todds Debate":  the opening statements.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO REMOVE STARK CO TREASURER ZEIGLER ON MONDAY OF NEXT WEEK? COMMISSIONERS HAVE TO BE UNHAPPY WITH FERRERO'S LEGAL ADVICE, NO? SCPR'S CANDIDATE TO REPLACE ZEIGLER? GARY YOUNG OF CITY OF CANTON AUDITOR'S OFFICE!



The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) just learned from multiple highly reliable sources  that the Stark County commissioners will remove Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler in a specially called meeting for Monday at 3:00 PM.

Under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 321.38 the commissioners "may" remove the county treasurer (Zeigler, in Stark County's case) once a lawsuit under ORC Section 321.37 has been instituted by the county prosecutor.

 

The SCPR has learned that Stark County Prosecutor was to have filed a ORC 312.37 lawsuit this afternoon at 3:00 PM.

Speaking of Prosecutor Ferrero, the Stark County commissioners have to be hugely displeased with him on account of his advice, very publicly made, that the commissioners could not proceed until Vince Frustaci (who admitted to stealing $2.46 million from the Stark treasury in federal court on June 25th) is sentenced on September 7th.

Yours truly never believed that story.  Nor did the civic minded Attorney Craig T. Conley who by persistence forced Ferrero's hand into acting today to bring a legal action which is a precondition to the commissioners removing Zeigler.

Conley should be seen as a heroic figure to Stark Countians in pushing the resolution of what he calls Zeiglergate.  He is doing this work pro bono (for the public good - no fee charged).

The  Report is pleased to see that the editors of The Repository recognize Conley's key role in getting Ferrero moving (How much worse can this mess get?, July 28, 2010), to wit:
County commissioners have just been outwitted by the attorney for a private citizen who’s suing Treasurer Gary Zeigler over the $2.96 million that is missing from Zeigler’s office.

Attorney Craig Conley had warned commissioners and county Auditor Kim Perez that he’d ask the Ohio Supreme Court to intervene if they didn’t immediately sue Zeigler themselves to start the process of recovering the money.
But they should not blame the commissioners.  They were relying on Ferrero's advice.  What?  Should they have hired private legal counsel and defied their government attorney and legal adviser?

The SCPR salutes Conley for his terrific work for the Stark County citizenry.

The Report has also learned that Zeigler and his legal counsel may be consider instituting proceeds to get a judge with jurisdiction to block any removal action by commissioners.

The commissioners are to appoint a replacement if they decide to remove Zeigler.

A good candidate to replace Zeigler would be Canton Auditor office employee Gary Young.  He is one of the top administrators in Canton and is respected by organized Republicans and Democrats alike for his "no-nonsense" style of administration and for his high degree of integrity.

The SCPR has spoken to Young and he says that a number of folks have brought the idea of the possibility of his being a candidate for the selection.

Young did not rule out his availability to The Report.  But he is not soliciting support for the position either.

Let's see if the commissioners have the ability to pick Young or someone of  his caliber.  It is time for the turmoil surrounding the Stark County treasury to end.  A time of healing is in order.

To the commissioners:

Take Charita Goshay's (columnist at The Rep), put political considerations aside, and endeavor to pick the very best person you can find as the successor to Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler!!!

FIRST DEBATE OF 2010 POLITICAL SEASON: BOSLEY V. SNITCHLER - 10:00 AM TODAY - WHBC1480 AM "POINTS TO PONDER"


UPDATE:  07/28/2010 AT 8:47 AM

COMMENT FROM SCPR READER

Truth has left a new comment on your post "FIRST DEBATE OF 2010 POLITICAL SEASON: BOSLEY V. ...":

Martin I believe your analysis of this situation is rather elementary. I find the polling information referenced laughable as I am sure you and your readers are quite familiar with how "independent" polls are administered. If it was anything like the phone call I received from the Bosley campaign a month or so ago where several leading and quite frankly underhanded questions were asked, such as "If you knew Todd Snitchler was still stealing from a charity would you vote for him?" Not an exact question but I think you get the picture.

As for Snitchler only agreeing to debate Bosley because he's running from behind; I find that line of reasoning highly suspect at best! For anyone who has ever listened to the two candidates speak it is very evident who the more intelligent, engaged, informed, and interested person is. I believe that Snitchler has the chance to deal Bosley the death blow before we even get to August with a strong performance in today's debate!

Also, breifly (sic) looking at the respective records of the two candidates; Bosley has done nothing besides raise taxes, play the blame game, and be largely inactive and ineffective even though he controls an all Democrat board of commissioners! Snitchler, on the other hand, has been hampered by the hyperpartisan, and apparently misguided Democrat leadership of the Ohio House. Snitchler has, however, managed to introduce some worthwhile, much needed legislation, despite the cahrged (sic) political atmosphere in Columbus.

I urge all of your readers to tune into the debate today as I believe one candidate will clearly distance themself (sic) from the other and show who is the only logical, deserving, worthwhile candidate for Stark County's 50th House District.

ORIGINAL POST

The first debate between Republican incumbent Todd Snitchler and Democrat challenger Todd Bosley (currently Stark County commissioner) was to take place last month at a Stark County Townships Association meeting in Nimishillen Township (where Bosley served four years as a trustee).  However, the Nimishillen Township trustee proposed hosting was squelched at the Association's May meeting when outside-the-50th members objected on the basis that the 50th includes only part of Stark County's townships.  Also, some members did not want the Association to fray off into political presentations.


Bosley and Snitchler have done a mini-blog-debate on the Stark County Political Report.

Today on "Points to Ponder," WHBC's Ron Ponder will guide the two through a "discussion" of the difference between the two on the important issues facing Ohio over the next two years (Ohio representative are elected for two year terms).

Bosley, being the challenger, has been particularly excited about a one-on-one with Snitchler.

In SCPR contacts with Bosley, he seems to see confrontations everywhere with Snitchler.

The Report was somewhat surprised to learn that Bosley is drawing lines over whom supports which application to the Ohio Department of Development Job Ready Sites (ODOD-JRS) statewide competition.


Bosley says he is pre-eminently supporting the Beck Industrial Park project centered in Louisville.  He claims that perforce of the support that members of Louisville City Council (as individuals; not as a formal body) are supporting his candidacy. 

A Louisville city councilman denies to The Report that Louisville Council as a formal body is supporting Bosley while expressing Council's appreciation for any support that it gets from anybody.

While Bosley (as commissioner) supports all the applications for ODOD-JRSs, in conversation it is apparent he is squaring off against Snitchler on whom support what project as some sort of competition.  Bosley tells The Report Snitchler is primarily supporting the Prospect Industrial Park project on the former Stark County Farm site headed up by local McDonalds franchise magnate Guy Cuchini.  The Report is skeptical of the Bosley take on this matter.

Perhaps the matter will come up for discussion today.

Snitchler does show signs (e.g. the exchanges on the SCPR,  a letter to the editor yesterday in The Rep and today's WHBC appearance) that he thinks he is running behind Bosley in the polls.  The SCPR has learned that a poll taken by a Columbus-based polling firm shows Bosley up by about 10 points with only 10% undecided.

If the poll accurately gauges 50th District voter sentiment, it is truly amazing.

Why amazing?

The Report thinks that the numbers ought to be reflecting tinges of the overwhelming Stark County voter reaction to the Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos in December, 2008) having imposed a 0.50 of one percent sales tax.  In November, 2009, Stark Countians rejected the retention of the tax by a two to one margin.

Moreover, the 50th is a gerrymandered Republican district designed to keep a Republican representing the district to say nothing of an "incumbent" Republican.

The SCPR sees little reason why Snitchler would want to engage Bosley other than on the basis of his and his Columbus handlers having assessed that he is in trouble in terms of holding the 50th for the GOP.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CONLEY ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO PROSECUTOR FERRERO. WILL FERRERO GIVE IN?


The SCPR has learned that civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley sent a letter today to Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero demanding that Ferrero file a lawsuit on bonds (2) and an insurance policy covering employee theft for the losses sustained by the Stark County treasury over the terms of Stark County Gary D. Zeigler's time in office.

Most ($2.46 million of nearly $3 million) but not all of the missing money was pilfered by former treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci who pled guilty in the Northern District of the United States District Court on June 25, 2010; the day the federal government filed a Bill of Information against him.

Despite the appearance that the Frustaci generated loss has been known since Frustaci was fired, county officials still have not moved to recover the loss.  But for the efforts of Conley, it seems that Ferrero would not have moved to recover for taxpayers until after Frustaci is sentenced on September 7th.

The SCPR commends Attorney Conley for his pro bono (for the public good) work.  Stark Countians should be and are undoubtedly pleased with Conley's effort.  However, everyday citizens need to be contacting Prosecutor Ferrero with questions as to why he is resisting Conley's effort to get the recovery effort moving.

Here is a copy of Conley's letter to Ferrero.



BONDING & INSURANCE COMPANIES TO LESSEN BURDEN OF FRUSTACI THEFT ON STARK COUNTY TAXPAYERS? SEE COPY OF FERRERO LETTER RESPONDING TO PEREZ REQUEST THAT HE PURSUE BOND/INSURANCE MONIES


UPDATE:  07/28/2008

Today's "status conference" has been postponed.  The SCPR has been informed that Judge Marvin Shapiro will not be the judge to replace the recused Judge John Haas and that the Ohio Supreme Court is in the process of selecting another judge.

ORIGINAL POST

How much is Stark County's "Rainy Day Fund" going to get hit by the recent revelation that the missing funds from the Stark County treasury (about $3 million) of which $2.46 million is due to the admitted theft by former treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci?
Probably about $2 million, but it could be significantly less.

How is that?

By the action of local citizen activist and attorney Craig Conley.

First of all, he is forcing the hand of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero on the matter of pursuing Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler for recovery from his personal/individual assets.

On July 2nd Conley filed a lawsuit on the behalf of Stark County taxpayers in the name of Bethlehem Township citizen Tom Marcelli against Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler in his personal/individual capacity (which means going after Zeigler's personal/real property holdings if a judgment is obtained).


Judge Haas of the Stark County Common Pleas Court has recused himself and the case has been taken up by visiting judge Marvin Shapiro of Summit County.  Shapiro retired from the Summit Court of Common Pleas on March 31, 2008.

Stark Countians will know more tomorrow the date and time for a "status conference" called by Judge Shapiro) about who (Prosecutor Ferrero or Attorney Conley) will be trying the case.

This the lawsuit that could help Stark County taxpayers dip below the $2 million loss (after bonds, insurance and other resources have been collected on). 

The SCPR believes this lawsuit should have been filed on June 25th (the date that the "Bill of Information" against Frustaci was filed in federal court and to which Frustaci pled guilty).

A legal fiction was circulating around government and political circles (which the SCPR believes was generated by the Stark County Prosecutor's Office) that the suit was premature because Frustaci had not yet been sentenced.

Conley says that such is not the case.

Second of all, Conley, on July 22nd, opened up a second front in forcing Prosecutor John Ferrero's hand on initiating action to collect on bonds (2 - $250,000 bonds) and an insurance policy ($500,000) that the county owns on the performance of Treasurer Zeigler in terms of any losses to county funds during his term(s) in office.

He wrote Stark County commissioners and Stark County Auditor Kim Perez that they had an obligation to pursue the bonds and insurance coverage on Zeigler and, in the case of insurance, on Frustaci.
Yesterday, Perez responded with a request to Ferrero to proceed.

Again, Ferrero's action, when taken, will be over a month after the filing of the federal Bill of Information against Frustaci.

Why so long?

The commissioners and Perez were asleep at the switch.  However, they were relying on Prosecutor Ferrero to inform them as to what their legal position is as well as the timetable action.  The SCPR believes that the problem with with the prosecutor's office.

Again, there were legal fictions being floated about on preconditions for filing.  First, the necessity of sentencing of Frustaci and secondly contract language in the bond/insurance policies requiring the passage of a certain period of time before suit could be filed.

Conley tells the SCPR that such is not the case.

Moreover, Conley tells The Report that if suit on the bonds/insurance is not filed by this Friday, he will be filing another suit in the name of Tom Marcelli as a surrogate for Stark County taxpayers.

If it were not for Craig T. Conley, the SCPR believes that the taxpayers of Stark County would be in jeopardy of losing their ability to recover from Zeigler on what Conley says is his "strict liability" for the missing funds (remember, nearly $3 million) which occurred during his terms in office.

 Last week Prosecutor Ferrero lambasted Conley in local media for "costing taxpayers money."  Quite to the contrary.   Conley has potentially saved taxpayers $2 million.  A public records request by Conley for records evidencing the costs that Ferrero claim has gone unproduced upon because?:  "the do not exist." Conley says he is being told by prosecutor officer personnel.

Attorney Craig T. Conley has been a prime mover for the Stark County taxpayers and is due a debt of gratitude from all of us!!!

 By the way here is a copy of Ferrero's response to Stark County Auditor Kim Perez's request for Ferrero to proceed on the bond/insurance collections.


MASSILLON MAYOR FRANCIS H. CICHINELLI, JR., TO ANNOUCE 2011 MAYORALTY RACE PLANS ON FRIDAY.


Running the City of Massillon has gotten more and more difficult for Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr.  By the end of next year he will have been mayor of Massillon for 23 years.  And, he will have been in Massillon government for 37 years.

So the question is:  Does he have four more years in him?

We shall find out this coming Friday as he has scheduled a press conference to make his plans known.  It will be held at the mayor's office at 1:30 p.m.

Whatever decision Cicchinelli makes Friday, he must have been doing something right for the citizens of Massillon to keep returning him to office election after election.

Should he decide to run, the SCPR tags the race to be the toughest election of his political life.

Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry appears poised to make a run.  But it is interesting to note that a Massillon politically-connected person did suggest to The Report about a month ago that Judge Eddie Elum of the Massillon Municipal Court may be taking a look at running for mayor.  If the report is accurate, do not look for both Catazaro-Perry and Elum to be in the Democratic primary in May, 2011.

The SCPR believes Cicchinelli when he says that Catazaro-Perry is being backed by the likes of former Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (currently Massillon clerk of courts) and that will not deter him from running again.

If he decides not to run, The Report thinks that there will be someone from the Cicchinelli wing of the Massillon Democratic Party to meet a challenge from the Catazaro-Perry, Maier and Eddie Elum (Massillon Municipal Court judge) camp.

Any way one looks at the 2011 Massillon mayor's race, it is a fight as to which Massillon Democrats will control Massillon City Hall from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2015.

Monday, July 26, 2010

THIS MORNING: SCRP CRITICIZES AUDITOR PEREZ; THIS AFTERNOON: PLAUDITS TO PEREZ! HMM?



UPDATED 07/26/2010 AT 11:00 PM

Republican Alan Harold, who is opposing Democrat Auditor Kim Perez in November's election had the following statement in a press release provided to the SCPR this evening, to wit:


“Mr. Perez’s request to the prosecutor stinks of desperation and is ‘too little too late’”, states Auditor candidate Alan Harold. “This request could have been made at any point since the June 25 pleading by Mr. Frustaci and is only prompted by a deadline imposed by the counsel of a concerned tax payer.

“Mr. Perez has been asleep at the switch for too long in this matter and his credibility, much like his good friend Mr. Zeigler’s, has been seriously tarnished due to his inability to carry out his fiduciary responsibilities. Only at the behest of others, as with his failure to produce documents needed for the State Auditor, does Mr. Perez ever step to the plate.”


REVISED & UPDATED AT 2:08 PM

This morning the SCPR was critical in a blog about Auditor Perez' failure to adequately follow up when he knew or suspected problems in the Stark County treasury with regard to unaccounted for money.

The Report stands by that blog, however, this afternoon Auditor Perez is showing show signs of redeeming his prior failure.

Local attorney and citizen activist Crag T. Conley sent letters to Perez and the Stark County commissioners on July 22, 2010 asking them to request that Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero take action "immediately" on the bonds of Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler for money missing from the treasury (nearly $3 million).  Recently, former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci pled guilty in federal court to stealing $2.46 million of the larger amount.

Perez wrote a letter to Prosecutor Ferrero today requesting he take action.

Here is a copy of the letter.


The SCPR praises Perez for the action he has taken on Conley's request!!!

Conley also issued a memo to media praising Perez for moving forward on his request.

Here is a copy of the Conley accolade.


Action like this could be a "political lifesaver" for Perez.  Auditor Perez has a long track record of being the best vote getter among Stark County's elected Democrats.

Undoubtedly, he is hurt by his lethargic reaction to what Conley calls "Zeiglergate."

But as the saying goes:  "better late than never."

The SCPF will assess over the next three months as to whether or not Perez has acted soon enough to save his position as Stark County auditor.

As for Zeigler, what impact does the Perez initiative have on him other than the lawsuit himself?

It sets Zeigler up to be removed from office by the Stark County commissioners.  The SCPR believes commissioners will remove Zeigler with the only question remaining being the timing.

Before September 7th, the appointed Democratic successor will have to run in the November, 2010 election to defend the newly appointed post.

After September 7th, the appointed Democratic successor will have breathing space until November of 2012 to create a record for him/herself and extra time to campaign to retain the office.

Stark Countians can rest assured that the wheels are churning at Stark Democratic and Republican headquarters these days to figure out all the nuances of what The Report believes to be the coming Stark County commissioner removal of Zeigler.

If Stark's organized Democrats have their way, the removal will come after September 7th so they can appoint Commissioner Steven Meeks after he removes himself from the commissioner race with Republican Janet Creighton.

As The Report sees the Meeks move, it is either as The Report speculates or Meeks is going to have to go elsewhere to stay in public life.

The SCPR does not see him anywhere near defeating Creighton in what would clearly be a Stark County upset special!

A NEW "SCPR" FEATURE: SHARING YOUR FAVORITE SCPR POSTS WITH YOUR FRIENDS. IT IS NOW AS EASY AS CLICKING A BUTTON!


The word out in Stark County officialdom is that Stark County's elected and appointed leaders appreciate the "bouquets of love" that The Report hurls their way on a daily basis.

It is likely that they are busy at work making sure that The Report's expressions of love get the widest Stark County dissemination.

But they need your help.

How can readers of the SCPR help our public leaders?

For instance:  Each of you has an e-mail mailing list that is the living end.  Use this list for the benefit of Stark's official community.  Simply click the "M" (see graphic below - highlighted in yellow) at the end of the blog you have just read and send it pell-mell to your online friends.


Of course, there are additional "click-on" buttons to share with your friends:  on Blogger, Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz.

So help the egos of Stark County's leading officials by sharing the SCPR's love notes with the Stark County public-at-large!

YES, ZEIGLER SHOULD RESIGN. BUT? SHOULD THERE BE CONSEQUENCE FOR AUDITOR PEREZ?




In a bid  to survive in office, Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (Treasury) on Wednesday, July 14,  had his attorney (Dennis Thompson - of the Akron area) prepare and distribute a "Statement relating to Gary D. Zeigler."

The SCPR believes that Thompson's statement in no way absolves Zeigler from what The Report believes to have been a major Zeigler failure to protect the public treasury from the likes of Vince Frustaci who on June 25th pled guilty in federal court to have stolen $2.46 million while serving as Zeigler's chief deputy.

The Report views Thompson's statement as a public relations gambit designed to divert attention away from his client and onto other county and state officials.

The SCPR is unimpressed with Thompson's statement and continues to believe that Zeigler should resign as Stark County treasurer.

Having established such as the SCPR position, The Report now moves into a consideration of the Thompson focus (among others) on Stark County Auditor Kim Perez.

A Thompson statement:

Hmm?

So what is Perez's obligation in protecting the integrity of treasury funds in the light of suspecting there was a problem? 

Interesting enough, on September 9, 2009 (note after April 1, 2009, the date that Zeigler fired Frustaci)  Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray (OAG) wrote an Ohio attorney general opinion (OAG2009-033), which the SCPR believes puts Perez in a bad light in terms of his contending that bringing the matter of two imbalances between Stark County treasury and the auditor, to the attention of the State of Ohio Auditor ("SOA," - November, 2008 & March, 2009) absolved him of any obligation to pursue the matter further.


Even though, by his own words, Perez speaks of "a lack of cooperation from the Treasurer's office," he thinks reporting the "lack of cooperation" to the Ohio Auditor solves an obvious "no-confidence" in the information problem between his office and the Stark treasury?

The SCPR has written before that Perez, once he suspected problems at the Treasury, when available, should have - at a minimum - insisted on "original source bank statements."

Reportedly, Perez is saying that Stark County Prosecutor Ross Rhodes directs that Perez "MUST" (emphasis added) rely on the bank statements provided by Frustaci. However, Rhodes' letter of July 13th (attached to the Stark County Auditor Report to the Stark County Commissioners on the Investigation of the Stark County Treasurer's Office) does not contain such a statement. 

Is it good enough for public official Perez, with the connection (functionally) that he has with the Stark treasury, to "punt" a suspected problem to the Auditor of State and thereby (in his mind) wash his hands of the matter?

To the SCPR, OAG2009-033 in and of itself together with its cited statutes and cases seem to indicate Perez (as do all Ohio county auditors) has that responsibility and the authority (which Perez claims he does not have) to follow up his misgivings about the goings-on in Zeigler's office with an insistence of original source bank statements.

Here is a summary of the law as articulated in OAG 2009-033)


Even in light of the law cited about, the SCPR does not think that Perez could have just waltzed over to First Merit Bank and gotten original source documents; although Vince Frustaci did not seem to have any difficulty getting $220,000 in cash.

But with a little creativeness, the SCPR has to believe that Perez did not have to accept the Frustaci- provided documents on blind faith and could have and, in the view of the SCPR, should have insisted that the county prosecutor look for legal procedural ways and means for him to "'require factual proof'" (i.e. the bank statements) were authentic.

The Stark County Political Report believes that Auditor Perez failed county taxpayers in not taking a more rigorous approach to resolving the misgivings he certainly must have had with respect to the Frustaci-provided information in light of the November, 2008 incongruity of numbers.

Another thing.  Perez's "hypothetical example" given in his report to commissioners is insulting to anyone who has basic analytical ability, to wit:

If yours truly got a bank statement that did not jive with checkbook balancing, a trip would be made to the bank with the question:  "Why doesn't my checkbook balance with your statement I received in the mail.  I have checked and rechecked my account and I am absolutely sure it is correct."

I would insist that the bank take a look at its numbers on its computers.

Eureka!  On checking against its computer records, an incongruity would be obvious.  "Hmm?" the bank would say.  "How can this be?"

The rest of the story?

A neighbor who worked at the bank had been forging checks against my account and, to cover his tracks, had intercepted my monthly bank statement from my mailbox and recreated the statement to cover for the withdrawals made by him and reinserted the fraudulent statement in my mailbox.

So my going to the original source was the key to finding the criminal activity on my account.

Does whomever created the non-analogous hypothetical actually work in the Stark County Auditor's office?

If so, isn't that worrisome in and of itself?

The bottom line?

Does The Report's take on Perez's failure to obtain original source documents from the Stark treasury's banker mean that the SCPR is advocating that Auditor Perez resign?

No.

Why not?

He only has about three months left on his current term.  It would be too disruptive of county operations for him to do so at this late date.

However, it does mean that The Report believes that Stark Countians should take a serious look at removing him from office via the election process in November, 2010!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

OHIOANS & STARK COUNTIANS HAVE AN AWFUL CHOICE TO MAKE THIS FALL. STRICKLAND OR KASICH? FOLKS, IT DOESN'T GET MUCH WORSE THAN THIS!


About the only folks who are "bananas" for Governor Ted Strickland these days are the likes of former Stark County Democratic chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  And who on God's green acre in Ohio could be enthusiastic about his Republican challenger John Kasich?

This race is sort of like when Republican Bob Taft ran for re-election against Democrat Tim Hagan (how a Cuyahoga County commissioner).  The choice clearly is a Hobson's Choice (a free choice in which only one option is offered):  a twiddly dee,  twiddly dum (ho-hum) one, if ever there was one.  Maybe ever worse than "ho-hum."  Either could accentuate Ohio's downward spiral.  To the SCPR, "twiddly dee or dum" would be a better choice.  At least, they are not live human beings and therefore can "do no harm."

Strickland is trying to be folksy again.  Remember, last time out in 2006, he ran as "the man from Duck Run."

This time he wants to appear to be "the man who is in touch with Main Street, Ohio."  Another ruse in the making, no?

But it certainly does not appear that he is a "main-streeter."  Get this.

Man alive!   Strickland apparently was on his way to Main Street, Massillon, Ohio (Cicchinelli-de-ville) but ended up at 900 Path Ridge NE which is Catazaro-Perry-de-ville (home of Kathy Catazaro-Perry, a likely Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. foe in 2011 - if he decides to run)..

Downtown Massillon is a neat looking community.  Mayor Cicchinelli's administration has done a great job keeping Main Street, Massillon looking spiffy.

But it ain't no Mill Ridge Path!

It is interesting that Strickland could not find his way to Main Street.  To The Report, his misdirection is indicative of how much he has lost the affection of Main Street Ohioans and Stark Countians.

By his own definition, he is a failed governor.  He said that if he failed to fix public education funding problem, he would own up to being a failed governor.  Now, like most politicians, it is one excuse after another, after another, after another as to why he hasn't.

Strickland will likely win in November because the Republicans have made a major mistake in selecting Congressman John Kasich to run against him.

Kasich is spending a lot of time these days explaining how he came to be associated with the discredited Lehman investment banking house that went belly up during the recent banking aspect of the end of the Bush administration financial crisis.  Apparently, Kasich made big money with Lehman, while scores of investors (presumably including Ohioans and Stark Countians) lost their investment dollars.

One has to wonder whether Ohio has an chance at all to dig itself out of the economic/financial doldrums with the likes of Strickland and Kasich leading the way.

Doesn't look like it, either way.

Indeed, Ohioans and Stark Countians DO have an awful choice to make this fall.

And its probably one on which, in reality, there is only one choice.  Whether the choice is Strickland or Kasich,  the result is likely to be more heartache and failure that hits the folks on Main Street the hardest.

The folks on Mill Ridge Path, NE?  Oh, they will do just fine.  They always do!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

STARK CO. PROSECUTOR FERRERO CASTIGATES ATTORNEY CRAIG T. CONLEY ON CONLEY'S PRO BONO WORK TO RECOVER MISSING STARK TREASURY MONEY FROM TREASURER ZEIGLER. WILL HE FOLLOW IT UP WITH A DISCIPLINARY COMPLAINT? WILL CONLEY FILE ON FERRERO?


First of all, a disclaimer:  Yours truly is writing as an opinion journalist and not as an attorney.

The disclaimer is for the benefit of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero who in January, 2010 filed a disciplinary complaint against yours truly on the basis of work done by the Stark County Political Report (as an opinion journalist) critiquing his office's handling of the Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies' and son Kyle's case which ended in a dismissal at the conclusion of the State's (Ferrero's office as prosecutor) case.

The complaint was dismissed out-of-hand by the Ohio Supreme Court's Disciplinary Counsel.

As for the Devies case dismissal; they are very rare indeed.  The defense, superbly represented by Jeff Jakimedes (Kyle Devies) and Richard Reinbold (Ron Devies), did not have to put on any part of their case.
The Report was not surprised in the least at the result and predicted something along the lines what materialized all along.  Stark County Common Pleas Judge Lee Sinclair in dismissing the case advanced the cause of justice.

Second, it is now time to consider the Ferrero's "in the newspaper" upbraiding of public interest attorney (pro bono - for the public good)  Craig T. Conley who represents Bethlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli (standing in for the Stark County taxpayers) for costing taxpayers money in his filing of a lawsuit against Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler claiming, in its essence, that Zeigler is "strictly" liable (meaning that Conley does not have to prove negligence on Zeigler's part) for losses of nearly $3 million during Zeigler's time in office.

Upbraiding?

Yes, that's the SCPR take on this quote of Ferrero in today's Repository, to wit: (as reported by Shane Hoover, Zeigler lawsuit agreement falls apart," to wit:
The prosecutor bristled at Conley's putting pressure on commissioners to pursue the case now, saying that Conley already has done enough in costing the county for Zeigler's defense in the pending case.
Well, apparently Attorney Conley is not taking Ferrero's word for it as to his (Conley's) actions "costing the county for Zeigler's defense in pending the case."

Conley has provided the SCPR with a copy of a public records request he has made on the Stark County prosecutor's office for records which document Ferrero's claim to The Repository (see the actual request below).

The SCPR is not surprised at all by Ferrero's "brist[ling]" as reported in The Repository.   The Report has gotten a number of accounts from law enforcement and Stark County political figures to the effect that Ferrero has a difficult time dealing with the words or actions of others which he finds disagreeable.

One was when he reportedly had an outburst at a political gathering when a discussion about former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr's asking long time Stark County Board of Elections member Billy Sherer to step aside from the board in favor of Attorney Sam Ferruccio.

Other outbursts by Ferrero are said to have happened at the Stark County Police Chiefs Association (SCPCA) when discussions were underway about whether or not the SCPCA would support the retention of the "imposed" 0.50 of one percent sales tax as done by Commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos in December, 2008.

The Report has gotten feedback that Ferrero has been less than complimentary (to be euphemistic about it ) about the opinion analysis done by yours truly on various Ferrero activities in and about Stark County. 

Now this outburst on Conley.

Conley has been critical of Ferrero's delay in getting moving against Zeigler because he is concerned that taxpayers will lose their priority on any Zeigler-held assets if there is a judgment against Zeigler.

It seems to the SCPR that John Ferrero thinks only he can criticize.  But nobody had better criticize him.

The Stark County Political Report views Craig Conley as an honorable, courageous man who does more "pro bono" work than most, if not all, Stark County attorneys. 

Now that Conley appears to be in a Ronald Reagan-esque "trust, but verify" modality, what will be Ferrero's action?

Will there be more outbursts?

In a little over two years, John Ferrero will have to run for re-election. The SCPR urges members of the Stark County bar to start mulling over who will oppose him for re-election.  Last time, thanks to Stark County Republican Party chair Jeff Matthews; Ferrero ran unopposed.

A very good curative for the likes of John Ferrero is for them to experience a good stiff dose of political competition.

Will Jeff Matthews blow it again?

Here in the full Conley records request.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FEAR BASED PROGRAM BEING PUT TOGETHER TO GET STARK VOTERS TO APPROVE A RENEWAL SALES TAX LEVY?


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!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

AUDITOR & COMMISSIONERS BEING PUSHED TO PURSUE BONDS ON STARK COUNTY TREASURER GARY D. ZEIGLER. WILL THEY RESPOND?


If community activist and attorney Craig T. Conley wasn't pushing them, would Stark County elected officials (with the power to do so), be pursuing Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to make the county whole for nearly three million dollars (Frustaci $2.45 million; unknown - the balance) in losses incurred during his watch over the Stark treasury?

One would think so, but there has been enough dilly-dallying around that Stark County citizens have to be wondering.

First, Conley representing Bethlehem Township citizen Tom Marcelli filed a suit on July 2, 2010 asking the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to find Zeigler "strictly liable" on a personal basis for any monies not recovered on Zeigler bonds, insurances and other resources.

How much might that be?

Yesterday at the Stark County commissioners' regular weekly meeting, Commissioner Steven Meeks seemed to be setting the amount that will be deficient at about $2 million.

Conley knows this too and he has to be sitting in his office about block south of the Stark County Office Building thinking to himself - what is taking these folks (the county prosecutor, auditor and commissioners) so long to get up and moving?

Like he did in asking Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero against Zeigler personally (which he still hasn't gotten a clear answer on), he is agitating the county commissioners and the county auditor to pursue Zeigler on what the SCPR understands to be $500,000 in bonds now; not later.

It was important for the personal liability lawsuit to be launched when Conley did so that a judgment that might be forthcoming in that lawsuit stands at the top of the priority list in levying against any assets held by Zeigler personally.

Bonds are not like insurance.  Any payment by bonding companies to the county will cause the companies to pursue Zeigler for indemnification on any payments made. 

Here is a copy of the letter from Conley (sent today) to Auditor Perez and to the commissioners setting the July 28, 2010 at 4:30 p.m. (the time the Clerk of Courts office closes) to file.  If they don't, Conley tells the SCPR he will be at the courthouse doors bright and early on the 29th to file a mandamus actions against Perez and the commissioners whereby he asks the court to compel them to act on the bonds.


MAYBE IT WON'T BE FIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS THAT SCUTTLES THE CHARTER INITIATIVE IN CANTON; THE NUMBER MAY BE DOWN TO THREE?



AN AMPLIFICATION:  It has been pointed out by a reader of the SCPR that by the Rules of Procedure of the Canton City Council that a council member may ask Council as a body to remove an item from within a committee. If Council refuses to remove the matter from committee and the committee never reports it out, then the matter is effectively killed at the end of Council's term.  It would have to be reintroduced in a new term.

If Council does remove, by a majority vote, the measure from Council, then it goes to Council's Committee of The Whole where it will need seven votes (a simple majority) to get on City Council's agenda for consideration of passage.

ORIGINAL POST

The SCPR wrote on Tuesday that Councilman Mark Butterworth (R - 8th Ward) may have trouble finding eight of twelve votes within Canton City Council to get a measure on the May, 2011 to create a Charter Commission to formulate a charter for Cantonians to vote on in November, 2011.

Like it or not, this measure is getting caught up in politics and the political insecurities of at least two of the councilpersons who sit on the Judiciary Committee headed up by Councilman Thomas West (D - 2nd Ward).

So it could turn out that only three "no" votes (25% of the voting members of Council) refusing to report out the measure to full Council will kill the charter movement for Canton.

Another factor is that the Healy administration is cool to the idea of Canton going to a charter.

In a larger since, it is also probably a case of the "establishment" caucus of the organized Stark County Democratic Party on Canton Council who are trying in a stealth manner to kill the charter proposal.

Why?

Because the establishment folks are in charge now and any change is likely seen by them to threaten their control of Council.

Who are some of these folks?

A source tells the SCPR that Councilmen West, Cole and Hawk, if they can conjure up a superficially plausible basis for voting "no," they will do so.  The source says that one of the consequences that West and Hawk fear is that the drawing of new council district lines under a charter would put them in the same district and therefore have to run against one another in a face off.  Such a race would likely mean the end of Hawk's career on Council.

The SCPR believes Mayor Healy is "cool" to the idea of charter because Councilman Bill Smuckler is for it.  Smuckler has for many years advocated for Canton going to a charter form of government.  Smuckler is likely to run against Healy in next May's Democratic primary to be the Democratic nominee for mayor in November's election.

An important factor in all of these political maneuverings is that a Republican (Mark Butterworth) is pushing the charter thing.  A mistake that Butterworth made in proposing a charter commission is not getting a Democrat, any Democrat, to join him.

His mistake seems credible to the "establishment" Democrats being whispered around City Hall that this is a plan by Republicans to gain more representation on Council.  After all, it was Republican operative Michael Cunnington who earlier this year call a community meeting at Malone College to discuss the idea of circulating petitions for a ground-up movement to install a charter in Canton.

The SCPR is told that Cunnington ran into a buzz saw of "establishment" Democrats beholden to Mayor Healy who caused a ruckus at the community meeting over the Cunnington proposal.

The SCPR believes that it is a difficult task that the "establishment" Democrats have to pull off.  With Canton being in the financial/economic doldrums, it is clear that something has to be done to reverse Canton's fortunes.  But what?

Well, how about a change in structure of government which suggests the infusion of "new" blood into Canton government?  One not overwhelmingly controlled by the organized Stark County Democratic Party.

Cantonians are likely to be infuriated if they come to believe that they are being denied the right to vote on whether or not they want to go to a charter government by insecure Democratic politicians.

So the "establishment" Democratic forces have a touchy matter in their hands.

We will know better after August 9th and a meeting of the West-controlled Judiciary Committee at which Councilman Butterworth will seek to educate committee members on the ramifications of going charter.

Will this matter get out of Judiciary?

The SCPR thinks it depends on Councilman Joe Cole.

Why Cole?

Well, he is the new kid on the block in Council and has not really identified himself as being part and parcel with "establishment" Democrats on Council and also with the Healy administration.

The Report believes that if Cole signals he favors a vote of the people, then West and Hawk will likely flip over to voting "yes" with him.

But if he indicates strong reservations about charter proposal, it would not be surprising at all to see 25% of the members of Canton City Council deny the entire City of Canton electorate the opportunity to vote on the charter measure.

It all boils down to what the anti-charter folks can cook up that makes it appear to Cantonians that they are not being obstructionists.  But, rather, they are doing the responsible and productive thing for Canton.

The charter thing presents an interesting sideshow to the looming showdown between Mayor Healy and powerful Canton Council Bill Smuckler in a mayoralty face off in May of 2011!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VIEW VIDEO PROBLEM FIXED - DUE TO A SETTINGS ERROR, SCPR READERS HAVE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO VIEW RECENT (THE LAST SIX) VIDEOS. THE PROBLEM IS NOW FIXED, APPOLOGIES - SCPR

THINGS APPEAR TO BE GETTING UGLY IN MARCELLI (CONLEY) VERSUS ZEIGLER (THOMPSON) LAWSUIT. ALSO, ZEIGLER ASKS STARK COUNTY TO PROVIDE LEGAL COUNSEL?


It appears to the SCPR that Bethlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli's lawsuit (on behalf of Stark County taxpayers) against Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler claiming, in the heart of the case, that by virtue of Zeigler being treasurer while former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci stole $2.46 million in county funds; Zeigler is "strictly" liable to Stark Countians for any deficiencies in taxpayer funds after bonds, insurances and other resources have been collected on.

The Report has been particularly impressed with Marcelli's pro bono legal counsel Craig T. Conley.  In all conversations with Conley, The Report's take is that he is trying to keep any "personal" factor between Marcelli and Zeigler out of the lawsuit.

Personal?

For Stark Countians who have followed Tom Marcelli in local media at all, it is apparent that there is little love lost between Marcelli and various county officials, most notably, Zeigler, Stark County Auditor Kim Perez and Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley.

So when Conley filed the "time is of the essence" (before Zeigler assets become unreachable) in Marcelli's name, the SCPR expected that eventually there would be sparks flying before long.

Now it appears to The Report that the expectation is becoming reality.

The Report believes that Stark County Common Pleas Judge Haas also understands the potential volatility of this Marcelli/Zeigler legal confrontation and took immediate steps to keep the lawsuit on a purely legal basis.

Haas engaged the filing immediately by having the parties into chambers soon after the July 2, 2010 filing to nudge the parties (through their attorneys Conley and Dennis Thompson [out of Akron]) to come to some basic accords like staying the proceedings for 90 days to give Stark County Prosecutor Ferrero an opportunity to assess whether or not he was going to take the case over, and the issuance of an injunction to set the parties into an agreed status pending the outcome of litigation.

As a consequence of the initial meeting and other conversations, Judge Haas did issue an order on July 14 in which he issued a 90 day stay of proceedings which, in the July 14 order, he said would be incorporated into a more complete "agreed" order being worked upon by the Court and the parties.

Right out of the chute, Thompson (in what the SCPR believes was a major miscalculation of how to deal with Craig Conley) started, to use Conley's words, "saber rattling."  He threatened the Marcelli side with Ohio Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 11 sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit.


Here is Rule 11:
The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation...
If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee (emphasis added).
The latest exchange (yesterday) between Conley and Thompson, if anything, indicate an escalation of hostilities between the two sides.

What follows is some excerpts of the more provocative language from Thompson's letters (July 13 and July 20) to Conley:
Regardless, while we are not required to under Ohio law, this gives us the opportunity to advise you and your client of your Civil Rule 11 and ORC 2323.51 liabilities. (July 13) (emphasis added)
As you must be aware, Mr. Zeigler has engaged in no misconduct or wrongdoing.  No less than 4 (sic) federal and state agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Attorneys office, Stark County Prosecutor and the Ohio State Auditor, have review the facts and none of them have implicated Mr. Zeigler in an fashion to Mr. Frustaci's criminal conspiracy.  From your pleadings, it is clear that you have no facts to support such a contention, either. (July 13) (emphasis added)
Also, to be noted from Thompson's letter is his claim that the statutory bases for the Marcelli lawsuit apply to Zeigler as a public official and that Zeigler is qualifiedly immune from any such lawsuits.  Moreover, it is clear from Thompson's July 20 letter that Zeigler has asked Stark County to provide a defense to the Marcelli lawsuit.  Apparently, this is why Stark County commissioners, last Wednesday, brought Zeigler and Thompson into executive session.

A question:  Is it a proper use of executive session to discuss whether or not Stark County has to provide a county official with legal representation?

Moreover, wouldn't it be "a real kick in the pants" for Stark County taxpayers to have to pay for "any" Zeigler legal fees?

Back to the Thompson letters:
Your concerns about any mortgage or an other issues are overshadowed by the fact that you have filed a suit that fails to state a claim for relief. (July 20) (emphasis added)
Since Stark County will be required to provide Mr. Zeigler with a defense, we will also be seeking reimbursement for the attorney fees expended in his defense, which is entirely compatible with your ostensible concern for the taxpayers of Stark County--of which your client [Marcelli] only recently joined the ranks after being delinquent for so many years. (July 20) (emphasis added)
At this point, we believe it would be a wiser course of action to consider your realistic alternatives in this case.  As we see it, none are very attractive or beneficial to you or your client.  This is not saber rattling; it is a legitimate response to a suit without basis in law or fact brought by an individual [Marcelli] with a strong public personal animus towards Gary ZeiglerWe are providing notice to you as a professional courtesy so that one one can say that we came out of the blue or that our responses are a surprise, nothing more nothing less.  It is time for you to take a step back from this. (July 20) (emphasis added)
If anyone - from the tone of this letter - thinks that Gary Zeigler is going to step down as treasurer, they had better think again.

It will take one of three things to get Zeigler out of office.

First, the petition being circulated by Stark County Republicans will have to produce enough signatures in a legally timely timeframe and get a court of law to remove him,

Second, the Stark County commissioners will have to find a legal basis on which to remove him and act to do so, or

Third, Stark Democrats (in the 2012 primary election) will have to find a candidate to defeat Zeigler in that election.

In the meantime, the SCPR is pleased to see Conley/Marcelli proceeding as they are.  Thompson's legal opinions are just that with an emphasis on the word "opinion."  In time, we will have a legal authority who counts (the judge in the case) determine the issue.