Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BOCCIERI CAMPAIGN (SEE VIDEO): "CAP 'N TRADE" IS A REPUBLICAN IDEA?


According to Congressman John Boccieri, Cap 'N Trade is a Republican idea.

Last night (August 30, 2010) at an event put on by OperationFree.net, 16th District Congressman John Boccieri unveiled his campaign strategy (undoubtedly, a strategy conceived by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee - DCCC) to turn the Cap 'N Tax and National Energy Tax labels put on Cap 'N Trade legislation (formally known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act) by Republicans (including Boccieri's opponent Jim Renacci)  against the Republicans.

Apparently, Boccieri wants the 16th District public (Stark, Wayne Ashland and Medina (parts of) counties to think that the Republicans are the  real "flip-floppers" on the issue and not himself.  Readers of the Stark County Political Report will recall that The Report blogged that Boccieri was going around the 16th suggesting that he was likely to vote against Cap 'N Trade but in the end voted for it.

Moreover, it seems obvious that he also wants to come out of discussion on Cap 'N Trade as being bipartisan.

And he did his Republican idea thing last night in a room of the Stark County District Library, located in the heart of Canton, dedicated to the 16th District's most well known Republican; namely, William McKinley (i.e. "the McKinley Room) who was president of the United States from March 4, 1897 to September 14, 1901.

First, OperationFree?  Who are they?  Here is a video put out by the organization describing themselves:



Second,  a Boccieri Strategy?

Yes.

What is it?

Cap 'N Trade is a Republican idea going back to the days of Ronald Reagan.

Really?

Indeed.  Perhaps going back to the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

Yes, according to a piece put out by a reporter from National Public Radio's WBUR, to wit:


And more recently (2007 and 2008), the Republican version of Cap 'N Trade was put in legislative form in America's Climate and Security Act.

The list of Republican sponsors is impressive, to wit:


Boccieri's tack:  The Republicans are now in the political silly season. The implication being that Republicans are attacking their own idea for political advantage.

Will the Boccieri/DCCC strategy work?

Only time will tell and, of course, Boccieri's persuasion skills.  Look for him to be responding to 16th District voters who stop by his booth at the Stark County Fair (today through Labor Day) to hear the "it's a Republican idea" I'm supporting spiel.

Also, there are the debates.  No doubt Boccieri will be throwing this at his opponent Jim Renacci.  Will Renacci be able to debunk the notion that Republicans are turning on themselves?


Here is a video of Boccieri making his case for the strategy that in voting for Cap 'N Trade he is being "bipartisan" in supporting what was originally a Republican idea.


Monday, August 30, 2010

A REMATCH "OF SORTS" IN JACKSON TOWNSHIP IN THE OFFING?


Both (Commissioner Steven Meeks and Trustee Jamie Walters) appear to the SCPR to have only an outside chance to be elected Stark County commissioner on November 2nd.

So what are the respective back up plans?

At one time, Meeks (according to sources) was looking to replace Gary Zeigler as treasurer.  But that was only if Zeigler was to "see the light" and resign.  He didn't and the commissioners decided to remove him.


MEEKS

Even though the the treasurer's position is open, it does not appear to be an option for Meeks.

Why?

Beacause:

1.  It wouldn't be seemly.  After all, Meeks was one of three commissioners (Bosley and Ferguson being the other two) who voted one week ago today to remove Zeigler under the authority of Ohio Revised Code Section 321.38 from office.

2.  There is a remote (in the opinion of the SCPR) that the 5th District Court of Appeals could decide to return Zeigler to office.  Where would that leave an appointee?

3.  The appointee has to run for treasurer this November (not two years from now) which would be too short of time to shift gears, let alone a likely voter adverse reaction (in Meeks' case) at what would appear to be sheer political opportunism.

Though it will mean an even larger fall from the lofty heights of being Governor Strickland's Region 9 "eyes and ears" man, the word is that Meeks is already looking at running for his old post as Jackson Township trustee.

Meeks needs a backup plan, no?

WALTERS

It has been a topsy-turvy political run of it for Jackson Township Trustee Jamie Walters.

When he started out, it was to be a match up with Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley.  And Walters could not wait to get his political hooks into Bosley.

Walters probably figured that with Bosley voting to impose a 0.50 of one percent sales tax increase (along with then Commissioners Vignos and Harmon) in December, 2008 that he had a real chance to defeat a sitting commissioners.

And he was probably correct.

But then the political landscape did a kaleidoscopic-esque change and Walter's former bright political future turned into a bleak one overnight.

First, Bosley pulled out of the commissioners race when Ohio Speaker of the House Armond Budish paid a visit to him in December, 2009 with news from on high.  The Democratic House Caucus had done some polling in Stark County to figure out who would be its strongest candidate to go at Republican incumbent Todd Snitchler (the 50th House District).

Lo and behold the political seers had blessed Bosley with their designation as the person who could defeat Snitchler.

Second, with Bosley pulling out, former Canton mayor Janet Creighton who undoubtedly has been itching to get back into Stark County politics (once it gets in your blood, it nearly impossible to get it out) is saying to herself "Hmm," an opportunity.

So why didn't she pull petitions to run against Bosley in the first place?  Probably because she knows that Bosley runs mean and ugly campaigns.  Not that she was frightened.  But she's been there and done that with William J. Healy, II and likely was not wild about getting into the political cesspool again.

Now that is all changed.  Steve Meeks, appointed by the Stark County Democratic Central Committee to fill Tom Harmon's unfulfilled term on December 15th, elects to jump from "retaining" the Harmon seat (for two years) to taking over the Bosley vacated four year term.

If Steven M. Meeks is anything, he is a gentleman.  Creighton can run a high level campaign and defeat Meeks easily.

But what about Walters?

Well, all that gets handled in the back rooms of 2727 Fulton Ave, NW (the Stark GOP headquarters location).

A plan appears to have been hatched there  for Walters to step aside in favor of the Stark County Republican Party's most powerful countywide vote getter (Creighton) and for him to join party newcomer Dean Windham (from Lake) to fight for the right to run against Democratic Party candidate Tom Bernabei.

What a huge political tumble for Walters!

He has to fight for his political life in a primary against a political newbie (Windham) and if he wins (which he did) has to run against a man he has no issues to contend with on and a man who has been elected many times over to various positions in Canton government who has gotten tons of ink over many years in The Repository and the Akron Beacon Journal, not to mention The Massillon Independent and The Alliance Review.

Where Walters stands today is a long way from where he stood on November 07, 2007 when he defeated Steven Meeks' handpicked candidate (his wife,  Patty) to try to keep the Jackson trustee seat as a family heirloom.


Can there be any "reasonable" doubt that Jamie Walters needs a back up plan.

THE BACKUP PLAN

STEVEN M. MEEKS VERSUS JAMIE WALTERS, NOVEMBER, 2011.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WHOOPEE-DEE! EVERYBODY TURN SOMERSALTS - BILL SMUCKLER IS RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF CANTON!

Its a close call. Who is the most boring candidate in all of Stark County? Richard Reinbold (Democrat - running [yawn] against Republican "musical chairs" Scott Oelslager for Stark County 29th Ohio Senate district) or Bill Smuckler?

The Repository says, today, that Smuckler is to make a formal announcement (Facebook and Twitter, a "formal" announcement?) that he is running for mayor of Canton.

Of course, anybody who knows anything about Canton politics knows that today's heads-up announcement has been known about for months.

To gin up excitement, it appears that Smuckler is trying to give the impression that he is a "with-it" guy who uncharacteristically, for a man of his age, is into Facebook and Twitter and in that way do a "novel" - not anymore - and "exciting" formal announcement.

Hmm.

Well, that will probably be about as exciting as Bill Smuckler gets.

A fresh face in Democratic politics would beat William J. Healy, II hands down.  But Smuckler?  It could be Healy is about to "even the score" with Smuckler, having lost the 2003 Democratic primary by 139 votes to "the power behind the throne" of Canton City Council.


The key to who wins the 2003 rematch is how "in political reality" the 8 Ward councilmen (Ward 8 is represented by Republican Mark Butterworth) and two (other than Smuckler himself, obviously) council-at-large persons line up.

Here is how the Wards broke down in the 2003 election.


Healy won only in Wards 1, 3 and 6 and ran rather poorly in in Wards 8 and 9.  Actually, Healy "lost" the election in Wards 8 and 9.

Readers are reminded that there were three other candidates in the 2003 race.  And it is these votes, 2,231 of them where the battleground of the 2011 primary election will be fought.

Look for both Healy and Smuckler to lean on the councilpersons and other key "organized" Stark County Democratic Party players for support.

Healy, of course, can count on Ward 2 (Thomas West) and Ward Four (Chris Smith).  Smuckler can count on Council President Allen Schulman, Ward 1 (Greg Hawk), Ward 6 (David Dougherty) and Councilwoman-at-Large Mary Cirelli (who Healy defeated in her bid to be re-elected state representative in the 52nd District in 2004).

The SCPR believes that Canton's Democratic voters will be in a "choose your poison" mode come May, 2011.

Despite all his promises when he ran against and defeated Republican Janet Creighton in 2007, Healy has not delivered for Cantonians.  Unless, that is, one defines delivering as being controversy and its concomitant negative effect on the smooth and beneficial flow of government.

While Smuckler has remained what he as always been, a bland politician.  He has generated nothing new and invigorating as the future of Canton.

He and his sidekick Sam Sliman (the self-described "Darth Vader to the Townships") have basically pushed hard for annexation as a way for Canton to get its way out of the economic cesspool.

Smuckler is trying to put on the look of a "new look" with the Facebook and Twitter stuff, but the reality is that he had nothing new to offer Canton.

Yes, Smuckler has been Stark County's leading proponent of regionalization for a long time.  Regionalization is a partial answer to cutting the cost of government.  But it is not economic development which is what Canton sorely needs.

The 2011 Democratic primary will not be a happy election for Cantonians unless a new, fresh face interlopes to give Cantonians a real choice.

As was said above, Smuckler and Healy are both unattractive candidates.  Healy has more personality than Smuckler, but the "its all about me" stuff is a downer for Cantonians.

The Report believes that the Stark County Republican Party will pretty much ignore the Canton mayoralty contest.  The GOP is working hard to capitalize on winning county offices in 2012 on the heels of what local attorney and civic activist Craig Conley has dubbed "Zeiglergate."

So whatever comes out of the May, 2011 Democratic primary is likely to be "all she wrote" for Canton's voters come November, 2011.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

VIDEO: THEY (CANAL FULTON GOV'T) HAVE BUILT IT, BUT WILL THEY (MARSHALVILLE ST RESIDENTS) COME? STATE SENATOR SCHURING MEDIATES THE UNHAPPINESS.

Back in July, 2009 the SCPR did a blog on the then City of Canal Fulton plan "to build a bridge err sewer line to nowhere."

The sewer line has been built and now Canal Fulton, Stark County and Ohio are working together to compel those living along the line and and outside of Canal Fulton to hook on.


Canal Fulton, Lawrence Township officials, and state Senator Kirk Schuring have participated in two what Schuring calls citizen "participatory" meetings (June 24, 2010 and August 24, 2010) to answer "mechanics and cost" questions about the certain reality that Marshallville residents will within two years be on the sewer line unless they can get a up to five year deferment from county officials because of financial hardship.


So the meetings are not "participatory" in terms of have an option to hook onto the line or not.

To be more accurate, state Senator Schuring should have labeled them "informational meetings."  Schuring's elaboration makes it clear that he apparently meant to say "informational" rather than "participatory."

It seems "forcing" citizens to do what they haven't consented to is in vogue in Stark County in modern times.


Several examples.

#1

If memory serves the SCPR right, back in the 1990s Lake Township trustees formed a water district for the township as provided for by Ohio statutory law.

Okay.  So?

The residents in overwhelming numbers did not want the district.  However, there was no mechanism in the law to undo the district.

There were many heated meetings in Lake over the "imposed" water district with residents demanding that the district be dismantled.

Eventually, because of the political heat, a lawsuit was filed and the Stark County Court of Common Pleas fashioned a remedy where none was provided in the statute that enabled creation of the district.

As a side note, Democrat Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., who then represented Lake in the Ohio House (the 56th) turned a deaf ear to constituents wanting him to introduce legislation to provide for a dismantlement mechanism.

Was this some sort of mistake by the Ohio General Assembly?

Not at all.  It is part of an intentional overall plan by state government to force as many of Ohio families as possible off of their ground water (wells) and septic tanks. 

#2

Back in December, 2008, Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) "imposed" a 0.50 of a percent sales tax increase on Stark Countians for their (the citizens') good.  The good?  Reconstructing 9-1-1 emergency dispatching.  However, a little publicized aspect of the 0.50 was that half of it was designated for the Stark County general fund.

A group, the "Vote No Increased Taxes," formed, gathered over 20,000 signatures and successfully led a campaign to reject retention of the imposed tax.

An aside:  All the candidates for county commissioner in the November, 2010 election have committed themselves to:  "no imposed tax increases."

#3

"A build it and [they] will come" exercise a la the 1989 movie Field of Dreams seems to be in full bloom in Canal Fulton and Lawrence Township, but with an odd twist.

Odd twist?

Yes, an "arm twist!"

Really?

Really!

In the movie Field of Dreams, the speculatively constructed ball field was an irresistible lure to long dead baseball players to return to play the game once again and fulfill their dreams to redeem their frustrations.

But "the sewer project to nowhere"  has the twist that the lure is to more or less force - over five to seven years - families currently living along the Marshallville Street, NW corridor (outside the city limits of Canal Fulton) to hook on to the sewer line.  A sewer line that it appears none of them wanted.

And get this.  State of Ohio money (via the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; i.e. "stimulus" money) paid for about half of the project because it was "shovel ready" and because it qualified to help Ohio get the Marshallville Street families off of their septic systems in pursuit of the overall Ohio goal.


MORAL OF THE STORY

The SCPR believes that the Canal Fulton sewer project is a current and a Stark County example of the use of the heavy hand of government to force the unwanted on Stark County citizens.

By forcing the unwanted upon the citizenry, governments (local, state and national) are fueling an antagonism between the governors and the governed.  Many government officials shake their heads at the growing unruliness of citizens.

While the SCPR does not condone the increasing citizen belligerence that is apparent at government meetings these days, one has to wonder whether or not government officials play a causative role by how they do the public's business.

Canal Fulton City Council and Mayor Grogan apparently egged on by City Manager Mark Cozy (according to a source) may think they have pulled off a cute move with this project.  But have they?

Are the chickens now coming home to roost?

The SCPR's take (a view that Senator Schuring seems to confirm in his videotaped comments) is that Canal Fulton's initiative does not appear in reality to be primarily about eliminating ground pollution and thereby be in compliance with the primary objective of the funding source (the Ohio Clean Water Act administered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency [OEPA]).

Rather the "real" objective from Canal Fulton's perspective appears to be a desire by Canal Fulton officials to increase in size by using the sewer project to push Marshallville Street residents into the City on the lure of a Canal Fulton subsidy on the sewer line hookup. Moreover, they seem to hope, co-incidently, that the sewer line will prove to be its "field of dreams" to lure companies to Canal Fulton and thereby spur economic development.

Was it proper for Canal Fulton to get money from the Ohio EPA for the ostensible purpose of lessening ground water pollution (which presumably denied other Ohio communities the opportunity to get these funds) and then constructing the line for publicly stated purposes of annexation and economic development?

The Report believes that these kinds of maneuvers are what increase citizen negativity towards the operations of government at all levels.

Here is a video of some of the citizens and government interaction on the heated meeting that took place at Lawrence Township Hall on August 24th.

Friday, August 27, 2010

STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (MARTIN OLSON) AGREES TO REPORT ON BOCCIERI CAMPAIGN FOR "THE HUFFINGTON POST"


Yours truly has agreed to write weekly articles for The Huffington Post (HuffPo) on the campaign of Congressman John Boccieri (Democrat - Alliance) to be re-elected to the United States House of Representatives.


The Huffington Post is known to be a politically progressive (to the left of center) online publication.

If The Reports' submission is selected to be on the front page of the HuffPo, then the online publication will link to the Stark County Political Report.  A link will make the SCPR accessible to 40 million HuffPo readers.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report is an independent-minded look at the Stark County political and governmental landscape.

The Boccieri/Renacci (the Republican challenger) race is one of the top quests in the country in terms of Republicans trying to take control of the U.S. House.  Republicans must win 59 seats to be the controlling party.

The SCPR has been published since March, 2008 and followed the Bocceri/Schuring (a Republican Ohio state senator who hails from Stark County) contest closely through November, 2008.  The Report accurately predicted that Boccieri would win by about 10%.


Most recent polls show Renacci leading but within the margin of error for polling.

VIDEO (CITIZENS BESEECHING COMMISSIONERS): FERTILE DOGS GALORE IN STARK. THE COMMISSIONERS NEED TO HELP CIVIC GROUP WITH THEIR SPAY & NEUTER CLINIC!


Since before September, 2009 Stark County civic activist Nanci Miller has been working with her fellow Stark County citizens who care about the plight of dogs and cats in terms of nothing being done to check their reproductivity.

The unchecked propagation of dogs and cats leads to them, because of their numbers, being homeless (either a result of being born out in the public domain or being abandoned by pet owners) and in time picked up to be dealt with by public authorities at public expense. Many families with pets cannot afford to have them spayed and neutered.  Undoubtedly, current tough economic times make it even less likely that struggling families can afford the procedure.

A member of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (appointed by Stark County commissioners), Nanci works tirelessly with other like minded civic folks of Stark County to solve the problem of abandoned and uncared for canines.

In September, 2009 she formed the non-profit The Animal Welfare Society of Stark County which was recently granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service.

Moreover, she has been working closely with Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley to put together an effort of citizen volunteers to staff a facility so that Stark Countians have a place to bring their dogs for low-cost spaying and neutering.

The county's role?

To provide (via a $1 per year lease) a facility where the low-cost spay and neutering clinic can be housed.  Commissioners are working with Miller to get a garage facility on the grounds of the Stark County Dog Pound in usable conditions so that the clinic can become a reality.

On Wednesday, August 18th, Ms. Miller and a group of about 12 supporters appeared before the commissioners to encourage them to act now to assist The Animal Welfare Society of Stark County (AWCOSC) so that they can tell prospective grant providing entities that they have a facility and the clinic is up and running.



Originally, the commissioners (principally Bosley) were thinking of providing about $100,000 to rehab the county building to make it suitable for a spay and neuter clinic.

However, with county finances in a steep downward spiral with the loss of $2.96 million in county funds from the Stark County treasury as well as with the rejection by Stark County taxpayers of the retention of a 0.50 of one percent imposed (December, 2008) sales tax, the county is hard pressed to assist any group no matter how worthy the cause.

About that only project the county should be looking a putting any county funds into should be those that help county officials cut county expenses.

The SCPR believes that a low-cost spay and neuter clinic has the prospect to help keep costs down, if not decrease them, at the Stark County government funded Stark County Dog Pound.  Over the longer term, if Ms. Miller's organization can help to dramatically reduced the uncared for population of dogs, the county may be able to keep the county dog pound operation from expanding and thereby keep costs in check.

The AWSOSC has modified its request for county assistance to a level that will enable the facility to be rehab minimally so that a basic, bare bones clinic can be opened.

The SCPR support the commissioners assisting AWSOSC in light of the group working very hard to keep the amount of assistance needed to an absolute minimum.

Also, The Report salutes Commissioner Bosley for his work with these civic minded Stark County citizens to solve a very large problem in Stark County.

Here is a video of the AWSOSC presentation to commissioners on August 18th.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

STARK PROSECUTOR IS OUT OF MONEY FOR THE 4TH QUARTER 2010. COMMISSIONERS AGREE TO TAKE $181,245.08 OUT OF "RAINY DAY FUND." THIS AFTER THE FUND TOOK A $2.9 PLUS HIT ON MISSING FUNDS FROM STARK TREASURY. THE FIRST SIGNS OF A COUNTY IN FINANCIAL CRISIS?


It seemed like yesterday's Stark County commissioners weekly meeting was going to be really toned down from what the commissioners have been experiencing lately with the Stark County treasury situation.

And it was until Stark County Prosecutor office Chief Counsel John Kurtzman interrupted Commissioner Bosley (president of the Board of Stark County Commissioners) as he was to pound the gavel on the table adjourning the meeting.

What an interruption it was!

Prosecutor John Ferrero had sent commissioners a "bombshell" of a  letter dated August 23, 2010 (the day commissioners had removed Gary D. Zeigler as Stark County treasurer) in which he details the need of the prosecutor's office to have $288,652.50 to make it through the rest of 2010 without laying off or furloughing some of his administrative and professional (i.e. from among the assistant prosecutors).

Of the requested amount, the SCPR understands that the commissioners would get back $181,245.08 when the prosecutor's office gets reimbursed by the grantor of a grant which Ferrero's office has obtained for Stark County taxpayers.  (It's the kind of grant where the prosecutor spends the money first and then gets reimbursed by the entity that awarded the grant)

It appears to The Report that Ferrero is asking for $181.245.08 because of a cash flow problem which will be resolved in March, 2011 when the grant money comes in which will then be turned over to the county general fund.

However,  The Report's take is that the other $107,000 + ($288,652.50 minus $181,245.08) would further diminish the county's general fund.

Here is a copy of the letter.


Undoubtedly, Ferrero had to know that he would meet with resistance from the commissioners.

Why so?

Because the commissioners at today's meeting passed a Resolution recognizing the $2.9 million + loss of funds out of the Stark County treasury over the period 2003 through 2008.  Former Chief Deputy Frustaci has admitted to taking $2.46 million of the missing money.

So what was a $5.5 million budget stabilization fund (popularly known as a "rainy day fund,") has dwindled by the $2.9 million plus offset by $230,000 paid over by FirstMerit Bank to the county general fund to cover losses on two checks that Frustaci wrote on a treasury bank account with FirstMerit, and which the bank inexplicably cashed allowing him to make off with the $230,000.

So note in the letter and in the video presented below the great lengths that Ferrero and his stand-in Chief Counsel John Kurtzman go to in an endeavor to show commissioners how much the office has generated in grants; how much it has covered in a previous cash flow problem (the $41,269.28) that prosecutor's office had experienced last year (2009), and that the prosecutor's office had returned to commissioners $46,000 in 2009 (as if it was some type of savings account that the prosecutor's office now wants to withdraw).

Most of Kurtman's presentation was about how hard the prosecutor's staff works.  He left it up to Operations Director Kent Smith to discuss the financial end of the matter with commissioners.

Stark Countians can expect a parade of such requests over the next several years.  Commissioners have sent out a letter to all county departments which participate in the general fund to submit appropriation requests at a minus 16%. 

In past meetings earlier this year, commissioners have talked about how they did not think county department heads (elected officials in their own right) were getting the message.

Yesterday, Stark County Chief Administrator Mike Hanke told the SCPR that he believes that the message is now getting through.

In May, 2011 commissioners will be asking Stark County voters to renew a 0.25 of one percent sales tax.  There is a lot of concern that the Stark County treasury problem coupled with a tough local economy could cause even a renewal to be defeated.

There is no doubt that the Stark County general fund is in need of an infusion of new money.  But there is no way that county taxpayers would approve new money in the current climate.

The Report analysis is that the economy is only partially to blame.

In the view of the SCPR, Commissioners' imposition of a 0.50 of one percent sales tax in December, 2008 (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) is the main reason why Stark Countians are not about to approve any new money.

Here is the Kurtzman video.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

8 OF STARK COUNTY'S 17 SCHOOL DISTRICTS MISS OUT ON AT LEAST $900,000 IN FEDERAL FUNDING. HOW ARE THESE DISTRICTS' TAXPAYERS GOING TO FEEL ABOUT THAT?


Here is the list of Stark County school districts who have cost their citizens more in local taxes they will be paying for educating the districts' children:
  • Alliance City
  • Fairless Local
  • Louisville City
  • Massillon City
  • North Canton City
  • Osnaburg Local
  • Perry Local
  • Sandy Valley Local
How much more?  At least $100,000 or more.  Probably much more.  Alliance and Massillon, in particular, because they are urban school districts which are favored by the funding source, appear to have passed up upwards of $1 million each in not participating in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Race to the Top (RttT) federal stimulus funding of local education reform.

Who is to blame.  Probably the education associations (unions) in each of the districts who chose not to participate in RttT.

The Stark County Political Report compliments the nine districts and their unions who elected to help their local taxpayers by applying for RttT funding.

The absurdity of the districts who did not apply is that under House Bill 1 (Governor Strickland's Evidence Based educational reform), the reforms mandated in receiving RttT money, RttT is pretty much duplicated in Ohio and therefore the non-applying Stark districts will have to dig up additional local money.

Couple HB 1 (and its number of unfunded mandates) with expected state funding shortfalls of about 20% and you can see Stark County schools reeling under strains of a huge financial crisis come school year 2011-12.

Ohio Representative Todd Snitchler (Republican - Lake) has been saying (is anybody listening?) that HB 1 is underfunded by about $2 billion to $3 billion dollars.

The SCPR believes he is right on the mark and should be catching the ear of Stark County's school officials.

Here is a brief video showing the viewpoint of Dayton's superintendent of schools and a education think tank representative on the significance of House Bill 1.

Note how the Dayton superintendent brings up the matter that when the Republicans were in the supermajority (in the mid-90s including Stark Republicans Scott Oelslager, John Hagan and Kirk Schuring), how the money was available to "fully fund" Ohio education, but that the Republicans failed to act.


Dayton Education Panel - Thoughts on Ohio HB 1 from Education Gadfly on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

VIDEO: SEE IT FOR YOURSELF - NORTH CANTON COUNCIL PRESIDENT HAS NORTH CANTON CITIZEN ACTIVIST CHUCK OSBORNE ESCORTED FROM COUNCIL CHAMBERS


There seems to be a love/hate relationship between former North Canton city councilman Chuck Osborne and most of the current members of Council.

The acrimony came to a head last night when Council President Daryl Revoldt had Osborne escorted out of the council meeting room after a heated exchange after Osborne had made a speech about the North Canton Veterans Memorial Committee's effort to build a memorial at North Canton's Bitzer Park.

Council member Doug Foltz even went so far as advocating the banning of Osborne from council meetings for a period of time to teach him a lesson on decorum.

A video of the cast of characters in what is the SCPR entitles "The North Canton Veterans Committee & Council Osborne Feud" is presented below.

The whole episode raises the question of whether "on balance" Osborne is a positive citizen imput to Council or not.

The SCPR says that he is, but that Council members have a point that Osborne needs to rein himself in and respect the rules of public dialogue.

The Report believes that Osborne is his own worst enemy and with some self-discipline could rehabilitate himself in the eyes of Council, and, more importantly, the North Canton public as an effective "whistleblower" on matters of North Canton government that need to be brought to the light of day for public scrutiny and dialogue.

The life of a whistleblower is a thankless task that is an essential ingredient in the mix of government/citizen/public interaction to keep government honest.

One of the ways that government bodies and officials often deal with whitleblowers is to malign them.  This is what Osborne thinks North Canton Council members in the persons of Council President Revoldt and member Foltz are out to do.  He calls their concerted action a conspiracy against his First Amendment rights.

The SCPR's take?

Actually, The Report thinks the majority of Council value private dialogue with Osborne and think he makes some important points in his public presentations.  Moreover, Revoldt has told The Report that Osborne brings many important points to light and that he values his contribution.  Osborne finds such talk by Revoldt to be incredulous.

Osborne says that members who deal with him suspect that there is a move on the part of other council members (and some members of the Held administration) to discredit him in order to render him ineffective by inducing the public to think of him as some sort of crank.  Osborne includes Revoldt in the category of his detractors and smearers.

Most disturbing, if Osborne's allegation is true, is his statement that several councilpersons tell him in private that they will support him on the floor of Council on a given matter, but they fail to do so, and excuse themselves to him in saying that they feel intimidated by Revoldt.

Osborne says that after last night's Council meeting he received a call from a council member who admitted that he had let Osborne down in not speaking up about his concerns about the North Canton Veterans Memorial Committee project after indicating in private he was going to do so.

While Revoldt did zero in on Osborne as being a deterrent to other citizens wanting to participate in public meeting dialogue because of the disorder that Revoldt believes Osborne brings to the meetings, he (Revoldt) said nothing about council persons being courageous and being persons of their word.  The Report believes that most citizens only have to be sandbagged once by a government official, to bail out of public participation.

If the public perceives that their councilpersons are cowardly, then fewer of them will be engaged in public interaction.

Revodlt and councilmembers need to keep order and decorum in place during proceedings.  Osborne must learn to better manage himself.

But the scrutiny and dialogue must go on.

It is essential to public accountability!

Here is the video.


Monday, August 23, 2010

SEE VIDEO - THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM! COMMISSIONERS BOSLEY, FERGUSON & MEEKS REMOVE GARY D. ZEIGLER AS STARK COUNTY TREASURER!!!

 REVISED & REPUBLISHED 08/24/2010 AT 7:30 AM

As Stark County commissioners were going through the process of passing a resolution at their August 18th meeting setting up a meeting to consider removing the then Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office, County Administrator Mike Hanke reminded commissioners that this would be their third attempt. 

Always quick with the wit, Commissioner Todd Bosley, instantly responded with "the third time in the charm, right?"

They set the meeting for yesterday (the 23rd) at 1:30 PM.

A number of well placed Stark County attorneys were letting it be known that they believed that Geauga County Common Pleas Judge (retired) H.F. Inderlied, Jr would grant either a continued TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) or a PI (Preliminary Injunction).

However, he surprised legal observers in mid-morning by announcing that he would not be staying the commissioners on the scheduled Ohio Revised Code Section 321.38 hearing and more importantly he found the statute to be constitutional as applied by the commissioners under Article 2, Clause 38 of the Ohio Constitution.



The Stark County Political Report believes that today would not have happened without the efforts of Canton attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.

Conley appears one factor Zeigler had not calculated upon as being a key to overcome in his quest to stay in office.

A SCPR tip-of-the-hat to Craig T. Conley.

Zeigler's removal now clears the way, in the opinion of the SCPR, for Stark County government to begin its recovery from a very trying time.

A key to recovery is the person who is appointed by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee to replace Zeigler.

The person in the judgment of the SCPR who is ideally suited to replace Zeigler is Canton Auditor top level employee Gary Young.  The Report is told that he is not interested.

Who could blame him?

However, he is the person for the job.

Last week in a discussion with former Canton mayor Janet Creighton (now running for county commissioner against Steve Meeks), she said that she agreed with yours truly that he is a person of impeccable character who would serve effectively as county treasurer.

Stark Democrats should go to Young and prevail upon him to accept an appointment.  He has the character to serve as a model for all other public officials.  Party officials should press upon Young that he could do a huge public service in changing his mind and accepting the appointment.

The last thing Stark County needs is a partisan battle over who takes over (in the longer term) as the new Stark County treasurer.

Here is the video of the commissioners' action.

VIDEO: COMMISSIONER TODD BOSLEY HOPING THAT THE "THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM." HMM?


UPDATED:  05.45 AM

You don't hear it often but Wednesday past Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley at the regular Stark County commissioners' weekly meeting is seen in the accompanying video wistfully intoning the well known cliche "the third time is the charm," but he tails off into a pondering (perhaps a questioning) mode.


The SCPR thinks that the chances of the Stark County commissioners getting to remove Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office today at 1:30 PM in a meeting called for that purpose at Room 318 of the Stark County Office Building is just that:  "a hope and and a prayer."

Stark Countians who want a return to normalcy in Stark County government should be "praying and fasting" between now and 9:00 AM on Monday morning when Geauga County Court of Common Pleas Frederick Inderlied makes his decision on whether or not to issue a preliminary junction prohibiting the commissioners from holding the hearing under Ohio Revised Code Section 321.38 to remove Zeigler from office, that Lordly wisdom plays large in the determination of Judge Inderlied.

If Judge Inderlied goes with what a number of legal observers believe the law holds, it appears to the SCPR that Zeigler will triumph in the courts.

The Report's mind says Zeigler will be with Stark Countians as a public official until September, 2013 presuming that Stark Countians take matters into their own hands via the ballot box (either in the the Democratic primary in May, 2012 or the general election in November, 2012) to remove Zeigler.

But The Report's heart is hoping for divine intervention.  Perhaps the Lord will provide Judge Inderlied with an insight on the law that some of the best legal minds in Stark County and across Ohio do not presently see.

Anything short of a miracle will keep Stark County embroiled in a negative downward spiral with Stark Countians sinking into new lower levels of a "lack of confidence" in the administration of Stark County government pretty much across the board.

In May, 2011 Stark Countians will get their chance to tell commissioners and Zeigler (if he is still in office) how discontented they are with them and him and a number of other county officials, when they get the opportunity to vote as to whether or not to renew a 0.25 percent of a countywide sales tax which expires in 2011.

Zeigler has refused to step down from office despite public outcry that he do so for not properly minding the store and thereby creating conditions enabling his former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci to make off with about $2.46 million to cover gambling debts.

Frustaci has admitted to the theft in open federal court and has provided to the media that gambling debt is the reason he stole the money.

Will Zeigler ever resign?

The SCPR thinks he will or, at least, not seek re-election once it becomes apparent to him that there is one barrier that a lawsuit will not solve.

What barrier is that?

The ultimate term limit barrier: The constitutional right of "we the people" to determine at the end of the day whether or not a public official remains in office.

The voting public is entitled, as a matter of the supreme constitutional law of Ohio and of "the land," to say to Zeigler:  "We know you think you have not done anything to merit removal from office, but we think differently.  We believe a la Harry Truman that "the buck does stop" with the holder of the public trust whether or not he did anything actionable at law."

If Zeigler goes to the point of being turned out by the voters in his quest to remain in office, the SCPR believes that the damage done to Stark Countians' confidence in their right to get a speedy solution to a perceived misfeasance by a public official in ensuring the safety of public funds will spill over onto the whole of Stark County's governors for years to come in terms of a heightened public cynicism. 

Here is the video of Commissioner Bosley on his "the third time is the charm" utterance and the commissioners voting on a resolution to set of today's hearing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

MASSILLON CITY: "A PROUD TRADITION," ARGUING OVER THE INANE?


Recently the SCPR contacted Councilman-at-Large Larry Slagle to talk about Council's looming annexation fight with the Cicchinelli administration over the Tuslaw schools annexation.

During the conversation, it became apparent that Councilman Slagle had other things to talk about.  So The Report bit and asked "are there other controversies brewing on Council?

Answer was along the lines: "maybe not a controversy, but some misunderstanding about how parks get renamed in Massillon."

It seems as if Councilman Tony Townsend (4th Ward - a staunch Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. political ally) wants to rename Shriver Park after previous 4th Ward Councilman T. Roy Roberson (1981-92).

 

Simple, enough?

Not really in Massillon.

Councilman Slagle brought up an e-mail that he had received from the Massillon Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB - which a source says officially is really the Massillon Recreation Board) to the effect that the Board does the renaming and that it is a policy not to do so unless the name has been discredited.

Townsend appears to feel (the SCPR's read of the July 19th minutes) he was somehow blindsided by the revelation of the policy and that, in any event, Council should ignore the MPRP and proceed because Council is the ultimate decider anyway.

Townsend then seems to take a shot at the Cicchinelli (over the attempted sale of Genshaft Park on 2008) administration and the MPRB director Kenn Kaminski, to wit:
"No, I’m not thinking that its just when you sent it out I just never seen it before and when I read it, it just appeared to me that it was a lot easier to sell a park here then to rename it.  I just never saw it before and I mentioned this to Kenn about the renaming of the park when we took a tour.  Not one time did he ever mention that there was some type of procedure that we needed to follow to do that?  Even if you look at the letter I don’t know I gave you a copy of this I’m quite sure written by Perry here he states you know the ultimate decision lies with city council and not with the parks and recreation.  So how would that conflict with this procedure?  You don’t know? (emphasis added)
The SCPR believes that this flap over renaming is somehow grounded in and related to the fight by anti-Cicchinelli forces over historical Massillon Parks and Recreation Board issues.

This to The Report is the only reason why there would be a fight over the inane.

The Report does not believe Councilman Slagle is part of the undertow.  He merely (as chairman of Council's Parks and Recreation committee) wants to square up naming procedures.

However, there are others who, in the opinion of the SCPR, want to fire the "flames of discontent" with an overall objective of defeating Mayor Cicchinelli in next May's Democratic primary election.

So the point of this blog is that one should never take differences on Massillon City Council at face value.

There are a number of political agendas circulating around the halls of Massillon government.

Such is what fuels Massillon City government's ability to argue about nearly everything!

Question:  Does the proud tradition of arguing about even the most inane serve the people of Massillon?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

VIDEO: RENACCI HUNTING FOR VOTES AT A TEA PARTY RALLY IN NAVARRE? AIN'T THAT SMART POLITICS FOR A REPUBLICAN?


On June 27th Boccieri 16th Congressional District challenger Jim Renacci was in Navarre looking for votes.

So, isn't that is what he was supposed to be doing?

Yes and no.

Yes, he should be looking for votes.  But not at a Tea Party rally.

How many Tea Partiers are going to vote for Democrat Congressman John Boccieri.

Tea Partiers can say until they are "blue in the face" (God forbid, blue? aren't those Democratic Party colors?) that they are not, but many, if not most, political observers see the Tea Party movement as a being a extreme wing of the Republican Party.

It is obvious to The Report that if Renacci is to win in November, it will be because there is a rebirth of the 1994 Republican Revolution when they picked up 54 seats during the Clinton administration mid-term elections.

For there is nothing special about Jim Renacci as far as the SCPR can see.  At the Navarre event, he was the epitome of Republican Party talking points.  And what you hear of Renacci since Navarre is more of the same.

He complains that Congressman Boccieri votes about 94% of the time with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.  And The Report believes those numbers are right on the mark.

But did Renacci make a statement at Navarre that he would be independent of the Republican caucus in the U.S. House?  Of course, not.  The Report expects that he will, if elected, be every bit the equal of Boccieri's 94%.  Maybe even higher.

Because of the disfavor that President Obama is experiencing with the American electorate, John Boccieri will have a very difficult time being re-elected.

Boccieri's main problem (over matters he can control) is how utterly "immature" his $1-million-a-year staff is.  They cannot seem to do effective constituent service, and they want to punish media types who will not drink their Kool-Aid.

This Boccieri/Renacci race is an example of the worst of politics.

Boccieri appears to be working hand-in-glove with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to unfairly (in the opinion of a number of political observers) tab Renacci as favoring a 23% tax increase with his support of The Fair Tax (a National sales tax).

Also, Renacci claims Boccieri is distorting Renacci's past Ohio income tax dispute with the Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT).

All you have to do is watch the Renacci tape taken of his Navarre Tea Party speech to get a good picture of Renacci's distortions of the Boccieri record.

So whichever one is elected will only serve to give the 16th District voters another reason to be disenchanted with the quality of the guys and gals who run for the United States Congress.

Several national polling organization polls as of mid-August have Renacci with a slight lead.  However, the polling is within the margin of error and either candidate could win.  There is a long, long way to go in this race.

Look for the race to degrade further.  There will likely be multiple Federal Election Commission complaints filed between the two sides.  A little over a week ago Boccieri filed a complaint alleging violations by the Renacci camp on corporate sponsorship (in-kind contributions) of  what the Boccieri folks allege started out as a fundraising event.

On Thursday, Renacci filed a defamation suit against Boccieri ally, the SEIU over the union's characterization of Renacci's national sales tax position and his income tax dealings with ODT.

And there is still over two months until the election.  Hmm.

Here is the Renacci video from Navarre.

Friday, August 20, 2010

DOES CONGRESSMAN BOCCIERI HAVE A PROBLEM WITH CONSTITUENT SERVICES?


NOTE:  The Bocceri/Renacci campaign heated up big time yesterday with the filing of a defamation lawsuit by Renacci against one of Boccieri's prime 16th District union supporters.


 An interesting side note is that Richard S. Milligan, a member and past president of the Canton City Schools Board of Education, is one of the lawyers listed as filing the complaint on behalf of Renacci.



TODAY'S BLOG

The Stark County Political Report is starting to get the idea that freshman Congressman John Boccieri (Democrat - 16th) is not at his best as a U.S. representative when it comes to constituent services.

His predecessor Republican Ralph Regula was excellent when it came to serving the day-to-day needs of Stark, Ashland, Wayne and Medina Countians.

Another former area congressman who was outstanding on constituent services was Republican Congressman William H. Ayers (the 14th Congressional District - a Democratic district with a big labor union presence) who served from 1950 through 1970.  When yours truly was a student at The University of Akron, Ayers was roundly criticized for his lack of gravitas when it came to substantive national issues, but he was given high, high marks for his constituent services.

What brings this topic up is and interesting happening at the regular Stark County commissioners meeting on this Wednesday past.

During the "public speaks" portion of the meeting, a Green Card Stark County resident who is an Australian asked for the floor and was granted a hearing by commissioners.

Her complaint?

She could not get the help of area public officials in her quest to solve a housing problem she has been experiencing for a number of years.  One of the public officials she singled out was?

You've got it!  Congressman John Boccieri.

The Report was not surprised - based on personal experience with Boccieri as congressman - to hear about this lady's claim that Boccieri would not help her.  And maybe he has an explanation as to why she would be saying the things she said at the commissioners' meeting on Wednesday.  See the video below to capture her frustration.

Normally, the SCPR would contact the congressman's office to inquire further about the matter.  However, Boccieri and his office personnel have demonstrated to yours truly that they will not engage hard or uncomfortable questions and want to spoon feed area media with press releases and the like in order to propagate the Boccieri spin.

Moreover, The Report has heard a considerable number of complaints about Boccieri being loathe to engage the folks that make up the 16th District.

If Boccieri has a problem answering the questions and serving the needs of  "eligible to vote" 16th District residents, what chance does the Green Card holding - ineligible to vote - lady from Australia have to get his ear and assistance.

Answer:  between "slim" and "none" and "slim" just left town.

John Boccieri has an unexciting Republican opponent in Jim Renacci this November.

His 2008 opponent Kirk Schuring was a world ahead of Jim Renacci.  But the timing of Renacci running is such (with the popularity of Democrat president Barack Obama at all time low as November comes into focus) that the less qualified Renacci may eke out a close victory.

Boccieri cannot control what the voting public thinks of Barack Obama.  But he can promptly, effectively and efficiently serve his constituents.

Undoubtedly, if he loses, Boccieri will want to blame the tide against Democrats because of some of the unpopular programs and policies of the president.

But the real reason for a loss may be his unwillingness to face up to tough questions and to deal with constituents who don't hit his fancy.

Back in 2008 the SCPR predicted that Boccieri would win by about 10 percentage points.  And that is about where he finished.


Just a few months ago it looked like to the SCPR that Boccieri would defeat Renacci by about 4 to 5 percentage points.

However, as each day passes, it is looking like this race could be neck and neck by November 2nd.

In the end, the critical difference could be Boccieri's inability to be the match of Ralph Regula and William H. Ayers for constituent services.

Here is the video referred to above.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

SHOWDOWN TIME: CATAZARO-PERRY VERSUS CICCHINELLI OVER TUSLAW SCHOOLS ANNEXATION?


There appear to be three votes (Catazaro-Perry, Peters and McCune) to stop Massillon Mayor Francis H. Ciccinelli, Jr. from making another raid on a Stark County school district for the income tax revenue the certified and uncertified staff would bring to the City of Massillon treasury.

But are there two more?

Perhaps.

Councilman-at-Large Larry Slagle appears to the SCPR to be poised to side with the trio listed above because he sees nothing positive of the Bit O' eden part of the process.

Even if he votes with Catazaro-Perry et al, a fourth is still needed.

Where in world will he find that person?

Likely from Townsend and/or Anderson.  Both are aligned with the Maier/Elum/Jackson wing of the Massillon Democratic Party and the SCPR who, of course, will be prime supporters of Catazaro-Perry when she takes on Cicchinelli in the May, 2011 Democratic primary.

"When she takes on?"

Yes, yes and yes.  She hasn't announced, but who doubts that she will run.

The Report had a conversation with a source who is relatively close to Elum and to the question of:  who is going to run against Cicchinelli: Catazaro-Perry or Elum?   The answer:  "Kathy Catazaro-Perry without a doubt."

While it may be pretty clear that Catazaro-Perry is going to take on Cicchinelli, the Tuslaw annexation issue may or may not be a pre-election skirmish.

Her words to Matt Rink of The Independent (Massillon mayor details plan to annex Tuslaw schools) on Monday indicate to the SCPR that she is moving very cautiously on the matter, to wit:
“It looks like a money grab to me,” said Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry, who asked the mayor to show council the cost of the annexation versus the revenue it would produce.
She knows that Massillon sorely needs new sources of revenue.  And if she is successful in defeating Cicchinelli next year, it will fall to her to have to balance the Massillon budget.  If the Tuslaw annexation fails because she leads the fight against it, will she live to regret the decision come budget balancing time in 2012?

So The Report believes that Catazaro-Perry, though anxious to take Cicchinelli on at every opportunity, may think about it several times before choosing the Tuslaw annexation as being in her interest to do so.

Should she decide to makeTuslaw a pitched political battle, she may well win it.  Councilpersons who are back and forth in the Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli sparring (the swing group) have reason (the "Bit O' eden factor) to opt to side with her.

These are the folks who will decide the question, if it materializes.

Which direction Catazaro-Perry goes on the Tuslaw annexation matter could say a lot about the tone and scope of what appears to be a an inevitable Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli match up.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AND NORTH CANTON HAS A BUDGET CRISIS?


UPDATE:  08/18/2010 - 9:45 AM

Earlier this morning, yours truly had a telephone conversation with North Canton City Council President Daryl Revolt.

As is customary with the SCPR, responders to SCPR blogs are afforded opportunity to express differences with The Report and/or to explain topics of the blog from their perspective.

Revoldt made several points in our conversation, to wit:
  • North Canton City Council has not committed to spend $65,000 on the walkway at Bitzer Park, the site of the "in process" veterans memorial which is projected to be completed in November of this year.  From the substance and tone of the conversation, it appears that Council is not likely to approve the expenditure given the tight budget that North Canton is now own.
  • On the North Canton Little League and water matter.  Revoldt says that the North Canton Little League is a positive factor in North Canton's community life and that league officials have invested many dollars in conditioning and maintaining the fields.  Revoldt says that organizations like the Little League are entities that make communities like North Canton a special place and that he supports helping out such organizations with taxpayer resources.  The Little League, he says, bring out-of-community folks into North Canton and while here they spend money at nearby commercial establishments.  Another point that Revoldt makes is that any monetary cost inherent in the assistance would come from the City's dedicated water fund and not from its general fund.
ORIGINAL POST

Over the last year or so we have been hearing about the impending budget crisis in North Canton.

The last the SCPR heard, The Dogwood City was looking at a $231,000 deficit for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and about $1 million for FY 2012.

So what is this talk at Monday night's North Canton City Council "Committee of the Whole" meeting about $65,000 of City money being needed for the rehab of a walkway at Bitzer Park, located in the heart of North Canton, which is home to an "in the process" construction of a veterans memorial in the park which is slated to open in November?

A source tells the SCPR that when the project was first announced,  the World War II Veterans Monument Committee said it had all the funds the it needed to do a complete project.

At the same Monday night meeting there was talk of another $40,000 being needed this year to fund North Canton's share of the "in process" Main Street Signal Coordination Project.  And it could even be higher if a $160,000 grant does not pan out.  Interesting, no?

And just a few weeks ago, Council approved an "up fronting" of $15,000 on behalf of the North Canton Little League (which is to reimburse the city over a number of years) for the drilling of a "monitoring" well which is to double as a "watering" well for city ball fields that the league plays its games on.

Some citizens think the need for another monitoring well as a North Canton government concoction primarily designed to accommodate the Little League with free water (after the capital cost of drilling the well), while making North Cantonians think that the primary reason for the well was for water safety reasons.

These kinds of understatements and contortions of government are phenomena which give birth to a growing skepticism of the credibility of government.  Moreover, there is a growing public perception that government is a respecter of connected persons and groups and not about exclusively working across the board for the general public good.

Another puzzlement in North Canton is the decision to keep former City Administrator Earle E. Wise, Jr. on the City payroll at a healthy salary of about $70,000 (down from about $95,000) in a job that seems to be amorphous at best in terms of job description.   Both numbers are straight salary.  They do not include the cost of fringes.

The question is this:  what kind of value does North Canton get out of paying the $70,000 plus benefits?  For Wise's retention to make sense in the light of the City's budgetary problems, North Canton's decision makers on this matter need to go public with their specific reasons why he is value added.

North Canton just let go a substantially lower paid person who used to work for Wise.  The reason?  Budgetary constraints.  Hmm?

What is wrong with this picture?

Is this yet another example of a selectivity and contortion of government that leaves citizens negative, skeptical and even cynical about the candor and even-handedness of government officials?

Are some North Cantonians "more equal than others?"

North Canton officials say they have budgetary problems, but they certainly are not acting as if they do.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

HAS STARK COUNTY AUDITOR KIM PEREZ THROWN IN THE TOWEL IN RE-ELECTION BID?


 UPDATE:  08/18/2010

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

From:
To:  tramols@att.net

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


 ORIGINAL BLOG

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

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

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

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

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

But who won the election?


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

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

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

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

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

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

It could.

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

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


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

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

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

Let's look at the numbers again.


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

Wow!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed!  Just ask the parade master Brant Luther.

Monday, August 16, 2010

ZEIGLER'S STRATEGY? STARK VOTERS WILL FORGET OVER THE PASSAGE OF TIME? WELL, THERE IS A LOT OF TIME: 96 MILLION, 163 THOUSAND AND 200 SECONDS. WOW!

 

 The SCPR has been writing that Stark Countians should expect Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to be in office through December 31, 2010?

Lord have mercy!  If only it were true.

But it isn't.

If Zeigler survives a coming Stark County commissioner effort to unseat him (perhaps on August 23, 2010), then he could be around for the duration of his term which he was elected to in November, 2008.

However, as informed by a knowledge source, the date of the end of Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer (assuming that Stark Countians do not re-elect him) will be September 2, 2013.  And, of course, the SCPR has confirmed the source by digging out the specific statute.

Over three years from today's date!

With that kind of time left in office if he can fend off the commissioners, why wouldn't he fight them to live another day?  And, undoubtedly, he is hoping that time will dull the memory and the zeal of Stark County voters to remove him from office.

Zeigler apparently does not accept the notion that the "buck stops with him as the head official" at the Stark County treasury.  He has repeatedly said that he has managed the office the way it should be managed.

He stands behind his management style and substance though he has made at least 12 corrections to internal treasury procedures as Kelli Young of The Repository wrote on June 14th (Stark treasurer makes changes in wake of investigation), to wit:
In the 14 months since Treasurer Gary Zeigler fired his chief deputy treasurer on suspicion of theft, Zeigler has implemented at least a dozen changes in the office, including additional security for the county vault and improvements to the office’s cash-handling procedures.
Also, on the fact that former Zeigler Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had access to Stark County treasury checks with which he obtained $230,000 in Stark County taxpayer money, the persistently "unrepentant" Zeigler had this to say:
Zeigler said his office stopped using checks last year. All transfers between county accounts are now handled through electronic wire transfers, which require two signatures. The auditor’s office handles any checks that need to be reissued, he said.

“It’s a much safer way to transfer the money.” (FirstMerit to repay money stolen from Treasurer's office, Young, August 12, 2010)
So Treasurer Zeigler "admits" specifically that something could have been done better under his watch?

Hmm?

But it is irrelevant that Zeigler could have or should have done managed the treasury better.  He's staying, if Ohio law allows him to, for the duration.

What does the duration look like?

Okay, one more look.