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Sunday, October 31, 2010

CAMPAIGN FINANCE SERIES: STARK TREASURER'S RACE - KOHER V. ZUMBAR


UPDATE:  10/31/2010 - 3:18 PM

The Report received a call from candidate Zumbar minutes ago.

There are three points to cover in this update.

First, regarding the fact that the husband of Susan Verble, a regional liaison with the State of Ohio Auditor's office contributed to the Zumbar campaign.  Candidate Zumbar does not see any problem with such a contribution and obviously will not be moving to return it. 

Such, of course, is a determination for the candidate to make and live with the consequences; negative, positive or neutral.  What's more, The Report understands Zumbar to be taking the position that it was an overreach by yours truly to focus on the Verble contribution at all.  Obviously The Report disagrees.

What really counts is the public perception.  It is the position of the SCPR that such contributions should be highlighted by the likes of The Repository and the SCPR.  For the general public would not have any idea who the Verbles are.

Some voters are likely to agree with Zumbar and some with the SCPR.  As Zumbar has certain judgments to make, so does The Report.

Second, on the point that the campaign finance report of October 21st shows that most of Zumbar's support comes from the Alliance area.  Zumbar tells the SCPR that he had a fundraiser in North Canton on October 14th and that the list of event contributors would show that he has broad support across Stark County. The pre-general election campaign finance report cuts off as of October 13th.  Accordingly, the North Canton event contributions would not show up on the pre-general report.

When the SCPR has access to that information, it will be published in the pages of this blog.  If candidate Zumbar wants to get that information to yours truly within the next day, The Report will be glad to supplement this particular blog with information as to whom attended the North Canton event and the contributions they made.

The Report also corrects two inadvertent factual errors that occurred in this blog.  First, contributor Charles Brown, III is the son of Judge Charles E. Brown, Jr, not Judge Brown himself, and  contributor Jane Vignos served as Stark County Recorder and not as Stark County Auditor.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Alex Zumbar's political base is in Alliance.  Accordingly, his pre-general election campaign finance report looks like Alliance versus the rest of Stark County in the light of  Democratic opponent Ken Koher's report.  Or maybe even an Alliance versus Massillon given the heavy tinge of Massillon contributors to Koher.

It is striking that none of North Canton's officials appear to have contributed to Zumbar's campaign.

The main reason Ken Koher surfaced to be a "surprise" nominee of the Stark County Democratic Party to fill out the remainder of county commissioner deposed Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler's term is that former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. got behind him.

Once the word got out that Koher was Maier's man, the rest of the candidates could pack it in.  It is The Report's experience that Maier himself (individually or through his campaign committee) rarely contributes to any other candidate.  Of course, while he was chairman, it was very unwise for existing or aspiring Democrat officeholders not to contribute to Maier's campaigns.  Maier is clearly - a one-way street kind of politician.

So to see his campaign committee making a Koher contribution is a keepsake for political junkies.  Undoubtedly, they will be printing this blog out to get the Maier contribution graphic so as to frame it and hang it on the office wall.

And as readers can see, there are quite a few Massillonians that Maier brought along with him into the Koher fold. 

Clearly, Zumbar has the political experience advantage over Koher.  He is associated closely with former Stark County Republican chairman Charles E. Brown, III (now a Common Pleas Court judge) having worked with him and having worked the political hustings with Brown during Brown's days as party chairman.

Zumbar's brother (Andrew) is Alliance's law director.  It seems as if all of Alliance's major political figures have contributed to Zumbar's campaign.

There is one contribution that The Report believes was unwise for Zumbar to accept.  It has to do with the Terrence Verble contribution.  The Report believes that the contributor is the spouse of Susan Verble who is an employee of the State of Ohio Auditor's (SAO) office (North Canton).

Given the controversy surrounding the quality or lack of quality of work of the SAO in its audit of the Stark Treasury on the Frustaci matter, it would appear not to be a smart and trust-engendering thing for Zumbar to have any political relationship whatsoever with (direct or indirect) an employee of the SAO.

The Report tried to contact Zumbar for comment but was unsuccessful.

What follows is an extract of the filings of pre-general campaign finance reports by Koher and Zumbar which were due on October 21, 2010.

ZUMBAR


KOHER


Saturday, October 30, 2010

(VIDEO) CNN POLITICAL CONSULTANT PAUL BEGALA CONFIDENT ON BOCCIERI'S CHANCES. WELL-FOUNDED?


Last Saturday, a CNN political consultant and Democratic political strategist was in town to pump John Boccieri for Congress.

This sitting U.S. congressman is in the fight of his political life.

His predecessor, Republican Ralph Regula, had a similar experience early in his longtime congressional career.  Democrat Virgil Musser of Massillon nearly beat Regula early in the Regula congressional career.

If Boccieri can withstand Wadsworth businessman and former Mayor Jim Renacci's 2010 challenge, perhaps, he will go on to a long and distinguished career like Regula.

It appears that local Democrats think they can win the Boccieri/Renacci match up with a gigantic "get out the vote" (GOTV) effort.  So in that endeavor, the Dems brought the "rabble-rousing" Paul Begala into Canton last week to the Golden Lodge union hall on Harrison to do just that:  "excite" the Democratic base to get sure Democratic voters off their duffs and to the polls.

Begala is known to be a Democratic firebrand, who, along with another rabid Democrat James Carville help engineer Bill Clinton's defeat of George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992.  The two had a hand in putting together a campaign based in large part on the expression "it's the economy stupid!"

Begala is known for his "over the top" style of political oratory and has been - in that vein - the subject of  Saturday Night Live presentations.

In an ironic twist, the object of Begala's help (Boccieri) is being attacked by opponent Renacci for having done nothing in two years to stem the loss of 400,000 Ohio jobs.


Undoubtedly, thought was given in the high Democratic strategy councils to bring President Obama to Stark.  But given Renacci's linking of Boccieri to Obama ("Obamacare" - Boccieri voted once against the president, but for him on final passage) and to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the strategists thought better of that and opted to go with Democratic base "exciters" coming in to whip up enthusiasm with the many urban voters who would vote Boccieri if they get to the polls.

The grand finale for Boccieri on the GOTV is the appearance of former president Bill Clinton at Tozzi's (formerly Four Winds) which sits next to the Stark Democratic Party headquarters in Canton.  Clinton will make his appearance at noon today.

Not far away at Stark Republican headquarters, challenger Renacci will have John Boehner (the likely new Speaker of the House after Tuesday's election) speaking for him at 1:00 p.m.

Here is a video of Begala comment to the Stark County Political Report about Boccieri's chances.


Friday, October 29, 2010

VIDEO SERIES: EPISODE 1 - AIRING OUT THE DOG POUND COMPLAINTS! SEE YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS PETITION THEIR GOV'T FOR REDRESS OF THEIR GREIVANCES. CAN THE COMMISSIONERS GET IT RIGHT?


This blog is a first in a series that the SCPR is reporting, in detail, on the long-term problems at the Stark County Dog Pound which have been unsolved by the Stark County commissioners going back at least five years.  Moreover, The Report will be commenting on the status of attempts to rectify the problems and whether or not they are being effective.

About a week ago, there was a re-eruption of discontent among Stark County dog lovers that surfaced at the Stark County commissioners regular weekly meeting on October 20th  when the Michael Greathouse, II family appeared at the meeting to get answers as to why, on October 13, 2010 the family dog (Roxy) was on October 13th accidentally euthanized by personnel of the Stark County Dog Pound.


Ohio statutory law requires that a dog be kept a minimum of 72 hours by a county dog pound prior to being euthanized.  Roxy was missing a mere 14 hours prior to the Greathouse's learning that their dog had been euthanized.




Kristen Greathouse was back to the commissioners meeting on October 20th wanting to know why they had no answers after two full weeks of waiting for the outcome of the investigation and a report of the disciplinary action taken.



The SCPR attended a meeting of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) on October 21st, the day after the Greathouses appeared at the October 20th commissioners meeting at which they lodged a complaint with the commissioners and asked for reasons why their dog was euthanized.

At the SCDPAB meeting (which is held monthly at the North Branch of the Stark County District Library at 6:00 p.m.), another family (the Beaver family) surfaced telling a tale of horror of how their dog who was properly licensed, sheltered, secured and maintained in terms of being vaccinated up to standard was attacked and mauled by neighboring pit bulls whose owner, they said, had not properly licensed, sheltered, secured, maintained and insured them.

Because the Beaver family dog was so badly mauled it would have cost upwards of $22,000 to have the dog surgically repaired without any guaranteed of recovery, the Beavers elected to have their dog put down.

The Beavers had been working with the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP) since June of this year to deal with the pit bull owner's failure to comply with being cited by the SCDP with corrective action, but to no avail.

The Beavers believe that the SCDP's failure resulted in the mauling and the need for them to put their dog down.

The SCPR has much video footage to present to the Stark County public on the many, many problems at the SCDP.

The Report is digging into why the Stark County commissioners have been so out-of-touch with the problems at the pound; apparently working to resolve the many complaints about personnel staffing the pound, but seemingly spinning their wheels.

It seems to yours truly that the commissioners have not effectively taken charge of correcting problems at the pound that the current commissioners and their predecessors have long known about.

Commissioner Meeks told The Report on Wednesday evening the commissioners are proceeding cautiously because a number of years ago a pound employee was found to have been improperly disciplined by the county and the finding cost the county in the neighborhood of $50,000 to settle.

One of the looming problems facing Stark's dog lovers and the volunteers at the pound is that two of the three commissioners dealing with the current outcry will be gone in a matter of about two months.

Commissioner Todd Bosley is vacating his commissioner's job effective December 31st of this year as he is running for state representative in Ohio's 50th District.

Commissioner Steven Meeks is likely to be defeated in his endeavor to be elected to a seat on the Stark Board of Commissioners by his Republican opponent Janet Creighton.

Even if he should win, which the SCPR does not expect, he still will be required to step down for at least five weeks because the term he is serving now (the unfilled term of former Commissioner Tom Harmon) will expire as soon as the Stark County Board of Election certifies either Democrat Tom Bernabei or Republican James N. Walters in the election to fill the remaining two years of the Harmon seat.

The Report has gone into the political side of the succession of office to acquaint readers with yet another complication that citizens actively engaged in trying to work out the problems of the pound with commissioners will have to face.

By following the daily blogs of the SCPR, readers can become well informed as to what the problems at the pound are, who is dealing with them, what is being done, and whether or not "real" solutions are being achieved.

Commissioner Bosley (the president of the Stark County Board of Commissioners) has demanded that Warden Reagan Tetreault have a final report on the investigation of and disciplinary disposition of Roxy's erroneous euthanization by next Tuesday's scheduled commissioners' meeting.

Next up:  Episode 2.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(KUHN VIDEO) IT'S HARD TO CRITIQUE A WELL-MEANING ORGANIZATION, BUT NOBODY IS IMMUNE TO THE SCPR'S CRITICAL EYE. THE CANTON AREA LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS BOTCHED THE SO-CALLED 2010 STARK COUNTY OFFICES DEBATES! COMMISSIONER MEEKS DENIED THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAR. MEEKS WILL BE LEAVING OFFICE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER NOT LATER THAN NOVEMBER 23RD.


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

What could this conversation be about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How's that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, why not move it to a different night?

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the League never suggested this alternative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(VIDEOS) LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS FORUM ON COUNTY COMMISSIONER CANDIDATES (WALTERS, BERNABEI & TODD) AGAINST BACKDROP OF WHAT SCPR BELIEVES TO BE FALSE AD SENT OUT BY WALTERS ON BERNABEI


Last night at the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum at the Timken High School auditorium one should have expected some fireworks between candidates Walters and Benabeil

Not long ago, Walters sent out a flyer (pictured above) in which Walters (a Republican and a sitting Jackson Township trustee) accuses Democrat candidate Tom Bernabei of being for "more" county sales tax.

The truth of the matter so far as the SCPR is concerned is that Bernabei (a former official in City of Canton administration of William J. Healy, II; a former Canton councilman and a former Canton law director) is for maintaining the 0.25 sales tax voted in by Stark County Voters in 2003.


Bernabei didn't seem to know that Stark Countians voted in the 0.25 tax in 2003 (rather than 2006/2007 as cited by Bernabei), a fact that Walters corrected him on in a rebuking sort of manner.

Worse yet is that Walters apparently did not read Bernabei's statements in the Akron Beacon Journal candidates profile nor in the League of Women Voters profiles both of which he cited in the ad as pictured above, to wit:


Well, here are the answers which Walters refers to:

First the League of Women Voters.


Second, the Akron Beacon Journal profile.



It is obvious to The Report that Bernabei says he wants to "continue" an existing tax.  Not that he wants to add a tax.

What's more is that in the construction of the ad - "$2.9 Million Stolen," Walters appears to be doing a subliminal-esque thing to somehow tie Bernabei to the mess in the Stark County treasury whereby former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci stole county money and many believe that former Treasurer Gary Zeigler (a Democrat like Bernabei) did not do enough in implementing safeguarding procedures to protect the treasury funds from Frustaci.

The Stark County Political Report thinks Walters on both counts cited above is swimming in the waters of sleazy politics.

Restoring trust in county government is rightly a huge issue in electing a commissioner to replace the seat vacated by Tom Harmon. 

With his flyer, one has to wonder whether or not Jackson Township Trustee James N. Walters is qualified on the character issue.

In last night's appearance at the League of Women Voters' event, the two sparred over how much county employees pay as the employees' share of healthcare insurance.  Walters represented 8% whereas Bernabei represented 10%.  It turns out that both are correct depending on your timeframe.

In 2010, it is 8%.  But on January 1, 2011, it becomes 10%.

Such quibbling and showmanship is something that voters have very little patience for these days.

Another sparring point was over Walters' saying on the one hand that county employees should have to pay the employees' share of pension contributions to the Ohio Public Employees System (PERS) in the light of only Jackson Township's existing employees being in exactly the same place.

Walters is making a big ballyhoo in taking individual credit (there are three trustees are there not?) that "new" Jackson employees will be picking up the PERS contribution.

Seems like Walters is a cherry picker, doesn't it?

Accompanying this blog are two videos.

First, this one in which the candidates (including independent Stephen Todd) discuss the sales tax and negative political advertising.



Second, this one in which the candidates discuss what it will take for Stark County voters to regain their trust in the commissioners office.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DISCORD IN PLAIN TOWNSHIP: TRUSTEES - DEMOCRAT GIAVASIS & REPUBLICAN HAWS VIE OVER PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS. A CASE OF DEMOCRATS BEING PRO-UNION & REPUBLICANS BEING ANTI-UNION?


UPDATE:  10/27/2010 AT 9:30 AM


FROM PLAIN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE LOUIS GIAVASIS

Martin, I read your blog this morning and only one important thing in my opinion is the fact this type of agreement does not effect labor costs. All Public projects must be bid at prevailing wage! Union or Non Union. It does not subject non union contractors to pay union wages because prevailing wage is prevailing wage and both sides have an equal opportunity to get work.  Again, it is my opinion that this type of agreement will allow Plain Township specify that the labor force is local PERIOD! Why in the world in todays economic climate would we spend local tax dollars and send those tax dollars away from Stark County to an out of county or state contractor.  We have a responibility when we use our tax payers dollars to put our local work force to work first so those dollars come back to the area.

This discussion took place over several weeks, it was not something that was brought up that night and just passed, I feel it is my responsibility as an elected leader to make sure that the lion's share of our tax dollars on these projects stay local and help our local economy, not some other counties. 


ORIGINAL BLOG


Republican Plain Township Trustee Scott Haws says that Democrats Louis Giavasis and Al Leno jammed a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) biasing the township in favor of unions at the expense of Plain's taxpayers was done at the October 12th meeting of trustees.

Giavasis responds that the "jamming down" is utter nonsense and what's more Project Labor Agreements save taxpayer money.

To the SCPR, the truth of the matter is that both pro-union forces (usually Democrats who get favored with union campaign financing) and anti-union groups (usually Republicans who are predominantly favored by campaign contributions of contractors and businesses generally) are trying to tilt the public sector towards the side that favors them.

Recently, the Stark County passed a PLA resolution.  Guess what?  All three commissioners are Democrats.  Go figure, no?

Moreover, Canton city government (controlled by Democrats [only one elected Republican - Mark Butterworth/Ward 8]) has entered into a PLA for construction of it new fire station at 25th & Cleveland Avenue.

PLA's could become a new battleground of squabbling between Republicans and Democrats as it is likely that more Republicans will be elected to countywide office next week (Janet Creighton as commissioner, for one) and therefore in a position to contest the passing of resolutions mandating PLAs for new construction projects.

Plain township does not presently have a PLA in place, so why the need to pass a PLA resolution as Plain Trustees did on October 12th?

Trustee Giavasis tells the SCPR that the PLA resolution does not bind the township to implement a PLAs.  

Moreover, there is no financial/economic-based answer to this question.

It is sheer politics in the estimation of The Report.  Stark County unions have been pushing PLAs as a matter of policy with Stark County local government units in those venues in which Democrats control.

As Plain Township has been mulling over PLA legislation, union representatives have been showing up at meetings.  Such is also true prior to the county commissioners passing a similar resolution.

Apparently, the union thinking is to get the legislation in place and then as contracts come up to push for utilization of the PLA process on each and every contract.  The goal likely is to create a legal history of using PLAs and then if and when Republicans come to dominate a given unit of local government, they will be hard pressed to defy legal precedent of using the PLAs.  Local governments generally afflicted with the "that's the way we have always done things" mentality.  Unions know this and seem to be exercising foresight to advantage themselves.

The fact that is unions who push for PLAs must mean that they see an advantage in having them.

If, when entities like the Plain trustee and the Stark Commissioners or Canton City Council, a balanced group of contractor/business representatives and union representatives showed up in support of a PLA resolution/legislation, then one could buy the notion that such legislation is interest group neutral.

Trustee Giavasis attacks the Nimishillen Township trustees in his reply to The Report for building its newest fire station without the benefit of a PLA, to wit:
Martin, I feel this type of agreement will put our local contractors to work first, we can specify what percentage must be local, what percentage is union and no union, it prevents cost over runs and it will prevent the same or like financial and construction disaster Nimishillan (sic) Township experienced with their recently constructed fire station. Not only will it prevent the high cost over runs it may prevent the costly litigation they expended to have their problems fixed with that building. We owe it to our tax payers to have the highest quality workmanship and at the most cost effective rate that prevent additional expenses as what happened in Nimishillan (sic) Township ... .
What follows is a chart of the differences between Plain Township Trustees Giavasis and Haws:


As far as the SCPR is concerned, PLAs could be a good thing provided that business (management) and the workforce (unions) would come together and agree on a format and substance (in general) that both benefit from.  In other words, a win-win situation.

There is a mythology in America that "all I want is a fair chance."

The Report wishes such was the case.  But it is not.

In the cases of PLAs unions are trying to advantage themselves over management.

In fighting PLAs outright, rather than sitting down with representatives of organized labor to achieve win-win model PLAs; management is trying to keep in place perceived advantages in not have broad working agreements.

If both groups really cared about the well-being of taxpayers, they would hammer out a template that becomes a win for the working force, a win for business and management and, most importantly of all - A WIN FOR THE TAXPAYER!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CICCHINELLI/MAIER POLITICAL FEUD COMES BACK TO HAUNT MAIER?


In October, 2008 when Governor Strickland came to Canal Fulton to campaign for Johnnie A. Maier Jr's handpicked candidate Celeste DeHoff for the Ohio House (50th), he said for all to hear with Maier beaming from ear-to-ear that Maier had delivered for him in 2005 by being the very first county party chairman to endorse his candidacy to be the Democratic nominee for governor.



Of course, any friend of Ted Strickland is a friend of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  On June 12, 2007 Boccieri announced at Bitzer Park located in North Canton (with the defunct Hoover plant as a backdrop prop) that he was running for Congress in the 16th Congressional District.

Strickland told the assembled crowd that he "loved John Boccieri" as a brother.

There couldn't be a closer political trio in all of Ohio than Strickland, Boccieri and Maier.

Boccieri, a major in the United States Air Force Reserve, who has piloted a C-130 in and out of Iraq many times, is known to have ferried Strickland across Ohio in his campaign stops.

As it turns out, both Strickland and Boccieri are in big political trouble in their quests to remain in office.  Strickland more so than Boccieri.  But both could easily lose.

Maier must be absolutely beside himself.  Would the sun come up for Maier on November 3, 2010 if either or both Boccieri and Strickland lose?

John Boccieri has apparently decided that his margin of victory in Stark County will determine whether or not he returns to the U.S. Congress.  It has been a full court press for him in Stark lately and the last week of the campaign may be exclusively Stark. 

Boccieri surprised all the political pundits when he rolled up an impressive victory in Stark over long time Stark political figure Kirk Schuring.


Boccieri will not win in Medina and Wayne Counties this time around.  Both are solidly Republican counties.  And, Jim Renacci is from Medina County where he served as mayor of Wadsworth.

Just look at the numbers from the presidential election of 2008 in which Obama only won Stark County among the counties that comprise the 16th Congressional District.


Boccieri's major hope in Ashland, Medina and Wayne is that Libertarian Jeffrey Blevins drains off enough Republican votes that Boccieri will be within hailing distance of Renacci.

Then he has to win by enough in Stark to just get by Renacci in the overall vote county.  The SCPR believes he must win Stark by 10% to eke out the narrowest of victory.

Of course, former Stark County chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. wants to help Boccieri in the worst way.  And if he can help Strickland in Stark too (a much harder sell), all the better.  After all he has been good to Strickland and the Strickland administration has rewarded him with appointments for some of Maier's nearests and dearests.

Accordingly, the SCPR believes the idea to do a McKinley/Massillon football game tailgate party featuring former president Bill Clinton had to be Maier's brainchild.  Could be the co-creation of Maier and his "joined at the hip friend" and chief deputy in the Massillon clerk of courts office, Shane Jackson.  His mother, former Stark County Commissioner Gayle Jackson got a Strickland appointment to the Ohio Lottery Commission.

As an aside, Maier is known to be ga-ga over Clinton, too.  Maier came back to Stark County "higher than a kite" after attending a Clinton inaugural.

What Maier et al had not counted on was that arch political enemy Massillon Mayor Frank Cicchinelli would decide to be non-political and to say "no" to the tailgate party and is blessed that Massillon Superintendent of Schools Lisa Carmichael sees it the same way (reference:  Massillon says no to Clinton, Boehner rallies before game, Matthew Rink, The Repostory and The Massillon Independent, October 25, 2010)

Renacci should be credited with a crafty political move of his own.  As soon has he heard about "the best laid plan" of the mousy Democrats, he went out and enlisted the support of central Ohio Congressman John Boehner who is likely to become Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in the new term of Congress.

The Republican counter tailgate party made it easy for Carmichael.  She was not about to allow the hallowed traditional regular season ending game to play second fiddle to the politicians.

While Maier is "a dyed in the wool" Tiger fan and most likely, under different circumstances might agree with the notion of keeping the politicians out of the mix.  But these are special circumstances and The Report has to believe that the stakes are so high for this consummate politician, that it was a political gambit worth trying.

Mayor Cicchinelli has been at political war with Maier and his followers (e.g. Kathy Catazaro-Perry (who likely will run against Cicchinelli in the May, 2011 Democratic primary), Judge Eddie Elum and others) for years.

Earlier this year Catazaro-Perry had a fundraiser for Strickland at her posh Massillon home, but guess who was not invited.  You've got it:  Massillon Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr.!

One of the possibilities that Rink writes about is that Clinton and Strickland may participate in the flip of the coin to determine who gets the ball first in the McKinley/Massillon football blood feud.

So let The Report get this straight.  Bill Clinton who is being sent to districts where President Obama is not all that popular to campaign for the likes of Strickland and Boccieri appears on the 50 yard line with Strickland before 18,000 Cantonians and Massillonians and it is not political?

Monday, October 25, 2010

OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIR BLASTS RENACCI FOR STAND ON CIVIL RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT - PREDICTS BOCCIERI & BOSLEY WINS


The SCPR caught up with Ohio Democratic Party chair Chris Redfern when he appeared the Akron Press Club on September 9th.

The 9th was the day after an Afro-American union leader from Canton (Robert Thompson of AFSCME - American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees) appeared at Town Hall meeting which Republican 16th District congressional candidate was holding at the North Canton Civic Center and confronted Renacci about his views on civil rights enforcement.

The SCPR believes that some Congressman John Boccieri's supporters had pre-arranged with Thompson and others to show up at the Town Hall meeting knowing that Boccieri was going to show up unannounced at the Renacci event and ask questions designed to put Renacci in a bad light and Boccieri in a good light.

Renacci took the bait and, The Report believes, misspoke in saying that civil rights enforcement should be handled the local level.

In doing so, Renacci may have hurt himself with "on the fence voters" who remember the days when civil rights were pretty much a state and local government matter.   As we all recall, in the South this was not a good thing for minorities.  It took Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s to get the federal government to intervene and deal with state and local government inadequacies to provide basic civil rights in such areas as education, the right to sit at the front of public buses and the right to vote.

While nobody believes that Renacci wants to move back to a time when discrimination against minorities abounded in local government settings especially in the South; in sounding out a return to local government enforcement of civil rights, he appears to be a tad naive as to what that might mean in certain U.S. localities.

So it would be Renacci's apparent naiveness that would be disturbing to some 16th District voters and may affect some votes.  As far as the SCPR knows, Renacci has never retracted his "local enforcement of civil rights" comments.

In a close race, which the Boccieri/Renacci contest certainly will turn out to be, a few votes here and a few votes there could make the difference in the outcome of  the election.  The SCPR believes this race could be decided by a handful of votes.

An effort that Democrats are making is to "get out the vote" (GOTV).  A statement like Renacci's could provide an incentive for urban voters whom are, for the most part,  located in Stark County (Canton, Alliance and Massillon) to vote in greater numbers than they normally would in an off-year election.  In fact, President Obama is out on the political hustings trying to persuade those voters to reverse the trend of their not voting in off-year elections. Those voters are not likely to be Renacci voters.

It appears that Congressman Boccieri has decided on a Stark County strategy to eke out a victory in this year's election.  As the election draws to a close in eight days, his campaign appearances are heavily, if not exclusively, Stark County.

Starting today, he is making stops at senior centers in various Stark County locales and has former President Bill Clinton doing a tailgating event at the Massillon-McKinley football extravaganza in Massillon on Saturday.  On Saturday, Stark County unions hosted a Boccieri event at the Golden Lodge on Harrison Avenue in Canton at which Clinton campaign advisor (1992 and 1996) and CNN political consultant Paul Begala appeared.


BACK TO THE NORTH CANTON CIVIC CENTER REMARKS

Of course, the Democrats jumped all over Renacci about his comments in North Canton.  Included in the Democrat onslaught (predictably so) was Chris Redfern in his capacity as chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party as seen in the video accompanying this blog which The Report recorded on September 9th.

Additionally, Redfern weighs in on the Bosley/Snitchler race for the Ohio House:


Sunday, October 24, 2010

ARE NEWSPAPER ENDORSEMENTS INSULTING TO VOTERS?


There was a day and an age when newspaper endorsements were worth their weight in gold.

But no more!

Times have changed and newspaper endorsements in addition to being no longer not worth their weight in gold but carry the added baggage of actually generating a contrarian reaction.  A voter is more and more likely to say:  "If The Repository endorsed candidate x, then I am voting for the opposing candidate because The Rep is so incredible to me that if they are for candidate x, then something has to be wrong with that candidate."

So how is it that newspaper endorsements are not the rave they once were?

The Report believes that the erosion set in when voters began realizing that neither political party had answers for the many problems vexing communities, and that increasingly they were more alike than different in the solutions (as unreliable as they were anyway) they offered.

So what does this have to do with newspapers?

Most newspapers gained a reputation of being the handmaiden (editorially speaking) of either the Republican or Democratic parties.  Locally, The Repository has been known as Republican in orientation, whereas the Akron Beacon Journal is Democratic in leaning.

As the electorate has loss confidence in America's two political parties; they have also lost confidence in those allied with them.  In this sense, both The Rep and the ABJ have been victims - in terms of editorial credibility - of their own biases.

It also used to be that voters would take the final list of a newspaper's endorsements with them to the polls and dutifully vote every one of the candidates/issues as recommended by the newspaper editorial staff.

Somewhere along the way, voters became more and more aware that newspaper gurus were no better informed than they were and, moreover, it was embarrassing to have to admit in a candid conversation with friends and neighbors that they followed voting marching orders from the editorial staffs at The Rep and the ABJ.

It is okay to cite a well-reasoned newspaper endorsement in a given race as a reason for voting for candidate x, but to take the list "lock, stock and barrel" is another matter.  Obviously, newspaper editors implicitly suggest to voters that taking their list of endorsements into the voting booth is a wise thing to do.

However, voters through experience know better.

For instance, how many Stark Countians voted for deposed Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler because of The Repository endorsement?  Think that doesn't leave a foul taste in the mouth of those who followed that Repository recommendation?

Another Repository example:  Janet Weir Creighton when she ran the first time for mayor of Canton.  David Kaminski, the then executive editor of The Rep, announced after The Rep endorsed her, that he planned to write ad nauseam  trumpeting the endorsement.

Of course, this was the same guy who wrote metaphorically that The Rep was a 800-pound gorilla that buy ink by the barrel.

So the opinion was not "merely" an opinion (i.e. the Creighton endorsement).  It became something The Rep was intent upon jamming down the readership's throats.

And, of course, The Rep is Stark County's only countywide newspaper, and as a monopoly, one has to be bombarded with the arrogance expressed by Kaminski, if one is to read a newspaper that deals with the whole of Stark County.


There is very compelling evidence that newspaper endorsements are not all that persuasive these days.  Many endorsed candidate lose.  It is likely that more win than lose, but the operative factor is that newspapers are biased toward incumbents and the winning has more to do with incumbency than with the endorsement.

As endorsements go, the SCPR believes that the ABJ endorsements are more credible than those of The Repository.

Why so?

Because The Report's take on The Rep's endorsements is that they are more "from the gut" than the ABJ's, and the ABJ not only endorses in a more thoughtful way, but also points out qualities about the non-endorsed candidate that provides more material for the voter to make his/her own choice.

"His/her own choice?"

Yes, "his/her own choice," that should be the way one votes.  Voters should gather information about the candidates from many sources and should get to know candidates on a one-to-one basis in local races which is a doable exercise.

WHBC's Ron Ponder - "Points to Ponder" - and yours truly had a discussion this past Monday on the need for voters to become better informed.  We agreed that "to help Stark County voters become better informed" is our primary mission for being.

Unfortunately, both of our area's major newspapers serve as gatekeepers, and censor what gets out to the general public about public officials and candidates. 

Why would they do this?

It is hard to say.  Serving their biases?  Not wanting to undermine public confidence in officialdom?  Undoubtedly, there are a number of rationales for the filtering. 

It is said that "information is power," and, indeed, it is.

For our democracy to have credibility, decisions have to be made by individual voters making considered judgments.  Merely being conduits for the likes of newspaper editorial boards is to avoid personal responsibility which is the cornerstone of our democratic way of life.

Voters should look at newspaper endorsements as one bit of information of equal weight with many other bits of information and opinions they gather in determining which way to vote.

Taken in this context newspaper endorsements are okay.

But to the extent that voters are encouraged to use them as a forfeiture of their individual choice in the exercise of the franchise, they are at best insulting to voters and, at worse, do a great deal of harm.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

VIDEO: A HAPPY VOTERS CHOICE: TWO EQUALLY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES, IT ONLY TOOK A CRISIS IN CONFIDENCE IN THE STARK TREASURY TO GET THEM!


It took a theft by a Stark County Treasurer's office employee (Vince Frustaci) to get Stark County's political parties to offer qualified candidates for a financially sensitive position in Stark County government.

Mostly, Stark's politicos do not consider qualifications for office in tabbing citizens to run for office.  The sole criterion seems to be "electability" as standard operating procedure.

As the SCPR sees it, the choice of candidates for Stark treasurer is a happy one for Stark Countians whether the choice is Republican Alex Zumbar or Democrat Ken Koher.

While the two are impressive overall, each does has a "political taint" to them.

Zumbar does have a history of being part of the Alliance Republican Party political machine whereas Koher was endorsed by former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Zumbar has a close association with Stark County Common Pleas Judge Charles E. Brown, Jr., having worked for him.  Moreover, Brown, before he became a judge, was chairman of the Stark County Republican Party. It is interesting that the Republican Party executive committee chose Zumbar as its standard bearer in the the treasurer's race over commissioner appointee Jaime Allbritain as interim treasurer.  The Report believes that Zumbar's association with Brown and the strong Republican organization in Alliance put him in position for the word to be put out that "Zumbar is our man."

So far as The Report knows Koher is relatively unsophisticated, however, one has to wonder just a little because of Maier (whom The Report believes was working on behalf of the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party) deciding to get behind him.  We know that Maier sent out an e-mail on behalf of Koher and The Report believes that Maier and his political acolyte Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark Democrats) made more than a few phone calls for Koher.


Koher also was a governor appointee to a state banking supervisory position and generally those do not come without some sort of political connection.

We do know that Koher sought the Stark County Democratic central committee nomination to succeed Mark Roach when he was removed from office.  Apparently, Maier had an epiphany on Koher's qualifications for office somewhere between 1999 and 2010.  Because in 1999, he didn't give Koher a smell.

So both Zumber and Koher do have a political history.  What is different about each of them is they just so happen to be eminently qualified for the public job they seeks.

Koher, as interim treasurer, is already proving he is up to the job.  And Zumbar has done stellar financial work in Alliance and North Canton.

So Stark County's voters cannot go wrong on whomever they vote for as between Koher and Zumbar in this election.

Here is a video of both of their opening statements at their October 20th appearance at the League of Women Voters "debate?"

Friday, October 22, 2010

VIDEOS - COMMISSIONERS TO BE HIT WITH FIRESTORM OF PROTEST AT NEXT WEDNESDAY'S MEETING. DOG LOVERS GOING AFTER THE UNION THAT REPRESENTS STARK COUNTY DOG POUND WORKERS?


Dissatisfaction with the way the Stark County Dog Pound operates surfaced anew at the commissioners' meeting of October 20th (last Wednesday).

The commissioners collective stomachs had to be turning as the listened.

An upset Stark County Couple showed up at the commissioners' weekly meeting to complain about their seven year old dog apparently being accidentally euthanized by a Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP) employee after only being missing for 14 hours.

Ohio law mandates that at least 72 hours must pass before a dog can be euthanized,



Commissioners thought they had fixed the Dog Pound problem back in the late spring/early summer when they fired former warden Evert Gibson and hired Regan Tetreault in July.  Tetreault was an experienced warden from a nearby county.

Last night a number of Stark County citizens showed up at the regular monthly meeting of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) meeting at the North branch of the Stark County District Library located on 25th Street in Canton to complain about the quality of operations at the SCDP.

Some of the citizens were pointing the finger at Tetreault as showing she has been unable to gain control of the unionized staff at the Pound.  Others were more tolerant and asked that she be given more time to get what many describe as being irascible unionists under control in terms of being more "public" friendly and more "volunteer" friendly.

Included in the group of citizens were a couple who told the SCDPAB that their two year old dog, which was properly and lawfully housed, secured and maintained by them, was attacked and mauled by a neighbor's two pit bull dogs that they allege were not properly registered, secured and insured (a requirement of law for pit bulls),   The couple described how devastated and horrified they and their children were over the mauling of the family dog and blamed SCDP's bungled handling of the pit bulls as the reason why their dog is now dead.




Tetreault was at the SCDPAB meeting to answer questions.  She also was present at Wednesday's commissioners' meeting to answer questions on the Greathouse matter.

Only on September 24th did she pass her probationary employment date.  The SCPR asked commissioners at their September 22nd meeting whether or not she was going to pass her probation status.  They all indicated that all was well and that she would no longer be a probationary employee after the 24th.

One has to wonder in light of recent developments whether or not the commissioners are finely tuned enough to the goings on at the SCDP?

An even deeper question is what commissioners and their chief administrator are doing to get the union under control?   It appears to the SCPR that the union workers are in control and the warden and commissioners are taking orders from the organized workers.

The SCPR is sympathetic to organized labor, but only when they operate with flexibility and common sense. Organized labor can be effective to provide its membership with living wages and the dignity that the everyday laboring force should have.

However, unions can be enablers of an attitude of "go _ _ _ _ yourself."  If that is what unionization brings, then it is not a good thing.

It does not appear that the Dog Pound unionized staff fill The Report's bill of having flexibility and common sense.

If the union at the SCDP is out-of-control vis-a-vis management, then the commissioners will find that they will have a parade of dog wardens as long they do not effectively deal with the underlying problem.

But do they have the "political guts" to do it?

All three commissioners are Democrats who heavily rely on union contributions in their election campaigns.  In fact, Commissioner Bosley just filed a campaign finance report on Wednesday showing that unions have provided him with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in his quest to be the state representative for Stark County's 50th congressional district.

 The SCPR will be tracking commissioners and pushing them to have a public meeting with union leaders so that the public can be clear that the union will take a hand in reordering its Dog Pound members.

If this cannot be achieve soon, then the county should get out of the dog pound business and look to contract with a "for profit" owner/operator.

BACK TO THE PIT BULL MATTER.

SCDP personnel had cited the owner of the pit bulls for the failure to register, to insure and secure the two pit bulls, but when the owner failed to cure the citation, the SCDP failed to follow up with any kind of enforcement action against the owner.  Accordingly, the couple-owners of the mauled dog (which had to be put down) lay the blame for their loss at the doorstep of the SCDP.

From the recounting of the dog mauling, many of those in attendance at the SCDPAB meeting went on to criticize Tetreault for her apparent inability to deal with SCDP's unionized personnel.  They cited the rudeness of SCDP employees to the general public, the employees unacceptable handling methods of dogs, and other attitude deficiencies among their bevy of complaints.

In the end, some of those assembled were talking about privatizing the dog pound. 



What will the Stark County commissioners (all of whom are Democrats heavily dependent on union support) think of the privatization talk?

Should be a very interesting meeting next week with the Stark County commissioners, no?