Thursday, March 10, 2011


It certainly was no April's fool joke but the revelation that former Stark County treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen (in the opinion of federal judge John Adams) $2.96 million of taxpayer money did come on April 1, 2009.

One would think that nearly two years later all of Stark treasury's problems would be behind us.

But they are not.

It does appear that policy and practice safeguards are in place to prevent a replication of the Frustaci theft.

However, problems continue to plague Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.  Nevertheless one has to be impressed with how he stood before Commissioners Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei (Commissioner Pete Ferguson was in Columbus as a statewide commissioners conclave) and owned up to the continuing problems and difficulties that he faces as "the buck stops here" person.

A major problem occurred with the sending out of the latest round of semi-annual tax billings which were due to be paid by February 16th, to wit:


As you will hear Zumbar say in the video that every Stark Countian should view, the treasurer's office received about 25,000, yes, that's twenty-five thousand, phone calls over a three week period as Stark County taxpayers were besieging the office with phone calls about their tax bills.

Not all the calls were about the confusing way "what is owed" was placed by designers on the tax bill (see graphic above).  But most, likely were.

With a staff that has been pared down to 14 since a high of 22 in 2008 under former Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler, it was "taxing" to say the least to Zumbar's current staff.  And a great many calls were lost as a result of the deluge.  Not something that Stark County officeholders (including Zumbar) can ill afford when Stark County citizen confidence in Stark County government is at an all-time low.

A refreshing occurrence was the "roll up your sleeves and pitch in attitude" of the likes of Ashley and Marilyn of the commissioners' office as well as a few others from the auditor's office.  It is apparent that without their help, Zumbar would have been in a much worse fix in taking taxpayer calls.

When Republicans picked Zumbar (September 8, 2010) and Democrats - Ken Koher - (September 7, 2010) for their respective nominee (also temporary replacement, in the case of Koher) to replace Zeigler after he was removed from office on August 23rd, they could not have done a finer job.

Zumbar went on the win the election between he and Koher in November, but either one was eminently qualified for the post.

The Zumbar/Koher political party selections show what the parties can do when they are under public scrutiny.  But when things are done in more of a political wheeling and dealing context what you get is a Christina Hagan as state representative:  a 22 year old restaurant server who has no business being part of the legislative mix as Ohio tackles its most severe financial/economic crisis in the state's history.

Stark Countians should look for Republican chair Jeff Matthews and Democrat Randy Gonzalez to revert to doing political "business as usual" which generally translates into marginal candidates being offered to the Stark County public.

 The Stark County Political Report will continue to "put the light of day" on the political machinations of both parties.

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