Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As the Stark County Political Report sees the upcoming November Canton mayoralty race, it is Mayor Healy's to lose.  And he may just do that if Republican "Chip" Conde can put together "the perfect campaign."

The Report is skeptical that Conde can do so.  Having said that, the SCPR hopes that Conde can prove the skepticism to be ill-founded.  For Mayor Healy has demonstrated to The Report that Canton is going nowhere except perhaps towards further decline with the programs, policies and administrative skills (or, better said - "the lack thereof") manifested in Healy's first term.

Why is the SCPR "down-in-the-mouth" about a possible Conde victory come November?

A number of reasons:

First, in order for Conde to defeat incumbent Healy he will have to take the gloves off and hammer the mayor loudly and repeatedly.  

While Healy has a veneer about him that suggests that a "high road" type candidate, do not believe it.  The Stark County Political Report has steadfastly maintained that Healy is ethically challenged and The Report has seen nothing of recent vintage to dispel this take.

Conde, on the other hand, has a believable and authentic class about himself.  The SCPR thinks that Mayor Healy will correctly size Conde up this way and will attempt to use this quality against the challenger.

In a strange and bizarre way, if Conde buys into a formal Healy overture (thereby seizing the high ground) on campaign ethics, he helps rehabilitate Healy's tarnished ethical issues.

Conde appears to have an impeccable ethical record and merely needs to recite the fact of the matter and make it clear - that any Healy proposal on campaign ethics is a "thou protestest too much" maneuver.

In short, Conde's position ought to be:  Just forget agreements to be ethical and high minded.  Just conduct yourself that way (while pointing out specifics of Healy's past questionable ethical slips):  Mayor Healy!

Second, Conde must advantage himself on the "open door issues" that Healy and his administrative members provide him.  And he must do so as the doors are opened.

An example.

The Healy administration largely under the cover of Safety Director Tom Ream (a man who appears to the SCPR to be cut of the same cloth as Mayor Healy) have scuttled Canton's participation in rehabbing what has been termed as being a broken 9-1-1 countywide emergency services system.  However, both Ream and Healy have failed to articulate why Canton's participation is bad for Canton.

The Report thinks Conde should have done his homework on 9-1-1 by now (a key supporter is 9-1-1 project manager Tom Concatto) and he needs to step forward NOW with his analysis and what his position will be a mayor of Canton.

And there are other issues that Healy has opened the door on and banging it right into the knee of candidate Conde, to wit:  crime in Canton and Healy's claim that zero-tolerance is working (e.g. the shocking Sherrick Rd incident,  repeated anecdotal complaints to Canton City Council, et cetera); the faux quality of economic development efforts by the Healy administration and Healy's foot dragging on efficiencies of Stark County/City of Canton duplicative governmental services among others.

Here it is the eve of June 1, 2011 and the SCPR is pushing Conde to go full barrel on his campaign.



Because Conde has so many barriers to overcome to become mayor, it is imperative that he start a very public campaign now rather than the traditional Labor Day kickoff dates that many politicians use.

Barriers?  What barriers?  Okay, here is the list:
  • running against an incumbent for one.  As mayor, Healy will get built in opportunities to campaign while not being tabbed as doing such for, after all, he is mayor of Canton with official duties.  Moreover, he uses the power of office (via use of executive orders, board appointment powers, et cetera) to further his political agenda while appearing to some as being mayor-esque.

  • competing with a master political fundraiser in Healy.  "Money is said to be the mother's milk of politics."  It is hard to see how Conde can out-fundraise Healy (with his bevy of well-heeled out-of-town supporters), but he needs to raise enough money that is essential to getting his message out clearly and frequently.
Third, having a party registration deficit of 9 to 1 in favor of the Democratic candidate.  Moreover, Conde has the prospect of Richard Hart (a former Republican Canton councilman) and John Miller (former Canton Police Patrolmen's Association president and arch-foe of the Creighton administration in which Conde served) also running.  Big time advantage Healy. 

So it may seem that five months is a long way off.  But its not in Conde's case.  Given the hand that he has been dealt, he will need every hour, every minute and every second to accomplish what appears to the SCPR to be an impossible task.

Observers will be able to tell early on (by the end of July) whether or not Conde has the proverbial "snowball's chance in Hell of winning."

As The Report told Republican Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton a few weeks back:  Conde can win this race in the face of overwhelming odds against him.

The question is whether or not A.R."Chip" Conde is made of "the right stuff" to pull out a truly stunning victory?

Monday, May 30, 2011


One should not be fooled by the fact that many U.S. companies (e.g. McDonald's) are flourishing in the People Republic of China (PRC) these days in terms of the liberalization of Chinese political freedoms.   Business is business and politics is politics and nowhere is the separation more apparent and marked than in the PRC.

For the past two weeks yours truly and spouse were guests of daughter Kasi's in-laws family (the in-laws themselves live in Louisiana).

Kasi(the youngest of three Olson daughters) graduated from Lake High School in 1996.  She went on to participate in the Northeast Ohio College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) accelerated BS/MD (Bachelor of Science/Medical Doctor) degree program on a full United States Air Force (USAF) scholarship.  She served a residency in pediatric medicine at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) located in Dayton, Ohio.

While at WPAFB she met and married Chinese-American and U.S. Citizen William Chu who, as of July 1 of this year, will be a flight surgeon with the USAF.  An interesting sidenote on Kasi's husband is the fact that he came to the U.S. as a 9 year old not knowing a word of English but nevertheless was enrolled in an American public school (New Orleans, Louisiana) immediately where he excelled academically and led to his achieving a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas (at Austin) and a medical degree from Texas Tech University.

After completing a fellowship at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) located in San Antonio, Texas in adolescent medicine, Kasi was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA - Academy) as one of a number of physicians providing medical care to the USAF's future officer corps.  Pictured above receiving an "Above and Beyond Award" from USAFA commanders, she will become the medical director of the medical clinic as USAFA.

The foregoing is the background of how yours truly and spouse were afforded to opportunity to accompany the Chus, their two children Austin and Aspen and Williams parents to China for the last to weeks of this month.

The SCPR has been published for over three years without missing a single day posting a blog.  The hope was that continuity could be sustained from China.  However, such was not to be the case.  A blog was prepared and ready for publication on May 15.  But on attempting to log onto the Blogger dashboard to publish, access to the publishing platform was denied.

The Report has included at the end of this blog a list of subject of Chinese Communist government censorship as compiled by Wikipedia.

On this Memorial Day, 2011, yours truly has a fresh and renewed appreciation of those who have fallen in battle to preserve the very freedoms we Americans enjoy because of their ultimate sacrifice.

I Love America
Source:  123glitters.com

All one has to do is to spend time in Shanghai, Hangthou, Tianjin and Bejing as leading centers of the PRC as yours truly did to be reminded that there are those who very much want to stomp out the like of our Constitutional freedoms.

Frustrated at not being able to publish a daily blog which, of course, does not typically deal with the PRC, yours truly focused on capturing family footage like the one which follows which features Kasi, her husband and her children eating a traditional Chinese meal.

Here is a list of the Internet gags instituted by the Peoples Republic of China as set out by Wikipedia in its footnotes:

Monday, May 16, 2011



It sent shockwaves through Stark County officialdom when Sheriff Tim Swanson on April 29th sent an e-mail to county commissioners which was generally perceived to be the "death knell" of a reworked countywide 9-1-1 system.

Here is the essence of that e-mail:
We’re not interested in proceeding with the dispatch center at this time.
We are combined with Canton in regards to the radio system. Any further issues with dispatching will involve Canton and the Sheriff’s Office. The future dispatch issues will involve dispatching and the radio system and both of us will discuss the issues with any interested party.
In review of the status of everything that’s occurred, and the reluctance of other law enforcement and fire departments to participate at this time or to contract for services, we will regroup and proceed at sometime in the future with Canton.
Truthfully,  right now we are more concerned with making it through this year with the allotted budget and preparing for next year’s possible calamity.
There isn’t a need for any meeting at this time, we are NOT moving forward at this time.
We (Canton and SO) have worked very hard and made many compromises to help enable the creation of the dispatch center.
There are still those that do not wish to participate or utilize the proposed dispatch center. With that in mind,  we’re not going to spend any more time trying to make it happen now.
The proper process would be to create the center and switch to the 800 radio system and it appears some in the county are still not interested. 
Perhaps in the future their thoughts would change. One shouldn’t happen without the other.
We are satisfied with the efforts that have been made to better what we have but also can live with the fact that others aren’t interested at this time. We will continue to operate our own dispatch center and our combined radio system and be opened minded to discuss any future dispatching and radio system issues.
However, in Canton (the Healy/Ream duo) and in Nimishillen Township (Township officials and Fire Chief Rich Peterson) they probably broke out the champagne.

First, Nimishillen

Nimishillen Township officials have gotten themselves into hock with it new $1 million fire station a number of years ago and need to keep its dispatching operation going (mostly for fire) in order to generate the money just to pay the fire station mortgage.  However, calls continue to be and will continue to be received by the Stark County Sheriff call center (SCCC) which means that those needing emergency services in Nimishillen (not Louisville which has already merged with the Canton Communications Center - CCC) will, consequently, have a lesser quality of service (according to 9-1-1 Project Manager Joe Concatto) than most other areas in Stark County.

Had Nimishillen accepted new equipment offered by the 9-1-1 rehab effort, such would not be gthe case.  For with the new setup Nimishillen's CenCom would receive the call and dispatch in on fell swoop.

Second, Canton.

Originally, Canton was on board with the 9-1-1 countywide rehab.  However, somewhere in the past six months ago Safety Director Tom Ream and Mayor William J. Healy, II had an epiphany.


Yes and epiphany.  It probably dawned on Ream and Healy after Louisville joined the CCC and began paying for access and use to the Canton system:  "Hey, why didn't we figure this out before!  If only we can get most of Stark County's political subdivisions to join us here in Canton, we can make a our CCC a profit making center.  Why would we want to join a countywide system when we can have it all here in Canton.  Duh?"

County 9-1-1 officials probably are kicking themselves for allowing Ream to become the president of the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG).  It was about a month ago or so that Ream sent a Canton fire captain to "take over" the county 9-1-1 planning process when it appeared to him that Concatto would be departing due to the fact that the federal funding for the project manager position was running out.

What he (Ream) did not accurately access was that too many in the Stark County political subdivision fire and police leadership cirles are not about to allow Canton (Healy) to take over their operations in the context of their working to meld into a more effective and efficient countywide system.

Hurriedly, the opposition demanded Ream call a meeting of the SCOG Executive Committee.  Ream refused.  Led by Healy political enemy and Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei, the opposition found three members of SCOG to call the meeting over Ream's refusal.  Result?  Concatto was hired to stay on for at least six months to complete the planning and implementation of a rehabbed 9-1-1 countywide system.

During Healy's campaign with Smuckler, the councilman made a issue on the foot dragging by Healy and Ream on "a letter of intent" sent by the countywide 9-1-1 folks asking Canton to formally commit to the plan whereby the CCC would be the hub (backed up by the SCCC) of the new configuration.  Smuckler's motivation was two fold.  First, to find about $480,000 for Canton sorely strapped finances and, contrary to Healy is has a need to dominate, Smuckler has a long history of advocating for government consolidations and efficiencies.

One of the things that the Healy administration has done with Canton City Council (Council) - especially those members who oppose the administration on various issues - is to not communicate with them and to exclude them from the decision making process.

Since he was challenging Healy for the mayorality, of course, Smuckler and his supporters on Council were being left out of the 9-1-1 loop (e.g. the "letter of intent" matter).  That's how Healy operates.  He punishes those who oppose him, those who differ with him.

The SCPR believes that Smuckler waited way too long to make an issue of the Healy arrogance.  But finally he got an agreement from the administration to hold a meeting for Council members (through Healy supporter Councilman Thomas West as chair of the Judiciary Committee) to become informed with the meeting being scheduled for May 18th.

Well, guess what has happened to the meeting of the 18th since the Swanson e-mail surface and Healy et al figured that the were in "the catbird seat" on 9-1-1.  Yep!  It got canceled!!

Go figure!

To boot, the SCPR believes that there are other motivations for Healy's resistance to anyone other than Canton running a countywide 9-1-1.

9-1-1 Project Manager Concatto is a former official with the Healy-intensely-hated Creighton administration whom healy defeated in 2007 in a bitter, bitter campaign to become mayor of Canton.  When Healy became mayor is primary thing was to trash Creighton and the mess he says that she left Canton in.

Now add this.  Healy survived his contest in this year's Democratic primary with Councilman Bill Smuckler (who, by the way defeated Healy for the right to run against Creighton for mayor in 2003.  But guess who he is going up against this November?

You've got it!  In a sense, none other than now Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton in the person of former Creighton administration (2004 - 2007) official A.R. "Chip" Conde who bested Leon Gerig in the Republican primary about two weeks ago.

In checking the campaign finance statements of Conde, guess who were contributors to his campaign?  Of course, Creighton - in a major way - and Concatto in a lesser but significant way.

So, while the financial thing is the main thing; this little political tidbit is not lost on the consummately political Healy and the political alliances and connections of the Creighton associates add fuel to his fire to be the political lord and master in Stark County.  Along these lines, if he is re-elected, look for him (if his allies Allen, Resnick and McIllwain remain on the Canton City Schools Board of Education) to make moves to consolidate his de facto sway over Canton K-12 education.

Stark County officials and SCOG officials realize that the 9-1-1 countywide project "is deader than a door nail" if Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson joins with Healy and Nimishillen Fire Chief Richard Peterson (who appears to control the trustees based on the fire station mortgage situation).

Healy/Ream (if Canton is not running it) and Peterson (since he was not selected 9-1-1 project manager) are opposed to a county consolidated 9-1-1.  Swanson is not because he does not appear to have a personal agenda.  But he is frustrated with all the delays.

Thursday's meeting of the well-attended SCOG Governance Committee (chaired by Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez) may have been a turning point in the battle between the Healy forces and his foes.  It is noteworthy that Canton has not shown up for these meetings for three months running.

Sheriff Swanson showed up prepared to answer any and all questions that his April 29th e-mail generated.

And answer them he did.  While some say that Swanson did not alter his position, The Report hears that such is not the perception of those who were at the meeting.  At least in terms of Swanson's willingness to listen to and work with anyone who genuinely is willing to work together to making a countywide plan work.

Here is Swanson's e-mail (May 13th) to the SCPR addressing several questions that the Report had for him on his April 29th e-mail and what yours truly was told about the discussion at last Thursday's SCOG Governance Committee meeting, to wit:
I and the City of Canton will remain open for discussion on the issue. I have tried everything possible to cooperate and compromise on issues to make this work.
It just appears anything we (Gov. Bd.) do is met with opposition or more hurdles are placed in front of the project. It doesn’t appear to me that I should waste any more time on this issue, but try and develop a funding mechanism to properly fund SCOG (Crime Lab, Metro & Child Abuse Investigator).
With local government funding being cut by the State, this directly impacts the funding of SCOG. There also legal issues that really need to be accomplished before we proceed and the Gov. Bd.is (sic) working on that issue.
The City had NO impact on my decision. CenCom had NO impact either.
I think with the cut in local government funds that we have to be sure that we can first fund SCOG and then address the dispatching issue again.
I remain optimistic, that someday everyone will see the light and all move to the 800 system and central dispatching, maybe just not in my time?  
I still support the project and will remain a member of the Governance Board and always try to move forward in a positive manner when appropriate.
In talking with Gonzalez, The Report pushed him on the question of the sustainability of 9-1-1 finances over the long term.  He is adamant that between the user fees, the 9-1-1 wireless fund and the property tax that supports 9-1-1 that the finances are in place to sustain a countywide plan.

To sum it up, the SCPR believes that the analysis that countywide 9-1-1 is dead is premature.

There is talk that the major players on 9-1-1 (referring to Canton, the Sheriff and SCOG officials) will meet in early June to determine whether or not the Canton/Stark County Sheriff model can be salvaged.

The Report believes that Healy and Ream will find one pretext or another to scuttle such a meeting.

It is clear to yours truly that Sheriff Swanson is the key to whether or not 9-1-1 lives or dies.

Even if Canton "takes its ball and goes home" like the little boy who hasn't gotten his way (as the SCPR expects Healy and Ream to do), there is an alternative.  Countywide advocates could pair up the RED Center with the Sheriff's operation and achieve an all but Nimishillen and Canton consolidation.

Bullies like Canton and Nimishillen should never be permitted to be the tail that wags the dog.

If he will, Sheriff Swanson can rise to the occasion and be a leader on working with "a coalition of the willing" to help Stark County to repair a badly broken 9-1-1 and thereby leave a legacy of having helped the county solve a major problem.

But will he?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


These are tough times in Ohio for anyone employed by government, especially state government.  But Columbus-centered politicians are bringing local officials (city, village, city and board of education and the like) into the fray by affecting the relationship of local employees who get state benefits (e.g. retirement) in terms of pension contribution rates and such.

Moreover, the  Republican Kasich administration has created a firestorm of controversy with it Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) which is configured to pretty much wipe out the collective bargaining rights of public employees. 

In taking the SB 5 action, Kasich has created a political fight that appears to be a Republicans versus Democrats brouhaha (at least at the state level).  The fight is going to be played out in an effort by opponents of SB 5 to get a referendum on the bill for this November's general election to have Kasich requested (passed by the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) and signed by the governor) set aside by the people of Ohio.

The only wrinkle which skews the Republican/Democrat thing somewhat is that the only unions known to frequently support Republicans (firefighters, police and teachers) are, in large part, joining Democrats to eliminate SB 5.

One such Republican is Carol Kinsey of Navarre.  She is now retired from her job as an administrator at the Canton Professional Educators Association (CPEA - the union for Canton City Schools teachers).  At last Monday's (May 9th) townhall meeting put on by state representative Christina Hagan at the Louisville Public Library, she spoke to another issue more completely tied to retirement than SB 5.  The issue she addressed was House Bill 69 and Senate 3 (which are placement bills - that is to say not likely to be the actual bills to come out of the OGA, but merely designed to hold a place on the legislative agenda until a "ready to pass" bill can be cobbled together).

What is being worked on in these bills is an increase in the amount of the percentage that employees pay towards their own retirement plan (and whether or not the plan will migrate from "defined benefits" to "defined contributions"), how long they have to work in order to collect retirement benefits, the formula by which the amount of retirement is computed upon.

Also in these bills is language to exclude persons defined out of the plans altogether because their rate of compensation is not enough to qualify for eligibility.  For example, township trustees of small townships are up in arms because of lot of them are expected to be read out of retirement benefits by the legislation being considered.

For Stark Countians this issue has particular significance because state Representative Kirk Schuring of Jackson Township (the 51st) is the chairman of the subcommittee of the Ohio House's Heath and Aging Committee (Retirement and Benefits).

Back to Kinsey.

One of the concerns of persons who will be affected by Retirement and Benefits work is that there will be a "rush to judgment" and that thorough consideration of reform of Ohio' five retirement systems will be short circuited by political considerations.

In this video, Kinsey reassures prospective retirees of these systems that Chairman Schuring is not about to be steamrolled into anything, to wit:

Will it appears that Schuring will not have to be quitting as chairman.

Today, the SCPR got a look at an e-mail from the STRS explaining that the legislation is being vetted by a study that will delay consideration of "ready to pass" legislation for some time.  Here is the key language from the STRS missive:

What comes out of the OGA could affect Schuring and Oelslager politically here in Stark County.

Should the Kasich administration's coordinated effort with the OGA (on reforming retirement benefit) end up being unpopular with the Stark County's enrollees in the five state retirement systems, it could have devastating political consequences for both Schuring and Oelslager who combined have about 50 years service in the Ohio Legislature.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the two have the strength of legislative personality to save their own political hides.

The SCPR believes they do not.  However, time will tell.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


It is what Chris Borello and her fellows working in the Concerned Citizens of Stark County would have preferred, but the North Canton City Council (Council) has (except for Councilman Pat DeOrio who says he has a conflict-in-interest on and therefore recused himself) signed off on a resolution forwarded to various statewide officials asking that "fracking" (horizontal fracturing) be placed in moratorium status until more is known about the risks to water purity posed by the process.

In doing so North Canton joins Canton and Plain Township in calling for a moratorium.  It could be that Alliance, Louisville and Hartville will join the effort in coming months as discussions have been going on among councilpersons in those Stark County political subdivisions.

North Canton's concern (see a previous blog) comes from information that land (actually in Plain Township) adjacent to its East Maple water well field have been leased to an oil and gas drilling interest with the idea that the company contemplates commencing a fracking operation to recover natural gas from the Marcellus Shale thought to underlie the leased property.
Horizontal hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) for natural gas in a formation known as the Marcellus shale is a process by which a vertical hole is drilled to about 8,000 feet below the surface and then turned horizontal for a distance (limited by the size of the lease) and then injected with a high pressure mix of sand and chemicals (some of which are hazardous) and, of course, water to fracture rock which encases natural gas thereby release the gas for collection.

The Stark County Political Report is skeptical that any Stark County units of government will go the route of governments in others states (e.g. New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia) and ban fracking.
In 2010 and a few years earlier the Ohio General Assembly in the combo of Senate Bill 165 (2010) and House Bill 278 effectively took away local government jurisdiction to deal with drilling issues within their geographical areas.  Local legislators (of both political parties, past and present) such as Scott Oelslager, Stephen Slesnick, Todd Snitchler, Kirk Schuring, John Hagan and William J. Healy, II supported the state power grab over drilling issues from Stark's localities.

Accordingly, local legal officials feel and are advising their jurisdictions that localities have no power to regulate and if they do so they could be incurring legal liability to property owners affected as well as to drilling companies.

The SCPR provides the following copy of the actual North Canton resolution for readers of The Report to read:

Friday, May 13, 2011


It more than just a tad scary when the chief sponsor of the House version of Ohio's biennium budget (FYs 2012-13) which features (if passed in its current form) a quadrupling of the state's voucher program says that the only voucher program Ohio has is the Cleveland Public Schools program.

In the video that accompanies this blog, Republican Representative Ron Amstutz (who was as Christina Hagan's townhall meeting to help her with the tough questions) appears to have forgotten (certainly he knows, doesn't he?) that EdChoice Ohio exists which currently hands out 14,000 vouchers (err scholarships) for qualifying families to send their children to qualifying schools.  Perhaps it is the word "scholarship" which lulled him into apparently losing track of EdChoice as voucher program.

In Stark County the EdChoice voucher qualifying list (according to the Ohio Department of Education) includes:

Under Amstutz's HB 153 the number of EdChoice vouchers available to Ohioans will increase from 14,000 to 60,000.  Amstutz does question whether or not there are adequate safeguards/accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars for the vouchers but he appears to have no discomfort whatsoever with the dramatic expansion of the program.

Several citizens at the townhall focused on Akronite David Brennan and his White Hat Management, Inc charter school operation.  One of the beneficiaries of Brennan political campaign contribution largess includes Representative Amstutz.

A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer article: Budget contains gift to charter school operator and GOP benefactor David Brennan, by Brent Larkin (last updated on May 9th) makes the following points about Brennan and White Hat:
  • He operates 30 schools in Ohio and another 21 outside of Ohio; all but one have poor performance ratings
  • Over the past 10 years Brennan and family members have contributed over $4 million to Ohio Republican candidates
  • Ohio Speaker of the House Billy Batchelder has benefited from Brennan et al contributions in excess of $100,000 over the years
  • In the 2010 year election cycle Brennan et al spread around some $400,000 in campaign contributions to Republicans including Governor John Kasich
Folks like Amstutz, Batchelder and their like in the Ohio General Assembly as well as Kasich want Stark Countians and Ohioans to believe that it purely coincidental that the proposed budget bill and that charter school interests and their huge campaign contributions have nothing to do with the favorable to the charter school movement measures which are included in the budget bill, to wit:
  • lifts the cap on the number of charter schools permitted
  • allows "for-profit" companies to own and operate charter schools, and
  • thereby takes from public view how taxpayer dollars are spent
If she was listening as she says she was, Christina Hagan got an ear full in Louisville on the 9th.  Here is a video of the exchange between her, Amstutz and several members in the audience:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


On May 9, 2011 newly appointed (March 1st - by the Ohio House Republican Caucus) Christina Hagan, not yet out of college (Malone University, as state representative for Ohio's 50th Ohio House District held a town hall meeting at the Louisville Public Library.

As the SCPR sees it, the hasty call for a townhall meeting was mostly an exercise in political damage control fast on the heels of her having voted for House Bill 153 (Ohio's budget for biennium fiscal years 2012-12 on which Amstutz was the sponsor) on Thursday, May 5, 2011.  In a solid party line vote (59 Republicans - yes; 40 Democrats - no) Hagan voted for dramatic cuts in local government funding, K-12 education, nursing home reimbursements and the like.  Moreover, she supported Senate Bill 5 which some say is an attempt to undermine public worker unions.

Damage control?

Yes.  As a rookie legislator she is particularly vulnerable come November, 2012 when she has to actually get elected to the office.

Only about 30 days or so before her HB 153 vote (on March 30, 2011) she voted for the controversial Senate Bill 5 (curtailing the collective bargaining rights of public union members.  She can expect many of them; although teacher, police and firefighter are the only unions which tilt towards supporting Repubicans, to visit political retribution for in her retention bid in 2012.

The Stark County Political Report videotaped Hagan's townhall meeting and is embarked on presenting most of the material taped in a series.  A few days ago, The Report ran a piece in which a couple attendees brought of the fact that the HB 153 vote was strictly along party lines.  While the SB 5 wasn't exactly along party lines, it was very close to it.  In both instances Hagan did vote the Republican Party line and any implied intimation by her that she considered voting against the party position was  disingenuous at the very least and more realistically an outright sham.

The same goes for her Stark County fellow in the Ohio House:  Kirk Schuring (the 51st).

Hagan's retention as state representative will come up in a presidential year which, in addition to her being a novice and having ired Republican friendly unions, will be another incentive for Democrats (Democrats come out in greater numbers in presidential years) to field a stiff challenge to Hagan.

Because of her marked inexperience, Hagan did not dare to try the townhall meeting on her own.  She brought veteran Republican legislators Ron Amstutz of Wooster and Dave Hall of Millersburg to Louisville to provide most of the answers to questions of 50th District voters.

In today's blog the SCPR takes up the question presented at to why the state of Ohio would jeopardize the safety and conservation purity of our state parks in allowing oil and gas drilling companies to drill for oil and/or natural gas (most likely for natural gas via what is know has hydraulic fracturing - aka "fracking")?

If he can be believed and trusted, Representative Hall makes an interesting presentation on how he will fashion legislation to allow drilling in state parks. 

Here is a video of Representative Hall making the Republican's case for allowing the drilling:


On April 22, 2011 state Representative Kirk Schuring (along with state Rep. Stephen Slesnick and state Sen. Scott Oelslager) appeared at a Stark County commissioners' work session to field questions about unfunded state mandates, Senate Bill 5 curtailing public unions collective bargaining rights and cuts in state provided local government funding among other matters.

The SCPR's take on Schuring is that he consummately affable guy who has a captivating way about himself in enticing his Stark County constituents into believing that he is going to deliver for them in terms of state monies, policy changes, Ohio Revised Code revisions and authorizations and the like.

While he has delivered here and there over his going on 17 years in the Ohio House, then the Ohio Senate and then back to the House in overcoming Ohio's term limits law, The Report believes he (nor his musical chair pal Scott Oelslager) have't produced commensurate to their being long term members of the Ohio General Assembly.

Stark County local governments are desperately in need of a reprieve from the draconian cuts that Republican Governor John Kasich's executive budget (Budget) portends for Stark's cities, villages and townships.  But it appears that all Schuring has to offer in Kasich administration (Administration) talking points.

The primary talking point is that the Administration is providing tools to local governments to deal with the large cuts in state funding by changing Ohio law to allow for permissive and mandatory efficiencies in local government.  In the video of Schuring speaking at the commissioners' work session, he mouths the Kasich administration's only answer to the dramatic cuts in local government funding.

A significant provision of the Budget, according to the Ohio General Assembly's Legislative Service Commission (LSC), is authorizing boards of county commissioners to require the use of centralized support services by departments of county government.

While this change in Ohio law is needed and undoubtedly welcome, it pales hugely in offsetting the huge cuts that the same Budget document mandates for Stark County and its political subdivisions.

It appears to the SCPR that Schuring and his Republican Stark County colleagues (state Senator Scott Oelslager and state Rep. (the 50th) Christina Hagan) are powerless to mitigate the expected 50% local government cuts coming over the next two years. 

All they can offer is a Yogi Berra-esque "its not over until its over" hope and a prayer.  Schuring predicted on April 22nd that the cuts would be lessened by the time the House passed SB 153.

Well, Schuring should not give up his day job for fortune telling.  The fact of the matter is that SB 153 cuts on the date of passage (May 5th) were the same cuts (in terms of local government funding) that were on the table April 22nd.

Another disingenuous thing that Schuring brought up in the meeting with commissioners was assigning to those who oppose the cuts with an obligation to come up with a solution.  Simply unbelievable!  This man has been in Columbus for going on 17 years and this is the best he can do?

Kasich and the Republican controlled Legislature are running for cover under the umbrella of the national financial and economic calamity that have in process since 2007.  And they are correct and therefore entitled to a partial bye for the cuts they are making.

However, what they are not accounting for is the dramatic 20% plus drop in state revenues that Republicans visited on Ohio with year 2005 action which reduced Ohio's individual rates over 5 years, reconfigured the corporate tax structure by going to a "commercial activities tax" (CAT) and concomitantly phasing out the tangible personal property tax (TTP).

Here is a video of state Representative Ron Amstutz (R - Wooster) captured by the SCPR at Representative Christina Hagan's May 9th Townhall meeting wherein he owns up to the failed strategy of cutting individual Ohio income tax rates being a spur to an improved Ohio economy more than offsetting the cuts.  The strategy proved wrong and about one to two billion in lost revenues are a significant part of the shortfall that is now being covered.

Schuring, Oelslager and Hagan's father all voted for the reduction in state revenues.  Accordingly, they (including appointed-daughter Christina) own part of the budgetary problems now as having brought it on themselves.  In addition, Schuring and Oelslager have had a hand in accelerating the the drop off to local governments in TTP tax revenues.  Moreover, they along with Christina Hagan are parties to eliminating Stark County local government Ohio Estate Tax revenues effective with the latter half of 2013.

In the end, all three will hold hands with county commissioners, mayors and councilpersons of Stark County cities and villages as well as township trustees and beseech divine intervention.

But the saying is:  "the Lord helps those who help themselves."

Oelslager and Schuring have been integral parts of creating a fiscal/financial problem for themselves and, unfortunately, for all of Ohio.

Stand back and watch as they punish us for the mistakes they and their colleagues have made.

Here is a video of Representative Schuring addressing the commissioners.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Newly appointed Ohio House Representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) held a townhall meeting in Louisville last night at the Louisville Public Library.

The occasion?

Defending (after the fact) her vote to pass House Bill 153 (the house version of Ohio's 2012/2013 biennial budget) on a strict party line vote (59 Republicans for, 40 Democrats against).

It was obvious that Hagan is a rookie legislator by the manner in which she handled the meeting.  Far and away it was the show of her support brought in from Columbus (Representative Ron Amstutz of Wooster and Rep. David Hall of Holmes County).

Initially, after having Louisville Mayor Pat Fallot introduce her and Hagan making a few introductory remarks, she literally sat in the background as Amstutz and Hall stood front and center addressing the assembled crowd.  Only in about the last third of the meeting did she stand along side Amstutz and Hall as the trio exchanged viewpoints with the audience.

In general, it was a ruly crowd that showed up at the Louisville Public Library.  However, the trio of Hagan, Amstutz did get roughed up a bit.  Townhalls are known for such.

One of the displeasures uttered by a couple of attendees (probably about 50 or so) was how often legislation up for a vote come out on a strictly partly line vote. 

As can be seen in the video that follows is the "hem-hawing" around that went on in the responses by the trio (mostly Amstutz and Hall) on the obvious:  partisan politics is the order of the day in Columbus with the Republicans firmly in control in both the House and Senate).

One of the reasons that the Tea Party got going has been the public's frustration at the degree to which elected legislative Republicans and Democrats vote the party line.  Both elected Republicans and Democrats will look you in the eye and tell you they vote their conscious and more or less in their constituents' interests.  But practically nobody - except for highly partisan voters - believes them.

Apparently, they have nothing but contempt for the intelligence of everyday citizens.

An example:  when now Congressman Jim Renacci (Republican) took on then Congressman John Boccieri in 2007, he chided Boccieri about voting 94% with Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Well, now that he is congressman guess who Renacci votes for?

You've got it Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner!  Not 94%, 95% or even 98%, but 100% of the time so far.

Talk about hypocrisy!

On the video that The Report has embeded in this blog, Representative Amstutz is seen giving examples of what he calls bipartisanship.  However, he does admit that "where the rubber meets the road" on the budget bill itself, it was a party line vote: 59 to 40.  Such is typical on any legislative measure which is the heart and soul of a political party position.  He doesn't tell the audience that in the debate and process leading to the passage of the budget bill Democrats offered 72 amendments:  none of which were accepted by Republicans.

Of particular interest to Stark Countians was an amendment offered by Democratic Representative Mark Okey (61st House District which includes eastern Stark County) for Ohio to place a two year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas pending the outcome of a federal EPA study.  Its fate?  It was one of the 72 rejected out of hand by the Republican Party majority (including Stark Countians Christina Hagan [the 50th] and Kirk Schuring [the 51st].

Such is how Democrats and Republican elected legislators act these days and there are signs on the political horizon that being in lockstep with the party line is not playing well with rank-and-file voters.

Consequently, in time and increasingly so a credible more independent minded alternative will surface.

The SCPR does not believe the Tea Party is credible because it appeals only to right wing Republicans and their ilk.  The Tea Party is not a viable alternative for moderate Republicans (who are few in number these days), independents and centrist and left of center Democrats.

When a truly independent minded political party surfaces, then party line elected legislative Republicans and Democrats will be in "real" political trouble.  Few think this can or will happen in the American political system.  The SCPR is not among this set of political analysts.

The "day of reckoning" for elected party line Republicans and Democrats who prove to be party line-esque officials is nearer than most political observers own up to.  So the likes of Christina Hagan and Kirk Schuring (Republicans) and Steve Slesnick (Democrat), members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio House, had better pay attention to the growing "anti-party line" emerging electorate or they will be ex-legislators in a hurry.

Voters should keep up the drumbeat of "not voting the party line" up in any and all contacts with their respective representatives.  Either they change from being party line legislators or they create conditions for the emergence of an independent minded set of replacement legislators or perhaps a credible alternative to the Tea Party that will eschew the party line and vote either their consciouses or their constituents' interests; not the party line.

Stay tuned on this matter.

Expect to hear more and more public discontent with party line voting to the point of Republican and Democratic offenders looking for a life outside the Legislature.

Here is the video on the audience member who chastised the legislators for their "party line votes."

Monday, May 9, 2011


One of the most galling things to the Stark County Political Report for years has been the phenomenon where by the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) force tax increases to the local level (townships, villages, cities, counties, libraries, boards of education and the like) via mandating that certain functions be done without providing the money to pay for the performance of the function.

One might think that the fact that state Senator Scott Oelslager and state Representative Kirk Schuring have been staying in the OGA for nearly 50 years despite term limits (which they supported) by playing a "guaranteed a seat" version of musical chairs would pay off for Stark County.

Has it?

Well, when it comes to stopping the unfunded state mandates, it has not.

On April 22nd the Stark County commissioners called the Stark County delegation to the OGA to come to the commissioners' meeting room to hear county grievances against the state of Ohio on the issue.

A video below gives a sampling of county office holder frustration with what Ohio does to local government in terms of undermining the fiscal integrity of local units of government.

The Heath recitation of a few unfunded mandates is truly "the tip of the 'unfunded mandate' iceberg." One of the most affected local governments on this score is each and every one of Stark County's 17 school districts.

Ever heard of a school levy folks?  A large part of the blame lies at the feet of Oelslager, Schuring, Slesnick and Hagan (and her predecessor which, of course, includes her father).

It is time that Stark County taxpayers wake up and realize that the likes of Oelslager (R-Plain), Schuring (R-Jackson), Slesnick (D-Canton) and Hagan (R-Marlboro who did not even show up on the 22nd) are forcing a variety of local government units to raise taxes in one form or another at the local level in order to implement state mandates that are unfunded by state government.

If Oelslager and Schuring (being the veteran legislators they are and having a political party identity with the governor) had any imaginative legislative bones in their bodies, they would prevail on Governor Kasich to do what Governor Rick Perry of Texas has done:  create "a Task Force on Unfunded Mandates ...  to identify burdensome, unfunded mandates that have been passed down to local governments."  (The Brownsville Herald, May 7, 2011).

But do not hold your breath for this duo to act.  Both are just trying to make it through to retirement with the fat state pensions. 

The SCPR will take Heath's list of unfunded mandates delivered en masse face-to-face to Oelslager, Schuring and Slesnick and the April 22 meeting and be reporting to the readers of The Report whether or not (let's say in six months) the legislators have made any headway on the request by county officials that the Stark County delegation get something done to scale back the number of unfunded state mandates.

Here is the Heath (Judge Taryn Heath, Stark County Court of Common Pleas - General Division) video.

Sunday, May 8, 2011



UPDATE 05/08/2011 07:38 AM

The SCPR received an e-mail from citizen presenter Mike Sopczak which the The Report publishes below.  Regarding the point made by Mr. Sopczak of not including the "stumbling and bumbling" and non answers of of the NCCS BOE, he is right on the mark.  The reason it was not included in the Thomas video is because including that footage would have made the footage below.   Suffice to say that the SCPR agrees with Mr. Sopczak's assessment;

Now the e-mail:
Hey Martin, this is Mike Sopczak.  I watched a few of the videos… (material omitted by SCPR)  But anyway, thanks for posting the videos, it will be good for people to see how many questions were just ignored by the board and administration.  Seems like it was pre-orchestrated or something…I still do not believe they ever gave the K-5 option a chance.
Nonetheless, I know it’s your own editing option, but curious why you left the stumbling and bumbling of the administration out of your Chris Thomas section?  I realize that helped cut down the time of the overall video…  However, it was very revealing to me that their answers, or actually lack thereof, showed everyone in the room (except perhaps the 4 other board members) that they did not have their act together…they had no answers and shorted their overall costs which is another way of saying lied about the facts.
I think the High School kid’s presentation was better than our administration’s.
Anyhow, I promised to put all this behind me b/c it’s useless for me to put any more energy to this b/c they are going to do what they want to do.  I know you attack other areas of politics, but just know there is  A LOT of smoke here, and you know what they say about that.
Thanks again for posting something, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of YouTube hits.
Michael J. Sopczak Jr.

UPDATE 05072011 09:00 PM

NCCS BOE & Board Member Chris Thomas
Citizen Mike Sopczak
Citizen Joanna Volas 
Citizen Jennifer Kling 
Citizen Holly Pierpont 
Citizen Lisa Wood 
Citizen Tina East
Citizen Randy Santangelo
Citizen Peggy McClain
Mayor David Held
Citizen Mark Erzen

On April 27, 2011 the North Canton City Schools Board of Education (Board - BOE) at its regular monthly meeting had on the agenda whether or not implement a proposed Elementary Service Plan (ESP - Plan).

The Plan outline is indicated in the Stark County Political Report generated graphic below:

Details of the ESP are provided in an earlier blog that readers can access by CLICKING ON THIS PARAGRAPH.

The primary focus of this blog is whether or not the citizens of North Canton were "really" heard on the question of which of two alternatives was to be implemented:
  • the ESP with Clearmount and Northwood being K-2 and Greentown and Orchard Hill being 3-5, or
  • maintaining the all four schools as they are, but adding a kindergarten at each.
Being an outsider to the North Canton City Schools (NCCS), yours truly's impression is that those (which were clearly of the majority of those who addressed the Board) who opposed ESP were not.

It appears that the decision was a top down (predetermined) from the administration and that the NCCS Board of Education seems to be (except for member Thomas) the captive of Superintendent Mike Galina.

Such a co-dependent relationship, in the experience of the SCPR, is typical of boards of education.  Typically relationships between school board members and superintendents are so tight that the public rarely gets heard except, of course, if there is a tax issue on the ballot. 

Having had "up close and personal" looks at the chemistry of many boards of education and school administrations over nearly 30 years of observing them, The Report sees the same telltale signs in North Canton that seems to be prevalent across Stark County perhaps across Ohio and even the entire nation.

Only member Chris Thomas asked incisive questions of Superintendent Galina, Services Director John Stanley, Curriculum Director Peggy Savage and Treasurer Todd Tolson.

It was apparent to the SCPR that members Bundy and Goldthorpe were fronting for the administration.  Members Marion and Greenwald were more like wall flowers than engaged board members.

In a "see for yourself style 'video' blog," the SCPR has broken down the nearly two hours of video taken by The Report for North Cantonians (as well as anyone else who wants a taste of school process or the lack thereof) to view in a concise way the tenor and tone of the meeting.

First, the video of the Board in action.  The Report focuses on member Chris Thomas as he was far and away the most exacting and persistent Board questioner of the administration team members.  At the end of the questioning, Thomas felt that his questions had not been adequately answered and therefore made a motion to table the decision (which got defeated 4 to 1).  Accordingly, this video zeros in or the questions that he opposes throughout the session.

Second, videos of several North Canton citizens. Initially, only the Board video is posted.  However, the SCPR is also going to post videos of several citizens who participated in the "public speaks" portion of the meeting.  Once the posting is complete, The Report will update this blog with a notice to that effect.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of the least explored questions on the fracking issue is the "politics of fracking."

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking) for natural gas in a formation known as the Marcellus shale is a process by which a vertical hole is drilled to about 8,000 feet below the surface and then turned horizontal for a distance (limited by the size of the lease) and then injected with a high pressure mix of sand and chemicals (some of which are hazardous) and, of course, water to fracture rock which encases natural gas thereby release the gas for collection.

The SCPR's take on the "politics of fracking" is that Democrats generally oppose the process whereas Republicans generally support it.  But, like anything else with a political dimension to it, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule of thumb.

Ohio's leading Republican, Governor John Kasich, has come out strongly in favor of fracking.

For the average citizen, politics does not seem to be much of a factor.  The lure of fracking to everyday Stark Countians is the money to be made by leasing their properties to energy companies who are setting up to do fracking.  However, there are quite a number of Stark Countians who worry about whether or not fracking will result in contaminating drinking water supplies.

Both sides are weighing in with the Democratic and Republican politicians who staff village and city councils or boards of trustees.

Stark County two leading anti-fracking-politicians happen to be Democrats, to wit:  Trustee Louis Giavasis (Plain Township - who The Report believes is the leading authority in Stark on fracking) and Councilwoman Mary Cirelli of Canton.

However, the mix of communities that have passed resolutions (only calls for moratoriums so far) are not so easily identified as promoting a Republican or Democratic view.  These communities include Canton (heavily Democratic), Plain Township and Alliance (pretty much an even split) as well as Hartville and North Canton (which have a Republican dominance).

At least one individual Republican who has strong anti-fracking views is Plain Township attorney William G. Williams who has spent most of his career representing oil and gas interests and land owners.

So while The Report does believe that there is an element of politics at play on the fracking issue in the local domain, big stakes politics is played out in Columbus and Washington not Stark County.

In Stark County the controversy is between folks like Chris Borello (who happens to be a Democrat) of Plain Township and the Concerned Citizens of Stark County (also, Concerned Citizens of Lake Township - on hazardous waste dump site located near the center of Uniontown) and others who care about the possible damage that could occur to Stark localities from fracking but who think that Ohio government has enough safeguards in place to protect citizens and that therefore fracking is a reasonable risk for Ohio, local communities, and local citizens to engage in.

The Report 's take is that Borello represents the "no risk crowd" whereas folks like Williams represents the "reasonable risk" crowd and that the fight is over the risk element and is not, for them, a Republican/Democratic thing.

The SCPR has published material in earlier blogs about positions of public officials from Alliance, Canton and Plain Township.

Today, The Report shares with readers the North Canton perspective.  It appears that North Canton like Canton and Plain Township will be submitting a resolution (likely to be voted on this coming Monday, May 9th) asking state officials to declare a moratorium on fracking until a EPA study commissioned by the national government is completed in about two years.

Here are two videos which emcompass five of seven councilpersons (Councilman Jeff Davies being the lead on the matter) who expressed their viewpoints last Monday.

Friday, May 6, 2011


She promised to talk to the SCPR on camera immediately after her selection as one of three Stark County Republican Party nominees to be submitted to the Ohio House Republican Caucus.

But - apparently knowing she couldn't handle the tough questions of The Report - she cut and ran after the meeting.

Such was indication that Christina Hagan - if she were named to the post (to succeed Todd Snitchler who vacated to become PUCO chairman) -  had all the makings of being a political coward.

She was selected and one of her first acts as state representative was to vote the party line on the Ohio budget (House Bill 153) and then schedule a town hall meeting to explain her action to constituents who yet have to vote on whether or not she shall continue to represent them in the Ohio House.

This maneuver (calling a meeting "after the fact" is called "damage control."  And she doesn't even have the courage to face the public on her own.  The 22 year old state representative is bringing Ron Amstutz (chairman of the House finance and Appropriations Committee) with her.

Like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, Hagan is showing she has no courage - political courage - that is.

At her "after the fact" townhall meeting she has called for May 9th, she will have to explain to the 50th District public the massive cuts in local government funding that is coming to Stark County and its political subdivisions in the FY 2012-2013.

All Stark County local governments who receive state money from the Local Government Fund (LGF) will receive 50% in cuts over the next two years resulting in millions of dollars which will have to be made up with local government tax increases or dramatic reductions in services to citizens in many of the villages, cities, townships and the likes.

Moreover, Hagan is supportive of a measure that will end the Ohio Estate Tax in January, 2013 and which will result in further significant cuts in state monies received by local governments.

As if this were not enough, the Ohio Legislature's promise to local governments that the restructuring of taxation of corporations (from "tangible personal property (TPP)" and franchise to a "commercial activities (CAT) tax") would not cost them in lost local revenues from the TPP.  Guess what?  The state has broken it promise and with her vote on HB 153 Christina Hagan sanctions the broken promise.

And, of course, there are the schools.  Here is an estimate of what the Hagan supported budget is going to cost Stark County school districts:

By the time Hagan has to stand for election, the impact of the cuts on Stark Countians will have been felt by Stark Countians and specifically that part of Stark County she represents.

Her townhall meeting at the Louisville Public Library from 5:30 to 7:00 pm on this coming Monday is very likely to be the first of a long line of "explainin" to do to district voters.