Thursday, June 30, 2011


Had Stark County Democrats not fallen on hard times with what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has called "Zeiglergate," Chief Deputy Rick Perez would be running for sheriff to replace the once again retiring (2nd as sheriff) Tim Swanson.

Fairly or unfairly, Rick's brother Kim (the county auditor up until March of this year) was perceived by the Stark County voting public has not having done enough - in a "check and balance" sense -  to figure out that not all was right at the Stark County treasury and thereby help law enforcement officials figure out that the then Deputy Chief Treasurer Vince Frustaci was stealing county money.  Consequently, he was defeated for re-election by Republican Alan Harold.

Republicans (Commissioner Janet Creighton - the point person - in the opinion of the SCPR) were quick to jump on Perez and the likes of Sheriff Tim Swanson and his chiefs at the sheriff's department (but also implicitly Prosecutor John Ferrero, Recorder Rick Campbell, to name a few more) as being part of a political "good ole boy" network that did not produce effective, efficient government for Stark Countians.  Rather, the Republican line goes, they deal in the world political favoritism and cronyism and not necessarily in the best interests of Stark Countians.

The Republican initiative seems to have worked.  Subsequent to Sheriff Swanson anointing Rick Perez to be his successor in front of a Signature class group of Leadership Stark County (a Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsored effort) that was visiting the Stark County Jail at the invitation of class member Perez, it has become abundantly clear that Rick Perez cannot be elected sheriff.

The sheriff had to be thinking:  "if not Perez, who?"  After all there is a Sheriff Tim Swanson legacy to protect!

The SCPR believes that he prevailed upon his other chief deputy, Mike McDonald, to run.

McDonald, after a Tuesday night Stark County commissioner hearing (mandated by Ohio law) on whether or not the county should put a 1/2 cent sales tax on the November ballot, denied to The Report that he was following Swanson's direction in running for sheriff.

Such a protestation is hard for The Report to swallow.

If the overall political climate had not turned against Perez, Mike McDonald you mean to tell me you were going to run against Rick Perez in a Democratic Party primary?  Who would believe that?

By the way, as a matter of a sidenote to who or who might not run against McDonald in a Democratic primary in March or May of 2012, Canton Safety Director Tom Ream has emphatically told the SCPR that he is not running.  He did admit, however, that he had been asked to consider running.  Also, McDonald tells The Report that he has talked to Jackson Police Chief David Zink and came away from the discussion thinking that Zink would not be running.

One might think of McDonald's "I made my own decision" as being an attempt to distance himself from Swanson who has become a political pariah in Stark County because of his "poop on the people" outburst at a Stark County commissioners' meeting (December, 2008) in which the commissioners were deciding whether or not to impose a 1/2 cent sales tax (which they did do).

Moreover, Swanson is perceived to be a close confidant (at least at one time) of reinstated Treasurer Gary Zeigler (needs bond to be official).  Swanson has made a number of public statements (including letters to the editor) attesting for Zeigler as being a quality treasurer.  Also, he, Zeigler and Prosecutor Ferrero have a history of having run a joint campaign for re-election.

But, when asked by the SCPR whether or not Swanson's support (which the sheriff has profusely bestowed on McDonald in local media) was a good thing or a bad thing, McDonald answered by saying that Swanson has many admirers across Stark County.

The Report then turned to the question of the future of Chief Deputy Rick Perez, should McDonald be elected.

The - up until then - profuse McDonald buttoned up real quick.  "I won't discuss that," he said.  "I wonder if it is legal to discuss that," he said.  When pressed by the SCPR, he adamantly persisted in refusing to answer the question.

Hmm?  Will Stark County voters let him get away with that?

Among other matters that came up in the SCPR/McDonald exchange included whether or not he thought his Republican opponent was going to be Larry Dordea (who ran against and lost to Swanson in 2008).

McDonald said that he is hearing reports both ways.

Asked whether or not the fact that he is retired as a public official would factor into the fall/2012 campaign, he replied that he was sure that it would.  He pointed out that if Dordea is his opponent that he also is a retired public official having retired as Alliance police chief.  Additionally, he pointed out that Dordea is Chief of Police for Hartville and an Alliance city councilman (he is running for re-election).

The most pressing thing on McDonald's mind Tuesday night seemed not to be that Dordea could be (the SCPR thinks definitely will be) his opponent but rather that his support of the 1/2 cent sales tax increase that Stark County commissioners are posed to place on the November, 2011 ballot would be tantamount to committing political suicide.

Here is Mike McDonald in his own videotaped words from Tuesday night's hearing:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Earlier today the SCPR did a blog to the effect that putative Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (not officially treasurer because he is requited to get a bond by Ohio law) paid a visit to the Stark County treasury yesterday and took up his place in the treasurer's office within the treasury office complex located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Moreover, The Report shared a story with readers as told to yours truly by a highly reliable source (which The Report now believes was embellished by the source, as even the best of human beings are wont to do here and there) in which Zeigler was said to be without a computer and a telephone while at the office.  

Today, The Report, Nancy Molnar of the Akron Beacon Journal and Kelli Young of The Repository held an impromptu news conference with Auditor Harold after the Stark County commissioners' weekly Wednesday meeting.  Harold had come into the commissioners meeting early on during the session.

A focus of the news conference was a list that Harold is compiling about all the changes that have been made in the Stark treasury and Stark auditor's office since Gary Zeigler was removed as treasurer by commissioners on August 23rd and Kim Perez's relinquishing of office in March of this year (having been defeated by Harold in last November's general election).

Near the end of the conference, Molnar asked (obviously referring to the SCPR blog on the matter) Harold whether or not it was true that Zeigler was without a computer and telephone during his brief visit to the Stark treasury on Tuesday.

Answer:  Not true, Zeigler had both a computer and telephone.

Yours truly was astounded to hear him say that.  

For what appeared in the first blog was as the tale (Zeigler:  no computer, no telephone) was told to The Report by an impeccable source (in terms of being in a position to know).

The computer.

As it turns out (see Harold's explanation in the video press conference below), in the effective sense, Zeigler was without a computer because when it gets turned on all one gets is a log-on screen that requires a password to gain access to office/county files and presumably the county network.  Well, Zeigler's was terminated on his removal back in August, 2010.

So yes,  Zeigler could turn the computer on, but that was it.  

Harold goes on to say that had Zeigler contacted him for a new password he (Harold) would not have issued it because he is unbonded and therefore not treasurer and not entitled participate in county business as a public official/employee.

The telephone.  

Although the telephone was operative on Tuesday, according to Harold today, (contrary to what The Report was clearly told by the source on Tuesday evening) sometime Wednesday morning Harold had his Informational Technology folks take the office phone of the treasurer out of the loop (in other words:  deadened it).  Harold seems to suggest in the video that this was part of a countywide review of needed phones and that unused phones are taken out of the loop.

Taking Harold at his word, the SCPR finds it more than coincidental that what The Report was told on Tuesday evening about earlier in the day Tuesday about Zeigler's phone status became reality on Wednesday morning.

So if Zeigler were to visit his office tomorrow, he would not have access to a "live" telephone in the office he called home as treasurer over the past ten years or so.  Nor will Harold reconnect the telephone unless and until he is presented with a bond from Gary Zeigler.

The SCPR stands by the account given (in terms of its substance as delivered by the source) in the first blog on whether or not Zeigler had access to a computer and telephone during Tuesday's visit to the Stark treasury.

As stated above, it is clear to The Report that the Tuesday source account was an embellishment.  Such is the life of anyone who deals with public figures.

Whenever the SCPR learns of misstatements, embellishments, et cetera  from sources, The Report will be quick to set the record straight.

Here is Auditory Alan Harold in his own words:


The Ohio Senate voted out HB 153 yesterday and in a near party line vote approved the measure 22 to 11.

"Near" is the operative vote.  Stark County state Sen. Scott Oelslager was not among the 23 Republicans who voted for the bill.

Undoubtedly, for Oelslager, the slashing of local government funds and financial assumptions that SB 5 (the collective bargaining bill) will become law was too much for him to play the loyal Republican role.

The SCPR commends Oelslager for demonstrating the courage to stand up against his party to send a message of support for Stark's villages, cities and townships and their opposition (for the most part) to the nearly 50% cuts in local government funding that HB 153 provides for over the next two fiscal years.

Republicans Christina Hagan and Kirk Schuring on the House side of the Ohio General Assembly:  how will they vote?

Answer:  Do not look for them to pull an Oelslager!


It appears that there are people in county government who "really" do not want to see reinstated Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler return to office.  But return he will, if county commissioners can get a bond issued to cover him as required by Ohio law.

The Report is told Zeigler "visited" his office yesterday for about thirty minutes.

While Zeigler was in office prior to being illegally removed by Commissioners Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks on August 23, 2010 according to the Ohio Supreme Court because they did not accord him "due process of law" in an ORC 321.38 removal process, he was known (according to a SCPR source) to hunker down in his office with window blinds closed.

His illegally elected replacement Alex Zumbar, on the other hand, is said to have always kept the blinds open for all to see him at all times.

Among the first things Zeigler did in his visit yesterday  - according to The Report's source - is to enter the vacant treasurer's  office with his attorney and did what?  You've got it:  closed the window blinds.

The SCPR is told that Zeigler's trip to the Stark treasury is being termed a visit because no bond has been secured yet and for him to be officially back as treasurer:   a bond is a mandatory condition.

Apparently on the theory that only official county employees are entitled to use county equipment,   it seems that within minutes of taking up occupancy in the vacant office the office phone and computer were shut down by county Information technology personnel.

'Wow!  No phone, no computer!!  Undoubtedly, Zeigler had to feel unwelcome!!!

The feeling is running so strong (at least among Alex Zumbar supporters) against Zeigler that (according to a Republican public official) the Stark County Republican Party is considering filing an ORC 3.07/3.08 action to remove him from office once again.

"Considering" is the appropriate word. 

The SCPR's read of the Republican official? It is unlikely that a ORC 3.07/3.08 action will be undertaken.

The reasons?
  • About 20,000 valid voter signatures (15% of those voting in Stark County in the 2010 Kasich/Strickland race) would have to be collected and made part of a complaint filed in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.
  • Even if the signatures were to be collected and the complaint filed and ultimately  the case won (i.e. Zeigler is once again removed), very little would be gained in terms of removing Zeigler prior to the end of this current term (September, 2013).  Estimates indicate about six months.  With the appellate process (which one would think Zeigler would invoke), it could be that the matter would be strung out in the legal processes so that nothing - time wise - is gained.
Anti-Zeiglerites should not get their hopes up that Zeigler is not going to re-assume office.  The Report believes that commissioners will be able to get Zeigler's bond.  After all, they were able to get his bond renewed post-discovery of the Frustaci theft of county funds.

And why should they.  He was completely exonerated of any involvement whatsoever in the theft of the funds by county and federal prosecutors.

Really the only question now is whether or not Zeigler will seek re-election to another term as county treasurer.

The Report expects that he will.  That's how dug in this guy is.

Apparently, it will take the voters either in the Democratic primary in March/May 2012 or in the general election in November to get Zeigler out of office.

So Stark Countians have to wait 14 months before they can move on from Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to remove him should he choose to run.

And Zeigler should not fantasize that the Stark County voting public will somehow change their perception that he did not properly manage the treasury so as to minimize the opportunity for the likes of Vince Frustaci to make off with Stark County taxpayer money.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Days after she voted to force onto the backs of Ohio's public employees (Senate Bill 5) that they share disproportionately to solving the state's financial woes, Republican Party appointee (the 50th) Christina Hagan held a town hall meeting in Louisville.

A citizen stepped forward and asked her to support HB 41 (offered by fellow Republican Terry Boose - Lorain) which provided for 5% cuts in state legislator pay.  Since legislators cannot - by the Ohio Constitution - affect their own pay in the biennium term they are serving in, such a cut would not go into effect until the 130th Ohio General Assembly which will take office on January 1, 2013.

Here is the video of the citizen addressing the issue at Hagan's town hall meeting:

Interesting enough Hagan and her town hall props/supports (state Reps. Amstutz and Hall) did not seem to know anything about HB 41.  But she did promise to get up to speed.  Moreover, she seemed to promise she would for her term donate 5% of her income to a charity.  

Readers can be sure that if she does so, there will be a press release extolling her for doing so.

While HB 41 has not even had a hearing, it did make it into the budget bill (which, of course, violates the Ohio Constitution's requirement that legislation deal with only one topic).

As the Toledo Blade headline above says, the pay cut was stripped from the budget bill and not because conferees worried about the constitutionality of the provision being in the bill.

While Republicans (including Stark Countians Hagan and Schuring) are quite willing to exact a pound of flesh from the rest of us, the excision of the pay cut from the budget bill proves they are unwilling to share in the sacrifice they impose on the rest of Ohio.



It is hard to distinguish between The Tea Party and the Republican Party these days.

The man who is likely to become the Republican nominee for president (Mitt Romney) to run against President Barack Obama started out as a moderate Republican as governor of Massachusetts.

As governor he supported abortion rights and took up the cause of providing universal health care for citizens of the Bay state.  Neither of these are on the radar for Tea Partiers.

Realizing that is near impossible to get the Republican nomination for anything, Romney has been working overtime to at least be palatable to Tea Partiers.  While he certainly is the the darling of Tea Partiers and Republican social conservatives, he is doing well enough to be in a virtual tie in the latest poll in Iowa which is the first in the nation primary.  He leads 23% to 22% over Michele Bachmann.

It seems that it is his health care legacy which causes him the most problem.  Tea Partiers detest what they call Obamacare more than anything else the president has done in office.

It appears to the SCPR that Ohio General Assembly Republicans (including Stark County's Scott Oelslager, Kirk Schuring and Christian Hagan) has latched onto the Tea Partiers' intense hatred of Obamacare as a way to counter the groundswell of public support that the repeal effort of Senate Bill 5 being pushed by the Ohio Democratic Party.

Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) is Republican Governor Kasich's effort to virtually eliminate meaningful collective bargaining rights for Ohio's public employees (policement, firemen, teachers and others.

At the moment appears to be heading for a political bloodbath.

Out-of-the-blue on June 15th the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate concocted a joint resolution (which requires a 60% majority) to add to the Ohio Constitution (if voters approve the measure) a provision to allow Ohioans to opt out of certain aspects of Obamacare.

The Republican idea is to get enough Tea Partiers to the polls on November 8th to deny the pro-repeal-SB5 a victory.

The Report does not believe that the Republican political tactic would have worked.  It appears that the pro-repeal folks will have about one million signatures by the time they quite collecting signatures and turn them in to the Ohio secretary of state for validation.  Only 385,245 are required.

The Republican - "let's have a constitutional amendment crowd" - fell short by 1 vote of getting the required 60% majority.

The Republicans tried hard to get that one needed Democrat to help them because the constitutional amendment route was a sure way to get the measure on the November ballot.

But they have not given up.  They have the Tea Partiers out working to collect signatures to get the anti-Obamacare measure on the ballot, to wit:

The Tea Partiers say they have 389,000 which is more than the 385,245 needed.  However, as is always the case, there are always many signers who are not registered voters or get disqualified for other reasons.  So 389,000 will not get the job done.  Tea Party officials say they will end up with about 500,000 by the final date for collecting signature (July 6th).  The question is:  will 500,000 be enough?  Perhaps not.  That is why the Republicans pushed hard to get the measure on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.

The Report thinks that Oelslager and Schuring would deny that they are Tea Partiers.  Hagan, probably not.  

For Oelslager and Schuring the congruence between their vote on SJR 1 and the Tea Partiers taking up the cause makes them at the very least willing to consort with the Tea Partiers to help Governor Kasich reach his goal of defeating the SB 5 repeal effort.

Oelslager's vote is inconsistent with his vote against passage of SB 5.  Hmm?  Makes one wonder how authentic how committed he is to seeing SB 5 repealed?

In any event the Republicans who make up the Ohio General Assembly are a far cry from those progressive types that started the Republican Party way back in 1854!

Monday, June 27, 2011


Stark Countians clearly remember that on April 1, 2009 it was revealed that Treasurer Zeigler discovered that his Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen $2.46 million (federal judge John Adams has said he believes that Frustaci actually took $2.96 million) from the county treasury.  Of course, Zeigler fired Frustaci immediately.  And Frustaci pled guilty and is serving 10 years in federal prison.

While Zeigler himself was exonerated by county and federal prosecutors of an criminal culpability, the State of Ohio Auditor's office found that Zeigler was deficient on a number of bases in having procedures in place to prevent an employee from making off with county money.

Stark County commissioners moved to remove Zeigler from office on the authority of Ohio Revised Code Sections (ORC) 321.07 and 321.08 which gave commissioners "permission" to remove on the fact that money came up missing while Zeigler was treasurer.

Here are a couple of videos to refresh SCPR readers on the actual proceedings wherein the commissioners prepared to and actually removed Zeigler.

As it turns out, the then Stark County Commissioners Todd Bosley, Pete Ferguson (he remains a commissioner) and Steve Meeks were legally wrong (so says the Ohio Supreme Court)  in removing Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler from office pursuant to the Chapter 300 statutory provisions.

Of course, the commissioners were relying on Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero's legal advice in proceeding under ORC 321.37 and 321.28.

The high court was saying in effect via the language "is unconstitutional on its face," that Prosecutor Ferrero miscalculated in allowing the commissioners to proceed under 321.37 and 38.

The SCPR would go one step further and say that the Ohio General Assembly messed up in not fixing this obviously unconstitutional law years ago.

Notice the dates that the Legislature last dealt with these code sections:

1985 and 1953.  Hmm?

The Ohio Revised Code is sorely in need of revision.  Not only on constitutionally "on the face of it" problematical provisions like 321.37/38, but also across the board to update/remove out-of-date provisions like Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court Judge Taryn Heath (head of the Citizen Review Taskforce on unfunded mandates) brought forward (22 of them - just scratching the surface) back in March at a work session of the Stark County commissioners.

So why don't state Reps Kirk Schuring, Christina Hagan, Stephen Slesnick and state Sen Scott Oelslager get moving on setting up a continuing legislative taskforce to comb through the ORC and cure the defects and the out-of-dateness?

Yesterday, the SCPR talked with former Commissioner Bosley about the reasons the commissioners proceeded under ORC 321.37/38.  Interesting.  He laid much of the blame at the feet of local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.

Bosley said that Conley was on the telephone with him for seeming hours without end pushing, pressing and cajoling him and his fellows to move forward on 321.37/38 and even asked for commissioners to appoint him the lead attorney on the matter.

The Report does not buy the Bosley argument. 

Yes, Conley did push.  But as The Report remembers.  It appeared that Ferrero was never going to get moving. 

Neither Bosley nor Ferguson recalls Ferrero bringing up the availability of using ORC Sections 3.07 and 3.08, to wit:

A major problem with the ORC 3.08/07 approach is that do so would require the collecting 20,912 valid Stark County voter signatures.  Not impossible, by any stretch.  But nonetheless "real work!"

Proceeding that way certainly would have cured the ORC 321.38 (an administrative process that the Supreme Court says does not qualify to be quasi judicial/administrative) "due process of law" problem.

And, had the people of Stark County prevailed before either a judge or jury, the county would not be facing "back wages, front wages and wrongful termination" damages that Zeigler's attorneys say they are looking at going after.  (Supreme Court rules that Zeigler should get his job back, Kelli Young and Shane Hoover, The Repository, 06/23/2001).

One can only imagine the Stark County public's reaction should Zeigler collect hundreds of thousands of dollars if not in the seven figures ($1,000,000 or more)!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011



When the now over 65s union workers (Local 1985 - International Brotherhood of Electrical workers - 1985/IBEW) of the former Hoover Company negotiated benefits with successor owner Whirpool Corporation, the thought the had a secure deal.

Well, in 21st century America and perhaps in the economic world at large one can forget financial/economic security unless is a corporate top level manager, hits the lottery or develops a great business idea which gets parlayed into a highly profitable business or inherit wealth.

The days of a person working a good paying factory job (with outstanding benefits) and by being frugal and making sound investment decisions and becoming relatively well off are pretty much over!

Come January, 2013 the Whirpool deal with Stark County's former IBEW employees off.  Not through negotiation but through unilateral action that Whirlpool has announced in a letter to some of the 2,300 affected employees.  Not all employees have gotten "the letter."  Some have gotten several letters.

The letter says the previously negotiated benefits will be replaced by a $50 a month payment for a Medicare supplemental plan and another $35 to subsidize the cost of getting prescription drugs uner Medicare Part D.


Not only are the retirees getting the shaft from Whirlpool, it appears they are getting the shaft from their own international union:  the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Here is a video of former and long tine president Jim Repace telling the upwards of 1,000 Hoover retirees (some of which were salaried types) that international IBEW which they paid dues to individually for decades in most cases was washing its hands of them and would be offering no assistance to them in their fight to preserve the negotiated benefits.


The former Hoover employees have a number of individuals to thank for getting behind them in their effort to thwart Whirpool's welching on a deal their union had negotiated in good faith.

First and foremost (in the opinion of the SCPR) is Ron Ponder of WHBC's Points to Ponder.  He worked with a Mayfield Sr. Center director Dan Fonte and former 1985/IBEW former presidents Jim Repace and Jim Gensley who played major roles in putting the event together.

Ponder and WHBC are known for their activist role in Stark County politics.  Recently, Ponder put together a two meeting presentation (one for government regulators and officials, one for everybody else) designed to get to the truth of the matter as to whether or not hydraulic fracking is a safe procedure for extracting natural gas from shale located thousands of feet below the surface.

Moreover, WHBC and Ponder co-hosted a debate between the candidates for the 16th congressional district in the period leading up to the general election in November, 2010.

One media estimate of the crowd that assembled Thursday at the Mayfield Senior Center located on 13th Street in Canton is 1,000.  It could be.  The Report believes that WHBC and Ron Ponder specifically is likely a major reason for the terrific turnout because of the efforts they expended to publicize the event.

In The Report's opinion, Ponder is one Stark's prime contributors to empower Stark citizens to be informed and to be heard on issues that concern Stark Countians.  His Points to Ponder daily program (M-F, 10:00 a.m to Noon) can be heard on WHBC14890 News-Talk.

What follows is a video of some highlights of Ponder's participation (he will also appear in videos inserted into other sections of this blog).


The Report interviewed a number of former Hoover retired employees.  The theme of the interviews was what there expectations were coming into the Mayfield Sr. Center meeting.  As SCPR readers can see, all the interviewees seem upbeat about their prospects of avoiding cuts to their medical and prescriptive benefits their union had negotiated with Whirlpool.


One of the "dirty little secrets" of local, state and national life in America is the role that politics plays in the lives of each and everyone of us.  Undoubtedly, many of the Hoover retirees have never participated in politics other than to vote.  And so, if they felt they were pretty much unaffected by politics, the action that Whirlpool intends to take to dilute the negotiated for benefits should dispel that notion.

As can be seen in the video accompanying this section of the blog, the politics of the meeting was more to the liking of Democrat politicians and not so much for Republicans.  Dan Fonte and Allan Schulman (both thoroughgoing Democrats) weighed-in heavy on the Republicans.  So did Hall of Fame AFL-CIO President Dan Scuiry.  Additionally, former Congressman John Boccieri (defeateted by Republican Jim Renacci in 2010 had some choice words about Republicans and worker rights and targeted Renacci in particular.

Democrat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown's regional representative Max S. Blachman and Republican Jim Renacci's constituent service reps Dave Dobo and Heidi Matthews (the director of constituent service and wife of Stark County Republican Party chairman Jeff Matthews) pretty much kept partisan politics out of their presentations.

The SCPR believes that the matters of wages and benefits for America's workers are highly partisan.  It could be years before the Hoover employee situation is resolved (as well as other similarly situated retirees across the country) and it may well be that whichever party controls the political processes of government will determine if the Whirlpools of the world can make their unilateral changes in benefits stick.

It would behoove the Hoover employees to get politically sophisticated in a hurry!

If Hoover employees are on the winning side of the political battle, then, of course, politicians are a blessing.  Otherwise, they are likely to be seen as a curse.

Here are couple of videos which feature the politicians and politically astute presenters who were present last Thursday.


It had to be encouraging for the assembled former Hoover retired employees to hear that the law firm of Schulman and Zimmerman had stepped forward to provide legal direction and representation to their cause.

The Report presents Schulman and Zimmerman on video explaining to the retirees their "general" game plan for proceeding.


In this final section The Report publishes a video of the former presidents (Gensley and Repace - Jim & Jim as the referred to themselves throughout Thursday's meeting).  Together they review the highlights of Local 1985 IBEW in a general way and (Repace) his recollection of the contract negotiated on benefits.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the Hoover retires and hold on to their negotiated benefits in light of the current political environment.

Thursday's meeting was impressive and now the test is whether or not Gensly, Repace, the lawyers and the membership can sustain the effort.

As Ron Ponder said to the assembly:  "America will be watching!"

Here is the video of Jim & Jim.

Friday, June 24, 2011


The more appealing part of the Ohio Supreme Court opinion on whether or not Gary D. Zeigler should be restored as treasurer of Stark County was not the majority opinion, but rather the dissenting opinion - if you are sitting Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

The majority (5 - 2) voted to restore Zeigler.  The dissent would have ruled otherwise, the reasoning - in part - (very practical reasoning the SCPR thinks), to wit:

Justice Pfeifer says:  "[t]he world has moved on."  Indeed, it has in Stark County.

Now that the majority has spoken, Stark County will likely sink into political chaos. 

It appears that Treasurer Zumbar has not given up hope that some how, some way, Zeigler will hit one snag or another so that he cannot re-assume office.

He talked to the SCPR about:
  • Zeigler's bondability,
  • Zeigler's certifiability (in terms of having kept up with his continuing education requirements), and
  • the insurability of the office with Zeigler at the helm.
The Report believes that Zeigler will find a way to surmount these barriers, if indeed, they are problematical.

Assuming that Gary Zeigler will once again be Stark County treasurer in a matter of weeks, it is time to assess the political consequences of his resurrection.

First, a number of Stark Countians are saying the the commissioners' move to place a 0.5% sales tax on November's ballot is DOA.  If that is so, then being a county official come 2012 is going to be excruciating.  The political infighting for what dollars are remain ($36 million in 2012, $33 million in 2013) will be ferocious.  And, criminal justice will have to take a much bigger hit than it did this year (sheriff - 41 laid off; prosecutor 11 laid off).  This could pit Stark's Common Pleas Court judges against the commissioners (a conflict which neither, obviously, wants).  The judges have the power to order general fund monies for criminal justice purposes.  But can they order "blood from a turnip?"

Second, Zeigler's term is up for re-election in March or May of 2012 (the primary) and, of course, in November. 
  • Question:  will the Democrats choose to put up an opponent (let's say former interim Treasurer Ken Koher) should Zeigler run for re-election (which The Report thinks is highly likely)?
  • Likely answer:  Yes.  Gary Zeigler cannot get elected the proverbial "dog catcher" in Stark County and the Democrats do have a viable candidate in Ken Koher to rematch with Republican.  Unless the Dems want to throw in the towel, the will try to talk Koher in giving it another try against Zumbar.

Alex Zumbar tells The Report that he is definitely running to retain his office.  Of course, whether or not Zeigler got restored to office, the Zumbar/Koher 2010 race was for Zeigler's unexpired term.  Accordingly, Zumbar would be running anyway to retain office.

Third, Zeigler being in office (1:  if he decides not to run for re-election or 2:  if he loses in the Democratic primary or 3:  should the Dems not contest him in the primary) is likely (1:), probable (2:), and certain (3:) to spill over onto the Stark prosecutor office and sheriff contests. 

The prosecutor because there are some Stark Countians who think Ferrero's office has not effectively handled what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley (a Republican) terms "Zeiglergate," and the sheriff because Sheriff Swanson has been a close political confidant of Zeigler.  While Swanson himself appears not to be running, his long time Chief Deputy Mike McDonald is and - deserved or not - Swanson's endorsement will bring with it Swanson's political baggage.

Finally, what, if any, consequences will be visited on Commissioner Pete Ferguson and Tom Bernabei (Democrats) who are up for election in 2012?  If the levy fails (remember, many think a levy defeat is assured with the return of Zeigler to office), they will know the horror that awaits them in 2013 and beyond being without sufficient money to fund the basic operations of the county and The Report believes they will opt out of running for re-election.

The Supreme Court 's decision was not good for either party, but it was far worse for the Democrats than for the Republicans.

Come January 1, 2013 Stark's countywide offices will be controlled by Republicans.  It is just a question of the degree to which they controll. 

All but two commissioner posts, the coroner and the engineer?

All but the coroner and engineer?

Tis a puzzlement!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


There has not been any "new life" on the Republican side Canton city government in many a year.  So when political neophyte Mark Butterworth pulled off a stunning victory over Democratic political warhorse Karl "Butch" Kraus (a staunch union man) in November, 2009, there was hope that perhaps Butterworth could be the leading edge of a Republican renaissance which would result in Cantonians getting better quality of government through a Republican-initiated "check and balance."

However, as he approaches his bid for re-election this November, the SCPR's take is that Butterworth does not have the gumption to be the leading edge of anything in the political world.

In fact, The Report is beginning to think he may not be re-elected as Canton's only Republican councilperson.

He has drawn a equally young Democratic opponent for his re-election bid.  Edmond Mack is an associate with the law firm of Tzangas, Plakas, Manos & Raies, Ltd.  Mack impressed The Report with his vigor and acuity at this spring's Neighborhoold Associates Empower Votes (NAVE) primary election event for candidates held at the McKinley Grand.  Specifically, he outlined his plan to accelerate dramatically Canton's program of tearing down abandoned properties.

Butterworth:  "not enough gumption?"

How's that?

It occurred to yours truly that such might be the case growing out of an incident of about two weeks ago or so in which Canton City Council President Alan Schulman launched an attack at a council meeting on statehouse Republicans for the severe cuts on local government funding (including eliminating Ohio's estate tax) that is forthcoming after July 1 (this year - fiscal years 2012/13).

In the course of his attack, Schulman "with all due respect" (Hmm?) included Mark Butterworth's name among the Republicans in the sense of a generic "let's include them all while we're at it" type of approach.

At first blush, the SCPR thought the inclusion of Butterworth's name was unfair. 

After the event Butterworth contacted yours truly (left a message) saying in effect that he was steamed about being included in Schulman's remarks.

However, The Report was unable to contact Butterworth (left a message on his home phone) in several attempts to afford him the opportunity to respond in these pages to Schulman.  Finally, at Monday night's council meeting, The Report was able to ask Butterworth for a response (camera in hand).

But Butterworth declined.

Then, in a short conversation, it surfaced that maybe Schulman's inclusion of Butterworth was not so far off the mark (no pun intended) after all.  For Butterworth told yours truly that he supports the local government cuts as austerity (The Report's word) needed to start somewhere.

What a surprise that was!

That got The Report to thinking:  Butterworth, when it appeared Schulman was being unfair to him, did not have the moxie to step front and center.  Moreover, on further examination, when it seemed it was not unfair, where was Butterworth to step forward to publicly defend the Republican caucuses of the Ohio General Assembly for the draconian cuts in local government funding?

Then yours truly started reflecting on some Butterworth actions (in council - e.g. his charter government initiative), inactions and conversations and is coming to the believe that Butterworth may be a politician who does not  have the "courage of this convictions."

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the political luster is off Butterworth.  It does not appear to The Report that he has a steely quality about him that he needs to make an impact on the quality of Canton local government that Cantonians receive.

A lamentable turn of events.  Canton needs a vigorous Republican presence on council as a check and balance to Democratic politics playing into government and as a check on Healy administration excesses.

With Bill Smuckler leaving council on December 31st, apparently only Mary Cirelli and Greg Hawk will be left to protect Cantonians from Healy and his allies on council.

Even if he is re-elected, Mark Butterworth has shown the SCPR that he is not up to the task!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



When the Stark Couunty commissioners failed to place the existing 0.25 sales tax on the May primary ballot for renewal, the given reason was that it could not pass because of the Frustaci scandal and that the commissioners needed time to rebuild the public's trust in county government.

With all due respect to the commissioners, the SCPR does not buy that as the primary reason.

The Report believes that the commissioners had put their pencils to paper and calculated that 0.25 simply would not cut it in terms of the county's need for revenue and that they needed the extra time to build support for a 0.5% sales tax.

They are using a number of techniques to get to 50% plus 1 of those voting this November.  Included are:
  • The fear factor.  Criminals are running Stark County's streets at the rate of 200 unused beds at the Stark County Jail. 
  • Only enough money to run a "bare bones" (41 deputies laid off, 12 prosecutors laid off) criminal justice operation factor.  The rest of county government will go unfunded (no personnel to collect and distribute taxes)
  • The "much of the tax (40%) will be paid by non-Stark Countians" factor.
  • The "who will miss 50 cents on a $100 purchase factor."
  • The "we are working commissioners who answer our own phones and get out into the larger Stark County community" factor.
  • The "we jawbone county officials who are not team players"  factor (e.g. Veterans Service Commission giving raises over commissioners' objection).
All well and good, but they are tactical and not strategic.  Building trust is a strategy.  However, there is no way - though The Report believes they are making progress - two new commissioners (Bernabei and Creighton) can achieve much in rebuilding trust within 11 months of taking office. 

Nobody who spoke at yesterday's first of two hearings required by Ohio law as conditions precedent to placing a sales tax initiative on the ballot said that the commissioners had restored trust and that Stark Countians should support the upcoming 0.5 sales tax increase on that basis.

Those who spoke in support used one or more of the factors recited above.

All of the discussion pro or con on the issue itself was irrelevant because the commissioners (individually) have determined that a 0.5 sales tax increase is going on the November ballot.  After the Sippo Lake (Library) hearing next week, the commissioners at their next regular meeting will vote to place the issue on the ballot.

The only question to be determined is how long is the tax increase to run.

Richard Currie (a former councilman in Hartville and who is currently running for mayor) told commissioners to make the tax permanent.

Michael Mouse (a former councilman in Canal Fulton) told commissioners to only have it go for one year so that the commissioners will have to be accountable to the Stark County public again next year.  Talk about someone who really does not trust the commissioners!

In 2002, Stark Countians approved the 0.25 sales tax for eight years.

It could be that eight years would be a good term for the proposed 0.5% increase.  The 2002 election shows that Stark Countians do not consider eight years too long.  Moreover, it is a period of time that commissioners can use to embark upon and implement a strategy of restoring trust in county government.

A permanent sales tax increase will not fly.  One year is not a fair period of time for commissioners to get out of the campaign mode into a governance mode to show what they can do in terms leaning on all the departments of county government to join them in an all out effort to regain the trust of Stark Countians.

Eight years is a good middling point and a term that the commissioners should consider.

Here is a video sampling (includes statements by Stark Common Pleas Court Judges Heath and Haas)  of the pro/con statements made by various Stark Countians who appeared before commissioners yesterday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



With his support of Ohio Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), Republican Governor John Kasich trying to save Ohio taxpayers millions of dollars in pension costs by prohibiting local governments from picking up the employees pension contribution rates after July 1, 2011.

Thanks, BUT NO THANKS!!!  That's what Canton's councilpersons and the Healy administration says.  And that includes Republican Councilman Mark Butterworth who told the SCPR last night that he opposes SB 5.

Recently, Canton decided to do an end-run around the Kasich administration by doing a PERS conversion whereby the city increased management and AFSCME service workers 7.26% to offset the employees paying the entire 10% employee pension contribution that city officials anticipated would go into effect with SB 5.

Gary Young (Canton's auditor's office) tells The Report that, in the case of the pre-2003 management employees the conversion (had it not been done) has an "opportunity to save cost" of approximately $500,000.  Young used an average salary of $57,000 for 110 employees in arriving at the estimate.  He is currently working on refining the data to "actual data," but the work is not complete as of the date of this blog.

Young also estimated that the "opportunity to save" cost for AFSCME service employees to be about  $1 million.  To estimate this figure, Young took this group's total payroll number and multiplied it by the 7.26%.

Young took no position on whether or not the conversions should have been done.  His only role for purposes of this blog was to provide the data cited above.

It could be that it turns out that there is no lost opportunity because SB 5 gets put on the November, 2011 ballot and is defeated by Ohio's voters.  And The Report believes that such is very likely to happen.  But one never knows in the world of politics.

Pay issues are a sore point in Canton City Council (Council) these days.  Last night there was a long and protracted debate in the pre-Council-meeting Finance Committee meeting (Ward One Councilman Greg Hawk, chair).  Be sure to view the video at the end of this blog to get a flavor of the debate.

The approved raises (3.3%) are said by Canton Finance Director Joe DiRuzza to cost Canton up to $198,000 ($91,000 of which for management/administrative employees, $107,000 for enterprise fund employees).

DiRuzza told yours truly that those numbers presumes that everybody (management/administrative) will be getting the 3.3% raise.

City officials (especially Mayor Healy) like to trot out the "enterprise fund" answer as sort of a "perfect squelch" to any criticism because the given expenditure does not come out of the general fund directly paid for by taxpayers.  However, the truth of the matter is that as enterprise department expenses increase (e.g. water, sewer et cetera); rates go up.  So the fact of the matter is that enterprise fund expense increases do cost Cantonians.

Of course, the sticking point with opponents to the 3.3% raise (Cirelli and Smuckler) is that the money needed to be spent on additional firemen and policemen.  

Last night a citizen who is involved in a Canton neighborhood association appeared before council and complained about Canton's policing.  Another complained about deficient city ambulance service.

Here is a video (Finance Committee meeting) which is indicative of the debate on the pay increases.

Monday, June 20, 2011


As the filing deadline looms on June 30, 2011, it appears that the opponents of Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) have had a massive response in the quest to place a voter referendum on the question of whether or not the people of Ohio will validate Republican Governor John Kasich's attempt via SB 5 to gut public sector unions.

A humongous 714,137 collection of signatures has been collected.  Only 231,149 are needed.

While November, 2012 seems to be far off, it really is not.  If the March 12, 2012 primary date holds, partisan candidates for the 2012 elections will have to be filing their petitions to run not later than December 7, 2011 which is less than six months away.

For Republican state representatives Kirk Schuirng (Jackson Township - the 51st) and Christina Hagan (Marlboro Township - the 50th), the December filing deadline will reveal the identity of the persons who will be attempting to exploit their support of and votes for SB5 as a basis of a Democratic campaign to unseat them.

Despite the fact that Kasich et al will put up a vigorous fight to retain SB5 via their "political action front group" - Building a Better Ohio, in certain partS of Ohio (the urban/suburban areas where public sector unions are strong), being an elected Republican state representative who voted for SB5 is likely to make one a big time political target.  Such is likely to be what is in the offing for Hagan and Schuring here in Stark County.

November, 2012 offers Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez a prime opportunity to wrestle the long time 50th and 51st Ohio House seats away from the Republicans.

Gonzalez was not only handed the plum of Hagan and Schuring having voted for the Kasich anti-union measure but will also have soon their recorded vote in favor of Kasich's budget bill which contains gigantic cuts, over the 2012-13 fiscal biennium, in local government funding.

Chairman Gonzalez should be particularly motivated to find a strong candidate to take on Schuring.  He is the fiscal officer in Jackson Township and knows first hand how severely the draconian local government cuts in state funding together with the loss of revenue from Ohio's estate tax will impact Jackson.

He tells the SCPR that the losses in revenue will deprive Jackson of needed funds to maintain and enhance its first-rate park system.

However, to pull off the takeaways, Gonzalez will have to tap into the outrage at SB5 by Republican Party supporting unions, that is to say: Stark County's firefighters, the police and teachers.  Moreover, he will have to fan the fires of lost revenues with township trustees as well as city and county officials across Stark County.  One would think that his hope would be to - at the very minimum - neutralize Republican trustees, councilpersons, mayors, commissioners (including 2012 commissioner candidates) in terms of support for Hagan and Schuring.

Being handed the issues he has been will be a test of whether or not Gonzalez is up to being chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.  

His best hope to make inroads for Democrats in 2012 is on the Hagan and Schuring races.

On countywide offices, it is a different story.  Because of the 2009/2010 Frustaci scandal, he faces an uphill battle to retain for the Democrats the sheriff's office and the prosecutor's office as well has the two Democratic commissioner seats (Ferguson and Bernabei).  

You can bet that Stark's organized Republicans will be keeping the Frustaci thing alive when it comes to the countywide races.

Conversely, will Gonzalez be able to forge the necessary political alliances with Stark County public sector unions and political subdivision officeholders in order effect a Hagan/Schuring removal from office?

Will he be able to make the spectres of their having voted to gut public unions and local government come alive in November, 2012?

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Any candidate will tell you that the ultimate endorsement is for supporters:  (1) to give money, and (2) go out and do door-to-door campaigning.

While the SCPR does not know that viral YouTube phenom Phil Davison (Republican - Minerva councilman) will be going door-to-door for Meagan Todaro Kirchner in her quest to unseat, perhaps, Stark County's most powerful Democrat (Johnnie A. Maier, Jr), he has graced her with a campaign contribution.

Davison could be the "ace up her sleeve" that Kirchner needs to take out the incumbent Massillon clerk of courts.

Kirchner's main problem in Massillon is name-ID compared to Maier.  A second considerable problem is that she is a committed Republican running in a Democratic town.

In 2005, Maier administered a political smashing to the then Meagan Todaro:

An artfully crafted campaign using Davison as an attention-getter could put her in play (ID-wise) against the former Stark County Democratic Party chairman who has rubbed shoulder with the likes of former Governor Ted Strickland and Preasident Bill Clinton.

On the party ID front she needs to convince defeated incumbent Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr to come out full force for her this race.   Cicchinell's wife - Joy - as a proxy for the mayor - contributed to Todaro-Kirchner's campaign as witness her post-primary campaign finance report:

It appears that Cicchinelli and political friends are prepared to put all their eggs in the Todaro-Kirchner/Maier campaign and concede to Kathy Catazaro-Perry the mayoralty over Republican candidate  Lee Brunckner.

Together with his spouse's proxy contribution, Cicchenilli's chief administrator (Safety-Services Director Mike Loudiana) also made a contribution to Todaro-Kirchner.

If Todaro-Kirchner can package her assets effectively (Davison and Cicchinelli et al), she can show why Maier took great offense for her having run against him in 2005.  Yours truly remembers the outrage that Maier burst out into when the topic of his having had opposition came up at a political event post-November 2005 election.

His outburst was a real eye opener to yours truly.  Wow!  The man defeats his opponent by nearly 40 percentage points and he's bitter about having had an opponent?  

The Report has always known that Maier is a power politician.  His political idol is the now deceased (2006)  Vern Riffe who served has Ohio's longest serving Speaker of the House (1975 - 1994).  In a phrase Riffe and his disciple Maier was/is "might makes right" politicos.  

Other than staffing the Massillon clerk of courts office with a number of political friends (e.g. Shane Jackson who is the son of former Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson and who is paid more than the mayor of Massillon), it appears that Maier runs the clerk of courts in an effective fashion.

With this office operation track record, why should Maier not be returned as clerk of courts?

Answer:  to get some political balance in Massillon government.

Maier and his allies (with the near certain election as protege Kathy Catazao-Perry as mayor of Massillon) are on the cusp of taking over the reins of political power for all of Massillon.

The SCPR thinks this should be a frightening prospect for Massillonians.

Remember his outrage of the temerity of someone running against him and remember what his school of politics (power politics) is.

As The Report sees it, a defeat of Maier would send a message to Maier and those who would mimic his political style that Stark Countians are not into political power.  Over the long haul political power disciples are the ones who -  because they come to believe they are above accountabilty - bring government into disrepute with the electorate.

The defeat of Cicchinelli has left Massillon with out a "check and balance" political force and, in the view of the SCPR, Massillonians would be doing themselves good by electing Meagan Todaro-Kirchner as their next clerk of courts.

The Report believes Massillonians are wise enough to make this best choice for themselves.

However, Todaro-Kirchner will have to show she has the political skills needed to use every asset she has - wringing out every ounce of value - in order to take down Maier.

The clerk of courts function is pretty much pro forma and there should be no reason that Todaro-Kirchner cannot match the operational qualities that the Massillon clerk's office has under Maier.

The "value-added" that she must commit to is to take the political factor (i.e. hiring political connected persons) out of the clerks office.  These positions are paid for by Massillon's taxpayers.  A clerk of courts should endeavor to hire from the citizenry-at-large the best qualified person.  Not some politically connected person who may or may not be able to effectively and efficiently serve the public.

The odds are heavily against Todaro-Kirchner defeating Maier.

But the times for this kind of change seem to be riper in 2011 than any other time that Maier has run for this office.

Are Todaro-Kirchner and her supporters in the Massillon/Stark County Republican Party capable of pulling off what would be a stunning political upset?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


 UPDATE - 06/18/2011 12:45 PM


The SCPR has been hearing for some time persistent reports that Jackson Township Chief of Police David Zink is considering a run for sheriff of Stark County as a Democrat.

He tells that he is being encourage to run by a number of Stark Countians.

Moreover, he tells The Report that he hasn't even approached Stark County Democratic Chairman Randy Gonzalez (who also happens to be Jackson Township's fiscal officer) because he is sifting through a number of criteria in coming to a decision of whether or not he will be running to replace long time Sheriff Tim Swanson (who has all but declared he will not be running for another term).

Swanson's preference as his replacement is Chief Deputy Rick Perez.  However, the political landscape seems to have turned against Perez because he appears to be perceived by many in the Stark County public to be a "card carrying member" of the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party's "good old boy" network.

Alternatively, Swanson seems to gone to an alternative.  That would Chief Deputy Mike McDonald who has taken out petitions to run.

Zink, who was appointed Jackson chief on March 26, 2010 and who has been a member fo the Jackson police force for about 27 years, says that in coming to a decision, he is:
  • consulting with his family (wife and four children),
  • surveying the receptivity of his running with the Jackson citizenry, and
  • assessing whether or not he can raise sufficient campaign funds to be able to get his message out to the Stark County public.
What will that message be, if he decides to run?

Stark County needs to have more coordination and collaboration among the county's considerable number of police districts (township, villages, cities, and, of course, the sheriff's department).  Moreover, he looks to take measures to empower and enhance countywide law enforcement in the context of county financial stresses by pushing for the deputizing of all political subdivision police.

He sees the current countywide police function (i.e. the sheriff's department) to being too isolated - in terms of relationships - from the political subdivision policing units and, if he chooses to run and is elected, he would focus on changing the current model into one in which Stark's various police departments share services and equipment so as to eliminate duplicative efforts and redundant costly equipment.

He says that Mike McDonald cannot win because he is too closely tied to Sheriff Swanson and the inefficiencies and deficient collaborative modeling that has been exemplified by the Swanson run sheriff's department.

2012 may see to be far off.  However, unless the Ohio General Assembly decides to move the 2012 primary to May from its current March setting, candidates for the primary will have to file petitions in early December.

Accordingly, Zink only as about five months to make up his mind.

Stay tuned folks.  The 2012 primaries could get real interesting! 

Anothe possiblity for the Democrats - according to information The Report has been getting is Canton Safety Director Thomas Ream.

On the Republican side look for Hartville Chief of Police Larry Dordea to run for a second time for sheriff.  He lost to Swanson in 2008.

Dordea, a former Alliance police chief, is an Alliance city council member and is rnnning for re-election.

He to could have primary oppositon - The Report hears - from Canal Fulton Mayor John Grogan who is a lieutenant with the Summit County sheriff's office.

Friday, June 17, 2011



The Stark County commissioners have - of late - been lamenting the poor turnout at their series of 22 community meetings designed to:  (1) explain the particulars of the county's financial/fiscal crisis and, (2) to build up support for a sales tax increase of 0.5% they plan to place on the November ballot.

After Wednesday night's Perry Township meeting, they may be rethinking their dismay at poor turnouts.

About 30 Perry residents showed up at Perry Township Hall and for about 1-1/2 hours vented on the commissioners.  Nearly all the venting had to do with flooding/sewer backups that many Perry residents have been experiencing over the past ten years or so.  2011 has been a particularly rough year on Perryites.

So what is to vent on the commissioners about?

How about a near total breakdown in the county ditching system in and about Perry Township resulting in flooding and sewer backups in many Perry homes.

According to Stark County Engineering Department Hydraulics Engineer Gary Conner (who has been working on this problem for nearly 40 years), the ditches have not been maintained in a proper manner since the late 1970s.  He says that beginning in the 1980s Stark County commissioners have failed to make the needed investment in storm ditch drainage and that the inattention is a huge factor in why residents are experiencing flooding and sewer backups as never before.

Conner said that it would take $7 million to $10 million a year over ten years to solve Stark County's (which, obviously, includes more than the Perry Township ditching) to repair Stark's decrepit storm draining ditches.

Currently, Stark County is spending $100,000 annually on Stark's ditching problem which, of course, is not a maintenance program.  Rather, it is an "emergency" fund.  On Wednesday, Commissioner Creighton acknowledge that Stark County is in now way, shape or form prepared - financially - for a Katrina like catastrophe.

When the now deceased Mike Rehfus was county engineer (probably about the year 2007), he teamed up with then Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley to implement Bosley's dream of spending $1 million a year on trying to catch up on Stark's deficit ditch cleaning and repair program.  According to Conner, the program last about a year and one-half until county financial pressure caused commissioners to strip about half of the money from ditching repair.  In implementing the program, the county engineer bought a couple pieces of equipment needed for the project and assigned two men to work on nothing put ditch projects.

Fast forward to June 15, 2011 at Perry Township Hall and you have "the perfect storm" of citizen complaints that, at times, seemed overwhelming to Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson.

The SCPR has prepared a kaleidoscope video of various attendees at the Wednesday night meeting to give readers of The Report a thorough sampling of the outrage visited on the commissioners.

Video #1:


The commissioners were not exactly shrinking violets.

In order:  first, Creighton, then Bernabei and lastly Ferguson here of videos of the commissioners' responses.

First, Creighton:

Second, Bernabei:

Third, Ferguson:

Particularly telling was an exchange between Commission Tom Bernabei and a resident in which the resident asked whether or not a voter passage of a 0.5% sales tax increase would provide enough money to fix the drain ditch problem?

Answer?  In a terse one word response, Bernabei said an emphatic NO!

So what is a realistic answer?

A Storm Water Utility!

A what?

A Storm Water Utility!!


A Storm Water Utility!!!

As the Perry Township community meeting concluded, the Stark commissioners promised the assembled Perry citizens that they would investigate establishing a storm water utility for Stark County.  Moreover, they committed to working towards finding a solution to the flooding and sanitary sewer backup problems that residents are experiencing.

The question is this:  will the commissioners keep their promises?

They talk about re-establishing trust of the citizenry with county government.

It is on matters like these "is where the rubber hits road."

If they deliver, the beginnings of building trust will be at hand. 

If they don't, more alienation will build in.  

And future boards of county commissioners will experience even greater problems than the 2011-2012 Stark County Board of County Commissioners.