Monday, August 29, 2011


Is he about to cry for Stark County and the safety of Stark Countians or is he on the cusp of tears because he sees his career as Stark County prosecutor coming to an end?

On Saturday last, Laurie Huffman of The Alliance Review did an article (Stark criminal justice officials worry about reduction in prisons) and she wrote, in part:
Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero said he was brought almost to tears at a recent meeting of the executive committee of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney Association, of which he is secretary, due to the fact all the county prosecutors at the meeting were complaining about the cost the bill [HB 86 is due to go into effect on September 30th] will bring to their counties, and he believes Stark will feel the brunt the most. (emphasis added).
Pardon the SCPR, but The Report is skeptical that Ferrero's first priority is something other than his own political hide.  Ditto that for Mike McDonald in terms of political fortunes.

As former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party, The Report believes that Ferrero is more attuned to political considerations and specifically his own perpetuity as a Stark County officeholder.

Ferrero's political problems in getting re-elected in November, 2012 are manifold.  Ohio House Bill 86 (HB86) ramifications is but one of a number of hurdles facing Ferrero to remain Stark County prosecutor after December 31, 2012.

While the impact of HB86 and a negative public reaction to its implementation may spill over onto Ferrero and Chief Deputy (the Stark County Jail) Mike McDonald (who is running to succeed Tim Swanson as sheriff) both of whom will be in the midst of political campaigns in 2012; the SCPR finds it hard to believe that the Ohio General Assembly did not factor in "the public safety" in passing the bill.

If the passage of the bill is to have the dire consequences (released non-violent prisoners from state prisons (?) and limited ability to place the newly convicted in state prisons) that they say it has, the SCPR wants to know where Ferrero and McDonald were post-February, 2011 (when the bill was introduced) in publicizing the catastrophe about to fall on Stark County, and marshaling Stark County's leadership and citizenry to fight its passage.

Moreover, where was the Ferrero/McDonald full court press on local legislators "to kill the bill?"

The fact of the matter is that all of Stark connected legislators (Republicans and Democrats alike) voted for the bill.

Would Hagan, Oleslager, Schuring, Slesnick, Okey and Schiavoni vote for a bill that is as ominous in effect as McDonald and Ferrero suggest?

One wouldn't think so.

It appears that Ferrero and McDonald are attempting to get out in front of the implementation impact of HB86 in a "scare-tactic" sense and thereby seek to make political capital out of it.  November's 1/2% proposed sales tax increase is included "hand-in-glove fashion" in Huffman's piece.  Linkage of HB86 and the effort to pass the sales tax could not be clearer.

They may find that such a tactic might backfire on them when the public learns that they failed to make a huge "local" public fight on HB86 going back to February of this year when it was first introduced.

Moreover, - looking longer term - the belated HB86 alarm could be an attempt by Ferrero especially to divert the Stark County public's attention from other political problems he has in gaining re-election.

Exactly, what are some of those "other political problems?"

At least one of those problems is wrapped up in what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has termed "Zeiglergate" which presumably means that Zeigler failed to have in place policies, practices, procedures and structural fixes to have prevented the loss of $2.96 million of taxpayer money during Zeigler's administration of the Stark treasury.  Zeigler's chief deputy Vince Frustaci admitted to taking $2.46 and is thought to have taken the entire missing amount.

One would think that given the political relationship between Ferrero and Zeigler going back into the 1990s, an opponent might want to question whether or not Ferrero should have recused his office from any role in the investigation or in any other part of proceedings against Zeigler.

Ferrero was the Stark County Democratic Party chairman when Zeigler was appointed to replace Mark Roach who was removed as county treasurer for not keeping up his continuing education requirements.

Undoubtedly Ferrero has contributed to Zeigler's campaigns over the years and vice versa,

Ferrero ran for office in 2004 as part of a Swanson, Zeigler and Ferrero campaign until differences crept into the arrangement.

Are Stark County's voters going to think that recusal was in order and factor Ferrero's failure to recuse into their voting decision?

The SCPR believes, like Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton, that Stark Countians in general have wanted and continue to want Zeigler to be treasurer no more.

However, Prosecutor Ferrero has not been up to the task of finding a basis in law for removing Zeigler.

His office provided Zeigler removal legal advice to Stark commissioners to proceed under Ohio Revised Code Section 327.38 which the Ohio Supreme Court found to be unconstitutional "on its face" in its June 23rd decision reinstating Zeigler as county treasurer.

The Report believes that Zeigler's continuation in office in not a good thing for the re-election prospects of Ferrero from the Stark County voter perspective.

Ferrero also faces the prospects of substantial 2012 reduction in office funding if the commissioners 1/2% sales/tax initiative fails this November 8th which the SCPR thinks is likely.

Ferrero has said that the projected cuts will severely affect his office's ability to function at anywhere near the level the office currently operates at.

So are Stark County's voters going to be understanding when Ferrero has to announce cuts to professional staff that necessitate curtailment of essential prosecutorial functions?    Will projected cuts coalesce with HB86 impact to snowball on Ferrero to put him in an untenable political position?

Apparently, Ferrero realizes that he has a uphill fight to stay county prosecutor in the 2012 elections IF Stark's organized Republicans can come up with a viable candidate.  Make no mistake about it, notwithstanding Ferrero's manifold political problems, his defeat in 2012 is not an automatic.

And Ferrero, with McDonald's help (of course, helping himself), is in full fledged mode to preempt the political consequences of HB86 and a seemingly likely voter rejected sales tax increase.

Sorry to say, but as the SCPR sees it, Ferrero's dramatics ("brought almost to tears") is more about his concerns for his personal political fate than it is about the safety of Stark Countians.

While they may not be "crocodile tears," they are - in the opinion of the SCPR - a mask for his number one concern; getting re-elected!

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