Just about everybody in Stark County government just wants Stark County Treasurer to be gone! gone!! gone!!!
A week ago today, as we media types waited as a Stark County commissioners executive session meeting with Stark County Ross Rhodes et al dragged on and on and on, yours truly figured out what this session was all about: "a discussion of the way to reach a settlement with Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to get him out of office.
Conventional thinking is that as long as Zeigler continues as Stark County Treasurer as he was when his employee and then Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci is believed to have stolen $2.96 million (he admitted in his guilty plea to having stolen $2.46 millon) in Stark County taxpayer dollars, Issue 29 (a county sales tax of 0.5% proposal) has no chance of passing.
The SCPR agrees with Stark County Prosecutor John Fererro's assessment as reported by Kelli Young in Treasurer’s presence in county government weighs on sales tax vote, The Repository, October 5, 2011.
Ferrero expressed doubt that whether or not Zeigler is present as county treasurer as being a material factor in whether or not the new tax will pass.
Should the county agree to a settlement with Zeigler which results in his resignation from office, the major factor will not not be a groundswell of support for the tax issue.
The larger factor, the SCPR believes, is how the public would perceive the favorability/unfavorability of the specific terms of any such settlement and the fallout on the two November, 2012 commissioner races.
Commissioners Tom Bernabei and Pete Ferguson are up for re-election in 2012. So far, neither they nor any prospective opponents have taken out petitions from the Stark County Board of Elections.
Whether or not they (especially Bernabei) seek re-election could hinge on whether or not the sales tax passes in the first place. Presuming that it does pass and both decide to run, then any settlement could play significantly in their chances for re-election.
The Report believes that it is highly unlikely that a settlement can be reached before November 8th and even if it does, it will take time for the Stark County voting public to absorb and reflect on the terms of the settlement, and determine whether or not the commissioner adequately protected the Stark County taxpayer interest in negotiating a settlement.
Such is the "tightrope" that the commissioners, and more specifically Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson, are walking on as they consider whether or not they can abide settling with Zeigler.
In any event, Zeigler, of course, has no chance whatsoever of being re-elected should negotiations totally breakdown. Already waiting in the wings is former Treasurer Alex Zumbar who Zeigler's attorney has described as a usurper treasurer for the time he served after Stark County commissioners removed Zeigler from office in 2010.
Whether or not Zeigler serves to September, 2013 (the statutory end to his term) is unknown as this blog is written, but the SCPR is confident that Zeigler's successor will be Zumbar.
A Zeigler resignation will likely mean that commissioners will be appointing an interim treasurer if Zeigler resigns and The Report believes that the choice will be Zumbar.
The Report doubts that Stark's Democrats will put up a candidate to oppose Zumbar, that's how well taken Stark County officialdom (Democrats included) were with Zumbar for the time that he served as Stark County treasurer.