Undoubtedly, the Stark County commissioners are hoping against hope that their agreement for now former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler will pay dividends beginning on November 8th with the passage of their sales tax initiative for 0.5%.
Beyond the sales tax question is the concern - at least in the consideration of the personal political fortunes of Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson - that the settlement could "boomerang" and comeback to haunt Bernabei and Ferguson should they decide to seek new terms as county commissioners.
The settlement "political" effect is difficult to read.
On the one hand and THE BIG PLUS is that Stark Countians are disgusted with the life of what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has coined as being "Zeiglergate" and in the words of Stark County Auditor Alan Harold: "I [obviously speaking for 'most' Stark Countinans] just want Zeigler to be gone!"
All of the controversy surrounding the Stark Treasury started on April 1, 2009.
The Report is not going to regurgitate all of the history of Conley's Zeiglergate, CLICK HERE for a prior SCPR blog that sketches out the history.
The question is this: will the relief of being rid of Zeigler via his resignation on Wednesday be enough?
- to help with the passage of Issue 29 (the sales tax), and
- to facilitate the reelection of Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson should they choose to run.
The Report believes that the commissioners could have gotten a better financial deal for Stark County had they waited. Judge Indlied's $1.8+ million judgment against Zeigler was an albatross that the former treasurer wanted to jettison bigtime. His attorney correctly assessed that the highest motivation point for the commissioners to be the most generous to Zeigler was pre-sales-tax-vote.
It could be that they (the commissioners) have achieved a political master stroke (in terms of short term political interests) in doing the settlement thing now.
We may know part of the actual answer on how the Stark County public is taking the settlement late in the evening hours on November 8th.
Yes, a close vote will have the likes of yours truly pondering "until the cows come home" as to what effect the settlement had "as a tipping point" in a narrow win or loss.
A decisive outcome however will leave little to muse about.
A HUGE LOSS?
A huge loss means that the public was not impressed with the settlement and Zeigler's resignation. It was a case of too little, too late coupled with an innate hatred of "all things sales tax" in Stark County.
Such will also spill over onto Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson in a huge way.
For Bernabei, it likely means he definitely will not run for reelection.
The Report can see Ferguson running for reelection even in the face of a huge sales tax levy loss but that he will have to face a Republican opponent who likely will hammer way, in hindsight, at the "bad deal" that the Zeigler settlement was as a backdoor way to how badly to make the point that the commissioners (zeroing in on Ferguson - who was a member of the board that "unconstitutionally removed Zeigler") have handled Zeiglergate.
A HUGE WIN?
A huge win will be two things to the SCPR. County officials put on an effective campaign that:
- scared the bejabbers out of Stark Countians, and
- settling with Zeigler aided the cause to victory.
Creighton's presentation is most interesting. See her reaction:
- to Stark County Education Service Center (SCESC) member and Republican Richard Wingerter's (he is a long time foe of of any county sales tax) reluctance to support the sales tax (he abstained on the actual board endorsement. Moreover, he tells The Report he voted against the tax in absentee voting),
- to Republican John Hagan (a former state rep. [the 50th], candidate for county commissioner , and sitting Marlboro Township trustee) having had the ability to persuade his fellow trustees not to endorse the sales tax, and
- to Democrat Canton Councilwoman Cireill's (a former commissioner and state rep.) challenge to commissioners to impose the tax "if they really believe in it."
God Bless him, but Commissioner Tom Bernabei is a technician type who laboriously wades through the terms of the agreement in the following video. Being a wonk, he can put you to sleep. So be sure to be wide awake on viewing this video.
THE BERNABEI VIDEO