Sunday, November 27, 2011


Over the weekend Jeff Gauger executive editor of The Repoitory wrote a blog about a political struggle going on amidst the Stark College board of trustees.  (Jeff Gauger:  Impasse keeps top Stark State job open, November 25th)

As usual, Gauger mostly misses the most significant point of the fight.

As the SCPR sees it, the high significance of the turmoil is whether or not Stark State is going "to be all it can be" in a qualitative sense or is it going to continue its quest to be the one of the largest - quantitatively - community college in all of America.

Gauger is correct as far as he goes.  The fuss does have an "insider"/ "outsider" aspect to it.  Moreover, politicians are weighing in on the selection process thereby making the outcome likely politically driven rather than merit driven.

But the drawing of sides has much more portent to it than just being a political fight.  The outcome likely will determine whether or not Stark State can become a premier "true" technical university or remain a degree/certification mill that fails to make much of an impact as a first-rate technical institution of higher learning which could form a meaningful base for the Stark County economy to take off from.

As far as The Report is concerned, those lined up with prior Stark State administrator Para Jones (the "insider" - now president of Spartanburg SC Community College is favored by those who by and large  want to hang onto the current "quantification" model first and foremost with them seeing no need to fix what isn't broke.

Those lined up with Quintin Bullock (Schenectady NY County Community College) seem, to The Report, to have as their priority for Stark State College becoming "all it can be" as a qualitative high-tech technical college.  He is the visionary one that Gauger refers to in his blog.

If the choice is between the two, then Stark Countians will know by the choice that Stark State is headed either onward and forward as becoming the biggest (Jones) or onward and forward as realizing its "highest and best" use (Bullock) as an institution of higher learning.

The middling ground would be to choose Dorey Diab (an engineer by educational background and currently in the Stark State administration) who likely will work hard to strike a balance between quantity and quality.  While preferable to what The Report thinks Jones would bring; not top drawer stuff.

The SCPR believes that Republican Jones will win out.

Governor Kasich and Ralph Regula (R - Narvarre - retired 16th district congressman) will be able to twist the arm of ? (believed to be Jeffrey Halm by yours truly) to get Jones the fourth vote.

Being the insider he is (privy to what is going on in executive session, even if by indirection - as he claims), Gauger could tell Stark Countians chapter and verse exactly who is supporting whom, but that would gain him the ire of the reported upon and he wouldn't want to jeopardize future sources for himself and his paper.

But it may not be that hard to figure out without the inside knowledge that Gauger surely must possess.

As The Report computes the votes, this is how yours truly believes the vote by board of trustees went and hence the stalemate:

The uncommitted board member?

The SCPR figures that to be Jeffrey Halm.  Could he be the tipping point that will favor Dorey Diab?  The SCPR thinks not (reference Republican politicians arm twisting for Jones), but if the "uncommitted one" has enough backbone, then - out of frustration, all might be willing to settle for Diab.

The basis for The Report's caculation?

For Jones.  

Well,  Jonas and Schweizer were recently appointed to the board by Republican Governor John Kasich.  The SCPR refuses to believe that Kasich (being the consummate Republican politician he is would have make the Jonas Schweizer appointments without having a commitment for his appointees to vote his way on key board of trustee decisions.

As for Groh being on the pro-Jones list, it seems perfectly predictable to The Report that she line up with politicians Kasich and retired Congressman Ralph Regula (R - Navarre).

Both Kasich and Regula are extremely tight with the Timken family and their Timken Company for which Groh serves as a vice president.  Need The Report go any further in the Groh analysis?  Just for the heck of it, here is an Akron Beacon Journal headline (and some subtext) from April, 2011:

Akron Beacon Journal: Kasich Praises Stark State, Timken for Collaboration

Ohio Gov. John Kasich visited the North Canton college Thursday and touted the partnership between Stark State and the Timken Co.  (Morgan Day, April 22, 2011)

For Bullock:

For starters, Fonda Williams, II works for Mayor William J. Healy, II of Canton (as Gauger put it:  Stark County's "uber-Democrat."  And we all know (especially Democrat Commissioner Tom Bernabei) that one does not go counter to the wishes of Mayor Healy or you will find yourself on the outside looking in.

So count Williams in for sure to be one of the supporters of  Democrat Bullock. 

But how about Thomas and Maurer?  Why include them as supporting Bullock?

Kind of by process of elimination.

Jonas, Schweizer and Groh for Jones.

Williams a definite for Bullock.

That leaves Thomas, Maurer and Halm as the three unaccounted for.  The SCPR reasons that Thomas and Maurer have been on the board with Williams longer than Halm and therefore are more likely in the name of collegiality (which develops between board members, in the experience of The Report) it is likely that Thomas and Maurer vote with Williams to support Bullock.

That, in the thinking of the SCPR, leaves Halm as the trustee most likely to be holding out on supporting either candidate and thereby the butt of political pressure to commit to either Jones or Bullock.

However, either Thomas or Maurer could be the "uncommitted" one.  Again, The Report thinks Halm is the one.

Whatever the politics are that are at play and there is no doubt plenty of political pressure being applied, there will be major consequences for Stark State and the greater Stark County community on the result of this political fight now going on.

The SCPR's point of view that the greater good for Stark County is likely to come from a Bullock presidency over Jones.

He is more likely to seize the day with the technical side of the college over the vocational school side.

Very alarming about State State over all is its graduation rate.  While administrators brag about the growth during O'Donnell's term from 5,600 to 15,400 the say nary a word about the 7% graduation rate on the associate degree program.

One has to wonder how many jobs there actually are in Stark County for even the 1,000 or so who graduate within two years.  Many of those - to the degree- they exist have to be relatively low paying.

Hardly the recipe for an economic recovery in Stark County.

The Report has frequently written that the community college of Stark State should be spun off and blended in with Kent Stark.

Stark State should return to its roots of being the Stark State of Technolgy with its fuel cell and wind harnessing programs and the likes of its partnership with Timken leading the way to the development of high tech applications which generate business with high paying jobs right here in Stark County.

In the final analysis we are about to find out about the quality of the Stark County based leadership on the Stark State board of trustees.

Will they give in to the Kasichs/Regulas of the world and perpetuate the continuing Stark County slide into the economic/financial doldrums by appointing Jones president?


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