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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WILL THE FEAR FACTOR CARRY ISSUE 29 - THE SALES TAX - (STARK COUNTY) ISSUE 6 - TWP WIDE POLICE LEVY (LAKE TOWNSHIP) TO BALLOT VICTORY TODAY?


THE COUNTY

It appears to the SCPR that in reality Stark County officials have put their money on "fear" as the main factor to bring Issue 29 to victory today as the final (as contrasted to absentee/early voting) phase of voting is get completed as of 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Though nary one public official has owned up to relying on fear to get the Stark County commissioner proposed sales tax passed, the campaign clearly has been saturated (talk, flyers and whatever) with predictions of Stark County streets abounding with those accused of serious crimes as well as convicted felons (except those accused of murder, rape and the like) tracking through Stark's neighborhoods.

While he is not a public official, "Yes for Safety - Issue 29" co-chair (with retired ironworker Billy Sherer) Dan McMasters is not so shy about playing the fear card.   He lets it all hang out on what a scary place Stark County will be to live in if the tax goes down.

LAKE TOWNSHIP

At last week's meeting of the Lake Township trustees meeting, Lake resident Brenda Heisroth showed up to speak to trustees about the trustees use of the fear factor in order to gain passage of a 4.25 mill levy so that the Uniontown Police Department (which covers only nine square miles of Lake currentll) can cover the entire township.

Heisroth tells the SCPR that she has not decided one way or the other whether she will vote for or against the township's Issue 6.  Her point was not, last Monday, on the merits/demerits of a township wide police department.
Her objection was the use of the "fear factor."

Fear comes in the discussion on Lake Issue 6 for that part of the township that is not covered by either the Uniontown Police Department (UPD) or the Hartville Police Department which amounts to most of the township.

That part of the township is covered by the Stark County sheriff and should Issue 29 fail, then Sheriff Swanson says he will have to lay off about 70 county law enforcement officers which would likely leave nobody to patrol areas like Lake Township.

Yours truly lives in Lake and recalls that a township wide (except 1998, which was merely a proposed incremental expansion into the Greentown area) police levy has been on the ballot three times before and failed by huge numbers in 1988 or thereabouts, in 1998 as but noted above and in 2005.

The Report was able to retrieve the 2005 and 1998 Stark County Board of Elections records, to wit:

A Greentown are business man, Jimmy Miller, told The Report that there are several reasons why he and others outside the district oppose Issue 6.  They include:

  • the use of the "fear factor" by township trustees in the sense they play of the possibility that the sales tax will fail and the outlying area of the township will not have any police service at al,
  • the failure of the township trustees (which is Miller's personal prime reason for opposing Issue 6) to hold meeting to discuss whether or not taking the UPD township wide was the best way (in terms of the economics/finances) to handle police coverage in the township and specifically the trustees refusal to consider the Stark County sheriff option (which they call option 2), to wit:
  •  
  • creating another layer of government in Lake Township in the sense that going township wide would entail increasing the size of local government and put the trustees in the position of managing a police department which they are not equipped to do.
Miller at his own expense and in his own name (no campaign committee involved) had 100 signs printed up and they are now spread out over the non-UPD unincorporated area of Stark County.  He was astonished at the interest that his effort generated and also is encouraged by the steady stream of supporters that stopped to see him about getting a sign.

He is just hoping for a win and is not focusing on achieving the overwhelming no votes of the late 80s, 1998 and 2005.

LIKELY OUTCOMES

STARK COUNTY

The SCPR believes the sales tax will pass.

If Miller is any barometer of those who are outside of government, he is a good omen for the issue's passage.

While he thinks the county mishandled the presentation of Issue 29 in putting up the billboards and mailing out flyers with the two represented as criminals as displayed above, he said that he supports the tax's passage.

He says a sales tax is the fairest tax.

A local barber tells The Report he has not heard much on Issue 29 but from what he does hear he thinks the issue is likely to pass.

The Report is getting the growing impression from other person-to-person contacts that the "Yes for Safety - Issue 29" committee has made the case for the county's need for additional revenue - though done distastefully as far as many taxpayers are concerned.

And the reason?

Stark Countians are afraid of the consequences of not passing the tax; especially in terms of the police protection thing and the prospect of wholesale numbers of criminals running coursing through Stark's suburban areas.

LAKE TOWNSHIP

Miller seems to have done a terrific job marshaling the "no" vote despite the huge "yes" vote effort in terms of campaign finance.

Citizens for Lake Township Police raised $11,500 as of the filing deadline (October 19th) from four contributors:
  • Trustee Galen Stoll - $1,000,
  • Ellis Erb, Inc, $1,000 (Ellis Erb is a Lake Twp trustee),
  • Arnold Funeral Homes, $1,000 (John Arnold, trustee),
  • Protech Water Systems, Inc, $1,000,
  • HRM Enterprises, Inc, $7,500.
Interesting, no?  Four companies (two owned by sitting trustees) and one individual trustee constitute the Citizens for Lake Township Police.

With $11,500 in hand the Citizens for Lake Township Police have been able to mount one big campaign.

Miller said he believes that the huge splash of a campaign may backfire on the pro township wide police advocates.

Despite the heavy odds financial wise, the SCPR would not sell Miller et al short on prevailing.

He may get some support from existing residents of the Uniontown Police District.

The Report is hearing that some residents want to keep the district as it is (i.e. compact) believing that they have superior police protection that they "fear" might be lost in an expansion township wide.

The SCPR believes that  "anti's" could well win.

If Issue 6 fails and if Issue 29 fails, then the Lake trustees will have to eat crow and find a way via the sheriff's department to get police protection for the township.

However, there is one catch.  The Report understands that there cannot by Ohio law be more than one district (non-village, non-city types) in a township.

Having the sheriff's department police the entire unincorporated part of Lake Township would preclude the existence the Uniontown Police Department which covers an unincorporated area.

Could it be that those who want to enlarge the Uniontown Police District might end up eliminating UPD altogether in the event that both Issue 6 and Issue 29 fail?

Now that could be frightening to a whole lot of folks in Lake Township!

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