Thursday, December 22, 2011


To some Stark Countians, Stark County government is still a pig that needs more than belt tightening.

One such person is the Republican commissioner candidate Craig T. Conley who is running against incumbent Democrat commissioner Tom Bernabei next November.

The SCPR's take on Conley is that he is for a recasting of Stark government from being thought of as a pig into a svelte gazelle or the like thereof.

Yesterday, Kelli Young of The Repository did a follow up piece (After the Headlines: County still studying the citizen-review report) on the follow through by Stark County commissioners and other county elected officials on the recommendations of the Citizens Review Commission (CRC) which shows that much work needs to be done to meet the benchmarks set by the CRC.

Conley, who led a group known as the "Vote No Increased Taxes Committee" in 2009  in a highly successful tax repeal effort after the then Stark County Board of County Commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Vignos) imposed a 0.5% sales tax in December, 2008, was a member of the CRC but had very little active involvement in the group's scrutinizing of county operations and accordingly cannot be thought of a owning an interest in seeing that the CRC's recommendations are implemented.

The Report believes that he is for implementation but that he sees the recommendations as putting a band-aid on a wound that is much larger than that indicated by the Citizens Review Commission Report (CRCR) issued in January of this year.

He sees much bigger fish to fry.  Target?  The Stark County sheriff's department and the pension benefit and health insurance contributions which the county makes from general revenue funds as its negotiated share according to terms of the county/union contract.

He has already signaled where he is heading with his campaign in a recent appearance on Points to Ponder (WHBC1480).  He talked about the commissioners (Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson) failure to even discuss in any detail in public session why they wouldn't want to save Stark County about $200,000 by increasing non-bargaining unit county employee share of health insurance from its present 10% to more like 15%.

For county officials, the CRCR is likely the "bible" to follow verse by verse as a demonstration to the Stark County public that they are streamlining county government into a profile that Stark's citizens will accept as "mission accomplished" in terms of government frugality and slenderizing.

Conley is going to have the argument advantage in the campaign.

If the county continues to lag on implementation of the recommendations of the CRC as pointed out by Young, Conley can and undoubtedly will needle Bernabei about the lack of progress.

To him, meeting CRC goals is along the lines of belt tightening on a pig.

He will be more than suggesting to Stark County voters that a vote for Conley will be a vote for converting the pig into a gazelle come 2013 and onwards.

The SCPR sees the Bernabei/Conley battle as being the most interesting county level race in 2012.

No comments: