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Monday, February 28, 2011

(VIDEO - PERRY TRUSTEE ANNA CAPALDI) LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPUBLICANS "WANT THEIR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO"


Ohio operates under the legal fiction that the office of trustee of a township is non-partisan.

But the political reality is that many, if not most, trustees know that they are either a Republican or Democrat.

Party loyalty is a real test for Ohio's Republican local government officials.  At the Stark County Trustee Association (Association) meeting held at the Hartville Kitchen on Thursday, February 17th; several Republican township officials took the lead in moving for the Association to send a letter to the Ohio General Assembly committee considering House Bill 3 which is a bill to eliminate the Ohio Estate Tax.

Problem is that the proceeds from the tax (which kicks in on estates in excess of $338,000), which is split 80% to the state of Ohio and 20% to local governments (villages, cities and townships), is a vital component to many local governments.  Some have taken the prudent step of not including the expectation of revenues (i.e. perhaps an average over the past 5 years) in their annual budgets.  But do include the expectation to fund projects and programs that the general revenue stream (basically, the local property tax and "local government funding") does not provide for.

In addition to eliminating the estate tax (originally set to be effective January 1, 2011; now put off until January 1, 2013), the Republican controlled state government (referring to the legislative and executive branches) is putting out the word that local government funding from Ohio's "Local Government Fund" (LGF) is to be cut at least 15% and perhaps as much as 50%.  LGF "is" put in the annual budgets of all of Ohio's village, city and township budgets.

The damnable thing about LGL is that when Ohio went to a state income tax in 1983, LGF funding was put on the table to get Ohio's citizens to support the income tax.  Another promise that Ohio's statehouse Republicans have made and which has not materialized is their promise that local governments would be made whole when the state's tangible personal property tax (TPP)  was eliminated in 2005 in a phase-out mode in favor of  a commercial activities tax (CAT).  CAT will not provide the revenues needed to make local governments whole on the loss of the TPP.

The "politically aware" very much know that tax cutting is a main political stance of Republicans nationally and the stance filters all the way down to local politics.  The estate tax (or "death tax" as Republican orators like to call it for dramatic political effect - which, by the way in Ohio, only affects 10% of the population - contrasted with the income tax which affects 100%) is a particular target of Republicans across the nation.

However, Republicans serving in local government elective posts know the devastation that cutting the estate tax and LGF will bring to local budgets.  What the cuts likely mean over the longer term is that villages, cities and township will have to persuade local communities to vote in additional taxes to make up for the state of Ohio shortfall.

So local Republicans are in a dilemma.

How to be true to the Republican creed of cutting taxes while keeping their village, city and township "budget" ships afloat?

What they are finding is that it can't be done.

Anna Capaldi, a Perry Township trustee, exemplified the discomforting position in her remarks to fellow Association members about a week and one-half ago.

She asks, "Why am I being taped?"

Answer:   The SCPR has asked for and been granted permission by Association president Chris Nichols to attend and record discussions on public issues by Association members.  Many times a majority of trustees from a given township are at the meeting (for instance, fellow Perry Trustee Lee Laubacher was at the meeting of the 17 and spoke also on an issue that the SCPR plans to do a blog on) and accordingly their pronouncements are indicative of action to come in forthcoming township meetings.

This is not the first meeting that The Report has attended and recorded portions of and it will not be the last.

Apparently, Ms. Capaldi does not like being shown in her own personna being caught up in a political contradiction, to wit:  She is personally against the estate tax, but she wants Ohio to replace the lost revenue with "tax money?" from another state source?

Perry Township voters are entitled to know the view of public officials like Anna Capaldi.  For her to think she can have a point of view on a matter of governance but not have it known "in her own words" is a bit much, isn't it?

Here is Perry Township Trustee Anna Capaldi "in her own words."


Saturday, February 26, 2011

(VIDEO - RICHARD REGULA) HOW GOOD IS THE STARK REPUBLICAN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AT PICKING WINNERS? GUILEY, HAGAN AND REGULA SURVIVE THE CUT (FROM 10 CANDIDATES) TO GET THE STARK GOP NOD AS POSSIBLE SUCCESSOR TO SNITCHLER



UPDATE:  02/28/2011 AT 12:30 PM


Candidate Richard Guiley has contacted the SCPR with a denial that he made the statement attributed to him, to wit:  "I'm in favor of allowing concealed-carry into a bar as long as the person is not drinking."


The Report has reflected on Guiley's presentation and after doing so is of the belief that Guiley was the candidate who made the statement.


The Report generally provides subjects of SCPR blogs with space on the questioned blog to respond.


Here is Guiley's actual e-mail:



ORIGINAL POST

THE RESULTS

Will Richard Guiley, Christina Hagan or Richard Regula impress the Ohio Republican House Caucus screening committee (Caucus) as the recommendees of the Stark County GOP Executive Committee ("Committee") for appointment as state representative in the 50th Ohio House District?

The SCPR believes that either Regula or Guiley is likely to be the choice of the Caucus.

On the Committee's vote, as Stark GOP chairman Jeff Matthews explained to the Committee; its recommendations are not legally binding on the Caucus.

THE BACKGROUND

Still reeling from The Report's coverage of the Committee's September 8, 2010 meeting in which its members chose Alex Zumbar as the Stark GOP nominee to run for Stark County treasurer as a consequence of the Stark Commissioners having removed Democrat Gary Zeigler (though Zeigler was not implicated in the theft) from office on August 23, 2010 in the wake of losses of taxpayer money from the Stark Treasury at the hand of former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci who was convicted in 2010 of stealing from the treasury; the leadership of the Stark GOP denied the SCPR the right to videotape or audiotape today's proceeding.

Readers will recall that Phil Davison (a Minerva city councilman) was one of the applicants for the treasury nomination and that he made a spellbinding presentation that went viral on the Internet.  The last time yours truly checked, over 2 million hits on the Davison video have been made.

Local Republican leaders realized immediately that what many viewed as an "over-the-top" caricaturization of a consummate Republican candidate had been captured by the SCPR.  Accordingly, the leadership sent one of its members (with whom The Report has fairly frequent contact with) to kill publication of the video.

Well, as SCPR readers know, the attempt was foolhardy.  A leading virtue of the SCPR is that the blog presents the "unvarnished" truth and does not bury or hype a story at the entreaty of anyone.  The Report, of course, does not have the resources to publish everything that comes in, however, no one, absolutely no one, can pressure yours truly to publish or not to publish a given piece.

So it appears that the Stark County Republican Party leadership decided that the citizens of Stark County, and, more specifically, 50th House District voters would not have the opportunity to see the candidates make their presentations today via the SCPR.

Only 36 Stark Countians (all Stark County Executive Committee members) get to evaluate the candidates.  Had the SCPR been permitted to videotape, then Stark Countians could have availed themselves of the videos on The Report and could have e-mailed their thoughts on the matter to the Republican Caucus on Monday.

Apparently, "party image" is the primary concern of local Republican leadership; not providing the people to be represented with information on which to weigh-in on upon the Columbus deciders.

While Republicans may be chortling over recent electoral successes, hiding from the public is exactly the kind of thing (i.e. image management) that makes the public skeptical, even cynical about each of the major political parties.

Chairman Matthews mentioned yesterday morning how the GOP bungled its prior turn at leadership (16 years controlling Ohio government) and fall into public disfavor.  The SCPR sees early signs that Republicans are in the process of repeating previous mistakes.  There seems to be something about having power that makes all too many leaders (especial the political types) arrogant and therefore unheeding of the public they serve.

Republicans are on a very short leash with the voters.  The "McDonalds syndrome" is very much a part of the American makeup these days.  More than it has ever been before.  If the GOP does not produce and produce quick; they will be out on their ears. 

Matthews et al fail to see that denying the right to videotape in not really a denial to the likes of the SCPR.  It is an "in-your-face" to the voting public.

The SCPR believes that Matthews went one step further than denying The Report the opportunity to videotape the session.  It appears that he "advised" the winning candidates not to speak to The Report on camera.  Yours truly asked all three for an on-camera after the selection process concluded.    All three agreed to the interview immediately post-selection (Hagan - somewhat equivocal).

Only Richard Regula kept his word.  Should Guiley out an or Hagan who be selected by the Caucus, then we can expect a state representative who cherry picks whom he/she will talk to.  Or, at the very least, consults with Jeff Matthews as to whom he/she should talk to.

Yours truly believes Matthews did the same thing in 2008 (tried to interfere with SCPR access to candidates to The Report) at the Stark County Fair when Larry Dordea was the Republican candidate for Stark County sheriff.

It is more than ironic that a man who serves on the Stark County Board of ELECTIONS as deputy director appears to be into the business of shutting down the public's right to be informed so that they can make "informed" decisions in the ballot booth.

And just think about it, Matthews is supported by taxpayer dollars.

At yesterday's meeting, while killing time as the ballots were being counted, Matthews relayed an interesting tale.  It had to do with the Stark Area Transportation Authority (SARTA) project of transporting those without means (both automotive and financial - in other words "poor people") to the polls. 

Matthews thought it was a misuse of taxpayer dollars to get people to the polls (now mind you, this guy is deputy director of the Stark County Board of ELECTIONS).

Why so?  Matthews did not say this, but The Report believes because he understands that anyone who needs to use SARTA will not likely be voting Republican.

But this is not all of the story.

Nowadays SARTA is combing Stark County for any support it can get for its tax initiative on the May ballot.  The Report ran into a SARTA rep in Alliance this past Tuesday evening.

One of the organizations that SARTA targeted was the Stark GOP, according to Matthews.  Well, this was a grand opportunity for Matthews to express his displeasure to Kirt Conrad (executive director of SARTA) over the transporting of likely Democratic voters to the polls.

Again, according to Matthews, his pressure politics may have worked.

As The Report understood Matthew's account, Conrad is going to "revisit" the matter.

Hmm?

An act that likely was not motivated by political considerations (a civic enhancing transporting to the polls available to the rich and poor alike) gets squelched by a clearly political agenda of the Stark County Republican Party head Jeff Matthews who also - more than ironically - emphasizing once again,  who happens to be deputy director (formerly a long time director) of the Stark County Board of ELECTIONS.

So his interest as Republican Party honcho takes priority over getting citizens to exercise their franchise rights?


BACK TO THE STATE REPRESENTATIVE SELECTION PROCESS

THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT TOP 3 RANKINGS

NUMBER ONE

RICHARD REGULA 

As a politician, as a fundraiser, as an elected official (county commissioner, Bethlehem Township trustee and Navarre councilman) and by political pedigree (son of retired Congressman Ralph Regula), Richard Regula has to be the best prepared of all the applicants to get the Caucus selection to succeed Todd Snitchler.


Richard was quintessential Richard in his appearance before the Committee.  He did all the right things in terms of emphasizing the factors that are likely to appeal to the Caucus.  While he did not mention it to the Committee (you can bet he has already done so with the Caucus), The Report is told by an elected Republican Stark County-based official that Regula raised $130,000 when he last ran for commissioner.

Raising that kind of money for a commissioner seat is hard to do.

Moreover, of all the candidates, he and he alone has run District wide and won.  Even when he lost to Bosley in 2006, it was by the slimmest of margins and he did win the 50th District.

His biggest problems with local Republicans is that it is not right-wing enough.  He is not especially liked by the likes of Jeff Matthews and a surprising number of Stark County "organized" party Republicans.  In fact, his being a moderate Republican is the reason why Snitchler is supporting Richard Guiley out of Louisville.

I know, I know - you say Snitchler isn't supporting anyone.  For public purposes he isn't, but in the realpolitik world he is.  And Guiley is his man.

Somewhat of a counterbalance to Snitchler's (private) support for Guiley is Representative Kirk Schuring's support of Regula.  Snitchler - being a primetime Governor's man - does carry more clout than Schuring, but when you mix all the factors together (electability, fundraising, being the son of a former congressman, the strong likelihood of being a loyal Speaker Batchelder supporter, et cetera) The Report believes that Regula could well get the Caucus nod.

NUMBER TWO

DEAN WINDHAM

Windham was a pretty impressive presenter as far as the SCPR is concerned.

Raised in Lake Township, but now a resident of Marlboro; Windham is in the healthcare business and the home building business.  Moreover, he is a certified public accountant (CPA).

The most impressive thing about Windham is his authorship of the Stark County Education Initiative (SCEI):  a program designed to keep the area's youth right here in Stark County.

Almost all the candidates spoke about the need to keep Ohio educated (for the most part, at taxpayer expense) young people in Ohio, and, of course, for Stark Countians like Windham, in Stark County.  But only Windham has articulated a specific plan.  This show The Report that if he were to be selected by the Caucus he would hit the ground running with legislative initiatives designed to deal with Ohio's many problems.

He worries about the aging of Ohio and hence his SCEI, however, he knows about, cares about and has hands-on experience working with the senior population with Haven Homes (home care) business and his company's interaction with the Area Agency on Aging.   In other words, he seems uniquely equipped to deal with issues of young adults and older adults that come up in the Ohio Legislature.

While a number of the candidates have a business background, Windham's involvement in the home healthcare and the home construction business (a regionally based business - northeast Ohio) have been enduring, significantly sized and he has had ample opportunity to apply his CPA credentials.

He more than any other candidate understands that a primary focus of a legislator needs to be in creating conditions for the private sector to create jobs. 

Windham has enough political experience having worked with the Snitchler campaign and having run for office himself (county commissioner against Jackson trustee and fellow Republican James N. Walters) to provide the Caucus with assurance that he has gotten his feet wet in that arena.


Windham and Walters are to be applauded for running a "gentlemanly" campaign.  However, if he is to get the nod out of Columbus, he will need to prove to Caucus members that he knows how to take the gloves off and duke it out with a Democratic opponent.

Notwithstanding the favorable impression that Windham has made on the SCPR, do not look for him to get selected by the Caucus.
 
NUMBER THREE

RICHARD GUILEY

Because he is personally close to outgoing state Rep Todd Snitchler, Richard Guiley could well end up becoming Snitchler's replacement.

The Snitchler connection reality is the only reason that the SCPR thinks that Guiley has a shot at the job.  While he has been on Louisville Council for six years, he exhibited very little political sophistication at Saturday's selection meeting.



Guiley said a couple of really dumb "political" things.

First:  "I'm not intending to be a 21 month wonder."  Hmm?  Of course, not, right?  Goes without say, right?  For all the candidates, right?

Second:  "I'm in favor of allowing concealed-carry into a bar as long as the person is not drinking."  Wow!

He did say one smart thing:  "I have raised $26,000 as of Wednesday, and another $2,000 since then."

Other than that, he played the role of being more right-wing than "Attila the Hun."  Like the Caucus is interested primarily in what his view on abortion and gun control is.

Hello, there candidate Guiley?

In a sour economy, he may be a 21 month wonder if he campaigns - even in the staunchly Republican 50th House District - on abortion and gun control.

If he becomes the state Rep. for the 50th, he will owe it all to Representative Todd Snitchler winning the political infighting war in Columbus.

OTHER CANDIDATES

The also-rans as far as the SCPR is concerned include Christina Hagan (Marlboro Township - daughter or former 50th House District representative John Hagan), Brewster councilman Steven Tharp, Jr., Todd Truax (Lake Township), Jeremy Graber (Canal Fulton), Justin Brown (Lake Township), Antonio Guillan of Massillon and Michael Grady (Lake Township).

The only noteworthy one in the "other candidates" list is Christina Hagan.  Her presentation focused on being a female and a young person.  The SCPR does not see a Republican Caucus being impressed with her pitch.

Moreover, The Report suspects that the Caucus has not forgotten the snit she raised when she tried to best Snitchler in the 2006 Republican primary.  As The Report recalls, Hagan and Snitchler filed ethics complaints against each other with the Ohio Ethics Commission.  To boot, Hagan accused the Caucus of trying to entice her out of the race with a job offer.



Christina Hagan may have it brought home to her on Monday that politicians do have long memories.

Here is Richard Regula's video reaction to being selected as one of three recommendations of the Stark County GOP Executive Committee.


ARE CANTON MAYOR HEALY'S POLLS TELLING HIM HE IS IN POLITICAL TROUBLE OR IS POLITICAL MANIPULATION SIMPLY AN ESCAPABLE WAY OF LIFE FOR HIM?


In case you have not noticed, Canton William J. Healy, II is in full "political" bloom.

He always has an eye on the politics of any given situation, however, with May 3 looming on the horizon; he is consumed with the politics of being re-elected mayor of Canton.

The SCPR knows Mayor Healy to be a devotee of political polls.  With the flurry and intensity of his political activity of late, The Report suspects that he has a poll showing that he is in jeopardy of losing to challenger Bill Smuckler (Canton councilman-at-large) come May.

It is difficult for anyone with any personality whatsoever to lose to Bill Smuckler.  But Healy has already done so.  It certainly was a bitter pill to swallow.  And, perhaps, Healy's greatest fear is a repeat.

Whether in fear of losing or not,  Healy has turned the politicking up to full throttle.

A list of  what the SCPR deems to be political activities include:
  • Issues press release on Mayor's Scholarship initiative on January 10th
  • Formally announces on January 22nd (at the AFL-CIO's Golden Lodge) that he's running for re-election
  • February 8th holds first monthly Canton finances forum (to consider remedies to Canton's budget woes)
  • February 14th issues an executive order establishing the Mayor's Neighborhood Commission
  • Appears on WHBC's Points to Ponder (February 15th) to discuss his executive order and - by the way - to make an announcement of the meeting to be held that same day at 5:00 p.m. in Columbus (at Kasich's initiative, so says Healy)
  • Appears on Points to Ponder the following day (February 16th) to announce the results of the meeting. 
  • Has an intern drop off a "press release" (February 16th) to The Rep on his clean campaign pledge initiative
  • February 18th issues press release listing 208 budget cuts made by the Healy administration over past two years
  • Coming on March 8, 2nd of the monthly Canton finances forum meetings
  • Coming on April 12, 3rd of the monthly Canton finances forum meetings
And we ain't seen nothing yet.

Healy is proving to be a master of getting publicity with mere political puff; nothing of substance.

Take Ed Balint's piece in The Repository earlier this week  (Healy, Kasich discuss economic development).  Same material he brought up on Ponder.  He, both pre/post-Kasich meeting,  tantalized Ponder with vague accounts of "about to pop" (The Report's words) economic development coups but then back off with a:  “[w]e have to be incredibly discreet about these kinds of things" like Balint reported in his piece.

Yours truly has been buffeted by these Healy/Robert Torres (his economic development director) entreaties for about a month now.

Sooner or later at least one of these enticements are bound to turn into reality.  Meanwhile, why not make it appear that there is much more there than is really there.  Then when something actually materializes, people might develop a perception that the Healy administration is turning the corner on economic development.

It appears that Repository Executive Editor Jeff Gauger got hornswoggled by Healy. 

Yours truly thinks that Gauger is incredibly naive about politics and politicians.  And that he is no match for Healy.

Gauger's own account of the Healy's "Clean Campaign Pledge" flop shows how Healy used Gauger's best impulses for being the professional journalist he is - as an occasion to politically manipulate and use him and The Rep.


Anyone who deals with Healy (especially media types) should assume that he is manipulating for some political purpose/advantage.

For William J. Healy, II political manipulation is like breathing!

Back to the premise of this blog.

Healy perceives himself to be in political trouble or he can't help himself?

Hmm?

The answer?

Anybody's guess!

Friday, February 25, 2011

RECEIVABLES OF THE STARK COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS: ??????? WHY DIDN'T THE CITIZENS REVIEW COMMITTEE PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THIS "ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM?"



A reader of the SCPR has e-mailed The Report with the claim that the Stark County Clerk of Courts has receivables of about $12 million.

Yours truly is highly skeptical of the reader's claim, but as The Report does, the obvious question was asked of Clerk Nancy Reinbold.

The response?  Dancing around the the direct question.

So after she appeared before the Stark County commissioners this past Tuesday to report on the activities of a Citizens Review Committee task force as its chairman, The Report revisited the topic with Clerk Reinbold.

The response?  Nobody really knows what the receivables are.

Really?

As readers of The Report know, yours truly is highly skeptical of the meaningfulness of the Citizens Review Committee (CRC) formed last year and staffed by some of Stark County's most powerful people from the private sector.

The SCPR does think the examination as far as it went is a good thing to be done.  It will produce more efficiency in Stark County government at "the nickel and dime level."  But tackling the "really" big deficiencies of Stark County government?  That it will not do and is not designed to do.

A good example of the limitations of the CRC is evident in its examination of the Stark County clerk of courts office, to wit:


The CRC noted a "failure to collect," but failed to recommend that the Clerk establish a definition of the amount of money owed Stark County taxpayers.

Reinbold told the SCPR that it she simply does not have the personnel to comb through all of the court's records (going back years) to determine how much taxpayers are owed.

The Report believes her.  However, there are alternatives.  How about asking civic organizations to provide volunteers to go through the records and gather data and compile it so that Stark Countians do know what we are owed?

Yours truly asked Reinbold why she could not set up a system beginning today (i.e. developing data from this day forward) to keep track of bills sent out, but which remain uncollected upon?  She should set a standard as to when a billing becomes "past due."

Answer:  she would need at least two computer programmers to develop a program to process such data.

How about the $10 per case technology fund assessed in each new case file?  Answer:  it's not enough.  She does say that there is some movement in the Ohio General Assembly to increase the fee to $20.

Well, why don't county officials put pressure on the likes of area legislators Slesnick, Schuring, Oelslager and Snitchler to get the increase done?

Moreover, why doesn't someone in Stark County government get creative in finding an effective way to collect the money we taxpayers are owed?

Idea?  Have a designated Stark County prosecutor (civil division) to do nothing but pursue the non-payers and give the prosecutor's office a percentage of the collections to pay for the dedicated position plus provide an amount over the position cost for the general operational cost of the prosecutor's office?

Cost cutting is all well and good.  But to make money, sometimes requires spending money.  Providing an incentive mechanism to collect what is owed Stark's taxpayers is something that county officials need to pursue.

But will they?

Probably not.  They seem so focused as does the CRC on saving nickles and dimes that the "elephant in the room" is being missed.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

(VIDEO) COUNTY ENGINEER EXPLAINS USE OF 2007 LICENSE PLATE FEE INCREASE TO COMMISSIONERS. IS STARK COUNTY GETTING A BIG ENOUGH "BANG FOR TAXPAYER" BUCKS?


One of the legacies of Mike Rehfus as county engineer (who passed away in December, 2009) is his successful effort to convince the then commissioners (Bosley and Vignos; Gayle Jackson voted no) to "impose" a $10 permissive county add-on license plate fee.

Because of his untimely death, Refus, of course, left it to others to implement his plan to put Stark County's roads and bridges on a par if not better than counties like Summit who had vastly more money to operate with.  His successor, Keith Bennett, is now fleshing out Refus' dream.

Yours truly had several conversations with Refus about the disparity between Summit and Stark roads (before the license plate increase by former Commissioners Bosley and Vignos) and he would chafe at the comparison.   In response, he would say something like:  "Of course!  Summit has five times the money that Stark has!!"  (the figure "five times" is not meant to be literal)

Refus had to work hard on the political side of the question to get Bosley (a Democrat) and Vignos (a Republican) to join together to impose the fee increase.  And he had a huge barrier.  Former commissioner Gayle Jackson was adamantly against the increase.  Her son, Shane, (chief deputy for Massillon clerk of courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and political director of the Stark County Democratic Party) went to work on Bosley to get him to join mother in rejecting Refus' entreaty.

Bosley did the right thing in joining Vignos and incurred the political ire of the Jacksons and their political patron saint Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  Had Gayle Jackson had the foresight to support the increase, Stark roads and bridges would have benefited about seven months earlier.  Because of her "no" vote, the tax did not begin to be collected until January 1, 2008.


Yesterday, Engineer Bennett was in front of Stark County Commissioners Janet Creighton, Pete Ferguson and Tom Bernabei to give an accounting of how the money is being spent.

SCPR readers can see the entire session in the video that accompanies this blog which is accessible at the end of this written material.

Here is some interesting information for readers to digest before viewing the video.



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

VIDEO ONLY - STARK COUNTY UNIONS DEMONSTRATION AGAINST GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH AT CANTON REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EVENT AT CANTON CIVIC CENTER


(VIDEO) WILL ALLIANCE FOLLOW PLAIN TOWNSHIP'S LEAD AND TAKE ACTION AGAINST FRACKING?


Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis may be getting an anti-fracking alliance with Alliance City Council.  Giavasis will have an ally if Alliance City Councilman Steve Okey (also the Democratic candidate for mayor in November's general election) get his way with Alliance City Council.

Giavasis recently was successful in getting Plain trustees to pass a resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking until more is known about the dangers to the drinking water supply should a fracked well go bad.

While Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli is also active on the fracking issue and Canton also has passed a resolution calling for a moratorium, the SCPR does not believe that she has the gravitas on the issue that Giavasis has and The Report doubts that Canton would ever pass a ban on fracking as Plain might do if state legislators do not require drillers to have adequate bonding/insurance to cover any and all damages should a fracked well pollute drinking water supplies.

In an e-mail dated February 17, 2011 addressed to state Senator Scott Oelslager (R-Plain) as well as to Representatives Slesnick (D-Canton), Schuring (R-Jackson) and Snitchler (R-Lake), Giavasis has let it be known that Plain will go to a ban if the township cannot be assured of adequate bonding/insurance to cover any losses sustained as a consequence of a hydraulic fracking catastrophe.

Councilman Okey became concerned when he learned that Alliance had been approached by natural gas industry drillers about the possibility of drilling on city owned land for deep underground (in Marcellus and Utica shale strata) natural gas deposits encased in rock (i.e. the shale).

Okey tried last night at the regular Alliance City Council meeting to get his proposed ordinance passed.  However, Councilmen Andreani (who will oppose Okey as the Republican candidate for mayor  in the November election), Dordea (also Hartville Chief of Police), Rhome and Thompson all voted note on Okey's attempt to get his measure passed as an emergency ordinance.

As can be seen in the video that accompanies this blog, the proposed ordinance has been referred to Law Director Andrew Zumbar for review and will be taken up for discussion by the Committee of the Whole.

Three Alliance residents spoke against fracking in the public speaks portion of last night's meeting.  Their comments can also be seen in the video.

It is too early to tell, but it could be that Okey's proposal could get caught up in the Alliance mayoralty race.  If Andreani, after giving the matter more study, opposes the measure on a Council up or down vote and carries Dordea (R), Rhome (R) and Thompson (D) with him, then look for the matter to be a major issue in November.

Here is a video of the fracking discussion and vote last evening.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

(VIDEO: CICCHINELLI ON CATAZARO-PERRY) INTERESTING - MASSILLON MAYORAL CANDIDATE KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY IN CAMPAIGN LITERATURE WANTS MASSILLON BACK. HMM?



Massillon City Councilwoman (and Massillon mayoral candidate) Kathy Catazaro-Perry is sounding like a Tea Partier these days.

Last week she sent out a campaign fundraiser solicitation letter (to be held March 8, 2011 at the Firehouse Grill) proclaiming "... it really is time to take back our city."  As if anyone has a right to possess a country, state or city?  Catazaro-Perry as a councilperson and therefore a part of officialdom in Massillon has - in a sense - been in partial possession of Massillon for as long as she has been on Council.  So the "it really is time to take back our city" is a play on campaign rhetoric designed to strike an emotional chord with voters that likely came from close campaign advisers (perhaps Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., Shane Jackson and Eddie Elum?) rather than something she thought up.

She (Ward 3) along with Councilpersons Anderson (Ward 2) and Townsend (Ward 4) have been the main body of the opposition to the administration of Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr and, accordingly, have - as a part of officialdom - staked out an agenda.

What is the agenda?

Apparently, the following is, at least, a partial list:
  • Get Massillon's executive department of government (the mayor's office) out of the business of running the Parks and Recreation Board; de facto or otherwise
  • Rid Massillon of its golf course and restaurant complex
  • Restore Massillon to fiscal solvency
    • Persuading Massillonians to accept lesser services as part of a drive to solvency
  • Make "the public interest" a primacy over special interests
  • Demonstrate courageous leadership
Here what Catazaro-Perry has to say about her plan for Massillon in the fundraising letter:



As the SCPR sees this race, Catazaro-Perry may be in the best position of anyone in recent times to defeat Mayor Cicchinelli who has been a part of Massillon government for 38 consecutive years. There comes a point in time in which longevity because a liability.  The question for Cicchinelli in 2011 is:  has that time arrived for him?  For if it has, then there is little he can do to stave off defeat in a little over 60 days.

If Catazaro-Perry is to win, she will have to convince Massillonians of two things:  (1)  It is time for Cicchinelli to go so that Massillon can have a fresh and generational change of leadership, and (2) She is her own person.

Some political observers see Catazaro-Perry as being the handmaiden of the Maier, Jackson et al political power base in Massillon.  Maier is clerk of courts (and former de jure head of the Stark County Democratic Party); Jackson is Maier's chief deputy (and political director of the Stark County Democratic Party) and draws a higher income as chief deputy than the mayor of Massillon.  

Naturally, Catazaro-Perry denies that she is controlled by the Maier-Jackson et al political cabal.  But as the SCPR sees it, she, indeed, is beholden to the rival-Cicchinelli Massillon political force for political advice and counsel.  A recent incident in which Councilman David McCune worked her over in a political sense in persuading her to pursue a change (until other councilpersons clued her in) in Massillon's law (to cover what appears to have been a McCune personal interest) indicates that she does not possess overall political astuteness.

To The Report, Catazaro-Perry's gullibility on the McCune matter is a sign that she is not ready for political prime time.  The SCPR is convinced, as mayor, she will be reliant on Maier, Jackson et al for direction.

For many Massillonians the prospect of choosing between Cicchinelli and Catazaro-Perry will truly be a "Morton's fork:"  which is to say - "choices which yield equivalent, often undesirable, results."

Cicchinelli's main economic development tool seems to be annexation which, at best, is a supplemental strategy; not a centerpiece.  Moreover, he has embraced a number of ill-advised projects which have proved to be a drain on Massillon's meager resources.  Finally, his "smoke and mirrors" budgeting more than suggests that Massillon's financial infrastructure in fragile - at best.

Such is what often happens when entrenched political interests war with one another.

It appears to the SCPR that Massillon is in the throes of two political power bases warring with one another with little, if anything, to be gained by the citizens of Massillon.

To get a sense of the history of Cicchinelli/Catazaro-Perry, view this video which the SCPR took of the Mayor in June, 2008.



Monday, February 21, 2011

UPDATED: 5:00 PM - SNITCHLER SET TO BECOME PUBLIC UTILITIES OF OHIO CHAIR ON MARCH 1, 2011. WHO WILL SUCCEED HIM IN STARK'S 50TH OHIO HOUSE DISTRICT?



UPDATE:  5:00 PM - CANDIDATE RICHARD GUILEY


Louisville Councilman Richard Guiley (a Louisville attorney) tells the SCPR that he has more than matched (in the 40 to 50 range) the reported (by a SCPR Republican source) 12 letters of endorsement that former state Rep. John Hagan (2000 - 2008; term limited out) is said to have taken with him to Columbus today in support of his daughter Christina being appointed to succeed Representative Snitchler.

Guiley (while not being presumptive) is already putting together a group of supporters to launch a campaign effort to retain the 50th House District seat as a Republican seat should he be appointed. He is planning on having town hall meetings throughout the district.  And he is shoring up financial and volunteer support.

Councilman Guiley says that he is the only candidate to succeed Snitchler that has actual experience putting together an economic development project, to wit:


While Snitchler has said that he will not be endorsing any of the candidates to succeed him, one of his key supporters in the 50th has been Louisville Councilman Guy Guidone.  Guiley tells The Report that he has  secured Guidone's backing for the appointment.



Guiley is not yet scheduled to meet with the Ohio House Republican Caucus, however, he says that Ohio Speaker of the House Bill Batchhelder is in receipt of his name as a person who wants to be considered as Snitchler's replacement.

UPDATE:  03:20 PM - RICHARD REGULA TELLS SCPR THAT HE IS DEFINITELY IN THE HUNT TO BECOME SNITCHLER REPLACEMENT


ORIGINAL POST

As this blog is being written, intense lobbying for whom will succeed Todd Snitchler as state Representative for Ohio's 50th House District is underway.


The SCPR has learned from a reliable Republican source that former state Representative John Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) is meeting today with Ohio Speaker of the House William Batchelder regarding the prospects of getting his daughter Christina appointed to the seat.  Hagan has told The Report's source that Hagan took with him twelve letters of endorsement of Christina from prominent Stark County Republicans.

Last week, the SCRP spoke with Richard Regula (a former county commissioner and son of long time former Congressman Ralph Regula) about his interest in the position.

Regula (of the Navarre and Bethlehem Township area)is interested but is evaluating the impact of his spending at least Tuesday through Thursday during the legislative session away from his family,  He has several minor children to tend to.  Moreover, he has a position Mercy Medical Center as director of market outreach.  Regula says that were he to contend for the 50th, he would not be leaving his Mercy Medical position, but would work out an arrangement with Mercy officials to maintain his job while at the same time serving as state representative.

Regula tells the SCPR that state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson - 51st) is supporting his candidacy should he decide to go for the Ohio House appointment.


Another candidate who was interested in gaining the 50th Ohio House state representative slot; namely, Wayne Schillig (Republican - Marlboro - a Marlboro Township trustee) has withdrawn from consideration.

Dean Windham (Republican - Lake Township) who lost to Jamie Walters (Republican - Jackson Township) in the 2010 Republican primary for the nod to run against former long term Canton law director Tom Bernabei (a seat which was won by Bernabei in November) may be under consideration for the House seat as may be Louisville City Councilman Richard Guiley.

MAYOR HEALY LAUGHING (OUT-OF-VIEW, OF COURSE) ALL THE WAY TO THE - POLITICAL BANK? VOLUME 6 OF CANTON FINANCIAL MESS SERIES


Master politician and political manipulator Mayor William J. Healy, II was at his finest on February 8, 2011 at the first of a series of monthly forums (which, the SCPR predicts, will last through April, if he is defeated by Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler in the May Democratic primary).

One of his favorite political whipping boys has been the Canton firefighter and police unions.

He has been on a mission to "right-size" Canton's safety forces for a good part of his term which began on January 1, 2008.  However, he has been unable to accomplish his mission and police and fire account for a major, major part of the 82% of Canton's budget devoted to personnel costs.

On the surface Healy presents a picture of compatibility with major unions.  However, barbs breakout periodically between the Mayor and Rosario Carcione of the firefighters and Bill Adams of the Canton CPPA.

One of Healy's political tactics that he is most accomplished at is to bring the irrelevant or nearly irrelevant into discussion.  In the video that follows, he brings up the topic of whether or not Canton will have to ante up more of a share of the pension contributions mandated by Ohio law for firefighters and policemen.

Rosario Carcione, president of Local 249 International Association of Firefighters, can be heard challenging Healy on the accompanying videotape at the February 8th meeting at the Canton Civic Center on Healy's assertion that there is a serious chance that Canton will have to pay more from city coffers on fire and police pensions.


Another play by Healy in irrelevancy or near irrelevancy is on his dissertation on a "possible" scenario in which the Ohio General Assembly "might" not reimburse property tax collecting entities on 12.5% in rollbacks on property tax bills.

Well, Canton has an income tax; not a property tax.  So why bring that up?  Because, according to Healy, such a move would preclude Canton - in terms of political practicality - from raising taxes.

Hmm?

The Report thinks the "political practicality" of raising taxes is non-existent whether or not there is a change in the reimbursement scheme to townships and school districts by the Ohio Legislature.

But leave it up to Mayor Healy to stretch, stretch, stretch to make his larger point (major premise) with unsustainable "supportive?" (minor premises) points.

Take a look for yourself, here is the video.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

(VIDEO) CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS: FOR MAYOR OF CANTON - REPUBLICAN LEON GERIG - PART 2 OF 2


The SCPR's take on the Republican primary for mayor of Canton is that Leon Gerig (a former Canton councilman and Republican primary mayoralty candidate) is NOT the Republican Party establishment's choice to run against either current Mayor and Democrat William J. Healy, II or his challenger in the Democratic primary Bill Smuckler (a long time city councilman).

In a conversation with former Canton Mayor and Republican Janet Creighton (now Commissioner Creighton) about a week before the filing deadline in early February, Creighton hinted to yours truly that there would be another entry on the Republican side, other than Leon Gerig.

And now we know who that other person is, to wit:  A.R. "Chip" Conde.  He served Creighton as her finance director and chief of staff.

The SCPR reads into Creighton's hint that she was actively involved in persuading Conde to run.  It increasingly appears to The Report that Creighton may be the master planner of the Stark County Republican Party in terms of making the Stark GOP, once again, the predominant party in Stark County.

Conde works for the highly active Republican Stephen Mears (behind the scenes) of StrategyOne, Inc. Mears may be Canton/Stark County's most virulent anti-Healy activist.  Accordingly, if Conde becomes the Republican nominee and Healy survives the Democratic primary, then Cantonians should expect a raucous, "no holds barred" type of general election campaign.



Should Bill Smuckler win the Democratic primary, Conde's approach to campaigning will be much different.

In May the Republicans have a choice to make.  The "establishment" candidate "Chip" Conde or a man who seems much more people oriented:  Leon Gerig.

It is impressive that Gerig has left fulltime employment to devote his full time and attention to securing the Republican nomination.

A Gerig-Healy/Smuckler match up would be much more of a "let the voters choose an approach to solving Canton's problems" type campaign.

In the accompanying video, it is noteworthy to hear Gerig say that Stark GOP Chairman Jeff Matthews told Gerig that Gerig is somebody he can work with.  Reading between the lines of Matthews' comment, it is obvious that Gerig is not Matthews' and the Republican establishment's first choice.

Here is the SCPR's interview (part II) of candidate Gerig.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

IN 1958 STARK COUNTY'S TIMKEN COMPANY WAS PART OF THE "RIGHT-TO-WORK" FIGHT; WILL TIMKEN WEIGH-IN BEHIND REPUBLICAN JOHN KASICH'S EFFORT TO MAKE OHIO'S PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT "RIGHT-TO-WORK?"


One the most unaddressed aspects of the fight going on in Columbus are the 44 words inserted in Senate Bill 5 which, if adopted, will make Ohio a "Right-to-Work" (RTW) state insofar as public employment is concerned.

It could be that this provision is the opening round in renewed union versus management (proxied in a Democrats versus Republicans context) fight in Ohio over whether or not Ohio is to join 28 other states as a "Right-to-Work" state.  Public employment - the first step?  Then all Ohio employment to follow?

Back in 1958 there was a huge fight between Republicans and Democrats over "Right-to-Work."  A big player for Ohio adopting RTW was none other than Stark County's "Timken Roller Bearing Company."

Timken family members have been stalwart Republican campaign contributors over many decades.  Moreover, they are particularly invested in the gubernatorial reign of Republican John Kasich.

From The Huffington Post archives, here is a list of the many contributions made by Timken family members to the Kasich-Taylor campaign.


On Tuesday, February 22nd, Governor Kasich is the speaker at a Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce event:  "A Night with Ohio's Governor."


Undoubtedly, the Timkens will be there in full force.

But also there will be Stark County's unions.  The Timkens and the Governor's hobnobbers will be on the inside whereas the unionist will be on the outside shouting their protests against Kasich's attempt to take away collective bargaining from public employees and his making Ohio a "Right-to-Work" state as far as public employment is concerned.

Stark's unions are aiming for 1,000 to be on the outside.  Tuesday evening promises to be an interesting evening indeed in downtown Canton, Ohio!



Friday, February 18, 2011

RICK PEREZ UNELECTABLE? CANTON SAFETY DIRECTOR TOM REAM TO RUN FOR SHERIFF, BUT WITH IDEA THAT PEREZ WILL BE "ACTUAL" SHERIFF?




The Stark County Political Report has learned that it appears that the Stark County Democratic Party hierarchy has concluded (rightly so, in the view of The Report) that Stark County Sheriff Chief Deputy Rick Perez cannot be elected in his own right as county sheriff.

Taking a cue from the defeat of Kim Perez as county auditor (Kim is Rick's brother), the bigs of the organized Stark Dems have hatched up a plan to have Canton Safety Director Tom Ream as sort of a Madison Avenue-esque sheriff run, but once elected, to turn the actual sheriffing over to Perez.



Had Stark's countywide elected Democrats not fallen on hard times with the troubles of former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler (which The Report believes cost the Dems the auditor's and treasurer's office), the plan is believed to have been that current Sheriff Tim Swanson would resign short of filling out his full term and that the organized Democrats would appoint Perez his successor.  The timing was to be that Perez would not have to run in November, 2010 and would have two years before having to stand for election in November, 2012.

Before Swanson and his pals at the Stark County Democratic headquarters realized that Perez was unelectable, he told a Signature group of Leadership Stark County candidates (which included Perez) that Perez would be Stark County's next sheriff.

Well, all that is now changed.

The SCPR believes that "the Ream plan" probably will not work.

The Report believes that the Dems are on the brink of losing at least two more countywide offices in 2012:  the sheriff's office and the prosecutor's office.

Stark County Republican officials are urging Larry Dordea (Hartville Police Chief, Alliance City Councilman and former police chief of Alliance) to run for sheriff a second time.  He lost to Swanson in 2008.



Moreover, the same officials are putting pressure on Stark County civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley to run against Prosecutor John Ferrero next year.  Ferrero and Conley have had their run-ins.

Do not expect an formal announcement from Safety Director Ream about running for sheriff until it is known whether or not his current boss Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II will be continuing on as mayor.  Healy faces a challenge from long time Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler (a Democrat like Healy) in the Democratic primary in early May.  If Healy survives the primary, then he faces formidable Republican opposition in November.

Ream will not want, one would think, to detract from or damage the Healy candidacy.

But once Healy's fate is determined, look for Ream to throw his hat into the ring to succeed - sort of - Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

AND RENACCI CRITICIZED BOCCIERI OF BEING IN LOCK-STEP WITH PELOSI AND ADDING TO THE DEFICIT?


Revised 02/17/2011 at 3:00 PM

Congressman Jim Renacci (Republican - 16th District - Ohio) Republican primary foe Matt Miller (Tea Party favorite) and other Tea Party-esque candidates in the May, 2010 Republican primary election have to be scratching their collective heads today and asking themselves:  "What did we change when we sent Republican Renacci to Washington to replace Democrat John Boccieri?"  After all, 16th District voters did vote 31,289 to 30,358 for the tea party position.


It appears:  not much.

However, Tea Party influenced congressmen did make a difference and delivered on their promises to the American public to cut wasteful spending even if it meant crossing party lines to vote with the opposition.

Renacci pretty much based his campaign on how Boccieri was joined at the hip with then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (voting with her 94% of the time)  and Boccieri's failure to keep the then $13 trillion overall federal budget deficit.

Well, so far Renacci is voting 100% in accordance with the wishes of fellow Ohioan and House Speaker "So Be It" John Boehner (when it comes to reducing recently added federal jobs; probably more like 20,000; not the 200,000 Boehner says).

Had the vote on an amendment to the defense appropriations bill gone his way (he voted "no" on the cut) yesterday; Renacci would have added $450 million to the still increasing deficit which is over $14 trillion budget deficit now.

For years now, the military and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been saying that a second engine for the F35 fighter jet, the GE version, was not wanted and that the government ought to stop funding its development.

One of Washington's most influential congressmen; namely, the aforementioned John Boehner had a stake in keeping the unwanted engine in production.  It supported the employment of about 1,000 people at a GE facility just outside his district.

So Congressman Jim Renacci was in perfect position to show he meant what he said about being different than Boccieri and voting to kill the wasteful spending and, what's more, to show that he could separate from the Republican leadership.

Well, it seems that all 16th District voters have done is to replace one automatic with another automatic in terms of party and leadership loyalty.

The only pause for thought on this score is that all of Ohio's congressional Democrats voted for the Boehner desire that the wasteful F35 GE engine funding continue.

Obviously, Renacci will seize on the Democrats joining in as cover for his vote.  But all that proves is that they too are intimidated by the power of the Speaker and also worry about voting to - in effect - end 1,000 Ohio jobs.  For it is less than two years that they have to run again.  Given the horrible state of Ohio's economy, it would not have looked good to have voted to eliminate 1,000 jobs.

But the point remains the same, whether Republican or Democrat, politicians will not do what is good for the nation as a whole, they are only looking to the next election;  be it Jim Renacci or John Boccieri.

Renacci and Ohio's congressmen in toto are all for some other congressional district/state bearing the brunt of reining the national debt in.



(VIDEO) CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS: FOR MAYOR OF CANTON - REPUBLICAN LEON GERIG - PART 1 OF 2


Today begins a series of interviews that the Stark County Political Report is in the process of doing for contested races in the Democratic and Republican primaries which will be held on May 3rd.

First up is Republican Canton mayoral candidate Leon Gerig.  He will face off against A. R. Conde who was a "late in the game" surprise candidate on the Republican side.

While either Republican candidate will have an uphill battle on sheer political party registration numbers alone (registered Democrats outnumber Republicans about 9 to 1 in Canton), 2011 might actually present an opportunity notwithstanding the registration disparity.

That we have a Republican Party primary in and of itself is indication that the Stark GOP is hopeful that its candidate in the November election may attract Canton voters who want an alternative to Mayor William J. Healy, II.

The SCPR's take is that Healy is very likely to be the Democrat's candidate in November.

The Report caught up with Republican candidate Leon Gerig at a Canton City Council meeting on January 28th.

Here is Part I of the interview Leon Gerig in his own words.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MAYOR HEALY: "LAUGHING (OUT-OF-VIEW, OF COURSE) ALL THE WAY TO THE - POLITICAL - BANK?" VOLUME 5 - CANTON'S FINANCIAL MESS SERIES


The more and more the SCPR looks at the political side of William J. Healy, II, it appears he is putting together a master campaign to attain another term as mayor of Canton.

A paradox, a true paradox!

Despite his credentials of being an accomplished business/finance man, Mayor Healy has not been able to keep Canton from sliding into what Council President Allen Schulman says is a financial death spiral.

Healy has long heralded his sophistication and expertise at "all matters business" in pointing to his attaining an MBA from the New York Stern School of Business.  And yesterday, on the Ron Ponder Points to Ponder Show (WHBC1480), he was bragging about his Wall Street and Silicon Valley connections.

The Report believes that Healy's self-proclaimed financial and by implication economic development bravado is exactly that bravado.

However, he does have a skill and it is being the master political manipulator.

Between his announcement of running for mayor and May 3rd, Cantonians are seeing and will continue to see Healy using the power of incumbency to facilitate his retaining office.

It does appear that Stark's Republicans are taking serious aim at Healy in November.  If Healy deems the Republican effort to be a threat to his continuing in office, Canton will see the quintessential politically-accomplished Mayor go full bore on his political mastery against the Republican who survives their May primary.

At February's "Monthly Financial Review Meeting," Healy proclaimed that Canton has survived the nation's economic downturn, BUT there is, he says, a huge threat on the horizon that threatens Canton's recovery, to wit:  the state of Ohio and the Republicans' coming assault on local government funding.

The BUT is political cover for Healy.  He knows full well (as he has to have known for upwards of a year now) that there are going to be substantial cuts by Ohio on local government funding.  They would have occurred even if Democrat GovernorTed Strickland had been retained by Ohioans.

The SCPR's take on Canton's finances is that with zero cuts in state monies to local government, Canton still is in financial and economic development free fall.  However, with the state cuts (15%, 50% or 100%; whatever they turn out to be), Healy will blame Columbus for Canton's failure to rebound.

No doubt the coming state cuts will make it tough for all localities.  BUT those with foresight and the political will to cut local government services will survive as a workable unit of government.

On yesterday's Ponder program, Healy revealed that he had been contacted by Governor Kasich and that he was to meet with Kasich at 5:00 PM last evening and would report on Ponder today, the results of the meeting.

Here is Healy speaking for himself.