Thursday, March 31, 2011

ONLY IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS WOULD HAGAN AND SCHURING HAVE "TRULY" CONSIDERED VOTING NO ON SB 5.


Anyone remotely connected to political reality should have known that there is no way newly appointed Ohio House representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro - the 50th) was going to buck Ohio Speaker of the House Billy Batchelder and vote no on a bill of the importance of Senate Bill 5 which severely curtailed the collective bargaining rights of Ohio's public workers.

Though he is not a new representative - hardly - ditto for Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson - the 51st).

Schuring is a master at dissembling.  He likes to make constituents think he is considering doing something on legislation other than the party line, but he has proven over and over and over again that he is a Republican party loyalist of the highest order.

And even when there is no party factor present, Schuring often feigns doing this thing or that thing knowing full well it is an exercise in futility.  A prime example is his offering of a constitutional amendment to cure the school funding problem as he was gearing up to run against John Boccieri for Congress.  It was all a political sham.  He knew the bill was going nowhere, but he cruelly raised the hope of Stark Countians that he may actually be going to show leadership in getting something "substantive" done legislatively.  Something he has failed to do over his many years in the Ohio General Assembly.

By playing a modified musical chairs game with fellow Republican Scott Oelslager (Republican - 29th Senate District - for the second time; notwithstanding term limits) in which they each get a seat, just a different seat, Schuring and Oelslager have been in the Ohio General Assembly upwards of 50 years with very little to show for it.  If readers haven't checked lately, Ohio and Stark County are continuing their slide downward.

The SCPR is not convinced that Scott Oelslger would have bucked his partisan leadership had his vote been the one to sink SB 5.  Because of the district he represents, the Republican leadership appears to have arranged for a "pass" to Oelslager on this particular piece of legislation.  At the very least though, Oelslager deserves credit for mulling the matter over.

Obviously, Democrats Mark Okey (Ohio House - 61st), Steven Slesnick (52nd) and Senator Joe Schiavoni (33rd Senate District) in voting no were also following party marching orders and there was virtually no chance they would vote yes on the bill.  However, in their pre-vote pronouncements they made no bones about what their votes would be.

For Hagan and Schuring to suggest (reference:  With final vote looming, four Stark lawmakers oppose SB 5, 03/29/2011, Robert Wang) that they were having a difficult time determining how they were going to vote on SB 5 was disingenuous at the very least or, outright deceitful; if one wants to think the worse of them.

Such is not helpful to their personal political credibility.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(VIDEO) WINNING MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD? STARK COUNTY AUDITOR ALAN HAROLD SPEAKS ON ZEIGLER "POSSIBLE" RETURN AS TREASURER, THE POLITICS OF HIRING IN AUDITOR'S OFFICE AND SAVING TAXPAYERS $500,000.


In 2008, Alan Harold of the well known and well thought of Stark County "Harold family," had decided to run for county treasurer against then incumbent Gary D. Zeigler.

Had he done so and had he been successful, things "government" and "political," perhaps, might have been much different for Stark County today.

Different?

Probably.

Presumably, once Harold - with the financial background he has -  acceded to office he would have immediately figured out that there were inadequate safeguards in how the office was being managed in terms of procedures and systems being in place to prevent or discover early on the Vince Frustaci theft of $2.96 million (in the opinion of federal judge John Adams) from the Stark County treasury.

While the Frustaci theft had been going on, according to investigative reports, for about six years from the date of its discovery on April 1, 2009, and Harold - had he been elected in 2008 - would have had the job of ferreting out the theft and equipped by virtue of his banking background to structure the office operations so as to force existence of the ongoing theft out into the open; he never got the chance.

He didn't even get the chance?

Indeed!

Obviously, Harold being the thorough and meticulous person he is, would have cleared his running for office with his employer (Huntington Bank).  And the SCPR has reason to believe that he did.  But somehow, someway things got changed and it apparently came down from on high at Huntington that it was not okay and Harold ended up not running.

Instead, Zeigler ran unopposed.

And, shall we say:  "the rest is history."

Yesterday, the Stark County Political Report caught up with Harold at a Stark County commissioner work session.  He and and his information technology expert Anita Henderson were there to exchange ideas with Commissioners Creighton and Ferguson on how the make the county telephone system more effective, efficient and, perhaps, save Stark County money.



The Report took advantage of Harold being a the meeting to catch up with him - on video - to pose a number of questions that the Stark County public undoubtedly would like to have more information on since his election to (November, 2010) and assumption of the auditor's office (March 14, 2011).


One being on the the turnover of employees from Democrat Kim Perez's administration of the auditor's office to his (Harold being a Republican) administration.  The other being his reaction to the possibility that Zeigler (removed from office on August 23, 2010 by a previous board of county commissioners) returning to office in light of his original action (Quo Warranto) in the Ohio Supreme Court seeking same.

Zeigler was exonerated by federal and county prosecutors of having any involvement whatsoever in the Frustaci theft.

The Report believes that Harold was the leading critic during the 2010 political season of Zeigler and how he managed the Stark treasury during his approximately 10 years in office. 

During the campaign he put up billboards showing a winning golf foursome (annually conducted Hero's Golf Outing) of Vince Frustasci ("the guy who stole the money"), Zeigler ("the guy they [the commissioners] fired"), Harold's opponent Kim Perez ("the guy who should have been watching") and Gary Zeigler, II (who has his face blurred out inasmuch as Harold deems him to been an innocent bystander).

In fact, Harold has kept Gary Zeigler, II on at the auditor's office as an appraiser telling The Report off camera that Zeigler's son merited being retained.

Some Stark Countians thought that the billboard ad went over the line in terms "being below the belt."

In the video that follows, the SCPR asks Harold about the turnover in employees and his explanation of whether or not politics had anything to do with the dismissing of nine Perez employees and the bringing in of three new employees and, of course, his reaction to the possibility that Zeigler could be returning to office.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(VIDEO) SCPR CANTON MAYORAL SERIES - BILL SMUCKLER - PART II: HEALY MANAGEMENT PRACTICES JEOPARDIZE SAFETY OF CANTONIANS?


On March 23rd, the SCPR sat down with Canton mayoral candidate William Smuckler (Councilman-at-Large), who is vying with incumbent Mayor William J. Healy, II in the May 3rd Democratic primary election for the right to run in November's general election, and provided him with the opportunity to - "in his own words" explain to Canton's Democrats why they should select him as the party's standard bearer.

In this part two, Smuckler:
  • blames Mayor Healy of jeopardizing the safety of Cantonians by allowing safety services to be attrited to unsafe levels,
  • blames Healy for dragging his feet, even resisting the consolidation building departments, health departments and 9-1-1 operations across the county over the issue of who is going to be in control after any consolidations/mergers take place,
  • blames Healy because of his foot dragging for the failure of Canton to save about $480,000 in emergency services costs, and
  • says that Healy has proven that he cannot work for the larger good of Canton and Stark County because of his antagonistic relationships with Stark County Commissioners Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei
As far as the SCPR is concerned, Smuckler makes telling criticisms of Healy.  Take the 9-1-1 issue, here is a copy of a letter dated November 10th in which Healy indicates that the consolidation is a good thing that will save Canton money.


By March 8th of 2011 and the heat of the mayoralty race approaching its zenith, all of a sudden the Healy administration (in response to a Smuckler question at the March monthly forum on Canton finances about why the administration has refused to act on signing a letter of intent to participate in 9-1-1 consolidation and thereby save Canton about $480,000) has to think about the value of 9-1-1 consolidation.

What Healy has apparently figured out is that opponent Smuckler has a long, long, track record of being the leading Stark County politician in favor of blending Canton operations, where feasible, with the operations of the larger Stark County community and thereby save the financially struggling Canton millions of dollars.

So what was good in November, 2010 is no longer good in March, 2011 because it doesn't fit the consummately political Healy's desire to negate anything that reflects well on Smuckler.

Healy's "rationale?" for not signing the "letter of intent" is his concern that the 9-1-1 rehab cannot work because the county add-on sales tax is about to expire and therefore the finances to operate a countywide 9-1-1 will evaporate.

Built into the countywide 9-1-1 rehab is a structure in which each and every political subdivision participating in 9-1-1 pays a proportional fee.  And the fees are set to adjust to match operational revenue needs on an annual basis.

Healy is incorrect.  A mistake in understanding?   Probably not.

As the SCPR has said for years now, Mayor Healy forces everything to fit into the political world he feels comfortable with. 

Here is the video, part two of the SCPR series on Smuckler as a candidate for mayor of Canton.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

TODD SNITCHLER: A "MADE TO ORDER" KASICH LOYALIST?


If Ohio Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Chairman Todd Snitchler (formerly Ohio House 50th District representative and Republican from Lake Township) has a fault, it is that he is excessively loyal to core conservative Republican Party doctrine, corporate interest, and certain political figures he sees as having the political oomph to make that doctrine state policy.  Governor John Kasich is one such person.

In this respect he is much like Mayor William J. Healy, II, the mayor of Canton.  Healy only wants advisers around him who are loyal to a fault.  For those who show independent thought for the benefit of the public at large (e.g. Tom Bernabei and Tom Nesbitt) become persona non grata in a hurry.

The Stark County Political Report believes this characteristic is the primary reason Governor Kasich chose Snitchler in February to head the PUCO as well as to be the point man in seeing to it that oil and gas industry get its way in obtaining Ohio Department of Natural Resource (ODNR) approvals to hydraulically frack for natural gas throughout Ohio including Ohio's state park system.  Now it turns out that Snitchler will have yet another "political" assignment.

In appointing Snitchler, Kasich described Snitchler as being "wicked, smart."

Hmm?  Obviously, these are qualities that Kasich prizes.  But why?

It has come to light that Governor Kasich in formulating his 2012 -2013 biennium budget proposal has included the halving of the Ohio Consumers Counsel (OCC) budget (See Ohio Consumers' Counsel prepares for budget battle, John Funk [The Plain Dealer - Cleveland.com], March 27, 2011).

Funk reports that Kasich proposes to slash the OCC budget 50% (from $8.5 million to $4.1 million) which, he says, will cause - if carried through with - huge staff reductions at the OCC.

The SCPR sees the proposed cuts severely weakening the OCC in its ability to protect Ohio consumers from being unfairly taken advantage of by monopolistic public utilities and in the face inadequate protection from the unfairness by the PUCO itself under the leadership of Snitchler who in his heart of hearts disdains regulation of business.

Of particular interest is this excerpt from the Funk piece, to wit:
Snitchler also said in an interview Friday that he has no argument with what he sees as the main role Migden-Ostrander plays -- the leading advocate for consumers in cases before the commission.

"Do we advocate? No. Does she advocate? Yes," he said.

"I just want that to be clear. Her argument is with the budget folks, not the PUCO."
The Report begs to differ with Snitchler.  Because of his added political role with the Kasich administration on the fracking issue and now on scaling down of government oversight of the utilities as one of the core tenets of his brand of conservative Republican political doctrine and his being a Kasich political operative, her (Migden-Ostrander's) argument is with him and the PUCO and ultimately with Governor Kasich himself.

It is also an argument that we all (especially including Stark Countians since Snitchler hails from Stark County) ought to be having with Kasich/Snitchler and their effort to free the utilities up to have their way with Ohio's consumers.

The OCC is not going down without a fight.  Its leader, Janine Migden-Ostrander, says that OCC saved Ohio's consumers $54 million in the period 2009 through 2011 and that the agency is not funded by tax dollars but by fees paid by the utilities themselves.  She hopes to bring public pressure to bear to keep the OCC intact on the basis that no tax savings will be saved by the proposed cut.

That is where Snitchler comes in.

To repeat, the "wicked, smart" one was signed on by Kasich to be his political in fighter from the perch of the PUCO, which is also financed by fees from Ohio's utilities.  These utilities were heavy contributors to both Kasich and to Snitchler in their respective 2010 campaigns.

It appears that the utilities are not too happy with the OCC and behind the scenes they seem to have weighed in successfully with the Kasich administration in an apparent attempt to eviscerate the consumer protection group if not eventually dismantle it in the name of solving a budget crisis.

Being the loyalist he is, Snitchler, as PUCO chair has authorized a press release which is provided in full at the end of this blog.

That Snitchler authorized the press release is confirmation that his role in Kasich administration policy is much more than implementing Kasich's druthers on PUCO policy and enforcement actions.

If the OCC fight is with the budget folks and "he has no dog in this fight," why has Snitchler directed the issuing a press release endorsing and justifying the draconian Kasich administration cuts in OCC's budget which he implicitly admits will mean less oversight of utilities?

Answer:  Snitchler does have a philosophical/political doctrine interest in the matter and he is acting as one of Kasich's chief cheerleaders in promoting the gutting of OCC.  Such means that everyday Stark Countians and Ohioans will be getting the shaft on their utility bills.

Political loyalty (to doctrines, to corporate political interests and leaders) which result in everyday people having to struggle harder to make means meet is not a good thing.

Measured loyalty can be a terrific quality.  But, Snitchler - whose political history indicates dedication beyond reason is not measured.

A "true believer" Snitchler is, so it appears to the SCPR.

Everybody should duck!




MASSILLON CITY GOVERNMENT DOES NOT NEED THIS - TWO COUNCILMEN - IN THEIR "NO" VOTES HAVE ABSURD REASONS FOR VOTING NO!


It appears that Massillon government has become the:  "Theater of the Absurd!"

The SCPR thinks there are good reasons to vote "no" on the Mayor Cicchinelli proffered budget (which got defeated 5 to 4 on Monday night).  But three  of them are not:  (quotes in this blog are ones created in a speculative context by The Report in furtherance of the notion of Massillon's government resembling - at least in the drama being played out on getting a Massillon budget passed - a "Theater of the Absurd.")
  • "I'm running for mayor and therefore I will vote 'no' on all things Cicchinelli;" likely the thought processes - The Report conjectures - of Kathy Catazaro-Perry.
  • "Hmm?  Call me a 'longtime ex-Republican' and I'll get even.  My publicly announced vote for the Mayor's budget is now history because of Cicchinelli's insult.  I'll show him!" Such The Report believes is the train of thought that must have be running through Councilman Anderson's head in casting his "no vote" on the Cicchinelli budget last Monday.
  • "Hmm?  (The Report suspects Slagle muses to himself) Anderson announces he's going to vote for the Cicchinelli budget?  Wow!  What a golden opportunity for me.  Given the reality of depressed Massillon's revenues due to the downturn of the national economy, the Mayor really has no choice but do creative budgeting and normally I would square up with that reality and grudgingly vote for it.  But with the Anderson announcement, I can have my cake and eat it too.  The budget passes and I get to do a little grandstanding.  Wonderful!"
The Slagle and Anderson exercise as reported in The Independent (see cite below) has a Abbott & Costello quality to it (the famous "Who's on First" comedic skit).  The difference being, however, that Abbott & Costello knew they were being ridiculous, out-of-sync and therefore funny whereas Massillon Councilmen Slagle and Anderson apparently did not.

What is amazing is that Anderson and Slagle would implicitly admit within the hearing of the press (Plenty of bluster, little accomplished in special City Council session, staff report, The Independent, March 25th) that they were functioning (as councilmen) outside the public interest.  Candid?  Perhaps.  But the consequence is that it is this sort of revelation which makes it difficult for citizens to take local government seriously, and the absurdity of it all has the effect of demeaning/discrediting government in the eyes of the public.

Moreover, Mayor Cicchinelli himself has been playing a key part in the "Theater of the Absurd" in calling Friday's meeting in the first place. 

After Monday's regular council meeting in an ad hoc Finance Committee meeting, Slagle gave a perfectly plausible reason why he had a problem with the Mayor's budget.  He articulated quite persuasively that since the state of Ohio is making cuts to local government funds beginning in July (the significance of which Mayor Cicchinelli downplayed), it was unreal for Cicchinelli to present a budget that did not account for the actual total costs of the safety forces in the hope that somehow, some way, the needed revenues would materialize.

So what happened between Monday and Friday for him to say that he voted no on the premise that Anderson was going to vote yes.  Doesn't the Massillon clerk of council call the roll alphabetically:  A - Anderson, S - Slagle?

Wow!

You have to take the councilman at his word, but Slagle's "I thought Anderson was voting yes therefore I voted no" rationale seems to be out there somewhere, no?

The taxpaying Massillon public should be absolutely revolted by what is going on in Massillon city government!   The dramatic unfoldings have the makings of a tragic-comedy for the residents of Massillon who are apparently facing the possibility of the shutdown of their local government services.

While The Report believes that the Slagle/Anderson vignette is shameful in that it shows priorities other than the well-being of Massillon, such is not surprising coming out of this Council.

The Massillon City Council is rife with personal agendas; apparently - the public interest be damned!

The elephant in the room (or, "the political football") seems to be that the budgetary numbers indicate that Council and Mayor Cicchinelli need to agree on cuts to the safety forces (at least until the revenue picture improves), but no one has the political intestinal fortitude to say so.

Certainly not Catazaro-Perry and her allies on Council.  Certainly not Mayor Cicchinelli and his allies on Council.

Such, The Report thinks, is why Massillonians are seeing the "Theater of the Absurd."

So what is it that  Massillon voters should be looking for in May and November?

To the extent that the availabilities of candidates allow - new set of characters; qualified, however, with the proviso that change for change sake can bring on an even worse scenario.

Voters should not emulate the "knee-jerk" qualities that seem to be in place within Massillon elected officialdom these days.

But rather voters need to exercise rationality and common sense in eliminating the absurd that currently plagues Massillon city government!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

$40 MILLION + IN UNCOLLECTED REAL PROPERTY TAXES COULD SOLVE STARK COUNTY'S FISCAL CRISIS IN A HURRY, NO? ALSO, WHEN IS CLERK OF COURTS NANCY REINBOLD GOING TO LET STARK COUNTIANS KNOW HOW MUCH IS OUTSTANDING (UNCOLLECTED) FROM HER OFFICE & DEVELOP A PLAN TO ACCELERATE A COLLECTION?


It appears that Stark County government is at the beginning of full blown fiscal crisis because of the voters' rejection (in November, 2009) of retaining a 0.50 sales tax imposed by former Stark County Commissioners Todd Bosley, Tom Harmon and Jane Vignos in December, 2008.

Moreover, because of a "public perception" crisis of confidence in county government brought on by the revelation in April, 2009 of the theft of  $2.96 million (in the opinion of federal judge John Adams) by former Stark County treasury Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci (even though neither the treasurer nor any other county official was involved in the theft); county commissioners feel that it would be futile to put a 0.25 renewal sales tax issue on in May of this year.

Accordingly, commissioners have been reaching out to the Stark Countians to rebuild public trust in county government before ascertaining whether or not county voters are open to considering voting for a renewal or a replacement thereof.

The following are several among an impressive list of activities take by the commissioners, to wit:
  • leaning on county elected officials and department heads to examine every nuance of the operations of their respective departments in order to uncover areas which could result in savings of county tax dollars.  Commissioners asked for and pretty much achieved a 16% across-the-board reduction in the FY 2011 county budget
  • holding work sessions at the county office building (commissioners meeting room - open to the public, of course) on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week and bringing in elected officials and department heads to go over in excruciating detail the specifics of their operations in the belief that another set of eyes and and concomitant inquiry might produce new efficiencies in the operations of the various aspects of county government
  • looking at ways to consolidate/merge government operations (e.g. county and municipal building departments) as a service of convenience and efficiencies to county residents who are building new homes/business buildings or making modifications/additions to their current structures
  • going out into the Stark County community-at-large to each and every part of Stark County and holding town hall type meetings and taking and responding to any and all questions asked .
  • taking direct phone calls from Stark County citizens at their offices
  • making field trips to county facilities to check first hand on county department of government operations
Whether or not the commissioners end up putting a tax issue on the Stark County ballot, their trust- building actions need to continue.

There has been an interesting development that it appears commissioners are interested it.  Civic activist and local attorney Craig T. Conley sent a letter to commissioners pointing out to them that the Stark County treasury has a "delinquent taxpayer list" which indicates that Stark is owed over $40 million dollars.  Additionally, he offered his services - pro bono publico (for the public good, in other words, "free") - to put together an effort of like-minded Stark County attorneys to collect a large portion of the outstanding $40 million plus.

The entire letter is reproduced at the end of this blog.

In speaking with Conley, he pointed out to The Report that if his idea can work it offers the prospect (his opinion) of negating the need to have a renewal/replacement levy.  And he is bullish on a "spill-over" effect in which the collection of any part of the $40 million will inure to the benefit of political subdivisions which includes:  villages, cities, townships [fire, police and road levies], park districts, water districts, sewer districts, school districts and even the county.

Commissioners Creighton and Bernabei tell the SCPR that they are interested in Conley's proposal and will be investigating whether or not his proposal or any part thereof is doable.  In the next week or so they will be sitting down with Conley to work out the details of implementing his plan.

So is current Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.  He tells the SCPR that there are more than 18,000 delinquent parcels.  While the county treasury does have a program in place in coordination with the Stark County prosecutor's office (Prosecutor John Anthony) whereby they collect about $10 million a year, it is usually a wash because about $10 million, sometimes a little more; sometimes a little less, new delinquencies are added each year.

Zumbar is pleased with the prosecutor's office effort but understands that the office is in no position to expand its effort so that over time the county can accelerate collection and achieve significant net reductions in the overall $40 million plus that is owing to Stark County taxpayers.  Recently, the prosecutor's office has had a reduction in force due to the need by all county offices to achieve a 16% reduction in annual operating expenses.

The SCPR is pleased to see citizens like Conley step forward and present viable ideas that have the potential to make a profound contribution to solving county revenue needs for the immediate future (let's say the next two to four years - an SCPR estimate).  To repeat, as a "spill-over," it could also help alleviate the effect of coming state of Ohio cuts to Stark County's political subdivisions.

Needless to say, county officials should have been pursuing these revenues long before Conley entered the picture with his idea.

Another question the SCPR has been assured by Commissioner Janet Creighton is being looked into is to why Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold cannot put a dollar amount on Stark County Common Pleas fees, fines, et cetera that are owed to Stark County taxpayers.

The Report will, on an ongoing, persistent basis,  push the commissioners and Reinbold to get a fix on the amount owed and, beyond that, to develop a plan a la Conley's to bring these revenues into county government to help obviate the need for renewed or replacement levies.

Here is the Conley letter.



Friday, March 25, 2011

A POLITICAL ANALYSIS: IS THERE MORE AT STAKE THAN WHETHER OR NOT GARY ZEIGLER RETURNS AS STARK COUNTY TREASURER IN Case No. 2010-1570 State ex rel. Gary D. Zeigler, Stark County Treasurer ... ?


This SCPR blog is written as a political analysis regarding the political fallout, should the Ohio Supreme Court decide to restore former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to his position as treasurer,  from which he was removed by the then Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) on August 23, 2010.

In the pre-revelation Vince Frustaci theft of county fund days (meaning before April 1, 2009), Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero were seemingly on very friendly terms from the standpoint of political identity.

Gary Zeigler has been exonerated of any involvement whatsoever in the Frustaci theft.

Ferrero's/Zeigler's terms in office are some what equivalent (Ferrero:  February, 2003 - present; Zeigler:  1999 to August 23, 2010).  Moreover, Ferrero was chairman when Stark's organized Democrats appointed Zeigler county treasurer in 1999 to replace Democrat Mark Roach who was removed from office for not completing required treasurer educational requirements.

Ferrero recently revealed at a Stark County commissioner in one of a series  of "out-in-the-community-meetings," that he was just then celebrating his 8th year in office.  The year was 2003.  Prosecutor Bob Horowitz had moved onto being judge in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas - Probate Division and Ferrero stepped as chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party effective March 11, 2003 to focus on his job as newly appointed Stark County prosecutor by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee on February 15th.

Earlier on in their political relationship, Ferrero teamed up with Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and Zeigler to run a coordinated campaign.  Interestingly enough, The Report hears that there was a rub between Swanson and Ferrero and the political alliance fell apart.

It is interesting to note that one of Zeigler's prime defenders as a Stark County officeholder was none other than Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson.

It is more than a touch ironical that Ferrero's political fate come the 2012 elections may hinge on whether or not the Ohio Supreme Court decides to restore Zeigler to office.

Undoubtedly, if Zeigler is restored to office, the event will reopen old political wounds with the Stark County public.

The Report's take on the public view is that  Stark Countians are convinced that one - Ferrero, Swanson, former Stark County Auditor Kim Perez, Zeigler and most, if not all, of Stark's other Democratic officeholders were politically thick with one another; and, two - that the appointed Zeigler was mostly a political phenomenon with thin credentials, if any, for the office of county treasurer.

However, once one gets appointed, the publicity and power of holding an office is usually enough to propel them in becoming "elected" officials.

Appointee Zeigler was elected in 2000, 2004 and 2008 (unopposed).  Prosecutor John Ferrero, who was appointed, was elected in 2004 and 2008 (unopposed).

Should the Ohio Supreme Court restore Zeigler, Stark Countians are likely to be rekindled in their recollection that the State of Ohio Auditor's office (SOA) made findings in its Frustaci investigation to the effect that Zeigler failed to take basic steps to safeguard taxpayer money. 

The Report recall of Zeigler's response to the SOA report as being was pretty much "I've done what has always been done by previous treasurers." 

The SCPR believes that political control of the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's office and, perhaps offices held countywide by other Democrats could turn over to Republicans in 2012.  In The Report's view, the likelihood magnifies many times over if Zeigler gets to re-assume office.

It is hard to tell from the oral argument that took place on Wednesday which way the Supreme Court will swing on the decision.  In a surface view, it seems to The Report to be a 50/50 proposition.

The case seems to boil down to a head-to-head failure to comply (in the removal process) with Article 2, Section 38 of the Ohio Constitution (i.e. "upon complaint and hearing" - whether or not Stark County followed such) versus Zeigler "sleeping on his rights" (latches, [a Latin expression] in legal parlance).

Accordingly, The Report believes that the debate within chambers of the Ohio Supreme Court will be vigorous as to which will prevail) and is the basis for the SCRP thinking that Zeigler has about a 50/50 chance to get his office back.

If Zeigler comes back, the ramifications are manifold in Stark County government.  In addition to Ferrero and other countywide Democrat officeholders looking at an enhanced likelihood of re-election defeat in 2012; Stark County Auditor Alan Harold (Republican, who defeated incumbent Democratic officeholder Kim Perez [rightly or wrongly perceived by the public to be a Zeigler political pal] will have a different relationship with the treasurer's office.

Harold was one of Zeigler's severest critics during his campaign against Perez and focused his campaign in joining Perez with Zeigler at the hip.  Undoubtedly, a restored Zeigler will have a legally correct relationship with Harold, but does anyone think that the quality of the relationship will equal that which currently exists with fellow Republican Alex Zumbar?

And how about Zumbar himself?

Zumbar appears by virtue of his credentials (being Alliance finance director and North Canton finance director) to be well qualified for the treasury job he now holds.  His opponent in the November election (Democrat - Ken Koher) was equally "credentials impressive."  For political parties to select candidates for appointment to office or in the case of Zumbar to run for office is in the SCPR's experience a rare phenomenon.  Now that Zumbar has been in office (and Koher before him) and made the OAO changes plus, only to have Zeigler come back to office to reap the benefits of the changes, would be a hard pill to swallow.

Moreover, Zumbar is out of a job.  His replacement (Karen Alger) is already in place in North Canton.

While courts of jurisprudence do not take up and decide "political questions" and clearly the Ohio Supreme Court will not either; however, the political implications of the Court's decision in Case No. 2010-1570 State ex rel. Gary D. Zeigler, Stark County Treasurer v. Jaime Allbritain [Kenneth N. Koher, Alexander Zumbar] Stark County Treasurer for Stark County are enormous.

Not intending to equate the eminent jurists sitting on the Ohio Supreme Court of "fat ladies," but only using the expression because of the message it communicates in terms of the finality of an event occurring or not occurring;  Stark Countians can bet that a number of Stark County officeholders are awaiting the decision "with baited breath!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(VIDEOS) SCPR CANTON MAYORAL SERIES - BILL SMUCKLER - PART I. STARK COUNTY'S ONLY COUNTYWIDE NEWSPAPER DENIES CANTON MAYORAL CANDIDATE "OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD" IN SPONSORED DEBATE? HMM?


It appears to the Stark County Political Report that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is playing Executive Editor Jeff Gauger of The Repository like a banjo. 

According to a Repository report, Healy objects to the Republican candidates being a part of the debate format.

The Report suspects that Healy fears a person-to-person contrast with Republicans Leon Gerig, A.R. "Chip" Conde and Democrat Bill Smuckler and has used The Rep's "cast in concrete" rules to duck out of a Repository scheduled debate set for April 5th at Canton's Palace Theater.

In the public interest, The Rep should set up two debates (Republican candidates; Democratic candidates).  This year's election could be the most important in Canton's history.   The public need to see the candidates side-by-side in the primaries and in the general election. 

Why Gauger would allow Healy the opportunity to duck out on a seemingly minor point (one debate format as opposed to a two debate format) should be a question that Cantonians should be flooding The Rep executive editor with. 

It appears to The Report that the bigs at The Rep have this machismo problem of seeming to be in control.  Cantonians/Stark Countians have seen this before in a prior debate in which whether or not editorial board member Gayle Beck was going to be the moderator of a debate.  The Rep's insistence on "one big debate" is silly and is not serving of the public interest in seeing a direct contrast of the candidates.

In an interview with Healy's Democratic opponent Bill Smuckler yesterday, Smuckler tells The Report that he believes that The Repository is being unfair with him.

Moving on to other takes by the SCPR in the interview, in this Part I video Smuckler recounts his experience in Canton City government since 1984 and delves (today - on safety force levels) into his four pronged campaign approach:
  • restoring Canton's safety forces to higher levels
  • refashioning Canton's economic development effort
  • reformulating neighborhood revitalization, and
  • making government more efficient by making Canton a major player in government services consolidations

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

IF SHE APPLIES, JENNIFER CREIGHTON KLING (DAUGHTER OF STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER JANET CREIGHTON) THE FAVORITE TO REPLACE DARYL REVOLDT AS COUNCILPERSON - AT - LARGE?


The Stark County Political Report has confirmed that Jennifer Creighton Kling, daughter of Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton is considering filing a application with North Canton City Council (Council) to replace Daryl Revoldt as councilperson-at-large.

Her hesitation is that she has been predisposed to run for the North Canton Board of Education reportedly has some issues with how things are being run in the North Canton City Schools. In fact, a person close to her is encouraging her to run for the four year term position.

However, the SCPR believes that the outgoing Revoldt and sitting Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling are putting pressure on Kling to apply for Revoldt's vacated (as of 8:00 a.m./March 28th) position.  One of the reasons given by SCPR sources is that the likes of Kiesling and Revoldt (both Stark County Republican Party Executive Committee members) worry that should Kling run for the board of education, she could end up unseating Republican Jordan Greenwald.

One of things that Stark Countians are concerned about is that politics plays too much of a role in selections by the Stark County Democratic and Republican "organized" parties of local government officials.  Neither party pays enough attention to the qualifications that a given person brings to the table.  And, The Report, suspects that Marcia Kiesling is, to name names, is an example of a person who may take politics too far.  For instance, the SCPR believes that she was the primary force in bringing in her fellow Stark GOP Executive Committee member Hans Nilges as North Canton's law director.

Hmm?

Although - without Kling - seven North Cantonians have already applied for the job, The Report believes that only one of the seven is a serious possibility to be selected.  James Repace, former head of IBEW local 1985 whose members (some 2400) staffed the now defunct (as far as North Canton operations is concerned) Hoover Company.

While former Councilman Chuck Osborne is a candidate and nobody knows the nooks and crannies of North Canton politics and government like he does, he has had such a confrontational relationship with Council over the years;  it would be a truly astounding development for the current Council to bring him on board.

Democrat Repace was elected in 2005 but did not run for re-election in 2007 as the Hoover Company was in the throes of being bought up and moved out of North Canton, and Repace had his hands full, as the union head, of dealing with that situation.

Note the names of two of three defeated candidates in the 2005 election:  Marcia Kiesling and Jason Greenwald.


Hmm?

So now Kiesling (who was elected to Council in 2007; re-elected in 2009) has a role in protecting Greenwald in attempting to persuade Kling to go for the Revoldt vacancy rather than run for a board of education slot?


Moreover, perhaps Kiesling,  in being a recruiter of a specific candidate for the appointment, should she apply, ought to recuse herself from voting on the appointment?

In this day and age, in Stark County especially, the kind of "backroom political wheeling and dealing" that it appears Kiesling and Revoldt seem to be engaged in, is not public confidence building in terms of transparency or avoiding the appearance of "conflict-in-interest."

On the latter count the question is:  would Jim Repace get a fair consideration by Marcia Kiesling in light of her prior election defeat to him and other interests she appears to have in this matter? 

It could be that other viable candidates for the Revoldt position will step forward between now and April 1st, the filing deadline.  But do not look for that to happen.

If Kling applies, then the contest will boil down to Kling versus Repace.

Should Kiesling not recuse herself in such a such a setting as the SCPR maintains she should, then advantage to Kling.  The graphic above indicates how The Report believes the vote is set up in a Kling/Repace match up.  In that Snyder, Davies and Mayor Held (who breaks a tie) are Republicans, then it is hard to believe that politics will not rule the day and Kling gets the appointment.

By all accounts Jennifer Creighton Kling is a highly accomplished person who works in the pharmaceutical industry.  But she does not have a background in elective politics.

Nevertheless, it is - to repeat - The Report's belief that a Kling/Repace face-off goes to Jennifer Creighton Kling becoming Daryl Revoldt's replacement on North Canton City Council.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

(VIDEOS - 3): PETERS, McCUNE & CHICCHINELLI) MASSILLON BUDGET GETS VOTED DOWN A SECOND TIME - COULD IT BE THE McCUNE PARKING TICKET FLAP WAS THE DECIDING FACTOR?


The conventional political wisdom is that the Massillon 2011 budget got rejected last night a second time by the same 5 (Anderson, Catzaro-Perry, Peters, Slagle and Townsend) to 4 (Hersher, Mang, Manson, and McCune) vote that occurred back in December because of mayoralty politics:  Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry versus Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr.

And undoubtedly, such is a huge part of the reason.

However, it may be that animosities between Councilmen Donnie Peters, Jr. (R-Ward 5) and David McCune (D-Ward 6) over a parking ticket issued to McCune's daughter for parking in a handicap parking spot last year may have caused to vote "no" on the Cicchinelli administration budget.



At a council meeting in late December, 2009 it came to light that McCune had asked Catazaro-Perry (chair of the Rules and Court Committee) to consider legislation to lengthen the time within which to pay fines.

Councilman Peters alleged that McCune made the request to the chairwoman without telling her about the daughter's ticket and what Peters further alleged to be an effort by McCune to gain additional time, if needed, to avoid having to pay a double fine for untimely payment.

Here's the actual exchange as reported by Matt Rink (The Independent), Parking ticket causes racket amongst council members, December 30, 2010.
“He set you up,” Councilman Donnie Peters told Catazaro-Perry. “He knows if he were here, I would jump his (expletive) about it. It’s just because he has a personal vendetta to settle because he is one of those people who got a ticket.

“If I get picked up for a DUI, I’m not going to go change the DUI law,” Peters said.

Peters said McCune’s “motives are off base” and he wouldn’t agree to change the ordinance. He called Catazaro-Perry a “sacrificial lamb” and said McCune is using his political seat for personal gain.
Take a look at this video in which Peters makes it clear that he believes that a McCune statement (see video below) was the reason that the vote turned against Cicchinelli.  Whose vote did the McCune statement cause to go anti-Cicchinelli?  The Report's belief:  Councilman Donnie Peters, Jr!

And here is the McCune statement:



So what's next?   A city shutdown?

Probably not.  But it is anybody's guess as to how the impasse is going to get resolved as it must by midnight March 31st.

As Councilman Slagle pointed out in post-council meeting conversation (reference:  the coming local government fund cuts from Ohio), it is hard to see how Massillon can get through the rest of 2011 without some cuts.   It appears that Catazaro-Perry and friends want to force Cicchinelli to make the cuts as the price he pays to get his budget passed. If they succeed, then her election becomes more plausible.

A way around Catazaro-Perry et al (Anderson and Townsend), with Slagle marching to his own drumbeat, is for Cicchinelli to broker a "reconciliation" between Peters and McCune, if such is possible.  In addition, Peters - a Republican, may be fronting for Milan Chovan who will be opposing the Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli Democratic primary winner.  If that's the case, then there seems to be little prospect of converting Peters.

Should Peters prove impossible, then it is on to Councilman Slagle.

What will it take for Slagle to support the Cicchinelli budget?

"A Cicchinelli 'Plan B,' [apparently accounting for the certain 21% loss in state of Ohio revenues this year] so said Slagle to the SCPR as he made his way through the parking lot to his car.

 Make no mistake about it, Mayor Cicchinelli is incensed that he has been put in the position he is in.  Here is a video of his press conference with yours truly and Matt Rink of The Independent.



Monday, March 21, 2011

(VIDEO OF COMMISSIONER BERNABEI SPEAKING ON ISSUE) CAN COMMISSIONERS RESTORE TRUST TO STARK COUNTY GOV'T ANYTIME SOON?


The current Board of Stark County Commissioners is likely embarked on "Mission Impossible."

After years of deterioration (accentuated by recent events) of the Stark County public's confidence in county government, the board composed of former Canton mayor Janet Creighton, former Canton law director Tom Bernabei and well-liked long term Canton chiropractor Pete Ferguson is embarked on a "barnstorming tour" to re-connect with Stark Countians and thereby restore public trust

The former regime of commissioners (Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson [carried over to the current board] established a Citizens Review Committee after the overwhelming defeat of the commissioners' attempt to retain a 0.50 sales tax "imposed" by then commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos in December, 2008.

Not only was the imposition absolutely the politically wrong thing to do in Stark County,  its retention campaign was couched in repairing a broken 9-1-1.  Half of the proceeds of the imposed tax were for the county's general fund.  One had to dig deep to get to that part of the tax.

That deception was one more step in a parade of events over recent Stark County government history that has undermined Stark County citizen trust in "our" government.

For yours truly, a big factor in building mistrust (going back way before the tax imposition) is how local politicos have - for years -  treated taxpayer funds as a personal fiefdom from which to dispense public monies to their friends, political supporters and - indirectly - their relatives (by having an unrelated fellow office holder do the hiring) by putting them on the public payroll.  These are jobs that are supposed to be available to the taxpaying public-at-large.

Both of Stark County's political parties have and continue to appoint political loyalists to office with little if any regard for their qualifications to hold office.

More than a few Stark Countians believe that former treasurer Gary D. Zeigler was one such appointee.  He was appointed in 1999 to replace Mark Roach who was removed from office for failure to complete investment education requirements for a county treasurer.

On April 1, 2009 (nearly two years now), the news broke that Zeigler's Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen several ($2.96 in the opinion of federal judge John Adams) millions in Stark County taxpayer money.

While Zeigler has been exonerated by federal and county prosecutors in any involvement in the theft, the State of Ohio Auditor's Office (OAO) issued a report citing Zeigler for deficiencies in providing safeguards for the theft to have occurred in the first place.  Zeigler denied any such deficiencies and vowed to stay in office and did so until August 23rd of 2010 when Commissioners Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson removed him pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 321.38.

But this saga may not be over.  On Wednesday, the Ohio Supreme Court will consider whether or not to restore Zeigler to office.

Since Zeigler was removed from office, a series of replacements (Allbritain, Koher and Zumbar [the permanent replacement?]) have instituted the changes recommended by the OAO and more.  Still, Zumbar admits, more work remains.

The SCPR believes that there are consequences for all the breeches of public trust in county government which have occurred recently and which The Report believes continue to occur in a more subtle way.

For example, it is hard for yours truly to swallow that it is "public service" when a relative of a well-known, politically powerful public official ends up with a highly placed public job having moved from a teaching job that likely paid somewhere the $30,000 plus range (including benefits) to a county government job that pays in the range of $70,000/$75,000 (which includes benefits).

The move can't be public service from a remunerative standpoint a la Mark Kvamme, a California venture capitalist who is serving in the Kasich administration (as JobsOhio czar) for $1 per yer.

A justification of "this is a third generation" public employment doesn't necessarily wash either.  Such could be taken as evidence to the contrary.  Some Stark County families seem to have a sense of entitlement to public jobs. 

The Report's reaction is that if these folks want to justify, obviously they can do so ad nauseam

But for many of us (private sector folks), who, incidentally, do not buy such rationalizations, each time a politically well-connected person is hired in local government - the distrust grows.

If county government finds it imperative to hire a politically well-connected person, then government must step front and center and present its case - in full public view - of reasons why "this particular person" is so crucial to the job being filled that no search was conducted of the Stark County community-at-large and beyond.

Otherwise, the hire feeds the public perception/suspicion that "inside politics" was the primary reason for the hire and one more chapter and verse example of why "not" to trust government and accordingly be very sparing of supporting government financially at the ballot box.

The SCPR applauds the effort of the commissioners for requiring county officials to respond to the Citizens Review Committee report.  Many have done so and effectively so.  However, more work needs to be done with the Stark County clerk of courts (Nancy Reinbold) in terms of her explaining why she cannot be more specific as to how much money is outstanding and payable to the Stark County treasury for the county's court operations.

Also, the commissioner deserve plaudits for being out in the community meeting with Stark Countians on their turf.

What follows is a video clip of Commissioner Tom Bernabei outlining goals of the commissioners (in restoring trust) with Jackson Township residents on March 3rd.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

SCPR CITY HALL SERIES: HARPER VERSUS HAWK - CANTON WARD ONE


"I'm no Republican," he says.  But he ran as a Republican in the November, 2001 general election against Democrat Greg Hawk in Ward One - City of Canton.  That's the reality.

When the SCPR interviewed "Robert" (when running as a Republican) "Bob" Harper at the January coming out party for Mayor William J. Healy, II on his announcement that he was running for re-election for mayor of Canton, Harper was indignant that The Report had referred to his Republican credentials in blogs about the Harper/Hawk Democratic primary contest in 2009.


Harper also said that he is a former steelworker, as if a steelworker per se could not have Republican ties and that therefore the 2009 blogs had to be wrong.  Well, look at the graphic above.  Hmm!

Both times that Harper ran against Hawk (who has been councilperson in the 1st since 2001 when he ousted incumbent Democratic Councilman Robert Hunter), he has gotten beaten handily (percentage wise) in both races.


Notice in the video below how Harper chooses to put his 2009 loss to Hawk in terms of only 60 votes (actually 65) whereas in reality the more significant figure is the 58% to 42% shellacking he took in that race.  The disparity was even greater when Harper ran as a Republican 67% to 32%.

What's more, it appears to the SCPR that Harper has aligned with Mayor William J. Healy, II.  Harper denies the tie, but The Report believes that the reality is that he is Healy's man as the Mayor is incensed with the opposition he gets from Hawk from his council perch of being the chairman of the Canton City Council Finance Committee.

Hawk is Healy opponent William Smuckler's foremost supporter (in Canton government) in his challenge to unseat Healy.

It appears to the SCPR that Hawk is much more forthright than Harper and on this account alone the better choice for Ward One voters.  Moreover, as finance chair he has a grasp of Canton city finances that serves to keep the Healy administration more accountable than it might otherwise be. 

Here is a video of both Harper and Hawk which will serve to provide Ward One voters with a glimpse of each on some Canton City Council issues.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

CATAZARO-PERRY (THROUGH HER PROXY - JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR) SEEKS TO BRING OUTSIDERS INTO MASSILLON MAYORALTY RACE? HOW WILL MASSILLONIANS RESPOND?

 

In a rather naked "fear factor" play, the campaign of Kathy Catazaro-Perry, through one of its architects, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and current Massillon clerk of courts), is endeavoring to bring Tuscarawas Township residents into the Massillon mayoralty race.


Earlier this year Massillon Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. opened the door (perhaps, wisely; perhaps, unwisely) for prospective candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry (now filed) to bring "foreigners" into the Massillon mayor's contest.

Cichinelli, Jr., one of Stark County's most ardent economic development through annexation advocate and activist, came upon a plan to annex a mobile home development next in Tuscarawas Township which was adjacent to the Tuslaw schools.  The real prize was the Tuslaw schools and the sales of school district employees as a base to apply the Massillon city income tax rate to.

The Mayor earlier in the year authored an annexation to bring in (in a tortured way) the R.G. Drage vocational school complex which is located in Perry Township.  Again, the goal - get those teachers and their salary base added to the Massillon income tax formula.

Catazaro-Perry supported the R.G. Drage annexation move, but not the Tuslaw schools initiative.

Hmm?

Why the disparity.

Enter Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., his acolyte Shane Jackson and maybe even Municipal Court judge Edward Elum (all long time foes of Mayor Cichinelli).

Maier, a resident of Tuscarawas Township who is eligible to serve as/run for Massillon clerk of courts because Tuscarawas is part of the Massillon court district,  knows up close and personal of the rivalry between Tuscarawas/Tuslaw and Massillon.  Many of Tuscarawas' residents have exited Massillon, Canton and their like for the "rural" flavor (no zoning laws) Tuscarawas.

So why not use the Tuscarawas residents and their fear of ultimately being absorbed into Massillon proper as a campaign core to tromp through the neighborhoods of Massillon (door-to-door)?

It is getting increasingly difficult to get ground troops to staff door-to-door efforts. 

The SCPR doubts that Catazaro-Perry had the political foresight to see that in opposing the Tuslaw annexation, she would have the opportunity to tap into a Tuscarawas/Tuslaw campaign force.  But either Maier, Jackson or Elum (or a combination thereof, more likely) do and so it seems reasonable that such is the source of Catazaro-Perry playing playing politics with the issue.

What Tuscarawas Township residents need to ponder is this.  Should Catazaro-Perry become mayor, can they depend on this politician to keep her word?

Massillon, like many other local government entities, is under tremendous financial pressure to be able to balance it budget.  In fact, Mayor Cicchinelli has offered what The Report has told him is a "creative" budget.  It has the appearance of being both balanced and unbalanced:  only time will tell.

Beginning in July of this year, Massillon will begin to experience substantial state of Ohio local government funding cuts to continue through 2012 and 2013 with an added take away of Ohio estate tax revenues in 2013.

The pressure will be enormous on whomever is elected in November, 2011 to find additional sources of revenues.

So it could be that the Catazaro-Perry folks are correct, the Tuslaw annexation could be revisited.

Of course the Catzaro-Perry campaign wants Tuscarawas volunteers to "assume" (a_ _ out of 'u' and 'me') that Cicchinelli alone is to be feared on this score.

Not so quick folks.

The SCPR knows politicians well enough to caution that, if political factors dictate such, they - the politicians - can and do find a way to betray their promises, implied or otherwise. 

If elected mayor, Catzaro-Perry's sole obligation is to the residents of Massillon.  There should be no doubt that she will revisit the Tuslaw matter (probably through a proxy arrangement) if it appears that such is the shortest route towards solving Massillon's financial problems; even if in the short term.

In addition to Tuscarawas/Tuslaw residents being set up for ending up having been "politically bamboozled" into supporting a candidate who has no accountability to them, there is the phenomenon of Massillonians having their mayor - indirectly - chosen by non-Massillon factors.

Think about it.  Here you have a Tuscarawas Township resident (Johnnie A. Maier, Jr) playing a lead role along with his "go-fer" chief deputy clerk of court (Shane Jackson - a Perry Township resident) formulating a campaign plan for Catazaro-Perry for mayor to be primarily staffed by Tuscarawas Township residents.

Hmm?

Friday, March 18, 2011

THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY - PART I - IN A SERIES: HEALY TRYING TO DERAIL STARK 9-1-1 CONSOLIDATION & MERGER OF BUILDING DEPARTMENTS "FOR THE SAKE OF POLITICS."


It seems that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is out to use his well honed "divide and conquer" strategy to set Canton and Stark County back in terms of derailing the efforts to consolidate building departments throughout the county and to consolidate emergency 9-1-1 dispatching services.

In this blog the SCPR deals with Healy's effort to undermine the mergers of the building departments.

On Wednesday morning, the Mayor telephoned Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson - apparently - to give Commissioner Ferguson (a Democrat) the lowdown on why a report by the CANTON STARK COUNTY BUILDING DEPARTMENTS IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE (formed jointly by Ferguson and Healy primary opponent:  Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler) to be issued at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, needed some work.

Ferguson tells the SCPR he has no idea how Healy got a copy of the report before the official release time

As soon as Ferguson figured out what Healy was up to, he stopped the Mayor in his tracks telling him that he wanted to read the report fresh and form his own assessment.

SCPR readers can view the entire committee report (the committee chaired by former Stark County Commissioner Tom Harmon) at the end of this blog.

Commissioner Ferguson is a board member of Canton Tomorrow (CT), as is Healy.  Ferguson tells The Report that at yesterday morning's CT meeting Healy said that he has been working on the building department consolidations going back three years.

Ferguson's response:  "not true!"


Now why would Healy be dumb enough to incur the wrath of Doctor Peter Ferguson by trying to massage him on the report.

Ferguson is a chiropractor of long standing in Canton and is beloved by many, many Cantonians.  And he has no desire whatsoever to get in the middle of the primary fight between Healy and Smuckler.
However, the consolidation/merger of county/city departments of government is a "really, really big thing" for Doc Ferguson.  And though he is the quintessential "nice guy," you gotta believe that Healy messing with his pet project will likely prompt Ferguson (at least privately) to tell Cantonian Democrats, who value his opinion, to support Smuckler.

Ferguson himself is likely to be running for reelection next year and The Report believes he wants to be in a position of having pulled off a very difficult thing to do:  get - territorial by their very nature - departments of local government to come together in the name of efficiencies and effectiveness in a common goal of serving citizens in a better way.

It is not lost on Ferguson that to be an agent of healing (being the doctor he is) is a very good position to be with the voting public come November, 2012.

Apparently, Ferguson's commitment is lost on "Hizzhonor."

Healy is a politician who thinks that in any assembly, he is the brightest person in the room who can manipulate anything in the direction he wants it to be perceived.

And he only tolerates close in advisers who constantly reaffirm his own estimate of himself.

If there is a more audacious Stark County public official than Healy, The Report has not met him/her.

Anyone who knows Healy's Democratic primary opponent Bill Smuckler, is clear that Smuckler is the most committed, passionate and long term in promoting regionalism and local government consolidations/mergers of any Stark County public official.

And that is the rub with Healy.

If he sees a "political advantage Smuckler" in a program or policy dealing with a Canton issue, The Report believes he will find one way or another to scuttle/alter the program/policy to his liking, even if there is a clear public benefit the way it is.

For Mayor Healy, it is and always has been since January 1, 2008 (the date on which he took office as mayor) been pretty much:  "my way or the highway!"

Between now and May 3rd (the date of the primary), the SCPR will being doing a series of blogs on the back and forth between Healy and Smuckler.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly has not been gushing about Bill Smuckler as a candidate for mayor of Canton.  The reason being is that he has been a part of Canton government going back many, many years and The Report questions how Canton can be heading in a downward spiral (according to Canton Council President Allen Schulman) and Smuckler not bear some of the responsibility.

Candidate Smuckler has agreed to do an interview with the SCPR in the near future.  The Report anticipates putting specific questions to this bulwark of Canton City Council (Council) as to what ownership he has - by virtue of long time service/leadership in Council - in his view, for the many problems that now plague Canton.

More importantly, what are his plans for a turnabout to get Canton headed in the right direction.
Here is the full CANTON STARK COUNTY BUILDING DEPARTMENTS IMPROVEMENT COMMITTEE report.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

AS PREDICTED BY THE SCPR IN NOVEMBER, 2010 - REVOLDT "BOLTS" FOR COLUMBUS! IS MAYOR HELD NEXT?



Revised at 8:15 AM

North Canton Council President Daryl Revoldt left a message (1:08 p.m.) on the SCPR phone yesterday confirming what The Report has been reporting since November, 2010 that he is heading to Columbus in one capacity or another.  He is to be the director of legislative affairs and outreach for the Ohio Department of Development at a salary of $92,000 per year.

He and fellow North Cantonian have steadfastly denied to The Report that information to the effect they were seeking employment with the newly elected Republican administration of John Kasich was accurate.  However, The Report was not buying the denials and Revoldt's landing of a job appears to be confirmation that his finger has been in the Kasich political waters all along.

Though he has not yet gotten a job, The Report believes that Held would accept a Kasich administration job in a heartbeat if offered and, moreover, the SCPR believes that Held is not sitting idly by and waiting for spontaneity to generate an offer for him.


While The Report had things somewhat reversed in November, look for Mayor David Held to eventually join Revoldt in Columbus.  Not in the economic development department.  More likely he will land in some sort of environmental connected job.  He is the executive director of the Stark-Wayne-Tuscarawas Solid Waste District.

With the selection of Revoldt for the Kasich administration economic development post, North Canton's remaining city councilperson and the Held administration can breathe a sigh of relief.

Why does The Report say that?

Well, there has been some concern on the part of city officials that North Canton may be on the hook - out of its own budget - for some $5 million in Jobs Ready Site (JRS) monies that it received from the Ohio Department of Economic Development to rehab the former Hoover factory in conjunction with Maple Street Commerce in partnership with Industrial Realty Group, LLC (IRG) headed up by Californian Stuart Lichter.

Revoldt and Held are the two main players from North Canton's perspective in working with Lichter to salvage something of the departure of The Hoover Company from central city North Canton.

While the project has not been everything that Revoldt and Held ballyhoo about it (i.e. claiming the production of some 600 jobs whereas the reality is, perhaps, 400 to 500 net jobs to replace the 2400 or so Hoover jobs); the North Canton effort probably outshines any other economic development activity in Stark County.


A Strickland administration official recently demanded of North Canton certain records documenting full compliance with JRS requirements.

With Revoldt's appointment, city officials should be able to relax. 

While the JRS concern may be solved, North Canton along with every other Stark County and Ohio local government has new financial concerns.

Revoldt's new employer - the Kasich administration - is cutting local government funding 50% over the next two years.  Moreover, Kasich is reneging on Ohio's promise to hold localities harmless on losses from the Republican dominated Ohio General Assembly's rework of corporate taxation with the phase out of Ohio's tangible personal property tax with a commercial activities tax (CAT).  And, in 2013, the Republicans will be eliminating Ohio's estate tax 80% of which goes to local governments.

Revoldt, as councilperson, recently lectured former state Representative Todd Snitchler on the damage the Legislature would do in making sudden and draconian cuts in funding to local government.

If Revoldt is anything he is a team player.  He has a storied Republican Party connection and history, to wit:
  • a city councilman for 17 years
  • mayor of North Canton for three years
  • chief of staff and district director for former Republican congressman Ralph Regula
  • Region 9 (based in Akron) economic development director
  • a member of the Stark County Republican Party executive committee
While he may have private misgivings about the direction the Kasich administration is heading in with regard to Ohio's local government funding, Stark Countians can be sure he will not be opening his mouth from his inside position to protest the move.

Revoldt gets upset when city officials go off the reservation on the official line that has been generally agreed upon by city leaders.  He firmly believes that local government leaks that indicate internal discord and disagreement are a deterrent to new business starting up in or relocating to North Canton.

The SCPR believes that Revoldt took his proactive economic development view into realm of the ridiculous a year so ago when he had city officials contact Acme Fresh Market and advise them that they had failed to take advantage of a property tax abatement their $2 million remodel of the North Canton store.

But all-in-all North Canton will miss Revoldt.  He, in the opinion of the SCPR, has been the most knowledgeable and accomplished North Canton official. 

The Report does not see anyone in the current mix who can replace him. 

With the anti-local-government (in terms of funding) coming from Kasich combining with a void of creative, energetic and bold day-to-day leadership in the city, The Report looks for North Canton to struggle as the city has never before. 

As Hoover is permanently removed from the North Canton landscape, so it seems that Revoldt's Columbus employment means that there will not be yet another return of Daryl Revoldt to the North Canton political/government scene.

The SCPR wishes Daryl Revoldt the very best in Columbus; not only for his own sake, but for the well-being of all Ohioans!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

(VIDEO) CANTON LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO EXPLAINS HOW SB5 (COLLECTIVE BARGAINING) COULD PUT A CRINKLE IN CANTON'S LABOR/MGT RELATIONS. CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE IS ON THE WAY!


Obviously and predictably, organized labor is against the Ohio Republican Party's plan to curtail the bargaining rights of unions under Senate Bill 5.  The bill has passed the Senate and is nearing passage in the Ohio House.

But unions are NOT the only ones opposed to the bill.  A number of Ohio city councilpersons and administrators are against it.

Last night Mansfield City Council was considering passage of a non-binding resolution.  The Mansfield News Journal reports the anti SB5 sentiments thusly:
The resolution says SB 5 prohibits local government employees from negotiating benefit plan coverage and to set local community-based policy standards, resulting in an unfunded state mandate and impeding management efficiency and the effective use of tax dollars. It also says elimination of bargaining rights will result in more discontent, lower morale and higher rates of absence, abuse of rules and dismissal of honest attempts to work in collaboration.
What is missing from the Mansfield action is that passage of the bill could save Ohio's local governments (including cities) significant amounts of money.

What local government managers appear to value (including Canton's) over monetary savings is labor peace. 

Although Martuccio acknowledged in a talk to city officials (see video below) on March 8 (at Mayor Healy's monthly budget forum) that cities could reap financial benefits from the Ohio General Assembly legislation, it seemed clear - from the March 8th meeting and other city official public expressions - to the SCPR that Martuccio and his fellows in Canton city government do not relish telling affected city workers that they - because of the legislation - are being cut in their income.

If the cuts do eventually take place, it seems near certain that they will occur only after the voters of Ohio have endorsed the legislative action in a constitutional referendum.   Organized labor and their friends are set to spearhead an effort to put the question before Ohioans on November's ballot.

A spin off of a vote on such a referendum could be it having an effect on Canton's mayoralty race.

On the surface, it might seem to favor whichever candidate comes out of the the Democratic primary.  Pro-union voters will be out in spades in locales like Canton.  Either Republican candidate (Gerig or Conde) has a tough way to go in Canton with its 9 to 1 Democratic voter registration majority.  But add onto that a high pro-union turnout on a SB 5 repeal effort and it might be that the tough becomes impossible.

However, such might not be the case.

Yesterday, the Canton Profession Firefighters Association (CPFFA) Local 249 union endorsed Republican Conde.  Not a move that either Democrat (Healy or Smuckler) is pleased to see.  


Smuckler would appear to have more of a problem garnering union support than Healy should he be the Dems nominee.  


Recalling the large union turnout when Healy formally announced for mayor earlier this year, it might be that Conde (in light of the firefighters endorsement) has a chance to get additional union support should he be the GOP nominee and Healy is not the Democrat nominee.   Or, at the very least, get unions neutralized.


Here is Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio speaking on SB 5 and its possible ramifications on cities: