Monday, October 31, 2011

(VIDEO: CANDIDATES ON STATE ISSUE #2) IS "THIRD PLACE" OF THREE SEATS UP FOR ELECTION FOR NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL THE ONLY UNRESOLVED QUESTION?


Yesterday, the SCPR had discussions with two of North Canton's leading political figures as whom among the five candidates for North Canton City Council (NCCC - Council) is likely to win on November 8th.



 The first two winners seemed to be easy to come by:  unanimous Marcia Kiesling, who has been on Council since 2002, and newbie Mark Cerreta, who was appointed earlier this year when Daryl Revoldt left to join the Kasich administration in the economic development department.

One would think that Kiesling is likely to come in first.  However, Cerreta who has been tabbed by some as being "Mister North Canton" might surprise us in that regard.  If Cerreta pulls off a surprise he will have bested a person who in her own right might qualify to be "Missus North Canton."

The real question seems to be:  who will come in third?

If name ID were going to be the deciding criterion, former Councilman Chuck Osborne would appear to be the obvious choice.

However, rightly or wrongly, Osborne is beleaguered by having to wear - in the minds of many influential North Cantonians - the label of being a political curmudgeon who is picky, picky, picky to a fault and thereby would be a disruptive factor if elected to Council.

Moreover, he is the only Democrat running in a solidly Republican town.

He may still win given his very high name ID, but if he were viewed more positively by North Canton's kingmakers he seemingly would be a slam-dunk for one of the top three spots (if not the top spot) for one of the three positions in the North Canton council-at-large race at stake in this election.

The prognosticator panel of three all agree that Osborne has shot himself in the political foot over the nearly ten years since he was last in Council and therefore would be a surprise winner if he were to overcome what appears to be a self-inflicted political disability.

If not Osborne, then whom?

Answer (from the "informal" panel:  Dan Griffith.

A political newcomer, this lawyer - formerly for Black McCuskey of Canton and now employed by Premier Bank and Trust in its trust department - impresses the panel members as coming across as more polished and command of the issues facing North Canton than Alan Wells.

Here is a video of all three candidates speaking to the matter of Issue 2 (the anti-collective bargaining initiative) which will affect North Canton's relationship with union employees and is on the November 8th ballot.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

POLITICS MESS UP THE FACTS, BUT THERE ARE FACTS!


Hat's off to Ed Balint of The Repository (Canton ambulance debate boils down to budget, OT [today's online edition] for trying to clear matters up on the "true" cost of keeping the Canton fire stations fully staffed, but after reading his examination, the SCPR comes away thinking that getting a grip on who is right and who is wrong between Healy, Ream and Carcione [and in the background - Healy mayoral opponent A.R. "Chip" Conde] remains a puzzle.

Healy, Ream (Healy's safety director), Carcione and/or Conde (endorsed by Carcione's Local 249, Canton Firefighters Association) are exactly the wrong persons to talk to if one wants to get to the actual facts of the matter.

To greater or lesser degrees, they are all "spin" artists on the issue in service of  their particular political interests.

There is however one person in Canton government - if given agreed upon "apples to apples" criteria who likely could settle the dispute once and for all with exact numbers.

Who might that be?

Gary Young:  who is one of the leaders of the Canton auditors department headed up by elected Auditor Richard Mallonn.

Young may be the most respected and trusted government employee in all of Stark County, if not all of Ohio.  

The SCPR talked with Young right after the Healy/Conde debate in early October.

Young could not forthrightly address the question The Report posed to him (Who is correct, Healy or Conde?) because it is obvious to Young and yours truly that they (the candidates) had used different criteria in the debate, again, in service of their respective political agendas.

As close as Young could come was to tell The Report via a "gestimate" that the truth was somewhere in the middle.

Such could not have been a comfortable thing for Young to have done.  For he is a numbers man who does not massage, he does not manipulate, and he has no political agenda.  Agree on precise criteria and he will provide the numerical truth of the matter.

Of course, neither Healy (Ream) nor Conde (Carcione) want precision.

If the truth were zeroed in on, it would be politically uncomfortable for Healy for Cantonians to learn that his exaggerated number of $1 million is just that and that the voters may conclude that he has been willing to jeopardize their safety in service of his political agenda.

If the truth were zeroed in on, it would be po0litically uncomfortable for Conde for Cantonians to learn that his "Canton can make a profit with ambulance service" is politically contrived and thereby put into question for Canton's voters as to whether or not he is all that different (as he likes to project) from known political spin artist William J. Healy.

If it is the truth you want, set the criteria and then give Canton Auditor Gary Young a call.

He can provide substance to the biblical injunction:  THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

WHAT A START! GOP STATE REP. CHRISTINA HAGAN HASN'T BEEN ELECTED TO ANYTHING, BUT SHE HAS TAPPED IN TO LOBBY/SPECIAL INTEREST MONEY BIG TIME: ABOUT 95% OF HER CONTRIBUTIONS!


Republican Christina Hagan (Marlboro) was appointed at state representative for the 50th Ohio House District early this year.

Her predecessor, Todd Snitchler, had run for reelection had soundly defeated Democrat and former Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley.  But when he woke up the morning after the election, it dawned on him there was a better role for him as a point man for newly elected Republican Governor John Kasich.

Kasich, who described Snitchler as being "wicked, smart," tabbed him to be chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) shortly after the election.

Hagan (whose father, John, represented the 50th from 2000 - 2008 and got term limited out of the House) rushed in to fill the void.  Though many other Stark County Republicans were better qualified to get the appointment (at last report - has not finished her undergraduate college work and had been working as a server in a local restaurant), father John went to work for her and pulled off getting her the appointment.

It is one thing getting an appointment, but it is something else getting elected.

The SCPR hears that she may be getting primary opposition and most certainly Stark's Democrats will want to take advantage of her novice status and field a candidate that has a realistic chance (the 50th is gerrymandered to have a Republican tilt) to defeat her before she gets entrenched.

One Democratic possibility is Louis Giavasis (who is an 18 year Plain Township trustee).

So goal number one for Christina is to build the campaign warchest.

As can be seen in the graphic above, Hagan started out with $0 and now she has (as of the July report, you can bet that it is substantially higher now) $11, 580.

Everyday citizens would likely hope that she do a substantial part of her political fund raising from the rank-and-file citizenry and not Columbus beltway lobbyists and political action committees (PACs).

Everydays hope that someone like Hagan might actually pay attention to their interest.

It appears that they will have no voice in Columbus with Christina Hagan.

The SCPR's examination of her July, 2011 semi-annual Ohio required campaign finance report shows (by The Report's analysis) that 95% of the $11,580 came from PACs, lobbyists and others with special interests that are the subject matter of legislation that comes before members of the Ohio General Assembly.

Undoubtedly, as she campaigns for the GOP primary nomination (which ought to win easily) and beyond for retention (not re-election; remember she hasn't been elected to anything), she will tell voters that she is working hard in the Legislature.

No one will likely dispute that.

The telling question for voters in her "newly" configured district (which includes Giavasis, who has been in Kirk Schuring's) in the light of the 95% PAC, lobbyist, special interest rate of contributions is not whether she is working hard BUT WHO SHE IS WORKING HARD FOR!

Here are extracts from Ohio secretary of state records on her July, 2011 filing.  Following the PAC and individual (including lobbyist and special interest; except for Phil Davision) contributions is a series of graphics which provides information on some of "individual" contributors.


Friday, October 28, 2011

(VIDEO OF LWV FORUM DISCUSSION ON ISSUE) WOULD CHUCK OSBORNE BE A "DISRUPTION" IF HE WERE ELECTED TO NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL?


The SCPR senses that there is unease these days among North Canton City Council (NCC - Council) members on the possibility that former Councilman Chuck Osborne might be elected to Council on November 8th.


For at least a decade Democrat Osborne has been a force to be reckoned with in political/governmental circles in North Canton.

In 2001 Osborne was elected to Council with the highest vote total of all five candidates for three Council positions.

Osborne had an opportunity to build on his election to become a dominant force somewhat like former Republican Councilman Daryl Revoldt (twice a councilman [also a president of Council] and mayor of North Canton) who is now working for Republican Governor John Kasich on economic development matters as he formerly did for former Republican Governor Bob Taft.

However, Osborne does not have the political and relational skills that Revoldt has and consequently soon fell out of favor with North Canton voters.

So the question becomes:  why?

On Wednesday evening the Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) had a candidates forum for the at-large candidates for NCC.


The SCPR's take on LWV forums is that they are the least informative of all the venues for candidate presentation because moderator Dick Kuhn clamps down real quick on discussions when they get direct and personal.

Yes, such exchanges can get a little messy.  But democracy at its finest is messy.  And for the likes of Kuhn to thwart the processes of democratic dialogue is why The Report is not enthusiastic for LWV presentations.

Wednesday night was somewhat of an exception for the hoity-toity LWV types in that they allowed a question that was on everybody's mind but was not likely to be permitted by Kuhn (in the SCPR's experience) to be put to the candidates.

The responses of the candidates were interesting to say the least (reference: the video at the end of this blog to see the the complete exchange):

Osborne defended his way of being as between himself and Council, to wit:
  • fell back on an opening of the forum remark by Moderator Kuhn (i.e. 'the press spins the news, partial reporting; that's the way it has been") in obvious reference to The Repository's anti-Chuck Osborne (pro-North Canton Council) stance.  In other words, apparently, The Rep has misreported or insufficiently reports an authentic description of Osborne's relationship with Council.
  • Council treats him differently than others addressing them on the Public Speaks (PS) portion of Council's agenda.  According to Osborne, he is reigned in to be in compliance to individual PS time limitations whereas others are given carte blanche to go on and on in violation of Council's time standards.
  • his tense relationship with Council is grounded on his making Council accountable because he has done his research on issues and they have no answer and consequently they resort to personal attacks on his credibility.
  • Council baits him into making disruptive outbursts by spinning what he has said by undermining what he has said in his PS remarks
Other to admit - implicitly - that he gets out-of-line "occasionally," Osborne does not square up with the base question as to whether or not he can work in a non-combative way with the rest of Council, if elected.

Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling (first elected to Council along with Osborne (and Kathy Magel) in 2001 says that she has worked well with Osborne in the two years spent on Council about 10 years ago and there is no reason to believe that he would be a problem if elected this year, but then belies (in the opinion of the SCPR) that statement by going on to comparing him to her irrepressible ten year old.

She tries to cast an maternal understanding on Osborne's outbursts which is hardly the type of relationship that voters expect of collegial Counsel members.

In essence, notwithstanding her literal words to the contrary, The Report interprets her remarks "in reality" as being a negative on Osborne's ability to work with Council in a politically mature manner.

To his credit, Councilman Mark Cerreta does not try to deal with the question.

Cerreta has been on Council long enough (since being appointed to replace Revoldt) to know how Osborne operates vis-a-vis Council (which included one occasion in which then Council President Revoldt had Osborne escorted by a North Canton policeman out of Council). 

The SCPR in the several years of covering North Canton Council has seen numerous reactions on Council members' parts in which they express their dissatisfaction (in public and privately) with Osborne's approach to Council.

The SCPR's point is a belief that Kiesling's response to the question on Wednesday was disingenuous and not indicative of the actual view that most, if not all, Council members have of Osborne, to wit:  that he is as a citizen addressing Council and would be as Council person be disruptive.

The Report sees value in Osborne continuing to appear before Council as a citizen who is always consummately prepared and press Council (with in time limits - which Counsel needs to apply even handed way) in a "check and balance" sort of way to justify their decisions.

It appears to yours truly that there are disagreements on key issues affecting North Canton's future between Council members that do not make it out into public view (where they belong in a democracy) in service of a desire to paint an artificial picture harmony.

But the remedy of this Council shortcoming is not:   having Osborne on Council.

Implicit in his remarks on Wednesday last is a realization that "he takes the bait" and loses control "on occasion."

Moreover, Osborne has a tendency to take a technical point of Council insufficiency and "gild the lily" on it so as to turn off those who otherwise admire the work he does.

Osborne needs to use the next two years (until the next election) to show in he can manage himself to change his interaction with Council from the PS lectern.
  • No more outbursts from the audience.  
  • No more standing at the lectern and continuing to talk on when he has been told that his time has expired.
  • and, putting Council miscues in the context of broader take of an overall issue (i.e. not failing to see the forest for the trees).
In defense of Osborne, the North Canton should know that a lot of Osborne's information about non-public issues and planning et cetera that goes on in North Canton government comes to him in conversations he has (or more correctly, has had) with various members of Council chief among whom is Councilman Jeff Davies.

Osborne has shared with yours truly numerous matters which Davies has held counsel with Osborne on and then  (according to Osborne) has nary a word to say about in public Council meetings when a given topic is brought up.

If such is the case, Osborne needs to learn the adage:  "first time, shame on you; second time, shame on me."

Why would he keep going back to such a source?

Also, The Report believes at least one Council member "pulls Osborne's leg" with disinformation designed to get an - in the public, before Council at Public Speaks - reaction.

Such conduct, if true, is unbecoming of public officials and needs to stop now!  Additionally, Osborne needs to be more discerning as to whom he is getting information from.

The SCPR's point in bringing up the Davies and annoymous things is to suggest that these Council members need to clean up their own acts and thereby assist Osborne to getting to the place that he achieves a public perception of being a consistently valuable asset to the processes and substance of North Canton government.

Every government unit in America needs solid, knowledgeable citizen participation and involvement and North Canton has a ready, willing and potentially able such person in Chuck Osborne.

Perhaps in two years henceforth Osborne can bring his superior knowledge of North Canton government (acknowledged by nearly everyone who has seen him in action) to the table for North Cantonians to consider in the context of having reined himself in and thereby being fully capable of being a non-disruptive, in fact, positive, constructive asset to Council.

Given his history vis-a-vis Council since being off Council (December 31, 2002), the SCPR thinks it is problematical, if not predictable, that the well-meaning Osborne would be a disruptive force if elected this time around.

Osborne believes he will be elected this time around.

A number of North Canton political/government figures do not agree, largely because the believe that North Canton's voters picture him as being a polarizing figure who would likely embroil Council in unhelpful conflict and debate.

Nonetheless, they are nervous about the possibilities.

And, perhaps, for good reason.

Name familiarity is a big factor with many voters because of their unpreparedness of knowing the candidates and their stands on issues.

In North Canton politics, there is probably no name that strikes a cord with the citizenry than the name: CHUCK OSBORNE.

Here is the video of Wednesday nights discussion on the issue of whether or not Chuck Osborne would be divisive as a member of North Canton City Council, if elected:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

(VIDEOS OF BERNABEI & FERGUSON; ALSO ZUMBAR REACTION) DEMOCRAT CANTON COUNCILWOMAN CIRELLI, DEMOCRAT COMMISSIONERS BERNABEI & FERGUSON SUPPORT STARK DEM CENTRAL COMMITTEE SELECTING REPUBLCAN ALEX ZUMBAR TO FILL OUT ZEIGLER TERM AS STARK TREASURER. "ERA OF GOOD FEELING" COMES TO STARK POLITICS?




UPDATED AT 9:15 AM

It has only happened once in American history.

What's that?

A political "era of good feeling," that's what!
The Era of Good Feelings was a period in United States  political history in which partisan bitterness abated. It lasted approximately from 1816 to 1824, during the administration of U.S. President James Monroe, who deliberately downplayed partisanship. (Wikipedia)
But it may be that Stark County politicos are about to bury the political hatchet with the result that the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP - SCDPCC) may select Republican interim Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar as the replacement for recently retired/resigned Stark Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler.

By Ohio law, Stark Democrats have the obligation to appoint someone and the right to appoint "one of their own" to replace Zeigler.  And it makes political sense that they will do exactly that.  For any chance that the Dems might have at retaining the office at next November's election will ride on appointing a well known (countywide) Democrat.

Such a person would have a year to "serve with distinction" and thereby create a public perception that he/she has a record of service deserving of election somewhat on a par with Zumbar.

Being in the political position (chair of the SCDP) he is in, Randy Gonzalez to the Dem party faithful is to do as outlined in the two paragraphs above.

However, he is under substantial pressure to usher in a Stark County political "era of good feeling."

Yesterday, Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli issued this press release:  (immediately below the Cirelli press release is a response email from Stark Co Dem Chair Randy Gonzalez)


Additionally, at the conclusion of yesterday's county commissioners meeting the SCPR recorded the thoughts of both Commissioner Bernabei and Ferguson on the matter of the SCDP-CC appointing Zumbar, to wit:



The SCPR went across the hall from the commissioners office to get Treasurer Zumbar's reaction, here is the video of his response:




Monday, October 31st will tell the tale of whether or not Stark County's organized Democrats have the political maturity to do what appears to be the best thing for the citizens of Stark County - appoint Republican Alex Zumbar to fill out the unexpired portion of former Treasurer Gary Zeigler's term.

"Era of good feeling" or not, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

STARK CHIEF DEPUTY MIKE MCDONALD TELLS SCPR HE "MAY" BE WITHDRAWING FROM STARK SHERIFF'S CONTEST DUE TO HEALTH CONCERNS



UPDATED AT 4:25 PM

The Stark County Political Report has learned (confirmed by McDonald) that Chief Deputy McDonald (Stark County Sheriff - Jail Division ) is pondering whether or not to withdraw as a candidate to succeed Sheriff Tim Swanson.

The SCPR has been hearing reports of McDonald having a very serious health condition that may necessitate him abandoning his planned run.

McDonald has been ahead of the pack in obtaining and filing petitions with the Stark County Board of Elections.  His has been filed for some time.

McDonald is not revealing the nature of his illness as he says that doctors have not yet made a specific determination.  He went on to say that he should know within a week or so as to whether or not the illness is of such a gravity that he will have to withdraw his candidacy.

Look for Republican Larry Dordea to pick up petitions after the Alliance City Council elections.  The Report is told by a person close to Dordea that he is definitely going to run.

The Report speculates that Dordea is holding off so as not to jeopardize his chances of being re-elected and thereby preserving the opportunity of the Stark County Republican Party to appoint a successor if he resigns in the event of his election as Stark County sheriff.

Yours truly has learned that at least one other Republican, namely; Gary Shankle, a captain in the patrol division of the Stark County Sheriff's department until he retired in January of this year, has taken out petitions (on Monday of this week) to run for sheriff.

When asked for a reaction about Shankle's taking out of petitions and the certitude of whether or not he was going to run, Dordea declined to comment.

Before McDonald threw his hat into the ring, Jackson Township Chief of Police David Zink, a Democrat, told The Report he was considering such a run.

(VIDEO: "OccupyCanton" - HOW LONG CAN IT ENDURE?


#OccupyCanton Founder Micah Miller (a student at Kent State Stark) says that the movement is here to stay through the winter.

Pardon yours truly for being skeptical.

On a bright, sunny day with the temperatures in the 60s only about 30 people showed up to OccupyCanton's second event in a city that is a ghost down at high noon on a Saturday.

Yours truly was out of town on October 15th and was therefore unable to cover OccupyCanton's initial event.

While The Repository did cover the first event and reported about 100 participants, no one from The Rep appeared to be present this past Saturday.  The Report is told that the 100 figure was a generous count.

However, Stark County's participants can take comfort that they are part of a much larger movement with its focal point two blocks from Wall Street in New York City.  It began on September 17th.

There has been a lot of confusion as to what the movement is all about.  Here is a statement written and sent out by the organizers of Occupy New York City, to wit:
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, formerly divided by the color of our skin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or lack thereof, political party and cultural background, we acknowledge the reality: that there is only one race, the human race, and our survival requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their brethren; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
 The SCPR shot extensive video of the event and has compiled a representation of what occurred on Saturday.

As indicated above, the SCPR is highly skeptical of this group's ability to sustain their protest.

The next event is set for Sunday of this week inasmuch as Miller says he does not think OccupyCanton can compete with CantonMcKinley/Massillon football.

It appears to The Report that Miller is engaging in an exercise of kidding himself. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011:  a very nice day weather wise and The Ohio State University Buckeye football team was on a bye week.

Things do not get much better than that, right?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FORMER STATE REP. JOHN HAGAN SAYS HE IS FOR "STARVING THE BEAST OF GOV'T" THAT IS - UNTIL HIS PERSONAL INTEREST IS AT STAKE. DAUGHTER CHRISTINA IS JUST AS HYPOCRITCAL. YOU CAN THROW IN KIRK SCHURING AND SCOTT OELSLAGER FOR GOOD MEASURE


UPDATE AT 9:15 AM

Stark Countians should want to gag the next time they hear the likes of Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro-the 50th), John Hagan (R-Marlboro-trustee), Kirk Schuring (R-Jackson-the 51st) and Scott Oelslager (R-Plain-the 29th [Senate] talk about fiscal responsibility and the need to cut the size of government.

Christina, Kirk and Scott voted last week to spend $15 million of Ohio taxpayer money via House Bill 318 in furtherance of the Republican cause of gerrymandering of Ohio's congressional delegation in setting up two primaries next spring (one in March for state offices, the other in May for federal offices).


Earlier this year Oelslager and Schuring (Hagan was absent) appeared before a Stark County commissioners work session that was lead by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath in which she pled with them (remember the Republicans control both houses of the Ohio General Assembly by wide margins) to do something about a specific list of unfunded state mandates that stress the finances of local government.

It was amusing to see Schuring, for one, taking copious notes.

The last that the SCPR checked with Judge Heath (several weeks ago), precious little had been done by Stark's three Republicans to cure the listed inequities.

To The Report, Schuring's note taking was for the effect of appearing to care and ostensibly preparing to do something?

He has shown yours truly over a number of years of observation that he is a master at that sort of thing.

As seen in the vote above, all three (Hagan, Oelslager and Schuring) could act to absolve counties of additional board of elections expense (which, of course, would have been an "unfunded mandate" had they not done so) in a heartbeat.

But they had to have a partisan political interest.

Only days earlier the Ohio Supreme Court had ruled that the Ohio Democratic Party has the right to collect signatures to put up for a vote HB 319 which is enacted legislation whereby Republicans gerrymandered Ohio's congressional delegation designed to ensure Republican control of the delegation for at least the next ten years.

So rush, rush, rush!

The Republicans pushed through HB 318 (the two primary bill) in an attempt to call the Democrats bluff.  Republicans are betting that Ohio's Chris Redfern (the Ohio Dems chairman) Democrats cannot collect over 200,000 signatures to give Ohioans the right to say "enough is enough" with partisan (Republican and Democrats alike) configuration of congressional district to defeat the "one-man, one-vote" principle of our representative form of government.

"Oh, by the way," the legislative Republicans in effect say "we show you in this legislation that we have heard you on 'unfunded mandates' and you the the taxpayer does not have to pick up the $15 million tab in county context - we'll spread the bill for purely partisan politics across all of Ohio and have Republicans (who do not buy into gerrymandering), Democrats, independents, Libertarians conscripted into the service of our cause."


Can't get more disingenuous and abusive of the state treasury than that!

What's more, Hagan, Oelslager and Schuring can't get anything done about Stark's unfunded mandate problem brought up by Judge Heath except when it involves trying to avoid the political flack they would get in burdening local government with purely partisan use of the local finances.

Now, getting specifically down to the Hagans and their unmitigated hypocrisy on fiscal responsibility.

Several weeks ago, county officials showed up on the doorstep of Marlboro Township Trustee John P. Hagan.

Stark County government is in a fight for its financial life.  Among the Republicans who have been to township hall include Republican Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and local attorney and prominent Republican Jeff Jakmides.

The quest?

To get the Marlboro trustees to pass a resolution supporting the proposed county sales tax of 0.5% coming up on the 8th of next month.

Response?

Apparently bullied (a source tells The Report that privately Trustees Edelman and Schillig support the levy) by John Hagan, the trustees refused to do so.

The Report is told that Hagan said something to the effect "we need to start somewhere to starve the beast of government."

Of course, he wouldn't want to start "starving the beast" with Ohio General Assembly where he lobbied long and hard to get his "still in college, restaurant server" daughter appointed to the Ohio House at $60,000 plus a year.

Of course, he wouldn't want to start "starving the beast" in counseling daughter Christina to vote "no" on the Ohio Republican Party raid on the Ohio treasury.

Of course, he wouldn't want to start "starving the beast" with the amount of money trustees get paid (he gets $11,318 at Marlboro) and the benefits many of them get.  

Of course, he wouldn't want to start "starving the beast" in the face of having run for Stark County commissioner in 2008 looking to replace his state legislator salary with some $76,000 in Stark County taxpayer money.

A man who hates government, except he loves personal and immediate benefits of government!

Talk about a person who aspires to be perpetually on the public tit (entitlement?), but then gets real sanctimonious when when his personal and direct interest is at play?

Hypocrisy is not strong enough word, but that's the best the English language provides.

There is no doubt that it is getting more and more difficult for those with governing responsibilities to govern.

The SCPR, for one, does not want the hear the governors complain.  The have and continue to bring the public's distrust of them on themselves.

A few years ago we had the birth of the modern Tea Party.  Now we are seeing the start up of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Citizens seem to be getting really, really mad at their governments these days from main street to Wall Street, from the courthouse to the White House.

The reason?

Way too many politicians (Democrats and Republicans alike) demonstrate that they can take care of themselves and their private and partisan interests, but not the public interest!

Monday, October 24, 2011

CAN STARK'S DEMOCRATS DO A CIVIC GOOD IN ALLOWING ALEX ZUMBAR TO REMAIN STARK TREASURER AT LEAST THROUGH SEPTEMBER, 2013?


On October 31, 2011 Stark's organized Democrats will meet to choose a Democrat successor for retired/resigned Stark County treasurer and Democrat Gary D. Zeigler.

It is their right according to the law of Ohio.

As all in Stark County know, unless one has been "out there somewhere," the county has been through political/governmental travail after travail after travail since April 1, 2009 when it was revealed that Zeigler's chief deputy treasurer (Vince Frustaci) had stolen taxpayer money.

CLICK HERE for more background on the situation.

With Zeigler's negotiated resignation/retirement approved by Stark County commissioners Wednesday past, there is now an opportunity for "real" healing to take place.

Such has not been the case because of the intransigence of Zeigler ("I did nothing wrong" - even in the civil/administrative sense of wrong) and because the Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks under the advice of Stark County Prosecutor Ferrero) could not get it right in constitutionally removing Zeigler under Ohio Revised Code Sections 321.37/38.

The question is now:  The Stark County commissioners (Republican Janet Creighton, Democrats Thomas Bernabei and Pete Ferguson) having appointed Republican Alex Zumbar as treasurer, can Stark's Democrats on the 31st - at the very least - bring themselves to not exercising their option to override the commissioners' appointment and thereby allow Stark County "a genuine time of healing?"

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Nobody is asking the Dems to forgo having one or more their own to file by December 7th for the right to be the Democratic nominee (as the result of the March 2012 Democratic Primary) to oppose Zumbar in the November, 2012 election.

Undoubtedly, there are those in Democratic officialdom who would be irate at the thought that the beleaguered Stark Democratic Party would not exercise its statutory right.

Most likely that school of thought would come from the likes of former Stark County Democratic Party Chair Johnnie A. Mair, Jr. (Massillon clerk of courts, running for reelection).

The SCPR is told that Republicans expect the Maier led faction of the Stark County Democratic Party to push for former Stark County Commissioner Gayle Jackson to step in for Zeigler.

In early 2007 with the election of Democrat Ted Strickland as governor, Maier prevailed upon Strickland to select Jackson (her son Shane in Maier's chief deputy at the Massillon clerk of courts office) as a regional official for the Ohio Lottery.

With the defeat of Strickland in 2010, Jackson was out of a job with the lottery.

There has been a lot of speculation as to where Jackson might reenter Stark County politics/government.

It appears to some that replacing Zeigler might be the perfect opportunity.

To be sure, such an action by the Stark Dems would raise a hue and cry from Stark's organized Republicans.

They would undoubtedly point to the the fact that two Democrats joined Republican Janet Creighton to appoint Zumbar and that Stark needs "a time healing" and therefore the Dems should leave "well enough alone."

Dems will counter (most likely in counsels among themselves) that yes that Republicans will take advantage of whatever they can to intimidate the Dems into not exercising their right to appoint one of their own, but an appointment of someone with the countywide presence of a Gayle Jackson (after a like GOP-let storm of protest) gives them their best chance to retain the office.

The reasoning would be that the "storm of protest" will blow over as Jackson or any Democratic appointee will have a year to serve before having to stand for election.  The advantage of being an incumbent is no little thing.

Under the category that "the passage of time" heals or ameliorates many troubles (i.e. public dissatisfaction with Democratic public officials; especially those viewed to be part of the "good ole boys/girls network").

Another concern has to be that if they (the Dems) let Zumbar retain office as interim treasurer, they could be giving him an advantage that will be a springboard to his being Stark County treasurer for a very long time.

Remember, the Dems (will John Ferrero was party chairman) appointed Gary Zeigler as treasurer in 1999.  He went on to defeat Republican Richard Regula in the next election and he served until October 19, 2011.  But for what local attorney and civic activist Craig Conley has named as being "Zeiglergate," chances are that he would have been reelected in Novmber, 2012.

While their last appointee Ken Koher (after the commissioners illegally removed Zeigler) was highly qualified to be treasurer, he was no politician and his match up with Zumbar in the November, 2010 election was a mismatch.

Zumbar was much more politically accomplished by virtue of his having been Alliance auditor from 2004 to 2008.  He had been Alliance 4th Ward councilman for about 7 years.  Additionally, he has worked as an administrative assistant for Stark County Common Pleast Court Judge Charles Brown (a former Stark County GOP chairman).  It didn't hurt him in Alliance and the eastern part of Stark County that his brother Andrew has been law director in Alliance for many years.

So Stark's organized Dem leadership must have breathed "a sigh of relief" when Koher - who has resituated since his 2010 loss to Zumbar and therefore is not interested in a rematch with Zumbar.

"A sigh of relief?"

Indeed. for what the Dems need is a seasoned politico (like Jackson) to have any hope of wrestling the treasury away from the Republicans.

They have to feel they can torture their way into making a case that Jackson is qualified by virtue of her past commissionership tenure and her work at the Ohio lottery. 

And the Dems get a bonus.  Jackson is a world above Koher in her political intuition and savvy.   What's more is that she has Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. in her corner who has named her as being one of the best commissioners that Stark County has ever had.

So what will Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez do in terms of leading the Stark County Democratic Central Committee on October 31, 2011?

It is hard to tell.

He is under a lot of public pressure to take politics out of the treasurer selection process.  But he is under equal pressure by devout party types to seize the moment and name a Democrat as interim treasurer.

He is truly between "a rock and a hard place."

Will he choose to be the politician that he has always demonstrated he is and push for the selection of a Dem interim treasurer?

OR

Will he prove to be a statesman and guide the Party into declining to exercise its statutory option thereby leaving Zumbar in place?

To the SCPR, it would be shocking indeed if Gonzalez was to choose the latter over the former.

But there is no doubt that is what Stark County really needs!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

(VIDEO: "A MUST SEE - CREIGHTON AT HER FINEST) EXPLAINING WHY SHE AGREED TO THE ZEIGLER SETTLEMENT. IF YOU ARE READY FOR BEDTIME, YOU CAN WATCH THE BERNABEI VIDEO, TOO.


Undoubtedly, the Stark County commissioners are hoping against hope that their agreement for now former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler will pay dividends beginning on November 8th with the passage of their sales tax initiative for 0.5%.

Beyond the sales tax question is the concern - at least in the consideration of the personal political fortunes of Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson - that the settlement could "boomerang" and comeback to haunt Bernabei and Ferguson should they decide to seek new terms as county commissioners.

The settlement "political" effect is difficult to read.

On the one hand and THE BIG PLUS is that Stark Countians are disgusted with the life of what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has coined as being "Zeiglergate" and in the words of Stark County Auditor Alan Harold:  "I [obviously speaking for 'most' Stark Countinans] just want Zeigler to be gone!"

All of the controversy surrounding the Stark Treasury started on April 1, 2009.


Eighty million, four hundred thirty eight thousand, four hundred seconds!

Whew!!!

The Report is not going to regurgitate all of the history of Conley's Zeiglergate, CLICK HERE for a prior SCPR blog that sketches out the history.

The question is this:  will the relief of being rid of Zeigler via his resignation on Wednesday be enough?
  • to help with the passage of Issue 29 (the sales tax), and
  • to facilitate the reelection of Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson should they choose to run.
The SCPR buys into the thinking that the commissioners chose to settle at this time in order to help the sales tax pass.

The Report believes that the commissioners could have gotten a better financial deal for Stark County had they waited.  Judge Indlied's $1.8+ million judgment against Zeigler was an albatross that the former treasurer wanted to jettison bigtime.  His attorney correctly assessed that the highest motivation point for the commissioners to be the most generous to Zeigler was pre-sales-tax-vote.

It could be that they (the commissioners) have achieved a political master stroke (in terms of short term political interests) in doing the settlement thing now.

We may know part of the actual answer on how the Stark County public is taking the settlement late in the evening hours on November 8th.

May know?

Yes, a close vote will have the likes of yours truly pondering "until the cows come home" as to what effect the settlement had "as a tipping point" in a narrow win or loss.

A decisive outcome however will leave little to muse about.

A HUGE LOSS?

A huge loss means that the public was not impressed with the settlement and Zeigler's resignation.  It was a case of too little, too late coupled with an innate hatred of "all things sales tax" in Stark County.

Such will also spill over onto Commissioners Bernabei and Ferguson in a huge way.

For Bernabei, it likely means he definitely will not run for reelection.

The Report can see Ferguson running for reelection even in the face of a huge sales tax levy loss but that he will have to face a Republican opponent who likely will hammer way, in hindsight, at the "bad deal" that the Zeigler settlement was as a backdoor way to how badly to make the point that the commissioners (zeroing in on Ferguson - who was a member of the board that "unconstitutionally removed Zeigler") have handled Zeiglergate.

A HUGE WIN?

A huge win will be two things to the SCPR.  County officials put on an effective campaign that:
  • scared the bejabbers out of Stark Countians, and
  • settling with Zeigler aided the cause to victory.
For those who want to know in some detail why the commissioners themselves say they made the Zeigler settlement agreement, here are videos of them "in their own words:"

Creighton's presentation is most interesting.  See her reaction:
  • to Stark County Education Service Center (SCESC) member and Republican Richard Wingerter's (he is a long time foe of of any county sales tax) reluctance to support the sales tax (he abstained on the actual board endorsement.  Moreover, he tells The Report he voted against the tax in absentee voting),
  • to Republican John Hagan (a former state rep. [the 50th], candidate for county commissioner [2008], and sitting Marlboro Township trustee) having had the ability to persuade his fellow trustees not to endorse the sales tax, and
  • to Democrat Canton Councilwoman Cireill's (a former commissioner and state rep.) challenge to commissioners to impose the tax "if they really believe in it."
THE CREIGHTON VIDEO



God Bless him, but Commissioner Tom Bernabei is a technician type who laboriously wades through the terms of the agreement in the following video.  Being a wonk,  he can put you to sleep.  So be sure to be wide awake on viewing this video.

THE BERNABEI VIDEO



Saturday, October 22, 2011

"OH HAPPY DAY! WHEN JESUS WASHED - [OUR - STARK COUNTY'S] SINS AWAY! SEE VIDEO OF SWEARING-IN OF ALEX ZUMBAR AS STARK COUNTY TREASURER. ALSO SEE POST SWEARING-IN REMARKS


October 19, 2011 at 4:04 PM, a shout of Oh Happy Day was undoubtedly on the minds of those present at the "second" swearing-in of Alliance Republican Alex Zumbar.


This swearing-in could, perhaps, be seen as a sort of absolution of Stark County officialdom and state of Ohio (i.e. the State of Ohio Auditor - "SOA") sins of commission, omission or whatever.

Zumbar had been sworn-in once before on January 1, 2011 on the heels of being elected Stark County treasurer in November, 2010 and things seemed to be settling down.

However, on June 23, 2011 the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Gary D. Zeigler had been removed unconstitutionally by Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) and Zumbar was bounced from office and Zeigler reinstated.

This decision threw Stark County into turmoil once again (with multiple lawsuits being filed as add ons to existing ones) as had been the case from the time Zeigler revealed (on April 1, 2009) that his employee Vince Frustaci (chief deputy) had stolen funds from the Stark Treasury and that he had fired him.

Frustaci is now serving a ten year sentence in federal prision.

While Zeigler was not implicated in the theft, the SOA and many Stark Countians including Stark County Auditor Alan Harold held the view that Zeigler had not structurally and procedurally secured the treasury so as to have safeguards in place to prevent the Frustaci theft.

Zeigler continued, up until his resignation (in a settlement agreement with county commissioners) on Wednesday, to deny that he had one anything wrong in his administration of the treasury.

Does the swearing-in of Zumbar a second time mean that Stark's troubles are behind her?

Probably not.

On November 8th, Stark Countians will be deciding whether or not to approve a 0.5% sales tax to stave off (so the commissioners and elected county officials say) financial crisis that Stark County has not seen since The Great Depression.

But for the moment sit back and watch as Zumbar is sworn-in and makes a few comments and hum to yourself "Oh Happy Day!"

Friday, October 21, 2011

(CANDIDATE VIDEOS) A PRIMER FOR ALL STARK CO SCHOOLS AT HOW "NOT TO DO BOARDMANSHIP":NORTH CANTON SCHOOL BOARD PUBLIC MEETINGS ARE NOTHING BUT WINDOW DRESSING?



The Report did a blog on the night (in April) that the North Canton City Schools Board of Education (NCCS-BOE) approved its Elementary Service Plan (ESP) which The Report described thusly in an April 24th blog:
... [M]any are very upset with the implementation of the Elementary Service Plan (ESP) in terms of how the five buildings which currently house North Canton's early childhood and elementary education are being reconfigured to accommodate "all day, everyday kindergarten" at only two of the facilities.
Moreover, there were criticism of the how the BOE interacted with the North Canton public, to wit:
A major criticism, which the Stark County Political Report buys into, is the degree to which the BOE is structuring the exchange of viewpoints on the kindergarten implementation issue in such of fashion so as to stifle the objections that many parents have with the way the ESP is likely being forced by the administration and is fully supported by the BOE (except perhaps member Thomas).
A second objection is how the BOE refuses to spontaneously interact with the disagreeing parents.  While the parents can address the Board during a "public speaks" portion of the regular board meetings, they get no response at the meeting itself:  only stares from the five members.  The North Canton Board of Education, they say, refuse to engage them face-to-face.
From the responses of appearing candidates at Monday nights candidate forum, it seems to the SCPR that the interactive factor will not be improving anytime soon between citizens and BOE members.

The SCPR understands the need for order, civility and decorum, but it appears that candidates for North Canton's school board are obsessed with the need to make its public meetings nothing more than "an obsequious waltz" between themselves and Superintendent Mike Gallina and other members of his administration.

Obsequious is a fancy word but it aptly describes most of the candidates who spoke at Monday's candidates forum co-sponsored by the North Canton Chamber of Commerce and the North Canton City Schools.


Four of the five candidates appeared.  Jennifer Kling (daughter of Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton) was unable, due to a conflicting commitment, to make the forum.


In terms of seeming servility, the SCPR ranks the appearing candidates  in the following on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being "highly" servile:
  • Jordan Greenwald - 5
  • Anthony Bianchi - 5
  • Betty Fulton - 4
  • Matthew Oatley - 3
One telling point in the candidate discussion on the matter of being obsequious came in a question on the renewal of Superintendent Gallina's contract.  The standard throughout Stark County is three years.  However, at Greenwald's initiative, the BOE has voted to grant Gallina a five year contract extension.

At the candidate's forum, Greenwald and Bianchi both were so enthusiastic for Gallina they would, if he was open to it, offer Gallina a 10 year contract.

Wow!

A lot can go wrong with a superintendent's leadership model in ten years; even in five years.

Again:  Wow!  Is what Greenwald had done with the contract situation prudent and responsible boardmanship?

It is good for North Cantonians that Superintendent Gallina has some sort of sense of self-restraint.  Greenwald and Bianchi are way over the top on the length of contract matter in suggesting ten years.  One absolutely has to question their judgment.

The SCPR in this blog presents a number of videos (beginning with a SCPR question on BOE member and the role of critiquing in public meetings) of the responses of the candidates on Monday night past at the media center.

The Report believes the videos substantiate the notion that NCCS-BOE meetings are likely to remain largely worthless in terms of meaningful and incisive Q&A dialogue between board members, the administration and between the citizens of North Canton.

Over time it seems to The Report that the NCCS - BOE by virtue of its "at a distance" interaction model, are setting themselves, over the longer term, for lots of trouble in connecting with the North Canton community on various and sundry issues which are bound to pop up.

The priority criterion for voters to use in choosing among the five candidates this election cycle ought to be the two who will join board member Chris Thomas in pushing for more out in public scrutiny  of administration officials as well as pressing each other in the public view to support their positions on particular issues that surface on data and public desires rather than loyalty to Superintendent Gallina and his staff.

Yours truly has 30 years of experience of attending boards of education meetings across Stark County (most in home township Lake) and it should not be lost on anyone that superintendents work very hard to get in place board members who are captive to the superintendent's viewpoint rather than in line with the citizenry who elect them and who pay the bill (either through local or state taxes) for local education.

It appears that Gallina has done of masterful job of putting himself and his administration ahead of the people of North Canton as the constituency of a majority of the current board.


While the SCPR does not endorse candidates per se, it seems as if the only hope that the "new" NCCS-BOE will be less fawning of the administration would be with Matthew Oatley and Jennifer Kling.

The Report has seen Kling in action on the ESP controversy and was impressed.  Moreover, if she is anything like her mother, you can bet that she is all about open and forthright public engagement.

Here is what one Kling supporter has to say about her:
I see her as a candidate with intentions of restoring communication and transparency in the district after the deplorable display of poor decision making in the spring.  Watching the board vote to enact the ESP after they were shown that there were still no firm financials, was motivation for her to run and restore that checks and balances.  I know that she wants to involve community, parents, taxpayers, and more in future planning. 
***Please note: none of my remarks are a direct representation of her campaign and views.***
Here are the videos promised above listed by issues that the SCPR deems to be of prime importance as North Cantonians make their decision as to elect to the NCCS - BOE:

#1 - THE CRITIQUING FUNCTION OF BOARD MEMBERS



#2 - ROLE & RESPONSIBILITY OF BOARD MEMBERS



#3 - EXTENDING THE SUPERINTENDENT'S CONTRACT



#4 - THE ELEMENTARY SERVICE PLAN



#5 - STATE ISSUE 2 (THE ANTI-COLLECTIVE BARGAINING BILL)



#6 - FOUR DAY SCHOOL WEEK



#7 - THE ARTS CURRICULUM



Thursday, October 20, 2011

(SEE VIDEO OF CONLEY) LOCAL ATTORNEY AND CIVIC ACTIVIST CRAIG T. CONLEY SAYS COMMISSIONERS MAY HAVE VIOLATED OHIO'S SUNSHINE LAW IN APPROVING ZEIGLER SETTLEMENT


There seemed to be a lot of joy and satisfaction yesterday when Stark County commissioners approved a settlement with former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (as of yesterday), accepted his resignation, and appointed Alex Zumbar (who was elected last November, but removed by the Ohio Supreme Court in June of this year who, at the same time, reinstated Zeigler who the Court said commissioners [Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks - at  the time] had unconstitutionally removed Zeigler) to fill out the rest of Zeigler's term which ends in September, 2013.

Zeigler has been under public fire since April 1, 2009 when Stark County was rocked by a revelation that his Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen by some accounts $2.96 million (Frustaci has only ever admitted to $2.46 million.

Ever since the revelation, Zeigler has been under public pressure to resign.  But he, until today, refused to do so saying that he had done nothing wrong.

Zeigler was not implicated in the theft by federal, state or local law enforcement officials.

One person not thrilled by the commissioners' action was local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley, who, both before and after the commissioners meeting suggested that the commissioners may have acted in violation of Ohio's Open Meetings "Sunshine Law" in the way they approved the Zeigler settlement agreement.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Conley finds a basis in his analysis of the procedures employed by the commissioners to resolve what Conley himself has described as being Zeiglergate.

Conley led an overwhelmingly successful ballot initiative effort in November, 2009 to repeal as 0.5% "imposed" sales tax by commissioners in December, 2008 (Commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos).

As seen in this video, Conley opposes Issue 29 (a 0.5% sales tax) that will be decided by Stark's voters on November 8th.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SEE ZEIGLER RESIGNATION LETTER AND VIDEO OF DRAMATIC STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER ACTION IN ACCEPTING RESIGNATION. COMMISSIONERS TO PAY ZEIGLER $16,305.14 PLUS HIS ATTORNEY FEES OF SOME $199,000


UPDATED AT 8:15 PM

Earlier today the Stark County commissioners made a settlement agreement with Gary D. Zeigler which brought about his resignation as Stark County treasurer effective today.

Zeigler has been under public fire since April 1, 2009 when Stark County was rocked by a revelation that his Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen, by some accounts, $2.96 million (Frustaci has only ever admitted to $2.46 million.

Ever since the revelation, Zeigler has been under public pressure to resign.  But he, until today, refused to do so saying that he had done nothing wrong.

Zeigler was not implicated in the theft by federal, state, or local law enforcement officials.

Zeigler was actually removed from office by county commissioners in 2010 but was reinstated by the Ohio Supreme Court on June 23rd of this year.

Recently, he was held liable to the Stark County taxpayers by visiting Stark County Common Pleas Judge H.F. Inderlied to the tune of $1,857.118.47.  Zeigler had filed notice that he was appealing Inderlied's order.

Below the SCPR has included the video in which Zeigler's resignation letter is read and commissioners accept the resignation.

After the video, The Report includes a copy of Zeigler's actual letter of resignation.

Beyond the letter, The Report provides a copy of Exhibit B to the settlement agreement which shows a net payment by Stark County to Zeigler of $16,305.14.

However, the county also agreed to pay Zeigler's attorney fees in the amount of $175,000 to Zeigler's current lawyers and about $24,000 (the county has not yet received the bill) to another Akron based firm that represented Zeigler at the beginning of litigation between Zeigler and various county officials.

Here is the video followed by the letter and the calculation showing how the $16,305.14 was arrived at.





REPUBLICANS TO CONTROL MASSILLON COUNCIL AFTER 11/08/2011?


Recently, the SCPR spent time talking with a number of the candidates for Massillon City Council (both Rs & Ds) as well as an official in the Cicchinelli administration about their take on the upcoming election.

The read that The Report is getting is that this will be a very close election across all the contested races for council (ie. Wards 1, 2, 3, 6 and the last spot for council at large).

Control of council will likely be 5 to 4 either way.  But for Republicans to win control, nearly everything - in terms of the highly contested races - will have to fall their way.  They will have to win four of the five contested seats, assuming that Councilman Donnie Peters holds his seat in Ward 5.

Either way the citizens of Massillon win in the event of a one vote margin by the prevailing party.  Both parties will have to pay closer attention to the will of the people of Massillon looking forward to the 2115 election.  Overwhelming Democratic control has not served Massillon well.

THE ANALYSIS

COUNCIL AT LARGE

The SCPR believes that Republican Milan Chovan, Jr. may be able to salvage one of the three council-at-large seats for the GOP.  Democrats Paul Manson and maverick Democrat Larry Slagle should win two of the three seats for the Dems merely because overall Massillon is solidly Democratic.

Had the Republicans not run two candidates in 2007, it is likely that Democrat Hersher would not have won one of the three seats then and would not be an incumbent this time around.


Republicans have learned that lesson.  They are only running Choven this time around.  But it could be too late.  Now that Hersher is an incumbent, he will be more difficult to defeat.

However, the  Maier faction of the Massillon Democratic Party appears to dislike Hersher because they view him as a loyal foot soldier for Mayor Cicchinelli.  If the Maier faction let it be known that Republican Chovan is preferred over Hersher,  the Republicans' faux pas of 2007 may not come back to haunt them.



WARD 6


It could be that Councilman David McCune's absentee problem, a family parking ticket flap and equivocation on an annexation issue may come back to haunt him in this election.

McCune is another councilperson who is not a favorite of the Maier faction.

This ward is one that the Republicans are counting on.

Ward 2 Republican council candidate Nancy Halter (a former Massillon councilwoman) rounded up GOP candidates (including Lewis, but not Chovan) so that the Republicans could have a nearly full slate (4th Ward excepted) and thereby enhance their chances of gaining control of council.

If he loses, it will be quite a fall for McCune.  Last time out, he ran unopposed.

The Report believes Lewis has a chance to unseat McCune.  And if the Republicans are going to control council, he will have to.

WARD 5


Seems solid for incumbent Councilman Donnie Peters.   Though it appears to him that Democrat Vaughn Mohler is not running much of a campaign, he is not taking his reelection for granted, as he tells The Report that Ward 5 is a Democratic predominate registration area of Massillon.

Peters was unopposed last time out.  In 2003 he lost by a handful of votes to Council President Glenn Gamber (a Democrat).

If Republicans win five seats, Peters says he will be president pro-tem

WARD 4 - Democrat Tony Townsend (uncontested).

WARD 3

This is Kathy Catazaro-Perry's ward.

However, before she was elected in 2003, this was a Republican-leaning ward.

With Catazaro-Perry vacating the seat in her run for mayor of Massillon, two political newcomers are vying for the right to represent the 3rd.


Who wins in the 3rd, is anybody's guess.

Scassa tells The Report that while Catazaro-Perry has provided her guidance on how to win in the ward, she is running her own campaign with the help of relatives, and that as a councilperson, she will be her own person.

In terms of the outcome of this race, a big question remains:

Were the Catazaro-Perry victories in 2003/2007 an indication of a shift to Democratic leaning?  Or can Republican Hayden depend on it returning to the Republican fold?

WARD 2


If anyone deserves to win a seat, it might be Nancy Halter.  She is the driving force behind getting Republicans to run in all the wards except for the fourth.  Moreover, she is at least as experienced in the ways of council as Anderson.

She was an at-large councilperson from the mid-nineties through 2003.

Anderson has been an avowed "anti-all-things Cicchinelli" councilperson.  Is this enough of an agenda for the voters of the 2nd Ward to want to return him to office; especially in light of the fact he will not have Frank Cicchinelli to kick around any more?

Halter may be able to take this one for the Republicans.

WARD 1

Another key to which party controls Massillon City Council is Ward 1.


If the Republicans are to take control of council, they will have to overcome the entry of Marc Sober into the race.  He describes himself as a Libertarian-leaning candidate which indicates to The Report that he is likely to siphon off votes from Republican Sarita Cunningham.

Cunningham should be the favorite because she narrowly lost (47 votes) to Ronald Mang (who is not running for reelection) in 2007.  Accordingly, she will have a voter name ID advantage over Sober.

If she can find a way to convince the Republican part of the electorate to stay with her rather than drift in significant numbers to Sober, she might still win despite his presence.

However, that will be a tall order for her.

Democrat Majcan (who The Report understands in connected to Johnnie A. Maier, Jr in that his wife works for Maier) undoubtedly will be looking to the Maier factor to play to his advantage.

But will it be?  Or, in the first, could it be a disadvantage?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

WHO IS TRYING TO SABOTAGE THE UNION/STARK DEMS RECONCILIATION? CONFIRMATION THAT COUNCILMAN-AT-LARGE JOE COLE IS VULNERABLE TO DEFEAT?


Last Thursday, the SCPR got a telephone call from a prominent Stark County Democrat alerting The Report to a meeting (called by Business Agent Dave Kirven) that was to take place at Local #94, Plumbers and Pipefitters union hall located at 3919 - 13th St SW, Canton at 10:00 AM on Friday, and that it was about a major shakeup that was being hatched up in the way of a change of leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party.

The caller was pushing hard for the SCPR to show up unannounced with camera in hand to film the makings of a political coup d'etat.

As yours truly listened, skepticism, if not outright disbelief, intuitively set in.

After mulling over the sketchy/vague information being presented, The Report concluded that something obviously was not right about "the scoop" being offered.

Oh, there there was definitely an agenda being played out by the caller and his supposed union member consort who was described by the caller as being a person who did not want his union used to conspire a political takeover.

But the "I've been around the block a time or two" SCPR was not about to bite.

As it turns out, it appears to The Report, after contacting and conversing with the three principals (AFL-CIO Hall of Fame president Dan Sciury, Kirven and Chairman Randy Gonzalez of the Stark Co. Dems), that the supposed conspiratorial "let's take over the party" meeting was anything but that.

In fact, the impetus for the meeting was to figure out ways and means to elect Democrats to Canton City Council who are labor-friendly.  Of particular concern to organized labor is the fate of Councilman-at-Large Joe Cole in the upcoming election, who is thought to be in political trouble in the light of polling which is said to exist to the effect that  he is running neck-and-neck with former 8th Ward Councilwoman Rosemary Diamond.

Mayor Healy was present.  He is said to hold Councilman Cole in the highest regard and wanted to be part of the brainstorming to figure out a campaign strategy to get Cole by Diamond in next month's election.

Another quest of the union/Dems conclave was to coordinate activities to work together to defeat Issue 2 (the anti-collective bargaining bill passed out of the Ohio General Assembly as Senate Bill 5).

It is well known by political insiders that Hall of Fame AFL-CIO President Dan Sciury and Stark Dems President Randy Gonzalez were once bitter enemies.

The bad blood goes back to a labor candidate for Jackson Township trustee (favored, of course, by Stark County organized labor) running for trustee and Gonzalez (a former trustee; now Jackson Township fiscal officer) supporting her opponents (two different elections).

To top off the trustee candidate union affront in Jackson, Gonzalez's political confidant and predecessor as chairman - Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.- (currently Massillon clerk of courts), decided about five years ago that it was time for Billy Sherer, Sr. (having been on the board 13 years) to give up his post as a Democratic Stark County Board of Elections representative in favor of local attorney Sam Ferruccio.

Maier claimed that the move was being made on the recommendation of the then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.  According to Maier, she felt it was important to have an attorney on the board to protect the rights of Democratic voters.  Brunner, when queried by media, denied Maier's account.

Stark's organized labor had come to think of the seat that Sherer occupied to be a labor seat and Maier's action (which Sherer went along with) caused a further deterioration between the traditional relationship between Democrats and unionists.

In fact, Mike McElfresh of the East Central Building Trades (also of the IBEW) ran a losing effort against Ferruccio.

But Dan Sciury in yesterday's conversation shared with The Report that the union/Stark County Democratic Party relationship is on the mend.

He admits that some hurt remains, but that it is the best interest of all that union members and Democrats work together on common interests such as electing Democrats who are more prone to favor union interests and, of course, bonding in opposition to issues such as Issue 2.

For his part, Local #94 Business Agent Dave Kirven put the purpose of the meeting this way:

When yours truly contacted Chairman Gonzalez (also later in the day on Friday), he was flabbergasted to hear of union dissatisfaction with his leadership, which, of course, turned out to be unfounded.

It is apparent that The Report's source and his anonymous "union" contact did/do have "an axe to grind." 

It will be interesting to see whether or not the unions and the Stark County Dems can keep things together in the light of the apparent (internal to the union) effort to sabotage their reconciliation process.

Monday, October 17, 2011

HOPE FOR A UNIFIED STARK COUNTY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT? DOES THIS PROSPECT UPSET STARK GOP'S "PARTY LOYALTY OVER STARK COUNTY INTERESTS" JEFF MATTHEWS & CHRISTINA HAGAN?


The "rule of law" may turn out to be the saving grace for Stark County in terms of all of it ending up in the same congressional district after all.

However, an Ohio Supreme Court ruling instituting the rule of law may be upsetting to Stark County GOP Chairman Jeff Matthews and state Rep. Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro - the 50th) because both indicated that they were "pleased as punch" with an Ohio General Assembly redistricting plan fracturing Stark County into three districts.

Contrary to most Stark Countians, being the consummate partisans they are, Matthews and Hagan saw a silver lining in the gerrymandering of Stark in that (in their minds) it comes out that Stark has three times as much clout in Congress being in three different districts.

The SCPR's take is that, in fact, Stark residents in the lesser (in terms of Stark geography) districts, will likely take a huge back seat, if not shut out altogether, under the fractured plan.

On September 26th, Ohio Republicans jammed down the throats of all Ohioans (Democrat, Republican, and Independent) a U.S. Constitution which required every 10-year redistricting plan designed to keep Republicans in control of the overall political makeup of the Ohio delegation to the United States Congress.

Under the likely direction of Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern, a group called Ohioans for Fair Districts formed, and filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court to require Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to accept petitions, preliminary to gathering a required larger number of valid voter signatures, to permit rank-and-file Ohioans to weigh-in on the Republican plan.

On Thursday last, the Ohio Supreme Court followed legal precedent established by itself in 2009 in LetOhioVote.org v. Brunner and Taft v. Franklin Cty. Court of Common Pleas (1998) in arriving at its decision of Ohioans for Fair Districts v. Husted.


As things stand now, Ohioans for Fair Districts needs to collect a total of 231,149 votes in order to get the measure on a statewide ballot (get this - the November, 2012 ballot) by December 26, 2011. 

However, Ohioans for Fair Districts say they plan to ask the court to extend the amount of time within which they are required to collect and submit signatures to Husted.

It would be interesting to watch Matthews and Hagan in the eventuality that Ohioans for Fair Districts get the redistricting enabling legislation (Ohio House Bill 319) on the ballot.

Would they stick to the Ohio Republican Party line, or will they bend to local pressure and fall into line with the predominant view (Republicans and Democrats alike) in Stark County?

The Report uses "would" rather than "will" because the SCPR does not believe that a vote will actually take place even if enough valid signatures are collected.

What "will" happen is that Republican Ohio Speaker of the House will call a special session of the Ohio General Assembly and Republicans will be forced - by virtue of the Supreme Court ruling - to compromise with Democrats to the extent that Democrats will prevail on the Ohioans for Fair Districts to withdraw the planned referendum.

That, folks, is political reality!