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Friday, January 6, 2012

SHORTLY AFTER THE ELECTION, STARK COUNTY TREASURER ALEX ZUMBAR SUGGESTED TO THE PRESS THAT LAKE'S UNIONTOWN POLICE LEVY EXPANSION MIGHT HAVE HAD A FATAL FLAW IN THE BALLOT LANGUAGE. ALSO, DID TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS KNOW ABOUT THE PROBLEM BEFORE THE ELECTION?




UPDATE:  10:30 AM

The Report has just obtained information to the effect that the Stark County auditor's office is effectuating the voted in millage on Lake Issue #6 (Uniontown Police District expansion) by direction of state of Ohio taxing authorities unless, of course, a court order to the contrary is issued out of the pending Stark County litigation.

ORIGINAL POST

Today, Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas will be holding a hearing on a lawsuit filed by a group of Lake Township citizens to invalidate the November 8, 2011 vote approving expansion of the Uniontown Police Department.  (Yours truly lives in the Uniontown Police District (UPD) and voted for the levy which, if passes court review, will result in a property tax reduction for UPD residents)





The SCPR recalls that once the story broke that the ballot language had faulty language yours truly and another person from Stark County media engaged in some banter with Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Zumbar is charged with mailing out property tax bills to with either the $4.50 or $0.45 per thousand assessment as determined by others to Lake Township residents beginning with tax year 2012.

Yours truly was surprised to hear Zumbar suggest (being careful to disclaim that he was not a lawyer) that, despite Lake Township attorney Charles Hall's (in the media) assurance to the contrary, he thought there may well be a problem in collecting at the rate of $4.50 "for each one thousand dollars of valuation ... ." on Lake Township's Issue 6 given that the clear language on the ballot was $0.45 "for each one thousand dollars of valuation ... ."

The Report asked Stark County Auditor Alan Harold what he thought of Zumbar's musings.

Harold (who has a role in adding the assessment to tax bills) declined any comment which The Report thought was a little bit strange in light of the fact that Harold (to his credit) was not shy in offering that he would not permit former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler to use county equipment (e.g. telephones, computer et cetera) until he posted a bond on resuming the office of treasurer after being reinstated by the Ohio Supreme Court on June 25, 2011.

Strange?

Yes, the SCPR's take on Harold is that every "i" had better better be dotted and every "t" had better be crossed before he would act to allow/implement anything that had questionable legality to it.

Apparently, the fact that the Stark County Board of Elections certification was enough for Harold, to wit:


The interesting thing about the Issue 6 controversy (other than on the merits of the issue itself in terms of being for or against it) to the SCPR is the unbelievable number of government employee reviewers who missed the errant language, to wit:
  • Lake Township attorney Charles Hall,
  • Lake Township trustees,
  • Stark County prosecutor's office,
  • Stark County Board of Elections personnel, and the
  • Ohio Secretary of State.
Moreover, the SCPR has heard of suspicion and speculation that local officials (at the township level) may have known about the mistaken ballot language and elected not to stop it from going to the ballot notwithstanding such alleged knowledge, apparently, on the assumption that there would not be a court challenge to the validity of the vote and, if there was, Ohio Supreme Court case law would save the day on its ultimate validation.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, Lake Township residents for sure, and Stark Countians to boot ought to be awfully upset.

The Report's opinion is that no matter what the case was, that is to say:
  • all those taxpayer paid for government eyes failed to find this fundamental flaw and thus demonstrating that they are not taking their work seriously enough in the sense of concentrating and focusing on legal matters they scrutinize, or
  • someone in the chain (as speculated) knew of the flaw and thereby had time to fix it or have it withdrawn for another election cycle.
The SCPR thinks it does not speak well of the the quality (in the sense of "due diligence" examination) or, perhaps, rectitude of government officials (if the speculation of prior knowledge is well-founded) that the flawed language got voted upon.

The Stark County Political Report believes that there will be political consequences for Lake Township Trustees Ellis Erb and Galen Stoll - no matter what the cause for the errant language making it to the ballot - come their next election cycle, should they decide to run for re-election.


Although yours truly has supported township wide (except 1998, which was merely a proposed incremental expansion into the Greentown area) police levies which have been on the ballot two times before Issue 6 and failed by huge numbers in 1988 or thereabouts, in 1998 (limited expansion to Greentown area) and in 2005, The Report is for spotless elections and, accordingly, admonishes township officials and any other local and/or state officials who were in a position to catch the error and stop the erroneous version of Issue 6 from appearing on the ballot.

Even if Judge Haas (and/or a higher court) ultimately determine that the flawed language is not fatal, the remiss public officials have cost township and county taxpayers a significant number of dollars in getting to a final determination.

Should the decision be that the language is fatally flawed, then the costs to taxpayers will be magnified and Lake Township voters who wanted township wide police protection over and beyond what the Stark County sheriff currently provides will likely have been undermined - for who knows how long - in their endeavor. 

A SCPR "hats off!" to the over twenty-five Lake citizens (minimum of 25 required) who at their own expense and effort and in the interest of being good citizens have taken this matter to court.

They names verifying the petition (292 by the SCPR's count) include:

Janet L. Bishop
William N. Doty
James E. Miller
Cynthia V. Shaffer
William L. McClelland
Michael R. Johnson
Anthony Graham
Elizabeth M. Graham
Daniel L. Mihalik
Patrick Mihalik
Catherine M. Mihalik
James M. Dickerson
Bliss L. Dickerson
Paul Venditti
Robert P. Ramsey
Nancy L. Ramsey
James S. Biddle
Pamela Pelini
Susan Wright
Darrell Wright
Steven M. Landy
Craig Pelini
Jason A. Richardson
Patricia A. Richardson
Shelley L. Landy
Karen B. Plaster
Tina M. Bell
Steven M. Bell
Thomas J. Firestone
Joellen Bergert
Julia Appleby
Michael Zaluski
Jean M. Zaluzki
Kara R. Firestone
Patrick P. Fladung
Chris Kellamis
Mark K. Plaster
Julie A. Sincere
Mary Jane Stryker
Christine Fladung
Michael S. Gruber
Leslie C. Gruber
Charles Sincere
Anne Montgomery
Bryan Schuster
Jennifer Schuster
Becky Taylor
Randy Montgomery
Rebecca Montgomery
Frank Magisano
Deanna Magisano
Janice Thompson
W.H. Thompson
Michael D. Babics
Lynn Hruschak
Lance Runion
Richard Maggorie
Kathi Maggorie
James A. Vega
Lisa Vega
Lillian P. Morrison
Mark A. Esposito
Michael J. Frear
Debra M. Frear
Julie L. Johnson
Robert M. Swope
Susan J. Swope
J. Geoffrey Bishop
Robert Obermiller
Michael Kapas
Albert S. Kilmer
James L. Shaffer
David J. Barrett
Deanna Barrett
Tom F. Cassetty
Chad Baucum
Susan I. Kerr
Gary B. Kerr
Lucille J. Ruble
Glen C. Mori
Gloria Z. Mori
Earl G. McClung
Jo I. McClung
Ronald Fether
Virginia Haas
Arley Kay Deering
Thomas E. Deering
Joseph Deering
Matthew M. McClung
Benard D. Haas, Jr.
Sherry J. Mendoza
Antonio M. Mendoza
Maria A. Brown
Michael L. Brown, Jr.
David M. Morgan
Norma J. Morgan
Joshua David Kerr
Edwin G. Lytle
Brenda L. Coblentz
Joseph G. Corbi
Beth E. Penaflor
Patricia A.  Nesbitt
June A. Higgins
Shelby L. Estep
Mark A. Estep
Gail M. Estep
Paul M. Bozman
Lynne M. Bozman
Sidney E. Beardshaw
Donald R. Tuck
Brandon Tuck
Carolyn D. Tuck
Charles F. Myers
Micheal D. Neely
Elizabeth M. Neely
Matthew J. Muriol
James C. Goulet
Michael J. Stackpole
Charles Groves
Gabriola A. Simon
Jon L. Nicholson
Joan M. Rodemeyer
Larry V. Beisel
David S. Simon
Robert W. Freeland
Toni L. Freeland
Evan C. Miller
Larry D. Alltop
Kimberly D. Alltop
Sarah Alltop
John  Rybkoski
Daniel C. Atkinson
Timothy S. Nehlen
Roy P. Yoder
Susan E. Yoder
Beth A. Stover
David L. Stover
Phyllis L. Beisel
Mike Kartler
Donald R. Oscai
Enos C. Kurtz
Donna L. Kilmer
Kirk McCauley
Annelise Waterfall McCauley
Keith E. Rawling
Michael J. Paschke
Patricia Paschke
Jeannette Paschke
Rodney P. Bowsky
Robert L. Kisha
Michelle L. Kisha
Richard L. Sherer
Chad Longfellow
Lawrence J. Hays
Sheree L. Estes
David A. Estes
Gregg L. Pavlides
Bonnie Pavlides
Paul D. DeGarmo
John Ruch
Mark D. Regener
Kyle Bonsley
Alex H. Pavlides
Cheryl E. McKee
Richard L. Whitmyer
Terrance M. Nesbitt
Tonee L. Moreland
Keith A. Sherer
Donna M. Knotts
Denver Bishop
Tony Gingerich
Richard E. Moles
Dawn Thoenen
Jacqueline Moles
Daniel D. Beachy
Celia F. Chandler
Sherri Landis
Randall Spargo
Robert D. Eaver
Alfred H. Raber
William Gingerich
Joseph Gingerich
Harley E. Evans
R. Laverne Wittmer
Eugene Miller
Laverne Raber
Mary Sue Kerata
Ken Kerata
Micheal Kamerer
David L. Claytor
Susan C. Claytor
Ruth A. Miller
David A. Barnes
Valerie Barnes
Randolph Robert Wadley
Michelle R. Lippe
William P. Motler
Julie Fallick
Michelle Michel
Guy K. Michel
J. F. Davis
Sandra R. Langley
Keith M. Fallick
Anita L. Severtis
Ronald E. Servertis
Lena C. Stankus
Craig S. Boyle
Robin Boyle
Valerie Waldorff
Brian T. Nutt
Alison R. Nutt
Franklin D. Leopold II
Carol L. Leopold
Ann Williams
Mark F. Deering
Pamela S. Deering
Michael S. Lucius
Mary Ann Grady
Kathy L. Motter
Michael B. Neville
Kenneth D. Swallen
Pamela H. Grady
Dennis J. Grady
Carol L. Mallamaci
Albert J. Wagner
Jane W. Wagner
Peggy Haney Ingalls
John D. Ingalls
Judy K. Zeiger
Marilyn L. Bennell
Sandra G. Myers
Ron Myers
Daniel J. Hoskins
Ginevra Hoskins
Linda Karlo
Cheryl Andrews
Christopher Andrews
David A. Stanek
Margaret L. Stanek
Joan E. Kress
Roberta A. Vine
Larry K. Mundorf
Margaret J. McClusky
Tirza Huetter
Richard W. Huetter
Marilyn K. Mundorf
James B. McClusky
Leonard P. Bossart, Jr
Charlotte A. Bossart
Shelley A. Johnson
Craig E. Johnson
B. Vincent Dollive
Melinda E. Dollive
Donald Sponseller
Vera M. Sponseller
June D. Wall
Robert D. Wall
Myron D. Draper
Sandra L. Draper
Leo E. Doyle
Rebecca M. Pitea
Victor S. Pitea
Kelley Kinnett
Devora J. Doyle
Margaret A. Batista Bazzoli
Steven R. Wagner
Robert Hiram Bazzoli
James A. Fuller
Janet M. Fuller
Larry K. Graham
Robert Testa
Kathleen M. Gross
George S. Gross, Jr
Lanco Bezek
Kimberly J. Bezek
Janet C. Graham
Susan M. Hunt
Jon S. Hunt
Clarence M. Chandler
Phineas Miller, Jr
Laverne Slabaugh
Patricia A. Testa
Ronald J. Keagy
Donald E. Higgins
Sara L. Chambers
Neal Snodgrass
Barbara N. Snodgrass
Daniel H. LaHaie
Timothy S. Eberly
Carol E. Eberly
Jennifer C. LaHaie
Ann M. Smith

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