One of the things that political candidates try to do is to make the media (newspapers, television outlets and the like) unwitting (?) allies in the candidates try for office.
Within political campaigns, the manipulation of the press is called "earned media."
For incumbents, the task of using the media is simplified because they have the ability to orchestrate seeming "news events" to finesse a non-discerning news outlets into providing coverage that is not earned but rather is contrived.
Democratic Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is the grandmaster of doing such and during his recent campaign against Republican A.R. Conde played the folks at The Repository (Stark County's only countywide newspaper) "like a fiddle" on this score.
A close second is Republican state representative Kirk Schuring (R - Jackson, the 51st running for the newly configured 49th House District).
Next is state Senator Scott Oelslager (R - Plain, the 29th Senate District) and quickly learning the technique is state Rep. Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro; the 50th House District).
The inability of the folks at The Rep to discriminate between "real" news and "press release - get me elected - re-elected" concocted news gives incumbents an unfair advantage over their challenger opponents.
Yours truly remembers vividly the campaign between Schuring and Democrat Jan Schwartz in 2002 for the 29th Ohio Senate District.
Remember that Schuring and Oelslager have this "tag-team" thing going in which they exchange the Ohio House and Senate seats when each is respectively term limited out of their existing elected position. It is kind of an musical chairs exercise with the exception that in the Schuring/Oelslager version each ends up with a seat; just a different seat.
Back in 2002, it was interesting. During the run up to the May, 2002 primary candidate Jan Schwartz got lots of Repository ink. Probably as much as Schuring.
However, once the general election season took hold the ink dried up for Schwartz, but the spigots at The Repository remained full throttle for Schuring and it was hard to know (from reading The Rep) who his opponent was.
So it was no surprise that Schuring trounced Schwartz in 2002. Schuring was likely going to win anyway, but once he was able to co-opt the presses at The Repository, then Schwartz had no chance whatsoever.
It is well established, in the SCPR's view of things, that the Schuring technique is an ensconced a la Yogi Berra "deja vu all over again" pattern that is unbecoming of a news outlet of the supposed sophistication of The Repository.
One can't blame the politicians for trying. But who is the discerner-in-chief at 500 Market Avenue South?
Of late, there have been a spate of articles picking up on Christiana Hagan's legislative efforts in the Ohio House in anticipation of her seeking election for the first time (November 6th) against Democrat Sue Ryan (a Alliance City Council councilwoman-at-large).
Obviously, she has picked up on the well-honed Schuring practice.
Yours truly has wondered as to the timing that we would be subjected to a Schuring-himself plying The Repository exercise?
Well, pretty much "like clockwork" Schuring surfaced this past weekend, to wit: Boards and Ballots: Schuring introduces 10th bill, May 5th, Robert Wang.
What's interesting about Wang's piece that he does not mention once that Schuring has an opponent (Democrat Amanda Trump). Of course, voters wouldn't want her reaction to Schuring's legislative record?
It was nice to see that a commenter (going under the Internet name "slimjim" took a critical look at the significance of Schuring's legislative record, in part, to wit:
And like most legislators, Mr. Schuring considers himself successful when Obie gets a license plate, or another blank can be added on the tax return (like we can't give to a cancer fund ourselves - we need the government's help). ... These examples of law changes that apply to an ever decreasing number of constituents are what passes for legislation these days.
The heavy lifting is left to others - or simply ignored for another year - or ten.Here, here! (reference: "The heavy lifting is left to other - or simply ignored for another year - or ten.")
The SCPR has done quite a lot of work going through the campaign finance reports - "Follow the Money" - of local (village, city, township and board of education) candidates. One of the differentiating factors between locals and statewide (state reps, state senators, governor, et cetera) on reports is that locals do not have to indicate the vocation/organization that of contributors in excess of $100 as do the statewides.
The Report asked Schuring in 2009 as 29th District state senator (which includes Lake Township, home of the SCPR) to match up the local requirement with that of state candidates.
Surprise, surprise! He responded in introducing SB 191 to require that local candidate campaign contributions over $100 identify donor's employer/vocation on the campaign finance report.
For a while anyway.
For once he got some opposition, he faded fast.
And definitely was nowhere-to-be-seen on SB 191 when, with the election of November, 2010, he "musical chaired" back into the 51st House District which yours truly is not a constituent of.
Apparently, he is not willing to fight for facilitating Stark County citizens having the right to know who the $100 and up contributors to the likes of Mayor Healy are and what interest groups they may be tied to.
For all of The Repository's picking up on self-serving press release material put out by candidates, it is interesting how the staff misses things like SB 191.
Interesting in light of the newspaper's annual hullabaloo about "Sunshine Week."
"Sunshine Week is defined, in part, by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) a being:
... a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information,Just how committed are "the powers that be" at The Rep. to the free flow of information in that it could not see fit to holding Schuring feet to the fire on SB 191. The bill died with the expiration of the 128th Ohio General Assembly on December 31, 2010.
Nor has The Repository followed through on Schuring's promise to get results for Stark County officials on eliminating a specific list of burdensome "unfunded mandates" that needed to be eliminated by the Legislature. (See LINK to prior blog on the meeting).
Commissioners had called him and other area legislators (only Christina Hagan failed to show) to a April 22, 2011 meeting with Stark County officials specifically to discuss the "unfunded mandate" problem.
A last report, Schuring has only gotten action on a item or two on a laundry list of items submitted by a task force of county officials headed by Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath.
Now that the county sales tax has passed, the "unfunded mandate list" is no longer important to The bigs at The Rep, the county commissioners and other county officials?
And, of course, we all remember the political ploy by Schuring on contemplating a run for congressional seat of then-retiring Congressman Ralph Regula (the 16th) against Democrat John Boccieri.
Ploy? (See this LINK to prior blog)
He made a big to-do about pushing the Ohio General Assembly to solve the Ohio Supreme Court ruling (DeRolfe - four times over) by placing a amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot.
Once the election came and went with Schuring losing.
Not a word from him about about keeping up the fight to solve the persisting public school funding problem.
But he can write a press release about 10 bills of questionable significance to the well being of Stark Countians/Ohians and have it picked up by The Rep without any questions being asked about his past legislative failures.
And The Repository is an award winning newspaper?
Standards sure are slipping these days, aren't they?