See Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis' reaction to state Rep. Christina Hagan's claim that she added "transparency" to the fracking bill at the end of this blog.
One has to wonder why The Repository did not contact Giavasis for a reaction given that it is within the knowledge-base of Stark County political cognocenti that he is a major Stark County anti-fracking player.
REVISED AT 7:55 AM
The lifeblood of a healthy democratic-republic is political competition.
A primary role of a vibrant press is to foster a competitive environment by providing meaningful space to candidates for office; whether incumbent or not.
It is the observation of the SCPR, that The Canton Repository has done a very poor job of providing space to non-incumbent-aspirants for office.
The Report sees its "Boards and Ballots" series as being a good example of a medium that is at the service of press release churning-out machines that are maintained by both political parties at a state level to get their candidate "free" access to the voting public.
Politicians like to describe the press release generated media as "earned media." But nothing could be further from the truth.
For many media outlets, the releases are passed through to the reading public virtually untouched. In handling public relations pieces in this manner, the media give "added" meaning to the expression "the advantages of incumbency."
One of the reasons that Stark County's local governments and school districts suffer from lack of state of Ohio support is because our county's Columbus-tied political incumbents are the embodiment of being stale, stagnant, and hooked into whatever the political establishment (whether Republican or Democrat) thinks is "for the benefit of the party" way to go.
When a political party dominates the way the Republicans do in Columbus theses days, it is for voters to find an occasion "to throw out the 'incumbent' bum."
Nothing shakes up the political establishment power base than to have a "thought to be invulnerable" incumbent go down to defeat.
Some incumbents do a superlative job - on balance - in doing good things for their constituents that they deserve to be returned to office time and time and time again.
The SCPR envisions that such will be the case for Republican Stark County auditor Alan Harold, Republican Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar, and perhaps Republican commissioner Janet Creighton and Democratic commissioner Tom Bernabei. And their are others sprinkled throughout our county.
The SCPR is not for defeating incumbents just because they are incumbents.
However, when incumbents put their political party above the peoples' interest, then its time to send a message.
Stark County's legislative delegation is long overdue for an electoral shock.
Stark County local governments (e.g. draconian state of Ohio Local Gov't Fund cuts) and Stark County school districts (e.g. also getting funding cuts and having funds diverted to charter and private schools) get no help whatsoever from incumbents because they get returned to office time after time after time (e.g. Stark County Republican Ohio General Assembly members Schuring and Oelslager).
And the SCPR includes in the incumbent status Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro) for reasons set forth later in this blog.
She, Schuring and Oelslager have sat by and done nothing the rectify Ohio's shafting of local governments/local school districts in their funding.
Moreover, they support the power grab by the oil and gas industry to take away what little control local governments used to have over the placement of oil/natural gas wells in local communities.
Well, how is it that Hagan counts as an incumbent from the perspective of the SCPR?
The Report counts her as a incumbent because she essentially has inherited the seat of her father John Hagan (state representative: 2000 - 2008). Yes, there was the twenty-seven month gap between John being term limited out and Christina's succession of him in office.
But she tried early on to become daddy-John's political heir.
In the primary of 2010 she took on incumbent Republican Todd Snitchler in the GOP primary and lost badly.
Daddy-John went to work for her when Sntichler bolted to the Ohio Public Utilities Commission in February, 2011 (as Kasich's lead man on the PUCO) and secured for her the Ohio Republican Caucus appointment for the interloping Snitchler.
Now the Hagans are back in the political saddle again. There is little reason to believe that Christina will not be in office for a full cycle of eight years as allowed by Ohio's term limits constitutional amendment.
So local governments and school districts of the 50th are afflicted with the Hagan and whatever the state GOP tells her to do.
Though she has yet to be elected to anything, the Ohio GOP has promoted candidacy as if she were an incumbent.
And that it (the Ohio GOP) would, is quite understandable.
But for The Repository (Stark County's only countywide newspaper) through its "Boards and Ballots" implied election-coverage byline, to out-and-out favor incumbents and seemingly include Hagan in its definition of incumbent is - in the view of the SCPR - way out there somewhere in the world of journalism.
What may be at play in The Rep's "Boards and Ballots" feature is what has become to be known in the profession as "churnalism."
An article (Churnalism Exposed, Martin Moore, March 3, 2011 [LINK]) in the Columbia Journalism Review (Strong Press, Strong Democracy) discusses the concept which has been around since 1920s.
Churnalism is defined thusly in the Moore piece:
A piece of ‘churnalism’ is a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added.Although she is by and far the chief beneficiary of the the incumbent bias of The Rep's Boards and Ballots feature, Hagan is not the only beneficiary.
It is pretty obvious that the Hagan press release factory is working overtime these days.
According to The Rep's judgment, it is apparently newsworthy of determining whether or not Christina Hagan deserves to be elected is that she recently became engaged to be married.
Okay. Publish it in the society pages. But in Boards and Ballots?
That the location of the "State of the State" message is a criterion on which 50th District voters should consider whom they vote for?
And, of course, The Report sees no meaningful examination of the hullabaloo made in Hagan's obvious press released account of her amendment of the hydraulic fracking bill (HB 315) which was picked up on by The Rep.
Interested persons only get notified on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources online presence of an "after-the-fact" issuance of a drilling permit.
The piece does say that the bill does not provide for a "before-the-fact" notice to the general public of an application for a permit.
There is glaring absence of a reaction comment/critique either by her November opponent (Alliance Democrat Sue Ryan) and/or a member of the strong Stark County community of anti-frackers (e.g. Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis [who happens to live in the "new" 50th House District].
Hmm? A local example of churnalism?
Second on the list is Republican state Rep. Kirk Schuring. He, in some instances, has to share Repository print with Hagan. Moreover, he has told the SCPR in the past that he knows that The Rep is biased towards him).
The shared Hagan/Schuring billings include:
Republican congressman Jim Renacci (the 16th), Democratic state Rep. Stephen Slesnick and Youngstown state Sen. Joseph Schiavoni, respectively, bring up the rearguard of "Boards and Ballots" pieces dealing with incumbents going back to January, 2012.
The SCPR looks for "Boards and Ballots" to be picking it up a bit for Renacci as we trek towards the November election.
Renacci is running against another incumbent (Democrat Betty Sutton of Copley, Summit County, Ohio) because decennial redistricting threw them into the same district. But The Repository folks are much more familiar with Renacci, a Medina Countian (Wadsworth), than Sutton.
He defeated Mahoning County transplant and Democrat John Boccieri for reelection in November, 2010.
The Repository editorial board endorsed Renacci for Congress in 2010.
While The Repository is entitled to favor whomever they please editorially, The Report thinks it is a betrayal of the public trust when the bias filters down into reportorial pieces via a management devised and imposed structure of reporting (i.e. "Boards and Ballots") which by its very nature is highly susceptible of being gamed by incumbent politicians with election-timed legislative activity spooned out to the media in press release form.
The vulnerable structure could be overcome by incisive (ask tough questions and get contrarian perspectives) and creating reporting.
But, as the SCPR sees it, this is not what is happening in "Boards and Ballot" format.
Implicit to The Report in the phrase "Boards and Ballots" is an objectivity favoring no one and dedicated to providing voters with balanced information on which to base their votes.
Yours truly recalls one such piece that even mentioned the incumbent's opponent, let alone provide a fair opportunity to get some ink.
In a one-newspaper-town, it is vitally important that the monopoly newspaper provide a fair and balanced bed of information to that area's voters.
The SCPR's take on "Boards and Ballots" is that it is not deserving of the voting public's attention and embrace, unless, of course, voters care about a candidate becoming engaged to marry or the candidate's office hours or what appears to be pretty much unfiltered press releases.
Moreover, "Boards and Ballots" is unworthy because the information goes uncritiqued and unvetted and the political opponents to the press releasing public officials get ignored.
The Repository can do better.
Readers of The Rep who support one of the opponents should exhort The Rep to be fair and balanced.
Much, much better!
Here is the Giavasis reaction:
RE:Hagan Amends Drilling Bill
Martin, about Christina Hagan's amendment to this bill is her in her own statement "due to “people’s desire to see transparency.” But the amendment does not require public notice when someone applies for a drilling permit. This is what she calls transparency? What the people want is advanced notification of when and where a permit is applied for, not after a permit has been issued. I think she has the transparency thing backwards in this instance, and what is more telling about her position of transparency and desire for public disclosure was her vote to table and kill Mark Okey's amendment that would have given the public more transparency. Of course if that is was what she truly seeks?
Mark Okey’s proposed amendment would have:
• Set a minimum royalty rate to be paid to owners.
• Require the testing of ground water before and after drilling and notification of the landowner of any contamination.
• Require the company leasing the property for drilling provide an audit of gas or oil production to the property owner on request.
• Require the registration with the state of “landmen” who negotiate to acquire or lease mineral rights for drilling and requires them to provide a disclosure form to property owners.
All Ms. Hagan's amendment does is try to placate people under the false pretense transparency when in fact her amendment only goes half way, her vote against the Mark Okey's amendment in my opinion shows that she is still protecting the oil and gas campaign donors, and not her real constituents the people who actually live the 50th that affected by this in one way or another. For her or anyone to believe that the oil and gas industry will voluntarily police themselves to protect the public's financial, economic or environmental interests believes still in the Easter Bunny, her amendment to this bill is nothing more than selling us the likes of unusable swamp land and all one has do do is look to the state directly to our east to see it.
Plain Township Trustee