Monday, June 4, 2012


It has been apparent for some time to the Stark County Political Report that those who are appointed to county, city, township and board of education advisory boards and/or commissions are by and large expected "not to make waves;" especially in public.

If one does, he or she can expect to be come an ex-board member or commission member when reappointment comes up for consideration by the appointing authority.

Or, worse yet, the entire board or commission may get "worked around" or even abolished if the appointees have caused the appointing authority chronic and persistent embarrassment (merited or not) in the public eye.

It appears to The Report that it could be that the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) is about to be dismantled sometime before July 31, 2012.

Yours truly has been told that such a fate possibly awaits the SCDPAB and commissioners' did nothing in an opportunity presented by The Report in question form (see video below) to squelch the speculation.

Four of the "unpaid" seven members of the SCDPAB have their terms expire on this coming July 31st.  Although the commissioners did not say on the video when they might decide the fate of the advisory board, it seems obvious that the decision will be made in the next 45 days or so.  It makes no sense whatsoever that they would appoint/reappoint the four expiring terms if they planned within the foreseeable future to disband the board.

The SCPR has been following this particular story for a number of years and has blogged repeatedly about numerous conflicts between the commissioners (from the current board through the last couple of boards) and the SCDPAB.  Here are some links.

BLOG:  May 25, 2012
If any one of the commissioners frames the issue between the two, it is likely to be in terms of:  "Who is in charge, the commissioners or the advisory board?"

If any one of the advisory board members were to frame the issue, it likely be:  "What are we, wall flowers?"

The SCPR's own take is that the SCDPAB is composed of consummate dog lovers who volunteer hundreds if not thousands of hours each year towards looking after Stark County's dog population and passionately advocate for the dogs' welfare.

If it were not for the advisory board speaking out over the last several years, Stark County dog lovers should shudder to think what conditions at the Pound would be like.

But as we all know, frequently "no good deed goes unpunished," especially when one has demonstrated an audacity to offend a government official.

While the commissioners appear to care, too; they seem to be imbued with a "We insist on being in charge" mentality about them that manifests as an oversensitivity to anyone who would question the quality of the discharge of their oversight function over the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP - Pound).

If the commissioners decide to disband the SCDPAB, the SCPR thinks that such is a signal that they (especially Bernabei and Creighton; Ferguson is off the board at the end of this year) are losing their fervor for open and participatory local government.

Moreover,  the Stark County public should begin questioning how deep the commissioners' overall commitment to access, accountability, two-way communication, and transparency really runs.

It was a terrific breath of fresh air when Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton came aboard the Stark County board of commissioners after being elected in November, 2012.

The fresh breezes of "attentive to the public air current" wafted throughout the county up and through the election victory of November, 2011 when Stark Countians agreed to provide county government with about $22 million a year in new revenues.

The commissioners themselves were astounded at the margin of victory of the sales tax levy.

There were two reasons that the levy passed with the margin it did.

First, Stark Countians were frightened big time at what might ensue in terms of law enforcement and the public safety were the levy to fail.

Second, the commissioners convinced the voting public that that there was "a new sheriff in town" in the form of the Bernabei/Creighton tandem and that the days of cutting the public out of local government decision making were over.  In short, Stark Countians had found reason to once again trust county government.

To the SCPR, the apparent inability of the commissioners to cope with and accept, for whatever it is worth, dissent emanating from its dog pound advisory board is not the only sign that the vigor of their embrace of the public may be ebbing.

For The Report, how the commissioners handle the SCDPAB situation will be a litmus test of the larger question of whether or not they have the political maturity to lead when not everyone agrees with the substance and/or style of their leadership.

In other words, can they embrace publicly expressed dissent and deal with it constructively and effectively or will they resort to typical public official techniques and strategies designed to stifle and eliminate.

And beyond the political maturity factor is the question of whether or not their original enthusiasm for reform of how county government functions/interacts vis-a-vis the Stark County public is losing its vigor?

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