Will the Lake Township trustees try to get township voters to approve expansion of the Uniontown Police Department once again?
Because of sloppy work by township legal counsel, the Stark County prosecutor's office and the Stark County Board of Elections, a hard earned victory for those of us who have been in favor of such an expansion for years (in some cases) may have been frittered away by the ineptness of several elements of local officialdom.
So as not to retread the if, buts and the like, here are a couple of links to prior blogs of the SCPR for readers to get up to speed/refresh on the saga of the goof ups that led up to the Ohio Supreme Court invalidating the electoral success of the pro-township-wide forces on May 16th of this year.
- First background blog LINK
- Second background blog LINK
- Third background blog LINK
- Fourth background blog LINK
- Fifth background blog LINK
Will the Lake Township trustees try to get township voters to approve expansion of the Uniontown Police Department once again this November?
Probably not, more likely to try next May at the primary election.
There are two alternatives for expansion. Either expanding the Uniontown Police District (9 square miles in the northwest part of the township) township wide or contract with the Stark County sheriff to provide services a la the arrangement between Plain Township and the sheriff.
In a conversation with Trustee John Arnold yesterday (Arnold is president of the Lake Township Board of Trustees), while not saying so in a direct fashion, it was clear to the SCPR that trustees will not be putting a proposal on the ballot to contract with the sheriff's department.
Arnold told The Report that whether or not the trustees would entertain the idea of working out an arrangement with the sheriff depended on who the sheriff is.
Translated: if Republican sheriff candidate Larry Dordea is sheriff, then the trustees might be interested.
Which, if you think about it, rules out putting such an issue on the ballot this November.
And there is more information that The Report believes is relevant to this discussion.
A couple days ago yours truly got a telephone call from a Stark County-based official more or less complaining about certain advantages Larry Dordea has in his run against Democrat and current Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike McDonald (Jail Division).
The caller observed that Dordea is using being chief of the Hartville Police Department and a councilman-at-large in Alliance and being a previous chief of police in Alliance as his political base for running as a candidate for sheriff.
Of course, yours truly was thinking: so?
In running for office, one always uses his/her inherent advantages.
Then came the "real" complaint as interpreted by The Report.
The Lake trustees will not consider contracting with the sheriff as presently constituted because the office is controlled by Democrats (all the Lake trustees are Republicans) and moreover Chief Deputy Rick Perez (who was Sheriff Swanson's first choice to run to succeed him) is especially loathed by public officials which only adds icing to the Republican dominated out-in-the-political-subdivisions determination to do everything they can to undermine Democrat McDonald's effort to succeed Swanson.
So the question came to mind as to why officials out in the 'burbs would have such a heightened dislike of Rick Perez.
The Report believes that Republican dislike of Perez goes all the way back to January, 2012 (LINK) when Perez was the investigator of allegations made by a Marlboro trustee (perhaps, even a second trustee) that Marlboro Chief of Police Ron Devies (a Republican) had done something wrong in working with his son Kyle when Kyle was disengaging from maintaining the township's office computer complex at the order of a majority of the trustees (which did not include Trustee Wayne Schilig).
The key point of upset among his critics is that Perez wore a wire without telling fellow policeman Devies that he was wearing a wire.
Eventually Devies and his son were acquitted in the sense that Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Lee V. Sinclair dismissed all charges after the prosecution had finished with its case. In other words, the prosecutor's office had not even established a prima facie case that the Devies' had done anything wrong.
Nevertheless, the SCPR believes that many Stark County political subdivision law enforcement types and maybe even some of their brothers and sisters in the fire fighting community (especially, if they are Republicans to boot) may still harbor resentment against Perez and his boss Tim Swanson over the manner in which the investigation was handled.
The Report did ask Swanson in an email yesterday about the specifics of how Perez came to the decision to wear a wire (i.e. at his own initiative, at Swanson's direction or on the advice/counsel of the Stark County prosecutor's office), but he ignored that part of the email in his response.
So over three years later we may be witnessing political comeuppance (in the context of the Lake Township expansion initiative, revisited because of the Supreme Court) that might evidence an effort to advantage Republican Dordea in his second try to become sheriff of Stark County.
If the theory of an underlying political factor being at play in the Lake trustees refusal to consider Mike McDonald's proposal (May 29, 2012 at a regular Lake Township trustees' meeting) for the current sheriff to provide policing to Lake Township has any credibility, it is not likely to get public verification from township officials.
The Report posed the question to Trustee Arnold yesterday. Arnold responded that he had not heard the "animosity towards Perez" premise before and that as far as he is concerned such is not a factor in the trustees failure so far to sit down with Swanson and/or McDonald and go over their proposal which the trustees have heretofore said was not an "apples to apples" proposal. Earlier this week Swanson wrote a letter specifically requesting such a meeting.
To The Report, Arnold's denial is weak in view of his follow up to yours truly that it was reasonable for the SCPR to conclude that his "it depends on who the sheriff is" statement clearly indicates that the November election will have to come and go to see whether Dordea or McDonald is elected.
Obviously, the Lake trustees have a problem with someone in the current staff make up of the Stark County sheriff's department.
Sheriff Swanson has told yours truly (reference: the email cited above) that he (Swanson) must be the problem because Perez has been an exemplary chief deputy.
This is the exact way Swanson put it:
If we all left petty differences and personalities govern the way we do business, things would really be in a sad state of affairs.
I don’t buy that is the reason, if anything I would think it’s their dislike of me.
Let me assure you right now, if any of them were the victim of a crime, they would cherish the thought of having Chief Perez investigate their incident, he’s the best there is and doesn’t leave any rock unturned. Not much different than an excellent doctor with less than desirable bedside manners, I’m not interested in bedside manners when it comes to taking care of the problem, are YOU?He added:
You know when you get elected to serve, that’s exactly what you should do is serve.
You shouldn’t allow anything to influence your doing the RIGHT thing.
I have told my people from the time I became Sheriff, we will always do the RIGHT thing, the fair, honest and prudent thing to do.
Most of the elected Official are always worried about the next election and do things to insure they get elected again. I NEVER did that, my instructions were, we will do what’s RIGHT in spite of political pressure and will triumph in the end and be able to live with our decisions and sleep at night.
I’ve always told my fellow employees to do what is right and fair and not take short cuts or bow to pressure. Their job wasn’t to get me to elected again, that was my job. If they were honest, conscientious, professional and followed policy and procedure they would always come out on top. I asked them to remember that most of the people we respond to for service have never had to call us before and the impression we leave them with is everlasting.CONCLUSION
So where does the SCPR end up on this flap?
Yours truly is a loss to understand why the Lake trustees will not deal with the sheriff's office as presently constituted.
If Perez's presence is their problem, the SCPR does not believe that a Sheriff McDonald would be keeping him on.
If Swanson is the problem (as he suggests himself), he definitely will be gone after December 31, 2012.
And nobody (even Dordea himself) has ever suggested to the SCPR that Mike McDonald should become sheriff is not a quality law enforcement office.
Obviously, Dordea thinks he is the better choice, but again he has not reflected adversely on McDonald's competence to be sheriff. Nor has McDonald reflected adversely on Dordea's competence to be sheriff.
The Report tends to believe that there is a political comeuppance factor or at least a politically based disaffection with some Stark County law enforcement officers (including at least two in the Uniontown Police Department) and seemingly on the part of the Lake trustees.
Yours truly was quite shocked to hear a Uniontown Police Department officer say that he would have a problem working with a Sheriff McDonald. Don't know what the man's political preference is, but he needs to read and reread Sheriff Swanson's points along that line. And there was the little tiff that occurred between McDonald and Uniontown Chief of Police Harold Britt when McDonald made his May 29th proposal. Why would Britt do that?
Of course, candidate Dordea could put the matter to rest by telling the Lake trustees that if they have any interest whatsoever in considering a sheriff's department policing arrangement, they should consider it now. For if he is elected, he will be the person implementing the agreement anyway.
But don't expect that to happen. It could be taken as being akin "to biting the hand that feeds you" to show up the trustees in this fashion, if in fact political favoritism is in play.
While everyone tells The Report that the Lake deliberations do not have a political factor to them, yours truly is both highly skeptical of that claim and disappointed that the trustees are handling the matter as they are (i.e. "the sheriff's proposal is not 'apples to apples,' but we won't talk to them about it" and "it depends on who the sheriff is").
First the trustees had to endure the humiliation of having their first "apparently" successful effort go down in flames in the Supreme Court decision of May 16th because of the failure of people they relied on to get the ballot language correct.
So now are they preparing themselves for a second (at the ballot box) humiliation in injecting political considerations into whether or not they get the best possible deal for township residents for expanded police services if and when such a measure in once again presented to Lake voters?
For now, it appears to the SCPR that the Lake trustees will not consider the sheriff's plan nor is it likely they will put a replacement for the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated Issue 6 November, 2011 short-lived victory.
To repeat, if anything in terms of expansion of Lake policing is in the cards, it does not appear that an initiative will not occur until May of 2013 (next year's primary election date) at the very earliest.
But we should know for sure on Monday night next.
In the meantime, Stark County will elect a new sheriff in November and the SCPR believes that either way Stark Countians choose, the county will be well served.
Dordea versus McDonald is not a matter of competence as Zumbar versus Koher for Stark County treasurer in November, 2012 was not about competence.