It could be that the Lake Township trustees have dug such a deep hole for themselves on the issue of expanding police services township wide that a levy for doing so has no chance whatsoever of passing.
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
The SCPR would not be surprised that the trustees, in their individual capacities, have come to the conclusion that the glare of publicity surrounding the bumbling of framing the levy issue in proper language form may well have cast enough of a negative tone on the whole process that it is hard to see how a majority of Lake voters would approve a new effort to go township wide.
The Report suspects that a primary reason why at least one of the trustees has not called for Sheriff Swanson (or his deputy McDonald) to come to Lake for a public session in which the Sheriff's Proposal gets thoroughly dissected and vetted, is that none of the three thinks that township wide is in the cards in the immediate future anyway so why bother.
For if one of them thinks that there remains a viable opportunity to convince Lake voters to once again approve an expansion, then it goes without saying that before trustees vote on the matter they must lay both the Uniontown Police Department expansion plan (UPD Plan) and the Sheriff's Proposal (CLICK HERE FOR INTERNET LINK) in full public view and do an "apples to apples" comparison and then go with the one which would provide Lake taxpayers with "the biggest bang for the buck!"
Yours truly, for one, though always in the nearly 40 years of residence in the township a supporter of township wide policing, would not support an expansion that does not authentically weigh the UPD Plan versus the Sheriff's Proposal and provide specific, objective and sustainable reasons why one approach was favored over the other.
At one meeting of township officials after the Ohio Supreme Court overturn of the November, 2011 vote on Lake Issue #6, township legal counsel Charles Hall, III came up with a line of blarney in saying that it was a good thing that the language got goofed up because the screw up drew a legal challenge and therefore Lake Township benefited all of Ohio's political subdivisions because now they know that ballot language errors will cause an issue that otherwise won to fail.
Hall may be right that the legal upset of the electoral victory is a good thing.
But not for the reason he gave.
What the judicial reversal does for those of us who voted for the expansion the first time around (without requiring the trustees to get a competitive bid) does is provide us (the Lake Township residents) with an opportunity to look much closer at the two approaches and make a much more informed decision the second time around, if there is a second time.
Many if not most of those of us who live in the Uniontown Police District have been largely pleased with policing services all these years, even if at a premium cost to us.
Very little changes for us either way. If there is an expansion, we do save a little on our police levy assessment. If not, our financial situation is unchanged and we go on with our high quality police protection.
In sitting back a watching this parade go by, the SCPR has this gnawing feeling that all is not as it appears to be.
The Report is beginning to consider the notion that the drive to make the UPD the township wide policing unit might be driven by influential "behind he scenes" de facto community leaders who want to keep their agenda hidden and that the trustees are willing to be the public face.
If that is the case, then it becomes very clear indeed why the Lake trustees might not want to have to face up with the Lake Township public with sheriff's department representative on hand to answer their questions.
To make things more meaningful, wouldn't it be great to have Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis on hand to answer the Lake Township residents' questions about Plain's actual experience in having the sheriff's office do the township's policing going back to 1992.
He tells The Report that he cannot for the life of him figure out why someone in Lake Township's position would want to take on all the complexity and difficulty (personnel management, et cetera) of administrating a police district when someone else will do it for $600,000 less per annum.
Giavasis says that Plain Trustees are able to maintain very tight control of township policing through its contract with the sheriff. Any time there is any question, Plain officials are able to immediate responses and adjustments when and where needed.
As the SCPR sees it, the Swanson letter published at the beginning of this blog puts the Lake Township trustees on the spot.
He says you (the trustees) say our proposal is "incomplete?"
(Paraphrase) "Let us [sheriff's representatives] come up to your place [Lake Twp Hall] and sit down with you in front of your public show the both of us [the sheriff and the Lake public] where our proposal is not an apples to apples comparison to what the Uniontown Police Department Plan is?"
And, of course, yours truly says: Have Plain Trustee Louis Giavasis come, too.
As the SCPR sees it, the Lake Township trustees will likely do one of two things.
First, drop the matter of expansion altogether at least for the time being, or
Two, fully engage the Lake Township public and a thorough consideration of the two competing plans.
It would be a shock if they chose to totally ignore the Sheriff's Proposal and go once again with the UPD Plan in an uncompetitive fashion.
But if they do the latter, then they can look for a defeat in the ballot box that likely will be the equivalent of past failures.