Based on the responses of Commissioners Janet Creighton and Thomas Bernabei at an impromtu press conference with them at the conclusion of Wednesday's regularly weekly meeting, the SCPR is prepared to conclude that the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) is clearly on its way to oblivion.
It appears that the commissioners are not of a mind to officially disband the advisory group (at least for now), but rather will have it be on a track to wither away through attrition.
As of the date of this blog only Carolyn Johnson, Sara Roushe and Judith King remain as members of the board.
If the commissioners relied on attrition alone, the technical existence of the SCDPAB could go on until Sarah Roushe's term expires on July 31, 2015.
But The Report does not expect that the commissioners will have the depleted board to waft in the wind that long.
Look for the commissioners to bide their time and when an opportunity presents itself to quietly put the SCDPAB into a permanent sleep.
As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly disagrees with the way this board of commissioners have handled their relationship with advisory board. Yes, the board has been troublesome, probing and needling. And, perhaps, as Commissioner Creighton likes to point out from time to time, overstep their boundaries.
But this is just the sort of thing in a democratic republic that public officials need to abide.
In order to be credible to the overall Stark County community that it truly is different than prior boards of commissioners in terms of accessibility, accountability, transparency, openness and community engagement, the SCPR thinks Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson have taken a step backward on an otherwise impressive record of doing much better than prior boards on the foregoing criteria.
While the SCPR is convinced that this board of commissioners is an marked improvement over predecessor boards, incidents like the flap with the SCDPAB certainly highlight that these commissioners are not perfectly administrating the county and that citizens need to be inceasingly vigilant and persistent to ensure that the gains made do not evaporate over time.
If the commissioners were sensitive to the feelings of the remaining SCDPAB members (being put in the state of limbo), they would simply take the political hit for not having properly handled their relationship with the advisers and forthrightly pass a resolution officially dissolving it.
Just letting the SCDPAB exist but not really existing is like kicking a can down the road.
The SCPR believes had it not been for the civic activism of the advisers, the plight of the animals at the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP - Pound) would be far worse than they are now. Stark Countians owe a debt of gratitude to Swank, Miller, Hayne and Pisanelli as well as others who have served in the past as advisers.
As can been seen below, Commissioner Creighton said on Wednesday that the commissioners consider all Stark Countians to be their advisers and that looking after county matters should not be relegated to a specific body of advisers.
That is all well and good, but as has been made plain by present and former SCDPAB members, they will continue to press the commissioners (notwithstanding being stripped of their credentials) to make more sorely needed reforms in the way the Pound is operated and in its facilities.
The folks who have staffed the SCDPAB are very well informed about conditions at the Pound inasmuch as many of them volunteer many hours on site tending to the needs of the dogs when inadequacies and inefficiencies crop up.
The SCPR would like see one or more of these folks periodically show up at commissioner meetings and at the Public Speaks portion of the meeting address and inform the commissioners and the public via the media of the status of conditions and operations at the Pound.
The commissioners did take a huge step yesterday in approving a resolution putting out bids for a complete rework of the ventilation system at the Pound, to wit:
Approve plans, specifications, cost estimate, and advertise for bids for the Stark County Dog Shelter HVAC System Upgrades Project. Construction cost estimate is $112,000.00 to be paid from the Permanent Improvement Fund.
Here is a video of Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton responding to the questions of Stark County media on Pound related matters.