Monday, December 3, 2012


Has President Barack Obama finally figured it out?


If he is going to get his "it" (raising taxes on the richest 2% of Americans, while maintaining current tax rates for the middle class), he going to have to do something other than negotiate with "the Beltway politicians."

Because he emphasized this issue above all others in his recent win over Mitt Romney, he believes he has a mandate from the American voters to get his campaign's main issue enacted into law.

But he knows that the legislative politicos in Washington are highly skilled and adept at taking a matter with the clear support of the American people and remaking it unrecognizable or filibustering it out of existence.

So, the president is back out on the campaign trail pushing for manifested public support directed at Congress to move it towards passing his tax increase/expenditure plan as he has proposed it.

Last Friday, Obama showed up a Pennsylvania toy factory apparently continuing his campaign to rally supportive Americans to inundate Congress with telephone calls, faxes, face-to-faces in support of the president's proposal.

The president is practicing "the art of the bully pulpit:"  
A bully pulpit is a position sufficiently conspicuous to provide an opportunity to speak out and be listened to.

This term was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to the White House as a "bully pulpit", by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.
At the presidential level of politics and government, the art has a history.

But, by and large, not at the local government.

At the state level, how can one forget Governor James Rhodes and his constant preaching that his agenda was "jobs and progress."

As one who lived through the Rhodes administrations, it seems that practically every time he gave a speech or was interviewed, in one way, shape or form, he worked in his "jobs and progress" theme in his back and forth with the Ohio people.

But he has been the only one at the state level that yours truly can recall as having employed a form of "the bully pulpit."

At the Stark County level the SCPR cannot give any example of a local politician or public figure who has the charisma and drive vis-a-vis the people to attain being a compelling voice that people listen to.

The closest The Report can come to anything resembling a bully pulpit-esque crusade is the 20 year or so effort by Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez to get a "state of the art" 9-1-1 emergency call/dispatch program up-and-running in Stark County.

After years of evangelizing for an improved 9-1-1 (which a September 25, 2007 Stark County Council of Governments' commissioned report termed as "broken) in 2008, it appeared that Gonzalez had caught a break.

As it turns out ill-advisedly, in 2008 a (the-then) commissioner Todd Bosley (a surprising victor over incumbent commissioner Richard Regula in 2006) figured that picking up on rehabbing 9-1-1 was his path to Stark County political stardom and a future that seemingly would have no limits.

He got behind a plan to fund a 9-1-1 in which he convinced his fellow commissioners Tom Harmon and Jane Vignos "to impose" a 0.5% sales tax on Stark Countians which these commissioners  approved on December 30, 2008.

It was like manna from heaven for the long-suffering 9-1-1 advocate Gonzalez.

But as we know now, the "imposed" part of the financing of the 9-1-1 was not a smart idea inasmuch as less than a year later (the November election, 2009) Stark County voters overwhelmingly rejected having the tax imposed.

As a consequence of the ill-fated Bosley drive to get money for improving 9-1-1 (the tax also included monies for the Stark County general fund, a fact that was not emphasized by Bosley et al), Gonzalez was closer to realizing his dream that one day Stark County will in fact have "a state-of-the-art" 9-1-1 system.

His major barrier these days towards achieving his 9-1-1 goal is Stark County's premier political bully, namely, Mayor William J. Healy, II of Canton.

To his credit, Gonzalez is sticking to his advocacy and in doing so has achieved, in the view of the SCPR, a glimmer of approximating using the "bully pulpit effect" to achieve his objective.

But emphasize "glimmer."

Gonzalez as head of the Stark County Democratic Party primarily works in "out-of-the-public-view" circles.

He only achieve shades of the "bully pulpit effect" because as a political figure he does not capture the imagination of the Stark County public.

Day-in, day-out citizens getting activated, motivated, and besieging elected officials are the key ingredient to compelling the politicos to do what they are not otherwise disposed to do.

They are not his constituents.

His support, to the extent he has any, comes from a smattering of elected  Democrats and those public officials/employees across Stark County who believe in his project largely out of self interest (i.e. police, fire and EMS types).

Bosley could possibly have been that "persuade the public voice,"  but he had the fatal political flaw being seen as more a manipulator of the people for his personal political interests rather than being perceived as "a man of the people" genuinely looking out for the well-being and interests of Stark Countians.

Stark County really does not have any elected official or other public figure that commands the attention of the electorate.

We have no E.F. Hutton that everyone listens to.

The SCPR believes that if the county is to emerge from doldrums and oblivion that it currently rests in (the 2011 sales tax increase is just a "treading" financial water measure), someone is going to have:
  • to emerge who has:
    • good ideas,
    • effective communication skills (i.e. ability to use "bully pulpit" skills), and
    • projects an authentic, genuine concern for everyday Stark Countians,
  • to advance a worthy cause (e.g. a comprehensive economic development plan) that captures the imagination of electorate.
Will that person please step forward with a cause for the betterment of Stark County?

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