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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

TRUSTEES CHESSLER AND LAUBACHER AT ODDS OVER CAPALDI REPLACEMENT. CANDIDATE GAYLE JACKSON NEEDS TO GET ON THE "HOTLINE" TO POLITICAL FIXER JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR?


UPDATE:  02/01/2012

Apparently, Gayle Jackson political sponsor and former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., ran out of political magic to bestow upon Jackson as Perry trustees Lee Laubacher and Craig Chessler chose a non-politician to replace Anna Capaldi who resigned early in January.

Doug Haines, a Fisher Foods employee, who does not have a political resume was the selection yesterday.

The SCPR believes that Chessler's candidate was Jackson. 

Had he not given into Laubacher, he could have faced the possibility that he would have provided a possibility for the avowedly Republican and past trustee candidate Crisiva Varner getting the appointment at the hand of  Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park (a Republican) who statutorily was in line to make the appointment in the event of a deadlock between Laubacher and Chessler.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Perry township trustees are poised to make an appointment to replace recently resigned Trustee Anna Capaldi, perhaps, at tonight's meeting.  But they could wait until as late as Thursday.

The SCPR has learned that appointing trustees Craig Chessler and Lee Laubacher are at loggerheads as to whom they will appoint.

Chessler reportedly wants former trustee (Perry), Stark County commissioner and Ohio Lottery official Gayle Jackson.  Laubacher?  Anyone but Jackson.

At stake is the political clout of former Stark County chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  He is a Jackson political ally going back many years.  Maier names Jackson as the all time best commissioner that Stark County has ever had.

As The Report has mused in an earlier blog, it is unbelievable that a politician of Jackson's stature would submit her name unless she had "a wink and nod" assurance that were she to apply, the position would be hers.

One thing Chessler and Laubacher (both Democrats) agree on is that they do not want the appointment to go to Republican Stark County Probate Judge Dixie Park.

So does this mean that the new trustee will come from among the list Chessler and Laubacher published recently?  They are:
  • David Ramos, secretary of the Perry Township Zoning Commission,
  • Ralph DeChiara Jr., a township firefighter; 
  • Doug Haines, a Fisher Foods employee, and
  • Attorney Paul Hervey
With only hours remaining until the appointment occurs, one can imagine that there is a political hotline set up between Jackson and Maier as they communicate strategy in an all out effort to bringing Laubacher on board.

Can Maier pull a Jackson appointment off?

Monday, January 30, 2012

AN OIL & GAS INDUSTRY TAKEOVER OF STARK CO. EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OF HAZARDOUS MATERIALS MISHAPS IN FRACKING OPERATIONS?


The following e-mail sparked a strong reaction from Stark County environmentalists who apparently think that the planned Stark County Local Emergency Planning Committee (SCLEPC) Symposium on Natural Resources and Deep Well Development (Symposium) for March 10, 2012 at Stark State College is an subtle effort of the oil and gas industry to use local officials and agencies of local government to brainwash Stark County elected officials to adopt the industry's take on the dangers, if any, of hazardous materials affecting the lives of Stark Countians should a fracking mishap occur.

"If any?"

Yes, the general oil and gas industry position seems to be that 95.5% of the solution used in fracking is non-hazardous and therefore the danger is for intents and purposes non-existent.


Here is a link to www.energyindepth.org which is an organization devoted to being a clearinghouse for oil and gas industry arguments for side fracking issues.

In brief, fracking is an oil and gas exploration drilling method.  (see more detailed definitions below).

Here is the e-mail provoking the response, to wit:

From: SCLEPC [mailto:sclepc@co.stark.oh.us]

Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 12:14 PM

To: ...

Save the date: March 10, 2012

From: Don McDonald – Program Director Stark County LEPC

A ½ day (morning) Symposium on Natural Resources and Deep Well Development will be conducted on Saturday, March 10 at Stark State College.

Scheduled presenters include representatives from The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Educational Program (OOGEEP), The Ohio Dept of Natural Resources (ODNR), The Ohio EPA, the Battelle

Corp. and others.  Our intended audience will include elected officials from the county, cities, villages, and townships as well as the fire and police chiefs serving those communities.

This is not a 1st responder training event.  The symposium is intended to provide unbiased information on the issue of hydraulic fracturing to all of these officials so that they may have accurate information to provide to their constituents and to use in policy making decisions that may be impacted by this issue.

More information will be provided in the very near future.  Attendance to this symposium will be by invitation only.  Please save this date as this symposium will be both timely and informative to you and your staff.

Thank you for your time,

Don McDonald, Contact person for the Symposium Planning Committee

Office: 330-451-3907
McDonald tells the SCPR that it recently occurred to him and members of SCLEPC that the local furor over fracking (first brought to the attention of locals by Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis in December, 2010) and the onset of actual fracking drilling operations (three currently in process) in Stark commanded the attention of SCLEPC should there be a hazardous materials mishap connected with a fracking operation (drilling for natural gas and oil) in Stark County.

Accordingly, SCLEPC a local government education project was conceived and a symposium committee was formed to put the project together.  The committee is comprised of:
  • McDonald, (program director of SCLEPC)
  • Representative Christina Hagan, (Republican - 50th House District)
  • Fred Bertram, (Dean at Stark State College [SSC], teaches hazardous materials course)
  • Ted Heck, (former Jackson fire chief, teaches at SSC)
  • Art Murdoch, (chairman of SCLEPC)
  • Lance Wilcox,  (VP - Mr Rapid - emergency cleanup services)
  • Bart Ray, (Special Investigator / On-scene Coordinator, Ohio EPA)
  • Barb Stoll, (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Ohio)
  • Jack Liberator, (Canton Township Fire Dept., - deputy chief)
Local opponents (e.g. Concerned Citizens of Stark County [CCSC] headed by Plain Township resident Christine Borello) to fracking want it stopped until there are studies which establish that the procedure is safe in that safeguards are in place to protect drinking water, the air we breathe, underground soil pollution and the like.

Here are samples of reactions from Giavasis and Borello.

Giavasis:
  • By invitation only for unbiased information on gas and oil to give our constituencies correct information and to also set appropriate policies. 
    • Where are those from the other side of this issue? 
    • If this unbiased why is it only by invitation, why is it not open to the public? 
    • Because they want to control the message and the discussion unimpeded.
  • To the SCPR:  "the ODNR is a cheerleader to the oil and gas industry."
Borello:
  • Wow.  Talk about them trying to control people, officials, circumventing stakeholder citizens even further!...Similar was done in PA - 
  • Who is paying for this forum?  Money given to the college by big oil?
  • Excerpts of e-mail to McDonald:
    • we [CCSC] definitely do not consider/ believe ODNR and Oil & Gas [OOGEEP]  fit that description ... . 
    • ... we are certainly compelled to also question Battelle being the allegedly lone unbiased representative on this panel discussion ... (based on a Columbus Dispatch article of April 11, 2011 on a lawsuit filed against Battelle by Veterans seeking database information compiled by Battelle for the the U.S. Military on experiments conducted on soldiers in the 1950s through the 1970s)
    • ... sincerely hope once again,  you can go the distance and do more to balance this meeting with two different addtional panelists who possess different views about drilling than ODNR and Oil and Gas, yes, maybe even "biased" ones, so at least BOTH sides of the drilling discussion can be aired
Exactly, in more detail, what is fracking?   (a term the industry does not like because it believes it connotes negativity)

Compare definitions of fracking from diametrically opposed sources.

First, from Chesapeake Energy, a major player in the drilling, to wit:
Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technological advancement which allows producers to safely recover natural gas​ and oil from deep shale formations. This technology has the potential to not only dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign fuel imports, but also to significantly reduce our national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and accelerate our transition to a carbon-light environment. Simply put, deep shale gas and oil formation development is critical to America's energy needs and economic renewal.
 Second, from the promoters of the anti-fracking film Gasland, to wit:
Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.
An SCPC compressed version of a Gasland graphic ("a picture speaks a thousand words") from its website shows the multiple environmental concerns that opponents of fracking have.


The SCPR's position on fracking is that it is here to stay for the foreseeable future, like it or not.

President Obama favors it, Ohio Governor John Kasich favors it, Congressman Tim Ryan (Youngstown) and many other representatives and senators favor it as well as Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Why?

Jobs, pure and simple!

President Obama says it will produce 600,000 jobs over the next 10 years and Stark County local Mayor Healy believes that the fracking industry could produce 25,000 jobs for Canton.

But wait a minute.  Does anyone believe that there won't be accidents and concomitant environmental consequences?

Yours truly certainly doesn't!

Accordingly, The Report believes the Ohio Legislature needs to amp up protection of  local communities by requiring drillers such as Chesapeake to carry insurance sufficient to indemnify and hold harmless those Ohio/Stark County communities which are in the path of the accidents).

Moreover, Ohio needs to restore to on-the-scene local agencies of government such as SCLEPC the authority to deal with fracking operations both in a preventative mode and clean up mode when accidents occur especially when hazardous materials are the issue.

As far as the Symposium is concerned, it is a good idea.  However, local elected officials should hear a balanced view of the pluses and minuses of fracking insofar as it concerns hazardous materials.

The SCPR does not necessarily share the views of Giavasis and Borello on the ODNR and Battelle but does agree that OOGEEP is a virtual arm of the oil and gas industry and therefore should be counterbalanced in the Symposium for local elected officials by someone like Giavasis. 

In fact, The Report has suggested such to McDonald.

Giavasis is the perfect combination of being a Stark County elected official (some 20 years now) who has been active in creating policy at the township level of government and specifically in the area of fracking notwithstanding that the Ohio Legislature including area legislators Schuring, Oelslager, Slesnick and former state Reps. John Hagan and Todd Snitchler voted to strip local government nearly all local say in regulating the oil and gas industry impact on the villages, cities and townships of Stark County.

In fact, Director McDonald tells that SCPR that HB 284 stripped the SCLEPC of the authority to deal with oil and gas industry hazardous material accidents/incidents (including from fracking) affecting the Stark County public domain.  Those matters are to be communicated as a matter of law to the state of Ohio and not to local authorities.  Giavasis says that Stark County first responders are not permitted as a consequence of HB 284 (2004) and SB 165 (2010) to deal with hazardous materials incidents unless and until invited to do so by oil and gas industry officials and that sometimes this means first responders having to stand by and watch as hazardous materials wreck havoc with the environment.

McDonald, a former captain in the Jackson Township Fire Department having been there for some 24 years, has been the head of SCLEPC since 2005.

SCLEPC currently has 44 members who are recommended by the Stark County commissioners (Commissioner Pete Ferguson is the Stark commissioners' representative) to the Ohio State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) who does the actual appointing to local planning committees (87 of them in Ohio).

A major mission of SCLEPC and SERC is to implement federal law on the public's "Right-to-Know" about the presence of, preventive management of, and cleanup of hazardous chemicals in local communities.

Here is how the Ohio EPA articulates "Right-to-Know:"
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) was passed by Congress in 1986. EPCRA was included as Title III of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) and is sometimes referred to as SARA Title III. EPCRA provides for the collection and availability of information regarding the use, storage, production, and release of hazardous chemicals to the public and emergency responders in your communities. The law promotes a working relationship among government at all levels, business and community leaders, environmental and other public interest organizations, and individual citizens to improve hazard communications and emergency planning.
While the SCPR agrees with Director McDonald that, like it or not, fracking is here to stay given the overall political environment at national, state and local levels and that responsible (i.e. SCLEPC) local authorities need to educate and plan for accidents that result in the release of hazardous materials; SCLEP should not allow the oil and gas industry to hijack the education process and should expand its list for the March 10th meeting to include presenters who have a different perspective from the oil and gas industry itself and its sympathizers on the likelihood of a significant danger to the general public from hazardous materials used in fracking.

For her part, state Representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) needs to introduce legislation empowering SCLEPC and LEPCs across Ohio to exercise jurisdiction over the hazardous materials aspect of fracking in local communities.

Here is a list of SCLEPC members.


Friday, January 27, 2012

WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN PERRY TRUSTEE CAPALDI REPLACEMENT SELECTION PROCESS?

At least one Perry trustee (Lee Laubacher) "appears" to giving all 18 applicants a thorough look as being the replacement for recently resigned Republican trustee Anna Capaldi.

It is obvious from a Massillon Independent report (Matt Rink, 4 to interview for trustee seat, January 25, 2011) in which Trustee Craig Chessler says that he and Laubacher have agreed on four (David Ramos, Ralph DeChiara, Jr., Doug Haines and Paul Hervey) as a potential appointee.

But Chessler leaves open the possibility that the appointee will be none of the four but someone else from the field of 18 applicants.

What kind of doubletalk is that?

Who might that other person be?

Former trustee (1985 to 1992) Gayle Jackson?

Jackson was also a Stark County commissioner from 1993 through 2007 and beyond that an appointee by Democrat Governor Ted Strickland (2007) to the Ohio Lottery Commission.  A position she lost when Republican John Kasich became governor.

The SCPR had a discussion with a trustee from another Stark County township (Trustee "X") yesterday and Trustree X does not see Jackson becoming the replacement trustee.

The SCPR sees the equivocation by Chessler as indication that backroom negotiations and political cajoling are the order of the day in Perry.

Yours truly cannot imagine that Jackson would apply for the job without having some inkling that she likely would end up being the successful applicant.

After all she has some powerful friends in the Stark County Democratic Party in former Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., current Chairman Randy Gonzalez, son-in-law, Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell and son Shane who is the Stark County Dems political director and Maier's chief deputy at the Massillon clerk of courts to list just a few.

If she does not get the appointment, she will definitely have political egg on her face and her inability to flex political muscle on her home turf may be indication that she is finished as a officeholder at any level of Stark County county government.

Accordingly, the SCPR sees the Laubacher/Chessler machinations as possibly being a ploy to have the applicants and Perry residents think that they are leaning one way while the reality is that they know who they are going to appoint and are trying to find a way to conjure up a justification that will play with the Perry public.

A plausible alternative to Jackson appears to be David Ramos who is secretary of the Perry Zoning Commission.

A possible scenario for that to happen might be that Jackson withdraws from consideration as face saving maneuver thereby paving the way for Ramos.

If neither Jackson or Ramos gets the nod, then the indication will be that Laubacher was able to resist the pressure of Maier, Gonzalez et al and gain control of the process.

In any event, the SCPR is not buying into the appearances and The Report believes that dissembling is what is going on and that a familiar face and name will surface as the "new" Perry trustee.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

LAKE TRUSTEES: WHEN DID THEY KNOW ABOUT ISSUE 6 BALLOT LANGUAGE ERROR AND WHO DECIDED TO PROCEED WITH ERRANT LANGUAGE?



Stark County:   becoming a laughing stock from the vantage point of some circles within  the state of Ohio government?

That is what was suggested to one Stark County elected official in discussions with state officials once it came to light that there was an error in the ballot language on Issue 6 - a proposed tax levy to expand the Uniontown Police District (from its present 9 square miles) to cover all of Lake Township.

This assessment by a certain Ohio official (commenting on the Lake Township situation) follows on the heels of a state perception of the debacled way Stark County officials handled matters growing out of the theft of Stark County taxpayer money by former Stark County Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci.

Ohio's auditor, treasurer, secretary of state and, of course, the Supreme Court are intimately familiar with the Stark trials and travails growing out the Frustaci matter.

Between the then treasurer Gary Zeigler (who was not implicated in the theft), the Board of County Commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) and the county auditor (Perez) and the prosecutor's office (Ferrero) and the parade of in, out, in and out again interplay between Zeigler and successor county treasurers,  the political brouhaha over the theft in terms who should have been minding the store better devolved into a first class "finger pointing" contest with state officials drinking it all in.  Hence the notion of Stark being a laughing stock at the state level.

Now it appears that Lake Township (a Stark County political subdivision) is heading to the Supreme Court in an appeal by Lake Township trustees and the Stark County Board of Elections (Stark BOE) of Stark County Common Pleas Judge John Haas' ruling yesterday that the ballot language flaw on Issue 6 was fatal in compelling his finding as a matter of law that the passage on November 8, 2011 of Lake Police Levy (expansion township wide) was invalid.


And this may be a good thing.

A good thing?  For whom?

Answer:  the citizens of Lake Township in terms of them getting answers as to whom is specifically responsible for the ballot goof up of November 8th.

That question that went unanswered in Judge Haas' decision.

Plaintiffs' (the winning side of the Lake citizenry who opposed the expansion) attorneys attempted to depose Lake Township and Board of Elections officials, but Judge Haas was having none of it and quashed deposition subpoenas on those officials.

An unreported aspect of the case was a proffer of evidence (a document from the Ohio secretary of state office (SOS) showing that a SOS official spotted the error and communicated it to the Stark BOE on or about July 27, 2011.


Whether one is a Uniontown Police District (UPD) voter (disclaimer:  yours truly, a UPD resident voted for the expansion which had the benefit of reducing UPD residents tax rate) or a Lake unincorporated area voter, it seems to the SCPR that either type voter would want to know whom among their public officials bears the blame for the errant ballot language getting to the ballot.

Political retribution is likely in order for Trustees Erb, Stoll (2013) and Arnold (2015) at the hand of both sides of the expansion issue if it is shown that the trustees knew of the errant language but opted to proceed with the election nevertheless.

For the anti-expansionists, it could be that the trustees would have had to cancel the issue for the November 2011 election and therefore the anti's would have time to solidify their forces in order to get over the electoral hump.  This will especially be the case if the antis ultimately lose on an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

For the expansionists, as matters stand now (losing before Judge Haas), they have to be furious that they would have won fair and square in the election had their public officials not been so sloppy in formulating the ballot language.

For both sides there has to be a realization that the blunders of public officials have caused a heightened political division in the Lake community already divided by Uniontown, Hartville and Greentown (with their competing fire departments) and a historical division of the  southwestern parts of the township and Greentown being in the North Canton school district.

Moreover, there has to be more than a passing curiosity as to how much this costing Lake residents and UPD residents in terms of legal advice/litigation expense (Township attorney Charles Hall, III) and the costs on the UPD part of the tax duplicate whereby trustees are allowing the UPD to patrol and serve townshipwide notwithstanding the unsettled nature of the election dispute.

One thing we know from the proffered SOS memo is that the Stark County Board of Election officials knew on or about July 27, 2011 about the faulty language.

Undoubtedly, they did not keep this information to themselves.

Who at the Lake Township government level knew of the problem, when did they know it, and who issued the directive to proceed with the election and, if the directive was made or sanctioned by a trustee or trustees, why wasn't the decision made in the context of a public meeting with a resolution voted upon by each and every trustee?

Ultimately, the courts will decide the substance of the issue one way or another.  At a higher level with the proffered SOS evidence being in place in the court record for the Supreme Court to consider in the context of an appeal, if made; we may see a remand back to the Stark Court of Common Pleas for testimony by Stark BOE and Lake Township officials.

However, whether or not the Ohio Supreme Court (assuming an appeal) orders a revisitation of Stark County BOE and Lake Township officials in a testimonial context; Lake Township residents on both sides of the issue should demand from the Lake trustees that they provide chapter and verse on their role in the Issue 6 debacle!

A highly negative public perception of the quality Stark County governance developed out of the Frustaci revelation on April 1, 2009.

Despite the best effort of the likes of new county commissioners Bernbei and Creighton and new Stark County Treasurer Zumbar and Auditor Alan Harold to regain public confidence, they now have the added Lake problem which encompassed not only Lake officials but also the county prosecutor's office and the Stark County Board of elections.

Is there any wonder that Stark County governance is taking on a goofball tone with the folks some 125 miles away from Stark County?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

JUDGE JOHN HAAS OVERTURNS LAKE POLICE DISTRICT LEVEY. READ THE ENTIRE ORDER.


FERRERO'S OFFICE SHOULD BE EXCUSED FROM ANY COUNTY BUDGET CUTS, HANDS DOWN?


When Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero appeared before the county commissioners three (3) months to the day that Gary D. Zeigler resigned/retired (October 19, 2011), he had "an ace (perhaps, two aces) up his sleeve" as he confronted commissioners on their proposal to cut his office 23% (along with other Stark County general funding receiving departments) for 2012.

Here is a video of Ferrero (and Commissioner Thomas in response later [01/23/11]) justifying, in part, why his office should not be cut.



Since Ferrero did not come armed with exact figures, the SCPR went checking.

A "lo and behold" The Report found (according to official Stark County auditor office numbers) that Stark County spent $247,604.88.


Multiplying the $247,604.88 three (3) times according to the Ferrero articulated standard, his office saved Stark County taxpayers $742,814.64 or nearly THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION DOLLARS!

So what is the argument about?

Too bad for the rest of Stark County's of general fund supported department of governments, but who among them can say that they more than pay for themselves in savings to taxpayers?

And the Zeigler thing is not the only thing.

Ferrero has the commissioners by the throat on another matter.

If they do cut his office, he will do an end run around them and ask Stark County's courts to appoint counsel who will paid out of guess what?

You've got it, the general fund.

Which, of course, will cost the county a lot more than the $678,000 that they would be saving with a 23% cut on the 2011 budget.

To sum the justification for the commissioners not exacting 23% or any cuts to the Stark County prosecutor's office:
  • the office has saved the county about three quarters of a million dollars to start with, and 
  • it might cost the county budget hundreds of thousands of dollars more with "appointed special counsel."
Indications are that commissioners are highly sensitive to law enforcement matters, including the prosecutorial function.

So it will be interesting to see whether or not Ferrero has been effective or counterproductive in trying to ward off cuts to his office.

The commissioners main worry?

If they give into Ferrero, what is the message they are sending to the remaining Stark County general fund funded departments of government?

The commissioners' message has been that "we are all in this together."

Will it hold water, if they cave into Ferrero?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(VIDEOS: 3) $1.1 MILLION IN UNEXPECTED (TO THE COMMISSIONERS) REVENUE. WHAT TO DO WITH IT? WILL PROSECUTOR FERRERO'S OFFICE GET ANY OF IT?



 UPDATE:  9:05 AM


ORIGINAL BLOG

When Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei (about a year ago) became commissioners, they instituted a monthly meeting with the Stark County auditor and treasurer in an "open to the public" work session context so that they can keep abreast of county finances.

Mostly, the news has not been good.

However, at today's (January 23, 2012) meeting, there was some good news.

Auditor Alan Harold shared with commissioners that he had determined that he was willing to transfer most of accumulated (more than 5 years old) "overpaid" real property and personal property taxes.  How much will that be?  About $1.1 million!

And the news is not only good news for the commissioners, it is also good news for all county departments of government that get funded from the county general fund.

Watch and hear Auditor Harold (the Stark County General Fund 2012 Certificate of Resources)  and Treasurer Zumbar (interest income) layout total county revenues for this budget year of $47.7 million compared to $49.9 million last year.



The "new" money (the $1.1 in overpaid taxes) coupled with nearly $4.9 million in 2011 carryover could mean that the projected 23.1% (across all of Stark County government) may be reduced to 15%.

Here is a copy of the 2011/2012 (estimate) comparison on revenues compiled by Auditor Harold.


After Auditor Harold and Treasurer Zumbar made their presentations, the commissioners then reflected on the fact that the $1.1 million (overpaid taxes) in unexpected money would lessen the cuts for some departments.  Harold offered several scenarios.  Here is a video of the discussion.



As readers of the SCPR will recall, a couple days ago The Report published a video of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero sort of giving an ultimatum to the commissioners: (paraphrase)"either take me back to 2011 budgetary levels or I will force your hands by having the courts appoint special prosecutors for our cases, which will cost the general fund much more money in the long run."

Yours truly checked with two of the commissioners after Monday's session (Bernabei and Ferguson)and both said that while they sympathized with Ferrero and that they are open to reconsidering the amount of his department's cuts, they believed that he would not be fully restored to his 2011 level of funding.

Here is the video of Bernabei and Ferguson.



The remaining question: Will Ferrero stick to his bottom line or does he blink?

Hmm?

Monday, January 23, 2012

BEING RECRUITED BY ARMOND BUDISH: A "POLITICAL KISS OF DEATH?"


A properly run campaign should make Ohio's 50th House District competitive for Stark County Democrats this year.


Appointed (March, 2011) Republican Christina Hagan should be vulnerable on at least a couple accounts.

First, she is a political party appointee and has never been elected to anything as a candidate for public office.  It is a political truism that the best opportunity to defeat an in-office candidate is the first time they have to stand for election.

Second, as the Republican appointee to succeed Lake Township Republican Todd Snitchler who has become Governor Kasich's PUCO chairman, she has shown herself to be a consummately committed Republican - over and beyond the public good - who has supported some highly unpopular causes in Stark County.

A couple of examples:  Senate Bill 5 (Ohio ballot initiative issue #2) - the attack on the collective bargaining rights of teachers, fireman, policemen and other public workers - and her votes to gut state funding of local government by supporting cuts in the Local Government Fund of Ohio's budget (about 50%, on average) and the taking away of significant local government revenues by voting to eliminate Ohio's estate tax beginning in January, 2013.


But did the Democrats pick someone to run against Christina Hagan who can put together a proper campaign?

Of course, it remains to be seen, but the SCPR is skeptical that the Dems have done so in selecting Alliance Councilwoman Sue Ryan.

Why is that?

First, is that appears that she is a desperation candidate (from the perspective of Ohio House Minority Leader Armond Budish).

The Report does not believe that Ryan was ever his first choice but rather a bottom of the list - if all else fails - candidate.  What's more, being on Budish's list at all is suspect in terms of political viability.

Budish surprised political junkies of all stripes when he focused in on former Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley to run against Snitchler in his re-election bid in November, 2010.  Bosley had been whipped soundly by the "Vote No Increased Taxes Committee" in November, 2009 over a Bosley inspired and led imposed 0.5% sales tax increase.

What made Budish think for "one New York second" that Bosley had any chance whatsoever against Snitchler?

Even though the likes of yours truly knew that Bosley had no chance against Snitchler because of the imposed tax issue, there was pause for thought when the Ohio Democratic Caucus pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into a nasty (e.g. Bosley comparing Snitchler to a rat) effort to unseat Snitchler.

As it turns out, the intuition was right on the mark and Budish proved to be "out there" in political "LA-LA Land" somewhere.

Ryan herself has as a spotted political record in her home turf of Alliance:

To the SCPR, Plain Township Louis Giavasis was the only Democrat in the 50th House District who had a realistic chance to defeat Hagan.  But as it turns out, Giavasis is unwilling to give up his political comfort of being a Plain Township trustee for some 20 years.

That she was way down on the priority list of candidates does not bode well for Ryan.

But has pointed out earlier in this blog, she does have some issues to work with.

We shall see in coming months how much political savvy she has as a candidate.

Rather than call Hagan a twit on her facebook page (whom it would be embarrassing to lose to), Ryan needs to be out working teachers, firefighters and policemen  and other public workers (and there well-moneyed unions) that would have been affected adversely by Senate Bill 5 (State Issue #2) and building up a formidable force of campaign workers and donors.

If she is to have a chance to defeat Hagan, this is one of a number of things Ryan needs to do.

Another thing that Hagan is vulnerable on is her legislative participation in the gutting of local government funding.

Ryan needs to be working city halls, township halls and village halls in the 50th with one simple message:  "you can trace your local government funding problems to your state representative - Christina Hagan. - I will work to restore that funding!"

Ryan already has a strike or two against her that Dem Minority Leader Armond Budish had to beg her to become the candidate.

And if she is half-hearted in her campaign and does not exploit to the utmost Hagan's vulnerabilities, then:

The SCPR's suspicion that Armond is using her as mere political fodder will proved to be well-founded and that her recruitment by Budish was early indication that she never really had "a ghost of a chance!"

Friday, January 20, 2012

(VIDEO) FERRERO GOES AFTER COMMISSIONERS IN BUDGET HEARING? BERNABEI: "WHAT DEPT SHALL WE TAKE FROM?" FERRERO: "THAT'S YOUR JOB!"



 UPDATED:  7:30 AM 01/21/2012

It wasn't quite a Phil Davison YouTube viral moment but matters did get  a tad surreal between Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei yesterday at the 2012 version of the annual budgeting hearings that commissioners hold.

It used to be optional for county department heads receiving general fund monies as to whether or not they actually appeared at the scheduled hearing for his/her department.

Well, the hearings are optional no more!

As part and parcel of their effort to make county government more transparent and accountable, Democrat Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Republican Janet Creighton instituted in January, 2011 twice weekly "open to the public" work sessions in which they bring in those doing or wishing to do business with the county general fund (government officials as well as private sector types) to provide information, answer questions and dialogue with commissioners over a given topic.

Attending county budget hearings is about as inviting as attending a Stark County Republican Party executive committee meeting which normally are dry, boring and orchestrated.

Surprise!

The Stark GOP executive committee's meeting of September 8th was anything but boring as Minerva Councilman Phil Davison spiced things up as he went "over the top" in a demonstration of partisan zeal is his quest to become Stark GOP's nominee for Stark County treasurer for an election that was held in November, 2010.

Surprise!

Not nearly as dramatic as Davison but the take of the SCPR is that Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero injected "attitude in spades" with commissioners at yesterday's work session budget hearing on his department's appropriation of county general funds for 2012.

To the SCPR, Ferrero's presentation/interaction with the commissioners was a virtual "How Not to Do Budget Hearings 101."

It became instantly apparent to yours truly that Ferrero had ticked off Commissioner Bernabei, for one, big time.

Because they will not be collecting a full year of the 2011 voter approved sales tax increase (collection begins April 1, 2012 but the county has to wait until July 1 to start getting revenue), the commissioners have an overall objective of appropriating an "on average" 23% reduction in county general fund appropriations as compared to 2011 levels.

However, the target of 23% will be tailored from department to department and not an "across the board" type cut.

Commissioners say that a point of the "come in and let's talk" format is designed to elicIt from the likes of Ferrero proposals, supported by solid reasoning, alternative to a flat out 23% cut.

Ferrero was having none of it.

For him yesterday, it was "put me at my 2011 level, and, moreover, look at putting me at the 2010 level" (paraphrase) - pure and simple!

If not, he tells commissioners, he:
  • he will have to layoff 10 to 12 assistant prosecutors,
    • including the layoffs of five courtroom lawyers necessitating that his office ask the affected courts to appoint special prosecutors on about 2,000 cases at a cost to the county of "two to three times" the laid off prosecutors' salary (plus benefits);
    • including the lay off of three assistant prosecutors in the juvenile division (7,000 cases a year) again necessitating a request for judges to appoint special prosecutors;
    • including the layoff of two assistant prosecutors in the appellate division ("hundreds and hundreds of cases) also entailing the appointment of special prosecutors;
    • including the layoff of two assistant prosecutors which "might" mean a request to appoint outside counsel,
      • gave example of the office representing the county in the Zeigler case thereby saving (by the SCPR's analysis) the county hundreds of thousands of dollars that he projected ("three times what the county paid Zeigler's attorneys"),
      • also said if the 23% in cuts are maintained, his office likely would not have the resources to represent county in a Zeigler like case;
  • furloughs are not a viable alternative,
  • his request to fund at 2011 levels amounts to a savings to the Stark County general fund,
  • that the county ought to restore his office to 2010 levels so that he can recall the laid off administrative employees (13),
  • commissioners would be sending a bad message to the Stark County public if they do a 23% cut on his appropriations in the light of voters having just passed a "criminal justice levy,"
  • it is unfair to fully fund the public defenders office at 2011 levels and not the prosecutor's office in the light that the prosecutor's office already had a 16% cut in 2010
    • "message to the public:  criminals are protected by giving them good legal representation, but I guess the heck with victims of crime."
  • law enforcement agencies are going to be livid if 23% cut is imposed on prosecutor's office,
  • "tough to tell them [law enforcement], don't make any felony arrests, because we can't prosecute them; I think that's a wrong message, we just can't do that,"
  • "funding of the jail is going back to the 2010 level.  It's nice to have the jail filled up but if you don't have the funding a prosecutor to prosecute the people in there on a timely basis, I sort of question whether that is the right thing to do or not,"
See for yourself.

What follows is an uncut and uncensored video (even leaving in the shifting of the camera; in other words, "raw footage") of Fererro (who complains that the SCPR is unfair to him and therefore, even in his capacity as Stark County prosecutor, refuses to answer the questions of The Report; an interesting position for an elected county official) in his give and take with commissioners.



The truth of the matter is that The Report has been exceedingly fair in covering Ferrero's management of his office.

His real complaint is that telling things "as they are" has not been very flattering of him a la The SCPR's numerous blogs on:
  • his handling of the Devies case,
  • his unbecoming (in the opinion of the SCPR) outbursts, for being a public official, in various public venues,
  • his handling of the Zeigler matter,
  • indeed, his handling of office budgeting matters (e.g. budgeting with a known shortfall with a hope and a prayer that the missing revenue would materialize out of thin air),
  • his deep involvement in Stark County Democratic Party politics having been a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman (e.g. witness his appointment by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee back in 2003 and, accordingly, to some, thought to be a Stark County Dem "good ole boy"),
to name a few.

He, like Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II, is unhappy unless he can spin media coverage to his liking. 

Ferrero now knows that spinning does not work with the Stark County Political Report.

Elected public official John Ferrero not talking to yours truly because he knows The Report is bona fide "no spin zone" in the work of analyzing Stark County's governmental and political leaders?"

The ultimate compliment to the Stark County Political Report!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

VIDEOS (RINALDI & 5 SUPPORTERS) RON JOHNSON SUPPORTERS - "HEY - HO THE BOE MUST GO" : CAN THEY PULL IT OFF?


Yesterday at 4:00 p.m., about 50 or so committed McKinley Bulldog supporters ("Johnson movement") of former head football coach Ron Johnson (as of Board action of January 9th) gathered at a Ironworkers 550 facility on High Avenue to rally the fan base in an effort to force the Canton BOE to reverse its action of the 9th and restore Johnson to his position.

All indications are that offending board members Nadine McIlwain, (a veteran member), Lisa Gissendaner and Ida Ross-Freeman (both newly sworn in earlier this month) are not changing their minds:  no way, no how!

In fact, the school administration at the direction of the board has started the process to find a replacement for Johnson.

This whole process has the makings of the situation somewhat similar to the on again, off again, on again removal (finally a negotiated resignation/retirement) of now former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler.


Of course, the context is totally different but the prospect of a long drawn fight is eerily similar.

What's more, the damage that fights like these do to overall Stark County community cohesion has an erosive quality about it that will manifest itself in subtle ways for years to come.

Although this fight seemingly only involves Canton and its school system, the reality is that the Canton McKinley Bulldog football phenomenon reaches into every nook and cranny Stark as former McKinley players, graduates, current and former faculty and others with McKinley associations are fanned out over the entire county.

If McIlwain et al stick to their decision and the Johnson supporters follow through on their announced plan to force the removal of the trio board members, then this story has the makings of persisting as long as the Zeigler saga.

What the Stark County community should hope for is for a negotiated return of Johnson as coach with accountability criteria built in so as to assure his critics that their message has been heard and progress on resolving the complaints will be tracked in public view.

There is no doubt about the intensity on both sides of the Johnson issue.

The SCPR captured nearly an hour of video of yesterday's gathering.

First up is video of J.R. Rinaldi (who appears to be the main spokesperson for Johnson movement).



Rinaldi is a man with a history vis-a-vis board member McIlwain (note that she ran unopposed in 2001 and 2005) inasmuch as they have overlapped one another's terms as members, to wit:



They have had prior differences as Rinaldi describes one situation in the presented video.

In addition to Rinaldi, the SCPR videotaped various members of the Johnson movement and their take on the non-renewal.



All Stark Countians should be praying for a negotiated settlement of the Johnson issue.

Because as the SCPR sees it, if this fight goes "the full nine yards," then it will go on and on and on with no seeming end in sight as with the Zeigler situation.

Exactly what the city of Canton does not need!

Exactly what Stark County does not need!

If Coming Together Stark County is to mean anything in terms of credibility, then the Johnson matter is an opportunity for its executive director and and Canton BOE member Nadine McIlwain to step up to the plate and show that she can be a player in a real world situation and not merely a person who represents an organization that does good in a world of platitudes.

Will she do it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MASSILLON IN DESPERATE NEED FOR MONEY TO PAY BILLS WITH. WOULDN'T "BIT OF EDEN" WITH TUSLAW SCHOOLS LOOK GOOD FOR CITY COFFERS NOW?




On September 23, 2010 the then Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. gave up the ghost in his effort to annex the Bit of Eden mobile home park AND the Tuslaw schools.

The attempted annexation had become a political hot potato and Cicchinelli perceiving such tried to get ahead of the political opportunism of he thought he saw his to be foe availing herself of in what he was sure would be Kathy Catazaro-Perry running against him in the March 6, 2011 Democratic primary.  (See the SCPR blog of September 25, 2010)

As it turns out, Cicchinelli was right about his then challenger-in-waiting but his action on September 23rd turned out to be a case of too little, too late.

Cicchinelli himself now says that the hordes of Tuslaw connected people campaigning against him in Massillon (particularly, the sixth ward) was a key factor to his losing to Catazaro-Perry in the primary.

However, Cicchinelli never conceded to those Massillon opponents of Bit-of-Eden who questioned the overall benefit of the schools annexation to the revenue stream of Massillon city government. 

A prime reason that Cicchinelli gave for running again in 2011 was his intent to continue pursuit of his aggressive annexation policy.

He was convinced that his dogged annexation program was highly beneficial to Massillon.

At last night's Massillon City Council (Council), Councilman-at-Large Larry Slagle took a few minutes to talk about the shortfall on state funding of local government in the form of no more money from the Ohio Estate Tax beginning in January 1, 2013.

The occasion was the impending Council vote on Resolution 3-12 requesting that the Stark County Auditor and Treasurer pay over to Massillon 75% of the estate and inheritance tax for the period July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 (aka FY 2012).

Slagle who happens to be a staunch Democrat lashed out at Republican Governor Kasich and the Republican dominated Ohio General Assembly for giving away vitally needed local government revenue (he says about $300,000 for Massillon this year, but it varies from year to year).

Getting back to Cicchinelli and annexation, Democrat Councilman Paul Manson told the SCPR last night (himself an ardent advocate of annexation) that had Massillon stayed the course on the Bit-of-Eden annexation that included the Tuslaw schools, the city would have realized about $160,000 annually.

Well, with Massillon unable to pay its bills on a timely basis, wouldn't $160,000 be looking very good these days?

So for Mayor Catazaro-Perry the whole Tuslaw annexation thing has to be bittersweet thing.  On the one hand the issue may have been the difference maker in her defeating Cicchinelli.  But on the other she now has to govern and one of the major problems besetting her administration and Council is finding the revenues with which to balance the city budget and get back to paying the city's bills as they become due.

And by the way, there was discussion/vote at last night's meeting about whether or not to rescind a service agreement previously approved by Council for the scaled down Bit of Eden annexation.  In the end, only Ward 4 Councilman Tony Townsend favored rescission.  There does seem to be concern on the part of a number of councilpersons that Massillon not come out on the short end of the financial stick.

Council still has the option to abandon the annexation.  However, Councilman Manson tells The Report that he believes that ultimately (perhaps, by spring) Council will formally accept the annexation.

But it will not have the financial benefit that former Mayor Cicchinelli had in mind to the tune of $160,000 or so.

Though he dearly loves Massillon and certainly does want to see the once grand industrial city have financial troubles, if the abbreviated - minus the estimated $160,000 in annual revenue - does get accepted, it could be that Massillonians can be sure that Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr will be having "the last laugh!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

EXACTLY WHAT CANTON NEEDS? ANOTHER CONTROVERSY! THIS TIME WITH THE SCHOOLS & WHO IS FOOTBALL COACH. GO FIGURE!!!



On a night (January 9, 2012) when it was just getting organized, the Canton City Schools Board of Education (CCS-BOE) appears to have decided (i.e. members McIlwain, Gissendaner and Ross-Freeman) that matters are going too well in the Hall of Fame City and that they needed to stir things up a bit with their majority vote not to renew the contract of successful on the playing field Canton McKinley football coach Ron Johnson.

And cause a political raucous they have!

Yours truly already has received an e-mail from a reader on the controversy which was essentially a:
  • who is to blame, and
  • we need a recall in Ohio to get rid of the "radical" members of the board.
 type inquiry.

WHO OR WHAT IS TO BLAME?

Given the fact that Coach Johnson is white and the majority voting board members are black is suspicious to some that race may have played a role in the decision.

It has been pointed out that McKinley has never had a black head coach for football or basketball.  And one does has to wonder why.

Race as being a factor is being denied by majority trio.  And McIlwain did vote to renew Johnson a mere six months ago or so which appears to indicate she has no problem with a white man as McKinley's head football coach even in the face of history that mysteriously a black man has never had that honor.

The important consideration for the SCPR is not the suspicion or the denial but rather the overall perception of Canton residents, in particular, and Stark Countians, in general.

Stark Countians, in general?

Indeed.

Board Member Nadine McIlwain's calling card as its executive director is Coming Together Stark County (CTSC). 

The Report's take on CTSC is that the organization is the Stark County political establishment's preferred vehicle for weighing in as being for improved race relations is Stark County.

One would think that a concern for Stark Countians who support the efforts of CTSC (as does the SCPR) is whether or not the CCS-BOE action (since it involves CTSC Executive Director McIlwain, albeit it in her school board member capacity) on Coach Johnson will be largely perceived by the Stark Countians as having racial overtones.

Like it or not, when one serves as an elected official every action, every vote (when one serves on a board) gets heavy public scrutiny and the general public will form an opinion/perception of the significance of a given action/vote.

For the social well-being of Stark County, the SCPR believes it is critically important that the public take on Johnson's non-renewal be that it had a clear and convincing non-race-connected underlying rationale.

Do the reasons given meet a "clear and convincing" standard which the SCPR thinks is an apropos standard given the superintendent's recommendation of renewal?

Board member Ida Ross-Freeman's alleges that Coach Johnson foments community divisiveness.  Moreover, she says that Johnson was not communicating effectively with the players' parents.  Board member Gissendaner appears to share Ross-Freeman's sentiments.

So does she mean to say that CCS Superintendent Michele Evans would recommend a person for rehire that is divisive and incommunicado?

The Report's take on McIlwain's comments to The Rep's Todd Porter (One voter's change of heart, January 16th) is that they are of pretty much of the "difference of opinion" variety, to wit:
“I can’t say what changed.  It’s difficult, without revealing information that was revealed to me in executive sessions, to say what changed. I wish there would have been more outreach from the coach to parents and the community. It sounds like we’re blaming him. We’re not necessarily blaming him. People are who they are. Part of the job of a coach is not only to coach the team, but secure the fan base.”
"... . There are strong Ron Johnson supporters, and there are strong non-Ron Johnson supporters. I’ve heard equal voices.”
Isn't a difference of opinion between the school administration and a majority of the board indication of being anything but "clear and convincing?"

Regarding Ross-Freeman's comment to Charita Goshay of The Rep (Coaching controversy just latest chapter in life of social activist, January 16), "We need to get our community back together,"  it is a bit more than ironic to the SCPR that she would make that comment given what the coach axing of January 9th in and of itself has done to the Canton school community.

To The Report, such a comment in the light of CTSC countywide objectives indicates a disconnect thinking process in that the contrast suggests that she and her fellows do not understand that lacking clear and convincing reasons for their action they risk undermining the CTSC's effort to have all of Stark County come together.

Appearances are that Ida Ross-Freeman, though just elected, is the lead person in the action taken.

It seems to The Report that Ida Ross-Freeman may be ill equipped to be a board member.  Put simply, in the opinion of yours truly, the Canton voting public made a huge mistake in placing her on the board.  Perhaps she will grow on the job.  But as matters stand now, the CCS-BOE could be on a rocky path for the next four years.

When the vote came in on the eve of November 8th showing that she had won the second of final spot of three running for the position, there was expressed disbelief (as witnessed by yours truly) among some community leaders who know her well.

In a videotape interview with Goshay, Ross-Freeman overstates the volume of her votes ("over 6,000;" the real number 5,396) and then unbelievably muses as to whether not there is a law which would permit her to be both a board of education member and a member of Canton City Council inasmuch as she sees a need to correct some misinformed (in her assessment) decision(s) recently made by council.

Readers should make a point to see the Goshay's interview.  Make a judgment of your own as to whether or not Ross-Freeman presents as having the gravitas to be a board member.


A close examination of the votes show that she, Duff and Gissendaner could have received as many as 13,920 votes.  Yet the three of them were so unimpressive to Cantonians that the highest percentage against the 13,920 vote potential for any single candidate was Gissendaner's 47%.  For Ross-Freeman it was about 39% and for Duff it was 36%.

So the winners Ross-Freeman and Gissendaner only received plurality votes; not majority votes.  All the more reason why they should seek to reassure the community that they are in touch with the entire community and not a specific constituency, no?

Another interesting statistic is that Cantonians (having two votes per voter, but only to vote for two "different" candidates, if at all) could have cast 27,840 votes.

How many were actually cast?

16,981 or about 61% of the total potential which means that Canton voters were so unimpressed with the trio that some 10,850 potential votes were not voted.

As a sidenote, had former board member Eric Resnick not been disqualified from the ballot for not getting enough valid signatures, he likely, along with Gissendaner would have been elected and perhaps a Johnson non-renewal controversy would not be on the table.

SO IF CANTON VOTERS WERE SO UNIMPRESSED AND IN LIGHT OF THE JOHNSON DECISION, IS A RECALL IN THE OFFING?

Answer:  No.

Ohio does not have a recall process as such.

And the law Ohio has is so burdensome that detractors of former Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler were unwilling to invoke it in order to change the Ohio Supreme Court result restoring Zeigler to office after finding that the Stark County commissioners had unconstitutionally removed him.

A 2004 communique from the Ohio School Board Association puts the procedure this way:
Ohio does not have a statute that permits voters to recall elected public officials. Instead it has a series ofstatutes (Ohio Revised Code (RC) Sections 3.07-3.10) that permit the removal from office of a public officialfor misconduct in office. RC 3.07 specifically provides that a public official, including a school board member “… who willfully and flagrantly exercises authority not authorized by law, refuses or willfully neglects toenforce the law or to perform any official duty imposed uponhim by law, or is guilty of gross neglect of duty, gross immorality, drunkenness, misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance is guilty of misconduct in office.”
RC 3.08 provides the procedure to initiate removal of a public official. It requires that petitions specifically setting forth the charge must be signed by qualified electors residing in the school district totaling 15% of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent election. If that number of signatures is obtained on petitions, the petitions are then filed in the court of common pleas. After notice to the public officials against whom the
charges are filed, a hearing is held before the judge (or in some cases a jury) and the judge renders a decision as to whether the charges have been proved and whether they warrant removal of the individuals from public office.
So it appears to The Report to be impossible to remove public officials from office in Ohio over such things as a disagreement over whether or not a supplemental football coaching contract is renewed.

And that is as it should be.

In time the renewal controversy will blow over.

The concern should be whether or not the controversy has set back the overall cause of Coming Together Stark County!

Monday, January 16, 2012

WILL THE 2012 ELECTION BE ACCOUNTABILITY TIME FOR THE SCHURING & SLESNICK VOTES AGAINST LOCAL CONTROL (FRACKING); FUNDING LOCAL GOV'T?



One of the reasons that Stark County gets poor representation in Columbus has been the historical unwillingness of Stark County voters to "send a message" by rejecting the return of various and sundry representatives to the Statehouse.

An example is the long-term thumbing of the noses by area legislators (a combination of current and former) in following the order of the Ohio Supreme Court in the DeRolfe line of cases (four in number) mandating the fixing of the funding of public education in a constitutional manner.

It never happened largely because there were no political consequences visited by voters across Ohio (including, of course, Stark County) on transgressing legislators.

For all their huffing and puffing, the Ohio Education Association and its local unions and local school officials across the state of Ohio (including the Stark's 17 school districts) proved to be a lot of hot air that legislators could easily ignore.

2012 presents a new opportunity for area voters.

Two huge issues have surfaced since they were last elected (2010) on which voters might do Stark well by sending Republican Kirk Schuring (the 51st [to be the 48th] and Democrat Stephen Slesnick (the 52nd [to be the 49th] packing.

In two years,  Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager should be considered for the same honor.


One issue is the failure of state government to adequately fund local government at historical levels so that local governments can provide basic services without asking local taxpayers to add add taxes a the local level.

A second one is the passage of legislation beginning in 2004 whereby the Ohio General Assembly took away what little say local governments have to say as to whether or not drilling for oil and gas by a process known as fracking will be allowed in Stark County at large as well as in the cities, villages and townships of the county.

It has always been the position of the SCPR that unless and until Stark County voters are willing to play "musical chairs" with whom gets a chair in the Stark County delegation to the Ohio Legislature, nothing will change in terms of quality (i.e. responsiveness to the needs of Stark County) of representation that members of the current delegation render.

Schuring is guilty on both counts; Slesnick on some local control of the oil and gas extraction process.

Schuring has voted for a state budget which makes draconian cuts in the Local Government Fund and also voted to terminate beginning in 2013 the Ohio Estate tax.  The cuts team up to either a reduction in local government services or, if local governments have the fortitude to ask, a possible increase of taxes for what has been paid for once at the state level.






Schuring (HB 278 [2004], SB 165 [2010]) and Slesnick voted for SB 165 and thereby took away what little say local governments has about oil and gas extraction processes (including fracking operations).

Proponents of oil and gas extraction processes rightly say, in the opinion of the SCPR, that management should primarily be at the state level to ensure uniformity.  But to take away "all" local government say is an overreach and that is exactly what the combo of HB 278 and SB 165 did.

When the Stark County commissioners decided that they needed to ask Stark Countians to consider an increase in the county sales tax by 0.5%, Commissioner Creighton expressed her frustration at the apathy level of Stark Countians.

While she and her fellow county officials via a vigorous campaign shook Stark's voters out of their slumber enough to get their attention about the need to increase the sales tax, The Report believes that it is likely that county voters will promptly go back to sleep unless, of course, somebody presses a matter with them.

One hears the likes of county officials, city officials, village officials and township officials and unelected public officials moan and groan about state cuts in local government funding that will seriously curtail the delivery of service to their respective constituents or require them to ask for more local taxes.

One hears the likes of Chris Borello (Concerned Citizens of Stark County) and her anti-fracking friends (including some local public officials such as Plain Township Louis Giavasis) gripe and complain about the effect of the passage of HB 278 and SB 165 to deprive local governments of any say in oil and gas extraction processes.

But what are they going to do about it?