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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(ViDEOS - 5 INCLUDING COMMISSIONER RESPONSE TO PETITIONS) TO WHAT AVAIL WITH THE PETITIONS TO COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AND CITY COUNCIL TO FIRE PHIL SEDLACKO? FOR CANTON TO CHANGE ITS ANIMAL CONTROL POLICY?



UPDATE ON MARCH 01, 2012

 

UPDATE AT 5:00 P.M FEBRUARY 29, 2012

At the conclusion of today's regular weekly Wednesday meeting of Stark County commissioners, the SCPR put questions to the commissioners regarding the effect of the petitions calling for the firing of Stark County Dog Pound employee Phil Sedlacko on them.

As laid out in the original blog, the video of The Report's session with commissioners confirms yours truly's projection that the Sedlacko matter is over with in terms of the July 25, 2011 videotaped incident and that no further action will be taken against Sedlacko with regard to that incident.

In the video County Administrator Mike Hanke reviews with SCPR the nature of his visit to the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound) on last Friday (February 24th) and what recommendations came out of his observations of conditions at the Pound.



ORIGINAL BLOG

At about 4:15 p.m. on Monday, Michele Crawford (North Canton), Melanie Medure (Canton) and Mackenzie Smith (Canton) made their way to the second floor of the Stark County Office Building suite of the Stark County commissioners to present hard copy petitions (calling for the firing of Stark County Dog Pound employee Phil Sedlacko) with over 5200 signatures to commissioners.

However, with none of the commissioners present, the trio had to settle for County Administrator Mike Hanke as a person to present the petitions to.

Later on in the day, Ms. Smith took to the lectern at Canton City Council for remarks precedent to her presenting the same set of petitions to Canton City Council President Allen Schulman.   The following is a video the presentations.



No matter where one stands on the issue, one has to admire the civic action of Crawford, Medure and Smith as well as the over 5200 who weighed-in on the July 25, 2011 YouTube video which went viral purportedly showing Phil Sedlacko in his capacity as a county employee abusing a dog that he had apprehended.

Also to be commended are the Cantonians/Stark Countians and a few from Summit County who have been attending Canton City Council meetings and making arguments as to their take on Sedlacko video and for a change in Canton's animal control policy.

However, the SCPR believes that neither the commissioners nor the council will heed the plea that Sedlacko be fired nor that Canton will change its animal control policy.

Why not?  Isn't the video compelling evidence that Sedlacko belongs nowhere near animals in terms of official public employment?  And haven't the petitioners placed the effectiveness of current Canton animal control policy in question?

The Report's read is that the Stark County commissioners believe that the July 25th (2011) incident has already been dealt with by them in a disciplinary way and they are not about to reopen the matter, petitions or not.

As Commissioner Janet Creighton has put it, the county has higher priorities to deal with especially in light of having dealt not only with this matter but with other problems at the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP - Pound) over the past year or so.  Moreover, they are aware that previous boards of commissioners (the last of which included current Commissioner Pete Ferguson) have spent considerable time dealing with the problems of the Pound.

As for Canton City Council, a large factor with them is that many of the councilpersons have constituents who praise Sedlacko and his work and demand that council not move to change a policy which would put the main object in terms of numbers of Sedlacko's work - feral cats - back in their neighborhoods once they have been trapped and neutered and likely inoculated against some diseases (TNR).  In addition to trying to persuade council to fire Sedlacko, many if not all of the petitioners advocate that Canton adopt TNR as its new policy.

Councilman Kevin Fisher (5th Ward) likely expresses the sentiment of a majority of council telling yours truly that once Canton gets a handle on its abandoned properties, its highest murder problem in years, its drug problem and its unemployment problem, then, and only then, will he take as a priority working on changing the way feral cats and other wild animals are handled in Canton.

Here is a video sampling of anti-TNR/pro-Sedlacko Cantonians who addressed council Monday night:



A major problem with the petitions as far as Canton City Council is concerned is that they have the signatures of people from all over the world.  In relative terms, not many are from Stark County, and, of course, there are still fewer from Canton proper.

There were speakers on the pro-TNR/anti-Sedlocko issues at council on Monday night.  Here is a video sampling of that side of the argument.



Perhaps the most persuasive person with Canton City Council at this week's meeting was Canton Health Commissioner James Adams.  He presented an argument to council that the risk of disease transmission from wild animals (he put special emphasis on cats) to humans is significant enough that Canton should not, in his opinion, adopt TNR as its policy in dealing with troublesome wildlife.

The Report believes that council - as far as most members are concerned - has not been convinced by the pro-TNR folks that implementing TNR would be a net gain for controlling feral cats within the city and that Adams was a compelling voice to them in that regard.

Here is a video of the main part of his presentation including his specific declaration that he is against TNR for Canton.



So has the petition effort and the city council Public Speaks appearances been "all for naught?"

Hardly.

While they are unlikely to achieve their primary objectives anytime soon, these folks undoubtedly have had an effect on the commissioners, Canton City Council, Mr. Sedlacko, in terms of how he does his job, and those working at and managing the Stark County Dog Pound.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

(VIDEO: DIRECTOR TIM WARSTLER) WHAT KIND OF FUTURE DOES 9-1-1 CALL RECEIVING & COMPUTER AIDED DISPATCHING HAVE IN STARK COUNTY?


9-1-1 CALL RECEIVING

Despite the rocky start that the repair of Stark County's 9-1-1 emergency fire, police and medical services call and dispatch operations got, it appears to the SCPR that the future is looking better for a "state of the art" call receiving and dispatch center to emerge from the ashes of a broken system as reported in 2008.


Stark Countians should pause to reflect upon the contributions of the likes of former Stark County commissioners Todd Bosley (a Democrat), Tom Harmon (a Democrat) and Jane Vignos (a Republican).  They proved that Democrats and Republicans can work together for the common Stark County good.

Their key contribution was to forge ahead with imposing a 0.5% sales tax increase in December, 2008, some of which was set aside for the rehab of the dispatch and radio side of a 9-1-1 rebuild. 

While the imposition of the tax (which included revenues for the Stark County general fund that likely rankled the public the most) probably resulted in Bosley losing badly to the now former state Representative Todd Snitchler (now Ohio PUCO chair) for Stark's 50th District House seat, it was far from clear that the tax could have passed a vote of the people.  Consequently, the SCPR believes that Bosley made a politically costly move in pushing for the imposed tax in support of his endeavor to get 9-1-1 fixed.

Another key player who is still actively involved in the rehab is Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) Governing Board Chairman (and Jackson Township fiscal officer) Randy Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has been the personification of commitment to the rebuild  of Stark's 9-1-1.  He has been intent on seeing it brought up to date, going back some 20 years or so.  But in persisting, he has had to deal with repeated frustrations.

First and foremost was finding a funding mechanism to do the fix with.  Bosley's tax initiative somewhat solved that issue.  Somewhat? Yes, in the sense that the tax was repealed by a massive citizen negative reaction to the tax being imposed on.  It was repealed by about a 2/3rds majority in November, 2009.

Another frustration for Gonzalez has been, and continues to be, Nimishillen Township's refusal, under the stubborn leadership of its Fire Chief Rich Peterson (seemingly holding the Nimishillen Township trustees in thrall - no matter their particular identity), to Nimishillen's CenCom dispatch center being brought into a merged countywide dispatch operation.  Many Stark County fire, police and emergency medical officials believe that countywide centralization would result in more a efficient and error free dispatch operation which, in some instances, will save lives.

Still another Gonzalez frustration was the emergence last year of Canton Mayor Healy's (and his safety director Tom Ream [who, by the way, chairs SCOG] - of course, no one in the Healy administration dare disagree with the mayor) opposition to merged dispatch including Canton UNLESS it was controlled by Canton.

In staying the course, Gonzalez deserves laudatory recognition for being the foremost Stark County official in persisting in moving Stark's 9-1-1 into consolidated status.

Other front and center prime movers for fixing emergency call receiving and dispatch are Stark Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Warstler 9-1-1 (dispatch side) and Project Manager Joe Concatto.

Times have been tough for finishing out the rehab of Stark's 9-1-1 system.  A severe recession of the American economy beginning towards the end of the Bush administration in 2008 and on into the Obama administration has likely been the culprit.

Public funding (in the form of grants) have pretty much come to a grinding halt (except, perhaps, for the radio part of the rework) which brings The Report to the reason why yours truly is taking a new look at the pace of the SCOG effort.

Last Tuesday (February 21st), the Board of Stark County Commissioners had Director Warstler and  Deputy Director Rich Weber in for a work session on the progress being made by the call receiving side of 9-1-1.  They articulated to commissioners their goal to create a sustainable model of ongoing renewal of the capital equipment (computers, phones, software upgrades and the like) which, they say,  needs to be done every 5 to 7 years.

While there are personnel costs, the major concern is generating the monies necessary to fund the several million needed to update capital equipment.  Planning is done in the first two years of the 5 to 7 year cycle whereas the actual updating mostly takes place over the remaining 3 to 5 years of the cycle, so says Director Warstler.


The short of the presentation made last Tuesday is that there are two possible barriers to Warstler and Weber being able to create that sustainable model.  They are:
  • that the Stark County 1/10th of a mill countywide levy which provides over $500,000 ($537,712 last year) a year in annual revenues expires on December 31, 2012, and 
  • that the state of Ohio wireless fund monthly assessment of 28 cents on each and every Ohio telephone bill also expires on December 31, 2012 which provided Stark County with $1,023,234 last year.
Here is a copy of Stark EMA's 2011 revenue/expense budget (remember, this is ONLY for the call receiving part of 9-1-1):


One thing for readers of this SCPR blog is to focus on is the CAPITAL OUTLAY item in the budget.  This line item specifically represents monies spent in any one year over the non-planning phase of the cycle replacing worn out equipment/software, et cetera.

For Stark County taxing purposes, the question before the Stark County commissioners between now and some time in August of this year (the filing deadline for placing issues on the Stark County ballot), is:
  • whether or not to place a renewal or a replacement (which takes advantage of in increase in the total county real property valuation) on the ballot,
  • for what millage (currently 1/10th of a mill), and
  • for a period of years or continuing indefinitely.
Moreover, Warstler will have to stay closely tuned to what the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO - currently chaired by former Stark County state Representative Todd Snitchler [R - Lake]) does in terms of increasing/reducing/maintaining the 28 cents per month, per Ohio telephone bill wireless assessment currently in place.

The SCPR's read is that it likely will remain at the 28 cents for a limited period of time based on recommendations contained in A Report by the Interim 9-1-1 Coordinator (PUCO). 

The future for 9-1-1 in Stark County?

It depends.

If Stark Countians see the wisdom of advancing incrementally towards a state of the art system by renewing or replacing the expiring levy (which in The Report's understanding might be bumped up through a combination of replacement, and/or millage enhancement) to raise another $250,000 per year to about $750,00 and the state of Ohio maintains the 28 cent a monthly telephone bill assessment, then the future is bright for not only sustaining the system but for bringing it to and keeping it at the cutting edge.

If the local levy fails or Ohio reduces its assessment significantly, then Stark County likely will go right back to where it was - in relative terms - when the GenCom report was done in 2008.

Warstler and Weber spent one and one half hours presenting to commissioners on the 21st.  Afterwards the SCPR sat down with them and what follows in a video compilation of what they had to say in amplification of their presentation to the commissioners.



9-1-1 DISPATCHING (INCLUDING RADIO)

At the conclusion of the meeting at which Warstler and Weber made their presentation, yours truly asked County Administrator Mike Hanke for an exact number on what remains in the Stark County general fund earmarked specifically for 9-1-1 dispatch and radio.

The answer:  $2,551,107.14.

A follow-up question obviously is:  how and when is it to be spent.

For an answer to that question the SCPR turned to Joe Concatto (a former Canton fire chief and city of Canton Creighton administration official) who is 9-1-1 Project Manager (dispatch/radio side).

In an email, here is what he had to say:
 Martin,

Part of the 2.5 million is planned for a countywide Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.  The Request for Proposal and the Specification for this system is complete and we are waiting for approval from the Commissioners to go out to bid.  The systen (sic) is estimated to cost between 1.2 to 1.5 million dollars.  This system could be shared by existing dispatch centers in the same manner as the Next Generation 9-1-1 System.
Although this does not create a Countywide 9-1-1 Dispatch Center as we had planned, it is a start.  I still believe that consoldating (sic) all the dispatch centers in the county into one center is the best approach for our County. 
One major issue with sharing the CAD system is also sharing the cost for the annual maintenance and updates for this system.  These costs would have to be shared by the dispatch centers who wish to be a part of the project.  These cost could be about 12% of the cost of the sytem (sic) paid each year.  Another question is who would own the sytem. (sic)
The County Commissioners are still reviewing whether it is legal to give the 2.5 million dollars to SCOG. [Stark County Council of Governments]

Radios for emergency safety personnel in the County is still an issue. I do believe that we need one radio system in this county the same as we need one dispatch center.  However creating one dispatch center and one radio system take two different approches (sic) and one should not be contingent on the other.  With that said part of the budget created by SCOG for the 2.5 million dollars includes approximately $700,000.00 for safety forces in the county to purchase 800 MHz radios. This would be in the form of "grants" and would only represent a portion of the cost for these radios.
From Concatto's description of the current status of the 9-1-1 project, it appears to the SCPR that Stark Countians who live in jurisdictions which have not fully embraced (most notably Canton and Nimishillen Township) the notion of a true countywide 9-1-1 call receiving and dispatch should, for their own maximum safety and for that of those who travel to or through their communities,  press their political leaders to get on board the work of Warstler, Concatto, Gonzalez, the Stark County commissioners, SCOG and others.

The Report views the recalcitrant public officials and their "accountable to the public political leaders" as being irresponsible in their obligation to look out for the well-being of all Stark Countians!

On matters of emergency services, no community in Stark County is an island unto itself.

Monday, February 27, 2012

AN ALLEGATION OF STARK COMMISSIONER COVER UP ON THE PHIL SEDLACKO HANDLING OF AGGRESSIVE DOG INCIDENT OF JULY 25, 2011. PETITION GROUP TRYING TO OUST SEDLACKO FROM COUNTY AND CITY EMPLOYMENT TO BE PRESENTING PETITIONS TODAY.


Commissioner Janet Creighton at last Wednesday's regular weekly meeting of commissioners seemed taken aback about the continuing attention that a July 25, 2011 incident (Incident) involving Canton Animal Control Officer Phil Sedlacko (also a long time employee of the Stark County Dog Pound - SCDP or Pound) continues to receive.

Stark County citizen (a former volunteer at the SCDP and a former member of the board of Friends of the Pound) Ellen Shankle made explosive allegations about the deficiencies in operations at the Pound and placed all the blame on commissioners. 

Her charges against commissioners have their basis in long standing chronic problems at the Pound going back years and the Incident which is the subject matter of  a video which has gone viral on YouTube that appears to have been a triggering event for Shankle's outburst.

Commissioners appeared at last week's meeting to acknowledge that work needs to be done to solve long standing problems that have plagued the Pound.

In fact they sent Chief Administrator Mike Hanke out to the Pound Friday to look into Pound operations.  Hanke is to consult with commissioners today in one-on-ones as to his findings.

But the consultation and further commissioner response appears to be "too little, to late" as far as a group of Facebook activists (Petitioners) are concerned.

It seems that rather than quieting public outrage, the response of commissioners has been viewed to be inadequate by the Petitioners.

They have collected over 5,000 signatures and are planning a march on the Stark County office building to present them to commissioners today at 4:00 p.m. followed by a march on Canton City Hall to present the petitions to Canton City Council demanding that county employee and Canton independent contractor (animal control officer) Phil Sedlacko be fired.


Canton officials have a similar problem to Stark County in dealing with the Incident in view of the city's recently extended 90 days contract with Sedlacko.  He is believed to be opposed  to a proposed change by some that Canton adopt a trap-neuter-return (TNR) in place of the existing Canton policy of animal control.

Canton is using the 90 days to determine whether or not an animal control policy change is in order and whether or not to continue with Sedlacko as its animal control officer.  Council is having Canton Health Commissioner James M. Adams appear before them at 6:15 p.m. tonight on the animal control issue.

Examples of questions being raised by the commissioners initial response include:

"If they knew he was coming, won't SCDP employees be minding their "p's and q's" to the utmost?"  So why did commissioners announce the date and the time of the visit?  Wasn't the Hanke visit nothing more that a "dog and pony show?"

Good questions, no?

In addition, the SCPR has received an e-mail recounting the reaction of a person on viewing/hearing the responses of Stark County Prosecutor Michael Bickis and the commissioners at the Februrary 22nd post-meeting press conference which was filmed and published with last Thursday's SCPR blog.

Here is that person's statement:
I just finished looking at the Commissioners press conference regarding Phil and the dog incident.
Once again they are trying to sweep it under the rug for their teamster buddies.
When I heard the report from the city prosecutors office I couldn't believe what I was hearing and I'm so angry right now. The prosecutor said there wasn't probable cause of criminal activity. Maybe someone should ask them how long it takes for Telazol, the tranquilizer he used, to wear off, being an Euthanasia Tech I know the duration is at best 30 Min, and maybe ask a vet how long it would take a dog to pass away after an artery has been "nicked". I'm sure it wasn't some 10 hours later. A dog who was tranquilized with a dart is not going to bleed like that, if at all.
Another thing that was brought up that was in the so called report was that Reagan [Stark County Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault] applied pressure to the wound and stopped the bleeding. From what I see in the video, she touched the dog for all of about 10 sec, she must have magical hands to stop arterial bleeding that quick and the dog to be still alive when they brought it to the vet 10 hours later.
I think someone should get a copy of this report and investigate it.
To me, it's a doctored report to save their butts.
There are more things that I could pick apart.
If you want to share this with others that want to look into this more, I certainly have no problem with it. I think the news should know and investigate and ask questions as well.
The SCPR is also told that Stark County Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault returned to the Pound after last Wednesday's commissioner meeting only to be heard to say that Ms. Shankle had made a fool of herself in her presentation to commissioners on Wednesday in asking them to do a complete rework of Pound operations, including another change in warden which last occurred in January, 2010 when Evert Gibson was fired by a former board of commissioners.

Still another citizen makes the following observations (not the entire statement):
We [Daisy Dog Rescue] had an uphill battle in those days with Jane Vignos, Gayle Jackson, and Richard Regula who stated "having a country club for dogs was more than the county could afford".
Phil Sedlacko is one of many deputies at that pound that needed to be weeded out many many years ago. So many dogs have suffered at the hands of each of them it makes me physically sick to my stomach. It was emotionally draining to see what we saw, and step in there day after day to take the pictures & receive the harassment we did because we were Whistle Blowers.
Commissioner Bernabei on Wednesday appeared to commit the commissioners to hold a work session to give the complaints of Pound operations a full public airing.

In view of the continuing questions, it seems to the SCPR that such a work session is a very good idea.

But a work session in and of itself will not be enough.

The commissioners will have to convince (not unlike the job they did in convincing Stark Countians of the authenticity of Stark's financial crisis in persuading public support of the 0.5% sales tax ballot initiative) those who hold the treatment of impounded dogs near and dear to their hearts that the commissioners:
  • take the complaints seriously and will investigate them fully,
  • address to the public specifically what in their view needs fixing, and 
  • lay out a plan of action with a timetable to which they can be held accountable to achieve the objectives of the plan.
As for Canton City Council, it appears that in order to satisfy the Petitioners, they will have to move their "determine the ultimate fate of Sedlacko's contract" timetable up.

The larger issue for both the commissioner and the councilpersons is whether they are going to stand their ground on their agenda and timetable or are they going to knuckle under to the Petitioners.

Such typically is the dilemma that government officials, elected or unelected, face when governance goes awry.

Over time, these decision set the tone as to whether or not the general public believes that government is responsive.

So commissioner and council handling of this matter has more at stake that the fate of Phil Sedlacko.
    Here is a copy of a document issued by the Stark County commissioners last Wednesday that purports a be a fact finding of what actually occurred in the dog darting incident:


      Saturday, February 25, 2012

      "ANTI-DOUBLE-DIPPING" BY PUBLIC EMPLOYEES CRUSADE UNDERWAY?


      A crusade?

      Could be.

      Ice Cream anyone?

      That is the lure of the Robert Cyperski campaign to attract prospective petition signers to his event tomorrow (Sunday) from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Belden Village Holiday Inn located at 4520 Everhard Road, NW in Canton.

      Cyperski has decided to attempt collecting 5,002 signatures by the filing deadline of March 5th to get on the ballot as an "independent" candidate against incumbent judge and Republican John Wise.

      Wise has been a 5th Court of Appeals (5th COA) judge since 1995 and is now at the point that he wants to retire as judge at a retirement annual income of about $116,160 and then stand for re-election to the very same job and collect an additional $132,000 and thereby top out at about $248,160 or nearly "a quarter of a million dollars."  Hmm?  Not bad!

      Will Cyperski takes offense at those numbers together with the reality that Wise, in running again, is freezing out the opportunity of younger aspirants to serve on Ohio's second highest court (second only to the Ohio Supreme Court).

      Both Cyperski and Wise are well-qualified.  So, if he gets on the ballot, the issue will not be whether or not Wise has been an able judge or as to his qualifications.  It will be an opportunity for Stark Countians as well as the citizens of 14th other counties which comprise the 5th COA to vote on the issue of "double-dipping."

      Cyperski's campaign, if he can get the mind boggling 5,002 signatures, will have an evangelistic fervor to it.  That's how passionately he is driven on making his mark against the infectious growth among public officials (mostly unelected ones) to double-dip.

      As a sidenote here, the Stark County Political Report points out that candidates for either the Republican or Democratic nomination for this office is 50 signatures.  Yes, 50 signatures as compared to over 5,000 for an "independent" candidate.

      It just goes to show how Republican and Democratic politicians conspire with one another to keep the political competition out.

      The Ohio General Assembly (OGA) has changed Ohio's policies over the last 10 years or so to allow the retire/rehire phenomenon to flourish.

      Judge Wise and the unelecteds are doing nothing wrong from a legal standpoint in advantaging themselves of retire/rehire.

      But nonetheless the practice is not setting well with much of Ohio's voting public.

      Trouble is for Ohio's voters is that they have to be frustrated that they have been provided with no medium with which to weigh in on the issue.

      One has to wonder why the  OGA has shut them out of the process of determining what the policy of retire/hire or double-dipping or whatever one wants to call it ought to be.

      A Cyperski/Wise match up on the issue provides Stark Countians with a unique opportunity to be heard on retire/rehire.

      Legislation has been introduced in the current session of the General Assembly to stymie the retire/rehire growth, to wit:  House Bills 202 & 388. 

      But the SCPR takes these measures as being a sop to the voting public because of the increasingly vocal outcry.

      Unless and until something like a sitting judge gets defeated on the unmistakable fact that voters have said no on the basis of retire/rehire, The Report does not believe that most representatives and state senators are interested in seriously addressing the issue.

      For the sake of discussion, here is a look at the two bills sitting in the legislative hopper of the Ohio General Assembly.

      HOUSE BILL 202

      House Bill 202 is opposed, of course, by the Ohio Judicial Conference.  Here is an extract from its website of the conference.


      HOUSE BILL 388

      The main problem with this bill is that it does not to affect elected officials which, of course, means the members of the Ohio General Assembly itself (which has upwards of a dozen members who fit the retire/rehire category), judges and obviously any other Ohio-based elected official such as Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson, who, if the SCPR understands correctly prior statements he has made,  has three retirement accounts.

      Nevertheless here are some excerpts of descriptive material (by WNWO Newsdesk) as well as a number of quotes by the chief sponsor of HB 388 (Republican Rex Damschroder, the 81st House District) as to the bill's "other" impact:

      HB 388 will suspend, during the time of employment, the retirement benefits of a public retirement system retiree who returns to public employment. Under the bill, all government workers, including elected officials, will be prohibited from a practice often known as "retire/rehire"– where workers are permitted to receive their pension benefits while continuing to work in a public sector position.
      NOTE:  Although the WNWO description says "including elected officials," a SCPR check of the actual language of the proposed legislation which clearly excepts out "elected" officials.

      Damschroder quotes:
      •  "The goal of HB 388 is to bring common-sense economic reforms to our public retirement systems." 
      • "We have all witnessed or read about examples of double dipping in our local area and the public outrage that always follows."
      • "For every instance of retire/rehire, one less job is available for new public workers.  Changing the current system is essential in order to save the integrity of Ohio’s five public retirement systems. Asking the taxpayers of our state to support double dipping in today’s economy is unrealistic.”
      As written above, the SCPR believes that HB 202 and HB 388 are not serious efforts to deal with increasing public criticism of Ohio's retire/rehire phenomenon.

      Accordingly, The Report endorses Cyperski's attempt to get on the ballot and encourages all Stark Countians to help Cyperski get on the ballot so that the issue of double-dipping can be addressed at the ballot box.

      While some will still vote on Cyperski or Wise on factors other than retire/retire/double-dipping, the campaign that Cyperski will be running and which Judge Wise will be forced to defend is whether or not retire/rehire is a good idea.

      Once the people have had an opportunity to have their say the legislature will have a true indicator of whether or not they need to re-legislate on the matter in order to truly reflect the people's desire on the practice.


      Friday, February 24, 2012

      MASSILLON CITY HALL PARKING LOT INCIDENT WITH POLITICAL FALLOUT?




      One would have had to be in a Rip Van Winkle-esque sleep not to know of the bitter politically rancorous discord that has been at play in recent years in Massillon Democratic politics.

      It has been the forces led by Massillon Clerk of Courts John A. Maier, Jr and a number of his top lieutenants squared off against former Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr and his top lieutenants.

      One would have thought that once the Maier-led contingent achieved mastery over Cicchinelli in last year's Democratic primary, the certain-to-be new mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry would be counseling her loyalists to back off and work at healing the rift so that she could get on with effective governing once she defeated token Republican opposition in November and took office in January of this year.

      But it is beginning to appear that Mayor Kathy not in charge of her cohort political group and that political retaliation, retribution and rift may be the order of the day in Massillon these days.

      If the SCPR's suspicions are borne out as the new administration takes charge, then the mayor is in for a tough, tough four years.  What's more, Massillon's citizens will suffer unnecessarily.

      This morning The Report got two e-mails which clearly suggests that a supporter of the mayor has taken it as his/her mission to fire another shot in the ongoing political battle between the Catazaro-Perryites and the Cicchinellis.

      E-MAIL #1 - From an anonymous source to Scott Graber who was a Massillon Council President Glenn Gamber (a close political ally to Cicchinelli) opponent in the 2011 Democratic primary (Graber losing in a closer than expected race), to wit:
      Hey, were you aware that on Tuesday night your former opponet [sic] Glenn Gamber hit a car twice in the parking lot. He stayed in his car for 6-minutes and then jumped out and entered council chambers. A MP put a note on his car, when he came out of council he grabbed the note and took off. Gamber denied it, until he was caught on camera in the act.
      E-MAIL #2 - From Councilman Gamber to the SCPR, to wit:

      Martin,
      My vehicle was involved in an incident in the City Hall parking lot on Tuesday, and I wanted to let you know what happened before you hear of it through the media and blogs.

      On Tuesday evening I parked my vehicle in the City Hall parking lot just after 7 PM and went into a meeting.  When I left the building nearly two hours later, there was a note on my windshield to call Massillon Patrolman Masters, which I did immediately.   I called from the parking lot and was a block away on Lincoln Way when he came to the phone. 

      He told me that the right rear of my vehicle had apparently bumped into the right rear of an adjacent car causing minor damage to the plastic bumper cowling.  The contact was so minimal that I was not aware it had occurred.   I asked Patrolman Masters what I should do, and he said there was nothing to do at that time.  I called him again an hour later to follow up, but he was on a call and not available.  I left my phone number for him to call me back.
      On Wednesday I went to the Police Station to discuss the incident with and realized that I did indeed bump into the other car’s bumper while backing into a parking space at 3 MPH.  I got the name of the owner and immediately called him to accept responsibility.  He was very cordial and said the damage to his bumper was minimal.  He told me that he mentioned to the officer that if my vehicle was still parked next to his car when he made his report, it must be because I did not realize I had contacted his bumper.  That is exactly the case. 
      Glenn
      The SCPR believes that Mayor Kathy can put a stop to the political warfare from her end now!  And she should do so if she cares anything about being able to govern effectively in the interests of ALL Massillonians and not just those who supported her in her drive to become mayor.

      If she chooses to do a little sit down with her zealot supporters and rein them in, then Massillonians should be encouraged that she will be concentrating on applying her best efforts towards bringing Massillon back from the financial crisis that currently plagues the city.

      The new mayor has a lot of good qualities that she can bring to bear to defuse the political warfare and over time bring the hostiles into a working relationship with her administration, again, in pursuing interests near and dear to all Massillonians.

      The only question is whether or not she has the strength of personality to do so.

      Like or dislike Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr., certainly the new mayor can point to the positives that the long time former mayor brought to Massillon.

      The SCPR is not aware of whether or not Catazaro-Perry has been invited and/or plans to attend a March 4th celebration of Cicchinell's contributions to the well-being of Massillon over his many years as mayor.  If not invited, she should seek an invitation.  From the Cicchinelli standpoint, he should see to it that the mayor of the city gets invited.

      And, of course, if invited she should be afforded an opportunity to speak to his accomplishments as mayor in a believable and authentic way.

      If not invited, she undoubtedly knows she can show the class that The Report believes she has and issue a press release in this regard.

      The Report believes that Kathy Catzaro-Perry is a person of goodwill and that she should resist any naysayers in her core group of supporters that counsel her and do acts designed to fan the fires of political turmoil.  Now is the time for her to show moral leadership and demonstrations of character that may not be responded to in the short term.  Over the long haul chances are gestures of goodwill pay huge dividends.

      The timing is right for Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry to do the right thing for Massillon governance and call off the enthusiast "political" dogs who are baying at if not snarling at her political enemies post-election victory.

      Catazaro-Perry needs to show one and all that she is the captain of her own ship.

      Will she do it?

      That is the question!

      Thursday, February 23, 2012

      (VIDEOS SHANKLE, CREIGHTON, BERNABEI - PRESS CONFERENCE) COMMISSIONERS GET HIT WITH A BARAGE OF CRITICISMS ON CONDITIONS AT STARK COUNTY DOG POUND!


      For several years the SCPR has been publishing blogs about the vociferous and vigorous complaints by some activist Stark County dog lovers (Activists) on conditions at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound).

      The complainers - for the most part - are volunteers at the Pound who recount eye witness incident after incident after incident of what they allege to be abusive treatment of dogs who land at the Pound.

      In late 2009, the outcry got so marked that the then commissioners were forced to act.  In early 2010 the fired Warden Evert Gibson and replaced him in May, 2010 with former Holmes County Dog Warden Reagan Tetreault who still is Stark's dog warden.

      On December 26, 2010, yours truly did a blog who described the transition thusly:
      On January 27, 2010 (nearly one year ago), Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) fired Evert Gibson as dog warden because of unresolved problems.  Gibson had been on the job for several years.

      After some controversy between the commissioners and members of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) over the appearance of a non-SCDPAB recommended person as one of five finalists, the current warden Reagan Tetreault (on the list) was appointed (May 5, 2010) with a starting date of May 24, 2010 subject however to a 120 probationary period.
      Ever since there has been simmering discontent among much of the Activists community with the management style of Tetreault.

      Commissioners have been aware of the rumblings and have been trying to keep a lid on it.

      But at yesterday's regular weekly meeting of the Stark commissioners the lid exploded off  "the can of worms" which The Report believes descriptive of the mishmash of turmoil afflicting Pound operations.

      EXHIBIT 1

      A video of Stark County citizen Ellen Shankle, (a former volunteer at the Pound and, according to a source, a former board member of the Friends of the Pound [Stark County], who was the primary complainer at yesterday's meeting, to wit:



      EXHIBIT 2


      On August 21, 2011 the SCPR did a blog that is an extensive review of the longstanding grievances of SCDPAB with Stark commissioners going back beyond the current board.  Click anywhere on this paragraph to link to the prior blog.

      EXHIBIT 3


      The story of Roxy who on October 13, 2010 through a series of errors was euthanized at the Stark County Dog Pound to the horror of his owner family.  Click anywhere in this paragraph to link to the Roxy blog.

      EXHIBIT 4 (See videos below)

      THE COMMISSIONERS RESPONSE

      The  SCPR's impression is that yesterday's outburst was a surprise to them.

      Apparently, they did not see this coming.  But The Report believes that they should have in light of what is going on with Canton City Council with its mulling over as to whether or not to continue with its present program of animal control of trapping wild animals (mostly cats) and then having them euthanized.

      Opponents to the current program have besieged council with demands that policy be changed to TNR (trap-neuter-return).

      The focal point of the TRN advocates cause is a viral YouTube video showing Canton Animal Control Officer Phil Sedlacko (also an employee of the Stark County Dog Pound) and his handling of a dog which he had captured.

      The commissioners did hold a press conference after the presentation of Ms. Shankle and two other citizens.

      In the main the response was:
      • we have been working on this problem and will continue to do so until it is remedied,
      • we are sending Chief Administrator Mike Hanke to spend the day (Friday, February 24) at the pound to get a first hand take on the situation of the Pound,
      • we will hold public work sessions with dog warden to get to the bottom of problems,
      • we deem the Pound in important concern, but it is not our top priority.
      Noteworthy on the last bullet point are the remarks of Janet Creighton, to wit:



      One would think that Commissioner Tom Bernabei would especially be interested in zeroing in or solving the festering SCDP problem inasmuch as he is up for re-election in November.

      The SCPR could see this Republican opponent Craig T. Conley (who in the view of The Report has little else to pounce on Bernabei about) using this issue as a difference maker as to who gets elected.

      In any event, to yours truly, it is high time that the commissioners (with the sales tax increase having been passed and the county budget having been completed) move to resolve the seemingly eternal Pound problems to the top of their list and getting a resolution "once and for all!"

      Here is the video on the press conference.

      Wednesday, February 22, 2012

      CATAZARO-PERRY'S POLITICAL ASSOCIATIONS COMING BACK TO BITE HER?


      The Stark County Political Report thinks newly sworn-in Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry deserves a chance to show what she can do in turning Massillon around.

      But it increasingly appears - even early in her administration - that politics may dog her all the days of her political life as mayor of Massillon and she may endure one political struggle after another to keep Massillon's financial head above water for the duration.

      She has two major political problems:
      • the political comeuppance of the supporters of the man she defeated in November:  Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr., and
      • the Republican majority that captured control of council in November.
      Massillon is a deeply troubled city that has struggled to make financial ends meet for some time.

      It is desperately in need of a revenue infusion if it is to continue as presently constituted.

      But as reported by Matt Rink of The Massillon Independent last night in his account of council meeting (Majority on Massillon Council say they won't back a tax credit reduction), it appears that Republican are not about to work with the new mayor on her terms.

      As a matter of political philosophy, the Republicans are for cutting government and reducing taxes.  Moreover, in Massillon's case, they have to already be looking down the road to the 2015 mayoralty election and are mindful of what they do now and over the next three years or so will play into whether or not they can elected a Republican mayor of Massillon then.

      Former Mayor Cicchinelli played the magician especially in his last term to keep Massillon afloat.  One of his main devices towards the end of his reign was through annexation.

      But talk about getting bit in the butt, it likely was his attempt to annex the income tax revenue rich Tuslaw schools that proved to be the deciding factor in his losing to Catazaro-Perry.  Not only did he get tons of bad political publicity when he made the Tuslaw move not long after he picked off income tax revenues from the staff at the R.G. Drage vocational school in Perry, but he incurred the ire a many Tuslaw citizens who showed up in force to campaign for Catazaro-Perry.

      Of course Catazaro-Perry and her chief political mentors (Massillon Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and his sidekick, chief deputy and Stark County Dems Political Director Shane Jackson) jumped all over the Tuslaw schools thing to her political advantage.

      The Tuslaw schools thing was just one of many, many political skirmishes that have be waged by Catazaro-Perry and her consorts against Cicchinelli et al over the years.

      Now it's payback time for the Cicchnelli forces, and when co-joined with resurgent Massillon Republicans, they present an overwhelming political force that likely will bend Mayor Catazaro-Perry to their will.

      It will be a tough pill for the once politically powerful Maier, Jackson and their cohorts to swallow.  But in steamrolling Cicchinelli et al they have set in motion a true "what goes around, comes around" life for their political darling.

      Catazaro-Perry has to be thinking:  "with friends like these, who needs any enemies!"

      So the best thing Catazaro-Perry can do if she is to be an effective mayor:
      • is to mend fences with the Cicchinelli forces and thereby consolidate support on the Democratic side of the isle so that she has a chance close votes  on council (by peeling off one Republican vote; the control council 5 to 4) where she and the Republicans cannot come together, even better,
      • is to reach out to the Republicans for dialogue as to how they can create a common ground of initiatives that over the longer term will reconfigure Massillon's economic/financial picture in the best interest of Massillonians; Republican or Democrat
      It seems to The Report that those council persons who like Democrat Councilman Paul Manson's plan to increase Massillon's income tax to a full 2% (from its present 1.8%) are on to something.  But it needs to be on the vote of the people.

      To get Massillonians to vote for the increase, doesn't it go without saying that the voters will have to be convinced that the administration working with council has made cuts to the bone?

      The SCPR would like to see Kathy Catazaro-Perry succeed as mayor of Massillon.  However, for her to do so she is going to have to create some distance between herself and those largely perceived to be her political handlers.  Enough so, that those who deal with her are convinced she speaks for herself.  Moreover, he needs to do so in order to open up lines of dialogue with her Democratic political opponents and her Republican political opponents.

      The Report has written frequently that to elect Catazaro-Perry was the same as making Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. the de facto mayor of Massillon.

      The question:  Is she made of the right stuff to make moves to make the SCPR's assessment a miscalculation?

      If she isn't, then she will be caught up in a political vortex of one cycle after another of:  "What goes around, comes around!"

      Tuesday, February 21, 2012

      THE FERREROS (JOHN & JAYNE) OF MASSILLON POLITICAL SCENE GETTING IN THE WAY OF MAYOR KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY'S CHANCE FOR SUCCESS? JOHN: INCONSISTENT ON TAXATION QUESTION?


      It is becoming more and more apparent to the SCPR that Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero is all about John Ferrero and/or his corner of Stark County government and little, if anything, else.

      According to Stark County Auditor records (circa 12/07/2011), Ferrero was set to take in somewhere around $120,000 in Stark County taxpayer dollars as the elected Stark County prosecutor.

      Now we have a situation where he was for a Stark County sales tax increase which would benefit his office, but he is against a 50% reduction in Massillon's income tax credit (for non-Massillon taxpayers).

      The kicker is that Ferrero works in Canton, but lives in Massillon and a 50% reduction in the Massillon income tax credit would compel him to pay some Massillon city income tax.

      THE STARK COUNTY TAX ISSUE

      Last year Stark County commissioners were mulling over exactly how much of a levy they would ask Stark Countians to approve and for how long.  It was generally thought that they were gravitating to a 0.5% increase for a period of 8 years.

      John Ferrero deferred on the projected 0.5% increased at a public meeting the commissioners held with elected officials in 2011.  He and Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson wanted commissioners to go for a full 1% increase and they wanted it to be permanent.

      The commissioners made it clear that for the 0.5%, eight year levy,  that they ultimately decided to go forward with, would require the hard work of each and every county employee and county departments heads such as Ferrero.

      Well, we all know "the rest of the story" - sort of.

      The levy passed by a surprising margin which was a big, big relief to the commissioners who just recently passed appropriations for the 2012 calendar year county budget.

      Who objected to his share of appropriations?  You've got it!  None other than Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero.

      As the SCPR sees it, Ferrero tried to muscle down the commissioners by putting out the prospect of asking Stark County's judges (Municipal and Common Pleas) to appoint "special counsel" which - to get to the short of it - would force commissioners in the long run to pay out substantially more than Ferrero was asking for in 2012 appropriations.

      Ironically, one leading Stark County public figure contacted yours truly after the successful levy campaign to say that Ferrero sat on his duff during the campaign and did very little to help it pass.

      The Report asked Ferrero about this allegation and asked him for some details as to exactly what were the specifics of his effort in promoting the levy.

      He refused to respond in any kind of detail.

      Hmm?

      Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei says that he is confident that Ferrero will not make good on his suggestion to "blow up" (The Report's words and assessment in a figurative sense of the expression, not Bernabei's nor Ferrero's) the county budget/appropriations with "special counsel" expenditures.  The Report does not know how Bernabei can be so optimistic.

      Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar is making a gallant effort to bring down the delinquent Stark County property taxes which now stand at $43 million.  Zumbar wants go from referring 520 collection cases to the prosecutor's office in 2011 to 700 this year.  (Confirming:  Stark collects $2.4 million in revived tax-collection effort, Kelli Young of The Rep, February 18, 2012).

      Good luck Treasurer Zumbar! Take this quote from Young's article, to wit:
      More recent collection efforts have been stifled by the county’s budget woes that forced Prosecutor John Ferrero to reassign temporarily one of the paralegals in his delinquent tax collection unit into another division due to layoffs.
      Also, The Report recalls that in a Delinquent Tax Assessment Collection (DTAC) work session with commissioners last year that Prosecutor Ferrero noted that the county only gets about 3 to 4 percent of real property taxes collected in Stark County.

      So why would he want to put resources into an activity that benefits the cities, villages, townships and boards of education sprinkled across Stark County but which does relatively little for Stark County government?

      But he was for the sales tax increase.


      THE MASSILLON TAX ISSUE

      John Ferrero lives in Massillon and he was Massillon's law director and prosecuting attorney from January, 1988 through February, 2003. 

      A Massillon public official for over 15 years and he has a problem paying taxes to the city?

      Apparently, so.

      The SCPR has learned that Ferrero and his chief assistant John Kurtzman (who also lives in Massillon) appeared at Massillon's city council meeting of November 21, 2011 to object to a plan being pondered to reduce the income tax credit by 50% to Massillonians who work outside the city.

      Massillon voters recently elected Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (Massillon clerk of courts) and Shane Jackson (Maier's chief deputy) political protege Kathy Catazaro-Perry as mayor over long term and now former Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. last November.

      One of the problems that Catazaro-Perry faces is that Massillon is not in very good financial/fiscal shape.

      Of course, she knew this going in and decided to run anyway.

      Last year John Ferrero's sister-in-law Jayne Ferrero (Massillon city auditor) proposed the 50% income tax credit as a way to help Massillon (Cicchinelli was still mayor when the tax credit reduction was proposed) get money to at least make an effort to be more current on its expenses which were and continue to run months behind.

      So it was a bit confusing when Massillonian John Ferrero and Kurtzman showed up to object and Auditor Jayne Ferrero was nowhere to be seen and, in fact, is reported in the Massillon Independent as now having no opinion on the income tax credit reduction.

      Exactly what was the Ferrero/Kurtzman objection?
      “You [Massillon City Council] are now pitting families against families ... they [because of the credit reduction?] are taking food away from their children"  (The Independent, February 8, 2012).
      The real reason, the SCPR believes, for the Jayne Ferrero turnabout and for the Ferrero/Kurtzman objecting appearance on November 21st is because of their political alliance with the electorally deposed Cicchinelli forces. 

      In one sense, the SCPR thinks that the contending political forces (all Democrats) deserve each other.

      On the other hand one must pause for thought and consider that it is not the politicos who suffer if the reduction does not pass council.  Rather it is the residents of the city of Massillon.

      If Catazaro-Perry does not get additional revenue that the reduction would bring in (estimated at $600,000 this year; $1.5 million next year), cuts will have to be made that likely will affect the well-being of Massillonians.

      Catazaro-Perry by virtue of having been elected by the citizens of Massillon deserves an opportunity to govern.  Notwithstanding her knowing what she was getting into, it is in the interest of Massillonians that she have a fair chance to show what she can do to right the fiscal structure of the city of Massillon.

      The SCPR has criticized and continues to admonish Mayor Kathy for relying too much on the likes of Maier and Jackson.  A major reason she is in her current fix is because of the political warfare that is obviously continuing post-election between the Maier-led forces and Cicchinelli loyalists.

      CONCLUSION

      John Ferrero could be a major factor in helping to stabilize both Stark County government as well as Massillon's.

      But it appears that he is not inclined to do so as evidenced by uncooperative attitude vis-a-vis commissioners in the budgeting process post-0.5% sales tax increase (which he supported) and by his opposition to the proposed 50% reduction in the Massillon income tax credit.

      Inconsistency is the hallmark of a person who is doing his own thing.

      So it is not surprising that John Ferrero is for increased taxes to help solve Stark County's fiscal emergency but not Massillon's.

      Coming full circle:  It is becoming more and more apparent to the SCPR that Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero is all about John Ferrero and/or his corner of Stark County government and little, if anything, else.

      And consistency be hanged!

      Monday, February 20, 2012

      ATTORNEY ROBERT CYPERSKI TO RUN AGAINST JUDGE JOHN WISE ON ISSUE OF "RETIRE" - "REHIRE VIA ELECTION?"




      Ohio's Statehouse Republicans and Democrats have made it difficult but it does appear that 5th District Court of Appeals and Republican Judge John Wise may well have a political "independent" running against him in Wise's quest for a new term who has been on the Court of Appeals since 1995.

      His likely opponent?

      Robert Cyperski.

      However, he will have to collect 5,000 qualified registered voter signatures within the next two weeks for filing with the Stark County Board of Elections not later than March 5th in order to be on the general election ballot of November 6th.

      If Cyperski had filed as a partisan candidate, he would only have had to collect 50 such signatures.

      Organized Republican and Democratic party leaders think the extraordinary requirement of independent candidates is a politically smart self preservation move.  And, to a certain degree it is.  However, such self-serving moves also adds to the growing cynicism that the general voting public has towards both mainline parties and over the longer term undermines their ability to govern effectively.

      Cyperski issued the following press release on Friday stating his intention to run against Wise and to base his campaign on Wise's announced intention to retire before the end of his current term (but within a space not allowing for his political party to name a successor for the remainder of his term) and then run for re-election.


      Wise unabashedly says that it is within his legal right to do so in order to collect his his public employee pension which is thought to be 88% of $132,000 (the salary for the position) or $116,160 plus the salary (if re-elected) of $132,000 which, of course, would equal about $248,160.

      Wise would also qualify for an approximate 3% annual increase over the span of collecting his retirement check with a beginning in 2013 amount of about $3,500 which for 2013 would put him above a quarter of a million dollars in annual income from salary and pension alone.

      By the SCPR's calculation, Judge Wise's annual pension income will exceed the base salary of $132,000 within 5 years or so.  Sweet, no?

      Wise has been on a fast track in achieving elective office.  It has not hurt his judicial political aspirations that both his father and grandfather were Stark County Probate Court judges going back decades.

      Here is his biography as published on the 5th District Court of Appeals website:

      JUDGE JOHN W. WISE

      Administrative Judge

      Judge Wise graduated from Ohio Northern University School of Law and was admitted to the practice of law in 1979. Prior to being elected to the Canton Municipal Court bench in 1990, Judge Wise was in private practice for ten years. His practice consisted of general civil litigation, including personal injury from both plaintiff and defense side, along with an active probate practice. From municipal court, Judge Wise was elected to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and in 1995, he successfully ran for the Fifth District Court of Appeals. Judge Wise has served by assignment of the Chief Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. He also serves as a Lecturer for the Ohio Judicial College.
      Judge Wise is not the only 5th District Court of Appeals judges to invoke a retire - rehire plan of action.

      His colleague Democrat Judge W. Scott Gwin has announced his intention to do the very same thing.

      The same folks who have prevailed on Cyperski to run are working hard to find a Gwin opponent.

      The SCPR endorses the effort underway to find opponents for Wise and Gwin as it is The Report's position that the voters should have the opportunity to weigh in on whether or not the public likes the idea of retire - rehire, Wise and Gwin fashion.

      The Ohio General Assembly in its policy making decisions regarding Ohio's public retirement systems has created a situation whereby public retirement does not equal actual retirement from publicly funded positions.

      There are strict Ohio Supreme Court prohibitive rules on the methods/topics that candidates can use in contests for judicial office on the notion that if typical political attacks (i.e. those commonly used in non-judicial races) on candidates' judicial record itself were allowed, such would undermine the public's confidence in the integrity of the judicial system.

      The Supreme Court limitations notwithstanding, it is hard to see how Cyperski could be shut down on his plan to make the retire - rehire issue the focus of his campaign to replace Judge Wise.

      Whether or not Stark citizens favor or disfavor Wise/Gwin retaining office, it seems to the SCPR that it is the democratic-enhancing thing to do to support petition drives designed to provide voters with candidates who oppose the announced intentions of sitting judges to retire but run for re-election.

      What the Ohio General Assembly does not provide, the citizens of the state of Ohio/Stark county can fashion for themselves.

      "We the people" are the baseline of our democratic republic.

      Saturday, February 18, 2012

      WILL CANTON BE RECONSIDERING ITS 90 DAY CONTRACT WITH ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER PHIL SEDLACKO IN LIGHT OF YouTube VIDEO?



      A STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT UPDATE:  02/19/2012 AT 3:20 PM

      The SCPR has obtained a copy of an e-mail sent out at the initiative of  Assistant Majority Leader (Democrats) Patrick Barton to members of Canton City Council detailing the serious and in depth consideration that Barton (7th Ward) as head of council's Personnel Committee is according to the question of whether or not Canton will continue long term with it current model of animal control that, apparently, current Animal Control Officer Phil Sedlacko (via contract; he is also and employee of the Stark County Dog Pound) is comfortable with.

      Agitation for a change in Canton's model for animal control is being promoted by some Cantonians including a number of councilpersons (Councilwoman Cirelli, for one) to one that is called "trap-neuter-return."  There is citizen support to retain the current model.

      The SCPR applauds Councilman Barton for the even handed way he is handling this matter.

      The e-mail:


      A biography of Councilman Barton from Canton City Council's webepage:


      ORIGINAL BLOG
      Instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on hiring Stark County deputy dog warden Philip Sedlacko (“Canton hires animal control officer for 90 days,” Feb. 7), who apparently knows only how to catch and kill feral cats and other wildlife, hire a knowledgeable person who is armed with alternative methods for dealing with nuisance wildlife and is already practicing TNR, a proven effective and accepted method that many folks and rescuers already practice.
      (Excerpt, Hire animal control officer who practices trap-neuter-return, Letter to Editor, The Rep, Veronica Dickey, 02/16/2012)

      It appears that Canton may be about to reconsider its contract with Phil Sedlacko as seems to be the clear implication of City Council President Alan Schulman's e-mail to city council members yesterday evening.

      To repeat the email portion from the graphic intro above:



      When council considered a 90 day hire of Animal Control Officer Phil Sedlacko
      at its February 6th regular meeting, it appears to The Report that most members had not yet seen the now situated Sedlacko YouTube video.

      But there were concerns (Councilpersons Morris and Cirelli).  The best that Sedlacko core supporters on council (Fisher, Hawk, Smith and West) and the Healy administration could get was a 90 day extension of the 12/31/2011 expired contract between Canton and Sedlacko; not the year to two years that the parties wanted notwithstanding that Sedlacko had submitted his resignation in what Councilwoman Cirelli termed to be the equivalent to putting a gun to the head of council.

      No one was saying, but there is some speculation that Sedlacko is not enthusiastic about working a trap-neuter-return model and that his tendered resignation was more and expression of that attitude than trying to bully council.

      The video was placed on YouTube by Nanci Miller who is a member and president of the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB), a body instituted by Stark County commissioners to provide the Stark County commissioners with insight into the operations of the Stark County Dog Pound from a user and volunteer perspective.

      Here is what Miller had to say about the video in the descriptive material she included with the video, to wit:
      This is the beginning of security tape footage requested as a public record from the Stark County Dog Warden Department. Sad to say, after the abuse seen in the video, this dog who had been darted in an artery by Deputy Phil Sedlacko (the deputy in the video) who turned the high-powered hose on him), bled to death on the cold cement floor of the isolation room at the department. Several department employees went in to look at the dog, but no one seemed to find it necessary to take the dog to the vet where it could have been humanely euthanized. The dog's name was Garfield.
      Also weighing in on the video is Channel 19 (WOIO)

      Another member of the SCDPAB shared the following via email with the SCPR regarding Sedlacko's working both for the city of Canton and the Stark County Dog Pound, to wit:
      There was  a hearing for Phil Sedlacko regarding his continuing to work for the city doing animal control while taking 6 weeks off from the pound due to stress.   It was pretty much all smoke and mirrors in that they wrote it up as if Reagan had discovered this going on when in fact it was the Advisory Board who brought it to Janet's [Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton] attention.  She [Warden Tetreault] denied Phil was working for the city but finally admitted that he was. The the determination at the hearing was that since Reagan didn't give Phil the option of light duty he was not culpable
      Now that the video referred to in the February 6th council deliberations on the contract is out in the public domain, it appears that two weeks later (council's February 27th meeting?) the debate may be on again as to whether or not Canton wishes to continue its contract with Sedlacko.

      Could be that the February 21st council meeting will be a "replay plus" of the February 6th animal control controversy in the halls of Canton City Council?

      Friday, February 17, 2012

      NORTH CANTON SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION DISRESPECTS ITS BOARD OF EDUCATION?





      Then again on October 21, 2011 (days before the general election in which incumbent Jordan Greenwald was up for re-election and a vacated seat (Bundy, not running for re-election) was being filled, The Report blogged about the candidates and the appropriate standard for boardmanship.

      Yours truly editorialized that Greenwald (the man - if Gallina would have accepted - put Gallina under a 10 year contract), in particular, was way over the top on being a "good" board member.

      The Report thinks it was a move forward for appropriate administration/BOE distancing that Greenwald was defeated.  However, it appears that the election did not go far enough.

      The newly elected Betty Fulton appears to have fallen in lock step with Gallina and his uncritical supporters on the board.  Accordingly, more work needs to be done in the elections of 2013 to replace either Goldthorpe or Marion if Thomas runs again; both if he does not.

      One would of thought that the defeat of Greenwald (by Jennifer Kling) would have sent a loud and clear message to the administration and the remaining members of the BOE (except for Thomas) that major work needed to be done to repair the breech in confidence in NCCS/BOE standard of communication with the consumers of North Canton education.


      But apparently not.

      A source tells the SCPR, which is confirmed by the timeline between announcement and BOE approval, that the Gallina administration of the NCCS presumed BOE approval of a 2012 - 2013 school year calendar in issuing a press release reported by the North Canton Patch (Gallina:  What Does the New Year Hold for North Canton City Schools, Morgan Day) on December 18th.

      According to the source, board member Chris Thomas raised the "presumption of BOE approval" issue with the administration in the regularly scheduled January 12, 2012  board meeting and again at Wednesday night's February meeting in light of yet another development in which the Gallina administration announced staff changes in a release to the Akron Beacon Journal published on February 4th of this year; eight days before BOE approval by a 3 to 2 vote (Thomas and Kling voting no) at Wednesday's meeting.

      Obviously, Superintendent Gallina has too comfortable of a relationship with the board majority (Fulton, Goldthorpe and Marion).  

      As far as the SCPR is concerned, in Stark County,  there are too many instances across the 17 boards of education in which the relationship between the administration and the board does not have an "arm's length" quality to it.

      The SCPR has written repeatedly that school superintendents have a marked tendency to overdo cultivating working relationship with their boards of education.  The relationship should not be adversarial, but board members owe it to the voters of their respective school districts to take a critical look at each and every proposal put before them by the superintendents and their administrators.

      For North Canton to allow (as evidenced by the necessity of two BOE "after the fact" approvals) its administration to announce changes before they are approved by the board is clear indication that the board does not have control of its superintendent.

      Thursday, February 16, 2012

      ANY ELECTION EXCITEMENT BUILDING FOR STARK CO. 2012 ELECTIONS IN STARK?


      To repeat the headline question:  Any election excitement building for Stark County 2012 elections?

      Answer:  yes and no.

      Obviously, first and foremost is the Republican presidential primary election which is a part of the overall March 6th Ohio primary elections.

      A recent Quinnipiac University Ohio poll shows former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum leading former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney 36% to 29% with former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich coming in at 20% and Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 9%.

      However, the big factor two and one-half weeks out from Ohio's primary is the estimate that as many as 50% of those polled say that they are not fixed in their choice.

      While Santorum is presently leading across the state, the SCPR believes that Romney is likely ahead in Stark County inasmuch as Santorum appeals to the most conservative part of the Republican Party and The Report does not see Stark Republicans as fitting that description.

      The Romney campaign website claims that many prominent Ohio Republicans have endorsed him (e.g. U.S. Senator Rob Portman - January 19, 2012).

      It will be interesting to see who, if any of the candidates, actually show up in Stark to campaign, and, more importantly, who shares the stage with the candidate - as a tip off - as to who the local Republican establishment is to support.

      Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton tells the SCPR (as of yesterday) that she is undecided.

      Other than the Republican presidential race, there is not that much going on for Stark Countians in the primary.

      There is a GOP nomination for U.S. Senator contest going on for the right to match up with Democratic United States Senator Sherrod Brown going on, but it looks as if Josh Mandel (Ohio treasurer) has it locked up which makes the race ho-hum.


       Ditto for Brown.  He has two "write in" opponents.

      However, there are two "inside the Columbus beltway" intraparty fights with a Stark County aspect that is likely lost on most Stark County primary voters which could affect who is chairman of the Ohio Republican Party and the Ohio Democratic Party.

      First, the Beth Williams versus Sarah Brown 29th District State Central Committee Woman race.

      The SCPR is told by Jim Woods of the Medina County Tea Party that the Tea Party contemplates filing litigation against the Kevn DeWine as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party to invalidate a rule that DeWine forced through into the governing rules of the party that requires central committee persons to have voted in the Republican primary in the last two primary elections.  If left to stand, Woods tells The Report, Williams would not be qualified to serve.

      There is a fight going on within the Ohio Republican Party with Governor Kasich behind the dissidents to remove DeWine as chairman.

      The SCPR's impression is that both Brown and Williams favor DeWine's removal.

      It is hard to imagine Sarah Brown not winning a Stark County Republican Party intraparty contest.

      Secondly, there is similar fight is going on within the Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) as to whether or not Chris Redfern is to remain as chairman of the ODP.

      Redfern has recruited Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II to be his man from Stark County.  Healy interesting enough is opposed by his successor 52nd District Ohio House state Representative Stephen Slesnick.


      The SCPR believes that Healy is trying to position himself to take over control of the Stark County Democratic Party.  This race will be an indicator of how much strength Healy has among rank and file Democrats.

      If Healy wins this race and if Democrats take a bath in the newly formed Ohio House districts (i.e. the 48th - Schuring, and the 50th - Hagan) which the SCPR projects they will, then there might be renewed impetus to set current chairman Randy Gonzalez aside to be replaced by Healy or one of his political confederates with a mission to reinvigorate the Stark County Democratic Party which has fallen on hard times over the last several years.

      The Dems could be looking at a loss of the prosecutor's office, the sheriff's department and, perhaps, even the coroner's office come the general election of 2012.

      Stay tuned.  The SCPR expects the general election of 2012 to be all excitement!