Monday, April 30, 2012

(VIDEO: HAGAN WITH AMSTUTZ & HALL IN LOUISVILLE) CHRISTINA HAGAN VOTES $30 MILLION FOR NURSING HOMES; NOTHING FOR LOCAL GOV'T & STARK CO. SCHOOL DISTRICTS. DOING WHAT HER MENTORS/MINDERS DIRECT?


 
Back in May, 2011, about two months after she was appointed by the the Republican Ohio House Caucus to fill the vacated 50th Ohio House seat (Stark County - formerly held by Lake Township Republican Todd Snitchler who had been appointed by Governor John Kasich to chair the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), Christina Hagan of Marlboro Township held her first town hall meeting in Louisville.

Quite a venture for the former Alliance beauty queen with no prior public office holding experience, no?

Indeed!

But she did have help.

With her were two veteran Republican caucus members:  Ron Amstutz of nearby Wooster, Ohio and David Hall of Killbuck (Holmes County).

Hmm?

Mentors?  Political minders?

Interesting in that at the May, 2011 Louisville event oddly enough she, Amstutz and Hall were already concerned about the welfare of the nursing home industry witness this video.



To most Stark County political observers, Hagan was a surprise replacement for Snitchler.

Yes, her father and former state Rep. John Hagan (2000 - 2008) had intensely lobbied the Republican Ohio House Caucus (Caucus) for her appointment, but she had no Stark County elective political history as did applicant Richard Regula - son of retired U.S. House of Representative Ralph Regula - 16th District which included all of Stark County.

Moreover, Christina had ticked off the Caucus for taking on Snitchler (the designated Caucus candidate) in his first try for the 50th back in May, 2008.  As the SCPR recalls, she accused the Caucus of trying to get her off running against Snitchler by offering some sort of job Columbus political beltway job.

She rebuffed the overture and ran anyway.


So - yes - a surprise, a huge surprise!

And to many Stark Countians including quite of number of  prominent Stark Republicans, that a "in her early 20s not yet graduated college student" was able to get the appointment was a stunning turn of events.

Back in March of this year, the SCPR asked Richard Regula (who contended Hagan for the appointment) how it could be that such political neophyte could have bested him.

Answer:  he would not sell out "lock, stock & barrel" to following without fail the Caucus party line.

It appears to the SCPR that Christina Hagan did convince the Caucus power brokers that she would be putty in their hands and therefore was the person to get the appointment.

They undoubtedly did understand that they had more of an uphill struggle in retaining the seat with the Hagan appointment, but if they are successful, she would be much more manageable than Regula.

Hence after her appointment, the Caucus began Project-Buildup-Hagan (e.g. sending Amstutz and Hall to Louisville with her) to get her elected come this November.

Little did they know that they would be aided, abetted and facilitated in their endeavor by the Ohio Democratic House Caucus and Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (also Jackson Township fiscal officer and top official in the Canton clerk of courts office) in their failure to come up with a viable candidate.

Democratic Councilwoman Sue Ryan is not likely to cause much of a problem for Hagan to get retained.

Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis could have been a huge problem as a barrier to Hagan continuing on, but the state and local Dems could not convince him that it was in his interest to run.

He was not about to fall on his sword for the Democrats even though he has benefited largely (his position in the Stark County clerk of courts office) by virtue of his Stark County Democratic insider status.

Some of Stark County's biggest bellyachers about the Republican legislative agenda (which Hagan will slavishly support) are guess who?  Giavasis and Gonzalez.

Accordingly, the SCPR does not want to hear either Giavasis or Gonzalez rant about the bad deal they think the Republicans and one of their most stalwart loyalists (Hagan) are dishing out to local governments.

Last Wednesday, Hagan (along with fellow Republican Kirk Schuring) dutifully voted with the Republican majority in passing its version of its so called mid-biennium-review (MBR) giving the Medicaid fraud afflicted nursing home care industry an extra $30 million.

 

Where's extra money for local government as Canton faces a $4 million plus deficit beginning in fiscal year 2013?  Where's the extra money for local school districts?

Moreover, in Giavasis' case, the Ohio General Assembly protects the oil and gas industry and its fracking interests from some measure of local control to the detriment of his beloved Plain Township (so he says).  One would think that Giavasis would be ashamed to complain.

Again, when Giavasis, Gonzalez and the Democratic House Caucus could have possibly done something to turn matters around; they proved they were not up to the task.  Both the Ohio Democratic Party and the Stark County Democratic Party are turning into something of a joke in providing political competition to the Republicans these days.

It is Politics 101 that the best time to challenge for an office is the first time one has to run for the office.

And Hagan should have been particularly vulnerable has she face voters and not Republican statehouse politicos.

How so?

Because she is a neophyte and the 50th got reconfigured in redistricting (which takes place every 10 years by the Ohio Constitution) and the SCPR's read on the "new" 50th is that it is more friendly Democratic than in the past because of the inclusion of parts of Plain Township and the city of Alliance.

Notwithstanding the Democrats making their task easier, the Republicans are taking no chances.

Christina Hagan has surfaced as the darling of the oil and gas industry in being the third highest beneficiary of campaign contributions (only behind Hall and Speaker of the House Billy Batchelder) and she has latched on as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

How is it that an appointed, unseasoned and very, very young (the youngest in the entire Ohio General Assembly) politician gets huge support from an industry which is lobbying hard to get favorable legislation out of the Ohio General Assembly for his controversial fracking initiative?

Probably two reasons:  The likes of David Hall, Ron Amstutz and Speaker Batchelder let it be known to the oil and gas lobbyists that the way into their legislative good graces is to prime Hagan's campaign fundraising effort, and, moreover, Hall/Amstutz/Batchelder convincing them, that in the Caucus appointing Hagan, they have created a loyal foot soldier who will unfailingly follow their and the industry's direction.

She has not disappointed.

Another interesting development is the public relations style writing that Repository political reporter (?) Robert Wang has engaged as an aid in the overall effort to buil up Hagan.

While Stark County local governments face huge problems in balancing their budgets in the face of huge State of Ohio Local Government Fund cuts (which Hagan supported), Wang gives her a pass (also her support of the anti-collective bargaining bill [SB 5, State Issue 2 [November, 2011]) and writes about her sponsoring or co-sponsoring this bill and that bill (way oversold as to its significance) as if he were her press agent.

Nothing in Wang's work on the MBR $30 million give away to the fraud tainted nursing home industry.

But he has let us know she is engaged to be married.

Hmm?

Of course, it is unusual for a rookie legislator to take the legislative lead on anything.

But things are changed since the Republicans brought on term limits in the 1990s.

It used to be that new legislators were back-benchers who put their time in, learned the political ropes and slowly were allowed to make their mark with a leadership afforded opportunity to sponsor or co-sponsor significant legislation.

With term limits, a legislator only has eight years to become seasoned and significant.

How does one who doesn't have a clue on the complexities of cobbling together legislation with a chance of passage and who has very limited life experience overcome her/his deficiencies?

Answer:  join up with the ALEC.  For $50 a year ALEC has a prearranged conservative political legislative agenda to serve up to member legislators across the nation.

And Christian Hagan has joined up.

She is one of 57 Ohio legislator (43%) members; 56 of whom are Republicans. 

About itself, ALEC says:
The American Legislative Exchange Council works to advance the fundamental principles of free-market enterprise, limited government, and federalism at the state level through a nonpartisan public-private partnership of America’s state legislators, members of the private sector and the general public. (emphasis added)
However, a New York Times writer (Conservative Nonprofit Acts as Stealth Business Lobbyist, Mike McIntyre, NY Times, April 21, 2012) describes ALEC thusly:
Most of the attention has focused on ALEC’s role in creating model bills, drafted by lobbyists and lawmakers, that broadly advance a pro-business, socially conservative agenda. But a review of internal ALEC documents shows that this is only one facet of a sophisticated operation for shaping public policy at a state-by-state level. The records offer a glimpse of how special interests effectively turn ALEC’s lawmaker members into:
  • stealth lobbyists, 
  • providing them with talking points, 
  • signaling how they should vote
and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes. (larger text and bullet pointed added for emphasis)
As such, ALEC is the perfect solution for Hagan to make up for her obvious deficiencies especially in the light of the fact that membership numbers indicate that ALEC is hardly non-partisan.  ALEC appears to fit the bill as a "to be trusted" Republican legislator support organization.

What few Democrats remain are quickly vanishing.  

Christina Hagan comes by her need for being propped up honestly.

Father John served in the House from 2000-2008 and has term limited out of the House.  Yours truly opposed him in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

As a freshman legislator, the then-Republican Speaker of the House,  handed John THE leadership role getting passage in the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly a  "cannot fail" legislative initiative to help Ohioans with prescription drug costs.

Because then-Republican state Senator Lynn Wachtmann and the Ohio AFL-CIO opposed some aspects of the bill,


it took father John better than four years to get a watered down version of his bill passed and he was only able to do so after the Republican Ohio General Assembly leadership brokered a deal with Wachtmann and Bill Burga (the then-head of the Ohio AFL-CIO).

Throughout his legislative career, John Hagan was the personification of a loyalist Republican legislator, above all else. His unfettered loyalty was rewarded by Republicans in redistricting by configuring the district in 2000 to be "safe Republican."

In Christina, it appears that "the apple has not fallen far from the tree."

While seeming to be intellectually a step or two ahead of her father; not so much so that she demonstrates an ability to think for herself as a public official.

Perhaps in time she will do better.  Stark Countians and her 50th District constituents can only hope.

But for now it is political survival time.

So look for her to "hang on for dear life" to the likes of Amstutz, Batchelder, Hall, her Repository PR man and, of course, ALEC

After all political dependence on others appears to be a characteristic she inherited from her father.

Friday, April 27, 2012

(3 VIDEOS): HEALY BLAMES GOV. KASICH & GOP DOMINATED STATE LEGISLATURE FOR NEED TO RAISE CANTON'S INCOME TAX OR MAKE DRACONIAN CUTS IN SAFTEY FORCES BEGINNING JANUARY, 2013. COUNCILMAN FISHER (WARD 5) REACTS



When yours truly got the word that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II asked for time to speak at the monthly Stark County Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Club, the first thought was that he was going to talk about how his State of the City designation of Canton as being The Utica Capital in addition to being the Pro Football Hall of Fame City was working out specifically to be an economic boom for Canton.

And he did indicate to the SCPR in a one-on-one conversation that he believes eventually such will prove to be the case.

But in the immediate context of Canton's financial condition, being a center for servicing companies and their crews fracking for natural gas and wet wells (oil) is not going be a solution to Canton impending financial ills.

So the point of Healy's talk last night was to lay the groundwork that within the next three months (by August 1st) Canton City Council was going to have to chose to do one of three things because of a project $4 to $4.5 million project shortfall in local government funding:
  • cut safety forces (police and fire) by some 90 to 100 personnel,
  • mix and match budget cuts with non-income-tax revenue increases, to wit:
    • generating revenues with traffic cameras,
    • instituting a safety forces property tax levy,
    • making a 50% cut in the city income tax credit
    • eliminating the senior citizen credit
  • propose a rise on the city income tax from 2 to 2.5% for approval by Canton voters
Whichever way council decides to go, Healy says the decision will not be an imposed solution.  Rather, he says, the direction chosen will include a fully engaged council.  Moreover, he says the citizens of Canton will participate in a series of public meetings.

Here is an video excerpt from his presentation last night.



Fifth Ward Councilman Kevin Fisher was also at last night's meeting.  The SCPR video recorded this reaction to the mayor presentation:



After the meeting, the SCPR engaged Mayor Healy in a follow up to his remarks before the Jefferson Jackson group. In this video see Mayor Healy explain and expand upon Canton's options and also see him go after Governor Kasich.




The SCPR agrees with Healy that Canton's dilemma going forward is because the Kasich administration in concert with the Ohio General Assembly have balanced the state budget on the backs of local government entities (cities, villages and townships). And there is more to come. Next we will be talking large cuts in local school district funding and in Ohio's contribution to higher education.

One has to wonder whether or not the rank and file local voter is going to allow Kasich and his legislative conspirators to get away with forcing higher local taxes to offset the confiscation by the State of the Ohio Local Government Fund.

Probably not.

And this means that councilpersons, trustees, mayors, board of education members and university boards of trustees in Stark County and throughout Ohio face the prospect of being placed in an impossible position: continuing cuts in local government and education funding by state government and local taxpayers saying no to an increase in taxes.

Buckle up folks.

A big political fight between locals, the governor and the Ohio General Assembly is just around the corner!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

MASSILLON MAYOR KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY: "A JACKSONIAN DEMOCRAT?" "TO THE VICTOR BELONG THE SPOILS?


It is becoming more and more apparent to the SCPR that newly serving Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry seemingly is taking the advice of her prime political mentor and minder Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (former Stark County Democratic Party chairman) and politicizing employment in Massillon government to the extent she can do so.

Back on April 2nd, The Report published a blog (CLICK HERE TO REVIEW) which detailed actions of her administration to replace predecessor Mayor Frank Cicchinelli employees (Stevens and Kaminiski) with her own.

Unfortunately, how well either did their jobs seems to yours truly to have been irrelevant as to whether or not the Catazaro-Perry folks were going to abide them as carryover employees.

One of the concerns of many including the SCPR was that the Kathy Catazaro-Perry would not be in control if elected and that she rather would be dependent on the likes of Maier and his political handmaidens.

A tip off on her dependence on Maier et al is a common refrain she uses when asked a question the "approved" answer to which she is not clear on, to wit:  "I will have to get back to you on that."

The SCPR predicted that while, if elected, Catazaro-Perry would be the de jure mayor,  Maier would be the de facto mayor appears to be in full swing.

It may be that the firing of Matt Rice is the most egregious case of all of the mayor's attempt to apply a political litmus test as to whether or not one remained a Massillon employee or qualifies to become a city employee.

To his credit, Rice is fighting back.

And it appears that he has a fighting chance of surviving.

So much so that the administration seems hellbent on stopping Rice's creative strategy of claiming civil service protection as a classified employee.   If an employee is determined to be a classified employee,  he/she can only be fired on commission (Massillon Civil Service Commission) validation that the firing was for cause?

Does the Catazaro-Perry administration doubt its ability to show cause in the case of Rice?

Apparently so.

Under the political spoils system started Andrew Jackson (the 7th U.S. president) which the likes of Maier bask in, firing of employees for no reason(s) other than political patronage purposes to the benefit of the supporters of the victorious candidate is the order of the day.

The Catazaro-Perry folks are not following the lead of Republicans Alan Harold (Stark County auditor) and Alex Zumbar (Stark County treasurer) who, when elected, in the wake of public perceived administration problems in the county treasury and auditors office.

They distinguished between carryover employees who had very little going for them but for their political connections in getting their jobs in the prior administration and those who had demonstrated that they the competence to do the job and merited being kept on in the replacement administration.

In the case of Massillon, the new administration has decided to take its civil service commission to court in order to stop it from even considering whether or not Rice's claim of civil service coverage has any legal heft.

A SCPR source alleges:
... the administration has dragged its feet for three months, canceling scheduled meetings and hearings at the last minute and doing everything it can to keep the commission from performing its duty.  Motions were made and votes taken by the board but then were somehow disregarded and discarded when the employee prevailed.
A more disturbing allegation by The Report's source is that Mayor Catazaro-Perry is trying to get a member of the Massillon Civil Service Commission to resign.


The Report is told that former Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli appointed commissioners Dale Walterhouse (a Republican)  and Marcus Simpson (Massillon Middle School principal).

Assuming the allegation that Catazaro-Perry has asked for a resignation of one of the Cicchinelli appointees is correct, the question becomes:  which one?

A SCPR discussion with a source in the best position to assess says that Walterhouse - if the allegation is true - is the likely target.

Why Walterhouse?

Because Walterhouse ran against Catazaro-Perry in 2007 for the 3 Ward city council slot and that Cicchinelli was one of his "in the background" supporters.


Massillonians should be deeply troubled at the way the new mayor, from an employment standpoint, is getting her administration up and running.

It seems to be just the type of environment that 1829 - 1837 president of the United States Andrew Jackson would fit into perfectly.

"To the victor belong the spoils!"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IS NEW MASSILLON MAYOR KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY BECOMING STARK COUNTY'S "FLIP-FLOPPER-IN-CHIEF?"



It is easy for public officials to criticize those who have leadership responsibilities, but when those same officials have to govern it is amazing how often they end up doing what they criticized.

It is becoming more and more apparent that former Massillon Ward 3 Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry (now Mayor Kathy) is well on her way to adopting a number of the practices (she criticized) of former Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. whom she defeated in the 2011 Democratic Party primary.

One of her main critiques of Cicchinelli was his seemingly annual practice of underfunding police and fire salaries; a criticism, by the way, that the SCPR agreed with her on.

So what does she do in her first budget?

Under-funds police and fire salaries.

Hmm?

Another criticism Catazaro-Perry made as councilwoman was the Cicchinelli administration's practice (as loan guarantor) of paying the mortgage on the Hampton Inn in the form of taking some of Massillon's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies off the top of those funds.

In fact, she voted against some CDBG budgets because of the inclusion of the mortgage payment.  Moreover, she made a big to-do campaign issue over the the matter.

So what does she do in her first budget?

Includes $127,000 to do guess what?

Yes, pay the Hampton Inn mortgage payment.

Not all of Catazaro-Perry's flip-flopping was in the context of adopting practices of the Cicchinelli administration that she had previously criticized.

Some of it was her flip-flopping on herself.

Before she had the responsibilities of being mayor, she appeared to be against any tax increases in Massillon to meet the shortfall between revenues and expenses.  Some of her nearest and dearest supporters (thought by the SCPR to be exemplified by Shane Jackson [in the guise of being an anonymous blogger, The Report thinks]) roundly criticized former Massillon Councilman David Hersher as being "the taxman."

In an interesting twist, the then mayor elect in December of 2011 was all set to support an council proposed (opposed by Cicchinelli, so he tells the SCPR) reduction in the city income tax credit to those Massillonians who paid taxes to other villages/municipalities when one of those who signed off on the legislation (Hersher) said he had not meant to do so.

Immediately, Catazaro-Perry (and two of her supporters on council - Townsend and Anderson) flip-flopped on the matter reversing course and abandoned support for the measure.

Intertesing twist?

Yes, if not ironic.

The Report figures that it dawned on Hersher that there was a political game going on in which he was going to be assigned the role of pushing for the tax increase (after all he is, according to the anonymous [?] blogger the "taxman") in order to deflect from the role of the mayor-elect and her supporters in providing the necessary votes to pass the increase.

And he was having none of it!

So it could be that Catzaro-Perry et al got "hoisted by their own petard."

After she took office, it was very interesting indeed to watch Councilman Tony Townsend to jump ship completely (because, he said, of a strong reaction from his constituents) and vote against his friend and mayor.

In a story by Massillon Independent reporter Matt Rink (100 days in office for Catazaro-Perry, April 8th), he cites the mayor has having said:  "My biggest concern during the campaign was [Massillon government] being financially stable."

Well, the SCPR does not see all the flip-flopping going on with her and her administration as promoting financial stability.

The Report agrees with Mayor Kathy that it is not a good idea to under-fund police and fire salaries.

But she did it anyway in her recently passed budget.

Moreover, it is not a good idea to include in the budget monies speculated to the tune of about $400,000 to be forthcoming from oil and gas leases of city owned property.

Before including the $400,000, wouldn't it have been a good idea to absolutely determine that the city owned the lease rights in the first place?

So in addition to flip-flopping we have an administration that "counts its chickens before the eggs have hatched."

Some kind of financial stability that Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry has going on in Massillon, no?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

CHRISTINA HAGAN SILENT? HMM?


State Rep. Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) is doing a little political self-preservation these days.

She is busy sending out press releases to the likes of the Repository's Robert Wang who dutifully picks up on them to report on back-burner legislative matters Hagan is devoting herself to.

Wang is so consumed with the mostly inconsequential that he even reported on her recent engagement.

No hard nosed reporting on her support of legislation that is gutting the funding of local government and undermining the right of public employees (mostly police, firefighters and teachers) to collectively bargain and her "Queen Bee" status with the oil and gas interests and her failure to come to the legislative rescue of more local control of the fracking process.

The big hot button issue (House Bill 298, Senate Bill 201) coursing through the Ohio General Assembly now is one sponsored/co-sponsored only by Republicans.

This legislation is designed to make it next to impossible if not impossible for Planned Parenthood to get Ohio funding for its activities, to wit:


Notably missing as a co-sponsor of HB 298 is Christina Hagan.


Why would that be?

While undoubtedly Hagan (who presents herself politically as well right of center with the overlay of being a highly religious person) will be supporting the bill when it comes to and up or down vote, it appears she does not want to become front and center embroiled in a political controversy that could provide her Alliance-based Democratic opponent Sue Ryan with an opportunity to make her race against Hagan competitive.

Ryan's campaign so far as looked about as dead as a campaign can.  Her campaign fiance report was absolutely pathetic in terms of money raised.

  
She does have a fundraiser scheduled for April 30th.

Kind of late, no?

It appears to the SCPR that it will take something along the order of a miracle to dispossess Hagan from the Ohio House.

And Hagan is doing her best to play The Repository for "earned?" media on various back-burner bills she has offered up and to avoid going high profile on anything that could possibly rescue the Ryan campaign from oblivion.

With recently deposed Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum being the chief spokesman on what a number of media types have characterized as being "a war on women," it seems as if the public notice has bought into the press labeling and polls show that there is a very large gender gap with women as between Republicans and Democrats (focusing at the presidential level of politics).

The SCPR is highly skeptical that Sue Ryan can mount anywhere near an effective campaign against Hagan.

However, she can pray for a miracle that that unelected 50th District representative will somehow self-destruct on something like House Bill 298.

Apparently, Hagan is being minded and mentored by the likes of state Reps. David Hall and Ron Amstutz to ensure that no miracle happens.

Monday, April 23, 2012

SCPR "FOLLOW THE MONEY" SERIES: CANTON MAYOR WILLIAM J. HEALY, II




UPDATED:  04/23/2012 AT 4:15 PM

With this blog, the Stark County Political Report initiates a series that will include developing a database in spreadsheet format going back a defined number of years on area politicians to determine where their financial support comes from.

From that standpoint, one of Stark County's most intriguing politicians in Canton is Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Today, The Report starts with TeamHealy's latest campaign financial statement and puts the listing of individuals, PACs and unions who contributed to the Healy campaign through the cut off date for the post-general election of 2011 and the pre-general election of 2011.

As new reports become available, the SCPR will be putting the information in spreadsheet format by updating the spreadsheet that is displayed in this blog.

Moreover, over time, The Report will be adding in information from prior TeamHealy campaign finance reports so that readers of the SCPR can have a ready access to the information.

Healy will not be the only elected official that The Report compiles information on and publishes same on this blog.

Periodically, the SCPR will add new names to the spreadsheet (in a form that readers can access information added on a cumulative basis).  The Report will also augment a given candidate/official spreadsheet with information developed outside campaign finance reports (e.g. job/relationship with the candidate and contributor's home/business community).

Here is the updated Healy spreadsheet:



 For readers who want a larger view:

CLICK HERE TO SEE SPREADSHEET

Friday, April 20, 2012

CAN PROSECUTOR JOHN FERRERO CHALLENGER - REPUBLICAN MIKE GRADY - OVERCOME HIS CAMPAIGN FINANCE & WORKER DISADVANTAGE? ALSO, IS THIS RACE A REPEAT OF HEALY V. CONDE?



Numbers do not lie!

In his quest to replace Democrat Stark County Prosecutor John Fererro, Republican Mike Grady has a herculean task on his hands.

Not only does Ferrerro, on the basis of their recently filed campaign finance reports have a better than 5 to 1 advantage moneywise, the report also shows that some 48 of Ferrero's 68 or so employees have contributed to his campaign.

Undoubtedly, the 20 who haven't contributed will be doing so in the space between now and November.  Accordingly, expect that number ($7,687.70) to grow dramatically.

As important as the money advantage is, the SCPR believes "hoofs on the ground" is more important.

Most of the prosecutor office employees likely, rightly or wrongly, believe that their livelihoods are on the line.  You can bet that they, their families and friends will be stomping Stark County for their boss's reelection at their own initiative.

Additionally, many members of the Stark County Bar have jumped on board the Ferrero Express for re-election as demonstrated by their making financial contributions to help Ferrero get returned to office.

Of course, yours truly knows most of these folks.

To name some of them:
  • Harry Klide (a former judge)
  • Donald Miller
  • Jack Baker
  • Stephen Ginella
  • John R. Hoffman (a former judge)
  • George Kodak
  • Wayne Kyhos
  • Richard A. Nicodemo
  • Robert Shedlarz
  • James D. Snively
  • Tzangos, Plakas, Mannos & Raies
  • Wendy Rockenfelder
  • Brian L. Zimmerman
  • Stephen P. Okey
  • R.R. Denny Clunk (a former judge)
  • Michael Ogline
  • Perry Stegios (Massillon law director)
  • Sam Ferruccio (Demcratic appointee to Bd. of  Elections
  • Fischer, Evans & Robbins, LTD
  • Mariella Mestel
  • Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths, Dougherty CoLPA
  • Phillip D. Schandel
  • Jeffrey H. Weltman
  • Black, McCusky, Sours & Arbaugh, LPA
  • Gust Callas
  • Anthony J. Cepedes
  • Patrick Cusma
  • Mary A. Falvey (sitting Canton Municipal Court judge)
  • Anthony J. Flex
  • Frank Forchione (sitting Stark Co. Common Pleas judge)
  • Mario Gaitanos
  • Douglas N. Godshall
  • Scott Gwin (sitting 5th District Court of Appeals judge)
  • Taryn Heath (sitting Stark Co. Common Pleas judge)
  • Joe Martuccio (Canton law director)
  • Rosemary G. Rubin
  • Andrea Scassa (magistrate, Canton Municipal Court, Massillon councilwoman)
  • Robert A. Zedell
  • Edmond Mack (Canton councilman)
  • Thomas P. Moushey
  • Ronald G. McCala
  • J. Fred Stergios
  • Stanley R. Rubin
A virtual "Who's Who" of the Stark County legal community, no? 

While Grady also had some legal types contribute to him, the list is much much much sparser than that of the sitting prosecutor.  His list includes:
  • Robert Lavery (sitting Alliance Municipal Court judge)
  • Brant Luther (Stark Co. Family Court official and former Stark County auditor)
There may be others.  But, if so, yours truly does not recognize the names.

Notable absences from the Grady list of legal community financial supporters are the names Jeff Jakmides (a prominent Stark County criminal defense attorney and 2004 opponent to Ferrero) and local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.

Conley, a Republican, has gone round and round (2010, 2011) with Ferrero on his dissatisfaction with the immediacy, pace and thoroughness with which the prosecutor's office pursued recovery provided for and authorized by Ohio law in the case of taxpayer monies coming up missing during the tenure of a county treasurer. * (* see footnote [#] at end of blog for a specific reference)

Isn't it interesting that Jakmides and Conley - at least as far as the SCPR can detect - are not Grady contributors.

Add this dearth of support from the legal community to his other problems as set forth above and the task of unseating the incumbent has to be all the more overwhelming.

It appears to The Report that a Grady defeat of Ferrero would go down as one of the all time Stark County political upsets!

As a sidenote, it is interesting to see that Ellis Erb (a Lake Township trustee) and Ben Sommers (Lake's fiscal officer) contributed to Ferrero's campaign.

Both are Republicans and one would think likely to support fellow Lake Republican Grady.  However, the kicker is that Grady has weighed in on a lawsuit filed against the Lake trustees over an error in ballot language on a November, 2011 ballot initiative to take the Uniontown Police Department (UPD) township wide.

Hmm?  Political payback?

Oh, by the way, yours truly supported taking the UPD township wide, but has criticized the Lake trustees and their legal counsel, the Stark County Board of Elections for not getting the language correct.  The matter is now in the hands of the Ohio Supreme Court.

One name that does not appear on Ferrero campaign contribution report is that of Marlboro Chief of Police Ron Devies.  Quite predictably, he is listed as a Grady contributor.

As readers of the Stark County Political Report know, Devies (and his son Kyle) was prosecuted by Ferrero (having asked for and secured grand jury indictments) under a fourth degree felony as well as misdemeanor counts on a matter which the SCPR believes was nothing more than a communication problem.

Here is a LINK to a prior blog (of a number) which details a number of the shortcomings that The Report believes that Ferrero has demonstrated as Stark County prosecutor.

Notwithstanding The Report's desire that Stark Countians see fit in November to replace Ferrero with Grady,  it is pretty clear, just looking over and analyzing the numbers presented in this blog plus how embedded he is with the Stark County established order of things that such is not likely.

However, the SCPR believes that it is possible that given his "political" insider connections (a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman who was chairman when now former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler was appointed by the Stark County Central Committee as treasurer, and who is thought by many to be a Stark County Democratic Party "good ole boy") that same could come back to haunt him in the hands of a politically savvy opponent.

In his 2004 race against Jakmides, Ferrero ran for a while in a trio-team effort with Zeigler and Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson who were also up for reelection.

The Report is not optimistic that political neophyte Michael J. Grady will be inclined to play political hardball with the politically sophisticated and schooled Ferrero.

The SCPR believes that if Grady is to win:  the gloves will have to come off.

The Report has a hard time imagining that a former corporate counsel for one of America's major corporations will prove to have the grit and determination needed to pull off a major political upset.

Grady gives every indication to The Report of being "a class act" a la A.R. "Chip" Conde and his Canton mayoralty race techniques and strategies against seasoned politico William J. Healy, II.

Laudable, but not a winning campaign approach!

==============================
# (Reference:  former Chief Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci admitted theft of $2.45 million [thought by some to actually have been $2.96 million] of Stark County taxpayer money apparently from 2002 through 2009.  Former Treasurer Gary Zeigler was not implicated in the theft, but was subject to recovery of missing monies by virtue of Ohio law.  Zeigler negotiated a settlement with county officials whereby he resigned/retired on October, 19, 2011)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WHICH POLITICAL PARTY IS THE CAPTIVE OF THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY?



Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis likes to argue that fracking (the process of forcing rock embedded natural gas to the surface) is not a Republican or Democratic issue.

And he does have some compelling points to his argument.

But when one "follows the money," it is abundantly clear that by and large it is Republican Party public officials who the oil and gas industry thinks is its best best to win the battle between the industry and environmentalists who constitute the anti-fracking movement.

The Giavasis side of the argument is ladened with some heavy hitter Democrats.

Right here in Stark County probably the foremost Democratic proponent for the oil and gas industry is Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.  In his State of the City address earlier this year he took the step of putting the fame of Canton being the The Utica Capital (the Utica shale formation from which most of the natural gas is to be extracted) right alongside Canton being the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The SCPR has learned that Healy is out and about touting his "Utica Capital" spiel.

Healy is frothing at the mouth at the prospect of an estimate that some 65,000 jobs producing some $3.3 billion in employee income (many of which are said to be in the $50,000 per annum range) will be coming to Ohio by 2014.

However, one local union official told The Report yesterday that he is not sure all that many jobs (especially union) will be coming to Canton and the greater Stark County.  He said that he has a feeling from discussions he has had with Baker Hughes (set to bring about 700 oilfield services jobs to Massillon) that many of the workers will come from out of Ohio.

You can be sure that Democratic Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is supporting fracking as did her predecessor Frank Cicchinelli.

At the congressional level, soon to be a U.S. House of Representative for part of Stark County (the Alliance area) Tim Ryan (Democrat - Youngstown) is a huge supporter of the oil and gas industry and fracking notwithstanding the fact his home area has be plagued with a recent splurge of earthquakes thought to be caused by the operation of injection wells (which are used to dispose of fracking waste water) in the area.


On the Republican side the foremost facilitator and advocate for fracking is 50th Ohio House District state Rep. Christina Hagan.  Recently, the Cleveland Plain Deal published a piece showing her among the top three state officials receiving campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry having received a documented $7,500 from March of 2011 when she was appointed to the House.

The Hagan contributions are part of a $600,000 layout by the oil and gas lobbyists to Ohio some 32 legislators of which 29 are Republicans.

The SCPR has received a report that Republican Plain Township Trustee was overheard at a local exercising facility as referring to some Stark County anti-frackers (i.e. Concerned Citizens of Stark County) as being "idiot environmentalists."  When contacted by The Report about the allegation, he denied that he had said any such thing.

Republican Governor John Kasich has been ga-ga over the prospects of fracking bailing the Ohio economy out of the doldrums since very early in his administration.

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown says he is neither pro-fracking nor anti-fracking.

Republican presidential candidate and pro-fracker Mitt Romney is seemingly on a mission to paint President Obama as being anti-fracking.

Recently, OpenSecrets.org published a chart showing oil and gas industry overwhelmingly supporting Republican politicians.


It will be interesting to see which political party made the right choice on which side of the fracking issue to lineup on.

If the prospect of fracking proves to be an economic boom without attendant environmental safety problems  for Stark County, Ohio and America without, then Republicans stand gain with the American public.

If, on the other hand, there are "Deep Water Horizons" out there lurking, then Democrats, of course, are likely to be seen has having tried to protect the environment.

At the end of the day all one has to do is FOLLOW THE MONEY to know that the fracking issue, indeed, has strong partisan political overtones to it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

IS THE OSBORNE-HELD ONGOING CONTENTION GOOD FOR NORTH CANTON? OSBORNE ASKS THE FBI TO INVESTIGATE THE HELD ADMINISTRATION!



Since 2001 and his one term in North Canton government as a councilman, Democrat Chuck Osborne has been a "royal pain in the a_ _" (the SCPR's words) to David Held.

Republican Held came from Marlboro Township where he was a trustee to become North Canton's city administrator.  For the last five years or so he has been the elected mayor of The Dogwood City.

But partisan politics (Democrat/Republican) has had very little, if anything, to do with their acerbic relationship which has coursed over more than 10 years.

Over those years Held has had to sit and listen (sometimes contending) as Osborne has lambasted him for one position/policy/action or another seemingly meeting, after meeting, after meeting.

So it was no surprise to North Cantonians who regularly attend North Canton City Council meetings regularly held on Monday nights for Osborne to get up and pillory Held on the evening of March 26, 2012.

The question among local political observers is the "real" purpose of such outbursts.

Is it a case of Chuck Osborne desperately flailing about seeking an issue that will catapult him back into a role in North Canton government or is it all about a citizen who is selflessly extending himself to make his local government "be all that it can be?"

On the 26th, Osborne took to the lectern during the "public speaks" portion with his latest round of castigation of Held, to wit:


Osborne was speaking in opposition to the issue of whether or not proposed North Canton Ordinance 24-12.  An ordinance he says allows for an employee to take vacation that had not yet accrued.

Moreover, he went into a chapter and verse description (quoted, in part, below) of an employee (not specifically named) whom he alleges was hired by Mayor Held knowing full well that the employee had a major medical condition:

In Osborne's words:

In recent weeks after securing payroll records of an employee recently hired by the City, I found that the employee has taken all their personal days allowed for the year, all their sick leave allowed for the hours worked and the one vacation day they had accrued on the job. Even with the sick time, personal days, and vacation time taken, the employee lost several days of work due to the need for major surgery.
The changes proposed in Ordinance 24-12, would have allowed this new employee to use their ten days of vacation to cover their lost work days even though they had been on the job for only a few weeks.

This begs the question. Does the City require a pre-employment physical before hiring an individual for employment and are political appointees made promises as to the availability of medical benefits for known major health problems before they are hired?
Osborne says that his concern is that North Canton taxpayers, by virtue of Held's hiring practices (which he alleges amount to Held hiring his friends and acquaintances), will be stuck with avoidable (North Canton is a self-insurer with stop-loss insurance coverage) medical costs.

Held was not present at the meeting because he was on a family vacation trip.

However, he did contact Osborne when enroute on the vacation wanting to know who was the source of his allegations due to his concerns for the employee's HIPPA privacy rights.

Osborne refused and continues to refuse to reveal his source.

What's more, Osborne requested that North Canton City Council ask the FBI to investigate the hiring that he complained about.

On learning that council was not going to act on his request, Osborne took it on himself to hand deliver a letter of complaint and a request for investigation to the Canton FBI office on April 12th.

Last evening the SCPR contacted Mayor Held for his reaction to Osborne's initiative of contacting the FBI on the matter.

Osborne filing complaints against Held is nothing new.  His Honor tells The Report that he has been subjected to complaints with the Ohio Ethics Commissioner, the Ohio EPA, the U.S. EPA and the Stark County prosecutor's office.

Initially, Held was outraged on hearing the news that he was the subject of an FBI complaint (alternatively, he was dismissive), and, let's say, was less than charitable in his assessments of his antagonist.

One response was "I will never, ever hire Chuck Osborne into my administration."  

The mayor said that when he was about to hire a permits administrator, Osborne asked to be hired.  When asked by The Report whether or not Osborne had made a formal application for the post, Held said that he had not.

So Held's response essentially was that the latest in a long series of confrontations between him and Osborne (remember:  going over more than 10 years) is an example of "sour grapes" at not being considered for the permits job by Held.

End of conversation between Held and the SCPR?

No.

Minutes later Held followed up with yours truly to share a more circumspect view of Osborne and his interaction with his administration.

While he maintained that Osborne is vexatious to him (e.g. not quite getting his facts right and/or taking fragmented facts and not connecting the dots accurately) by virtue of his determination and tenaciousness; Held's overall conclusion was that the testy relationship results in his being a better leader of North Canton.

He says the Osborne interplay has the effect of:
  • compelling him to  "constantly sharpen, retool, refine and strategize what [the administration] is doing,"
  • making him a more humble person.
Held went on the cite a couple of examples that Osborne has made him a better mayor:
  1. His criticism of the purchase of and the maintaining of the Arrowhead Golf Course which Held says was bought for $4.2 million and now stands valued at $1.9 million.
  2. His criticism of North Canton not doing enough to solve the flooding problems associated with the Zimber ditch that runs adjacent to the city.
He also says that Osborne has had good things to say about him in his administration of the city and that they maintain a personally respectful relationship despite their acrimonious exchanges on various topics of North Canton government.

Coming full circle to the blog headline question:  Is the Osborne-Held ongoing contention good for North Canton?
 
Well, what better source than Mayor David Held himself?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DEPUTY SHERIFF MIKE McDONALD BRINGS GOOD NEWS TO STARK COMMISSIONERS. IS THIS THE "ADVANTAGE" OF INCUMBENCY-ESQUE STATUS IN HIS RACE AGAINST DORDEA?


If running for sheriff was anything like Tennis,  it seems to the SCPR that Democratic candidate Mike McDonald (chief deputy - Jail Division) has the advantage in his race against Republican Larry Dordea (Hartville police chief and Alliance councilman) to succeed long time Sheriff Tim Swanson, who is not running for a new term.

Evidence (i.e. news of restoring laid off deputies and getting the jail to its maximum of 500 or so beds occupied by July/August) that he has the advantage was apparent at yesterday's Stark County commissioners' meeting at which McDonald appeared as "the man in charge" in terms of dispensing information to the commissioners on the pace of the sheriff' department's recovery from the draconian cuts of some 41 deputies due to 2010/2011 budget cuts.

Once a tennis game score is tied (called deuce), then the players get in into ad-in, ad-out until the ad-in, ad-out player scores the next consecutive point.  Then you have a winner!

It may be that McDonald and Dordea more or less started out in a tie.  Dordea did run a credible race against Sheriff Swanson in 2008 in a losing effort. 

Sheriff Swanson's other chief deputy Rick Perez, who everyone thought would be the candidate to succeed him, has more or less been the spokesperson for the department in recent years.

However, that all changed with the troubles that plagued the Stark County treasury and the April 1, 2009 revelation that former Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen what many believe to have been $2.96 million in Stark County taxpayer money.

While the now former Treasurer Gary Zeigler (he resigned/retired on October 19, 2011) was not implicated in the theft, the then Ohio State of Auditor Mary Taylor ascribed various treasury office management deficiencies to him.  Moreover, the public perception seemed to be that that Zeigler did not have appropriate processes, procedures, practices and secure physical infrastructure in place that may have inhibited Frustaci's theft.

So how is Zeigler situation relevant to Rick Perez.

This way.

Thought to be among Zeigler's closest Stark Democratic Party political allies were Swanson, Kim Perez (the then Stark County auditor) and Chief Deputy Rick Perez (Kim's brother).

While quite a few Stark Countians, including some officeholders, thought well of Kim Perez as auditor; his perceived close association with Zeigler apprently was the political death knell of his remaining auditor.

In the 2010 election, Kim lost to Republican Alan Harold who was probably the most preeminent Republican blasting both Zeigler and Auditor Perez for not preventing and/or detecting the Frustaci theft. 

As the political associations became known to the general public via the media (Swanson, Kim Perez, Rick Perez et cetera - "the good ole boys" - vis-a-vis Zeigler), their political stock took a nosedive.

It remains to be seen whether or not the likes of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, Recorder Rick Campbell and Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold (all certainly Stark County Democratic Party insiders; perhaps, also seen as part of "the good ole boys" network) will be affected in their attempts to be reelected this November.

The Report believes that Swanson dropped Perez as his preferred successor because he in consultation with the likes of Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez determined that Rick Perez could not be elected.

McDonald, while a loyal Democrat, for some reason is not generally seen in the same light as Swanson, the Perez brothers and, perhaps, Ferrero, Campbell and Reinbold as thorough going politicos.

If The Report is correct in analyzing that McDonald has managed to be unaffected by political blight, then such may be an edge that allows him to score another point and win game:  McDonald versus Dordea.

From what the SCPR has seen of Dordea's plan to reform operations at the Stark County sheriff's department, (CLICK HERE FOR LINK) he appears to be best equipped to get the most bang for the limited bucks available to the sheriff in 2013 and beyond even with the passage of the 0.5 sales tax last November.

However, with the advantages that McDonald seems to have (e.g. running in an incumbent-esque fashion as a spokesman bearing good news between now and the election, and, managing to avoid the Zeigler association political taint), then he may prove to be the man who will save Stark County Democrats from what appeared about a year ago to be a near certain loss of the sheriff's office.

The only other issue that could be a game changer might be McDonald's health.

When news surfaced late last year that he had a very serious health condition he was dealing with, leadership Democrats were concerned that McDonald would not be up to making the run.

The SCPR asked McDonald at yesterday's commissioner work session:  "How's your health?

Answer:  "I feel so good, I could do cartwheels!"

Hmm?

If McDonald is as fit as he says he is:   Game over?

Monday, April 16, 2012

"I WANT TO BE APPOINTED TO POLITICAL OFFICE." GO FIGURE!



UPDATE:  04/16/12 AT NOON

What follows is an e-mail response to today's blog.  It was written by David J. Ramos who was one of 18 applicants for the recently filled township trustee position vacated by Anna Capaldi early this year.

It is a policy of the SCRP to allow subjects of blogs an opportunity to respond to blogs.

The Ramos response:
Dear Mr. Olson,

My name is David Ramos and I currently serve as the Secretary of the Perry Township Zoning Commission and I was one of the 18 candidates who "wanted to be appointed to political office" as your blog from today's Stark County Political Reports suggests.  After reading your article today (I have been a daily reader ever since I discovered my name on your blog several months ago) I wanted to offer a different viewpoint to what you are suggesting.

I cannot speak to the motivation behind others who chose to throw their hat into the process but I wanted you to know what my motivation was.  I have served Perry Township for over 8 years working with the Zoning Commission.  I have attended every zoning meeting during the time I've served on the Commission.  Additionally, I have assisted both the Perry Township Fire Department and the Perry Township Police Department in Spanish language translation at times when patients or suspects who couldn't speak English needed assistance.  I have attended seminars, I've volunteered for citizen's committees, and have been active in the political process with the township trustees on issues that I feel very passionate about.  My wife served almost 10 years as a EMT/Firefighter for the township.  I'm certainly more than just a little interested in my community!!

With all that being said, I agree that taking that step to actually run takes an exceptional level of commitment.  But keep this in mind.  To many "average citizens", the thought of fighting city hall can be overwhelming.  In the case of Perry Township, trying to unseat Craig Chessler and Lee Laubacher is no easy task.  To an aspiring public servant like myself, strategically speaking, going head-to-head with one of those two vs. the opportunity to go head-to-head with 17 other non-office holders seemed like a no brainer.  The incumbent will always have the advantage.  Had I been selected (like Mr. Haines) I think there is a certain advantage I would have had come election time.  Specifically to Perry, the 2013 election will offer two seats instead of just one.  Again, strategically speaking, the chances of gaining enough votes to be one of the two is better than going face to face with a political veteran (as was the case in 2011).

All things being equal, all of us aspiring politicians would certainly love any advantage we could get in running and winning an election.  To suggest that our only motivation was some kind of free ride seems a little over reaching.  Keep in mind that of the 18 candidates for the Perry job, 8 of them had previously run for public office.  If anything, I think it speaks volumes that so many people care enough to take the time to become part of the political process.  Many of the other 18 are regular township meeting goers and/or have been involved in the township in some capacity (firefighter, road department, school board, etc.).

I look forward to 2013.  I can't say today if I will be running or not.  In my experience, life has a way of deciding things like this for you.  If the time is right, like it was in January, I will actively engage myself in the election process.  If not, I will continue to serve my community in the way I have for the last eight years.

Sincerely,

David J. Ramos

ORIGINAL BLOG

There are many who aspire to hold political office, but few are up to running for office - at least on the initial try.

Recently, the Jackson Trustees (Walters and Pizzino) selected a replacement for William Burger (retired) as Jackson Township trustee.

In November, 2013 the selectee Todd Hawke will have to run for retention (not re-election) as trustee.  It will be interesting to see whether or not he has the stomach for running for public office.  For it is one thing to be appointed to office.  It is quite another to have to run for office.

Among the things one must do in order to run for office include:
  • "successfully" (some can't even pass this step) circulate nominating petitions (usually 50 valid signatures required),
  • file a financial disclosure report with the Ohio Ethics Commission,
  • form a campaign committee as a condition precedent to soliciting campaign funds from the general public,
  • find volunteers to help staff the activities of a campaign,
  • ask people for money to finance the campaign,
  • file periodic campaign finance reports on dates prescribed by the Ohio secretary of state,
  • ask voters for their vote (door-to-door, radio, TV, candidate forums et cetera),
  • answer questions of the voters and of the press,
  • face the possible humiliation of losing.
There is a mythology in American to the effect that "all I want is a fair chance."

Undoubtedly, some of us actually subscribe to and act on the platitude.

But SCPR does not believe such is, in reality, a majority attitude.   The Report thinks the evidence is that most folks want a leg up and thereby wants to be "more than equal" when it comes to competition; political or otherwise.

One has to go no further than your local political subdivision to see the phenomenon in action.

Witness the Jackson situation:  40 applicants for one position.  Wow!

And if one combs through that list with a fine toothed comb, will any of the 40 have run for political office before?  Perhaps a few, very, very few.

The same can be said of the 18 who applied to replace Anna Calpaldi in Perry Township back about the beginning of the year.

An interesting study along these lines is the situation of September, 2010 when Stark's major political parties had to selected nominees to run in November to replace Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer as he had been removed ([August 23, 2010], illegally - so said the Ohio Supreme Court later) from office by the Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks).

Eleven Democrats and six Republicans filed for their respective party's nomination.  Same deal.  Few of the applicants had ever run for office.

Ken Koher emerged as the Democrats' nominee whereas Alex Zumbar came out the Republican pack notwithstanding the spellbinding Phil Davison (Minerva councilman) pitch to be name the nominee.

An on and on and on go the the long lists of applicants who endeavor to be appointed a public official whenever a vacancy opens up for an office that is an elective office except to fill a vacancy caused by death, retirement or any other reason.

Turning back to the county treasurer situation.

After the September, 2010 Republican nominee Alex Zumbar (who, by the way, had held elective office in Alliance) to replace Zeigler one election in November of that year, he was turned out of office by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Zeigler eventually negotiated his resignation/retirement (October 19, 2011) and it was game on again to find a replacement for him.

The commissioners (Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson) named Zumbar (the Republican) on an interim basis with Democrats Bernabei and Ferguson recommending to the Stark County Democratic Central Committee that Zumber be made the Democratic nominee inasmuch as the Democrats had the right to name Zeigler's (a Democrat himself) replacement to fill out his term.

Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez says he sought someone - anybody- to take the Democratic Party appointment, but none were to be found.

Hmm?

Interesting:  a free pass, a free ride into political office and no takers?

Why not?

As it turns out for a very good reason.

Alex Zumbar had announced that whether or not he got the Democratic nod, he would be running in 2012.

Zumbar, in the short time he served as treasurer, had distinguished himself and unless he did some horrible, horrible thing he would be a shoe-in to be elected this November.

So if a Democrat were to step forward and accept a nomination, he/she would have a virtually non-existence chance to be elected this fall.

It is sort of  politically weird that the Democrats do have a person who successfully circulated petitions for the right to run against Zumbar come November.


Now answer this for me.

If you are Kelly Zachary and if you have any notion whatsoever that you are going to be running for treasurer in 2012 (petitions had to be filed by December 7, 2011 - the Democratic nomination event was October 31st), why wouldn't you have stepped forward on October 31st and accepted the nomination which - according to Gonzalez - was there for the taking?

If Zachary was to have any chance this fall, she would have been in office for a full year to establish herself as a viable candidate for Stark County treasurer.

Apparently, just a case of fumbling, bumbling Democrats who are on a dive from holding all of Stark County's non-judicial countywide elective offices to holding precious few under the leadership of Randy Gonzalez.

Obviously, those who applied for the recent vacancies (Jackson, Perry and the Stark County treasury) are politically inclined.  But for most, only to a point.

Given a "free lunch," a "free pass," or "something for nothing," (i.e. an appointment) they are game to enter the political fray.

Otherwise:  thanks, but no thanks!

Is this anyway to run a democratic republic?

Friday, April 13, 2012

(VIDEO: HANKE ANNOUNCES SERIES OF MEETINGS) COMMISSIONERS "BACK ON TRACK" WITH COMMUNITY MEETINGS?


As newly elected county commissioners (November, 2010), Tom Bernabei and Janet Creighton brought sweeping changes to the accessibility, accountability, communication and transparency factors of Stark County government.

Among the sorely needed changes made by the new commissioners included the scheduling of work sessions (up to two per week on Monday and Tuesday) and seizing the initiative of going out into the community with evening session commissioner meetings designed to gain the insights of and input of everyday Stark Countians.

It so happened that the 22 or so meeting scheduled from February through June of 2011 coincided with the need of the commissioners to determine whether or not to put on a sales tax issue to cover a brewing county financial crisis and, if so, at what rate and for what term.

The "financial need" factor concerned some that the "out-into-the-community-initiative" would be abandoned if and when a sales tax consensus was reached and passed.

Lo and behold!  A consensus was reached (0.5% for eight years) and the measure passed at a surprisingly comfortable margin.

A number of factors had coalesced (mainly a 2008 commissioner imposed sales tax increase repealed in November, 2009 and Vince Frustaci's theft of Stark County taxpayer money) to put the public's confidence in county government at what may have been an "all-time-low."

So for the new commissioners to have led a turnaround in public perception within such a narrow time frame bordered on the miraculous.

But as we all know, life if not static.  This is truly a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" world these days.

Some suspected that the "born-again" commissioners found new "openness-to-the-public-religion" out of desperation borne of the financial crisis that they found themselves in on assuming office.

Post-levy passage, would the commissioners revert to "business-as-usual" a la former boards or is this board "really" different from the prior regimes?

The SCPR has been agitating the Bernabei-Creighton-Ferguson board for some time now to get "back on track" with their community meetings.

Nealy ten months have come and gone and no meetings scheduled!

Well, yesterday that changed with commissioners scheduling three meetings, to wit:
  •  April 30th at Washington Township Hall,
  •  May 14th at Plain Township Hall, and
  •  May 30th at North Canton City Hall
with the promise of more to come.

It is not enough for commissioners to merely schedule meetings.

They need to direct Chief Administrator Mike Hanke to enlist the support of and to work with the respective township trustees, North Canton city council persons and Mayor David Held to build up a group of locals who will attend meetings in their communities and to engage the commissioners in a probative and meaningful dialogue.

The 2011 round of community meetings were hastily put together and lacking total planning and organization were - for the most part - poorly attended.

In Canton, for instance, NOBODY showed up.

The "apparent" disinterest must be squared up with and remedied.

But solving this problem is not "just going to happen."

It was apparent in the levy effort that the commissioners (especially Bernabei and Creighton) can plan and organize and create a viable participation base.

They need to apply those skills towards building a representative community response when the filter out into the larger Stark County political subdivisions.

Until the commissioners demonstrate (working with local officials and community leaders) success in building more or less permanent interacting community-based groups, their "out-in-the-community" series of meetings will prove frustrating and demoralizing to them.

And, over time, the meetings will be no more.

Between now and the onset of the the 2012 round of community meetings, the SCPR will be asking the commissioners, township trustees, city councilpersons and mayors to detail their efforts in building local government interactive community groups.

What happens with this meetings will go a long way in determining whether the meetings amount to:
  • little more than a "Dog and Pony" show, OR
  • a representative and authentic dialogue between rank-and-file locals and their county commissioners
Which will it be?

Here is the video in which the commissioners set the meetings.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

(VIDEO: FERRERO & RHODES EXPLAIN TO COMMISSIONERS) 1,106 DAYS LATER ...... !



No one mentioned local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley yesterday at the regular weekly meeting of Stark County commissioners.

But in the estimation of the SCPR, he should have been in a highly laudatory way.

It was Conley who, more than any other Stark Countian, public official or private citizen, is responsible for bulldoggedly pushing Stark County Prosecutor John D. Ferrero to get moving on recovering for Stark County taxpayers - as much possible, as quickly as possible - the $2.96 million (he admitted to taking $2.46 million) that many believed former Stark County Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci stole from the county treasury.

Conley is also the person who coined the set of Zeigler-constructed administrative circumstances and lack of controls surrounding the Frustaci matter as being Zeiglergate.

The initial revelation of the theft itself was made on April 1, 2009.

The then treasurer Gary D. Zeigler was not implicated in the theft.

However, many (including former Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor, Alan Harold [now Stark County auditor] and Alex Zumbar [now Stark County treasurer] alleged that Zeigler had inadequate and deficient processes, procedures, safeguards and physical infrastructure in place to be a deterrent to the apparent ease with which Frustaci made off with taxpayer money.

Hence, the Conley coined the label: Zeiglergate.

From the filing of a federal information filed against Frustaci on June 25, 2010 specifying the $2.4 million, it was puzzling to The Report why Stark County Prosecutor Ferrero was not pursuing a remedy provided under ORC Sections 321.37 and 38 to hold Zeigler liable for the loss.

Of course, the bonding companies for Zeigler and the insurance company covering county employees (Frustaci) needed to be pursued as well as Frustaci himself.

The answer of the Ferrero administration was that it would be premature to file a civil action for recovery until Frustaci was actually sentenced (September, 9, 2010).

Yours truly thought that Ferrero's delayed response was nonsense, as did Craig Conley.

It was Conley who forced Ferrero's hand by filing a civil action (July 2, 2010) in the name of Bethlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli.

Conley had a number of concerns which the SCPR blogged about on July 9, 2010.

Ferrero did not take kindly to Conley's move, but in the end it got the prosecutor motivated to take the suit over.

John Ferrero and Ross Rhodes (Ferrero's chief civil litigator) were at the commissioners' meeting yesterday.

Ferrero and Rhodes explained to commissioners why they should approve a settlement with the bonding company covering the first period of time span that Frustaci began stealing from the county.

Commissioners Bernabei said that the county has recovered about $1.76 million ($1,760,674.30) of the $2.96 million ($2,964,560.00) that is missing which rounds off to about a 60% recovery.

The SCPR does a "tip of the hat" to Craig Conley and bestows upon him a SCPR Unsung Hero Award.

Conley has spent many, many hours without recompense looking out for the taxpayers of Stark County.

He is a model of civic involvement and engagement for all of Stark County's citizens!

Prosecutor Ferrero?

He was merely doing his job and is well compensated ($120,000 per annum) for his work as is the rest of his staff.


He and the commissioners should have publicly singled out and thanked Conley for his "in the public interest - pro bono work.

Had he not filed the Marcelli lawsuit on July 2, 2010, it is likely that the county would still be months away from finally having a resolution to the recovery question.

But such would have taken a magnanimity that seems to be lacking by many public officials, especially Mr. Ferrero.

The Report trusts that Ferrero's 2012 Republican opponent Michael J. Grady will thoroughly scrutinize not only his "less than impressive" performance on this matter but also a rather large list (in the opinion of the SCPR as specifically delineated in previous blogs) of administrative deficiencies demonstrated over the span of the prosecutor's last four years in office.

Here is a video of the commissioners dialogue with Ferrero and Rhodes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WILL CANTON MAYOR HEALY GIVE COMMISSIONER PETE FERGUSON A BREAK FOR THE SAKE OF HIS LEGACY AS COUNTY COMMISSIONER?


A study or an heaven sent to "twist Canton Mayor Healy's arm?"

The SCPR thinks that the Sisters of Charity funding ($75,000) of yet another study of whether or not "it is the thing to do" to merge the Stark County and Canton City health departments is in "realpolitik" an effort to put moral pressure on Healy to set aside his ego for the best health interests of all of Stark County.

Even Healy, as brassy as he is, is not likely to call the head of the Sisters of Charity upbraiding the charity for funding the project.

Last year he lashed out at Commissioner Pete Ferguson for having the audacity of commissioning former Commissioner Tom Harmon (who helped Bill Smuckler in his mayoralty race against Healy, May, 2011) and other Stark Countians to study the merger of building departments from throughout Stark County into a "one-stop-shopping" agency of government.

Healy has done pretty much the same thing on the Randy Gonzalez-led effort to fix Stark County 9-1-1 emergency fire, police and EMT call receiving and dispatch, but with a different approach.

He hasn't screamed at Gonzalez or Project Manager Joe Concatto (who carries the additional baggage of having worked in former Canton Mayor Janet Creighton's administration).  His tactic in this instance is refusing to respond to their entreaties to get Canton to take the next step towards completing the consolidation.

Of course, we all remember the episode last year when Healy's safety director Tom Ream (who is chairman of the Stark County Council of Governments which is overseeing the consolidation) moved to take over the project manager function when federal government funding for the position ran out.

And then there is the IT (Information Technology) duplication housed both with Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Canton.  There's been talk by Harold and the rational people working for him that becoming more efficient with taxpayer dollars certainly appears to be a thing to do.  But The Report hears that "mum is the word" from those reporting to Healy on the city side of the equation.

So why all this resistance from Mayor Healy?

As the SCPR sees it, the mayor has two problems with the talked about mergers/consolidations:
  1. He is not so much opposed to blending operations, but he insists that the outcome be controlled by Canton government inasmuch as it is the largest city in Stark County and moreover because it is the county seat, and
  2. Probably his most despised pair of political adversaries are Stark County commissioners:  Republican Janet Creighton and Democrat Tom Bernabei.
Healy, whom The Report hears is considering running for Ohio secretary of state two years hence, is hellbent upon being the "main man on campus" in Stark County.

Undoubtedly, the umpteenth study on this or that consolidation/merger will come back in the affirmative.

It goes without saying.  It is a "no-brainer."

But to point to and focus on studies is irrelevant to William J. Healy, II, unless, of course, they support his position.

He is truly a "my way or the highway" type of guy.

While Commissioner Pete Ferguson is well liked by nearly everybody, the SCPR believes he has been - let's say: less than steller - as county commissioner.

But he has worked industriously on three projects:
  • Getting Stark County a Veterans medical or living facility,
  • Promoting the county's use of BidExpress to streamline local government contract bidding/bid award procedures, and, of course,
  • consolidating/merging redundant local government services (i.e. building, health, 9-1-1 and IT).
His best chance to leave a legacy as commissioner (he is not running for re-election) appears to be on getting the health departments merger.

Only Healy seems to stand in the way.

With the entry of the Sisters of Charity into the foray in a funding sense, the question becomes:

Will such prove to be a "heaven sent twist" of Mayor Healy's arm and thereby bless Ferguson with a legacy to leave that has eluded him for the better part of four years?

Hmm?

Well, 264 days remain before Commissioner Ferguson leaves office.

Shall we declare a period of prayer and fasting beseeching for the "arm of the Lord" to do His work?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

ANTI-FRACKERS LACK POLITICAL SOPHISTICATION & DETERMINATION? IS GOP STATE REP. CHRISTINA HAGAN'S SUPPORT FOR FRACKING BOUGHT & PAID FOR BY OIL & GAS LOBBY IN THE FORM OF CAMPAIGN FUND CONTRIBUTIONS?



UPDATE:  4:00 PM

The Report has learned that the Buckeye Forest Council is working with state Rep. Robert Hagan (D - Youngstown) to introduce a bill to reverse the shifting of local control of oil and gas exploration to the state of Ohio.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Plain Township Trustee Giavasis had an opportunity to take on Republican Party (50th House District) appointee Christina Hagan (March 2, 2011) come the November, 2012 election.

Hagan was appointed by the House Republican Caucus to replace Todd Snitchler (Republican Lake - now chairman of the PUCO)

But he said no to the Ohio Democratic House Caucus.

So?

Well, Giavasis has been one of the few Stark County elected officials to take as stance against proceeding with fracking (the process to force natural gas and oil out of Utica shale depositions underlying much of Stark County) without assurance that the process is safe.

Safe?

Yes,  in terms of the water we drink, the air we breath, the roads we drive on, just name a few among from long list of fracking consequences concerns held by folks like the Plain Township trustee.

News surfaced today (updated) in a Cleveland Plain Dealer report by reporter Aaron Marshall (Ohio's oil and gas industry emerging as a big player in the political process) showing that Christina Hagan, who is on record as being very supportive of going "full speed ahead" with fracking, has been rewarded with campaign funding by one of the biggest players (Chesapeake Energy) in extracting oil and gas from subterranean Stark County.

From the Marshall article:
While the added lobbying muscle of Ohio's oil and gas industry is still emerging, campaign finance reports show five of the major oil and gas industry PACs poured nearly $600,000 into politician coffers since 2010, including nearly $100,000 since last March to state lawmakers from Chesapeake Energy.
Hagan is high on the list.  She is third from the top of the list of 19 Ohio House members who received from Chesapeake (or its lobbyists) for the period March, 2011 (when she was appointed) through January of this year.  

This is to a woman who has never been elected to anything and has only been in in the Ohio House of Representatives as a political appointee for a little more than one year.



It is interesting to note that the leader on the list (David Hall) along with state Rep Ron Amstutz of nearby Wooster (received $1,000) was in Stark County (Louisville) last May as mentor/minder figures for Hagan when she did a town hall meeting.

It appears that Hagan is getting expert and effective advice on how to raise campaign cash which is "the mother's milk of politics."

As it turns out, had Giavasis taken on the challenge; when asked, Stark County would be witnessing a head-to-head confrontation between Hagan, an oil and gas industry apologist, and Stark County's leading critic on the "rush to frack" on the part of the oil and gas industry.

Beyond the fracking issue,  there are other issues to be exploited against Hagan.

She supported the anti-teacher, fire fighter and policemen (and other public employees) Senate Bill 5 which was soundly rejected by Ohio/Stark County voters (as State Issue 2) in November, 2011.

Moreover, it is hard to see how she shows her face at local government meetings inasmuch as she supported massive Ohio budget cuts in local government funding including the termination (effective January 1, 2013) of the Ohio Estate Tax which provided funds for unbudgeted local government projects.

However, with Giavasis having opted out of taking her on, it seems to the SCPR that she will be elected.

The Report believes that Giavasis is the only talked about potential candidate that posed a serious threat to Hagan's continuance in office.

He has run many tough campaigns as a candidate for Plain trustee and has proved to be a political survivor.

Indications are that he would have been an formidable candidate.

Actual Democratic nominee Sue Ryan (a councilwoman-at-large in Alliance) seems to be no threat whatsoever.  Could we be in for a surprise?

All of which goes to a point that the SCPR has made repeatedly to the likes of Chris Borello (Stark County Concerned Citizens), to wit:

She and those who agree with her (i.e. Giavasis) appear to lack the political sophistication and savvy needed to be effective against the likes of Chesapeake Energy and their political handmaidens such as Hagan.

Giavasis has been Plain Township trustee for about 20 years which takes one back to about 1992.

One would think as a quintessential local government leader he would have been keeping his "ear to the ground" on matters such as legislative efforts to gut local control over oil and gas drilling.

So where were he and prime supporters Borello et al (who got started in the early 1980s trying to get a clean up of the hazardous materials in the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill) when it came to legislation being passed in Ohio in 2004 and 2010 that effectively took away any ability of local communities to control fracking?

From a January 16, 2012 SCPR blog (Will the 2012 election be accountability time for the Schuring & Slesnick against local control [fracking])?
Schuring [and Oelslager] (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).
Why weren't Giavasis and friends making the local control case against local legislators running for re-election in 2004 and thereafter?

Now they complain?

Maybe they should take a page out of the playbook of Tuscarawas Township residents who were outraged when former Massillon Mayor Francis Cicchinelli, Jr. tried to annex the Tuslaw High School complex.

The Tuscarawas folks marshaled their forces and put together an effective and focused door-to-door campaign in Massillon which some political observers believe to have been the difference maker in Cicchinelli's loss.

Could a Giavasis for state representative versus Hagan campaign have motivated anti-frackers to support him with purse and on-the-ground campaign worker power?

The Report thinks such might well have been the case.

But since he chose not to run in that his heart was not in it, all one can say is that he missed an opportunity to make a real difference. 

Giavasis could have been, if elected, another voice in addition to that of Youngstown area state Rep. Bob Hagan (Democrat) and a few others in the Ohio General Assembly to bring caution to the "rush to frack" and to retrieve some local control over fracking.

Chesapeake and friends are politically sophisticated, farsighted, organized and focused.  By virtue of these attributes, they are winning the local control of fracking argument.

The anti-frackers, by contrast, appear to be politically discombobulated.

If these folks want to reverse their fortunes, they going to have to develop political techniques, strategies and determination and candidates for office that can match up against Chesapeake et al.

But the leadership element within the anti-fracking movement is so lacking that their getting their political act together does not appear to be in the offing.

Consequently, in November, 2012 it appears that there will be no political accountability for legislative candidates Hagan (R-Marlboro), Schuring (R-Jackson) and Slesnick (D-Canton)!