Thursday, May 31, 2012

CAN GRADY TURN LAKE POLICE LEVY VICTORY INTO THE BEGINNINGS OF AN ELECTION COURT



UPDATE:  3:00 PM.

From:
To:  tramols@att.net

Martin - I am genuinely curious to know why you favor a township PD. I get the idea of increased patrols and police presence. But I do not get why you think a township force is better than the sheriff. Thanks.

Posted by Bryan to STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT at May 31, 2012 2:44:00 PM

SCPR ANSWER

Bryan,

I do not necessarily think that "a township force is better than the sheriff."

While the Uniontown Police Department has been my family's policing security for all the years that the Olson family as lived in Lake (nearly 40 years) and I think it has been an excellent police force, I am open to having the sheriff be the township policing authority.  The price appears to right.  It is just a case of comparing "apples to apples" to make sure that the resulting quality will be the same.

Thanks for your inquiry,

Martin Olson - Blogger for The Stark County Political Report.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Lake Township resident and attorney Mike Grady had a terrific day on May 16th of this year.

He was co-counsel on a team of lawyers who convinced the Ohio Supreme Court that Lake Township trustees John Arnold, Ellis Erb and Galen Stoll, through the township's legal counsel Charles Hall, III,  made a mistake in the ballot language substantial enough that the high court upheld Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Haas in his invalidation of Lake Issue 6 in the election of November 8, 2011.

In the vote on Issue 6, Lake residents approved a levy issue to take the Uniontown Police Department township wide.

Yours truly supported the issue (Issue 6) and plans to support the measure again if township trustees put it back on the ballot for this November.

Notwithstanding the SCPR's support of Lake Township having a township wide police presence, yours truly admires the work of Grady and his fellows in striking a blow for the integrity of elections.

Now comes news that Grady did pro bono (for the public good) work for Lake Township's opponents for the township wide levy to the tune of some $37,500 (Stark County paid Lake Township’s tab in fight over police levy, Nancy Molnar, Akron Beacon Journal, May 24, 2012).

A Republican, Grady is trying to establish that Stark Countians should take him seriously as being politically viable in his attempt to unseat Stark County prosecutor and Democrat John Ferrero.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, there is a significant contrast between Grady and Ferrero that buttresses The Report's argument that Grady offers Stark Countians a unique opportunity to bring a fresh approach to the way the prosecutor's office is managed.  Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar and Stark County Auditor Alan Harold have brought a refreshing change to their respective offices.  Grady could to the same for the prosecutor's office.

The Report believes that Ferrero's background is as a Stark County Democratic Party "good ole boy."  In his political history, he teamed up with Gary Zeigler and Tim Swanson in 2004 to run a joint campaign.  At least for a while.  Eventually, there was a falling out and Ferrero went his own way.

As the SCPR sees this race, it stacks up as a "breath of fresh air" versus stagnation.


Both Ferrero and Grady have track records of managing staffs of attorneys and being civically involved.

Grady tells the SCPR that he would bring proven private sector management efficiencies to bear on office procedures, practices and personnel.  He learned them as chief legal counsel and managing attorney (now retired) at The Babcock and Wilcox Company, a major worldwide corporation with facilities in nearby Barberton, Ohio.

Stark Countians well know that the county averted a full blown financial crisis when voters approved a 0.5% sales tax last November.

But the passage of the tax does not mean that Stark County government (including the prosecutor's office) is going back to "business as usual" as existed prior to the loss of tax revenues.

Management skills should be a premium consideration as voters assess these two candidates. 

Actually prosecuting cases (criminal or civil) has not been in the cards (except, perhaps, for cameo appearances [e.g. the Bobby Cutts case] for the political gain to be derived) for Ferrero.

One should not expect that Grady would be any different in this respect.

Undoubtedly, he will bring new prosecutors on board.  However, he has promised that he will not be making changes to the prosecutorial staff just because they worked for John Ferrero.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has a number of issues with Prosecutor Ferrero's stewardship his office and has long held that Stark County needs remove him as leader.

Here are a number of links to prior blogs which go into detail as to the many reasons yours truly is disenchanted with Mister Ferrero.
While The Report would like to see Ferrero defeated in his reelection bid, with a political neophyte taking him on, the odds are against that happening.

Nothing against Grady, but he would not have been The Report's first choice to take on the task due to his glaring lack of political insight into and experience in Stark County politics.

So how is Grady to make up for his lack of political sophistication?

He could and should turn to the likes of fellow Republicans Alan Harold (Stark County auditor), Alex Zumbar (Stark County treasurer) and Janet Creighton (Stark County commissioner).

However, because the odds do not favor Grady winning (which, of course, would mean that Ferrero is left to work with day-in, day-out), it is likely that Harold, Zumbar and Creighton - though supporting him - will not want to be front and center in his campaign.

Yours truly has had experience with Ferrero that indicates to me that he is a vindictive type when it comes to anyone criticizing his handling of the Stark County prosecutor's office.

He apparently forgets that he is a politician running for office, and that in the American political system, folks have 1st Amendment rights to comment on how any given politician is managing his/her elective office.

The SCPR knows of one highly placed Stark County Democrat (impressively credentialed) who is substantially less than complimentary of Ferrero.

Grady appears to be somewhat out of the mold of Republican A.R. "Chip" Conde who ran for mayor of Canton in November, 2011.  A totally class act who just couldn't bring himself to play political hardball with the well-oiled politician William J. Healy, the second.  But in Conde's defense, he had to run in the context of a 9 to 1 Democrat to Republican registration ratio. 

Even the highly politically popular Janet Creighton (countywide) who has been elected Stark County recorder, auditor and commissioner, could not survive in the overwhelmingly Democratic environment beyond one term as mayor.

Though she won a narrow victory (300+ votes) over the politically bland former Canton city councilman Bill Smuckler in 2003; in 2007 she succumbed to the politically slick Healy in the Canton Democratic enclave.

Overall across Stark, she is likely Stark County's most popular politician. In 2010 she ran for county commissioner and trounced former Jackson Township trustee and Democrat Steven Meeks.

So Grady does have an advantage that Conde did not have: running countywide.

If he campaigns smart (in Republican strongholds like Lake and Jackson townships) getting out his vote, he may be able to offset his losses in Canton and Massillon.

There is no doubt to the SCPR that Lake Township Republican officials will be pumping up Democrat Ferrero as political payback on Grady for his involvement in getting the Lake Township wide police levy favorable vote invalidated.

This though Trustee John Arnold acknowledged in Wednesday night's regular Lake Township trustees meeting that the Stark County prosecutor's office was along with the Stark County Board of Elections shared in the blame along with the township's legal counsel (Charles Hall, III).

Yours truly has lived in Lake for the better part of 40 years and am well acquainted with the local political landscape.

Erb, Stoll, Arnold, Sommers (all Republicans) and Uniontown police officials who had their dream dashed by the Ohio Supreme Court's adverse decision do have some political clout within certain circles in Lake. 

But not as much as the Ferrero forces might hope.

The Report still sees Grady as winning highly Republican Lake.

It is quite a step for suburban if not rural voters to vote for a city of Massillon guy who is a former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

You have to believe that Grady will be working the Ferrero partisan political connection big time in traditionally Republican sectors of Stark County.

Alliance may present opportunity for him.

With the help of the Republican mayor Alan Andreani, Councilwoman Julie Jakmides and state Rep. Christina Hagan, he might win Stark County's third largest city.

He should carry Republican North Canton.  Mayor David Held and stalwart Dogwood City Republicans could provide a big lift for him.

A wild card in the Grady/Ferrero face off could be the Stark County sheriff race.

Democrat Mike McDonald (a chief deputy of the jail division) is running against Republican Larry Dordea (police chief in Hartville and a Alliance city councilman at large).

This is likely to be a very, very close race.

A race that Stark Countians will be a winner no matter who is elected.  Somewhat like the Zumbar/Koher contest for Stark County treasurer in November, 2010.

It would be helpful for political newbie Grady if he could run with Dordea (who ran a competitive race against Sheriff Swanson in 2008) as sort of a law enforcement duo.

But Dordea has his hands full with McDonald and so it seems likely to the SCPR that Dordea will not have the luxury of tutoring Grady on the ins and outs of real world politics.

Grady's political inexperience is a major liability to be overcome if he is to become Stark County's next prosecutor.

In November, Stark Countians will have a choice between "a breath of fresh air" and "a well-heeled politician."

Which will Stark Countians choose?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(SEE VIDEO) LAKE RESIDENTS "ROUGH UP" TRUSTEES; TRUSTEES APOLOGIZE! BUT IS IT SINCERE?




UPDATE:  07:20 AM

New comment on (SEE VIDEO) LAKE RESIDENTS "ROUGH UP" TRUSTEES; T....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 7:08 AM
From:
To:  tramols@att.net

Thank you for the coverage. There are still way too many unanswered questions. It seems rather convenient that the Lake Township Website has not been updated in quite some time. By updated, Aprils meeting minutes have still not been posted, if you look under Fiscal Officer and budget, you have a budget pie chart from 2009.

Do I beleive the trustees sincerity? No. Do I think they'll put it back on the ballot? Yes. Before they do any of that, they had better become very transparent with ALL information and offers and present them to the constituents long before any vote is taken.

Posted by blebs to STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT at May 30, 2012 7:08:00 AM


ORIGINAL BLOG

It was a sight to behold!

Government officials apologizing to its citzenry for screwing up.

That's what happened last night at a regular meeting of the Lake Township trustees.

Residents were present in force to get a face to face explanation from trustees as to how it was possible for them to allow Lake voters to vote on an issue (Issue 6) that was defectively worded on its face.

The ballot language erroneously stated that the issue, if approved, for expanding the Uniontown Police Department (UPD) township wide would cost Lake property taxpayers 45 cents per thousand of property valuation whereas the correct language would have stated the cost to be $4.50 per thousand.  Quite a difference.

On November 8, 2011 Lake voters approved the issue.

However, a number of voters of the losing side of the issue filed litigation to have the vote invalidated because of the error.

In January of this year Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Haas did just that.  And, on May 16th, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed his decision.

Watch this video as one resident took to the lectern and demanded that the trustees apologize. 



And as you just saw, the trustees did just that.

The only question is:  How genuine?

As alluded to in Citizen Mundorf's comments, there is unhappiness with the role of township legal counsel Charles Hall, III who is paid $36,000 a year to provide the trustees with legal advice.

The Report agrees with Mr. Mundorf's characterization of Hall's position (which the trustees buy into) that Lake Township has done the remaining 87 Ohio counties a favor in appealing John Haas' decision so that the law could get clarified at the high level as being "spin."

The primary critic of Hall was made by Lake resident Roy Bonsky.  Here is the videotaped exchange between Bonsky and Lake Board of Trustees president John Arnold.



When one hears the Hall spin endorsed by the trustees and the trustees' finger pointing at the Stark County prosecutor and Stark County Board of Elections (which had a memo about the error as early as July, 2011) though the criticisms are deserved), again, one has to wonder how heartfelt the apologies by the trustees really are.

And the appeal was not free.

Though Hall has not made any charges for work he has done as a consequence of the mistake that he originated (how could he?) and the Stark County prosecutors do not bill political subdivisions like Lake that the office does work for, the fact that they took time away from doing the county's legal work clearly indicates that there was a delay cost to someone who was left waiting while prosecutors attended to Lake's Issue 6.

Digging deeper, no one is talking about the legal fees apparently paid in order to institute the base lawsuit.

Although the sincerity of the apology may be questionable, it is welcome.

Citizens need to do what Lake residents did last night.

Make sure that public officials are aware that they are being held accountable!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

THE REP'S "BOARDS AND BALLOTS:" JOURNALISM OR "CHURNALISM?"




UPDATE:  09:45 A.M.

See Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis' reaction to state Rep. Christina Hagan's claim that she added "transparency" to the fracking bill at the end of this blog.

One has to wonder why The Repository did not contact Giavasis for a reaction given that it is within the knowledge-base of Stark County political cognocenti that he is a major Stark County anti-fracking player.

Hmm?

REVISED AT 7:55 AM

The lifeblood of a healthy democratic-republic is political competition.

A primary role of a vibrant press is to foster a competitive environment by providing meaningful space to candidates for office; whether incumbent or not.

It is the observation of the SCPR, that The Canton Repository has done a very poor job of providing space to non-incumbent-aspirants for office.

The Report sees its  "Boards and Ballots" series as being a good example of a medium that is at the service of press release churning-out machines that are maintained by both political parties at a state level to get their candidate "free" access to the voting public.

Politicians like to describe the press release generated media as "earned media."  But nothing could be further from the truth.

For many media outlets, the releases are passed through to the reading public virtually untouched.  In handling public relations pieces in this manner, the media give "added" meaning to the expression "the advantages of incumbency."

One of the reasons that Stark County's local governments and school districts suffer from lack of state of Ohio support is because our county's Columbus-tied political incumbents are the embodiment of being stale, stagnant, and hooked into whatever the political establishment (whether Republican or Democrat) thinks is "for the benefit of the party" way to go.

When a political party dominates the way the Republicans do in Columbus theses days, it is for voters to find an occasion "to throw out the 'incumbent' bum."

Nothing shakes up the political establishment power base than to have a "thought to be invulnerable" incumbent go down to defeat.

Some incumbents do a superlative job - on balance - in doing good things for their constituents that they deserve to be returned to office time and time and time again.

The SCPR envisions that such will be the case  for Republican Stark County auditor Alan Harold, Republican Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar, and perhaps Republican commissioner Janet Creighton and Democratic commissioner Tom Bernabei.  And their are others sprinkled throughout our county.

The SCPR is not for defeating incumbents just because they are incumbents.

However, when incumbents put their political party above the peoples' interest, then its time to send a message.

Stark County's legislative delegation is long overdue for an electoral shock.

Stark County local governments (e.g. draconian state of Ohio Local Gov't Fund cuts) and Stark County school districts (e.g. also getting funding cuts and having funds diverted to charter and private schools) get no help whatsoever from incumbents because they get returned to office time after time after time (e.g. Stark County Republican Ohio General Assembly members Schuring and Oelslager).

And the SCPR includes in the incumbent status Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro) for reasons set forth later in this blog.

She, Schuring and Oelslager have sat by and done nothing the rectify Ohio's shafting of local governments/local school districts in their funding.

Moreover, they support the power grab by the oil and gas industry to take away what little control local governments used to have over the placement of oil/natural gas wells in local communities.

Well, how is it that Hagan counts as an incumbent from the perspective of the SCPR?

The Report counts her as a incumbent because she essentially has inherited the seat of her father John Hagan (state representative:  2000 - 2008).  Yes, there was the twenty-seven month gap between John being term limited out and Christina's succession of him in office.

But she tried early on to become daddy-John's political heir.

In the primary of 2010 she took on incumbent Republican Todd Snitchler in the GOP primary and lost badly.

Daddy-John went to work for her when Sntichler bolted to the Ohio Public Utilities Commission in February, 2011 (as Kasich's lead man on the PUCO) and secured for her the Ohio Republican Caucus appointment for the interloping Snitchler.

Now the Hagans are back in the political saddle again.  There is little reason to believe that Christina will not be in office for a full cycle of eight years as allowed by Ohio's term limits constitutional amendment.

So local governments and school districts of the 50th are afflicted with the Hagan and whatever the state GOP tells her to do.

Though she has yet to be elected to anything, the Ohio GOP has promoted candidacy as if she were an incumbent.

And that it (the Ohio GOP) would, is quite understandable.

But for The Repository (Stark County's only countywide newspaper) through its "Boards and Ballots" implied election-coverage byline, to out-and-out favor incumbents and seemingly include Hagan in its definition of incumbent is - in the view of the SCPR - way out there somewhere in the world of journalism.

What may be at play in The Rep's "Boards and Ballots" feature is what has become to be known in the profession as "churnalism."

An article (Churnalism Exposed, Martin Moore, March 3, 2011 [LINK]) in the Columbia Journalism Review (Strong Press, Strong Democracy) discusses the concept which has been around since 1920s.

Churnalism is defined thusly in the Moore piece:
A piece of ‘churnalism’ is a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added.
Although she is by and far the chief beneficiary of the the incumbent bias of The Rep's Boards and Ballots feature, Hagan is not the only beneficiary.


It is pretty obvious that the Hagan press release factory is working overtime these days.

According to The Rep's judgment, it is apparently newsworthy of determining whether or not Christina Hagan deserves to be elected is that she recently became engaged to be married.

Okay.  Publish it in the society pages.  But in Boards and Ballots?

That the location of the "State of the State" message is a criterion on which 50th District voters should consider whom they vote for?

Hmm?

And, of course, The Report sees no meaningful examination of the hullabaloo made in Hagan's obvious press released account of her amendment of the hydraulic fracking bill (HB 315) which was picked up on by The Rep.

Interested persons only get notified on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources online presence of an "after-the-fact" issuance of a drilling permit.

The piece does say that the bill does not provide for a "before-the-fact" notice to the general public of an application for a permit.

There is glaring absence of a reaction comment/critique either by her November opponent (Alliance Democrat Sue Ryan) and/or a member of the strong Stark County community of anti-frackers (e.g. Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis [who happens to live in the "new" 50th House District].

Hmm?  A local example of churnalism?

Second on the list is Republican state Rep. Kirk Schuring.  He, in some instances, has to share Repository print with Hagan.  Moreover, he has told the SCPR in the past that he knows that The Rep is biased towards him).


The shared Hagan/Schuring billings include:


Again, in "Boards and Ballots?"  Really?

Republican congressman Jim Renacci (the 16th), Democratic state Rep. Stephen Slesnick and Youngstown state Sen. Joseph Schiavoni, respectively, bring up the rearguard of "Boards and Ballots" pieces dealing with incumbents going back to January, 2012.


The SCPR looks for "Boards and Ballots" to be picking it up a bit for Renacci as we trek towards the November election.

Renacci is running against another incumbent (Democrat Betty Sutton  of Copley, Summit County, Ohio) because decennial redistricting threw them into the same district.  But The Repository folks are much more familiar with Renacci, a Medina Countian (Wadsworth), than Sutton.

He defeated Mahoning County transplant and Democrat John Boccieri for reelection in November, 2010.

The Repository editorial board endorsed Renacci for Congress in 2010.

While The Repository is entitled to favor whomever they please editorially, The Report thinks it is a betrayal of the public trust when the bias filters down into reportorial pieces via a management devised and imposed structure of reporting (i.e. "Boards and Ballots") which by its very nature is highly susceptible of being gamed by incumbent politicians with election-timed legislative activity spooned out to the media in press release form.

The vulnerable structure could be overcome by incisive (ask tough questions and get contrarian perspectives) and creating reporting.

But, as the SCPR sees it,  this is not what is happening in "Boards and Ballot" format.

Implicit to The Report in the phrase "Boards and Ballots" is an objectivity favoring no one and dedicated to providing voters with balanced information on which to base their votes.

Yours truly recalls one such piece that even mentioned the incumbent's opponent, let alone provide a fair opportunity to get some ink.

In a one-newspaper-town, it is vitally important that the monopoly newspaper provide a fair and balanced bed of information to that area's voters.

The SCPR's take on "Boards and Ballots" is that it is not deserving of the voting public's attention and embrace, unless, of course, voters care about a candidate becoming engaged to marry or the candidate's office hours or what appears to be pretty much unfiltered press releases.

Moreover, "Boards and Ballots" is unworthy because the information goes uncritiqued and unvetted and the political opponents to the press releasing public officials get ignored.

The Repository can do better.

Readers of The Rep who support one of the opponents should exhort The Rep to be fair and balanced.

Much, much better!

POSTSCRIPT

Here is the Giavasis reaction:

RE:Hagan Amends Drilling Bill

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 8:26 AM
From:
To:  "Martin Olsen" <tramols@att.net>
Martin, about Christina Hagan's amendment to this bill is her in her own statement "due to “people’s desire to see transparency.” But the amendment does not require public notice when someone applies for a drilling permit. This is what she calls transparency? What the people want is advanced notification of when and where a permit is applied for, not after a permit has been issued. I think she has the transparency thing backwards in this instance, and what is more telling about her position of transparency and desire for public disclosure was her vote to table and kill Mark Okey's amendment that would have given the public more transparency. Of course if that is was what she truly seeks?  

Mark Okey’s proposed amendment would have:

• Set a minimum royalty rate to be paid to owners.
• Require the testing of ground water before and after drilling and notification of the landowner of any contamination.
• Require the company leasing the property for drilling provide an audit of gas or oil production to the property owner on request.
• Require the registration with the state of “landmen” who negotiate to acquire or lease mineral rights for drilling and requires them to provide a disclosure form to property owners.

All Ms. Hagan's amendment does is try to placate people under the false pretense transparency when in fact her amendment only goes half way, her vote against the Mark Okey's amendment in my opinion shows that she is still protecting the oil and gas campaign donors, and not her real constituents the people who actually live the 50th that affected by this in one way or another. For her or anyone to believe that the oil and gas industry will voluntarily police themselves to protect the public's financial, economic or environmental interests believes still in the Easter Bunny, her amendment to this bill is nothing more than selling us the likes of unusable swamp land and all one has do do is look to the state directly to our east to see it.  

Lou Giavasis
Plain Township Trustee

Friday, May 25, 2012

IS THE CURRENT BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS MAKING PROGRESS ON "CHRONIC" STARK CO. DOG POUND PROBLEMS?




For as long as the SCPR has been existed (working on 5 years now), the Stark County Dog Pound (SCDP - Pound) has experienced problem after problem after problem after problem.

The Report has never believed that former boards of commissioners were inclined to or, better to the point, were up to solving the problems at the Pound. 

With the election of former Canton mayor Janet Creighton (a Republican) and former Canton law director Thomas Bernabei (a Democrat) in November, 2012, The Report was hopeful that "at long last" Stark Countians would see some effective executive leadership exercised to restore public confidence in the operations of county government. 

Generally, the SCPR has been positive about Creighton and Bernabei and the "breath of fresh air" they have brought to the office.

Because of them, Stark County government is much more accessible, accountable, communicative, open and transparent.

Moreover, because of the trust they have built up with the Stark County electorate, they have been able to partially solve the financial crisis that threatened to bring county government operations to a near grinding halt.
 
Their invigorated leadership convinced Stark Countians in November, 2011 to trust them to manage with a newly voted in 0.5% sales tax for a term of eight years.

One-half percent probably was all that was politically doable given the downturn in the economy that began in 2008, and given the turmoil that erupted in the Stark County treasurer's office in April, 2009.

The sales tax should have been 1% if the county was going to be able to move forward with bold initiatives to solve a number of countywide problems (e.g. the decrepit conditions of the Stark County ditching system).

For all that they have done, the commissioners (including Pete Ferguson who is not running for re-election), deserve plaudits.

However, this board of commissioners in the opinion of the SCPR continues "to stumble and bumble" as did previous boards on getting the operations of the Stark County Dog Pound in order.

The SCPR has covered the goings on at the SCDP more consistently and more thoroughly than any other Stark County media outlet.

Accordingly, sources who want the problems solved "once and for all" have turned to The Report with information about the exceedingly slow degree to which commissioners (through its chief administrator Mike Hanke) are solving the persisting problems at the Pound.

A matter that has plagued the Pound over its recent history are allegations of hiring for positions at the facility on the basis of political or inside connections and that the general public has not had a fair chance to apply for and be considered for these public jobs.

Even when the current dog pound warden Reagan Tetreault was hired (effective - May 24, 2010), there was a tussle between the then-commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) and a body known as the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB) as to how much say the advisory board had as to whom would be hired. 

The SCDPAB had a group of its members comb through the applications and narrow the list.  When a person appeared on the final list that the advisory board had not recommended be on it, "all Hell broke loose."  Go to this SCPR blog LINK for a more detailed description of the incident.

The compromise solution resulted in the hiring of Tetreault.

Interestingly enough, the "favoritism" allegation has been raised again in the replacement of a departing dispatcher during this the Tetreault regime of onsite management at the Pound.

It turns out that the new hire Tessa Neville formerly worked for Tetreault at the Holmes County from July 2009 through Treteault's departure for the Stark County job in May, 2010.

One SCDPAB member tells the SCPR that there was a Stark Countian with credentials at least the equal of Neville that should have been hired (assuming all things being equal) because the applicant is a Stark Countians.

Because the Stark County commissioners go to great pains in the course of their meetings (which the SCPR attends pretty much week in and week out) when they are letting contracts to inquire as to why there were no Stark County bids with attendant statements that they prefer to find Stark County business with equally competitive bids to award contracts to, The Report felt that the SCDPAB member source had a good point.

Yours truly asked Commissioner Creighton that question point blank.

Her response?  She said that indeed the preference (of course, speaking only for herself, but The Report believes that Ferguson and Bernabei concur) is to hire Stark Countians - "all things being equal."

Creighton did not nor did any other commissioner participate in the interviews.  There were 27 applicants and the list was narrowed down to seven for interview.  Warden Tetreault and Stark County Chief Administrator Mike Hanke conducted the interviews.  Mike Hanke is on vacation and is not available for The Report to talk to.

It is quite understandable that the complaining (to the SCPR) SCDPAB member would be distressed that Neville was hired when it came out that the two had worked together in Holmes County.

Creighton tells The Report that she quizzed Tetreault thoroughly to find out whether or not there was a special relationship (e.g. do you hang out together a la person friends do) between the two that advantaged Neville over other applicants.

Creighton further says that she was satisfied with the explanation by Tetreault that Neville was hired because she had more impressive credentials than the SCDPAB member's preferred Stark County-based applicant.

The Report obtained copies of the applications (via a public records request) of the seven finalists interviewed for the dispatcher position.
 
From what The Report sees from a review of the overall applications of the two contenders cited above, the credentials seem to be pretty much of a wash and therefore one has to wonder what happened to the Stark County preferred criterion that the commissioners say they heed.

It could be that something surfaced in the interview that made it apparent to Tetreault and Hanke that Neville was "head and shoulders" over her competitor in qualifications for the job.  Such is certainly not apparent from a reading of the resumes themselves.

Creighton said that such (the results of the interview) was the case.   But she was unable to provide specifics.

Nonetheless, one can understand the skepticism that the prior employment connection between Tetreault and the hiree was not a factor in determining who got the Stark County taxpayer provided job.

The Report believes that the hiring decision will make it more difficult for the SCDPAB, the commissioners and the warden to work harmoniously towards realizing their common objectives.

Accordingly, Tetreault is to be held accountable for her hiring decision making judgment skills.  Ant the SCPR will be watching closely.

To repeat, there appears to the SCPR to be a wary relationship between the officialdom of the commissioners and the dog warden, on one hand,  and members of the SCDPAB, on the other hand, who are concerned about policies, procedures, practices and the quality of facilities at the Pound.

While it seems that the commissioners appreciate the dedication and commitment of the SCDPAB membership to the well-being of the dogs processed through the Pound, the commissioners are firm in their determination to have a line of demarcation between those who have official responsibilities and those who are advisers.

More than any other board of commissioners, the sensitivity of the relationship notwithstanding, the current board has made significant progress on resolving the complaints of the membership of the SCDPAB and others.

Recently, the SCDPAB submitted a quarterly report to the commissioners with the following positives about solving the problems at the Pound.
  • euthanasia numbers are down,
  • accurate completion of inbound dog paperwork is improved,
  • improved communication on dog rescues resulting in more adoptions,
  • better management of "catch pole" use,
  • effective management of rodent infestation, and
  • cleaning protocols are improved
That same report also list lingering problems.
  • poor customer services to those wanting to adopt a dog,
  • a "spay-and-neuter" program is practically non-existent,
  • promised facility improvements have not materialized, to wit:
    • mats for small dogs,
    • a rework of the ventilation system, and
    • building of additional outdoor runs.
  • compared to the Wayne County Dog Pound (privatized) and the Summit County Dog Pound (run by the county), Stark's operation markedly comes up short on the matter of accountability,
  • Stark should mimic Summit by having:
    • clearly communicated job descriptions and standards of performance in writing,
    • published cleaning, watering and feeding schedules, and
    • a written schedule of "spot-checks" of the facility.
Yours truly spoke at some length with Commissioner Janet Creighton after last Wednesday's regular board meeting about the persisting problems at the Pound.

Tetrault has been dog warden for a full two years now and the SCPR believes that it is telling that many of the problems she faced when she first took charge still persist.

Creighton did obtain the following responses on various problem matters that were contained in the SCDPAB report and which yours truly specifically addressed to the commissioners office, to wit:
  • as to the ventilation system improvement project, the commissioners have just approved mechanical engineering bids for the design of the project,
  • while it is claimed that the spay/neuter program has not been dismantled, Warden Tetreault admits that her attempt to attract veterinarians to a program that would make spay and neuter available for $50 each has been unsuccessful.  Moreover, in the meantime adopters are provided the opportunity to obtain spay and neutering at the One of a Kind Spay and Neuter Clinic located in the 1700 block of West Market Street in Akron,
  • establishing an "in-house" veterinarian program for general medical treatments is a work-in-progress which should be up and running soon, and
  • mat material has arrived at the Pound for cutting to size to provide mats for the smaller cages.
Basically, Commissioner Creighton said that resolving chronic problems takes time and that:
  • it does not help any that the SCDPAB seems bent on being the "tail that wags the dog" (the SCPR's coined characterization; not Creighton's),
  • and that there is discord among competing organizations/groups (e.g. The Humane Society, the Friends of the Pound, the SCDPAB and Animal Welfare of Stark County) as to exactly what the commissioners ought to be doing to solve the problems at the Pound.
The SCPR's take on the commissioners' attitude on solving the problems at the Pound is that of being generally annoyed with the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board.  And The Report's take is not based merely on last Wednesday's sit down with Commissioner Creighton.  This attitude has been communicated in various and sundry ways by not just this board of commissioners.  It goes back a number of years.

Creighton did muse to yours truly as to how the SCDPAB got started in the first place.  She says that there appears to be no underlying legal requirement/authority for a prior board of commissioners having done so.

To The Report, her reflection is evidence of the commissioners' ongoing frustration with the SCDPAB.

And The Report thinks that Warden Tetreault has picked up on the commissioners' being irritated with the advisers as a cover for dragging her feet in communicating with, working with, and problem solving with the SCDPAB members and others who desperately want to make the problems at the Pound to be occasional and an aberration and not "par for the course" as now seems to be the case.

As stated above, the SCPR is impressed with the work that the Bernabei/Creighton-led board of commissioners (as compared to previous boards) has done in making county departments of government more responsive to Stark County citizens and taxpayers.

It would be a shame for the commissioners to lose the overall confidence and trust of the Stark County electorate over something like chronic and persisting problems at the Pound.

And make no mistake about it, Stark Countians like all Americans do love their dogs and want them properly cared for when they are entrusted to the care of government.

Knowing that the commissioners do not like outsiders weighing in on how they do the public's business, in particular with reference to the Stark County Dog Pound; yours truly nonetheless takes on the audacity to suggest to them that they develop a published list of problems and solutions on a timeline and thereby hold themselves accountable to the taxpayers of Stark County.

Some money (according to Creighton) has been taken out of the capital fund to expedite facility problem solving projects.  Financing of fixes at the Pound should be no problem.  The Pound is an enterprise type fund which means that he should be self-supporting through fees for service provided.

Last year, the commissioners imposed a fee increase.  Accordingly, there is little if any room for the commissioners to say they do not have adequate funding.

Moreover, rather than be annoyed with and resistant to outsiders, they should embrace those of us who want to interact with our governors and thereby fashion remedies that are beneficial to all.

From what the SCPR has seen of the SCDPAB, it is doing a valuable and worthy work on keeping the heat on to fix the seemingly eternal problems at the Pound.

The commissioners are right to maintain ownership of the remediation effort. 

However, to make their remake of county government to be continuingly creditable, it is important that they endeavor to make solving the ongoing Pound problems a collaboration and thereby show that citizen/government interaction can be a productive effort.

The only remaining question is whether not the commissioners have the will to "once and for all" solved the Pound problems which as "dogged" Stark County for all too many years!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

THE "FUZZY NUMBER" CATZARO PERRY ADMINSTRATION? STRAIGHT-SHOOTER KEN KOHER HAS TO BE BESIDE HIMSELF, NO?




One of the dumbest things that Massillon Mayor Catazaro-Perry chief supporter Johnnie A. Maier, Jr has ever done in his role as a Stark County Democratic Party kingmaker was his failure to figure out that Ken Koher (now Massillon's budget director) would have made a terrific Stark County treasurer over a decade ago.

Koher (the non-politician, he is) naively applied as one of the contenders in 1999 (which included eventual appointee Gary D. Zeigler, a consummate politician) to be Stark County treasurer.

The politically connected Mark Roach (his father Harold had been a long time Stark County treasurer)  was removed from office because of his failure to meet minimum education/certification requirements that the state of Ohio imposes on treasurers.

The Stark County Democratic Party had the responsibility through its central committee to select a successor.

Though he was not yet party chairman, Maier clearly, even at that time (he was wrapping his stint as state representative [the 56th] having been term limited out], was the most politically powerful Democrat in all of Stark County.

With a drop of a word to the precinct committeepersons (as he did in 2010 - when being "non-political" in fashion), Maier could have been instrumental in making Koher treasurer.

In 1999, Ken Koher, as Stark County treasurer, would have been laughable to Maier.

So Zeigler became the county treasurer.

Anyone who has been conscious in Stark County since April, 2009 and has been following media reports and editorials on local government and politics knows the rest of the story. 

For those who haven't or are from out of the area just "google" the phrase:  Stark County treasurer.

Stark County voters were blessed in November, 2010 to have to first rate candidates (Koher and Republican Alex Zumbar) run for treasurer.

As mentioned above, the prime mover for Koher was Maier.


While he lost to Zumbar, Koher left office with his head held high as having done very good work in beginning the process of shoring up policies, procedures and practices in the treasurer's office.

One had the feeling that with the loss, Koher had had it with politics and he would sail off into the sunset of private enterprise banking.

Enter in Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. again.

For years he had been competing in varying degrees of intensity with his former college classmate (Kent State - Stark/1969 - 1973) Francis H. Cicchnelli, Jr. for who was going to dominate Massillon area politics.

Cicchinelli got a leg up on Maier.  He achieved the pinnacle of Massillon political success in becoming mayor in 1987.  

It took awhile, but Maier in the 2000s he found a way to get at Cicchinelli in the form of Kathy Catazaro-Perry who came to town and settled down in the third ward.

In short time Maier became her "go-to-guy" as her chief sponsor in her quest to hit the political bigtime.

In May, 2011 (after serving for a period as Ward 3 councilwoman) at the urging and prodding of Maier and others that had joined the Maier formulated anti-Cicchinelli coalition, she ran for and dethroned Cicchinelli.

Going on to easily defeat the Republican candidate in November, lo and behold! January 1, 2012 arrives and guess what?  Catazaro-Perry has to govern.

This is where Ken Koher comes back into the picture.

One of the bases on which Catazaro-Perry defeated the 24 year mayor was to hammer him on Massillon city finances. 

So in the vein of "what goes around, comes around," Catazaro-Perry had to go to work immediately to turnaround Massillon's financial health picture.

Who does she turn to (undoubtedly via Maier)?

You've got it!

None other that the "non-politician" Ken Koher as budget director, among of other duties he has assumed.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the mayor (err Maier) couldn't have made a better choice.

And if she is to politically survive to run for re-election, it will be because of the non-political financial management skills of Ken Koher bails her out; not politics personified:  Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

However, in signing up with the politician Catazaro-Perry and her cohort Maier, Koher runs the risk of having his public persona of being a non-politician, "straight talkin" financial man tarnished.

Nowhere is that danger more pronounced than in the dispute between critics of the Catazaro-Perry administration and the mayor as to whether or not her decision to layoff 19 fire (10) and police (9) as to whether or not the layoffs will save the $1 million or so that Mayor Kathy says it is devoid of political considerations.

The SCPR doesn't believe the "not political" claim.

The Report believes that the layoff package was conceived and designed to force Massillon City Council to do a turnabout and approve a tax increase in the form of a reduced city income tax credit for those working outside of Massillon.

The political strategem did not work.

Council again refused to pass the tax reduction.

The political enemies of Catazaro-Perry (those allied with former mayor Frank Cicchinelli and Republicans wanting to see the mayor humiliated) began an attack on the administration saying that not only would the layoffs not save Massillon $1 million as claimed but would in fact cost the city.

To The Report, the political attack set up a debate much like that which occurred between Al Gore and George W. Bush back in first presidential debate on October 3, 2000 in Boston.

As we all remember, Bush accused Gore of using "fuzzy math" in arriving at his position on a income tax issue the two were debating.

That exchange prompts the SCPR to ponder:  Is the Catazaro-Perry administration into "fuzzy math?"

Matt Rink of The Massillon Independent recently did an incisive analysis on the "fuzzy numbers" (the SCPR's terms; not Rink's) that the Catazaro-Perry administration is putting out supplemented by projected overtime numbers (June through December, 2012) estimated by the fire chief and police chief.

These numbers show that over the next six months, Massillon will lose about $168,000 on the firefighter layoffs and $172,000 on the police layoffs mainly because of overtime costs to meet minimal staffing mandates of negotiated labor/management agreement in place.


The loss figure could actually be higher because as Rink notes in his piece:
Other expenses not included in the data sets include accumulated sick leave pay out, uniform allowances, as well as the loss of income tax revenue
Rink demonstrated journalistic splendor and excellence in giving the Catzaro-Perry administration their say on their interpretation of the numbers.  (City budget:  Koher does math on OT, May 23, 2012).

And in the opinion of the SCPR, Koher's explanation is pretty much based on "a hope and a prayer" which in other words, in the take of yours truly, is to say based on "fuzzy math."

Look up the article to see for yourself.

Koher uses expressions/words such as:  "wild guess," "if," "what we don't know," and "[i]t is incumbent upon department managers to manage overtime at its minimum possible staffing levels ... ." et cetera.

To The Report what is coming out of the Catazaro-Perry administration is a clear case of "fuzzy math," at least for the period June through December and perhaps for a period beyond.

It makes sense that eventually - once minimum coverage standards get scaled down by a renegotiated contract - the layoffs will save substantial money.

In the meantime, the non-politician Koher must be under tremendous pressure to make the Catazaro-Perry case that the layoffs are purely a "by the numbers" case and have no political factor to them whatsoever and will in fact save the city money now.

Convincing Massillonians via speculation that the layoffs will save money now is sort of a political face saving ploy by an administration conceived in political intrigue.

That the SCPR believes that the Catazaro-Perry inner circle folks are driven by politics makes Koher an odd fit.

One has to wonder how long the non-politician Ken Koher will last in an administration that born of a master politician, by a political surrogate for and in the service of the politically advantaged?

CHRISTINA HAGAN TOO BUSY TO MEET WITH CONSTITUENTS IN PIKE TWP ON FRACKING ISSUE. AND ANYWAY, PIKE WON'T EVEN BE IN HER DISTRICT COME JANUARY 1, 2013!



One reason of a number that many of us have such a low opinion of politicians is that once they figure you are no longer a factor in their political future:  So Long! 

Such seems to be the case for state Rep. Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro - the 50th).

Seems like she's learning quick though only in her early to mid 20s to become an accomplished, calculating politico.

When she got appointed by the Ohio House Caucus (with daddy's help - former state Rep. John Hagan, the 50th 2000 - 2008) in March of 2011 on her predecessor Todd Snitchler (about three months after he was re-elected to his second term as representative for the 50th) vamoosing to Columbus for green$$er pastures in Columbus as Republican Governor John Kasich's man in charge of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, she was all hep on representing the folks in the 50th.

Then came September, 2011 and the creation of a new 50th which cut out some of the townships and villages from the map of the old 50th.

Here is a comparison of the "new with 2013" and "current - 2012" maps.  (Pike Township is dashed ( - - - - -) in to show approximately where Pike is located in Representative Hagan's current district.



The noteworthy thing is that in the "new" map on the right Pike Township not being in red indicates that it is NOT in the "new 50th."

So no wonder Hagan is not all that interested in showing up in Pike.  More reason for Hagan to be disinterested in showing up is that some of her constituents want to confront her about her "all-out" support of fracking.

The moral of this story for folks in Canal Fulton, Tuscarwas Township, parts of Perry Township, Bethlehem Township and Sugarcreek Township is that they will not have a state representative paying much, if any, attention to their needs to have the ear of state government through the end of 2012.

But, of course, Hagan doesn't mind collecting her $60,000 plus annual state rep. income.

Representative Hagan recently made headlines in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and derivatively in the SCPR for her being the third highest recipient in the entire Ohio General Assembly in campaign contributions. ($7,500 - unheard of for an appointed representative who has never been elected to anything)

Originally, she was scheduled to be at Pike Township Hall on April 16, 2012.  That was canceled.  Then it was to be May 7th.  That was canceled.  Then it was May 21st.  That was canceled.

Now there is no date.  A constituent who is the SCPR's source for the on, off, on again, off again meeting charade says that he is being told that she is too busy working on - get this - working on "energy" issues in Columbus to meet with her Pike Township constituents.

While she may not look like it on the surface of things, state Representative Christina Hagan is well on her way to becoming a crusty, self-serving and politically jaded politician that Stark Countians, Ohioans and Americans loathe.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UPDATED 05/22/2012 - CONGRESSMAN JIM RENACCI DOING HIS BEST TO BECOME "INCREDIBLE IN TERMS OF SUAREZ CONNECTED CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS?"


UPDATE:  MAY 22, 2012

News broke yesterday that the 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci's campaign (as well as Republican Josh Mandel's campaign for the U.S. Senate versus Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown)  has been contacted by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) asking about campaign contributions received by the campaign from employees of the Jackson Township/North Canton-based Suarez Corporation Industries.

Up through December 31, 2012, the 16th District includes all of Stark County.

With the new Congress, it will include only the north central/northwest portions of Stark because of constitutionally mandated decennial redistricting except that someone (?) prevailed on the Ohio Apportionment Board (controlled by Republicans) to spike southward out of the heart of the Stark County portion of the district (Jackson, Lawrence and Lake Townships) to include Timken Company facilities located in the core of Canton.

Timken family members and executive employees were prolific contributors to Renacci in 2010 when he defeated Democratic incumbent John Boccieri for re-election.

Ohio lost two congressional seats due to a loss of population in the 2010 census and as a consequence Republican Renacci is matched up in the Republican designed redistricting plan against Democrat Betty Sutton who currently represents the 13th Congressional District.

Although the "new" 16th is an enhanced Republican index district,  the fact that he is running against an incumbent Democrat puts his re-election in question.

So, even though there is no suggestion that the Renacci campaign did anything wrong, the Renacci folks have to be a tad unhappy that the matter is being looked into as the campaign is about to ratchet up to full bore.

According to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report (LINK):
Employees of the firm have given the Wadsworth Republican's campaign more than $80,000 during the past election cycle, and have been his biggest source of campaign cash, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
The story as originally reported last August by The Toledo Blade seems to carry the implication (which has Suarez denied) that it was a coordinated effort by Suarez to get around federal campaign finance limits.

From the Blade:
Campaign finance experts told The Blade for an article published Friday that the donations raised questions. Federal campaign finance law prohibits a donor from contributing in someone else's name, especially if it's an attempt to get around the $5,000 giving limit. Similarly, election law prohibits a corporation from using bonuses or other methods of reimbursing employees for their contributions.
Mr. Suarez said that's not what happened.
While the Renacci campaign says that it believes that there were no improper donations, it seems obvious to the SCPR that the campaign has to be nervous that the DOJ is even looking into the matter.

Campaign manager James Slepian had the following to say to the folks at the Plain Dealer:
To our knowledge, no contributions made by any donor to our campaign were made improperly.  However, if we find out that any contributions, either made in the past or in the future were not made properly and in full accordance with the law, they will be returned immediately.
The "if we find out" language is appears to the SCPR to be failsafe language designed to blunt a priori any criticism that the campaign demonstrated incredible naivety should the FBI inquiry lead to an eventual finding of impropriety.

Should the FBI perusal fail to produce official allegations of donor wrongdoing, Renacci still has to be concerned with the public perception factor.

It will be interesting to see what the campaign of Congresswoman Betty Sutton makes of the DOJ inquiry in its campaign literature.

The Renacci/Sutton square off has the potential to be a cliffhanger.

Could the inquiry in and of itself coupled with the Renacci campaign "uncritical" mind (especially if it is not resolved with a finding of no wrongdoing by November or, at the very least, a finding that a full blown investigation is not merited) be enough in terms of giving birth to a negative public perception factor so as to give Sutton the edge in a very close election?

ORIGINAL BLOG (published on August 23, 2012)

Congressman Jim Renacci would not have missed the "coming out party" of May 10, 2011 for Ben Suarez and his relocation of local operations (Jackson Township) to the former Hoover complex being rehabbed and repopulated by Stu Lichter of IRG.

According to a Toledo Blade article of August 20th, Renacci's campaign committee had just been the recipient of some $100,000 in contributions from Suarez and a number of his employees including a number of their spouses.

A sampling of the contributions (gathered by the SCPR from the FEC website) includes the following:


The implication of the Blade piece (which Suarez denied) was that it was a coordinated effort by Suarez to get around federal campaign finance limits.

From the Blade:
Campaign finance experts told The Blade for an article published Friday that the donations raised questions. Federal campaign finance law prohibits a donor from contributing in someone else's name, especially if it's an attempt to get around the $5,000 giving limit. Similarly, election law prohibits a corporation from using bonuses or other methods of reimbursing employees for their contributions.
Mr. Suarez said that's not what happened.
One would think that many constituents of Congressman Renacci would be skeptical of the Suarez denial.

A concern for the Renacci campaign - again, one would think - is a public perception of the implication suggested by the Blade piece,  the Suarez denial notwithstanding.

But apparently not.  Again, from The Blade:
The campaigns of Mr. Renacci and Mr. Mandel [also a recipient of such contributions] said Thursday they had no reason to believe the contributions were questionable.
Well, the Ohio Democratic Party sees reason to believe the contributions were questionable.  Its comments to The Blade were specific to the Mandel contributions, however, it stands to reason that if the ODP thinks the following of Mandel contributions, then its view undoubtedly extends to the Renacci contributions, to wit:
"Frankly, all of this smells worse than milk that's been left in a refrigerator for more than 90 days and it's extremely troubling that Josh Mandel's immediate reaction has been to try and sweep this under the rug."
It looks like to the SCPR that the Renacci campaign so "gaga" over the $100,000 that it is choosing to plug its nostrils and smell what many 16th Congressional District may be smelling when the matter is likely to be brought up again and again in the 2012 congressional elections.

To the typical 16th District voter, Renacci's "'sweep ... under the rug'" may be the beginning of a credibility problem.

And it it is a close election, public perceptions can make a difference.

Another problem for Renacci may be that as a contributor in his own right, Suarez's comment to The Blade that "They [his employees] feel [U.S. Sen.] Sherrod Brown is a radical communist.'" may not set all that well with many 16th District voters.

Agree or disagree with Brown, but a "radical communist?"

If nothing else, one would think that Renacci would disassociate himself from such a ridiculous viewpoint no matter how many campaign dollars flowed from the source of the opinion.

If not, he will have to defend not doing so on the 2012 campaign trail.

Monday, May 21, 2012

(VIDEOS OF COUNCIL DISCUSSING TAX INCREASE): CANTON'S ONLY CHANCE TO CONVINCE VOTERS - COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN AT THE HELM?




After taking in Canton City Council's Finance Committee meeting of last week, the SCPR believes that Canton's only chance to get voters to approve a tax increase in the November general election is if Council President Allen Schulman surfaces as the de facto leader of the effort.


It looks like a mistake to The Report that in the reorganization of council after the election of November, 2011 that former long time chairman Greg Hawk (Ward 1) was removed as chairman in favor of avowed Mayor William J. Healy, II ally Councilman-at-Large Joe Cole.

It was interesting to sit and watch as committee member Hawk largely just sat and watched as Cole more or less fumbled his way through the meeting. Hawk has been vexatious to the mayor over Healy's four plus years in office and you can bet that the pro-Healy forces (most personified by Majority Leader David Dougherty)  now firmly in control of council saw to it Hawk got relegated to the sidelines.


As the SCPR sees it, the move ousting Hawk was foolish in light of the likelihood that it has been apparent for some time to the council leadership that Canton was going to need to convince voters to increase its revenues.

Here is a video of Cole invoking Healy and the need for unity on the tax increase question in getting the meeting underway.



A measure of redemption was nigh as Council President Allen Schulman intervened to give the meeting some structure insofar as identifying "real" factors that council and the administration has to deal with  if there is to be a prayer that a tax issue will pass.

It is interesting to note that Schulman was the councilperson invited by The Repository to write an Op-ed in yesterday's edition.  Hmm?

Here is a video of Schulman setting up the framework and specifics of the discussion at last Thursday's meeting.



One ray of light from the membership of the finance committee is Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack.  He made a number of thoughtful comments and asked meaningful questions.  One important question he raised (which nobody seemed to have an answer for) was about the impact of casino revenues as a partial offset to state of Ohio cuts in local government funding.

Also, newly appointed Ward 7 Councilman John Mariol showed he may be an up and coming council participant in terms of adding zest and zeal to council confabs.

Members James Babcock and James Griffin appear to The Report to be wallflowers who contribute very little if anything to legislative analysis.  Nor do they seem to bring any insight as to how council can effectively interact with the Canton voting public.

Babcock, having been an employee of former Stark County Auditor Kim Perez, talked about the fluxation of real property rates in terms of taxpayers paying more or less taxes which raise an absolute amount of money depending on a given taxpayer's real property valuation.

Outside the finance committee Councilman Kevin Fisher (Ward 5) made significant contributions.  He joined Babcock on the real property tax dynamics description and weighed in on dedicating any tax increase to the exclusive use of building up Canton's safety forces.

While Councilwoman Mary Cirelli (councilwoman-at-large) did participate in the discussion, The Report is not sure how relevant her contributions were to the discussion which focused (under Schulman's de facto leadership) upon which revenue raising measure would be the fairest to the greatest number of Cantonians, and figuring out ways and means of getting Cantonians to buy into a need for raising taxes in the first place.  She did point out that other tax issues (e.g. Stark Parks and the Stark County District Library) will be on the November ballot.

All that can be said for Ward 4 Councilwoman Chris Smith is that she was at the meeting.

That's more than can be said for Councilman Thomas West and Majority Leader Dougherty (Ward 6).  Both were inexplicably absent.

Councilman Frank Morris, III (Ward 9) was unable to attend because of a family situation.

At the end of the day, it looks obvious to the SCPR that whether or not a new tax issue passes, whatever its form, will largely be determined by how much time and effort Allen Schulman invests in the process.

Council veteran Schulman does have the political skills that one needs to be a de facto leader and not, in taking on such a role, offend the likes of a Joe Cole.

In the judgment of the SCPR, Cole is unprepared to put together a persuasive package that Canton's voters will accept.

Schulman can.  But will he take the lead, even if in a background modality?

Canton's financial viability could depend on his willingness to do so.

Friday, May 18, 2012

(VIDEOS: SEE ENTIRE "POLICE LEVY" LAKE TWP TRUSTEES "SPECIAL MEETING") TOWNSHIP ATTORNEY CHARLES HALL, III GOES OVER "SNAFUS" ON LAKE ISSUE #6 WITH TRUSTEES IN LIGHT OF OHIO SUPREME CT INVALIDATING ITS 11/08/2011 PASSAGE.



UPDATED:  05/18/2021 AT NOON

VIDEO ADDED

Lake Township legal counsel went on camera with the SCPR after yesterday's "special" township trustee meeting to answer follow up questions posed by The Report.

This update makes it five (5) videos that the SCPR of the event to give readers of The Report the most complete and comprehensive coverage of the meeting by any Stark County media outlet.

In this video, Hall acknowledges that the ballot language error which led to the Ohio Supreme Court invalidating the passage of Issue 6 originated with him.  Moreover, he sheds light on the adjustments made by the Stark County Board of Elections to prevent future incidents like this one from happening.



UPDATED & REVISED 05/18/2012 AT 9:00 AM

One has to wonder why the Lake trustees called a special meeting today (May 17, 2012) at noon at Township Hall to discuss the decision yesterday by the Ohio Supreme Court to invalidate the vote on Lake Township Issue 6 (designed to convert the Uniontown Police Department [UPD] which voters passed on November 8, 2011 because of problems with the ballot language.

First of all, trustee and board president John Arnold was unable to be at the meeting because of a prior business commitment.   
Secondly, the meeting mainly consisted of township attorney Charles Hall, III retreading ground that most followers of the controversy surrounding Lake Township's Issue 6 are familiar with. 

Thirdly, none of the Lake citizens attending the meeting were allowed to speak to the matter.  They will have to wait until the trustees regular meeting:  Tuesday, May 29th at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Township Hall.

Controversy?

Yes, as indicated in the opening paragraph of this blog, while the issue passed, it had deficient language in that as printed on the ballot it told voters that they would be paying the millage at the rate of $0.45 per thousand of valuation whereas the reality is that township taxpayers would be paying $4.50 per thousand.

The Ohio Supreme Court said that the error was grievous to the point of requiring the justices to invalidate the election on the issue.

Those opposing the issue are pleased with the high courts action.  Witness this videotaped interview by the SCPR of township resident Sue Leonatti:



But there were supporters of the issue (by the way, yours truly voted for the issue) present at today's meeting.   One such person was Emily Kish.  Here is her SCPR videotaped interview.



It is apparent to The Report that the trustees are going to put the issue back on the ballot this coming November.

While Trustee Ellis Erb, in this on camera interview, says he has not made up his mind, The Report is confident that he and fellow trustees Galen Stoll and John Arnold will resubmit the matter to Lake voters not later than the August 8th deadline for inclusion on November 6, 2012 ballot.



Off camera, Erb made a number of points to The Report:

  • the Stark Board of Elections (BOE) is "at fault" in that it did not communicate to Lake a memo from Ohio secretary of state that there was a ballot language problem.
  • points to recent discipline of two BOE workers as evidence that the board is owning up to being "at fault,"
  • he is confident that if presented to Lake's voters a second time, a new initiative to go township wide with the UPD will pass.
  • that he will not be asking a prime contributor to the first try (the corporate arm of Hartville Hardware) for any additional contributions.  $7,000 was contributed the first time around.
  • that the criminal element benefits from the issue's demise.
Erb also discussed with yours truly the fact that one of the legal counsel appealing the ballot language problem to the courts (namely, Michael J. Grady) has made a political football of the matter of a countywide dimension in that he is a candidate for Stark County prosecutor.  A job currently held by Democrat John Ferrero.

Both Erb and Grady are Republicans.  Erb has made at least one campaign contribution to Ferrero and confirmed with The Report that he supports Ferrero over Grady.

Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Deborah Dawson was present at today's meeting.   Prosecutor Dawson is the township's prime counsel for purposes of appealing from the baseline court decision [Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Haas] also invalidating the Issue 6 favorable vote.

Erb says that Grady has a mission beyond turning around the results of Issue 6.  Obviously, one is to get elected prosecutor.  Moreover, Erb believes that Grady is determined to unseat himself and fellow trustee Galen Stoll when they come up for reelection in November, 2013.

Here is a video of the formal portion of the meeting.