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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

(VIDEOS: HEALY, SCHULMAN & CITIZEN VAUGHN) ANTI-FRACKERS FORCE CANTON'S MAYOR HEALY TO WITHDRAW OIL/GAS LEASE DRILLING PROPOSAL? COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN HAS ADVICE FOR ANTI-FRACKERS: GO AFTER THE GOVERNOR & YOUR LEGISLATORS!



Canton Mayor William Healy, II denies that such is the case, but the SCPR believes that persistent civic action by Stark County's anti-fracking community (e.g. Public Speaks presentations galore going back to when the ordinance first appeared on Canton City Council's agenda) forced the mayor to withdraw an ordinance which was up for its third and final reading last night at Canton City Council meeting.

Several councilpersons told The Report that had the measure actually been voted upon by council, it would have failed.

Council's main objection was that the ordinance as presented seemed to give the Healy administration carte blanche on negotiating leases.  Healy, being the highly skilled politician he is, seized the opening to avoid an embarrassing defeat on an up or down vote by saying in effect:  "Okay, I will not insist on council preapproval.  Let's do it this way.  My administration will do all of the prep work and seek oil and gas companies to negotiate with and if everything is right (i.e. financially remunerative to the city and does not jeopardize Canton's water fields), we will then come back to council where we expect approval."

Here is a video of Healy's reaction when questioned by area media about his action of withdrawing the lease drilling proposal.



And here is the videotaped reaction of anti-fracker Kristine Vaughn in which she acknowledges that she believed that the withdrawal of the ordinance by the Healy administration was a victory of sorts though she rather would like to have seen the ordinance stay on the ballot so that it could be defeated and have it over and done with.



Another interesting aspect of the meeting was council President Allen Schulman lecture of the anti-frackers in attendance to the effect that their quarrel is not with Canton City Council.  But rather it is with Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature.

It was the Ohio General Assembly (including Stark County's legislative delegation) who in 2004 (HB 278) and in 2010 (SB 165) voted to take away local control of oil and gas drilling. (LINK to previous SCPR blog that deals with the legislation in more detail)

Here is Schulman admonishing the anti-frackers.



And here again is Kristine Vaughn on videotape answering Schulman.



The SCPR believes that Ms. Vaughn's unease and unhappiness about the withdrawal of the proposed ordinance was when she realized that the withdrawal in realpolitik was not a good thing for the anti-fracking movement. 

Healy's tactical move is somewhat analogous to a baseball hitter having two strikes on him who gets a pitch that is unhitable in terms of getting good wood on the ball and getting a base hit.

So what does a good hitter do?

He goes all out to foul off the pitch in hopes that the next pitch is one that he can hit out of the park or at the very least get a single.

Folks, that's exactly what Mayor Healy did last night.  He knew that the ordinance was going down to defeat and he did what any skilled politician would do:  Salvage the situation.

And Healy did.

Whether or not Canton will eventually agree to lease its lands for oil/gas fracking is far from a dead issue with the man who on March 1, 2012 tabbed Canton, Ohio as being "the Utica Capital" of Ohio!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A VICTORY FOR DEMOCRACY IN OHIO IN THE OFFING?




Every ten years, when the U.S. takes its census, there are population shifts that take place across America the Beautiful and as a consequence some states of the 50 lose congressional seats which are then picked up by states gaining population at a greater rate than the loser districts.

Ohio in 2011 was a loser state as a result of the 2010 census and as a consequence lost two congressional seats.

It then became the job of the Ohio Reapportionment Board and the Ohio General Assembly to go about the job squeezing 18 districts into 16.

2011 Apportionment Board

The members of the 2011 Ohio Apportionment Board:
  • Governor John Kasich (Republican) 
  • Auditor David Yost (Republican)
  • Secretary of State Jon Husted (Republican)
  • State Senator Tom Niehaus (Republican) 
  • Representative Armond Budish (Democrat)
 It makes no difference which political party is in power in any given state capital in the United States of America, each is fully capable of and manages to make America's democratic republic not so beautiful.

In 2011, it was the Ohio Republican "organized" Party's turn to demonstrate political ugliness.



In the process Stark County got carved up into three congressional districts which Stark County Republican state Representative Christina Hagan thinks is a good thing.  Her opinion does not square up with that of retired 16th District (when it included all Stark County) Republican Congressman Ralph Regula who thinks the splitting of Stark is an outrage.

And in the case of the 16th congressional district, the process got particularly ugly as it appears that incumbent 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci had a hand to politically mar Stark County by prevailing on his fellow Republican state level legislators to create a peninsula down deep into the heart of Canton in order to pick up The Timken Company, the management of which are heavy Republican candidate contributors.  An interesting aspect to the carve out is that no one actually lives in the geographical foray in to Canton.


 
But there is now hope in Ohio that the contorting of legislative districts may be about to come to an end.

On September 15, 2011, the Ohio General Assembly passed House Bill 319 which resulted in the congressional district map displayed above.


To his credit, Stark County state Rep. Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson, the 51st to be the 48th), voted with four other Republicans against the legislation.



As a consequence of the passage of HB 319, a group (under the name Voters First) of Ohio civic-inclined organizations (with the public perceived non-partisan Ohio League of Women Voters being the lead organization, but the coalition does have a heavy presence of Democratic political candidate supporting unions such as the AFL-CIO, SEIU and the OEA) was inspired to come together as a coalition with the express purpose of circulating petitions to place on November's ballot an amendment to the Ohio Constitution: 


Initially, Voters First collected 450,000 signatures (July 3rd) of which 56.5 percent were valid (about 254,625 of 385,253 required) necessitating a supplemental collection effort which was completed on Saturday past.

Some 300,000 additional signatures were filed with the Ohio secretary of state.  Using the 56.5% validation rate of the July submission, the additional signatures should produce somewhere around 169,500 more valid signature which would produce a grand total of about 424,225 valid signatures which should result in the initiative appearing on the November ballot.

A main player in collecting signatures in Stark County was Hall of Fame AFL-CIO president (29 years) Dan Scuiry.  Recently, the SCPR did a blog with a video in which Scuiry details his signature collection efforts (LINK).

There is no doubt that there is an underlying Republican/Democratic political fight going on with respect to the constitutional amendment petition.

Organized Republicans, for the most part, will be fighting to defeat the constitutional amendment whereas their counterpart Democrats will be fighting for the amendment.

Republicans overwhelmingly control the Ohio delegation to the U.S. Congress (12 of 16 congressional seats) and have lopsided control of the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives.  And, HB 319 was constructed by the process of gerrymandering (fashioning districts so that the voter base in a majority of the districts is predominately made of voters registered as Republicans) to ensure that such would continue to be the case for the foreseeable future

Again, let the SCPR emphasize, given the same opportunity Ohio's organized Democrats have done and would do the same.

The Report's attitude is that the best government at national, state and local levels is the result of competitive political races.

Political parties in an ironical sense are anti-democratic in that they are primarily about their selfish interests and each party aspires to dominate American governmental processes so as to freeze out competing ideas, policies, and programs.

An Ohio State University professor puts the activity of the Republican and Democratic Party's to dominate control of the processes of American government in a shocking context, to wit:
Group Says Ohio's New Congressional Map Lacks Competition, Fairness  (extract)

By Joe Hallett
Columbus Dispatch Wednesday December 21, 2011 2:08 PM
Even the 450 members of Russia’s Duma are elected from districts that are fairer and more competitive than the 16 congressional districts drawn by Republicans controlling the Statehouse, an Ohio State University political scientist has concluded.
Richard Gunther today called the new congressional map signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich “stunning” for its representational unfairness, saying it is twice as unfair as the next-worst democratic systems in the world.
“This is a very, very bad map,” said Gunther, a scholar of world democracies. “This is extremely unfair to the citizens of Ohio.”
Gunther and Daniel Tokaji, an OSU law professor specializing in election law, spoke at a news conference sponsored by a nonpartisan watchdog organization, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, to decry the secretive process of redrawing new congressional and legislative districts every 10 years and the outcome that resulted this year.Referring to Ohio’s new congressional districts, Tokaji said, “This is the worst example of elected officials serving their own craven partisan interests of anywhere in the country.
Notwithstanding that it obvious that the Ohio Citizen Independent Redistricting Commission constitutional amendment will clearly benefit Democrats within a few years if the amendment makes it onto the ballot and passes in November; over the longer term the amendment will benefit everyday citizens in creating competitive legislative districts across Ohio and thereby ultimately improve the quality of government.

Ohioans and Stark Countians should keep their eyes on the goal of making our governments the product of competitive political contests and not be distracted by the coming political battle that looms between the Ohio Republican and Democratic Parties over this issue.  And, of course, organized labor (historically allies of Democratic candidates) will become a whipping boy because of its heavy involvement in the petition signature gathering process.

Bottom line is no matter in the Ohio context who helped get the measure on the ballot:

Political competition is a good thing for the citizens!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

CAN KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY SUCCEED AS MAYOR OF MASSILLON OVER THE LONG HAUL?



At one time yours truly thought that Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry might be the "golden girl" of Democratic Party politics is Stark County.

But no more.

Now the question is whether or not she can get through four years having had a presentable administration.  And then vanish into clouds of political oblivion. 

For a full seven months she has been bogged down in desperately seeking a way to get revenues to see Massillon through its immediate future.  But she is getting very little in terms of cooperation out of Massillon's city council which is interesting in and of itself.

Elected to council (Massillon's Third Ward) in 2003, she served eight years on council until she defeated longtime mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. in the Democratic Party primary in 2011 and then went on to handily defeat the Republican candidate in November of last year.

Her defeat of Cicchinelli is likely to be the "high water mark" of her political success.  So far she has demonstrated little that she possesses leadership qualities that she can use to help pull Massillon out of its financial quandaries.

She appears to be reduced to sloganeering about Massillon being the "City of Champions" which is like she is taking a page out of the playbook of fellow Democrat and mayor of Canton:  William J. Healy, II (e.g. Canton - "the Utica Capital")

One would think that in her eight years on council Catazaro-Perry would have developed some solid relationships that could be useful to her now as the city's chief executive.

But it is obvious that she didn't.

And with the introduction of five new council members (four of whom are Republicans), she has no very few allies on council at all, even among the holdovers from her days on Massillon's legislative body.  It was interesting to see her most reliable friend on council - Tony Townsend - jump ship on her second proposal to reduce the city income tax credit for those Massillonians who work in other municipal taxing jurisdictions.  A key proposal for her, if Massillon is to be solvent at year's end because it would bring immediate money to the city.

Apparently, the only tried and true political friends that Mayor Catazaro-Perry has in Tigerland is Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his core group of political loyalists.

She has been so wedded to the Maier faction of the Massillon Democratic Party some (including the SCPR) wonders who is really calling the shots in the city administration.

Johnnie's brother George is safety service director and there are a number of other Maier faction hanger-oners who are by her side propping her up. 

Now her administration finds itself in a "leading to nowhere" argument with her political adversaries as to whether or not its layoff of 27 city employees is going to produce expenditure savings to help Massillon make ends meet.

As the SCPR sees it, political standoff is the best the mayor can hope for going forward in her having bought into the power politics model subscribed to by the Maier political faction.  While she puts a smiling face on a "might makes right" attitude, she is likely to find that going forward it will make it impossible to bring Massillon together so as to make this former industrial hub any semblance of its former greatness.

As has been pointed out by a number of observers, her predecessor did not leave her with a whole lot to work with (except for Baker, Hughes) in that there are the financial/economic dinosaurs of  The Legends, the hotel project, the Massillon Parks and Recreation financing fiasco among a number of poorly thought out financial and economic moves which are likely to undermine her Massillon resuscitation moves over the next three and one half years.

However, the mayor demonstrated very little in terms of leadership during her council years to have ameliorated the conditions that remain with Massillon into the foreseeable future.

Yes, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is looking down the road as she moves her administration forward.  But she appears to be hamstrung by the realities of the past and she is constantly reminded of that past by the annoying presence of that rear view mirror.

And with political friends like she has helping her, who needs any political enemies (which she has plenty of)?

For the sake of a brighter future for Massillon,she needs to pick up her leadership qualities which seemingly abound on paper, but which appear to be virtually non-existent in the "on-the-job" world.

Returning to the original question:  Can Kathy Catazaro-Perry succeed as mayor of Massillon?

It is only 7 months into her administration, but for the answer to be "yes," she is going to make some major leadership adjustments.

The further question is:  Is she up to it?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

(VIDEO: BERNABEI, BICKIS, GREEN, HAWS, THOMAS & ZUMBAR) STARK COUNTY TREASURER ALEX ZUMBAR MAY BE PROHIBITED FROM SERVING AS PRESIDENT OF THE STARK COUNTY LAND REUTILIZATION CORPORATION BECAUSE OF ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS? OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY DOESN'T GET THE JOB DONE PROPERLY IN SETTING UP STRUCTURE FOR LAND BANKS?


Ever wonder how inept the Ohio General Assembly is?

Well, you don't have to go far to find out.

We in Stark County have first hand experience with the screw ups in Columbus in formulating laws that don't work.

Remember the situation with former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler?

Of course you do.

Zeigler had the misfortune of his chief deputy treasurer stealing upwards of $3 million.  A reality that came to light on April 1, 2009.

While Zeigler was not implicated in the theft, Ohio law  (ORC 321.37 and 321.38) provided that if money comes up missing from a county treasurer's office and is lost to the county, then the county commissioner "may" remove the treasurer which the Stark County commissioners did with Zeigler on August 23, 2012.

Trouble was that the Ohio Supreme Court held in a lawsuit initiated by Zeigler to be reinstated:
(June 23, 2011) ...  that R.C. 321.38, which  authorizes a county treasurer’s removal from office  “immediately on the institution of a suit,” is unconstitutional on its face because it  conflicts with Sect. 38 Art. II of the Ohio constitution that requires a complaint and hearing before an officer is removed.  Based on that determination, the Court issued a writ of quo warranto that removes the current Stark County Treasurer, Alexander A. Zumbar, and reinstates ousted Gary D. Zeigler to the remainder of his elected 2008 term. State ex rel. Zeigler v. Zumbar, Slip Opinion No. 2011-Ohio-2939 (LINK)
Folks, ORC 321.38 became law on October 1, 1953.

While the Stark County prosecutor's office shepherded the commissioners through the process of removing Zeigler (remember the Ohio Supreme Court says the law "is unconstitutional on its face") saying that they (the prosecutors) were relying on the Ohio General Assembly knowing what they were doing in putting the legislation on the books in the first place and not changing it over the course of nearly 60 years, it is obvious now that the prosecutors should have known better than to have relied on the Ohio Legislature being on top of things and making sure that compliance with 321.38 would withstand challenge if followed literally.

Eventually, the commissioners on October 19, 2011 negotiated a deal with Zeigler for him to leave office by resignation and retirement.

Yesterday it came to light in a board meeting held by the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC) that the law authorizing the creation land reutilization corporations is deficient.

Ohio Revised Code Section 1724.04 (became law in July, 2010), in part, reads:
A county having a population of more than sixty thousand as of the most recent decennial census that elects under section 5722.02 of the Revised Code to adopt and implement the procedures set forth in sections 5722.02 to 5722.15 of the Revised Code may organize a county land reutilization corporation under this chapter and Chapter 1702. of the Revised Code for the purpose of exercising the powers granted to a county under Chapter 5722. of the Revised Code. The county treasurer of the county for the benefit of which the corporation is being organized shall be the incorporator of the county land reutilization corporation. (emphasis added)
Well, our county treasurer Alex Zumbar got all excited about this legislation and took steps in December, 2011 to interest the Stark County commissioners to pass a resolution authorizing the creation of  a Stark County based corporation (which is non-profit and quasi-governmental).

Zumbar has done a really good job as far as the SCPR is concerned since, once again, becoming treasurer upon Zeigler's resignation.

He has gone to town on whittling down the $40 million or so of delinquent real estate property taxes owed Stark County and has pushed the Stark County prosecutor's office to step up efforts to collect the back taxes.

However, try as they may, the prosecutor's office does not have a chance to collect taxes on the many, many of the delinquent taxpayers because in many cases the taxes are more than the value of the property most of which have been abandoned because they are uninhabitable.

With the help of former Cuyahoga County treasurer Jim Rokakis (who, when treasurer, worked hard to deal with some 27,000 abandoned and vacant homes in Cuyahoga County and who now leads Thriving Communities Institute, an organization he founded in 2011 with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy) and Robin Darden Thomas (land bank program director at Thriving Communities), Zumbar has taken the lead to develop a similar program for Stark County.

Zumbar has incorporated the Stark County effort under the name Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC) and has put together a board of directors (which includes Zumbar, Stark County Commissioners Tom Bernabei and Janet Creighton, Plain Township Trustee Scott Haws [representing township interests] and Attorney Lemuel Green (representing Stark County's largest city's [Canton] as provided for by Ohio law.  Green, incidentally and ironically (in the view of the SCPR) once worked for Gary Zeigler in the treasurer's office as one of his top lieutenants.

So everything was going swimmingly.

That is until yesterday.

Stark County assistant prosecutor Mike Bickis dropped a bomb shell.

Yes, a bombshell!

Picking up on discussion that the board members of the SCLRC contemplated that Zumbar would be the president of the corporation and would in that capacity be making decisions and recommending to the board that they endorse his determinations on specific actions in terms of what demolition proposals (and, also, later down the road what rehabilitations) would benefit from the infusion of SCLRC funds, Bickis, speaking as the legal adviser to the commissioners, questioned whether or not Zumbar in wearing three hats (county treasurer, a board member of the SCLRC serving as the lead and, if the board has its druthers, as president and a key decision maker in the day-to-day operations of the SCLRC) might put himself in violation of the ethical rules of Ohio (Ohio Ethics Commission) in terms of potential conflicts-in-interest.

It was discomforting to the board members (undoubtedly Zumbar) for Bickis to have raised the ethical questions.  Nobody on the board questions Zumbar's ethics.  Nor does Bickis.  But he sees it as his obligation as the adviser for the two commissioner members of the board (sitting as prescribed by Ohio law) to raise any ethical concerns that occur to him.

Bickis advised that it might be best (again, emphasis he was advising the commissioners as their legal representative) to hold off on making Zumbar the operations leader until the Ohio general attorney responds to a request made by the Mahoning County prosecutor for a clarification of whether or not there are statutes which would not permit/prohibit a county treasurer/auditor to operate a non-profit corporation while holding an official position.


Bickis says that the Ohio Ethics Commission has been asked to weigh in on the ethical aspect of the same question.

The SCPR understands that there are a number of counties which are planning to use the county treasurer or auditor as the non-profits day-in, day-out executive officer.

To return to the initial point of this blog which is the inadequate legal structure provided by the Ohio General Assembly in authorizing the creation of land reutilization corporations.

Bickis told The Report that it should have been apparent to the Legislature that creating a non-profit quasi-governmental entity, there were bound to be concerns about mixing private and public functions especially along potential conflicts-in-interest lines.

The SCPR believes that the "bastard" structure that the Legislature created was born of the Republican party's fixation with privatizing everything in sight.  Had they just made the land reutilization entity totally government, then there would not be the questions prompted by the Mahoning County prosecutor and Prosecutor Bickis.

And, of course, none of Stark County's four legislators at the time (Slesnick, Schuring, Snitchler and Oelslager) were not savvy enough to pick up on the problems they help create with this woefully inadequate legislation.

This episode brings to mind a meeting the Stark County commissioner had in early 2011 in which they brought in Schuring, Slesnick and Schuring (Christina Hagan did not attend) and asked them to do something to get rid of legislative mandates that were a burden to county government some of which are costly.

Schuring promised to tackle the specific list presented by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Tayrn Heath.

The last The Report knew, Schuring had gotten action on a grand total of two.

Go figure!

Schuring is a man who promised yours truly to get legislation passed to require local candidates who get contributions of $100 or more to have to identify the vocation or employer of the contributor.

Still waiting Representative Schuring?

Does anyone think that he'll keep his promise?

ORC sections 312.38, 1724.04 and the Judge Heath's list of antiquated mandates show the need for the Ohio General Assembly needs to have a permanent task force in place that is constantly reviewing Ohio's statutes for relevancy to 2012 government, conflicts between statutes and inadequately structured statutes and to deal with the problems accordingly.

Now onto the financing of Stark County's LRC.

Stark County commissioners approved a resolution earlier this year to provide the SCLRC with 5 mills of Stark County real property revenues which amount presently to about $500,000 annually.

Moreover, the SCLRC is in line to get about $2 million (likely a one-time grant) from Attorney General DeWine's Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program later this year.

The SCPR applauds Prosecutor Bickis for his work in making sure all the ethical questions are resolved before the SCLRC gets off and running.

Here is a video of the discussion of the board members, Bickis and Robin Darden Thomas, (the land bank program director at Thriving Communities Institute):

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

RENACCI GIVEBACK A SIGN OF TROUBLE IN HIS CAMPAIGN TO RETAIN THE 16TH DISTRICT SEAT?



It is looking more and more to the SCPR that Republican Jim Renacci might be panicking a bit about the prospects of his maintaining a seat in the United States Congress.

With a poll (done by Normington, Petts & Associates) coming out in early July showing fellow-incumbent and Democrat Betty Sutton (redistricting is forcing them to run against one another) in the lead 41% to 38%, one could understand a little bit of concern.

But The Report's take on Renacci's campaign mode is that he must know something that the rest of us don't?  Well, what could that be?  How about an "internal" poll showing an even greater spread in favor of Sutton?

Those of us familiar with political campaigns know that the general public never sees the light of day on internal polls except if one happens to show a candidate way ahead.  Even then the campaigns do not talk numbers.  The candidate and staff merely takes on a smugness about themselves that betrays what they are not revealing to the public.

But there are other signs that Renacci figures himself to be in trouble and is scrambling to turn things around.

Let's focus on some of the other signs.

First and foremost is the flap about his having received about $100,250 in campaign contributions from employees of Suarez Industries Incorporated.  In a story broken by the Toledo Blade on August 19, 2011 (Canton firm's workers making unusual donations), writer Tony Cook made the following points:
  • "All together, 17 employees from Canton-based Suarez Corporation have contributed to one or both candidates, according to federal campaign filings. Sixteen of those employees (and six of their spouses) have given $5,000, the maximum amount allowed under federal election law."
  • [A company spokesperson] 'said the company did not reimburse employees or provide money for the contributions, though she later emphasized that she couldn't "speak on the behalf of anyone, other than our brand and products.' Federal campaign finance law prohibits a corporation from providing bonuses or salary increases to employees to reimburse them for political contributions."
Initially, Renacci just blew off Democratic leadership expressed suspicions that he - Renacci - may have been the person who came up with the idea for Suarez employees (who did not have much if any track record of contributing to political campaigns in the past) to make individual contributions.

The FBI picked up on the contributions and embarked on an investigation of whether or not they were improperly (by the standards of campaign finance law) made.

Congresswoman Sutton demanded that Renacci return the questioned contributions when the FBI investigation became public knowledge this past May.

Renacci refused saying through a campaign spokesperson that he would "wait and see" how the FBI investigation turned out.

His approach was quite different from that than fellow Republican and Ohio secretary of state Josh Mandel who is running to unseat Democrat Sherrod Brown from the U.S. Senate.

As soon as the FBI action became known, Mandel immediately took measures to return about $105,000 in political donations he had received from Suarez employees in the same fashion as Renacci.

Okay.  Sounds like a reasonable difference of approach, no?

If Renacci had stayed the course, yes.  But he didn't.  In an abrupt reversal, last Friday Renacci announced the was returning the $100,250 to the Suarez employees contributors.

His reason?

To take the matter off the table as a campaign controversy so that he and Sutton could get on with discussing the substantive issues of the campaign.

Hmm?  Does he really think Betty Sutton is not going the harp and harp and harp some more about the Suarez thing?

Pretty politically naive, if he does, no?

A second sign that a sense of urgency may be setting in with Renacci has to do his whining about being stalked by videographers.  It appears that he is indeed being tracked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and by American Bridge which is thought by some to be Democratic congressional candidates' "unofficial" opposition research arm.

What Renacci fails to say is that "opposition research" is Politics 101 and undoubtedly he and national Republican organizations are undoubtedly tracking Congresswoman Sutton.

It appears to The Report that Renacci is whining because he fears that the Democrat researchers may come up with material that could be a difference maker in this close, close race.

The question that yours truly has is why Renacci in being so sensitive to be tracked and monitored?  Does he know that there are politically explosive skeletons to be discovered?

The Report doubts that such is the case because certainly the Boccieri campaign would have discovered them (if they existed) in Renacci's successful campaign to unseat Boccieri in 2010.

So the answer is likely that Renacci didn't figure on running behind with only about 100 days left before the election and he is coming just a little bit unglued.

A third sign that a campaign rush may be setting in with Renacci has to do with his challenge to Sutton to come out and debate him on the merits/demerits of he Affordable Care Act (referred to by Republicans as being Obamacare) on the heels of the United States Supreme Court ruling the core of the act constitutional.

The SCPR, for one, thinks that Sutton should take him up on the challenge.

She may find that there are many (perhaps, even a majority) in the 16th who do not want to see the act repealed as Renacci has committed himself to.  National polls show that a majority of Americans do not want the law repealed.  But it is close.  The worse that The Report thinks Sutton would do is to have a standoff on the issue.  And a face off could be a real educational experience for the voters of the 16th.

No doubt Renacci thinks otherwise and feels that if he can bait Sutton, then he is well on his way to pulling ahead of her and thereby resolve his concern that his congressional seat may be slipping away from him..  He appears to desperately looking for a head turner issue and he thinks this is it.

What's the saying?  Be careful what you wish for!

So the foregoing are signs (there are others) that the SCPR thinks demonstrates Congressman Jim Renacci might be losing it just a tad on maintaining campaign composure.

If his unease accelerates, he is likely to do some really dumb things and then "Katy bar the door," real political trouble is just around the corner in terms of him doing himself in.

It is well understood by most of us that human beings do not function well under stress.

Could a panicky Jim Renacci turn a very close race into a sold win for Betty Sutton notwithstanding Renacci's large lead in fundraising?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

(VIDEOS: ARNOLD, ERB, STOLL & BRITT) LAKE TRUSTEES COUNT NOSES AND DECIDE NOT TO PUT POLICE EXPANSION MEASURE ON NOV. BALLOT!



It is a rarity for public officials to see "the handwriting on the wall."  But the Lake trustees did last night at a regularly scheduled township meeting when they decided not to place a new ballot initiative on November's ballot.

Back in November, 2011 they had Issue 6 on the ballot in an effort to take the Uniontown Police District (UPD) township wide.

And they won.  Well, at least for a while.


But then it was discovered that there was a language error in describing the amount of millage to be assessed home owners in the expanded district and outside-the-UPD resident Jimmie Miller led an effort to get the vote invalidated.

In December, 2011, Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Haas did just that and was affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court on May 16, 2012.

Last night Trustees John Arnold (president of the board), Ellis Erb and Galen Stoll explained why the trustees were of a mind not to pursue expansion at this time, to wit:
  • that the trustees put the expansion on the ballot in 2011 because they wanted to be pro-active in doing something good for the township,
  • that they didn't put the measure on the ballot to ramrod it down anyone's throat,
  • that even if they went the sheriff route which the trustees believe would have resulted in less service than an expanded UPD and still cost 3.5 mills as compared to the 4.5 mills for the UPD,
  • that they believed when they put Issue 6 on in 2011 they (based on conversations with residents outside the UPD) that there would be a 50/50 split,
  • that the reality was in terms of actual vote was 64% outside the UPD voted "no,"
  • that to them the 64% "no" vote was convincing that residents outside the UPD do not want expansion at this time,
  • that expansion may be revisited some time in the future,
  • that in 2005 the "no" vote was 75% and with the "no" vote being 64% this time is indication that the trend is towards township wide, but not in the immediate future, and
  • that they believed the UPD be an excellent policing unit,
  • that as far as the sheriff is concerned that if there is consideration of an expansion there would be an "apples to apples" comparison with the UPD and the sheriff would have to convince them that there would not be logistical problems in having cars in Lake Township, and
  • that markedly improved sheriff service in Lake Township over the last seven months was not just because he was trying to get a policing contract with Lake officials.
Here is a video which features all three trustees.



Yours truly, a Lake and UPD resident, has always supported policing township wide.  However, with the bungling that occurred with township legal counsel, the Stark County prosecutor's office, the Stark County Board of Elections on the ballot language, it would be futile for the trustees to place an expansion on the ballot in November.

Moreover, to pursue expansion at this time would be divisive.

The SCPR also talked with Jimmie Miller, a Greentown businessman who led the invalidation effort and got his reaction.  Here is the video of his response.



And finally, The Report spoke with Uniontown Police Department Harold Britt and here he is on videotape with his reaction.



All-in-all, the SCPR believes that the trustees did what the November election numbers (from the non-UPD areas of the township) dictated.

And the trustees deserve commendation for the way they handled the swirl of controversy that surrounded the goof-up on the ballot language and the manner in which they allowed township residents (on both sides of the issue) ample opportunity to heard on their respective points of view.

Monday, July 23, 2012

(VIDEO - HEALY) UTICA CAPITAL DOWN THE DRAIN? UPSTAGED BY BOCCIERI? FORCED TO CHANGE LEGISLATION? W/O 07/16/2012 - ONE TOUGH WEEK FOR MAYOR HEALY?



Until last week, things had been gone swimmingly for Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Going back at least until his re-election in November, 2011, times have been good indeed for Hizzhonor.


But then on March 1, 2012 in his State of the City speech, the mayor probably set himself up for a fall which the SCPR thinks came home to roost this past week. In that speech Healy made the grandiose announcement that from that date forward Canton would be "the Utica Capital!"

Fast forward to July 16, 2012.

Blaring headlines announce that tiny little Louisville at been selected by Chesapeake Energy to be its headquarters in Stark County.


Of course, the mayor denies it as seen in this video, but the SCPR's take is that the reality is that Canton is going to be "second banana" in Stark County as far as tapping into the oil and gas industry and its fracking in the Utica and Marcellus shale deposits is concerned.  Maybe even "third banana" with the announcement months ago that Massillon is going to be the site of a huge beneficiary of oil and gas operations.


Here is Mayor Healy via video responding to the Louisville announcement.



In that video, Healy also expressed uncertainty about whether or not he could get his oil leasing of city lands proposal through Canton City Council.

The Report will come back to that, but for now let's focus on opening of the Canton Obama headquarters.

As far as the SCPR knows, Mayor Healy was supposed to be the headliner speaker at the grand opening of the Canton Obama headquarters on Tuesday, July 17th.  But that did not turn out to be the case.  In fact, he got upstaged (not intentionally) by former 16th District congressman John Boccieri (LINK).

Undoubtedly, in his heart of hearts the mayor didn't like being upstaged, but he and Boccieri are close politically and Boccieri will be an enormous asset as Healy's sister Joyce Healy-Abrams is trying to pull off a political upset of sitting Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs in a new congressional district (the 7th) and so the mayor is demonstrating that he can - when there is a clear benefit in doing so - and will swallow his pride.

Back to the oil drilling lease.

There is news today in area media that Mayor Healy is having to revise his oil and gas leasing proposal to have a realistic chance of getting passage in next week's (July 30th) council session.

Although (in the video) the mayor discounted the effect of the throng of anti-frackers who showed up at council on July 16th and two weeks before that to protest Canton considering drilling on city land whether in the city or outside the city, it appears that these folks were having a impact on council members, and it became apparent to the master nose counter that he had better change the proposal to provide greater specificity and to give council actual approval rights before drilling takes place, if he was not to get slammed next Monday night when the legislation comes up again.

 So for Healy the week of July 16 through 22 was "one tough week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

DECISION DATE IS UPON THE LAKE TWP TRUSTEES: ANOTHER BALLOT INITIATIVE TO EXPAND THE UNIONTOWN POLICE DISTRICT? ALSO, BECAUSE OF THIS ISSUE, LAKE HAS BECOME BATTLEGROUND OF DORDEA V. MCDONALD FOR SHERIFF?




Will the Lake Township trustees try to get township voters to approve expansion of the Uniontown Police Department once again?

THE BACKGROUND

Because of sloppy work by township legal counsel, the Stark County prosecutor's office and the Stark County Board of Elections, a hard earned victory for those of us who have been in favor of such an expansion for years (in some cases) may have been frittered away by the ineptness of several elements of local officialdom.


So as not to retread the if, buts and the like, here are a couple of links to prior blogs of the SCPR for readers to get up to speed/refresh on the saga of the goof ups that led up to the Ohio Supreme Court invalidating the electoral success of the pro-township-wide forces on May 16th of this year.
BACK TO THE QUESTION

Will the Lake Township trustees try to get township voters to approve expansion of the Uniontown Police Department once again this November?

SCPR ANSWER

Probably not, more likely to try next May at the primary election.

REASONING

There are two alternatives for expansion.  Either expanding the Uniontown Police District (9 square miles in the northwest part of the township) township wide or contract with the Stark County sheriff to provide services a la the arrangement between Plain Township and the sheriff.

In a conversation with Trustee John Arnold yesterday (Arnold is president of the Lake Township Board of Trustees), while not saying so in a direct fashion, it was clear to the SCPR that trustees will not be putting a proposal on the ballot to contract with the sheriff's department.

Arnold told The Report that whether or not the trustees would entertain the idea of working out an arrangement with the sheriff depended on who the sheriff is.

Hmm?

Translated:  if Republican sheriff candidate Larry Dordea is sheriff, then the trustees might be interested.

Which, if you think about it, rules out putting such an issue on the ballot this November.

And there is more information that The Report believes is relevant to this discussion.

A couple days ago yours truly got a telephone call from a Stark County-based official more or less complaining about certain advantages Larry Dordea has in his run against Democrat and current Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike McDonald (Jail Division).

The caller observed that Dordea is using being chief of the Hartville Police Department and a councilman-at-large in Alliance and being a previous chief of police in Alliance as his political base for running as a candidate for sheriff.

Of course, yours truly was thinking:  so?

In running for office, one always uses his/her inherent advantages.

Then came the "real" complaint as interpreted by The Report.

The Lake trustees will not consider contracting with the sheriff as presently constituted because the office is controlled by Democrats (all the Lake trustees are Republicans) and moreover Chief Deputy Rick Perez (who was Sheriff Swanson's first choice to run to succeed him) is especially loathed by public officials which only adds icing to the Republican dominated out-in-the-political-subdivisions determination to do everything they can to undermine Democrat McDonald's effort to succeed Swanson.

So the question came to mind as to why officials out in the 'burbs would have such a heightened dislike of Rick Perez.

Bingo!

The Report believes that Republican dislike of Perez goes all the way back to January, 2012 (LINK) when Perez was the investigator of allegations made by a Marlboro trustee (perhaps, even a second trustee) that Marlboro Chief of Police Ron Devies (a Republican) had done something wrong in working with his son Kyle when Kyle was disengaging from maintaining the township's office computer complex at the order of a majority of the trustees (which did not include Trustee Wayne Schilig).

The key point of upset among his critics is that Perez wore a wire without telling fellow policeman Devies that he was wearing a wire.

Eventually Devies and his son were acquitted in the sense that Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Lee V. Sinclair dismissed all charges after the prosecution had finished with its case.  In other words, the prosecutor's office had not even established a prima facie case that the Devies' had done anything wrong.

Nevertheless, the SCPR believes that many Stark County political subdivision law enforcement types and maybe even some of their brothers and sisters in the fire fighting community (especially, if they are Republicans to boot) may still harbor resentment against Perez and his boss Tim Swanson over the manner in which the investigation was handled.

The Report did ask Swanson in an email yesterday about the specifics of how Perez came to the decision to wear a wire (i.e. at his own initiative, at Swanson's direction or on the advice/counsel of the Stark County prosecutor's office), but he ignored that part of the email in his response.

So over three years later we may be witnessing political comeuppance (in the context of the Lake Township expansion initiative, revisited because of the Supreme Court) that might evidence an effort to advantage Republican Dordea in his second try to become sheriff of Stark County.


If the theory of an underlying political factor being at play in the Lake trustees refusal to consider Mike McDonald's proposal (May 29, 2012 at a regular Lake Township trustees' meeting) for the current sheriff to provide policing to Lake Township has any credibility, it is not likely to get public verification from township officials.

The Report posed the question to Trustee Arnold yesterday.  Arnold responded that he had not heard the "animosity towards Perez" premise before and that as far as he is concerned such is not a factor in the trustees failure so far to sit down with Swanson and/or McDonald and go over their proposal which the trustees have heretofore said was not an "apples to apples" proposal.  Earlier this week Swanson wrote a letter specifically requesting such a meeting.

To The Report, Arnold's denial is weak in view of his follow up to yours truly that it was reasonable for the SCPR to conclude that his "it depends on who the sheriff is" statement clearly indicates that the November election will have to come and go to see whether Dordea or McDonald is elected.

Obviously, the Lake trustees have a problem with someone in the current staff make up of the Stark County sheriff's department.

Sheriff Swanson has told yours truly (reference:  the email cited above) that he (Swanson) must be the problem because Perez has been an exemplary chief deputy. 

This is the exact way Swanson put it:
If we all left petty differences and personalities govern the way we do business, things would really be in a sad state of affairs.
I don’t buy that is the reason, if anything I would think it’s their dislike of me.
Let me assure you right now, if any of them were the victim of a crime, they would cherish the thought of having Chief Perez investigate their incident, he’s the best there is and doesn’t leave any rock unturned. Not much different than an excellent doctor with less than desirable bedside manners, I’m not interested in bedside manners when it comes to taking care of the problem, are YOU?
 He added:
You know when you get elected to serve, that’s exactly what you should do is serve.
You shouldn’t allow anything to influence your doing the RIGHT thing.
I have told my people from the time I became Sheriff, we will always do the RIGHT thing, the fair, honest and prudent thing to do.
Most of the elected Official are always worried about the next election and do things to insure they get elected again. I NEVER did that, my instructions were, we will do what’s RIGHT in spite of political pressure and will triumph in the end and be able to live with our decisions and sleep at night.  
I’ve always told my fellow employees to do what is right and fair and not take short cuts or bow to pressure. Their job wasn’t to get me to elected again, that was my job. If they were honest, conscientious, professional  and followed policy and procedure they would always come out on top. I asked them to remember that most of the people we respond to for service have never had to call us before and the impression we leave them with is everlasting. 
CONCLUSION

So where does the SCPR end up on this flap?

Yours truly is a loss to understand why the Lake trustees will not deal with the sheriff's office as presently constituted.

If Perez's presence is their problem, the SCPR does not believe that a Sheriff McDonald would be keeping him on.

If Swanson is the problem (as he suggests himself), he definitely will be gone after December 31, 2012.

And nobody (even Dordea himself) has ever suggested to the SCPR that Mike McDonald should become sheriff is not a quality law enforcement office.

Obviously, Dordea thinks he is the better choice, but again he has not reflected adversely on McDonald's competence to be sheriff.  Nor has McDonald reflected adversely on Dordea's competence to be sheriff.

The Report tends to believe that there is a political comeuppance factor or at least a politically based disaffection with some Stark County law enforcement officers (including at least two in the Uniontown Police Department) and seemingly on the part of the Lake trustees.

Yours truly was quite shocked to hear a Uniontown Police Department officer say that he would have a problem working with a Sheriff McDonald.  Don't know what the man's political preference is, but he needs to read and reread Sheriff Swanson's points along that line.  And there was the little tiff that occurred between McDonald and Uniontown Chief of Police Harold Britt when McDonald made his May 29th proposal. Why would Britt do that?

Of course, candidate Dordea could put the matter to rest by telling the Lake trustees that if they have any interest whatsoever in considering a sheriff's department policing arrangement, they should consider it now.  For if he is elected, he will be the person implementing the agreement anyway.

But don't expect that to happen. It could be taken as being akin "to biting the hand that feeds you" to show up the trustees in this fashion, if in fact political favoritism is in play.

While everyone tells The Report that the Lake deliberations do not have a political factor to them, yours truly is both highly skeptical of that claim and disappointed that the trustees are handling the matter as they are (i.e. "the sheriff's proposal is not 'apples to apples,' but we won't talk to them about it" and "it depends on who the sheriff is").

First the trustees had to endure the humiliation of having their first "apparently" successful effort go down in flames in the Supreme Court decision of May 16th because of the failure of people they relied on to get the ballot language correct.

So now are they preparing themselves for a second (at the ballot box) humiliation in injecting political considerations into whether or not they get the best possible deal for township residents for expanded police services if and when such a measure in once again presented to Lake voters?

For now, it appears to the SCPR that the Lake trustees will not consider the sheriff's plan nor is it likely they will put a replacement for the Ohio Supreme Court invalidated Issue 6 November, 2011 short-lived victory.

To repeat, if anything in terms of expansion of Lake policing is in the cards, it does not appear that an initiative will not occur until May of 2013 (next year's primary election date) at the very earliest.

But we should know for sure on Monday night next.

In the meantime, Stark County will elect a new sheriff in November and the SCPR believes that either way Stark Countians choose, the county will be well served. 

Dordea versus McDonald is not a matter of competence as Zumbar versus Koher for Stark County treasurer in November, 2012 was not about competence.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

(VIDEO - DAN SCUIRY ON REDISTRICTING) DEMOCRAT & REPUBLICAN PARTY PROS HAVE FORGOTTEN LESSONS LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN: "PLAY FAIR."



UPDATE:  08:00 AM

The Associated Press is reporting that the Ohio secretary of state's office says that Voters First is 130,000 short of reaching the require 385,000 signatures.

The SCPR understands that the petitioners have 10 days to obtain the required additional signatures.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Right up there at the top of the list in Rober Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten is "Play Fair!"

We are all familiar with the idiom "all is fair in love and war," which is a root expression for the extended version bandied about by politicians:  "all is fair in love, war and politics."

So from the innocence of childhood to the supposed sophistication of adulthood "fair" gets warped from "play fair" to "all is fair in ... politics."

Says a lot about adult political pros and their allies, no?

But that is exactly how the professional politicians like Bob Bennett (Ohio Republican Party chairman), Christopher Redfern (Ohio Democratic chairman) and the local likes of Jeff Matthews (Stark County Republican Party chairman) and Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (former Stark County Democratic Party chairman) have progressed from Kindergarten to their grand glory of cynical adulthood.  In the view of the SCPR they are personifications of "all is fair in ... politics" people who are looking out for themselves and their political parties over the interests of everyday citizens.

When it comes to obtaining political advantage, "playing fair" is laughable and naive to these jaded political pros.

Given the opportunity, the likes of all of the above seize the opportunity to support the legislative political warping and contortion process known as gerrymandering:  that is constructing legislative districts so that it is next to impossible (absent a political castastrophe like Coingate-2005 during the Republican Taft administration) to change control of the legislature.

However, they are not alone.  Scores of our elected officials (especially legislators; hence the description of above of "the political pros and their allies") by their deeds ridicule the kindergarten lesson on "playing fair."

About 17% of Americans think well of congress persons currently.  But it has been as low as 9%.  No wonder.   Most of them are from "safe, non-competitive" districts which makes them likely to be arrogant and unaccountable to the American public.  Obviously, many of them support district gerrymandering as a way to perpetuate themselves in office.

And the same thing happens at the state legislative level.  Stark County might have one competitive legislative district.  That would be the 29th Ohio Senate district.

Countywide (which the 29th pretty much is, excluding only the western fringe), either a Democrat or Republican can win.  Statistically and as proven in actual political races either Republicans (e.g. Creighton as commissioner, Zumbar as treasurer and Harold as auditor) or Democrats (e.g. Swanson as treasurer, Ferrero as prosecutor, Campbell as recorder, Bennett as engineer, Reinbold as clerk of common pleas court, and Murthy as county coroner) can and do win.

Only the ineptness of the Stark County organized Democratic Party's leadership (over the chairmanships of Gonzalez, Maier and Ferrero) in terms of grooming quality, attractive candidates for the Ohio Senate keeps Republicans Scott Oelslager and Kirk Schuring trading the 29th back and forth in a version of musical chairs in which each gets a seat in the Ohio General Assembly, just a different seat and keeping the seat from switching over to the Democrats.  For their clearly is a path for Democrats to make this seat competitive and win it.

Democrat for many years now have had to sit and watch as Oelslager and Schuring have developed this musical game of the 29th in tandem with what used to be 51st House District (now pretty much the 48th - indexed Republican - likely to be held by Schuring this November) so that they can overcome term limits, a measure they both supported when it came up for a vote in the 1990s.

Democrat Stephen Slesnick has sat in a heavily Democrat indexed 52nd House District which is to be, in the upcoming election, the 49th House District.

If Republican leaders in Columbus cared about small letter "d" democracy, they easily could take Slesnick's district and reconfigure it in relation to the 48th and 50th to make it anybody's guess as who would political party would win in any one of the three Stark County districts.

But, of course, their number one priority is the the vigor and quality of America's democracy, it is the interests of the Republican Party and their candidates.

And yes, before anyone objects "but the Democrats do it too," such would undoubtedly be the case.

That rejoiner is always posited as some sort of justification of the unfair and undemocratic gerrymandering.

But it doesn't fly.
What the rejoiner "really" says is that both political parties are about their own interests more than those of everyday citizens.

Republican Christina Hagan (a lady who cheered the carving up of Stark County into three congressional districts [and, of course, she voted for it]) as she smugly sits ensconced in the 56% indexed 50th House District.

Hagan is a person who lost when she had to compete for office within the Republican Party.  Now she has wheeled and dealed with her father's help to gain a legislative appointment and is following his footsteps in having a rigged political district to run in.

 But help may be on the way.

The Ohio League of Women Voters is leading the way with a coalition of organizations that has turned in on July 3rd 430,000 or so signatures to the Ohio secretary of state for validation as to proper voter registration on the effort of a non-partisan group called Voters First.

Some 385,000 valid signatures are needed.

If they are obtained, then on the November ballot there will appear an initiative called the:  Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission Amendment.

Here is a summary of the proposed amendment:

Voters First’s proposal will create an Independent Citizens Commission.  Politicians, lobbyists and political insiders are prohibited from serving on the commission. The Commission’s work will be open and it will be accountable to the public.  The Commission will empower voters to choose their politicians instead of politicians picking their voters.
  • Citizens, Not Politicians. Instead of the current procedures (in which politicians draw district boundaries that unfairly favor their own party and/or protect incumbents), a 12-member Citizens Commission will create the districts. Any member of the public can submit a plan for consideration.
  • Openness and Transparency. All meetings, records, communications and draft plans of the Commission must be open to the public. No more backroom deals.
  • Balance and Impartiality. The Citizens Commission will include equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and the approval of at least seven of the twelve members of the commission will be required for the adoption of any plan. This will ensure that the final plan fairly represents all Ohioans, not just those currently in power.
  • Community Representation. Districts will be created that are geographically compact, and which minimize the division of counties, townships, municipalities and wards between different districts.
  • Accountability & Competitive Districts. Politically balanced districts will be created, rather than “safe districts” which make it difficult or impossible for voters to hold elected officials accountable.
  • Fairness. To the greatest extent possible, the share of districts leaning toward a party will reflect the political preferences of the voters of Ohio. 
Recently, the SCPR ran into Dan Scuiry, president of the Hall of Fame AFL-CIO who is a leading Stark County figure in collecting signatures for the Voters First effort.

Scuiry is an interesting public figure.

Yours truly has known him since the mid-1970s.  No doubt he is the consummate Democrat and moreover he is Mister Organized Labor in Stark County.

While there is no doubt that Scuiry carries heavy biases for Democrats and union workers, The Report finds that beneath all his prejudices, he is committed to fair play.

And in his quest to get fairness for those he advocates for he will take on any and everybody no matter who they are.

He has taken on Stark County Educational Services Center Board Superintendent Larry Morgan (what used to be the county board of education - of which yours truly's spouse is president).

He has fought with former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and until very recently had a more or less "blood feud" going on with current chairman Randy Gonzalez.

And the list goes on and on. 

While the secretary of state in busy validating the signatures turned in, Voters First workers are still collecting signatures and will be for the next two to three weeks in case the initial submission falls short of the 385,000 valid signatures needed.

Dennis Willard (former Repository and Akron Beacon Journal reporter), who now is the publicist for  Voters First puts the effort this way:
You may read or see news over the next few days about Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's letter to Voters First regarding the status of petition collection efforts, so I want to keep you up to date on the Fair Districts movement.

Voters First is on track and very confident that we are going to have the signatures to let voters make history this November by putting citizens in charge of drawing Fair Districts. Husted's letter is a normal part of the petition process, and it's not unexpected.

We never stopped collecting signatures even after filing our first round of petitions on July 3rd. And we’re going to continue to collect even more signatures for the next 10 days because we will leave no stone unturned in fixing this broken political system that currently rewards self-serving politicians and their lobbyist buddies.
The SCPR applauds the effort of the League of Women Voters/Voters First and Dan Scuiry.

Here is very interesting video of the SCPR's interview with Scuiry in which he speaks to the local effort to collect signatures.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

VIDEOS - BOCCIERI (2) WILL BOCCIERI BE DIFFERENCE MAKER IN 7TH & 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT RACE OUTCOMES? A SURPRISE "STAR ATTRACTION" AT OPENING OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CANTON HEADQUARTERS!



UPDATE  07192012 AT 06:00 AM


Great coverage of last nights affair at President Obama's headquarters, Martin. The SCPR did an excellent job on coverage of the night. You certainly upstaged Mr. Wang and the Repository's very shallow coverage of a very important night.

Loved your take on John Boccieri's upstaging Mayor Healy, which he certainly did. Not intentionally, but it was Boccieri's night to shine, and shine he did. The crowd loved him, and he responded with a very moving and invigorating campaign speech for re-electing the President. I'm sure Mr. Obama would have been proud. Boccieri got the crowd fired up, and ready to go. I don't think Mayor Healy minded at all.

I thought the turnout was great, and everyone did a fantastic job. Kudos to Barb Lewis, who always works her butt off, and to the many field workers, many of whom returned from 08, and were just as eager to help re-elect the President as they were to get him elected in the first place. It was great to hear how these young workers are dedicated to this cause. They have not lost their enthusiasm for, or their faith in, their President. I haven't either.

FOUR MORE YEARS!!

ORIGINAL BLOG

It appears to the SCPR that the featured speaker at the Stark Democrats' opening the Canton office of the Barack Obama reelection campaign was Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.

But when former 16th District Congressman John Boccieri appeared at the fringe of the crowd, one could sense the attention of people pivoting away from Healy and fixing on perhaps the most popular Democrat in all of Stark County.

Healy did his best to maintain the attention on himself.  But it seemed to The Report that the effort was futile and those assembled were antsy to hear from the former congressman.

Normally, one would think Healy would be incensed about being upstaged.  But not in this instance.  Because one of the beneficiaries of Boccieri's popularity among Democrats and many independents in Stark County could be Healy's sister Joyce Healy-Abrams who is running for Congress in the newly formed (required by decentenial redistricting) 7th congressional district.

When Boccieri was acknowledged and approached center stage, he did so to a wildly cheering (many standing and giving him a "standing ovation") crowd.  He immediately began a chant picked up on by the Obama loyalists of "Four More Years."

In his fiery speech, Boccieri reminded those gathered:
  • of the 2008 victory which put Barack Obama in office and also made Democrat Boccieri congressman in the 16th congressional district, about 60 years had passed since a Democrat had represented the Canton area,
  • that the president stands with the people whereas Republican Mitt Romney stands for persons who are corporations,
  • that the Republicans left Obama with the debt (from a Clinton administration surplus) from two unfunded wars, two huge tax cuts, a Medicare prescription plan that was not paid for and that the president put the breaks on that kind of spending,
  • that the president saved the American automotive industry which was a victory for working class people,
  • that Republican Romney won't release extended years of tax returns and wanted to know:  "What is he hiding?"
  • of Romney's using foreign financial institutions to invest his money in,
  • that they needed to support the president by electing Democrats Sherrod Brown (U.S. Senate), Healy-Abrams and Betty Sutton (the 16th) to the Congress, and
  • closed in telling a story of why he supported the Affordable Care Act.
Here is the video of Boccieri's speech.



After the speech the Stark County Political Report did a one-on-one interview with Boccieri in which he outlined what he planned to do in terms of campaigning in the Stark County area for President Obama (he identified himself as an Obama surrogate) and area Democrats running for Congress.

He appears to be genuinely optimistic that the Democrats can pull a surprise and replace incumbent Republican Congressman Bob Gibbs defeat the man who bested him in 2010 in the 16th; namely, Jim Renacci.

If so, the prospect could become a nightmare for state Rep. Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro) and Stark County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Matthews (whose wife works for Renacci).

Why?

Both thought it was wonderful that Stark County got split up into three congressional districts by their gerrymandering Republican friends in Columbus last fall.

Well, if the area ends up getting represented by three Democrats, how will they like it then?

And, of course, Heidi Matthews will be out of a job again as she was when Ralph Regula retired and the-then state Senator Kirk Schuring could not hold the seat for the GOP in 2008.

Here is the video of the Boccieri interview.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

(VIDEO OF HEALY REACTION) CANTON MAYOR HEALY DENIES THAT LOUISVILLE HAS REPLACED CANTON AS THE "UTICA CAPITAL." LEASING OF CITY LANDS FOR OIL/GAS DRILLING WILL BE A TEST WHETHER OR NOT HEALY CLAIM IS CREDIBLE?



A mere four and one half months after Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II declared Canton as the "Utica Capital" and now he gets challenged on two fronts.
  1. In yesterday's Repository was a headline which had to be a jolt to Hizzhoner, "Utica HQ in Louisville," and
  2. A battle rages on between Healy's administration and Canton/Stark County anti-frackers to win "the hearts and minds" of Canton's city council members over whether or not Canton will offer up the possibility of having city owned property up for lease for oil and gas drilling to deep under the earth deposits in the Utica shale formation via a process known as fracking in which a chemical and sand mix are injected high pressure into a deep well to fracture shale in order to release oil/gas products to the surface.

Before yesterday's meeting, the SCPR spoke with Mayor Healy.

His reaction to the Louisville headline:
  • Canton remains the "Utica Capital" much like it is the "Pro Football Hall of Fame" capital. While there are focal points of oil/gas drilling outside of Canton proper, Canton is the center of it all.  Louisville, has been in the making for months and it was simply a matter of Canton not having a suitable (acreage wise) site for Chesapeake and anyway, the Louisville site is just one mile outside Canton city limits.
His take on the battle going on in city council and the significance of the anti-frackers who have been besieging council both last night and two weeks ago:
  • Interesting enough, the mayor does not know which way council is going to go on its vote as to whether or not to approve the ordinance to "authorize Service Director Warren Price to advertise for, receive and enter into a lease agreement(s) for mineral rights on selected city owned properties."
  • That it does not appear that huge numbers of jobs are coming the Canton/Stark County area as a consequence of Canton being the "Utica Capital," and
  • So far council has only heard from the anti-frackers.  Now that the administration gets the opportunity to put on its case, he appears confident that his administration can make a convincing case for council to at least put out requests for bids.  He points out that if the bids are not to liking of the council and administration, the process stops there and goes no further.
Here is the video of the SCPR interview of Healy.



The SCPR's take on the debate going on in council is that it is productive in that council members appear to listening carefully to both sides of the argument.

The Report is impressed with Council President Allen Schulman and his handling of the many, many presenters at council meeting on the issue.

In contrast to how Majority Leader David Dougherty handled the "trap-neuter-return" debate of a few months ago (Schulman was absent for that meeting), Schulman operates in a fashion that everyone feels welcome and appreciated and the debate is a study in orderliness and mutual respect.

As to the political significance of the debate the SCPR sees to points.

First, this lease issue could be a test of how much sway that Mayor Healy has sway has with council.  There is little doubt to The Report that councilpersons Babcock, Cole, Dougherty, Griffin, Smith and West will side with the mayor.  Moreover, there is little doubt that councilpersons Cirelli, Fisher and Hawk will vote "no" on the lease.  The battle ground is with Mack, Mariol, and Morris.

In order to have any hope of defeating the administration's proposal, the anti-frackers will have to convince Mack, Mariol and Morris to join with Cirelli, Fisher and Hawk and then get Council President Allen Schulman to side with them in his tie-breaking role.

Second, if the anti-frackers prevail, Canton's refusal to consider leasing will be trumpeted across America as one more win for the anti-fracking forces in the ongoing war between them and the oil and gas industry.

But, of course, the key is for the anti-frackers to get to seven votes.

Can they do it?

Monday, July 16, 2012

ANOTHER STARK COUNTY DOG POUND ADVISORY BOARD (SCDPAB) MEMBER CRITICIZES COMMISSIONERS' OVERSIGHT OF STARK COUNTY DOG POUND OPERATIONS. WILL THIS BE "THE STRAW WHICH BREAKS THE CAMEL'S BACK" AND CAUSE THE COMMISSIONERS TO DISBAND THE SCDPAB? OR, IS THIS A OCCASION TO SHOW THAT THEY ARE "A CUT ABOVE?"



One of the things that yours truly has said repeatedly about the current Stark County Board of Commissioners (with the election of Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton) is that they are much more open, accessible, communicative, responsive, attentive, accountable, transparent and politically mature than any board of commissioners going back quite a few years.

And the Stark County voters recognized the change in November, 2011 in providing the commissioners with a solid victory in approving a 0.5% sales tax issue as a signal that the commissioners have been successful in restoring voter trust in their stewardship of county government.

However, it could be that the current board's enthusiasm for a different way of being and operating is ebbing.  They have been through a lot of trying times in the one year and a half that this board has been in place.  Perhaps they are growing wary of the day-to-day of this problem, then that problem and here comes another problem syndrome.

Or, it could be that operations at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound - SCDP) is something that is an aberration from their up-to-this-point general "embracing the problems" and solving them approach to county government.

The SCPR has observed that from the very beginning of the current regime of commissioners that they have not been all that well taken with the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB).  In this aspect of their boardmanship, they are much like their predecessor boards.

Rightly or wrongly, it appears to yours truly that the commissioners have taken on an attitude of "there is nothing we can do to satisfy these (advisory board members) people.

On July 6th, The Report did a blog (LINK) on another in a long series of complaints that a SCDPAB member (Judith King) have of Pound operations.

Recently, another SCDPAB member has written the SCPR.  Here is that letter:
Hello Martin-

As a member of the Stark County Dog Warden Advisory Board, I am not surprised that the commissioners are thinking of disbanding the board.

They do not return phone calls nor attend any of our meetings.

I am sure we are a thorn in their side with our pleas to improve the horrible conditions at the pound; however eliminating the board is not going to stop us or private citizens from demanding some action be taken with regards to the "catch and kill" mentality of some of the employees at the pound and the lack of interest by  warden (sic) Tetrault of the pound's conditions.

I would love to see the commissioners' institute a forum with a "come and let us reason together " attitude., as you suggested. Unfortunately, I doubt very much that will ever happen .

Sure, the ventilation problem is a big concern during this extremely hot summer; however there are also many other problems that need to be addressed, many of which only require a look at some  ( not all, but some) of  the staff's inadequate performance.

Aren't the commissioners at all concerned about the warden who is rarely seen outside of her air-conditioned office and has no knowledge of the dogs in the pound, instead asking volunteers to do various jobs for her?  How can she be a leader when she has no clue about what happens in the actual kennel area?

If you get the chance to talk to Ms. Creighton again, please ask her these questions for us ( since she no longer communicates with the Advisory Board)

Has the $70,000 - $80,000 been approved for the ventilation system yet or is this just another promise?

Have the commissioners advertised for bids for the project yet?

Could the commissioners evaluate the warden's performance ON SITE at the pound ( and not by the  very infrequent pre-planned visits which usually turn into a smiley "everything's great here!" photo-op.)

Rose Hayne
By the end of this month commissioners have four new appointments to make and such could be an occasion for disbanding the SCDPAB altogether.


The Report has the impression that the commissioners are exasperated with the current SCDPAB makeup and might be at the point ridding themselves of their problem.

But yours truly would be surprised and disappointed to see that happen.

The Report's take on the commissioners has been that they are a resilient lot who have, so far, demonstrated political maturity a step or two above a number of other county officials (e.g. Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell).

Were they to disband the advisory board in toto, such would in the view of the SCPR be an occasion for Stark Countians to be concerned about whether or not they are taking on a jadedness that so often plagues government types which may be increasingly be manifested as everyday citizens seek the ear of county government.

Governing often is uncomfortable and perhaps even frustrating to the point of being at one's wits end in trying to satisfy everyone among the governed.

But such is the lot of office holders, especially in modern-day America.

It has to be tempting to the commissioners to try to banish their problems.

But as Ms. Hayne says: 
I am sure we are a thorn in their side with our pleas to improve the horrible conditions at the pound; however eliminating the board is not going to stop us or private citizens from demanding some action ...  (emphasis added)
Whichever way the Stark County Board of Commissioners decide to go on "the disbanding the board issue," they will be sending a message and an indication to the Stark County public about the political character of the individual members of the board that The Report believes will serve as an insight into what Stark Countians can expect in terms of receptivity and response as future complaints and problems are brought to the commissioners attention.

In a specific context the question is:  Can the Stark County commissioners abide a difference of opinion from folks they appointed and, moreover, can they accept being challenged to reflect candidly with themselves on whether or not they have the correct read on conditions/operations at the Pound?

We do have in Stark County an elected public official who banishes those with whom he disagrees.  He makes no attempt to consider that maybe his take on a given situation is wrong and that he would be well advised to mull over their advice.  Rather than eliminate these folks, he should keep them around.  For all too many around him are careful to tell him what they think he wants to hear, as a matter of self-preservation.

One wouldn't think that the Stark County commissioners (who know this official all too well), would want to follow his example.

Before them is an occasion to demonstrate by deed which way they will go.

Either they have the political chutzpah that the SCPR and many Stark County citizens expect of them to deal effectively and maturely with the problems they encounter or they will take a step back by cutting and running in the face of a difficult situation,

By July 31st, Stark Countians should get an additional read on what our Stark County commissioners are "really" made of?