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Thursday, August 30, 2012

NEW HOPE FOR CANTON - "THE YOUNG TURKS " OF CANTON CITY COUNCIL?



While the selection of Joe Cole to Canton City Council has turned out to be a disappointment (in terms of a progressive thinker for what ails Canton) to the Stark County Political Report, the election of Kevin Fisher (the 5th Ward), Edmond Mack (the 8th Ward), Frank Morris (the 9th Ward) and the appointment of John Mariol, II (the 7th Ward) holds great promise for Cantonians that help is on the way for a city that has been tracking on a steep decline.


In the meantime, the mayors during this period and, perhaps, more importantly Canton City Council has stood helplessly by and presided over the decline of this once proud city, all to the dismay of those fewer and fewer brave souls who remain residents of  Stark County's largest city and county seat.

Over the last few weeks it has been heart rendering to listen to speaker after speaker after speaker at council's Public Speaks ramp up their pleas for somebody to something about the rampant problems plaguing Canton.

A big part of the complaints have had to do with the violence and turmoil that has mushroomed in Canton's neighborhoods seemingly correlated with the loss of the numbers of police officers serving the citizens of Canton.  Losses tied to declining city revenues.

And a large part of violence and turmoil has been fueled by the huge number of vacant and abandoned residences (perhaps as many as 7000) that vex the Hall of Fame city.

What to do about this problem?

One would think that the solutions would be forthcoming from the veteran members of council.

Well, think it again.

It has been first term 5th Ward Councilman Kevin Fisher aided by Canton civic activist Norma Mills.

Not a surprise to the SCPR.  For Fisher in 2005 bucked the "powers that be" in the Stark County Democratic Party (i.e. then-chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr) in running against then-incumbent Councilman Terry Prater and coming up just short of pulling a big time political upset.




He and Mills have been working for eight months on an ordinance (passed this past Monday, August 27th by a 12 - 0 vote of council) which requires the owner or new owner (in terms of foreclosed property on a defaulted mortgage) to post a $10,000 bond to ensure that the property is maintained while such a property is vacant.

Canton would be able to make a claim against such a bond when its workers are put to work by the city performing upkeep and maintenance of the property.  Moreover, it it comes to it, the money could be a source to tap into if the property deteriorates to the point of requiring demolition.

There are however major problems in implementing the legislation, to wit:
  • Foreclosing entities (usually banks) do not actually take title after foreclosing, leaving the city to go after a defaulting owner.  Obviously, a "defaulting on a mortgage owner" is not likely to be a viable financial resource for the posting of a bond and/or keeping the property up to city of Canton code standards, and
  • A lack of state/federal legislation which puts "oomph" in what Fisher, Mills and the city are trying to do with the legislation.

The SCPR has taken note of the keen interest that Fisher has demonstrated in formulating solutions/incentives for citywide Canton neighborhood maintenance and improvement.

The Report also notes that Fisher is emblematic of a new breed of councilperson that has surfaced on Canton City Council with the election of November, 2011 and with John Mariol, II's selection to replace former 7th Ward Councilman Patrick Barton (now Canton's Information Technology director).

The Report believes that the best way to describe this "new" group of four is "the young turks."



Councilman Edmond Mack of the 8th Ward, even before he was councilman, at a community forum Neighborhood Associates Votes Empower [NAVE], was articulating ideas for solving Canton's neighborhood problems.


Currently,  Mack is one of the leads (Joe Cole/councilman-at-large collaborating with him) to stop the spread of Internet cafes across the city of Canton.  These cafes are viewed by many a illegal gambling havens which bring undesirables into Canton's neighborhoods.  On April 30th, council passed a resolution placing a moratorium on any "new" cafes from opening up.  The hope is that the state of Ohio will step up and provide regulations that will protect neighborhoods from the problems associated with the cafes.

But is the state of Ohio willing to step up to the plate and help out?

Cantonians and all Stark Countians ought to be putting a "full court press" on state Reps. Stephen Slesnick (D - Canton), Kirk Schuring (R - Jackson) and Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro) as well as state Senator Scott Oelslager (R - Plain) to help Canton and all of Stark County out in pushing through legislation to help Stark County communities and communities statewide to curb the problems connected with the cafes.

A third member of the SCPR's "young turk" set is Council Frank Morris.


A couple of weeks ago, Morris made a impassioned presentation to council on the shootings taking place in his neighborhood.

What a terrific contribution towards putting the heat on city administration officials to find ways and means to solve the intolerable (remember Zero Tolerance?) jeopardy of personal safety which is increasing the case within the city limits of Canton.

Administration officials can no longer slough off this festering problem as isolated and limited to anecdotal situations.

Morris has put this matter front and center and the Healy administration will increasingly find itself the target of failing to deal with the problem if it doesn't soon come up with effective solutions notwithstanding the lack of police resources.

And then there is new Councilman John Mariol, II.  He has only been on the job since May and he is already showing that he is willing to put his neck on the block.  At Monday's council meeting he was the lone councilman to speak out in support of Planned Parenthood of Stark County and Council President Allen Schulman on the issue of United Way of Stark County discontinuing funding of Planned Parenthood's counseling of Canton/Stark County women on women's health issue.


Kind of bold for an "unelected" councilman, no?

Also, he has been part of what the SCPR sees as an emerging voting block of "the four young turks" (accompanied often by Councilwoman Mary Cirelli, to a lesser degree Councilman Greg Hawk, and sporadically, by other "more seasoned" councilpersons but seemingly never Smith, West and Dougherty) which has forced the Healy administration to think twice about its desire to lease city owned lands for fracking for oil and natural gas, to retreat from it plan to disband the Canton Parks Commission and making Council President Alan Schulman break a tie of a vote of council on reducing Canton's reduction in its income tax credit.

The emergence of "the young turks" could be the "light on a shining hill" that Cantonians need to be seeing as a possible "light at the end of the tunnel" for the future of Canton.

The danger is that the enthusiastic and energetic council foursome will grow weary over time.

Much of American government is filled with politicians who are not committed to solving the nation's, the state's and local community problems.

These jaded politicians are more interested in preserving their own places in government than is actually rolling up their sleeves and becoming part of the solution that the likes of Fisher, Mack, Morris and Mariol are emblematic of.

Councilman Fisher tells the SCPR that the likes of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, state Rep. Stephen Slesnick,and state Senator Scott Oelslager have shown no interest in helping Canton be more effective with his creative and innovative legislation.

This is where the citizens of Canton and Stark County can and should step-in.

They should be besieging these folks as well as Stark's other federal (Congressmen Gibbs and Renacci) and state (Hagan and Schuring) to come to the aid of local officials who are taking "the bull by the horns" and getting something done legislatively about the many problems that beset local communities.

Councilmen Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris do give Cantonians reason for hope.

A SCPR "HATS OFF" to Canton city government's "young turks!"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(VIDEO: JACKSON TRUSTEES & FISCAL OFFICER GONZALEZ) IT IS HARD TO BE SYMPATHETIC WITH JACKSON TWP FINANCIAL WOES? AFTER ALL, JACKSON VOTERS KEEP SENDING KIRK SCHURING TO COLUMBUS WHERE HE VOTED TO GUT JACKSON TOWNSHIP FINANCES!




It is difficult for the Stark County Political Report to commiserate with Jackson Township residents over the township's tight finances for one simple reason.

The man they repeatedly elect to represent them in the Ohio General Assembly (Republican Kirk Schuring) voted for all the cuts in local government funding that has put the township in a financial squeeze.

And it looks like Jacksonians will be the primary factor in his returning to the Ohio House (this time the 49th House District because of constitutionally required decennial redistricting) in November.

Despite his voting for term limits (a way for Republicans break the Democratic political strongman Vern Rife era stranglehold on the Ohio General Assembly) he, by playing a version of musical chairs with fellow Stark County Republican Scott Oelslager [everybody gets a chair in this version; just a different chair] remains in the the state Legislature.

It is pretty apparent that his goal is own political preservation; not so much the interest of the folks who live in the 51st (to be the 49th) Ohio House District.

Schuring clearly is taking Jacksonians for granted.  Accordingly, he had no problems whatsoever in voting to cut:
  • in a draconian fashion, Ohio's Local Government Fund funding to communities like Jackson.  Jackson's loss for 2013 is to be $696,971;
  • in a "kill all the revenue to local government" fashion, the entire revenue base from Ohio's estate tax which will likely cost Jackson about $1 million in 2013;
  • in a "not keeping our promises" fashion, the personal property tax as part of the 2006 tax reform package that brought Ohio the Commercial Activities Tax (CAT).  Ohio was to hold local governments harmless on the loss of personal property tax.  Of course, we all know that politicians of whatever stripe do not keep promises.  Accordingly, Jackson will lose $21,336 of personal property tax revenues in 2013,
Jackson Township absolutely relied on the predictable $1 million, more or less, from Ohio's Estate Tax to keep its parks in a state-of-the-art condition.

With the estate tax revenue loss, the trustees had no alternative but to ask township residents to pass a new levy which they call current expense levy (so that revenues can be applied to both highway and park maintenance expenses) to the tune of about $1.32 million per year (reference:  Certificate of Estimated Property Tax Revenue, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold [June 14, 2012] over its five year lifespan.



While Kirk Schuring is a gentleman and a scholar of sorts, he is not looking out for the best interest of the constituents of the townships, cities and villages which make up his House district in terms of local government funding.

So coming full circle, the SCPR believes that more and more of what used to be financial resources from Ohio flowing to local governments such as Jackson Township will be voted to be cut by the likes of Kirk Schuring and that the local taxes will have to go up if local governments are going to be able to provide services (such as a first-rate park system) that Jacksonians have come to expect.

If the "current expenses levy" does not pass and the only thing that Jackson Township trustees can do is "mow the grass"  in Jackson's park system (as is clearly stated by township officials in the video below) because police, fire and highways by far and away are the primary concern of local governments, then it would be very unfair for township residents to badger the trustees about the unmet needs to sustain the parks.

Who they should go after is none other than the likes of J. Kirk Schuring!  Only if they put they put the "political" fear of God in him will things change.  Without electoral accountability, nothing will change.

Here is a video of Jackson Township trustees and Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez discussing the proposed levy last Wednesday evening.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

(VIDEO: SCHULMAN GOING AFTER STARK UNITED WAY) -CANTON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN TAKES ON UNITED WAY OF STARK COUNTY FOR "DEFUNDING" PLANNED PARENTHOOD. WILL HE BE ASKING CITY OF CANTON EMPLOYEES AND STARK COUNTIANS TO CONSIDER NOT CONTRIBUTING TO UNITED WAY'S ANNUAL FUND DRIVE?




UPDATE




ORIGINAL BLOG

Last night a firestorm broke out at Canton's city council meeting when Council President Allen Schulman leveled a blast at United Way of Stark County (UWSC) for its decision to defund Planned Parenthood of Stark County.



Why would United Way decide to defund Planned Parenthood?

Because of the organization's peripheral involvement in counseling and assisting women with abortions.

Planned Parenthood counters that its abortion work is limited to about 3% of its clients.  Moreover, it points to the many other women's health services it provides.


Who is putting political pressure on the likes of Stark County's United Way to deny Planned Parenthood funding?

Answer:  the "politicized" element of the religious right in America.  Here is a typical quote:
"You don't have to be a Biblical scholar to know that we are on the verge of seeing the wrath and punishment of God unleashed on this wicked nation at any moment. Every 24 hours we slaughter approximately 4,000 innocent babies. Where is the outrage about that in the media, in the halls of Congress? Sadly, society doesn't even give it a second thought and has fully embraced this 'culture of death' which hangs over this nation like a black cloud."  (Evangelist Bill Keller)

The first step of the United Way decision was actually made as Stark County's leading nonprofit charitable agency announced at the beginning of its 2011 annual fund drive that it had "reclassified" Planned Parenthood of Stark County (PPSC) as an "affiliate" which means that Planned Parenthood will have to apply for a United Way grant each year and will not automatically be included in the agency's annual distribution of Stark County citizen contributed funds.

In October, 2010 UWSC announced it would no longer giving PPSC approximately $140,000 annually as a matter of course, but did soften the blow by making a two year grant of $140,000 which meant that there was an immediate cut of $70,000 annually.

The grant runs out in March of 2013.

Apparently, the timing of Schulman's outcry against United Way's action is designed to coincide with UWSC's upcoming 2013 annual fund drive.

It is interesting to note that United Way's action vis-a-vis Planned Parenthood actually preceded the national firestorm which erupted when the Susan G. Komen Foundation (Komen) on January 31, 2012 decided to quit funding Planned Parenthood.  Later the decision was reversed but Komen suffered damage in its fund-raising efforts which linger to this very day, to wit:  (Amid resignation, Susan G. Komen CEO 'still doesn't get it,'  Tripp Frohlichstein, August 10, 2012)
She still doesn't get it. I am talking about Nancy Brinker [sister of Susan G. Komen who died of cancer in 1982] who finally announced her resignation as CEO of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure [of breast cancer]. Also departing are the breast cancer foundation's president and two board members.
Why doesn't she get it? Because she says these resignations had nothing to do with the controversy earlier this year when Komen announced it would cut funding of Planned Parenthood. Under immense pressure, it reversed its decision.
But the damage was done.   The Wall Street Journal reports that fundraising is down across the country. Certainly, a lot has to do with the way Komen mishandled the crisis.  (emphasis added)
So the question for Stark County is whether or not Schulman will ratchet up the pressure on United Way Stark County if it does not do a Susan G. Komen-like reversal in putting Planned Parenthood of Stark County back on its listed of annual donees?

As noted from the video above, Schulman (who a a non voting member of council, absent a tie) says that a resolution will be offered at Canton City Council's September 10th meeting taking UWSC to task.

A hint of controversy surfaced after Schulman's outburst on United Way when Majority Leader David Dougherty (Ward 6) cautioned Schulman on the offering of a resolution plan.

However, before Schulman spoke, Councilman John Mariol, II (Ward 7) spoke up in favor of United Way funding for Planned Parenthood of Stark County.

Schulman told the SCPR after last night's meeting that if United Way does not mend its ways, he will be calling for Cantonians/Stark Countians to consider not contributing to the annual United Way drive.

Speaking at last night's meeting was Elizabeth Bowen, Regional Director of Health Center Operations for Planned Parenthood Stark County.



For Stark Countians the question is whether or not a war is about to break out between Schulman and United Way and perhaps Schulman and Majority Leader Dougherty and maybe other members of council?

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 27, 2012

(VIDEOS: MUST SEES! - KISTE & PAQUETTE WITH STARK CO COMMISSIONERS ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ISSUES) WILL THE NEW BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS CARRY STARK CO. TO SOME SEMBLANCE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GREATNESS?



UPDATE:  1:00 PM

With regard to Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell's letter to Doug Thorn of the Stark County auditor's office regarding increased revenues from the recorder's operations and on interest generated by the treasurer's office, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold had this comment on the numbers proffered by Campbell:
Martin, 
... 
Of note in today's blog on various county revenues:  the Trust Fund & Escrow Accounts do not impact our ability to spend.  On these dollars, the county is custodian.  While the increases reflect greater activity (trust fund) and general efficiency (escrow accounts), it does not translate into more money to spend. 
On the Recorder fees & Treasurer's interest - the former is activity related and, as you know from attending the monthly finance work sessions, we've been tracking the favorable variance here for some time.  On the latter, we'd be plugging along toward our $900K but for a bondthat was called last month.  As both the Treasurer and I have stated, the bonds being called is a big problem.  The investor refinances the higher yield bond, returns the principal to us, and then what?  We're stuck with the lower yield bonds.  All the "bump" in interest incomedoes now is lower our forecast for future years. 
And basically on the $1.39MM loss in revenue from property tax - it's a good thing we've trended nicely in sales tax.  It would appear every bit over the $11MM we projected for this half is easily gobbled up by the loss in property tax revenue.  We knew this was coming and our internal2013 projections have reflected this for sometime. 
Alan

UPDATE:  10:15 AM

Stark County could use a Michael Bell, mayor of Toledo (LINK)..  He demonstrates leadership qualities and style like the SCPR thinks Stark County needs.   Can Leadership Stark County produce a Michael Bell?

What follows is an excerpt on Bell from The Economist magazine (August 25, 2012, Working partners - Unexpected co-operation, and investment, beside the Maumee river):

TOLEDO, Ohio, could be any struggling city in America’s rust belt. The view from the offices of the mayor, Michael Bell, takes in a clutch of grey skyscrapers, a minor-league baseball field (home of the Toledo Mud Hens), grain silos, strangely empty streets and, in the distance, a petrol refinery. Yet the mayor has something new to show visitors. The skyscraper to his right, housing a business hotel, now belongs to Chinese investors. In 2011 another Chinese group spent $2.15m on a restaurant complex beside the Maumee river, then a further $3.8m on waterfront land euphemistically dubbed the “Marina District”, once home to a power station. Just out of view is the site of what regional development officials say will be, by year’s end, a new Chinese-owned metalworking plant worth tens of millions of dollars.

It is early days yet. But Mr Bell—a brawny former city fire chief who won office in 2009 as an independent—has a plan to revive his city of 290,000 people. Just as Japanese manufacturers saw advantage in moving chunks of production to America from the 1970s on, Mr Bell believes that Chinese businesses are ready to seek sites in America, as rising global transport costs outweigh the benefits of cheap labour. He sees no reason why Toledo should not be on their list. He has made three official trips to China. In September some 200 mostly Chinese businessmen are due in Toledo for a conference on operating in America. Selling his city abroad was chastening, the mayor says: most Chinese had never heard of it. But as he talked, they would “whip out their smartphones” and check what he was telling them: that it lies on the Great Lakes, where major interstate highways cross; is cheaper than Chicago; is home to skilled car- and glassmakers, solar-panel firms and an under-used airport; and they would go “Aha”.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Last week the Stark County commissioners listened to (at their Monday and Tuesday work sessions) two of the three most promising Stark County entities in terms of getting Stark up and moving again as a thriving, accelerating economic development community.


First up was the Stark County Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCC&VB), a division of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (WEB LINK).

Executive Director John Kiste (on Monday) made the following points (see video below) about the efforts of his organization (which is almost completely supported by a countywide lodging tax paid by Stark's motels/hotels) to increase economic value coming into Stark:

  • 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the start of the Professional Football Hall of Fame and that the SCC&VB will be making a special effort to promote the Hall of Fame.  Perhaps 2013 will bring "a game from some people close by," (Cleveland/Pittsburgh?),
  • The lodging tax (at 3% countywide generated a little over $1 million last year [up about $115,000 this year so far] on which the operations of the SCC&VB are financed) is producing more than budgeted
  • Gervasi Vineyard is doing quite well (adding on) which bodes well for the lodging tax from the villas,
  • The success of the Canton Marathon ("at least a million dollar [economic] impact,"
  • "For the first time ever {Stark County] broke $1 billion in direct and indirect sales in travel and tourism in Stark County,"
  • About 3 million people a year are coming to Stark County for travel and tourism each year,
  • That the growth of the oil and gas industry are helping pump up the travel and tourism factor,
  •  In Plain Township and the Jackson-Belden areas, Stark County has seen a 90% occupancy rate over the past few months which Kiste seemingly ties to the influx of oil and gas personnel into Stark County,
  • The Akron-Canton Airport is growing at fast pace as is the SCC&VB presence at the airport,
  • The OHSAA swimming championships will be in Canton through 2017 and there is hope that the football championships (about a $4 million economic impact on Stark County) will remain beyond the current 2015 time frame,
  • Bringing the  NCAA Division III championship game (a mainstay of the The University of Mount Union) to Canton is a project being worked on by the SCC&VB,
  • Stark County is limited to hosting events that max out about 1,000 attendees, and
  • Stark County is on tap to have an even better year in terms of travel and tourism in 2013 as compared to 2012.






    Next up was  was Steve Paquette president of the Stark Development Board ("SDB" LINK - Tuesday).  The SDB is 27 years old and operates under three year budgeting cycles.  Paquette et al are currently putting together a $1.8 million capital investment program for Stark County.  Paquette also made some interesting points (see video below).

    • The Timken Company remains as the foremost and ongoing economic development project for Stark County,
    • The nation and Stark County is experiencing a jobless recovery,
    • There has been a dramatic slowdown in the last three months or so which Paquette nominates as the "pre-election jitters,"
    • Fuel cell development continues to be a exciting prospect for Stark County economic development with the prospect that lead partner LG (a South Korean company) will be developing a commercial application within the next four years,
    • The SDB put together a committee on the Utica shale question on being approached by Chesapeake Energy for support. The primary question for the committee was whether or not fracking could be done safely in terms of environmental concerns.  The conclusion (LINK) of the committee was that fracking is safe in Stark County in the context that should there be an accident, systems are in place to mitigate any damages that might flow therefrom.
    • The focus of the SDB as fracking grows in Stark County is:
      • to try to attract businesses which manufacture fracking industry equipment to consider Stark County as a site to relocate/expand, and
      • to identify industries that "low cost natural gas" would be a lure for them wanting to locate in Stark County,
    • It was the STB which recommended to Chesapeake that it headquarter in Louisville for its Stark County operations,
    • The Baker Hughes oil servicing project for Massillon is about to be finalized,
    • The SDB is in the process of building up a capital investment "venture capital fund" (The Angel Fund) with the hope that it can attract a one-to-one match from Ohio's Third Frontier with the object of creating a $1.4 fund,
    • The SDB is continue to explore opportunities to develop oil shale industry related jobs,
    • A fund (in addition to The Angel Fund) is being developed to infuse relatively small amounts of capital into area business,
    • The SDB will continue to pay attention to existing Stark County businesses and fuel opportunities for growth with them,
    • Trying to work on a Stark County plan that is consistent with a regional economical development plan for all of northeast Ohio, and
    • Paquette requested that now that the Stark County sales tax has passed that the commissioners consider funding the SDB as it has in the past (e.g. $100,000); a pittance when measured against the estimated $1 million that SDB has helped raise in tax revenue for Stark County government going back to July 2009.




    In a future work session, the commissioners need to have Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (sponsors of Government Academy and Signature Program of Leadership Stark County) to come before them to spell out the contributions that they believe Leadership Stark County is making in putting Stark County on a path to become "a thriving, accelerating economic development community destined ultimately for greatness.

    From the Stark County Political Report's perspective, important as they are (i.e. the Stark Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Stark Development Board and Leadership Stark County), the key for getting Stark County moving towards a modicum of economic development "greatness" will be determined by the quality of who sits in the chairs of the Stark County commissioners.

    It was therapeutic for Stark County government for Janet Creighton and Tom Bernabei to have been elected to commissioner posts in 2010.

    The county had been rocked by the Vince Frustaci (former chief deputy of the Stark County treasury) theft of several million dollars from the county treasury and a concomitant loss of confidence by the Stark County public in the vigilance of county leadership figures to have prevented such a loss from having taken place.

    Bernabei and Creighton deserve credit (along with Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar and Stark County Auditor Alan Harold) with having restored the public's confidence in county official leadership.  Such was evidenced by the voting public's willingness to pass a 0.5% sales tax increase (over eight years) by a comfortable margin last November.

    Now that public confidence in the integrity of Stark County government is on the upswing, it is time for the commissioners to focus their attention to other matters.

    As far as the SCPR is concerned, their overwhelming priority needs to be directed towards pushing Stark County to economic/financial greatness.

    The question is:  Whether or not Bernabei, Creighton (as sitting commissioners) and whomever among candidates Regula (Republican - Bethlehem Township) and Bill Smuckler (Democrat - Canton) are up to such a task.

    By under-asking on Issue 29, Bernabei and Creighton have put the commissioners in a difficult position.  The 0.5% is just enough to tread water over the next eight years on day-to-day county operations.

    Already Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero and Stark County recorder Rick Campbell are putting pressure on to up the ante on what they are getting from the county general fund.  The initial step on their question is to prod the county auditor via Stark County Budget Commission sessions to ramp up the certification of funds available for the commissioners to allocate to the various departments of county government.

    Campbell in writing  asks (as a prelude, the SCPR believes, to requesting more money for his office and to John Ferrero's office) for additional certification of nearly $1,500,000.   Campbell based his request on the following projected increases in revenues in his operations as well as a higher projection by Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar on increased interest collections in 2012 over what Zumbar originally projected.




    Campbell's move is evidence that there is no "surplus money" for the commissioners to apply to aggressive economic development projects.

    Campbell fails to mention that Stark County government is set to lose $1.39 million in real estate tax revenues due to the state required "every six years appraisal" of all county-sited properties that the Stark County auditor's office recently completed.

    Looks like to the SCPR that the gains predicted through his "diligent tracking and calculating" (Campbell's words) may be a wash in the light of the contemplated real estate property tax losses.

    Hmm?

    The real point of this blog is that Stark County desperately needs an economic development resurgence but is apparently without resources to jumpstart such an effort.

    Moreover, it was discouraging to hear from a source last week that neither Richard Regula nor Bill Smuckler are likely to be full time commissioners.  Regula works for Mercy Medical Center and Smuckler has a restaurant supply business he tends to.  It is important that the new commissioner apply his efforts to find ways and means to get the county moving towards an economic resurgence.

    When Todd Bosley was elected in 2006, such was a promise he made.

    From a Laurie Huffman piece (The Alliance Review - November 8, 2006):

    "If I do win, I will set out to fulfill all the promises I have made during my campaign and to make Stark County a better place to live."

    Jobs -- creating jobs and retaining and attracting businesses in Stark County -- was one of the campaign issues on which Bosley challenged Regula.
    Hmm?

    Regula tells The Report that he is big on infrastructure repair and development.  Of course, he was commissioner from 2003 through 2006 (defeated by Bosley) and didn't produce much, if anything, on infrastructure improvement then.  What is going to be different this time around?

    Smuckler's big thing is merger and consolidation of local government services across Stark County.

    However, according to one county official, Smuckler has not succeeded in putting one single merger/consolidation together despite being Stark County's leading advocate in that regard for the better part of 20 years.  To this official, Smuckler's long-term advocacy is just "so much talk."

    So The Report is skeptical that either will add much to the vigor and vitality of Stark County's economic development effort.

    Preliminary to John Kiste's remarks to the commissioners, yours truly engaged in a little repartee with him about the waste that the Stark County fairgrounds is going to.


    The Report made reference to Elizabeth Burick's (as Tom Harmon's [a former Stark County commissioner]) effort to have local movers and shakers get behind building a horse show arena at the fairgrounds as being the right kind of idea but way too microscopic in scope.

    If Stark County had any visionary leadership, they could take the Burick/Harmon idea and expand it into a Clark County plus type project that could be a draw to bump up the number of folks coming to Canton and Stark County big time virtually year around bringing millions of dollars and a significant number of new jobs into our local economy.

    To finance such a macroeconomic project, it would take some creativeness that appears to be nonexistent in Stark County leadership circles.

    Meanwhile this valuable asset located in the heart of Canton atrophies.

    Stark's inability to devise a Clark County-like plan and come up with the necessary financing in indicative of a county that is nearly devoid of leadership with a vision and a "we can get this done" attitude whether it is a fairgrounds project or any other project.

    The Report believes, for instance, that Canton's Mayor Healy's "the Utica Capital" is in the "so much talk" category.  Oh, it might produce some benefit for the city and county. but it is appearing more and more that the significance of fracking for oil/natural gas to the advancement of the county economy may be a bit overblown.  The focus on fracking as some sort of panacea says more to The Report that it is seemingly the only game in town than it has real promise to pull Stark County out of the economic development dark ages.

    On August 14th, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce held a meeting at Innis Maggorie's offices involving Healy, Commissioner Tom Bernabei, Stark State president Para Jones, Innis Maggorie officials and Chamber officials "to [develope] a communications plan to guide ... efforts to market the greater Canton area as the ideal location for companies coming to capitalize on the region's shale oil and gas."

    Moreover, the letter of invitation held out that "[a] successful market campaign could create economic benefits for the entire region ... ."

    We shall see.

    There is no doubt about it.  Stark County's future economic development (notwithstanding what John Kiste and Steve Paquette say) plans are nowhere near where they need to be if the county is going to achieve any semblance of greatness anytime in the foreseeable future.

    Stark is spending less than $2 million annually on economic development projects.

    Pathetic, simply pathetic!

    In real estate the truism is:  location. location, location.

    In economic development the truism is:  leadership, leadership, leadership!

    In Stark County, where is the leadership going to come from?

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    WILL THE POLITICAL "WAR OF THE SEXES" SPILL OVER INTO THE 7TH & 16TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT RACES?



    UPDATE:  3:45 P.M.

    (LINK) See allegation by Congressman Jim Renacci against Betty Sutton that she and her Democratic Party have taken $741 billion to pay for Affordable Care Act.

    Judged as "mostly false" by Cleveland Plain Dealer/Ohio PolitiFact.

    ORIGINAL BLOG

    During this 2012 presidential campaign there have been a number of "political" wars break out.

    There has been charges of Republican versus Democrats that the latter are engaging in "class warfare."  And there has ben the allegations by Democrats that Republicans have embarked on a "war against women."

    With the recent comment of Congressman Todd Akin (Republican - suburban St. Louis, Missouri), who is running for a U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, to wit:
    It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that pregnancy [as a result of rape] is really rare.  If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.  But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something; I think there should be some punishment but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.
    a nuance of the alleged "war against women" is seemingly being refined in to a "war of the sexes."

    The focus these days is mostly upon Republican men who are introducing, sponsoring and co-sponsoring federal legislation designed to determine for women control over their own bodies.

    Akin's comment is causing media types to look at each and every congressperson (mostly men - 217 men to 24 women are Republican members of Congress) to determine whether or not they co-sponsored anti-abortion rights legislation which, of course, define  the rights of women to control their bodies.

    The focus is on H.R. 3 (United States House of Representatives) which was introduced in January, 2011 just days after 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci (R - Wadsworth) and 18th District Congressman Bob Gibbs (R - Lakeville; now running in the 7th which includes most of Stark County) had taken office for the very first time.

    The Republicans in the House have a 241 to 198 advantage.  There are six vacancies.




    On May 4, 2011 the bill passed the House and both Gibbs and Renacci voted for it (as did their 239 Republican colleagues) whereas Congresswoman Betty Sutton (Renacci's Democratic opponent in November's election) voted against it.  Only 16 Democrats voted for H.R. 3.




    While (according to an article by Robert Wang of The Repository yesterday:  Local congressional candidates respond to Akin flap) all four congressional candidate condemned Akin's "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," it appears to the SCPR that the fact that Gibbs both co-sponsored with Akins H.R. 3 (a la "guilt by association") and voted for the final bill and Renacci voted for the final version (which had the expresson "forcible rape" excised) might well be icing on the cake as to why both might be looking at becoming one term congressmen come November 6, 2012.

    Both are in the process of weathering the storm of having voted in favor of vice presidential candidate and Congressman Paul Ryan's deficit cutting budget plan which most non-partisan commenters see as having the likelihood of putting Medicare recipients in the position of having to pay to $6,400 annually (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office [CBO]) whereas President Obama's cuts (of the same amount - $716 billion) are to be exacted of medical providers (doctors, hospitals, et cetera).

    It seems to the SCPR that if Healy-Abrams and Sutton can put together a focused traditional Labor Day forward to November 6th campaign on Medicare and the Akin no exception to abortion issues tying Gibbs and Renacci heart and soul to unpopular right-wing stances on both, then they might looking at November victories.

    Potentially winning issues have presented themselves to Healy-Abrams and Sutton.  The only question is whether or not their campaigns are up to the challenge of fully exploiting them.

    There is no doubt that voters in both the 7th and 16th districts have clear choices in the stark differences that present themselves in these respective contests:
    • women lined up against men; the women being left of the political center and the men well to the  right of center,
    • women lined up against men; Democrats (the Party of Healy-Abrams and Sutton) have double the number of women in Congress than the Republicans do (46 [including three delegates] to 24)
    • women lined up against men, the women thinking differently as to whom should bear cuts of $716 billion in Medicare funding cuts on the path to a 10 year program to cut federal budget deficits,
    • women lined up against men, the women thinking differently as to the extent to which government dictates to women the rights they have to control their own bodies.
    The political stars are aligning for Healy-Abrams and Sutton.

    Can they make "thinking differently" pay off?

    Can they successfully frame the Republican candidates Gibbs and Renacci as waging war on middle income Medicare recipients and on the female sex as in a "war on women?"

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    WILL SOMEONE OTHER THAN THE CANDIDATES THEMSELVES DETERMINE WHO GETS ELECTED THE NEXT STARK COUNTY SHERIFF?


    Ideally, candidates themselves should be the the determining factor as to who is elected to office.

    And such is generally the case.

    However, in the Dordea (the Republican candidate), McDonald (the Democratic candidate) for sheriff race, the contest might be so tight that outside factors could play a key role in which of the two get elected.

    The SCPR has been hearing quite a bit of buzz about the involvement of Jackson Township trustee James N. Walters' (a Republican) involvement in Dordea's campaign from both the Democratic side and the Republican side.

    The Democratic input was to be expected.  But from the Republican side too?

    The Report has been told by a Democratic source that it is believed that Walters took on a major role in the Dordea campaign with an eye towards landing a job with Dordea should he be elected Stark County sheriff.

    As said above, no news here.  Speculation rides rampant in opposing political camps as to what the other side and its supporters might be up to.

    But when the Democratic buzz was repeated by a Republican source who is in touch with talk within the Party, then the SCPR sat up and took notice.

    James N. Walters, but for an independent candidate being in the 2010 race for county commissioner which included the independent, Walters and former Canton law director Tom Bernabei, would be a sitting Stark County commissioners instead of Bernabei.


    And that is not where the Bernabei/Walters saga ends.  One would have thought (given the close call in 2010) that Walters would have been a prime candidate to oppose Bernabei in this year's election.  But lo and behold he did not file.  Rather local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley filed as the Republican candidate.

    Then only days (August 10th) before the Stark organized Republican Party could have replaced him with an alternative candidate (August 13th), Conley withdrew.  The Stark GOP ended up not fielding a candidate.  However, the SCPR is told that Walters was contacted by a Republican Party official with an entreaty to replace Conley.  But he declined.

    Kind of an interesting twist, no?

    Reason why Walters declined?  The Report's source believes it was because Walters is trying to carve out a place for himself in a Larry Dordea administration of the sheriff's department; should Dordea win in November.

    The SCPR did contact Dordea and here is what he had to say about reports that The Report is receiving about Walters and his role in the campaign and whether or not there is a quid pro quo between Walters and Dordea should he be elected sheriff.

    • "Jamie has never asked me for a job,"
    • SCPR:  "What if he did?"  DORDEA:   "I'd have to be elected sheriff first.  And I have to see what he would bring to the table and determine whether there was anything I needed at the sheriff's office that would match his skills."
    • That he had never thought of hiring Walters,
    • But that Walters is:
      • a key player in his campaign with experience (i.e. having run his own campaigns)
      • he's a hard worker
      • has good ideas
    • That he has number of "heavy hitters" involved in his campaign but that Walters and Zumbar (Stark County treasurer) being pre-eminent which Dordea was quick to say was not to diminish the significance and role of others (e.g. Plain trustee Scott Haws, Julie Jakmides [Alliance councilwoman, Steven Tharp, Jr (Brewster councilman) and Scott Svab [Canal Fulton councilman-at-large]),
    • That he has had a lot of people inquire about getting jobs if he is elected sheriff and that he always responds that like he did on the SCPR's question regarding Walters,
    • That he is not going to have a chief deputy but structure the leadership of the sheriff's office around captains as administrators.
    Another concern of the SCPR's Republican source and by extension a number of Republicans that lived through the administration of the sheriff's office by the last Republican elected Stark County sheriff; namely, Robert C. Berens (1981 - 1984) is that Dordea is a politically polarizing figure like Berens was and that the county would get bogged down in that sort of thing again with a Dordea election.

    To this Dordea rejoined to the SCPR (paraphrase):  "Martin, in my work as Alliance police chief, Hartville police chief and as Alliance councilman:  when have you ever known me to be a controversial political figure?"

    As far as The Report is concerned,  it appears that Dordea's retort is "a perfect squelch" to the notion that he is likely to be a controversial political factor if elected sheriff.  But the question remains, why are some Republicans concerned about such a possiblity? 

    For his part, the Democratic candidate told yours truly that he has heard the same reports about Walters' role in the Dordea campaign.  But, of course, he is not in a position to know the truth of the matter.

    However, he did have these observations about Dordea and his political operations:
    • He knows Larry Dordea to be very political and that he knows a lot more about the political aspects of being sheriff that he (McDonald) is hip to,
    • While not making a direct comparison between Berens (reference:  Republican source's concern that electing Dordea would be tantamount to having another Berens), that he is concerned about getting a politician in office (i.e. Dordea) rather than a sheriff (e.g. Dordea takes the political way out on the matter of whether or not the sheriff's office should be considered to man Lake's township wide policing).
    • That Dordea should have been bullish in advocating for the office and increased jobs for a department of Stark County government that he wants to lead.
    Another issue that the SCPR covered with McDonald is persisting reports that a number of Stark County voters will not vote for him because of his career long association with Sheriff Tim Swanson.

    Here's what McDonald had to say:
    • Swanson is helping him with his campaign including fundraising which he says is about $35,000 (compared to Dordea's last reported at $21,344 [July 31st semi-annual campaign finance filing with the Stark County Board of Elections]),
    • "I have been friends with Sheriff Swanson since I was 17 years old.  He's guided me.  Even when he was a just a deputy he tried to guide me and be a good leader for me.  He's more important than the sheriff's race.  I would take a loss just to keep him as a friend."
    • While he and Swanson are friends, he will be his own man in terms of running the sheriff's office and that he is going to do a lot different things than Swanson.
    Moreover, McDonald said to The Report that he was taken aback by the SCPR's last blog on his race against Dordea in which the SCPR published a video in which Dordea says that as chief deputy of the Stark County Jail that McDonald has been living in a cocoon and that by virtue of having been police chief of the Alliance Police Department (which McDonald estimates has 35 to 40 members) and the Hartville Police Department (which McDonald estimates has 5 or so members) he, Dordea, is better prepared, in an overall policing leadership preparedness, to lead the Stark County sheriff's office which has about 200 employees.

    McDonald rebutted the Dordea assertion, to wit:
    • That he is involved in every aspect of the sheriff's department going back to the Babe Stern administration when McDonald was a sergeant, to wit:
      • His development of a "hiring" background system (polygraph, psychological exam, background check, et cetera) for the entire department pursuant to a court order that the sheriff's hire 40 deputies,
      • His involvement in hiring former military,
    • All the moves in the sheriff's department, the hirings, the firings, bid specifications for sheriff department contracts.
    All-in-all, it appears to the SCPR that there are issues out there for both Dordea and McDonald that have very much to do with how each will perform if elected as sheriff come November.

    The Report's take is that Stark Countians will be getting a quality sheriff no matter which of the two are elected.

    And, ironically, the race might be decided on factors (e.g. Swanson, Walters, Berens et cetera) that are irrelevant to the question of providing quality policing leadership.

    But, go figure.

    That's politics for you.


    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    AT AGE 50: MASSILLON MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY - FRIEND TO A PRESIDENT AND A GOVERNOR AND PROMINENT CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS. LIFE DOES NOT GET ANY BETTER FOR A POLITICIAN, NO?



    Recently,  Massillon Mayor Catazaro-Perry threw a 50th birthday bash for herself at Massillon's Firehouse Grill and Pub to shore up campaign finances (she raised upwards of $9,000) for her re-election drive still some three years away.

    Now the party is over and she has to deal with the reality of actually being the mayor of Massillon.

    Up to the age 50, life does not get any better than it has been for the mayor of  Tigerland, at least over the past 10 years in so far as her political life in concerned.  In fact, to most of  Massillon/Stark County's politically astute, Catazaro-Perry life must seem as her life has been perfect and perhaps a fairy tale too.
    • She swept into town around the year 2002 and took up residence with a doctor she is married to (Anthony) into the posh (purchased for $410,000 [now valued at $325,101] according to Stark Co. auditor records) Mill Ridge Path enclave in Massillon's third ward,
    • In 2003, she ran against Republican incumbent Claudette Istnick and bested her by an impressive margin:
    • Her victory over Istnick caught the eye of Massillon's two Democratic power brokers, to wit:
      • Mayor Francis H. Ciccihinelli, Jr., and
      • Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.
    • A tussle ensued between Cicchinelli and Maier (an outgrowth of their competition going back to their days as students at Kent State/Stark) for Catazaro-Perry's political alleigance,
    • Maier wins out and the two collaborate to put Catazaro-Perry on a course to confront Cicchinelli as a proxy for Maier for control of the executive branch of Massillon city government,
    • In May, 2011 the confrontation takes place in the Democratic Primary and Catazaro-Perry walks away a victory,
    • In the lead up to the May, 2011 confrontation, Catazaro-Perry holds a fund-raiser (July 23, 2010) for the-then Governor Ted Strickland (a confidant and political pal of Maier who was the first Democratic Party chairman to endorse Strickland in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 2006) at her well-appointed Mill Ridge Path digs.   How many Massillonians can say that the Governor has been to their homes?
    • On August 1, 2012, President Barack Obama lands at Akron-Canton airport (in route to Mansfield and Akron for campaign appearances) and who gets an invitation, among other politicians and dignitaries,  to visit with him at the airport?  Kathy Catazaro-Perry, that's who.  You talk about a perfect end to birthday year number 50.  How can you top that!  
    • Next up?  President Obama visits 900 Mill Ridge Path on October 27, 2012 immediately before the McKinley/Massillon game:  a mere 10 days before the nation decides whether or not the country's top Democrat will continue to lead America.  Wow! Wow! and Wow! again.
    So the SCPR rests the case on Kathy Catazaro-Perry having a fairy tale Year #50.  From a political standpoint, things do not get any better.

    However, there has been a tinge of trial and tribulation as the realities of having to govern set in with her taking office on January 1st.

    Nevertheless, the SCPR has to believe that Catazaro-Perry is still basking in ten year ride of bliss that she has experienced for 94.5% (120 months/8months as mayor) of the decade.

    Upon her becoming mayor, it could be that Mayor Kathy is undergoing an Alice in Wonderland-esque realization of not being protected by a childlike innocence of everything being perfect and of being shielded (by the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr) from the harsh realities of the world of politics as it really is.

    For the next three years Catzaro-Perry will experience the adult political world in spades.  

    Already she has had to layoff firemen and policemen.  Her administration is desperate for revenues just to pay the day-to-day bills of Massillon city government.  She is getting bounced all over the place on her effort to get the relatively benign matter of getting a reduction in the city's income tax credit.

    And, of course, there is the reality of campaign fund raising.  

    On July 31st, Ohio candidates for political office were required to file their semi-annual reports.  And on Catazaro-Perry's report we find out the names (and the amounts contributed) of those who presumably took the occasion of Kathy's 50th to wish her a Happy 50th Birthday with perhaps a dash of Merry Christmas having been thrown in by Robert Senkar of Medina.

    Here is the complete list of the Catazaro-Perry Happy Birthday! wishers which includes such luminaries as Stark County Common Pleas Judge Tayrn Heath, many of the Elums of Massillon (including Massillon Municipal Court Judge Edward Elum and his wife Margaret who works for the mayor), Richard Jusseaume (president of Walsh University), David Waikem (co-owner of the Waikem Auto Group), Jayne Ferrero (Massillon auditor), Marshall Weinberg (Massillon Board of Education member), Robert J. Shearer (co-founder, chairman and CEO of Shearer's Foods), Perry Stergios (Massillon law director), David Held (Republican and North Canton mayor), Richard Regula (Republican and former Stark County commissioner running to retrieve his seat), Jeannette Mullane (deputy director Stark County Board of Elections), Ronald Frailly (former editor of The Massillon Independent who Catazaro-Perry recently tried to get hired in with the Massillon Parks), Joseph Martuccio (Canton law director), Sam Ferruccio (Democrat member of the Stark County Board of Elections), Thomas Cecconi (president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center), Andrea Scassa (member of the Massillon City Council), Chuck Maier (former Massillon councilman and brother of Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Safety Service Director George Maier), Greg Hawk (Canton councilman and former employee of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.), William J. Smuckler (former Canton councilman running against Richard Regula for a commissioner's seat), and Ken Koher (Massillon's finance director and former Stark County treasurer).  Quite an impressive list, no?

    But where are Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., Shane Jackson (Maier's "right-hand-man and political director of the Stark County Democratic Party), and, of course, Safety Service Director George Maier.

    Do they really think that their absence from a published campaign contributor list obscures their controlling of the mayor factor?  Hmm?


    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    (VIDEOS) DOES JOYCE HEALY-ABRAMS HAVE THE POLITICAL DYNAMISM TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF POLITICALLY OPPORTUNE ISSUE?




    One thing is clear to the SCPR:  they may be sister and brother, but from a political sophistication perspective Joyce Healy-Abrams (Democratic candidate for Congress, the7th congressional district:  website LINK) is no William J. Healy, II (mayor of Canton, in his second term).

    The Report has written in previous blogs that brother-Healy may be the most urbane, skilled and enduring politicians around these parts.  And like him or not, he does have a strong political personality.  A quality that sister-Healy seems to be lacking.
     
    But she is new to politics having become active about one and one half years ago.  Perhaps in time she will be his equal.  Just not now.

    For now, the way yours truly thinks she might win in November is for the Republican stance on the Medicare issue itself, as formulated by the GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan (i.e. the prospect that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office prediction that his voucher idea might possibly cost Medicare recipients $6,400 on average in extra health insurance premium cost annually), to overwhelm Healy-Abrams Republican opponent Congressman Bob Gibbs just because Republicans in tight races get tainted with the Ryan brush.



    For there is little about the apparent political personality and dynamism of challenger Healy-Abrams that is likely to appeal to 7th congressional district voters.   Her appeal will have to be on the substance of her position on the Medicare issue and any other issue(s) that might catch fire with the voting public.

    Yesterday morning, Healy-Abrams held an event at Canton's Mayfield Senior Center designed "to educate" the public about the dangers of the Ryan version of his plan to cut the federal budget deficit over 10 years on the backs of Medicare recipients.

    A firebrand politician she was not.  The Report can only imagine what brother William would have done with the Medicare topic.

    Joyce seems to approach campaigning a some sort of academic exercise.  She brought in a Washington, DC Social Security and Medicare policy wonk as a featured presenter yesterday.  Phillip Rotondi of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (LINK)was a center of attention yesterday pretty much the equal of the candidate herself.

    Hmm?

    Her approach at the Mayfield Senior Center was certainly different from that of opponent Bob Gibbs as he addressed a crowd of about 2,000 at Paul Ryan's rally at Walsh University.



    The Medicare issue may be Healy-Abrams ticket to the United States House chambers.

    As the matter stands now, it appears to the SCPR that the issue will have to carry her to victory rather than her making the case for herself in terms of demonstrated political passion and drive.