Blogger Tips and TricksLatest Tips And TricksBlogger Tricks

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

STARK CO. PROSECUTOR RACE: STARK COUNTY COULD DO BETTER IN CHOICES FOR PROSECUTOR, NO?



UPDATE:  (CORRECTION)

A SCPR thank you to Judge Richard J. Kubilus of the Canton Municipal Court for pointing out an inadvertent timeline error made by The Report with respect of the tenure of deceased Stark County Probate Court judge Robert D. Horowitz.

While the SCPR got Horowitz's elevation (2003) to the judgship correct, The Report inadvertently omitted Judge R.R. Denny Clunk of Alliance as being the predecessor to Horowitz.  Clunk ascended to the Probate Court judgeship on the untimely death of Reuben Z. Wise, Jr in September, 1985.

The SCPR's original blog has been correct to account for Judge Clunck having been Wise's successor.

ORIGINAL BLOG

Stark County has had a long line of first-rate prosecutors over the last several decades.

Preeminent among them of course is Republican and Massillonian David D. Dowd, Jr. who served in the office from 1961 through 1975 of which he was the top prosecutor for the last eight years.

Dowd in 1982 was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the federal bench where he continues to serve in "senior status."

He succeeded Republican Republican and Massillonian Norm Putman who went on to become a judge.

After Dowd, came Republican Jim Unger.

When Unger became a Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge, he was succeeded by Democrat Robert D. Horowitz, Jr.

The Democrats have held the prosecutor's office since 1985 when, in November, 1984, Horowitz defeated Republican Rick Ketler (who had served in the administration of the last Republican - Jim Unger - to hold the office) in a very close race.

In 2003, Horowitz was appointed probate judge upon the retirement of R.R. Denny Clunk in February, 2003.

Horowitz was preceded by R.R. Denny Clunk, a Democrat, who served from shortly after the untimely death (September, 1985) of Republican Reuben Z. Wise, Jr.

Horowitz's elevation to the judgeship had the ripple effect of the-then Stark County Democratic Party chairman and Massillonian John Ferrero being appointed by the Party's central committee to succeed Horowitz as prosecutor.

He was elected in his own right in November, 2004.


However, in 2008 the Stark Republicans could find nobody to run against him and he ran unopposed.

He does have Republican opposition in 2012, but the SCPR does not consider Michael Grady to be a serious threat to unseat him.

So while Ferrero has had the good luck to be in the right place and the right time, Stark County, in the opinion of yours truly, has been unlucky to have had him as prosecutor and moreover more unlucky that the Jeff Matthews-led Stark County Republican Party has not been able to come up with a more viable candidate than Grady.

Anyone who has read the SCPR over the nearly five years of its publication will figure out real quick that The Report has been less than impressed with John Ferrero as the elected prosecutor and the manner in which he has managed the office.

And, of course, Ferrero has been furious over The Report's political analysis of his performance in office.

A couple of years ago Ferrero filed a disciplinary complaint against yours truly (who happens to be an attorney of nearly 40 years of an unblemished record and who does not write this blog as an attorney, but rather as a political analyst) in an attempt to suppress yours truly First Amendment rights under the pretense of The Report's analysis being an ethics violation.

The complaint was thrown out summarily.

It is clear to yours truly that its filing was a case of politics inspired revenge.

Apparently, he did not figure on yours truly sharing his gambit with the SCPR readership.  A number of readers have expressed outrage that he would do such a thing.

If one reads Ferrero's campaign literature, the  SCPR's "unimpressed" of him has to be a head scratcher.  Nevertheless, The Report sticks by the "unimpressed" and, if anything, to a higher degree.

Using the Ferrero campaign flyer comparing him to opponent Grady, here goes the SCPR's analysis:  (using just a few of Ferrero's self-aggrandizing positives in counterpoint).


  • 97% Criminal Conviction Rate from 2007-2011,
    • SCPR COMMENTS
      • What he does not talk about is that John Ferrero is not a courtroom prosecutor.  One of Stark County's leading criminal defense attorneys tells The Report that he has never seen Ferrero sit "first chair" as prosecutor.  Rarely, in high profile case (e.g. the Bobby Cutts murder trial which The Report is told he sat "third chair."
      • 97%?  Well, with all a prosecutor in any jurisdiction has going for him, to the SCPR 97% is not very impressive.  Should be like 99.97%.  A lot of the 97% consists of plea bargains.
        • The best that can be said for Ferrero is that he has been primarily an administrator; not a prosecutor trial attorney.
      • Among the 3% is the slam-dunk failure that Ferrero's office (Ferrero was nowhere to be seen at the actual trial) suffered in Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Lee Sinclair's sustaining of the defense's motion to dismiss in the Ron/Kyle Devies case.
        • NOTE:  (In the Devies case he allowed Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies and his son to be charged with fourth degree felonies (along with misdemeanors) in what it appears to yours truly to have been a communications problem between the Devies family members and former Marlboro Township trustees Wise and Wolfe.
  • Delinquent Collected Taxes 2008 - 2011 Approximately $7 Million Dollars [sic]
    • SCPR COMMENTS
      • Only at the prodding of Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.  Before Zumbar took over for Gary Zeigler (2010, the SCPR's understanding is that the prosecutor's office performance under Ferrero's watch was lackluster at best.
  • Recovered Over $1.75 Million Dollars [sic] in the Zeigler case.
    • SCPR COMMENTS
      • Only at the initiative and cajoling of Stark County local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.  In fact, it was Conley who filed the first litigation to protect Stark County taxpayers' interests.
There is certainly much more that The Report believes makes John Ferrero a pretty unimpressive prosecutor given Stark's long line of truly superlative prosecutors.

But who do the Republicans put up?

A former corporate counsel.

Hmm?

Hardly someone who one would think would have a whole lot of appeal to the Stark County voting public just on the face of his law employment history.

GOP Chair Matthews et al should have been asking themselves:  Will the voters have the sophistication to figure out that Grady has very impressive private sector experience that would make him a refreshing and reinvigorating change from a man who became prosecutor through a political party appointment process?

To the SCPR's way of thinking, the way John Ferrero discharges his office (mainly as an administrator), it is likely that Grady, with his wealth of experience as an executive administrative/legal type at the major American corporation Babcock and Wilcox, is equipped to be a more effective administrative type of prosecutor.

The day-to-day work of a prosecutor is to manage the folks he hires to produce highly effective prosecutorial work.  It is not all that unusual for elected prosecutors to be chief administrative types.

Ferrero has had his problems in budgeting (LINK) and in managing his staff (he says because of budgetary contraints) and he has a record of constantly pressing for more general fund dollars when there are none to be had.

So, indeed, John Ferrero has been a lucky man.
  • He was politically situated to become prosecutor in the first place,
  • He had no opponent in 2008 when he last sought reelection,
  • Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley [a Republican by the way] lit a fire under the prosecutor's office to get moving on recovering Stark County treasury losses due to the upwards of $3 million Frustaci theft loses,
  • Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar [also a Republican] prodded the prosecutor's office to pick up the pace on delinquent tax collections, and
  • Stark Republicans put up a prosecutor-inexperienced candidate up against him.
On the other side of the coin, Stark County has been unlucky.

Stark Countians will likely have to put up with four more years of fumbling and bumbling (on Ferrero's part, not the assistant prosecutors) at the hands of a John Ferrero-led and managed Stark County prosecutor's office!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SHERIFF RACE: ARE RETIRE/REHIRE "BED BUGS" ABOUT TO DO McDONALD IN - IN RACE AGAINST DORDEA? SHOULD FERRERO'S OFFICE HAVE RECUSED ITSELF ON GIVING ADVICE TO HAROLD ON MATTER?



UPDATE:  7:00 AM - The Alliance Review has posted an article this morning indicating that the Stark County Prosecutor's office has issued an opinion on the legality of retire/rehire longevity payments to Stark County chief deputies Mike McDonald and Rick Perez.

ORIGINAL BLOG

It appears to the Stark County Political Report that Chief Deputy (Jail Division) might be another Stark County victim of the controversial retire/rehire practice going on at many levels of government within the county, the state, and indeed, across the nation.

Some months ago a controversy broke out within Canton government about retire/rehire involving a number of city employees who it has been alleged were improperly rehired after having retired.  The ramifications of procedures implemented are still under review and appeal.  And, the process used, could be very costly to Canton taxpayers.  Some sources say as much as a million dollars.

A retire/rehire controversy has been ignited by the Larry Dordea for Sheriff campaign versus opponent Mike McDonald as the latest round of charge and countercharge between the two camps.

So what started out as a political love-in between Democrat Mike McDonald and his Republican opponent Larry Dordea (now Hartville police chief and Alliance councilman-at-large), has boiled over in recent days.

First, there was a letter by McDonald supporter Derrick Loy (a part of the Alliance political mix as president of the Alliance Democratic Club) that has been published in the SCPR (and other media) (LINK) making certain alleged factual allegations against Dordea which Dordea responded to point-by-point.

Next, there was a statement by McDonald to the SCPR asserting that Dordea is not qualified to be sheriff notwithstanding the fact that Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Taryn Heath had to (according to Ohio law) and did pass on both being qualified in the technical sense of the word.

Now, the retire/rehire matter.

For some time, Dordea tells the SCPR, his campaign has been seeking pay records from Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and from legal counsel for the Stark County Sheriff's Department as to whether or not McDonald and his fellow chief deputy Rick Perez were put on the appropriate pay status when they retired and were rehired in 2004 and 2008, respectively.

According to published reports in The Alliance Review (yesterday), Stark County taxpayers may have overpaid the pair a total of $30,000 plus in terms of pay level (longevity) and benefits.

Retire/rehire was thought to be a non-issue in the McDonald/Dordea match up because Dordea himself retired as chief of the Alliance Police Department in 2007 and subsequently hired on as a patrolman in Hartville.   He quickly rose through the ranks and is now chief in Hartville.

Dordea says that his retire/rehire is different from McDonald's.  Here is the list of differences from Dordea's perspective:
  • his retire/rehire was from one unit of government (Alliance) to entirely different Stark County political subdivision (Hartville),
    • McDonald and Perez, he says, had the same exact job waiting for them on the other side of retirement "apparently" at the same pay and benefits,
    • Records indicate that they (McDonald and Perez) were "new" hires.  However, they have been paid, according to Dordea, at their base rate $88,000 per year,
    • Those same records are said to indicate that McDonald and Perez were paid a 4% longevity pay (which is based on a sliding upwards scale) with 4% being the top grade of pay,
  • he (Dordea) hired in at a patrolman's pay in Hartville,
Auditor Harold has put the question of whether or not Stark County has money coming back from McDonald/Perez to the Stark County prosecutor's office for consideration.

There is a provision in Ohio law (ORC 124.181(E)(2) which has generated the question, to wit:
An employee who has retired in accordance with the provisions of any retirement system offered by the state and who is employed by the state or any political subdivision of the state on or after June 24, 1987, shall not have prior service with the state or any political subdivision of the state counted for the purpose of determining the amount of the salary adjustment provided under this division.
The SCPR asked Dordea whether or not he feels comfortable with the prosecutor's office rendering an opinion on the matter given the fact that number of prosecutors have contributed to the McDonald campaign including the elected prosecutor John Ferrero.

Dordea's response:  "What choice do I have in the matter?"

And, he added, that he has no idea whatsoever whether or not an opinion will be forthcoming before the election which is one week from today.

The SCPR finds it understandable that Alan Harold has referred the matter to Prosecutor John Ferrero's office.  That's one of the functions of the prosecutor office.

Back when Gary Ziegler was reinstated by the Ohio Supreme Court to the Stark County treasurer's post in June, 2011, Harold had no problem whatsoever in deciding that, until he obtained and posted a bond as required by Ohio law, Ziegler was limited to what county owned equipment (e.g. computers/telephones et cetera) he could use and, moreover, that he would not be paid until the bond issue was resolved.

The prosecutor's office advised Harold (the SCPR is told) to pay Zeigler.  And that was a safe thing for Alan to do in terms of official accountability.

But in the end he felt that was not course he decided to follow.

Accordingly, he stuck his neck out on the block to do what his inner sense instructed him to do.  Zeigler did not get paid until he worked out a final settlement with the county.

And that folks is what makes Alan Harold such an outstanding county auditor.

The SCPR is told by Dordea that the documentation is clear:  McDonald and Perez were listed as "new" employees on resuming employment as "rehired" retirees.

Of course, the "clear" is in "the eye of the beholder;" namely, Dordea and his campaign manager

So it will be interesting to see what Harold does with the advice he gets from Ferrero's people.

John Ferrero is not going to like this, but the SCPR thinks this is another instance where he/his office should step aside and have a prosecutor from an adjoining county give the advice Harold has requested.

In the opinion of the SCPR, Ferrero should have stepped aside in the Devies (Marlboro police chief) case, the Zeigler case, and now ought to do so in this matter.

Checking McDonald's campaign finance report, The Report finds that Ferrero himself and several of his assistant prosecutors have contributed to the McDonald campaign, to wit:
  • Ferrero himself to the tune of $200,
  • his chief counsel John Kurtzman, $30,
  • Ross Rhodes, $30
  • Deborah Dawson, $30
  • Mike Bickis, $60,
  • Tim Andrews, $30.
On top of the contribution to McDonald's campaign factor, yours truly received the following political flyer that included Ferrero as a "team member" with McDonald, to wit:



It is John Ferrero and his assistants' right to make campaign contributions and to join in joint campaign literature with the likes of McDonald.

But having done so, The Report thinks that the potential conflict in interest factor is way too high for the office to be providing legal advice in a political controversy as is the case of the Dordea campaign allegations on McDonald.

Harold has never said so, but The Report believes the reason Harold ignored the advice from Ross Rhodes that he go ahead and pay Zeigler - again, the safe course for the auditor - (notwithstanding the fact he had not obtained and posted a bond with county commissioners), is because he understood the political ramifications (given Ferrero's historical political association with Zeigler) of doing so and accordingly followed his own wisdom on the matter having talked to a lot of different people.

The SCPR has always had a problem with retire/rehire.

To The Report, the problems consist of:
  • a person retiring, let's say as a school superintendent, at $150,000 annually.  He/she retires and is immediately rehired (an inside job - general public denied opportunity) at guess what?  You've got it:  $150,000.  
    • there is no competition for the job, no negotiating and substantially reduced salary (say at 60% of the $150,0000);  hence no financial advantage to the district.
    • the school district does not get the advantage of
      • a new perspective,
      • presumably a younger person with greater energy, and
      • a person more in touch with younger generations and new ideas percolating throughout the education community.
Some will say that this retire/rehire squabble is nothing but politics and a desperate attempt by Dordea to get an edge in his face-off with McDonald.

And there is no doubt on the part of the SCPR that there is political motivation here.  Not so much on Dordea's part, but at the initiative of his campaign manager and Republican Jackson trustee James N. Walters.

This flap over the proper pay for McDonald and Perez certainly is not going to be helpful to McDonald's campaign even if the decider-in-chief (Harold) determines that there was nothing improper and proceeds in six weeks (when the next longevity pay payment is due) on schedule with the next payment.

So it could be a case that McDonald is determined to be legally okay with the payments, but that the publicity surrounding the issue will tip enough votes to Dordea to elect him.

Of course, a lot of Stark Countians have already voted by absentee ballot and early voting.  For those folks, the question on the payments is a non-issue.

The Report's take on McDonald's response is that he is not all that concerned.

He says that he believes Sheriff Swanson can pay him whatever he want to.

Moreover, The Report infers from his reaction that he views Walters' initiative in digging into the matter to be along the lines of political harassment and of little, if any, consequence to his campaign.

It seems to yours truly that from the Dordea campaign perspective, the pay issue is a much more serious issue.

Who is correct?

It is hard to say.

For now, it seems that Chief Deputy McDonald has made his "retire/rehire" bed (December, 2008) and now has to abide the biting political bed bugs that have invaded his bed.

Certainly, this is a very close election.  So much so that anything including the retire/rehire pay situation could prove to be a difference maker.

The bed bugs might prove to have quite a powerful bite, no?

Monday, October 29, 2012

COMMISSIONERS RACE: "FOLLOWING THE MONEY" - A DIFFERENCE MAKER? REGULA THE CANDIDATE OF THE "FAT-CATS" AND "THE CONNECTED" AND SMUCKLER MORE THE CANDIDATE OF ORDINARY PEOPLE?


There is still about 20 days left for candidates to raise money before election day, but the bulk of the fund-raising has been done as of the close of the pre-general campaign (PG-CFR) reporting date of October 17th.

In the Stark County commissioners race to replace Commissioner Pete Ferguson (who chose not to run for reelection), it appears that former Republican Commissioner Richard Regula (2003 - 2006) has a leg up on the money factor.

With a little over $66,000 on hand compared to former Democratic Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler's $52,000 plus, the question becomes whether or not the $14,000 or so difference to spend will be a difference maker.

Of course, the real answer will be on how Regula spends it.  Will the advantage be effectively used?

Going beyond that particular question is who is supporting the respective Regula/Smuckler candidacies?

One of the most difficult things to do in terms of fundraising is to raise money for local campaigns:  commissioner, sheriff, prosecutor, coroner, recorder, clerk of courts, engineer, trustee, city/village councilman, board of education, what have you.

But if your name is Richard Regula and your father is Ralph Regula (retired congressman [2008] who had served the 16th congressional district [which included all of Stark County]), then fundraising gets a tad easier.

While the PG-CFR shows Richard has the edge on competitor Bill Smuckler, it is interesting to note that the bulk of it came from daddy.


As of October 17th, Father Ralph's campaign committee has contributed $32,000 or nearly half of the $66,000 that Richard has on hand.

So it appears that Richard is highly dependent on Father Ralph on whether or not he returns to the Stark County commissioners' office.

The Stark County Political Report recalls former Stark County commissioner Todd Bosley describing the machinations going on behind the scene (in terms of securing campaign advisers) by Ralph on behalf of Richard.

Readers will recall how Bosley came out of political obscurity (a Nimishillen Township trustee) to stun us all in narrowly defeating the-then incumbent commissioner Richard Regula in 2006.

Bosley was feeling his political oats so much so at defeating Richard, he began talking immediately about possibly taking on Ralph for his congressional seat.

But the point of the heavy contributions of Ralph to Richard and Richard's frequent invocation of the name of his father whenever seemingly he can fit it in has to make one wonder as whether or not Richard can stand on his own two feet?

Other Richard Regula significant contributors in terms of money and/or political clout (PG-CFR reporting period) include:
  • Benjamin/Nancy Suarez - $1,000,
  • Janet/William Creighton - $100,
  • Richard/Susan Gessner - $2,000,
  • Nancy/Robert Gessner - $1,000
  • Jeff Jakmides - $250,
  • Richard Nicely - $1,000,
  • Jane Vignos - $50,
  • Gregory/Tammy Colander - $1,000
  • Robert DeHoff, $1,000
  • William R. Timker, Jr - $1,000,
  • Ward/Jane Timken, Jr - $1,000,
  • Jay Timken, $1,000
  • James Percorelli, $1,000,
  • Gaetano Cecchini, $5,000,
  • Neil Genshaft, $250,
  • Anna/Andrew Zumbar, $25,
  • Rhea/John Regula, $100,
  • Gerald Schroer, Jr, $1,000,
  • Charles Frank Hammontree, $250,
  • Patricia/Dennis Saunier, $50,
  • Buckeye Patriot PAC, $750,
When you add other large contributors ($500 or above as defined by the SCPR), of Richard Regula's $66,000 on hand; some $50,000 or 75% Regula's campaign largesse came from heavy hitters.

Hmm?

Turning to Smuckler.

Remember, he has some $52,000 plus on hand has of October 17th:
  • Richard Kempthorn, $100,
  • Stanley Rubin, $300,
  • Steven Okey, $50,
  • Carlene Harmon, $200,
  • Thomas Harmon, $50,
  • Dennis Clunck, $100,
  • Adam Rossi, Jr, $100,
  • James Jefferies, $1,125,
  • Local 18, Patterns Union, $250,
  • Local 33, Sheet Metal Workers, $1,350,
  • Local 92, Teamsters, $550,
  • Local 94, Plumbers and Pipefitters, $1,100,
  • Local 249, FIREPAC, $150,
  • Local 540, IBEW, $3,250,
  • Local 550, Ironworkers, $400,
  • Local 1015, Laborers, $975,
  • Canton Police Patrolman's Ass'n PAC - $50,
  • District 1, United Steelworkers, $100,
  • East Central Ohio Building Trades, $1,100,
  • Hall of Fame AFL-CIO, $200,
  • Joe Martuccio, $100,
  • Stephen Slesnick, $650,
  • Robert Slesnick, $50,
  • LaVerne Dale, Jr, $50,
  • Steven Chandler, $1,000,
  • Judge Taryn Heath, $450,
  • John Eslich, $1,000,
  • Matthew Eslich, $1,000,
  • Kody Gonzalez, $50,
  • Randy Gonzalez, $25,
  • Keith Bennett, $250,
  • Peter Ferguson, $225,
  • Steve Hamit, $500,
  • Kathy Catazaro-Perry, $150,
  • Terry Nolan, $500,
  • Jacqueline DeGarmo, $250,
  • Ralph Dublikar, $25,
  • Anlthony Flex, $25,
  • David Worshil, $50,
  • Rosemary Rubin, $300,
  • Thomas Winkhart, $500,
  • Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths and Dougherty, $100,
  • Squire, Sanders and Dempsey, $250,
  • Dennis Saunier, $50,
  • George Elum, $50,
  • Phillip Elum, $50,
  • James Babcock, $25,
  • Mary Cirelli, $150,
  • Jim Griffin, $25,
  • Karl Kraus, $25,
  • Edmond Mack, $150,
  • John Mariol, II, $100,
  • Allen Schulman, $500,
  • Cynthia Timberlake, $25,
  • R.A. Mallonn, $50,
  • Gary Young, $80,
  • Gust Callas, $50,
  • John Guia, $100,
  • Bradley Iams,
  • John Ferrero, $25,,
  • Johh Kurtzman, 
  • Thomas Ascani, $50,
  • Mike McDonald, $50,
  • Andrea Scassa, $25,
  • Rick Campbell, $50,
  • Arnold Shiftman, $50,
  • Paul Hervey, $250,
  • Kristine Maggiore, $250,
  • Marshall Belden, Jr, $50,
  • Joseph Sommer, $300,
  • Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee, $2,000,
  • Kim Perez, $25,
  • Phil Giavasis, $50,
  • Richard Watkins, $25,
  • Daniel Jonas, $25
  • Richard Jones, $200,
  • John Varavyas, $500,
  • James Carman, Jr, $300,
  • Jane Carman, $100,
  • Julie Carman, $50,
  • Douglas Foltz, $25,
  • Gerald Ortman, $100,
  • Marty Ortman, $150,
  • Joan Ortman, $100,
  • Michael Vanckunas, $250,
  • Debra Vanckunas, $50,
  • Amy Smuckler, $225,
  • Hershel Smuckler, $300,
  • Hillary Smuckler, $100,
  • Howard Smuckler, $200,
  • Linda Smuckler, $100,
  • Marlene Smuckler, $250,
  • Megan Smuckler, $100,
  • Pauline Smuckler, $25,
  • Randi Smuckler, $100
As readers can see, Smuckler's fundraising is much more diverse and not nearly as concentrated in the $1,000 and above contribution.

Certainly, there are no $5,000 (Cecchini) and $32,000 (Richard Regula's dad) in Smuckler's campaign finance portfolio.

Smuckler's contributions do contain nearly $11,000 in union related campaign donations.

Kind of surprising to the SCPR.  Smuckler was not the beneficiary of much in the way of union contributions when he ran in the March Democratic primary against Mayor William J. Healy.

And speaking of Healy, no money for Bill?  A little retribution, just maybe?  Hmm?

Guess being a Democrat runs just so deep?  At least he didn't contribute to the Regula campaign!

So does the campaign contribution patterns make Regula the candidate of the connected and the well-heeled, and Smuckler the candidate of the everyday person?

Hmm?

Friday, October 26, 2012

MORE EVIDENCE THAT DORDEA V. McDONALD FOR STARK CO. SHERIFF HAS TURNED FROM A "LOVE-IN," TO A "BATTLE ROYALE?" ALLIANCE COUNCILWOMAN JULIE JAKMIDES & ALLIANCE CITY AUDITOR KEVIN KNOWLES RESPOND TO (LOY) LETTER CRITICAL OF DORDEA!




UPDATE:  12:45 PM  - McDONALD NOW QUESTIONS DORDEA'S QUALIFICATIONS TO BE SHERIFF!

Mike McDonald called the SCPR minutes ago to respond to some of the allegations made in today's blog.

The bombshell in terms of what he had to say was at the very end of the conversation.

It is further indication of what was at one time early in the campaign a more or less friendly exchange of viewpoints between McDonald and Dordea has gone south.

The bombshell from McDonald?

"I do not beleve [Larry Dordea] is qualified to be the sheriff, I don't think he knows what he is talking about."

Backing up a bit to recount the overall conversation, this is what McDonald had to say:

  • He drives a 1999 vintage vehicle that was driven by Bruce Umblby when he was sheriff and that it is not a confiscated vehicle.
  • He knew nothing of the Canton PD/Hartville PD flap when he interviewed with the Canton Police Patrolmen's Association (CPPA).  He said he did hear that the CPPA did not accord Dordea the courtesy of an interview but that he was given the same treatment by the Alliance police union.
  • He is sick and tired of Dordea making accusations that Stark County Sheriff Department personnel being inefficient and ineffective when he paid (as Alliance police chief) a small core of  Alliance police officers (between 3 and 6 of them) several hundred thousand dollars (collectively) on a budget of about $3 million dollars, with much of the core group pay being for overtime.
  • The Stark County Sheriff Department has only paid $60,000 in overtime this year so far on a budget of $16 million plus.
  • He challenged Dordea to come and prove his allegations that the sheriff is inefficient and ineffective.  That "He is not going to let his guys take a beating by him [Dordea]."
  • He said forthrightly that he indeed did get the pay information from Derrick Loy.
    • NOTE:  The SCPR's recollection of listening to the Ponder tape and The Report's prior conversation with McDonald that he did not clearly and unequivocally assign to Loy as being his source for the information.   Of course, it is possible that yours truly misinterpreted what he said about the matter.
  • That he has been:
    • restrained in not talking about communications that he gets that are negative on Dordea,
    • he is trying to run a clean campaign, 
    • but he gets upset when Dordea says the sheriff's people are inefficient while he has a track record as chief in Alliance of being highly inefficient in paying large amounts of overtime to a few Alliance officers.

ORIGINAL BLOG

The Stark County Political Report is now ready to jettison the notion that the political contest between Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea (also a Republican Alliance city councilman-at-large) and Democrat and Stark County Chief Deputy (Jail Division) Mike McDonald is a Marquess of Queensbury Rules-esque face off.

The degeneration of the Dordea/McDonald square-off, which started out months ago with each candidate emphasizing his qualities to be the next sheriff of Stark County, became apparent to the SCPR with the receipt earlier this week of a copy of a "letter to the editor" penned by Mike McDonald supporter Derrick Loy of Alliance.

The Report picked up on the letter and published it with the candidates weighing-in with their reaction (LINK).

Little did yours truly know that Loy's salvo was the first of a number of "supporter" exchanges on who should be Stark County's next sheriff.

It all began with a telephone call that The Report received yesterday afternoon from a law enforcement type who was reacting to the Loy letter and otherwise in support of Dordea.

Among his points:
  • that the Loy contention that as chief, Dordea paraded around Alliance in a confiscated Mercedes-Benz SUV is not an unusual practice across Stark County's policing agencies.  He provided information to the effect that several Stark County Sheriff Department officials (including candidate McDonald) drive confiscated vehicles.
  • insofar as McDonald's contention that he has the broad-based support of law enforcement across Stark County is simply inaccurate.  He says that the  endorsement of McDonald over Dordea by the Canton Police Patrolman's Association was the result of a jurisdictional dispute between the Hartville Police Department (which, of course, Dordea is chief of) and the Canton Police Department [CPD]) whereby Dordea stepped in and stopped the CPD from providing hired policing services to a Hartville based business that was having problems having its scrap metal stolen.
    • that the fact of the matter is that a number of Canton policemen support Dordea for sheriff as do many individual law enforcement officers across the county.
  • that Mike McDonald is outgoing Sheriff Swanson's third choice.  His first choice was former Perry Township police chief Tim Escola until he encountered legal difficulties in Perry, then Rick Perez until it became apparent that he could not win, and finally he settled on McDonald.
  • that morale at the Stark County sheriff's department is at low ebb conceding that McDonald is the best leadership in the department as it currently exists.
Next, late last night the SCPR received an e-mail from Republican Alliance Councilwoman-at-Large Julie Jakmides, a colleague of Dordea's on council.  Julie is the daughter of well known Stark County criminal defense attorney Jeff Jakmides.

Julie's letter is a positive letter in the sense that she chooses to emphasize Dordea's qualities and not to attack Mike McDonald.

What follows is her letter in total:

Mr. Olson,

I saw that you posted the 'Letter to the Editor' that Mr. Derrick Loy sent so I thought it would be appropriate to share the letter I wrote in support of Chief Dordea's campaign.

Unlike the letter written by Mr. Loy, it is positive, personal, non-confrontational and does not require a fact-check. I will be shocked if any newspaper prints the product of Mr. Loy's wild imagination.

I focused on the reasons why Chief Dordea should be Stark County's next Sheriff and my writing was not prompted or approved by any group or individual.

It seems only fair that if you shared Mr. Loy's letter, mine should also be made public on your blog.

As a young woman who plans to live and work in Stark County long term, I pay close attention to county government and those in administrative positions.

As a college student majoring in criminal justice, I pay special attention to those in charge of the law enforcement, safety and security of my community and all those nearby.

I am writing this letter to The Canton Repository and all my fellow Stark Countians to extend my endorsement of Larry Dordea for the office of Stark County Sheriff –as a woman, a young adult, a life-long member of your community, and an elected official.

I have known Chief Dordea since I was 8 years old and he coached my soccer team.
I am not sure I understand how he found time to be such an involved parent and community member at that time, because he was also busy fighting crime as an officer with the Alliance Police Department.

Thanks in large part to the fierce determination and strong leadership of Chief Dordea, my hometown of Alliance saw a 50% crime reduction during the time he was chief –and I was growing up.

Now that I am older and sit just to the right of Chief Dordea when we work together as at-large members of Alliance City Council, I can see more clearly the ways he inspires positive leadership, demands answers to tough questions and works diligently for our City of Alliance and the greater Stark County community.

I have spent the last 10 months working on his campaign to be the next sheriff, and I am continually more confident that Chief Dordea understands the very serious issues facing our county and has plans to combat them.

At the Stark County Fair, Chief Dordea never backed away from a question –be it funding, drug problems, increased patrols or simply why he wants to be our top cop.

Larry Dordea has the answers, the experience and the ability to run a Stark County Sheriff’s Office that will strike fear into the criminals polluting our community.

Not only that, but he will make us all proud by running a tight ship administratively.

Join me in making Stark County a safer place to live, work and do business on November 6 by voting Larry Dordea for Stark County Sheriff."

Thank you for your consideration,

Julie Jakmides

Councilwoman, City of Alliance
Vice President, Alliance Area Republican Club
Vice President, Mount Union Pre-Law Society
University of Mount Union - Class of 2014

Another issue that has surfaced in the Dordea/McDonald race is McDonald's assertion on Ron Ponder's Points to Ponder (WHBC1480) and by McDonald in conversation with the SCPR is his connection to Loy and his assertion that he (McDonald) obtained records from the Alliance City Auditor as to an allegation by McDonald that Dordea paid excessive overtime to certain Alliance Police Department officials during Dordea's last four years as police chief.

On this issue, the SCPR received an e-mail (also late last night), from Alliance City Auditor Kevin Knowles, to wit:
Dear Martin; 
I've read numerous articles on your blog site over the years, but I have never felt it necessary to comment on the content. 
My experience in reading your site has lead me to believe that you have been willing to go as you stated, "a step or two or three further than your typical newspaper in covering material such as Loy's letter". 
With that in mind, after reading today's edition"SHERIFF'S RACE (DORDEA VERSUS McDONALD) GOING NEGATIVE?", I felt compelled to supply you with some additional information in the spirit of "Just the Facts". Specifically in relation to the section from your blog that I've highlighted below: 
"As already indicated, Mike McDonald denies having a hand in Loy writing his letter. And the SCPR takes him at his word.
But on his own, McDonald has gone out and developed documented evidence (from the auditor's office) which he says shows that Dordea excessively used overtime in paying some of his lieutenants and detectives during his last four years as Alliance police chief". 
I can assure you that as the Alliance City Auditor, Mr. McDonald has not contacted myself or any of my staff to obtain public records relating to Alliance police payroll records. 
However, in August of 2012, Mr. Loy made the exact request which is referenced in your blog pertaining to wages of Alliance Police Detectives, and officers of APD Lieutenant rank or higher. I've provided an attached copy for your reference. 
The question you may be asking yourself at this point; How did Mr. McDonald obtain police payroll records from the Alliance City Auditor's Office since he has never requested them from my office? And just to round out more facts, the bi-partisan Ordinance addressing elected official's salary adopted in Alliance, extended well beyond any one elected official and included; City Council, Judge, Mayor, etc., as well as City Auditor.

Feel free to contact me should you wish any additional information.

Regards,

Kevin G. Knowles
Alliance City Auditor

And here is a copy of Loy's public records request.


So do you need any more convincing that what started out as a "political love-in" in the sense of each candidate emphasizing his qualifications and plans for the sheriff's office going forward is now "officially - a 'battle royale?'"

The SCPR thanks Loy, Jakmides, Knowles and the "anonymous law enforcement officer" (who fears retribution if he is identifed) for contributing to the SCPR discussion as to who Stark Countians should be selecting as Stark's next sheriff.

The Report does go more in depth and provides more enduring and consistent coverage of the important questions on Stark County government and politics than any other Stark County media outlet.

The SCPR will continue to provide the in depth, enduring and consistent coverage that The Repository so utterly lacks.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

SHERIFF'S RACE (DORDEA VERSUS McDONALD) GOING NEGATIVE?



UPDATED AT 8:37 AM

From 1951 - 1959 and then again from 1967 - 1970 a popular television police detective show Dragnet starring Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday.

One of the most erroneously quoted lines from the series was "Just the facts, Ma'am."

Actually, according to Wikipedia (LINK), the line was:  "All we want are the facts."

So what does devotion to the "facts" have to do with the Stark County sheriff's race?

On Wednesday the SCPR received a copy of a "Letter to the Editor" being sent out by Derrick Loy which purports to lay out the facts on certain work of Stark County sheriff Republican candidate Larry Dordea (currently, Hartville police chief and Alliance councilman-at-large) when he was chief of police for Alliance.

Anyone who knows anything about Stark County politics knows that Dordea is engaged in a highly contested race with Stark County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy (Jail Division) Mike McDonald as to whom is going to succeed long time sheriff Tim Swanson who is stepping down.

This is Dordea's second run for sheriff.  He made a respectable showing in 2008 in facing off against Swanson.

Loy is president of the Alliance Area Democratic Club.

He tells The Report that although he is a Democrat whereas Dordea is a Republican that partisan politics is not the primary reason he is taking on Dordea.

He says the extended Loy family has law enforcement aspect to it and that he feels it is important to alert Stark Countians on the Dordea deficiencies in terms of his ability to handle the responsibilities of being Stark County's next sheriff.

The Report is told that Loy has been seen out on the campaign trail for Mike McDonald.

The SCPR contacted McDonald to inquire as to whether or not Loy was acting as a surrogate for him.

McDonald denied that such was the case, but did admit to discussing several of the fact allegations in the letter with Loy.

Loy himself denied that he, in writing the letter to nearly every media outlet located in Stark County plus some in nearby Summit, was acting as a McDonald stand-in.

What follows is a copy of his letter:
Letter to the Editor; 
The FACTS About Larry Dordea’s Record

FACT: As an Alliance City Councilman, shortly after the November 8, 2011 election, Larry Dordea voted to hand out a whopping 30% pay raise to a part-time city employee in Alliance. Who was the employee? None other than the brother of Mr. Dordea's campaign treasurer [Law Director Andrew Zumbar, Stark County treasurer and Dordea campaign treasurer Alex Zumbar]. Do the taxpayers want fiscal irresponsibility, political paybacks and cronyism in the Sheriff’s office? 
FACT: As the Alliance police chief, Larry Dordea wasted over $1 million dollars in taxpayer money on bloated and excessive overtime. Stark County can’t afford another fiscal gamble. 
FACT: As the Alliance police chief, Larry Dordea helped himself to a luxury Mercedes-Benz SUV that his own police had confiscated. Mr. Dordea called it “My Company Car,” but the taxpayers were footing the bill for his gas guzzler. 
FACT: As a candidate for Alliance City Council Larry Dordea promised that he would implement a “best practice” by holding monthly committee meetings. But Mr. Dordea immediately broke his promise and failed to hold even one meeting for 22 straight months. The people of Stark County deserve integrity in the Sheriff’s office, not broken promises. 
Larry Dordea says he wants to run on his experience. The facts above show Stark County can’t afford this type of experience!

Elect a lifetime law enforcement officer, a man that has been endorsed by his peers in law enforcement.
Elect Michael McDonald Sheriff! 
Derrick Loy
Alliance, Ohio

As readers of the SCPR have come to expect, yours truly goes a step or two or three further than your typical newspaper in covering material such as Loy's letter.

One such step was to pass the letter by Dordea (who otherwise was not aware of the letter) for his reaction.

Here is what Dordea has to say about the alleged facts:

The first listed alleged fact.


Mr. Loy is referring to the actions described in the following Alliance Review article.  I guess the readers will have to decide if this bipartisan legislation was an irresponsible political payback, I completely disagree.

Alliance elected officials to see pay increase
Stephanie Ujhelyi Published: December 28, 2011.

Due to space limitations, the SCPR provides the following excerpts as being descriptive of Dordea's point:

It took two decades, but Alliance's elected officials finally are seeing pay increases.
Council passed an amended version of retiring city Safety-Service Director John Blaser's proposal to increase those salaries based on average annual Consumer Price Index statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. 
However, Councilman Lawrence Dordea, R-at large, added a twist.
... 
Dordea and Councilman Roy Clunk, D-3, introduced changes, which would pay $45,920 each to the auditor and law director -- defined as the identical salary of the city's mayor, while establishing a 3-percent ceiling on increases associated for the salaries paid to council members, including council president and the city treasurer, who won't see pay bumps until Jan. 1, 2014.
The law director was making $31,961.73 and the auditor $41,803.70 prior to Wednesday's vote. 
The second listed alleged fact. 

Mr. Loy is very unclear here,   I  compensated employees in accordance with employment contracts and labor laws.  The employees earned overtime for a variety of reasons including manpower shortages, court appearances, being held over (beyond normal working hours) with a prisoner, working protracted investigations and criminal cases and in some cases, training.  What Mr. Loy fails to mention that employee the time that the writer is referring to, violent crime was reduced by more than 50% and we took very bad people off of our streets.  It should also be noted that during this time, we seized assets and drugs, the value of which I am sure exceeded the overtime cost and  the money from the sale of the forfeited assets was placed back into the police department’s budget.

  The third listed alleged fact.


Helped himself?  This vehicle was a trophy vehicle well known to a portion of the criminal element of Alliance.  The vehicle was lawfully seized and the option was available to sell it or to use it.  I, with the input from many, decided to keep the vehicle as a visible reminder to those who were flashing their illegally earned wealth with fancy cars and the like may be next.  Also as a seized asset, it would have been auctioned to the highest bidder and brought in only a portion of its retail value.  Given it was in good condition it would hold up for years as a non-emergency vehicle and reduce the departmental needs to buy a new car at the time. When we were deciding how to use the vehicle, the officers who worked the case that led to the seizure of the vehicle were offered the opportunity to utilize it as an “unmarked“ cruiser but they declined because they felt it would be targeted in the field and they pushed for me to use it.  I did so reluctantly at first but when I received feedback that the former owner had stated that seeing me drive his vehicle was like a slap in the face, I knew we were sending out a very strong crime deterrent message.  Additionally, this vehicle was never used outside of legitimate law enforcement duties.  

The fourth alleged fact.

Once I was elected I was assigned the chairmanship of the Property and Lands Committee of city council.  This was the least active committee on council and I did not hold meeting just for the sake of holding meetings.  There were no broken promises, just responsible government.

Mr. Olson,

This is a letter littered with inflammatory accusations and filled with half truths.   Mr. Loy is an interesting person who [is] very politicized and is quite the sensationalist. I have learned not to take very seriously.  Thank you for your inquiry into is assertions. 

Larry Dordea

As the second step beyond what readers usually get in the "main stream media" on "letters to the editor," the SCPR contacted Mike McDonald for his input.
For his part, Mike McDonald would only vouch for the "excessive overtime" as being a fact.   McDonald:  "He [Dordea as Alliance police chief] had lieutenants making $108,000 a year .... and that was four years ago."

However, McDonald could not and would not say that the "excessive overtime" amounted to $1 million. Moreover, he says he has auditor records proving same.

McDonald said that Dordea as chief in Alliance had detectives making $77,000 annually (including overtime which McDonald says was several times the base salary).

He also says that the Stark County sheriff pays nowhere near the Dordea/Alliance level of overtime.

He says that Dordea's response in a recent joint appearance on Ron Ponder's Points to Ponder  (WHBC1450) "Well, its expensive to solve crime." is not realistic given the budgetary problems at the Stark County sheriff's department and that Dordea as sheriff could mean a revisitation of financial problems at the department.

MoDonald would not say "point-blank" that Dordea was "fiscally irresponsible" on the overtime matter while in charge of the Alliance PD, he certainly and clearly implied such.

So what does the SCPR make of all this discussion described above?

What started off as sort of a "gentlemen's campaign" has gotten heated.

It is obvious to The Report that Mr. Loy has mostly made opinion-ladened allegations and a few facts of what Dordea has done as councilman and police chief (Alliance) which appear to have questionable relevance as to how he would function as sheriff.

As already indicated, Mike McDonald denies having a hand in Loy writing his letter.  And the SCPR takes him at his word.

But on his own, McDonald has gone out and developed documented evidence (from the auditor's office) which he says shows that Dordea excessively used overtime in paying some of his lieutenants and detectives during his last four years as Alliance police chief.

Stark Countians should pay attention to Dordea's fiscal record as the head of the Alliance PD for about 9-1/2 years.

A main Dordea campaign theme has been that as sheriff he would more efficiently use what manpower and financial resources the department has coupled with what he describes as being his innovative ideas to make the Stark County sheriff's office more efficient and more effective.

The Report remembers that when Sheriff Swanson was challenged by Dordea back in 2008, he had nothing negative to say about his adversary to the SCPR and, in fact, said positive things about Dordea for having largely cleaned up the crime/drug problem in the carnation city.

The SCPR knows both McDonald and Dordea pretty well.

Either, if elected, The Report thinks will do a good job for Stark Countians.

The Report believes that the Loy letter is more an example of opinionated "attack politics" and not the fact-filled sheet suggested by the format:  FACT, FACT, FACT, FACT that provides a wealth of objective information for voters to consider.

Nevertheless, the letter is what it is and is on the table for Stark Countians to consider as a factor among many in coming to a decision between what The Report believes is a field of two qualified candidates.

A productive thing about the Loy letter is that the SCPR has used it as a basis for Dordea to respond to rather than having to deal with rumors being floated by his political adversaries.

The Report  shared the letter with Mike McDonald so that he could weigh in.  And he has done so in a responsible way.

Stark Countians should listen to the Ponder interview of the 15th,  look up the multiple SCPR blogs on both Dordea and McDonald,  and peruse area newspaper articles on the candidates' positions and ideas and decide which of the two provides answers and ideas that make sense.

Yesterday, yours truly spoke with a long time Stark County safety forces official who had some interesting observations about McDonald and Dordea, to wit:
  • McDonald:   "Does his being in charge of the Stark County jail for a number of years qualify for the top job?"
  • Dordea:  "He will make massive changes at the Stark County Sheriff Department."
The Report inferred from the observations that the official has strong reservations about McDonald's ability to step up to being the sheriff and that a Dordea win might result in an "unsettling" (the SCPR's word not the officials) of the operations of the sheriff's department.

Considering the volumes of material published about the Dordea/McDonald race, at the end of the day, the SCPR believes that this is a "no lose" election for Stark Countians.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(VIDEO: SEE REGULA SAY HE INTENDED ON BEING A PART-TIME COMMISSIONER) NOW LOCAL NEWSPAPER HELPS HIM "CLARIFY" HIS BEING MISUNDERSTOOD. HMM? THE SCPR, FOR ONE, HAS NOT MISUNDERSTOOD HIM!



UPDATED AT 08:50 AM

A week ago today, the Stark County Political Report (the unidentified "local blogger" referred to by a local area newspaper reporter in a piece today)  videotaped Republican Richard Regula (October 17th) saying that he intended on being a part-time Stark County commissioner, if elected next month. 

Here is the "part-time commissioner" segment of that video.  (LINK to full video)



Now Regula is back-peddling at a furious pace.

Here is an excerpt from a Stark County area media outlet report which was posted on the Internet early this morning:
Richard Regula, the Republican candidate for Stark County commissioner, now says that if he’s elected, he would work at Mercy Medical Center only part time.

“We’re definitely going to part time,” he said Monday. “I’m committed to being a full-time commissioner. But I do have loyalty to Mercy.”

Regula, a former county commissioner who has worked as Mercy’s market outreach director since May 2007, sought to clarify statements he made to [the local Canton newspaper] for a story in Monday’s edition.
 ...
Regula’s challenger Bill Smuckler, co-owner of Canton Hotel and Restaurant Supply, was surprised Tuesday to hear about Regula’s part-time status at Mercy. Smuckler said Regula never mentioned his reducing his schedule during a joint interview with a local radio talk show host Oct. 9 or during a videotaped interview with a local blogger that was posted online Oct. 18. During the blogger’s videotaped interview, Regula said Stark County had enough full-time politicians.  (emphasis added).
It is interesting that the local Canton newspaper appears to be assisting Regula in his endeavor to repair the self-inflicted damage.

Does this mean that the editors have decided to endorse him and they need some sort of rationalization on the part-time/full-time issue to make it credible?

As reported by the SCPR yesterday (LINK), Democrat candidate Bill Smuckler was beside himself with joy when a certain Stark County newspaper's staff member did an article which appeared on the front page of the print edition of that paper highlighting that the full-time (Smuckler) versus part-time (Regula) issue had blossomed into a key issue as to whom among the two will be elected.

This on top of Regula having said recently in an interview with WHBC1480 radio talk show host Ron Ponder (Points to Ponder) that he intended on being a part-time commissioner.

Ponder is having Smuckler and Regula back on this morning.  The reason?  Likely to expand on the part-time/full-time issue.


Smuckler has been smelling "political" blood on the issue ever since it broke out in the rumor mill.  He says he plans a massive campaign over the next 14 days to make sure Stark County voters know about Regula's waffling on the part-time/full-time issue.

His effort to date appears to be paying off.

The Report understands that his phone has been ringing off the hook with Stark Countians indignant about his opponent thinking he can come in and take nearly $77,000 of taxpayer dollars as a part-timer.

Stark Countians ought to be tuning into Points to Ponder to hear Smuckler and Regula speaking to the issue today.  The appearance is not to be a joint, in studio as it was on October 9th.  Rather  separately by telephone for about five minutes each with Regula insisting that he be the last on.

Though Regula has lost twice countywide (to Gary Zeigler in 2000 for county treasurer and as incumbent county commissioner to Todd Bosley in 2006), the SCPR figured Smuckler (a Canton Democrat having only won office within the confines of the city) would have a tough go of it countywide, especially in heavily Republican-dominant Lake and Jackson townships.

Smuckler has the same political pedigree as Democrat commissioner Tom Bernabei.  And Bernabei would have lost in 2010 to Republican challenger and Jackson trustee James Walters, if an independent, conservative; if not right wing, candidate had not been running.

Before the media picked up on Regula's part-time assertion, rumors were swirling around Stark County that such was the case and Bill Smuckler has been and continues to capitalize on it big time!

It has become more and more apparent, largely due to the part-time/full-time issue and Smuckler's superior campaign vigor,  that Smuckler has a real chance of winning notwithstanding that Regula is the son of long term 16th district congressman (now retired) Ralph Regula.

Get this.  Smuckler is cutting new ground for a countywide candidate.  He is sending out (apparently, door-to-door) flyers tailor made for a few specific townships (Jackson and Lake) and Massillon.  Here is the one he distributed in Lake Township.


Impressive, no?

Here is a copy of the only flyer Richard Regula has provided the SCPR.


Now, two weeks before the election, Regula has finally figured out that his part-time stance is likely to be the edge that Smuckler has been looking for to make Regula a loser come November 6th.

So now he is in full damage control mode.

But he is now faced with the problem of:  Who believes his turnabout?

The Report interprets his SCPR videotaped statement to mean that his first priority is not being Stark County commissioner but rather his own job security.

Obviously, it is in Regula's political self-interest to change his position from what it was just two days ago.

And he says he is about doing something good for Stark County implying much like Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (Jackson fiscal officer and Canton Municipal Court employee) that its about public service.

Actually Gonzalez makes a better case for rendering a public service than Regula (in terms of his sacrificing full employment at Mercy Medical Center if elected commissioner).

Gonzalez as project manager has done an excellent job putting together Stark's Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS).  It is ranked at the very top of excellence statewide.  Moreover, he has worked tirelessly (uncompensated) for 20 years or so trying to get Stark's 9-1-1 emergency services (fire, police and ambulance) up to state-of-the-art.

But he and other Gonzalez family members in public employment (he says that "public service" is a family tradition) are well compensated and the SCPR refuses to accept the public service label.

Richard Regula now is all about making a personal sacrifice (working "only" part-time at Mercy Medical Center) for the Stark County public good.

Hmm?  Let's see.  What is the salary for a Stark County commissioner?

$76,976.

Who will believe him?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

(VIDEO: BIDEN SPEECH INCLUDING INTRO BY HIS DAUGHTER) GOP RYAN RALLY NOTED LOCAL CANDIDATES; NOT YESTERDAY'S BIDEN RALLY! HMM?



UPDATED AT 5:30 PM

Vice President Joe Biden came to town (the Babe Stern Center) yesterday and gave his standard stump speech before 854 Democratic loyalists.

Other than referring to the upcoming Canton McKinley/Massillon game this upcoming Saturday and its notoriety across the nation and singling out former Stark County Sheriff Babe Stern's widow, he didn't do very much with the local Stark County factor in his talk.

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan came to Canton within days of his selection by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and he too gave a typical stump speech.

What was different about the Biden and Ryan Stark County appearances was the difference in according attention to Stark County candidates.

The SCPR interviewed a number of the GOP's candidates (Dordea (sheriff), Grady (prosecutor), Regula (commissioner) and Zumbar (treasurer) at the Ryan rally.

But their Democratic counterparts were nowhere to be seen yesterday. The Report did see Sue Ryan at the event. (she running against Republican Christina Hagan in the 50th Ohio House District).  P.S. Murthy (Stark County coroner) is said to have been present.

The Report has confirmed with Mike McDonald (sheriff) and Bill Smuckler (commissioner) that they were not present at the Babe Stern Center.

Yours truly was looking for John Ferrero and other countywide candidates, but didn't see any of them.

Not that it makes much if any difference.

And for the record, Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez tells The Report that the local party had no say in whether or not local candidates/politicians would be recognized.  Those decisions, he says, are made by Obama's Organizing for America group.

For the most part, "cameo" recognitions of candidates to the devout party faithful is not going to impact the outcome of the race.

Bill Smuckler tells The Report that he was out doing what candidates ought to be doing:  raising campaign funds.  Pre-general campaign finance reports are due to the Stark County Board of Elections by Thursday.

Smuckler was also chirping like a very happy bird because of a Repository story yesterday describing his position on being a full time commissioner.

Opponent Richard Regula may have made a fatal campaign mistake when he announced on Ron Ponder's Points to Ponder  (WHBC1480 NEWSTALK) earlier this month that he was going to continue to work his full time day job at Mercy Medical Center even it elected as Stark County commissioner.

Regula confirmed his intention to be a part time commissioner in a SCPR video interview (LINK).

Mike McDonald didn't make the Biden event either and said he was uncertain whether or not the national race will impact the local race.

The SCPR believes it may well in the very close races, to wit:  the sheriff's race and the county commissioner race.  But probably not on the Stark County clerk of courts race, the' coroner's race, the prosecutor's race and the recorder's race.

McDonald is upbeat about the work that Stark County policemen are making on his behalf.  He believes that Stark's policing community are substantially more for him than his Republican opponent Larry Dordea.  He cites his endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) as being a really big deal.

He says his pre-general campaign finance report will show fund raising in excess of $50,000.

If he is reading the policing tea leaves correctly, then the FOP endorsement (including its providing campaign workers) could be a difference maker.

In general, the SCPR does not believe newspaper endorsements and overtly partisan organizations endorsements (e.g. Votes for Women [GOP] Coalition of Women Voters [Dems] mean much to the typical voter.

Back to Vice President Biden.

For those readers who did not get a chance to make it down to the Babe Stern Center yesterday, here is a video of the entire Joe Biden stump speech.

Monday, October 22, 2012

(VIDEO: CREIGHTON REVEALS DRESS UP PLANS FOR HALLOWEEN) COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE STARK COUNTY SCHEDULE FOR 2012 HALLOWEEN. COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON TO LEAD WAY DRESSED AS A DEMOCRAT?



The SCPR has been covering the Stark County commissioners weekly meeting for the better part of five years now.

During the times that the county was dealing with the goings on in the Stark County treasury from April 1, 2009 onwards (when the Frustaci theft of several million of taxpayer dollars from the Stark treasury was revealed) October 19, 2011, covering the meetings was a drama filled adventure.

One never knew what new nuance on the political ramifications and fallout were going to take front and center at any given meeting.

But with the county working out a deal with now former Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler whereby he resigned/retired on October 19th, the excitement factor at county commissioner meetings subsided dramatically.

(Note:  Zeigler was not implicated in the Frustaci theft, but  many Stark Countians did not think he had implemented administrative/structural/policy safeguards to have prevented the theft in the the first place)

One of a number of reasons that commissioners' meetings are poorly attended by the general public is that they can sort of be "like watching paint dry."

So with the Frustaci matter moving off center stage, were those of us who cover the meetings going to be fighting to stay awake?

Not a chance.

Enter Commissioner Tom Bernabei:  a Democrat and a former Canton councilman,  a former Canton law director, and city of Canton chief of staff first Healy administration.

Bernabei was elected:

  • in November 2010 to fill out the term of former Democratic Commissioner Steve Meeks (a former Jackson Township trustee who opted to run for a full term against Republican Janet Creighton), 
  • who in turn had been appointed to fill out the term of former Democratic commissioner Tom Harmon,
  • himself appointed to fill out the term of former Democratic commissioner Gayle Jackson who left to serve in the Democratic Governor Ted Strickland administration with the Lottery Commission).

Can you keep all of that Stark County Democratic Party wheeling and dealing stuff straight, folks?

Back to Bernabei getting "elected" commissioner.

From the get-go Bernabei has proved to be quite the jokester!

He has been a "cut-up" with nearly anyone who attends the commissioner meeting including yours truly, but especially so with fellow commissioner and well known Stark County Republican Janet Creighton.

Creighton:

  • a former Stark County recorder, 
  • auditor, 
  • mayor of Canton, 
  • and While House staffer [the Bush administration] 

defeated Democratic commissioner Steve Meeks for a commissioners post vacated by Democrat and former Nimishillen Township trustee Todd Bosley also in November, 2010.

So "I make no apologies for being a Republican" Janet Creighton and seemingly non-political Democrat (who really believes that?) and wonkish Tom Bernabei takes office with the daunting task of leading the Stark County public to renewed confidence in Stark County government in dust of the 2009 - 2011 fiasco in the Stark County treasurer's office.

Would the two be able to work together on the critical mission of bringing Stark County together with the people?

Answer?

An unequivocal yes!

All one has to do is recall the impressive victory of a 0.5% sales tax levy issue (#29) in the November, 2011 election.

Quite a rebound from the tax having been obliterated in November, 2009 when in December, 2008 the-then commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos "imposed" a "permanent" 0.5% sales tax.  Moreover, in light of the Stark treasury mess overlay (April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011).

On county issues, so far as the SCPR can detect, there is no partisanship going on between Creighton, Bernabei and, for another matter, Democrat Pete Ferguson.

Ferguson is now in lame duck status inasmuch as he decided not to run for reelection.

Not only have Bernabei and Creighton been able to work together, they have done so with a sense of humor which was initially injected into the commissioner meetings by Bernabei.

But Creighton has picked up fast on Bernabei's eccentric-esque humor.

On September 6th, the SCPR published a blog (LINK) in which Commissioner Creighton dubs Bernabei a Republican.



And as a sequel, just a week ago or so at a work session of the commissioners, she added kiddingly, of course, that it is her plan "to dress up as a Democrat" apparently this coming Sunday somewhere between the 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM:  the time slot recently set by the commissioners as the "official" time for "trick and treating" in Stark County.

While there is a great deal of "pro-forma," routine business conducted by the commissioners at their meetings, they can be quite entertaining - witness the video posted below of Creighton declaring that she intends dress as a Democrat - at least on Halloween official; namely, October 28th.

What's next?

Perhaps on April 1, 2013 Bernabei and Creighton will show up at their Monday work session that week with dress adorned with the other's political party affiliation.

For now, look out for "Democrat-dressed" Republican Janet Creighton trick and treating across Stark's landscape this coming Sunday!


Friday, October 19, 2012

OLESLAGER "DEEP SIXES" ANTI-FRACKERS. BETTER HOPE THERE ARE NO FRACKING ACCIDENTS AFFECTING THE "DRINKABILITY" OF STARK CO. UNDERGROUND WATER SUPPLIES, NO?



 UPDATED AT 10:15 AM

Stark County has been in the economic dumper for a long time.

About the only exciting thing happening that suggests a local economic resurgence is the God-given blessing that Stark sits on top of what is called Utica shale deposits.

To get at the deposits in the most efficient, effective and productive way, the oil and gas industry came up with a new and improved method of what is called "fracking" back in 1998.

When Republican John Kasich took office in January, 2011 after having narrowly defeated Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland in the November, 2010 election, he jumped all over the potential economic benefits to Ohio to be gained from a dramatic increase in oil/gas exploration with the revelation that Ohio was within the  Marcellus and Utica oil and gas ladened shale deposits.

Stark County's elected officials were slower to jump on board.  But they have.  The SCPR (a top 10 list) ranks Stark's politicians in the following order in terms of their enthusiasm for fracking:
  1. Democrat William J. Healy, II, mayor of Canton,
  2. Republican Pat Fallot, mayor of Louisville,
  3. Republican candidate for Stark County commissioner, Richard Regula (son of former 16th district congressman Ralph Regula),
  4. Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan (the 50th), who as a 24 year old unelected (appointed) legislator has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry),
  5. Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager (the 29th),
  6. Republican state Rep. J. Kirk Schuring (the 51st, soon to be the 48th),
  7. Democratic state Rep. Stephen Slesnick (the 52nd, soon to be the 49th).
  8. Former Democratic mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr of Massillon,
  9. Current Democratic Massillon Democratic mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, and
  10. Democratic commissioner candidate Bill Smuckler.
 Moreover, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is "bananas" and "frothing at the mouth" about the prospects that fracking will solve everything economic that ails Stark County.



Notice the word "acquifer" in the graphic above.  Acquifer equals our drinking water. 

Well, that word is all one needs to focus upon to figure out that fracking was going to be a highly controversial procedure.

While being for fracking might well have good political spin-off for those who have lined up in support of the process, they had better pray each and every night that there is "no" fracking associated accident that pollutes Stark County's drinking water.

For  being on the Stark County Political Report's pro-fracking Top 10 List, in the event of a drinking water contamination, will not be a pretty sight to behold in terms of the political retribution that will take place.

The very first politician/governmental official to speak out against fracking was Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis (here is a LINK to the SCPR's very first blog on fracking on 12/04/2010) who sponsored a two-part symposium emceed by Ron Ponder (Points to Ponder) of WHBC 1480 located in downtown Canton.

Giavasis stands in stark contrast (no pun intended) to his Plain Township cohort trustee Scott Haws, who, the SCPR perceives to be an ardent pro-fracker.

Giavasis has been joined by one of Stark's foremost opponent to fracking; namely,  Chris Borello who lives in Plain Township.

Chris is a long time civic activist in Stark County, having cut her teeth in civic involvement with her work to get a Superfund clean up of the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill located in Uniontown going back to the early 1980s.

In Giavasis' and Borello's work to curb (i.e. regulate) if not stop fracking, due to their multiple concerns that they and the group Stark County Concerned Citizens have about fracking, to wit:
  • contamination of ground water (i.e. our drinking water),
  • a degradation of air quality,
  • gases and fracking chemicals finding their way to the surface through fracturing of the shale (also by triggering earthquakes),
  • pollution of the under ground by the disposal of chemical wastes/by products in what are called "injection" wells, and
  • surface contamination from spills from extracted oil products.
she has established allies across Ohio and, indeed, over the nation.

A major blow to the ability of the likes of Borello and Giavasis to put a damper on "the rush to frack" began back in 2004.

The Ohio General Assembly passed HB 278 (2004) and SB 165 (2010) which for all intents and purposes took local control of oil and gas regulation away from Ohio's counties, cities, villages, townships and boards of education.

For a comprehensive picture on the votes of members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly on HB 278 and SB 165 go to an October 7, 2011 SCPR blog (LINK).

Apparently, for some reason Borello and her allies thought state Senator Scott Oelslager would be open to their entreaty to work to strengthen regulation of fracking both at the state and local level.

The SCPR has learned that Borello (Stark County Concerned Citizens) ally Alison Auciello of the Columbus-based Food and Water Watch organization obtained a meeting with Oelslager on October 1st at his North Canton condominium.

She had with her four Oelslager constituents:  a film maker, a Vietnam veteran, a retired teacher and a MIT educated engineer.

Summing up her take on the hour long session, Auciello says:
".... throughout Sen. Oelslager was not open to hearing or lending any legitimacy to what we all see as valid concerns about the impact of fracking in his district" and "[my]y overall impression of him is that, at least at this point, he is not movable. He has fully ingested the oil-aid and has his mind closed to any other perspective."
 Hmm?

"[H]e is not movable," and "his mind [is] closed," and "he has fully ingested the oil aid."

Interesting, no?

More specifically, Auciello made the following points on Oelslager:
  • Oelslager believes that we are entrenched in a fossil fuel economy and wouldn't hear that investment in fracking is standing directly in the way of a transition to renewable,
  • He assumed we all knew that renewable energy would be inadequate anyway. He believes that fracking will be an economic windfall for Ohio and refused to hear that it would only be for the lucky few and the rest of us would be left with the cleanup bill,
  • He was throwing out key phrases like "energy independence" and "investment in infrastructure" (which he somehow thinks will still be useful when the gas runs out).  
  • He's also under the impression that Kasich solved the earthquake problem.  
  • We made it clear to him that we'd like to see his support of moratorium legislation in the beginning and he tried to lay a "ground rule" that there will be no moratorium. He wanted us to give suggestions on improvements to regulations.
  • We pointed out that regulations haven't been effectively enforced, and they can't make the process safe to begin with, but all he was doing the whole time was waiting to pounce on any point he had the counterpoint to go along with.
  • One thing that I thought was really telling about his position is his reaction to the local control issue. He said that if it were up to local municipalities, we'd have no "progress", so what he is essentially saying is that he knows local communities don't want fracking, and that's why the state needs to decide- so we can do it anyway.
Chris Borello may be even tougher on Oelslager, to wit:
  • Love Scotty's response on "local control'....Wow.  Incredible...   More blatant hypocrisy. on supposed "core beliefs, eh? 
    • We can never forget how Ralph Regula indeed, deferred to "local control" - the Lake Twp. Trustees, on IEL's Plutonium issue!
    •  Regula indeed, deferred to "local control" - the Lake Twp. Trustees, on IEL's Plutonium issue!  We have the letter he sent to CCLT [Concerned Citizens of Lake Township] to prove it.
    • We believe Scott Oelslager, Kirk Schuring and other reps. agreed with the Congressman's position on this...I think Sen. Voinovich's staffer told us it was called being  "Federalist".  ... .
    • Frankly, I am quite sure there are still many residents in our area who would like to ask Scott, Kirk Schuring, Christina Hagan, and especially our former Congressman, Ralph Regula,  about this extremely serious double standard regarding local control, the Plutonium and IEL, and now, fracking..... .
  • The newspapers have a copy of that letter from Regula to CCLT re.  how local officials are the most appropriate officials to make such determinations.... We gave it to papers two years ago, when we first learned about HB. 278 stripping our rights away! 
It appears to the SCPR that the die is cast on fracking in Stark County.

There is no doubt that it has the enthusiastic support of most Stark County's elected officials, led by the SCPR's Top Ten List.

Stark County's everdays are much more circumspect about the issue of fracking than are many of if not most of Stark's elected officials.

Let us "hope and pray" that these officials have made the right call.

For if they have not and the drinking water supply gets contaminated, we all will regret that fracking was ever engaged.

And, we will be likely looking at a long list of ex-Stark County elected officials!