Monday, January 14, 2013


UPDATE:  4:00 PM (Revised list of applicants)

He will be stepping down on March 1st.

Had Mike Hanke known what was ahead for him as he was hired on December 13, 2007, would he have had second thoughts about becoming Stark County's chief administrator?

There have been two gigantic crises in Stark County government since Hanke became the commissioners "go-to-guy" to solve all things administrative.

First, there was the crisis generated by former commissioners Bosley, Harmon and Vignos in December, 2008 when they decided to "impose" a county sales tax increase of 0.5%.  (Stark Countians overwhelmingly repealed the tax in November, 2009)

Second, there was the crisis in the Stark County treasury which broke to the public on April 1, 2009 whereby it was revealed that Stark County lost nearly $3 million in taxpayer funds and Chief Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci was suspected of stealing it.  (Frustaci later pled guilty to having stolen $2.46 million).

Beyond these two major conflagrations, there have been many, many brush fires (e.g. the dog pound troubles, budgeting problems, and the like) for Hanke to have to have a hand in putting out in order "to save the commissioners' collective bacon."

On top of the foregoing, you have the likes of the SCPR who was a tad more than skeptical and hence critical that one of Canton's/Stark County's top insiders (as long time editor and manager of The Repository) and local establishment types (who retired from The Rep in 2006) all of sudden ending up with the county's top administrative jobs from among some 70 original applicants.  For a taste of a number of critical blogs yours truly has written on Hanke, here is a LINK.

But, of course, he did not know any of that on December 13, 2007.

He did take the job.

And, now, in hindsight yours truly is prepared to say that one wonders how the county could have gotten through the crises and brush fires as well as it has without Mike Hanke having been county administrator.

For he has seemingly done the impossible.

Taking from the graphic theme of this blog, hasn't Stark County Chief Administrator MIke Hanke (with the help of others) "made silk out of a sow's ear?"

And he has done so without throwing people he has had to work with "under the bus."

For instance:

From the very beginning it was a really bad idea to "impose" a tax in Stark County.  Especially Stark County with it history in taking pride in being one of the lowest, if not the lowest, taxed counties in all of Ohio.

Yet when asked by yours truly about the difficult days of coping with Stark County's financial crisis of 2011 and bleeding into 2012, Hanke told The Report it would have been far worse (i.e. to cover county finances given the nearly $3 million in revenue losses growing out of the Frustaci theft) had the county not had revenues still flowing in from the imposed tax.

In other words, Hanke was crediting Bosley, Harmon and Vignos with something positive as having flowed from the highly political unpopular 2008 sales tax imposition resolution.

This week the Stark County commissioners start the budget hearings in earnest.

Stark is far from being "out-of-the-woods" and must watch every penny as commissioners work through to settle on appropriating county revenues to  general fund and Fund 35 departments and non-governmental recipients of taxpayer dollars.

Hanke and his able associate Rick Flory have done a admirable job of reining in the likes of Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero (the SCPR's attribution; not Hanke's and Flory's) and spreading the pain of thin county financial resources fairly across the budgeting process.

Enough of recounting the "job well done" accolades of Hanke and the suggestion that the commissioners may not have in the applications on hand a replacement of his equal.

Here is the list so far (the deadline for applying was last Wednesday):

Some of the vocational/personal histories of the applicants include:
  • a city councilman, (Davison)
  • a former deputy director of finance of a Stark County municipality, (Fix)
  • a bookstore manager (Aul),
  • a biomedical engineer manager (Burner),
  • a city manager, (Cozy),
  • a director of children's services advocacy, (Curran)
  • a vice president, global business services, (McDannold)
  • a manager of Stark County's court-appointed guardians program,
    • also a former county auditor (successor to Commissioner Janet Creighton) and family court magistrate, (Luther)
  • a former Lake Township trustee who is now who is the industrial safety administrator for the Ohio Department of Commerce, (Martin)
  • a sitting Canton Township trustee (12 years) and director of revenue assurance for First Communications, (Nichols)
  • a Marlboro Township zoning inspector, (Pisani)
  • a former Massillon housing director, (Schiavone)
  • a CEO of a technology company, (Maniscalco)
  • a bank manager, (DiRocco)
If the commissioners are to be successful in their ongoing quest to rehabilitate the reputation of Stark County government, they will need someone of Hanke's skill and talent.

And if such a person is not to be found among the list of applicants, the commissioners must regroup and widen their search.

Such is what they are doing with the decision to hire a county human resources director.

The Report gets the impression that after a new chief administrator has been hired, then he/she and the commissioners will focus on hiring a human resources person and that it is likely that they will look for a new round of applicants and not necessarily limited to those with law degrees as advertised before.

The SCPR thinks that the commissioners should, in selecting a new chief county administrator, ask around in the business sector and in local government circles for recommendations as to whom the commissioners might approach in terms of enticing recommended person(s) into considering the job.

Why should they be limited to those who apply?

Getting a Hanke-esque chief administrator is a critical need of the commissioners if they are to be successful in their rehab of county government.

Yours truly can think of several persons who have not applied who might be lured into being open to taking the job based on the commissioners assessment of what they bring to the table.

For the SCPR believes that there is more work to be done in terms of taking the raw material of a sow's ear (i.e. remaining parts of inefficient/ineffective Stark County government) and making it come out silk.

The commissioners owe it to themselves and to the Stark County public to seek the very best for the highly important Stark County chief administrator position.

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