Sunday, March 31, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
"RULE OF LAW" WINS THE DAY: CONLEY OVERCOMES ETHICS COMPLAINT IN BRINGING COMMON PLEAS COURT JUDGE FRANK FORCHIONE "TO HEEL" ON ISSUE
UPDATED: 10:00 AM
Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has demonstrated once again that he is a man of "a cast iron stomach."
He learned yesterday that the Ohio State Bar Association Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee found that he had not violated ethics rules (as alleged in an "anonymous" a January 28th filed complaint) in charging (in representing Bethlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli) that Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione had engaged in grandstanding in his sentencing order of a former Jackson School District 9th grade basketball coach Scott Studer.
Studer was convicted (after pleading guilty in multiple counts Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [R.C. 21907.323(A)(1)](F2)) to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for the benefit of the shooting victims of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
While Conley understandably did not enjoy having the complaint filed and says that even if unfounded as this one was determined to be, such cannot be a good thing for one's practice of law.
However, he was willing to risk that a complaint would be filed for the greater community good - that is to say - a confirmation that the "rule of law" reigns supreme in Ohio.
Conley's allegation of Forchione's grandstanding?
Here it is from a prior blog of the Stark County Political Report, according to a local media account of Conley's assessment of Forchione's order, to wit:
"This was just grandstanding," Conley said. "This is Jeeze, 'I can get my name in the paper.' The courtroom is not a place for a popularity contest."The Stark County Political Report has published a number of blogs on the matter that readers will want to review to grasp the full drama of the ensuring attack on Conley for grandstanding in his own right which prompted the complaint cited above.
- LINK: A Classic Case of "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?" The "anonymous" attempt to discipline Craig Conley for Support of the Primacy of the Rule of Law?
- LINK: Is Conley Challenge to Forchione Sandy Hook Order "Sour Grapes?"
In a statement issued by Conley late yesterday, he said, in part:
"While I am, of course, pleased that the unfounded anonymous grievance has been dismissed, I am ever more pleased that the rule of law under which our justice system operates has, as evinced by the post-lawsuit [i.e. the declaratory judgment action: Marcelli v. Forchione] return of Studer's $5,000 to Stark County [the county general fund], been vindicated."
So is this the end of the matter?
Conley tells the SCPR that he has been working on finding someone to run against Forchione in November, 2014 when he comes up for re-election.
And, he says, he plans to be fully engaged in the effort to unseat Forchione.
Conley tells The Report he believes that Forchione demonstrated in his unlawful order in the Studer case that he is not sufficiently adhered to the "rule of law" as to merit re-election.
Normally, judicial campaigns are like "watching paint dry" and the likelihood of an incumbent judge losing is somewhere between "slim and none and 'slim' has just left town."
However, if Conley carries through (which the SCPR thinks he will), Forchione's re-election bid could be a political sight to behold.
In the opinion of the SCPR, the Stark County public has a lot to be appreciative of about Craig T. Conley.
To cite just of few of his contributions he has made to good government in Stark County in recent years:
- He led the effort to repeal the "imposition" of the-then Commissioner Bosley, Harmon and Vignos (December, 2008) 0.5% county sales tax,
- He pushed Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero into a "earlier than he was disposed to do" pursuit of a recovery of former Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler of monies lost, as provided for in Ohio statutory law, (i.e. the Vince Frustaci theft of upwards of $3 million, which Zeigler himself was not implicated in) during his administration of the county treasury, and, of course,
- His pursuit of Judge Forchione on behalf of client Marcelli to ensure that the Studer fine money end up in the Stark County treasury and thereby effecting compliance with the "rule of law."
"Not even close, Conley says, the Forchione matter, without a doubt."
And the SCPR agrees with that assessment.
A fitting conclusion of this blog, yours truly believes is the open of the SCPR blog of February 20th, to wit:
Although the author of this blog is an attorney, the blog is written (as are all SCPR blogs) from the perspective of yours truly being a blogger who comments on politics and government (mostly Stark County-based) from a journalistic perspective and not as a lawyer.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RULE OF LAW TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, "the rule of law" has to be the highest order in a democracy.
Dr. Mark Cooray has written eloquently on this topic (LINK).
In part, he writes:
The rule of law is fundamental to the western democratic order. Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago, "The rule of law is better than that of any individual." Lord Chief Justice Coke quoting Bracton said in the case of Proclamations (1610) 77 ER 1352
"The King himself ought not to be subject to man, but subject to God and the law, because the law makes him King".
Thursday, March 28, 2013
BREAKING NEWS! CONLEY VINDICATED BY OHIO STATE BAR ASS'N "LEGAL ETHICS & PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT COMMITTEE!" HE DID NOTHING WRONG IN ACCUSING JUDGE FORCHIONE OF "GRANDSTANDING" IN THE SENTENCING OF THE STUDER CASE
The SCPR has learned that local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has been found by the Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee (a Certified Grievance Committee) of the Ohio State Bar Association to NOT HAVE VIOLATED Ohio's ethics and professional conduct rules which govern the behavior of judges and lawyers.
An "anonymous" blogger (which Conley thinks was a local attorney) filed the complaint on January 28th. (LINK to a prior SCPR blog that details the history behind the circumstances that led to the filing)
The decision was handed down on Tuesday but received in the mail today by Conley.
Such is a major step forward, in the opinion of the Stark County Political Report, in making local government more accountable, transparent and accessible to everyday Plain Township citizens.
Councilman Kevin Fisher (Democrat - Ward 5) tells the SCPR that he wants to do a similar thing with Canton City Council meetings.
The SCPR applauds Giavasis' leadership on "letting the sunshine in" on Plain Township government and also recognizes Trustees Al Leno and Scott Haws for supporting the board president's lead.
The Plain Township initiative is a model for other township, village, city, and board of education to follow. Fisher of Canton undoubtedly will be in touch with Giavasis for assistance in figuring out "the nuts and bolts" in constructing and configuring a meeting videotaping operation.
The Plain effort and the Fisher ambition deserves the support of local media.
It appears to the SCPR that Giavasis questions, as Stark County's only countywide media outlet, The Repository's commitment to promoting beams of sunshine illuminating the processes of local government except, perhaps, when The Rep itself is having difficulty with something like an unhonored public records request.
He told The Report that he and his fellow trustees' motivation is to get Plain residents more involved in their local government.
He said that the board of trustees recognize that people's lives are filled with loads of everyday responsibilities and that videotaping the meetings is a move by the board to make township meetings available to citizens on their timetable.
The SCPR sees that more and more Stark County political subdivisions are enhancing their interaction with their constituents.
North Canton, for instance, held a townhall-esque meeting, also Tuesday night, attended by some 175 citizens at the North Canton Civic Center hosted by Ward 4 councilman and Council President Jon Snyder and Ward 1 Councilman Doug Foltz (Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling and Mayor David Held were also present) in which city police, fire and EMS officials counseled North Cantonians on ways and means to protect themselves from the ravages of crime, fires and emergency medical incidents.
Since Tom Bernabei (November, 2010) and Janet Creighton (January, 2011) took office, Stark County government has become much more accountable, transparent and accessible.
A recent interaction with Canton/Vassar Park citizen Bruce Nordman resulted in the commissioners facilitating with Sheriff George T. Maier an immediate increase of bed utilization at the Stark County jail from 400 beds to 450 on the way to full use which will be 501 beds.
Until Nordman got involved, the sheriff was saying it could take months to have a significant increase in bed utilization because of difficulties in finding qualified candidates to hire as deputy sheriffs.
Nordman has also seized the initiative (he calls his effort: Group 175) with Canton City Council and the mayor (with whom he meets on April 16th) to dramatically increase the number of police from its soon to be 150 to 175.
When (in 2007) Canton's force was last at 175, the city had to be safer because the 175 made about twice the arrests that they are making now.
One sees very little if any editorial support of the efforts to bring more accountability to local government by The Rep. Moreover, it appears to The Report that the newspaper affords scant recognition of Stark County citizens who take on local government when it is not being responsive to citizen needs.
Trustee Giavasis felt strongly, and the SCPR agrees, that Plain trustees deserved coverage/recognition of its Tuesday night initiative.
And, of course, in writing this blog (as yours truly has often done before), The Report regularly and actively exhorts local governments and officials to be more be more accountable, transparent and accessible.
Usually the blogs are critical of the lack of thereof in Stark County political subdivision government.
But not always and the Plain Township example is one worthy of laudation.
Though he gave The Rep a "heads-up" on the initiative, he says nobody showed up to cover the event.
Here is summation of what he had to say to The Report about The Rep's failure:
- He got of phone call from The Rep that they could not cover Tuesday's township meeting because they did not have enough reporters to cover Plain, North Canton and Jackson Township at the same time,
- However, what particularly disturbed him was that there was no follow up, as of the time yours truly was talking with him on Wednesday, by the folks at The Rep wanting to know whether or not the trustees had passed a resolution providing for the taping of township's meetings for citizens to view at their leisure,
- "And this is the one that preaches openness and transparency."
Not only does Plain Township lead the way for local governments to follow in terms of accountability, transparency and access, but appears to the SCPR to be the most fiscally responsible board of township trustees.
As indicate above it is uncommon for the SCPR to write a blog holding up any public official or government body as an example to be followed.
However, Plain Township and its commitment to making local government processes accessible Plain citizens and thereby making those processes transparent which, of course, ultimately leads to accountability is a model that should be given the highest accolades and support.
A SCPR "hats off" to the Plain Township trustees!
All of Stark County local governments should pattern themselves after the Plain Township example.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
UPDATE: 12:15 PM
LINK to March 26, 2013 meeting.
Last night the Plain Township trusteeS voted to place their meetings on YouTube. The also plan to put their Zoning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals on the video social media site.
Trustee Louis A. Giavasis tells the SCPR that in time they plan to "live" stream the meetings.
In doing so, Plain is showing itself to be a leader among Stark County local governments in providing:
- accessiblity, and
Posted by Martin Olson at 11:34 AM
UPDATED: 9:45 AM
Several weeks ago the SCPR asked a person with considerable economic development experience (from the government standpoint) whether or not the Hercules Project (the former Hercules Engine Company site) on the south side of Canton is a good idea?
Answer: "No, it is too isolated from the rest of Canton's economic, cultural, commercial and civic centers."
He pointed out, for example, that the Football Hall of Fame, the Civic Center, the Arts In Stark district, the Palace Theater, and the McKinley Grand are not clustered but separated by considerable space from each other and certainly from the Hercules Project and thereby presents a picture of fragmentation and isolation that will not impress future would-be investors in downtown Canton.
So why was Canton City Council so eager to put $3 million of taxpayer money at risk?
- (the SCPR's assessment) Canton is so desperate for something, anything to show that the city is moving forward towards economic, financial recovery that a possibility that Hercules will go belly up is a risk worth taking, and
- it could be to help bail out a major project of Robert Timken, a member of the "We are Canton" prominent Timken family.
- Sidenote: It is interesting that another prominent Canton name: Marshall Belden, Jr is also in investor in the effort.
In council's work session and immediately prior to the vote she probed the transaction that has one more step to go before becoming reality.
No other council members questioned the wisdom of Canton advancing the project the $3 million as a loan.
Lining up to give kudos to the project were:
- Councilman Greg Hawk (Democrat - Ward 1),
- Hawk referred to the Myers Lake failure of a former council to purchase as having been a mistake that council should not repeat on the Hercules Project,
- Councilman Kevin Fisher (Democrat - Ward 5),
- Fisher said that internal council vetting of the proposed loan cured concerns that council might have in going forward and he complimented Williams for his management of the loan negotiations,
- Councilman Thomas West (Democrat - Ward 2),
- West predicted that Hercules will prove to be a step forward in Canton's economic resurgence, and
- Councilwoman Chris Smith (Democrat - Ward 4),
- Smith voted "definitely yes!" when council voted 10 to 1 in favor of the ordinance with only Cirelli voting no.
- Law Director Joe Martuccio,
- Martuccio: explained the legal technicalities,
- Mayor Healy,
- Healy: who more on less suggested that Cirelli was way off base in suggesting that the loan factored in [from capital improvement funds] at all on Canton's low beginning salary for policemen [$26,000] who are paid from the general fund, and
- Finance Director DiRuzza,
- DiRuzza told Cirelli that the finances of Canton were solid
Back on March 12th, the SCPR received an e-mail that raises some important questions about the transaction, to wit:
In an effort to convince certain councilman that the city should agree to use bond offering proceeds for their project, Rob Timken and others are taking a trip to Hamilton, Ohio [SCPR note: the trip was changed to being one to the Cleveland area] in a limo with Councilman West, Councilman Mack and others to show them the "viability" of building a shopping center, convention center, hotel and apartments at the site of the old Hercules Engine plant.
They leave tomorrow.
But really, who is going to pay $800 a month for a single bedroom and single bathroom apartment across the street from a Halfway House, or how about $1,000 plus for a two bedroom one bathroom apartment, and better yet, $1,500 for a three bedroom and two bathroom apartment.
It would feel like living in Jackson Township without the view.
Also, you should obtained a copy of the proposal which includes a line item for site acquisition cost of $3.5 million. Interesting, the Stark County website shows that the site was purchased by the group for $3.0 plus million. So, are the current owners buying it from themselves to get their money back.
Do we realy [sic] need another convention center when the current one is losing money? And what will happen to the current one? What will happen to the downtown hotel which is currently at best annually average 20% occupancy?
Here's an idea, convert several floors of the existing downtown hotel to apartments.
I guess Healy is pushing the idea hard through his economic development director.
Will he kick his economic development director to the curb if he fails?The SCPR contacted Councilman Mack and here is his response:
Mr. Olson,As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly has very high regard for Councilman Mack, in particular.
Thank you for the email.
In response to the below quoted email-
Last week, in furtherance of my due diligence relating to the potential $3 million loan agreement with regard to Cormony Development's proposed transformation of the blighted Hercules complex, I telephoned Service Director Warren Price. My primary concern was the sustainability of moderate to high-income housing at this location (i.e., market rate apartments). In response to my concerns, Director Price recommended that I personally view similar residential projects to facilitate my analysis. I agreed this was a good idea.
This morning, several people embarked on the viewing that Director Price suggested. Myself, Councilpersons West and Mariol, Director of Development Fonda Williams, and Bob Timken, Sam Polakoff, and Andrew Goldman of Cormony traveled to Cleveland (not Hamilton) to view similar urban residential redevelopment projects. As you may expect, this required me to take a personal day off from my full-time law practice, and I am sure Councilpersons Mariol and West experienced similar inconveniences. I understand that Councilpersons Dougherty and Babcock also committed to this viewing, but cancelled early this morning due to unforeseen circumstances. I am sure they will be conducting their own due diligence independently.
During the trip, Councilpersons West, Mariol, and myself articulated several concerns relating to this project to the principals of Cormony. Most notably, these concerns included the need that construction of this project utilize local union labor, and that the terms of the city financing relating to the project be fair and equitable to the City of Canton. After vigorous discussion, this trip provided me with a degree of comfort that these concerns will be addressed by Cormony. Moreover, after viewing the Cleveland redevelopment projects, I am very optimistic that the Hercules project is feasible, and will go a long way in advancing a desperately needed element of our City - downtown living. That said, I will of course reserve final judgment until it is time to vote.
With respect to the expense of today's viewing, please note that all City officials paid their own way. In the sprit of "Sunshine Week," please find attached a copy of my own individual lunch receipt which I personally paid for. In addition, we will all be separately invoiced for our own individual share of the transportation. While the email quoted below characterizes this transportation as a "limo," our actual transportation, as reflected in the attached photograph, does not accurately fit this generic description.
In conclusion, I am proud that Councilpersons Mariol and West joined me on our efforts to learn more about this very important expenditure of tax payers funds. It is gratifying to know that our City Council takes its duties seriously.
As always, if I can provide you with any additional information, please let me know.
Edmond J. Mack
So there is no doubt that he did exercise "due diligence" and that he has not been part of an effort to steamroller Canton into participating in a unwise venture.
It could be that Hercules will work out.
However, the SCPR is skeptical.
The property was purchased by developers in 2005 (Hercules having shut down in 1999).
Intuitively, to yours truly, this project has a forced quality to it. It could be Canton's version of "too big to fail." It seems that nearly all of Canton's movers and shakers are squarely behind the effort to get local taxpayer money into the support mix for the project.
The Report quizzed Blake Schilling (at the mayor's State of the City address), the new (as of November, 2012) general manager of the Canton Memorial Civic Center which more or less serves as Canton's convention center, as to whether or not the down-the-road plans for the Hercules Project as a possible convention center poses a threat to his facility.
Answer: "Wait and see."
Yours truly expected an emphatic no.
Another critic has wondered out loud how the city's planners and thinkers can possibly believe that anyone would want to move into crime-ridden Canton. The current trend is for folks to be moving out of The Hall of Fame City.
Notwithstanding the telling questions which have been raised about the viability of this project, the SCPR wishes Canton well on this venture and hopes that yours truly's skepticism is ill-founded.
And Cantonians better hope so too.
For the city can hardly afford to drop $3 million, no?
If it loses $3 million, then it will have succeeded only in digging a deeper hole for itself!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
North Canton City Schools are looked upon as being one of the very best if not the best public school system in Stark County.
That is if you are looking at the system's academic profile.
But if one looks at the quality of its bus fleet, it may be a different matter.
Due to the fact the State of Ohio has cut its school bus subsidy program to ZERO over the past 10 years or so from a 50% of the purchase price of a bus (about $85,000 each), North Canton is struggling to keep it bus fleet up-to-date.
The Dogwood City's fleet is 67% older than 12 years of age and it has buses as old as 22 years old.
Alliance captures the prize among Stark County school districts in terms of aged school buses: 100% of its fleet is 12 years old or better with a least one bus being 18 years old.
While Stark County school administration officials are to be complimented for their superlative maintenance of the aged fleet (only 7 out of nearly 600 buses failed inspection), isn't it only a matter of time that an incident occurs in which the safety of Stark County children is put at risk because a bus breaks down in a critical situation?
Moreover, maintenance becomes more and more expensive to local school districts (i.e. local tax dollars being applied less and less efficiently) escalating to the point that maintenance of a given bus outstrips the cost of buying a new one.
The information in the blog comes from an Akron Beacon Journal report of Saturday, (LINK) to wit:
For Stark Countians, the comments in the article attributed to the highly respected Tuslaw (Tuscarawas Township) superintendent Al Osler are poignant:
“It’s a continuation of the shift from the state supporting public schools to having the local district bear the burden of everything, so it’s a shift to the local taxpayer,” said Alan Osler, superintendent of Tuslaw Schools.
He remembers a time about 10 years ago when the state paid about 50 percent of the cost of a new bus. That line item in the budget was cut to a few thousand dollars under former Gov. Ted Strickland and is zero under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget.
“We passed a levy in 2010,” Osler said. “You are trying to advance yourself, but with all the state cuts we’ve just been able to stay even.”This school bus thing is another of a long list in the way the politicos from the Columbus beltway (Republican Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly [including locals Scott Oelslager [R - Plain], Kirk Schuring [R - Jackson], Christina Hagan [R - Marlboro] and Stephen Slesnick [D - Canton]) are putting the screws to Ohio's local governments and, of course, to the taxpaying public.
He said money that must go into buses is diverted from teaching kids.
“It does hurt education,” he said. “I would love to have that extra [money] that you have to put into a bus to be put into computers.”
One bus (of 1987 vintage) is actually older than the number of years Oelslager has been in the Ohio General Assembly (1988).
Kasich et al are engaged in a shell game in which they are raising taxes on nearly all Ohioans in the form of taking money previously being sent to localities and applying it to state programs and thereby forcing Stark Countians and indeed most Ohioans to raise local taxes.
Going up at the local level are sales taxes (for county safety forces), property taxes (for schools, roads, bridges, EMS and the like) and income taxes (for city and village services) because Ohio over the last ten years have dropped local government funding from about 19 million to 8.5 million.
And the 11.5 million drop in state funding does not include the end of the Ohio Estate Tax local government revenues which most localities did not factor into their annual budgets but which helped tremendously to cope with unplanned expenses and/or capital projects.
Who benefited from the termination of the estate tax?
Ohio's very wealthiest!
In one way or another, everyday Ohioans will have their taxes raised at the school district, city, village, and township level so that the rich can pass on their fortunes to their heirs tax free.
- the continued viability Canton-Stark County Crime Lab,
- having adequate numbers of police on the streets of Canton,
- getting Massillon potholes patched,
- timely fire department dispatch,
- Jackson Township parks being open extended hours and kept up to standard,
- township roads being maintained,
- the Zimber Ditch being kept clear so as to cut down on flooding of Stark County homes and businesses,
It seems to the SCPR that the area's two main media do a horrible job of connecting the dots.
Connecting the dots?
Both newspapers' editorial boards are wont to decry the severe drop off of State of Ohio funding of local government.
But they consistently fail to tie the cuts to particular Columbus ensconced politicos.
Not so with the Stark County Political Report.
Yours truly does name names.
And in Stark County they are Scott Oelslager (25 years in the Legislature), Kirk Schuring (18 years), along with the relatively new Christina Hagan and Stephen Slesnick.
Isn't it about time that Stark Countians start getting in the face of these folks?
Better yet, sending them packing come the 2014 elections?
Monday, March 25, 2013
VIDEOS: FINALLY! CANTON MAYOR WILLIAM HEALY, II IS GOING TO HAVE HIS ZERO TOLERANCE RHETORIC SHOVED RIGHT DOWN HIS POLITICAL THROAT?
UPDATED 03/26/2013 AT 8:00 AM
Canton City Council on Jail Beds
March 4, 2013
Stark Co. Commissioners
"Award to Commissioners"
Getting Canton to 175 Police Officers
March 20, 2013
Councilman Joe Cole
His "Popsickle Stick Index"
His "Popsickle Stick Index"
October 19, 2009
Mayor William J. Healy, II
Defining Zero Tolerance
June 6, 2011
Zero Tolerance Crime in Canton!
That's it, folks!!
The SCPR wrote an incisive blog on June 7, 2011 (a must read as a refresher for The Report's readers - LINK)
It appears to the SCPR that Canton's citizens are finally wising up to what The Report believes to have been a political ruse and are about to - re: the Healy administration and some Healy-aligned-members of Canton City Council - call checkmate on the chess-like stratagem called Zero Tolerance.
If he really had the smarts that he thinks he has, the mayor should have figured out three weeks ago that "the gig was up" on his: it amounts to a political rhetoric only Zero Tolerance.
In his State of the City message of March 14th, Healy feigned that he was dealing with the police shortage problem in announcing that he was adding 14 new police to the Canton force.
But even that announcement was a "smoke and mirrors" exercise because in the end, in working through retirements and other personnel adjustments, the Healy administration is likely to be adding a half-a-dozen or so officers perhaps to as high as a police force of 150.
The SCPR believes that civic activists Nordman and friends are committed to - not as a matter of political rhetoric - but as a matter of reality to make Canton zero tolerant of crime and thereby begin to restore Canton to her former greatness.
It appears to the SCPR that the Vassar Park folks have thrust themselves into a lead role in actually solving Canton's crime problem in a multifaceted approach.
Their number of approaches appear to be expanding as the activists get more understanding of the dimension, scope, and factors at play in their grappling with the problem too much crime in Canton.
So far they have a three-pronged program of action, to wit:
- Get the jail fully utilized at 501 beds,
- The Healy administration has used the underutilization as an excuse for continued unacceptable level of crime in Canton
- Get the police manpower levels up to 175 officers,
- Note: Focus on the decline in numbers of officers/number of arrests in the Healy years as mayor. Accordingly to Healy, Canton is less crime infested than with 33 less officers in the Creighton administration: who will believe that?
- Get the quality of the CPD higher by offering competitive wages in relation to other area police department
- Healy administration opposes ordinance to raise beginning officers' pay
On March 4, 2013, Bruce Nordman appeared before Canton City Council and got on Council and the Healy administration to do something in the way of getting the Stark County sheriff to bring the county jail capacity up to full utilization at 501 beds. On the 4th about 400 beds were in use.
Here see Nordman in action.
That particular Nordman initiative was an easy one for council to dispose of inasmuch as they have no say in how the Stark County jail is run.
Of course, every public official at the council meeting was sympathetic and supportive but powerless in terms of correcting the deficiency.
The following day Nordman appeared at the regular weekly meeting of the Stark County commissioners.
At that meeting he succeeded in getting the commissioners to bring the sheriff in the following week for some answers.
On March 13th, Sheriff George Maier (an appointee of Stark County Democratic Party) under bizarre circumstances (i.e. told a local reporter before the meeting about his decision to increase bed space before telling the commissioners, an omission he later apologized for), jacked up the bed use to 450 beds.
Interestingly enough during the meeting itself (after having already made the decision to go to 450 beds [unbeknownst to anyone other than the reporter) that it would take months to get to the 501 level.
Pretty impressive that Nordman could get action so soon, no?
Again, the point is that if Healy is so bright he should have figured out that he would be next in Nordman's sights.
Here is an extract from Canton City Council minutes of what Nordman said on March 18th which should have been a heads up to Healy, to wit:
Good evening....good evening, my name is Bruce Nordman. I reside at 1623 Logan Avenue, NW. Good evening to Council President and the Mayor. A belated thank you also to the Council... to the Council Members.
This evening I’m coming before you because I would like to talk about police ranks as it relates to crime in the City.
At the end of this meeting we are going to pass out the crimes as they have gone from 2,400 with a strength of 175 Police Officers to about 1,600 last year. We would ask that you give this some study.
We’ll be back next week and would be looking for your answer.
Again, I thank you for your time and interest. (emphasis added)Afterwards Nordman tells the SCPR that Council President Allen Schulman told him:
- To marshal his forces (i.e. the Vassar Park folks) to get the Ohio Legislature to provide adequate local government funding to the likes of Canton so that the city has the funding to bring on more policemen, and
- To look at the city budget and come up with a plan of his own whereby monies would be available to hire more policemen
On Schulman's item #1, take a good look at this goody.
Can you believe it?
Canton's representative - Democrat Stephen Slesnick - to the Ohio House of Representatives is going to be in Akron tonight after having been asked back in February by Councilman Schulman to come to Canton City Council to explain the state funding cuts.
The SCPR has asked Slesnick's office when he is going to be appearing before Canton City Council.
Guess what? No response.
He can't answer the Stark County-based Stark County Political Report nor Canton City Council, but he can appear in Akron.
Now if Slesnick's insult to Canton and Stark County is not enough for Cantonians to find another state representative come next year's Democratic primary, then nothing is, no?
On Schulman's item #2, Nordman tells the SCPR that "Hell will freeze over first" (the SCPR's interpretation; not Nordman's actual words) before he takes on the job of the administration and/or council members.
Tonight look for Nordman to tell council and the Healy administration such in his three minutes before council.
Healy et al should take Bruce Nordman very seriously.
A quote: "The gauntlet is down. We intend to pursue this aggressively (i.e. the increase of the Canton police force to 175 officers).
The day after his appearance at Canton City Council on the increase of police strength (to 175 officers), he was back to the commissioners with a Canton Citizens Award to Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Regula and to ask them to help in applying pressure on Canton City Council and Mayor Healy to get the Canton police force up to 2007 levels, the year Healy was elected as mayor. (emphasis added)
As Nordman sees it, for Stark County to be a safe community to which businesses are likely to be attracted, it is of critical importance that Canton get its crime problem under control.
Here is Nordman's full presentation at the Stark County commissioners meeting last Wednesday.
(Note - video includes the commissioners' response and also including remarks/inquiry by Vassar resident Bret Moore):
The SCPR completely agrees with Nordman.
For Stark County to thrive economically, the first order of business is for the county seat to be relatively crime free.
An ancillary issue to this citizen group call for an increase in police department strength is the matter of the pay that new police officers get.
It is absolutely ridiculous.
Entry pay in Canton is $26,000 per year (which becomes $33,000 when a hiree becomes certified generally a year or so later; an experienced police officer hires in at $33,000). This according to Sam Sliman who is Canton's civil service director.
Also, last Monday Nordman colleague Bruce Brewer said this:
Yes, my name is Bruce Brewer. I reside at 1520 Harvard Avenue NW in Canton, Ohio.Guess what it is in Akron?
Ladies and gentlemen of Canton City Council, it has come to our attention that the beginning wages for the new recruits for the City of Canton is so low that candidates applying for the spot and...and trained by the City of Canton would seek employment in a different County or different City.
We are asking Council to re look at the starting wage for the new officers. We sit here at City Council, the average wage being $17,000.00 for a part time job. We ask our Police Officers as a new recruit to strap on a weapon and...and go throughout the City of Canton and put their lives in danger, whether it be a girl or a man for $24,000.00 [SCPR Note: actually $26,000] a year. ... .
$42,390 TO $49,504.
Well, if you were going to lay your life on the line which would be the more attractive pay incentive?
And guess what?
The politicized zero tolerance mayor is resisting a move by about half of Canton City Council to raise the pay for new officers.
It is stuff like the lowering of the numbers of policemen on the street and their pay level which tell a good part of the commitment or lack thereof of Canton officials to zero tolerance.
Councilman Joe Cole (a Democrat) is in particular, in the opinion of the SCPR, a political hypocrite.
Below is a video of Cole when he was running for Canton council-at-large (he is running against fellow Democrat Frank Morris in the 9th Ward) back in 2009 had to say about his commitment to policing in Canton.
On October 19, 2009 at a community forum for candidates seeking office Cole made the interesting observation that he observed that it would be community activists who would solve Canton's problems.
Moreover, it is ironic that he (at-large and Finance Committee chairman) and Councilman Griffin (Democrat - 3rd Ward) were the Healy administration's point men on council to kill a request in January of this year by Members Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris that Canton get competitive in attracting quality applicants for its police force.
Here is the October, 2009 Cole video with him speaking on policing issues and in particular his Popsickle Stick Index of Safety: "It is an unacceptable standard of safety in which a child cannot be allowed to go to a neighborhood store for a popsickle."
Even if the rest of council opposed the measure, Council President Allen Schulman would have had the deciding vote and thereby could have helped that Canton do the right thing in terms of making the beginning salary attractive enough that the very best candidates would apply to become a Canton policeman.
The SCPR believes that Schulman would side with the proposers of the change.
Schulman has a history of putting his money where his mouth is.
And this proposed legislation provides him an opportunity to do so.
Leader Dougherty needs to revive the effort and thereby provide a vote opportunity which will show who on council cares about the quality of Canton's police force and who does not.
The SCPR ends this blog with the video of Mayor Healy on June 6, 2011 defining zero tolerance and the Canton effort at zero tolerance.
As far as The Report is concerned, this presentation is a political performance. And note the soon-to-be-resigned safety director (Thomas Ream) nodding his head in full agreement with the mayor. No wonder Canton's crime footprint has in reality grown larger notwithstanding Healy's protestation to the contrary.
LINK to prior blog showing Canton crime rate as being 4 on a scale of 100 with 100 being a completely safe city.
Warren Price is a capable city official. However, there is no way he can be an effective service director, chief-of-staff, safety director, and annexation director all-at-one-time.
To the SCPR, Mayor William J. Healy,II has by his downgrading of the numbers of Canton police on the street, supporting a non-competitive salary, and going to a part-time safety director and thereby overburdening Price shows his true stripes.
The SCPR believes Healy's zero tolerance political rhetoric is a political scam on the people of Canton and, moreover, anyone who has an occasion to be in Canton, either as a resident or to visit to do social, cultural, government or business activities, has their personal safety hanging in the balance on the outcome of the good work of the Vassar Park residents.
These folks live in the heart of Canton. Mayor William J. Healy, II lives out on 52nd Street.
If one lives on 52nd Street, it is easier to game zero tolerance for political purposes, no?
Friday, March 22, 2013
UPDATED AT 1:55 PM
See DiRuzza Salary History
See Price Salary History
See DiRuzza Salary History
See Price Salary History
The SCPR has learned that Canton Finance Director Joseph DiRuzza is out looking for another job.
A highly reliable source tells The Report that a county official received a call from Portage County officials recently asking for the official's take on DiRuzza.
DiRuzza makes $68,399 per annum in Canton and that Mayor William J. Healy, II is lobbying Canton City Council to agree to a pay increase for DiRuzza in effort to keep him in the mayor cabinet.
According to Canton Chief Deputy Auditor Gary Young, DiRuzza hired into Canton on March 23, 2011 at $62,450.
On he received a raise of 3.39% to $64,567 (or thereabouts) on the six month anniversary date of his hiring.
He received another raise in January, 2012 of 3% ($66,504) and another 3% raise in December, 2012 to sit at his present $68,399.
Originally, DiRuzza was required to hire in at former Finance Director Karen Alger (now at North Canton as finance director) and because salary increases were frozen at the time the mayor could not hire in at 85% of the maximum pay grade for finance director ($94,126) or $80,007.
The SCPR believes that Healy was in full accord with Ream's move but when the issue of the Perez hiring (he has since resigned) hit the media he distanced himself from Ream.
On Ron Ponder's Points to Ponder yesterday, Healy tried to pass off the Ream retirement as simply Ream wanting to take advantage of his current good health status so that he could pursue his love of golfing.
The Report is told by the source that he believes DiRuzza is looking around him and is not particularly liking what he is seeing in Healy's personnel moves and hence the looking elsewhere for employment.
He became Canton finance director in March, 2011.
Prior to that he worked in the Stark County auditor's office.
On Warren Price, here is a copy of Mayor Healy's request for legislation to give him a $12,000 pay raise for the time he serves as safety director in addition to being service director.
Yesterday on Ponder Healy said that Price could serve from anywhere from six months to a year as combined service-safety director.
He also acknowledged that it is going to be a tall order for Price to serve in both capacities.
The SCPR's assessment is that given what The Report believes Healy did to "his good friend" Tom Ream, there is nobody who is going to want to work for the mayor as a replacement except for someone like Price who is already on staff and knows the territory.
(VIDEOS) ARE OLESLAGER, SCHURING AND HAGAN HEADING TOWARDS A CONFRONTATION WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS OVER DEVASTATING LOCAL GOV'T FUND CUTS?
Prosecutor John Ferrero
Stark County Police Chiefs
Stark County Delegation
Ohio General Assembly
Local Gov't Fund Cuts
Canton-Stark Co. Crime Lab
Canton City Council
President Allen Schulman
Stark County Legislators
Local Gov't Funding Cuts
The threat to the continued existence of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (Crime Lab/CSCCL) due to draconian cuts to local government funding at the hand of the State of Ohio through Ohio Legislature budget cuts over the past several years.
There is in place an agreement that Stark's cities, villages and townships will annually allocate 9% of their local government funding to SCOG in order to fund the Crime Lab.
Here is Crime Lab administrator Don Archer providing the police chiefs with a very graphic description of the dire condition of the lab's financing.
In 2014, the CSCCL faces a $500,000 short fall. And if one goes back to the heyday of Crime Lab funding (2007), its budget has taken about a three quarters of a million dollar ($750,000) hit because of the huge State of Ohio reduction in its distribution from the Local Government Fund.
There were some calls at the meeting for dipping into sales tax revenues being generated from the passage In November, 2011 of an 0.5% issue. Waynesburg Chief of Police William Bath took the position that the police chiefs supported the sales tax issue, at least in part, because of a promise that a significant part of the Crime Lab's monies would come from the revenues it generated.
If the commissioners were to specifically earmark sales tax money to the CSCCL, then it would mean less money for the sheriff's department, the prosecutor's office, and other Stark County criminal justice units for which the tax issue was designed.
In effect, Ohio's cut on local government funds forces taxes be raised in one form or another at every level of Stark's local government.
Yes "local tax increases" forced by the Ohio General Assembly: Be it the county (sales tax), township (road, fire, Park and EMS levies), cities and villages (income tax increases).
And get this. What has happened to the money taken away from local communities? The State of Ohio has used the money to balance the state budget.
Such is a form of creative tax increase legislation whereby Ohioans taxes go up at the local level but the appearance is that Ohio is reducing taxes.
Talk is that Governor Kasich who is running for re-election in 2014 is going to push through a tax reduction on the state income tax level during this 130th Ohio General Assembly.
He is depending on an easily fooled electorate buying into the "apparent" tax reduction and ignoring that the cost of government is in reality rising exponentially at the local level.
So who takes the political hit?
You've got it! Commissioners, mayors, city councilpersons, trustees and board of education members.
Meanwhile, the governor gets re-elected campaigning on: "Hey, folks, I reduced your taxes!"
One thing you very rarely see among police chiefs (usually very conservative and politically inactive folks, at least in public view) is agitation to get in the face of other public officials.
But yesterday they were exhorted by Prosecutor John Ferrero to do just that each and every time they see a member of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly.
He even used the term expression: "Harass them."
If the chiefs follow Ferrero's admonition, it is likely to get the attention of the likes of state Senator Scott Oelslager, state Representative Kirk Schuring, state Rep. Christina Hagan, (Republicans which constitute a super majority in the Legislature) and state Rep. Stephen Slesnick (a Democrat).
As far as the SCPR is concerned Oelslager (a legislator since 1988) and Schuring (a legislator since 1995) for all their combined 43 years in the Ohio General Assembly (switching back and forth between the Ohio House and Senate to get around term limits) have produced relatively little for Stark County.
Yesterday, Commissioner Tom Bernabei said that about 10 years ago Stark County received about $19 million in State of Ohio local government funding. The projection for 2013/14 is a little over $8 million.
Stark County has gotten cut almost 60% on the Oelslager/Schuring watch going back to 2002/2003.
Nevertheless, Stark Countians keep sending them back to Columbus?
And local officials have in the opinion of the SCPR aided and abetted their becoming fixtures in the Legislature in providing public forums for them to appear in the form of council meetings, trustee meetings and the like to make cameo, grandstanding-esque appearances to engage in glad handing with these very same officials.
It has been rare indeed that the SCPR has ever heard a councilperson, a trustee, or a board of education member put either Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan, or Slesnick on the griddle when they make their public relations appearances at about election time.
These four must chuckle to themselves about how they have just fooled the people, no?
Of course, none of the four have the b_ _ _ s to sit down with the SCPR and answer the incisive questions that only yours truly (of all the Stark County media) has for them.
Not on their life would they ever, ever do that!
For they know that yours truly has the background knowledge of their specific work in the Legislature and the ability to analyze that work or lack thereof and to frame questions the answers to which (if compelled by the SCPR's persistent questioning on point until the question asked is answered) would prove politically embarrassing to them if not make them vulnerable to not being re-elected.
In short, Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan and Slesnick work very hard to avoid accountability to Stark County voters.
The most active Stark County public official in going after the Legislature and specifically after Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan has been Canton City Council president Allen Schulman. (LINK to a prior SCPR blog)
A few weeks ago he as council president issued letters to federal and state legislators to come to council and explain why local governments are being cut.
Oelslager said he is too busy. Schuring and Slesnick said they would come, but does anyone believe they really will? Hagan just totally blew Canton off. And the congressmen? No way they are coming to Canton, Ohio!
The SCPR learned today that Alliance is facing up to a million dollar deficit in it budgeting.
Of course, Massillon has felt the crunch too. City officials (council, not the mayor) have put an income tax issue on to increase it by 0.2% and also reduced the credit that Massillonians, who work outside the city and pay taxes to other jurisdictions, get.
On March 15th, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry laid off seven (7) from the city's Roads and Highways department because the city was looking at a $600,000 deficit this year.
North Canton is looking at about a $1 million deficit.
Canton citizens are pushing the Healy administration to add 25 or so new policemen to the Canton force to get it up to 175 officers as soon as possible.
But where is the money to come from in the face of massive cuts that Ohio has visited on the Hall of Fame city?
Schulman told the activists to go after their legislators. But will they follow his direction?
All these cuts are being made in the midst of Ohio having generated a $1.7 billion and trending higher surplus (per Schulman, see video above).
With all the furor in Stark County from many different quarters about the cuts being made in various government services, is life in the hometown about get a lot more uncomfortable for Oelslager, Schuring, Hagan and Slesnick?
Are they about to have to face discordant music for their failure to protect Stark County local government funding?
Thursday, March 21, 2013
(VIDEO) STARK COUNTY UNIONS GEARING UP TO FIGHT THE UPCOMING ONSLAUGHT AGAINST ORGANIZED LABOR. BUT WILL THEY GET ANY HELP FROM DEMOCRATIC OFFICEHOLDERS THEY SUPPORT THROUGH CAMPAIGN FINANCIAL & MANPOWER CONTRIBUTIONS?
One of the things that the SCPR has heard over the years is that unions are good to support Democrats for public office. However, once elected, the elected officials tend to forget who helped to get them there.
About 25 interested persons were present on Tuesday. Most of these folks were work-a-day union members and for only 25 of them to show up is very underwhelming in and of itself.
Among them was only one elected official; namely, Randy Gonzalez who is Jackson Township's fiscal officer and beyond that the Stark County Democratic Party chairman.
All one has to do is comb through the campaign finance reports of all the many Democrats who hold office in Stark at the county level and also in Stark's cities, villages and townships and, in some instances, even at the board of education level to understand the magnitude of the union movement investment (?) in electing Democrats.
So it is truly amazing that only one Stark County-based elected official showed up at the meeting. For if the unions lose this fight, then their financial ability to support Democratic candidates in the future will be severely cramped. And such is likely the true motivation of those who are behind the effort.
One impressive "show-up" at the meeting was Joyce Healy-Abrams . Joyce ran against Republican Bob Gibbs in the 7th Congressional District which includes the core of Stark County.
This raises the question: Is Joyce up for another try for this seat in 2014?
LINK to a website that endeavors to describe OWF) is busy collecting signatures to place on the ballot a constitutional amendment that likely will read something like this:
No person shall be required, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment:
(A) to resign or refrain from voluntary membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization;
(B) to become or remain a member of a labor organization;
(C) to pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount to a labor organization;
(D) to pay to any charity or other third party, in lieu of such payments, any amount equivalent to or a pro-rata portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges regularly required of members of a labor organization;
(E) to be recommended, approved, referred, or cleared by or through a labor organization
The impending action directed at organized labor is not the first fight that organized labor has fought for its viability since the Republican John Kasich administration has taken over in Columbus.
In 2011 Ohio's public unions were the butts of an effort by the Republican supermajority controlled Ohio General Assembly (at the behest of Governor Kasich) through its passage of Senate Bill 5 to curtail bargaining rights of unions on behalf of public employees.
In November, the unions put on a legislative referendum issue on the ballot which resulted in the repeal of the bill.
Stark Countians (a no vote was for repeal) voted by a nearly 30,000 vote plurality to repeal SB 5.
Before the 2011 challenge to unionism, it was 1958 that the unions had to fight to preserve their "union shops."
In William Hershey['s]: Echoes of 1958 in the Issue 2 battle, October 31, 2011, Ohio.com is an apt description:
Back in 1958, two Republican icons, U.S. Sen. John Bricker, a former governor and state attorney general, and Ray C. Bliss, the Akron insurance man who was Ohio GOP chairman, to no avail, warned other Republicans, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and related business interests of the perils of political overreach.But 1958 is not 2013.
They ignored the advice.
Voters crushed the right-to-work issue with 63 percent of the vote.
There has been a resurgence of anti-union sentiment in the country and with union membership being down dramatically in the country and in Ohio, the OWF effort is being taken as life threatening by organized labor.
The SCPR's take on Stark's Democratic elected officials posture during the SB 5/State Issue 2 fight is that they were by and large right in step with the public unions even though in many cases these very officials have negotiating responsibilities for the public interest vis-a-vis those unions.
But will they be there on the so called Right to Work issue?
As pointed out by Scuiry and Kathleen Kelly-Calcei (an Ohio AFL-CIO official) at yesterday's meeting, the expressions in and of themselves - Right to Work/Workplace Freedom - have appeal to many, union/non-union alike. So much so that union members have been lured into signing the OWF petition unawares. And polling indications are that merely given the expression "Workplace Freedom," a typical voter including union members themselves will be prone to vote for a constitutional amendment to prohibit "union shops" in Ohio.
Of course, the union leadership position is that when one digs beneath the expression that Right to Work, Workplace Freedom and the like, an thoroughgoing analysis reveals the proposed amendment to be "unfair, unsafe and unnecessary" (the union's slogan for the upcoming campaign).
It could be that there was not very good coordination between Scuiry, Kelly-Calcei and Gonzalez to get Stark County Democratic elected officials out for yesterday meeting.
More likely, the SCPR believes, is that some of these folks are actually buying into the idea that Right to Work is a good idea.
If such is the case, the unions have a lot of educating and cudgeling to do a la "don't come to us for campaign workers and financial contributions if you can't support us in our hour of need."
Readers can be sure that the OWF Right to Work effort will not be a repeat of the 1958 drubbing the issue took. It is likely to be a "nip and tuck" fight as to whom will emerge the winner on the issue.
The Report believes that if Ohio unions are to survive as we know them, a critical factor will be having Democratic elected officials to stand front and center with them in the battle to come.
If the Tuesday evening Hall of Fame AFL-CIO sponsored meeting is a harbinger of the level of support on the part of these officials, then one has to think that it is likely that Ohio will follow Michigan who became a Right to Work state on December 11, 2012.
Here is a "highlights" video of Kelly-Calcei and Scuiry presenting at Tuesday's meeting.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
(VIDEOS) COMMISSIONERS MEAN BUSINESS! IN TACKLING STARK CO. FLOODING PROBLEMS DUE TO CLOGGED DRAINAGE DITCHES?
UPDATED: 08:45 AM
Chomping at the Bit for Ditch Repair?
(a must see video for any citizen, mayor, township trustee or city councilperson who has an interest in solving Stark chronic flooding problem)
Isn't $350,000 Way Short of What is Doable?
Where are Township Trustees of
in Pressing Commissioners to Find More Funds?
Where are Mayors Held (North Canton), Fallot (Louisville)
in Pressing Commissioners
for More Ditch Fundng?
Want another example of the consequences to you and your neighbors for the State of Ohio having cut millions of dollars (net of any new revenue sources) from local government funding?
How about the rampant flooding problem which exists throughout Stark County because local governments do not have the funds to keep up with keeping Stark's drainage waterways clear and for providing adequate reservoirs/dams to retain water when once in a hundred years, once in 50 years flood hits?
Notwithstanding the dearth of funds in part contributed to by the State of Ohio's withdrawal of local government funding, the Stark County commissioners seem to be intently serious about their commitment to county voters to do everything they can do (in light of the passage of a 0.5% sales tax in November, 2011) to work towards controlling the county's persistent, year-in, year-out, flooding problem.
Yesterday they held a meeting (a work session) with the Stark County engineering staff:
- Keith Bennett, the elected on his own Stark County engineer (i.e. not controlled by the commissioners),
- Gary Connor, the county's hydraulics engineer,
- Dave Torrence, Bennett's chief assistant, and
- Joe Underwood, Stark County's subdivision engineer
During the session, the commissioners made it abundantly clear that they wanted action and they want action now!
And the engineers seemed to respond. However, as noted by Engineer Bennett (see video below) the engineer's office is downsizing and therefor the office's ability to response is lesser than it has been in the past.
The Report focuses on this this reality for the benefit of those who say they are for less government. All well and good, but these folks then much accept on their square inches of personal interest to get their problems solved by government to accept delays without complaint.
At the meeting, Bennett: "Once we heard that you [the commissioners] set aside $350,000 we began to get a plan together."
There are long term projects (four) which will be a least a year or two before anything is done on them and on which it will be years and years in their full realization.
The list as presented yesterday:
While $350,000 is a far cry from the $1 million that Bernabei said he thought would be available if a levy passed (which the SCPR scoffed at the time he was making the claim) it is more than the commissioners have put in ditch repair and rehab in many a moon. In 2011 the commissioners set aside $100,000 and in 2010 a mere $54,000 spent ($0 originally allocated).
$350,000 is a mere drop in the bucket. Even $1 million is but a trickle. For to do the job properly, it will take tens of millions of dollars and years if flooding of Stark County's homes and business is to become manageable.
In 1997 Stark County, Jackson Township and North Canton came together to fund a study which came to be known as the Zimber Ditch Study (LINK).
And, of course, what is recommended for Zimber is also what needs to be done to do (on a year-in, year-out basis) with Stark's other flood prone areas.
Probably the most unpleasant aspect of being a Stark County commissioner these days is the constant barrage of complaints they receive from Stark Countians about the flooding and cave-ins they are experiencing on a continuing basis.
When they get out into the community (e.g. Perry Township [June 15, 2011; LINK to prior SCPR blog] and North Canton [June 11, 2012; LINK to prior SCPR blog] to the exchange between citizens can get ugly.
What came through yesterday was that the commissioners want answers and they want action to share with Perryites, North Cantonians and the numerous other Stark Countians who will once again will likely be subjected to flooding when the inevitable summer cloudbursts let loose come June, July and August.
Yours truly has gone through the nearly one hour long videotape that The Report took of yesterday's work session to give SCPR readers a sense of the urgency (see video below) which the commissioners are pressing on the engineers to come up with solutions.
Stark Countians should be heartened by the commissioners seizing the initiative and getting going on tackling the problem in the first place.
The SCPR challenges the commissioners to work harder beginning with the 2014 budget to come up with at least $1 million a year as Commissioner Bernabei, a couple years ago, projected to the SCPR as being a number the commissioners would have available if the November, 2011 levy were to pass.
Well, it did and it is now time for the commissioners to produce. No more excuses!
The commissioners are often heard to say they do not have control of this or that situation so as to effect a solution. An example of which was the recent flap between the commissioners and Vassar Park residents over the failure of the Stark County jail to be used to its 501 bed capacity nearly a year and one half after the levy passed.
In the jail instance, the commissioners have a point. However, they can and they did apply pressure on the sheriff to come up with a specific plan to get to full utilization.
On the flooding issue, one thing the commissioners can do is to squeeze $1 million a year to do flood control measures.
But it will require sitting on the likes of Prosecutor John Ferrero and Rick Campbell and others who get county general fund monies in their apparent effort to squeeze every dollar out of the county budget for their turfs.
Unfortunately, there is no one in Stark County government to lobby for the citizens who have their homes and business flooded year after year after year.
Accordingly, the SCPR posits that it is the responsibility of the commissioners to push back on those county officeholders who want to take all the county general fund revenues for themselves.
And what about the trustees from Stark County's urban townships which experience the bulk of the flooding because water run off due to the residential, business and industrial development in those communities.
Why are not the Canton Local, Jackson, Lake, Nimishillen, Perry and Plain Township trustees and the North Canton and Louisville mayors (city council members) beating down the doors of the commissioners demanding at least a $1 million set aside for flood control?
A very positive note coming out of the March 19th meeting is that it is just the beginning of the commissioners digging into resolving Stark's flooding problem.
They left it with Engineer Bennett yesterday that they would meet with him again in about 30 days in a work session in a continuing plan whereby commissioners will closely monitor progress being made in dealing with infrastructure problems that contribute to flooding in the county.
It behooves all Stark County city and township officials who have major problems within their boundaries to be sending representatives to these meetings.
Moreover, they need to put their money where there mouth is. Plain and Jackson (as described by Bennett in the video) have put $150,000 in on a joint project being worked by the county engineers.