Thursday, July 18, 2013


Last weekend The Repository's Kelli Young and Matt Rink broke out with a series of articles which should raise to "inquiring minds" the question of the quality of police administration in Stark County.

To the SCPR, there is very little that is more scary than a person authorized to carry a gun driving through the neighborhoods of Stark County when the person may be a rogue cop.

After digesting the Young/Rink work, it strikes The Report that too many of those in charge of getting "the bad apples" off Stark's police forces are not doing an effective job.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and for these exceptional police leaders Stark Countians should be thankful.

But for those not getting the job done, public pressure should be brought to bear on the political leaders (i.e. those we elect) to ratchet up the quality of leadership needed to ensure that you or I are not going to be a victim of a cop gone bad.

And, to be sure, it is not just about police persons going bad.  There are other "appointed to their positions" public officials who should not be in their public jobs but are not effectively dealt with in terms of on going scrutiny in terms of their negative interactions with John and Jane Q. Public.

Hopefully, the days are gone in which Stark County/city/village and board of education elected officials have not put in place adequate safeguards to ensure that a public employee cannot walk off with taxpayer dollars.

But, of course, these folks do not carry guns.

Alarming to the Stark County public should be the fact that public official police supervisory types and their legal advisers have been largely unsuccessful in winning arbitration cases in those instances where supervisors have determined that particular police officers should not continue to be so employed.

From Taking away the badge:  Fired officers often return to duty:
The Repository’s analysis found that 34 law-enforcement officers (including a sheriff deputy) have been fired in Stark County since 2003. Nineteen of those officers appealed and more than half of them returned to their jobs — largely due to arbitrators. 
Of the 13 appeals that went to arbitration, 10 of the firings were reversed. About half of the reinstated officers also received back pay for the time they missed from the job.
Yours truly remembers years ago (early 1980s) hearing ad nauseam the complaints of a local school district board of education member about all the bad (in terms of effectiveness) teachers the district had on board.

And yet the district was not documenting the deficiencies to a legally sufficient degree to get rid of teachers who were not up to the job of educating our kids.

In the district you had teachers who yours truly witnessed saying such things as:

"Oh, but Mr. Olson if only your daughter had handed in her homework she would have gotten one grade higher."

The obvious question:  "Why didn't I know that she wasn't handing in her homework?"

Answer:  "Oh, but Mr. Olson if I had to notify each parent of a student that was not handing in homework of such I would have to work an hour or two more a week."

And there were the teachers who routinely called 13/14 year old students orangutans and the like.

Or the teacher who got upset with the classroom question: Why is "Pi" is 3.14?

Undoubtedly the readers of the SCPR have many, many similar stories which should at least bring up the question of whether or not the offending teacher belongs in the classroom.

But by and large such stories are dismissed as the teacher having a bad day or we don't have the personnel to adequately monitor what is going on in the classroom or like in the Stark County police dismissal stories, it is those unions and those arbitrators who keep ineffective or undesirable employees in place.

The SCPR is not buying the line that disses unions and arbitrators.

Rather The Report thinks it is more a case of the supervisors and their legal advisers not being up to the task of protecting the public from having on the public payroll employees who should not be there for a variety of reasons.

Particularly offensive in this regard is the quote in the Young/Rink series attributed to Jackson Township trustee James N. Walter with regard to the township's efforts in arbitration, to wit:
I think the arbitration system is seriously broke.  To shove this down the community’s throat is indefensible.  
Young attributes to Walters:
Walters believes employment decisions should be made by elected officials who are accountable to the public, not by an out-of-area arbitrator who answers to no one. 
Tell us all about it Mister Trustee Walters.

Walters as an "elected" Jackson trustee is a part of a board that the SCPR thinks has fumbled and bumbled the matter of David Zink being appointed as police chief in the first instance and has been decidedly ineffective in dealing with sexual harassment allegations that have been made against Zink.

The Zink situation is not an arbitration situation, is it?

The SCPR only hopes that Jacksonians will hold the Board of Trustees accountable.  It is interesting that Walters himself is not up for election this time around.

Walters and his disingenuous "hold us accountable" is akin to "the pot calling the kettle black."

Except the only reason that the arbitration kettle may be black in terms of not working is because those who have to make the case are proving in spades they do not have the skills needed to win a vast majority of arbitrations.

What if prosecutors had a track record of losing 77% (10 out 13) of their cases?

There would be a public outrage, no?

As far as the SCPR is concerned, it should take first-rate preparation and the accumulation/presentation of compelling evidence for a person subject to arbitration to lose his/her job.

For those who are losing arbitration cases at the aforementioned alarming rate, it is high time for them to take a look at themselves and doing a "gut check time" and honestly facing up to the question as to whether or not they are in over their heads and are not up to the task at hand.

The Stark County Political Report posits that as they would if prosecutors lost 77% of their cases, the Stark County public should demand of those Stark County elected officials who have put in place supervisors and legal advisers that are not getting the arbitration job done, that changes be made.

And there is one final thought.

There are police administrators that have an amazing track record of getting resignations from those police officers who do not measure up to the very high standards that they have in place for those who wear "blue."

The resignation route is a "win-win" for the officer in question and the public.

Maybe just maybe Stark County policing officials should be putting together some training sessions staffed by the successful police administrators so that the number of arbitrations get diminished.

But, where the resignation route does not work, it is imperative that those employed to manage the employer's side of arbitration get better at doing what they do.

And, if they do not, then some heads should roll.

If heads do not roll, then the appointing elected official authority should be held accountable come election time.

No comments: