UPDATED: 1:14 PM
There are ever so many among Stark County's elected officials and public figures that the Stark County Political Report could selected as the "2013 LUMP OF COAL" (LOC) AWARD WINNER.
But whom to select, that is "a puzzlement."
Over 2013, the SCPR has published the better part of 300 blogs.
So there are many to pick from.
GEORGE T. MAIER
JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR
STARK CO DEMOCRATIC PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE
CHAIRMAN RANDY GONZALEZ
Interestingly enough, as early of January 8th, the Maier brothers (George T. & Johnnie A. Jr) had surfaced as candidates for LOC winners.
George, being pushed by Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez & brother Johnnie, Jr) who came out of nowhere (according to interim Sheriff Tim Swanson), as a candidate to replace Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2012) who could not take office as schedule on January 7th because of an illness that regrettably and lamentably cost him his life on February 22nd.
George was quoted as saying:
George was picked by 92 of 167 voted counted members of the Stark County Democratic Committee on February 5, 2013.
As we know know, his statement was "a lot of phony-baloney" and arrogant bravado inasmuch as the Ohio Supreme Court on November 6th said he was unqualified to be the pick and was ousted "as never having been the legal sheriff."
As if to say "in your face" to the high court, the Dems on December 11th (101 of 166 SCDP-CC members) once again, under Chairman Randy Gonzalez's leadership, selected George T. Maier.
It appears that Tim Swanson is likely to file a new quo warranto seeking Maier's ouster for a second time.
Moreover, he has asked the Stark commissioners to reimbursed him nearly $34,000 in legal fees.
And, since they are bulking at doing so, the SCPR is being told that he might retract his statement that he will not seek to be paid for the time he should have been drawing a sheriff's salary ($88,511.75) as interim sheriff while (according to the Ohio Supreme Court) George Maier usurped the office.
The SCDP-CC February 5th appoint may end up costing Stark County taxpayers about $130,000.
Will the loses get doubled to $260,000 or thereabouts with the December 11th re-appointment of Maier?
Who can forget another ridiculous statement ("it would be a complete waste of time") made by a Stark County public official/figure Ross Rhodes (assistant Stark County prosecutor) in saying that Stark County citizen Tom Marcelli's demand through his attorney demanded that the prosecutor's office recover $5,000 in fine money for the Stark County taxpayers diverted from the county treasury by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione for the benefit of the victims of the December, 2012 Newtown, CT elementary school shooting.
After Marcelli filed his lawsuit, guess what?
In no time at all, Judge Forchione was scrambling to recover the $5,000 to the Stark County treasury.
Want to say that again, Prosecutor Rhodes?
CANTON MAYOR WILLIAM J. HEALY, II
Not a year goes by that Canton mayor William J. Healy, II is not a serious contender for the SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime Award.
And 2013 is no exception.
Who can forget the furor Healy unleashed within the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) when he orchestrated the changing of the rules of the Stark County Crime Lab so that non-scientist and political pal Rick Perez (a former and "retired" Stark County chief deputy sheriff [operations]) could become the crime lab chief on February 5, 2013.
Healy tried to blame his safety director Tom Ream.
But nobody was buying Stark County's master manipulator politician Healy's.
STATE SEN SCOTT OELSLAGER
STATE REP CHRISTINA HAGAN
At Canton City Council's February 11th meeting, President Allen Schulman let go with a barrage on Stark County's delegation to the Ohio General Assembly for standing by and letting Ohio's urban areas (Canton is Ohio's eighth largest city) get gutted in their local government funds (which includes the formal local government funds, the inheritance tax and a utility tax) from the state of Ohio
Representative J. Kirk Schuring (R - Jackson) and Stephen Slesnick (D - Canton) did respond to Schulman's call to come to council to answer questions.
But not Scott Oelslager (R - Plain) and Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro).
Oelslager, through an aide, said he was "too busy" to come to Canton in Stark County to account to Canton council and, Christina Hagan, she simply blew those Stark County city folk off. After all, she is Stark County
s "rural" area representative.
And, what's more, though she not say she was too busy.
But it is highly likely she is.
According to an Akron Beacon Journal article of October 5, 2013 she is waiting tables (in addition to being state representative) to pay off an astronomical $80,000 student loan.
So two of Stark County's four legislators have no time for financially troubled Stark County communities?
CANTON COUNCIL MAJORITY LEADER DAVID DOUGHERTY
Canton Council's Democratic majority leader David Dougherty (Ward 7) comes across as being an intelligent guy.
And that may be.
But as an adept politician among his colleagues, he comes up way short.
The word is that because of his abrasive manner with his fellow council members he will no longer be majority leader as of January 6, 2014.
And as far as the SCPR is concerned, he has only himself to blame.
Of course, internal politics like that are no reason to consider Dougherty as potential "Lump of Coal" award winner.
However, there is an aspect of his apparently abrasive manner that is deserving of consideration of being the SCPR's 2013 LOC awardee.
The SCPR opined on February 8, 2012 that Dougherty did not have "a good bedside manner" when chairing a Canton City Council meeting of February 6th.
One of the most important things that any government body or official does, is to hear their constituents on their concerns and questions respecting the operation of government.
A forum in which those concerns/questions are made known are generally titled on meeting agendas as being "public speaks."
Canton City Council has such an agenda item each and every meeting.
On the 6th, Dougherty appeared to be unnecessarily brusque with several citizen-presenters at Public Speaks.
Fortunately, in the view of the SCPR, Dougherty infrequently - as majority leader and hence vice president of council - chairs a council meeting.
One would think that he would have paid attention to the SCPR February 8, 2012 blog on The Report's observation of his apparent lack of an appropriate "bedside manner" in conducting meetings.
But he didn't.
Councilman Dougherty was back at it with his brusqueness on August (the 26th) of this year.
Hence, the SCPR considers David Dougherty for the 2013 SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime award.
ALAN HAROLD, STARK COUNTY AUDITOR
PHIL GIAVASIS, STARK COUNTY CLERK OF COURTS
Republican Alan Harold ranks up there as one the Stark County Report's favorite Stark County public official.
Alex Zumbar (also a Republican) is probably number one, but Harold is a close second.
A main difference between the SCPR and other Stark County media is that The Report just as easily critiques public officials/figures who impress in an overall sense as readily as The Report pans those who seem to consistently come up "short of the mark" on quality public office/function performance.
Scrutiny of the public sector is about good government; not being a respecter of persons.
One of the things that his predecessor (Democrat Kim Perez) got "raked over the coals" about (no pun intended) was a perception by the folks on the editorial board down at 500 Market Avenue, South that Perez (when he defeated Republican Brant Luther in 2004 [Luther had been appointed by the Stark GOP to replace Janet Creighton as county auditor when she took office as mayor of Canton on January 1, 2004] - when he took office - appointed his Democratic Party political cronies to positions within the auditor's office.
Not to be too harsh on my "editorial board friends," there is some evidence that their concerns had some validity (e.g. Jimmy Babcock and Kevin Fisher).
However, The Report thinks those editorialists are way too selective in singling out Perez. Those folks are strangely silent when others appoint politically connected persons to office.
It seems that Democrats get lambasted to the exclusion of Republicans.
Well, as we all well know, Democrat Kim Perez got knocked off by Harold in November, 2012 because he was perceived by a majority of Stark County voters of having too politically close to Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (1999 - October 19, 2011) (see this LINK for background information as to why that perception likely developed).
As readers of the SCPR know, even if The Report likes a particular government official, if The Report thinks there is a transgression by "the favorite," a critical blog is going to come fast and furious.
And such was the case with Harold in his appointing A.R. "Chip" Conde to a lead position in the auditor's office.
Conde is a politically connected Republican who ran against incumbent Democrat William J. Healy, II in 2011 for the mayoralty of Canton.
While The Report thinks Conde is a highly capable guy (which is Harold's defense), there are lots of "highly capables" and for Harold to hire him to the position (based on political connections - a SCPR opinion) is a breach of he public trust.
Wait a minute! Harold did advertise the position. How can you think the Conde hire has political underpinnings?
The Report thinks that Harold is more politically astute that either Campbell or Giavasis. It appears to the SCPR that the advertising was a sop to the likes of The Report and that nobody except Conde was ever, ever going to get that auditor's department job.
The Report roundly criticized Democrat Rick Campbell for doing the same in hiring son - Kody Gonzalez - of Stark County Dem chairman Randy Gonzalez (who denies he had anything to do with the hiring) as his chief deputy recorder several years ago without seeking competitive candidates.
And, as if he lives a charmed life or something; the SCPR was again critical this year as Kody Gonzalez once again was the recipient of jumping from chief deputy recorder to being chief deputy clerk of courts (Canton Municipal Court) - again "no competition" - at the hand of Democrat Phil Giavasis - the elected Canton clerk of courts. Kody succeeds father Randy as chief deputy as if the position a family heirloom.
Moreover, the Kody Gonzalez transition was made at - what the SCPR considers to be - a huge increase. From $49,000 as beginning chief deputy recorder to $64,000 as beginning chief deputy clerk of courts over the course of about five years.
Undoubtedly, father Randy denies having anything to do with the appointment. The SCPR did not bother asking Randy because the expectation is that all that is forthcoming is "a political spin" that matches or exceeds what comes from Mayor Healy.
Father Gonzalez has tried to sell the SCPR on the notion that "public service" is a Gonzalez family tradition.
The SCPR's rejoinder is a always a sarcastic "oh yes, 'well paid' public service."
Of course, a denial could be true. But who is going the believe it? The SCPR certainly has and will not.
To the SCPR, the Harold, Campbell and Giavasis moves reek of partisan politics and when they occur they have been and will continue to be roundly criticized by The Report.
To boot, such conduct will always be prime candidates as being worthy of consideration for the annual SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime award.
Public officials wonder why public skepticism and even cynicism is on the rise?
As an aside - while we are on the topic of "political connectedness and public jobs" - the SCPR is hearing that Randy Gonzalez (who is retiring in January from the Canton chief deputy clerk of courts job) is being considered by newly re-appointed Sheriff George T. Maier as a replacement fiscal officer (Gonzalez is the elected fiscal officer for Jackson Township) for the most recent fiscal officer who resigned last Friday some two days after Maier's reappointment.
It may be that Maier was trying to "grease the skids" for Gonzalez this past Wednesday evening at a holiday gathering of the Stark County Police Chiefs Association when he was telling them "how devastated he was" to lose his fiscal officer.
One can't do without a fiscal officer very long, no?
One has to get one as soon as one possibly can, no?
Does anybody know of anyone who might soon be available?
Another side note. Readers of the SCPR will recall the blog in which The Report revealed that before he was abruptly removed as sheriff on November 6th by Ohio's court of last resort, Maier was in negotiations with Warren Price (legal counsel for Chairman Gonzalez and the SCDP-CC in Darrow/Maier v. Gonzalez/SCDP-CC mandamus action) for Price to come on board as either a direct employee/contract employee as the sheriff's legal counsel/human resource director.
Well, one has to wonder whether or not those Price negotiations are on again.
The SCPR has e-mailed both Gonzalez and Maier asking for confirmation of the reports, but neither have responded.
Don't hold your breath, but if they do, of course, the SCPR will supplement this blog to give them their due.
NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL
When Darryl Revoldt was North Canton Council president, the SCPR used to think that this council was one of the Stark County's better councils.
But no more!
While council President Jon Snyder is a pretty smooth guy, he does not possess the skills of Revoldt.
The nemesis of North Canton's council is civic activist and former councilman (2000 - 2001) Chuck Osborne.
Revoldt, more or less, kept Osborne in line, but, on one occasion, had him removed from a council meeting for being disruptive.
The SCPR's take on Osborne is that "he is a mixed bag."
Osborne has appeal to The Report in that he is one of only a few Stark Countians who have the stomach for holding public officials' "feet to the fire" in being responsive to the needs of citizens over their own convenience and druthers.
However, he take on projects that the SCPR disagrees with.
One was his recent initiative to make the mayor's office in North Canton a full-time position.
For his nonsense approach on this issue, Osborne does earn the attention of the SCPR as a potential candidate for the 2013 SCPR "Lump of Coal" Award.
Osborne is not the only North Cantonian deserving of consideration for this year's award.
Council President Jon Snyder is another. As is Republican Councilwoman-at-Large Marcia Kiesling.
In the run up to this year's council election both Snyder (Ward 4 [Mueller]) and Kiesling (McCleaster) decided to file campaign ethics charges.
The point of SCPR dissatisfaction with Snyder and Kiesling is their reported attempt to deny Hillary Mueller and Jamie McCleaster a right to have legal counsel (namely, Warren Price) represent them at the Ohio Elections Commission hearing.
That's what the SCPR heard.
It seems that the objection was that Warren Price had been in discussions about becoming North Canton's water plant superintendent.
So? What does that have to do with whether or not he represented Mueller and McCleaster before the Ohio Elections Commission?
Exactly the thinking of the SCPR!
As The Report understands the matter, the contention was that Price had agreed to become a North Canton employee and therefore Price would have a conflict in interest in representing the Snyder/Kiesling political opponents.
The fact of the matter is, as it turns out, Price did not accept North Canton's offer.
And the SCPR fails to see how - even if he had - how such is a conflict-in-interest in representing. It was not the city of North Canton, Price was opposing in his representation of the pair. It was Snyder and Kiesling in their individual capacities as candidates for political office.
In the final analysis, Price went ahead with the representation.
The SCPR was so unimpressed purported attempt to interfere with this basic right of a person to be represented that The Report believes Snyder and Kiesling are deserving of consideration for the 2013 version of the "Lumo of Coal" SCPR Christmastime award.
Lastly, the SCPR has not been impressed with North Canton City Council (Republican controlled) and North Canton Law Director Tim Fox (a Republican) in:
- one the hiring procedure whereby council hired Fox,
- Fox's seemingly belligerent attitude towards anyone who questions council or him in the discharge of public duties
Accordingly, put North Canton City Council on the list of eligibles for the 2013 6th Annual "Lump of Coal" Award.
A roll of the drums please!
THE 2013 SCPR "LUMP OF COAL" WINNER