Wednesday, July 31, 2013

(VIDEO) A GAME OF ROULETTE IN MASSILLON IN RESTRUCTURING PARKS & RECREATION?




Lame duck Councilman Larry Slagle (D, at-large; his term ends December 31st) is demonstrating the patience of Job as chairman of Massillon City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee.

It has been and continues to be a long, drawn out process. And nobody knows what the end product will be.

The process is sort of like a roulette wheel that goes "around and around and nobody knows where the marker will stop" when the roulette stops.

Several weeks ago, Slagle initiated an effort to resolve a seemingly endless controversy of who is doing what in the management of Tigerland's parks and recreation complex.

In Monday evening's work session, Slagle showed by way of his patient leadership that he is moving the city along towards creating a structure that may help end the interminable political back of forth between and among Massillon's warring factions on the parks and recreation issue.

While the SCPR thinks that Massillon has a solid core of councilpersons, a number of them seem to be somewhat timid about going public with viewpoints that might be taken exception to.  Accordingly, Slagle has had to coax them into sharing their viewpoints about his working document on the restructuring.

Monday night's session was one of the more candid but noncombative exchanges on the parks and recreation issue that The Report has witnessed.

At one point in the discussion, Chairman Slagle mused that a solution may not be forthcoming even by the end of his term.

Council should make it a point to come to a resolution before Slagle leaves.

For, in the opinion of yours truly,  he offers a unique set of skills and a depth of knowledge of the parks and recreation issues that make him the ideal broker of getting a deal done that should empower this department of Massillon city government to move forward meeting the needs of Massillonians.

Last week in a telephone discussion Councilman Paul Manson (D, at-large), he indicated to The Report that Slagle will be sorely missed when his term has been completed.

Another important ingredient in Monday's meeting was "born again" Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry's attitude.

Her outlook was conciliatory in terms of sharing power with council on the matter of who is to hire a new director notwithstanding that the chairman had stated in very clear terms ("absolute, 100%") that the ultimate decision on hiring a director should be with council.

In Monday's council's examination of Slagle's proposed legislation, items mulled over include:
  • the powers and dues of the parks and recreation board,
    • Note:  Manson cited Ohio Revised Code Section 755 in setting up board commissioners and the legislation as being a framework that Massillon adopts,
  • whether or not to continue having the Massillon City Schools Board of Education appoint two of the five members,
    • Note:  Lewis favors keeping the school board appointees but he did raise the question of whether or not appointees (mayor or school board) who were not working out could be removed, 
    • Note:  Scassa brought up the "slippery slope" of removing volunteer, unpaid board members in the sense of what standard would one use,
    • Note:  [Law Director Perry Stergios answered in the negative as to the ability under current legislation to remove]
  • the question of the authority to hire/fire a director,
    • Note:  Scassa indicated that she would not necessarily want to be involved as a councilperson picking a parks director and that perhaps such should be done by the parks and recreation board,
    • Note:  Halter questioned why council should have control over who the parks director is but question the quality of present park and recreation board members and in that light, favored the administration picking a director,
    • Note:  Slagle seemed amenable to have the parks and recreation board select a director subject to the approval of the mayor and "final" approval of Massillon council,
    • Note:  Chovan question whether or not in a parks and recreation, the mayor and council scheme of appointing a director, the members of the parks and recreation board are qualified to evaluate a candidate,
  • the credentialing (i.e. setting the qualifications) of a director and providing for the oversight of a director,
    • Note:  Scassa expressed concern that the legislation proposed doesn't have adequate measures to ensure that a director is accountable to a specific person,
    • Note:  Slagle pointed out that the quality standards of the proposed legislation may be such that current interim Director Nist cannot qualify and asked for suggestions to change them so that Nist could be considered as permanent director,
    • Note:  Mayor Catazaro-Perry:
      • cited the "failed" (her term) tenure of Bob Straughn as director which she said was done in haste and that therefore the lesson learned is that hiring a director should be done with caution, 
      • agreed with Councilwoman Scassa's point about administrative accountability, and
      • emphasized that the hiring process needs to fair and not pre-determined,
    • Note:  Lewis joined the mayor in cautioning against tailoring the qualifications biased in favor of a preferred person,
    • Note:  Chovan asked whether or not raising standards for a director would not also entail paying more money,
  • the right of a [future] director to state his/her case to council in the face of a contemplated firing,
    • Note:  Hampton raised questions of who disciplines of a director, if needed.
One particularly notable comment by Chairman Slagle as to his mission as chairman was: "I am just trying to set forth some kind of structure so they (parks and recreation board), we know, the administration knows and the public knows what is going on."

All-in-all the SCPR was impressed with Monday night's session and believes that hope is on the horizon that within six months or so Massillon will have put together a structure of governance of its parks and recreation function that should work reasonably well.

A SCPR "hats off" to Councilman/Chairman Larry Slagle for excellent work in bringing this matter to a slow but sure conclusion.

Indeed it is an "around, around it goes and where it stops nobody knows" process.

But Slagle's persistent patience seems certain to produce results which will bode well for the future of Massillon's parks and recreation system.

For those who want to see the entire video of Monday night's work session on the parks and recreation issue, here goes:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013



UPDATE:  (12:18 AM) - MORE HEALY SPIN?



After learning last night at Canton City Council meeting that Warren Price "is back" according to clerk of council Cynthia Timberlake and that he was not present at council tonight because of "illness," and council President Allen Schulman saying that he knew nothing (until he read it in yesterday's SCPR blog) about Safety Director Warren Price having had a heated argument with Mayor Healy late last week over Price's alleged authorization of overtime emergency ambulance service contrary to Healy's wishes and consequently quitting 159 days shy of last agreed quit date of December 31, 2013, the SCPR minutes ago checked with The Report's source as to the accuracy of yours truly's original report as "breaking news" on Saturday evening as amplified in a blog published yesterday which is set forth in full below.

In short, the source stands by his account.

This source is one of the SCPR's most credible "go to" people in terms of being borne out as having the essence of his story correct as communicated to The Report.

The conjecture is that, as he always does when he does something goofy or bizarre, Healy summoned the help of someone like an Allen Schulman (who truly and genuinely cares about Canton over his personal interests) to make a telephone call to Warren Price and implore him to retract his having summarily quit on Friday of last week.

So the Price quit date:
  • originally two weeks,
  • turned into 90 days, 
  • turned into December 31, 2013 and 
  • which is now August 31, 2013;
is a quintessential William J. Healy, II face-saving move.

As the SCPR has stated numerous times, Healy is Stark County's version of William Jefferson Clinton and his "Well, it depends on what is is?  Moreover, his escaping one scrape after another after another after another makes him the envy of a cat having nine lives.

And The Report believes that being the good soldier he is (loyal to the end), Price is willing to help Healy save face.

For he too is a guy who cares about the city of Canton and The Report thinks he realizes that to leave precipitously (i.e. "I quit today") from the key position he serves in is not in the best interest for the stability of Canton city government.

In time (sometime after August 31st), yours truly believes that The Report's source will be vindicated in an "off the record-esque" acknowledgment.

The SCPR is of the mind that Healy is once again in "damage control" mode.  Just think of the number of times over the past 5-1/2 years Healy has had to scramble to get himself out of a bind.

It is truly amazing that this modern day Houdini is the mayor of Canton.

May God save Canton!


UPDATE:  (08:50 AM) INPUT FROM CANTON PARKS & RECREATION DIRECTOR DEREK GORDON

As is the policy of the SCPR, yours truly publishes in its entirety the Healy's administration's reaction to information published in today's blog as provided to The Report by a well-placed source in terms of generally having high quality information about the work/actions of the administration.

A big "thank you" to Derek Gordon.

Mr. Olsen (sic),

I wanted to provide a point of clarification on your blog post from this morning in regards to the park levy.  The decisions regarding millage adjustments, legal options, and the inclusion of the Community Centers have been determined by the Park Commission, representatives of the Canton Recreational Services Coalition and the Law Department.  Mayor Healy has had relatively little involvement with the process or conversations with the Law Department regarding the levy since he originally brought the representatives of each organization together in 2012.

I can provide more details on the content of these discussions with the Law Department following tonight's Council meeting.  However, the majority of the decisions made by the Park Commission regarding the levy have been a result of legal limitations discovered by our Law Department.

Thanks,
Derek

-- Derek Gordon
Canton Park Commission
Park Director

ORIGINAL BLOG




Unbelievable!  Simply unbelievable!!  A third time: utterly unbelievable!!!

After agreeing to stay on until the end of the year, Canton safety director Warren Price abruptly quit Friday after a heated discussion with Mayor William J. Healy, II over Price recently having authorized overtime for ambulance runs out of the Canton Fire Department.

So the SCPR has been told by a source.

It is becoming readily apparent to the SCPR that - not only - is William J. Healy, II too arrogant to be mayor of Canton; he is obviously "in over his head."

During his five and one-half years as mayor, he has gone through three very good administrators:  Tom Bernabei (a former long time Canton law director and city councilman), Tom Nesbitt (a former top official with the Nebraska Highway Patrol) and now - as of Friday, July 26, 2013 - the very loyal and dependable (since being hired in 2009) Warren Price.

The Stark County Political Report did a "breaking news" at 6:30 PM on Saturday on Price's abrupt department but at the time did not know the reason.

It turns out that Price walked out on Healy Friday after what is said to have been a ferocious argument between the two over Price's having recently authorized Canton Fire Department ambulance service overtime.

Really?

Overtime for an ambulance run.

Apparently so.

The Report has been told several times going back a spell of time that Healy has been furious for some time about Local 249 (Canton Professional Firefighters) members of the Canton Fire Department having endorsed a number of his political opponents over the past two years or so including Republican A.R. "Chip" Conde when he ran against Healy in November, 2011.

A number of Canton politicians are alleging to the SCPR that Healy has threatened the leadership of the union with station closings if they supported folks like Mary Cirelli (D-Canton) when she ran against Healy pal Kim Perez (D-Canton) for treasurer of Canton and Councilman Joe Cole (D-Canton) when he ran against Ward 9 incumbent Democratic councilman Frank Morris in this year's May primary election.

Healy has tried to make out like that the political actions of IAF Local 249 has had no ramifications on his administration's relationship with the fire department.

But The Report's take on the mayor is that he has a long memory and it is unbelievable that he takes such as being "so much politics" and simply lets political opposition roll off his back as water runs off the back of a duck.

The Report chooses to believe those who assert that the mayor is out on a vendetta against the fire department which has the potential to adversely affect the safety of everyday Cantonians.

The SCPR thinks that:
If one goes back to January 1, 2008, the SCPR believes one can find quite a few examples that should give rise to the question among Cantonians on Healy's ability to govern effectively.

A shorter and more pithy way to say the same thing is to raise the question:  Is Healy in over his head?

Only a few days ago, it came out that the Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) is floundering (CIC working through major 'flaws,' Matt Rink, The Canton Repository, July 27, 2013).

Until he resigned recently in the context of a controversy surrounding his "inadvertent/mistaken" use of a CIC credit card (the issuance of which was not authorized by CIC in the first place) for personal items and which he has reimbursed the CIC for,  Healy has been chairman of the semi-private, economic development organization of the city.

Flaws pointed out by Rink:
  • the organization nearly running out of money for day-to-day expenses,
  • having only one employee, and
  • having no director for over a year
At a recent meeting, board member Allen Schulman (only on the board since February), the SCPR thinks, impliedly (at least for the 5-1/2 years he has been mayor) makes a telling criticism of Healy (remember, only recently resigned as chairman) with a series of negatives about the operation of CIC, to wit:
  • "We don't know how we inherited properties" (going back 20 years - undetermined by the Healy administration over the past 5-1/2 years),
  • "We don't know what their purpose is,"
  • "We don't have a [job] description for a director,"
  • "We don't have HR policies,"
  • "We don't, as far as I can determine, have a vision,"
  • "I don't know exactly what it is we are doing,"
  • "I don't know our goals," and
  • "I don't know the vision we have for this organization."
One of the things that yours truly heard from Healy shortly after he took office is:  "what a mess the predecessor Republican Creighton administration had left things in."

The clear implication of what some of the board members said in Rink's report is that it has not just been the Healy administration who has presided over the "flaw[ed]" organization but also goes back to the Purses administration.

But another implication of Healy's criticism of Creighton et al  is that it would be up to him to straighten things out.

Has he straightened things out not only with the CIC but the rest of the city that he alleges Creighton left in shambles?

While not agreeing with Healy's assessment of the Creighton years, he has not by his own in the SCPR's estimate of the condition of the city on July 29, 2013.

An argument is to be made that Healy has overblown any problems that he may have inherited and that he has created many more of his own over his time in office.

And who suffers from a deteriorating Canton?

You've got it.  Everyday Cantonians.

The Report has a source saying that the Healy administration has another current botch job in process.

It has to do with the parks and recreation levy.

Out-of-the-blue two weeks ago, we learned that there was a snag in the wording in the 4 mill property tax levy which is set to be voted on in November.

Snag?

Yes.

The Report is told by a source that Healy is asking that the J. Babe Stern Community Center, non-profit, 501(c)3 organization (located in Ward 5), be included as a recipient of funds from the levy and specified as such in the ballot language.

"No can do," The Report is told is the word from Canton law director Joe Martuccio to Mayor Healy inasmuch as it is not a part of the Canton parks and recreation system.

So what does Healy want to do?

Reduce the millage of the levy.

It will be interesting to see how the tale is told at tonight's council meeting, no?

Beyond those matters already cited in this blog, who can forget a number of other Healy administration miscues.

To name just a few:
  • Trying to water down the requirements of the director of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (CSCCL) to non-scientist status so that Healy could pick Rick Perez as director,
    • NOTE:  the CSCCL remains more or less in a state of limbo as to its future.
  • Canton missing out in $481,000 in Housing and Urban Development Funding for Canton economic development because the city missed a March 31, 2010 application deadline.
  • The fiasco with Canton retire/rehire of some 30 Canton employees that still is not fully settled.
On and on and goes the beat with the Healy administration.  Not as much with his appointees as with the mayor himself and his micromanaging, intermeddling style.

One more story about the mayor and his self-importance and his estimate of his abilities.

The Report is informed by one who formerly served in his administration that a question of the basis of Canton's participation in Ohio's (by statutory authority) natural gas aggregation came up early on in the administration.

Canton had an expert consultant on the natural gas industry advising the city.  The consultant gave his opinion in which direction Canton should go on the particular issue whatever it was.

That pretty much closes off the discussion, no?

Not with Mayor Healy.

After all he was a graduate of the Stern School of Business of New York University and when he was a student at NYU, he had taken a course that indicated to him that the city should take a different tack than that suggested by the expert.

Conclusion?

Insufferable!

A man who doesn't know what he doesn't know.

Not only a "hothead," arrogant man but also a man who doesn't know when he is in-over-his-head.

No wonder Warren Price walked out is disgust on Friday, July 26, 2013, some 159 days short of his originally promised staying date.


Who can blame him?

But a lament to the citizens of Canton.

Most of them cannot go anywhere.  Those who can are leaving in a steady stream (i.e. population continues to edge downwards).

Those who remain just have to sit and suffer with William J. Healy, II as their mayor.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

BREAKING NEWS! SATURDAY, 6:30 P.M. PRICE QUITS AGAIN TO MOVE UP DATE OF DEPARTURE TO AS OF JULY 26, 2013?



The SCPR has just been told by a highly reliable source that Warren Price has quit, as of Friday (yesterday), the Healy administration as the administration's safety director.

The Report understands that Price broke the news to friends at the Conestoga Grill in downtown Canton some time yesterday.

The SCPR's source says that a Canton councilman went looking for Price when rumor started swirling around town that Price had quit earlier in the day.

The councilman, The Report is told, was able to find Price at the Conestoga and confirm the quitting.

The Report's source does not know why Price left well in advance of an agreement with the mayor that he would stay on through the end of 2013.

Of course, the SCPR broke the story on July 16th that Price quit but that he had decided not to leave immediately at the behest of Mayor Healy.

The Report was told for that story that Price initially wanted to leave with two weeks notice but later decided on a 90 day timeframe.

In extended discussions with Healy, Price agreed to stay through December 31, 2013.

Yours truly was as of the blog of July 16th skeptical that Price could abide Healy another five months and therefore is not surprised to hear of the early departure.

But it is interesting that Price's agreement to stay on a while longer apparently has lasted all of 10 days.


Friday, July 26, 2013

PLAIN TOWNSHIP: A EXEMPLARY MODEL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT?



Since yours truly began publishing the Stark County Political Report (March 12, 2008), it has been clear that Plain Township is the best run government in all of Stark County.

So it was no surprise recently to have received this e-mail from lead trustee Louis G. Giavasis.
Plain Township Trustees: July 23 (2013)
Martin, just a FYI, At last night's Plain Township Board of Trustees meeting we received some great news I wanted to share. 
Our Fiscal Officer presented the 2014 proposed alternative tax budget which estimates the township will have a general fund carryover of $2.6 million going into next year.  Plain Township will continue to provide cost efficient services at current levels and our 2014 budget expenditures are estimated to be approximately $1 million lower than 2013.   
I am proud that Plain Township will remain one of the most financially sound communities in Stark County. 
Lou Giavasis
Two of the three trustees (Giavasis and Leno) are Democrats.  So much for "tax and spend Democrats" at least in Plain Township.

Plain is Stark's largest township, coming in at about 52,000 population.


Particularly impressive to the SCPR has been the township's penchant for efficiency.

A place to look is at the cost of its police operations and to compare is in its policing operation to Stark's next largest township Jackson.

There has been relatively little increase in policing expenditures even has the township increases police visibility in the township.

Giavasis tells The Report that the township has one substation and has plans for another which means that many Plain residents will be "a stone's throw away" from a police station.

One station is presently located in Avondale and in August/September, Giavasis says, another will be set up in northeast Plain Township in the area of Diamond and Middlebranch.

And the substations are not only a place for the sheriff's deputies to hang out, they will be accessible to township residents who have business to conduct with the police.


Plain contracts with the Stark County sheriff's department for policing services at a projected cost of $1,536,162 annually.

Compared to Jackson township which comes in at about $7.5 million, what a deal $1.5 million is for Plain, no?


And, of course, the media has been full of accounts of personnel problems within the Jackson Police Department.

Incidentally, a majority of Jackson's trustees are Republicans (Walters and Hawke).  But apparently they are not "less government is better government" Republicans.

Plain Township has none of the Jackson Township headaches (in addition to the expense) of administering a police department.

All Plain's police administration is handled by Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier and his staff.

There has a recent (June of this year) controversy involving Plain's fiscal responsibility.

The brouhaha has to do with the construction of a new central fire station on Schneider St NE going back to August of 2012.

The problem has to do with the fact that the facility is a two-story building and that Ohio's building code requires that an elevator be installed to allow for public access (this is a public building) to the second floor even though the second floor is "off limits" for the public inasmuch as it is resting area for "firemen only."

Giavasis believes the the trustees have taken prudent steps under the counsel and advice of the township's architects and feels that the trustees have been "left hung out to dry" (The Report's interpretation of his remarks) by government bureaucrats who cannot make common sense decisions.

Canton, he says, was given an exemption from having an elevator in 2011 when it built a new fire station and that the Plain Township trustees were told that they would get the very same exemption by the township architect.

A curiosity in all this is former commission Pete Ferguson weighing-in on the issue.  Pete was at a meeting of Canton City Council on July 15th.  In a brief conversation with yours truly, he unloaded on Giavasis for not being truthful as to what he knew and when he knew it in terms of knowing that the need for an elevator would not be waived.

Giavasis' response?

Pete Ferguson needs to check Plain Township public meeting records.  The record, Giavasis says, clearly shows that originally the architect was confident that Plain Township would get an exemption from the elevator requirement.

As it turns out, Giavasis further says, the architect was wrong to the tune of at least $100,000.  Plain has paid the firm some $300,000 in fees for its services.

The project was expected to cost about $3.5 million. The bids came in at $3.1 million (without the elevator being in the specifications) and even with the the addition of the elevator, the total cost will be about $3.2 million which is some $300,000 under the budgeted $3.5 million.

Giavasis says that the township may sue (on his recommendation) the architectural firm for the extra $100,000 is costs because had the township been given accurate information on the need for access to the second floor, the township could have installed a relatively inexpensive wheel-chair lift with the adjustment of making the stairwell wider.

Giavasis speculates that Ferguson may be weighing-in because he might have some kind of affinity with the architectural firm.  However, he was quick to add that whether or not he did is beside the point.

He concludes that he thinks Ferguson needs to check the actual record of township proceedings (with the architect speaking) and then apologizes to himself, Al Leno and Scott Haws for his allegation that the trustees (personified by Giavasis) of being untruthful.

Plain Township is showing too that it is willing to put aside turfism by agreeing to abandon its fire and police dispatching service in favor of merging its operation into an evolving countywide call receiving and dispatch redundant center (the sheriff's department and the city of Canton Communications Center).

Back in January, the township sent its dispatchers to the sheriff's department for cross-training (police and fire).

Last month, trustees signed a contract with the sheriff for the department to provide fire and ambulance dispatching (by virtue of the policing contract, the sheriff already dispatches for Plain-based police calls) at the rate of $35 per call.

The saving to the township?

Probably about $120,000 but maybe as much as $140,000 annually.  Plus, perhaps, another one-time $500,000 for updated dispatching technology.

The Plain trustees had considered having Nimishillen Township's CenCom Dispatch Center do fire dispatching (at the same cost of $35 per call), however, Giavasis says that for the same cost it made much more sense to go with the sheriff because in the sheriff configuration, all of the Plain dispatching will be in one room which has to be more effective in getting emergency forces to Plain residents.

Plain like all of Ohio's local governments has been hurt by the elimination of the estate tax, the public utility tax, and cuts in local government funding.

For example, take a look at the evaporation of the estate tax which was eliminated as of January 1, 2013.


It is not as if the SCPR has not been critical of Plain Township officials and Louis Giavasis.

And Giavasis like so many subjects of the SCPR has complained about the critiques.

But he is different than many of the complainers in that he accepts the "check and balance" function of the media vis-a-vis government.

Most of the criticism has had to do with the township's hiring of its administrator.

On the strict criterion of running a ship-shape government, it is clear to the SCPR that Plain Township is top-notch in Stark County.

For anyone who gets elected as a new trustee on other Stark County townships this fall, he or she would do well to get on the Plain Township website and view each and every township meeting.


In doing so, the new trustee will become much better prepared to making an immediate impact on his/her township.

The SCPR analysis is that Plain Township government is the best in all of Stark County and, indeed, a model for all other Stark County-based local government to follow.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

A CHANCE FOR STATE REP. CHRISTINA HAGAN TO PUT SOME "DASH" IN HER "SPLASH?"



Recently, I was switching radio stations while out in the car and in the process checked into WHBC 1480 on your radio dial to catch a little bit of Ron Ponder's Points to Ponder.

Disappointing to me, Ponder was not hosting. Rather a gentleman by the name of Lin McDowell was.

Just about ready to tune-out when I heard a familiar voice that froze my dial-turning-hand.

Is that her I asked myself?

Her?

Her - who?

State Representative Christina Hagan (Republican - Marlboro - the 50th).

Indeed, it was!

Well, I have to hear this.

Maybe she has some "phenomenal" (you will get the play on "phenomenal" as you read on)) news out of Columbus to share with us listeners, I thought.

And she did not disappoint.

She blessed us with "phenomenal" news from straight out out of Ohio's capital city at least six times in the space of about 15 minutes on the air with McDowell.

But other than her prolific use of the word "phenomenal" interspersed with the word "powerful" or a variant thereof, I cannot recall anything equaling substance that graced her lips during the interview.

It was all fancy-mancy talk straight out of political "talking points" book of one her Ohio House mentors/minders.

I do remember that both she and McDowell are graduates of Malone University.

And, one other thing.

She said that college is not for everybody.  That is straight out of the playbook of her father John who held the "old" 50th District House seat 2000 - 2008. Must have been referring to himself.  As he is the personification of the statement.

Of course, she, McDowell and the like are exceptions.

For others:  merely having a high school education is enough.

Apparently, only the "phenomenal" go on to higher education.

Mind you folks, this is 2013 and advanced technology has taken hold on nearly everything and she thinks most of us are "good to go" with little or no advanced education.

Hmm?

But anyhow, she spent nearly all the time with McDowell talking in glittering generalities and superlatives.

Hagan has been a member of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly for better than two years now.

In March, 2011 she was appointed by the Republican Ohio House Caucus to succeed Todd Snitchler who went on to bigger and better things as political godfather John Kasich's (current Republican governor)  PUCO chairman.

In the Republican primary of 2008, she got wiped out by Snitchler.  And in the course of her challenge of Snitcher, she said some pretty nasty things about him and the leaders of the Republican caucus.  Even accused them of trying to buy her off.


Now that she is on the inside looking out, Hagan thinks Ohio's Republican leaders are?  Can I say it again?  Okay - "phenomenal!"

In contrast to her view of the Republican bigs running the Statehouse, one thing should be clear to all but her family and friends; "phenomenal" she is not.

All she has shown so far is that she knows how to crank out press releases touting her participation in some pretty mundane legislative mishmash and other "style-driven" concoctions designed to get her maximum publicity without having to answer the question:  "Where's the beef?"

I said to myself:  "I need to find something for Christina to do in Columbus that is 'substantive' and which could be "phenomenal" for Stark County right down to the tiny hamlet of Marlboro Township which consists of some 4,000 or so souls."

So I have had my ears and eyes open looking for something of substance.

And, lo and behold! I think I have found something.

Yesterday, I received a press release from Attorney General Michael DeWine, another accomplished cultivator-extraordinaire of the media, to wit:


For those of you who are regular readers of the SCPR, you know that the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (CSCCL - a unit of the Stark County Council of Governments [SCOG]) has run into some tough times of late.

The delays in processing evidence for criminal cases up for prosecution have stretched out so much that the Stark County police chiefs have taken the DNA work away from the locals and are sending it to Ohio's BCI regional facility located at Richfield which is just north of Akron.

With all the funding problems that Ohio's local governments are having at the hand of - you guessed it - the Ohio General Assembly with the help and assistance of one Christina Hagan; it does not appear that things can get better any time soon at the CSCCL.

And it is risky business to shift all the forensic work to the state of Ohio.  Whereas the floodgates of money are open for BCI now because Governor Kasich has decided that analyzing evidence is a top priority, such may not continue into another administration post-Kasich.

So the question becomes what to do to make sure Stark County has access to a first rate crime lab for the foreseeable future?

Answer:  Get Christina Hagan, Kirk Schuring (R-Jackson, the 48th) and Scott Oelslager (R-Plain, the 29th Ohio Senate District to push for the creation of a Kent State - Stark/BCI facility in the image of the BCI/BGSU project.

Richfield is not a good interstate highway interface for a regional BCI site and does not have the advantage of a university connection.

Canton/North Canton/KSU-Stark would serve northeast Ohio much more ably.

And let's make Christina the lead in doing something "substantive" for her political career, for Stark County and for Marlboro Township.

Marlboro Chief of Police Ron Devies was among the first to blow the whistle on the shenanigans on Canton's Healy administration that made existing CSCCL problems even worse.

Connecting a BCI lab to an institution of higher learning makes its long term funding much more secure than if left to the whims and caprice of a successor governor.

Moreover, such a setting would be a boon for workforce development in that the university will be training lab workers and scientific-oriented investigators (for government and private industry) in a hands-on, clinical environment that satisfies Hagan's bias towards vocational training as the best basis for employment for the rest of one's life.

And so what if the lab workers get some college exposure and maybe develop a mind powerful enough to become, perhaps - you know this is coming - "phenomenal!"

Read the rest of the DeWine press release:
... . “This new facility will enhance the laboratory and investigative services we provide to our law enforcement partners in Northwest Ohio,” said Attorney General DeWine.  “We’ll also be able to work with BGSU to advance forensic science in Ohio and help prepare our state’s next generation of scientists and investigators.” 
"The collaborative possibilities between the University and the BCI lab are endless," said Mazey. "Not only will it enhance our already strong science and criminal justice programs, we will be able to offer a number of research opportunities to develop new cutting edge techniques." 
The new BCI facility will elevate BGSU to the select group of colleges nationally that have on-campus crime labs.  BGSU will begin offering forensics as an undergraduate specialization this fall through the departments of criminal justice, chemistry, and biology to help students prepare for careers in public safety and forensic sciences.   
The expanded BCI location will encompass about 30,000 square feet and serve law enforcement and prosecutors in a 22-county area with on-site laboratory and investigative resources.   ... .
Now readers, you tell me.

If Christina Hagan puts her nose to the grindstone and leads the way to bringing a BCI/Kent State - Stark collaboration project to Stark County, wouldn't we all be willing to say:

"Christina Hagan:  yes she has "style," but she is one powerful and PHENOMENAL substantive legislator!"

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

(VIDEOS) IS THERE A DETROIT LOOMING IN STARK COUNTY?



UPDATED:  To clarify that Alliance income tax increase is subject to voter approval come the November election.

VIDEOS

MASSILLON CITY COUNCIL
COUNCILMAN PAUL MANSON
ASKS
FOR A NEW LEVY BALLOT INITIATIVE

COUNCILMAN DONNIE PETERS, JR
QUIZZES
AUDITOR JAYNE FERRERO
ON
POLICE AND FIRE PENSION ARREARS

Today at 10:00 a.m. in Detroit, Michigan an event - beyond belief in 1950 as "the motor city:" the auto manufacturing behemoth of the world reached it high point in population growth - will go down.

That event:


Even though we have all known that Detroit was in trouble with General Motors and Chrysler needing federal bailouts in the financial crisis that hit the country in the fall of 2008, it still was nonetheless shocking to hear on July 18th that this once great American city had filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 9 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Yesterday, it was somewhat jarring for yours truly receive the following e-mail:
The Independent recently reported that the Massillon Auditor's office reported it would not be able to make a pension payment for its employees. Considering that Massillon is running a $2 million plus deficit, is Massillon on the verge of bankruptcy and is it Stark County's version of Detroit?
Actually, Massillon is projecting a deficit of anywhere from $2.5 to $2.7 million.

Of course, Massillon is not alone.

Stark's other two major cities are not in the greatest of shape either.

For Canton, it is hard to know exactly how tough things "really" are.  There you have a mayor who plays volleyball with the financial numbers with one side of the net being "woe is me" numbers and the other being "things are looking very promising" numbers.  Of course, we who are familiar with this Stern School of Business MBA graduate master manipulator are not surprised.  It seems that on a daily basis he concocts "a message of the day" to spread throughout the county depending on his political needs.

The mayor and his manipulations notwithstanding, the SCPR's sense of Canton's finances is that they are shaky at best.

For Alliance, on July 15th its city council voted unanimously to increase its income tax by a full 1/2 percent to 2.5% which by the SCPR calculation will make it the highest rate in all of Stark County if passed in November by the voters of Alliance.

The city is facing a $1 million deficit if the issue does not pass.

All three cities have long passed the high water marks of population growth.


It may appear that Massillon is rebounding somewhat but such is not really the case.  Former mayor Frank Cicchinelli was an aggressive annexer and therefore the seeming population recovery is just that in that its population gains of late are likely do from annexations of peripheral township neighborhoods.

Even before she took office, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry was asking Ohio's auditor (December, 2011) to audit Massillon finances.  She was refused at the time, however she has renewed her request and it appears that any day now we will know the results of an agreed to audit as to whether or not Massillon is in a "fiscal watch" or "fiscal emergency" which will - if so determined - bring the state of Ohio into the management of Massillon's finances.

During a July 8 Massillon City Council work session there were two interesting discussions.

First, was one initiated by Democratic Councilman-at-Large Paul Manson asking that council consider putting on another income tax levy from 1.8% to 2.0% (Massillon hugely defeated a .3% issue in the May primary election) in light of Alliance (at the time) considering a ballot initiative going from 2% to 2.5% (see Alliance discussion above).



Second, was one between Republican Ward 5 Councilman Donnie Peters, Jr. (not seeking re-election) and Massillon auditor Jayne Ferrero regarding the decision by Ferrero to apply new revenues to arrears in police and fire pension fund payments.  She also brought up other arrearages that Massillon has.



The two of them are further substantiation of the e-mail cited by The Report and the fact of the precarious financial condition of Massillon city finances.

While neither Alliance, Canton or Massillon appear to be at the point of a Detroit-esque financial crisis, one gets the feeling that none of them may be that far away.

Dire finances are becoming more and more common across Ohio.

A Dayton area newspaper reported earlier this week that 24 Ohio cities are facing fiscal crises.

It might not be Alliance, Canton or Massillon but might it be that sooner than we may think that Ohioans will wake up to a headline:

Cleveland declares Chapter 9 bankruptcy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

(VIDEOS) 8TH WARD COUNCILMAN MACK CONVINCES JUDICIARY CHAIR THOMAS WEST TO MOVE FORWARD ON CHARTER GOV'T PROPOSAL FOR CANTON




UPDATE:  07/23/2013 AT 09:00 A.M.

C. David Morgan has had this to say about the SCPR point about African American candidates having been elected citywide:
I did find one comparison that you drew missed the mark a bit, in my opinion. You used the Canton City School Board as an example of the ability of African Americans to win city-wide elections, and then you asked aren't Canton City School Board Members elected city-wide?
Actually, they are not. 
A large portion of Ward 8, while in Canton City as a municipality (via prior annexations), it is also in Plain Twp Schools.   
Likewise, parts of Ward 4 (mainly in the far East) are in the City, but not in the Canton City School District. And in one of the more curious bits of boundaries, there is a portion of the area around Meyers Lake that is in the Canton City School District, but is not within the municipal boundaries of the City of Canton (CCS Board Member Nadine McIlwain lives in such an area).
The Report thanks Reverend Morgan for having provided his correction.

VIDEOS

COUNCILMAN WEST
OPENS
JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEETING
ON
CHARTER GOVERNMENT ISSUE
(JOUSTS WITH COUNCILMAN HAWK)

COUNCILMAN MACK
PRESENTS
THE CASE FOR
CANTON AS A CHARTER CITY

COUNCILMAN MORRIS WEIGHS IN

COUNCILMAN FISHER TAKES A TURN

COUNCILMAN MARIOL
ON
DEFINITION OF "EDUCATION"
ACCORDING TO
COUNCILMAN WEST

ONE-ON-ONE WITH WEST

ONE-ON-ONE WITH MACK

THE ENTIRE MEETING
(UNEDITED)

At the outset of last night's Canton City Council Judiciary Committee meeting (Thomas West, D-2, chairman) it was apparent to the SCPR that West was in a "delay and hope it goes away mode"  on a proposal by sponsors Edmond Mack (D-8, a judiciary committee member) and Mary Cirelli (D, at-large; also a judiciary committee member) to have council consider placing a measure on the ballot to have Cantonians elect 15 (unelected to city office Cantonians) to a Charter Review Commission.

West, clearly on the defensive, jousted with Councilman Greg Hawk (D-1) on what allegations that West was holding the proposed legislation up.



West cited the effort by former Ward 8 and Republican councilman Mark Butterworth (ironically and interestingly running against Edmond Mack this November in an effort to get his seat back) in October, 2010 to get Canton council to consider putting a charter government review commission measure on the ballot.

He could have even gone further in delving into a rather obvious Republican drive to change the structure of Canton government so as to advantage Republican city of Canton office seekers who in recent times have been shut out from office in Canton.

Even the politically powerful Republican Janet Creighton (now a Stark County commissioner) was unable to get re-elected in 2007 after four years of her very respectable administration of the city.

Canton has about a 9 to 1 Democrat to Republican registration plurality.

In June, 2010 a former Stark County Republican Party executive director (Mike Cunningham) with ties to W.R. Timken, Jr. who was at the time chairman the board of directors of a company (Strategic Public Partners) which employed Cunningham surfaced with an initiative to get a convert to charter city proposal before Canton voters.

What has to be troublesome to West is that the new agitation is from a number of fellow Democrats on council.

So there is no partisan factor at play.

And after January 1st, the totally Demcratic council will include former long time Councilman Bill Smuckler who back in 2003 or so was pushing hard to change Canton from a statutory city government to a charter city government.  A status now held by 73% of Ohio's cities.

The Report is told by Smuckler that it will take eight of twelve members of council to get before Canton voters a measure to elect a charter review commission.

Those numbers clearly are not there now.

But they might be after November of this year with the addition of Smuckler and Roland K. Burns, III.

That is, if Kevin Fisher can be turned into a "yes" vote and David Dougherty repeats his prior support for having the voters elect a commission.

So it appears that perhaps eight votes could be wrangled out of the new council for a May, 2014 primary election opportunity for Cantonians to elect a charter review commission.

Such a commission will have one year to come up with a specific proposal for Cantonians to either accept or reject at the ballot box.

The star attraction last night was Councilman Mack.



Mack made a very powerful and persuasive Powerpoint supported presentation, to wit:


After Mack presented, Frank Morris (D-9) chimed in.



He went after West on the "educate the public factor."

Basically he took the position that "time is awasting" and Canton needs to restructure its government in order to deal effectively with Canton's 21st century needs.

Then it was Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher's turn.



What was interesting to the SCPR about Fisher was his separating himself from what The Report has tabbed as "the four young turks" (Mack, Mariol and Morris being the other three) on this issue.

He takes the position that charter government is oversold and that Canton government as it exists has the wherewithal to deal with Canton's problems.

However, as a member of the committee he urged Chairman West not to refuse to report the legislation out to the full council as he feels that the full body is entitled to consider the Mack/Cirelli sponsored proposal.

The SCPR knows Fisher to be a thoughtful councilman and finds it hard to believe he has his mind made up at this juncture of the deliberations.

In the end, yours truly thinks Fisher will be reconsidering his current stance.

West got into it with Frank Morris over Morris' assertion that West had said he would not sign off on the legislation to get it out of committee and before the full council.

West held firm that his statement was conditioned on his insistence that once he was satisfied that Cantoninans were informed on the issue, he would sign off on the legislation.

It did get a little heated between the two as the video clearly shows.

Next up, Democratic Councilman John Mariol of Ward 7.

He faced West down on what his definition of "educating the public" is.  Actually, this exchange proved to be useful in getting the chairman to agree to report the legislation out of committee.

The ultimate agreement was that the chairman would sign off on the legislation on the agreement by Councilman Mack to host a "town hall meeting" on August 19th at 6:30 p.m. at Canton city council chambers.



But, as the foregoing video shows, Councilman Hawk was not quite done (having parried with him earlier) with West.

He honed in on the point that council's job was to get the Canton public a new opportunity (the last having been over 50 years ago [1962]) to vote on whether or not to make Canton a charter city.

After everything was said and done, it was apparent to the SCPR that Councilman West's reluctance to report out the legislation is twofold, to wit:
  • He is ticked because he is convinced that Councilwoman Cirelli (who, although a member of the judiciary committee, was unable to be at last night's meeting) agreed to join Councilman Mack in sponsoring the charter review commission legislation in order to get back at Canton City treasurer-elect Kim Perez whom Cirelli lost to this past May in the Democratic primary election.
  • He worries that African-Americans will not be among the 15 commissioners to be elected to come up with a charter proposal for Cantoninans to vote on.
The Report is not impressed with either reason and thinks that his concern that African Americans cannot be elected citywide is not supported by Stark's recent electoral history.

How can Councilman West say that a proportional number of African Americans cannot gain seats on the review commission of the 15?

Barack Obama won in Stark countywide in 2008 and again in 2012.

How does West account for the strong race that Kelley Zachary ran against Republican Alex Zumbar countywide in 2010?

How does West account for the strong race that she ran against Kim Perez for Canton city treasurer this past May?  

A case exists that if Cirelli was not in the race, perhaps Zachary wins, no?

How does West account for this picture showing African Americans as members of the Canton City Schools Board of Education.  Don't they run citywide?  


Bill Smuckler tells the SCPR that he ran for council-at-large with Fonda Williams (a key member of the Healy administration now) a number of years ago and that Williams lost by seven votes in being the third of three "to be-elected"candidates.

Like any candidate, Williams had to be kicking himself afterwards with "should haves" on the particulars of his candidacy.

It seems to the SCPR that Councilman West may fast becoming the "anti-democrat."

He wants less accountability of ward councilpersons as evidenced by his pushing for extending councilpersons terms from two to four years.

And now he appears to not want to allow Cantonians the opportunity to speak again on the charter issue after a 50 year plus gap in having had the chance in 1962?

Yours truly finds it to be strange indeed that African American West would not be at the forefront of enhancing the rights of Americans of every stripe to enjoy the full measure of democratic rights including the opportunity to hold him and his colleagues accountable every two years.

Here is the SCPR one-on-one with West.



The Report also did a one-on-one with Councilman Edmond Mack.



The SCPR believes that the case has been made that Cantonians should have an second chance after a 50 year plus as to weigh in on whether or not they want a charter government.

As was pointed out in yesterday's committee meeting, those who want charter government had better do voter educating come an election on the issue, for if folks are uninformed or confused they will surely vote "no."

Last night's meeting was productive in getting West off dead center in threatening to be a one-man-wrecking-crew by inaction in committee and thereby deep sixing any chance of the full city council voting on the Mack/Cirelli charter review commission proposal.

Now it is time to go to work on council to get those eight votes needed to provide Cantonians the opportunity to exercise the franchise on a very important issue going forward.

If he can pull it off, it certainly will send Councilman Mack's political stock soaring.

Here is an unedited version of the entire proceeding of last night's meeting.

Monday, July 22, 2013

CONLEY IS BACK. FILES BRIEF WITH 5TH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEALS ON FORCHIONE MATTER. WILL PERSISTENCE MAKE HIS CLIENT & THE "RULE OF LAW" A WINNER?



Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley may be Stark County's leading jurist in terms of his dogged, persistent pursuit of the rule of law.

Undoubtedly, his detractors would like to paint him as a lawyer who has gone amok in that he has so much ego that he cannot abide anyone getting the best of him.

Such might be the view of the anonymous person (presumably a peer lawyer of Conley's or, perhaps, a Stark County judge) who filed an ethics complaint against him on January 28, 2013 with Ohio's Disciplinary Counsel.  (LINK to prior SCPR blog).

Conley was exonerated of having committed any ethics violation on March 26, 2013. (LINK to prior SCPR blog on the topic)

To summarize the origin of things which resulted in the ethics complaint being filed:

Conley accused Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione of grandstanding on part of his sentencing order of a Stark Countian who had pled guilty in his court in December, 2012 in multiple counts of Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance (R.C. 21907.323(A)(1)](F2)).

Judge Forchione had, in the objectional part of his sentencing (to Conley) of one Scott Studer, ordered him to pay $5,000 for the benefit of the Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, CT) shooting victims of December, 2012.

Conley of February 1, 2013 [LINK to prior SCPR blog) filed suit against Forchione (a Declaratory Judgment action on the interpretation of ORC 2949.11) demanding that "the rule of law" prevail and that Ohio's statutory scheme providing that criminal case fine money be paid to the county treasury in satisfaction of the aforesaid statute.

The reason that the SCPR cites to this particular link is because the referenced blog explores the question of whether or not Conley was motivated to take Forchione on in Studer because of a separate legal tussle between the two on the allegation by Conley that Fochione had demonstrated bias against him in a case in which he was a defendant (citation:  Estate of Cletus P. McCauley et al vs. Craig T. Conley, et al [Stark County, 2011 CV 02325] in 2011 in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas).

Needless to say, Conley denies that such was the case, but the SCPR thinks it is a fair question to ask and consider as one seeks to determine why Conley carries on (with a different client) and a new issue even after Forchione retrieved the $5,000 from Sandy Hook and had Stark County Clerk of Court Nancy Reinbold deposit the money into the Stark County general fund maintained by Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar as demanded by Conley.

The ink on the clerk of courts stamp on the voluntary dismissal (February 15, 2013) of the declaratory judgment action (filed on behalf of Thomas Marcelli) had not yet dried  yet when on February 28, 2013, a new legal proceeding was initiated against Judge Forchione.

Initially, Conley was not involved.

But by April 15th, Conley picked up on the new matter (pro bono - for the public good - as in Marcelli v. Forchione) in which Columbus resident Louis Demis (a former Stark Countian with ties to the Navarre area) alleged in an affidavit that Judge Forchione had, in ordering (and in following through in seeing that the order was effectuated [re:  Letter of Transmittal, January 3, 2013]) the $5,000 be paid to the Sandy Hook victims relief fund rather than to the Stark County treasury, committed the criminal offense of "theft in office."

Hearing was held on the affidavit in the Canton Municipal Court on April 23, 2013 before former Barberton Municipal Court judge Michael McNulty with Akron Law Department attorney Craig Morgan (an Akron chief assistant criminal prosecutor) appearing (unsympathetically to the affiant in the opinion of the SCPR) and Conley also appearing but who was actually advocating for the Demis position.  (LINK to prior SCPR blog with video on the entire hearing)

Well, to took Judge McNulty about one hour after concluding the hearing (at about 9:35 a.m. [the state having begun at 9:00 a.m.]) to file his decision of "no probable cause."  (LINK to prior SCPR blog detailing the decision)

Not long after the decision, Conley announced that he would be prosecuting an appeal for Louis Demis.  (LINK to prior SCPR blog)

The SCPR has obtained a copy of Conley's brief (about 15 pages long) filed in the appellate case which he filed on Friday.

Here are the issues as Conley sees them:


If Conley's client is to prevail and Conley's devotion to the "rule of law" is to be realized, then it will be owing to his persistence and doggedness.

For the SCPR daresays that about the only person living in Stark County who believes that the 5th District Court of Appeals will reverse Judge McNulty is Craig T. Conley.

Agree with him or not, like him or not; you have to admire his determinedness, perseverance and persistence.

While the SCPR would be surprised to see Judge McNulty overturned, there were probably a lot of Stark Countians that never thought that the $5,000 Studer fine would make it into the general fund of the Stark County treasury after it had already been paid for the benefit of the the Sandy Hook victims.

But guess where it sits on July 22, 2013?

Judge Forchione is likely being counseled by many that he has absolutely nothing to worry about from the Demis initiative.

And that may prove to be the case.

Nonetheless, the SCPR is guessing that he is not underestimating Craig T. Conley.

For he knows from first hand experience that Conley is absolutely committed to the "rule of law."  And make no mistake about it, motivated or not by outside events, Conley does see the current case as an extension of that basic principle of law.

Finally, he does put his money (i.e. pro bono time) where his mouth is!"

Yes, Craig T. Conley is back.

Could it be that his persistence will produce results once again?

Friday, July 19, 2013

VIDEO: STARK COUNTY GOV'T GETTING SPECIAL SCRUTINY AT STATE LEVEL BECAUSE OF ITS HISTORY GOING BACK SOME 5 YEARS?



It appears that the folks who run state of Ohio departments of government are wary of anything coming to them out of Stark County.

Since April 1, 2009 when the story broke that the-then Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler was accusing his chief deputy Vince Frustaci stolen taxpayer money from the county treasury, there have been a number of Stark County originated events (including the Frustaci revelation) that have kept our county in the limelight of attention with the bureaucrats who run Ohio's capital city.

Frustaci subsequently pled guilty.

But for about two and one-half years following the revelation, activities which included:
  • the involvement of the State of Ohio Auditor (auditing the Stark treasury and finding deficit management oversight which Zeigler steadfastly denied), and
  • the Ohio Supreme Court (determining whether or not the-then Stark commissioners [Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks - all Democrats] had properly removed Zeigler from office)
    • Note:  The Supreme Court found that they had not used proper constitutional safeguards and therefore returned Zeigler to office.  He did work out an agreement with the-then commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson on October 19, 2011 to retire/resign
became part and parcel of Stark County making a negative name for itself in Columbus as an outgrowth of other screwy happenings that followed on the heels of the Frustaci matter.

The "other screwy happenings" have included:

  • the election debacle in Lake Township (November, 2011 - SCPR prior blog LINK) as township trustees first appeared to have won a hard fought election to take the Uniontown Police Department township wide, only to have the Supreme Court overturn the election results because of deficient ballot language that originated with township legal counsel but was never corrected despite timely word from the Ohio secretary of state of the need for a correction,
  • the selection in February, 2013 of a sheriff (former Massillon safety director George T. Maier) by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee to replace "the unable to take office for health reasons" Mike McDonald (elected in November, 2012) with Maier having questionable - as a matter of law - qualifications under Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01.  
    • Note:  Maier's right to serve is under review with the Ohio Supreme Court as this blog is written,
  • the action of mayor-elect Kathy Catazaro-Perry requesting (in December, 2011) a State of Ohio Auditor audit of Massillon city finances (denied by Auditor Yost) only to be renewed by her as mayor in May, 2013 to prompt Massillon being put on either an Ohio monitored fiscal watch or fiscal emergency.
Spillover from Stark's negative name in Columbus was evident (at least to the SCPR) this past Monday night at Canton City Council meeting when Canton law director Joe Martuccio got up at Council's Committee of the Whole meeting which precedes the regular council meeting and explained why there was an item on council's agenda to amend Canton's ballot initiative to have city voters decide whether or not to tax themselves 4 mills in property tax to support the city parks and recreation function.


It appears to the SCPR that Stark County may be acquiring - at least from the secretary of state's office perspective and, perhaps, from the state auditor - a "watch them" and "give them special scrutiny" as a consequence of Stark County political and administrative history since April 1, 2009.

Nearly everybody and most entities want to make a name for themselves.

But not a negative image that may be taking hold in the Columbus bureaucracy on Stark County government.

Here is Law Director Joe Martuccio addressing the parks and recreation property tax levy amendment issue:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

STARK COUNTY: THE QUALITY OF POLICE ADMINISTRATION?



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.