Thursday, January 16, 2014


The political bitterness appears to remain with some who were part of the Kim Perez regime when the current Canton city treasurer was Stark County auditor (2005 through 2011).

In the November, 2004 Democrat Perez defeated former Stark County auditor Janet Creighton's pick (Brant Luther, current Stark County chief administrator) to succeed her as auditor.

In November 2003, Creighton (now Stark County commissioner) ran for and was elected mayor of Canton.

The Republicans had held the auditor's office under Creighton and her predecessors before Democratic interloper Perez upset Luther in 2004.

Stark County's organized Democrats were besides themselves with joy (especially, the-then chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr) when the Dems won the auditor's office which is one the of the largest offices in Stark County government and offers rich, rich opportunities for handing out political patronage jobs.

Life does not get any better for the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Well, unfortunately, for the Dems along came what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley (a Republican) calls Zeiglergate.

Because he was perceived in the public mind as being a political "bosom-buddy" of Zeigler, Perez was one of the casualties of Zeiglergate and went down to defeat to Republican Alan Harold, Stark's current auditor.

And the Perez/Harold face-off was a bitter, bitter campaign with the highlight of Harold buying billboard space featuring a picture of Perez on an golf outing with Zeigler and former chief deputy Vince Frustaci [who was convicted in 2009 of having stolen upwards of $3 million from the county treasury).

Zeigler has never been implicated in the Frustaci theft but the SCPR believes that most Stark Countinans thought, as of the election of 2010, that he had not put effective policies, practices, programs and facility reform measures in place during his tenure as treasurer (beginning in 1999) to have, hopefully, prevented Frustaci's theft.

Coming full circle, Perez suffered electorally from a public perception that he was a "political pal" of Zeigler's.  Moreover, more than a few Stark Countians appear to believe that Perez should have spotted trouble in the county treasury (which it seems he did) and moved more aggressively than he is generally perceived to have done to bring his concerns to the attention of Stark County/State of Ohio authorities.

Ever since Perez was defeated (November, 2010), some of his former "political patronage-esque" appointees have been carping at Harold on one thing or another.

The Report thinks that the latest manifestation of "nipping at the heels" of Harold is an indication that some of Perez's lieutenants are still sore at Harold for having defeated Perez in 2010.

Notwithstanding what the SCPR believes to be a political motive, when approached by the Perez ally, The Report confronted Harold with the ally's question:  "How could Stark County auditor Harold give up on some $400,000 to $500,000 ($50,000 in net profits) in revenue to the county treasury?"

First, the background.

Yesterday, Auditor Harold was in to see the Stark County commissioners to describe and to explain his action of "abandoning" being deputy registration for the State of Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (Bureau) in what is the Bureau's largest Stark County operation.

Afterwards, the SCPR cornered Harold outside the commissioners' office and asked him to explain to Stark Countians in greater detail than he provided the commissioners.

So what is the SCPR's conclusion?

To The Report it is understandable that Harold would not want to jeopardize his personal financial security in continuing as the deputy registrar.

While Ohio statutory law does hold him as well as any other public official liable for the loss of taxpayer funds in the administration of public office,  when the Bureau insisted that his wife join him in signing off on the bond required for one to be a deputy registrar, then that was quite a different matter.

Some public officials put their major family assets in the names of the spouses so that the family will not be wiped out if that official is held liable for the misfeasance/malfeasance of an employee or for some other basis that results in a loss of taxpayer funds.

But when the spouse is compelled to join in, that is a different matter and The Report believes that Harold is fully justified in not assuming such a risk.

On the face of it, a 10%, more or less, annual profit is "nothing to sneeze at," but when one digs into the details it often proves out that the "devil - indeed - is in the details."

If The Report was in Harold's shoes, its a "no-brainer" that in no way, shape or form, should a spouse  be subjected to liability for what may occur in the public workplace.

Some folks may think that a bond protects the liable party.

But it does not.  A bond does not function like insurance.

What happens is that the insurance/bonding company who issues the bond pays legally sufficient claims made on the bond but, in turn, goes after the person(s) bonded for indemnification for the amounts so paid.

A bond is not the equivalent of an insurance policy.

And the SCPR doubts there are many Stark Countians who would risk family assets.

At the end of the day, the Perez ally, in the judgment of the SCPR, is showing political comeuppance in complaining about Harold's action.

Such is the nature of politics, no?

And it is a game played by both political parties to the detriment of the public's confidence in county government, no?

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