The Stark County Political Report's hope,
- with Republican Alex Zumbar being appointed by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC), on October 31, 2011 to succeed Democrat stalwart Gary D. Zeigler as Stark County treasurer,
- a precedent was thereby set that we Stark Countians distinguish ourselves from "politics as usual" as is in place in most if not all of America,
- whereby political connections do not triumph the taxpaying citizens' right to have the very best person selected for the public position
- that everyday - unconnected - citizens have a "fair and square" shot of obtaining a given public employment position
It appears to The Report that it might be that Zumbar worked a political deal with Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Dixie Park for Zumbar to hire Park's daughter into the treasurer's office and lo and behold! who ends up as an employee in the Stark County Probate Court?
The SCPR wrote collaterally on April 21, 2014 about Treasurer Zumbar hiring relatives of Republican county/county subdivision holders which The Report suspects were "a wink and a nod" political connectedness hirings.
Rhome (hired April 12, 2012; less than a year after Democrats appointed Republican Zumbar as county treasurer) is the daughter of Republican Alliance city councilman at large Roger Rhome. Camilla Park (hired January 13, 2013) is the daughter of Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Dixie Park.
Now this from a June 9, 2014 listing of county employees compiled by the Stark County auditor's office.
Allbritain would be the daughter of Zumbar's chief deputy treasurer and a Republican Jaime Allbritain who once was county treasurer for a few days when the-then county commissioners (Bosley, Meeks and Feguson; all Democrats) appointed her to replace Democrat Gary Zeigler.
Under Ohio law, it is illegal for one to hire one's relatives.
But there is nothing illegal for public officials with a "wink and a nod" to accommodate each other.
Recently, the SCPR had a brouhaha with Zumbar over a proposal that is pending for the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (a non-profit, quasi-governmental agency) to hire Chief Deputy Allbritain "as an independent contractor" without putting the job out for public bid.
To his credit, Stark County commissioner Tom Bernabei walked out of "the executive session" in which the possible of Allbritain was discussed.
It appears to The Report that Zumbar has an aversion to allowing the Stark County taxpaying public to have an opportunity at publicly financed jobs if he can achieve a political purpose in making a hire.
All the better, apparently, if the matter can be discussed in a "secret to the public" session?
An interesting SCPR opinion in light of how Zumber came to be Stark County treasurer.
Also, an interesting SCPR opinion in light of the numerous blogs that The Report has published lauding Zumbar for his exemplary work as treasury in terms of tightening up practices, policies, procedures and secure structures of operations and facilities so as to prevent a repeat of the theft of Stark taxpayer money as occurred with Zeigler's chief deputy Vince Frustaci to the tune of upwards of $3 million.
Zumbar spent the better part of an hour in a "sort of" debate with the SCPR giving reasons why the "independent contractor position" was not truly the equivalent of governments competitively bidding out jobs for awarding out to "the lowest and best" bid.
The Report was and remains unconvinced.
Moreover, undoubtedly, Zumbar and Park have an explanation why the hirings noted above in this blog were not quid-pro-quos (something for something).
Any "fair minded person," which is an apt description of the SCPR, would have to grant that obvious explanations (i.e. mere happenstance or co-incidence) might be true.
The problem for Zumbar and Park is this: "Who is going to believe that the hires did not involve - in one fashion or another - 'political horse trading'?"
It appears now to the SCPR that the-then Stark County Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez led central committee (October 31, 2011) appointment of Zumbar was not a case of "a breaking out" of "the best person for the job" irrespective of political affiliation," but rather a case of being placed "between a rock and a hard place" and having no publicly acceptable alternative.
And events post-October 31, 2011 have proved to The Report that whether Republican or Democrat, Stark County's elected officials appear to be using taxpayer provided for public positions to "feather the nest" of their respective political parties and to accommodate one another in hiring - on the public's dime - each other's relatives or those with political connections who have a desire to obtain public employment.
Sooner or later, once again (the SCPR thinks that Gary Zeigler's hiring of Vince Frustaci was a political connections hiring), one of these hires is going to politically "blow up in the face" of the official doing the hiring.
In the case of the official who suffers political and perhaps legal consequences, who cares. But the Stark County taxpaying public deserves better. Not only do "we" pay the bill, but "we" everyday citizens are denied a "fair and square" opportunity to apply for and perhaps obtain these jobs.
When Charles Brown and V. Lee Sinclair (both Republicans) stepped down as judges of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas (2012), the hope and prayer of everyday Stark Countians (most of whom [in their voting registration] declare not as Democrats or Republicans, but as "non-partisans"), had to be that Governor (of all the people?) John Kasich would pick the very best interested jurist to replace them.
But, the SCPR thinks, it is very clear that he did not do so.
For the Brown vacancy, he selected Alliance Republican (Brown a former Stark County Republican Party chairman is, interestingly enough, from Alliance) Kristin Farmer (daughter of 5th District Court of Appeals judge and extremely well connected Republican politician Sheila Farmer).
For the Sinclair vacancy Republican Kasich selected Curtis Werren who is the son of well known area Republican and well-placed local attorney (in the Stark County legal community) John Werren. At the time of his appointment, Werren was president of the Stark County chapter of the American Red Cross who had not worked as an attorney for several years.
What is so damning about both the Farmer (December, 2012) and Werren appointments (June, 2013) is, that if Kasich and the Stark County Republican Party organization cared primarily about the quality of the Stark County bench; the person (namely, Democrat Chryssa Hartnett, who did apply) who should have gotten the appointment was Hartnett, who many think is Stark County very best prosecutor.
In the case of Werren, the Stark County voting public will be given an opportunity to vote on a Werren/Hartnett match up.
The SCPR believes and trusts that Stark Countians will pick merit over political connectedness come November 4, 2014.
And guess what?
Farmer gets a "free pass" (unopposed) to an elected term in office.
Isn't just swell that Stark County Democratic Party really does splendidly in protecting the public interest in ensuring that our elections are politically competitive? (sarcasm, of course)
Stark County Democrats have complained to and about the SCPR that The Report has focused on suspicions that there was a strong "political connectedness" factor in taxpayer supported public hires persons such as former Dems' party chairman Gonzalez son Kody
- Democrat county recorder Rick Campbell hired him into the recorder's office, and
- he has been "fast-tracked" into succeeding his father as chief deputy of the Canton Municipal Court by current StarkDems' chairman Phil Giavasis)
What the Dems have not said is that up until Zeigler and former Democratic Stark County auditor Kim Perez fell on political hard times over a public perception that they had not effectively taken measures (i.e. practices, policies, procedures and structural safeguards) to prevent the Frustaci theft (Zeigler) or to bring irregularities to attention of public authorities (Perez), all countywide offices were held by guess who?
You've got it!
And it seems that the Democrats have not learned their lessons.
As this blog is being written, The Report is putting together material to give Stark Countians an in depth look at what appears to be politically-based appointments/hires in the city of Massillon government.
Now that the Republicans are making a resurgence in Stark County, the SCPR is now writing about what appears to be their sins and transgressions on apparently cutting the taxpaying public out so that they can use public positions to reward those Stark County Republicans who are politically connected.
Not long ago The Report wrote about a SCPR favorite (in terms of his work product as auditor) Alan Harold and his hire of the politically connected A.R. "Chip" Conde (a former Canton mayor Janet Creighton official and Republican candidate for mayor in 2011).
With the SCPR, it makes no difference whether or not one liked or disliked personally or in terms of job performance in a public position. If there appears to be "a political connectedness factor" by which the Stark County taxpaying public is excluded from the possibility of public employment, the SCPR is going to write about it.
County administrator and Republican Brant Luther (a former Republican Alliance city councilman, Stark County auditor and Republican appointee to the Probate Court staff) seems to be doing an excellent job as a county official as does the county's budget manager Chris Nichols (a Canton Township trustee).
However it seems to the SCPR that it did not hurt one iota that they have strong Republican political connections. At least in the case of Luther, the position was advertised to the public-at-large.
For the budget manager's position, which is something quite different from being the top administrator, the commissioners merely selected Nichols as being "the runner-up" to Luther for the administrator position.
To the SCPR, the Stark County voting public should be outraged when public jobs are handed out - whether a Nichols level position or a Kate Allbritain level position - without the Stark County taxpaying public having a "fair and square" opportunity at the job.
As The Report entitled this blog:
IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE! DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN, THE POLITICIANS TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN? (TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE STARK CO. TAXPAYING PUBLIC?)