A mere 10 days ago or so (March 26, 2015), The Stark County Political Report named Stark County Auditor Alan Harold as the fourth best leader among all leaders of Stark County political subdivision government.
From here on out, on a quarterly basis, The Report will be assessing Stark's elected officials (city, village, township, county and boards of education) and publishing the results.
The SCPR thinks that Auditor Harold could be a candidate to challenge for "the top spot" on "The Top 10 List" if he weren't, in the judgment of The Report, so blatantly partisan.
With at least one Stark County media outlet (located South of Tuscarawas and Market), there is clearly "a double standard" at play when it comes to evaluating recent Stark County auditors and "the political connectedness" of their hires.
When former Stark County Auditor Kim Perez defeated (November, 2004) the Republican appointed (early 2004) auditor Brant Luther to replace Republican Janet Creighton when she became mayor of Canton on January 1, 2004; the folks at 500 Market Avenue South was all over Perez for hiring politically connected Democrats into the auditor's office.
But we are not hearing a peep out of the South-side folks on Auditor Harold's hires.
Harold defeated Perez in November, 2010 as an outgrowth of public perceived too close of a connection with former Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (resigned/retired October 19, 2011) and therefore perceived not diligent enough to alert the Stark County public and State of Ohio officials of alleged deficiencies in the administration of the treasury under Zeigler.
With The Stark County Political Report there is NO double standard.
When 2011 defeated Republican mayoralty candidate (Canton) A.R. "Chip Conde" was hired by Harold which media outlet made "a really big deal" out of it?
Of course, the SCPR!
And Conde is a person that yours truly has a high regard for and thinks was the better choice for mayor in his race against William J. Healy, II in the 2011 race.
As readers of the SCPR knows, it makes no difference whatsoever to The Report whether or not a subject of a blog is personally highly regarded or not.
The Report thinks it is important for the media to scrutinize what appear to be "inside jobs" whereby elected officials select politically connected persons and thereby are suspected of cutting the taxpaying general public out of an opportunity to obtain these public jobs.
Despite his protestations to the contrary, The Report thinks that Conde's political connectedness was a weighty factor in his being hired into his auditor's department job.
Some elected officials blatantly (e.g. Canton Clerk of Courts Phil Giavasis, Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell, both Democrats re: former Stark County Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez son Kody [which the former chairman denies he had anything to do with]) and arrogantly cut out the general public of an opportunity to persuade the hiring authority that he/she (John & Mary Citizen) is the better qualified person for the job.
Giavasis and Campbell did not post the the chief deputy position.
Harold says he did on the Conde position.
But the SCPR thinks Harold's posting was nothing but "window dressing" to make it appear he was providing the general public an opportunity.
In effect, The Report thinks, these folks treat the public payroll as if it were the equivalent of corporations' payroll in which it is the clear prerogative of the owners (or managers in the case of publicly owned corporations) to hire whom they wish and then have the market decide whether or not they have made merited (in sense of doing quality work) hires which enables them to be competitive.
But, of course, with government there is no competitive factor at play.
Stark's "organized" elected Democrats used to "bellyache" about the SCPR singling some of them out on what appears to have been political connected appointments insinuating that The Report was giving "organized" Republican elected officeholders a pass.
The fallacy of the whining is that until 2010 during the time that the SCPR has been in existence (started March 12, 2008), except for some judicial offices, there were no countywide Republican held offices.
Yours truly repeatedly said at the time: "Wait until we have some elected Republicans countywide and readers will see how utterly the SCPR is in the words of former Pipefitters and Plumbers' leader Dan Fonte: 'an equal opportunity critic.'"
And such has proved to be the case!
Today's blog is perhaps moving a step forward in getting into the inner recesses of who does and who does not get an opportunity at "lower profile" public jobs.
Here is the essence of an e-mail that the SCPR received about a recent Auditor Harold hire.
I follow your blog regularly. I appreciate your committment to our County. Harold's latest hire is Jennifer Drlik...Janet Creighton's former assistant. Rumor is that he seeks to have her replace ... as ... Manager. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I find it quite interesting.On April 2nd, the SCPR had Harold's office provide a up-to-date-list of county employees.
And sure enough, Drlik's name appears on the list as having hired on February 17, 2015, to wit:
So what is the political connectedness factor?
Perhaps there is none. But the SCPR strongly suspects there is.
In this day and age of "the social media," yours truly cannot begin to tell readers the depth and tellingness of some social media postings.
All the SCPR did was "google" Jennifer Drlik and here is some what The Report found:
- Drlik, as alleged in the e-mail, she does (according to her social media listings) has a connection to Republican Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton in that:
- she worked for then Stark County auditor Janet Creighton from 1999 through December, 2003, which, of course, coincides with Creighton having been elected mayor of Canton in November, 2003;
- she worked for Mayor Creighton as an administrative assistant from January, 2004 through December, 2007,
- After her stints with Creighton, Drlik worked in the private sector
Now she resurfaces in government with Auditor Harold.
Just a note on Commissioner Creighton's philosophy of hiring.
She has adamantly justified with the SCPR that she is entitled in doing her work for the public to have employees that she feels comfortable with and who have her confidence and trust.
And to some degree, The Report agrees.
However, yours truly thinks that surely any merited from the general public hire would have to pass the "comfort, confidence and trust" factors in order to successfully navigate the interviewing process and background checks.
So, at best Creighton's argument is "specious," and at worst it is "spurious" and merely a cover for doing a political connectedness hiring which of course is totally unacceptable with taxpayer money.
And the same applies to:
- Phil Giavasis,
- Rick Campbell,
- Alan Harold,
- Stark Probate Court judge Dixie Park,
- Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar,
- Canton mayor William J. Healy, II,
- Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry,
- North Canton mayor David Held, and
- North Canton City Council all of whom the SCPR has written blogs on in terms of suspected political connectedness being the basis for certain hires,
- Stark County sheriff George T. Maier,
- and, undoubtedly, other elected officials who have not come within the purview of the SCPR
With Drlik, one common political connection factor other than the Creighton factor elaborated upon above, appears to be a connection that both she and Harold seem to have in supporting the candidacy of Curtis Werren for Canton Municipal Court judge.
On her facebook page, Drlik "likes" posts about Werren and presumably is a staunch Werren supporter.
From Werren's Facebook page, is this photo.
The SCPR is not arguing that per se these apparently political connectedness hires are not quality employees.
The SCPR argument is twofold:
- how can one be sure that they are the very best to be hired without "authentically" interviewing a range of candidates from the general taxpaying public?
- good faith hiring practices (i.e. the authenticity thing including non-politically-connected candidates) is a critical factor in the general public trusting elected officials to do first and foremost is in the public interest,
There are Stark Countians who think that former Stark County treasurer did not do due diligence in his hire of Vince Frustaci. When the Frustaci story broke on April 1, 2009, Zeigler told the SCPR that in hiring Frustaci all he knew of Frustaci is that "he was some guy out on the golf course."
Undoubtedly, Zeigler has regretted many times over that he didn't do a more thorough job in vetting the Frustaci hire.
The SCPR thinks Alan Harold is a first-rate auditor.
However, he does have room to improve as do many if not most of Stark County political subdivisions elected officials with hiring authority.
He and all Stark County political subdivision need to avoid "the very appearance" of political connectedness as having anything whatsoever to do with a given hire.
Which of course means that when a person who is political connected is hired:
- affirm that the position was posted and the extent to which it was posted,
- how many candidates were interview and the mix of public/private sector candidates, and
- chapter and verse the "on-the-merits" qualities that make a politically connected person a merited hire that is supported by merit and merit alone.