Friday, July 31, 2015



UPDATE 11:00 PM  



Ohio Dems and other Bernabei protesters likely to file Mandamus action with Ohio Supreme Court!

Ditto for Steve Okey for the Cicchinelli protesters especially "ghost" protester Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party issued a press release earlier today in light of Secretary of State Jon Husted's decision in breaking a tie vote between Republican (for Bernabei and Cicchinelli, both former Democrats) and Democrat Stark Board of Elections members (of course, against certification) on whether or not Bernabei and Cicchinelli qualify to run as "independents" for mayor of Canton and Massillon, respectively, both cities which currently have sitting Democratic mayors.

Of Stark County media outlets, only on the SCPR will Stark County have access to the entire Pepper statement, to wit:


The Ohio Democratic Party, protesters and Canton councilpersons Tom West (Ward 2), Chris Smith (Ward 4), Kevin Fisher (Ward 5), David Dougherty (Ward 6), John Mariol (Ward 7, Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and Frank Morris (Ward 9) and the ghost protester Canton mayor William J. Healy, II are likely to fight the Husted decision to the bitter end.

The SCPR has reason to believe that these protesters through prominent Canton attorneys Lee Plakas and Edmond Mack will file a Mandamus action in the Ohio Supreme Court very quickly.

Steve Okey is likely to follow suit for the two remaining protesters (Council president Tony Townsend and Ward 4 Councilman Shaddrick Stinson having said that they never authorized Okey to include them as protesters in the first place) he had on board at the July 13th BOE protest hearing challenging the right of former 24 year mayor and then-Democrat Frank Cicchinelli to run as an independent candidate in the November general election.

The SCPR sees protesters Richards and Schartiger as nominal protesters and Catazaro-Perry as a ghost protester and "the real party in interest."

If Bernabei's certification as an independent candidate to run against Mayor Healy holds up (and The Report thinks it will), then Healy is political toast and has only 153 or so days left in office.

Catazaro-Perry's fate is not so clear.

Though she narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of political unknown J. David Ress in the May 5th Democratic primary, she does have the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. Massillon Political Machine behind her and it appears The Repository (through it affiliate "The Massillon Independent") is on a quest to rehabilitate her politically.

A mere two hours before news broke that Cicchinelli will be certified to run against Catazaro-Perry and Republican Lee Brunckhart, it appears to the SCPR that "the powers that be" at The Rep put one of their very best reporters Todd Porter (primarily a sports reporter) to work trying rehabilitate the mayor from the near political disaster that Ress nearly administered to her.

A third factor at play is the candidacy of Republican Lee Brunckhart.

Were he to withdraw, Catazaro-Perry cannot win.

However, The Report is told by a stalwart Massillon Republican that there is no way Brunckhart will withdraw even though it would take a political miracle for his to get through the Catazaro-Perry/Cicchinelli mine field.

The SCPR thinks he will be less significant than he was in 2011 in the general election against Catazaro-Perry but he will most certainly deprive Cicchinelli of some Republican votes in November.

However, you can bet that the folks at The Legends (mostly Republicans who vote in very high percentages) will be working hard to elect Cicchinelli and Democrat council candidate Jill Creamer who unseated Democrat incumbent councilman Shaddrick Stinson in the May Democratic primary.

The foregoing three factors the SCPR thinks make Cicchinelli's path more difficult but still likely to be returned to office in November.

Ohio Dems' chairman Pepper's press release (see full text above) reeks of bitterness at the Husted decision as indicated in that part of his statement:  "Today's decision is by Secretary Husted is one the most nakedly partisan actions I've ever seen."

The Ohio Dems are heavily invested in two-term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II's third term reelection bid.

Pepper orchestrated a Ohio Dems' endorsement (a largely unprecedented practice in intervening in local party affairs) of Healy over Canton treasurer Kim Perez in the May, 2015 Democratic Primary.

While the SCPR thinks it is fair to accuse Husted of having a partisan interest in the Bernabei candidacy (i.e. the Republicans have no candidate for mayor of Canton in the November general election), the charge does not wash in the Cicchinelli/Catazaro-Perry race which includes Republican Lee Brunckhart.

"...  [N]akely partisan interest?"

The SCPR thinks not.

Pepper ignores Husted's 2014 decision in which he erred on the side of ballot access though he could not say he was qualified under then-existing Ohio law to be sheriff of Stark County in allowing Democrat George T. Maier onto the ballot against highly viable Republican candidate Larry Dordea.

Where Husted a "nakedly" Republican political hack, he would have found a rationale to deny Maier ballot access.  And, in the SCPR's way of thinking, there was a stronger legal case for him to have done so.

The Democrats mantra  (including the Ohio Dems under Pepper predecessor Chris Redfern) at the time was "Let the people decide."

Now all of a sudden under Pepper the Dems jettison the "let the people decide" standard and adopt "let the Democratic Party through Stark BOE unelected, political party appointed members Sam Ferruccio, Jr. and William V. Sherer, II decide" with the help of Secretary Husted.

Had Husted taken the Dems' tack, it would have been "for political party interests" and not in the interest of people exercising their voting participation in our democratic system of government.

Chairman Pepper hides behind a press release in making his charge against Husted.

Why won't the chairman go on camera with the media in the context of a meaningful press conference in terms of time allocated to questions and answers and subject himself to a back and forth on his allegations?

There is no doubt to the SCPR that between the two, Pepper is the more partisan and what's more he cowardly sleeks behind a press release statement to avoid the embarrassing questions such as posed by yours truly in this blog.

The Ohio Democratic Party is not - except in presidential elections and one of two U.S. Senate seats - a competitive political party.

It appears to the SCPR that Chairman Pepper lacks the skills to lead the party into being more competitive.

And his lack is mostly owing to his lack of candor and squaring up his political party's interests with what the people of Ohio and Stark County want.

"Let the people decide, David!"

Cicchinelli reaction through his attorney Craig T. Conley.

Husted's decision in full.


It was a coincidence today that as The Stark County Political Report resumes the series on the Stark County Political Subdivision "Top 10 List" of Elected Officials (List) yours truly received a communication from #6 on the List as to her latest initiative as an Alliance City Council member.

Yes, Councilwoman Julie Jakmides (a Republican) e-mailed The Report (along with another Stark County media person)  with this message:

Charter in Alliance

Julie A. Jakmides
Today at 2:55 PM

To:  Martin Olson ...

... Martin,

I wanted to give you a heads up that I shared a podium with my fellow Councilwoman-at-Large Sue Ryan at a meeting of the Alliance chapter of Kiwanis International today, and we spoke about a charter government initiative and what it would mean to the City of Alliance. Sue and I were asked to speak jointly at Kiwanis regarding “what is next” for the City of Alliance, and after some explanation of my research and information I have gathered from Canton’s Councilman Mack, she agreed that this was an exciting, important topic that we should share and get our constituents engaged in.

I plan to include a recap of our presentation in my committee report at the next regular meeting of Council (August 3). I expect that Sue and I will be giving more presentations on the topic in the near future and wanted to let you know that we have started the bi-partisan ball rolling to get this on the ballot in 2016.

Julie Jakmides
Councilwoman, City of Alliance
JD/MAP Candidate, Akron Law ’17
University of Mount Union '14

Terrific!  Absolutely terrific!!  Republican Alliance Councilwoman Julie Jakmides (running for reelection) and Democrat Sue Ryan (not running for reelection) joining together in a bipartisan effort to bring charter government to Alliance.

Unfortunately, The Report will not be able to make it to Alliance on Monday due to the fact that my return from Sweden will not be completed until later that evening.

However, there will be additional opportunities for the SCPR to cover this important event for the city of Alliance.

It is no surprise whatsoever that Jakmides is taking a proactive role to do what she believes will enhance having the most flexible structure of government available to Ohio cities become a reality in The Carnation City to assist in coping with increasing difficulty of governance in Ohio's urban communities.

And it no surprise that Sue Ryan unlike political party appointed council president Steve Okey can put aside partisan politics and work for the best interest of Alliance residents.

It was one thing for Councilwoman Jakmides to be named to the SCPR's initial Top 10 List.

But it is quite another to remain on the List.

In order to remain on the List.

Yours truly requires listees to continue proactive involvement in Stark County political and/or governance activities in a constructive way in order to maintain if not increase their rankings on the List.

Accordingly Julie Jakmides has edged up one notch on the List from #7 in the initial listing to being #6 this time around.

In addition to the charter government initiative, Jakmides had to stand her and a majority of council's ground once again in relation to council president Steve Okey.

The first time Okey played political mischief with Alliance City Council was back in June, 2014 as the newly appointed by Alliance members of the Stark County Central Committee president of Alliance City Council over Sue Ryan. See this LINK for a refresher.

Ryan was by far the better choice for council president.

But Okey who the SCPR includes in the political bully boys grouping of  Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (a former Stark Dems' chairman) and Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier was apparently with the help of then Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez and perhaps the Maiers twist a few Alliance precinct committeepersons arms and spirit the position away from Ryan.

Ryan likely will have the last laugh in November when Okey has to face the highly respected former Alliance City Schools superintendent Arthur  Garnes in an election where arm twisting does not work.

Just a month or so ago Okey was at it again as tried to embarrass Alliance City Council in what he termed as being a constitutional law crisis,

The SCPR will not go over the specifics again because this blog is to be primarily about Councilwoman Jakmides and her achievements as a constructive councilperson; not about Okey and his political mischief.  However, here is another LINK for those readers who either do not know the particulars or need a refresher.

Suffice it to say that as in 2014 Jakmides stood firm against Okey's political pranks which resulted in Okey being censored a second time by Alliance City Council.

What the The Report will repeat in this blog is a refresher of what yours truly wrote about Jakmides back on March 29, 2015 in her qualifying in the initial SCPR "Top 10 List, to wit:

Today's blog is on Alliance City Councilwoman Julie Jakmides.

And this extract from an impressive biography on the Alliance city government website:

Councilwoman Julie A. Jakmides is currently serving her second term as an At-Large member of Alliance City Council. 

Councilwoman Jakmides is 23 years old and a lifelong resident of the City of Alliance. She is a graduate of Regina Coeli and St. Thomas Aquinas High School (2010) and attends St. Joseph Catholic Church. 

Julie was proud to have been a member of the 50th anniversary Carnation Festival Royal Court and considers that experience the event which inspired her to continue working in public service.

Councilwoman Jakmides graduated cum laude from the University of Mount Union in December 2013 and was the recipient of the Outstanding Criminal Justice Award at commencement. 

She is the former chairperson of the Streets and Alleys committee, and a former member of the Community Development and Utilities committees as well as the Water-Sewer Advisory Board.

In her second term she was appointed the chair of the Planning, Zoning and Housing committee and a member of the Finance and Safety & Judiciary committees. 

Councilwoman Jakmides consistently strives to attend meetings of all the different council committees and city boards -whether a voting member or not. 

When not handling business as a member of City Council, Julie also sits on the Alliance Family YMCA Board of Directors and is a full-time law student at the University of Akron School of Law [scheduled to graduate in 2017].

From the get-go, the SCPR had the sense that Alliance Republican Julie Jakmides had a bright future in politics from the time she took out and filed petitions to run for Alliance City Council back in 2011.

The Stark County Political Report ranks Jakmides right up there with
  • Canton's Edmond Mack, Kevin Fisher, John Mariol, Frank Morris III, and
  • Massillon's Ed Lewis, IV
as Stark County's most promising politicians/councilpersons in terms of qualities that they possess to lift Stark County out of the morass that the county is stuck in.

While youth in and of itself is not necessarily the answer to invigorating government processes and substance, the six named above have qualities that set them apart from their peers (those sitting on Stark County's  four major city councils:  Alliance, Canton, Massillon and North Canton) and from the older set of councilpersons who hold councilmantic office.

And Councilwoman Jakmides shows promise as being among the elite of the elite.

Compared to troubles that have plagued Canton, Massillon and North Canton city councils, Alliance has been relatively free of controversy and consequently the SCPR has spent relative little time with Alliance politics.

However, Alliance has not been devoid of some controversy.

Most of it has been at the hand of former councilman and now council president Steve Okey.

And a lot of that had to do with what the SCPR thinks was Okey trying to make Alliance Council the battleground of a political fight between the Maier Massillon Political Machine (MMPM) and Alliance Republican councilman Larry Dordea in the 2014 face-off for Stark County sheriff.

Jakmides was one of if not THE leading figure in the Alliance Council slapping President Steve Okey down for trying to embarrass Dordea and the rest of council for the manner in which the conducted some "sensitive" votes.

While The Report agrees with Okey that the process was not consistent with democratic-republican principles of accountability, his action from the perspective of the SCPR was tainted with MMPM surrogate politics.

Council censored Okey for the manner in which he handled the matter.  

The SCPR's position is that politically-laced battles have no place in city councils and accordingly chastised both sides with the caveat that Okey deserves the major share of the blame since he initiated the confrontation.

The Report hears that Okey (a Democratic Party appointee as the replacement for John Benincasa who passed away about one year ago) has been much more civil as council president.

However, Alliance's Republicans (presumably including Jakmides) have not forgotten Okey's transgression and are out to defeat his bid for an elected term beginning in January, 2016.

Look for Councilwoman Jakmides to once again "lead the pack" in vote plurality for the "three-to-be-elected" 2015 Alliance at-large council race.

As pointed out above as a political newbie she outpaced all candidates including the popular and incumbent Democratic councilwoman Sue Ryan who is not seeking reelection this November.  She repeated her lead-vote getter role in 2013.

It should be inspiring to Alliance residents and Stark Countians that in her early 20s Jakmides has involved herself in working to improve the political and governmental health of her local governments.

On the gender side of things, she appears to be the only young female on a track to be a positive force in Stark County local government.

Christina Hagan (state representative, the 50th of Marlboro Township) could be another.  But the SCPR thinks her bubble will burst when if she ever runs countywide because of her extreme right wing religious connection.

Tough they appear to be close on a personal and political level, The Report trusts she will not make the error if adopting Hagan's rightest political point-of-view.

One area the SCPR want to see more of from Jakmides is more in terms of sponsoring substantive legislation.

She did a good thing in adopting the approach of Canton Councilman Kevin Fisher (and of a Youngstown area legislator, from whom Fisher got the idea) of requiring property owners to register with the city of Alliance and thereby be more accountable for the maintenance and upkeep of their properties.

A major, major problem with urban properties is deterioration, degradation and ultimately decay to the point of needing to be demolished.

The upside for Julie Jakmides is enormous.

The foremost Stark County female leader currently is Stark County commissioners Janet Creighton (also a Republican).  And Janet has been a credit to her gender and to her political party in being an effective public official as recorder, auditor, mayor of Canton and now a commissioner.

The SCPR sees Jakmides with much potential.

Of course, potential is just that.

The only question is will Councilwoman Julie Jakmides take up the challenge and "be all that she can be" in terms of providing sorely needed forward looking, progressive and highly constructive leadership as we head to the middle years of the 21st century.

The SCPR thinks she will and for that reason and on the basis of her achievements to date The Stark County Political Report names her as #7 on the Stark County "Top 10" leadership list.

Thursday, July 30, 2015



The Stark County Political Report takes a break today from it first quarterly update of the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivision "Top 10" Elected Officials to focus on the political carnage being allowed if not fostered by North Canton City Council on The Dogwood City's core activist citizens at the hand of the city's law director Tim Fox.

The graphic for today's blog is made up in part of excerpts from a web page The Report is told was put up by Law Director Tim Fox within the last week or so and then quickly taken down when a furor erupted from among certain persons from within the North Canton citizenry.

Undoubtedly, Fox has some disingenuous reason for having put the page up, if, in fact, he did so.

The SCPR thinks the page was published in order to make the likes of McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne appear to be trouble makers just for the sake of being trouble makers and therefore not productive of the public good.

Moreover, the reference to Fox's success rate in winning litigation (will outside legal help in some instances) initiated by Chuck Osborne appears to the SCPR to be a public relations-esque effort to make Fox to seem to be some kind of legal juggernaut that somehow establishes that Osborne is out there somewhere in la-la land with his legal challenges.

Osborne has been the butt of such discrediting and disparagement by various North Canton officials efforts ever since he served on council himself in the early 2000s but failed to win reelection.

While the SCPR does not think Osborne has developed the skills to deal effectively with the "let's smear Chuck Osborne" crowd of detractors (many of whom The Report are supposedly politically mature sitting councilpersons), he certainly is the most expert and knowledgeable person on the ins and outs, the ups and downs of North Canton government except perhaps for former mayor and councilperson Daryl Revoldt.

He works far harder than any of the sitting councilpersons to ensure that North Canton government is transparent so that North Cantonians can know the truth of what goes on in the city's local government entrails and thereby be in a position to assess whether or not it is a government that can be trusted to provide for the general welfare of the city's residents.

Fox's alleged city of North Canton webpage effort smacks of as being, perhaps, a case of using taxpayer money to support the candidacies of councilpersons who supported his initial appointment and who continue to support him to be retained as law director.

Ohio's campaign finance officials should conduct an investigation as to whether or not there is a promotion of political candidates in the 2015 councilperson elections and the also the converse of it being directed towards detracting from the filed candidacies of McCleaster and Osborne and perhaps the potential candidacies of others.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and perhaps Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine should be taking a look at the  whys and the wherefores of how the page came into being and concomitantly whether or not any campaign finance laws may have been broken as a consequence of the page being published which of course would necessitate of a finding that taxpayer monies where used inappropriately.

Husted and DeWine need to clear the air on this matter.

Even it is borne out that no campaign finance laws have been violated, the SCPR thinks it is shameful that North Canton government financed by citizens of North Canton (included in part, of course, McCleaster and Osborne) should have countenanced the use of the city's website for obvious to the SCPR dissing of McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne.

Here is a copy of the entire webpage said to contain material developed by Fox and/or his office which appears to have vanished.

Let's turn to the smiling mayor David Held pictured in the pdf file and below as annotated by the SCPR.
As far as the SCPR is concerned there is nothing to smile about in terms of Mayor Held's protecting of Law Director Tim Fox and his obvious antagonism to North Canton citizens and their desire for "a transparent government" so they can get to "the truth of matters governmental" in North Canton a know whether or not North Canton "is worthy of being trusted" by its people.

Let's take another look at the smiling David Held:

 Now to get behind the smile.

Focus on the highlights of his message as added by the SCPR.

"[A] local government that offers a climate of:
  • cooperation,
  • teamwork, and
  • OPENNESS (emphasis added)
to all residents."


Yours truly has talked with Held literally for hours upon hours over the seven plus years of publishing The Stark County Political Report.

In the course of recent conversations, The Report has asked Held point blank the question of when North Canton is going to get a handle on Law Director Tim Fox and rein him in in his obvious hostility towards any North Cantonian who is not cheerleading for the administration he is part of and for the city council members who hired him from its midst after he served only a few months as Ward 3 councilperson after being elected in November, 2011.

The answer?

A song and a dance!

Held is a one smooth communicator who says very little if anything of substance about solving the lack of trust that a number of North Cantonians have in North Canton government.

There is no doubt to The Report that Held knows better than what he is promoting and producing in terms of transparency in North Canton government as North Canton's chief executive.

It is clear to the SCPR that for whatever reason Held is completely in sync with at least a majority of North Canton city council members who The Report has believed from the inception of Fox's hiring hired him with the understanding that he would play hardball with the likes of North Canton citizens Jamie McCleaster, Miriam Baughman, Chuck Osborne and others.

And "others" would pretty much including anybody including yours truly who has the audacity to expect transparency in government.

It is only through transparency that we citizens get to the truth of any given matter. It is a constant battle with government at all levels to get the truth out.  For citizens to trust government, we must be convinced that transparency is the default standard of government.

Held presents the appearance of transparency but in reality he is a "smoke and mirrors" guy.

Council itself rather flagrantly its majority support (four members or more) of Fox does an "in your face" to any North Cantonian who merely suggests a critical demeanor vis-a-vis North Canton government.

And, of course, Stark County's only countywide newspaper (The Repository) lets Held, council and Fox get away with the trashing of transparency.

For Fox to have included The Repository on his list was a deceptive maneuver, The Report thinks, designed to make it appear that he was not singling out McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne.

Every year the newspaper industry promotes "Sunshine Week."

And The Repository does pro forma, obligatory support of that week.

However, where "the rubber meets the road," the SCPR thinks that The Rep has a incestuous relationship with "the powers that be" in Stark County government and therefore cannot be counted upon to smoke out and condemn anti-citizen attitudes/actions that develop at various political subdivison levels of Stark County government.

The Stark County Political Report salutes the likes of McCleaster, Baughman, Osborne and other community activists sprinkled across Stark County for:
  • the time and effort they give their respective communities to keep government sunshine filtering through, and 
  • the disparagement they sustain at hands of the likes of Tim Fox and certain members of North Canton council
If there is to be an improvement in transparency in North Canton government, it will be because of their effort and as a consequence of one or more of them being elected to office in November.

To their extra credit, McCleaster has filed to run for North Canton councilperson-at-large and Osborne has filed to run in Ward 3 (against Stehanie Werren, wife of Canton Municipal Court Stark County Republican Party appointed Judge Curtis Werren).

McCleaster in particular has the skills to insist that Fox be relegated to what the SCPR thinks is a more appropriate role as law director.

Moreover, the wife of former Ward 4 councilman Jon Snyder has filed to run in Ward 4.

The Report does not know where sitting councilman, appointed (by the rest of council), Dominic Fonte stands on reining Fox in, but it is not encouraging that he seemingly just sits by and watches the pillaging of basic democratic-republican values.

Can we expect Kathy Snyder to make an issue of Fonte's silence and inaction?

Let's hope!

But so far there are only three council seats under challenge.

It will take four committed to restructuring Fox's role to get the job done (see LINK).

There needs to be candidates in Ward 1 (Foltz) and Ward 2 (Peters).

Peters (currently council president) along with Councilperson Marcia Kiesling, The Report believes, are the strongest proponents of letting the unelected Fox pretty much run North Canton government unchecked

There is still time for others to file for council and PLEASE SOMEBODY FILE TO RUN AGAINST DAVID HELD!

Nobody should get a free ride in our system of government.

Held goes to great lengths to distance himself from what appears to yours truly to be politically inspired shenanigans from some in North Canton government directed at McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne.

But are his protestations believable?

In a couple of recent conversations with Held, he made to borrow from Vice President Joe Biden "a really fu**ing big deal" out of Fox having not been on the losing side of any of Citizen Osborne's litigation against North Canton.

That's why the SCPR questions Held's sincerity in appreciating the activism of McCleaster, Baughman, Osborne et al though he disagrees with much of what they are trying to do (The Report's take).

The Report can see it in the mind's eye.

Fox, Held, Peters, Werren, Kiesling and Griffith high-fiving one another when the 5th District Court of Appeals came down with a decision on the health care insurance coverage case affirming Judge Haas of the Stark Court of Common Pleas declaratory judgment to the effect that the overwhelming vote of North Cantonians was not recognizable under the Constitution of Ohio.

To reiterate, here is what North Canton government (purportedly Law Director Fox) posted recently.

And here is the cause for celebration.

And here is Osborne's rebuttal:

I would like to point out that my purpose in the litigation over the healthcare litigation was to get the court to uphold Ohio's constitutional right of initiative.

I had already won on this issue before the City started the litigation. North Canton's part-time elected officials no longer have taxpayer subsidized cadillac healthcare coverage.

In the two-year cycle of this term of City Council, this has saved taxpayers by my estimate, $500,000. Until this point, it is disappointing to realize that our court care so little about democracy, the Ohio Constitution and the will of the voters.

Further, they totally fail at understanding the meaning and definition of words in the English language. The word "shall" does not convey exclusivity.

I was fighting for principle in court. Sorry the court cannot uphold the principles of democracy.
I accomplished my goals despite Law Director Tim Fox and a City Council members whose priority was to serve themselves above the electorate.

A half-million dollars and counting for taxpayers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Councilman Frank Morris, III, a Ward 9 Democrat, makes his debut on the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials "Top 10 List"  (List) today.

Morris takes on the spot held by political independent and Canton Councilman at Large Richard Hart in the March 27, 2015 initial listing of #5 on the List.

Hart has not done anything to prompt his de-listing.

Yours truly currently looks at the #5 spot as being one that will float for the time being among Canton's councilpersons other than Edmond Mack.

The SCPR projects Mack to be #1, #2 or #3 going forward because he has demonstrated that he has unique and consistent leadership skills that indicate that on one issue or another he will continue to surfaces as a leading voice on Canton City Council or in Stark County politics and governance (e.g. part of the effort to prevent the candidacy of the SCPR #1 Thomas Bernabei as in "independent" candidate for mayor of Canton) on critically important to Stark County issues of the day.

But Mack is far from the whole show on Canton City Council.

As the SCPR has written for several years now, other councilpersons have and will continue to surface on various and sundry issues which will catapult them into the #5 position.

For the current quarterly evaluation, The Report places Councilman Morris in the #5 slot.

The current "hot-button" issue that prompted yours truly to elevate Morris onto the List is the controversy over the merger of the Canton Joint Recreation District and the Canton Parks Commission.

In April, the SCPR did a blog (LINK) that featured Morris as a principal player in the back and forth on the issue, to wit:

Morris surfaced as the leader of Canton City in January, 2014 with the help of three fellow councilpersons which as a group the SCPR dubbed on August 30, 2013 as being "the four young turks."

While Morris is "the old man in the group," he qualifies the SCPR thinks as being young on account of his willingness to play the role of maverick councilperson and thereby challenging all of council to think "frankly" (no pun intended, meaning honestly) about the impact of council's actions.

Recently, Morris made news in tangling with Canton Joint Recreation District (CJRD) board member Don Peterson, III (a Mayor Healy appointee and a Stark County media person) who the SCPR thinks wants to make "the tail wag to the dog" in his stance that the CJRD be the surviving entity in relation to the Canton Parks Commission.

It is strange to see Peterson at odds with Mayor Healy's desire that the Commission be the surviving entity inasmuch as Peterson took issue with the SCPR a few years back over this blog's largely critical (continuing to this day) take on Healy's executive management (mismanagement from The Report's perspective) of the city.  Peterson is also an appointee of Healy on the Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CCIC).

Peterson was telling yours truly then (2010) what a good guy Healy is and that The Report needed to lighten up on Healy.  At the time The Report was making periodic political commentary appearances on Peterson's Q92 and the Pat DeLuca Show.  It wasn't long after conversation that the yours truly was persona non-grata on the show.  Apparently, Don Peterson, III told DeLuca to take Olson off-the-air.

If so, he didn't realize that being on the radio or any other medium is inconsequential to yours truly inasmuch as doing the SCPR as an independent voice beholden to nobody is THE REASON that The Report exists, having been around for over seven plus years now.

Back in September, 2012 the SCPR's take on Peterson is that he turned out to be "a mealy mouth" on the issue of Healy's claimed inadvertent use of a CCIC credit card for personal expenses which he ended up reimbursing the CIC for.

Shortly thereafter Healy resigned as a member of the CIC.

Could it be that now that Peterson is on the outside of Healy's agenda that he can now see Healy's flaws?

The Report has never had much regard for Peterson's public persona, especially because he is a media connected person, inasmuch as his - at that time - support of Healy seemed to be based upon a personal/sports connection to the Healy family. 

A Morris/Peterson exchange which was described in an area media report thusly:
During a heated discussion peppered with profanity, recreation board member Don Peterson III, who cast the dissenting vote Monday, accused Mayor William J. Healy II and Canton City Council Majority Leader Frank Morris of employing “bullying tactics (and) intimidation” during a closed-door meeting and said he didn’t think any deal had been struck.
The SCPR's point is that Frank Morris is the "frankest" politico to come on the Stark County political and governance scene in many, many a moon and is a refreshingly "what you get is what you see" politico.

Quite of the opposite of William J. Healy, II who is about as "oily" as a politico gets.

But until the  CJRD/Canton Parks Commission thing, the were best of friends?

So it was a delight to the SCPR to see Peterson to have to butt heads with Councilman Morris.

Morris was clearly going to come out on top in that match up.

He doesn't always come out on top, but he is going to make plenty of noise when he disagrees with anybody on a public issue.

The SCPR thinks that is a good thing.

There is a lot more dissension in government and politics than the public ever knows about.

Public discussion and airing out is a productive process in our democratic-republican form of government.

And, to repeat, Morris is effective at getting public discussion going.

A few examples of his doing so include:
  •  The Canton Citywide Plan
  • And, on a number of other matters (in conjunction with fellows Fisher, Mack and Mariol):

There is no doubt that Ward 9 Councilman Frank "Curmudgeon" Morris is a provocateur legislator and as as such is a Canton government "check and balance" factor who is a model for at least one councilperson on each and every city council in Stark's other major cities of Alliance, Massillon and North Canton.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilman Morris qualifies to be this quarter's #5 on the SCPR List of Top 10 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected officials.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Continuing on today with the second quarterly listing of the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivision Top 10 Elected Officials, The Report focuses on #5.

Readers will have figured out by now, in order to maintain or advance (as Zumbar has done, going from #5 in March to #4 today)  on the List, an official will have had to made additional leadership contributions to the well being of Stark County government since the first list was published in March of this year.

And Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar has done so, to wit:

In part, this is what Molnar wrote on June 22nd:
The city [Canton] has $4.2 million in state funding to buy and demolish up to 325 dilapidated buildings.

So far, only about $557,000 has been spent on 157 properties since Aug. 26. Six have been demolished.

“They have 150 that they need to get moving on,’’ said Stark County Treasurer Alexander Zumbar, chairman of the county land bank board that temporarily holds titles to the parcels. “Get ’em down.”

Unbelievably, Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar cares more about the quality of Canton neighborhoods than does Canton mayor William J. Healy, II and his administration?

That's how it appears!

Equally unbelievable to the SCPR is a seemingly but not really rhetorical question posed by a Canton councilman to yours truly recently:  "Where do you think the problem is [on the Canton demolition program], up on the 8th floor [the domain of the Healy administration in the Canton City Hall building] or with Zumbar?" [president of the Stark County Land Reutilization Commission].

You can bet your bottom dollar that Zumbar did not win any friends on Canton City Hall's 8th floor with his letter.

But in prodding the Mayor Healy administration to get cracking on using those state and federal dollars was absolutely the thing for Treasurer/SCLRC president Zumbar to have done.

The Report has sat in on many Canton City Council work sessions in which councilperson after councilperson after councilperson has put the heat on the administration to pick up the pace on demolishing condemned and abandoned housing that blights the neighborhoods of the Hall of Fame City.

You have the movers and shakers of Stark County putting together a Hall of Fame Village project that has the potential to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development to Stark County and the county seat Canton and Mayor Healy cannot get his act together on getting rid of as much residential blight as possible so as not to burden the eyes of future visitors to the city?

To the SCPR it makes no sense at all that the mayor is dragging his feet in not accelerating/spending the SCLRC held (in a figurative sense) money.

And The Report believes that the mayor is the accountable person.

Not Zumbar, not Healy's administrators, but the mayor himself.

As with nearly everything Healy, The Report thinks that he has made some political calculus that there is an advantage to his personal political fortunes to be dragging his feet

Eventually, Healy will be gone as mayor of Canton but the undone work of cleaning up Canton's neighborhoods will remain.

Kudos therefore to Zumbar for applying the heat to Mayor William J. Healy, II of the city of Canton.

For his effort, Zumbar remains in the top eschelon of the SCPR "Top 10" List.

In order to had made "the list" in the first place, Alex Zumbar has had to render exemplary service as an elected Stark County official in the first place.

Here is a recapitulation of what the SCPR wrote about Zumbar on March 26, 2015:

Today's blog is on Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Along with yesterday's SCPR subject Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Stark County commissioners Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton; Alex Zumbar has been a key figure in restoring the Stark County public's confidence in county government following what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has termed as being Zeiglergate (April 1, 2009 through October 19, 2011).

There is however one key difference between Zumbar and the others.

In Zumbar's case there was an alternative selection to be had to succeed Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer.

Zeigler, as it turned out, was "unconstitutionally" removed as treasurer by the-then commissioners Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson in August, 2010.  The Ohio Supreme Court restored Zeigler to office in June, 2011.

The September, 2010 alternative was Democrat Ken Koher who did serve for a short period of time which was from September 20, 2010 through November 24, 2010.

Koher who had been selected by Stark County's "organized" Democrats to replace Zeigler had to face Republican nominee Zumbar (September 9, 2010 at a Stark Co.  GOP meeting which resulted in the SCPR "gone Huffington Post Internet viral" Phil Davison "over-the-top Republican" video) on November 2, 2010.

Zumbar won and was sworn in on November 24th.

But, of course, as indicated above,  Zumbar was out in June, 2011 only to return on October 31, 2011.

From the Stark County treasurer's website:
Alexander Zumbar was first elected Stark County Treasurer in November of 2010. 
Prior to assuming his current position he spent 18 years in public service. 
Beginning in 1996 Treasurer Zumbar was elected to the Alliance City Council and held that position until 2003. 
Also, in 2003 he held the dual position of Administrative Assistant to the Honorable Charles E. Brown Jr. in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas- General Division. 
In November, 2003 he was elected to the position of Alliance City Auditor and held that position until May of 2008 when he was appointed as Finance Director of North Canton and held that position until his election as Treasurer. 
Civically, Alex is on the District Eagle Scout Review Board, Regina Coeli Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus #558, and Christopher Columbus Society. 
Professionally Treasurer Zumbar is a member of Auditor of State Dave Yost-Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board, Government Finance Officers Association, County Treasurers Association of Ohio and Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada. 
Alex holds the following certificates and special awards and honors: Emerging Trends in Fraud Investigation and Prevention certificate, Public Records and Open Meetings Law Training certification and the Ohio Financial Accountability certification. He has received the CAFR Award from the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office and the Government Finance Officer Association from 2004 through 2010. The State Auditor Award and is a BSA Eagle Scout. 
Treasurer Zumbar received his B.A. degree in Accounting from Mount Union College.

This is what the SCPR had to say about Zumbar in a November 23, 2011 annual Thanksgiving Day blog: (an extract)
[Zumbar] is a Republican through and through. 
He, picking up where Democrat Ken Koher had left off, on his winning of office in November, 2010 went to work instituting many structural, policy, practice and procedural changes in the Stark County treasury to ensure that a Vince Frustaci-esque theft of taxpayer moneys could never happen again. 
Moreover, Zumbar went to work in proposing and helping establish a Stark County-based land bank program to identify condemned, abandoned and to be torn down properties to be put to more productive use. 
Picking up on local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley's focus on the fact that some $40 million of back property taxes are owed to Stark County and its political subdivisions, Zumbar has put together lists of properties for the Stark County prosecutor's office to pursue in order to get much needed revenue into the hands of the county and the subdivisions. 
This despite being bounced in and out of office like a yo-yo. 
Indeed Stark Countians should be thankful that Alex Zumbar had the fortitude to stand tall and do what's good for Stark County.
Zumbar continues his restructuring of the Stark County treasurer's facilities in order to achieve maximum protection of Stark County taxpayer money to the degree it is still kept at the treasurer's office which is located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Zumbar has done sterling work as the initiator of (March 21, 2012) and guiding factor in the formation of and development of the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC, aka Stark County Lank Bank).

A number of Stark County political subdivisions have benefited from the formation of the SCLRC.

Canton with some 4,000 of 5,000 blighted and abandoned residential units remaining (the 1,000 removed so far coming from SCLRC administration of an Ohio attorney general office grant and Canton's $1 million local match) has been a major beneficiary of the existence of the SCLRC.

However, as stated by the SCPR in this series about Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Auditor Alan Harold, as well as The Report thinks of Zumbar, he is not perfect.

It was alarming to the SCPR when it appeared that Zumbar:

  • appeared (in July, 2014) to be trying to increase the pay of his chief deputy (Jaime Allbrittain, a former Stark Co. treasurer herself) at the expense of the SCLRC without bidding the "to be created SCLRC position" out to the general public,

Needless to say, Zumbar was furious with yours truly about the blogs on the incidents described above as he has been from time-to-time on other SCPR blogs.

What public officials like Zumbar can't quite seem to figure out is that yours truly does not seek to be liked by Stark County officialdom.  In fact, The Report gets just a tad nervous if a given relationship with a public official gets comfortable.  The question always becomes:  Am I doing my job as a journalist?

The Report gets along well with most of Stark County officialdom.  But things do get testy from time-to-time and that's the way it should be.  Zumbar has been among the most unhappy with the blogs that the SCPR publishes.

And, of course, word filters back to The Report that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and elected official members of his Maier Massillon Political Machine go absolutely "bonkers" at some of the SCPR's incisive blogs on how they perform as Stark County officials.

The Report see these folks as cowardly types who only answer questions posed by the "fawning" press.

The SCPR does not mind elected officials having a strong political party loyalty side to them except when The Report thinks that party connections seem to unduly play in the discharge of the official functions.

The Report suspects that Zumbar and his sidekick Allbritain and Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park were into some sort of political quid pro quo (something for something) in Park's daughter ending up on the Stark County treasury payroll and Allbritain's showing up on Judge Park's payroll.

Moreover, Zumbar hired into his office the child of a Republican Alliance councilman (Roger Rhome) apparently without making the job available to the general public.
There is probably nothing more odious to the SCPR than these types of "do not meet the smell test" personnel transactions.

On the Democratic Party side, Sheriff George T. Maier is the personification of the "does not meet the smell test" on the question of his non-union hirings.

Notwithstanding Zumbar's warts, the SCPR thinks that he is a superb Stark County official.

And he can be assured that The Report's thinking well of him will be no barrier whatsoever in terms of writing blogs chastising him for what yours truly thinks is this or that inappropriate public action.

A vigilant press helps make the likes of Zumbar better public officials.  Unfortunately, Stark County's only countywide newspaper all to often give certain public officials a pass on intense scrutiny.

On balance the SCPR thinks well enough of Zumbar to make him make #5 on the Stark County "Top 10" List of Stark County political subdivision elected officials.

Monday, July 27, 2015


In this second quarterly SCPR Top 10 List Mack maintains March's initial listing to being #3 in today's update.

Why is he deserving on staying at #3?

Two basic reasons.

First and foremost to the SCPR is his  initiative to bring charter government to Canton.  One of Ohio's relatively few non-charter governments. The Report supports this Mack endeavor.

Secondly, although The Report hopes he fails on this one, his involvement as the member of the Lee Plakas law firm in the effort to keep former Democrat and current Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei off the November ballot as an "independent" candidate for mayor of  Canton.


Since 2013 Councilman Mack has supported persuading Cantonians to adopt a charter form of government over its current status of being "a statutory" city.

Last year Canton City Council of which he is a member defeated 7 to 5 having council itself place the measure on the ballot for Canton voters to decide whether or not to form a 15 member charter commission charged with the duty of forming a proposed charter for Cantonians to vote up or down on within a year of the formation of the commission.

So this year Mack, the chairman of the judiciary committee of Canton City Council, decided to spearhead an effort to collect enough signatures to get the matter of charter government before Cantonians in the November election.

Yesterday, yours truly blogged on a hyper-technical roadblock placed in  Mack's way by Republican Stark County Board of Elections members Curt Braden and William S. Cline by disqualifying 26 signatures (which caused an 11 vote deficit in required number of signatures) because the circulator wrote "omit" beside two ineligible names rather than striking them out.

Mack has taken the extraordinary step in concert with prominent Canton attorney and Canton City Council President Allen Schulmann in filing a Mandamus action requiring Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to rectify the ballot access problem or alternatively the court itself (Judge Frank Forchione of the Stark County Court of  Common Pleas) ordering the charter commission selection process onto the ballot.

The Report thinks Mack and Schulman will succeed.

There is a argument afoot whether or not Canton becoming a charter city will be helpful to the governance process.

For the SCPR there is no consistent with our democratic-republican system of government argument of denying Cantonians the right to vote on the formation of a commission and on its proposal a year down the road on hyper-technical grounds.

Mack could have let the matter die.

That he hasn't is a major reason why he advances one spot on the SCPR Stark County Political Subdivison Elected Official Top 10 List.


The SCPR disagrees with Councilman Mack and his law mentor Lee Plakas that allowing lifelong Democrat Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei to run as an "independent" candidate for mayor  of Canton against two-term incumbent Democrat William J. Healy, II will be devastating to the stability and regularity of Ohio/Stark County elections.

But it is fitting and proper for the Plakas law firm to take on representing the protesters to the Bernabei candidacy.

 Note:  Stark County Democratic Party withdrew as a protester.

As of the writing of this blog, it is up to Secretary Husted as to whether or not Bernabei meets the residency requirement and made a "good faith" switch from being a Democrat to becoming an "independent."

The Report trusts that he will decide to let the people decide as he did in the protest over whether not George T. Maier was qualified under then existing law (since changed) to run for sheriff in November, 2014,

In any event, the SCPR repeats that it is a good thing for Edmond Mack as a community leader to be "where the action is" on important issues such as the charter government issues and who will be the next mayor of Canton.

Accordingly, the SCPR moves him up a notch on The Top 10 List.

As a refresher, The Report repeats a blog written on March 25, 2015 which originally placed Mack on the list.

Years In Office:  January 1, 2012 to present

Political Affiliation: Democrat


Juris Doctor, University of Akron School of Law

Bachelor of Arts, Kent State University

Current Employer:

Attorney - Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.


Judiciary Committee (Chairman)
Member, Public Property Capital Improvement Committee
Member, Rules Committee
Member, Downtown Development Committee

Special Interests:

Reducing storm water drainage problems in Ward 8.

Decreasing the amount of blighted and abandoned houses in Ward 8.

Increasing the number of police patrolling Ward 8.

Professional Recognitions:

Recognized as 2014 Top 20 Under 40 Young Professional by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, ystark!, and the Canton Repository.
Recognized as one of Ohio's best attorneys under the age of 40 for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 by Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" rating service.

Community Service:

Provides pro-bono legal services on behalf of non-profit organizations in Ohio Appellate Courts as amicus curiae.

Volunteers legal services through the Wills for Heroes Foundation.

Serves as a Member of the Kent State University Stark Chapter Alumni Board.

Serves as a Trustee on the Stark County District Library Board.

Term Expiration: December 31, 2015


Elected in November, 2011 over incumbent Councilman Mark Butterworth (a Republican), Mack has had a stellar rise in government and politics in terms of honing his leadership skills over his nearly four years as Ward 8 councilman.

Butterworth as Ward 8 councilman (2010 - 201) used to talk about the advantages of charter government but was so utterly intimidated by the 11 ward and at-large Democrat councilpersons' dissonance that his talk proved to be just that:  "talk."  As councilman he proved to be an out-and-out "mealy-mouth."

That Mack won by a mere 43 votes out of 3,443 cast, should make the case to voters that voting can make a critical difference on how their government functions in their interests.

Added significance to the Mack 2011 victory is that Ward 8 is about the only chance that Republicans can win a ward seat in council.

Edmond Mack has shown that on the charter government issue he has added "action" to the Butterworth rhetoric and, accordingly, has achieved productivity in terms of getting the measure on the November ballot.

In July, 2014 Mack sponsored an ordinance for council to place the creation of a charter commission on the November 2014 ballot.

But he was defeated.

Mack was undeterred.

Since the defeat, he has been working tirelessly to get the matter before Canton's voters.

He tells The Report that he will be filing his petitions with the Stark County Board of Elections in June.

Cantonians may or may not reject Mack's work, but he has worked hard and intelligently in shepherding the charter government issue to the ballot.

If there is  a rejection, Mack will pick up and go on as he did when Ward 8 residents rejected his initiative to find a use for $10,000 allocated to the ward from the November 2013 passed Canton Parks & Recreation levy proceeds.

If it passes, the SCPR can think of nobody better equipped to promote that Canton voters accept  the charter plan formulated by the 15 member commission selected this November for presentation for an up or down vote within a year (likely the November 2016 election) by Cantonians than Edmond Mack.

In that he is a councilman, Ohio law prohibits him from seeking a place on the commission.

However, it is likely that when Edmond Mack as a citizen speaks, commission members will be listening attentively.  For BUT FOR his effort, there would be no opportunity for Cantonians to vote in our democratic-republican system to weigh-in on the matter.

It was a sad day for citizen participation in our government when on July 14, 2014 Councilpersons West, Griffin, Smith, Fisher, Dougherty, Morris and Babcock voted to deny Cantonians the opportunity to have their say.

Mack himself repeatedly demonstrates that he listens when his fellow councilpersons speak and super-listens when his constituents speak.

The SCPR did a thoroughgoing blog on a meeting in the ward hosted by Mack on the proposed site (St. Mark's Episcopal Church) where the $10,000 was to be spent.

It was clear to one and all that the residents who showed up at the meeting were overwhelmingly opposed and, consequently, Mack withdrew the proposal.

All to many elected officials "bull ahead" despite clear opposition because their egos cannot take "no" for answer.

But not Edmond Mack.

The impressive thing to the SCPR was that Mack provided each Ward 8 resident who showed up at the meeting to have his/her full say and he endeavored to provide a full and complete answer (whether liked or not) to each citizen question.

On this question, Councilman Mack proved that he can "handle the heat in the kitchen."

It is difficult to rank Mack as being superior to his fellow young councilpersons on council (the others being Fisher [Ward 5], Mario [Ward 7] and "sort of" young [at least in term of his time on council] Frank Morris [Ward 9]).

They all deserve consideration to be among the SCPR's Top 10.

However, the SCPR puts Councilman Mack in the #3 slot in this initial quarterly evaluation because of:
  • his persistent activity (currently) in getting the charter government question on the upcoming November ballot, and
  • his demonstrated sensitivity to his colleagues and constituents
Nobody knows what the future holds.

But the SCPR sees Mack as having the potential to be a future mayor of Canton.

He may not be interested in that:
  • he has a child that he needs to nurture, and
  • he is a high quality lawyer with one of Canton's prime law firms and being mayor would be at great professional career path cost and surely long term would entail considerable financial sacrifice
The SCPR trusts he is considering such.  For he has qualities (i.e. intelligence, character and a vision) that are sorely needed in Canton government.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilman Edmond is named #3 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Saturday, July 25, 2015




8:15 AM U.S. TIME

Yesterday, Canton Councilman Edmond Mack of  filed a Mandamus action with the Stark County Court of Common Pleas asking that the court (case assigned to Judge Frank Forchione) compel the Stark Board of Elections (BOE, Board) to send a tie vote of July 13, 2015 to Ohio's secretary of state Jon Husted for his tie-breaker vote on the issue of whether or not valid signatures on a BOE determined overall invalid petition should be validated as substantially complying with Ohio election law.

As the SCPR, the problem person in terms of Cantonians getting the right to vote ultimately in Canton becoming a charter government city is North Cantonian - not elected to anything - Republican lawyer and BOE member William S. Cline.

DISCLAIMER:  Cline is a person in the context of his public officialdom persona who the SCPR doesn't much like and thinks should not be on any public officialdom board whatsoever in Stark County.

The Report thinks he teamed up with "power makes right" politico Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (a former Stark Dems' chairman) to deny the SCPR camera access to BOE meetings back in 2010.

For Cline yours truly thinks, the camera ban was matter of not wanting the Stark County public to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears how he his his backroom politico-esque manner teams up with other politicos to make political sausage that all we Stark Countians are forced to

Cline at work in the political world is hardly consistent with the view he would like Stark Countians to have of him.

For Maier, yours truly thinks, the camera ban was a case of political vendetta in retaliation for The Report sharing with Stark Countians an inside look at what makes him tick in the politics and government arenas.

In contrast to Cline, he makes no pretense of refinement.  He appears tbe content with being seen as a literal "bull in a China shop."  The Report's take on Maer, Jr. is that he likes making people afraid of him on political and government matters so they wilt to his will in his mere presence.

Yours truly is one the few of the Stark County politically engaged who has consistently told Maier, Jr. that he can stuff it "where the sun does not shine."

Cline tries to carry himself as some sort of patrician, but he comes across to The Report as perhaps the premier anti-democrat government official (the BOE and the North Canton Board of Zoning Appeals) in the entire county.

In his brief to Judge Forchione, Attorney Edmond Mack makes the point that the Stark BOE made no effort to notify Mack (as the lead person as a Canton councilman [Ward 8 and chairman of the Canton City Council Judiciary Committee) that on July 2, the BOE was going to make a determination of whether or not the Board was going to certify petitions circulated by Mack and fellow Committee members on the issue of having Cantonians vote on the formation of a Canton Charter government commission.

There is likely no legal requirement that the BOE notify Mack that the certification matter was on the July 2 regular meeting agenda.

But a body that cares about citizens and their opportunities to have input into decisions made by the Board in the spirit of our democratic-republican way of governing ourselves would have given Mack the heads up that a decision was forthcoming.

That no notice was afforded Mack makes all the BOE members (Braden and Cline [Republicans];  Ferruccio and Sherer, II [Democrats] unimpressive in terms of Board devotion to democratic processes;  not just member Cline.

Had Mack known about the July 2nd planned BOE action, he undoubtedly would have had the circulator present to present live testimony as presented in this affidavit submitted on the hearing of the motion for reconsideration (see discussion below), to wit:

Cline did make himself more anti-democratic-culpable in the eyes of the SCPR in pushing the matter that:
  • since the Board in its original decision of July 2nd voted 4 - 0 in denying certification because one petition of signatures contained the following notation rather than a strike-out of ineligible voter names,

therefore a motion to reconsider heard and tied 2 to 2 in a vote thereon on July 13th was not eligible for a secretary of state breaking of the tie vote.

As Mack pointed out in his brief in support of the Mandamus filed yesterday to be heard by Judge Forchione,  the 2008 Stark BOE (which Cline was a member of) took an identical process and in the cited instance did ask the secretary of state to break an original 4 - 0 vote on the basis of a subsequent 2 to 2 tie vote on a motion to reconsider.

All of which makes Cline what?

You've got it!

A hypocrite in the discharge of his official duties.

As a lawyer Cline knows all about legal precedent.

But he chose not to follow it in the Canton charter government matter even though he was part of the precedent.

In the broader picture of the matter, Cline had the opportunity to weigh in on the side of "letting the people vote" on the basis of a decision he participated in (2008) and apparently - in a arbitrary fashion - refused to do so.

For people who hold office as BOE members:

  • being appointed by political parties,
    • which are themselves minorities in the context of the numbers of Republican, Democratic and "independent" registered voters
 to deny is about as one can get in our democratic-republican system of government.

For political appointees Braden. Cline, Ferruccio (especially lawyers Cline and Ferruccio who are lawyers) and Sherer to deny the vote to Cantonians on a hypertechnical basis and not submit the matter to the secretary of the state is an outrage, pure and simple.

Hopefully, Judge Forchione will make quick work of the disproportional role played by BOE member and North Cantonian William S. Cline in denying Cantonians the right to self-determine as guaranteed by the Ohio Constitution and follow Judge Farmer's lead (in re:  Cerreta) in fostering the right of citizens to vote.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Yours truly apologizes for being tardy with today's SCPR "Top 10" Stark County "Elected" Officials quarterly update for the second slot on the list.

This blog is being written from Stockholm, Sweden.

In the very first SCPR list, Republican Councilwoman Nancy Halter placed second.

Unfortunately for Massillonians, Councilwoman Halter decided not to seek reelection to her Ward 2 seat.

She will be sorely missed.  While Councilwoman Halter richly deserved her March billing, The Report does not see her as having added to laurels as a councilperson and therefore she does not make the cut in this quarter's assessment.

Moving into the second place this time around is Republican Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.

Since the last SCPR listing at #4,  Harold added to his luster as being county auditor in a number of ways, to wit:

  • He supplements the forgoing with other reports on the activities of the auditor's office in the form of:

    • next month having his information technology (IT) folks fill the commissioners in on improvements in the county's information technology infrastructure which includes:
      • The Report believes, IT's  progress in placing the county checkbook online so that Stark Countians can check out what Stark County department heads (elected and unelected) are spending Stark County taxpayer money on and in what amount.
The foregoing is substantiation of  Harold "not resting on his laurels' of having been selected in the SCPR initial "Top 10 List."
Of the officials selected so far by The Report for inclusion in the list, Alan Harold is the most likely some day to achieve #1 status.

But that is going to be a tough hill to climb inasmuch as Commissioner Tom Bernabei has a firm grasp on #1.

Here is what your truly had to say about Harold in March.

Today's blog is on Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.
Alan was raised in Louisville and had public service as a calling from an early age.  
After a career in banking and in small business, he was elected to office in November of 2010.  
SCPR Note:  Among Harold's private sector endeavors, he was employed by:
  • Huntington Bank, and 
  • Coon Restoration and Sealants, Inc. as its CFO
Alan is an active member of many community organizations, including United Way, Buckeye Council – Boy Scouts of America, and St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
He has participated in the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Stark County (23rd Class) and Government Academy (2nd Class). 
Alan has a Master of Business Administration degree from The Ohio State University (2003); a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Union College (1998); and is a graduate of Louisville High School (1994). 
He and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Harold, live with their two children, Caroline and Andrew, in Avondale.
SOURCE:  Stark Auditor's Website

Harold has long been a favorite of The Stark County Political Report who may in time rise to the very top of The Report's quarterly published Top 10 List of the best Stark County Political Subdivision elected officials.

To do so, he will have to pass a number of tests that will come his way in ensuing months/years in the context of his being Stark County's auditor.

Back in 2011, Alan was among one of five Stark County-based elected officials that The Report singled out in this blog's annual Thanksgiving Day blog as person for Stark Countinans to be thankful for with respect to the year of being recognized.

The span of April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 was an excruciatingly difficult time for Stark County as will be apparent to the reader of this blog in the material that follows.

Alan Harold was among several newly arrived elected Stark County officials (November, 2010) that "saved the day for this 212 year old county.

This is what yours truly had to say about Harold back in 2011:
The SCPR views Stark County Auditor Alan Harold as a Republican enthusiast.

But that is okay.

Beyond that, The Report is convinced that Harold is determined to do the right thing for Stark Countians who use the services of the auditor's office.
Harold was one of the more indignant Stark Countians (both as a candidate for auditor and as an elected official) at the what he has described as the failure of former Stark County Treasurer to implement adequate structural, policy, practice and procedural reforms while Zeigler was office (1999 - 2011) to have prevented Vince Frustaci from stealing Stark County taxpayer money. 
Harold showed spunk and courage in standing fast in the face of Zeigler being restored to office on June 23rd of this year in withholding Zeigler's pay and his use of county provided equipment (i.e. telephones and computer) in the face of Zeigler not being able to obtain bonding that is statutorily required by Ohio before one can serve as a county treasurer in Ohio. 
It could be that Harold's steadfastness was instrumental in Zeigler being willing to negotiate with county officials regarding his eventual retirement/resignation from office on October 19, 2011.
Another impressive thing about Harold was his persistence in running for office.
In 2008 he endeavored to run against Zeigler.  Harold has told The Report that he was all set to run when word came down from his then employer that if he persisted in running it would cost him his job. 
Having a family to support, Harold had no choice but withdraw.   
However, he came back as a candidate for the Stark County Educational Service Board in 2009.  While he lost that race, once the Frustaci revelation took place he found a seized an opportunity to run for county auditor. 
Rightly or wrongly, it appears that the Stark County voting public felt that the then Auditor Kim Perez (a Democrat), which many Stark Countians perceived to have close political ties with Zeigler, did not act decisively enough when he had questions about the accuracy of data coming from the Stark treasury to the auditor's office and turned to Harold by electing him to replace Perez. 
The stamina of Alan Harold is a quality to be admired and the SCPR believes the Stark County public should be pleased that Alan Harold is now serving as their auditor.
The SCPR thinks that he continues to distinguish himself as auditor, but like the well thought of (by the SCPR) Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei, he is not perfect.

It may appear in spots that The Report is counter-arguing support for the notion that Harold deserves to be #4 on The Top 10 List.

Never mind, such is simply the style of yours truly.

As stated above, Harold being much younger does have the potential to topple Bernabei from the top of The Top 10 List.

However, there is also the potential to completely fall off the list.

Quite a number of Stark County elected officials treat their offices as if they were running a private corporation and are apt not afford the general public the opportunity to apply for taxpayer paid for positions that come open.

Such is not okay with the SCPR.

If the person these officials prefer to hire uncompetitively is so great, he/she will certainly be able to withstand the challenge of a competitor, no?

And maybe just maybe the hiring official, when faced with a competitor who has skills and attributes that clearly trump the preferred "insider," in the context of the public interest - if they care at all about the public interest rather than their personal comfort personal interest - may have to step away from the familiar and personally comfortable and hire the person who has more to offer to taxpaying public that he/she serves.

The SCPR suspects that Harold's hiring of A.R. "Chip Conde," clearly a competent and seemingly qualified person, was done to satisfy his personal comfort level and, perhaps, part of the Stark GOP reward system (i.e. "thank you 'Chip' for running for mayor of Canton in 2011") and not necessarily as case of hiring the most qualified person.

Conde is a guy the SCPR thinks well of and still believes was the far superior candidate in the 2011 Canton mayoralty race.

But as far as The Report is concerned nobody including the obviously competent and able Conde gets a free pass (i.e. apparent but not "real" competition) to a taxpayer supported job.

As Stark County elected officials know, the SCPR keeps an keen eye on this seemingly private-esque transactions.

Harold says that he did post the position that Conde was hired into and denies that Republican politics had anything to do with Conde's hire.

While Harold is not a part of the Stark GOP structural officialdom, nobody should think that he is not a de facto power within the "organized" Stark County Republican Party official family.

As the SCPR retorts in the case of every suspicion that a given GOP/Dems official hiring has a political aspect to is this:  It may be true that politics had nothing to do with it, but who is going to believe it.

Unlike The Repository, the SCPR does not single out certain officeholders for critique (a la The Rev vis-a-vis Kim Perez when he became auditor in the early 2000s).

Harold is not resting on his laurels as cited above.

He is making tremendous strides in updating his office's internal practices and procedures and the county's information technology infrastructure.

And he and his staff have done some admirable "in the interest of Stark County taxpayer" work.

Here is a blog link to blogs wherein yours truly details some of the auditor's office work in this regard under Harold's leadership.

However, there has been a curious development in development on this matter.

For tax year 2012, Auditor Harold's office appraised the Huntington Bank and associated  property at $8.9 million based in the actual purchase price by Amerimar and the appraisal was affirmed by the Auditor's office Board of Revision.

The buyer objected and filed an appeal with Stark County Court of Common Pleas.  Judge John Haas heard the case and decided that the $8.9 million appraisal was the correct number in the light of Ohio law that seems to stand for the proposition that the sale price is the best evidence of value for real property tax appraisal purposes.

That case has been appealed to the 5th District Court of Appeals and is pending.

Then something "very" strange (in the opinion of the SCPR) happened.

For tax year 2013, Harold's office dropped the appraisal to some $4.5 million.

A huge difference, no?

Of course Amerimar had to be happy.  However, the Canton City Schools was not.

But Harold's tax year 2013 $4.5 million appraisal action (attributing the re-evaluation which is not directly done by Harold to him for purposes of this blog) was short-lived.

The Stark County Board of Revision ( BOR, LINK to Ohio statutory basis, which interesting enough Harold was a member of) overrode the $4.5 million and once again set the appraisal at $8.9 million.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that in the tax year 2013 BOR decision, as mentioned above, Harold joined Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar and Stark County commissioner Richard Regula in reversing the $4.5 million appraisal.

Weird, no?

Amerimar Canton Office, LLC (Amerimar) once again appealed to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas (Judge Kristin Farmer) and the case is stayed pending the 5th District Court Appeals decision on the 2012 appraisal.

The focus of the SCPR on this series of events (specifically, Harold precipitous drop in appraisal value from $8.9 [2012] million to $4.5 million [2013]) is: Why?  And then why vote to override?

The Report did a quick reading of the transcript of the 2013 appraisal BOR hearing and does not see a Harold explanation as to why the $4.5 was made in the first place.

An explanation may be in there some where.

However, the transcript of the BOR proceedings is 61 pages long and the SCPR did not spot an explanation.

A month or so ago, the SCPR was at a Canton City Council work session and was interested to note that Deputy Mayor Fonda Williams was seemingly aghast at the 2012 Huntington Bank real property tax appraisal being at the sale/purchase price of $8.9 million.

He said that the 2012 appraisal caused rents at Huntington to skyrocket (the SCPR's term, not necessarily Williams, but it may have been).

The reason that the Huntington Bank matter came up with Canton has to do with the issue of what the tax appraisal will be for the Onesto Lofts project of former Harold employer (i.e. as CFO) Coons Restoration and Sealants, Inc.

Coon's company bought the Onesto for a little over $100,000 in about 2007/2008.

Well, with the restoration being nearly complete, and an appraisal (Coon's appraiser) indicated the property is now worth some $10.8 million, the the SCPR's suspicion is now that the tax man cometh all of a sudden there may well be a challenge to the $10.8 million figure.

If not now, perhaps a few years down the road.  

For Canton's council has granted Coon's company a 75% Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) credit, which of course is "real money," to use in finishing up the Onesto.

But the TIF "only(?)" last for ten years and once Coon's company gets the 75% of $10.8 million may it will not be so keen on paying taxes on that amount if not more after the TIF expires?

Sort of like Amerimar are we going to see Coon's company do a nuance of the Amerimar approach, to wit:  Buy the property low, get a high appraisal for TIF purposes, then during the 10 year TIF period or at the end there ask for a auditor's office tax valuation much lower?

How sweet!  No?

The SCPR has bought into the criticism of Councilman Frank Morris (Ward 9 and Majority Leader) that Canton council's action is a give-away of huge numbers of Stark County political subdivision dollars (the 75% factor) for a project that was highly likely to be completed without the TIF.

The Report's concern is that given his prior employment relationship with Coon's company, Harold should recuse his office of any work whatsoever on the evaluation of the property for real property taxes purposes.

Twenty-five percent (25%) remains a revenue factor for Canton government, the Canton City Schools and other Stark County political subdivision entities such as Children Services and Mental Health.

As readers will note by the tenor of this and prior blogs, at this time Harold is esteemed in his official capacity by the SCPR.

However, should Harold not have a "within reason" acceptable explanation for the precipitous drop in the 2012 to 2013 Huntington Bank appraisal and/or should he "put his finger into the 'appraisal' pie" of the Onesto project, his #4 ranking is likely to be lost come the next quarterly SCPR Top 10 List (due July 1st).

Hopefully he will clear this apparent contradiction in position up and if he does the SCPR will published it as a supplement at the beginning of this blog.

So we shall see how this saga unfolds.

As The Report sees it, these are critical times within which to make a deeper determination of Harold's leadership qualities.

He has picked "the low hanging fruit" and has performed admirably in doing so.  However, with any elected official, it is always a case of "what have you done for me lately."

After going through the above caveats, the SCPR finds much about Harold outside the foregoing concerns to like about his auditor's  leadership.

At the county level, Harold is set to be the best and the brightest that Stark County has to offer.  Time will only tell whether or not he fulfills that billing.

One area that his office clearly deserves huge accolades on is his technology group's work to improve/restructure the county's computer network.

While in December, 2012 he hired an Information Technology Manager (Rhodebeck) at $88,005 who has not been on board long enough to evaluate; Chief Deputy Auditor Anita Henderson  ($87,149) (Note: income data from Stark County Auditor, February, 2015)  has been around the county since 2005 and has earned universal praise for her work with maintaining and upgrading county information systems technology.

Ironically, she started out with former Stark County auditor Kim Perez way back in 1987 when he was Canton's auditor.  Perez brought Henderson with him from the city when he defeated appointed Republican auditor Brant Luther in 2004.

Harold defeated Perez in November, 2012 likely as an outgrowth of his being to politically close to former Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler.  Moreover, some think that Perez should have been more aggressive in raising a red flag when some of the numbers coming from the treasury were not squaring up.

The SCPR's take is that large numbers of Stark County voters perceived Zeigler not to have effectively managed the Stark County treasury in putting in place safeguards to have prevented his chief deputy Vince Frustaci from stealing some $2.46 million in Stark County taxpayer money over a number of years and culminating in the Spring of 2009.

Some departments of county government are in the Stone Age of computer technology particularly the courts and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Antiquated technology does impact the quality of services these departments of government can provide to Stark Countians.  Moreover, those departments of Stark County government which do not have "state of the art" technology have to be terribly inefficient and thereby diverting precious few Stark County general fund refunds from more productive use in service of Stark County's citizens.

Nobody that the SCPR knows of though disputes that Perez did a good thing in bring Henderson to the Stark County auditor's office.

The Stark County courts are just now getting on-board with an electronic filing system. Years and years after other Ohio counties have implemented the huge taxpayer money saving efficiencies that such a system will bring.

The Report understands that overall the court's technology remains as a hodgepodge of unsustainable technology pieces that will take Henderson and the new guy quite a long period of time and effort to get countywide technology to "state of the art" status.

It's a politically and "separation of powers-esque" sensitive thing for Harold to undertake.

Not only vis-a-vis the courts, but with the likes of the Stark County Sheriff's office and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Harold needs to stand behind his technology gurus and thereby keep nudging the technological Neanderthals (e.g. Stark BOE Director Jeff Matthews  [Stark County GOP chairman] and the BOE's members) who occupy taxpayer paid positions to put their agencies of government in a more capable and prepared technological status with which to serve the taxpaying Stark County public.

A simple thing that the Stark BOE can and should be doing is providing the general public with spreadsheet format election results data.

But when you have board members (Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and Sherer) who are out-and-out politicos in the sense they owe their jobs to their respective local political parties, it appears that they don't care one iota about making easily digestible and accessible election results information available to the general public.

Notwithstanding what the SCPR thinks are potential concerns about the integrity of the real property appraisal processes and, perhaps, politics being a factor in some of his hires, Alan Harold - for this quarter - deserves recognition as the SCPR's #4 Stark County in the Top 10 leaders because of:
  • his current and so far successful effort to tease technological advancement, restructuring out of various recalcitrant Stark County departments of government, and
  • his sea change in terms of the quality of "in the service of the public interest" changes he has made in the internal operation of the Stark County auditor's office pretty much across-the-board.
Like him (as the SCPR does) or loathe him, the fact of the matter is that Alan Harold is going to be a fixture in Stark County government and politics for a very, very, very long time.

Accordingly, he needs to be "at the head of the class" in terms of qualities he brings to Stark County leadership!