One of the most citizen friendly bodies of Stark County government will make an appearance at Lake Township Hall a week from tomorrow night; namely, the Stark County commissioners: political "independent" Thomas M. Bernabei and Republicans Janet Creighton and Richard Regula.
From the commissioners website:
Stark County Commissioners to Host Series of Informational Meetings Across the County
8/24/2015 9:01 a.m.
The Board of Stark County Commissioners will meet with County residents and give an overview of the current state of Stark County Government and will answer questions.
All Stark County citizens are welcome at any of these meetings regardless of where they reside in the County.
(text color and typeface altered for emphasis sake)
One such meeting shall take place in the home area of The Stark County Political Report a week from tomorrow which is to say: September 22, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Township Hall located 12360 Market Avenue, North with a mailing address of Hartville.
As the SCPR sees it, the "commissioner coming to town event" is a perfect opportunity for Lake trustee John Arnold (a voter registration Republican who is supposed to be non-partisan in his functioning as a public official) to right what The Report thinks was "a political wrong" sanctioned by Arnold and other township officials on the occasion of the ribbon cutting ceremony of August 19, 2015 of the newly relocated Uniontown Police Department (UPD) to the former site of the Lake Senior Citizen facility at 1630 Edison Street, Northeast.
That's how yours truly sees it.
To hear Trustee Arnold's version of events at the August 19th UPD event, it was mere happenstance that Republican appointee to the Canton Municipal Court Curtis Werren showed up at the event and ended up being featured along with Arnold and various Lake Chamber of Commerce officials at the ceremony.
Werren's Democratic opponent Kristen Guardado was nowhere to be seen nor was any official or "elected" judge of the Canton Municipal Court nor official of the Canton Law Department (with whom the UPD collaborates criminal prosecutions) present.
Werren, (now on his second gubernatorial appointment as a politically appointed judge at the hand of Republican governor John Kasich) who seemingly can do very little on his own, appears to have had the help of his wife Stephanie who is an official with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (director of Leadership Stark County) in providing him with the advantage of being the only "outside Lake Township public official" who just happened to be "[Curtis] on the spot" on August 19th.
While the event itself was a non-political event in terms of the official agenda, does anybody doubt that the "photo op" will show up on a Lake Township tailored political flyer in about four to six week if not right on the eve of the November 3rd election which Werren must win in order to remain a judge.
To somewhat balance things out, the SCPR encourages Democratic opponent Kristen Guardado to just "happen" to make an appearance next Tuesday evening (... Commissioners will meet with County residents ...) and position herself to have her picture take with not only the Lake trustees but also the Stark County commissioners for October distribution in a political flyer come next month.
Of course, yours truly is "poking fun" at "officially 'non-partisan'" Trustee Arnold and various other Lake political and government officials (including, perhaps UPD chief Harold Britt, who according to voter registration records is a Republican) for what the SCPR thinks is their disingenuous attempt to portray Werren's August 19th appearance as being innocent of politics.
It could be true as Arnold maintains, but The Report doubts him and thinks he is like the person who has been spied with "his hand in the cookie jar."
The "smoking gun" of politics being at play yours truly thinks is Arnold taking offense in a series of e-mails (see all the e-mails below) that took place between the SCPR, Arnold, Britt and Kozy (the president of the Lake Chamber of Commerce) in which:
- Arnold takes offense at the mere questioning of his role and the role of others as a factor in the "happenstance" of Werren's appearance,
- Arnold in a sort of way "blames the victim" (yours truly is a taxpaying citizen of the Uniontown Police Department) in saying that the SCPR in asking questions and writing about the apparent politicization of the August 19 event is to blame if the public takes a dim view of how it was put together,
- Britt's errant answer to a SCPR e-mail (later corrected) and then his refusal to follow up with detailed answers to yours truly's question, and
- Kozy's refusal as the Lake Chamber's top official to respond to the SCPR's inquiry
One of the frustrations of the commissioners getting outside "the Canton government beltway" is that oft times only a hand full of citizens take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the commissioners to:
- learn about county government,
- ask questions (is that okay Trustee Arnold) of the commissioners,
- compliment the commissioners, or, maybe even
- roast the commissioner over this or that action, policy or program of commissioner administered county government
Such a occurrence could bring "a full house" to next Tuesday's commissioners' Lake Township appearance, no?
To add spice to the evening, you can be sure that The Stark County Political Report will be there to film every second.
So as the sayin' goes: "You-all come!"
Here are the emails referred to above.
Note: The Report thinks there must have been a flurry of telephone conversations between Arnold, Britt and Kozy in support of having an cogent, united response or lack thereof.
If so, of course the content thereof will never "see the light of day," right?
INITIAL SCPR E-MAILS to Trustee Arnold, Chief Britt and Lake Chamber of Commerce president Kozy:
Who invited Judge Werren to participate in the opening of the new Uniontown Police Facility?
Martin Olson Aug 27
To: John Arnold
Just received my copy of the August 28th edition of The Hartville News.
I want to know who invited Werren (up for election in November) to participate in this event.
Stark County Political Report
Re: Curt Werren
John Aug 28
To: Martin Olson
The community was invited. It was a chamber of commerce morning connections meeting and the public was invited for the ribbon cutting. Announcements were made at twp meetings and numerous other community meetings.
Sent from my iPhone
SCPR FOLLOW UP
On Aug 28, 2015, at 6:54 PM, Martin Olson <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Was Werren [t]he only elected official (from Lake, the Canton Municipal Court District and Stark County in general) other than yourself and Stoll who showed up?
Re: Curt Werren
John Aug 29
To: Martin Olson
Sent from my iPhone
Arnold #3 (as a follow on to SCPR Britt e-mail copied to Arnold)
Mr. Olson, the Chamber event was open to the public. I cannot control who does or does not show up anymore than I can control who the press takes pictures of or writes about. If you have any police concerns the chief will answer them. Your line of questions are shedding a dark cloud over a very positive move the UPD made and celebrated last week.
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SCPR follow up
Re: Police Dept ribbon cutting
Martin Olson Sep 1
To: John Arnold
I will keep digging on this.
Questions are a good thing. It is interesting that public official would discourage the mere asking of questions.
What am I not being told about background discussions between you (as a chamber official and as a government official), Kozy, (who still has not answered by e-mail to her), Werren's wife (in her capacity as a CRCOC official), and the chief?
It took forever for the chief to get back to me and that was with the same blandishments (after erroneously terming Werren as a Common Pleas Court judge) that you are dishing out. He still has not answered the specific questions I put him in the response to his e-mail to me.
I have been around this kind of block a time or two over my eight years of doing the Stark County Political Report. To boot, as a resident and taxpayer of the UPD since 1975, I think I have all the more reason to be asking questions.
My experience John is in doing the SCPR is that when I am on to something, I get something like your "dark cloud" talk. Folks like you typically try and make a person asking questions as being the problem.
The problem sir is that this whole matter appears to me to have been handled inappropriately.
I do not buy that all of this was just happenstance as you are portraying.
Since you are in the Lake Chamber as an official, why don't you contact Kozy and ask her to answer my questions e-mailed yesterday?
Remember, John, government scrutiny and oversight is a good thing.
It should be disturbing to your Lake Township constituents that you are now on record as objecting to the mere asking of questions.
It could be that I ultimately will find that the Werren thing was just him doing his political thing and taking advantage of an otherwise non-political event for his political advantage and you as township trustee and the chief were not savvy enough to figure that out and merely ask him to step aside from the publicity thing.
Either way I come out on the issue, you, sir, will not be looking too good on this matter on a couple of counts. The "blame the victim" approach and either you know more than you willing to tell me or you don't but failed to see the political dynamics at play with politician, running for office Werren being front and center.
It's you and the chief (and I think mostly you) who bear responsibility for the dark cloud metaphor.
That technique may have served you well with others, but not with me.
BRITT RESPONSE #1
Lake Chamber of Commerce Meeting.
Harold Britt Aug 31
Ref: Response to e-mail sent August 28, 2015 at 1406 hours.
Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Lake Township Chamber of Commerce meeting that was held at the Uniontown Police Station on August 19, 2015.
The Lake Chamber of Commerce holds their bi-monthly meetings at different locations around Lake Twp.
The Uniontown Police Department hosted the August 19, 2015 meeting as we have several times in the past.
The Lake Chamber of Commerce posted the location of the August 19,2015 meeting on their web site. and this meeting was open to the public.
The Uniontown Police Department requested time after the Lake Chamber of Commerce Meeting to hold a small ribbon cutting ceremony in recognition of the opening of our new building.
In attendance at the Lake Chamber of Commerce meeting was Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judge Curt Werren.
Having the utmost respect for all of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas Judges and the job they do in supporting local law enforcement, it was an honor to have a representative of the court at this meeting.
If you have any further question please feel free to contact me.
Chief Harold Britt
BRITT FOLLOW UP (to correct error)
Lake Chamber of Commerce Meeting
Harold Britt Aug 31
Mr. Olson as you may understand, I have to respond to a lot of e-mails throughout the day and not all of them are perfect, please accept my apology for the delayed e-mail and referring to Judge Werren as a Common Pleas Judge. As always you are welcome to come by the office if you have any concerns.
SCPR FOLLOW UP
cc: [John Arnold]
For the record Werren is not a Stark County Court of Common pleas judge. He was defeated for that position as a Kasich appointee in last November's (2014) general election by Chryssa Hartnett.
I note in a follow up e-mail you do correct the erroneous attribution.
The implication of the correction is that you have known all along that Werren is presently a Kasich political appointee and is standing for election in just over two months (November 3rd) in opposition to Canton Law Department prosecutor Kristen Guardado.
Or is that not the case?
Were you not aware of the political sensitivity of having an unelected judge/candidate for office featured at the ceremony?
Were you told before the event that Werren was going to be present"?
If so, who was it that told you?
If not, why would you not ascertain his exact status correctly (i.e. he is a political candidate for office) before allowing him take advantage of the UPD opportunity in pursuit of his personal political interests?
I am quite skeptical of what I am getting from you and John Arnold as to how Werren came to be prominently featured in the ribbon cutting with media present taking photos that undoubtedly will show up in a political campaign flyer between now and the election in Lake Township.
Werren's wife is the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's director of LeadershipStark County.
And, Trustee John Arnold, is also a key figure in the Lake Chamber of Commerce.
There are just too many co-incidences for me to accept at face value what you and Arnold are portraying.
As a police officer who presumably focuses on law enforcement matters and not on politics, it may be that you were oblivious to the political undercurrents I suspect are at play in Werren just happening to show up at the ribbon cutting event. That you erroneously identify Werren as a sitting Common Pleas Court judge leads me in the direction of thinking "it may be that you were oblivious." But if that is the case, I want confirmation of such.
So my e-mail inquiries are designed to provide me with a full opportunity to explain what you did or did not know about Werren's appearing.
For something as significant as this event it seems to me that either the trustees or you as chief should have obtained a judge who has been elected to the Canton Municipal Court or alternatively one of the criminal prosecutors that UPD police officers work with on a continuing basis as the notable public figure to be featured.
In any event, please answer the questions I pose in this e-mail.
By the way, I am copying John Arnold with a copy of this e-mail so that he fully understands my skepticism about the account I am being given by you and him.
I plan to keep digging until I am satisfied that I have an accurate and complete account of how Werren came to be the only non-Lake Township public official at the ribbon cutting who by virtue of the political nature of his interest in being at the ribbon cutting event should have been treated courteously but not accorded the notoriety that unfolded for him in the local media insofar as taxpayer facilities and functions are concerned.
From public officials, I expect complete transparency. Hence I want communication between you, me and Arnold to be in writing.
Again, please go over my questions and provide me with detailed responses.
as a UPD resident and taxpayer
and also of The Stark County Political Report
BRITT DOES NOT RESPOND TO FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS
ALSO, KOZY NEVER RESPONDS TO SCPR QUESTIONS