Monday, September 28, 2015


UPDATED:  10:40 AM


Commissioner Richard Regula
"the dark days of 2006-2010"
of the
Stark County Commissioners

Sales Tax Collections Up
$22 million to $27 million

Regula & Creighton
Answer SCPR Question
Sparsely Attended
Outreach Meetings

Lake Trustee
John Arnold
Comments on
County Government

Lake Meeting


The office of the Stark County commissioners has come a long way from "the dark days 2006 through 2010" according to current Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula.

That was what Regula said last Tuesday evening at the Lake Township Hall in one of a series of "community outreach" meeting that the commissioners have been doing since 2011.

In 2010 Commissioner Janet Creighton (Republican, formerly Stark County recorder, auditor and mayor of Canton) and Thomas M. Bernabei ("independent," [formerly a longtime Democrat], a former Canton law director, chief of staff and service director [Healy administration] and Canton councilman) were elected commissioners.

The SCPR agrees with Regula

Years 2007 (actually, when Bosley and Harmon became commissioners) through 2010 were indeed dark days witness the following events:

  • DECEMBER, 2008:  Democrat commissioners Todd Bosley (currently running for Nimishillen Township trustee) and Tom Harmon (a former Canton clerk of courts and Stark County commissioner now running for Canton council-at-large) teamed up with now retired former commissioner [2008] and Republican Jane Vignos to "impose" (meaning:  no vote of the people) a 1/2 cent sales tax on Stark Countians.
    • Note:  Stark County undid the "imposed" tax in November, 2009 through an effort spearheaded by community activist and local attorney Craig T. Conley and community activist Thomas Marcelli,
  • APRIL, 2009:  Allegations surfaced (subsequently confirmed by a guilty plea in June) that Stark County chief deputy treasurer Vince Frustaci had stolen several million dollars from the Stark County treasury (i.e. taxpayers).
    • Note:  Stark County government was rocked with turmoil through October 19, 2011 as then Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (originally in 1999 a Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee appointed to that office) fought being removed from office by the commissioners for not having ensured the security of facilities and management instituted safeguards to have prevented the Frustaci theft.
    • Note:  Zeigler was removed by the commissioners in August, 2012 only to be re-instituted in June, 2011 by the Ohio Supreme Court as having been unconstitutionally removed,
    • Note:  In a financial settlement deal brokered by the 2010 elected Bernabei, Zeigler agreed to resign on October 19, 2011 and was replaced with Republican Alex Zumbar in an unheard of move whereby he was appointed treasurer by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee under the leadership of then chairman Randy Gonzalez (Gonazalez currently is Jackson Township fiscal officer).
It was only with the Zeigler resignation that Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson (a Democrat elected in 2008 who did not run for re-election in 2010) that the commissioners could get on with the task of working to re-gain the trust of Stark Countians in the operations of Stark County government.

In 2012, the commissioners instituted a series of community outreach meetings in which they visited many of Stark County's townships, villages and cities to demonstrate:
  • accessablity,
  • accountability,
  • communicativeness,
  • openness, and
  • transparency
There was somewhat of question about whether or not the commissioners' community outreach was "really" about connecting to Stark Countians where we live in enhancement of our democratic-republican values listed above inasmuch as the commissioners had also placed on the November, 2012 ballot a 1/2 cent sales tax increase for Stark Countians to vote on.

In Lake, Regula revealed that the November, 2012 sales tax revenues have mushroomed from $22 million to $27 million.

After the election, the community outreach meeting dissipated because of the lack of attendance support of city, village and township residents except for meetings in Jackson and North Canton which had issues of their own in process and therefore the commissioner event was the perfect forum to more airing of those local issues.

While the SCPR can understand the frustration of the commissioners experienced in having the many hours expended in preparation and appearance go largely unrewarded, such (disinterest) is the state of the public attitude in Stark County towards not only county level government but also at city, village and township levels, unless, of course, a "hot button" issue is in play (e.g. Jackson Township now and the fourth DeVille zoning change request.

There appears to be no ulterior motive in the commissioners some three years later in re-instituting their current community outreach series.

As part of the SCPR video coverage of the Lake meeting, yours truly asked questions about the frustration experienced in the 2012 and so far in 2015 in not getting a great deal of response.

Next his blog turns to comments about county government and questions to the commissioners by those attending the Lake meeting

Here is Lake trustee John Arnold:

While only about a half-a-dozen citizens (several of whom were township officials, the commissioners appearance did as the meeting wrapped up asked some interesting questions.

Lake citizens "held court" with the commissioners some 15 minutes (see video below).  And the SCPR asked a few questions too that probably took another 5 minutes (see below).
  • Note:  Commissioner Bernabei was not part of the Q&A because he had to excuse himself to attend another function.
Among the topics covered in "the citizens inquire" segment and touched upon by the commissioners  in the Q&A part of the meeting:
  • the county budgeting process,
  • the county's "rainy day fund,"
  • the enterprise funds,
  • budgeting for the long term,
  • commissioners will be asking for sales tax renewal in 2019,
    • Note:  (Regula:  Stark County has lowest sales tax in State of Ohio),
  • Lake's Midway St Recycle Center
    • Note:  (Regula:  Lake road superintendent "best" in Stark County),
    • Citation of good work of Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne Solid Waste District and work of David Held (also Republican mayor of North Canton),
      • "a very progressive recycle program,
        • supported by "tipping fees" paid for by waste dumped in Stark County sited landfills,
      • but (Regula) solving landfill problems (Countywide) was because Ohio EPA was getting tipping fees and therefore (a Regula implication) the Ohio EPA was not motivated to solve the Countywide thought-to-be underground fire problem,
      • (Creighton) Recycling is the priority over solid waste dumping,
  • citizen expresses appreciation to commissioners (for holding meetings), 
  • commissioners re:  holding of budget hearings (open to public) beginning in December and the overall budgeting process in which commissioners approve a budget in March of the new fiscal year,
  • citizen comments re:  "caliber of employees hired" by commissioners,
    • Regula:  "every job in county government should be posted,"
      • "we are all about accountability and transparency to the taxpayers of Stark County
  • citizen asks Regula responds to disposal of hazardous waste,
  • Regula brings up the problem of disposing of unused/outdated prescription drugs
  • Regula winds up with reference to:
    • the adding of hotel rooms in Stark probably as a significant factor in Cleveland getting the Republican National Convention in 2016 over Columbus,
    • the upgrading of the sewer plant with services the county and various Stark County city governments,

As indicated above, the SCPR asked questions of the trustee.

One was about the township government valued recycling of shrubs, trees and the like and the pressure on township budgets (Lake and Jackson, in particular) and how the commissioners might work with township trustees to build a sustainable financial model for townships to continue this highly prized by citizens government service.

Moreover, yours truly asked the commissioners about the frustration of holding community outreach meetings sparsely attended by Stark citizens.

See Commissioner Regula's response on the "sustainable financial model factor" and Commissioner Creighton on the "frustration factor."

And, to boot, and toot the SCPR's horn just a little, see a citizen extol the work of the SCPR in bringing video to Stark's citizens about the goings on of various levels of Stark County government.

  • Note:  Commissioner Creighton's reference to yours truly not attending Stark County commissioner meetings of late invites comment.
    • My wife Mary underwent open heart surgery on August 12 at University Hospitals's Cleveland facility.
    • She is recovering nicely, but she still needs the close attention of her "next-of-kin."
    • Accordingly, I have been judicious in the time I am separated from her.
Notwithstanding The Report's decrease in ability to get out and about to Stark's local government meeting, sources continue to be in constant contact and they have helped in the endeavor to keep the SCPR reading public up-to-date on significant local government commentary and analysis.

In additional parts of this series, he SCPR will be presenting additional segments of video and in the final segment include the full video for readers who want to take in the meeting unbroken.

This particular series will have value for Stark County citizens for sometime to come going forward.

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