The focus of today's blog in this ongoing series on the battle that has and is likely to continue between the Canton City Schools (CCS) and the Stark County Educational Service Center (ESC) is Canton City Schools treasurer Jeff Gruber.
Gruber, is one of the main persons at the center of the controversy:
- of the longstanding refusal of the CCS to pay some $230,000
- resolved for the time being with the CCS BOE 3 to 2 agreeing to pay same as a "moral obligation
- to the ESC as reimbursement for the employment on the ESC payroll though actually working for the CSS of CCS superintendent Adrian Allison's wife Kristea
Readers of this part 3 should read parts 1 and 2 in order to be up-to-date of the basic framework of the controversy. Here are the links.
The thread this the SCPR analyzes are the relationships Gruber seems to have with:
- the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party,
- some of the party's most powerful leaders (including unionist and CCS BOE president John Rinaldi, Jr.)
- CCS superintendent Adrian Allison,
- BOE members Rinaldi and Grimsley, and
- Republican Stark County auditor Alan Harold
The folks that The Report talks to all say that Gruber is "one-Hell-of-a-treasurer" and financial man through all his steps in the public employment fiscal world.
Here is what the SCPR wrote about him back in 2014 in the run up to his race against sitting Republican Stark County auditor Alan Harold.
While Gruber may be an excellent X's and O's fiscal man, he is a clumsy as one can get as a politician.
It is his political stumbling, bumbling from his days at R. G. Drage to the current controversy with the CCS which his detractors use to make an assessment that notwithstanding his skills as a financial man, he is more trouble than he is worth in an overall sense.
The Report had a telephone conversation with Gruber when he took out petitions to run against Harold back in 2014 and believe me yours truly has had some bewildering conversations with candidates for public office but this one stands out as the most bizarre.
Democrat Gruber gave no substantive reason why he thought Harold should be replaced as county auditor. What came out of the conversation was that he was running at the behest of one of his chief political supporters; namely, former longtime Democratic Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts, former Stark County commissioner and now virtually assured to be a Canton councilman-at-large Tom Harmon.
Consequently, the results were quite predictable.
So it is no surprise that Harold has become one of Gruber's chief political detractors.
Harold, the quintessential corporate-favoring Republican versus Gruber,the equally quintessential unionist-favoring Democrat.
While Harold does not question Gruber's competence as a fiscal man, he does question why it took so long (some two years) for Gruber and his supporters (now, unionists Rinaldi, Jr and Grimsley) to get the Allison employment reimbursement matter brought to a head?
A likely answer?
Gruber was lobby internally within the CCS-BOE for a vote "not to pay" the ESC for accommodating the Allisons and the CCS-BOE on creating a structure whereby Krista could in the techno-legal sense could to work for the CCS as an employee of the ESC and thereby satisfy "the-letter-of-the-law."
Of course, the SCPR's position is that the ESC set a bad example in working this arrangement as the arrangement was surely a violation of "the-spirit-of-the-law-of-Ohio" that kin may not work for kin.
On appearances Gruber's refusal to pay seems to be admirable, no?
Something that Auditor Harold has been apt to do (e.g. the Gary Zeigler matter and, at least for a day re: George T. Maier) in his "letter-of-the-law" posture as auditor.
However, the SCPR believes that Gruber's refusal has more to do with historical political-esque entanglements with ESC leadership than being a "no-ifs-buts-or-wherefores" treasurer.
In the end, The Report believes Gruber lost what was an intensely t political battle with internal CCS BOE factors and prior indirect ESC factors at play over whether or the CCS BOE would do what it eventually did and approve the Allison reimbursement of some $230,000 as "a moral obligation."
Is stuff like this which turns everyday citizens off about government.
Way too often the battles which make the headlines of media involve a personal political agenda and the the overall public interest!