In particular, the SCPR has pushed the Board of Elections (BOE, the Board) to make its proceedings, processes and record keeping more transparent, more up-to-date and more available to the day-in, day-out Stark County citizen going back at least five years if not longer.
First, the BOE (then members Braden and Cline [the Republicans] and Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and Sam Ferruccio [the Democrats] tried denying the Stark County public the opportunity to see the Board in action in prohibiting the SCPR from videotaping BOE proceedings.
That did not last long as The Report thinks Secretary of State Jon Husted or someone in a position of high authority in his office put the squeeze on the Stark BOE members to allow the SCPR's camera in its public meetings.
Then (not sure about the timetable) The Report started putting pressure on the BOE administrators to start scanning in campaign finance reports (CFRs) and make them available to the general public in electronic format (i.e. pdf format) on compact discs costing $1.00 each.
Before the administrators prevailed on the BOE members to obtain the equipment needed to do the scanning, one had to go to the BOE and take of the time of a Board employee (a waste of taxpayer supported county employee time, no?) to go get a given candidate's file and then make paper copies of the CFRs and charge the requester $0.10 per page and in instances the reports can run 50 pages or so.
Besides the inefficiency of BOE employee time, the requester had to drive to the Board office (then on 3rd Street NE) in Canton:
- costing the requester
- gasoline, wear and tear on the transporting vehicle, and
- the hazard of an automobile accident.
The next advance was that unless the volume is unwieldy, one can request BOE employees to forward CFRs as attachments to e-mails.
Yours truly has been pleased to be the medium to nudge the BOE towards:
- being technologically up-to-date, and
- making the peoples' records easily and cost free accessible to everyday Stark Countians.
Yours truly implores readers of this blog to click on this LINK to the Summit County Board of Elections website to see first hand how easy citizen access to campaign finance reports can be on a 24/7 basis and with any cost whatsoever.
There is good news on the horizon for Stark Countians on the CFRs and 24/7 availability to Stark citizens and, hopefully "empowered" voters.
Yours truly has been pushing Stark County auditor Alan Harold whose personnel (e.g. Anita Henderson) are doing a pretty amazing job of getting Stark County government countywide up-to-nearer-the-state-of-the-art on its information technology footprint to give the BOE "a boot in the arse" on the transparency, technology sophistication (computer programming, equipment, et cetera) and cost-free round-the-clock accessiblity.
Important decisions were made in the April 8, 2015 Stark County commissioners meeting (LINK) with regard to allocating the money needed by Harold's IT folks to get the job done.
Whereas the SCPR is more like "the rambling wreck from Georgia Tech," Harold and his recently hired IP technology chief Seth Peterson (hired August 4, 2014) are more diplomatic with the BOE members and administration and that is a good thing.
Here is Peterson talking with the SCPR about the changes in technology coming to Stark County government.
And here is what Peterson had to say in response to an e-mail sent to him by the SCPR yesterday:
First, the SCPR e-mail:
From: Martin Olson
Today at 10:54 AM
Martin Olson here of the SCPR.
In July we spoke about planned IT upgrades across Stark County government.
One area of particular interest to me is the 24/7 availability of campaign finance reports from the Stark County Board of Elections.
Here is a LINK to the Summit County BOE site which I think presents a easy access model for Stark.
Please review the above link and let me know if something along model is in the works for Stark and, if so, what is the timetable.
If not, why not?
Re: IT upgrade at Stark County Board of Elections
Today at 1:55 PM
To: Martin Olson
We are currently engaged with the BOE in upgrading/rewriting their current software suite. The primary focus has been on meeting the new state mandate for absentee voter online reporting that must be in place for the fall election. We are also working on a mobile-first application for the fall.
Your timing is pertinent, however, in that we have a meeting with the BOE tomorrow, and campaign finance reports is an agenda item. To move forward with a campaign finance report module, we'll need their permission to write it and we'll need to assign it to a staff member here to write. With that being said, I can't commit to a time-line until after the fall elections, but I can give you an update once the meeting happens tomorrow about the general direction they are interested in moving.
CIO and Administrator
Stark County, Ohio
225 4th St NE
Canton, OH 44702
Recently, yours truly had a conversation with a Jackson Township community activist about the controversy going on in Jackson about a re-zone request.
On July 23rd of this year at a regular meeting, the trustees voted 2 (Pizzino and Hawke) "no" to 1 "yes" (Walters) and thus turned down the re-zone request for the third time as yours truly understands the matter.
Apparently, Don DeVille is going to try a fourth time and the community activist is besides himself with worry that ultimately DeVille will prevail and the activist cannot understand #1 Walters voted "yes" and #2 how is that DeVille has so much clout and staying power on the issue.
Well, one of the political adages at the very least since the Nixon as president days with politicians at every level is follow the money.
The question to the community activist was this. Have you checked the campaign finance reports? Is there a campaign finance connection between DeVille and any of the trustees?
Of course, even if there are contribution trails it would not necessarily indicate that trustee votes and or receptivity on the issue are influencing the consideration of the rezoning request.
But as a matter of fundamental issue research, checking campaign finance contributions made to the government deciders on any given issue is Political Activism 101.
In Stark County BOE government as accessibility currently stands, getting those reports in the middle of the night or after 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday is not doable.
So it is in the interest of the Jackson community activist and anybody else in Stark County who may have a need going forward to have 24/7 access to CFRs to join the SCPR in pressing the Stark BOE to catch up to Summit County "right now" in providing that information to Stark County citizens.