(Extract: Headline Cleveland.Com OpEd, highlighting added)
As the SCPR recently scanned the online versions of some of Ohio's better newspapers, yours truly happened upon a headline (LINK) pictured in the graphic above.
Recent Ohio governors, both Republican and Democratic, has played big time political in who heads of the Ohio Department of Education.
The formality is that the State Board of Education (S-BOE) makes the appointment of Ohio's superintendent of education. BUT the governor appoints 8 members of that 19 member board. And who thinks that of the 11 elected members, the governor cannot find at least two politically beholden political party loyalists to do the governor's bidding?
This is what the Plain Dealer editorial board, in part, had to say about outgoing Superintendent Richard Ross:
But he will be better remembered for being one of the most political state school superintendents in recent memory. Politicizing the job has not been in the best interests of Ohio students in either traditional public or charter schools.The Plain Dealer went on describe the in-place political realities which will make it impossible for an "independent-minded" candidate to surface as Ohio's new superintendent of schools, to wit:
Yet the partisan infighting over who will be the next school superintendent has already begun, auguring poorly for a new dynamic.Stark County has had a direct experience in political jockeying that has take place with the S-BOE.
State school board President Tom Gunlock, a Republican, could have tried to unify the often split board, which is divided along party lines. Instead, he created an eight-member search committee that is heavily weighted to Kasich loyalists, including four board members appointed by Kasich, a representative from the governor's office and two Republican legislators. The lone Democrat on the committee is elected Ohio school board member Roslyn Painter-Goffi of Strongsville.
Debbie Cain (elected on November 3rd to the Lake BOE from whence she came).
The SCPR knows the public side of Debbie Cain going back the better part of 20 years and has been truly astounded to see this mediocre at best official rise to the presidency of the S-BOE.
How did she do it?
In the opinion of the SCPR, playing the role of the political hack.
For The Plain Dealer to fantasize about Ohio realizing a truly independent person as the state superintendent of education is just that: a fantasy.
Ain't never, ever going to happen!
Anytime The Report sees the word "independent" in the media, like a powerful magnet drawing metal filings unto itself, the eyes become riveted upon any article containing the word in its headline.
For there is no higher political value for the well-being of our democratic-republican than political independence.
Most Americans agree that political independence "in theory" is a good thing.
Closely related to the notion of "independence" is the mythological "I just want a fair opportunity."
But "where the rubber meets the road" in the ebb and flow of everyday life, all too many Americans demonstrate that we do not "really" want you, I or anybody else "to call it as one sees it," that is to say: free of domination of an outside the self influence center.
Moreover, large numbers of us work feverishly "to get a leg up" on our fellows through political alliances as contradistinct from showing what we can do given a fair opportunity.
One of the prime reasons The Stark County Political Report exists is yours truly's commitment to fostering political independence and the corollary of fighting for everyday citizens having a fair opportunity to achieve their life's ambitions.
There is no Stark County media which is remotely close to the political independence of the SCPR.
How has The Report achieved its unparalleled degree of political independence?
- No advertising whatsoever,
- No remunerative work for those whom the SCPR covers,
- No Republican or Democratic bias, (e.g. former Local #94 Pipefitters president Dan Fonte early on describing the SCPR as "an equal opportunity critic"),
- No interest whatsoever of being in the good graces of the likes of WHBC, The Repository and other media outlets,
- No kowtowing to power/manipulative politicians,
Pure and simple: "independence" is a mythology which permeates all of life as is a milieu in which there is a level playing field provided by political parties, governments and other key institutions of American life in which aspiring, motivated citizens can have a fair opportunity "to be all that they can be."
The one place where political independence should show substantial implementation should be in the Declaration of Independence United States of America, no?
Even in America, it is like pulling teeth to get the most meagre measure independence—especially in our political life—put into action. And fair opportunity? Such is largely a pipe dream and therefore mythological in terms of actual fair opportunity.
For an up close and personal look on the "independence front," let's look at a few examples of Stark County government and politics in the context independence being a factor as contrasted to the Kool-Aid drinkers in our midst.
Of course Stark County's "great" political hero should be Canton Mayor-elect Thomas M. Bernabei!
Here's a guy who is:
- more or less, financially independent (although certainly no financial Donald Trump and is $4.5BB [LINK]), to wit:
- and certainly an Ohio Supreme Court certified political independent, to wit:
- and as those who work for him know, he abides no employee on the basis of their political connections,
- and, of course, there is Bernabei's famous "standing up to Mayor William J. Healy, II during his term (January, 2008—January, 2009) as Healy's service director/chief-of-staff and telling the mayor, in effect, that he was "out-there-somewhere,"
Can you imagine Canton Municipal Court Clerk of Courts Phil Giavasis (Stark Dems' chairman) dealing in a disciplinary fashion, if need be, with his chief deputy clerk Kody Gonzalez? Or in Gonzalez playing the devil's advocate role with Giavasis?
The mythology with Kody is that he has pulled himself by the boot straps and in meteoric fashion has sling-shot his way to being second-in-command at the clerk's office (LINK) over other long standing Canton Municipal Court employees solely on his unparalleled merit based qualities.
So what if he is the son of Stark County Democratic political party power Randy Gonzalez?
Randy protests that he had never lifted a finger to help son Kody.
The Report does not believe him, but, even if his assertion is true the obvious answer is that as a political kingpin in the Stark County Democratic Party, Randy did not have to lift a finger for the likes of Stark County recorder Rick Campbell (a dutiful organization Democrat) picked Kody from out-of-nowhere (Kody having been laboring in the trenches of an obscure teaching position).
Campbell asserts that Kody spontaneously luminesced extraordinary competence and therefore merited being picked out of relative obscurity to catapult into being #2 in the recorder's office as Campbell's chief deputy.
One of the big belly laughs that the SCPR has ever had is when Campbell married former Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson's daughter Lisa, who, therefore, under Ohio law could no longer work for Campbell became a candidate for the top administrator for Plain Township government.
A concern came out (LINK) from on-high within the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party whether or not Lisa could get a fair shake in being considered for the job?
Give me, us a break!
My God! The woman is a Jackson. Daughter of former Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson. Sister of Stark County Dems' political director Shane Jackson who is the "right hand man" of former Stark Dems' chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (Massillon clerk of courts) who tells one and all that Gayle Jackson is the greatest Stark County commissioner ever!
A fair shake?
"Ya got to be kidding!"
Who got the job as Plain Township under the dutiful Stark County Dems' politico Louis Giavasis (himself an appointee of the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party as Stark County clerk of courts passed through from his brother Phil to intermediary appointee [subsequently elected] Nancy Reinbold)?
Of course, "on her own merits:" Lisa Jackson Campbell.
Aren't these folks too much!
Not to pick on the Democrats.
Stark Republicans are every bit the equal of the Dems when they have the opportunity in providing their favorites with "a leg up" to get public jobs without the Stark County general public getting so much as a smell of having a fair opportunity to land a plum Stark County political subdivision job.
Stark County chief administrator Brant Luther (LINK, who recently got a huge, huge, huge raise) and Budget Director Chris Nichols as being Republican examples of "the inside job."
While, in Luther's case, there was a publication to the public at large noticing that the chief administrator's job was open to general public application; the SCPR does not think for one second that anybody but Luther was going to get that job.
But it is progress from the Gonzalez situation (where no publication was done) that at least the Stark County commissioners advertised the chief administrators job.
Luther's political pedigree is such, to wit:
- Republican commissioner Janet Creighton's chief honcho when she was Stark County auditor,
- One of Republican judge Dixie Park's top officials for a time, and
- One of the Republican dominated Stark County Family Court's top officials,
that there is no way that anybody was going to get the chief administrator's job over Luther.
And what did the commissioners do with the budget director job?
They went back to the chief administrator applicant pool.
It is obvious that they were impressed with Chris Nichols (who doubles as a Canton Township trustee) and did not publish specifically to the general public for the budget director job and merely went to Nichols.
Now let's get this out of the way.
The SCPR thinks that all of the foregoing (Gonzalez, Jackson, Luther and Nichols) are at least doing a competent job for Stark County political subdivision taxpayers (a couple of them, perhaps, exemplary).
But that is no answer at all to the "inside job" criticism.
Presumably, anybody hired for these jobs would have been thoroughly vetted by those doing the hiring and also would be thought of, after the fact of hiring, to at least being competent if not exemplary.
The fact of the matter is that political connection and loyalty means everything in getting Stark County political subdivision jobs and that the general public does not get "a fair opportunity" to gain employment in many, if not most, Stark County political subdivision jobs.
So if one is beholden to the likes of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party and their elected loyalists, what chance is there that any given employee can do what Thomas Bernabei did in telling William J. Healy, II to go take a hike and then parlay his "actual" independence into "political" independence to ultimatly make Healy the ultimate-manipulative-politico pay the price for being the personification of "the inside job?"
Answer: practically none!
Bernabei is an anomaly in the American/Ohio/Stark County political structure because of the stranglehold that the "organized" political parties have on the institutions of American, Ohio and Stark County government which (i.e. the stranglehold) they use to pretty much freeze out everyday, "independent" of political party loyalties, citizens.
To say it again.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's editorial board in calling for an "independent" state superintendent of education is fantasizing and one way or another Republican Governor John Kasich will appoint one of his political hacks as superintendent.
For in the American, Ohio and Stark County government/political scheme of things political independence and fair opportunities are by and large rhetorical political catchphrases which have very little expression and implementation in our two-main-political-party structure.