(SOURCE: PHOTOS OHIO OGA WEBSITE)
It appears to The Stark County Political Report that since he has moved in the political big time on being named as chairman of the Ohio Senate finance committee, 29th Ohio Senate and Representative W. Scott Oelslager (a member of the Ohio General Assembly since 1985 not withstanding term limits) has gone MISSING IN ACTION on Open Records legislation.
If one goes online and searches for Ohio Revised Code Section 149.43: Availability of Public Records for Inspection and Copying one finds the following as legislation passed by the Ohio General Assembly as affecting 149.43 going back to 2004.
If Oelslager has a "claim to fame" as a legislator, it has been his legendary work on Open Records legislation.
In recent years Ohio Auditor Dave Yost (LINK), Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (LINK) and in recent days Ohio Senate president Keith Faber (LINK) to take the lead on empowering Ohioans who want to participate in holding all levels of Ohio government accountable.
There is much left to be done on beefing up citizen empowerment in Ohio and Stark County (just look this blog [LINK] about North Canton law director Tim Fox and his enablers [i.e. most members of North Canton City Council, Stark County worst city council]) to bring the point home right to Stark County.
A recent Akron Beacon Journal editorial (LINK) makes telling points about the deficiency of Ohio's Open Records law as a consequence (the SCPR's opinion) of Scott Oelslager having made his legislative name on advocating for citizen empowerment only to jettison pushing for improvemenint and extension of law for something more fitting for the "powerful" finance committee chairman.
While Faber is at it in correcting the deficiencies on Open Records, he would take away from Tim Fox one of his favorite refrains in denying to some North Canton requesters of North Canton information, to wit: "We only have to provide existing records (apparently meaning sitting in North Canton filing cabinets in 'written' form)."
In 2016 many "should be available to the public records" only exist in electronic form which are easily transmitted to any requester.
For Mayor David Held and a majority of North Canton council to allow Fox to dodge the spirit and intent of the Open Records law as it exists is an outrage and the North Canton voting public should take note of the elected officials' enabling of Fox at next years elections.
Faber can end the Fox's toying with requesters over hypertechnical distinctions by putting clear language in to a modified Open Records law that make it abundantly clear that Fox's dodge is not a valid legal basis for denying "only in electronic form" information to the requesting public.
To The Report, enhancing and facilitating citizen access to public records so as to make government officials more accountable to the voting/taxpaying citizenry is of the highest order of importance in our democratic/republican system of government and Oelslager's apparent abandonment of his "what brought me to the dance" of government effective prominence is a step down for him notwithstanding his current high-falutin finance committee chairmanship which according to Ballotpedia has made him a behemoth campaign finance fundraiser:
Oelslager has seemed to lose his interest in things Stark County unless there some glad-handing to be done or some honor to be bestowed.
A couple of years ago, Canton City Council president Allen Schulman initiated a series of pleas for
federal and state legislators to come to Canton and weigh-in on what might be done to help Canton government with remedies for the draconian cuts in local government funding by the Kasich administration and Republican supermajority dominated Ohio General Assembly.
Oelslager's response: "I'm too busy."
A sure sign that W. Scott Oelslager considers his de facto primary abode as being the "Columbus political beltway" and not Stark County, no?
Oelslager does not seem on the face of personal interaction to be excessively personally politically ambitious.
But such could be a misreading of the 31 years in the Ohio General Assembly Oleslager.
Stark County's "organized" Democrats has only been able to offer "cannon fodder" in opposition to Oelslager and he narrowly defeated "now" federal judge James Gwin in 1985.
And perhaps Oelslager has gotten the "big head" over his easy, sometimes uncontested, pathway to become one of if not the longest standing members of the Ohio General Assembly (OGA).
He and Kirk Schuring (Republican, the 49th Ohio House District) have played a version of musical chairs with one another to avoid the intended consequences of the voters in 1992 (and, to boot, it was a Republican idea as a mechanism to wrest control of the OGA from the-then dominate Vern Riffe built Democratic majority) in voting in eight year term limits in both the House and Senate.
In the Oelslager/Schuring version of musical chairs, each gets a seat; just a different seat and thereby defying the intent of Ohio voters.
Moreover, it is said by some that early on in his political career—as a follow on to his being an aide to the-then Congressman Ralph Regula, his ambition was to be the successor to Regula as congressman from the old 16th District that included all of Stark County.
It is further said that he got so brazen in his quest as manifested in suggestions that Ralph retire that he annoyed Regula's wife Mary to the degree that he, Oleslager, was pushed out of the Regula inner circle.
The SCPR recently asked son Richard Regula (now a Stark County commissioner) about the Oelslager/Regula contention and he denied that such was the case.
Nonetheless, The Report's sources are of such a quality that the Richard Regula denial is taken as a politically correct thing to do.
The political playing around with fundamental citizen rights such as a meaningful and easily accessible public records as a basis to hold elected officeholders and appointed government officials accountable is a primary ingredient in the growing disaffection, disrespect and disregard that many Ohioans/Stark Countians have towards government these days.