Thursday, July 27, 2017





Yesterday as a preface to the regular meeting of the Stark County Board of Commissioners meeting, the commissioners hosted the swearing-in of newly Stark County Democratic Party precinct committeepersons selected successor coroner to P.S. Murthy(first elected in 2004 at age 69)  who resigned in May, effective July 28th.

On the surface, it appears long-time Stark County-based Dr. Anthony P. Bertin's (a urologist) selection seems to be without political controversy.

Here is the video of Bertin's swearing-in.

As evidence of the non-controversial nature of registered Democrat Bertin's selection, here is Republican commissioner Janet Creighton in her comments post-swearing-in of Bertin:

In today's national political climate, Creighton's comments are a refreshing departure from the coarse expression of you are "either for me, or against me" (my political party or me personally) that is coming out of the highest office of the land on nearly a daily basis on social media.

Creighton and fellow Republican Bill Smith were all "class" at the swearing-in.

But The Stark County Political Report notes that not all Stark Countians are pleased with the manner in which the Bertin selection went down including myself.

My disapproval is with the process and has nothing to do with the qualities that Dr. Bertin brings to the job.

It has everything to do with the short-circuiting of democratic processes by both Stark County political parties.

Self-servingness of political parties over the national, state and local "public" interest is a "detrimental to democracy" maneuver which appears to be the top priority of both organized political parties.

Shame on them!

The Repository editorial board (and the SCPR agrees with the editors) in an editorial of May 16th in which it by the SCPR interpretations implies that his resignation was a "political play" on Murthy part in concert with "organized" Stark County Democrats.

The timing of Murthy's departure from office (only five months [the announcement, that is] on being re-elected) so that the Democrats will "have a leg up" in the elections of November, 2018 when voters will make a "democratic" (note small letter 'd') decision as who will be the "real" successor in terms of the will of Stark County's day-in, day-out citizens as contrasted with the politicos who run the Stark County Democratic party.

Moreover, the editors said this:
We take Murthy at his word, but his resignation, unfortunately, fits what has become a pattern in Stark County: Incumbent, elected officials run for re-election only to resign at some point into their terms so that their respective political party can appoint their successors.
What the editors did not do but should have done in the editorial was to detail instances over the past five years in which "organized" Stark County Republicans and Democrats have sought to "game our political system" to place a political party loyalist in office to advantage the party favorite come having to face the people in an election and moreover thereby providing the political party a political patronage venue in which party workers get an inside track for local government jobs to the exclusion of everyday Stark County taxpaying citizens.

These Canton-based editors have been selective and highly inconsistent in challenging the "pattern" they cite in their May 16th editorial.

To underscore The Rep editor's suspicion, Bertin told The Stark County Political Report yesterday that his succeeding Murthy has been under discussion for about two years.  Accordingly, his statement is confirmation of a "fact" that the welfare of the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party was prime in Bertin's selection.

And, as an ironic twist to the swearing-in yesterday, Stark County Court of Common Please judge Chryssa Hartnett administered the oath of office.


Indeed.  For Hartnett courageously stepped up several years ago (2013/2014) when Judge Lee Sinclair retired before the end of his term and challenged the Republican Party's selection of Republican Curt Werren as a successor to Sinclair.

Though a registered Democrat, she applied for the appointment of the Sinclair successor at the hand of Republican governor John Kasich.

Few Stark County jurists doubted that Hartnett was much more qualified to be appointed judge (and for that matter,  so were other Republicans who wanted the appointment more qualified) than Werren.

But none of that mattered.  Kasich went with the Werren (Snow) family Stark County political legacy and not "on the merits" in selecting Werren.  Curtis Werren had not practice law for two years prior to his selection as he was president of the Canton branch of the American Red Cross.

For Murthy to tell the editors that at age 82 he planned to serve out a full four year term was disingenuous at the very least and probably an outright dissembling in his seeking the newspaper's pre-election endorsement for re-election.

It was all "hugs and kisses" for the departing Murthy at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony but the reality is that the commissioners last December tamped down on Murthy's request for a 27% increase in his 2017 coroner's office budget by, in the end, agreeing to a 9% (more or less) increase.

And in the discussion, there were pointed commissioner criticisms of how Murthy was running the office (at least in December, 2016) in terms of doing from out-of-Stark-County-pathology-work at a rate less than what he should have been charging.

The commissioners' position:  "Make Stark County First," in your priorities Coroner Murthy and let other counties take care of themselves.

And the SCPR agrees.

The December budgetary discussion should not be lost on Dr. Bertin.

Bertin did speak with the SCPR about the future of the coroner's office in a post-swearing-in interview, to wit:

Coroner Bertin is highly familiar with operations at the coroner's office in having done work there on and off since 1988.

He certainly is equipped to improve the efficiency of operations at the office.

Here is a video on his familiarity with coroner office operations and some changes he is contemplating.

SCPR wishes him well.

However, he should be held strictly accountable by the commissioners and the context for them to do so publicly will be the county budget hearings forthcoming in December of this year.

Stark County voters will be weighing-in in November, 2018.

The commissioners upcoming December, 2017 scrutiny will provide voters with information as to whether or not Bertin has improved the efficiency of the coroner office operations.

Such should be a "voice of the people" determination as to whether or not he continues on.

In 2016, the Republicans did challenge Murthy's re-election bid.

Murthy won by 1,451 votes out of some 163,000 votes cast.

Hopefully, Briggs will consider running again and will spend the next 15 months scrutinizing Bertin's performance as coroner and add to the discussion as to whether or not Bertin should be retained.

It is not healthy for our democratic-republican form of government for political party bosses to select public officials.

It is democracy enhancing for a fully informed electorate to do the choosing!

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