Friday, August 11, 2017

JULIE JAKMIDES: Stark County's Premier "transparency in government" Advocate

UPDATED:  3:49 p.m.

It appears that there are those in Alliance city government who are trying their darndest to place a cloud over, if not totally obscure, "transparency-in-government" in the operations of Stark County's Carnation City.

Try as they may, The Stark County Political Report is betting on Councilwoman-at-Large Julie Jakmides to defeat the obscuring ways of the mayor (Andreani), the law director (Arnold), the safety-services director (Dreger)  and, perhaps, too, the president of Alliance City Council (Garnes).

Acrimony between Jakmides and her core supporters on council (Dordea and Edwards) and peripheral (i.e. here and there) supporters (King and Cherry, but NEVER Rhome) on the issue of administrative obfuscation came to a head at last Monday's regular council meeting.

The administration's thwarting of  Councilwoman Jakmides' incisive questioning prompted her walk out of council proceedings in protest to the administration-inspired attempts to shut her down in questioning various actions of the administration with regard to Alliance policing and irresponsibly spending Alliance taxpayer monies.

Julie Jakmides is a SCPR type of political party partisan.

Her demonstrated, time and again,  track record is "community interest(s)" over political party interest(s) is a model for all Stark County elected officials.

And the SCPR, really, really, really likes that quality in any Stark County politician.

Political parties are just fine as long as their interests take a backseat to the public interest.

Unfortunately, the Jakmides of Stark County political life are few and far between.

The Stark County "organized" Democratic Party effort to shut down the "independent" candidacy of Thomas Bernabei is a prime example of political parties gone wrong.

As specifically demonstrated about two years ago, Jakmides, a thoroughgoing Republican, opposed Alliance law director and Republican Jennifer Arnold in her quest to become the elected law director of Alliance over Democratic candidate Mark Whitaker.

Jakmides was unsuccessful in her 2015 effort, but she has continued to press her case against Arnold as being an "undesirable' law director based in large-part on inappropropriate for any public official, much less a law director," Facebook series of entries.

The SCPR thinks the Whitaker loss by a mere 46 votes out of over 4600 cast shows the political clout that Jakmides has in Alliance.

She, likely, was the primary factor in Democrat Whitaker almost pulling off a stunning defeat of the political party appointed law director.

Beyond Arnold's 2015 inappropriate Facebook behavior, it appears she continues to show that she is not up to—public official performance-wise— rendering acceptable standards of transparency in government.

Accordingly, Councilwoman Jakmides continues her quest to hold the law director and her Andreani administration cohorts accountable.

Asked whether or not the name Julie Jakmides might appear on a Republican Party primary election ballot as an Arnold opponent, Jakmides left open the possibility that such could be the case but as of August 11, 2017 she has no such plan.  Jakmides has graduated for The University of Akron School of Law and is awaiting her bar results.

And get this.

Asked further whether or not she plans to oppose Mayor Alan Andreani when his term is up in 2019, she had a thoughtful response:
  • Maybe he will not be running again,
  • Perhaps he will not have an opponent, and
  • (by implication), he could change his ways in terms of transparency within the next two years and thereby redeem himself
But if he doesn't change and he does run again, she made it clear that she would have no problem whatsoever as a Republican supporting the right kind of Democrat or perhaps, even another Republican in the 2019 primary to deny Andreani another term as mayor.

Jakmides, despite her youth, appears to the SCPR to one of Stark County's most thoughtful and mature public officials.

Jakmides and the SCPR have had our differences in the interplay of public official/public figure and the media.  Nevertheless, she has continued to be accessible for Q&As.  Another sign of political maturity that quite a few of Stark County's political subdivision elected officials lack.

Accordingly, The Report rates Jakmides as one of Stark County's very best public officials in terms of her political maturity and has shown that she is committed to working for continuing/enhancing fundamental democratic-republican values over her political party ties.

Projecting forward, Jakmides, perhaps, has the makings of a Robert Mueller-esque government service lawyer  in terms of her personal integrity, independent-mindedness and devotion to wherever the facts take her as she moves through her public life.

The SCPR's focus in this blog has been on democratic-republican processes inherent in the substantive dispute between Jakmides et al and the Alliance city administration as she defines "administration" (i.e. the mayor, the law director and the safety-service director)  in the sense of being a problem that currently preoccupies all things government in Alliance.

For those readers who want to augment the SCPR's tact in this blog with a detailed exploration of the substantive elements of the disputes among Alliance city officials, the best source is Jakmides Facebook page (LINK).

Alternatively, readers can go to Stephanie Ujhelyi's excellent reportorial work to get a solid background on the matter at the following links:
One Alliance resident who is not part of the current flap has offered to the SCPR that a removal of Safety-Service Director Michael Dreger might go a long way to abating the discord among the various elements of Alliance government.  Jakmides did not disagree with that observation when presented to her.  Nor did another source intimately familiar with Alliance city government operations.

The SCPR has learned that Jakmides' ally and Ward 3 councilman Larry Dordea has taken the lead in dealing with Dreger.

A position that has surfaced in discussion with SCPR sources is that Dreger did at least a presentable job as water department superintendent, but is thought to have taken on an arbitrary/tyrannical bent as safety-service director and thereby is not, in the opinion of a number of folks, of a suitable temperament to be an effective safety-service director.

Former Democratic councilwoman Sue Ryan once reported to having thought that Dreger was a good choice by Mayor Andreani for safety-service director in September, 2014 based on his service in  Alliance's water and distribution/utility services going back to 1979.

Ryan says she has changed her mind on Dreger and further says her change is based on a shared perception that he has taken on a arbitrary/tyrannical manner about himself in his current position.

Ryan as councilwoman demonstrated many of the pro democratic-republican values characteristics that Jakmides does.

In the spring of 2014, she fought fellow Democrat Steve Okey to be named president of council when John Benincasa died.

And she called him out when a controversy broke out between him and Alliance Council when he took over as council president.

Jakmides, being a fair minded person, points out that she thinks that Alliance auditor Kevin Knowles is NO part of a conspiratorial-esque appearing  (my phrase, not hers) administrative alliance that appears hellbent on destroying trust that Alliance's citizens have had in overall Alliance governmental operations before Arnold.

In an interesting aside, when asked to compare council president Garnes (to former council president Steve Okey, she left the SCPR with the impression that of late Garnes is not impressing her.

Initially, he did.  But no more.

Jakmides was at the forefront of an effort of council to censor Okey during his stint as president for his highhanded way in dealing with council.

One has to wonder whether or not Garnes might also be faced with a council censure should he continue shutting down Jakmides in her endeavor to ask telling questions that might dig out embarrassing responses by the likes of Andreani.

Such is speculation on the part of the SCPR and was not indicated as a potential plan of action by Councilwoman Jakmides as an outgrowth of the interview.

Alliance's citizens/voters should rally behind Jakmides if they care about transparency in government.

There is none better in Stark County political subdivision government on this score than Alliance councilwoman-at-large Julie Jakmides!

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