Thursday, September 28, 2017

A "GREAT DAY" FOR EFFECTIVE CITIZEN ACTION IN STARK COUNTY!!!


A primary reason I started The Stark County Political Report on March 12, 2008 was to foster and encourage processes like that culminated at the September 27th meeting of the Stark County District Library Board of Trustees (SCDL-BOT).

At last evening's meeting, the SCDL-BOT demonstrated that it does hear its constituents.

Though board members are not elected officials, they still are accountable (another primary goal of the SCPR) to the citizens of Stark County and in particular each of those parts of Stark County which are served with a branch of  the library.

SCDL Tena Wilson executive director  took a lot of flak for entertaining the thought that on the board deciding that it was uneconomical to repair the 25 year old Jackson library facility over a year ago, she had a potential "better idea" for moving forward.

Her idea for the future of a library facility in Jackson was embodied in her  recommendation that the board lease a storefront in the township and enhance it with 24/7 technologies dubbed "the Smart Store."

The storefront was billed at the time as being a "temporary" move and that the long term plan was to build a new library.

As time went on and the Jackson library was torn down, Jackson library lovers became suspicious that a new Jackson branch would never be built and started a social media site called SAVE OUR LIBRARY to marshal community resources into an effort to ensure that the original promise would be kept.


On Saturday past, the SCPR did a blog in response to a plea by a SAVE OUR LIBRARY participant which blog has a theme that Jacksonians can and should get a new library building as promised while Director Wilson could also realize her dream of implementing her Smart Store ideas to make a new Jackson facility all the better.

The SCPR gets very good numbers, day-in, day-out and Saturday's Jackson library story ranks right up there with some of the higher visited blogs over this blogs' nearly 10 year history.

The focus of the SAVE OUR LIBRARY movement was to have the promise made become a promise kept at yesterday's board of trustees meeting.

And, due to the efforts of the SAVE OUR LIBRARY movement, the board did definitively decide to set in motion action to fulfill the original promise.

The Report took video of the entire proceeding last night.

Starting with the best part insofar as the Jackson library supporters are concerned is the announcement by Director Wilson of her change of heart in her recommendation to the board.



The entire board meeting which lasted about 13 minutes is posted at the end of this blog.

The SCPR spoke with Jackson fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez and board president Steven Pittman after the meeting concluded.



Jackson citizens should be pleased that Fiscal Officer Gonzalez and the three trustees (Pizzino, Hawke and Walters) rallied to the cause of getting the SCDL Board of Trustees to follow up on the promise made to rebuild the Jackson Branch Library.

Here are the reactions of three Jacksonians as expressed to the SCPR at the conclusion of the meeting.



The Stark County Political Report congratulates Director Wilson, the board of trustees, Jackson Township elected officials for having worked together to achieve the "win-win" success that came to fruition in this meeting.

Here is the video of the entire meeting.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

SCPR ELECTION 2017 SERIES: PLAIN TWP TRUSTEE - JOHN SABO INTERVIEW



VIDEOS

JOHN SABO
(Plain Township Trustee Seeking Retention)

on

His Background

His Decision to Run for Trustee

What Makes for an Effective Trustee

His Connection to Plain Township

Appropriate Trustee Relationships

Annexations as an Issue

The Positive in Being a Trustee

Frustrations in Being a Trustee

Response to Criticism of Candidate Rich

Why is Best Suited to be a Trustee

On August 30th, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) started interviewing candidates for Plain Township trustee.  Here is a LINK to the incumbent Scott Haws interview which was published on September 6th.

Today, the series continues with an interview with incumbent, to be retained or not, Plain Township trustee (appointed in October, 2015) John Sabo.

First up, is that part of Sabo's on camera interview with the SCPR which was recorded on September 20th, where Sabo responds to questions regarding his-before-being-appointed-trustee years.  (2:52)



Second, candidate Sabo shares with Plain Township residents his coming to a decision to run for trustee and his view of the key to being an effective trustee.
  • talks about over many years service in the Plain Fire Department watching the "nuts and bolts of government being done,"
  • shares his satisfaction of working during those years in collaboration and partnership with various Plain Township interfacing entities, 
  • dwells on "trust" as being a key component of being able to successfully collaborate and partner,
  • reveals that only because he sensed that he could have the full non-contentious confidence in him on the part of appointing trustees Scott Haws (a Republican) and Al Leno (a Democrat) was he willing to entertain accepting appointment as trustee, and
  • notes that his father and his work ethic as being an inspiration for he himself to work hard for the residents of Plain Township
The video:  (3:42)



Third, John Sabo describes his being a lifelong resident of Plain Township, it diversity and his familiarity with all aspects of the Plain community. (3:22)



Fourth, Sabo speaks out on past/future relationship among Plain's trustees and how future annexations might work out.  (7:46)



Fifth, Sabo addresses the annexation on Fulton near the Hall of Fame Village Project (Tamsal) going awry and the future of annexation for Plain Township. (6:38)



Sixth, the question about what is satisfying to candidate Sabo in being a Plain Township trustee. (9:38)



Seventh, the question about what is frustrating to candidate Sabo in being a trustee. (4:09)



Eighth, the Anthony Rich criticism of the sitting Plain Township trustees, (9:27)



Ninth, candidate Sabo's wrap up on why he thinks he is suited to continue on as trustee. (1:40)



OTHER PLAIN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE CANDIDATES

RICH (See the blog on Scott Haws for more details on the Rich candidacy)

The SCPR has contacted candidates Anthony Rich, John Juergensen and Brook Harless with a request that they go one-on-one with The Report so that Plain Township voters have an opportunity to assess each of candidates in comparison to one another in arriving at a decision as to which two of the five candidates should lead Plain Township along with not-up-for-election-this-time around Al Leno Plain Township government going forward.

Candidate Anthony Rich has been contacted twice but he persists in refusing to be in touch with the SCPR.

It could be that he wants no part of the SCPR inasmuch as The Report alone among Stark County media has paid any attention whatsoever to a happening at Bud's Corner Bar on June 25th in which a disturbance occurred and in course of events Rich (by his own written statement) admits to having displayed his prosecutor's badge apparently thinking that same was appropriate in the context of the situation.

If that is what he was thinking, then he owes township residents an explanation as to why he thought his self-admitted action was appropriate and whether or not voting residents might expect similar conduct as a sitting Plain Township trustee.

It could be that in hindsight he thinks his action was inappropriate.

If so, he needs to own up under questioning of having inappropriate and why he thinks it, in hindsight, was inappropropriate and provide Plain voters with assurances that as a trustee he will not be repeating such a practice.

At a Canton City Council meeting of a couple weeks ago, one of Rich's supporters approached the SCPR with a complaint that the September 6th blog was "a hatchet job on Rich."

The Report's response:  "How can you call it a "hatchet job" when the candidate himself admits in his written police statement that the incident occurred but then Rich refuses to be questioned about it as well as other Plain Township matters he deal with from the safety of his campaign online sites?

There is a Plain Township candidate forum scheduled October 9th at the Plain Branch of the Stark County District Library.

Hopefully, there will be some questions about the Bud's Corner Bar incident in which Rich displayed his prosecutor's badge.

More simply put:  What does Anthony Rich have to hide?

Stark County political subdivision voters should administer heightened scrutiny of any candidate for public office who demonstrates that he/she may have temperament problems.

The SCPR suspects that Rich is such a candidate.

Voters should be wary of such candidates because it is a short step from acting impulsively in one public setting to an elective office public setting in which a citizen may become the subject of bullying type behavior.

The SCPR rejects the "hatchet job" attribution and re-issues an invitation to Rich to sit down with The Report and do an Q&A on the incident.

When one runs for public office, voters are entitled to have candidates vetted on such incidents.

HARLESS

Harless, who describes herself as a "community focused candidate" backed out of a scheduled interview last Wednesday because of family logistical problems.  Of course, we all have things like that happen to us.  But she has not contacted the SCPR to reschedule.

It it beginning to look like that Harless is far too implicated in day-to-day family life to have sufficient time and energy to be running for elective office.

Plain voters will want to question Harless very closely on the issue of whether or not she has space in her life to be fully engaged with and responsive to the demands of holding political office.

Focusing on family life is a good thing, but can, except for persons highly skilled at juggling competing and demanding public duties (inherent in being a public official), can render a person ineffective and insufficiently responsive to the discharge of public duties.

One thing that Ms. Harless could have done is to provide the SCPR with a promised biography detailing her life's work as a measure of whether or not she has a background that suggests she has potential as an elected official.

So in addition to canceling the interview, she has not followed through on the promised to the SCPR biography.

The SCPR is a big believer in paying attention to warning signs and thinks that Harless may be signaling that she is not ready for running for public office.

JUERGENSEN

An attorney who ran against incumbent Republican Christina Hagan for the 50th Ohio House District seat in 2016, one has to wonder how serious of a candidate Juergensen is.

He cited a personal problem situation as the reason why he didn't seem to put up much of an effort against Hagan.

There was even talk that he would officially withdraw his candidacy and he never did.

He has not responded to the SCPR's request for an interview.

Is his run for Plain Township trustee going to be another phantom run for office?


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

CANTON COUNCILMAN FRANK MORRIS "PASSIONATELY" GOES AFTER THE GREATER REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE $175,000 GRANT!!!

UPDATED:  09:39 AM



VIDEO

COUNCILMAN FRANK MORRIS, IV
"PASSIONATELY"
OPPOSES
$175,000 GRANT T0 CANTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

In recent Canton City Council history, this resolution has come up for council action on an annual basis:


For much of Councilman Frank Morris' career as a Democrat councilman representing Ward 9 and currently as council majority leader, he has taken a stand against council giving $175,000 or whatever amount to the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (CRCC).  (See video below [2:50])



Note:  A poignant statement by Morris (missed in the video due to a need to change video cards) "Let them [the CRCC] do more with less."

However, up until last night, Morris has gotten waxed on the vote in recent years.

Perhaps, this year's outcome will change?

If council ends up voting Morris' way, it will be because of this outburst by Canton's most energized and passionate councilman, to wit:

After his impassioned plea (not from a script, but from heart-of-hearts), Ward 7 councilman John Mariol moved for a postponement of the vote to allow Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack (who was on vacation last night) to participate in the debate on whether or not the ordinance should pass.

When was all said and done on Mariol's motion, council decided to conclude the debate and vote on the matter on October 16th.

It seemed as if Morris at the conclusion of his remarks that he was destined for another failed effort.

But then came the vote on whether or not to postpone.

The outcome?

Six to five (6 to 5) in favor of postponing.

One could read the vote one of two ways.

First, "the handwriting is on the wall" that council will do what council has always done in doing a near unanimous vote to provide the money to the CRCC.

Second, the vote indicates that there may be some interest in the light of the dire financial circumstances of Canton city government to deny the CRCC the $175,000.

Earlier in the evening in the course of council's work session meeting, there was a "hot and heavy debate" (to be opined on later this week by the SCPR) on whether or not Canton should increase the level of spending taxpayer money (which, of course is where the $175,000 would come from) in doing "chip and seal" repairs on city streets as an economy measure.


Depending on the method of road repair used, with $175,000 additional money to work with, Canton could somewhat fix anywhere from 3 to 11 miles of rated "poor" streets (PCR 56-60).



Somewhat fix?

Meaning that recipient residential neighborhood streets could have their lives extended short of repaving, which, of course, is much, much, much more expensive.

So maybe just maybe the CRCC has something to worry about this year?

The Report's recollection is that the Chamber folks usually send a staff person or two to the council meeting at which the taxpayer subsidy vote of CRCC operations is held.

But as far as can be determined, NOBODY from the Chamber was present last night.

Maybe just maybe the Chamber is getting a bit smug about the matter?

Of course, former Repository executive editor David C. Kaminski is a key person at the CRCC and who can forget when he was executive editor he once wrote a editorial that comparing the Rep's editorial board to an "800 pound gorilla who buys ink by the barrell."



Knowing council as the SCPR does, the Kaminski statement undoubtedly lingers in the background as council votes on anything let alone on a matter that benefits Kaminski's current employer.

One has to believe that Kaminski still has the ear of the folks at 600 Market Avenue, South and should a council majority cross the CRCC, perhaps, the 800 pound gorilla would reappear to do damage in an election year?

The SCPR is highly skeptical that anybody on council other than Morris has the moxie to cross the CRCC.

But there is no doubt about Morris being correct.

Canton can ill-afford to be giving anybody $175,000!!!


Monday, September 25, 2017

SCHURING & OELSLAGER VOTE TO JEOPARDIZE STARK COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY, SO, IN EFFECT, SAY STARK COMMON PLEAS JUDGES!

UPDATE:  5:54 PM (9/26/2017)  

LINK to Columbus Dispatch article.

Also, Schuring reported by Stark judges to have met with Rep. Schuring on Friday, September 22nd which meeting was termed by a court official as being "positive and productive."


What does "positive and productive" mean in some detail.


The SCPR is working to get those details.



An alarming mainstream media headline, no?

If The Stark County Political Report were to say that Stark County-based Ohio General Assembly members Scott Oelslager (Republican, 29th Ohio Senate District) and Kirk Schuring voted to "in effect" jeopardize Stark County's safety, both, if asked about the assessment, undoubtedly, would resort to downplaying the credibility of this blog.


"Oh! you know, The Stark County Political Report is a blog and 'you know, I know and everybody knows' that you can't trust the analysis of a blogger!!!

But what do they say when a statement on their legislative action in including TCAP (Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison) in June, 2017 passed HB 49 as assessed by each of Stark County's Court of Common Pleas (General Division) judges (both Republican and Democrat) in his/her own hand writing?  (See the letters to the ORDC, Schuring, Oelslager, West and Slaby below)

The judges (led by Judge Taryn Heath) on August 30th in a work session with the Stark County commissioners included these alarming slides on the matter of the Stark County public's safety.  (See entire slide presentation at the end of this blog)



You can add as a sign-on to the letters Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton in her capacity as president of the Board of Stark County Commissioners.

Here is the full text of letters the judges recently sent to an official in the ODRC:



What's more, they (our legislators) are likely to say:  "Oh! you know House Bill 49 was a budget bill and let me tell you if the TCAP provisions were in 'single subject legislation,' I would have voted 'no."'

"You know, I know and everybody knows" that when a politician wants to hide his/her vote on controversial legislation, it gets inserted in the omnibus biennial state budget bill which quite a number of legal scholars think is a violation of the Ohio Constitution "single subject" legislation requirement when the budget bill includes the likes of TCAP.

And that is exactly what the SCPR thinks Oelslager and Schuring and many of the rest of "aye" votes were up to in voting for HB 49 which included TCAP.

Landing on local government to help the state of Ohio balance the state budget without being held accountable for thereby jeopardizing the safety of day-in, day-out Ohioans who populate Ohio's 88 counties, that is the effect of including TCAP in HB 49.

Of course, neither Schuring, Oelslager or any of the other cowardly legislators want to be directly accountable (by putting TCAP in its own bill thereby complying with Ohio's Constitution "single subject" mandate) for affecting your safety and my safety as we move in and about Stark County or any other Ohio county.

Judges in some of Ohio's major counties (Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Stark; among targeted counties) have come out in full force against the provisions of TCAP.

In all cases the judges say that Ohio and of course either of their counties are less safe than they were before the bill's passage.

While they obviously do some good for Stark County, it has been the position of the SCPR that Oelslager and Schuring for all their years in the Ohio General Assembly have been rather ineffective for interests of Stark Countians.

They both have been part of the supermajority Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly which along with Republican governor John Kasich program have slashed revenues from the state of Ohio to local governments:  Well over $500 million all the while Ohio's Rainy Day Fund has over $2 billion sitting there collecting interest.

Meanwhile Schuring can't work hard enough to give away Ohio taxpayer money and other public benefits to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOFVP), which, long term, is likely to prove to be a "flash in the pan" in the sense that the upwards of $1 billion being spent on the project will not dramatically improve the lives of most everyday Stark Countians.

The SCPR thinks the HOFVP proponents are making lots of promises of being an financial/economical boon to Stark County somewhat similar to the ballyhooing of fracking being the solution to everything that ails Stark County.

While certainly an economic/financial plus, fracking is nowhere near the projection of former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II of fracking bringing 50,000 high paying jobs to Stark County.

Obviously, with his exaggeration penchant, he was the forerunner of what we see coming out of the White House these days.

Stark County's judges in sounding the alarm of what the Ohio General Assembly and Governor Kasich is trying to do to our communities in terms of making them unsafer is no exaggeration.  The sounding of the alarm bells should arouse all of us to action in letting our local OGA representatives that our safety is off-the-table when it comes to balancing the state budget.

To repeat, according to Stark County's Common Pleas judges,  our personal safety is at risk with the sentencing reform Schuring and Oelslager voted for and while it seems that Schuring spends his time bolstering an entertainment project (i.e. the HOFVP).

Oelslager, a couple of years ago, let it be known to Canton council president Allen Schulman that he was "too busy" to come to council to hear council members out on the fiscal crisis that state of Ohio local government funding cuts had put the Hall of Fame city into.

And yet a prominent Stark County Republican told me last week that Oelslager and Schuring (both, once again [for the second time], are term-limited out [i.e. eight successive years in either the House or Senate] and will seek to enshrine themselves in the Ohio Gener.al Assembly by switching positions with Oelslager running for the House in the 48th and Schuring, the Senate in the 29th).

It is now clear that Schuring and Oelslager prize their personal political longevity over the public spaces safety of Stark Countians.

Both have had enough of a run in their switch-after-switch-after-switch (a version of musical chair where each gets a seat; just a "different" seat)  routine.



Stark County political influencers ought to contact both and tell them:  "Step aside, you have had your time.  Your failure to protect the safety of Stark County's neighborhoods is proof positive that you have lost being in touch with the highest priority interest of Stark Countians."

While the SCPR sympathizes with our local officials in being "undone" by the Ohio Legislature, unless and until they take political action beyond letter writing; they can expect more of the same going forward.

Stark County's judges will be taking the political flak for dangerous persons being out-on-the-lose when TCAP becomes mandatory in Stark County next year.

Unless pressured to step aside, Schuring and Oelslager are likely going to be "coasting to victory" for another eight years in the Ohio General Assembly as they flaunt a law they both supported to limit the time any one legislator spends in the Legislature.

Go figure, no?  Self over the safety of their respective communities.

Stark Countians have got to be pleased that our judges are united in their insistence that they be equipped to keep dangerous persons off the streets of Stark County!

What follows is a series of documents for those readers who want to thoroughly explore what the Stark County Court of Common Please judges have to say about sentencing reform and its likely impact on our Stark County neighborhoods.

First, a video of a slide presentation prepared by Judge Kristin Farmer that was presented to the Stark County commissioners in a work session on August 30th.


Here is an abbreviated video of the judges' presentation and interaction with Stark's commissioners.



(Note:  The SCPR has a precommitment to videotape an interview with Plain Township trustee Scott Haws and therefore could not stay for but for a short segment of the judges time with commissioners.  However, Brant Luther, chief administrator for the commissioners did provide the SCPR with a audio recording of the session which is included in this blog immediately after the video segment)

Here is the audio of the entire session as recorded by the Stark County commissioners.

(Note:  This tape, though long, is very much worthwhile hearing as the judges are very blunt in their criticism of TCAP and those who formulated it and impliedly those including Oelslager and Schuring who voted for it)




Second, a series of communications issued by various affected by sentencing reform counties which communicate how much more unsafe the folks in Columbus are making the neighborhoods throughout the state of Ohio.

A LINK to a Cleveland.com article on Cuyahoga County opting not to participate in the first year of TCAP.

A press release from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas:



A press release from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas:


Saturday, September 23, 2017

"ON THE HOT SEAT:" STARK CO DISTRICT LIBRARY BD OF TRUSTEES?


JACKSON TOWNSHIP RESIDENTS
"UP IN ARMS"
OVER LOSS OF LIBRARY BUILDING


CAN BE A "WIN-WIN" FOR BOTH SIDES OF ISSUE!

At the end of June of this year,  "the Suburbanite.com" did a story on the demolition of the Jackson Branch of the Stark County District Library.

It was literally "a picture tells a thousand words" insofar as many Jackson Township public library users were concerned.

To them it seems that they viewed the demolition as being devastating (i.e. a lot of fond memories of they and their children using the facility), but at the time they were buying into the notion that in the long run Jackson would be better off with the building being demolished on the promise that it would be replaced in due course with a projected "temporary" move to a nearby storefront location.


Back in May, 2016 the Stark County District Library made the determination that the 25 year old Jackson Branch of the Stark County District Library (SCDL; JB-SCDL) was in such a state of disrepair that it would cost about as much to do the repairs as to build a new library (estimated to be $4.7 million).

It appears that Scott Oelslager  (Republican, 29th Ohio Senate District) and/or Kirk Schuring (Republican, 48th Ohio House District) had successfully convinced fellow legislators to include $1 million in state money to rebuild the JB-SCDL.

But along the way to transitioning from a "in need of demolition" building to a "brand new" building, cutting edge thinking in form of relatively new director hire Tena Wilson,  a concept of libraries evolving across America as being technologically utilitarian and savvy as being "Smart Stores" was bought into by Wilson.


The SCPR has yet to talk with Wilson on her particular history of her embracing the "Smart Store" concept, it seems that need to either repair the existing JB-SCDL or to tear it down and go to an alternative was a "gift sent from Heaven" in terms of finding a way to deliver library services at a higher library services utilization rate on a much more economical basis and thereby save taxpayers money.

What she did not count on, it appears, was the storm of protest that she was about to dust up when it became increasingly deducible by traditionalist Jackson Township based public library users that the transition from the in disrepair building to an alternative was that the alternative being a "storefront" temporary location becoming permanent.

Take time out and go to the SAVE OUR LIBRARY Facebook page put together by those Jackson residents who are insisting that the SCDL rebuild a permanent home for the JB-SCDL at the original North Park in Jackson Township location.

As readers can see, the rhetoric from some of the page users is quite heated.

Jackson Township officials (the trustees and the fiscal officer) are fully supportive of the effort for Jackson to get back to a permanent location for a library.

Originally, township officials (25 years ago) cobbled together some $500,000 and a plot of land in North Park to build the now demolished facility.

However, Jackson Township officialdom via Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez (a former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) is urging opponents of the storefront location becoming permanent, more or less, to tone down the rhetoric, to wit:


Not nearly as helpful in defusing this emotionally charged environment is a comment by Trustee Jamie Walters, to wit:


Focus on Walters' "hopefully the easy way," followed by "but either way regardless, Jackson makes things happen.

Kind of strange for a person who bills himself as "RevJamieWalters" to be implying that power politics could be the future of the Jackson Township/SCDL differences on whether or not a new building will be built.

The SCDL Board of Trustees will be holding a "regular" meeting this coming Wednesday, September 27th at the main branch which is located at 715 Market Ave, North, Canton, Ohio.  The starting time is 5:00 p.m.  There is every indication that opponents to the Wilson recommendation will be at the meeting in force as they have been at a number of Q&A/informational meetings that have been held recently.


Executive Director Tena Wilson may well be correct in terms of efficiency/effectiveness (i.e. higher library use of the Smart Store approach) factors, but those types of consideration seem rather analytical and sterile in the light of the emotional factors at play and in light of a clear shift of direction from the original promise that there would be a "new" building to replace the "old" one when cost effectiveness of repairing the "old" became apparent in the context of expert (architectural/engineering) assessment.

An example of the communication problems inherent in using an analytical approach as compared to a largely emotional reaction is obvious in the suggestion by one "rebuild the library" advocate is caught up in the number $670,000.

Director Wilson tells the SCPR that the cited $670,000 was ONLY for the repair of the water/foundational problem at the "old" building.

In the SCPR's e-mail communication with Director Wilson it was The Report that suggested to Wilson that there was a mistake in comprehending what the $670,000 number was all about.

The SCPR has no dog in this fight on the substantive issue.

However, The Report loves to see the likes of SAVE OUR LIBRARY group work at becoming informed and active in civic issues that surface across Stark County's political subdivisions.

The current SCDL operating levy will have to be renewed or replaced by the November 2018 general election.

Jackson's opponents to the storefront location of the JB-SCDL point out that 30% of any levy that is passed comes from Stark County's second largest township.

It would be tragic for the health of the Stark County District Library to fall victim to a communication problems between SCDL officials and the SAVE OUR LIBRARY FOLKS.

Last evening, the SCPR received this response from Director Wilson to an inquiry which included allegations of personal nature.  She chose not to respond to the personal attacks on her make by some of the members of the SAVE OUR LIBRARY group.

Here is the core of her response:

·        In 2016, the library board made the decision to replace the original Jackson library facility with new construction.  The decision was made after an extensive study showing the extent of the damage and that the costs to repair and remodel the old building would be nearly as much as that to build an entirely new branch.   

·        As you mention, it was estimated that it would cost $670,000 for just the repairs to remediate the water damage. The larger figure included that repair cost plus the interior remodeling project we were already planning in order to refresh and update the branch before we discovered the damage.

·        To ensure continued service to the local community while the old library was demolished and a new one built, we established an interim branch in the Buehler’s Plaza.  The smaller facility was created only as a temporary solution until the new branch could be built; it was necessarily limited to the space available at the time and it was never intended to be a permanent option. 

·        Taking advantage of the need to outfit the interim space regardless, we decided to use it as an opportunity to test a number of new technologies, services, and materials that we would eventually like to offer system-wide. Many of these – like our 24/7 lobby, video games, and pick-up lockers – have received very positive reviews.

There are a number of persons who have handled themselves quite well in the ongoing dialogue between SCDL officialdom and the SAVE OUR LIBRARY group.

Fiscal Officer  (Jackson Township) Randy Gonzalez deserves plaudits for his work to defuse the potential volatility of the dialogue.

In scheduling and holding well attended community meetings, SCDL officials are demonstrating that they are more than willing to hear Jackson citizens out on their clear desire that notwithstanding the efficiency/effectiveness numbers residents REALLY DO WANT A "NEW" BUILDING on the original township government provided site.

Director Wilson supported by the board of trustees can use the Smart Store approach to the future of library services across the nation into a "new" Jackson Township library branch building.

And the SAVE OUR LIBRARY members need to assure SCDL officials if the board of trustees agrees to rebuild in Jackson, that come a levy effort in 2018; they will step forward to support the levy effort.

In particular, should any others across the complex of the SCDL system attack countywide renewal/replacement effort because the officials opted to spend more money than a pure efficiency/effectiveness analysis indicates as being prudent in rebuilding in Jackson; the SAVE OUR LIBRARY folks should come to the board's defense in making the point that "by the numbers" analyses do not account for traditional and emotional factors inherent in the decision.

To repeat, it seems to the SCPR that library officials and SAVE OUR LIBRARY folks can "have their cake and eat it too!"

Working together they can make a new building a center for Jackson civic and community life that will build numbers using a new physical facility supplemented by "in place at the current storefront location" devices which make the library functional 24/7.

Jackson official Randy Gonzalez in a terrific model for the SAVE OUR LIBRARY advocates and hopefully his influence will be in full play when the September 27th board of trustees meeting takes place.

The SCPR plans on being there as this civic engagement encounter continues.

This back and forth is clear evidence that citizens being involved (especially in local government) can be effective.

Minus the personal attacks, the SAVE OUR LIBRARY participants are an example of a prized community asset.

Friday, September 22, 2017

CANTON LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO TO RETIRE AT END OF 2017?


Undoubtedly, there are a number of Stark County attorneys who would love to be Canton law director.

And it appears that sooner than later they will have their chance.


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) has learned that it is highly likely that they will get their chance in early 2018.

For the SCPR has it on solid sourcing information that Canton Law Director Joseph Martuccio will very, very, very likely be retiring at the end of this year.

Martuccio, who is 64, has been law director since 2000 when he was appointed by the Canton Municipal Court District precinct committeepersons of the Stark County Democratic Party to succeed Thomas M. Bernabei (the current mayor of Canton) to replace Bernabei when he retired.

Before becoming director, he was Canton assistant prosecutor, a Stark County public defender and assistant public defender.  Martuccio had various other public service positions outside of Stark County prior to beginning his work in Stark County (he public defender's office) in 1981.  Counting all his public service, he has racked up some 40 years in public life.

Martuccio has never had an election opponent during his 17 years as law director.

It all began with the 2003 election.


The Report hears that he has a non-life threatening health issue which he is dealing with and that resolving the matter has prompted his consideration of retiring.

From what the SCPR has learned, it appears that the inside track for succeeding Martuccio is his deputy chief counsel Kristen Bates Aylward.


It would not be surprising if there is some "testing of the waters" by others even if it is widely known that Bates-Aylward is Martuccio's preference to be his successor which the SCPR has reason to believe that she is.

When she ran for Stark County Domestic Relations judge in 2012, she received the highest recommendation by her peer members of the Stark County Bar Association.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SCPR ELECTION SERIES: (GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES) MIKE DEWINE



The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) does not generally go to political campaign fundraisers.

But when a campaign brings in a well known, highly significant political figure into Stark County, well! that's an exception.

On Monday, the SCPR interviewed Democratic candidate for governor Joseph Schiavoni (of the Youngstown area) in a thoroughgoing fashion.  Democrats who want to be informed Democratic voters come May 8, 2018 will make sure they see this video (LINK).

And, The Report is working on getting the remaining Democratic campaigns to sit down with me to answer questions which are foremost in the minds of Stark Democrats as they make a selection between announced candidates Schiavoni, Pillich, Sutton and Whaley.

North Canton mayor David Held may be in for the run of his political life as he is being challenged by Scott Kelly.

Soon the SCPR will be sitting down with Kelly and Held for one-on-one interviews like the one already published on Plain Township trustee Scott Haws (LINK) and within the next few days one of Trustee John Sabo (interviewed on September 20th).

Moreover, for a thorough understanding of State of Ohio Issue #2, Stark Countians have a resource to be completely informed on the issue by going to this LINK and soaking in the material in the blog based on coverage of the Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) and The Repository sponsored forum on the issue.

Last night the SCPR had access to Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine who is currently the attorney general of Ohio.

While The Report would have liked to had a little more time with DeWine, it was getting late and he had a two plus hour trip ahead of him getting back to Columbus.

Readers of the SCPR likely have picked up on The Report's focus in interviews is how they view matters and will act upon if elected to the enhancement or detriment of all things Stark County.

Two of the three questions that DeWine agreed to answer were on two very important issues to Stark Countians.

First and foremost how he will deal with the financing local government funding.

Canton council president Allen Schulman should find DeWine's answer interesting because in framing the question I refer to Schulman's famous diatribe of a couple years ago on the Republicans (the Kasich and supermajority Republican Ohio General Assembly) draconian reduction in local government funding so that the state could balance its budget.

Secondly, a question on the continued viability of "land bank" funding beyond 2019 (the beginning of the term for whomever gets elected governor in November, 2018).

In Stark County, the chairman of the Stark County "Land Bank" is Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar.  One of the essential conditions of revitalization of Stark County urban communities is the demolition or rehab of blighted properties.

 And, of course, the scope of ridding Stark County's villages, cities and townships of blighted properties is receiving federal and state dollars teamed up with local match dollars.

A Republican, Zumbar is the Stark County head of the Mike DeWine for governor campaign.  (see LINK  blog of June 29th wherein the SCPR writes about  Zumbar/Creighton joining the DeWine campaign)

If DeWine gets elected, one would expect Zumbar to parlay his influence with the governor to convince him to keep the Lank Bank movement financially alive and thriving post-2019.

The SCPR sees Zumbar's administration of the Land Bank as being highly effective but there is a long ways to go before Stark County can say that the blighted property problem is behind us.

For the job to get done, Ohio's next governor is going to have to be committed in terms of budgeting dollars and cents to the cause in Ohio's biennium budgets.

Here is the videotaped interview between the SCPR and Mike DeWine:


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SCPR: LEANING "NO" ON ISSUE #2, BUT UNCOMFORTABLE BEING ON SIDE OF "BIG PHARMA"



COMMUNITY FORUM HELPFUL IN DECIDING
"YES" OR "NO"
ON
STATE ISSUE #2



VIDEOS

FEATURING

Repository Executive Editor Rich Desrosiers

LWV President Amy Striver-Dreussi

Ohio Alliance of Retired Americans
Dan Fonte

Moderator Ron Ponder

Stark County Citizens
Did the Forum Help Them in Deciding?

By The Stark County Political Report's (SCPR) count, some 75 Stark Countians, more or less, crammed into the McKinley Room of the Stark County District Library—Main Branch, 715 Market Ave., North in Canton last night to hear the "experts" weigh-in on whether or not Ohio's voters should vote yes or no on Statewide Issue #2.

Here is a copy of Issue #2 as it will appear on the November 7, 2018 Ohio ballot:



The event was sponsored by the Canton League of Women Voters and The Repository.

Which way to vote on Issue 2 is about as clear as mud as articulated by Repository executive editor Rich Desrosiers in his opening remarks.



Desrosiers followed Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) president Amy Shriver Dreussi who crisply and clearly explained the primary LWV purpose of being a vehicle for voters to become "informed" voters.



To the SCPR, the most informed person in the room was former Local 94 Plumbers and Pipefitters union official Dan Fonte.

Fonte was present last night as a representative of the American Alliance of Retired Persons who like Desrosiers and The Repository editorial board has been wrestling with which side to come down on in recommending how voters vote on Issue 2.

Fonte says that organization that he is affiliated with has been discussing which way to go in advising its clientele on how to vote on Issue #2.

He says that he individually is leaning in the direction of voting "no" because of the uncertainty of how Issue #2 would be implemented should the issue pass.

As can be seen in his own words in the following video clip, Fonte says he has concerns that Big Pharma will do everything in its power to cause implementation to fail which appears likely to include manipulating the available formulas and thereby forcing price increases for those affected by passage of the issue.



The Stark County Political Report is convinced that Fonte's take is on the mark and accordingly is now leaning towards believing that a "no" vote is likely the best vote for the welfare of any Ohioan who will be affected by Issue #2.

The Stark County Political feels uncomfortable in siding up with Big Pharma on which way to vote.

One of the reasons that Issue #2 might pass is that there are likely many Ohioans who suspect that Big Pharma is all about enhancing the industry's profit level which already is astronomical.

Ballotpedia is in the judgment of the SCPR the best source for citizens to get a handle on what facts are available in the fight over whether or not Issue #2 should pass.

Here is a Ballotpedia graphic on the campaign financing on the issue as of September 15th:


Another interesting Ballotpedia graphic is polling in August showing that at that time Ohio voters were likely to pass the measure:


Given the extremely large 54% undecided vote, the most that the "yes" folks can take from the poll is that at one time they had a leg up on the "no" vote opposition.

The two campaign groups:
  • Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices
    • Chris Galloway
  • Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue
    • Victoria Zyp
    • Tracy Jones
both had representatives at last night forum.

Here are the opening and closing arguments by each side.

First, Galloway, then (the open), then Zyp and Jones followed by Galloway (the close).




Ron Ponder was the facilitator of the the discussion last evening, and as always effectively moderated the event.

The correct protocol was for audience members to submit written questions so as to avoid duplicate or unseemly questions.

There were a number of times that audience members injected from the floor and Ponder handled the intrusion deftly.

One such interruption was between an "from the audience" person directed at Chris Galloway which could have turned ugly but which Ponder using his experience as a moderator turned into a positive for those attending, to wit:



After the forum concluded and the audience filed out of the SCDL McKinley room,  the SCPR asked three members of the audience whether or not the forum helped them gather information for a decision on how they would vote, to wit:



The SCPR thinks that the "yes" group needs to find a way to convince voters that passage of Issue 2 will not boomerang on voters to their prescription drug pricing detriment a la 
Fonte's fear which The Report shares.

If the "yes" folks cannot assure voters that they have a legal strategy to keep Big Pharma from using passage to reach "unintended by the 'yes' folks adverse to prescription drug users consequences, then as a matter of self-interest, it is hard to see why a voter would take a risk that their "yes" vote could backfire on affected prescription drug users.

The "vote yes" folks clearly have the higher moral ground.

But can they protect their voters and, indeed, all affected Ohioans from the unintended consequences of Issue #2 getting passed?

That is the big question on the Big Pharma seemingly leverage.

Can the "vote yes" advocates convince enough of the 54% undecideds in light of the attendant risks of voting "yes."

It certainly appears that it is unfair that Big Phama has the clout that it does.

But such is strong strain in American politics.

Unfortunately, "might" does often make "right" in the world of power politics.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SCPR ELECTION SERIES (2018) JOSEPH SCHIAVONI - FOR THE DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL NOMINATION, MAY 2018


JOSEPH SCHIAVONI

AN "EXCLUSIVE" SCPR INTERVIEW



On September 12th, the "announced" Democratic candidates for Ohio governor (2018) squared off (well, sorta) against one another in Martins Ferry, Ohio in an Ohio Democratic Party sponsored debate.  See the entire debate at this LINK.

Governor John Kasich (a Republican) is term limited out after eight consecutive years in office.

Going back to 1991, Democrats have only held the governorship of Ohio for one term.  Democrat Ted Strickland served as governor from January 8, 2007 through January 10, 2011 before losing narrowly to Kasich in the 2014 election.

So Democrats are hungering and thirsting to put their person in charge as Ohio's chief executive in Columbus.

Many political pundits assessed the Martins Ferry event as being a love-in among the Democrats who were united in their attacks on Kasich.

Yesterday, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) sat down with candidate Joe Schiavoni of the Youngstown area for an interview that lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Here is an excerpt from Schiavoni's Wikipedia biography (LINK).


The entire SCPR video Schiavoni interview can be viewed at the end of this blog published to ensure readers that the segments have not been cherry picked.

As the SCPR often does, in this blog the video in broken down into five minute segments for those readers who do not have a window of 40 minutes to view the interview in one setting.

Readers will note that a focus of the interview was a tie-in to the interests specific Stark County in terms of what Stark Countians can expect of a given candidate in attending to the priority needs of our county.

FIRST, Schiavoni introduces himself.

Schiavoni focuses on being "the working persons" candidate in that he talks about the working class jobs he has held early in life, his being a Golden Gloves prizefighter and his primary legal work as a workers' compensation attorney.

The video (4:12):



He does have a representional tie to Stark County in that until redistricting occurred in 2011, he represented the extreme eastern end of Stark (Alliance being the major area) when he was appointed by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus to take over for John Boccieri who had been elected 16th Congressional District congressman.

SECOND,  Schiavoni on the importance of Ohio investment in city infrastructure: (2:40)



THIRD,  on a Canton/Stark County specific interest—the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project: (1:18)



While he is supportive of the project, Schiavoni cautions about "putting too many eggs in one basket."

FOURTH, Schiavoni on his willingness to dip into the "Rainy Day Fund."   He addresses Canton council president Allen Schulman's long standing demand that Ohio restore the 500 million plus cut in local government funding over the past 7/8 years. (3:34)



FIFTH, his commitment to the continued funding viability to rid Ohio (including, of course, Stark County's) of blighted properties through entities such as the Stark County "Land Bank." (3:01)



SIXTH, where does the money come from for Schiavoni's aggressive program to deal with Opioid addiction, restoring local government funding, land banks and the like? (1:33)



SEVENTH, the politics of Schiavoni becoming the Democratic nominee for governor. (3:57)



EIGHTH, the organized labor connection and their/Schiavoni's agreement with PresidentTrump on NAFTA and TPP and, in general, Schiavoni's ability to work with the prospect of "continuing to dominate" Republican Ohio General Assembly.  (5:07)



NINTH, Shiavoni on education/charter schools and the threat that Canton schools may be subject to a state takeover. (6:27)



TENTH, Workers' Compensation (WC), a emphasis in Shiavoni's legal practice, does it need fixing?  (2:26)



ELEVENTH, the effort of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) to shift costs of incarceration/rehab down to local government (2:08), and



TWELVTH, candidate Shiavoni's wrap up. (1:50)



LASTLY, the entire Schiavoni interview (unedited).


Thursday, September 14, 2017

CHRISTINA HAGAN: A "CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER" TO PUBLIC & WOMEN'S HEALTH


Yesterday, news broke that state Representative Christina Hagan (Republican, Marlboro Township, Ohio House District #50) is pushing legislation that could endanger the health of tens of thousands of Ohioans as we approach a new 2018 influenza season.

Hagan via the power of state government (i.e. the legislative process) wants to blunt medical providers' ability to require their respective employees to have themselves vaccinated with a flu shot.

Hagan dresses her effort in a gown of protecting the rights individual medical field workers to refuse taking a flu shot.

By virtue of their line of work, these "few" necessarily come into "up close and personal" contact with with "us" many.

In the 2016/2017 flu season in Ohio there were upwards of 10,000 hospitalizations due to influenza infections.


The peak flu season in Ohio is January through March of any given year.

Of course, there are thousands and thousands more Ohioans who do not require hospitalization but nevertheless meet up with medical workers in doctors' offices, pharmacies (who administer flu shots) and public clinics.

Apparently, in Hagan's mind, the rest of us have no right to lessen the likelihood we will be infected with flu and perhaps even die.



Perhaps as many as 50,000 Americans will die from flu/flu related illness in the upcoming flu season.

One never knows when any given flu season is going to getting going into gigantic proportions a la the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic.


Today, the Columbus Dispatch reported that "cooler" heads are prevailing in the Ohio House with the Speaker of the House putting the brakes on Hagan and her intense group of loyalists who are  trying to jam the Hagan introduced bill through to passage.

In an ironic twist in terms of timing, Hagan's pet legislative project of wanting to through the power of state government (her House Bill 258, known as "the heartbeat bill")  to severely limit the ability of women to end a pregnancy moved, once again, in the direction of needing a gubernatorial veto in order to maintain the right of a woman living in Ohio in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade to have a "legal" abortion according to the law of the law articulated in the Roe v. Wade decision.



There is something more to Hagan's seeming fascination with lining up with the anti-vaccine crowd.

Her sympathies and support certainly appear to be with those relatively few in America/Ohio who in effect want the right to jeopardize the health of the  rest of us with their "gut" feeling that vaccines (not just the flu vaccines, but apparently vaccines in general) are not safe.

The "gut" feeling has a "religious" overtone to it and it would be interesting to check the religious connections of those who constitute the anti-vaccine movement.

The Stark County Political Report deems Christina Hagan to be a religious right politico who in her heart of hearts wants to enshrine her and her followers' religious values on the whole of society.

Not only does her actual legislative agenda constitute a "clear and present danger" to health well-being of most of us, but her religious fever to impose her values on the rest of us makes her manifoldly a "clear and present danger" to the vast majority of Ohioans.

The good news is that she will be gone from the Ohio legislation as December 31, 2018 as she has decided not to run for re-election as an Ohio state representative.

The bad news is that she wants to move on to Congress (the 16th congressional district).

Let's us trust that Republican voters will stop her quest in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CANTON CITY COUNCIL—STARK COMMISSIONERS "HONOR" MIKE REHFUS


(CANTON COUNCIL & REHFUS PHOTO ADDED)


VIDEOS

STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
HONOR
MIKE REHFUS, SR

***

CANTON CITY COUNCIL
HONORS
MIKE REHFUS, SR.


On August 30th, the Stark County commissioners at their regular weekly meeting honored the memory of former Stark County engineer Michael Rehfus, Sr.

Current county engineer Keith Bennett was at the meeting to support a resolution before the commissioners to allow the honoring of his predecessor Michael Rehfus in naming a 12th Street bridge after him.

Rehfus had served in Stark County engineer's office since 1984 and was "the engineer" from 2004 to 2009.  He passed away on November 10, 2009.

Here is a video of that proceeding.



Last night Canton City Council followed suit in honoring Rehfus, Sr.

Here is the video of council's proceeding in which:
  • Council unanimously passes a resolution honoring Rehfus,
  • Councilwoman Chris Smith (Ward 4) acting on behalf of Councilman Frank Morris (Ward 9, council vice president and majority leader who was absent last night) presents a plaque with the resolution honoring Rehfus to the assembled extended Rehfus family,
  • Remarks by Stark County County Engineer Keith Bennett,
  • Remarks by Canton Engineer Dan Moeglin, and
  • Appreciation expressed by Refus' widow Debbie, and
  • Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei paying his respects to the Rehfus family