Friday, September 1, 2017


An Exemplification of



with touches of being




Commissioner Janet Creighton
"We're One Week Closer to Christmas"
Stark Treasurer Alex Zumbar
Sworn-in for a New Term
Stark Chief Administrator Brant Luther
Chief Clerk Jean Young for a Day
Stark County Commissoners
Cancel Meetings
Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett
Honoring Former Engineer Mike Rehfus
Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton
"Deadbeat" Stark County Sewer Service Payers
Stark County Commissioners
"No-bidding" Kruliak, et al Legal Services Contract
Stark County Commissioner Richard Regula
"Mr. Smith [err Regula] Goes to Washington"

Likely one of the most inviting government contexts in all of Stark County government:  THE BOARD OF STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS.

The commissioners meet on "most" Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building, 110 Central Plaza, (smack-dab in downtown) Canton, Ohio.

The Stark County Political Report has for the better part of 10 years been covering chapter and verse of these meetings with loads and loads of video so that Stark Countians (most of whom cannot break in early afternoon [1:30 p.m.] from their work-a-day activities to attend these meeting.

Before Bernabei (elected 2010, departed 2015), these meetings in the SCPR's experience of them by and large were like "watching paint dry" except for the explosion that erupted in county government with the revelation on April 1, 2009 that then-chief deputy treasurer Vince Frustaci had stolen what turned out to be nearly $3 million of Stark County taxpayer dollars.

In fact, that Stark County government scandal is likely what propelled Bernabei (then a Democrat) and Janet Creighton (a Republican) into getting elected commissioners.

For the-then-commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks [all Democrats] were stumbling and bumbling among themselves in dealing with what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley labeled as "Zeiglergate" in recognition of a State of Ohio Auditor's finding that then-treasurer Gary D.  Zeigler (a Democrat) had not instituted adequate procedural and substantive safeguards to have prevented the Frustaci theft.

Anybody who knows Thomas Bernabei (now mayor of Canton) knows about his off-the-wall humor.

From late November, 2010 through December 31, 2015 those of us who attended these weekly meeting were peppered with one guffaw producing observation after another after another as Bernabei used "the strangest associations of seemingly unrelated events" to generate back-slapping laughs among the attendees at commissioner meetings.

But as anyone knows who has worked for Bernabei, DO NOT BE DISARMED by his use of humor.

When it comes to getting the most out of taxpayer supported public employees, there is none one more deadly serious than Mister Bernabei.

All of the foregoing is to set up the continuing (at least through yesterday's meeting) the gyrating swings from the ridiculous to the sublime that one is likely to experience in attending a Stark County commissioners' meetings from week-to-week.

For current president Janet Creighton has seemingly modeled herself after Bernabei but, of course, with a Creighton-esque twist to make her humorous contributions uniquely her own.

Yesterday's meeting captured in one session a running of the range from the ridiculous (and funny) to the subline.

Hence the theme (i.e. from the ridiculous to the sublime)for today's "video" coursing through the noteworthy parts of the meeting.

In viewing these videos,  citizens of Stark County to get a realistic sense of how these meetings unwind.

First and foremost as a example of the ridiculous was Commissioner Creighton's expressed excitement that with the holding of the August 30th commissioners' meeting, we are "closer to Christmas" which she says she is already preparing for.  A not untypical laughter-laced open to a commissioners meeting.

Secondly, there was the Alex Zumbar swearing-in for a new term as county treasurer.

Zumber was in, out and in again as county treasurer mostly because the Bosley led Stark County Board of Commissioners could not get their "run the commissioners' proceedings 'constitutionally'" act together in 2010 before the election of Bernabei and Creighton.

But finally in late October, 2011, Zeigler resigned/retired and Zumbar was in for good.

Retained in November, 2012 and then re-elected to another term in November, 2016, as a county treasurer according to Ohio law, he will not actually begin serving his term until September 4th, which, of course, is Labor Day.

For a sublime factor at yesterday's commissioner meeting is Zumbar getting sworn in by Commissioner Creighton.   However, there was a good deal of fun-laced bantering post-swearing-in banter.

Third, there was the exchange between Commissioner Creighton and Chief Administrator Brant Luther on Luther subbing for chief county clerk Jean Young.

The key:  Luther carefully (and obviously in all good humor) pointing out that even though he was presenting the clerk's (Ms. Jean Young) business; his doing so was not to be taken as being transgender in nature.

As you (SCPR readers) know, I know and everybody knows, "transgender rights" are a "hot button" issue is America these days on issues ranging between bathroom use and whether or not transgenders will be permitted, going forward to serve in the U.S. military.

So, obviously, Luther was adding a frivolous factor to Monday's proceedings.

Fourth, the meeting took on a tone of being businesslike which is somewhere between the ridiculous and the sublime.

The commissioners on Monday canceled a couple of upcoming meetings with "justification" being meted out by Commissioner Creighton.

The SCPR's take is that this Board of Commissioners cancels more meetings more than The Report recalls prior boards' (over the time period the SCPR has covered the commissioners) canceling meetings.

Creighton did assure the Stark County public that the commissioners' would add meetings should the volume of county business indicate a need to do so.

Mostly, the canceled meetings coincide with a holiday occurring within the week.

Next week's meeting, Labor Day week is canceled.

Fifth, a solemn occasion and quite moving for those of us who knew Michael Rehfus.

Stark County Engineer Keith Bennett was in attendance at yesterday's meeting.

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 Engineer Bennett:

Sixth, there was a discussion between representative of the Stark County Sanitary Sewer Engineer's office and commissioners regarding what Commissioner Creighton characterized as "deadbeat" delinquent user payers of the county's sewer system.

Again, a reversion to the middling point of being "all business."

Commissioner Bill Smith who in addition to being a commissioner is a businessman in Canton Township, seems to challenge the beliefs/characterizations expressed about the listed delinquent entities by the representatives.

Here is that video exchange.

Seventh, Commissioner Creighton on the commissioners' passing a resolution on re-hiring the Kruliak law firm as legal council in assisting with labor negotiations.

The SCPR video shows Commissioner Creighton's more or less "in your face" response to a SCPR  question about whether or not other law firms (preferably Stark County based) had been provided an opportunity to bid on the business.

Every once in awhile, Creighton adopts a bulldog-esque manner about herself which the SCPR considers just a touch much and perhaps bleeding into the realm of the ridiculous given her responsibility and that of her co-commissioners to provide a fair opportunity for all Stark Countians to bid on county business.

By and large, the commissioners do a good job of being transparent and protective of keeping the processes of county government accessible to all Stark County citizens.

The Report views this matter as a departure from the commissioners' usual standard of conduct.

Chances are that the deal the county gets with Kruliak et al is unmatchable and therefore bidding out the need for legal services would very, very, very likely result in a rehire of "the convenient to county government" Kruliak law firm.

Accordingly, the SCPR thinks that not bidding the business out to the public is ridiculous in the sense of having their cake and eating it too in going through the normal process putting this piece of the county's business out for public availability.

Eighth, there is the recounting of a meeting that Commissioner Richard Regula attended on Tuesday of this week in Washington in which the Trump administration (in line with what previous administrations' Department of Intergovernmental Affairs had done, at least going back to the Bush II administration) had a group of Ohio-based county commissioners in for a briefing on matters of national government interest to America's boards of county commissioners.

Here is video of that discussion.

At least for Commissioner Regula, going to Washington at the initiative of the Trump administration was a sublime experience.

And hearing his account and that of Commissioner Janet Creighton (who served as director of the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs in the last year of the George W. Bush administration) about the meshing of our national and local governments is truly a mind griping experience.

So there you have, a good example of a Stark County commissioners meeting which runs the gamut of running from "the ridiculous to the sublime" and, of course, everything in between!

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