Wednesday, January 31, 2018

PART 1 OF A SCPR SERIES: CANTON MAYOR THOMAS BERNABEI DESERVES A FAIR CHANCE TO PULL CANTON OUT OF FINANCIAL/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MIRE



In early  2016, Canton at a cost of $350,000 adopted a plan to revitalize the city that had fallen a part over the previous 75 years over both Republican and Democratic administrations.

By June, a steering committee was put together to implement the plan.

The committee when formed included: (and as far as the SCPR knows in pretty much the same)
  • Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei
  • Fonda Williams, Canton, deputy mayor and director of economic development
  • Councilwoman Chris Smith, D-4,  (currently) vice president and majority leader of council
    • Council committees (2018-2019)
      • Downtown Development
      • Environmental & Public Utilities
      • Personnel
      • Public Property Capital Improvement
      • Rules
  • Councilman Edmond Mack, D-8
    • Council committees (2018-2019)
      • Annexation
      • Downtown Development
      • Judiciary (chairman)
      • Public Safety & Thoroughfares
      • Rules
  • Karen Brenneman, Hall, Kistler and Co, managing partner
  • Jim Porter, Repository publisher,
  • Mark Samolczyk, Stark Community Foundation, CEO/president, (Strengthening Stark)
  • Dennis Saunier, CEO/president Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • William C. Shivers, Huntington Bank vice president
But alas, no money!

There is a "working number" for the plan that being some $250,000 million with about $125,000 to come from city coffers.  However, Mayor Bernabei tells the SCPR that the total amount it will take to revitalize Canton into being a competitive city in terms of attracting new residents and companies is a work in progress.

When former Democrat turned political independent (May, 2015) Thomas M. Bernabei took on "seeking a third term" incumbent Democrat William J, Healy, II in the general election of 2015, he thought he knew how much of a hill he had to climb to get the city of Canton on a trajectory of financial/economical wellness and wholesomeness.

In the 2015 campaign he revealed that, if elected, he understood that Canton faced a $3 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2016.

What he found when taking the reins of office was a $5.1 million deficit and another $1 million, more or less, deficit for 2017 and perhaps to be repeated in 2018.

On Election night, Bernabei was all smiles as the congratulations rolled in.


For two years now, Mayor Bernabei has tried every way imaginable to get Canton solvent.

But there is only so much one can do with cutting and economizing to turn a negative into a positive.

Bernabei has likely known all along that the day would soon come that he will have to deal with "reality" (and, believe the SCPR, Thomas Bernabei is a "political realist like no other elected leader in all of Stark County) that expense cutting was never, ever going to "cut it" to get Canton headed in a positive direction.

Accordingly, his administration has come out "full-bore" for a tax increase.

Mayor Bernabei tells the SCPR that asking Cantonians for a tax increase has been in the works for some two to three months.

Refreshing about Bernabei is that he knows he is taking a huge risk in asking for a .5% income tax increase of Cantonians, to wit:  (from the below referenced and copy provided letter)


As county commissioner (2010 through 2015), Bernabei (then a Democrat) teamed up with Commissioner Janet Creighton (a former Canton mayor herself) to bring Stark County government out of the abyss of mistrust of government as a consequence of a few of then elected officials (e.g. in the opinion of the SCPR) Treasurer Gary Zeigler having failed as an exercise due diligence in the management the Stark County treasury so as to prevented his chief deputy from stealing what is believed to have been upwards of $3 million of Stark County taxpayer money.

Bernabei and Creighton's rehab effort resulted in November, 2011 of county taxpaying voters approving a 1/2 cent "for the Justice System" countywide sales tax which was critical to pulling Stark County government out of its financial meltdown from 2009 through 2011 and even leeching into 2012.

The point is that Bernabei "has been there and done that" and therefore deserves the confidence of Canton voters to take an $11 million annually and use at the springboard to bring Canton out of the financial doldrums.

Every Cantonian who reads The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) needs to take a few minutes and read a copy of Mayor Bernabei's letter to Canton City Council as council discussed and debated the mayor's request that Canton place on the May 8, 2018 primary election ballot a question of whether or not Cantonians are willing to provide city officials with $11.5 million in annual additional revenue so that the city can get its head above water in time.

Here is a copy of that letter: (4 pages)



Pretty compelling stuff, no?

And here is a copy of the resolution (4 pages) that council will have to vote "yes" or "no" upon next Monday.



While SCPR readers are at it, in order to be fully informed so as to be in a position to hold Canton City Council/Mayor Bernabei accountable how the additional $11.5 million is spent especially in light of the plan to allocate 60% of the $11.5 million to implementation of  the Canton Comprehensive Plan, the plan (included in the appendix to this blog deserves reading).

In this series of blogs, The Report will provide readers with a detailed look:
  • how the idea to ask Canton's voters for a .5 tax increase was spawned (today's blog),
  • who was involved in the decision making in addition to the members of the steering committee,
  • how is council likely to react on Monday, when the resolution comes up for a vote,
  • what kind of support an increase is getting across Canton,
  • the risk that approval of a tax increase will cause companies/residents to leave Canton,
  • how the request for an increase will be presented for the May 8 primary election, and
  • whether or not Mayor Bernabei is likely to be around for a second term to shepherd implementation of the early stages of the comprehensive plan when it finally sees some dollars (assuming the voters approve the requested increase) generated by the tax beginning in the second half of 2018.
APPENDIX

THE COMPREHENSIVE PLAN (IN FULL- 69 PAGES)

Monday, January 29, 2018

CONLEY "UNRELENTINGLY" CONTINUES EFFORT TO GET JUDGE PARK OFF BENCH!

UPDATED:  01/30/2018


Before getting into today's blog, a scene from the back porch of our our annual (two months or so) winter vacation on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hawaii.


Now, today's blog.

Who is the most durable of the two:  local attorney and dogged civic activist Craig T. Conley or Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court—Probate Division—judge Dixie Park?

Of the blogs The Stark County Political Report has been writing of late, the Conley/Park battle is by far the most read.

The Conley/Park face off is not up to the level of what has been called some as being "Zeiglergate" (2009-2011), Minerva's Phil Davison "over-the-top" Republicanism (September, 2010), George T. Maier's quest to become Stark County sheriff in the face of considerable some high ranking Stark County officialdom opposition (2012-2014) and a few others, but Conley/Park promises to perhaps one day exceed any of the foregoing.

Well, probably not Davison inasmuch as the video hits on his performance were up in the several million.  A snippet of the "exclusive" SCPR captured video even made a cameo in a Superbowl ad.


It appears to the SCPR that Conley's primary mission in what remains of his legal career is to live to see the day that Dixie Park is no longer serving as Stark County Probate Court judge.

Given what a number of lawyers think is a Ohio Supreme Court having a different standard of acceptable professional conduct for judges as contrasted to a much more exacting one for lawyers, there is a likelihood that he will never see the high court jurists weigh-in a draconian way on Judge Park.

All one has to do is look at the "love-taps" the Supremes administered to Massillon Municipal Court judge Eddie Elum (not once, but two times) and Cleveland Municipal Court judge Angela Stokes to get graphic evidence of the difference.

Here are a couple of links on Elum for SCPR readers to refresh their memories:
And it just wasn't 2016 and 2012 that Elum let a lack of ethics get the best of him.  In March, 2010 (LINK to blog on the 2010 incident) Elum attacked The Report for its reporting/opinionating on his tiff with former Massillon police chief Williams, to wit:


Elum's very own words show that he lacks the temperament to be a judge.  It goes without saying that had this writer of the SCPR appeared in Elum's court as an attorney post-March-2010 statement the judge that he would have had to recuse himself.

Elum told the SCPR in March, 2010 that this blog "had gone over the line" and he was going to file a ethics complaint with the Ohio Supreme Court on a journalist over whom the court has no jurisdiction in exercising First Amendment rights in the sense of ethics enforcement.

An ethics complaint could have been filed against Elum by the SCPR but was not done because to do so may have been taken by some as being an indication that The Report in blogging was dealing lawyer to judge with Elum.

Such is simply not the case.  The blogs were journalism doing what media is supposed to do in holding an elected official accountable for his actions.

The fuss between Elum and Williams was clearly a public matter that could not be and was not ignored by the media

When judges do things that have an adverse effect (thought by some to be grounded in illegal conduct) on the legal rights of individual Stark Countians, then it is a journalistic obligation for media to pick up on such and report and opinionate on same so that the general public is put on notice.

Elum never filed that complaint but has had to deal with the two aforementioned matters filed against him which both found that he had violated ethical standards in effect for judges.

A relatively rare event in Ohio jurisprudence.

Interesting, no?

The SCPR thinks that the latter was a case of Judge Elum trying the play "the bully" as he seemingly has a propensity to do when someone displeases him.

For the times he has been called for his unprofessional conduct, how many are out there which did not result in ethical complaints being filed against him?

We all understand how powerful judges are.  But no person, even as President Trump will soon find out, is above the "rule of law."

Before writing the "nasty" about the SCPR, Elum had checked his docket to find cases(s) in which the SCPR has appeared before him.  Obviously, this was an attempt to find a case of an adverse finding to The Report's interest and thereby explain a possible motivation (other than doing what a journalist ought to be doing) for blogging on the Williams matter.

But he found nothing.  You know why?  Because there was nothing.  Apparently, Judge Elum is of a mind that everybody who does something that displeases him has a personal ulterior motive.

No, Judge Elum, some of us are beyond the likes and dislikes of individual officialdom personalities and actually are focused on the public well being and not on some personal axe to grind.

It is more than a little concerning that Elum apparently sees the public as me against them especially when one does not comport with Elum's view of the way life ought to be.

And the same situation holds for Judge Park.

Although the SCPR in a individual lawyer capacity has while still an active practicing attorney appeared before Judge Park, she never meted out any of the "complained of" treatment that Conley and others have experienced at Park's hand.

However, the SCPR does not have to personally experience what The Report thinks is "abusive use of official power" treatment to weigh-in journalistically to call same to the public's attention.

In not dealing effectively with the likes of Elum and Park, the SCPR thinks the Supremes are in effect showing that they are highly deficient in policing their own ranks and thereby undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judicial branch of Ohio government.

While not nearly as intense as Conley's, the SCPR agrees with Conley that Park does not belong on the Stark County bench mostly on account of her documented denial of Due Process of Law to a number of unfortunate Stark Countians who have appeared before her.

One very, very, very "unfortunate" Stark Countian spent better than a week in the Stark County Jail as a consequence of being on the wrong end of Judge Park not understanding and/or applying the Due Process of Law clauses of the United States of America and Ohio constitutions.


Moreover, it has been documented that Judge Park has had a difficult time treating her employees with dignity and respect.  (see linked blogs listed below)

One has to wonder how judge/employee relationships are going with current court employees?

Is this judge maturing one iota is the question?

It appears that Park has her "favorites" list and a "disfavored" list of attorneys appearing before her in not her "private" court but a public court established under Ohio law and funded by Ohio/Stark County taxpayers.

Without "a shadow of doubt," the SCPR thinks Craig T. Conley heads of the list of "disfavored" attorneys.

For Conley's fellow attorneys of the Stark County Bar Association (as contrasted to the Stokes matter and the Cleveland/Cuyahoga County attorney groups), Stark County's other judges and judges serving at higher levels of Ohio jurisprudence to sit back and do nothing to stop the arbitrary ways of Judge Park is hard to understand.

And, of course, Stark County's only countywide newspaper leadership seems to have a case of lockjaw too.

For a refresher, here is a list of blogs that the SCPR has done on Judge Park which readers should revisit in order to get a chapter and verse accounting on the grief Park has brought to Stark County's justice system which Stark Countians support with a specially allocated 1/2 cent Justice System Sales Tax, which, of course, Park's court participates in.
In the latest round of the Conley/Park antagonism, Conley has filed a scathing reply to Judge Park's response to an Affidavit of Disqualification with an agency of the Ohio Supreme Court.

In quite a number of ways Conley accuses Judge Park of lying without actually using the "L" word.

Here is a copy of that reply:  (excerpts of which are in the lead graphic to this blog)





Conley has filed yet another Affidavit of Disqualification with the Ohio Supreme Court on January 25, 2018 which is pretty much the same as being reported on in this particular blog.

Here is a copy of it:



The SCPR is on record in prior blogs in saying that Judge Park needs to resign.

Notwithstanding all the foregoing, there remains an opportunity for Park to reconsider her ways and making amends (like Scrooge of Dickens' A Christmas Carol) with victims of her capriciousness past and "current" in the likes of Conley.

The Report's take on Conley, for instance, is that what he perceives to be a genuine Park overture of "come let us reason together" could result in a "truce" if not a cessation of belligerence between to the two of them.

At this point however the SCPR thinks it would take a Park initiative to calm things down.

Some may think that the SCPR is the captive of Craig Conley in airing his personal grievances against Park.

Different from others, The Report holds himself to the same standard as is applied to subjects of this blog.

Accordingly, criticism and differing with the SCPR is reflected upon for any merit that be contained therein.

Regular readers of the SCPR know that Martin Olson is about as independent of Stark's personalities of politics and political party interests and other biases as most human beings or capable of achieving.

For the record, The Report ignores a considerable part of Conley entreaties because of his obvious personal dislike of Park.

Moreover, the SCPR objective is not limited to a Conley vindication but rather the many (e.g. probate court litigants, employees, and the selective "to be punished attorney") who have suffered under the Park propensity to operate on "whim" rather than the "rule of law" and a "like/dislike" standing of personal relationships.

Ultimately, all the Park mistreatments undermine the Stark County public's confidence in the fundamental fairness of the administration of justice in the Stark County probate court.

And if she doesn't change her way, and soon; the legal powers that be in Stark County and with the Ohio Supreme Court need to do an investigation of Judge Park's conduct and make a determination as to whether or not she is fit hold a judgeship.

Either way, an investigation, if conducted, needs to detail in specificity why Park should or should not remain as a judge.

For only in policing its own ranks fairly, fully and on the same standard as it does with lawyers will the Ohio Supreme Court be able to hold their collective heads up high as exemplars implementing  "the rule of law" as being their ultimate calling.

The Conley/Park saga in its essence is not about either of them, it is about whether or not the Ohio Supreme Court has the willing to apply the "rule of law" in accordance with constitutional standards "equally" to all Ohioans.

Friday, January 26, 2018

SCPR (VOL 3) MASSILLON V. AFFINITY: "AND NOW AFFINITY'S ANSWER



Yesterday, Affinity Medical Center came back with "a full bore" answer and counterclaim to a complaint filed by the City of Massillon and others against Affinity and its parent company Quorum.

Readers, to get up to speed, should familiarize themselves to The Stark County Political Report's treatment of the effort by Massillon government and their allies in trying to extend the time period within which Affinity/Quorum "actually" shuts down Massillon's only hospital.

Here are links to two previous SCPR blogs:
In a quick reading of the answer and counterclaim, it appears to the SCPR that Massillon and the city's fellow complainants may "rue the day" that the decision was made to proceed with litigation against Affinity/Quorum for in addition to an estimated annual loss of $600,000, more or less, in income and property taxes; the city may be flirting with a counterclaim judgment of would further stress city finances.

Although Massillon is said to have several million in carryover funds from the 2017 to 2018 budget, the sustained loss of the nearly certain loss tax revenues going forward will likely eat away of the carryover quicker than government officials in Massillon might now think.

If, on top of the annual revenue loss, the filing of what some in the legal community thinks was an ill-advised invoking of the Stark County Common Pleas Court as leverage to force an unwanted (by Affinity) extended time of staying open at the cost (according to the Defendants' answer) potentially more millions of dollars might result in a judgement on the Defendant's counterclaim that makes the $600,000 annual loss seem like small potatoes.

In future blogs, the SCPR plans to cover a more detailed journalistic analysis of likely outcome(s) of this litigation now that the complaint/answer/counterclaim have been filed with the court.

Here is a copy the entire answer and counterclaim:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

OHIO SUPREME COURT RULES IN CONLEY V. PARK DISQUALIFICATION

LINK

UPDATE:  Thursday at 7:24 PM

Note:  As soon as Judge Park posts Conley's response (which The Report believes was filed on Wednesday) to her response to the Ohio Supreme Court Conley filed Affidavit of Disqualification on the Stark County Probate Court taxpayer paid for website, the SCPR will make available to readers a copy of Conley's response.


SCPR SERIES (VOL 2) MASSILLON ET AL AFFINITY ET AL: CAN JUDGE HARNETT KEEP "A PUBLIC RELATIONS" FACTOR OUT OF HER DECISION MAKING?

A LAYMAN-ESQUE LANGUAGE TAKE ON MASSILLON V. AFFINITY

"It smells like Limburger cheese and is full of holes like Swiss cheese"

SO SAYS A LEGAL ANALYST WHO HAS REVIEWED THE COMPLAINT


On November 21, 2014, The Stark County Political Report wrote a political analysis on Chryssa Hartnett's judgeship victory over Curtis Werren for a place on the bench of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

Although The Report does not do political endorsements as such as The Repository does, in certain instances it is pretty easy to detect (usually over the course of multiple blogs) who The Report thinks is the more merited candidate.

Chryssa Hartnett from the get-go (i.e. her courageous attempt to get Republican governor John Kasich to appoint her [a Democrat] to replace retiring Republican V. Lee Sinclair on the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, General Division bench) has been impressive to the SCPR.

Comparing her legal credentials to Curtis Werren's on their face placed her in a category of clearly meriting a Kasich selection over the former president of the Stark County Red Cross president who hadn't practiced law for several years.

Kasich is not the most zealous partisan Republican (e.g. his ongoing fuss with President Trump)

And yet he could not bring himself to select merit over political considerations.

In June, 2013 he appointed Werren to succeed Sinclair.

In November, 2016 the voters of Stark County weighed-in and overrode Kasich.


Despite he Hartnett's obvious superiority over Werren on the merits of their respective qualifications, one never truly knows whether a judge will be a "rule of law" juris or one mindful of "political winds" until a tough case comes along.

Fast forward to January 5, 2018 and BINGO! that tough case comes hurtling into the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and right in to the lap of Judge Chryssa Hartnett.

Now we have a tough, tough, tough case (from a perspective of raw emotions the underlying cause has evoked [i.e. folks losing their jobs]) upon which to start making assessments on whether or not Judge Hartnett can keep the "rule of law" separate and apart from from what appears to some as being a public relations effort enlisting the aid of the court.

For it appears to the SCPR that the sum and substance of Massillon v. Affinity is mostly born of a public relations dynamics in the clothing of being "at equity" legal action.

Here are a few examples of why The Report thinks that the complaint amounts to "grasping at straws" in attempt to get the court to weigh in on an effort push Quorum/Affinity into negotiating concessions that likely are not in the offing on legal arguments alone.

Example 1:


House Bill 462 is an "after the fact"  effort of Stark County legislators Kirk Schuring (the 48th Ohio House District) and Thomas West (January 5, 2018) by Quorum that Affinity would be closing on February 4th.

And here is where the proposed legislation is today:


Example 2:


Get this.

Both the Ohio legislation and the Massillon ordinance are what lawyers know to be ex post facto (after the fact) laws.

In criminal law matters such bill becoming law are clearly unconstitutional at the state and federal level.

While such is not all that clear in the civil area of law, it is hard to imagine that any court would require a private sector entity from shutting down its business according to ex post facto legislation even for 120 days absent some "in effect before the announced shutdown" constitutionally tested law.

In its motion for a temporary restraining order, the plaintiffs themselves seem to recognize the "legal hill they have to climb" as the SCPR thinks is evident in this excerpt:

(SEE "COMPLETE" VERSION IN APPENDIX AT END OF BLG)

A statement with the motion that the announced shutdown came as a complete and total surprise is met with disbelief on the part of several Massillonians that the SCPR has talked with.

One points out that Mayor Catazaro-Perry and her husband (practicing out of Affinity) certainly had to be "in on the know" to "buzz" about the financial difficulties at the Quorum owned facility.

Another says flat out (a person of strong business acumen and experience) that he finds Quorum/Affinity's claim of financial stress completely believable.

The complaint may have stated some viable claims on the damage done to specific plaintiffs, but curiously enough there is no specific prayer for damages.  Only injunctive relief is prayed for.  Take a look:

NOTE:  HIGHLIGHTING & UNDERLINING ADDED

There is a legal maxim:  "equity follows the law" meaning that equity will not allow a remedy that is contrary to law.

Moreover, there is this:  courts will not provide equitable relief when there is an adequate remedy at law.

Who can fault the plaintiffs for trying? 

These are indeed desperate times in Massillon especially in that the city stands to lose some $600,000 in income and property tax revenues, medical professionals will be left scrambling for new employment and patient users of Affinity will have greater distances to cover in order to get medical care.

A legal analyst told the SCPR, the complaint seems clearly more "public relations" driven than grounded on solid "at-law" principles.

There are signs that perhaps the public relations of the situation in Massillon might be having  success with Judge Hartnett.

It was a tad distressing on a "rule of law" standard for her to close to the public, what appears to be tantamount to have been a TRO (temporary restraining order) hearing (note:  plaintiffs had filed a Motion for a TRO) along with the complaint.

From Repository reporter Ed Balint's account (January 17, 2018, the date Massillon v. Affinity was filed):
She said she appreciated and understood the newspaper and public’s interest in the matter but wanted to “encourage all parties to speak freely (and work) toward a resolution” while discussing the merits of the court filing and procedural steps involved with the hospital closing. “I need to be mindful to encourage the frank participation on all sides without all sides being concerned it’s being represented in the media,” Hartnett said prior to the session.
Here is what came out of those "out-of-the-public-view" talks involving Hartnett and legal counsel for the respective sides to the controversy.



It was nice of Judge Hartnett to explain in non-legal language her rationale for closing the hearing (however one want to term it), but the "real" question that should have been asked by Balint on hearing her explanation was simply this: 

Did she have any "legal reasoning" to offer as justification for issuing the TRO.

If Balint was up on his game in terms of knowing about Repository v. Unger (1986), he might even had, in accordance with standards set forth in the case, asked whether or not Judge Hartnett thought it had any relevance to "the public is excluded" decision of January 17th before he departed the scene.

SOURCE:  GOOGLE SCHOLAR SEARCH

The SCPR, for one, doubts that Judge Hartnett had the case by the highest authority court in Ohio in mind when she did the exclusion.

Some key findings of the Repository/Unger decision include:

First.


Next.

Highlighting/Graphics Added in This & Following Excerpts

Next.


Next.


Next.


What makes Judge Hartnett's closure to the public so troubling is that it appears that it came at her initiative and that that of either party.

The closure would sit better with the SCPR had one of the two sides moved for closure and that the matter was briefed (briefs being made available to the public) and argued in open court citing legal standards and not a reliance on common knowledge that people might be more candid in they can speak in out of the public view.

In a context of a formal hearing open to the public, Judge Hartnett could have made "findings of law" to support her action.

Such as being the proper course of action was impliedly addressed by Repository v. Unger, to wit:


In sum, the SCPR is disappointed by Judge Hartnett's action of seemingly cutting out the public on her personal calculation of what would be best not by any evidence taken wherein it was manifestly clear that the parties would not try to seek out common ground in the public view.

It could be that before February 1, 2018, the parties will reach an accord on extending the time for closing Affinity Medical Center.

Even if they do, excluding the public from the January 17th session (whatever one wants to nominate it) was not exactly and endorsement of "the rule of law."

One might come away thinking that the court got played by a public relations gambit, no?

APPENDIX

Full opinion of Repository v. Unger

(SOURCE OF REPOSITORY V. UNGER (GOOGLE SCHOLAR)


COMPLETE FILING OF MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER

Monday, January 22, 2018

SCPR SERIES: (VOL 1) HOW ABOUT BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY BEING TOLD IN THE IMPENDING AFFINITY MEDICAL CENTER SHUTDOWN?

UPDATED:  09:00 PM
ALSO

HOW IS JUDGE HARTNETT DOING WITH THE PROCEDURES OF THE CASE?


Understandably, it appears that the only side of the City of Massillon/Affinity Medical Center "legal" standoff that getting much media attention these days is the Massillon side.

But in pursuit of "the truth of the matter," there is always another side to consider, no?

And the focus of this blog is to begin an examination of the underlying factors which might provide a justification for Affinity corporate parent closing Massillon sited Affinity Medical Center.

However, there are factors that indicate that Massillon government has no viable alternative but to fight the closing.

But, first, one obvious factor that all ought to agree on, even Affinity/Quorum officialdom:  it was an outrage for the closing to be announced (in early January) with an closing date of February 4, 2018.

Beyond the obvious, it seems to The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) that there "may" be more to support the closing (on a longer timeline) than to keep it open.

And that story needs to be told.

Another factor that the SCPR will be dealing with in this series in whether of not Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge is procedurally "proper" (in accordance with the "rule of law") in handling of this matter.

Of particular concern along these lines was that factor that Judge Hartnett excluded the media from discussion with primary parties (on both sides of the matter).

At first glance, it seems to the SCPR that she may have been in violation of Ohio's "Open Courts" rule as articulated in the Ohio Constitution Section 1, Article 16 and the First Amendment of the United States of America Constitution.

Accordingly, a part of this series will be to take a detailed look of her handling of the matter in the light of Ohio case law pertaining to Ohio/U.S. constitutional provisions on "open courts" so that the general public may see and hear justice in action.

For those readers who are up to it, here is a copy of the entire complaint (38 pages "core" complaint material, 223 of other material)  filed by Massillon city officials and others against Affinity (Quorum).



TODAY:  THE CITY OF MASSILLON REVENUE FACTOR

For the SCPR, a primary factor to consider is:  How much will the closing affect the Massillon city coffers?

Unconfirmed by highly reliable sources estimate about $600,000 per annum in income tax and property tax revenues.

While certainly a blow to Massillon government financial viability, The Report is told that Massillon as a couple of million dollars in carryover funds with which to weather the storm should the Affinity shutdown come to pass.

The key here is whether or not Massillon has the financial/economic dexterity to recover the loss of the revenue a shut down would cause in the immediate context?

Because, long term, the loss of $600,000 in revenues (more or less) is NOT sustainable.

The projected loss is NOT sustainable in that—if nothing changes in the financial picture—within five (5) years Massillon could be back into a fiscal crisis much like that it emerged not all that long ago.

Going further down the track, an extended question is whether or not Massillon government has the talent in place to find ways and means to offset an AMC loss?

A source who understands the the nuts and bolts of Massillon government leads the SCPR to think not.

If such is truly the case, then it makes sense for Massillon official to fight to the nth degree to keep what the city already has in place.

The NEXT SCPR blog backs up a bit to the very first days following the filing of the above-complaint for a deeper look at how Judge Hartnett is handing the matter against a "rule of law" standard.

Subsequent blogs will return to a discussion of the practical realities of  "a continuing to exist" Affinity Medical Center in a context of the center's continued viability on the basis of a SCPR analysis of the substantive arguments both in legal pleadings and otherwise from various perspectives.

Today's blog (focusing on Massillon government's financial interest) is the framework within which The Report expect to proceed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

STATE AUDITOR YOST PLACES ALLIANCE IN "FISCAL CAUTION!"


UPDATED:  THURSDAY AT 3:00 PM

NOTE:  SOURCE:  https://www.ohioauditor.gov/FHI/Search/Reports/Final - 06C29-FHI-2016.pdf

Below is a letter dated today to Mayor Alan Andreani of Alliance.  In the letter Auditor of State Dave Yost (AOS) outlines why the auditor has placed Alliance in "fiscal caution."

It this blog, the SCPR provides more detail as found on the AOS website but rearranged in graphic and text format so as to zero in or the critical factors

The letter:




ALLIANCE GOV'T: STARK COUNTY'S VERSION OF A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS?


UPDATE:  (Wednesday, 12:53 p.m.)  It appears that the Mayor Alan Andreani administration tried some "surprise" maneuvering at last night's meeting as evidenced in the administration's move to introduce a replacement ordinance near the very end of council session last night to lock in a $8,500 "temporary" appropriation of outside legal counsel funding.

In summary, there is nothing new as of this update as to whether or not there will be a veto override attempt by council to undo what Alliance law director Jennifer Arnold says is the status of the original administration proposal of a $10,000 appropriation of the "temporary" funding of outside legal counsel.

Councilwoman-at-Large Julie Jakmides is standing by her current assessment that the mayor's veto of council's action on December 28, 2017 to reduce the $10,000 appropriation to $0 was an illegal act of the mayor in that it is a violation of the U.S./Ohio "separations of powers" provisions which have the effect of making the executive, legislative and judicial branches of U.S. and Ohio government "co-equal branches of government.

ORIGINAL BLOG:  TUESDAY, JANUARY 16TH

ALLIANCE COUNCIL VERSUS MAYOR ANDREANI
on
BUDGETING FOR 2018 OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL ESXPENSE


There are political analysts who say that sooner rather than later America is heading for a constitutional crisis in the battle between Donald Trump, some in Congress (all of the Democrats, and, perhaps a few Republicans) and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller over Mueller's investigation into criminal conduct (two guilty pleas already [Flynn and Papadopulous] on the part of Trump administration/transition team/campaign team officials, if not the president himself.

While nobody is alleging any criminal conduct in the Alliance council/administration standoff over the mayor's veto of council's December 28th resolution paring down the amount for outside legal counsel in 2018, it appears to The Stark County Political Report that a simmering dispute on the level of administration expenditures for outside-legal-counsel between Councilwoman-at-Large Julie Jakmides and Mayor Alan Adreani is escalating rapidly towards a "separation-of-powers" constitutional crisis that has the potential to create legal precedent for Ohio's political subdivision on the proper dividing line for the legislative and executive branches of government on 
government finance.

In a nutshell, Councilwoman Jakmides (chairperson of council's Finance Committee) has led a effort to challenge the Andreani administration in its 2018 budgeting for the funding and hiring of outside legal counsel from an asked for $10,000 by reducing the number to $0 in a temporary budget  (likely running until mid-March, 2018 before a permanent budget is passed) that council passed on December 28, 2017, to wit:

(Note:  see Temporary Budget in Appendix, Item 3)

On January 1 (a legal holiday, mind you), Andreani fired off a veto of Ordinance 80-17 to council.  (See letter  as Item 1 in the appendix at the end of this blog)


It seems likely that an attempt to override the mayor's veto will take place at a special meeting of council scheduled for tonight at 6:00 p.m.

Adding fuel to the fire in Alliance is the fact that Law Director Jennifer Arnold appears to be solidly in the Andreani camp evidenced by her legal opinion on the matter (see letter as Item 2 in the Appendix at the end of this blog) even though she as  the Alliance law director has the responsibility to provide legal advice to all of Alliance government.  

Here is what Jakmides says about the prospects for an override:

First and foremost, I am not entirely confident there are enough votes for the required supermajority we would need to override the Mayor’s veto. While I can say with substantial certainty that there will be at least four votes to override, I’m just not sure if the necessary fifth vote is there. There is an effort underway to earn that fifth vote.

Here is how the SCPR thinks the vote will turn out:


The key person as to whether or not there will be an override seems to be Ward 2 councilwoman Cindy King.

Newly elected councilperson Brian Simeone (a Democrat) says that he would not be surprised if King were to vote to override.   But, he emphasized, he does not know that she will.

Sheila Cherry is said to be a definite "no" vote as is Roger Rhome.

So WHAT IF council fails to override Andreani's veto?

Again, Councilwoman Jakmides:

If the votes are not there to override the veto, I can guarantee there will be litigation. (emphasis added)
 . . .
I would hate to see it come to that, but I am certainly willing to do so in order to establish the difference between right and wrong, and the proper separation of powers.

Jakmides "guarantee" may indicate that a constitutional crisis is looming in Alliance government that might end up be decided the Ohio Supreme Court perhaps even the U.S. Supreme Court.

Want to talk about legal expense to the city of Alliance in that taxpayers would be funding both sides' legal expenses:  Wow!

While Ward 3 councilman Larry Dordea's focus in on his effort to separate the safety/service responsibilities now under the directorship  of Michael Dreger, he does not disagree with Councilwoman Jakmides that Law Director Jennifer Arnold's (she was last elected to the position in 2015 and is up again for election next year having been opposed by Jakmides support Democrat Mark Whitaker) management of the law department is inadequate especially on the matter of hiring of outside counsel on matters that ought to be handled by Arnold and her staff.

In her campaign for re-election to council in November, 2017, Jakmides made, as a focus of her appearance in a University of Mount Union sponsored candidates forum of October 31, 2017, the reining-in of outside legal expenditures by Alliance's administration through 2017 (thought to be about $75,000).

Here is the core of the her differences with Andreani administration and as expressed by Jakmides on her Facebook page:


Clemans-Nelson?


Councilwoman Jakmides describes Clemans-Nelson thusly:

The “consulting” firm Clemans Nelson which specifically self-identifies as NOT being a law firm has undoubtedly received a lions share of the $75,000, but they do so through creative means. 

Despite having been retained through a one-year contract that expired in 2013 or 2014 for a narrow purpose, they have remained a constant suck on the city’s coffers by providing a vast array of Human Resources-esque work, including a number of tasks I personally find unnecessary, redundant, and/or the job of the Law Director and her office. 

Furthermore, Clemans Nelson has associates who conveniently offer their legal services when the work Clemans Nelson has generated ends up in more formal proceedings. One individual who has billed the City substantially is Attorney Matt Baker, an employee of Clemans Nelson who happens to have a law practice based at the same address.  (emphasis added)


Democrat Brian Simeone (elected councilman at large) is all in with Jakmides on the need for Alliance to shed itself of a relationship with Clemans-Nelson

As is Councilman Larry Dordea.

It will be interesting to see if tonight's council meeting results in success for Dordea in his quest to have council split up the safety/service functions of Dreger's current job.  

Tonight's meeting is a critical one as providing a clue which path that the two co-equal branches of Alliance government is going down.

  • One of working out differences and going forward as a mutual check and balance on one another. or
  • One of discord and disharmony which might possibly lead to the legislative branch taking the executive branch to court to establish its co-equalness.

APPENDIX 

Item 1 - Andreani letter



Item 2 - Arnold legal opinion



Item 3 - Temporary Budget

Saturday, January 13, 2018

50TH OHIO HOUSE SEAT/16TH CONGRESSIONAL SEAT: TO BE "HAGAN-LESS!"

UPDATED 01/15/2018

SEE BIO OF DEM CANDIDATE 50TH:  CASSIE GABELT

ALSO, STOLTFUS (GOP/50TH) IMPRESSES WITH FUNDRAISER AT BROOKSIDE 01/24/2018

(LISTING FROM STARK CO BOE/PHOTOS/GRAPHICS ADDED)

The Stark County Political Report has been suggesting that Republican state Representative Christina Hagan will drop out of the 16th Congressional District (she lives in the 7th) race and run for two more years in the Ohio House before being term limited out.

But it now seems as if that Hagan prefers going down as the captain of a sinking ship.

Why should she think about dropping out of the 16th and dropping into the 50th?

Because, so far, she is getting out-fund-raised HUGELY by "the establishment candidate" (according to Christina herself) Anthony Gonzalez. To boot, Gonzalez (though he has never held an elective office) is far more appealing as a candidate when one compares their biographies.
And, thirdly, he actually has something his his family line that ought to separate him from Trump.

One has to wonder whether or not Trump considers Cuba a "sh*t" country (the country Gonzalez's grandparents came from)?

For besides being one of the relatively few staunch communist states in the world,Cuba is not a nation-state like Norway.  It is a diverse nation that has a substantial non-white population. As the grandson of a Swede who immigrated to America in the 1890s to pursue the American dream (he became a logging industry entrepreneur) he would be horrified to see an American president wanting to shut the doors to those who see America as a beacon drawing them to these shores.

Presumably, being the "all-out-for-Trump-person she is, Christina prefers a homogeneous to a diverse one.

To her, seemingly, there is a right way to think and be and a wrong way; pure and simple.

 Hagan is so pro-Trump she ought to apply for a White House job when she loses her primary fight with Gonzalez for she might—because of her unquestioning Trump loyalty—be in a position one day to replace presidential-shill-in-chief Sarah Huckabee Sanders someday, no?

Christina's dad, John, who represented the 50th from 2000 through 2008 (when he was term limited out and then lost a bid to become a Stark County commissioner in the 2008 elections) got Christina her state representative job by lobbying hard with the Ohio House Republican Caucus in 2011 when Todd Snitchler resigned as 50th District representative to become chairman of Ohio's Public Utilities Commission.

In a smart political move, Paris Township Reggie Stoltzfus moved quickly after Hagan announced she was not running for a fourth term in the Ohio House.

And he ain't messin around when it comes to fundraising.

Look at this:


Wow!
  • Brookside Country Club, January 24, 2018
    • Contribution Levels:
      • CHAIR$2,500
        • HOST$1,000
          • SPONSOR$500
            • PER COUPLE$150
              • PER COUPLE$100
And there's more.


Here is a SCPR calculated (correlating named persons with contribution levels as published by the Stoltzfus campaign) spreadsheet showing that Stoltzfus has "upfront" money of $25,000 without even opening the doors at Brookside on January 24th.



Only thing better is where the SCPR will be on the 24th.

Hawaii, that's where!  For two, maybe three months.  My daughter Kasi (a Lake High School, NEOMED BS/MD graduate, a USAF lieutenant colonel who is slated soon to become chief of the medical group at Hickam AFB on Oahu) and her husband Will (a mainland Chinese man who came to this country as a 9 year old not knowing word of English) are medical doctors serving in Hawaii.

They've been in Hawaii three years this July and a slated for three more.  Wife Mary and I visited them and our grandchildren Austin and Aspen last year for two months.  And we plan on going back for the duration of their time in the U.S. paradise in the Pacific.

Stoltzfus has filed, Larry Carver has not nor has as of Friday Jacob Urik of Louisville.

Talked with Carver a month or so ago and got the clear impression he is not going to file.

To the SCPR based on a conversation with him, it is irrelevant to Stoltzfus whether either of them files.

And, The Report gets the impression that should Hagan panic that she is going to be out of a public job if she stays in the 16th Congressional District race and at the last moment (being funny, let's say 4:29 on February 7, 2018) to keep her current public job, Stoltzfus is not all that concerned.

When he learned that Hagan was not doing so well in her fundraising for the 16th he began calling around to key Republican elected officials in and out of the 50th to firm up his support.

Stoltzfus has the SCPR believing that even if Hagan abandons the 16th for the 50th, it will be too late.

And the spreadsheet published above gives a lot of credibility to idea that the Hagans are finished as a viable political family in Marlboro Township and indeed in Stark County.

When one has to bring in the likes of Gorka and Scaramucci (about as extreme right as one can get except for Christina herself), isn't time for the gong to sound and politician Christina Hagan dragged off the stage?


He father, even though a seeming fixture in Marlboro Township politics, lost to incumbent Republican Ken Eddleman in November.

It was only by 5 votes.

The Report is told that John Hagan is being a "spoil sport" about the loss.  One manifestation being that he is said to be demanding that the minutes of each and every Marlboro Board of Trustees meeting be forwarded to him.

You have to wonder how he is going to react that two of his sons have lost low level official positions in Marlboro Township government.

Is the phrase "political conspiracy" going to roll off his lips?

Wouldn't surprise the SCPR from a man who used all his political clout to get Christina Hagan her start in political life.

You have to remember that the Hagan have much substantial "political" roots in Marlboro Township than Ken Eddleman.

To The Report knowledge, he only got started in Marlboro Township in 2009 when former trustees Tim Wise and Dave Wolf got themselves in a political mess by deciding to take on highly respected Marlboro police chief Ron Devies and his son in what the SCPR thinks was a miscommunication problem but which the Stark County's sheriff's office at the time (i.e. Chief Deputy Perez) and Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero seemingly worked "overzealously" together "make a mountain out of a molehill."

In the end, the Devies father and son were vindicated by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge V. Lee Sinclair, Jr.

Ken Eddleman and Marlboro citizens (with his election) were true winners with his election (Wolf did not run and Wise came in dead last).

Eddleman was a winner again this past November of father John Hagan and he may have put the Christina Hagan braggadocio about being a Stark County political power that was going to raise $15 million for the 16th District Republican primary and another  $1.5 million for the general election "out-of-commission."

So the SCPR sees no problem at all for Reggies Stoltzfus becoming the Republican primary winner on May 8, 2018.

Despite his early start and impressive fundraising, he may struggle actually succeeding the Hagans in the Ohio General Assembly.

It could depend on how closely he aligns himself with President Trump.

The Report senses that this could be a very, very, very bad political year for Republicans who abandoned authentic Republican conservatism for "all-in-for-Trump."

Time will tell with Candidate Stoltzfus.

The SCPR has spoken with the Democratic candidate Cassie Gabelt.

Not endorsing the respective political viewpoints is impressed with her and Stoltzfus.

She tells The Report that she indeed will file her petitions by February 7th and put together a campaign that seriously  threatens the Republican hold on the 50th which, of course, has been gerrymander to keep a Republican in the slot for eternity.

Democrat Gabelt has provided this self produced biography for voters of the 50th Ohio House District to get to know her, her mettle as a human being and her aspirations should she be elected as state representative for the 50th, to wit:

My name is Cassie Gabelt.  I was born in Alliance, Ohio, and I’ve lived here all my life, with the exception of the time I spent enlisted in the Navy, stationed in California.  My father was a teacher with the Marlington Local School District for 30 years.  My mother was an office manager for a local attorney.  I have three sisters, Carrie, Anna, and Emma.  I had a relatively normal childhood, until I didn’t.  

In March of 2004, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was a 15-year-old Sophomore at Marlington High School.  My older sister was 22, just engaged. My younger sisters, Anna and Emma, were 13 and 11.  

We knew of many women who had survived the disease, and we were sure the doctors would save her as they had so many others. We soon learned, however that what my mother had wasn’t just any breast cancer; it was a rare form of Inflammatory cancer, the most aggressive to combat; hers was at Stage 4.  The next seven months were filled with surgeries, chemotherapy, and watching my mother, my father, and my sisters come to the realization that she wasn’t going to be a survivor.  We lost her, at age 43, on October 19, 2004.  And while that pain will stay with me for a lifetime, the experience also gave me strength.  It taught me to cherish those who are dearest to me, to always attend to unfinished business, and, because we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, to find out what it is in this life we want to accomplish; And work hard to see it through. 

My father continued supporting my sisters, and me on his teacher’s salary, and we were fortunate to live with my maternal grandmother.  I got my driver’s license and helped shuttle my sisters to, and from sports and choir practices, as my father and I were trying to keep their lives as normal as possible.  After I graduated from high school, I enrolled at the University of Mount Union, then Mount Union College, thinking I would follow the same path as most of my friends.  
Once I got to college, I realized that even as a kid, I’d felt the desire to join the military, and I could no longer ignore the call.  The opportunity to serve my country, to gain valuable training and experience, was too tempting to resist.  So I enlisted in the Navy, and left for bootcamp at the end of my second semester.   

I spent my first two years stationed in Monterey, at the Defense Language Institute where I learned a bit of Arabic, and the second two of my enlistment at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.  In San Diego, one of my many duties was acting as a liaison between the United States Navy and Government Contractors where we completed over $12 million in repairs in record time.  I spearheaded a Quality Assurance program, and I developed a Departmental Limited Duty Status program.  I also spent time drafting correspondence between my unit and another unit senior to mine, in Washington D.C.  These, and other aspects of my position, introduced me to the inner workings and nuances of the US government.     

When I separated from the military in 2012, due to injury, I returned to Ohio, where I re-enrolled in the University of Mount Union, and finished early with a bachelor’s in French.  Due to my early graduation, I was able to apply the remainder of my GI Bill towards additional studies.  I finished a Master’s Degree in Political Management through The George Washington University this December. 

My military experience combined with my post-graduate studies, IBM Analyst Certification, and work in the field of mediation, have led me to my true passion-public service.  Elected officials impact every aspect of our lives, whether they're voting on the type of gas you put in your car, or the healthcare we receive-or, in some cases, don't receive.  Their decisions will determine what kind of life my son, and all of our children, will come to know. 

I've experienced things in my life no one can control, and for whom no one is to blame.  But I've also experienced, firsthand, the exorbitant cost of college in the 21st century.  I've experienced the value of having healthcare when you need it.  I've experienced jobs that pay less than a living wage.  Those things we can control.  It is my greatest hope, that our children will benefit from positive changes I can make.

I believe that the government should work for you and your family- and represent your best interests. Economic rights are often overlooked as civil rights, but like all civil rights battles and movements of the past, if we work together, we can make sure all of us reap the benefits in the future. Our decisions determine not only our today, but also our tomorrow

To the SCPR, John Hagan and his daughter Christina are in politics mostly motivated out of political opportunism and not public service.  It is all good and well for Representative Hagan to have her religious faith, but it is not okay that she use government to impose her religious values on the rest of us.

What appears to be the end of the Hagan family as a factor in Stark County politics should be viewed by voters of all stripes as a blessing.

A gift from Heaven, if you will!!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

SCPR SERIES (VOL 3) "STRENGTHENING STARK: NORTH/SOUTH MARKET AVENUE "GANG OF TWO" SEEK TO HAVE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS "IMPOSE" A 1/2 CENT SALES TAX?


(MAP:  EXTRACT FROM GOOGLE MAPS)

VIDEOS

Stark County Commissioner Janet Weir Creighton

on

SHOULD THERE BE AN "UNIMPOSED SALES TAX INCREASE"

IF SO, HOW SHOULD IT BE ADMINISTERED?

Denny Saunier

CEO/President of Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

Responds

Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (CRCC) president and CEO Denny Saunier unsettled county officials when in the Q&A session at the Stark Civic Group's "Strengthening Stark" session at the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Gold Jacket Room) on Tuesday he made this statement:



Saunier's response was in reaction to this Stark County Commissioner (Board president) Janet Weir Creighton's challenge (re:  additional sales tax to finance Stark County economic development) to the Strengthening Stark assembled group of elected officials from the Canton Municipal Court Stark County political subdivisions who make up the court district:  (the Creighton challenge:  "speak now [on possible sales tax increase]or forever hold your peace" on whether or not a not-imposed sales tax increase should be considered and under what parameters:



The Stark County Political Report (since Tuesday's event) has learned that from the perspective of county officials Saunier's organization (CRCC) has a tag-team (a expression from professional wrestling) relationship with The Canton Repository (SCPR monikered "NS-MA-Gang of Two")  to cudgel commissioners into "imposing" a sales tax increase to fund Stark County economic development.

Of course, anybody who knows anything about sales tax issues and Stark County voters know that absolutely a surefire way to get rejected!

Here is an extracted (from commissioner administration compilation) graphic which absolutely shows that "imposed" is NOT a way to go.

(Note:  In order to get an enlarged view of the following graphics, click on any of the five panels included)


It is likely that Saunier/Porter for their respective organizations deny they a pushing for an "imposed" sales tax.

However, in SCPR discussions with a variety of county officials, The Report's takeaway is that they are clearly viewing Saunier's spiel when coupled with other emanations from 500 Market Avenue, South and 222 Market Avenue, North as being pressure to "impose" an additional county sales tax.

The SCPR back in 2011 advocated for a 3/4 cent added county sales tax rather than the 1/2 cent settled on.  Moreover, the SCPR opposed "imposing" sales tax increases no matter the scale of same.

There is no doubt that Stark County needs to have financial resources to spur economic development across Stark County.

However, any such voter approved addition SHOULD NOT and the SCPR believes would not be used by the current board of county commissioners to bailout Canton and/or the HOF-VP.

There ought to be a concern about what a future board of commissioners will do and measures ought to be included in any sales tax initiative that would prohibit bailouts for inefficiently/irresponsibly run political subdivision government units or in private enterprise projects not having private financing in place at the timing of announcing such projects to totally pay for ir.   Of course, the latter factor is a reference to, as an example of, the HOF-VP.

To so structure a prospective Stark County sales tax increase, it might be necessary for
the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly to get to work to empower county governments across Ohio to specify restrictions on the the use of county sales tax revenues that are binding on future boards of county commissioners.

Try as they may but the North/South Market Avenue Gang of Two will find that there is no way in Hell that the current Board of Stark County Commissioners would impose an additional sales tax on top of the current 1/2 cent being collected.