Friday, March 9, 2018



It could be that the "hottest" race in Stark County in this year's general election could be between incumbent Republican Alan Harold and Democratic challenger and Massillon Ward 6 councilwoman Linda Litman.

As depicted above, Harold might well be in a precarious position in retaining his post as the elected Stark County editor.

Since 2003 when now Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton resigned the office she had held for years (1991—2003) to take over as mayor of Canton, the auditor's office has been a political war zone between Stark County's "organized" Democrats and Republicans.

Current Stark County Brant Luther was appointed by the Republicans to replace Creighton.  But he was unable to hold the office losing to then Canton auditor Kim Perez in 2004.  Luther was Creighton's "right-hand-man" for part of her stint as county auditor.

As expanded upon below, Perez got caught in a political buzzsaw which local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley labeled as being "Zeiglergate" which provided current auditor Alan Harold (a Republican) an opportunity that he took full advantage of to reclaim the seat for the Republicans

It might be that a series of recent goof-ups by Harold (which will be the focus of this series) will provide Democrats a way back into controlling the office at the hand of Massillon councilwoman Linda Litman whose resume includes extensive experience in the financial world (e.g. First Merit Bank, now Huntington Bank).

Later on in this series, the SCPR will be sharing with readers the outrage that has been expressed by some leading Stark County Democratic officials who perceive Harold as "not playing fair" with the Democratic candidate trying to unseat him.

It is a growing Stark County Political Report perception that Alan Harold as county auditor has been his own worst enemy in doing a number of things as auditor that has brought The Report to downgrade him from his long held perch as one of this blogger's top tier Stark County elected officials.

The Report has not updated an evaluation of Stark County elected officials lately, but readers can be certain that Harold has fallen of the list which he once attained a #2 ranking, to wit:

Today's volume deals with (as a "first" example of his being "his own worst enemy") his hire of college pal Seth Peterson as his chief of information technology.

Harold, elected initially in 2010 in an environment in which Democrat incumbent Kim Perez (now Canton city treasurer) was, among other things (see below) apparently thought by Stark Countians to have been too politically close to Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler when on April 1, 2009 news broke that Zeigler's chief deputy treasurer Vince Frustaci was suspected of having stolen Stark County taxpayer money and, rightly or wrongly, Zeigler and Perez were seemingly perceived by the Stark County voting public:
  • (in Zeigler's case) of not having done enough in having secured the county treasury physical facilities/policy/practice-wise to have prevented the eventual Frustaci pleaded guilty to theft, and
  • (in Perez's case) of not having acted on irregularities in data/information coming from the treasury from Frustaci so as to have alerted officials so that the theft might possibly have been ended earlier in the 2003—2008 ($2.46 million).
Zeigler reached an agreement with Stark County commissioners amid many "legal" twists and turns in October, 2011 to retire/resign.

Perez was defeated by an Alan Harold who was politically in the right place at the right time.

Harold was re-elected in November, 2014 when opposed by Canton City Schools treasurer Jeff Gruber who, as the SCPR recollects, did not actively campaign.

On August 4, 2014 Stark County auditor Alan Harold hired as his chief information technology officer one Seth Peterson at some $122,000, more or less,



Well, Peterson, a personal friend of Harold's dating back to their days as students at then Mount Union College.  Witness these e-mail exchange between The Stark County Political Report and Harold a couple of days ago:

SCPR:  Moreover, I am told (which surprised me because you didn't volunteer it when I asked you why the hire of Peterson?) that you were a roommate of Peterson's at Mount Union. 

Is this allegation true or untrue?

Note:  The Report is incorrect in Harold not having provided his history with Peterson in prior conversations (see this LINK)

Harold:  Untrue.

SCPR:  As a follow up, if you were not a roommate of Peterson's at Mount Union, did you have any connection with him at Mount Union or post-Mount Union whatsoever before his hiring by the Stark County auditor's office?

Harold:  Yes

SCPR:  If so, please detail that/those connection(s).

Harold:  I met Seth at Mount Union and considered him a friend.  

We lost touch through the years after college and reconnected when he had called me in +/-2012 to inquire about a job posting in another unit of local government. 

One conversation led to another, several on-site interviews were held with various staff that led to a job offer, though he declined to work for the county due to his commitment to his job at the time. 

 When that specific project ended, we re-engaged and he joined our staff.  He was well-qualified for the job and certainly had the requisite experience.  

I remain disappointed by the events surrounding his departure and believe reasonable employers would have reached the same conclusions that I did. (emphasis added)

Hiring one's personal friends or political pals has a long human history as being a move that is fraught with perils especially when the hiring puts that friend/pal in a public service position.

The Report thinks Harold made a monumental mistake (as said so at the time) in not promoting Anita Henderson to the top spot.

Everybody the SCPR talks to about Henderson gives her rave reviews.  And, this blogger has covered quite a few Stark County commissioner meetings in which it was apparent that Henderson knew her stuff.

One tends not to properly vet a friend/pal as one would if contemplating hiring a total stranger.

Henderson's cmployment date:  June 14, 1987.  Over 30 years.  Wow!

Talk about a sure thing in terms of reliability to do the job as it should be done in all aspects of doing the job of being the top information/technology person Anita Henderson appears to be about a good as it gets in knowing what you're getting in an employee, no?

Disappointed in Peterson?

This from a Repository report of June 2, 2016:

[A female technology sector employee] had received a warning letter in March, which among other things, said she was spending too much time away from her desk and in the office of a male information technology employee.

Multiple SCPR sources say that the "male information technology employee" was Seth Peterson.

Both Peterson and the female employee departed employment with the auditor's office on or about May 4, 2016.

It appears that Harold did what he should have done in asking Peterson and the female employee to resign their employment with the auditor's office.

And he did the appropriate thing in not offering Peterson any severance pay.

The troubling thing about the resignations is that Harold did pay the female employee $9,142 in settlement money.

Settlement for what?

That is a question that Auditor Harold so far has refused to answer.

He did provide the SCPR with a copy (at his initiative) of her filing a claim for unemployment compensation showing that she had been denied.

If anything, the unemployment compensation denial buttresses the SCPR's position that paying the employee $9,142 was unwarranted unless Harold provides compelling justification for having done so.

He is not entitled to pay out in his official capacity taxpayer money without a forthcoming explanation as to why.

Here is a guy who refused to allow Gary Zeigler
  • when he was restored to the position of Stark County treasurer in 2010 by the Ohio Supreme Court 
    • because the-then Stark County commissioners did not afford Zeigler "due process of law" in terminating him as treasurer 
to use Stark County government facilities when he returned to the treasurer's office on being restored by the court BECAUSE Zeigler could not get a bond issued him.

So why is it now okay for Harold (according to The Rep's Tim Botos' June 2nd report) to pay out $9,142 together with an approximate $40,000 more to other dismissed/resigned employees without chapter and verse explanation?

So far, Harold, who usually answers the SCPR's questions, is mum on this one.

To boot, Harold had agreements written (undoubtedly, he would say "on advice of counsel") which included these clauses:

The SCPR thinks that the above-clauses are not so much designed to protect Stark County government but rather to protect Harold's perception of his personal interests.

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