Wednesday, May 30, 2018


LINK to Volume 1 of this series.

There is a largely political drama playing out in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio General Assembly (OGA) under supermajority control of Republicans (for the most part) reportedly have put some $1 billion Ohio taxpayer  dollars into the pocket of  Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder and entrepreneur William Lager since the assembly approved in 1998 House Bill 700 which was the start for Ohio into the waters of charter/community/online alternatives to Ohio's public school system.

Ohio is currently in the process of trying to collect some $80 million in Ohio taxpayer overpayments to ECOT assessed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE)

There two cases pending in the Ohio Supreme Court in a double-attack by ECOT on ODE's prospects for ever collecting the $80 million.

Stark County's Scott Gwin (a Democrat and a member of the 5th District Court of Appeals) is sitting by assignment on case 20170-0913 (LINK to video of session).

Members of the 1998 OGA included Republican current state Rep J. Kirk Schuring (in the OGA since 1995) and Republican W. Scott Oelslager (currently a state senator, in the OGA since 1985).

And campaign finance records show that they are knee-deep in what some call "pay to play" in the form of campaign finance contributions they have received from Lager or Lager connectioned contribution entities.

Stark Countians Schuring and Oelslager have to be among the longest serving legislators in the OGA if not "the longest serving" in the light of a 1992 voter approved referendum saddling OGA with eight year consecutive years term limits, to wit:  (a Wikipedia descriptions)
Republican activists, led by Fred A. Lennon, began pursuing term limits in the 1980s, in 1992, a referendum set term limits of eight consecutive years in office: four consecutive terms in the House or two consecutive terms in the Senate. Years in office are considered consecutive if they are separated by less than four years.
They have switched back and forth since 1992 every eight years between a largely "all-of-Stark" Senate seat (currently the 29th) and "Jackson Township centered" House seat and thereby violated a supposedly "sacred" Republican cause of bring "fresh" faces to the Ohio Legislature.

Both Oelslager and Schuring are affable types who have achieved some legislative good for Ohioans and Stark Countians.  Oelslager at one time was a leading figure on formulating/strengthening Ohio's Open Records Law.

As a major achievement, Schuring apparently thinks promoting economic development legislation (Tax Increment Financing, TIF)  at the expense of  (or on the backs of) public school districts in allowing for the taking of a hefty percentage (up to 100%) of property tax revenues on increased assessed value of developed property and passing it onto the developer.

All-in-all Schuring shows that his Republican colleagues are not enamored with his leadership skills given his apparent ineptness in getting them to agree for the "under-FBI-investigation" of former Republican Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger.

Climbing towards three decades in the Ohio General Assembly and he demonstrates that he has no political muscle with his colleagues?

The Stark County Political Report's take on Schuring and Oelslager is that given a combined nearly 60 years in the Legislature especially in light of term limits taking effect in the late 1990s are far less effective than they should have been given their seniority edge.

Between ECOT, charter and community schools, TIF legislation drain-offs of school support over the years by the Oelslager/Schuring duo and their support since Republican governor John Kasich took office (January, 2011) of "local government funding," it is hard to see the two being a net positive factor for Stark County.

In 2018 alone, with Oelslager and Schuring supposedly looking out for fiscal wholeness of Stark County school districts (source of information:  Ohio Department of Education), Stark County city school districts lost over $11 million to community/charter/online schools and the county school districts as a whole over $15 million.

As the SCPR will show in future blogs, Schuring and Oelslager have failed to protect Stark County school districts from community/charter/online revenue losses to the tune several hundred million dollars.

One hears local school leaders decry their financial struggles at the hand of the Republican dominated OGA and one hears the likes of Canton City Council president lambaste the supermajority Republican Legislature for gutting state support of local government funding.

So one would think that local Democrats would be "chomping at the bit" to unseat them by tapping into the education community and local government officialdom dissatisfaction with the inability of Schuring/Oelslager (remember with nearly 60 years combined seniority in the OGA) to protect educator and local government units from financial duress, no?

But the SCPR thinks that the Phil Giavasis-led "organized" Democratic leadership
  • with former Dems' chairman and Oelslager/Schuring Stark County legislative delegation  colleague [1990-1999] Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  still a party power lurking in the background,
is not all that committed to the Friedman/Wilburn candidacies.

No doubt, Giavasis et al have to be thinking that there is no way that either Oelslager or Schuring and certainly not both will be defeated in November.

The SCPR believes Friedman and Wilburn working with Democrat incumbent Thomas West (the 49th) would have the ear of local education/government officials and be the vanguard of a turnaround in the state of Ohio's financial relationship with local boards of education and the cities, villages and townships of Stark County.

Wilburn sent this e-mail to the SCPR:

And here is a press release on the topics encompassed in this blog sent out by Wilburn:

Candidate for Ohio House, District 48 responds to continued Statehouse dysfunction
North Canton — Lorraine Wilburn, the Democratic candidate for Ohio House 48 today issued the following statements in response to today’s FBI raid of Rosenberger’s home and session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Speaker:

“The news of the FBI raids of the home of disgraced former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is yet another indicator of the chaos and dysfunction hanging over the Statehouse. It seems clear that current leadership has allowed an environment of pay to play corruption at the expense of hardworking Ohioans. Our representatives have forgotten who they serve. It's disturbing that Scott Oelslager is running to join the House GOP caucus, and he has no comment on the dysfunction and nasty infighting that's happening there. If he can't stand up and speak out now, how is he going to be an independent voice in the House for Stark County? We can do better. We need new leadership in the statehouse who will do the jobs they were elected to do and put people over partisan politics and personal profit.”

The SCPR has no doubt that Wilburn/Friedman would be a welcome change for Stark County in getting local education officials and local government officials voices heard in Columbus.

Wilburn's/Friedman's beef should not be with the SCPR telling it like it is in terms of both being faced with a gigantic uphill fight to be competitive with their respective races, but rather with motivating the likes of the:
  • Stark County Democratic Party leadership,
  • Stark County superintendents of education,
  • Stark County board of education members,
  • Stark County school teaching and administrative staffs,
  • Stark County political subdivision officials:
    • (cities, village and trustee)
      • mayors,
      • city council members, and
      • citizens
to turn their seeing impossible dream into a reality that will shake the halls of the Ohio General Assembly.

The SCPR is highly skeptical.

But The Report would be delighted to be proven wrong!

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