Sunday, May 20, 2018


UPDATE:  10:00 AM



A primary reason The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) was begun on March 12, 2008 was to encourage Stark Countians to participate in our American "democratic-republican" system of government.

Over the past 10+ years, the SCPR has done a lot of videotaping of "citizens-in-action" at various levels of Stark County local government and published them in these pages which now number well over 3,000 blogs.

While the mainstay of the SCPR is this blogger's critical analysis in the context of accountability, accessibility, communicativeness and transparency of all levels of Stark County political subdivision government, The Report does not get bogged down in what is wrong with government.

The SCPR in its widespread coverage of local government picks up on the positive processes and highlights those instances not in a "cheerleading" fashion, but as a inspiration for citizens of Stark County to become "difference makers" in the quality of local (the most susceptible to citizen influence) and state government.

As "you know, I know and everybody knows," it takes an exceptional (often tragic)  event for everyday citizens to have an impact on our national government.

With today's blog, The Report is starting a series of hopefully many, many, many more blogs specifically highlighting and  celebrating citizen participation in government at the county level (e.g. Board of Stark County Commissioners), the city level (Canton City Council and the like throughout the county), the township level (e.g. Jackson Township and the like), and, of course, boards of education (e.g. North Canton City Schools Board of Education and the like).

The focus in this particular series will be on citizens who do not typically and publicly interact with government with the regularity that well known to public officials citizen activists do.

On May 9, 2018 two Plain Township Citizens Judy Pocock and Tom Schillig appeared at the regular weekly meeting of the Board of Stark County commissioners with questions regarding the annexation by Canton of nearby to their residences of  Plain Township located properties.

In the SCPR's experience, since now former commissioner Thomas Bernabei and still sitting commissioner Janet Creighton were elected (November, 2010), the Board of Stark County commissioners is the very best of all Stark County political subdivision governments in responding "meaningfully" with those citizens who engage them in the Public Speaks section of their meeting agenda.

Most public bodies vary from stringently limiting of citizen engagement (e.g. North Canton City Council) to those somewhat more flexible (e.g. Alliance, Canton and Massillon and many boards of education) to a liberal model in terms of having no fixed time limit/willing to respond on-the-spot in citizen/gov't engagement such as the county commissioners and most of Stark's townships.

Here is a video of the opening of the meeting May 9th commissioners meeting which is pretty typical: (one min, 37 sec)

Citizen Pocock's and Schillig's concerns had to do with this resolution on the commissioners' agenda:

And here is Citizen Pocock's initial interaction with the commissioners: (1 min, 39 sec)

Next, the Part One on the engagement between the commissioners, their legal counsel and Citizen Pocock: (4 min, 55 sec)

Next up, Citizen Pocock asks what can you (the commissioners do to help me solve my concerns?

Prosecutor Dawson (Stark County), Commissioner Richard Regula, Chief County Administrator Brant Luther and Prosecutor Jason Reese (Canton) respond: (4 min, 51 sec)

With Citizen Pocock was neighbor Tom Schillig who interposes his questions to make sure he understands the difference between Type I and Type II annexations (Reese replies).

Note that after some 11/12 minutes of discourse, Commissioner Creighton interjects to end the dialogue.

The SCPR thinks that Citizens Pocock and Schillig had a full and fair opportunity to question and that public officials provided a complete explanation of Ohio's annexation scheme of things.

The commissioners demonstrate once again (this certainly has not been the first time) that they are more respective of and appreciative of citizen engagement than the most of Stark County local government.  Accordingly, they make a contribution to citizens realizing that there are some government officials who truly care about citizen input and thereby encourage citizen government participation.

The commissioners are an example that ALL of Stark County's political subdivisions "ought" to be following.

As Commission Creighton demonstrates in the videos presented in this blog, the meeting is not a "free-for-all," but, rather, a ordered yet "flexible" exchange of questions and answers.

If Citizens Schillig and Pocock think that the Ohio Legislature got the reform of annexation wrong, the SCPR encourages them to take their citizen-in-action project to the doors of state Representative Christina Hagan (the 50th), Thomas West (the 49th), Kirk Schuring (the 48th) and state Senator Scott Oleslager (the 29th).

Chances are higher with the legislators that citizens will get ignored or get the brush off after a token feigned interest, but every once in awhile a state legislature will actually engage a citizen.

The Report followed up with Pocock and Schillig post Q&A with the commissioners for their evaluation of how they were dealt with by the commissioners: (6 min, 18 sec)

And by the way, SCPR KUDOS to Pocock and Schillig for being examples of responsible citizens!

One more thing.

Ms. Pocock is involved with her Plain Township community as president of the Plain Township Historical Society.

Folks like Judy Pocock and Tom Schillig involved in their respective communities are foundational for a vibrant and healthy society.

No comments: