Thursday, November 13, 2008


Once upon a time, in the days of Vern Riffe (the then all powerful Ohio Speaker of the Ohio House, a hero figure to Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.), the Ohio Republican Party General Assembly caucuses devised a plan to change from being a minority party to a majority party, in fact - in time, a super-majority party.

The plan?

Term limits! Impose term limits to create open seats and then pour tons of money into legislative races to capture control of the Legislature.

And, the plan worked.

In 1994 the Republicans and their opportunistic term limits plan created enough "open" seats to wrest control from the Democrats.

Yes, the plan worked magnificently and, in particular, right here in Stark County. The Stark County target: yes, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. In 1999, Maier quit the House early because he couldn't run again in 2000.

Initially, Maier won election (1992 - the 56 House District) in a solidly Democratic district (which included Massillon, all of Perry Township and Canton Township) but his appointed successor Micheal Stevens (now a Lawrence Township trustee) could not hold the Republican gerrymandered seat (redesignated the 50th) as Maier did (beating John P. Hagan in 1998 by a 71% to 29% margin - which shows the power of incumbency).

We went through all this political history to show how the Republicans have moved the goal posts as personified here in Stark County by Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager. This duo has become accomplished at playing "SAFE (two chairs - instead of one - for two people) musical chairs" with the public trust by violating the spirit of term limits while not violating the letter of the law.

And this "entitlement" attitude demonstrated not only by Schuring and Oelslager, but by all too many public officials, is at the heart and soul at what ails America, Ohio and, indeed, Stark County in terms of public officials getting comfortable and stale.

These officials' own political preservation seems to triumph over the public good. Only a few seem to put community over self.

One might look the other way on these two gaming the electorate had they achieved much for Stark County over their combined 35 years, more or less, in the statehouse.

But they haven't.

Despite being in the super-majority for many of their years in the Legislature. On their watch, in concert with their super-majority/simple majority partisans, Ohio's economy has fallen off a cliff, public education has not been fixed and many other problems fester lost in the milieu the higher priorities. And Ohio continues its march downward.

Schuring even had the gall to pretend he was going to get Ohio's troubles with education remedied by offering a faux constitutional amendment as a publicity stunt prelude to his race against John Boccieri for the Regula vacated 16th District Congressional seat. Schuring absolutely had to know that his gambit was exactly that - a gambit, with no chance at all of getting his proposal out of the Legislature even in the favorable environment of the Legislature being controlled by his fellow Republicans.

It is more than a touch ironic that THE Stark County victim of term limits has, in his role of Stark County Democratic Party chairman, has consistently rolled over for both Schuring and Oelslager. Under Maier's leadership, Stark County Democrats did not field any candidate at all against Oelsager this November 4th. Moreover, the party under Maier has never gone all out to achieve "real" term limits by defeating Schuring and Oelslager at the polls.

When the general public sees these political machinations, they become more and more jaundiced with the political process. That's why one increasingly hears that there is not "a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats."

While the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) believes that there are significant philosophical differences, The Report doesn't fault the voting public for failing to see these differences in the overwhelming light of individual politicians focusing on their own self-preservation over the public good.

So look for it again in 2010, the hypocritical Schuring and Oelslager playing "musical chairs" with an accommodating twist (two players, two chairs - isn't there just to be one?).

Isn't it time to break up the Schuring/Oelslager charade on complying with term limits? Doesn't Stark County, indeed, need - as never before - fresh perspective, energized and effective representation in Columbus?

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