Thursday, May 28, 2009


The word on the street that Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and Nimishillen Township Fire Chief Rich Peterson recently got into a huge argument about the utility of Swanson's baby: the 800 megahertz communication system.

Swanson went out a got grants to put this system together. Now get this. In Swanson's mind the system was "free" to Stark County because the money came from government grants. "Free," heh?

On with the story.

Swanson has been pushing the "free" equipment and system on all of first responders in Stark County. The mission? To vastly improve communication among first responders throughout the county.

What wrong with that?

Nothing, other that passing around the fiction that is "free."

And except to Fire Chief Peterson. He objects because he thinks that a better system called MARCS (see graphic for definition). In shorthand, it is a state of Ohio system to get all of Ohio's first responders in instant contact with one another.

A source says that there is one simple problem with the MARCS system: it is not up and running. The SCPR has a call into MARCS and when the exact status is available, yours truly will update this blog reporting same.

The SCPR believes Peterson is pushing to ultimately make Nimishillen's CenCom the prime unit in the centralized 9-1-1 Stark County dispatch system.

But he has a problem in that quest.

Randy Gonzales and, perhaps, Peterson's long time political pal Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley.

In political reality, Gonzales (and Stark County Democratic Party chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) and Bosley are big time foes. The SCPR believes that over the longer haul this internal Stark County Democratic competition will escalate into a battle over who controls the local Democratic party.

Back to the main point.

So you have Gonzales and Bosley doing a "strange bedfellows" political operation to defeat the Peterson effort to shape 9-1-1 his way.

Another qualm that Peterson and his highly supportive Nimshillen Township trustees have with the direction in which centralized 9-1-1 dispatch is heading (note: Nimshillen has pulled out of the effort, maybe?), is Joseph Concatto's unpreparedness to be project manager for the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG) shepherded centralization.

Peterson points out that Concatto (sponsored by Gonzales who also happens to be Executive Vice President of the Stark County Democratic Party) himself has said that he wasn't specifically prepared to be 9-1-1 project manager and that it will take time for him to get up and running as leader. Peterson snipes at Concatto for going on boondoggle-esque trips at taxpayer expense in his drive "to become prepared."

Now why did the SCPR write above that Nimishillen pulled out of the 9-1-1 project "maybe?"

Because in the background are negotiations for SCOG to buy the console at CenCom. Additionally, there is talk of SCOG buying all of CenCom's equipment eventually. Now does that sound like Nimishillen is really puling out?

It sounds more like "we (Nimishillen Township) know we are going out of business and are not going to be the central 9-1-1 dispatch unit and therefore we are going to do the best we can to be made whole" out of Stark County taxpayer money (the money dedicated to 9-1-1 from the commissioner imposed 1/2% imposed sales/use tax).

The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has been a supporter of a re-worked, centralized 9-1-1 dispatch operation.

But one has to wonder, with all the political machinations taking place in the construction, whether or not Stark County is going to end up with a politically gerrymandered system that is no better - perhaps worse - than the current system.

It seems to make no difference to Stark County's politicians that lives may hang in the balance.

What does appear to be the priority is: "protect my political turf."

The SCPR has been told that SCOG will iron out all of these differences and that Stark County will achieve a unified, streamlined and much more efficient and effective centralized 9-1-1.

The SCPR's response.

It's a miracle! - if it happens - given all the turfism alive and well among Stark County's political leaders.

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