Monday, August 31, 2009


While the SCPR has been in favor of Stark Countians having the right to vote on the December, 2008 imposed sales and use tax, yours truly was skeptical of the Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote Committee's (Committee) ability to get enough signatures (13,950) to qualify for the ballot.


Because the SCPR does not think much of the methods of leadership of the public figures handing the Committee's work.

In particular, Tom Marcelli's leadership style is troublesome to yours truly.

Why's that?

Because he is prone to make intemperate, outlandish remarks and challenges about/ to certain Stark County public officials.

For more detail on the SCPR's misgivings about Marcelli's leadership, go to the SCPR search box and type in "Marcelli."

Anyone who reads the SCPR on a regular basis, knows that The Report has been highly critical of some of these same officials. So its not the criticism per se.

It is impressive that the Stark Citizens Right for the Vote Committee easily surpassed the 13,950 needed signatures (19,309).

But does this translate into a "yes for repeal" victory?

Republican Jackson trustee James Walters (a potential Todd Bosley opponent) thinks so as told to the SCPR last Thusday in a telephone interview. In fact, Walters believes that the Committee will win in a rout. If that happens, look for Walters and, perhaps, others to want to have a go at Bosley next year.

Bosley says he's not worried. Even if the tax increase is repealed as he thinks voters will pretty muchhave forgotten about his connection to the issue by November, 2010.

On the flip side, if Bosley prevails, then he is in a political catbird seat.

With a tough economy all around us, conventional wisdom suggests that Walters may be correct about the fate of the issue.

The main difficulty may lie with the public approach taken by the Marcelli-led Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee.

To recap the original SCPR position: the right to vote - yea; repeal the tax - no.

Yours truly is now on the fence as to whether or not to vote for the repeal.

So, why the rethinking?

A number of reasons.

First, as the committee and many other Stark Countians have pointed out, the "apparent" reason that the tax was imposed was to fix 9-1-1. But another - but buried (or let's say de-emphasized) reason was to get more money for the county's general fund. The SCPR takes a dim view of this kind of political operation. The general fund factor should have received equal billing with 9-1-1, but it clearly was not.

Second, the more the SCPR gets into the machinations of many elected county officials in terms of employing each other's friends, relatives and political supporters, the less enthusiasm yours truly has for providing more funds for these officials. There is a need for more county revenue, but can the current set of countywide elected officials (except for the judges) be trusted to use them for sorely needed public purposes.

Third, there is another anti-democratic element to the commissioners' action. By imposing the tax and relieving city, village and township officials of the expense of 9-1-1 dispatching costs, taxpayers in those localities are paying twice for 9-1-1 services.

Does anyone think for one moment that city, village and township officials will not divert these monies to other local government services?

For yours truly to support "no" on repeal, Bosley et al will have to convince that the referenced officials, indeed all county elected officials, are trustworthy and the commissioners will be accountable with detailed monthly reports of how the new money is being put to the use. Moreover, the commissioners will need to compile a list of county public employees who are related by blood or marriage to a county elected official prior to the November election. More money must not mean taking the money for this purpose. With a "before the election" list, Stark Countians will be able to use this as a standard to determine whether or not the new money got diverted in this fashion.

The only other way for the SCPR to end up voting "no" would be for the leadership of the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee to get ugly, nasty and personal in its campaign for repeal while the Bosley forces take the high road.

And this could happen.

On Friday of last week the SCPR learned that Marcelli (for the Stark Citizens Right to Vote Committee) asked Stark County Fair officials for permission to bring darts into the Fair pavilion site of the groups' booth (confirmed to the SCPR by Stark County Fair president Jim Tressel).

Tressel did not know why Marcelli wanted to bring darts into the Fair, but Tressel said "absolutely not. No darts!"

Another source tells the SCPR that the reason Marcelli wanted to bring darts in to the Fair was to set up some kind of participation event whereby Fair attenders could throw darts at targets emblazoned with pictures/names of various county officials.

If the report is true, which county officials and what about the political fallout?

Most likely Commissioners Harmon and Bosley (who voted for the sales/use tax imposition) and county treasurer Gary Zeigler and county auditor Kim Perez (whom Marcelli is reported to had seemingly "personal" differences. But there may be other elected officials in mind, hence the shadow figures/question marks in the graphic above.

Undoubtedly, a dart board game could be viewed by some as being all in good humor. But it can also be viewed (the SCPR believes the more likely view) as being in poor taste, if not ugly and nasty. Moreover, such a plan might be viewed as indicative of Committee thinking/approaches in general and be a turn off to "fence sitters."

Marcelli et al need to stick to the issues inherent in whether or not the techniques/strategy the Committee embraces will be best for Stark County to retain/repeal the imposed tax.

The Stark Citizens for the Right to Vote Committee have a number of powerful arguments.

The question is whether they will use these arguments or sink into the politics of personal attack.

And, of course, the same goes for Bosley et al.

If it gets down to "tit for tat," then the Bosley et al lose and the Committee, obviously, wins.

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