Wednesday, December 16, 2009


As predicted by the SCPR, former Jackson Township trustee Steven M. Meeks powered through his opposition for the Stark County Central Committee appointment to succeed Tom Harmon as Stark County commissioner.

Now to assess Meeks and how he will perform as commissioner.

One commenter in The Repository (commenting on Meeks selection) put it this way:  "Give this man a chance and lets see what he can do to lead Stark County before he is lumped in and bashed. For those that think he is just one of the good old boys ... ."

Fair enough.

Give the man a chance, agreed.  And, the SCPR will.  But his "fair chance" will be short lived.

But, make no mistake about it, Steve Meeks is one of the Stark County Democratic Party "good old boys."

His father is former Stark County Democratic Party chairman John M. Meeks.  So its not as if Steve Meeks has come out of nowhere.  He is probably the most connected Democrat in all of Stark County and, perhaps,  because of his family history, in all of Ohio.

One of the reasons Lawrence Township trustee Michael Stevens is reviled among some Stark County leadership Democrats is that Stevens got in Meeks' way in 2004 when Jayne Vignos was making her final run for county commissioner.

The Democrats knew that Vignos was highly vulnerable and that Meeks was the man, by virtue of his political pedigree, to take her out. 

Stevens lost to Vignos in a close race and the SCPR believes he lost because Meeks and his party allies sat on their collective hands.  Party officials believe that Stevens is too low key to be a successful politician countywide.

Back to the "fair chance" thing.

Because of his father, who served in the Dick Celeste administration (governor from 1983 - 1991), Steve Meeks is where he is in Stark Democratic Party politics today.  His father's connections are the primary reason Steve got appointed as a Strickland's "eyes and ears" man.

So has Steve Meeks had a "fair chance" so far in life?  Indeed, he has.

However, as the commenter says, "give this man a chance."

The SCPR says that Meeks' chance will be "short lived."

Why so?

Because of "to whom much is given, much is expected."

The SCPR was very impatient with Tom Harmon and hasn't been that generous with Commissioner Pete Ferguson for one simple reason.

Stark County is in terrible, terrible economic shape and everyday Stark Countians are suffering bigtime.

Tom Harmon was appointed, in the opinion of the SCPR, to hold the position for Meeks.  Meeks had just been appointed Strickland's Region 9 director when Gayle Jackson resigned as Stark County commissioner to take another Strickland political plum on the Ohio lottery commission.

So, the powers that be in Stark County politics could hardly have Meeks resign from his newly appointed position to become Stark County commissioner.

What to do? 

Find a placeholder.  Eureka!  But whom?  Tom Harmon, someone piped up.  Outstanding!  Harmon who had a political machine of his own which he parlayed into reelection after reelection as Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts would be perfect as a placeholder.

But what about the cititzens of Stark County?  Stark County (when Harmon was appointed) was already tottering and teetering as an economic unit and in its government finances, and Harmon, the adept politician he is, was no match for the job as commissioner.

Harmon was a "throw your legs up on the desk" and let the office run itself type elected office.  The many capable ministerial employees at the clerk's office really didn't need Harmon, but he got himself elected and so they had to abide him.

But as commissioner he was nonproductive.

So because of Stark County Democratic politics, Stark County has gotten further and further behind in its desperate need to reverse its fortunes.

Pete Ferguson, "a really nice guy," is not up to being commissioner either.  He is just now learning how difficult it is to deal with entrenched federal bureaucracies (reference:  his turn Doctors Hospital into a VA clinic project) and, for that matter, even local bureaucracies.

By the time that Ferguson "learns the ropes," Stark County will have lost even more time in its race to recover from hard economic and financial times.

Steve Meeks might be an improvement on Harmon and Ferguson, but the operative word is "might."

The SCPR is skeptical about Meeks because The Report's take on him is that he has had a "primrose path" prepared for him (remember Richard Regula, son of Republican Congressman Ralph Regula - also served as commissioner).

Usually those who have have the way paved for them in life, break up when they hit the rocks of reality.

Will Meeks be an exception?

The SCPR thinks not.

Why the pessimism?

Remember when he became Strickland's "eyes and ears?"  What was his first move?

He tried to perpetuate his political presence in Jackson Township by having his wife Patty run to replace him as Jackson trustee.  That he would try this political gambit is disturbing to the SCPR.

This move on his part, in and of itself, shows The Report more than anything else that Steve Meeks is more about politics and the preservation of personal political power than the well being of the community he serves.

But the SCPR is instructed by the likes of Stark County recorder Rick Campbell, Plain Township trustee and Stark County title bureau czar Louis Giavasis and former Stark County Democratic chairman Johnne A. Maier, Jr that even politically "connected" people deserve a fair chance.

So Meeks will get his fair chance.

Because of his connections and "experience" in office (after all he has worked two years plus for the governor), the SCPR expects him to come out of the chute fast.

Remember, "to whom much is given, much is expected."

The SCPR has high expectations for the consummately politically connected Steven M. Meeks.

Will he produce, or will he prove to be anther Richard Regula?

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