Tuesday, April 27, 2010


One of the oldest tricks in the book in humanity when one is not getting the job done is "to divert attention to another or others."

Such is what the SCPR is thinking that Repository Editor Jeff Gauger is up to with his latest two editorials (Until last week, public heard too little about investigator, April 26 and State auditor's letter should be public, April 20th).

Since the SCPR began in March, 2008, yours truly has been astounded to hear from many, many readers that in their view The Report does a better job of digging out the secrets of Stark County government officials than does The Rep.

Think about it.  The Repository has some 60 employees and a media holding company behind it and a storied history as being one of Ohio's prime newspapers.

Besides that, The Repository is Stark County's only countywide newspaper whose staff has easy access to the highest reaches of Stark County government, if not Ohio government.

Accordingly, it is more than a tad ironic and diversionary that The Rep's Gauger has taken to attacking the Stark County commissioners to get up and moving on leading public pressure on the United States Attorneys office, the FBI and the Ohio Auditor's office to conclude the investigation.

Despite its overwhelming resources and insider relationship with the circles of power in Stark County and Ohio, The Repository seems to the SCPR to be largely ineffective in ferreting out the details of the sorry way all too many Stark County officials as well as those of Stark's political subdivision serve the Stark County public.

Moreover, The Repository itself has sat on its collective duff and been highly unproductive in prodding federal and state law enforcement officials to conclude the investigation of the Stark County treasury and Treasurer Gary Zeigler's allegations with regard to former chief deputy Vince Frustaci.
Undoubtedly, numerous calls have been made to 500 Market Avenue, South to the editorial offices of The Repository with "nudges" (to use Gauger's term) for The Rep to get some answers on the investigation timeline.

Higher ups at The Rep know full well that federal and state law enforcement officials will take whatever time they need to do a thorough and complete investigation to ensure that the results are at a level at which they think they can be successful at when it comes to indictments and trial. 

The Report heretofore has not complained about The Repository's failure to take the lead and act according to the standard that Gauger assigns to the commissioners.

Why not?

It is important that justice be speedy, but it is more important that it be fair and thoroughly vetted.  Putting pressure on can result in mistakes being made.  The future of human lives are at stake.  It is essential that law enforcement take whatever space of time needed to get things right.

It is quite interesting to see Editor Gauger making his highly charged push on the commissioners.  It smacks of something that one sees come out of the New York Post.

The Stark County public should be asking Gauger this question, if he is so outraged by the delay why did it take until April 20, 2010 (over a year after the initial revelation by Zeigler) for The Repository to put pressure (on the wrong entity) in motion?  And why isn't he, as editor of the only Stark County countywide newspaper, applying pressure directly rather than trying to goad the commissioners into action?

The commissioners do not buy ink by the barrel, but The Repository does.  So who is better situated to press The Rep's agenda?  The county commissioners or The Repository itself?

Apparently, the bigwigs at The Rep do not have the guts to do so on their own.  So they want to hide behind the skirts of the county commissioners?

The SCPR believes Gauger is grandstanding to divert attention away from The Repository's failure (on its own standard and agenda,) and he has found a convenient scapegoat in the Stark County commissioners.

If anything, Gauger can read numbers.  He knows that the commissioner imposed sales/use tax of December, 2008 was wildly unpopular in Stark as evidence by its smashing defeat at the polls in November, 2009.  So who better to divert attention from The Repository's ineffectiveness?

You have it.  The Stark County commissioners.

As readers know, the SCPR has written many, many blogs critical of all of the Stark County commissioners and a number of former commissioners.

But those criticisms are things that the commissioners have control over.  Things like going all out with an economic development effort to bring jobs to everyday Stark Countians. You know there is 13.3% unemployment in Stark County.  Not all of it is due to the general national economic downturn.

The Stark County commissioners have expressed frustration at the length of the investigation in the hearing of the SCPR.  Moreover, Repository reporters have been present when these exasperations have been expressed.  Certainly, Gauger knows this.

The simple fact of the matter is that the commissioners have no say on the pace of the investigation. 

So let The Report get this straight.  Editor Gauger wants the commissioners to create an emotionally charged public furor (ref:  "the bully pulpit") over the delay?

How, Editor Gauger, does this advance cause of deliberate and due diligence justice?

The SCPR thinks not.

What the Gauger effort does do is divert public attention away from The Rep's failure to do what he and his fellows at The Rep are needling the commissioners to do.

Another thing.

For Gauger to inject the Republican/Democrat thing into how the commissioners handled the waiting for federal officials to complete their work is "way out there somewhere."

No one has been more adamant about the importance of political competition than the SCPR.  The Report has done countless blogs (and before that letters to the editor of The Repository) on anemic Stark Republican leadership in order to "nudge" (The Report just loves Gauger's word) the leadership into making the party more competitive.  Because political competition does make for better accountability.

But to suggest that the Democrat commissioners are less interested in the speedy administration of justice than Republicans suggests that Editor Gauger is drawing at straws to torturedly support his "diversionary" strategy.

It appears to the SCPR that Editor Gauger is feeling the heat from the Stark County public that The Repository itself has been remiss in pushing public authorities directly involved in the investigation to get it done.

So what does he do?

Create "diversionary theater!"

Yes, "diversionary theater," that's what the SCPR thinks the latest Gauger-led Repository initiative is all about!!!

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