Monday, May 24, 2010


Pictured above are Stark County clerk of courts Nancy Reinbold and Stark County recorder Rick Campbell.

Why put the two together?

Because they both are traveling at taxpayer expense (although Reinbold in paying for her own gasoline) to a continuing education event in mid-June to an Ohio resort location:  Campbell to Put-in-Bay resort and Reinbold to Kings Island resort.

So what is the point?

First, The Report digresses a little to pick up a point well made to yours truly by local attorney and community activist Craig T. Conley.

What point?

That working in the public sector is the best employment deal going in America, Ohio and Stark County.

It used to be that "public service" was done at a sacrifice to what one could earn in the private sector. But that is not the case much anymore.

For most government workers, the SCPR agrees with Conley's point.  The best jobs in the $35,000 to $150,000 range in Stark County, Ohio and in the U.S. of A (as Archie Bunker used to say) are in government.

When one considers the salary AND the benefits (heath care, retirement et cetera), there are few in the private sector who outdo their counterparts in the public sector.  Many, many private sector employees have jobs which pay a pittance (considering the total package) of what most in the public sector get.  And yet, it is the private sector which pays the lions' share of taxes to support the better paid public employee.

Here is where the SCPR gets to the nub of the matter with Reinbold and Campbell and their traveling to resort locations for continuing education.

For the Ohio Recorders Association, the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association and the like to schedule continuing education events at resort locations is a perk which underscores Conley's point.  Who wouldn't want a government job?

Educating and sort of vacationing at the same time is a bonus for the publicly employed.  At least for chief deputies, directors and title bureau czars.  Of course, these "special" trips don't go to the ordinary government worker.

So, what if upper level county employees get a "little" special treatment?

Here is the so what if.

What is about to happen to government, especially at the local level, is that the voting public is going to escalate refusing to vote in additional taxes to support the comparatively "puff" - "money-making" jobs that exist in too many numbers in the public sector.

Apparently, the days are lost past when one used to go into public work with "public service" as being a powerful motivator of doing so.

Take school teachers.  It used to be than everyone knew they were underpaid.  However, no one questioned their dedication and their affect/effect on the lives of all of us.  Who doesn't have a number of teachers who left and indelible, positive mark on our lives?

But there is less and less of that coming from teachers this day and age.  More and more it seems that teachers and administrators (most of who came out of the teaching ranks) are doing it for the money.

The retire/rehire phenomenon, it appears to the SCPR, is a big thing within the education community.  Moreover, it has a large place on other public sector employment venues.  And it is beginning to bring out a huge public reaction.


Retire/rehire is seen as a money-making proposition;  not about public service nor what is necessarily good for the public interest.

Take the Northwest schools.  The district's superintendent - William Stetler -  made $108,000 from Northwest in 2009.  Moreover, Stetler retired from Lake a number of years ago as was his right to do.  Of course, the SCPR can only conjecture as to what Stetler makes in retirement income, but it is likely at least in the $75,000 per year plus realm. 

So let's take what the SCPR believes to be a conservative $183,000 number in estimating Stetler's total income as a public official and public employment retiree.

How many taxpaying citizens of the Northwest school district or in an Stark County school district take in anywhere near $183,000 per year?  Not many!

Some believe that Stetler was brought to Northwest specifically to pass a levy which had not passed a new tax issue in about a decade.

There appears to have been some effort in Northwest (by Northwest's Board of Education) that Stetler not be seen as a front and center proponent that Northwest voters increase the taxes they pay (the 1% earned income passed in November)?

If so, the effort failed.  His footprints are all over it.  He was a $1,000 contributor to the Save Tomorrow committee.  No surprise, here.

It is a credit to Northwest voters that they were not put off by the Stetler publicly derived income numbers.

They are sacrificing in paying more of their declining income for the public good.  Many are without hope of retire/rehire or getting a job promotion or in getting a pay increase.  All too many are looking at givebacks or will get laid off from their jobs and within a short time will have "no or substantially reduced earned income" on which to pay taxes "for the public good."

It will be interesting to see how the revenues will be parceled out in Northwest from the May, 2010-passed 1% tax.  Financing of the tax issue campaign largely came from school employees.

Of course, we all are cognizant of our Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and his multiple retirements while collecting a salary as Stark County's elected sheriff amid questions of how energetically he is working as sheriff. Moreover, he demonstrates contempt for the Stark County public in saying to the Stark County commissioners words to the effect of "poop on the public," when the matter of his retire/rehire came up.

In this retire/rehire scenario, there is no room for younger/less experienced persons to advance.  It is extremely important to have an infusion of new thinking and new energy into our public positions.

If board of education members and other determiners of how the public purse is spent had any - let's say - intestinal fortitude, they would only abide retire/rehire at a substantially lower salary (no more than 60% of the pre-retirement salary) and only on a convincing case being made that the rehired retiree has something of substantial value added over a new hire.

Back to Reinbold and Campbell and "the point" of this blog.

What is the moral of the story for them?

Answer:  For them to take action.  Yes, action.

The Report is all in favor of public officials getting more education about their jobs.  So by all means their associations need to continue their continuing education efforts.  However, they need to deliver the education more efficiently.

Reinbold is showing some sensitivity to the public by absorbing the "gas expense/wear and tear on her car" part of going to Kings Island.

The Report sees no corollary sensitivity from Recorder Campbell.

What both Reinbold and Campbell can and should do is to make an issue at their respective mid-June Association meetings as to where future meetings are held, or, if they should be held in physical assembly context at all.

When many taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet, it is not good public relations for public officials to be going to resorts at taxpayer expense.

In fact, maybe the associations should invest on teleconferencing equipment and expertise and thereby save counties lots of travel, hotel and meal money that way.  With the professions, it is getting more and more common for members to do online education or assemble in nearby (to their home locale) room to watch the session by video conference.

Like Campbell, Reinbold is taking two employees with her to Kings Island.  Why?

Can't she find a way to gather the important information for improvement of the operation of the clerk of courts office without the expense of meals and housing for two employees (German and Louis Giavasis)?  Likewise for Campbell.

Both should be keeping in mind that a renewal of a 0.250 sales/use tax is coming up soon.

Shouldn't they be taking action with their associations to nix the "boondoggle" appearance of where association meetings are being held?

If they don't, then they have only themselves to blame when the voting public gets sick and tired of hearing about public employees education/vacation packages and other "the public be damned" expenditures of taxpayer monies and vote NO repetitively on renewals or new tax issues.

If public bodies and officials do not change how they do business, the public will change it for them at the ballot box.

And the change is going to be a painful process for public officials/employess as well as for the public at large.

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