Monday, July 12, 2010



Periodically, yours truly has to publish a disclaimer like the foregoing (as a reminder to those in the legal community) because back in January of this year, Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero filed a disciplinary complaint over the SCPR's criticism of his/his office's handling of the Ron/Kyle Devies case in 2009.

The complaint was dismissed out-of-hand by Disciplinary Counsel.

Yours truly views Ferrero's attempt as an effort to shut down the SCPR's  inquiry, as a journalistic endeavor, of how he handles his office

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly critiques many Stark County office holders (countywide as well as the county's political subdivisions) and none are immune.  The Repository does appear to have "hands off" posture to some Stark County officeholders.

Apparently, Mr. Ferrero thinks his office is.

To the story at hand.

All one has to do is go fill up with gasoline and the point of this blog becomes obvious.  Public officials, when given the opportunity to do so, use the official functions of their office to publicize their individual identity

Of course, the principal Stark County officer who does this is the county auditor.  Stark County Auditor Kim Perez's name is plastered all over the gas pumps of Stark County's gasoline stations.  We all know it and we all know the reason why.  In the officeholder's mind, the reason for doing so is give him/her a political advantage when the office comes up for re-election.

Perez's (a Democrat) action is not unique to his being auditor.  Brant Luther (a Republican) did it before him.  Janet Creighton  (a Republican) did it before him.  And on and on and on, ad nauseum.

This practice needs to stop; notwithstanding its long standing use!

Practically no one who calls to inquire or complain about the accuracy of gas metering gets to talk to Kim Perez.  A citizen is relegated to some functionary in the office to take the complaint and to launch an investigation.  And this is as it should be.  The auditor him/herself has big picture matters to attend to.

Accordingly, the label on the pumps should show the auditor's office contact information including the specific street/e-mail address and particular telephone number to contact if a customer has a complaint or inquiry.

And that rule should apply to all public officials who label work published to the taxpaying public.  And perhaps Stark County's legislators ought to be introducing legislation to make such a rule the law of Ohio.  After all, taxpayers are not interested in funding the political aggrandizement of public officials.

To Ferrero.

In early June, yours truly received a brochure from Ferrero's office entitled "The Voice of Victims."

It seems to be a worthy publication in and of itself.  Here are some of the topics covered, to wit:

But Ferrero, in the opinion of the SCPR,  uses far too much personally identifying information on the brochure.

All Ferrero needs to do is to accord this publication's worthy messages/information the prominence they deserve.  Obviously, Ferrero, Perez and others who use taxpayer supported publications  are going to deny that they are using the opportunity to enhance voter i.d. when the next election comes up.  But most of us in the public are not buying this line.

Here is what Ferrero spokesperson (Civil Prosecuting Attorney Deborah A. Dawson has to say in response to a SCPR inquiry:
The Voice for Victims biannual brochure was begun by Prosecutor Robert D. Horowitz, and distributed then, as now, by the Victim Witness Division of this office.  The format has not changed, but, of course, Prosecutor Ferrero’s name and picture replaced Prosecutor Horowitz’s, when Prosecutor Ferrero took office.
What Dawson's response amounts to is a "Ferrero is only doing what was done by those before him" argument.

A typical government response, no?

Hey, how about some rethinking?

And while we are thinking about this matter, let's pose a question to Republican candidate for county auditor Alan Harold.  Will he pledge to end the practice of "personal aggrandizement" on auditor labeling of Stark County business weight and measure devices, if he is elected?

Back to Ferrero.

An interesting disclaimer-esque phrase on the brochure is this:

Funding for this brochure is provided from assets seized and forfeited from criminals convicted of crimes in Stark County

The SCPR takes this phrase to be a subtle attempt to suggest that the brochure is not being printed at taxpayer expense.

If such is the case, The Report does not accept the apparent suggestion.

These moneys are public funds.  They are administered and accounted for just like moneys received as direct revenues from the Stark County taxpaying public.

Ferrero, in the next brochure, in addition to toning down his individual presence, should make it clear that these dollars are taxpayer dollars.

What does this brochure cost taxpayers?

Again, we turn to Dawson.  This is what she had to say on cost:
The acquisition of names, compilation of the brochure, printing and mailing (at bulk rate) are handled by, respectively: CCS Business Solutions; Canton Data; Dansizen Printing.  This issue’s cost was approximately $8,889.90.
Whatever the cost, public officials who use this “common” practice undermine their ability to convince taxpayers to support renewals or new levy requests.  Among other factors considered, that the voter thinks about when determining whether or not they are going support a “more finances request,” would be the aggrandizing tendency of public officials. 

As the liaison for the “Citizen’s Review Committee” (whatever happened to that group?) vis-a-vis Stark County officeholders, one would think that Ferrero would be particularly sensitive to the public perspective.

The “this is the way its always been done” as well as possible suggestions of "at no cost to the taxpayer" (when, in reality there is a cost) response by public officials no longer works.

We taxpayers expect officeholders to don the public perspective.

Unless and until they do so in a convincing fashion, the passage of renewals/new levy requests will be rare indeed!

The SCPR's analysis on aggrandizing may seem to be a small matter.  However, when added to all the other disenchantments that voters and taxpayers have with public officials these days, the aggrandizing takes on a cumulative effect and thereby becomes a much larger factor in the erosion of the public's confidence in public officials.

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