Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Stark County politicians are fully engaged in the "blame game" as to how Stark County government finds itself in a morass of responsibility-shirking, unimaginative, stilted and hence failed leadership.  And the same malady faces a number of Stark County political subdivisions (villages, cities, townships and boards of education).

But politicians come and go while our civic and entrepreneurial institutions endure.

One local "entrepreneurial" institution that, in the judgment of the Stark County Political Report, would be a huge disappointment to its founder John Saxton, is The Canton Repository.
"Truth shall be his guide, the publick  (sic) good his aim ...  well-informed men,  of all parties, are invited to make it a Repository of their sentiments."
The Repository has been a Stark County newspaper monopoly for quite a few years.  But what benefit has its monopolistic and therefore its powerful place in Stark County life been for everyday Stark Countians and the quality of their local governments?

The SCPR believes that the Frustaci matter and the revelation of deficient government (in its internal checks and balances) to the Stark County public is that The Repository, in recent decades, has not been "all that it could have been" for the public good in terms of visiting hard-hitting accountability upon Stark's governors.

As he was on his way out the door at The Rep, former executive editor David Kaminski (now with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) as executive editor huffed and puffed as if he was going to blow a political house or two in (i.e. equating The Rep to a 800-pound gorilla that buys ink by the barrel).  But he never did and has melted into the "poobah" element of Stark County's upper crust.

Kaminski proved to be a "big bad wolf" who, in the end, ineffectively used The Rep's powerful place locally to monitor Stark government and politics for the betterment of Stark Countians.  And current Executive Editor Jeff Gauger seems to be following Kaminski's suit.

Enforcement of accountability rightly done by this Saxton-founded newspaper (which is nearing its 200th year anniversary (2015), and Stark County government could be much better than we are seeing these days.

Recently Charita Goshay, the talented writer for The Repository, got closer to the truth than any of her peers in her piece:  When politics triumphs public service, everyone loses (July 12, 2010).

Here is her nugget of truth:
It’s now clear that the current mess might have been avoided had Democrats done the honorable thing in 1999 and replaced the disgraced Roach with Linda Karman, who was infinitely more qualified than Zeigler by sheer virtue of her 22 years’ experience in the office as a deputy treasurer, head cashier and interim treasurer.
What Goshay failed to do is to recount to the Stark County public the many failures of The Repository over recent decades to use its monopolistic "bully pulpit" to bring pressure to bear to stop the 1999 Zeigler appointment and other local political party abuses of their patronage powers.

Moreover, Goshay failed to identify current Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero as the party chairman who presided over and likely played a key role in the selection of the politician Zeigler over public servant Karman.

It has been characteristic of The Rep's opinion people to use vague reference (e.g. Democrats/Republicans) as to the identity of the offenders of local good government.  Naming names of public officials in specificity has not been a strong suit of The Rep.  After all, such would not be polite.  And doing so might damage the ability of Repository staffers to get access to the top eschelons of Stark County government and thereby hamper the task of pumping out a daily issue.

Moreover, ongoing incisive and critical editorial analysis might make it less likely that the likes of William J. Healy, II (the highly deficient mayor of  Canton) would see The Rep's editorial board as being easily manipulated into being a de facto public relations outlet.

There is a long line of deficient Stark County governmental leaders who have not gotten the job done for Stark Countians which The Rep's opinion makers have played "polite" on with only muted criticism.

Cumulatively these unchecked failures on the part of Stark County's only countywide newspaper have loomed large in the denigration of Stark leadership.

Why hasn't and why doesn't our one-newspaper-town publication made a continuing and vocal issue on the accountability factor?

In the short term the SCPR agrees with what appears to be the take of most knowledgeable Stark County government watchers; Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler has not exercised the proper quality of oversight that he should have provided.  Accordingly, the "buck does stop with him," and he should accept responsibility with a real consequence of resignation.

It also appears to the SCPR that  Stark County Auditor Perez and Ohio Auditor of State Mary Taylor have a share in creating conditions in which Frustaci-esque events can occur.

Over the longer term and in a background sort of way, however, The Canton Repository has not been a good steward for the public good in terms of fighting for good government vigorously or consistently enough in the sense of naming names and journalistically going after the offenders of the public good, who have instead of serving the public welfare served themselves.

The SCPR believes that "the powers that be" on the top floor at 500 Market Avenue South have known much more about the sins, omissions and incompetence of Stark County leadership - from top to bottom - than they have ever made public; much less hold the offenders accountable for.

Because it has failed to use its journalistic might in bold and effective ways for good government, The Repository should be seen by the Stark County public as also in part to blame for what local attorney and civic activist Craig Conley has named "Zeiglergate."

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