Saturday, October 9, 2010


"This is economic development in Stark County," so says Stark County Auditor Kim Perez.

Appearing at the Comprehensive Community Infrastructure Broadband Opportunities for Stark County (CCIBOSC) conference at Stark State College of Technology this morning, Perez made an inspiring and motivation presentation to the 30 or so assembled about the far-ranging possibilities for Stark economic development.

The SCPR agrees with Perez:  CCIBOSC is a prime opportunity for economic development.

Moreover, so would be a complete remake of the Stark County Fairgrounds (a la Clark County).  However, on CCIBOSC there are driving forces that are creative, innovative and determined to make it work.  With the Stark County Fairgrounds, all we are getting is a puny little effort (former Commissioner Tom Harmon fronting for Elizabeth's Burick's "Horse Show Arema" effort) while the fairgrounds are disintegrating in one repair, after another repair, after another.

The Stark County Political Report applauds Perez, his chief assistant David Maley and his IT (Internet Technology) department for leading the way for Stark County to get on the map with economic development in this fashion.  The effort coalesces with the ongoing activity with Rolls Royce at Stark State to put Stark County on the map as a potential big time player in technologically based economic development.

Disturbing to The Report, however, was the dearth of elected Stark County-based public officials who attended the CCIBOSC conference.  Also missing were a number of candidates for county and statewide office (state representatives and state senators).

Back in 2008, when The Repository was doing its editorial board endorsement interviews, a main question they (actually Gayle Beck) were positing to candidates was on the matter of infrastructure.  As many SCPR readers know, The Report is not - in an overall sense - enamored with the quality of editorial opinions put out by the board.  However, that particular question was a very important one and should have gone a long way - on the basis of a quality answer - in determining who The Repository endorsed or did not endorse.

The only elected public official that the SCPR recognized (other than, obviously, Perez) was County Commissioner Steve Meeks.  There may have been some village, township, board of education folks and others at the political subdivision level that The Report does not know well enough to identify, but if there were it would have been darned few because there were only about 30 or folks total there.

The Report did call around to well-known elected officials and political figures to learn why they did not attend.  Perez told the SCPC that he did issue invitations to all of Stark's political subdivision elected offices (villages, cities, townships, boards of education and the county commissioners), but not to candidates for office (e.g. Janet Creighton  and Tom Bernabei - running for county commissioner), because he did not want to make the event a "political event."  Commissioners Bosley and Ferguson say they never got the notice that Perez says he sent them.
Perez denies that he had a political motive for himself in the timing of the calling of the conference.  He is likely in the political fight of his life against Republican Alan Harold (who was at the conference) to retain his office.  The timing of the conference may be co-incidental with the election coming up in a mere 25 days, but it is unlikely that the general public is going to buy Perez's assertion that he had no personal political motive in calling the conference now.

Here is a summary of the answers of those contacted by the SCPR.
  • Former Canton mayor Janet Creighton whom The Report believes will replace Todd Bosley as a full term commissioner.  Creighton says that she was not invited by Perez nor did she see the notice in The Rep and therefore did not know about the event.
  • Commissioner Pete Ferguson.  He says that he had about two other things to attend to, but that he learned about the details of the CCIBOSC plan from Perez Thursday evening.
  • Commissioner Bosley (Democrat - Marlboro) running against Todd Snitchler (incumbent Republican state representative from Lake Township) says that that he never got the Perez generated notice, nor did he catch it in The Repository.
  • State Rep. Snitchler says he did not see The Rep's story.
In defense of Kim Perez, the way that the SCPR knew about the meeting was seeing it in The Rep.  Accordingly, The Rep's story (and Perez says the Akron Beacon Journal also ran a story) seems to the SCPR to be the perfect squelch on those who offer the explanation that they were not invited.

Perez told The Report he initiated the CCIBOSC project two years ago and has been the driving force behind keeping it moving.

The Report believes he dropped the ball in not specifically inviting the likes of Creighton (R), Bernabei (D), Jamie Walters (Republican - Jackson; commissioner candidate) , state Representative Scott Oelslager (R) now running for the Ohio Senate - 29th, Richard Reinbold (D - Oelslager's opponent), Kirk Schuring (R - running for the 51st Ohio House District) and his opponent Andrew Haines as well as Stephen Slesnick (D - Canton) and his opponent Travis Secrest (R - Canton Township).

If Perez's project is to succeed, he will need the all-out support of all of the above, whether or not they get elected.

Here is a video of Perez's presentation at Stark State (October 8, 2010).

No comments: