Thursday, October 7, 2010


Click on this link and read the SCPR report on a fight that materialized between Nimishillen trustees Allen Gress and Lisa Shafer over whether or not county commissioners should vacate an alley next to a bar located in the township.

Be sure to view the video that accompanies the blog.

Readers/views from reading the September 23rd blog and viewing the video will get the notion that Gress and Shafer are at odds on the issue.

If reading the earlier blog and viewing the accompanying video is not enough, then read a letter sent to Commissioner Todd Bosley on September 9th.

Note the highlighted portion which sets out Gress slamming Shafer.

But the alley issue is not the only problem between the two.

They were back at it that same evening at Township Hall.

The occasion?

Trustees had suspended one of their firefighters (Thomas Todd) earlier in the year and were considering whether or not to fire him for failure to attend an adequate number of  training meetings in 2009. 

Yours truly attended the hearing with camera in hand.

While Trustee Michael Lynch referred to himself as "not used to being a judge,"  let's hope he wasn't taking himself seriously as a judge because the hearing was not up to the judicial standards that attorneys experience in a real court.  In representing Todd, Attorney Jeff Jakmides did a admirable job under trying circumstances.

The SCPR suspects that the results of the disciplinary hearing was predetermined on the part of Trustees Shafer and Lynch.  The Report believes they went into the hearing with minds made up and that the nearly two hours of hearing were were the "appearance" of a hearing of the merits of Todd's case. The resultant dismissal of Thomas Todd as a Nimishillen firefighter (to The Report) did not seem to be supported by the gravity of the offense.  Not even close as far as the SCPR is concerned.

The SCPR has written before that Chief Peterson seems to be in charge in Nimishillen.  The Report is told that a number of Nimishillen Township residents believe that Trustee Shafer is Peterson's chief patron and that Trustee Lynch always follows her.

The Report agrees with Todd lawyer Jakmides' interpretation of the evidence presented:  Todd had fallen out of favor with Chief Peterson and there was no redeeming himself.  Peterson disputed this point of evidence, but Todd contended that Peterson had told him - "either resign or get fired."  Jakmides said over and over again "selective enforcement" and The Report believes that the evidence he submitted to the trustees was convincing to the open-minded.

Trustee Gress has told The Report that he has misgivings about Peterson's administration of the Nimishillen Fire Department.  However, he is between a rock and a hard place on Peterson and his big, big project of the CenCom 9-1-1 operation.

A few years ago, the township floated a loan of about $1 million to build the new fire station where CenCom is situated.  Gress tells The Report that were Nimishillen to merge with the emerging Stark County countywide dispatching consolidation, then Nimishillen could not generate (from various local government clients) the income needed to pay its outstanding mortgage. 

So, apparently Gress is prone to support the continuance of CenCom (and Peterson as its chief architect) as a matter of financial practicality.

But are Gress, Shafer and Lynch dealing with long-term reality?

Once Stark's countywide 9-1-1 "state-of-the-art" system gets up and rolling in about 18 months, aren't Nimishillen's clients going to see that they are are not getting the best that is available in the county?  Aren't they going to want to move to the better system?

In any event, Trustee Gress did get to the correct result in the Todd disciplinary hearing in the opinion of the SCPR.  However, he was outnumbered two to one.

To say it again, sources tell the SCPR that Trustee Lynch seems to be dependent on Shafer (clearly, according to a number of SCPR sources, in the pro-Peterson camp) for direction and Lynch does not appear to be able to chart his own course.  Hence, Gress once again (on September 23rd) differs with Shafer who currently has Lynch on her side.

To those who think that Trustee Lynch is in thrall to Shafer, the Todd decision seems to buttress their belief.

Unfortunately for Nimishillen Township residents, Shafer and Lynch will be in place for three more years.  Expect a lot of trouble in Nimishillen Township local government administration. There is likely to be one fight after another, after another, and after another.  Moreover, the township will likely be an outlier in relation to working with adjoining local governments and county government as long as Shafer and Lynch are in control.

Here is a video of Gress, Shafer and Lynch speaking to the their respective decisions in the Todd matter.

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