Friday, March 25, 2011


This SCPR blog is written as a political analysis regarding the political fallout, should the Ohio Supreme Court decide to restore former Stark County Treasurer Gary D. Zeigler to his position as treasurer,  from which he was removed by the then Stark County commissioners (Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks) on August 23, 2010.

In the pre-revelation Vince Frustaci theft of county fund days (meaning before April 1, 2009), Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero were seemingly on very friendly terms from the standpoint of political identity.

Gary Zeigler has been exonerated of any involvement whatsoever in the Frustaci theft.

Ferrero's/Zeigler's terms in office are some what equivalent (Ferrero:  February, 2003 - present; Zeigler:  1999 to August 23, 2010).  Moreover, Ferrero was chairman when Stark's organized Democrats appointed Zeigler county treasurer in 1999 to replace Democrat Mark Roach who was removed from office for not completing required treasurer educational requirements.

Ferrero recently revealed at a Stark County commissioner in one of a series  of "out-in-the-community-meetings," that he was just then celebrating his 8th year in office.  The year was 2003.  Prosecutor Bob Horowitz had moved onto being judge in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas - Probate Division and Ferrero stepped as chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party effective March 11, 2003 to focus on his job as newly appointed Stark County prosecutor by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee on February 15th.

Earlier on in their political relationship, Ferrero teamed up with Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson and Zeigler to run a coordinated campaign.  Interestingly enough, The Report hears that there was a rub between Swanson and Ferrero and the political alliance fell apart.

It is interesting to note that one of Zeigler's prime defenders as a Stark County officeholder was none other than Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson.

It is more than a touch ironical that Ferrero's political fate come the 2012 elections may hinge on whether or not the Ohio Supreme Court decides to restore Zeigler to office.

Undoubtedly, if Zeigler is restored to office, the event will reopen old political wounds with the Stark County public.

The Report's take on the public view is that  Stark Countians are convinced that one - Ferrero, Swanson, former Stark County Auditor Kim Perez, Zeigler and most, if not all, of Stark's other Democratic officeholders were politically thick with one another; and, two - that the appointed Zeigler was mostly a political phenomenon with thin credentials, if any, for the office of county treasurer.

However, once one gets appointed, the publicity and power of holding an office is usually enough to propel them in becoming "elected" officials.

Appointee Zeigler was elected in 2000, 2004 and 2008 (unopposed).  Prosecutor John Ferrero, who was appointed, was elected in 2004 and 2008 (unopposed).

Should the Ohio Supreme Court restore Zeigler, Stark Countians are likely to be rekindled in their recollection that the State of Ohio Auditor's office (SOA) made findings in its Frustaci investigation to the effect that Zeigler failed to take basic steps to safeguard taxpayer money. 

The Report recall of Zeigler's response to the SOA report as being was pretty much "I've done what has always been done by previous treasurers." 

The SCPR believes that political control of the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's office and, perhaps offices held countywide by other Democrats could turn over to Republicans in 2012.  In The Report's view, the likelihood magnifies many times over if Zeigler gets to re-assume office.

It is hard to tell from the oral argument that took place on Wednesday which way the Supreme Court will swing on the decision.  In a surface view, it seems to The Report to be a 50/50 proposition.

The case seems to boil down to a head-to-head failure to comply (in the removal process) with Article 2, Section 38 of the Ohio Constitution (i.e. "upon complaint and hearing" - whether or not Stark County followed such) versus Zeigler "sleeping on his rights" (latches, [a Latin expression] in legal parlance).

Accordingly, The Report believes that the debate within chambers of the Ohio Supreme Court will be vigorous as to which will prevail) and is the basis for the SCRP thinking that Zeigler has about a 50/50 chance to get his office back.

If Zeigler comes back, the ramifications are manifold in Stark County government.  In addition to Ferrero and other countywide Democrat officeholders looking at an enhanced likelihood of re-election defeat in 2012; Stark County Auditor Alan Harold (Republican, who defeated incumbent Democratic officeholder Kim Perez [rightly or wrongly perceived by the public to be a Zeigler political pal] will have a different relationship with the treasurer's office.

Harold was one of Zeigler's severest critics during his campaign against Perez and focused his campaign in joining Perez with Zeigler at the hip.  Undoubtedly, a restored Zeigler will have a legally correct relationship with Harold, but does anyone think that the quality of the relationship will equal that which currently exists with fellow Republican Alex Zumbar?

And how about Zumbar himself?

Zumbar appears by virtue of his credentials (being Alliance finance director and North Canton finance director) to be well qualified for the treasury job he now holds.  His opponent in the November election (Democrat - Ken Koher) was equally "credentials impressive."  For political parties to select candidates for appointment to office or in the case of Zumbar to run for office is in the SCPR's experience a rare phenomenon.  Now that Zumbar has been in office (and Koher before him) and made the OAO changes plus, only to have Zeigler come back to office to reap the benefits of the changes, would be a hard pill to swallow.

Moreover, Zumbar is out of a job.  His replacement (Karen Alger) is already in place in North Canton.

While courts of jurisprudence do not take up and decide "political questions" and clearly the Ohio Supreme Court will not either; however, the political implications of the Court's decision in Case No. 2010-1570 State ex rel. Gary D. Zeigler, Stark County Treasurer v. Jaime Allbritain [Kenneth N. Koher, Alexander Zumbar] Stark County Treasurer for Stark County are enormous.

Not intending to equate the eminent jurists sitting on the Ohio Supreme Court of "fat ladies," but only using the expression because of the message it communicates in terms of the finality of an event occurring or not occurring;  Stark Countians can bet that a number of Stark County officeholders are awaiting the decision "with baited breath!"

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