Friday, March 11, 2011


When the "Vote No Increased Taxes" folks were successful in their effort to reveal the 0.50 sales tax increase in November, 2009; they bestowed a number benefits - in terms of increased local government sensitivity - on Stark Countians.

Not all, but too many Stark County-based public officials had become jaded vis-a-vis everyday citizen participation in our government and in our political process when times were good.

Now that the fate of the financial viability of many localities is squarely in the hands of taxpayers, there has been a huge turnaround in the attitude of many of those same jaded Stark County local government leaders who had become dismissive of the hoi polloi.

Some "anti-democratic-esque, anti-transparent" types remain.  One being the Jeff Matthews-led Stark County Republican Party executive committee (SGOP-EC) who on February 26th held a meeting to make recommendations to the Ohio Republican House Caucus as to who was to be appointed to succeed Todd Snitchler as state representative of Ohio's 50th House District.  While the SGPO-EC is not government, the members were meeting to help in the process of choosing a government official.  Matthews (the Stark GOP chairman acting for the spokesman of the group) denied the SCPR the right ts videotape the presentations by the ten candidates.

Here is a guy who is supported by Stark County taxpayers (as deputy director of the Stark County Board of Elections after serving many years as its director - more than a little bit of irony here) and he participates in the denial to that taxpaying public the right to know something about the persons who might be selected to create state government policy.

Apparently, he learned well from the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., Curt Braden, Sam Ferruccio and William Cline - the board members at the Board of Elections at the time, who initially denied the SCPR the right to videotape board meetings some months ago.  Because of the persistence of yours truly, that is now changed.

Matthews aside, there are some local leaders who have been consistently respectful of and attentive to Stark's hard working rank and file who, after all,  pay the bill for government.  Commissioners Tom Bernabei, Janet Creighton and Pete Ferguson are in this category.

Commissioner Ferguson had to be out-of-town on Wednesday (attending a state association commissioner meetings in Columbus), but he prevailed upon fellow Commissioner Creighton to read a card that had been sent by a Mr. David Patete, a Canton Township resident, to commissioners.  He asked for a public reading of his card since he was not attending Wednesday's meeting.  If he had been, he would be able to use the Public Speaks forum provided for by commissioners at the beginning of each meeting to for those wishing to address commissioners.

Some Stark County local officials would have refused "to bend the rules" and have the card proxy read.   But not the Stark County commissioners.  They are only to happy to help citizens participate in "their" government.

Creighton has been a leader in Stark going back many years for connecting with the people.  And Bernabei and Ferguson have been quick to follow her lead.

Commissioners are now meeting with the public two, three and even four times a week (some weeks) including work sessions and actually going out conducting meeting out into the Stark County community (Plain, Jackson and Sandy, so far).

Here is the schedule set up so far.   More meetings are in the offing and Stark Countians can check periodically at the commissioners' website for updates by clicking on this sentence.

In the coming days the SCPR will be sharing with readers of The Report a series of video of the Jackson Township meeting held on March 3rd.

Here's the video of Commissioner Creighton reading Mr. Patete card.

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