Tuesday, July 5, 2011


According to area media report, reinstated (by the Ohio Supreme Court) Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler is to show up for work today - not as a mere visit as on a day last week - but for the duration of his term remaining in office (which runs until September, 2013).

This happening suggests that a historical review of the Zeigler political and officeholding is in order.

The date:

As an Akron Beacon Journal article (Andale Gross, May 28, 1999) put it:
"Member of the Stark County Democratic Central Committee last night elected real estate investor Gary Zeigler of Plain Township as county treasurer."
Predecessor Mark Roach had been removed from office in April, 1999 because he had failed to take state of Ohio required education courses.  An ironic twist to the Mark Roach departure was a finding the Ohio Auditor's office on doing an exit audit of the Stark treasury on Roach's leaving office (ousted by county commissioner presumably under ORC 321.37/321.38) in April, 1999 that $1,000 was missing.

He ran for and was elected treasurer in 1992 on the retirement of his father, Harold, in 1993.

While Mark Roach was not accused of taking the money, he was cited and he did repay the missing money as required by Ohio law.

In recent history, the quality of the work of the Stark treasury was flawless.  Mark's father Harold S. Roach took over (via political appointment in 1982, having been in the treasurer's office since 1969 in a non-elected capacity) from John Hoffman and served until his retirement in September, 1993.  The highly respected Harold Roach went on to serve on Canton City Council until 1999 when he again retired.  He passed away on August 19, 2006.

Given the experience with Mark Roach, it was important that the Stark County Democratic Central Committee appoint a successor with impeccable credentials.

While not all of the candidates vying to succeed Roach were all that prepared to be treasurer, there were three who were.

Likely the most qualified was Linda Karman (who became interim treasurer until the appointment) who had worked her way up through the ranks (as Mark Roach's father Harold had done) and on being appointed interim treasurer held the position of head cashier.  She retired on June 30, 1999.

A second person who should have been above Zeigler is Hartville resident Steven Nestor who at the time was chief deputy for the Summit County treasury.

However, there was another name in the mix that should have trumped Zeigler that will be familiar to Stark Countians.

Who might that have been?  None other than Ken Koher (at the time a former bank president from Navarre) who the Democrats finally had the wisdom to make interim treasurer when Zeigler was ousted by Stark County Commissioners Bosley, Ferguson and Meeks on August 23, 2010 pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Sections 321.37/321.38 on the heels of the Stark County treasury coming up $2.96 million short (a little more than $1,000, huh?) due to a theft (at least $2.46 million of the loss) by the then Chief Deputy Vince Frustaci.  Zeigler was found by county and federal prosecutors not to have been involved in the theft.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but looking at the credentials of Zeigler, he in the opinion of the SCPR, pales by comparison to Karman, Nestor and Koher.

The Report does not believe Zeigler was the least qualified (next to last in the opinion of the SCPR) to have been appointed treasurer.  Others contending for the spot include former Perry Township Trustee Jim Holmes (now a member of the Stark County Educational Service Center) and Jimmy Babcock (a former employee of Auditor Kim Perez and currently running for a council-at-large seat on Canton City Council).

Yours truly will leave up to readers of the SCPR to guess who The Report thinks Zeigler bested to avoid being dead last in qualifications of the six candidates.

The SCPR has never taken Zeigler seriously as a substantive person who is qualified to hold elective office.

The Report thinks that Commissioner Janet Creighton - when she talks about the Stark County Democratic Party "good ole boys" has her sights squarely on Gary Zeigler as a prime person filling the bill, at least that is, until what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley terms as being "Zeiglergate" got going.  He ran four times for county commissioner:  1990, 1994, 1996; losing all four times (the 1990 results are not available online).

His tenaciousness in running for political office is a sign to the SCPR that Zeigler does not go away easy.

So it should surprise none that he refused to resign in the face of overwhelming negative Stark County perception and concomitant public opinion (in terms of his failure to have safeguards in place at the Stark treasury) on his performance in office after the Frustaci revelations.

Although The Report has been told by a county elected official that negotiations are underway to try to get Zeigler to resign, one has to be skeptical that they will be successful.  His attorney denies that Zeigler is negotiating terms and conditions (under the cover of a civil liability suit to hold liable for missing money that the county has not yet recovered) which could lead to his resignation.  Time will tell the tale on this one.

One wouldn't think he would have the temerity to run for re-election.

But if he does, it should surprise no one!  Zeigler has a very thick hide.  He just might be unrealistic enough to think he can get reelected.

Generally, the party chairman has a person in mind who he wants when party central committee appointments come up.  Yours truly knows first hand that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr definitely weighed in on central committee persons to vote for his person.  And The Report has to believe that Ferrero (party chairman at the time the Roach successor was appointed) did the same thing.

But (even for him - if only he could have divined the future) the appointment of Zeigler has turned out to be a nightmare.  Ferrero's chief attorney in representing the county put the best face on it in this excerpt from a piece done by Laurie Huffman of the Alliance Review, to wit:

A main point of this blog is to compare what Zeigler said/did on taking office in 1999 in making reforms in light of the $1,000 in missing money during the Mark Roach tenure and what others were saying about Zeigler's administration of the office as time wore on with a focus on the latter part of his administration.

Here are a series of quotes by Zeigler from a follow up Akron Beacon Journal piece (August 13, 1999), again by Andale Gross):

Despite multiple findings by the State of Ohio Auditor that all was not administratively and procedurally well with the Stark County treasury, Zeigler has always said that he properly administered his office and therefore there was no reason to resign.

Moreover, despite the fact that his successors (Allbritain, Koher and Zumbar) have made quite a few changes (from what Zeigler did and did not have in place), Zeigler continues to insist that he ran a shipshape office.

So those Stark Countians who are awaiting the day that Zeigler will own up to a articulated "I could have done better," appear to have a better chance of seeing _____?


"Hell freezing over!!!"

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