Monday, January 16, 2012


One of the reasons that Stark County gets poor representation in Columbus has been the historical unwillingness of Stark County voters to "send a message" by rejecting the return of various and sundry representatives to the Statehouse.

An example is the long-term thumbing of the noses by area legislators (a combination of current and former) in following the order of the Ohio Supreme Court in the DeRolfe line of cases (four in number) mandating the fixing of the funding of public education in a constitutional manner.

It never happened largely because there were no political consequences visited by voters across Ohio (including, of course, Stark County) on transgressing legislators.

For all their huffing and puffing, the Ohio Education Association and its local unions and local school officials across the state of Ohio (including the Stark's 17 school districts) proved to be a lot of hot air that legislators could easily ignore.

2012 presents a new opportunity for area voters.

Two huge issues have surfaced since they were last elected (2010) on which voters might do Stark well by sending Republican Kirk Schuring (the 51st [to be the 48th] and Democrat Stephen Slesnick (the 52nd [to be the 49th] packing.

In two years,  Republican state Senator Scott Oelslager should be considered for the same honor.

One issue is the failure of state government to adequately fund local government at historical levels so that local governments can provide basic services without asking local taxpayers to add add taxes a the local level.

A second one is the passage of legislation beginning in 2004 whereby the Ohio General Assembly took away what little say local governments have to say as to whether or not drilling for oil and gas by a process known as fracking will be allowed in Stark County at large as well as in the cities, villages and townships of the county.

It has always been the position of the SCPR that unless and until Stark County voters are willing to play "musical chairs" with whom gets a chair in the Stark County delegation to the Ohio Legislature, nothing will change in terms of quality (i.e. responsiveness to the needs of Stark County) of representation that members of the current delegation render.

Schuring is guilty on both counts; Slesnick on some local control of the oil and gas extraction process.

Schuring has voted for a state budget which makes draconian cuts in the Local Government Fund and also voted to terminate beginning in 2013 the Ohio Estate tax.  The cuts team up to either a reduction in local government services or, if local governments have the fortitude to ask, a possible increase of taxes for what has been paid for once at the state level.

Schuring (HB 278 [2004], SB 165 [2010]) and Slesnick voted for SB 165 and thereby took away what little say local governments has about oil and gas extraction processes (including fracking operations).

Proponents of oil and gas extraction processes rightly say, in the opinion of the SCPR, that management should primarily be at the state level to ensure uniformity.  But to take away "all" local government say is an overreach and that is exactly what the combo of HB 278 and SB 165 did.

When the Stark County commissioners decided that they needed to ask Stark Countians to consider an increase in the county sales tax by 0.5%, Commissioner Creighton expressed her frustration at the apathy level of Stark Countians.

While she and her fellow county officials via a vigorous campaign shook Stark's voters out of their slumber enough to get their attention about the need to increase the sales tax, The Report believes that it is likely that county voters will promptly go back to sleep unless, of course, somebody presses a matter with them.

One hears the likes of county officials, city officials, village officials and township officials and unelected public officials moan and groan about state cuts in local government funding that will seriously curtail the delivery of service to their respective constituents or require them to ask for more local taxes.

One hears the likes of Chris Borello (Concerned Citizens of Stark County) and her anti-fracking friends (including some local public officials such as Plain Township Louis Giavasis) gripe and complain about the effect of the passage of HB 278 and SB 165 to deprive local governments of any say in oil and gas extraction processes.

But what are they going to do about it?

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