Saturday, February 25, 2012


A crusade?

Could be.

Ice Cream anyone?

That is the lure of the Robert Cyperski campaign to attract prospective petition signers to his event tomorrow (Sunday) from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Belden Village Holiday Inn located at 4520 Everhard Road, NW in Canton.

Cyperski has decided to attempt collecting 5,002 signatures by the filing deadline of March 5th to get on the ballot as an "independent" candidate against incumbent judge and Republican John Wise.

Wise has been a 5th Court of Appeals (5th COA) judge since 1995 and is now at the point that he wants to retire as judge at a retirement annual income of about $116,160 and then stand for re-election to the very same job and collect an additional $132,000 and thereby top out at about $248,160 or nearly "a quarter of a million dollars."  Hmm?  Not bad!

Will Cyperski takes offense at those numbers together with the reality that Wise, in running again, is freezing out the opportunity of younger aspirants to serve on Ohio's second highest court (second only to the Ohio Supreme Court).

Both Cyperski and Wise are well-qualified.  So, if he gets on the ballot, the issue will not be whether or not Wise has been an able judge or as to his qualifications.  It will be an opportunity for Stark Countians as well as the citizens of 14th other counties which comprise the 5th COA to vote on the issue of "double-dipping."

Cyperski's campaign, if he can get the mind boggling 5,002 signatures, will have an evangelistic fervor to it.  That's how passionately he is driven on making his mark against the infectious growth among public officials (mostly unelected ones) to double-dip.

As a sidenote here, the Stark County Political Report points out that candidates for either the Republican or Democratic nomination for this office is 50 signatures.  Yes, 50 signatures as compared to over 5,000 for an "independent" candidate.

It just goes to show how Republican and Democratic politicians conspire with one another to keep the political competition out.

The Ohio General Assembly (OGA) has changed Ohio's policies over the last 10 years or so to allow the retire/rehire phenomenon to flourish.

Judge Wise and the unelecteds are doing nothing wrong from a legal standpoint in advantaging themselves of retire/rehire.

But nonetheless the practice is not setting well with much of Ohio's voting public.

Trouble is for Ohio's voters is that they have to be frustrated that they have been provided with no medium with which to weigh in on the issue.

One has to wonder why the  OGA has shut them out of the process of determining what the policy of retire/hire or double-dipping or whatever one wants to call it ought to be.

A Cyperski/Wise match up on the issue provides Stark Countians with a unique opportunity to be heard on retire/rehire.

Legislation has been introduced in the current session of the General Assembly to stymie the retire/rehire growth, to wit:  House Bills 202 & 388. 

But the SCPR takes these measures as being a sop to the voting public because of the increasingly vocal outcry.

Unless and until something like a sitting judge gets defeated on the unmistakable fact that voters have said no on the basis of retire/rehire, The Report does not believe that most representatives and state senators are interested in seriously addressing the issue.

For the sake of discussion, here is a look at the two bills sitting in the legislative hopper of the Ohio General Assembly.


House Bill 202 is opposed, of course, by the Ohio Judicial Conference.  Here is an extract from its website of the conference.


The main problem with this bill is that it does not to affect elected officials which, of course, means the members of the Ohio General Assembly itself (which has upwards of a dozen members who fit the retire/rehire category), judges and obviously any other Ohio-based elected official such as Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson, who, if the SCPR understands correctly prior statements he has made,  has three retirement accounts.

Nevertheless here are some excerpts of descriptive material (by WNWO Newsdesk) as well as a number of quotes by the chief sponsor of HB 388 (Republican Rex Damschroder, the 81st House District) as to the bill's "other" impact:

HB 388 will suspend, during the time of employment, the retirement benefits of a public retirement system retiree who returns to public employment. Under the bill, all government workers, including elected officials, will be prohibited from a practice often known as "retire/rehire"– where workers are permitted to receive their pension benefits while continuing to work in a public sector position.
NOTE:  Although the WNWO description says "including elected officials," a SCPR check of the actual language of the proposed legislation which clearly excepts out "elected" officials.

Damschroder quotes:
  •  "The goal of HB 388 is to bring common-sense economic reforms to our public retirement systems." 
  • "We have all witnessed or read about examples of double dipping in our local area and the public outrage that always follows."
  • "For every instance of retire/rehire, one less job is available for new public workers.  Changing the current system is essential in order to save the integrity of Ohio’s five public retirement systems. Asking the taxpayers of our state to support double dipping in today’s economy is unrealistic.”
As written above, the SCPR believes that HB 202 and HB 388 are not serious efforts to deal with increasing public criticism of Ohio's retire/rehire phenomenon.

Accordingly, The Report endorses Cyperski's attempt to get on the ballot and encourages all Stark Countians to help Cyperski get on the ballot so that the issue of double-dipping can be addressed at the ballot box.

While some will still vote on Cyperski or Wise on factors other than retire/retire/double-dipping, the campaign that Cyperski will be running and which Judge Wise will be forced to defend is whether or not retire/rehire is a good idea.

Once the people have had an opportunity to have their say the legislature will have a true indicator of whether or not they need to re-legislate on the matter in order to truly reflect the people's desire on the practice.

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