Friday, March 9, 2012


Stark County Board of Elections Director and Stark County Republican Party Chairman Jeff Matthews appears to be taking a cue from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

By now most folks know that when Gingrich is asked an embarrassing question by the press, Gingrich "jumps for joy" because it is a prime opportunity for him to lambaste the media which plays well with the American public.

Gingrich loves to make himself the victim when asked uncomfortable questions by the national media.

One of Gingrich's most famous blasts at the press occurred in a presidential debate of January 19, 2012 with CNN's John King as moderator asking Gingrich an embarrassing (to Gingrich) question about one of his three marriages.

On Tuesday night (err Wednesday morning at 2:12 AM), the Stark County Board of Elections eked out Cuyahoga County (notorious for leading Ohio boards of elections in snafus and delays) in not gaining the top spot for being the last to report results.

Stark's embarrassing delay was brought to light by CNN's King in covering SuperTuesday election results in an on-air exchange with Wolf Blitzer.

The Rep's Robert Wang in reporting CNN's holding of Stark County up as in the same league with Cleveland and Cuyahoga in terms of inordinate election results reporting delays (Stark second-to-last reporting election results) brought the embarrassment up close and personal to Stark Countians.

Well, Stark County's Matthews had an "indirect" and delayed exchange with King.  As reported by Wang, Matthews said in response to the embarrassment hurled his way:
We’re not here to appease CNN.  We’re here to try to get it right, keeping in mind it is an unofficial count on election night. ... the system is just not conducive to early returns as punch cards were.
While Matthews is correct that he is not on the job to please CNN, he and his deputy and chief Democrat honcho at the BOE, Jeanette Mullane, are in place to please Stark Countians.

However, Matthews, in his response, decided to take a page out of the Gingrich playbook, and deflect the poor performance of the Stark BOE on Tuesday by focusing on defending against the CNN implicit criticism how he managed getting out the election results in a more timely fashion.

Less than 30 days ago, the Stark County commissioners approved a budgetary appropriation hike of some $500,000 so that the Stark BOE who have adequate resources to handle the 2012 presidential year election

Collectively (including benefits), this duo gets paid about $200,000 to conduct thorough, complete, effective and as speedy as possible - consistent with accuracy - elections.

The SCPR believes they can do better on the "speed combined with accuracy" factor.

Board of Election members William Cline (Republican), Curt Braden (Republican), Sam Ferruccio (Democrat) and Phil Giavasis (Democrat) need to examine the processes employed at the Stark BOE and order measures to be taken to improve the Stark timeline.

Moreover, the Ohio Secretary of State (who is charged with overseeing elections across Ohio) Jon Husted needs to take a look from his vantage point and do an apples to apples comparison of Stark with other similarly situated Ohio counties and implement "best practices" already employed in other counties which put them well ahead of Stark in the "report of results timeline."

The Report understands that anomalies will crop up from time-to-time which will cause an undue (from the consumer's perspective) delay because of an unexpected unique problem that materializes.

The disturbing factor about Stark's 2:12 AM Wednesday morning completion time is that there were no anomalies.

At this rate with about 15% of registered Stark Countians voting on Tuesday, come November 6th Stark County will be back in the horse 'n' buggy days of recording and reporting election results.

The prospect of such is unacceptable!

Director Matthews' one upping of  CNN is one thing, but his disregard of Stark Countians and their right to have timely election results is quite another.

It appears to the SCPR that the lack of due diligence and the lack of effective follow up on the part of the Stark BOE management (along with the Lake Township trustees) is a main causative factor as to why the fate of the Lake Township-wide police levy question of last November remains to be resolved by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The likes of the Stark BOE members, the Ohio secretary of state, and other Stark County elected officials should be putting official and peer group pressure on Matthews and Mullane to improve their management and leadership skills.

Perhaps they are in over their collective heads and need to hire an elections expert consultant to help them solve their problem?

For $200,000 a year in top echelon pay and getting a budget bump of $500,000 plus at the expense of other needy Stark County department of government, the SCPR believes that Matthews and Mullane as the Stark County Board of elections leadership are to deliver top notch elections services.

Rather than buck up and admit the obvious and vow to make significant improvement, Matthews chose to sort of blame/castigate in a sarcastic way the messenger for even mentioning it.

Another case in point as a chapter and verse example of many such incidents that fuel everyday citizens harboring increasing cynicism about the commitment and dedication of public officials.

A really helpful contribution towards the cause of facilitating governance, no?

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