Friday, June 15, 2012



From the SCPR's perspective, Plain Township resident Jackie George makes a compelling case that Stark County departments of government (i.e. the Stark treasury, auditor's office and the sanitary engineer's office and, perhaps, others) could save about 200 Canton postal jobs if they would mail such things as real property bills, dog license renewals, and water bills from the Canton Post Office mail processing center rather than from Akron.

On May 14th, the Stark County commissioners resumed their practice which began last year of making evening visits to Stark's townships, villages, and cities in order to make county government more accessible to citizens who cannot make the commissioners' meetings which are Mondays and Tuesdays (work sessions) at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday (formal meeting) at 1:30 p.m.

First stop:  Plain Township.

At that meeting Ms. George, prompted by a media report of a reconfiguration of the Stark County sanitary engineer's office billing practices and procedures, asked why county offices were not using the Canton postal facilities to do their mailings inasmuch as by doing so Stark County government could possibly help retain 200 postal jobs in Canton.

It has been well publicized over the last year or so that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been in the process of streamlining its mail processing nationwide because it is losing scads of money and that it is contemplated that as a consequence, perhaps, Canton will not continue to be a mail processing center over the long term.

Accordingly, local officials such as Canton Mayor William J., Healy, II, former Congressman John Boccieri and other public officials have waged a campaign to retain postal jobs in Canton.

Many Stark Countians including yours truly have felt that the well intentioned efforts of the politicos have been in vain.

But not so quick!

Citizen George, who says she is in the printing business herself and has 17 years experience and knowledge in working with post offices, is convinced that the Stark treasury, auditor's office, and the sanitary engineer's office, with the volume of presorted, commercial class mailings they make annually, could be a difference maker in making the Canton Post Office an attractive facility for the USPS to keep open and thereby save 200 jobs for Canton.

Currently, she says, and county officials do not disagree, the vendor who handles the Stark County mailings is depositing the mail in Akron which might have the effect of giving Akron an edge in the fight between the Canton and Akron facilities for survival.

Moreover, she contends that under the current processing setup in terms of how expeditiously the mail is delivered,  it makes no difference whether the county mail is deposited in Akron, Cleveland, or Canton in terms of the time between a mailing and receipt by Stark County recipients.

According to her, the turnaround time is 24 hours so long as the mail is in place at any of the three post offices by 8:00 a.m.

Accordingly, under the current arrangement Stark County government appears - by depositing the mail in Akron - to be helping Akron, perhaps, to be ultimately chosen over Canton as a processing center to be kept open.

Here is how George expresses it.

In writing:

And by video at Wednesday's commissioner meeting:

After the meeting the SCPR asked the commissioners for their reaction.  Here is the video of the exchange.

Also, The Report went to the office of Stark County treasurer Alex Zumber (where George had just been with her written information addressed in this blog above) to inquire as to whether or not he was open to changing his mailing practices to help Canton possibly retain 200 postal jobs.

His answer?

Not for the current mailing which is due out in matter of days.

However, he is open to reviewing and perhaps changing the office's mailing practice for real property tax bills that will be mailed out after the first of the year, 2013 so as to help Canton and, of course, Stark County with its employment picture.  He does say that he will have to have guarantees that a switch to Canton will not lengthen the the time lapse between mailing and receipt of the mailed item.

He says he is under a statutory duty to see to it that real property bills get to a Stark County taxpayer (in terms of the mail process) not later than 20 days prior to the due date of the bill.

The Report has not been in touch with either Stark County Auditor Alan Harold nor Stark County Sanitary Engineer Jim Jones but they need to conduct a similar review and consider similar adjustments to help out the local economy.

The major point of this blog is that incidents such of this is proof positive that over time the community meeting series brings out persons like Jackie George who make input that has the potential to boost the well being of Stark County's citizens.

The Report applauds the commissioners for resuming the meetings that were started last year when the county needed to communicate with county residents about the need to get a 0.5% sales tax passed.  One of the things public officials need to fight is the general citizen impression is that about the only time one hears from an elected public official is when they are up for reelection, or when there is need for a tax increase.

Since the Plain meeting the commissioners have engaged Stark citizens in Washington Township, North Canton and Lawrence Township.

In North Canton and Lawrence Township they have encountered residents with particular concerns (North Canton:  flooding problem; Lawrence Township neighborhood roadway issues).

While the meetings do get testy from time-to-time, they go a long way towards solidifying the trust that Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton (both elected in November, 2010) have purposed to bring access, accountability, interactive community communication, openness, and transparency to the processes of county government in the public's mind.

Now that the tax issue is behind us, there is less suspicion of the commissioners' motives and such an environment makes for a better opportunity for them to bolster citizen trust in their management of county government.

Obviously, Ms George would not have appeared at the May 14th Plain Township meeting unless she thought she would be heard and responded to.

It is heart warming and inspiring to hear a citizen like her say this:

Bravo to the commissioners for presenting Ms. George with the opportunity to participate in processes of Stark County government by listening seriously and intently to her with their implied promise that they will support her request should their own investigation confirm the information she presented.

And bravo to Ms. George for being willing to bring her 17 years of experience to bear upon not giving up on jobs which have not yet left Canton and Stark County, and for exercising continuing industry in endeavoring to make a persuasive case to the decision makers (Zumbar, Harold and Jones) that Stark County government can help retain jobs for Stark Countians.

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