Monday, July 16, 2012


One of the things that yours truly has said repeatedly about the current Stark County Board of Commissioners (with the election of Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton) is that they are much more open, accessible, communicative, responsive, attentive, accountable, transparent and politically mature than any board of commissioners going back quite a few years.

And the Stark County voters recognized the change in November, 2011 in providing the commissioners with a solid victory in approving a 0.5% sales tax issue as a signal that the commissioners have been successful in restoring voter trust in their stewardship of county government.

However, it could be that the current board's enthusiasm for a different way of being and operating is ebbing.  They have been through a lot of trying times in the one year and a half that this board has been in place.  Perhaps they are growing wary of the day-to-day of this problem, then that problem and here comes another problem syndrome.

Or, it could be that operations at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound - SCDP) is something that is an aberration from their up-to-this-point general "embracing the problems" and solving them approach to county government.

The SCPR has observed that from the very beginning of the current regime of commissioners that they have not been all that well taken with the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB).  In this aspect of their boardmanship, they are much like their predecessor boards.

Rightly or wrongly, it appears to yours truly that the commissioners have taken on an attitude of "there is nothing we can do to satisfy these (advisory board members) people.

On July 6th, The Report did a blog (LINK) on another in a long series of complaints that a SCDPAB member (Judith King) have of Pound operations.

Recently, another SCDPAB member has written the SCPR.  Here is that letter:
Hello Martin-

As a member of the Stark County Dog Warden Advisory Board, I am not surprised that the commissioners are thinking of disbanding the board.

They do not return phone calls nor attend any of our meetings.

I am sure we are a thorn in their side with our pleas to improve the horrible conditions at the pound; however eliminating the board is not going to stop us or private citizens from demanding some action be taken with regards to the "catch and kill" mentality of some of the employees at the pound and the lack of interest by  warden (sic) Tetrault of the pound's conditions.

I would love to see the commissioners' institute a forum with a "come and let us reason together " attitude., as you suggested. Unfortunately, I doubt very much that will ever happen .

Sure, the ventilation problem is a big concern during this extremely hot summer; however there are also many other problems that need to be addressed, many of which only require a look at some  ( not all, but some) of  the staff's inadequate performance.

Aren't the commissioners at all concerned about the warden who is rarely seen outside of her air-conditioned office and has no knowledge of the dogs in the pound, instead asking volunteers to do various jobs for her?  How can she be a leader when she has no clue about what happens in the actual kennel area?

If you get the chance to talk to Ms. Creighton again, please ask her these questions for us ( since she no longer communicates with the Advisory Board)

Has the $70,000 - $80,000 been approved for the ventilation system yet or is this just another promise?

Have the commissioners advertised for bids for the project yet?

Could the commissioners evaluate the warden's performance ON SITE at the pound ( and not by the  very infrequent pre-planned visits which usually turn into a smiley "everything's great here!" photo-op.)

Rose Hayne
By the end of this month commissioners have four new appointments to make and such could be an occasion for disbanding the SCDPAB altogether.

The Report has the impression that the commissioners are exasperated with the current SCDPAB makeup and might be at the point ridding themselves of their problem.

But yours truly would be surprised and disappointed to see that happen.

The Report's take on the commissioners has been that they are a resilient lot who have, so far, demonstrated political maturity a step or two above a number of other county officials (e.g. Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell).

Were they to disband the advisory board in toto, such would in the view of the SCPR be an occasion for Stark Countians to be concerned about whether or not they are taking on a jadedness that so often plagues government types which may be increasingly be manifested as everyday citizens seek the ear of county government.

Governing often is uncomfortable and perhaps even frustrating to the point of being at one's wits end in trying to satisfy everyone among the governed.

But such is the lot of office holders, especially in modern-day America.

It has to be tempting to the commissioners to try to banish their problems.

But as Ms. Hayne says: 
I am sure we are a thorn in their side with our pleas to improve the horrible conditions at the pound; however eliminating the board is not going to stop us or private citizens from demanding some action ...  (emphasis added)
Whichever way the Stark County Board of Commissioners decide to go on "the disbanding the board issue," they will be sending a message and an indication to the Stark County public about the political character of the individual members of the board that The Report believes will serve as an insight into what Stark Countians can expect in terms of receptivity and response as future complaints and problems are brought to the commissioners attention.

In a specific context the question is:  Can the Stark County commissioners abide a difference of opinion from folks they appointed and, moreover, can they accept being challenged to reflect candidly with themselves on whether or not they have the correct read on conditions/operations at the Pound?

We do have in Stark County an elected public official who banishes those with whom he disagrees.  He makes no attempt to consider that maybe his take on a given situation is wrong and that he would be well advised to mull over their advice.  Rather than eliminate these folks, he should keep them around.  For all too many around him are careful to tell him what they think he wants to hear, as a matter of self-preservation.

One wouldn't think that the Stark County commissioners (who know this official all too well), would want to follow his example.

Before them is an occasion to demonstrate by deed which way they will go.

Either they have the political chutzpah that the SCPR and many Stark County citizens expect of them to deal effectively and maturely with the problems they encounter or they will take a step back by cutting and running in the face of a difficult situation,

By July 31st, Stark Countians should get an additional read on what our Stark County commissioners are "really" made of?

No comments: