Thursday, February 7, 2013


Commissioners Hire Luther as Chief Adminstrator

Brant Luther Answers the Questions of the Press

Commissioner Tom Bernabei
"A Commissioner's Perspective on the Hiring Process"

Presently, Brant Luther is director of the Stark County Family Court guardian-ad-litem program.

On February 25th he will become guardian of the Stark County commissioners in a fashion.  As the selectee of the commissioners for the position of chief administrator being vacated in 22 days (March 1st) by Mike Hanke, he will be the eyes, ears and protector of commissioners' interests.

And the pay increase won't hurt either.

He will get a pay increase from his current $55,000 annually to $85,000 (after 90 days probation).  A whopping 55.5%!

A SCPR congratulations to Luther.

Yours truly has known him about 10 years.  He and middle daughter Heidi graduated from The University of Akron School of Law in the same year.

Here is a video on the commissioners passing a resolution hiring Luther, their comments at the time and of course the entire Luther press conference.

After the meeting the SCPR sat down with Stark County commissioner and president of the Board of Commissioners Tom Bernabei and asked him to go into more detail as to why they hired Luther over the five other finalists.

In a post-meeting press conference (recorded in video and presented below) Luther:
  • describes his responsibilities as director of the Stark County Family Court's guardian ad litem program [which is his current employment],
  • gives reasons why his prior work in county government put him in a strong position to attract the commissioners' interest in hiring him,
  • spoke to the county's budgeting process and his anticipation of the inherent difficulties and how he will coordinate the commissioners' thinking of what the appropriate funding level (from county general funds) is year to year,
  • addressed the fact that he is an attorney in the private practice of law and that he will maintain it but limit it to transactional type activity,
  • projected on his adjusting to being chief county administrator and looked forward how a Brant Luther administration would unfold,
  • indicated that he would be a player in the commissioners plans to hire a county human resources director, and
  • spoke to his past relationships with the commissioners and in particular the political aspect of those relationships as well as what degree of participation he will have in Stark County politics going forward

To go one step further and get a more in depth look at the perspective of the commissioners as they went through the hiring process, the SCPR sat down with Commissioner Tom Bernabei who shared his perception of the commissioners' approach and evaluative factors of the candidates with an emphasis on Luther.

Michael Hanke has been an invaluable asset to the commissioners.

Hanke and his protege Rick Flory have been thorough in their analysis of county finances and have proved tough interactors with county officials whose offices receive county general fund monies.

The SCPR believe that two offices in particular have been troublesome to Hanke/Flory and derivatively to the commissioners.

Which offices?

Those of Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero and Stark County recorder Rick Campbell.

For instance, commissioners asked them to come in with budget numbers for at significantly less than 2010 numbers and allowing for 2% in pay increases and factoring in a 27th pay.

Well, you guess it.

Ferrero and Campbell want to go back to 2010 levels (over 2010 levels in Campbell's case) and hiring 12 and 7 new employees respectively and figuring pay increases at 3%.

This is the sort of thing that Luther will have to deal with as chief administrator.  Undoubtedly, he will have to learn to jawbone with toughness (if he doesn't have the skill already).  For the SCPR has a pretty good idea what Mike Hanke has had to deal with from a few county offices over the five years he has been chief administrator.

A SCPR "best wishes" to new Stark County commissioners' chief administrator Brant Luther.

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