Thursday, May 16, 2013



He has done it again?

Done what again?

Well, let's put it this way.  Ever hear the expression:  "He stepped in _ _ _ _, but came out smelling like a rose?"

As readers of the SCPR know, a repetitive theme in this blog re:  Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is that he is the envy of a cat with nine lives because he can get into scrape after scrape after scrape and seemingly come out unscathed way beyond the proverbial nine lives.

It appears that he not only comes out unscathed from having prompted the redefinition and reclassification the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (CSCCL, Crime Lab, Lab) director position so that he could appoint political pal and former Stark County Chief Deputy Rick Perez as director, but comes out as sort of a heroic figure in bringing to the surface in the process a realization that the Lab needs a major rework.

On Tuesday, the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) executive committee met in the mayor's conference room located on the eighth floor in the mayor's suite of offices atop Canton City Hall and a major fallout from the meeting was the revelation that the Stark County Police Chiefs Association (made up of the police departments of Stark County's cities, villages and townships) has decided not to have "new" DNA evidence processed through the Lab because of a 400 day processing time.

Until recent times, the CSCCL has been a treasured asset of Stark County government.  Now that Mayor Healy has opened the proverbial "can of worms" with his tinkering with the leadership of the Lab; it may be that its life is near an end, or, at least, scaled back just to doing firearms and chemistry work.

For those readers who are not up-to-speed on the particulars of Healy's messing with the Crime Lab through his then-safety director Tom Ream and then throwing Ream "under-the-bus" when "all Hell broke loose," here are several links to prior SCPR blogs to help get you current.
Here is a video (from Wednesday's SCPR one-on-one interview) in which Stark County Commissioner and SCOG executive committee chairman Tom Bernabei discusses the "scaling back" possibility.

And here is a video of some of the discussion which occurred at Tuesday's meeting including:
  • Canton Safety Director Warren Price on the need to have stable funding of the Crime Lab and Chairman Tom Bernabei on the loss off nearly half of the State of Ohio local government funding revenues (from about $15 million to $8.5 million over three years) resulting in a drop off of Crime Lab funding from $1.3 million annually to $755,000,

  • Chairman Bernabei on the history of the revelation of problems at the CSCCL:

  • Perry Township Chief of Police Michael T. Pomesky (president of the Stark County Police Chiefs Association - SCPCA) talks about the Association's actions on the the Lab problems:

  • Michele Foster, interim Crime Lab Director, on what are the causes of up to 400 days delay in DNA analysis at the CSCCL:

  • Warren Price on oversight and governance of the Crime Lab:

  • SCOG Executive Committee member Marty Chapman (from Minerva) on the history, governance and finances of the Crime Lab:

  • Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Fitzsimmons on the critical importance of the CSCCL to successful prosecution of criminal cases:

  • Chief Pomesky on reasons why the Stark County Police Chiefs' Association is recommending that "new" DNA tests be sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI):

  • Crime Lab Interim Director Foster takes questions from:
    • Perry Township trustee Craig Chessler
      • on grant that Foster assigned to Mansfield's crime processing unit,
      • on the extent of the CSCCL backlog,
    • Member Chapman
      • on the grant in relation to the CSCCL budget,
    • Canton Safety Director Price
      • on who is in charge at the Crime Lab:
      •  Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier weighs in:
        • on the need to have timely crime lab processing so that Stark's policemen can "look citizens in the eye" and keep them informed on the progress of prosecutions,
        • on doing due diligence with BCI to ensure that their turnaround times stay timely and that they continue to take direct contact from Stark's police agencies, and
        • expecting that BCI will get the job done for Stark's policing and prosecutors:

      • Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II spoke to the matter of using BCI as an on-going backup to the CSCCL when backlogs occur:

      • Prosecutor John Ferrero advised the committee that his Law Enforcement subcommittee would be coming forth with a plan for reforming crime lab governance in a future meeting:

      • Jackson Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez was emphatic about the need for SCOG to come out of the crime lab funding and governance crisis unity:

      In the final analysis, it does seem that Cantonians do owe Mayor Healy a debt of gratitude for having messed with the operation of the Crime Lab.

      For if he had not, a case can be made that the burgeoning backlog problems at the Lab might have gone on for quite a while before being detected.

      While he may get some perverse credit for helping identify the problem, like other episodes in his storied fumbling and bumbling at Canton City Hall, he leaves it to others to clean up.

      So in the end, is it "thanks, but 'no' thanks, Your Honor?"

      Especially if your name is Warren Price and your job titles include:
      • chief-of-staff,
      • service director,
      • safety director, and
      • annexation director
      Wouldn't you say?

      For anyone who doubts the unmitigated gall of William J. Healy, II
      • the man who precipitated the surfacing of internal Crime Lab problems (which, by the way, his administration failed to catch early and nip in the bud) with his move to water down the director's qualifications so that he could hire Rick Perez.
      Take a look at this video in which he scolds the SCOG's executive committee for having discussed what Healy defines (of course, we all know that in his own mind there is nothing that he is not an authority on) having been an inappropriate delving into personnel matters at the Lab.

      Yesterday, a day after the big SCOG confab at Canton City Hall, the SCPR sat down with Commissioner Bernabei to harvest his view of where the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab is heading in terms of its continued viability.

      With the dropoff of some $6 million in State of Ohio furnished local government funding over the past three years or so, it seems likely at the very least that eventually DNA testing will be dropped from the list of services provided by the Lab.

      Here is Bernabei's take on the future:

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