Thursday, January 23, 2014








JANUARY 22, 2014


Being a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP), I have not had very many occasions to experience the sting of discrimination in my entire life.

But the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE/Board) has managed to bring that bitter lesson home to this WASP in making it plainly obvious that the Stark County Political Report is not welcome to its meetings.

Derivatively, Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and St. John will be affecting the Stark County public's right to know the "complete" story of what goes on at the Stark BOE.

And, this from an entity of government supported by your tax dollars and my tax dollars.

It all began in February, 2010 as I showed up to a meeting of Stark County Board of Elections meeting with my camera.

William Cline and Curt Braden (the-then Republican members who remain to this day) and Democrat members Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Samuel Ferruccio, Jr (a remaining member) composed the Board.

Here is a lift from a February 22, 2012 (see May, 2010 blog on the same topic) that explains the historical hostility:
Well, why was the SCPR at this particular [the regular February, 2010 BOE meeting] meeting anyway?

The Report had asked Director Jennette Mullane (an appointee of the Stark County Democratic Party which board member Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., is a former chairman of and who recently hired Mullane's sister to work for him as clerk of courts in Massillon), to place an item on the Board's agenda.

What was the item?

That the Board set up a plan with a timetable to scan in petitions and campaign finance reports as they are filed so that these documents are speedily and readily available to the Stark County Public.

Well, was the matter on the agenda?


So, what did The Report do next?

After the meeting, yours truly asked Mullane about the omission.

Her answer?

The Board would not allow her to place the matter on the public meeting agenda.

So that was complaint #2 filed with the Ohio secretary of state.

Complaint #1?

Board member and Chairman William Cline (Republican of North Canton) denied the SCPR's effort to video-tape the meeting.  No vote was taken of the entire Board.  No.  Cline, unilaterally makes the decision. But after having to delay the meeting's start to have a private tete-a-tete with board member Maier.


What do you suppose that little confab might have been about?

While the discussion with The Report and Cline was going on, member Maier (in a sub voice) set upon disparaging blogs and the audacity of a blogger to be expected to be treated on a par with the likes of The Repository (which did have a reporter present).

The SCPR understands Maier's disdain for blogging because for him blogging appears to be a partisan political weapon; not the equal opportunity incisive critic that the SCPR is.

While Stark Politics was still up and running, Maier and his  Stark County Democratic Party political director Shane Jackson (who is Maier's chief deputy at the clerk of courts office) were going bananas over the blogs attacking Democrats and a scant few Republicans who were less extreme than the anonymous Stark Politics blogger..

They wanted yours truly to do a countervailing blog.

What an insult!

But Maier is, in the opinion of The Report, a master of political insult and arrogance.

Of course, the rest is history.  Not only did yours truly reject the request, but went totally the opposite and put together the SCPR to put both Republican and Democrat officeholders and candidates under intense scrutiny.

Mutual acquaintances have fed back to The Report that Maier has been known to go into spasm with some of the political critiques appearing in the SCPR.
Earlier this month a rather hilarious exchange between took place between Stark County commissioner Richard Regula on the occasion of BOE executive director Jeff Matthews (a target of quite of few SCPR blogs) presented the 2014 BOE budget request (all of which - to make the BOE/taxpayer tie once again to the bigs at the BOE - is funded with Stark County taxpayer dollars).

Here is a repeat from that blog so that readers can fully understand the BOE pique at the SCPR.
One of the things that the Bernabei, Creighton and Richard Regula of the Stark Board of County commissioners zero in on in the course of budget hearings are new hires and the year-to-year salary increases that Stark County departments of government hand out to their employees.

In the course of the back and forth between the commissioners and Director Matthews was Matthews' revelation that the BOE 2014 budget included the hiring of four additional employees in the year 2014.

Here is Richard Regula with his questions and Matthews' answer.

What a hoot! - no?

Not only the Stark County Board of Elections but any Ohio Board of Elections posting job listings for the taxpaying general public citizenry to apply for prompts a  "you have to be kidding!"

The public perception is that these jobs only go to the politically connected, plain and simple.

To say it again:  "job posting"  by a Board of Elections.

 Laugh, laugh, laugh and laugh some more!  Ha!, Ha!, Ha!

The SCPR thinks that Matthews stumbled and bumbled all over the place answering Regula's question and the latter revealed (as least that is what The Report thinks) that three of the four "non-posted" to the public have already been hired, subject to official BOE approval.

It is irony upon irony that each of Ohio's 88 counties have a department of government that is all about citizens having a choice (called elections) run by unelected, politically appointed folks who only have to account to the county Democratic and Republican party chairmen. 

One more sharing of the "very special history" between the SCPR and various members of the BOE.

From a February 26, 2010 blog:

In late 2009 or early 2010, BOE member Curt Braden had traveled to Columbus on official BOE business and "lo and behold" where does he spend over night?

You've got it!

At one of Columbus' most posh hotel and, of course, at Stark County taxpayer expense.

While the SCPR understands that public officials do not necessarily concern themselves with being frugal with your tax dollars and my tax dollars, one would think that a guy like Braden would at least take care to get the very best rates at one of Columbus' finest hotel, no?

Not on your life.

"Who cares," he must have said to himself.

Consequently, he signed up for a room at $144.00 a night whereas if he had gotten prior Stark County government approval - as he is required to do according "to the rules," the rate would have been $80.00 per night.

So while Braden and his fellows are careful to rein in the Stark County Political Report with rules, he is not so careful about himself nor with our taxpayer dollars.

SCPR rules?

Yes at Tuesday's meeting, Director Matthews told me (seated in the first row in order to get the best picture of "our Stark County Board of Election members in action) that "the rules" did not allow me to sit in the front row (where nobody but a Repository reporter was seated) but that I would at least have to remove to the second row and once seated "was not to move about."

While my experience is in no way, shape or form the equivalent of that experienced - even in 2014 America by African Americans and other minorities - the Matthews' (Board supported) rebuke caused me to reflect just a little as a WASP what it must feel like to experience somebody's prejudice.

After Tuesday's meeting, I was told by one in the room that "the Board"  [Cline, Braden, Ferruccio and St. John) obviously does not like you.

I hope that St. John (an African-American) - if he does not like me and the work of the SCPR - will disassociate himself from the discriminatory work of he fellow BOE members.  For it would be a bit hypocritical of him to take offense about African-Ameriocans are treated but not care about bloggers and the obvious put-down that I experienced by Maier (back in February, 2010) and the entire BOE in the fashioning of the discriminatory rules in favor of the mainstream press.

Now to the reason why I attended the January, 2014 BOE meeting.

First, to see Matthews' explain to the Board how he/Mullane (the Democrat deputy BOE director) labored long and hard to screen from among many, many applications the hopefully received for some of the best - if not the absolute "best" - paying Stark County government entry level jobs ($32,000 plus about another $10,000 in benefits) in all of Stark County.

Second, to see whether or not the Board dealt in any kind of detail with the necessity of setting a date before February 18th for the Board to meet in order to pass on whether or not those Stark Countians filing partisan petitions (deadline:  February 5th) had done so properly.

Mostly, the review includes making sure that the would-be candidates have obtained the minimum required "registered voter" signatures to be qualified.

However, this year there is a wrinkle to the qualification process.

The 2014 primary ballot will include sheriff candidates.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the BOE has to make a determination of whether or not the sheriff candidates meet the criteria of ORC 311.01 that specifically set out in Ohio law as being mandatory if one is to legally take office as a sheriff.

The Report doubts anyone reading this blog does not know about the fight within the Stark County Democratic Party to appoint a sheriff.  Rather that regurgitate that fight and how George T. Maier got bounced by the Ohio Supreme Court from being sheriff, here is a LINK for readers to get up to speed.

The SCPR hears that there is talk among the lawyer members of the BOE to ignore ORC 311.01 and merely deal with the sufficiency the validty/number of the signatures on the sheriff candidate petitions.

The Report can assure the BOE members that if they go that route, they will face a legal challenge.  Perhaps the should be taking a look at this Ohio Supreme Court case which is an expression of current Ohio law on the matter.

The BOE is truly between "the deep blue sea and the Devil" on this issue.

For if the Board finds Maier to be disqualified, "you can bet your 'bottom dollar' that the Maier forces will be filing litigation.

In viewing the videotape of Tuesday's meeting (posted at the end of this blog), readers can see what transpired in its totality unfiltered by the SCPR.

What more could one ask for?

Particularly noteworthy are the comments of member William Cline that make it clear that the BOE itself was not interested in vetting Matthews/Mullane, to wit:
  • about the specifics of how many applications were received, 
  • how the general public might have known about the job openings,
  • whether or not political affiliation or any other connection (laugh, laugh, laugh Commissioner Regula et al) had anything to do with whom got hired, and
  • what were the critical criteria which separated the applicants in the Matthews/Mullane determination of who would be recommended for hire.
Cline's laudatory comments are clear indication to the SCPR through the words of Cline - who is an attorney and clearly knows how to cross-examine - was not interested in showing that the Board had done its "due diligence."

Folks, it is this very blog you are reading and the revelations it contains that has put the SCPR in the category of receiving discriminatory treatment as being a second class citizen compared to the mainstream media representative.

I expect any day to get a call from the bigwigs at The Repository - because of their devotion to the journalistic values of "Sunshine Week" coming up soon - with the message that they are going to weigh-in to insist that I and my blog be treated with respect (which nearly every other public entity/official accords The Report) and "the equal protection of the law."

The Rep bigs uttered nary a word back in February, 2010?

Should I hold my breath on this January 23, 2014 waiting for that call?

Tuesday's meeting video follows:

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