Friday, March 27, 2015


On Monday, The Stark County Political Report started a new feature:  Stark County Top 10 Leaders.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentations on:
  • Stark County's #1 leader; namely, Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei, and
  • Stark County's #2 leader; namely, Massillon Councilwoman Nancy Halter,
  • Stark County's #3 leader; namely, Canton Councilman Edmond Mack,
  • Stark County's #4 leader; namely, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold,
Today's blog is on Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Along with yesterday's SCPR subject Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Stark County commissioners Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton; Alex Zumbar has been a key figure in restoring the Stark County public's confidence in county government following what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has termed as being Zeiglergate (April 1, 2009 through October 19, 2011).

There is however one key difference between Zumbar and the others.

In Zumbar's case there was an alternative selection to be had to succeed Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer.

Zeigler, as it turned out, was "unconstitutionally" removed as treasurer by the-then commissioners Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson in August, 2010.  The Ohio Supreme Court restored Zeigler to office in June, 2011.

The September, 2010 alternative was Democrat Ken Koher who did serve for a short period of time which was from September 20, 2010 through November 24, 2010.

Koher who had been selected by Stark County's "organized" Democrats to replace Zeigler had to face Republican nominee Zumbar (September 9, 2010 at a Stark Co.  GOP meeting which resulted in the SCPR "gone Huffington Post Internet viral" Phil Davison "over-the-top Republican" video) on November 2, 2010.

Zumbar won and was sworn in on November 24th.

But, of course, as indicated above,  Zumbar was out in June, 2011 only to return on October 31, 2011.

From the Stark County treasurer's website:
Alexander Zumbar was first elected Stark County Treasurer in November of 2010. 
Prior to assuming his current position he spent 18 years in public service. 
Beginning in 1996 Treasurer Zumbar was elected to the Alliance City Council and held that position until 2003. 
Also, in 2003 he held the dual position of Administrative Assistant to the Honorable Charles E. Brown Jr. in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas- General Division. 
In November, 2003 he was elected to the position of Alliance City Auditor and held that position until May of 2008 when he was appointed as Finance Director of North Canton and held that position until his election as Treasurer. 
Civically, Alex is on the District Eagle Scout Review Board, Regina Coeli Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus #558, and Christopher Columbus Society. 
Professionally Treasurer Zumbar is a member of Auditor of State Dave Yost-Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board, Government Finance Officers Association, County Treasurers Association of Ohio and Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada. 
Alex holds the following certificates and special awards and honors: Emerging Trends in Fraud Investigation and Prevention certificate, Public Records and Open Meetings Law Training certification and the Ohio Financial Accountability certification. He has received the CAFR Award from the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office and the Government Finance Officer Association from 2004 through 2010. The State Auditor Award and is a BSA Eagle Scout. 
Treasurer Zumbar received his B.A. degree in Accounting from Mount Union College.

This is what the SCPR had to say about Zumbar in a November 23, 2011 annual Thanksgiving Day blog: (an extract)
[Zumbar] is a Republican through and through. 
He, picking up where Democrat Ken Koher had left off, on his winning of office in November, 2010 went to work instituting many structural, policy, practice and procedural changes in the Stark County treasury to ensure that a Vince Frustaci-esque theft of taxpayer moneys could never happen again. 
Moreover, Zumbar went to work in proposing and helping establish a Stark County-based land bank program to identify condemned, abandoned and to be torn down properties to be put to more productive use. 
Picking up on local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley's focus on the fact that some $40 million of back property taxes are owed to Stark County and its political subdivisions, Zumbar has put together lists of properties for the Stark County prosecutor's office to pursue in order to get much needed revenue into the hands of the county and the subdivisions. 
This despite being bounced in and out of office like a yo-yo. 
Indeed Stark Countians should be thankful that Alex Zumbar had the fortitude to stand tall and do what's good for Stark County.
Zumbar continues his restructuring of the Stark County treasurer's facilities in order to achieve maximum protection of Stark County taxpayer money to the degree it is still kept at the treasurer's office which is located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Zumbar has done sterling work as the initiator of (March 21, 2012) and guiding factor in the formation of and development of the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC, aka Stark County Lank Bank).

A number of Stark County political subdivisions have benefited from the formation of the SCLRC.

Canton with some 4,000 of 5,000 blighted and abandoned residential units remaining (the 1,000 removed so far coming from SCLRC administration of an Ohio attorney general office grant and Canton's $1 million local match) has been a major beneficiary of the existence of the SCLRC.

However, as stated by the SCPR in this series about Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Auditor Alan Harold, as well as The Report thinks of Zumbar, he is not perfect.

It was alarming to the SCPR when it appeared that Zumbar:

  • appeared (in July, 2014) to be trying to increase the pay of his chief deputy (Jaime Allbrittain, a former Stark Co. treasurer herself) at the expense of the SCLRC without bidding the "to be created SCLRC position" out to the general public,

Needless to say, Zumbar was furious with yours truly about the blogs on the incidents described above as he has been from time-to-time on other SCPR blogs.

What public officials like Zumbar can't quite seem to figure out is that yours truly does not seek to be liked by Stark County officialdom.  In fact, The Report gets just a tad nervous if a given relationship with a public official gets comfortable.  The question always becomes:  Am I doing my job as a journalist?

The Report gets along well with most of Stark County officialdom.  But things do get testy from time-to-time and that's the way it should be.  Zumbar has been among the most unhappy with the blogs that the SCPR publishes.

And, of course, word filters back to The Report that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and elected official members of his Maier Massillon Political Machine go absolutely "bonkers" at some of the SCPR's incisive blogs on how they perform as Stark County officials.

The Report see these folks as cowardly types who only answer questions posed by the "fawning" press.

The SCPR does not mind elected officials having a strong political party loyalty side to them except when The Report thinks that party connections seem to unduly play in the discharge of the official functions.

The Report suspects that Zumbar and his sidekick Allbritain and Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park were into some sort of political quid pro quo (something for something) in Park's daughter ending up on the Stark County treasury payroll and Allbritain's showing up on Judge Park's payroll.

Moreover, Zumbar hired into his office the child of a Republican Alliance councilman (Roger Rhome) apparently without making the job available to the general public.
There is probably nothing more odious to the SCPR than these types of "do not meet the smell test" personnel transactions.

On the Democratic Party side, Sheriff George T. Maier is the personification of the "does not meet the smell test" on the question of his non-union hirings.

Notwithstanding Zumbar's warts, the SCPR thinks that he is a superb Stark County official.

And he can be assured that The Report's thinking well of him will be no barrier whatsoever in terms of writing blogs chastising him for what yours truly thinks is this or that inappropriate public action.

A vigilant press helps make the likes of Zumbar better public officials.  Unfortunately, Stark County's only countywide newspaper all to often give certain public officials a pass on intense scrutiny.

On balance the SCPR thinks well enough of Zumbar to make him make #5 on the Stark County "Top 10" List of Stark County political subdivision elected officials.

Tomorrow the SCPR will feature #6 on the list.

Hint:  He is in the context where partisan elections are held for public office, Stark County's only "independent."

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