Monday, July 20, 2015



Dan McMasters
Fear Factor
2011 JSST Effort



George T. Maier was not on the Stark County political radar screen when in November, 2011 county officials closed ranks behind a 1/2 cent sales tax issue designed to provide some $22 million annually for the Stark County justice system.

The SCPR's recollection is that campaign officials played a heavy hand in the campaign on "the fear factor" were Stark County not to pass the levy.

Take a listen to co-chairman Dan McMasters as he owns up to "the fear factor" being a key part of the campaign.

In a curious oddity to The Stark County Political Report, it appears that Sheriff Maier (elected in November, 2014 after a swirl of controversy as to whether or not he was qualified under Ohio law to be sheriff) has no political memory of "the fear factor" and the concomitant buttressing point that Stark County needed new revenue to restore the Stark County jail to full "used beds" capacity (501 beds) in order to make Stark County a safer place to live in.

The levy passed and Stark Countians breathed a sigh of relief, no doubt.  All those 501 beds were going to be filled with some of Stark County worst actors.

As it turns out:  WRONG!.

On average, the filling of the beds is well short of the 501 beds which prompted Sheriff Maier to send the completely unprepared Brian Arnold (the chief honcho of the jail) and Chief Deputy Sheriff John Campbell (an old pal of the sheriff from Maier's Ohio State Patrol days) to a June 17, 2015 meeting of the Stark County commissioners to ask for their approval of a contract to take Summit County's excess prisoners at a rate of $70 a day.

A terrific deal for Summit, which calculated its cost of keeping a prisoner at $124 daily.

But Commissioner Janet Creighton joined by Commissioner Regula was not buying.

She undoubtedly remembered her early days as commissioner when Canton civic activist Bruce Nordman showed up at a Stark County commissioners' meeting (March 6, 2013 about 1-1/2 years after the JSST levy passage) to remind commissioners of "the fear factor campaign" and demanding that the commissioners put pressure on Maier "to fill all those 501 beds."

That's when Maier was the Stark County Democratic Party politically "appointed" sheriff of Stark County was:
  • in as sheriff
  • out as sheriff, (by the Ohio Supreme Court; November 6, 2013), and 
  • back in as sheriff
as his political opponents former sheriff Timothy Swanson and Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero (mostly behind the scenes) battled to keep Maier out of the sheriff's office as being unqualified for the job.
The commissioners tabled the sheriff's request that they approve the Summit County contract.

Arrangements were made to have "the filling of the jail" issue taken up by the Stark County Corrections Planning Commission (June 26, 2015) which is made up up of a virtual "Who's Who" of Stark County criminal justice system officials headed up by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione.

Out of that session a subcommittee was formed to consider the question of whether or not it was a good idea to make Stark County jail beds available for Summit County prisoners.

The SCPR camera was at both the Commission session and the the subcommittee meeting.

Go to the blog on the Commission meeting to see that video.

Here is the video of the entire subcommittee meeting.

Take a look once again a photograph of the subcommittee assembly.

Whether by design or not, The Report's take is that the alignment of the members of the subcommittee was those favoring an average daily use of the the jail beds be for Stark County prisoners somewhere in the close vicinity of 501 beds "on the left of the photo" whereas those favoring the generation of revenues for unused beds are seated "on the right of the photo."

Commissioner Tom Bernabei may be the only member of the subcommittee who might be neutral on the question although he was not nearly of critical of the Maier Jail Space Rental Plan as was Commissioner Creighton.

Judge Forchione took the lead for "the full use folks" at the subcommittee meeting.

Front and center was a graphic put up on a large screen at the Canton Municipal Court conference room sited meeting was this tell graphic:

Municipal Court Clerk of Courts Phil Giavasis seemed to the SCPR to be the main man for Sheriff Maier and the "Rent-a-Jail advocates."

The SCPR urges Stark Countians who care about the safety of our county to take in the back and forth of the session.

At the end of the session, the SCPR asked Commissioner Bernabei and Clerk Giavasis to summarize the subcommittee session.

To the SCPR, it is hard to see how the commissioners can approve a plan to rent out jail beds to any other Ohio or federal government unit.

In 2019, Stark Countians will undoubtedly be asked to renew the 1/2 Justice System Sales Tax (JSST).

If nearly all 501 beds at the Stark County jail are not in full use occupied by those placed in the facility by Stark County judges, it certainly is going to make extending the JSST much more difficult.

Stark County jail beds are for the use of Stark County judges to make Stark County a safer place to live in, no?

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