Monday, July 31, 2017


The purpose of this blog is not to weigh-in on the merits/demerits of congressional efforts to repeal/replace Obamacare.

The focus IS on the demonstration of political courage that Republican senators John McCain (Arizona), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) exemplified in taking down the latest effort of the Republican Senate leadership encouraged by the House leadership and ,via bluster and bullying, the president of the United States to repeal and replace.

One of the "bad" things about political parties is that the seek to re-make the character of adherents in to something they were not when they first start out as being politically involved.

But a few of us, courageously resist the pressure to conform to political party needs and come out as still being able to be who we really are.

Here are a few examples from the national political scene:

John McCain is one of the most courageous politicians ever to grace the American national political scene.

In one capacity or another he has served America from 1958 to the current day.

Draft dodging Donald Trump during the presidential campaign tabbed McCain as not being a courageous/heroic person in getting shot down over Vietnam flying a A4-E Skyhawk (1967) through a phalanx of hostile, deadly ammo fire.  He was freed in 1973 but having refused to be repatriated earlier on account of his being the son of a four-star admiral.

And, recently, he was diagnosed with a highly malignant form of brain cancer.

Once again, he is in fight for his life.

Who can forget his "Straight Talk Express" as he embarked on his 2000 presidential campaign.  As politicians go, McCain fills the bill of "straight talking" more than any other national political figure.

On July 28, 2017, he resisted a concerted and full-press effort by the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a number of his Senate colleagues and the president in casting a NO vote on the "skinny" repeal and replace version vote.

Akin to what the president has said about McCain (not a war hero, "he got shot down"), Trump over-the-top supporter Roger Stone over the weekend described McCain as being "a piece of sh** because of his steadfastness  to vote his conscience in the line of bombastic political fire.

Once again, this American "profile in courage" is disparaged by the cowardly.

Nevertheless, more than any other American politician John McCain has been who John McCain really is.  Something that organized political parties try to force out a person.

Lisa Murkowski did not start off her national political career under the most auspicious circumstances.

It appears that she needed an exercise of nepotism to become an U.S. Senator in 2002.  Her father, Frank, had been elected governor and exercised his then-authority (since changed) to appoint Lisa as his successor.

Hardly an exercise in courage, no?

Her need for an "inside 'raw' political power" boost to get started almost cost her in 2010.

A Sarah Palin (former governor of Alaska and Republican U.S. vice president candidate under, interesting enough, John McCain) candidate (Joe Miller) defeated Murkowski in the Republican primary of 2010.

Here is where she started to show that she had the beginnings of political courage.

In the wake of her narrow defeat to Miller, she launched a "write-in" campaign in the 2010 general election.

"I know, you know, and everybody knows" that to run as a "write-in" is certain political death.

But not with the spunky Murkowski.

She with political icon Senator Strom Thurmond stand alone as having pulled of such a feat.

For the most part, Murkowski has been a reliable "Main Street Republican" during her time in the Senate.

So it was large surprise, when she bucked a Republican Party seven year quest to repeal and replace Obamacare along with McCain and the lady from the State of Maine (Susan Collins).

It appears likely that a heavy-handed political effort of a Trump administration official in an obvious attempt to sway, Murkowski's vote in suggesting that were she to vote no on the "skinny" version of the Republican effort, Alaska might be denied federal financial assistance as the state moves forward on various economic development projects.

On the procedural vote on whether or not to take up "skinny" measure, she voted NO.

Here is what President Trump had to say about her:

She was on the losing side of that vote but nonetheless was subjected to the scorn of a number of her fellow congressional Republicans.

But she stood her ground and voted NO on the substantive "skinny" under a barrage of Republican Party and presidential pressure.

It could be that Lisa Murkowski in maturing as a politician and can be counted on in the future of her political party to make her into something she is not.

If she never does another courageous act like her NO vote on the "skinny," she will have exemplified in that one act of achieving what most other national politicians never achieve.

It appears, though, that she will continue to make waves going forward for those who advocate political party interests over the quest of some political party identified elected officials "to be who they really are" on any particular matter.

Susan Collins on August 8, 2016 said publicly that she would not be voting for Donald Trump for president of the United States.

Her distancing from Trump occurred well after Trump became the standard bearer (July, 2016; the Republican Convention in Cleveland) for the Republican Party.

That she would reject Trump and his hyperbolic, out-of-control ego should not be a surprise to anyone who knows of Collins' historically steady political profile, to wit:

  • A "Main Street Republican Partner,"  (akin to Stark County's Ralph Regula)
  • The most bipartisan Senator in the U.S. Senate in the 114th Congress,
    • Source:  The Lugar Center, LINK
  • In 2013, rated by the National Journal as being 55% conservative, 45% liberal in her overall Senate voting record,
It appears that Susan Collins is the personification of being "her own person."

Though not to the degree that McCain and Murkowski have been attacked for their courageous anti-"skinny" votes, Collins to has been subject to reactive political bombast, to wit:

All the foregoing brings us to the point of naming names of those Stark County officials who demonstrate a political action/candor which bespeaks a "courageous" ability to "be who they 'really' are" in terms of having the moxie to put the public interest over political party interest.

Number 1 - Canton Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei

Susan Collins of Maine, as independent minded she often is, has a terrific colleague in the officially "independent" Senator Angus King.

Our country does have a rich history at the national level of having political figures who "march to the tune of a different drummer."

However, at the local level; not so much.

Here is a sampling:

It was a stunning development last May, when long-time Democrat Thomas M. Bernabei announced in May, 2015 he was abandoning his Democratic political party affiliation to become a political independent so that Cantonians would have in the general election an alternative to the highly political incumbent mayor William J. Healy, II.

Bernabei was fought "tooth and nail" by the local "organized" Democratic Party in his quest to attain ballot status as an independent.

There has been quite a bit of maligning/challenging of Bernabei by certain Democratic elected officials to this very day.

One such person is Stark County clerk of courts Louis Giavasis.

At one time in the SCPR's coverage of local politicians, I thought that Giavasis had some independent spunk about him.

But, no more!

The Report now assigns Giavasis to the Stark County political swamp of partisan and personal advantaging politics over the public good.

Bernabei has many outstanding qualities in his leadership profile and consequently he stands atop The Stark County Political Report's "Top 10 Stark County-based Elected officials."

It took a huge amount of courage (which included considerable personal expense and inconvenience) for Bernabei to challenge and triumph over "organized" Democrats who control all 12 seats and the presidency of Canton City Council while unseating a "drag Canton to the bottom" mayor.

Number 2 - Stark Co Commissioner Janet Creighton

The SCPR's  take on Commissioner Janet Creighton and her political courage index goes all the way back to her days of her becoming Stark County recorder.

From a June 22, 2016 blog:
As a Republican woman, Creighton at the onset of her political career (her run for and election as Stark County recorder) experienced political rough housing at the hands of some Stark's leading Republicans seemingly because she was a woman making her way in what to this very day is deemed by all too many to still be primarily a man's world.
Creighton is passionately on record as being "in your face" to those county officials who want to return to the "old days" of doing business in Stark County pre-2010, 2011 and 2012 fiscal crisis in Stark County government.

An example as one among quite a few Creighton quotes on the topic:

No doubt about it, Creighton is a "dedicated to the party cause(s)" of "organized" Republicans.

However, she seems to have a capacity rise to the occasion and set aside her partisanship predisposition and become the champion of the public interest over and beyond Republican Party interests.

The more consistent she becomes in this regard, the more likely it is that she will be remembered as a Stark County commissioner who put her community first and her political affinity down the list of priorities.

Number 3 - Stark Co Auditor Alan Harold

The high-water-mark of Harold's elective office tenure has been his steadfast manner in which he stood up to Democrat Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler effort to re-establish himself as county treasurer after being restored to office in 2011 by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Zeigler had been "unconstitutionally" been removed from office in 2010 by a Democratic Party set of county commissioners (Bosley, Harmon and Meeks) in light of a scathing report by Republican Ohio State of Auditor Mary Taylor asserting that Zeigler had not had structures, policies, practices and procedures in place as chief administrator of the office so as to have prevented then-Chief Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci from stealing upwards of $3 million in Stark County taxpayer funds.

Harold insisted that Zeigler not have access to taxpayer provided treasury office supporting resources unless and until a bond was secured on his behalf.

Though understandable, Harold did not demonstrate such mettle in the face of resistance to his running for treasurer in 2008.

From a April 30, 2009 SCPR blog:
Republicans offer the excuse that Harold was the victim of Democrat incumbent treasurer Gary Zeigler putting pressure on Huntington through then Ohio treasurer Richard Cordray (Democrat) to ask Harold to stand aside.
Zeigler began as treasurer as the political appointee of the "organized" Stark County Democrats in 1999.

Since the Zeigler days (he retired/resigned from office in October 2011 in a deal he struck with Stark County commissioners), Harold has been a stickler with other elected county officials (even fellow Republicans) that they strictly comply with State of Ohio fiscal standards as spelled out in Ohio law.

Undoubtedly, in being a stickler for detail and compliance, he encounters blow back.

The SCPR sees in Harold a character make up enabling him, at the end of the day, to demonstrate a political spine and a concomitant willingness to tap into his resources of personal courage to act in the public interest over his political party affiliation interests.

While Bernabei, Creighton and Harold have the best track records on serving the public interest over personal and political-party-ties interests, there are a number of Stark County-based elected official the SCPR sees as growing in the courage factor to become consistent examples of looking first to the public interest rather than looking out profane political interests.

Not in any particular order:
  • Canton law director, Joe Martuccio, (a Democrat)
  • Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar, (a Republican)
  • Canton City councilman Edmond Mack, (a Democrat)
  • Massillon councilman Milan Chovan, (a Republican)
  • Alliance councilwoman Julie Jakmides, (a Republican)
  • Former Alliance councilwoman Sue Ryan, (a Democrat)
  • Stark County commissioner Bill Smith, (a Republican)
  • Perry Township trustee Craig Chessler, (a Democrat)
  • Canton board of education member Richard Milligan (a Republican)
  • Stark Co Ct of Common Pleas judge Chryssa Hartnett (a Democrat)
Anyone who reads The Stark County Political Report knows that I am not a big fan of political parties.

But political reality is that political parties by whatever name they known by are always going to be with us.

The test is electing candidates who show signs—pre-election—of having the capacity and inclination to always put political party affiliation down the list of the priorities they have in life.

First and foremost, having a deeply embedded character trait of looking out for the other and not so much for the self is a prized quality for those who run for office.

Unfortunately, our top example of an elected official offers a model of consuming self-interest over the public interest.

Such is the birthing ground of The Swamp which, of course, the self-centered have hugely diminished ability to correctly identify.

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