Tuesday, May 22, 2018

SCPR GENERAL ELECTION SERIES: U.S. SENATE - RENACCI CHALLENGES BROWN

UPDATE:  TUESDAY, MAY 22ND
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 14, 2018 AT 06:50 AM)

BROWN OUT OF THE GATE FIRST WITH CAMPAIGN AD

MORE THAN 5 MONTHS BEFORE NOVEMBER 8, 2018



https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/997473843148214272 (Video Link)








BROWN/RENACCI 
PORTRAY THEMSELVES AS "POPULISTS"

LIBERAL BASED/CONSERVATIVE BASED

WHO/WHICH IS THE MOST AUTHENTIC?


U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (an Ohio elected official in one capacity or another since 1975; folks, that 43 years!)  is about as Democratic and "liberal" as a politician gets.  It makes sense that no Democrat would have wanted to take him on in the recently concluded May 8th Democratic primary.

Moreover, he has solid union support that makes him more of an anathema to the likes of his Republican opponent Jim Renacci who won a competitive race against Clevelander Mike Gibbons on May 8th in the Republican primary.

It would be political coup for Republicans to take out both a "liberal" and a thoroughgoing "union" sympathetic politician.

And yet, "in the belly of the beast of Trumpism" (Ohio), he seems to pretty much be a sure bet to retain his seat in the U.S. Senate come November.

USA Today (LINK) recently wrote a piece on the Renacci/Brown race which appears to be pretty much "right on the mark" in terms of the prospects for the race and is describing the two as having populist appeal.


Another feat in the cap of Brown in terms of his relating to the hoi pollio is the fact that he is  a "poor man's" candidate in terms of his comparative wealth vis-a-vis Renacci.


Renacci (one of the wealthiest Republicans in all the U.S. Congress) who currently represents Ohio's 16th congressional district which includes northern Stark County with a spur reaching down to the Timken complex in the heart of Canton, had this to say in the Washington Examiner article cited in the graphic above for today's blog:

“Ohio is a Trump state, Ohio is going to move forward with the Trump agenda, and Ohio is going to get anybody that’s an obstacle, including Sen. Brown, out of the way ... ."

Recently,  The Stark County Political Report had a brief conversation with a prominent Stark County Republican who spoke favorably of Brown.  Not that The Report thinks this source will actually vote for Brown.  But it is indication that Senator Brown has the grudging respect of elected Republicans notwithstanding his politically standing for what many elected Republican officials loathe.

Apparently, the Republican recalls these election numbers racked up by Brown in Stark County on his being elected to the United States Senate over 2018 Republican gubernatorial standard bearer Mike DeWine and over staunch conservative Republican Josh Mandel in 2012.


But more than the numbers, Brown has a political manner about himself that is appealing to core Democrats for sure but also to a majority of politically independent minded voters and a sprinkling of solidly Republican voters.

But what about Trump voting "blue collar Democrats who voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016?

Because Brown has been against the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from the get-go.  Moreover, he has been on the record in having grave reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) even to the point of "applauding" Trump on withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement by presidential executive action.

 He likely will be the continuing beneficiary of "ticket-splitting" (in the sense of departing supporting candidates favorable towards the president) in 2018 notwithstanding Renacci wrapping himself in being "all-things-Trump" in his primary election victory last week over fellow Republican Mike Gibbons.

This from the Washington Examiner piece:

Youngstown is nestled inside Mahoning County, which is home to more veterans than most other parts of the state. It’s also home to the blue collar workers that flipped for Trump.

And they’re still with Trump. Diloreto considers the Russia investigation a “witch hunt” and likes that Trump “speaks the truth.”

But Diloreto is a Brown man, too. He plans to vote for the senator again in November.

“Oh yeah, I think he’s great. I like him, I like his views,” Diloreto said.

The same goes for Susan Krawchyk, an Iraq veteran, who lived in Ohio her entire life until two years ago when she moved to Pennsylvania. She commutes into Youngstown every day for her job at the Mahoning County Veteran Service Commission. She’s voted for Brown in the past and would vote for him again if she could.

Three days before this year's primary election (May 5th), President Trump was Cleveland being "all-in-for-Renacci."

So, Renacci v. Trump (November, 2018) indeed is a referendum on the political coattails effect of the president.

Likely outcome on Brown's fortunes?

From "no effect" to a beneficial effect for Brown.

Witness this segment of the polling results from the Survey USA poll cited above:


Real Clear Politics lists Brown as a more likely than not to be reelected in Ohio.

If incumbency were not enough of an advantage, take a look at the Brown campaign finance $3 Brown to $1 Renacci "cash-on-hand" margin:


As matters stand on May 14, 2018, nearly six months out from the November election, it appears highly likely to the SCPR that Sherrod Brown will be returning to the United States Senate representing the Buckeye State.

The SCPR's take on the two in terms of their populist appeal is that Brown comes across as the more "authentic."

Brown:  modest wealth, Democratic, union supported  and what Trump type voters like to call a "bleeding heart" liberal.

Renacci:  very wealthy, Republican, all-in-Trumper and a "pick yourself up by the bootstrap" conservative.

Enough said?

Monday, May 21, 2018

24TH IN SCPR "HOF-VP" SERIES: HAVE MAYOR BERNABEI & COUNCILMAN MARIOL DONE A NUMBER ON THE HOF-VP?

UPDATED:  TUESDAY (7:37 AM) Added material "text" color change & "background" highlighted.


HOF-VP IN DEBT AGAIN TO TUNE OF $12-$14 DOLLARS?


BUT CANTON GOV'T IS BEING PROTECTED?

also

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL EVENT A BUST?

It appears that the folks at the Pro Football Hall of Fame (National Football Museum, Inc) keep digging financial holes for themselves.

Within the past few days a highly reliable source is telling The Stark County Political Report  that
the HOF-VP is some $12 million to $14 million in debt to SITETECH, INC  (unconfirmed, thought be about $7 million), Beaver Excavating (unconfired) and derivatively Welty Construction said to be owed to pay for site development of a hotel with the the project complex but is now two years, more or less, behind the announced "with great fanfare" start date.

With all the hubbub that has been going on with the HOF-VP financial nightmare
  • (started out at $480 million; now at $1 billion plus, and the stadium started out at $24 million is now at $171 million, perhaps, even more)
it appears that Canton mayor Thomas M. Bernabei teaming up with others in Canton government (see Bernabei quote below) to make Canton at least whole if not getting the better end of its financial connection to the Hall of Fame Village LLC folks.



That $5 million in the view of the SCPR was pretty much a former mayor William J. Healy, II (aided and abetted by Canton City Council) taxpayer money giveaway for a project that from the get-go had very little chance of returning much if anything on the investment (ROI) in the HOF-VP.

But with the election of the newly "independent" Thomas M. Bernabei (opposed by most of Canton City Council when he decided to quit the Democratic Party and run as an independent against Healy in 2015) turned a once bleak picture on ROI for Canton into a wildly positive one.


The SCPR is very familiar with the government leadership skills of Tom Bernabei.  Though known to be a taskmaster, he has the full confidence of most of those who work for units of government that he is a leadership figure in.  He is far and away the most capable government figure in all of Stark County political subdivision government.  It appears that only this blogger recognized his qualities as a specially-gifted leader early on.

And Stark County ALMOST missed out on this gem of a leader.


Stark Countians ought to be sending Stephen Todd a thank you! for entering the 2012 race.

For it is clear to the SCPR had he not been in the race, Jackson Township trustee  and Republican James N. Walters would have gotten the bulk of if not all of the votes and we likely would never heard of Thomas M. Bernabei in Stark County elective politics again.'

He and Commissioner Janet Creighton transformed a Stark County crisis in county government (Zeiglergate, per Craig T. Conley) into a restoration of trust and confidence within 18 months of their being elected commissioners in November, 2010 as evidenced by a 1/2 sales tax increase passed by Stark Countians in the November, 2011 general election.

So with Bernabei at the helm, Canton government getting "made whole" or, better yet, "coming out ahead" over and above the $5 million investment made on September 4, 2105 should be no surprise.

Bernabei is a "planner extraordinaire" when compared to Chamber of Commerce president Denny Saunier.

To say it again, the mayor is much more skilled that Saunier himself and his friends at the Professional Football Hall of Fame and the folks down at 500 Market Avenue, South in planning under difficult circumstances.  Of course, Bernabei had no choice in the matter once he decided to run for mayor, but in getting elected he took on decades and decades of Canton government mismanagement.

 (see this LINK for why the SCPR is taking on Saunier in this blog in his chiding Stark County officials to be "planners")

Saunier et al apparently bought into HOF president/CEO C. David Baker's phantasmagorical dream without Baker having any plan whatsoever.  Not a word of criticism of Baker by Saunier.

Just think of it.  The gall of it all.  Point your finger at others when you yourself were endorsing a project that seemingly started on a hope and a prayer.

Just as an aside, reports that the SCPR has received on the 2018-104th Annual Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is that it was one big "suck up" to the Klein brothers that brought "embarrassing" grimaces to the faces to many of those in attendance.

Picture it, Canton, Ohio toadying up to big city financial brokers.


It appears that in bringing the M. Klein Company into the financial mix, the HOF project is now reduced to "a hope and a prayer."

The 104th appears to have been set up in hopes that the Kleins will turnout to miracle workers.  So long as that they do it with "private" money, Stark Countians should be just fine with the effort and the SCPR wishes HOF Village LLC well.

Nonetheless, there is substantial taxpayer money and the SCPR for one will be bird-dogging local officials on accountability for how those hard earned dollars are spent.

Who was present in terms of local officials at the 104th who had to be shaking their collective heads at fawning, sycophantry and the like that seemed to be the "order of the night among the principals giving talks at the event.
  • Canton mayor Thomas Bernabei,
  • Canton deputy mayor Fonda Williams
  • Canton Ward 4 councilwoman and council vice president Chris Smith,
  • Representative Thomas West (49th Ohio House District)
  • Scott Oelslager (29th Ohio Senate District)
  • Representative Kirk Schuring (not present but represented by his wife)
  • Congressman Bob Gibbs (7th Congressional District which include most of Stark County)
  • Stark County Auditor Alan Harold
  • Stark County Commissioner Bill Smith
  • Trustee Scott Haws (Plain Township)
  • Trustee John Sabo (Plain Township)
Michael Klein is said to have talked about looking for a home in Stark County.

Hmm?

A guy who by his own word reportedly says he travels about 250 days a year.

Hmm?

The SCPR requested and was denied access to the event so Stark Countians could get an accurate picture of the proceeding inasmuch as taxpayer money being put into the HOF-VP at the behest of Repository publisher Jim Porter, Saunier and HOF president/CEO C. David Baker.

Of course the foregoing trio would not want the SCPR at the event.

Wouldn't it be telling (pictures coupled with sound [unedited] tell no lies) to see the fumbling and bumbling around on the part of folks who fancy themselves as premier Stark County leaders?

Want some proof that Team Bernabei (see list below as provided by the mayor) likely "did a number" on the HOF negotiators?

Take a look at one of two projects that Bernabei et al wrangled out of the self-style sophisticates that run Hall of Fame Village LLC.


While Mayor Bernabei is correct that the project was negotiated in September, 2017 and begun in the Fall of 2017; it recently became more prominently visible to Cantonians/Stark Countians as one drives down Fulton Drive Northwest just southeast of Interstate 77.  (Note:  another project - Weiss Park [off 25th Street NW) is also part of the "windfall" for Cantonians)


Moreover, it needs to sink in with Cantonians what a superlative job the Bernabei administration is doing with the HOF-VP leadership in making the $5 million pay off for Canton.

And there is more.

The SCPR thinks $3.8 million cited return on investment is understating substantially the return to Canton.

Here is a copy of the SCPR's first e-mail to the mayor:

From: Martin Olson [mailto:tramols@att.net] 
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2018 10:05 AM
To: Thomas Bernabei
Subject: $3.8 million of work done for Canton government by HOF?

Tom,

A source has just told me that the HOF-VP folks have or are in the process of doing a Canton Parks parking lot and related projects which reportedly will amount to some $3.8 million in value to Canton with an attendant condition that the HOF have use of the parking lot.

First, is this report accurate?

If so, could you (or the appropriate person within the Bernabei administration) flesh out the details for the SCPR.

Thanks,
Martin Olson

Bernabei's first response:

Yes, that is happening. 

But it is not new news; the contract was signed September 25, 2017; the work commenced last Fall; stopped over the winter months; and now being finished in the next couple of months. I am attaching the complete contract, with designs attached. 

The City is a signatory to the contract but it is primarily a Board of Park Commissioners’ contract since Parks has direct supervision over Stadium Park. I can answer some questions; but Doug Foltz, Parks Superintendent and/or JR Rinaldi, President of the Board, would have more information. Thank you. Tom

Here is the copy of the contract that Mayor Bernabei refers to in the above-email.



Please read the contract in full!

$3.8 million in value?

Looks like its substantially worth more than that to the SCPR.

The SCPR did follow up on the first Bernabei response with this:

It appears that Canton is making back if not exceeding its $5 million investment in the HOF-VP.

Would you agree with such an assessment?

It is being suggested rather strongly to me that getting the HOF folks to agree to do the Parks project was either pushed by and/or negotiated by Tom Bernabei.

Is the suggestion well-founded or not?

Bernabei's response:

Good morning Martin,

The better answer is that this was truly a team effort which resulted in a good contract providing for important and valuable  improvements to Stadium Park (and Weiss Park.)  

We are receiving significant capital infrastructure improvements, good compensation and needed upgrades. 

It is also a cooperative agreement which helps the HOF with parking needs during its construction phase. 

The key people on the city side were[:] 
  • John Mariol, 7th Ward City Council, whose ward abuts Stadium Park, who took a leading role in this contract and its negotiation and approval; 
  • the Parks Commission (Andy Black, President, Mike Hanke and Sam Sliman); 
  • Derek Gordon, Parks Director; 
  • Dan Moeglin, city engineer; 
  • Donn Angus, city planner; ... 
  • Kris Bates, and 
  • Joe Martuccio from the Law Department who both worked on the contract and underlying legal questions. This took a lot of thought, work, negotiations and public meetings to put this together. Tom
Thomas M. Bernabei
Mayor, City of Canton

John Mariol?

Interesting to the SCPR.

He was one of the most active and vocal of opponents when Bernabei took on Healy as was the SCPR's highly respected Edmond Mack.

That Bernabei lauds Mariol for his role in the negotiations with the HOF Village LLC on the Park benefits shows how gracious the mayor is.

One of the reasons that The Report takes a dim view of partisan political party politics is the inability of some partisan elected/appointed officials, to rephrase 7th congressional district Democratic candidate Ken Harbaugh's campaign theme (Country over Party), to put "community interests over political party interests).

Mariol and Mack succumbed to the likes of  Dems' party chair Phil and his highly partisan brother  Louis who continues to make noises about running for mayor of Canton in 2019.

What a catastrophe Louis would be as mayor in terms of being a captive of the Stark County Democratic Party interests!


Mariol, not really a surprise.

Good for Stark County that he was not elected as commissioner (against Richard Regula in 2016).

Mariol originally agreed to appear on a SCPR "for the voter's benefit" side-by-side videotaped interview in the 2016 campaign, but all a sudden pulled out.  Regula:  an incumbent and a man who doesn't the the exposure was "willing, ready and able" to go head-to-head with Mariol.

Why?

Likely because Dem party leaders told him to or some other political consideration (like the inability to handle the incisive questioning of the SCPR)?

A guy with very little political/government experience thinks he can skate untested into a countywide governance position?


Apparently, he and the Stark Dems' leadership hasn't gotten the message:  "A Canton-based Democrat cannot win countywide 'in a two person race' UNLESS running as an incumbent."

Now Mariol says he sees what a first-rate leader Tom Bernabei is.

Having opposed Bernabei initially in favor of Healy, doesn't one have to question his judgement?

It appears to the SCPR that Mariol is more attuned to his political party's interest and derivatally his personal political interest than voters having the benefit of him his answering incisive questions based on his performance as a public office and his philosophy of governance.

Contrary to what most people think, political party philosophy can and does seep into decisions made at the county, city, village and board of education level of government UNLESS officials stand back and look at the basis upon which a decision is being made.

Political party points of view are unacceptable.  Only overall taxpayer/citizen interests are valid considerations.

Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei, even before he officially became an independent, could separate from political party interests.

He proved that ability is spades in taking on the Stark County Democratic Party establishment!

Another quality that Tom Bernabei has is his eagerness to recognize those in government who contribute to his success as a leader in government.

Healy could not do the same when Bernabei was his Service/Chief of Staff in 2008/2009.  After about a year on the job, Healy fired Bernabei and thereby ensured that even in a heavily Democratic city it was just a matter of time until he failed as mayor.

Had he been able to recognize the huge talent he had in Bernabei, he could have saved himself the disaster in governance that befell him and which Canton endured for eight years on top of the decades of Canton governance mismanagement that preceded even him.

Had the self-serving-politico William J. Healy, II been able to sublimate his ego and abide Bernabei's "tough 'political' love," Canton would be eight years down the road to recovering from decades of Canton decline.

And, of course, nobody should forget that the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party was willing to put the Healy/Democratic Party interests over the interests of the "Hall of Fame" city for at least "four more years!"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

SCPR SERIES: (VOL 1) CELEBRATING STARK COUNTY CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN OUR "DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN" SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT

UPDATE:  10:00 AM

UNDERSTANDING OHIO'S TYPE I & TYPE II ANNEXATIONS

COURTESY OF CITIZEN/LOCAL GOV'T DIALOGUE


A primary reason The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) was begun on March 12, 2008 was to encourage Stark Countians to participate in our American "democratic-republican" system of government.

Over the past 10+ years, the SCPR has done a lot of videotaping of "citizens-in-action" at various levels of Stark County local government and published them in these pages which now number well over 3,000 blogs.

While the mainstay of the SCPR is this blogger's critical analysis in the context of accountability, accessibility, communicativeness and transparency of all levels of Stark County political subdivision government, The Report does not get bogged down in what is wrong with government.

The SCPR in its widespread coverage of local government picks up on the positive processes and highlights those instances not in a "cheerleading" fashion, but as a inspiration for citizens of Stark County to become "difference makers" in the quality of local (the most susceptible to citizen influence) and state government.

As "you know, I know and everybody knows," it takes an exceptional (often tragic)  event for everyday citizens to have an impact on our national government.

With today's blog, The Report is starting a series of hopefully many, many, many more blogs specifically highlighting and  celebrating citizen participation in government at the county level (e.g. Board of Stark County Commissioners), the city level (Canton City Council and the like throughout the county), the township level (e.g. Jackson Township and the like), and, of course, boards of education (e.g. North Canton City Schools Board of Education and the like).

The focus in this particular series will be on citizens who do not typically and publicly interact with government with the regularity that well known to public officials citizen activists do.

On May 9, 2018 two Plain Township Citizens Judy Pocock and Tom Schillig appeared at the regular weekly meeting of the Board of Stark County commissioners with questions regarding the annexation by Canton of nearby to their residences of  Plain Township located properties.

In the SCPR's experience, since now former commissioner Thomas Bernabei and still sitting commissioner Janet Creighton were elected (November, 2010), the Board of Stark County commissioners is the very best of all Stark County political subdivision governments in responding "meaningfully" with those citizens who engage them in the Public Speaks section of their meeting agenda.

Most public bodies vary from stringently limiting of citizen engagement (e.g. North Canton City Council) to those somewhat more flexible (e.g. Alliance, Canton and Massillon and many boards of education) to a liberal model in terms of having no fixed time limit/willing to respond on-the-spot in citizen/gov't engagement such as the county commissioners and most of Stark's townships.

Here is a video of the opening of the meeting May 9th commissioners meeting which is pretty typical: (one min, 37 sec)



Citizen Pocock's and Schillig's concerns had to do with this resolution on the commissioners' agenda:


And here is Citizen Pocock's initial interaction with the commissioners: (1 min, 39 sec)



Next, the Part One on the engagement between the commissioners, their legal counsel and Citizen Pocock: (4 min, 55 sec)



Next up, Citizen Pocock asks what can you (the commissioners do to help me solve my concerns?

Prosecutor Dawson (Stark County), Commissioner Richard Regula, Chief County Administrator Brant Luther and Prosecutor Jason Reese (Canton) respond: (4 min, 51 sec)



With Citizen Pocock was neighbor Tom Schillig who interposes his questions to make sure he understands the difference between Type I and Type II annexations (Reese replies).

Note that after some 11/12 minutes of discourse, Commissioner Creighton interjects to end the dialogue.

The SCPR thinks that Citizens Pocock and Schillig had a full and fair opportunity to question and that public officials provided a complete explanation of Ohio's annexation scheme of things.

The commissioners demonstrate once again (this certainly has not been the first time) that they are more respective of and appreciative of citizen engagement than the most of Stark County local government.  Accordingly, they make a contribution to citizens realizing that there are some government officials who truly care about citizen input and thereby encourage citizen government participation.

The commissioners are an example that ALL of Stark County's political subdivisions "ought" to be following.

As Commission Creighton demonstrates in the videos presented in this blog, the meeting is not a "free-for-all," but, rather, a ordered yet "flexible" exchange of questions and answers.

If Citizens Schillig and Pocock think that the Ohio Legislature got the reform of annexation wrong, the SCPR encourages them to take their citizen-in-action project to the doors of state Representative Christina Hagan (the 50th), Thomas West (the 49th), Kirk Schuring (the 48th) and state Senator Scott Oleslager (the 29th).

Chances are higher with the legislators that citizens will get ignored or get the brush off after a token feigned interest, but every once in awhile a state legislature will actually engage a citizen.

The Report followed up with Pocock and Schillig post Q&A with the commissioners for their evaluation of how they were dealt with by the commissioners: (6 min, 18 sec)



And by the way, SCPR KUDOS to Pocock and Schillig for being examples of responsible citizens!

One more thing.

Ms. Pocock is involved with her Plain Township community as president of the Plain Township Historical Society.



Folks like Judy Pocock and Tom Schillig involved in their respective communities are foundational for a vibrant and healthy society.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

SCPR SERIES "ECOT-GATE" (VOL 1): IS THERE ANOTHER REPUBLICAN OH GENERAL ASSEMBLY POLITICAL SCANDAL BREWING?

UPDATE:  12:57 PM

REMEMBER "COINGATE" OF 2016?  (LINK

FOLLOW THE MONEY:  STARK OGA MEMBERS

ARE OELSLAGER & SCHURING IN "UP TO THEIR NECKS?"

(LINK TO CLEVELAND.COM LARKIN COLUMN)

VIDEO:  NORTH CANTON BOE ESTABLISHES "DIGITAL ACADEMY"

Could it be that heretofore thought "invulnerable" to electoral defeat Stark County-based Ohio General Assembly delegation Republican members W. Scott Oelslager (running for Ohio House District 48, currently held by Republican J. Kirk Schuring) and Schuring himself (running for Ohio Senate District 29, currently held by W. Scott Oelslager)  will be sucked into what is being described in the media as being  the "ECOT scandal" and suffer the unthinkable?

Unthinkable?

What does that mean?

Both lose in November, 2018 because of being part of a Republican political culture within the Columbus political beltway that has resulted in Ohio possibly losing $80 million in taxpayer money to an educational "online" entity that was started by the Ohio Legislature in House Bill 770 in its 1997/1998 session?

Like Coingate, the ECOT appears to some to be a "Follow-the-Money" quest.

This quote from a former Republican John Damschroeder (a Voinovich administration official):

In 2005, following the infamous Coingate scandal, Ohio lawmakers ended the sales tax exemption for rare coins but they neglected to close the door on high fee, high risk alternative investments, made possible only because of a change in law pushed by large campaign contributors.
Schuring has been a member of the OGA since January 1, 1995 and Oelslager since February 3, 1985.

And both are largely incommunicado with any who disagree with or would question them about their positions on various legislation, to wit:  (from a SCPR source)
Despite Speaker Schuring dismissing me over ECOT(4 times he refused to talk to me) now, it appears there will be criminal charges. 
What does Schuring have to say about this? Funny, he has yet to return the campaign contributions he took in exchange for trying to block the DOE audit.
Schuring used to always take the SCPR's questions, but hasn't for several years because, of course, The Report "cuts-right-to-the-chase."  Apparently, he cannot handle incisive questioning.

Since term limits (8 consecutive years) have been the law of Ohio, the two have switched back and forth between the 29th and the 48th (and its predecessor district designation) in order to defeat the will of Ohio voters that we get fresh faces in the OGA periodically.

Even though the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party seem to have given Oleslager and Schuring "a pass" (as in many previous election cycles), circumstances might overcome the political weakness/inexperience of the Democratic candidates nominated on May 8th.


This particular blog is an introduction to a multi-volume-series that The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) is embarking upon which the series will dig deep into the history and progression of support for ECOT on the part of legislators Schuring and Oelslager.

Last evening the SCPR was at North Canton Board of Education's monthly meeting for May in which Superintendent Jeff Wendorf made comments on North Canton's efforts, one district out of the seventeen Stark County school districts, to make inroads on online charter/community school revenue takeaways which across Ohio results in local school districts losing millions upon millions of taxpayer provided dollars to private sector educational entrepreneurs.

North Canton loses about one-half-million dollars ($513,000 last year) per year to the charter/community/online school entreprise provided for by the likes of Schuring and Oelslager and their Republican colleagues in the Ohio Legislature.

Here is a SCPR video on the NC-BOE Digital Learning Center discussion and vote:



It will be interesting to see whether or not the likes of Stark County Democratic Party chairman Phil Giavasis and the party's executive committee will seize what comes to be a prime opportunity to unseat Schuring and Oelslager.

The Report is skeptical that Giavasis et al will do little if anything to defeat Oelslager and Schuring.

Going back many years, there seems to have been a love affair between local elected Democrats who also hold key local party positions and Schuring and Oelslager.

There have been a parade of  48th/29th District candidate "sacrificial lambs" put to "political slaughter" in an act of political appeasement to these seeming fixtures in Stark County governance/politics.

As recent as April 30, 2018, the former Stark County Democratic chairman who is also Jackson Township's elected fiscal officer and appointed economic development director at a meeting with the Stark County commissioners on Jackson "Strip-extended" project was singing the praises of Schuring.

Do not expect Giavasis et al to go all out in support of Friedman (Oelslager) and Wilburn (Schuring).

If one or both pull off an upset, it certainly will be on their own efforts coalescing, perhaps, with a brewing scandal with the Republican supermajority dominated Ohio General Assembly on the ECOT matter.

And they won't be beholden to the likes of politicos Giavasis and Gonzalez.

But will they be sharp enough, politically skilled enough to take advantage?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

VIDEOS: JACKSON OFFICIALS PRESENT "THE STRIP-EXTENDED" TO STARK COMMISSIONERS


CREATING A LEGACY?
RANDY GONZALEZ
JACKSON FISCAL OFFICER/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR



Seven (7) Video Clips of Jackson/Stark Commissioners Meeting

Jackson Township is already the retail commercial hub of Stark County.  And it is looking like it before long, the township will extend The Strip behind the current location of Home Depot on a northward trek to Applegrove Avenue.


This extension has been in the making for some ten (10) years now.

What is coming to the extended Strip?

"Mum" is the word, so far.

The "prime" Jackson economic development and financial security factor going forward appears to be one Randy Gonzalez.  A former Jackson trustee, he has been fiscal officer going back quite a number of years now and economic development director since November, 2017.   Some think Gonzalez is Jackson Township government with Trustees Hawke, Pizzinio and Walters taking their marching orders from him.

Gonzalez as a government official has a pretty impressive record.  As an "organized" Stark County Democratic Party official; not so impressive.

Among Gonzalez's government achievements that come to mind (undoubtedly there are many others) include:
  • Sounding an "alarm bell" of Stark's broken 911 system (began in May, 1990) in 2008 which has resulted in a wholesale revamp of the system which serves Stark County as a whole,
  • Being a key factor (as chief deputy clerk of courts) in the creation of and the enhancement of Stark Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), 
  • Working with Canton and Plain Township to create a collaborative economic development/shared resources structure including JEDDS (LINK for description) and TIFFS (LINK for description) as provided for Ohio political subdivision governments by the Ohio Legislature,
    • Note:  TIFFs for the most part take away from school revenues
  • Supporting Jacksonians (LINK) whose objective was to have the Stark County District Library replace the "falling apart" township located facility with a new one.
This blog's evaluation of Gonzalez's achievement is not some sort of "cheerleading" that The Repository is likely to do.  As regular readers of this blog know, Gonzalez, as a Stark County Democratic Party operative, has been the subject of quite of number of critical blogs.

There has never been anything personal about the criticisms, but it is understandable that the likes of Gonzalez would take it as such.  It appears he is infected to a lesser degree with the president's malady of not taking criticism very well.  Highly political people usually don't.  And Gonzalez is first and foremost a politician.  Nobody should ever forget that.

Getting back to Jackson Township governance, there is an outstanding negative about Jackson Township government itself.

What might that be?

Its police department!

It is way too expensive (Plain Township via contract with Stark County Sheriff provides efficient/effective policing services to a population more less the size of Jackson at about 20% of the cost).  Moreover, the JPD has a history of chronic personnel issues.  So along with the expense, the trustees in having the township's own police department have brought on themselves the "headaches" of dealing with conflicts within the department.

Two major shopping centers are located in the "we make things happen!" (trustee sanctioned descriptor) township.

Belden Village Mall (Starwood Retail Partners of Chicago; opened 1970) and The Strip (Stark Enterprises of Cleveland; opened 1996).

Of all of Stark County's townships, Jackson appears to be the most aggressive and committed to economic development.

The development of Belden Village and The Strip in Jackson Township probably in combination had a significant role in the decline of Canton as the commercial center of Stark County.

Canton's big play in retail shopping had been Mellet Mall (now Canton Centre) which one blogger in 2014  termed as being "dead and dying retail." (LINK)

On April 30th, Jackson officials (Trustee Todd Hawke, Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez and administrator/legal counsel Michael Vaccaro at their request met with Commissioners Janet Creighton and Bill Smith regarding an impending retail expansion within the township.

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) was there and presents a video Q&A breakdown on the session in order to provide Jackson residents and Stark Countians at large with the "latest and greatest" on the impending expansion "The Strip" retail center that faces I-77.

In appendix to this blog is a full (unedited) presentation of the work session.  Also in the appendix are pdf files providing detailed information on the Belden Village Mall and The Strip.

SEGMENTED VIDEO CLIPS

First, Joe Underwood of the Stark County Regional Planning office as to why Jackson officials are into to discussing "The Strip" extension project. (1 min, 50 sec)



Next, Jackson administrator/legal counsel Michael Vaccaro.

Vaccaro speaks to why Jackson officials are in to see, talk with the commissioners and the status of the project. (2 min, 32 sec)



Next Stark County assistance prosecutor Deborah Dawson and Underwood on the need/lack of need of a "performance bond." (3 min, 19 sec)



Next, Fiscal Officer/Economic Development Director Gonzalez outlines economic development projects going on in Jackson with focus on The Strip extension.  (3 min, 46 sec)



Next, Gonzalez on Keck Park project. (3 min, 3 sec)



Next, Dave Torrance of Stark County Engineer's office weighs in. (40 sec)



Last, timetable discussion among Jackson officials, county officials on the Jackson The Strip extension project.  Also, Gonzalez comment on "no anchor" yet for project and reference to future Tam O'Shanter project.  (8 min, 28 sec)



APPENDIX

The complete video (23 min, 47 sec) of the Jackson/Stark Commissioners work session:



PDF FILE ON "THE STRIP" AS PRESENTLY CONSTITUTED




Friday, May 11, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: JULIE JAKMIDES - EDMOND MACK RESIGNING COUNCIL SEATS EFF: 05/22/2018



A terrific loss to Alliance city government and Canton city government!

But it is gratifying to know that they will continue to make their voices heard in Stark County political subdivision government and politics.

Councilwoman Julie Jakmides (Republican, Alliance/at-large) and Edmond Mack (Democrat, Canton Ward 8) are resigning the council positions effective May 22, 2018.


The Stark County Political Report from the inception of the SCPR "Top Ten" Elected County Political Subdivision officials has ranked Jakmides and Mack in that elite group.

Here is a copy of Jakmides' resignation letter to Stark GOP chairman Jeff Matthews.



And a copy of Edmond Mack's letter of resignation.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A SURPRISE "EXTRAORDINAIRE" AT THE 05/09/2018 STARK CO COMMISSIONERS' MEETING

UPDATE:  FRIDAY, 8:45 A.M.

Detail on Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. gubernatorial appointment to Ohio Board of Nursing (2009)


Been there, done that!

Switching parties (being a Republican 34 years; a Democrat 32 years) but finally, in 2008, getting to where I think most voting citizens need to be; namely: "a non-partisan!"

A perfect perch from which to write a political blog, no?

On April 29, Republican governor John Kasich appearing on CNN's State of the Union made the quote attributed to him above.


Apparently, the Kasich CNN interview got Stark Countian Tim Aral to thinking.

Take a look at Tim Aral's statement (1 min, 30 sec) made at yesterday's Stark County commissioners' meeting:



The aforedescribed Tim Aral statement at yesterday's regular meeting of the Stark County commissioners' came as a surprise in two regards:
  • In the 10 plus years experience The Stark County Political Report covering the commissioners' meetings pretty much week-in, week-out; never has a participant during the commissioners' agenda space of "Public Speaks" has a citizen commented on a purely political matter as Aral did yesterday, and
  • Aral, an employee of the Stark County Job and Family Services for 17 years, is a staunch member of the United Steel Workers which pretty much in the minds of many of us means he most certainly would be a Democrat,
Indeed, the commissioners (who, by the way are all what the SCPR thinks "traditional Republicans," as well as this blogger were stunned by Aral's political affiliation statement.

Of course, the solution to Aral's lament at the distance from his personal political values  of both the Republican/Democratic (or that matter any other "organized" political party) is to become a non-partisan.

Aral as a citizen engaged person has appeared before on the SCPR, here are the links:
It appears that such a step is not currently on the horizon in his internal debate on how to resolve his political discontent.

From a political perspective, this blogger has never felt more comfortable than as being a "registered" non-partisan voter.

Political parties like nearly all if not all institutions which seek to organize our lives (even including religious organizations) first and foremost seek to perpetuate themselves and make themselves indispensable to our lives.

Human masters of these institutions all too often grab control of many of our societal institutions and in a seemingly benign way seek to attach our happiness to being our being loyal to those institutions.

Often, it is not the happiness of the membership which preoccupies domineering institutional leaders, but, rather their own success, happiness and station in life.

Political parties may be at the apex of the "control-the-membership-for-party-personal-benefit" purposes.

In Stark County, it seems to The Stark County Political Report that one of the most accomplished at controlling the crowd for political party and thinly disguised personal benefit is former Stark County Democratic chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

In the years leading up to the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial election, it appeared to this blogger that Maier had launched a political infrastructure plan to adhere the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party to first "the good of the party" which in reality translated, in the opinion of The Report, to the benefit of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., his close, close, close political friends and perhaps a few members of his family with himself being a primary beneficiary.


Maier, Jr. (buttressed by his "core" political loyalists) was first-out-of-the-gate in being an Ohio county Democratic Party chairman to support in the name of the Stark County Democratic Party, Ted Strickland, in his, what would turn out to be, successful quest to become governor of Ohio.

Among the beneficiaries of Maier's having attained mastery of institutional Stark County Democratic Party, it appears to the SCPR, are former Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson (Lottery Commission appointment), former Jackson Township trustee, Stark County commissioner Steven Meeks (Region 9 Department of Economic Development liaison), brother and now Stark County sheriff George T. Maier (second in command in the Ohio Department of Public Safety).

And, of course, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. who apparently successfully lobbied the Strickland administration to appoint to him to the Ohio Nursing Board likely as the consumer advocate member of the board (LINK).  If he was the  consumer representative on the board, it would be somewhat surprising to The Report inasmuch as the SCPR does not perceive him to be a zealot for consumer interests.  (Note:  In original blog, The Report could not recall the exact appointment)


The SCPR thinks that there are likely others that the Maier connection to the Strickland administration paid dividends for.

If he served the entire four year term, he would have earned close to $16,000.

And one should not think that it is the likes of Maier and "organized" Democrats who are the sole offenders of community-above-self.

The SCPR can cite chapter and verse on Stark County Republican public officials who are every bit a politically self-centered who put political party as a vehicle of achieving personal political interests at the top of what they are all about.

Of the lot of candidates that are contending for elective office in 2018, only 7th Congressional District candidate Ken Harbaugh (see this LINK to his Canton Town Hall meeting) has an announced appropriate ordering of priorities in terms of the priority of his political party affiliation.


His Republican opponent (incumbent Bob Gibbs) is all about his political party being first as a vehicle for personal political achievement.

And only media that throw him softball questions get invited to cover his "townhall?" meetings.

The SCPR has no problems whatsoever for those voters who want to be identified with a political party.

But only insofar as they make it clear that is our country, our Ohio collectivity and our respective communities TRUMP political party interests and those of self-centered individual politicians.