Saturday, September 23, 2017

"ON THE HOT SEAT:" STARK CO DISTRICT LIBRARY BD OF TRUSTEES?


JACKSON TOWNSHIP RESIDENTS
"UP IN ARMS"
OVER LOSS OF LIBRARY BUILDING


CAN BE A "WIN-WIN" FOR BOTH SIDES OF ISSUE!

At the end of June of this year,  "the Suburbanite.com" did a story on the demolition of the Jackson Branch of the Stark County District Library.

It was literally "a picture tells a thousand words" insofar as many Jackson Township public library users were concerned.

To them it seems that they viewed the demolition as being devastating (i.e. a lot of fond memories of they and their children using the facility), but at the time they were buying into the notion that in the long run Jackson would be better off with the building being demolished on the promise that it would be replaced in due course with a projected "temporary" move to a nearby storefront location.


Back in May, 2016 the Stark County District Library made the determination that the 25 year old Jackson Branch of the Stark County District Library (SCDL; JB-SCDL) was in such a state of disrepair that it would cost about as much to do the repairs as to build a new library (estimated to be $4.7 million).

It appears that Scott Oelslager  (Republican, 29th Ohio Senate District) and/or Kirk Schuring (Republican, 48th Ohio House District) had successfully convinced fellow legislators to include $1 million in state money to rebuild the JB-SCDL.

But along the way to transitioning from a "in need of demolition" building to a "brand new" building, cutting edge thinking in form of relatively new director hire Tena Wilson,  a concept of libraries evolving across America as being technologically utilitarian and savvy as being "Smart Stores" was bought into by Wilson.


The SCPR has yet to talk with Wilson on her particular history of her embracing the "Smart Store" concept, it seems that need to either repair the existing JB-SCDL or to tear it down and go to an alternative was a "gift sent from Heaven" in terms of finding a way to deliver library services at a higher library services utilization rate on a much more economical basis and thereby save taxpayers money.

What she did not count on, it appears, was the storm of protest that she was about to dust up when it became increasingly deducible by traditionalist Jackson Township based public library users that the transition from the in disrepair building to an alternative was that the alternative being a "storefront" temporary location becoming permanent.

Take time out and go to the SAVE OUR LIBRARY Facebook page put together by those Jackson residents who are insisting that the SCDL rebuild a permanent home for the JB-SCDL at the original North Park in Jackson Township location.

As readers can see, the rhetoric from some of the page users is quite heated.

Jackson Township officials (the trustees and the fiscal officer) are fully supportive of the effort for Jackson to get back to a permanent location for a library.

Originally, township officials (25 years ago) cobbled together some $500,000 and a plot of land in North Park to build the now demolished facility.

However, Jackson Township officialdom via Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez (a former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) is urging opponents of the storefront location becoming permanent, more or less, to tone down the rhetoric, to wit:


Not nearly as helpful in defusing this emotionally charged environment is a comment by Trustee Jamie Walters, to wit:


Focus on Walters' "hopefully the easy way," followed by "but either way regardless, Jackson makes things happen.

Kind of strange for a person who bills himself as "RevJamieWalters" to be implying that power politics could be the future of the Jackson Township/SCDL differences on whether or not a new building will be built.

The SCDL Board of Trustees will be holding a "regular" meeting this coming Wednesday, September 27th at the main branch which is located at 715 Market Ave, North, Canton, Ohio.  The starting time is 5:00 p.m.  There is every indication that opponents to the Wilson recommendation will be at the meeting in force as they have been at a number of Q&A/informational meetings that have been held recently.


Executive Director Tena Wilson may well be correct in terms of efficiency/effectiveness (i.e. higher library use of the Smart Store approach) factors, but those types of consideration seem rather analytical and sterile in the light of the emotional factors at play and in light of a clear shift of direction from the original promise that there would be a "new" building to replace the "old" one when cost effectiveness of repairing the "old" became apparent in the context of expert (architectural/engineering) assessment.

An example of the communication problems inherent in using an analytical approach as compared to a largely emotional reaction is obvious in the suggestion by one "rebuild the library" advocate is caught up in the number $670,000.

Director Wilson tells the SCPR that the cited $670,000 was ONLY for the repair of the water/foundational problem at the "old" building.

In the SCPR's e-mail communication with Director Wilson it was The Report that suggested to Wilson that there was a mistake in comprehending what the $670,000 number was all about.

The SCPR has no dog in this fight on the substantive issue.

However, The Report loves to see the likes of SAVE OUR LIBRARY group work at becoming informed and active in civic issues that surface across Stark County's political subdivisions.

The current SCDL operating levy will have to be renewed or replaced by the November 2018 general election.

Jackson's opponents to the storefront location of the JB-SCDL point out that 30% of any levy that is passed comes from Stark County's second largest township.

It would be tragic for the health of the Stark County District Library to fall victim to a communication problems between SCDL officials and the SAVE OUR LIBRARY FOLKS.

Last evening, the SCPR received this response from Director Wilson to an inquiry which included allegations of personal nature.  She chose not to respond to the personal attacks on her make by some of the members of the SAVE OUR LIBRARY group.

Here is the core of her response:

·        In 2016, the library board made the decision to replace the original Jackson library facility with new construction.  The decision was made after an extensive study showing the extent of the damage and that the costs to repair and remodel the old building would be nearly as much as that to build an entirely new branch.   

·        As you mention, it was estimated that it would cost $670,000 for just the repairs to remediate the water damage. The larger figure included that repair cost plus the interior remodeling project we were already planning in order to refresh and update the branch before we discovered the damage.

·        To ensure continued service to the local community while the old library was demolished and a new one built, we established an interim branch in the Buehler’s Plaza.  The smaller facility was created only as a temporary solution until the new branch could be built; it was necessarily limited to the space available at the time and it was never intended to be a permanent option. 

·        Taking advantage of the need to outfit the interim space regardless, we decided to use it as an opportunity to test a number of new technologies, services, and materials that we would eventually like to offer system-wide. Many of these – like our 24/7 lobby, video games, and pick-up lockers – have received very positive reviews.

There are a number of persons who have handled themselves quite well in the ongoing dialogue between SCDL officialdom and the SAVE OUR LIBRARY group.

Fiscal Officer  (Jackson Township) Randy Gonzalez deserves plaudits for his work to defuse the potential volatility of the dialogue.

In scheduling and holding well attended community meetings, SCDL officials are demonstrating that they are more than willing to hear Jackson citizens out on their clear desire that notwithstanding the efficiency/effectiveness numbers residents REALLY DO WANT A "NEW" BUILDING on the original township government provided site.

Director Wilson supported by the board of trustees can use the Smart Store approach to the future of library services across the nation into a "new" Jackson Township library branch building.

And the SAVE OUR LIBRARY members need to assure SCDL officials if the board of trustees agrees to rebuild in Jackson, that come a levy effort in 2018; they will step forward to support the levy effort.

In particular, should any others across the complex of the SCDL system attack countywide renewal/replacement effort because the officials opted to spend more money than a pure efficiency/effectiveness analysis indicates as being prudent in rebuilding in Jackson; the SAVE OUR LIBRARY folks should come to the board's defense in making the point that "by the numbers" analyses do not account for traditional and emotional factors inherent in the decision.

To repeat, it seems to the SCPR that library officials and SAVE OUR LIBRARY folks can "have their cake and eat it too!"

Working together they can make a new building a center for Jackson civic and community life that will build numbers using a new physical facility supplemented by "in place at the current storefront location" devices which make the library functional 24/7.

Jackson official Randy Gonzalez in a terrific model for the SAVE OUR LIBRARY advocates and hopefully his influence will be in full play when the September 27th board of trustees meeting takes place.

The SCPR plans on being there as this civic engagement encounter continues.

This back and forth is clear evidence that citizens being involved (especially in local government) can be effective.

Minus the personal attacks, the SAVE OUR LIBRARY participants are an example of a prized community asset.

Friday, September 22, 2017

CANTON LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO TO RETIRE AT END OF 2017?


Undoubtedly, there are a number of Stark County attorneys who would love to be Canton law director.

And it appears that sooner than later they will have their chance.


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) has learned that it is highly likely that they will get their chance in early 2018.

For the SCPR has it on solid sourcing information that Canton Law Director Joseph Martuccio will very, very, very likely be retiring at the end of this year.

Martuccio, who is 64, has been law director since 2000 when he was appointed by the Canton Municipal Court District precinct committeepersons of the Stark County Democratic Party to succeed Thomas M. Bernabei (the current mayor of Canton) to replace Bernabei when he retired.

Before becoming director, he was Canton assistant prosecutor, a Stark County public defender and assistant public defender.  Martuccio had various other public service positions outside of Stark County prior to beginning his work in Stark County (he public defender's office) in 1981.  Counting all his public service, he has racked up some 40 years in public life.

Martuccio has never had an election opponent during his 17 years as law director.

It all began with the 2003 election.


The Report hears that he has a non-life threatening health issue which he is dealing with and that resolving the matter has prompted his consideration of retiring.

From what the SCPR has learned, it appears that the inside track for succeeding Martuccio is his deputy chief counsel Kristen Bates Aylward.


It would not be surprising if there is some "testing of the waters" by others even if it is widely known that Bates-Aylward is Martuccio's preference to be his successor which the SCPR has reason to believe that she is.

When she ran for Stark County Domestic Relations judge in 2012, she received the highest recommendation by her peer members of the Stark County Bar Association.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SCPR ELECTION SERIES: (GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES) MIKE DEWINE



The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) does not generally go to political campaign fundraisers.

But when a campaign brings in a well known, highly significant political figure into Stark County, well! that's an exception.

On Monday, the SCPR interviewed Democratic candidate for governor Joseph Schiavoni (of the Youngstown area) in a thoroughgoing fashion.  Democrats who want to be informed Democratic voters come May 8, 2018 will make sure they see this video (LINK).

And, The Report is working on getting the remaining Democratic campaigns to sit down with me to answer questions which are foremost in the minds of Stark Democrats as they make a selection between announced candidates Schiavoni, Pillich, Sutton and Whaley.

North Canton mayor David Held may be in for the run of his political life as he is being challenged by Scott Kelly.

Soon the SCPR will be sitting down with Kelly and Held for one-on-one interviews like the one already published on Plain Township trustee Scott Haws (LINK) and within the next few days one of Trustee John Sabo (interviewed on September 20th).

Moreover, for a thorough understanding of State of Ohio Issue #2, Stark Countians have a resource to be completely informed on the issue by going to this LINK and soaking in the material in the blog based on coverage of the Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) and The Repository sponsored forum on the issue.

Last night the SCPR had access to Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine who is currently the attorney general of Ohio.

While The Report would have liked to had a little more time with DeWine, it was getting late and he had a two plus hour trip ahead of him getting back to Columbus.

Readers of the SCPR likely have picked up on The Report's focus in interviews is how they view matters and will act upon if elected to the enhancement or detriment of all things Stark County.

Two of the three questions that DeWine agreed to answer were on two very important issues to Stark Countians.

First and foremost how he will deal with the financing local government funding.

Canton council president Allen Schulman should find DeWine's answer interesting because in framing the question I refer to Schulman's famous diatribe of a couple years ago on the Republicans (the Kasich and supermajority Republican Ohio General Assembly) draconian reduction in local government funding so that the state could balance its budget.

Secondly, a question on the continued viability of "land bank" funding beyond 2019 (the beginning of the term for whomever gets elected governor in November, 2018).

In Stark County, the chairman of the Stark County "Land Bank" is Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar.  One of the essential conditions of revitalization of Stark County urban communities is the demolition or rehab of blighted properties.

 And, of course, the scope of ridding Stark County's villages, cities and townships of blighted properties is receiving federal and state dollars teamed up with local match dollars.

A Republican, Zumbar is the Stark County head of the Mike DeWine for governor campaign.  (see LINK  blog of June 29th wherein the SCPR writes about  Zumbar/Creighton joining the DeWine campaign)

If DeWine gets elected, one would expect Zumbar to parlay his influence with the governor to convince him to keep the Lank Bank movement financially alive and thriving post-2019.

The SCPR sees Zumbar's administration of the Land Bank as being highly effective but there is a long ways to go before Stark County can say that the blighted property problem is behind us.

For the job to get done, Ohio's next governor is going to have to be committed in terms of budgeting dollars and cents to the cause in Ohio's biennium budgets.

Here is the videotaped interview between the SCPR and Mike DeWine:


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SCPR: LEANING "NO" ON ISSUE #2, BUT UNCOMFORTABLE BEING ON SIDE OF "BIG PHARMA"



COMMUNITY FORUM HELPFUL IN DECIDING
"YES" OR "NO"
ON
STATE ISSUE #2



VIDEOS

FEATURING

Repository Executive Editor Rich Desrosiers

LWV President Amy Striver-Dreussi

Ohio Alliance of Retired Americans
Dan Fonte

Moderator Ron Ponder

Stark County Citizens
Did the Forum Help Them in Deciding?

By The Stark County Political Report's (SCPR) count, some 75 Stark Countians, more or less, crammed into the McKinley Room of the Stark County District Library—Main Branch, 715 Market Ave., North in Canton last night to hear the "experts" weigh-in on whether or not Ohio's voters should vote yes or no on Statewide Issue #2.

Here is a copy of Issue #2 as it will appear on the November 7, 2018 Ohio ballot:



The event was sponsored by the Canton League of Women Voters and The Repository.

Which way to vote on Issue 2 is about as clear as mud as articulated by Repository executive editor Rich Desrosiers in his opening remarks.



Desrosiers followed Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) president Amy Shriver Dreussi who crisply and clearly explained the primary LWV purpose of being a vehicle for voters to become "informed" voters.



To the SCPR, the most informed person in the room was former Local 94 Plumbers and Pipefitters union official Dan Fonte.

Fonte was present last night as a representative of the American Alliance of Retired Persons who like Desrosiers and The Repository editorial board has been wrestling with which side to come down on in recommending how voters vote on Issue 2.

Fonte says that organization that he is affiliated with has been discussing which way to go in advising its clientele on how to vote on Issue #2.

He says that he individually is leaning in the direction of voting "no" because of the uncertainty of how Issue #2 would be implemented should the issue pass.

As can be seen in his own words in the following video clip, Fonte says he has concerns that Big Pharma will do everything in its power to cause implementation to fail which appears likely to include manipulating the available formulas and thereby forcing price increases for those affected by passage of the issue.



The Stark County Political Report is convinced that Fonte's take is on the mark and accordingly is now leaning towards believing that a "no" vote is likely the best vote for the welfare of any Ohioan who will be affected by Issue #2.

The Stark County Political feels uncomfortable in siding up with Big Pharma on which way to vote.

One of the reasons that Issue #2 might pass is that there are likely many Ohioans who suspect that Big Pharma is all about enhancing the industry's profit level which already is astronomical.

Ballotpedia is in the judgment of the SCPR the best source for citizens to get a handle on what facts are available in the fight over whether or not Issue #2 should pass.

Here is a Ballotpedia graphic on the campaign financing on the issue as of September 15th:


Another interesting Ballotpedia graphic is polling in August showing that at that time Ohio voters were likely to pass the measure:


Given the extremely large 54% undecided vote, the most that the "yes" folks can take from the poll is that at one time they had a leg up on the "no" vote opposition.

The two campaign groups:
  • Ohio Taxpayers for Lower Drug Prices
    • Chris Galloway
  • Ohioans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue
    • Victoria Zyp
    • Tracy Jones
both had representatives at last night forum.

Here are the opening and closing arguments by each side.

First, Galloway, then (the open), then Zyp and Jones followed by Galloway (the close).




Ron Ponder was the facilitator of the the discussion last evening, and as always effectively moderated the event.

The correct protocol was for audience members to submit written questions so as to avoid duplicate or unseemly questions.

There were a number of times that audience members injected from the floor and Ponder handled the intrusion deftly.

One such interruption was between an "from the audience" person directed at Chris Galloway which could have turned ugly but which Ponder using his experience as a moderator turned into a positive for those attending, to wit:



After the forum concluded and the audience filed out of the SCDL McKinley room,  the SCPR asked three members of the audience whether or not the forum helped them gather information for a decision on how they would vote, to wit:



The SCPR thinks that the "yes" group needs to find a way to convince voters that passage of Issue 2 will not boomerang on voters to their prescription drug pricing detriment a la 
Fonte's fear which The Report shares.

If the "yes" folks cannot assure voters that they have a legal strategy to keep Big Pharma from using passage to reach "unintended by the 'yes' folks adverse to prescription drug users consequences, then as a matter of self-interest, it is hard to see why a voter would take a risk that their "yes" vote could backfire on affected prescription drug users.

The "vote yes" folks clearly have the higher moral ground.

But can they protect their voters and, indeed, all affected Ohioans from the unintended consequences of Issue #2 getting passed?

That is the big question on the Big Pharma seemingly leverage.

Can the "vote yes" advocates convince enough of the 54% undecideds in light of the attendant risks of voting "yes."

It certainly appears that it is unfair that Big Phama has the clout that it does.

But such is strong strain in American politics.

Unfortunately, "might" does often make "right" in the world of power politics.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SCPR ELECTION SERIES (2018) JOSEPH SCHIAVONI - FOR THE DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL NOMINATION, MAY 2018


JOSEPH SCHIAVONI

AN "EXCLUSIVE" SCPR INTERVIEW



On September 12th, the "announced" Democratic candidates for Ohio governor (2018) squared off (well, sorta) against one another in Martins Ferry, Ohio in an Ohio Democratic Party sponsored debate.  See the entire debate at this LINK.

Governor John Kasich (a Republican) is term limited out after eight consecutive years in office.

Going back to 1991, Democrats have only held the governorship of Ohio for one term.  Democrat Ted Strickland served as governor from January 8, 2007 through January 10, 2011 before losing narrowly to Kasich in the 2014 election.

So Democrats are hungering and thirsting to put their person in charge as Ohio's chief executive in Columbus.

Many political pundits assessed the Martins Ferry event as being a love-in among the Democrats who were united in their attacks on Kasich.

Yesterday, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) sat down with candidate Joe Schiavoni of the Youngstown area for an interview that lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Here is an excerpt from Schiavoni's Wikipedia biography (LINK).


The entire SCPR video Schiavoni interview can be viewed at the end of this blog published to ensure readers that the segments have not been cherry picked.

As the SCPR often does, in this blog the video in broken down into five minute segments for those readers who do not have a window of 40 minutes to view the interview in one setting.

Readers will note that a focus of the interview was a tie-in to the interests specific Stark County in terms of what Stark Countians can expect of a given candidate in attending to the priority needs of our county.

FIRST, Schiavoni introduces himself.

Schiavoni focuses on being "the working persons" candidate in that he talks about the working class jobs he has held early in life, his being a Golden Gloves prizefighter and his primary legal work as a workers' compensation attorney.

The video (4:12):



He does have a representional tie to Stark County in that until redistricting occurred in 2011, he represented the extreme eastern end of Stark (Alliance being the major area) when he was appointed by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus to take over for John Boccieri who had been elected 16th Congressional District congressman.

SECOND,  Schiavoni on the importance of Ohio investment in city infrastructure: (2:40)



THIRD,  on a Canton/Stark County specific interest—the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project: (1:18)



While he is supportive of the project, Schiavoni cautions about "putting too many eggs in one basket."

FOURTH, Schiavoni on his willingness to dip into the "Rainy Day Fund."   He addresses Canton council president Allen Schulman's long standing demand that Ohio restore the 500 million plus cut in local government funding over the past 7/8 years. (3:34)



FIFTH, his commitment to the continued funding viability to rid Ohio (including, of course, Stark County's) of blighted properties through entities such as the Stark County "Land Bank." (3:01)



SIXTH, where does the money come from for Schiavoni's aggressive program to deal with Opioid addiction, restoring local government funding, land banks and the like? (1:33)



SEVENTH, the politics of Schiavoni becoming the Democratic nominee for governor. (3:57)



EIGHTH, the organized labor connection and their/Schiavoni's agreement with PresidentTrump on NAFTA and TPP and, in general, Schiavoni's ability to work with the prospect of "continuing to dominate" Republican Ohio General Assembly.  (5:07)



NINTH, Shiavoni on education/charter schools and the threat that Canton schools may be subject to a state takeover. (6:27)



TENTH, Workers' Compensation (WC), a emphasis in Shiavoni's legal practice, does it need fixing?  (2:26)



ELEVENTH, the effort of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) to shift costs of incarceration/rehab down to local government (2:08), and



TWELVTH, candidate Shiavoni's wrap up. (1:50)



LASTLY, the entire Schiavoni interview (unedited).


Thursday, September 14, 2017

CHRISTINA HAGAN: A "CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER" TO PUBLIC & WOMEN'S HEALTH


Yesterday, news broke that state Representative Christina Hagan (Republican, Marlboro Township, Ohio House District #50) is pushing legislation that could endanger the health of tens of thousands of Ohioans as we approach a new 2018 influenza season.

Hagan via the power of state government (i.e. the legislative process) wants to blunt medical providers' ability to require their respective employees to have themselves vaccinated with a flu shot.

Hagan dresses her effort in a gown of protecting the rights individual medical field workers to refuse taking a flu shot.

By virtue of their line of work, these "few" necessarily come into "up close and personal" contact with with "us" many.

In the 2016/2017 flu season in Ohio there were upwards of 10,000 hospitalizations due to influenza infections.


The peak flu season in Ohio is January through March of any given year.

Of course, there are thousands and thousands more Ohioans who do not require hospitalization but nevertheless meet up with medical workers in doctors' offices, pharmacies (who administer flu shots) and public clinics.

Apparently, in Hagan's mind, the rest of us have no right to lessen the likelihood we will be infected with flu and perhaps even die.



Perhaps as many as 50,000 Americans will die from flu/flu related illness in the upcoming flu season.

One never knows when any given flu season is going to getting going into gigantic proportions a la the 1918 worldwide influenza epidemic.


Today, the Columbus Dispatch reported that "cooler" heads are prevailing in the Ohio House with the Speaker of the House putting the brakes on Hagan and her intense group of loyalists who are  trying to jam the Hagan introduced bill through to passage.

In an ironic twist in terms of timing, Hagan's pet legislative project of wanting to through the power of state government (her House Bill 258, known as "the heartbeat bill")  to severely limit the ability of women to end a pregnancy moved, once again, in the direction of needing a gubernatorial veto in order to maintain the right of a woman living in Ohio in line with the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade to have a "legal" abortion according to the law of the law articulated in the Roe v. Wade decision.



There is something more to Hagan's seeming fascination with lining up with the anti-vaccine crowd.

Her sympathies and support certainly appear to be with those relatively few in America/Ohio who in effect want the right to jeopardize the health of the  rest of us with their "gut" feeling that vaccines (not just the flu vaccines, but apparently vaccines in general) are not safe.

The "gut" feeling has a "religious" overtone to it and it would be interesting to check the religious connections of those who constitute the anti-vaccine movement.

The Stark County Political Report deems Christina Hagan to be a religious right politico who in her heart of hearts wants to enshrine her and her followers' religious values on the whole of society.

Not only does her actual legislative agenda constitute a "clear and present danger" to health well-being of most of us, but her religious fever to impose her values on the rest of us makes her manifoldly a "clear and present danger" to the vast majority of Ohioans.

The good news is that she will be gone from the Ohio legislation as December 31, 2018 as she has decided not to run for re-election as an Ohio state representative.

The bad news is that she wants to move on to Congress (the 16th congressional district).

Let's us trust that Republican voters will stop her quest in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary election.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CANTON CITY COUNCIL—STARK COMMISSIONERS "HONOR" MIKE REHFUS


(CANTON COUNCIL & REHFUS PHOTO ADDED)


VIDEOS

STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
HONOR
MIKE REHFUS, SR

***

CANTON CITY COUNCIL
HONORS
MIKE REHFUS, SR.


On August 30th, the Stark County commissioners at their regular weekly meeting honored the memory of former Stark County engineer Michael Rehfus, Sr.

Current county engineer Keith Bennett was at the meeting to support a resolution before the commissioners to allow the honoring of his predecessor Michael Rehfus in naming a 12th Street bridge after him.

Rehfus had served in Stark County engineer's office since 1984 and was "the engineer" from 2004 to 2009.  He passed away on November 10, 2009.

Here is a video of that proceeding.



Last night Canton City Council followed suit in honoring Rehfus, Sr.

Here is the video of council's proceeding in which:
  • Council unanimously passes a resolution honoring Rehfus,
  • Councilwoman Chris Smith (Ward 4) acting on behalf of Councilman Frank Morris (Ward 9, council vice president and majority leader who was absent last night) presents a plaque with the resolution honoring Rehfus to the assembled extended Rehfus family,
  • Remarks by Stark County County Engineer Keith Bennett,
  • Remarks by Canton Engineer Dan Moeglin, and
  • Appreciation expressed by Refus' widow Debbie, and
  • Mayor Thomas M. Bernabei paying his respects to the Rehfus family


Monday, September 11, 2017

LOUIS P. GIAVASIS: "THE DONALD J. TRUMP" OF STARK COUNTY POLITICS? "IT'S ALL ABOUT ME?"



Among the most odious experiences I have had over my three fourths of a century of life has been to have to had interact with quite a number of car salespersons.  A close second on the list are some of the politicians I have rub shoulder with.

As a group, it is my take that car salespersons and politicians are either trained to be manipulative or by force of inborn personal traits are manipulative to the nth degree.

A person who spends any time at all in the car selling industry or as a politician gets quite good at manipulation.

Most of us are nowhere near being a match for these master manipulators.

It is quite a shock to a car salesperson or politician when they meet their match or someone who is more than their match in terms of exposing their manipulations for what they are.

While his history is as a real estate salesman, President Donald J. Trump obviously fancies himself as being a master manipulator as manifested in his bamboozling his way to the Republican nomination for president.

Trump confounded nearly all of us in his being elected president.

His rise to the presidency is a testament of how utter effective manipulation (some say conning) can be and all too often is.

The Stark County Political Report thinks that former Plain Township trustee and now Stark County clerk of courts Louis P. Giavasis is a "small potatoes" local version of Donald J. Trump on the manipulative factor.  And even a "small potatoes" version is something that Stark Countians should want.

In my view, there are some eerie similarities between the Trump style and the Louis Giavasis style.

For beginners, they both evolved from the selling business.

Trump a real estate developer and salesman.  Giavasis got his start working in the automobile retaiing business.

Here is confirmation of his employment in automobile retailing which I think he began honing his skills as a manipulator.


According to his Linked-In page, Giavasis spent quite a few years learning the "art of the [car selling] deal" skill set.

It is not clear from the listing whether or not Louis actually sold cars at Sptizer and/or Waikem, but if he didn't, undoubtedly he learned the psychological skill set of saleship.

In the early 1990s, Louis was elected Plain Township trustees, which, of course, overlaps his work in the auto retailing business associations.

As trustee for some 23 years, Louis was one of three and, though he impliedly likes to suggest he was the main game in Plain.

He seemingly suggests he was able over those 23 years to persuade his fellow trustees that he was the fount of wisdom all things Plain government.

Witness this self-aggrandizing list he has published on Linked-in:



How "Great Thou Art," Louis, no?

Sounds just a tad like Donald J. Trump, no?

We all remember the Trump "I alone" can fix America assertion.

At least in his case, the president is the decider-in-chief in the sense of executive action.

But one of three (trustees) can achieve nothing with without at least one other vote.

However, that has not been a problem for him.

For most of his 23 years, Al Leno has be there at his side.  It would be interesting know whether or not over the course of 20 years of so that Leno has ever voted differently than Giavasis.

Take a look at this quote from a letter to the editor of The Repository:
During times where we have all grown weary of the friends-and-family approach to local government — as in Plain township, where outgoing Trustee Louis Giavasis recently appointed Plain Township Fiscal Officer Anthony Flex  [employed September, 2015] his new chief deputy at the Stark County Clerk of Courts (who has Trustee Al Leno [employed November, 2012] reporting to him) — we need to put proper checks in place in the Plain Township fiscal office.   
Note:  written by Claude W. "Ski'" Shriver [a former Plain Township trustee and fiscal officer; published October 27, 2015.  Shriver ran against Giavasis himself in November, 2016 in a somewhat close race.

Giavasis' job before the Stark Dems appointed him clerk?

Chief deputy in charge of the title bureau.

One has to wonder if that job was posted as accepting applications from the general taxpaying public?

It appears that there must have been Giavasis brothers discussions in 2007 to the effect his brother Phil, then Stark County clerk of courts, had concluded that it was to his advantage (significantly more pay; better retirement, et cetera) to move onto the Canton clerk of courts position when fellow Democrat Tom Harmon retired and, "golly, gee wouldn't it be nice if Louis could one day succeed him?"

Not that Harmon was finished in Stark County politics and government.  He went on to become a Stark Dems' appointed county commissioner and after that an elected councilman at large on Canton City Council.

Seems to be a pattern among a number of Stark County elected Democrats, no?

Of course, Stark County Republicans are not above doing the very same thing.

For example,  there is Republican Curtis Werren who got two appointments by Republican governor John Kasich to Stark County bench positions when the first did not pan out when the voters got their say.

So, it not just Democrats.  One of the things about "entrenched in" and "powerful in" party politics officials needing a new job, "BINGO!" up pops a new position.  Of course, they are always "the most qualified."

Either these folks do get it or have a "public be damned" attitude, but this kind of stuff gradually but surely erodes public support for political parties and contributes to the public's disdain for politicians in general.

Who can forget county recorder Rick Campbell plucking then Stark County Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez's son Kody out of public school employment (a job Randy says that Kody always wanted, implying that it was a real sacrifice for him to accept the Campbell offered job) to become not just a Stark County recorder's office employee but the #2 official in the recorder's office.

Campbell says that Kody's selection was a "no brainer" because it was obvious to one and all that Gonzalez was the most qualified person in all of Stark County for the job.

So much so that Campbell did not bother to advertise the position to the general public who, of course, if one lives in Stark County pays the salary recorder office employees.

But Gonzalez the Younger was not done.

A relatively short time later Louis' brother Phil anointed Kody chief deputy clerk of court of the Canton clerk of courts (succeeding his father, Randy, on his retirement) on the same rationale that Campbell gave for having hired Kody to the #2 position in the recorder's office.

For the record, Kody's father has adamantly and persistently denied that he had anything whatsoever to Campbell and Giavasis finding Kody irresistible as a county/city employee.

The Report's response has always been that such may well be the case.  However, there is a significant public perception decidedly skeptical of the denial and moreover there is also the distinct possibility that neither Campbell nor Phil Giavasis had to be asked.

Who, as among Campbell and Phil Giavasis, wouldn't want to please the party chairman in making a selection that was sure to please without the need for any direction or suggestion having to be uttered even indirectly?

And who becomes Democratic party chairman as successor to Randy Gonzalez?

Phil Giavasis.

Hmm?

Isn't that interesting?

Undoubtedly, pure happenstance, no?

All of this brother Louis getting a job a in the clerk's office after Reinbold's appointment her having had the support of Phil and then Louis getting appointed to the top job after Reinbold retires smells to high heavens.

Louis likes to make it appear that he only "hoped" to be named clerk when Reinbold retired.

I think that was the plan from the very first day he stepped inside the Stark County clerk of courts office as chief deputy clerk on being hired in 2008.

The SCPR has been both complimentary and critical of Campbell as Stark County recorder.

On one occasion after I had written a blog or two about Campbell marrying the daughter of a former Stark County commissioner who was not allowed as a matter of Ohio law to continue on as a employee in the recorder's office post-marriage.

Campbell's wife ended up as the chief administrator at the Plain Township trustees.

This move has the political footprints of Louis P. Giavasis all over it.

Just ask Lawrence Township trustee Mike Stevens whether or not he had a fair shot at becoming the administrator.  And, while talking to Stevens ask him whether or not he thinks he and a fair opportunity to become Phil Giavasis's successor Stark County clerk of courts.

Shortly after the blog on the new Mrs. Campbell becoming Plain Township administrator was published, Rick Campbell, Kody Gonzalez and Louis Giavasis showed up at a regular commissioners' weekly meeting in what I took as being (ancillary to Campbell having business with the commissioners) as an attempt to intimidate me.  Campbell even went so far as to engage in jawboning me.

Up to that point, I had thought that Louis "might" be his own person and not inextricably caught up in Stark County Democratic Party politics.

His participation in what I viewed as an intimidation attempt was a eye opener.

Since then, Louis Giavasis as shown me on a number of occasions that he is up to his eyeballs in the needs of the Stark County Democratic Party and cannot be depended upon to put the public interest above personal political considerations when they become competing considerations.

Now we learn that being clerk of courts is apparently not good enough for Giavasis.  In a recent Facebook post he brags about a large number of Canton Democrats wanting him to run for mayor.


You talk about a disaster in the making.  Louis Giavasis as mayor of Canton.  You have got to be kidding.  But the nation is now is crisis mode under Donald Trump, so nobody should be surprised if the Giavasis eventually somehow shows up on the 8th floor of Canton City Hall.

Like Donald, I think Louis Giavasis has a problem getting his numbers straight.

Dozens?  How about hundreds?  When does dozens become thousands?

Even at the "dozens" level, he has been unwilling to provide names to the SCPR.

Maybe because they don't exist?

To date, only Canton Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris has owned up to being one of the "dozens."  Of course, Frank for a long time has been anti-Thomas Bernabei.  

Names and contact information (for verification) Louis.  Names, please!

Louis did try to get a job with the Healy administration as service director but lost out to guess who?

You've got it:  Thomas M. Bernabei.

Apparently, that development sticks in Louis Giavasis' crawl as perhaps does the fact that Bernabei turned from being a registered Democrat into a political independent in order to run against and defeat two term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II while—get this—Louis' brother Phil was (and continues to be) chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

What a humiliation for the chairman, no?

All of the foregoing comes down to this final point.

There was a day when Louis Giavasis would answer just about any question the SCPR had.   Even embarrassing to answer political questions.  Having said that, let me say that I never thought the answers were candid and were political spin to always designed to make Louis Giavasis come out smelling like a rose.

About a year or so ago, I noticed that some of the SCPR e-mailed "political" questions were going unanswered by Louis and Phil.

And I have written about that phenomenon.

Being in his own view, a person smarter than nearly anybody else (a characteristic shared with Donald Trump) embarked recently on a quest to convince me that he is accountable and answerable to the public and that all I need do is call him or better yet visit him at the clerk's office.

Sounds a lot like brother Phil and Randy Gonzalez a number years ago inviting me to the Canton clerk of courts office to see "up close and personal" the operations of Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS).

Looking back, I now see that as an attempt to ingratiate me for the privilege of getting this personal attention.

Only trouble was, I was not all that impressed with CJIS and subsequent wrote a blog that raised questions about the quality of the operation.

That went over like a lead balloon.

Anybody who reads The Stark County Political Report knows that my primary interest is politics plays into the operations of Stark County political subdivision government.

I have certainly done some ground breaking work with objective data on the efficiency and fairness of how Stark County taxpayer dollars are spent.

But "the political factor" and its use/misuse by elected officials is the main thrust of The Stark County Political Report.

The SCPR has no confidence whatsoever in Louis Giavasis in his being candid about and owning up to his factoring in political considerations in how he operated as Plain Township trustee nor as Stark County clerk of courts.

He may be even more political than his brother Phil which is saying something.


Phil is the chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

I think that the Leno and Flex hirings have all the earmarks of having a basis of political connections to Louis P. Giavaais to them.

Moreover, the Leno/Flex hirings do raise the spectre that there may be more than anybody realizes lesser known persons working in the clerk of courts office on the basis of a person having had  political connections to the Giavasises and/or the Stark County Democratic Party.

Being hired on account of political connections does not necessarily mean that the hirees are not doing a workmanlike or better jobs.  However, if political connection is a part of the consideration of getting hired or not, then it is likely that the employee to be mediocre at best and perhaps one who is not up to doing the job effectively.

To the degree that the general general public is cut out of the opportunity to know about and apply for affected Stark County taxpayer paid for jobs; folks like Louis P. Giavasis should be and will be by the SCPR be held accountable.

Giavasis says that The Report's scrutiny of how he operates as clerk is meaningless to him.


Lou G <lougiavasis1@hotmail.com>  Jul 5 at 3:02 PM
To:   Martin Olson

Mr. Olsen,

... I was told today I was honored to be the subject of your blog and saw that you emailed me asking for information. I am sorry I did not know you had emailed me or I would have responded earlier. A simple phone call to me would have also worked.

It's nice to see in that I am still held in such high regard by you. I find your personal opinion of me and my brother true badges of honor and I will continue to wear them proudly. Ultimately, I do not allow your opinions to effect (sic) how I do my job, nor do I need your personal blessing or stamp of approval on what I may or may not ulimately (sic) do next.  I thank you for your interest the same. 

Respectfully

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

Isn't that an encouraging thing for a public official to say.   In effect:  "I don't care what you think of how I run a taxpayer paid for office."


His attitude mirrors that of all too many public officials.

Louis Giavasis seemingly has taken to toying with the SCPR.

How unprofessional can one get?  And, such is indication of an underlying arrogance.

What's next?

Calling me names a la following the lead of Donald Trump?

Just one more similarity between the two.

Witness this e-mail exchange:

Giavasis to SCPR

From: Lou G <lougiavasis1@hotmail.com>
Date: 9/6/17 12:25 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: Martin Olson <tramols@att.net>
Subject: Invite

Martin,

The invitation still stands, my office door remains open for you at anytime you would like to come into the clerks office. I will be happy to give you a tour, discuss implenented changes, you can talk to staff and ask me any questions you would like.

Lou Giavasis


2nd Giavasis to SCPR

From: Lou G <lougiavasis1@hotmail.com>
To: Martin Olson <tramols@att.net>
Sent: Saturday, September 9, 2017 4:20 PM
Subject: Fwd: Invite

Martin,

I don't understand, you continue to criticise me for not answering questions or your emails but I have invited you to come into my office and it is I that does not get a response.

Lou

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


SCPR to Giavasis

Martin Olson <tramols@att.net>  Sep 9 at 5:41 PM
To: Lou G

For starters, please identify by name the many persons who you claim have asked you to run for mayor of Canton. Moreover, please provide me with contact information on these folks.

For other questions, just go back and review the unanswered e-mailed questions that I have sent you over the past year or so and answer them.

To repeat, just simply answer my e-mailed (or blog posed) questions that have gone unanswered.

I am pleased to hear that you think you have made improvements in  the operations of the clerk of courts office.

Such is the obligation of every elected Stark County subdivision officeholder and is not deserving of being thought of as noteworthy especially if touted by the officeholder him/herself.

I will just let your claim in the improvement regard stand on its own unless I get allegations to the contrary.  In such an eventuality, you can be sure I will want to be on the scene to be asking probing questions.

It is reassuring to know that I have an open/open-ended invitation to come check things out at the Stark County  clerk of courts office.

Such should be available to any Stark County citizen who wants to examine operations of the clerk's office.


The SCPR has never and never will ask for special access to public officials.

The Repository in the past has been highly critical of former Democratic Stark County auditor Kim Perez for injecting a political factor into whom he hired in the auditor's office.

But we hear nary a word about the Giavasises.

Hmmm?

To turn Lou's "wear as a badge of honor" comment on its head.

Keeping the spotlight on the likes of Louis P. Giavasis as he functions as a public office holder is the SCPR's "badge of honor."

The Report sees Louis Giavasis in his public capacity as being a manipulator supreme and therefore to be watched with special scrutiny.

One Donald Trump-esque person is more than an enough for any political system at any level to have to bear.

Louis P. Giavasis as a politician, as a countywide office holder merits special watching!

Friday, September 8, 2017

IS STARK CO. STATE REP KIRK SCHURING DOING ENOUGH TO PROTECT PUBLIC EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT?

UPDATED:  09:21 AM


On Wednesday, my wife Mary (a 35 Akron Public School teacher retiree) received an interesting brochure from an organization that bills itself as being:  Protect Ohio Pensions (POP5).   (see face page below and to the left)

The brochure certainly caught our attention.

It appears that someone thinks that Ohio's/Stark County's public employees might be coming under legislative attack once again.

It was only a few years ago that the Republican supermajority controlled Ohio General Assembly launched a political assault on public employees collective bargaining rights.  However, Ohio's voters in a referendum beat back the attempt.

Now it appears that there are those who want to weaken the sufficiency and viability of pension benefits that public employees do/will receive on their retirement.

From the general public's standpoint there are two overriding voter/taxpayer considerations/positions which ought to be front and center in any discussion of public employee retirement benefit plans:

One, require Ohio's five retirement funds to be fully funded as we go along.  We should not tolerate underfunding which one day might require a major, major infusion of taxpayer subsidies which, of course, become a gigantic political issue demagogued to the point that it will be difficult to determine who to hold responsible and hold them politically accountable.

Two, pay close attention to those whose political focus is to undermine the Middle Class (which pretty much defines the public worker class of employees in America) and in doing so:

  • damage America's economic and financial strength,
  • dispirit the aspirational goals of everyday American to better their station in life and, of course, 
  • create conditions for political instability to increase


America does not want to become a nation of the very rich and the very poor with very little in between.

In essence, in the brochure and in material on its website, POP5 says it is focused on fighting efforts to shift Ohio public pensions from their current "defined benefit plan" status into "defined contribution plans."

According to POP5, the conversion effort is a shared goal of major corporations, the stock broker industry and conservative think tank/lobbing groups and certain politicians.

There seem to be two primary motivations for the pressure to make public employee retirement plans defined contribution plans.

Note:  Here is a LINK to see a direct comparison of defined benefit and defined contribution plans.

First, to save corporations money (e.g. no legal obligation whatsoever that an employer contribute to a defined contribution plan)  on the amount they contribute to a defined contribution plan.

No wonder private sector defined benefit plans are down from about 60% in the early 1980s to about 4% now.  The complete opposite is the case in the public sector.  Some 84% of state and local governments participate in defined benefit plans.

Second, to shift the burden of who loses if an investment or multiple investments do not pan out from private sector companies to their employees.

In the private sector, a failed investment under a defined benefit plan must be made up to the employee under out of corporate/company/partnership revenues.

In the public sector, losses to the extent that a public employee plan cannot itself meet its pay out obligations would have to be made up out of revenues from taxpaying public.

That nearly all defined benefits plans are in the public sector, puts competitive pressure on the private sector in retaining employees.

The solution?

Join forces with those who have other reasons (e.g. economic philosophy, et cetera) for dismantling defined benefit plans.

POP5 says that is exactly what has been happening particularly over the past ten years.

POP5 and Governor Kasich (as of January, 2016) says that Ohio five public pension plans are among some the best funded and most secure in the nation.

But there are those who disagree.

For example:
There are interests other than POP5 who are looking out for the welfare of OPERS, STRS, PERS, OP&F and OHPRS.

One is the Ohio Retirement Study Council and one of Stark County's very own; namely, state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican, Ohio House District #48 [mostly Jackson Township) is a key figure on the Ohio General Assembly connected body.


That POP5 has come into existence suggests that there are those who are more than a tad nervous that the ORSC (including, apparently, Stark's Kirk Schuring) is sufficient to ensure Ohio's public employee pension plans are secure in their current defined benefit plan status.

Another check on the viability of Ohio's five public pension funds is the fact that each of them has an assciation of beneficiaries exercising oversight of their respective plans.

However, their effort is not, according to POP5, primarily to ensure the preservation of defined benefit plans but to make sure that the plans are properly managed.

POP5 in its latest newsletter is claiming over 14,000 members in less than a year of operation.



As of now, there are about 1.3 million beneficiaries combined of Ohio's plans.

A barometer of how secure/insecure the beneficiaries of Ohio's five defined benefit plans are is likely to be measured by POP5's membership growth.

You can be sure that the politicians will be watching very closely indeed!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ELECTION SERIES: PLAIN TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE

COMMENTARY ON THE CANDIDACIES
OF

HARLESS,
RICH
SABO
&
JUERGENSEN


VIDEOS

Candidate Scott Haws
Plain Township Trustee

Haws Background
***
Haws Accomplishments as Trustee
***
Haws Frustrations as Trustee
(the failure of the Plain/Canton CEDA)

***
Political Fallout in Plain Over CEDA Failure?
***
Haws Comments on Opponent Anthony Rich 
and
Former Trustee Louis Giavasis
***
Haw's Wrap-up Comments

Traditionally, there is a window within which the day-in, day-out voter pays heightened attention to political candidates and their messages or lack thereof.

Outside of this window, most of us only pay scant attention to political activity.

Of course, President Donald J. Trump is violating all the norms of out-and-out campaigning in that he is already campaigning for re-election in 2020 notwithstanding that he has little in terms of accomplishments to tout.

The period of time for focused campaigning used to be from Labor Day through Election Day, with the most intense interest focused on the last two weeks of October.

In those days, except for absentee and military voters, one voted on Election Day PERIOD!

But with the onset of "early voting," (beginning in 2005 in Ohio), voters are "zeroing in" what politicians are saying earlier in the run up to election cycle.

Early voting starts on October 11th this year in Ohio.

Accordingly, voters start paying close attention about the 1st of October.


With today's blog, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) begins "intense" and "detailed" coverage of Election 2017.

As the saying goes, "the early bird gets the worm" in terms of really getting to know who the quality candidates are and whom is not included in that group.

One of the "really big" races in Stark County in this off-year election season (i.e. odd numbered years) is the one for Plain Township trustee in which two trustees are to be selected.

Though five are running, by the SCPR's assessment, it certainly is "slim pickings" in terms of Plain Township having quality to pick from.


THE CANDIDATES

SCOTT HAWS

Last Wednesday, the SCPR sat down with incumbent Plain Township trustee (two to be elected) Scott Haws for about an hour of detailed Q&A.

Plain Township is according to some observers a blend of all things Stark County in terms of hits geographical makeup and population.  It is the county's largest population-wise of all of Stark's 17 townships at 52,543 (latest U.S. Census data)

And, in the opinion of the SCPR, has the most efficient and effective administration of all of Stark County's 17 counties.

Although the SCPR thinks he is way too political, former long term trustee Louis Giavasis (a committed Democrat now Stark County clerk of courts having originally taken office as a Democratic Party appointee) has been an important part of the solid fiscal base the township enjoys.

However, Giavasis' leadership was since 2009 been subject to the check and balance of Republican Scott Haws whom the SCPR thinks is deserving of credit for keeping Giavasis from having run amok on partisanship and thereby should be thought of as having taken on an important role as trustee.

In agreeing with Democrat trustee Al Leno (a Giavasis employee at the Stark County clerk of courts) to appoint long time Plain Township fire official John Sabo (a registered Democrat) as a successor to Giavasis when Giavasis resigned to become clerk in September, 2016, he showed what Giavasis seems to be lacking in that the office of trustee in Ohio is supposed to be run without regard to politics.

In this blog, the SCPR walks readers through a video of Haws responding to SCPR questions on his candidacy to be elected to a third term as Plain Township trustee.

HAWS BACKGROUND AS QUALIFYING TO BE TRUSTEE
(5:35)



HAWS:  ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS TRUSTEE
(4:52)



HAWS:  FRUSTRATIONS OF BEING TRUSTEE
(FOCUS:  THE FAILURE OF CANTON/PLAIN TWP CEDA)
(21:49)

Haws speaks to damage done in ongoing relationship with Canton over the CEDA failure.

Here is that portion of the August 27th interview video.



HAWS:  ANY POLITICAL DAMAGE TO HAWS/SABO ON ACCOUNT CEDA FAILURE?
(6:56)
ALSO:  COMMENTING ON OPPONENT ANTHONY RICH & FORMER TRUSTEE COLLEAGUE LOU GIAVASIS



Lastly, Haw's responds to the SCPR open ended questions as to whether or not he has anything to add to the interview.



Scott Haws stands alone as a candidate who takes on a sifting the candidates and by that factor alone suggests that he is a cut above the rest of the Plain Township candidates.

NOW TO THE REST OF THEM:

HARLESS, SABO, RICH & JUERGENSEN

First, some commentary.

Each of the candidates have been offered an opportunity to tell their stories in detail within the framework of  SCPR constructed Q&A supplemented with an opportunity at the end of the interview for the candidate to address any matter they wish of their own choosing.

So far only Haws and Brook Harless have responded.

As readers of the SCPR know, while I conduct interviews in a civil manner; I do not avoid asking the tough questions.

All too many Stark County elected officials and candidates for office cannot abide the incisive questioning of the SCPR and accordingly avoid all costs of sitting down with The Report one-on-one.

One of the best examples of keeping a distance from the SCPR over the course of the nearly 10 year span of publishing this blog has been former state Representative Stephen Slesnick.

Slesnick even went so far as to threaten to pull out of a debate with then-Canton Township trustee Bill Smith in their race in 2016 for Stark County commissioner on the mere fact that the SCPR was there to film the event.


The Report was not one of the questioners at that event.

Why would Slesnick do such a thing?

Likely because the SCPR over his eight years as a state representative wrote a number of blogs detailing with factual material how utterly ineffective I thought he was as a member of the Ohio General Assembly.

Rather than challenge my assessment, Slesnick avoid this blogger and worse yet tried to interfere with the public's right to see and hear him in the context of a critical analysis of what he had to say.

Fortunately, Slesnick lost to Smith and Stark County was spared having a commissioner who clearly showed in his holding office track record as state representative warning signs that voters should not consider electing him as commissioner.

But Slesnick is not alone in refusing to justify why voters should consider voting for him/her having had to respond to anything but "patty-cake" questioning or worse yet no questioning at all.

With all too many candidates voters have to parse through cherry picked, propaganda style campaign literature that often falls apart when examined critically.

Such is a common posture of many who run for election/re-election to public office.

We see all too often in the case of congressional/senatorial candidates how all too many of them "duck and run for cover" in the face of scrutinizing questions.

Taking a more detailed look at the rest:

BROOK HARLESS

Harless, who describes herself as a "community focused candidate" backed out of a scheduled interview last Wednesday because of family logistical problems.  Of course, we all have things like that happen to us.  But she has not contacted the SCPR to reschedule.

It it beginning to look like that Harless is far too implicated in day-to-day family life to have sufficient time and energy to be running for elective office.

Plain voters will want to question Harless very closely on the issue of whether or not she has space in her life to be fully engaged with and responsive to the demands of holding political office.

Focusing on family life is a good thing, but can, except for persons highly skilled at juggling competing and demanding public duties (inherent in being a public official), can render a person ineffective and insufficiently responsive to the discharge of public duties.

One thing that Ms. Harless could have done is to provide the SCPR with a promised biography detailing her life's work as a measure of whether or not she has a background that suggests she has potential as an elected official.

So in addition to canceling the interview, she has not followed through on the promised to the SCPR biography.

The SCPR is a big believer in paying attention to warning signs and thinks that Harless may be signaling that she is not ready for running for public office.

ANTHONY RICH

As seen above (reference:  third video of Haws interview), there appears to be no love lost between Anthony Rich (a Stark County "civil division" prosecutor) and Haws.

In that video segment, Haws accuses Rich of acting the role of township attorney (Eric Williams is the actual Plain Township attorney) on a issue of whether or not Plain Township trustees should be promoting wine sales (not drink on premises, but merely the purchase of bottles of wine) in the context of a uniquely Plain Township-esque event.

Moreover, Haws says he anticipates that Rich will play politics on the failed Canton/Plain Township CEDA agreement which has led to the annexation of a part of Plain Township into Canton.



Haws is correct in anticipating Rich jumping all over the Annexation/CEDA failure matter.

From Rich's Facebook page from September 3rd, just days after the Haws SCPR interview (August 27th):


Haws also  by implication and suggestion mentions an incident that occurred at Bud's Corner Tiki Bar on June 25th of this year.

What follows are copies of statements given by various parties/witnesses to the incident.



You be the judge of whom you believe.

However, there is no disputing that Rich pulled his Stark County prosecutor's badge during the unfolding of the incident.

Rich's motivation and judgment is the issue in his having displayed the badge.

Of course, the only way to make assessments is for him to submit to answering questions about the incident.

To the degree that he refuses to be questioned on the matter, suggests that he thinks he has something to hide, no?

The SCPR has made two efforts to interview Rich in the manner in which Haws was interviewed (no questions off the table), but has been ignored twice.

Interesting in light of this on his Facebook page, no?



Hmmm!

"Typically replies within a few hours."

Let's see.

SCPR requesting e-mail sent August 24th; as of September 6th and no answer?

"... [W]ithin a few hours?"

Is this what Plain Township residents could expect if they have "inconvenient" questions to ask of Candidate Rich as township trustee?

And the August 24th initiative was a second attempt to be in touch with Rich; the first being on July 13th.

All of which prompt the question of whether or not Rich is a political hypocrite?

Just one more politician who says one thing but does another!

To repeat, for the SCPR, the most concerning aspect of the Bud's Corner incident (see report below obtained via a public records request [redacted by sheriff's office]) is:
  • the flashing of the badge incident 
    • when added to the assertion by Haws that he has arrogated himself to seemingly standing in the place of township legal counsel on the wine issue 
being matters that Rich needs to answer/explain in terms his answers equipping Plain voters with information on which to judge whether or not he has the temperament to be a Plain Township trustee.

Unless and until Rich addresses matters like these in a satisfactory way in a public setting, why would any Plain voter risk voting for this guy?

Moreover, he needs to answer what he would have done differently than Haws, Leno and Sabo to get Canton to agree to a CEDA on the bordering Fulton Dr NW properties.



SABO

Last October, Trustee Haws (a Republican) and Leno (20 years as trustee) came together to appoint John Sabo a long time Plain Township firefighter (volunteer 1960s, hired firefighter 1979 and chief in 1993 and retiring in 2012).

So he seems a natural to have been appointed and should have no difficulty being "retained" as trustee.

It is troubling that he has not responded to the SCPR's request for an interview.

Notwithstanding his long standing in Plain Township government and presumably is well known in Plain from the perspective of how he has functioned as a fire department employee, he needs to answer questions about ten months in office as trust and his plans for the township should he be retained voters in November.

It is not about the SCPR getting an interview.  It is about him sharing his actions and points of view to the Plain Township public.

Is the Sabo campaign going to be a front porch William McKinley-esque campaign updated to 2017 in which he sends out glossy Madison Avenue style mailers that avoids the key issues that Plain Township faces going forward?

Anytime that someone like Sabo brushes off critically-bent media inquiry,  such should be factored in by voters come election time.

Voters should ask:  Can he stand the heat of having to answer incisive questioning?

JUERGENSEN

An attorney who ran against incumbent Republican Christina Hagan for the 50th Ohio House District seat in 2016, one has to wonder how serious of a candidate Juergensen is.

He cited a personal problem situation as the reason why he did seem to put up much of an effort against Hagan.

There was even talk that he would officially withdraw his candidacy and he never did.

He has not responded to the SCPR's request for an interview.

Is his run for Plain Township trustee going to be another phantom run for office?