Thursday, December 14, 2017

VOL 2 - THE STARK CO "OPERATIONAL BUDGET"

THE COMMISSIONERS

SANTA OR SCROOGE?





For the past several meetings Commissioner Janet Creighton has been in a festive mood as she, in her capacity of being president of the Board of Stark County Commissioners, has opened commissioners' meetings with "excitement" that Christmas is on the way.

Twelve Days 'til Christmas!



The commissioners had an additional cheerfulness yesterday because they were able to adopt resolutions approving 2018 Fiscal Year (operations only) budget appropriations BEFORE THE END OF 2017!

Commissioners recently attended (December 10 through 12) the 2017 Annual Winter Meeting of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) and recited (Creighton and Regula) compliments and amazement the Stark Commissioners were able to pass operating budget appropriations before the end of 2017.

And they were able to do so without being viewed as either being Santa Claus or Scrooges.


Here is a SCPR video recording of the passage of the resolutions and commissioners' comments of the recognition they received from some of their peers.



Commissioners were, at yesterday's meeting, quick to recognize that Budget Director Chris Nichols and Stark County Chief Administrator Brant Luther were the real reason why commissioners have been able to deal quickly with operational budget matters this year and last year.

The SCPR has been covering the commissioners since 2008 and has witnessed first hand the tortured county budgeting processes that occurred in most of the years up until about three years ago.

There had been showdowns:
  • with the Veterans Service Commission with threats of lawsuits over the funding levels of the VSC, 
  • involving an implicit threat that Judge Dixie Park would order (a power that judges have) the commissioners to appropriate according to her will, and 
  • with Prosecutor John Ferrero about his seemingly annually asking commissioners for additional mid-year or later appropriations
And, of course, there was the perennial problem of department heads padding their requests knowing that the commissioners would as a matter of course significantly pare down the actual amounts appropriated.

All that hubbub and turmoil is pretty much a thing of the past.

However, there is always something to be questioned in reviewing the final product of the operations budgeting process.  Nichols tells the SCPR that the "capital" will take place in January.  Likely during the time The Report will be basking for some two to three months in the warmth and "sunny nearly every day" of Oahu Hawaii where youngest daughter Kasi lives.

And, of course, readers of  The Stark County Political Report know that The Report delights in asking public officials questions and the budgeting process fertile ground for doing so.

The SCPR thinks that there are three notable factors in the 2018 FY Stark County Operating Budget:


First, the Stark County Coroner takes the prize for not only staying in line with commissioners' expectation but in absorbing a lesser 2018 over 2017 appropriation of $58,977 for a prize winning reduction of some 6%.

Second, on the other end of the appropriation spectrum, is the Stark County Auditor overall department increase (including Information Technology) of 20.3%.  If one takes Nichols numbers per auditor office line items at face value (auditor:  5.9%; IT 14.4%), then the increase appears to be 20.3%.

But Nichols says not so, to wit:


By aggregating, Nichols computes the overall department increase at 11.7% (still way over what other departments are getting in 2018 operations appropriations.

To the SCPR, Nichols ought to in future budgets  (in order to avoid confusion) asterisk (*) the Auditor/IT line items and give what is the "real" overall picture of 11.7% rather create an illusion that the total increase is 20.3%

The SCPR inquired of Auditor Alan Harold and Budget Director Chris Nichols for a justification for the sizeable increase for the office over 2017.

Apparently, why one cannot simply add up the 5.9% and the 14.4% is that the IT budget is two times the rest of the auditor's office budget.

To repeat, hopefully Nichols will reconfigure these numbers in 2019 to avoid confusion.

Additional explanation by Nichols on the 11.7% increase, to wit:

In the Auditor’s Office, 2 employees are scheduled to get greater than a 2% increase.  One raise is for a promotion, to replace a retiring employee and the 2nd is a merit increase. The rest of the increase comes from a $10,000 increase in Medical Insurance costs and the cost of hiring an employee to train in the department with the retiring employee, before the retirement, causing a temporary staff increase, until the retirement takes place.

In the IT department, as noted on Slide #13, under “New or Increased Required or Contractual 2018 Expenses”, $295,000 of the $325,000 increase is the County’s Microsoft License expense, which had previously been paid as a Capital expense, but needed to the moved into the Operating Budget.  This is not a new expense to the County, but needed to be moved into the Operational Budget this year, from Capital.  If you back out the $295,000, the increase in the core IT budget is only $30,000 or 1.3%.

A third noteworthy item is the $700,000 ($1.4 million for a full year) in retiring/servicing the bonds being issued by Stark County to finance purchase of a state-of-the-art radio system for law enforcement and emergency services uses.

Nichols says he cannot calculate accurately the interest included in the bonded amount (reported to be some $12 million over ten years at 1.45% interest) until the bonds are sold.

One has to wonder about the projected 1.45% interest inasmuch as the Federal Reserve raised interest rate by one-quarter-percent yesterday.

In any event, there ought to be in the budget at the very least via a "note" notation an estimate of how much interest in toto Stark County is likely to pay over the life of the bonds issuance.

Finally, there is a SCPR question on the matter of in excess of 2% of commissioner guidelines for employee pay increases.

Here is Nichols response:

·         Auditor – As noted above.  Merit Increase of 9.23% to Dennis Winner and 12.51% Promotional increase to Jessica Preston (replacing the retiring employee)
·         Prosecutor – Had requested ½ of an IT person (that had previously been shared with Family Court, plus 1 Juvenile Secretary.  Was provided $35,000 towards one of those requests, not both. – Employee to be determined by the Prosecutor
·         Sheriff – As noted in the presentation, was provided $341,000 for increases required by union agreements for all bargaining unit personnel
·         Common Pleas Court – General Division – $34,600 increase towards salary increases for the Intensive Supervision Probation Officers, per a salary study, to stabilize the workforce and in anticipation of increased workload related to the F5-TCAP changes.  8% Increases to ISP Officers
·         Family Court – Increase $23,000 for the ½ of the IT position previously shared with the Prosecutor.  This is not a salary increase to the employee, just a redistribution of the cost between departments.
·         Records Center – Increase for the full year expense of an employee hired mid-year in 2017.  Again, not a salary increase to the employee, just allocating a full year expense for someone hired mid-year in 2017.    
·         Facilities – Increase for Org Chart changes made in 2017, for the addition of an Assistant manager and changing 1 Maintenance (I) position to a Maintenance (II). .  Again, not a salary increase to any employee, just allocating the full year salary expense for the updated Org Chart positions.    

All-in-all, the SCPR agrees with the commissioners highly positive evaluation of the budgeting work done by Nichols and Luther.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

(8TH IN A SCPR CONTINUING SERIES ON HOF-VP) IS CANTON COUNCIL CAPABLE OF PROTECTING CANTON TAXPAYERS IN HOF HOOKUP?

UPDATED:  11:57 AM

SEE WELTY BUILDING COMPANY, LTD
LETTER
TO
HOF-VP OFFICIALS, ET AL
ON
DEBTS RE:  HOF STADIUM RENOVATIONS PHASE 2


Prior to today's blog, the SCPR has published seven other blogs on the HOF-VP, to wit:

Links to SCPR blogs on the HOF-VP:
Weather permitting, Canton City Council's Community & Economic Development Committee (CEDC) will assemble at 5:30 p.m. today at Canton City Hall to go over the provisions of two "complex" and "voluminous" agreements that the Pro Football Hall of Fame folks say must be approved not later than December 31, 2017.

The Stark County Political Report does not expect that any of the members of CEDC  has the ability to to read and UNDERSTAND the import/implications of the two lengthy agreements (Operations and Maintenance Agreement [41 pages]; Development Agreement [34 pages] presented to council.

See copies of these agreement at the end of this blog.

On all of council, The Report thinks that only council members (who happen to be private sector attorneys) Edmond Mack and Allen Schulman (council president) have the intellectual/experiential ability to sift through the presented agreements and have much of a clue as to what liabilities to Canton's taxpayers lurk in the in the total of 75 pages which ought to be gone through with a "fine tooth comb" before council approves them.

For Edmond Mack not to be placed on the committee as "a special appointee with regard to examining the proposed agreement," is a major, major, major mistake.

Another councilman who ought to be involved in the committee vetting is the dean of Canton City Council, Bill Smuckler.


Smuckler is not an attorney but he has a wealth of experience/knowledge effective business models and has learned how to parse and analyze agreement presented to Canton government and to develop penetrating questions of the likes of the HOF folks.

Oh, yes! they have the capable Canton Law Department under the leadership of long term director Joe Martuccio to rely on.

But, if these agreements "blow-up" in the face of Canton government and end up costing a hugely financially strapped city (note:  Canton's finance director tells the SCPR that a loss of $80,000 in local government funds in FY 2018) and of course its taxpayers unexpected expenses, then there will be finger pointing galore.

Odds are, if they have not done a thorough vetting which empowers them to have a full understanding of what they (the council members) are getting Canton's taxpayers in to;  they will be ultimately held accountable by Canton voters.

If it is reasonably certain that the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP) is on a pathway to completion and hence success, then there may be nothing for Canton officials to worry about.

The SCPR is in the process of collecting numerous documents (available through public records requests) to determine if it appears that the HOF-VP is viable and whether or not there is sufficient accountability of ensure that taxpayers know to the penny what public money is being spent for.

The Report has been hearing from numerous high ranking Stark County political subdivision officials (both elected and unelected) that it is highly questionable from their perspective that a successful end to the tune of at least $800 million or so to the HOF-VP seems likely.

The SCPR doubts that the HOF-VP meets the "reasonably certain" to succeed standard,  which The Report thinks is a financially fair standard, as of December 13, 2017.

C. David Baker's braggadocio to Canton McKinley students that they have the finest $150 million (originally slated to be about $24 million) football stadium appears to be to the SCPR a diversion from folks focusing on the the financial viability of the entire project.

One does not have to be a financial/economic development expert to understand that getting profitable return on $150 million in investment "in several lifetimes" is absolutely a pipe dream.

One SCPR source says that if completion occurs, it certainly will not be according to the timetable presented by HOF officials.

The SCPR has been told that at a October 31st meeting of the Stark County Port Authority it came to light that there was some $24 million in contractor billings to the HOF-VP that were unpaid.

Specific evidence supporting the claim that HOF-VP officials are struggling to pay project bills as exemplified in the following document:



The SCPR has placed telephone calls to Tracy Green and Donzell Taylor to determine whether or not the Welty demands have been satisfied.


Multiple attempts have gone unresponded to.

The SCPR has been hearing allegations that Welty is not the only HOF-VP contractor who is struggling with getting paid.

We all know that Canton government has $5 million in the cold hard cash of Canton taxpayer money tied up in the HOF-VP.

Shouldn't the first order of business be for city officials to dig into and locate the likes of the Welty November 17, 2017 letter as bases upon which to  make an assessment of the viability of the HOF-VP.

The scrutiny should be made under  the guidance of expert financial analysts who HOF-VP officials ought to provide existing documentation (like the Welty letter) to such analysts in order for them to be in a position to do a thoroughgoing assessment of viability for the benefit of Canton taxpayers.

Everybody in Stark County should want the HOF-VP to succeed and the SCPR is among the "everybody."

Nonetheless, government has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to ensure that they do not get into helping finance through "cold hard cash" and services and infrastructure development when there seems to be evidence of the overall viability of the project.

For those hardy souls among SCPR readers here are copies of the Canton/HOF VP Development and Operations and Maintenance Agreement:

First, the Development Agreement:



Second, the Operations and Maintenance Agreement:


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

IT WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE, BUT THERE WAS A "SUNBURST" INSIDE CANTON CITY COUNCIL LAST NIGHT!

UPDATE:  12:04 P.M. (MACK ENDORSEMENT OF MARIOL CANDIDACY)
UPDATE:  3:22 P.M. (GREGORY HAWK RESPONSE)
UPDATE:  11:00 A.M. (12/13/2017-BILL SMUCKLER RESPONSE)

CANTON COUNCIL MAJORITY LEADER RACE

MORRIS 6, MARIOL 5, 1 UNDECIDED



VIDEO

Canton City Council
"Aspiration" Organization Meeting

"Deja vu all over again!"  so once reportedly said by former New York Yankee catcher great Yogi Berra.

Echoed in today's blog by The Stark County Political Report.

Well, sort of.

There was a wrinkle in what Canton City Council president Allen Schulman termed on December 17, 2013 to be "aspirational" meeting of the Democratic members of council which constituted 11 of the 12 members (Richard Hart being an "independent") to develop of consensus among the Democrats as to whom was going to be majority leader (vice president of council) for the council term of January 6, 2014 through the selection of a new majority leader two years henceforth.


The Report encourages readers to go back to the December 17, 2013 blog (LINK) and view the short video clips of "the aspirational meeting."

Who would have "thunk" that Mariol one of the original SCPR "four young turks" would one day challenge his fellow turk Morris for a leadership position?


Morris was unchallenged for his majority leader status in the post-2015-election reorganization of council.

Although the SCPR thinks well of Schulman generally, he was a deep disappointment on December 17, 2013 inasmuch as he broke a tie vote (the only circumstance in which president of council votes) in favor of going into executive session (closed to the public/press) so that members could vent their aspirations.

Schulman has a reputation of being one of Stark County's "most" liberal Democrats and yet he voted in 2013 "to keep the sunshine out."

Hmmm?  Guess political liberalism only goes so far?

So it wasn't  exactly "deja vu all over again" because this time the press (only the SCPR was present) and former high power Repository journalists Mike Hanke (now retired from The Rep and having been chief Stark County administrator) and David Kaminski (now an official with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) actually got to sit in on "the aspirational meeting" this time around.

How did that happen?

The SCPR thinks that the fact that the SCPR, Hanke and Kaminski were waiting outside the Dems' meeting room when Councilman Edmond Mack happened by and a dialogue on Ohio's open meeting law ensued.

Mack (a first-rate attorney, himself) "appeared" to have studied the law and made an effort to justify what seemed to be an impending exclusion of the public/press from the meeting but, with all due respect to Mack; he was overmatched in "discussing" the matter with highly seasoned veteran former journalists Hanke and Kaminski.

A discussion ensued between Mack and "the three of us" as to whether or not "the aspirational meeting" was going to be open to the public/press.

It appeared from the tenor of the discussion that we three were going to be "left-out-in-the-cold" as Mack left to enter "the aspirational meeting."

Mack argued that selecting a majority leader was a "personnel matter" which qualified the meeting from public scrutiny under Ohio law.  A "personnel matter," Mack said because the majority leader gets $2,000 more a year over and above the 12 other (including the council president) councilpersons.

For the record, Councilman Mack has endorsed John Mariol for majority leader, to wit:

Edmond J. Mack <emack@lawlion.com>  Today [December 12, 2017] at 10:53 AM

To:  Martin Olson

Hi Martin,

As long as John Mariol is willing to sacrifice his time and serve in this important position, he will have my full support.  John is incredibly patient and thoughtful.  He has a remarkable ability to listen, understand, and compromise.  His skills in building consensus and bringing people together is exactly what our body needs right now.  Perhaps more than ever.

Edmond

Kaminski and Hanke (and, of course, the SCPR) were incredulous that Mack would, with a straight face, make such an argument.

The SCPR for one was dubious that we had changed Mack's thinking that the meeting in secret was justifiable under Ohio's Sunshine Law.

But it appears that Mack did at the very least convey our argument for openness to councilpersons already in the room.  The SCPR, having very high regard for Mack as a person and as small letter "d" democrat likes to think that Mack actually advocated for "openness."

In the 2013 meeting, Mack was among the five councilpersons who voted "no" on the motion to go into executive session.

In any group such as Canton City Council there is always at least one "smart aleck" it appears that in Ward 1 councilman Greg Hawk, Canton council has its resident "wise guy."

The SCPR is asking Canton council members how they are likely to vote on January 8th.

Ward 1 Councilman Hawk's response:

Re: Council majority leader vote of January 8, 2017

Greg Hawk <gregory.hawk@cantonohio.gov>  Today at 1:06 PM

To:  Martin Olson

I think I'm the best man for the job.

On 12/12/2017 12:38 PM, Martin Olson wrote:

Dear Councilpersons,

As of today (December 12, 2017) who do you plan to support between Frank Morris and John Mariol for the position of council majority leader on January 8, 2018?

Thank you,

Martin Olson/SCPR
tramols@att.net
330 430 9378

Councilman Edmond Mack, as many of Canton's councilpersons has a lot of class.  Moreover, he is thoughtful and respectful of others.

Obviously, Hawk doesn't have much, if any, of Mack's qualities.  Folks like Hawk do not belong in government.

Councilman Bill Smucker:

William Smuckler <wjsmuckler@yahoo.com>  Today at 7:32 AM

To: Martin Olson

Not Frank Morris

On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 12:48:44 PM EST, Martin Olson <tramols@att.net> wrote:


Dear Councilpersons,

As of today (December 12, 2017) who do you plan to support between Frank Morris and John Mariol for the position of council majority leader on January 8, 2018?

Thank you,

Martin Olson/SCPR
tramols@att.net
330 430 9378

As the headline to the blog says, Morris announced that in informal polling done by himself as incumbent majority leader and his opponent Ward 7 councilman John Mariol that it appears that if a formal vote was taken last night (let's say at a special called council meeting) would have been 6 for Morris, 5 for Mariol and 1 undecided.

So the race is on for Morris and Mariol to get that undecided vote.

Mariol claims he is running against Morris because Morris' leadership has not done enough to get the Canton Comprehensive Plan (done at the cost of some $300,000) in 2015 implemented.

The SCPR suspects that the "real" reason is Morris' acerbic, no-nonsense, direct, and brusque manner.

While one wouldn't want 13 Frank Morrises on Canton City Council, he is a refreshing change from equivocal politicians one usually encounters.

The Report asked Mariol about the Morris directness factor which he denied was a part of his reason for running.

However, the SCPR is not buying.

Of course, as can be seen on the video below,  the SCPR asked Morris who the undecided councilperson was.

Not unexpectedly, Morris declined to identify the undecided councilperson.  It could be that we will have to wait until January 8, 2018 to find out who that person is.

But the SCPR promises the readership that The Report will doggedly pursue whom is voting which way before January 8th ever arrives.

If the SCPR must say so, the following video is a compelling watch as the The Report being the only media present pressed Morris and his opponent Mariol with incisive questioning.



Credit Messers Hanke and Kaminski (the long time Stark County journalists they have been) being present as a likely reason that "the sunshine" prevailed last night and we got an inside look of how the process works.

A SCPR "tip-of-the-hat" to Mike Hanke and David Kaminski for caring enough about our democratic-republic to make their way to the December 11 2017 "aspirational" organization meeting on a cold and snowy night!

Monday, December 11, 2017

VOL. 1 SCPR SERIES: "THE 2018 STARK 'OPERATIONAL' BUDGET." COUNTY TO GET SLAMMED WITH $2.3 MILLION (See *) REVENUE SHORTFALL IN 2019!

Updated: 12:40 p.m.


VIDEO (3:12)

STARK CO BUDGET DIRECTOR

CHRIS NICHOLS

EXPLAINS $2.3 MILLION SHORTFALL
BEGINNING WITH 2019 BUDGET

* Budget Director Chris Nichols telephoned the SCPR in order to make clear that the county is banking on increases in 2019 and beyond alternative revenues to offset the $2.3 million in MCO sales tax related funding.

He made an interesting observation in the conversation:  (paraphrasing)  The state of Ohio made itself "whole" from the adverse financial effect of the MCO Ohio part of the sales tax by implement new fees and took the revenue out of the stream of Ohio finances which could find its way to local government.  

Governor Kasich vetoed a provision in HB 49 (Ohio's biennium budget bill) which provided for Ohio asking the federal government for a waiver to assess a franchise fee on health insurance companies.  (See this confirming LINK)

Now whom do think is ultimately going to pay for the increase in costs to offset the additional cost to insurance costs?

Of course, you and I, the taxpayers of Ohio in the form of incremental increases in our health care insurance premiums.

The SCPR says "Go, figure!"

Thank you! (sarcasm) Senator Oelslager and Representative Schuring.  Ya'all are sure lookin' out for local government.  Especially Stark County local government!
_________________________________________________________

ORIGINAL BLOG

On Friday, December 8, 2017 Stark County Budget Direct Chris Nichols (pictured above, also a Canton Township trustee) presented a "draft" 2018 Stark County departments/offices of government operating budget.

It is interesting to note that quite a number of elected Stark County officials did not attend the session.  In 2011-2012 it was quite a different picture.  These were the core years financial crisis due to the expiration of the only county sales tax.

Present were:
  • Auditor Alan Harold,
  • County Clerk of Courts Louis Giavasis,
  • Commissioner Janet Creighton,
  • Commissioner Richard Regula,
  • Commissioner Bill Smith,
  • Treasurer Alex Zumbar

The Stark County Political Report  (SCPR) was there with camera in hand and over the next week or so will be presenting a series of blogs digging into the budget in some detail.

Commissioners are set to approve the Friday-presented "draft" budget on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at their regular weekly meeting which begins at 1:30 p.m.  The meeting is held on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building, 110 Central Plaza located in downtown Canton in the commissioners' meeting room.

The federal government and the state of Ohio dealt many Ohio county governments (including Stark County) a huge financial blow in ending (the federal government) and not making county government, in the case of Stark, whole going forward (Ohio government) for the loss of sales tax revenues on account of a federal rule effective July, 2017 of not allowing state government taxation of Medicaid "managed care organizations" (MCOs).  (See this LINK for an full written explanation)
  • Note:  That Stark was one of the counties that was not made whole (getting about 66% of one year transition money [per Nichols in the video above, Vinton county got eight years of transition money])is indication to the SCPR that Republican members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) were not effective in protecting (Republicans being in supermajority control of the OGA) Stark County taxpayers from the sudden and substantial cut of $2.3 million annually beginning in 2019.
    • State Senator Scott Oelslager (29th Senate District),
    • Kirk Schuring (48th House District), and
    • Christina Hagan (50th House District
And, of course, Republican governor John Kasich ought not be left out.



One has to wonder whether or not there will ever be an electoral consequences for Oelslager and Schuring, despite their combined 54 years in the OGA (now, with this election, switching seats for the third time to avoid being out of the OGA because of term limits).

The "term-limits" idea, by-the-way, was a Republican initiated plan to help regain control of the OGA after Democrats had been in control for many years during of the Vern Riffe era (1967-1994).

How hypocritical can Oelslager and Schuring be as evidenced in their skirting an electoral reform they initially supported?



While the SCPR is not a fan of Jackson trustee James N. Walters, who, despite his touting his being a Christian minister, The Report sees as being an arrogant guy who would be every bit as inaccessible as Oeslager has been (especially in the last several years) as a member of the Ohio General Assembly.

Maybe there is not enough difference on the "inaccessible" factor to justify Oelslager's continuance in office.

But good thing would be that a Oelslager loss would reverberate in the halls of the OGA and within the Stark County delegation to the OGA and perhaps the inequity of the application of things "one-time-transition" money would not happen going forward.

Look for local Republican leaders to "convince" Walters to withdraw from the race in order to pave the way for Oelslager's continuance in office.

And certainly do not look to the Democrats under the weak leadership of Chairman Phil Giavasis to find viable candidates to challenge either Oelslager or Schuring.

Shame on Oelslager and Schuring for allowing Stark County finances get slammed by the governor and the Ohio General Assembly.

Overall, considering the massive loss of local government funding and now this $2.3 million blow to Stark County finances, Oelslager and Schuring, have been relatively unproductive as senior legislators in protecting Stark County political subdivision (cities, villages and townships) government.

The total loss to Ohio on the MCO sales tax exemption matter is at $597 million and there is some $200 million lost to Ohio political subdivisions (local examples include Stark County government and the Stark Area Transit Authority (SARTA).

Stark County will get $1,471,853 of an projected annual loss of $2.3 million to be applied to the county revenue factor resulting in a 2018 total loss of $828,147 or about 34% of the usually expected Justice System Sales Tax (JSST) annual revenue of (as pointed out above ) of $2.3 million.

Listen to Nichols explain the revenue loss (3:12):



As can be seen in the lead graphic for this blog, the Stark County auditor's office is projected to receive (including its Information Technology operation) a huge (percentage-wise) increase (20.3%) over its 2017 "operations" budget.

But, perhaps, Stark County taxpayers should be grateful to Director Nichols (acting for the commissioners) in his exercising oversight/due diligence on the auditor/IT request for it could have been an even larger increase over 2017, to wit:


Perhaps as much as 22.6%!

The SCPR has made inquiry with Auditor Harold for the specifics of the huge percentage-wise increase.

Harold's response will be shared in future blogs in this series.

Not included in these budget numbers is a large capital improvement of the auditor's office complex on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Another noteworthy increase that needs further examination is the $510,107 in the Sheriff office projected appropriation.  Moreover, the SCPR thinks that there is some "hidden" money (not in the intentional sense, but by reason of how the budget is structured) that should at least in part be attributed to the sheriff's office, to wit:


The SCPR in ensuing volumes of this series will deal with justifications for the auditor's office increase by far and away largest increase in Stark County taxpayer money 2018 budget appropriation as well as other notable factors (i.e. the sheriff's office factor) in the county commissioners getting to a "targeted" 2018 operational outlay of $68,210,208:


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SCREWED? (GONZALEZ & GIAVASIS) CORDRAY IN, WHALEY ET AL OUT?




On September 17, 2017, former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez and Democratic Party political operative Louis Giavasis (brother of current Stark Dems' chairman Phil Giavasis) proved that they lacked the political astuteness of former Dems' (before Gonzalez) chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

In 2006, Maier demonstrated that his political senses were first-rate when he identified Ted Strickland as a shoe-in to win the Democratic nomination for governor and go onto getting elected governor in November, 2006.


Maier, Jr. angled the Stark County Democratic Executive Committee into endorsing Strickland over Flannery (usually, in contested races, party organizations do not endorse candidates) and thereby won an indebtedness of Strickland to him which The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) thinks Maier parlayed into getting Strickland administration jobs for his brother George, Jackson Township trustee Steven Meeks, Stark County commissioner Gayle Jackson and who knows whom else.

Mark the analysis of the SCPR:  yesterday entrant into the Democratic field of candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor; namely, Richard Cordray will runaway with the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Here is a LINK to a WOSU account of Cordray's gubernatorial announcement.



Back on September 17th, Louis Giavasis (who is suggesting that he may in 2019 run against "independent" mayor of Canton Thomas Bernabei) and Randy Gonzalez were heralded by the Nan Whaley campaign for endorsing her, to wit:


TWO STARK COUNTY LEADERS ENDORSE NAN WHALEY FOR GOVERNOR
Monday, September 11th, 2017

Two longtime Stark County elected leaders, Jackson Township Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez and Stark County Clerk of Courts Louis P. Giavasis, recently announced their endorsement of Nan Whaley for Governor.

“I’m endorsing Nan Whaley because Ohio needs a Governor who understands the challenges and opportunities of our local communities,” said Gonzalez. “We need a fresh face with bright, bold new ideas who will get things done for Stark County and Ohio. And that’s Nan.”

Gonzalez has served as Jackson Township Fiscal Officer for over 20 years and is the former Stark County Democratic Party Chair. Giavasis served as Plain Township Trustee for 23 years and is now Stark County Clerk of Courts, a post he’s held since 2015.

“As a Mayor, Nan Whaley understands our communities, and she understands boots-on-the-ground government,” said Giavasis. “Nan will be a Governor who helps local communities in Stark County and all across Ohio. We don’t need another politician from Columbus or Washington D.C., Ohio needs Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley as our next Governor.”

Nan Whaley issued the following statement in response:

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of these tremendous local leaders,” said Whaley. “Our communities have been left behind by politicians at the Statehouse, and Ohioans want change. Momentum is growing for our campaign and, with support from leaders across this state, we’ll work together to ensure Ohio’s best days are ahead of us.”


Hmm!

Although the SCPR doesn't think either Giavasis or Gonzalez are the brightest political figures in Stark County, it was highly surprising to see them come out for Whaley when it was the not-so-best-kept-secret that it was only a matter of time before Cordray announced.

Duh?

The SCPR watched on live streaming (Monday evening) as before-Cordray-announced Democratic candidates Whaley, Sutton, Schiavoni and Pillach debated in Cleveland.

The winner?

In the SCPR's view:  Betty Sutton.

Experienced in government-wise and articulating with some specificity her views, Sutton stood out.

The least impressive?

You've got it:  Nan Whaley.

In Dayton where she is mayor in a governance system in which the mayor is more or less a figure head, Whaley spoke on Monday night as if as mayor she was prepared to step into being governor.
Starting in 1914, Dayton's government was changed to the "weak mayor" manager-council form. In this system, the five-member commission selects the city manager, who holds administrative authority over the municipal government. The mayor is simply one of the five members of the city commission. The mayor's only power over the other commissioners is as chairperson of the commission. 
Source (Extract) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Dayton,_Ohio
Only the political naive would believe that line.

Apparently, Stark County clerk of courts Louis Giavasis and Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez have taken that line in "hook, line and sinker!"

The only remaining question should Cordray become governor:  Will he remember that they endorsed Whaley and did not give him a chance to earn their endorsement.?

Pretty dumb politics on Giavasis'/Gonzalez's part, no?

In the final analysis, it may turned out that they will have to muse to themselves should Cordray win the governorship:  "we are screwed!"

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"POLITICO'S"—WOMEN RULE—WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP THAT EVERY STARK COUNTY "POLITICAL ASPIRING" WOMAN SHOULD VIEW




"WOMEN RULE" SPEAKERS

LINK
"WOMEN RULE" HIGHLIGHTS

As far as Stark County leadership goes, there are some (just like men):
  • very capable women,
  • so-so capable women, and 
  • "she doesn't belong here women," (e.g. Christina Hagan, Kathy Catazaro-Perry)
Among current/former elected officials, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) places in the superior group:
  • Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton
    • also:
      • a former county recorder,
      • a former county auditor, and
      • a former mayor of Canton,
  • Alliance City Council member Julie Jakmides,
  • Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Chryssa Hartnett,
  • former Massillon City Council member Nancy Halter,
  • Canton City Council member Chris Smith,
Among current appointed officials who belong in the "superior" group include:
  • Angela Cavanaugh (chief building official for Canton/Stark County),
  • Jaime Allbritain (chief deputy treasurer),
  • Anita Henderson (product development manager/Auditor's IT office),
  • Deborah Forkas (chief executive of Stark Co. Job/Family Services), and
  • Andrea Perry (safety director for Canton).
Of course, the SCPR is partial to women in leadership being the father of three highly accomplished daughters.

Moreover, wife Mary (an elected official on the Stark County Educational Service Center, SCESC; also a former Lake SD board member) is top notch as a "show'em" by action woman leader.

Mary taught 35 years in the Akron Public School System and 10 years at the University of Akron.  Additionally, she served as an educational consultant for Carson Dellosa and a PRAXIS facilitator for the Ohio Department of Education. Lastly, she was among the very first National Board Certified Teachers in the nation and the state of Ohio.

A thing about Mary and her National Board certification which is a tribute to her professionalism and dedication to being the very best prepared teacher that one can be is the fact that she took on becoming certified as she neared retirement from the Akron Public Schools.

For years and years the Stark County Educational Service Center has been a male bastion.  Mary has been a member of the SCESC for 10 years.  While she has enjoyed being on the Board with four men, it will be different now with the election of two women to the SCESC on November 7th.

Women now control the SCESC 3 to 2.

Interesting, no?

The U.S.A. and Ohio's political subdivisions including Stark County government, the county's cities, townships, villages, and boards of education have way too few women in leadership roles.




LINK to the Rutgers website.

It is heartening that three of the six candidates for the Democratic nomination for Ohio governor are women.

While the SCPR is not a big fan of Mary Taylor, at least the Republicans do have a woman in the mix for the Republican nomination.

LINK to headline supporting article

Obviously, men are not getting the job done in leading the U.S.A. in a qualitative primarily in the peoples' interest sort of way rather than in a personal political ambition/political party interest way.

Seemingly, sexual harassment "by men in power" (who view women as "sex objects" and not leaders in the making) is yet another barrier in a long historical list that women have to and have had to overcome for women to be seen as having qualities that merit them achieving leadership.

Kudos to Politico for putting on today's live stream on empowering women to be all that they can be as leaders in America from the White House to the schoolhouse without regard to gender.

Monday, December 4, 2017

AN ARTICLE FOR STARK CO CONNECTED POLITICIANS TO READ! ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO APPROVE OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S JOB PERFORMANCE



AS "ALL-IN" TRUMP SUPPORTERS

JIM RENACCI & CHRISTINA HAGAN

ARE EITHER

IGNORANT OR CONSUMMATE OPPORTUNISTS

&
A "MUST" READ FOR
EVERYBODY ELSE

Yesterday morning as I sat down to breakfast on a scrumptious cinnamon roll and  coffee, as a usual contemporaneous routine I opened by absolutely favorite "for readers" e-mail which list noteworthy reading material for those of us who wish to be informed persons.


LINK to the Lewis Vanity Fair article.

The Stark County Political Report is not fond of government bureaucracy:  local, state and/or federal.

However, the reality of the human condition is that an important function of government is the general welfare as undergirded by provisions in the U.S. Constitution and the Ohio Constitution which provisions are a grant of authority by ordinary citizens for elected and unelected officials to look out for our good.

Because of the polarization in Washington and Columbus and, yes, even sometimes at the local level of government on the basis of partisan political party considerations and/or the political ambitions of particular politicians, Americans by and large yearn for the draining of what President Donald J. Trump has aptly coined as being a "political" swamp.

For those of us who "hunger and thirst" for government and government officials which/who put personal/political party interests in at least second place in making decisions which affect the finances, health and safety of we—the hoi polloi, a guy like Trump and his promise to "clean out the swamp" has at least a "let's take a look" appeal.

But "a look" is all Donald J. Trump ever merited.  The Report is steadfast in an abiding desire to have political swamps cleaned out whether they are in Canton, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio or Washington, D.C.

Trump, Renacci and Hagan (or Gibbs) are hardly folks that will do the job.

They are all rock-ribbed Republicans that will do nearly anything for their individual political ambitions or if they are in control or strongly influence Republican Party processes they have been and will again be "all-in" for their political party over the interests of everyday people.

Now nearly one year in office, it is clear that if anything "the swamp" is swampier and his administration is largely staffed by incompetent people.

And here is a specific example.

On Friday night the Republicans finally got a major piece of legislation (not ready for presidential signature because the Senate and House have to come together on differences).

At the last minute, Trump insiders (perhaps the DeVos family) tried to have inserted a provision that would have exempted Hillsdale College from endowment taxation (LINK).  Democrats and four courageous Republicans stopped the "carve out" for the supposedly philosophically conservative (does this include "fiscally" conservative?) connected institution.

Why doesn't Trump tweet about that "swampish" maneuver?

The value of reading Lewis' article is to put clothing on an uneasy feeling abroad in our country that the evidence is that Trump et al are generally inept/incompetent governors and need to have the brakes put on them.

As we all know, the primary test of being in good with the President is to blindly follow and support whatever he says and does.

"Unquestioning political loyalty to Donald J. Trump" is exactly what the SCPR sees, for the most part, as the political posture of current Republican 16th district congressman Jim Renacci (now running for governor of Ohio; 93%/94% of the time favoring Trump positions  [LINK]) and current Republican Ohio 50th District state Representative Christina Hagan.


When Renacci defeated then-incumbent Democrat John Boccieri in the 2010 off-year congressional elections, he badgered Boccieri about voting in the 90% category with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The turn of events shows what an utter hypocrite Jim Renacci is.

Unless and until Renacci and Hagan disavow "the 'unquestioning' loyalty Trump mantra," Stark Countians, indeed Ohioans (Renacci) should not consider for a nanosecond voting for either.


Either Renacci and Hagan don't have the ability to think for themselves or their political ambitions have gotten the best of them.

Hagan, in particular, is offensive.

Hardly a woman for other women and, for that matter, men to model after her.

Let's see, among her "ANTI-middle-class agenda" positions, Hagan:
  • wants to take the right of women to have control of their own bodies in instances of rape, incest and life threatening health conditions away,
  • wants to jeopardize the health of all of us in eliminating the power of health care providers to require those who deal with all of us to be vaccinated with a flu shot,
  • wants to gut the Affordable Care Act so that millions lose their insurance because it becomes unaffordable,
  • is "bananas" for gun use expansion apparently even "automatic" weapons the lack of control of which has empowered indoctrinated, insane and demented to mow down scores of unsuspecting Americans
On her website, Hagan devotes space to telling one and all what a good person she is.

Kind of unbecoming for the faith that many of us know, to wit:



How many times have we heard self-lauding "I'm-a-good-person" statements only to see the person "fall-from-grace" in good time.

That Hagan has bragged to local Republican leaders that she is out to create a Hagan political empire hardly bespeaks a person who subscribes to the Good Book admonition:  "Not by power or might, but by my spirit, saith the Lord." (Zechariah 4:6)

Christina Hagan is all about political power and might by which she wants to impose her values on the rest of us.

Thankfully, it appears that Hagan's political game plan is falling apart.

Her father, John, recently lost his trustee's position in Marlboro Township.

Her Ohio 16th congressional district race is floundering.  She has bragged that she would raise $15/16 million for the May 8, 2018 GOP primary and $1.5 million for the general election.  She has yet to raise her first $1 million.


Should Hagan decide to abandon the congressional race (which the SCPR thinks she will) and opt to run for a remaining two years in the Ohio House (the 50th District which includes her home in Marlboro Township), already filed Republican candidate Reggie Stoltzfus has told the SCPR that he is not about to step aside for her.

Stoltzfus attended a Mike DeWine for governor rally in North Canton Ohio on November 13th.

But no Christina Hagan.

Think the probable GOP nominee for governor joined now by Jon Husted as his lieutenant governor candidate  (sorry! Jim Renacci) didn't take note?


While the SCPR thinks that if elected governor will be supportive of the president when it is reasonable to be so, but like the current governor (Republican John Kasich) The Report believes DeWine will not hesitate to be unsupportive (unlike Renacci and Christina Hagan) when Trump is at his best outlandish self which seems to be nearly all the time.

Getting back to Hagan absence at the DeWine rally; think that in a Hagan/Stoltzfus contest in the May 8, 2018 Republican primary for the 50th Ohio House District that DeWine/Husted won't weigh-in (at least behind the scenes) on behalf of Stoltzfus?

Does not bode well for a Hagan political empire emerging in Stark County.

Christina Hagan is a case of a little success (getting the Ohio House Republican Caucus appointment to fill out the term of Todd Snitchler [March, 2011]) going to her head

As an "under 30" she has ballyhooed herself as an up and coming political power to be reckoned with.

Hagan has gotten quite a bit of national notoriety in extreme-right-wing-religious-Republican-Party-connected politics of late.

She mistakes this sheltered political existence for general electorate acceptability.

Nonetheless as we know from the election of Donald Trump, anything can happen in our political system and that "anything" can be quite damaging to our democratic-republican system of government.

Fortunately, Trump has continued to "shoot himself in his 'political foot'" and therefore he is disfavored by an overwhelming majority of Americans.

Hopefully, his discredit among most Americans will taint the candidacies of Jim Renacci and Christina Hagan so that Stark Countians and Ohioans will not have to suffer through political lunacy at the state of Ohio and the county (16th or 50th districts) level.