Friday, January 4, 2008

UPDATE Red Stamp Justice

The City of Akron does the right thing and reinstates Jesse Jones, the 22-year veteran of the Akron Fire Department originally placed on indefinite unpaid suspension when he was facing sex charges. You may remember this case: Jones was given a pass when a grand jury ruled "no bill", but the prosecutor's office slapped the wrong stamp on the paperwork and the case moved ahead as if he'd been indicted (that would be a true bill) by mistake.

The error was caught and the correct paperwork entered, with apologies (how would you have liked to get that call from your lawyer!) and case dismissed, with prejudice meaning it won't come up again.

The City tells AkronNewsNow's Larry States they will put Jones back on duty, with back pay. But should there be more coming? After all, the neighbors and co-workers and total strangers will remember the case when it broke -- and we all reported it. We're reporting now that the case was dismissed but is that really fair to a man's reputation built on a lifetime and sent up in flames in a matter of hours? What price does Jones think is fair for the months he spent with no job, no money, and likely no support? A hard lesson to play out to find out who your friends are -- and how justice works.

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The deadline just came and went in the election filing crush at the Board of Elections in Summit County. New Summit Republicans headmaster Sen. Kevin Coughlin was filing his paperwork this afternoon on South Grant Street; I've got to imagine the growling behind the scenes from the partisans backing incumbent GOP chairman Alex Arshinkoff as Coughlin claims he's got his slate ready to go to give the long-time party boss a run for the money. It would be educational to hear more from Alex but as usual he's not talking. This, I predict, will be THE race we're all watching over the next eight weeks. When is the last time anyone even mentioned "central committee" and eyes didn't glaze over? Nothing like a family feud to satisfy our lust for political bloodletting, and in a rare switch it isn't Democrats beating each other over the head. At this point the Summit County elections folks were laughing at our reporter's attempts to get a read on just how many people are filing for those central committee slots and tell us they may not have a full list until Monday.

I just want to know: is anyone running against Alex in his home precinct? How big a sign can Alex put up in his front yard this time, with or without the help of the ACLU?

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Speaking of races to watch: the early conventional wisdom says Joe Finley's challenge of Russ Pry in the Democrat primary for County Executive will be a snoozer. I tend to agree with the analysis that running against bossism isn't always the best idea because successful bosses keep their machines in power by doing what they promise; besides, as Pho points out in his Pho's Akron Pages blog it isn't as though people don't like Russ Pry...even political opponents tell me privately they like the guy off-ballot and he's won high marks for his first six months since being appointed to the job. But to rule out Finley at this point is like buying into the wisdom that had Hillary Clinton winning Iowa a month ago: let's not forget it's voters, not the pundits, who decide. Still, Finley's opening salvo today and in his interview earlier this week with ANN's Craig Simpson wasn't the best start...Pry showed a more steady campaign style in not reacting to the bluster when we spoke with him on Thursday.

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