Tuesday, June 30, 2015

BREAKING NEWS! BERNABEI HIRES CLEVELAND ATTORNEY ON STARK & OHIO DEMS PROTEST OF HIS "INDEPENDENT" CANDIDACY FOR MAYOR OF CANTON



ORIGINALLY POSTED 06/29/2015 AT 2:07 PM

REPUBLISHED & UPDATED 06/30/2015

It appears that Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei, through his newly selected legal counsel Raymond V. Vasvari, Jr. (a Clevelander, see background below), has played his ultimate "trump" card "right out of the chute" in his endeavor to become Canton's first ever (at least in the modern era) non-partisan mayor.

Yesterday, Vasvari filed a Motion for Recusal (see pleading below) of Stark County Board of Elections members (BOE, Board) Sam Ferruccio, Jr. and William V. Sherer, II from hearing the question of whether or not the BOE should certify lifelong Democrat Bernabei as an independent candidate for mayor of Canton in a Board hearing scheduled for July 6, 2015 at 9:00 a.m.

In a preview of "what is likely to come" in his forthcoming direct responsive pleading to Stark/Ohio Dems' attorney Lee Plakas' May 29th filed protest of the Bernabei candidacy, Cleveland attorney Raymond V. Vasvari, Jr. invoked First Amendment U.S. Constitutional issues inherent in the case.

The SCPR sees the First Amendment approach as Bernabei's best chance to ultimately win the legal argument on the certification question.

And, the First Amendment Right of Association may even play in the political side of the question.

The Report envisions the BOE/Ohio Secretary of State/Ohio Supreme Court scenario perhaps playing out his way:
  • Republican BOE members Curt Braden and William Cline to support certifying Bernabei.
  • Democrat BOE members Ferruccio and Sherer voting not to certify (of course, having refused to recuse themselves),
    • Result:  a two to two tie,
  • Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted breaks the tie in siding with Braden and Cline reasoning that:
    • Members Ferruccio and Sherer had a conflict in interest in that they were in effect protesters under the umbrella entity the Stark County Democratic Party and therefore were disqualified from exercising their Ohio statutory role of being adjudicators of their own interests,
    • Though not a judge, Husted articulates that he is impressed with the First Amendment argument and that therefore the voters of Canton should decide whether or not Tom Bernabei should become mayor of Canton,  (see Husted, In re: Maier, "let the people decide" LINK 1, Ohio Supreme Court; LINK 2 Ohio Supreme Court; LINK 3, Ohio Secretary of State)
  • The case is appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court which in the main employs an "abuse of discretion" standard on Husted's reasoning and consequently affirms the secretary's tie breaking vote in favor of certification.
    • Undoubtedly, Vasvari's First Amendment approach will play big in the Ohio Supreme Court,
LINKS to prior SCPR blogs on the Bernabei quest to run as an independent:
THE MOTION TO RECUSE



BACKGROUND MATERIAL ON VASVARI


Here is a LINK to a blog written by Vasvari with the latest entry being July 23, 2012.

Also, a LINK from Linkedin.


And what does Vasvari have to say about himself?


Monday, June 29, 2015

HB 70 - TODAY ITS YOUNGSTOWN; TOMORROW CANTON?


The immediate object of House Bill 70 (passed by the Ohio General Assembly last Wednesday) was to set up a mechanism for the State of Ohio to take over the highly academically distressed Youngstown City School District.

For Stark Countians and in particular Cantonians, it is an alarm bell that Canton City Schools could be next.

The alarm bells were set off locally by Akron Beacon Journal education writer Doug Livingston, to wit:


Livingston describes in the article the process whereby:

  • the Ohio General Assembly - at the last minute in the legislative process of it current session passed House Bill 70 which might result for failing school districts:
    • in teacher unions being removed,
    • in local voters losing the right to control their own school districts, and
    • turn operations over to "for profit" management entities,
  • "the Ohio legislature introduced and passed legislation in a matter of hours with no opportunity for the public to deliver opposition testimony."
Only Melissa Cropper of the Ohio Federation of Teachers showed up at this last minute legislative gambit to present opposition to the bill.

However, only four "favorables" to the legislation including recently named Youngstown State University president Jim Tressel:
  • former Ohio State University football coach who resigned when the program became troubled,
  • who served as interim president of The University of Akron, and applied for the permanent job,
and three other including former Akron University administrator Connie Hathorn (on his way out as superintendent of the Youngstown City Schools) were allowed to testify.

The Stark County Report thinks Canton City Schools are vulnerable under the legislation because of the system's horrible rating by State of Ohio since Ohio has been grading the quality of local school systems since the 2005-2006 school year.

Be sure to take a look at Livingston's "Steps to a Takeover" (LINK).

Take a look going back three years:


Notwithstanding the Canton City Schools' effort to turn things around with its phased in three phase Brighter Tomorrow project, its hard to imagine the district pulling off this seemingly impossible feat so as to avoid the draconian measures included in HB 70.

Only one majority member (the Republicans control both the Ohio House and Senate) of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly stood in opposition to the bill, that being State Senator Scott Oelslager.

Republican Kirk Schuring (Jackson, House District 48) who once referred to Cantonians as - "those people" - during his 2008 16th Congressional District race in a losing effort against Democrat John Boccieri to succeed long time Republican congressman Ralph Regula, was a "yes" vote to possibly put Canton in the crosshairs of HB 70.

Joining him was Republican Christina Hagan (Marlboro) of the 50th House District.

One may agree or disagree about the merits of the bill, but for Schuring and Hagan to support legislation that was offered with affording opponents the fundamental American democratic-republican values of "notice and opportunity to be heard" should be an outrage to Stark Countians.


Here are the recorded votes of the supersize Republican majority:


Despite Canton mayor William J. Healy, II repetitively in his annual State of the City messages since he developed the notion of "pillars" of rebuilding the declining for years Canton government infrastructure (one pillar being Education), The Report and daresay most Stark Countians see Canton City Schools as one gigantic mess with a school board that is probably among the state's very worst.

Some readers may think HB 70 is the only way to save the likes of the Canton City Schools.

And maybe they are right?

Friday, June 26, 2015

OKEY CREATES A LEGISLATIVE PROBLEM AND THEN CAN'T FACE ALLIANCE LEGISLATORS?

UPDATED:  11:30 AM

ORDINANCE 21-15
on Reconsideration
passed 06.25.2015 
signed by President Pro Tem Ryan

VIDEO POST:  DORDEA MOTION OF CENSURE

VIDEO POST:  RYAN BLAST OF OKEY

OKEY LETTER EXPLAINING HIS REASONS FOR NOT SIGNING ALLIANCE ORDINANCE 21-15

ON ANNIVERSARY
OF FIRST CENSURE:
OKEY GETS CENSURED AGAIN

Ryan Blasts Okey
===================
Dordea's
Motion to Censure Okey
===================
Complete Video
of
Meeting

First, Alliance City Council president Steve Okey's version:

From: Steve Okey 

Date: June 25, 2015 3:06:49 PM EDT


To: "Vanessia A. Freeman" , "'Gerard Yost' (gtyost@co.stark.oh.us)" , "Sheila Cherry (cherryward1@yahoo.com)" , Cindy King , Larry Dordea , Don Kline , "Julie Jakmides (julie.jakmides@gmail.com)" , "Sue Ryan (mastry98@aol.com)" , "'Roger Rhome' (rogerrhome@att.net)" , "Mayor Alan Andreani (mayor@allianceoh.gov)"
Cc: "sujhelyi@the-review.com"
Subject: RE: Special Meeting Dates

As I stated in my email on Monday, June 22, I previously scheduled a possible meeting out of town on a client’s case for today. I have received confirmation that the meeting will go forward today at 5:30 p.m. This work obligation in Carroll County will prevent me from returning back to Alliance in time for the special meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. I therefore request that Ms. Ryan preside at tonight’s meeting as President Pro Tem.

Thank you,
Steve

Steve Okey
President, Alliance City Council



Minutes ago, The StarK County Political Report received a copy of what the source indicates is a letter to the editor type correspondence generated by Okey, to wit:

From: 
Date: June 25, 2015 8:12:46 PM EDT
To: 
Subject: okey's letter

Dear Citizens of Alliance,

So what’s the big deal about a signature?

As you know, signatures can mean a lot. With our signatures, we bind ourselves to buy a car, take out a loan, pay money by check, get a driver’s license, pay by credit card, and the list goes on and on. 

As President of City Council, my signature on an ordinance is one of the steps an ordinance takes to become law.

That’s exactly why I was concerned about putting my signature on Ord. 21-15 after it was adopted by City Council by a 4-2 vote on June 15. In my analysis, Ord. 21-15 violates the Constitution. Not just in one way, but in many ways. 

Ord. 21-15 is dangerous and unconstitutional. 

Every citizen should be alarmed by its adoption in our city. And every voter should make the officials who are responsible for this unconstitutional ordinance accountable. 

As President of City Council, I took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Ohio according to the best of my ability and understanding. And 28 years ago, I took an oath as an attorney to protect and defend the Constitution. 

The Constitution is not just a dusty old piece of parchment kept behind glass at the National Archives. The Constitution is a living document that serves as the fabric of our system of government. The Constitution puts limits on government power, just like the boundary lines on a playing field. But the Constitution can’t protect itself. It’s up to each of us to take a stand when we see some action by the government that violates the Constitution. 

Ord. 21-15 has a lot of constitutional problems. It gives the Chief of Police unprecedented power to impose fines on any law abiding property owner simply because someone claims that there was criminal activity on the property. 

Ord. 21-15 violates the Constitution and the rights of law abiding property owners in at least three important ways. 

First, the Chief of Police can simply announce that there have been “criminal nuisance activities” on a property and then impose fines. The Chief of Police does not have to first get a conviction, or go to court, or even charge anyone with a crime. Under our Constitution, the government cannot impose fines arising out of alleged criminal activity without a ruling by a court that a crime actually occurred.  

But not anymore. 

Ord. 21-15 now allows a law abiding property owner to be fined hundreds or even thousands of dollars by the police, without a court ever being involved. There is a thing called “due process” in our country. Ord. 21-15 ignores this constitutional requirement.

Second, the fines are imposed by order of the Chief of Police, not by a court. 

In the United States, we have separation of powers between the legislature, the courts and the police. Ord. 21-15 is unconstitutional because it hands over the court’s power (finding that crimes occurred and imposing fines) to the police.

Third, the ordinance does not provide a property owner with the opportunity to be heard before fines are imposed by the Chief of Police.  The property owner can only ask the Chief to reconsider the fines, but that is after a decision was already made by the Chief of Police. Constitutional due process requires notice and an opportunity to be heard before a fine is imposed. 

By the way, don’t be fooled by myths that the supporters of Ord. 21-15 have created in order to hide the truth about this dangerous ordinance.

One myth is that no one can be fined unless somebody did something wrong. That’s false! The truth is that Ord. 21-15 empowers the police to impose fines upon law abiding property owners who are completely innocent and have done nothing wrong! 

Another myth is that the fines imposed by the police are actually “fees.” This is a false description. Even Council members Jakmides and Dordea used the word “fines” during a committee meeting about Ord. 21-15. 

And the biggest myth is that Ord. 21-15 applies only to landlords. This is false. The ordinance specifically applies to every “residential dwelling unit.” This includes homes owned by the occupant as well as homes owned by a landlord. 

This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. There are enough constitutional violations in Ord. 21-15 to alarm everyone. 

Some citizens are concerned about the intrusive reach of government into our lives and are wary about the government controlling the use of our private property. How is Ord. 21-15 consistent with limited government and checks on government power?

Other citizens are concerned about individual rights. How is Ord. 21-15 fair, when the police can impose fines on law abiding citizens without any court hearing? 

No due process. Police imposing fines on law abiding citizens. Ord. 21-15 turns the police into the judge and jury.

I would never suggest that the current law director, who helped to craft Ord. 21-15, or the four members of Council who voted for it, are bad people. 

And I will not participate in name calling or other distasteful attacks on them. However, our Constitution tells us that their judgment on Ord. 21-15 is flawed and mistaken. 

Recognizing that Ord. 21-15 violates the Constitution, I was justified in hesitating before putting my signature on it. I carefully read the law that requires the President of City Council to authenticate an ordinance by signing it. After careful consideration, I was able to sign and authenticate the ordinance because I stated in writing that I did not give my personal approval to an unconstitutional action by City Council.

Council member Jakmides has alleged that I am taking this action for my “own political gain.” She is quite mistaken. My principled stand against Ord. 21-15 might gain me some votes, and it might lose me some votes. That’s not what matters. The only thing that matters is that I uphold the oath I took to support the Constitution — an oath I proudly took. 

If you are concerned about Ord. 21-15, then you should contact your Council members and tell them to repeal this dangerous ordinance. 

Please join me in fighting to protect our Constitution. 

Steve Okey
President, Alliance City Council

Do you think - maaaaybee - there are a few skeptical folks on Alliance City Council who think - maaaaybee - that Steve Okey made a point of not being available for last night's "special" meeting to deal with Okey's refusal to sign a piece of legislation passed at council's last regular meeting held on June 15th?



On the following Tuesday, the SCPR ran this blog:


To fully appreciate today's blog, readers should go and refresh themselves on Tuesday's blog (LINK).

As a shorthand refresher for those readers who do not have the time to go back to the June 16 SCPR blog, here goes:


Sorry to say, The Report does not buy Okey's claimed dedication to the legislation's constitutionality.

Nor did The Report buy into Okey's claim that he filed litigation against Alliance City Council (he was not president of council at the time) for alleged Ohio Sunshine Law violations for a process that he himself engaged in when he was on council before not seeking re-election so he could take on a losing effort to become mayor of Alliance in November, 2011.

It is interesting to note that Okey seized the initiative to contact the SCPR when he filed his Sunshine Law lawsuit with a "heads up" saying he knew that yours truly deeply cares about "the rule of law."

And, of course, he is correct.

What the SCPR is not for is folks like The Report thinks he is to use principles of law as a smokescreen for political manipulation.

That is what yours truly thinks the Sunshine Law initiative was all about.  To boot, that is what the SCPR thinks the constitutionality thing is all about.

Note on his e-mail that he did copy media; just not The Stark County Political Report.

For he certainly knows that The Report would have engaged him in a back and forth email exchange wanting to learn much, much more about his claim conflict in timeframe.

The SCPR's experience with Okey is much like that with some Stark County Democratic Party insider friends who think they are smarter than everybody else and manipulate or in some instances coerce others into doing their will.

It was a real "slap in the face" for him to ask that Sue Ryan to serve as President Pro Tem at last night's meeting.


Nevertheless, Ryan, the gracious public official she is, endured the indignity and ran last night's meeting for the most part anyway.

The decision is not his in the first place.

Who serves as president pro tem is by vote of the voting members of council which Okey is not unless there is a tie.

She did step down momentarily to administer a verbal blast at Okey (see video clip below).

Moreover, she was the key vote in, as the only Democrat, to join Republicans Dordea, Jakmides and Rhone to reconsider "the constitutionally offensive to Okey" ordinance which he refused to sign to pass it once again in a 4 to 3 vote which, of course, given Okey's absence needed only to be signed by herself and President Pro Tem.



Long time Okey foe Ward 3 councilman Larry Dordea teed off on Okey several times during the "special" meeting and finished of in a flourish in moving to censure the council president for "defacing" the originally passed Ordinance 21-15 pretty much on the anniversary date on his censure a year ago over a flap Okey created on Alliance council's voting procedures.




Okey did get some support last night from Councilpersons Cherry, King and Kline.

Sue Ryan would have been president of Alliance City Council, the SCPR thinks, had it not been for a lot of political arm twisting that Okey and Stark Dem leadership friends such as former chairman Randy Gonzalez engaged in at the last moment in the contest among Alliance Democratic precinct committeepersons as to whether Ryan or Okey would succeed then-recently deceased long time president John Benincasa.

The Report knew at the time that it would only be a matter of time before Okey stirred the political pot in Alliance (see the linked blog above). He did not disappoint.

It appears he is at it again with the constitutionality thing on Alliance Ordinance 21-15.



While presumably it is likely true that Okey actually did have a conflict making it impossible for him to be at last night's meeting, The Report has to believe that alternative arrangements could have been made at his initiative so that he could to go face-to-face with his detractors' allegation that this refusal to sign was just so much politics.

Here is what Councilperson Ryan had to say to the SCPR in a recent e-mail:

Sue Ryan  Jun 16
To:  tramols@att.net


Martin-

I just read your blog from this morning.  First, thank you for the kind words.  You have always been encouraging (although you correctly believe I am politically naive).

Again, you were spot on in your analysis of the latest shenanigans of Mr. Okey.  He is pandering, as usual, playing the race card, and doing anything he can to try to discredit the law director and embarrass council members. 

Following is a copy of a letter to the editor I sent to the Alliance Review.
Keep telling it like it is!

Sue Ryan

[letter to the Alliance Review]

The current City Council members are not lawyers; we are everyday citizens who are doing our best for the citizens and city of Alliance.  We count on the law director and other well-versed people to advise us throughout the legislative process.  In the weeks since Ordinance 21-15 was introduced, numerous meetings and discussions were held.  The questions and concerns that were raised were addressed and answered to the satisfaction of the majority of those present at the meetings.  If the President of Council, or anyone else, had questions as to the constitutionality of this ordinance, it would have been preferable to let those concerns be known at that time rather than allowing Council to vote on what he perceives to be an unconstitutional ordinance.  

Mr. Okey states that he has modeled his actions on those of his predecessor.  I could not disagree more.  While Mr. Benincasa never told any of us how to vote, he made sure we knew where he stood.  If he had doubts about an ordinance, he would have discussed these with us individually, as a respected colleague, not in a passive-aggressive, meaningless gesture.
And she added these remarks in last night's meeting:



How convenient that Okey did not have to account to his critics such as Councilwoman Ryan.

That he opted out (chickened out?) of the confrontation without having worked out an alternative is confirmation to the SCPR's belief that Okey is primarily in his government capacity a political manipulator who cherry picks and avoids according to his political interests.

His November opponent former well respected Alliance City Schools superintendent Arthur Garnes - while not taking anything for granted - has to be immensely pleased that Okey has taken to political grandstanding.

Okey's actions of late seem to smack of political desperation.

Its looking more and more like Okey will once again be on the outside looking in come January 1, 2016.

Here is the complete video of last night's proceedings including pauses while council clerk Garard Yost worked feverishly to repair a troublesome council recording system.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

COUNCILMAN MACK STARTS CHARTER GOV'T ISSUE PROCESS FOR NOVEMBER BALLOT

UPDATE:  10:00 a.m.

VIDEO INTERVIEW (DONE EARLIER THIS MORNING) WITH CANTON LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO ON PROCESS OF GETTING CHARTER ISSUE ON BALLOT

CANTON SET FOR NORTH/SOUTH FIGHT?

Readers of this blog should refresh themselves by going back to The Stark County Political Report's blog of August 11, 2014 to familiarize yourselves with the underlying issues that will likely surface in the fight on whether or not Canton should proceed along lines to became a charter city and thereby control to a greater degree what it can and cannot do as a political subdivision of the State of Ohio.

Ward 8 councilman Edmond J. Mack, chairman of Canton City Council's judiciary committee, has been unable to persuade his fellow members to put the issue on the ballot and therefore has proceeded to collect enough signatures to bypass council and go direct to the voters come this November.



Back in August, 2014, this is how council voted:


While in 2014, seven (7) of Canton's twelve (12) councilpersons were negative on presenting the charter issue; it appears to the SCPR that the mix will be changed after the November election.

This morning yours truly had the good fortune to be in touch with Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio as he was present as one of the member of the Corrections Planning Commission which among other matters deals with jail use issues.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to get Director Martuccio's legal expertise on what the process is for Councilman Mack to get his initiative onto the ballot, here is a video of the interview done about 08:30 a.m. this morning:



It could be that at-large Councilman James Babcock (a charter "no" vote) could be defeated by the trio (three to be elected; four candidates) of incumbent Democrat William Smuckler, incumbent Richard Hart (an independent) and newcomer but clearly a powerful name in Canton municipal politics having been clerk of the Canton Municipal Court for many years; namely, Tom Harmon who is also a former Stark County commissioner.

Moreover, "no" voter Councilman Jim Griffin will definitely not be back as he decided not to run for re-election.

He will be replaced by charter government supporter Jason Scaglione as the SCPR figures Harmon to be.

Harmon's wife circulated a petition in support of getting the issue on the ballot and this is a strong political ally of stalwart charter government supporter Councilman Smuckler.

Accordingly, after November's election, The Report thinks there could be a reversal of the 7 to 5 "no," to 7 to 5 "yes" on the charter issue which if the issue gets a go ahead to form a 15 member charter commission in November of this year could bode well for ultimate passage of the issue come November, 2016.

The issue may still be tinged with a North/South Canton dividing line fight, but less so with the likelihood that seven of Canton's councilpersons will likely be on record as favoring charter government for The Hall of Fame City.

Councilman Mack is to be commended for his tireless work on behalf of getting the matter of forming a commission on the ballot in this fall's general election.

The SCPR has compiled a list of circulators (24, who circulated 62 petitions) and numbers of signatures obtained, to wit:




And here is a list of the prime movers in favor of charter government for Canton.


One of the key circulators was former Canton councilman Robert Capestrain.

Here he is speaking on behalf of the charter issue back in August.

Readers of this blog should also take a look at the SCPR blog concerning a debate between Mack and Ward 2 councilman Thomas West on the charter government issue on August 19, 2013.


And take a few minutes to listen to former Canton councilman Robert Capestrain promote the charter issue before the current council last August.



There could be another interesting twist to the charter government fight.

And that would be the dynamics of mayoralty candidates this November if current Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei makes it to the ballot as an "independent" candidate against two term incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II.

The Report sees Bernabei to be much more enthusiastic for charter government than Healy.  Earlier this morning yours truly confirmed (at the above-reference Corrections Planning Commission meeting) with Commissioner Bernabei that he does indeed favor Mack's charter government issue.

However, Councilman Mack has been courting Healy to come out in favor of the issue.  

Mack, who is associated with Lee Plakas representing the Stark County Democratic Party and the Ohio Democratic Party in their effort to persuade the Stark Board of Elections not to certify Bernabei as an independent candidate, might thereby be working at cross-purposes to his desire to have the strongest possible mayoral support for his "bring charter government to Canton movement."

Politics and government in a very complex mix and makes for odd political combinations, interests and alignments including a possible renewal of the North/South Civil War within the confines of Canton, Ohio.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NO CHANGE IN MAYOR'S ATTITUDE; SAME RESULT, NO?

UPDATED:  08:45 AM


On Thursday, June 18th, Massillon City Council mustered together seven members (the minimum required to act) for the purpose of passing an ordinance joining Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry in presenting to the Massillon Financial Planning & Supervision Commission (MFP&SC, Commission) a Restoration Plan (Plan) to bring Massillon out of fiscal emergency.


Council deliberated for 42 minutes and 35 seconds, more or less, (see full video below) before passing its part of the Plan after amending the original proposed ordinance several times.



Along the way, various council members seemed to lose their focus on why council was in "special" session in the first place.

Council president Tony Townsend has done much to impress the SCPR with his handling of the presidency.

Several weeks ago, he himself lost sight of the appropriateness of his action when he - from the presidency chair - weighed in on council deliberations about a Southway roadway issue. He should have stepped down from the chair to the lectern for public speaks and spoke his peace.

But last Thursday he did impress in his admonishing and structuring the "special" session of council to "keep on task" in voting up or down on the Plan ordinance.

A disturbing aspect of the meeting was the complete absence of any administration official to answer council member's questions about administration viewpoints and obtain information maintained by administration officials.

Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry was nowhere to be seen.

Budget Director and Income Tax Director Ken Koher did take a telephone call from Councilman Paul Manson.

Joel Smith, the mayor's newly appointed safety director was present, but he declined answering any questions about the mayor's perspective nor attempt to provide needed information.

All that sets the scene for comments made by Mayor Kathy in a letter transmitting the plan on Friday, the 19th to Chairwoman Sharon Hanrahan of the MFP&SC in which she said:
  • that she is seriously concerned about a third city income tax increase attempt,
  • that the Plan does not adequately provide for  financing of the repair of Massillon's deteriorating infrastructure such as:
    • road resurfacing,
    • culvert and storm grate replacing, and
    • fixing of potholes,
So it will be interesting to see how the Commission reacts.

The mayor is one of seven voting members of the commission.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, Catazaro-Perry's negative attitude towards working enthusiastically and energetically with council is a primary reason that two prior attempts (one no part of the Plan) failed.

As the graphic at the lead of this blog depicts, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is the personification of a dark, dark, dark cloud that rains negativity into the mindset of voting Massillonians and thereby drowns the city's chances of generating desperately needed new revenues.

However, her fellow Commission members appear to lack the gumption to put her feet to the fire on her failure to be part of the solution rather than a primary roadblock to convincing voters to provide the city with sorely needed additional finances.

And who knows, the MFP&SC on July 1st at its meeting to consider the Plan submitted on the 19th may once again generate reasons to reject the Plan.

At the beginning, nobody thought that Massillon would in fact experience 15% across-the-board cuts to all departments of Massillon government.

The Stark County Political Report for one thinks that it is foolhardy given the mayor's failure to cooperate and embracingly participate in convincing voters to provide new monies to city coffers to think that the 15% cuts are not only thinkable but perhaps probable going forward.

Here is the video of the session of the 18th.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

STARK CO SHERIFF GEORGE T. MAIER WANTS TO HELP SUMMIT COUNTY OUT AT EXPENSE OF STARK CO. TAXPAYERS


UPDATED:  08:00 AM

VIDEO

Commissioner Janet Creighton
"leads the way"
in tabling 
Maier's Done Deal

Had it not been for Commissioners Janet Creighton and Richard Regula (both Republicans), Stark County taxpayers would have entered into a contract last Wednesday for the Stark County sheriff's office to house Summit County prisoners at $70 day to cut the costs of Summit County taxpayers who pay $124 daily for each and every prisoner housed at the Summit County jail.




The contract would have become a reality if Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier had his way: witness that he was presuming (i.e. he had already signed the agreement) that the commissioners would sign on this past Wednesday at their regular 1:30 p.m. meeting.

One has to wonder whether or not he has another "best friend for life" in Summit County government akin to Sheriff Ronald J. Myers of Harrison County.




An example of how utterly arrogant The Stark County Political Report thinks Maier is, no?

And, the Stark County thinks that if it were up to Commissioner Thomas Bernabei (elected as a Democrat, but now claiming to be an "independent"), Maier would have gotten away with the "to the benefit of Summit County taxpayers" give-away at the expense of Stark County taxpayers.

For some odd reason Bernabei seems enamored with Maier to the point of suspending his (Bernabei's) critical faculties.

Generally, Bernabei (the SCPR's top rated Stark County leader, but not uncritically so) is highly scrutinizing, probing and demanding in his approach to government, but those qualities seem to evaporate when it comes to George T. Maier.

The Report believes:
  • that Bernabei as commissioner tried to facilitate Maier meeting Ohio statutory qualification standards to be sheriff back in early 2013 in anticipation of the Ohio Supreme Court finding that he was unqualified as of February 5, 2013 when appointed by a narrow margin (92 to 84) by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee,
  • was left unmoved when the SCPR presented information to him (Bernabei) that Maier was spending loads of Stark County taxpayer money emblazoning his name on Stark County sheriff department property when his qualification to be sheriff was pending in the Supreme Court, and
  • spearheaded (as among the commissioners) to have Stark County taxpayers foot a bill of some $8,000 to hire reputed Ohio elections law attorney Don McTigue to represent Maier's interest before Ohio Secretary of State Ted Husted and the Ohio Supreme Court in a protest to Maier's qualification to be certified as a candidate for sheriff in the November, 2014 election,
Accordingly, it was no surprise to the SCPR that Bernabei seemed willing to go along with Maier's "benefit Summit County" scheme at a loss to Stark County taxpayers as The Report thinks the video (see below) of the exchange between the commissioners and Maier representative Major Brian Arnold and Colonel John Campbell shows:
  • Arnold:  promoted to major by Maier within 30 days of Maier having been elected sheriff)
  • Campbell:  a former Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) pal of Maier's who recently retired from the the OSHP
Arnold and Campbell, two of Maier's "top guns,"


were shockingly unprepared for the questions that Creighton leveled at them, to wit:



Kudos to Creighton and Regula (primarily Creighton) for sending Campbell and Arnold scurrying back to 6200 Atlantic Boulevard to do their due diligence which they obviously had not done coming into the commissioners meeting of June 17th.

And shame on Maier for allowing two men who combined make over $160,000 annually to present at the meeting so completely unprepared.

It should be disturbing to Stark Countians that Commissioner Bernabei seemingly was buying into the notion that $70 a day was better than $0 dollars a day for the 80 or so "vacant" beds that on "on average" go unused for Stark County criminals and/or alleged criminals and therefore are on the streets of Stark County's neighborhoods.

It wasn't that long ago that commissioners and George T. Maier under the prodding of Canton Ward 9 citizen activist Bruce Nordman were promising to get the utilization of the jail up to or very near its 501 bed capacity.

Remember the "scare tactic" aspect of the campaign to get Stark Countians in November, 2009 to pass a 1/2 cent increase in the county sales tax?

Five years later we are only at an average daily usage of 420?

On Thursday morning at 07:30 a.m. a repair of the unpreparedness apparently will be attempted at a meeting of the Corrections Planning Board.

Note this exchange of e-mails between yours truly and County Administrator Brant Luther:
Re: Sheriff proposal for boarding Summit County prisoners
Brant Luther  Jun 22 at 5:06 PM
To:  Martin Olson

Martin,
Attached are a couple of pages out of the Bylaws which describe the membership make-up of the Corrections Planning Board.

The Board's next meeting is this coming Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in the Training Room at the Sheriff's Department.

Thanks,
Brant

>>> Martin Olson <tramols@att.net> 6/22/2015 4:48 PM >>>

Corrections Planning Board?

Who is on the board?  When will the meeting(s) take place.

Or refer me to a person who can provide the information I request.

Thanks

From: Brant Luther <bluther@starkcountyohio.gov>
To: Martin Olson <tramols@att.net>
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 4:02 PM
Subject: Re: Sheriff proposal for boarding Summit County prisoners

Martin,
It is my understanding that the prisoner housing issue will be referred to and further discussed and analyzed by the Corrections Planning Board before coming back to the Board of Commissioners for any action. 

Thanks,
Brant

>>> Martin Olson <tramols@att.net> 6/22/2015 12:29 PM >>>

Brant,

When are Arnold/Campbell going to get back to the commissioners on the costs of housing prisoners?

Martin Olson
SCPR
tramols@att.net
330 899 7144
There should be no excess beds for rent to Summit County or any other county.



Will the forty (40) members of the Corrections Planning Board allow Sheriff Maier to bamboozle them into supporting his "at a loss to Stark County safety and finances" scheme?

Why aren't Alliance, Canton, Massillon and Stark County's Common Pleas Court judges filling up the 80 on daily average bed spaces?

Monday, June 22, 2015

VIDEO (A SCPR EXCLUSIVE): LEE PLAKAS - LEAD COUNSEL FOR STARK & OHIO DEMS ON BERNABEI BOE PROTEST


UPDATED:  08:30 a.m.


On May 29th one of Stark County's most accomplished trial attorneys; namely, Lee Plakas, filed for:
  • the Stark County Democratic Party
  • the Ohio Democratic Party
  • along with seven of Canton City Council's eleven Democratic councilpersons, to wit:
    • Thomas West, Ward 2,
    • Chris Smith, Ward 4,
    • Kevin Fisher, Ward 5,
    • David Dougherty, Ward 6,
    • John Mariol, II, Ward 7,
    • Edmond Mack, Ward 8, (a Plakas associate),
    • Frank Morris, III, Ward 9
a protest to the filing by Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei on May 4th with the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE).

Bernabei, who Plakas likes to refer to as being "a dyed in the wool Democrat" for 99.9% (the SCPR's number; not Plakas') of his political life - in the week leading up to May 4th - made abrupt and hurried moves to change his political party affiliation from Democrat to "independent" in order to run against eight year incumbent Democratic mayor William J. Healy, II in November's general election.

(from Plakas' legal brief)

Bernabei's sudden switch caught most political observers by complete surprise.

The SCPR speculates that Bernabei, who could have run in the May 5th Democratic primary election and won handily over Healy (Kim Perez, Canton treasurer, most likely would have dropped out of the race), had no intention of running as of the filing deadline for the primary but made a dramatic turnaround at the behest of powerful "behind he scenes" Stark County private sector financial and commercial brokers who feel uncomfortable with the highly political and volatile William J. Healy, II.

Bernabei is thought by most who know him well to be a methodical, deliberate, thorough and perfectionist public official who successfully leads in whatever capacity he happens to serve in.

Hence the astonishment when he made herky-jerky moves to jettison a since 1976 "in the public service arena" allegiance with the organized Stark County Democratic Party.

Some might think that Lee Plakas is a devoted to the cause of Mayor Healy to gain a third term given his 2014 donation to the Healy campaign finance apparatus.


To buttress such a take, there is the campaign finance activities of his associate and heavily involved in the Bernabei protest litigation associate Edmond Mack, to wit:


Moreover, Mack worked from the perch of his Ward 8 Canton City Council seat to gain votes for Healy in the face of the Perez challenge to the mayor in the May 5, 2015 primary.

The SCPR does not think that personal political connections played much if any role in Plakas' decision to heed the Stark/Ohio Dems' entreaty that he represent their interests in keeping Bernabei off the ballot in November.

The unmistakable theme of The Stark County Political Report's exclusive interview with Plakas last Thursday was that "the rule of law" was THE motivating factor in his taking on representing the Democratic Party interests.

A particularly poignant moment in the interview was in this segment in which he describes the potential political chaos were Bernabei to be allowed ballot access:



As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly thinks Thomas Bernabei is far and away the most capable political/government leader in all of Stark County.


The SCPR has never been impressed with William J. Healy, II as mayor.

He has self-inflicted one political/governmental debacle, after another debacle after another so as to make him the envy of a cat of nine lives.

Healy has been a survivor in the individual sense.

But Canton continues to decline notwithstanding the grandstanding that Healy persists in including the latest on the unfolding of the Canton Comprehensive Plan yesterday.

To The Report, Bernabei would make a much more effective mayor than Healy.

However, Plakas' point of "the rule of law" is a compelling one.

The Report was solidly behind local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley when he through client Thomas Marcelli held Judge Frank Forchione (Stark County Court of Common Pleas) accountable to "the rule of law" (LINK) on the Sandy Hook fine redirection matter.

Likewise, The Report lauds Plakas for his pursuit of "the rule of law."

It is interesting that the most likely scenario for Bernabei to make it to the November ballot is what the SCPR thinks is the political route, to wit:
  • The two Republicans (Braden and Cline) vote for certifying Bernabei, 
  • The two Democrats (Ferruccio, Jr. and Sherer, II) vote to deny certification,
  • Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted breaks The tie in favor of certification with legally plausible reasoning undergirding his vote which
  • The Ohio Supreme Court affirms as not having been "an abuse of discretion."
As Plakas says, such an outcome is dangerous to the political stability of Ohio's political system.

What is going on in this matter should underscore the critical need for the Ohio legislature to depoliticize the Board of Elections process.

Ohio's organized Republicans and Democrats have a stranglehold on access to the ballot.

Such is completely unacceptable in our democratic-republican political values system.

In the meantime, the only recourse available is the BOE protest procedures and a supervening oversight by the supposedly non-political court system.

For their work in quest of "the rule of law," Lee Plakas and Edmond Mack are to be commended.

Here is the full interview with Lee Plakas with Edmond Mack sitting in: