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Friday, April 18, 2014

(VIDEO) THOMAS ROGERS TRIUMPS!



IS ALL-OUT WARFARE ABOUT TO BREAK OUT BETWEEN 
THE 
CATAZARO-PERRY ADMINISTRATION 
&THE MASSILLON POLICE DEPARTMENT UNION 
IN ADMINISTRATION'S EFFORT
 TO SAVE 
MICHAEL MAIER'S SERGEANT RANK?

VIDEO

THOMAS ROGERS
TAKES OATH OF OFFICE
FROM AN UNHAPPY?
MAYOR KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY

BACKGROUND AS TO WHY THIS SWEARING-IN IS SO SIGNIFICANT

The Stark County Political Report thinks that newly promoted Sergeant Thomas Rogers has, at great personal sacrifice (i.e. the expense and trouble of filing a lawsuit against city of Massillon [his employer]), advanced the cause of "playing by the rules."


(See entire video of swearing-in ceremony at the end of this blog)

Every step of the way to his promotion the sergeant in the Massillon Police Department yesterday, Rogers as one would expect of a law enforcement officer has "gone by the book."

But the Stark County Political Report does think that the Mayor Catazaro-Perry's administration including the Massillon Civil Service Commission has done so.

Accordingly, although all was smiles and handshakes yesterday as the mayor swore Rogers in, you just know that it was a "grit her teeth" and "do what you gotta do" exercise for her.

Now why would The Report think that the administration has not "played by the rules?"

Because Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge John Haas and the majority of judges on a Fifth District Court of Appeals panel have said so.



Unlike other Stark County media, the SCPR has followed this case very closely. 

Not to be overlooked is Rogers legal counsel Craig T. Conley.  He has done superlative work for Rogers and as a consequence The Report hears that Sergeant Rogers is to receive about $10,800 in back pay.


Of course, conversely, Mayor Catazaro-Perry has cost Massillon taxpayers $10,800 by acting precipitously in making the original sergeant promotion and it could be that there will ultimately be a compounding of the increased taxpayer cost her action brings to Massillon.

If Catazaro-Perry was a stand up officeholder and accepted that she is accountable to taxpayers, the foregoing is an example of a line of inquiry she would have to respond to "on camera" at the hand of the Stark County Political Report.

Does anybody think the mayor could handle the SCPR's incisive questioning?

For much more detail read the blogs (LINK 1 and LINK 2) that The Report has written and it will be readily apparent why this particular case is especially noteworthy to many Massillonians.

And it ought to be for Stark Countians at-large.

His perseverance will make other such bodies of government throughout Stark County and, indeed, Ohio,  think twice, three or more times about "not" playing by the rules.

A SLAM AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE SCPR

In one sense,  it made the Stark County Report's day when told that Mayor Kathy said that Martin Olson was not welcome at the mayor's office for Rogers' swearing-in ceremony specifically because I am a blogger.

In one sense?

Yes.

That the SCPR has bored in on her administration (whereas the main stream media has not) and made telling criticisms of Catazaro-Perry's style and substance (or better, lack thereof) of leadership which after nearly two and one half years has Massillon struggling and in the throes of fiscal emergency with very little, if any, light at the end of the tunnel.

As The Report sees her leadership qualities as opined on in quite a number of blogs, it seems to be virtually non-existent inasmuch it appears that she almost completely relies on others to make her decisions for her.

The SCPR warned Massillonians before her election that such would be the case.

Moreover, the SCPR sees her having hostility towards anyone who dares to differ with her.

She takes cues from Massillon's self-proclaimed political Wizard of Oz who holds political office of his own in the Massillon Courts.  But being the clerk apparently is not enough.  He thought to be the real mayor of Massillon but of course has the advantage of hiding behind Catazaro-Perry's skirts.

To be the butt of Catazaro-Perry administration dissatisfaction is a compliment, no doubt about it.

But it was also "a day of infamy" insofar as The Report takes "the statement" in her capacity as a public official as being an attempt to trample on my rights under the Constitution of the United States of America.

A Constitution for which I put myself in harms way while serving in the United States of America Air Force (USAF) in South Korea, 1963 - 1964.  Two of my daughters are commissioned officers in the USAF doing their patriotism in defending the American way of life.

We in the Olson family put action where our mouths are.  Folks like the mayor and those to whom she beats a path to the Massillon Court complex in order to get her daily marching orders, "mouth off."

There is never an appropriate place or setting for someone to say to what the mayor said, but it is particularly offensive given yesterday's occasion.

In case the mayor has forgotten a key part of that Constitution that she is sworn to defend and uphold in her oath of office and which she administered to Sergeant Rogers yesterday includes:
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Her own words in derogation of my Constitutional rights, I think, betray what a petty person she is.

Moreover,  she also appears to be an individual who thinks being mayor of a municipal government is her private office and fiefdom and that she does not have to respect my Constitutional rights as a media person to have access to public places..

Nor does she think she is accountable to the people through the media as she bristles at the scrutiny of the only Stark County media who looks behind the curtain of her administration.

She is entitled to take exception to the opinions I write in my blogs.  But hands off my Constitutional rights!!!

Like some of her political friends and supporters who occupy key public office positions in the government of Massillon, she knows she cannot handle the questions which would come from the Stark County Political Report were she to do what she ought to out of respect for the First Amendment and do interviews with and take questions from The Report.

In my view,  these folks are some "very insecure people," who avoid incisive scrutiny of  their government functions at all cost, including, apparently, countenancing the infringement of the Constitutional rights of any who critique them.

They align themselves with the Democratic Political Party.  The SCPR thinks they do not behave as small letter "d"emocrat bone in their bodies. What The Report thinks they stand for is bullying power politics that threatens the health of our democratic-republic.

And The Report is proud to provide examples for the people of Stark County to consider.

Moving on.

IS A MANAGEMENT/ UNION FIGHT LOOMING IN MASSILLON?

The SCPR has obtained documents that have been exchanged between the Massillon Civil Service Commission, F.O.P Henderson Lodge #105 and Maier attorney Steve Okey which indicate (in a collective context) to The Report that a war between the various parties to the correspondence may be about to erupt.

The Report thinks these documents speak for themselves and are not flattering to the Catazaro-Perry administration.

LETTER #1:  FOP TO MASSILLON CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

NOTE:  CLICK ON THE GRAPHICS IN YOUR BROWSER TO ENLARGE


LETTER #2:  ATTORNEY STEVE OKEY (FOR MICHAEL MAIER) TO FOP


LETTER #3:  MASSILLON CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION TO FOP

 

LETTER #4:  FOP TO MASSILLON CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION


THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY



Thursday, April 17, 2014

(VIDEOS) COMMISSIONERS HANDLE FLAK OVER BUDGET ITEMS REASONABLY



UPDATE:  9:20 AM

 VIDEOS 

COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON
"AT HER FINEST"
ON NEW STARK GOV'T REALITIES
PUBLISHED

===================================

COMMISSIONER BERNABEI
GETS REJECTED ON
INCREASED PROBATE COURT APPROPRIATION
PUBLISHED

====================================

STARK COMMISSIONERS
POST-MEETING PRESS CONFERENCE
ON
(1) ON PROBATE COURT REJECTION
(2) ON TREATING FAMILY COURT DIFFERENTLY 
(3)  REJECTING VETERANS SERVICE COMMISSION  
PUBLISHED

It is "inspiring" to see a Stark County Board of Commissioners is not "knee jerk!"

The leading "inspirational" leader of Stark County government is Commissioner Janet Creighton.

Here she is "at her finest" yesterday in responding to media questions about actions that commissioners took with respect to the Probate Court, the Family Court, the sheriff's department and the Veterans Service Commission (all of which are, more or less, topics of this blog).



Yesterday, at their regular Wednesday meeting,  the commissioners had to field three actual, a fourth insinuated and a fifth implied 2014 Stark County Budgetary challenge.

About one month ago (March 20th) the commissioner passed a $60.9 2014 budget.

It was not anytime at all before they got challenged as they endeavored in formulating the budget to put the projected out numbers on a trend line which make budgets going out through 2019 "sustainable."

When was the last time anybody heard the word "sustainable" emanating from the Stark County Office Building?

While the SCPR thinks the commissioners have a ways to go to achieve perfection, the important thing is that they are trying.

THE IMPLIED CHALLENGE

However, the "elephant in the room" the SCPR thinks is Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee appointed sheriff George T. Maier.  Earlier this week, news broke out on The Report that the sheriff is on a "cosmetic-esque" spending spree.

A major item reported by two SCPR sources is Maier's replacement of plain vanilla but highly serviceable BLACK gun belts with jazzed up BASKET WEAVE design (a la the Ohio State Highway Patrol [Maier's former longtime employer]) at a cost of $50,000.

The Report had a discussion with a county official who made the point that "splash and dash" stuff like the decorated gun belts impresses the general public and in a superficial sort of way provides adds credibility to Stark County's countywide cops.

Well, tell that to the residents of Lake Township's unincorporated area (only serviced by the Stark County sheriff) who have to wait hours sometimes to get a sheriff's patrol car to the scene of a crime.

Part of the problem in managing Maier for the commissioners, the SCPR thinks, is that the 1/2 percent sales tax increase passed in November, 2011 has been tabbed Justice System Sales Tax (JSST).

It raises some $22 million annually.  But can be even greater than that.  For instance, the SCPR was told yesterday that collections for 2014 are up this year.  If it turns out that there is a significant increase in revenues this year, there likely (in The Report's assessment) will be addition pressures brought to bear on commissioners to readjust departmental budgets upwards.

In particular, such a development could make the prime recipients of the tax revenues (the courts, the prosecutor's office and the sheriff's department) think its "Katy Bar the Door Time" in rushing out to spend "all that 'new' money."

The only barrier to that happening (in the face of many, many unmet needs on non-justice system aspects of the budget) is guess who?

You've got it!  The Stark County Board of Commissioners.

As the SCPR has written, it seems that the commissioners are doing an "inspiring" job of managing the budget EXCEPT for Maier who seems to do whatever "he damn well pleases" with nary a protest from the commissioners.

The Report may have seen a glimmer of hope yesterday that maybe, just maybe the commissioners might be about to exert a little more control over the leader of 4500 Atlantic Boulevard.

 How's that?

Yesterday, when he was in to see the commissioners as they were about to approve a newly negotiated contract with the Stark County Deputies Association (i.e. the deputies union).  In coming days, the SCPR will be doing an incisive dedicated "blog" analysis of that contract, one of the commissioners by implication asked how he was doing in getting the bed count up to its maximum 501 holding capacity.

Earlier this week the SCPR was told that the bed count was at 417.  The number or thereeabouts where it has been for the last year or so while Maier has been sheriff.  Remember, the JSST passed in November, 2011 and collections started coming in during July, 2012.

Maier gave a vague "we are just completing training classes" sort of answer.

Whereupon Commissioner Thomas Bernabei (Maier's biggest fan on the board) suggested that he needed to schedule a "work session" with the commissioners so that they could go into greater detail on the bed count matter.

Others may give Maier a pass, but as he surely knows the Stark County Political Report will not.

The Report has never been and will never be blinded by those Stark County village, city, township and county officials who use a "smoke and mirror" approach to managing their respective offices.

THE INSINUATED CHALLENGE

A member of the audience was Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar.


You could tell that his presence bugged Commissioner Bernabei  just by the banter that occurred between the two as we coursed through the meeting.

The Report believes that little vignette had to do with a recent Stark County Budget article written by Alliance Review veteran reporter Laurie Huffman on the differences between Zumbar and Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park on Stark County Budget Director  Chris Nichols numbers in arriving at recommended appropriations for Zumbar's and Park's respective offices for 2014.

Zumbar's office has been the only Stark County department of government to receive an "A" rating from the SCPR in The Report on going series in rating how well county departments are doing in their stewardship of Stark County taxpayer money.

But The Report will say that his and Judge Park's protestations amount to little more than whining.

However, there is something in the Huffman article that should catch the commissioners' attention.

What's that?

The reference as follows:
Other departments that showed close to a 15 percent or higher disparity included the sheriff's office, at 21 percent; the prosecutor's office, at 17.6 percent; the coroner's office, at 17.1 percent; and the clerk of courts, at 14 percent.
Why is the SCPR focuing on this aforementioned language?

Because it seems to reek of non JSST departments of government noting how they may be treated as "poor country cousins" in items budgetary and the appropriation operations of the commissioners.

The last thing the commissioners should want is for a grumbling among county departments of government to develop as a backdrop and a mine field within which to operate as they endeavor over the next four years or so (the JSST expires in 2019) to fairly parcel out inadequate general fund revenues not withstand the JSST infusion.

THE ACTUAL FIGHTS

First, the Stark County Family Court.

Here is where The Report thinks the commissioners distinguished themselves in their handling of appeals from the board's decision on 2014 Budget-related matters.

The background of the dispute (LINK to prior blog and in graphic form):


As can be seen, the commissions on the 20th shorted the domestic relations folks by some $223,000.

Yesterday, the commissioners demonstrated that if a department of county government could make a persuasive case for itself, they were open to reversing/modifying themselves on the adoption of the budget on March 20th. 

And they did so in adding $125,000 to the Family Court budget.  As The Report sees it, there was a communication failure between court administrator Rick DeHeer and Nichols on the gist of some promotions/salary increases and that the court therefore is justified to yesterday's decision to get the extra money.

To the SCPR, such is "reasoned action" that does not violate the commissioners "standing firm" on the solid numerical analysis done by the commissioners' budget director (Chris Nichols).

While they should pay attention to any county official who complains about their budgetary decisions, they cannot afford to be seen as an easy mark for reversing themselves on credible but "not substantial enough" bases presented in justification of modification.

Next, the Veterans Service Commission.

At the commissioners April 2nd meeting, the Veterans Service Commission (VSC) was in to see the board about convincing them to approve what appeared "on-the-face-of-it" to be an excessive travel (hotel/motel) request, to wit:


The commissioners rejected the request as the SCPR thinks they should have even though the VSC did make an important case for the benefits of "networking" that could most easily be accomplished if the VSC participants were not in a back and forth (Stark County and Independence) travel mode.

The Report indicated in a April 4th blog that the VSC would be back.

And yesterday, it was.

The VSC did get creative.

The commission sent in Ben Wolf a former VSC employee who make a credible plea for the commissioners to relent on their April 2nd decision to deny the full (the motel/hotel part) $3,890 for the May 6-9 OSACVSO/VARO Spring School in Independence.


The wily Wolf opened with a nostalgic moment recollection of a 1972 connection he (Wolf) had with Commissioner Regula's father Ralph in his early years as 16th Congressional District representative (which then included all of Stark County).

If anything was going to change the commissioners thinking on the travel request it is "warm the cockles of your heart" moments like that.

Wolf also made the "networking" point among his reasons why the commissioners should reverse themselves, but to no avail.

Finally, the Probate Court matter.

In view of the decision of the commissioners to add more money to the Family Court's appropriation (i.e. the $125,000 cited above), Commissioner Bernabei in the interests of "fair play" addressed Judge Dixie Park's request for $23,680 additional for her budget for raises.



A key component in the decision may have been the fact that work in the Probate Court has dropped off considerably since 2010 while the county general fund infusion has increased over the same period of time, to wit:



Do you think maybe these numbers dictated to the commissioners that they not add more money to the Probate Court coffers?

Seems like "reasoned action" to the SCPR.

WRAP-UP

At the conclusion of the meeting, the commissioners took media questions on about the departments elaborated upon in this blog.

Here is an excerpt dealing with the Probate Court, Family Court and Veterans Service Commission matters:



All-in-all the SCPR thinks the commissioners are doing their fiduciary duty to protect Stark County taxpayers.

And when they make an exception, they are requiring compelling, reason-based justification.

Except, perhaps, for Stark County Democratic appointed sheriff George T. Maier?





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

CAN LOY? CAN OKEY? STOP THE "SUE" RYAN EXPRESS?



UPDATE:  See Okey e-mail below.  Received by the SCPR at 4:15 p.m. this afternoon.


ORIGINAL BLOG

With the passing on March 30th of Alliance City Council president John Benincasa, the wheels have started turning to find a successor to this icon of Alliance city government who had been president of council since 1994.

On April 11th Stark County Democratic Party Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez sent out a notice of the date, time and location of selection process.


The letter also invited registered voter Alliance residents to apply for consideration by the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee by submitting a resume to the party at party headquarters.

Information that the Stark County Political Report has indicates that the candidates will be Councilwoman-at-Large Sue Ryan and Derek Loy.  However, there is some thought that former Alliance councilman (who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011) Steve Okey might decide to run in which case it is believed that Loy would step aside.

For purposes of this blog, the SCPR assumes that Loy will be Ryan's opponent although Steve Okey's name has been mentioned.

The key to gaining the Alliance City Council presidency appointment at the hand of the Alliance members of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC/Alliance) is to garner the support of those who hold the central committee seats on April 30th.

The Report is told that on this Saturday (April 19) the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee (SCDP-EC) has been called to meet by Chairman Gonzalez in order to fill vacant or to be vacant seats on the SCDP-CC/Alliance aspect of the SCDP-CC.

Gonzalez is said to have taken the position that those who are running for election to the SCDP-CC/Alliance seats in the Democratic primary election on May 6th should be appointed at the SCDP-EC meeting on Saturday so that the president appointee is the person that central committee members going forward have selected.

The chairman could have waited until after election results to hold the meeting but is said to have thought that the timeline for action (as mandated by Ohio statutory law) was too constricted to chance waiting until after the 6th.

Here is the list of SCDP-CC/Alliance has currently held by in the records of the Stark County Board of Elections.


The SCPR has compiled a list given the Gonzalez position of what the list is likely to look like this time next week after Saturday's SCDP-EC action.


SCPR Note:  Shanon Longaberger is Derrick Loy's sister.  Thomas Ryan is Sue Ryan's husband.

Derrick Loy reportedly has been working for some time to fill the vacant SCDP-CC/Alliance positions.

Sue Ryan tells the SCPR that even though she is eastern Stark County Democratic Party chairperson, Loy initiated precinct persons search without informing her or including her in the process.

Think there might be more than a little "cloak and dagger" politics going on here?

Such is the nature of much of politics and is why many civic minded types keep there distance from the political base of the underpinnings of the American system of governance.

Politics is what it is.

The best way to keep politics on the up and up is for the likes of the SCPR to cast the light of day on the doings, goings and comings of the politicos.

So, given the nasty side of politics that seems to be underway in the Benincasa replacement process, how is this contest likely to turn out?

In a relatively close vote, The Report believes Ryan will win out.  And it will not matter whether Loy or Okey is her opponent.

And the reasons for The Report's conclusion?

Here goes!
  • Ryan is a sitting councilperson-at-large having been elected in November, 2012.  She also was a councilperson-at-large for the period 2006 through 2010.  With Benincasa's death she was appointed by her fellow council members to fill the president's chair until a successor is selected by the SCDP-CC.  As a council-at-large member, Ryan, of course, has run city wide "successfully" three times.  
    • The key here is that Ryan has run citywide successfully three times.  This electoral success electoral history indicates that she is in a strong position to retain the presidency for the Democrats should Republicans decide to contest the office in November, 2015.
  • Loy, on the other hand, as far as the SCPR can determine has never held elective office.  He has served as president of the Alliance Area Democratic Club.  Being a politico could help him win a SCDP-CC/Alliance face off.   However, he would likely be highly vulnerable come November, 2015.  Here is a LINK to Linked-In which spells out Loy's recent history.
  • Loy is now the "right-hand-man" for Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee appointed Sheriff George T. Maier.  Maier - interesting enough - has his own election fight coming up in November against Republican Alliance councilman Larry Dordea this November. 
    • The SCPR assumes that Maier will stay out of the Ryan/Loy fight.  
    • Ryan thinks and expects that Maier will not get involved directly or indirectly notwithstanding the fact that Loy is about as close to Maier as boss as one sees an employee he gets.  The Report sees and hears observations from others that Loy seems to be Maier's shadow. 
The SCPR is skeptical that Maier will stay out of Ryan/Loy fight. 

A key to whether or not Maier is a factor will be evident in the way "as close as a brother" Maier ally Chairman Randy handles the April 30th central committee proceeding.

A tip off on how the actual selection process will unwind may be evident this Saturday in the results of the SCDP-EC session.

Ryan tells The Report that she believes that Gonzalez has assured her that the central committee seats in Alliance 2C. 3A and 4F will not be filled on Saturday.

The SCPR again is skeptical will prove to be the case.

Accordingly, Ryan says she is not preparing to have anyone nominated in precincts 2C, 3A and 4F.

What if Loy does and asks the chairman on Saturday to put his supporters in these positions?  What if pro-Loy folks (on their own, if you want to believe that really happens in politics) ask to be appointed?

The chairman is going to refuse to fill vacancies?  

Should such an eventuality develops (i.e. pro-Loy folks get appointed), these three votes - the SCPR thinks - would tip what now appears to be a narrow Ryan victory over in the other direction and result in a Loy victory.

The question is: whether or not Ryan is being naive?  The Report thinks she might well being so.

An important factor favoring Ryan is that her key supporter for the presidency is Clerk of Council Gerard Yost (1B).

He clearly does not want to have to work with Loy as president in council.  From what the SCPR hears from Ryan, she is confident that Yost is enough to carry the day for her on the 30th.

In summary: Ryan Alliance demonstrated electoral strength,  bi-partisan animosity towards Loy and Okey and Gerard Yost's support should be enough to make Sue Ryan John Benincasa's successor. 

However, for the Ryan advantages to carry the day, she will have to be correct in her understanding that the chairman will not allow pro Loy candidates to gain appointments on Saturday.

As indicated above, another disruptive event to a Ryan Express rolling on to victory could be whether or not George T. Maier weighs in.  Assuming that he will stay neutral could be another case of naivety on the part of Ryan.

We shall see!

On Thursday evening the Alliance Area Democratic Club will be meeting at Don Ponchos Restaurant at 7:00 p.m.

The Report understands that both Ryan and Loy will be there to make their pitches.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

(VIDEOS) OHIO'S SHARON HANRAHAN IS MASSILLON'S "DOVE OF PEACE?"



UPDATE: 8:00 PM  "FINAL"

"ENTIRE" COUNCIL PLANNING SESSION VIDEO  NOW POSTED

"ENTIRE" COMBO COUNCIL/COMMISSION
SESSION NOW POSTED

VIDEOS

REACTIONS TO LAST NIGHT MEETING

SHARON HANRAHAN
OMB REPRESENTATIVE
POSTED

=============================== 

 COUNCILWOMAN
SARITA CUNNINGHAM-HEDDERLY
 POSTED

 =============================== 

COUNCILWOMAN NANCY HALTER
POSTED

 ===============================

 COUNCILMAN ED LEWIS
POSTED

 ===============================
 
COUNCILMAN PAUL MANSON
POSTED

 =============================== 

 COMMISSIONER MEMBER
ELAINE CAMPBELL
POSTED

 =============================== 

ENTIRE 
COMMISSION/COUNCIL MEETING
POSTED

 ===============================

ENTIRE
COUNCIL PLAN 2 WORK SESSION
POSTED 

Last night "peace" seemed to break out among the participants in Massillon's effort to find a "financial recovery plan" that might eventually bring Tigerland back to fnancial solvency.

But the SCPR must say that Massillon's Iron Lady was the least prone of all "to give peace a chance."

The peacemaker-in-chief was Sharon Hanrahan of Ohio's Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

The Report believes a breakthrough occurred after the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission rejected Massillon City Council's first plan at the end of last month.

Hanrahan - post rejection - went to council and apparently gained a different perspective on council's attitude as a result of talking one-on-one with members.

Hanrahan spoke with the SCPR after last night's meeting.


 
 Another commissioner member speaking with the SCPR was Elaine Campbell.



Campbell's son, Matt Campbell, by the way, is the outstanding coach of the football Toledo Rockets of the NCAA Divison 1 Mid-American Conference of which the University of Akron and Kent State University are members.

The SCPR believes that up until that Hanrahan/council meetup, the commission was largely dependent on Mayor Catazaro-Perry for information and perspective on council efforts to construct a financial recovery plan acceptable to the commission and to council.

Both most agree on a plan by April 24th if Massillon is to avoid "across the board cuts" of 15% to all general fund departments of Massillon's government except for the courts on May 1st.

The Report thinks that council will come up with a Plan 2 that likely include a 1.95 or 2.0 income tax rate for Massillon (a rise of .195 or .2).

Why 1.95?

Guess?

Because of Mayor Catazaro-Perry.

Although Finance Committee chair Ed Lewis, IV (Republican Ward 6 [and, the SCPR thinks, likely opponent in the November, 2015 election to the mayor]) believes that the mayor did not last night reject a 2% Massillon income tax rate ballot initiative; The Report thinks she in reality did.

Why is 2% so important?

Because council is resisting the reduction in Massillon's income tax credit that Massillonians get for paying out-of-city income taxes to other Ohio villages and cities in which they work.

From the beginning of the Catazaro-Perry administration when it became apparent that Massillon had to do something to either increase revenues or make expenditure cuts or a combination of the two, the mayor has insisted that part of any fiscal package that she would agree to absolutely must include a reduced income tax credit.

To finance chairman Lewis,  a 2% tax rate (meaning .2 percent) is the key number at which council would be able to avoid an actual implementation of a  proposed .25% reduction the city income tax credit which is part of the package being negotiated between council and the MFPSC.

As the SCPR understands the plan, voter approval of a .195 or .2 increase in the November election would effectively eliminate the credit reduction.

Lewis explains.



And such of turn of events would undoubtedly please Massillon political power broker and Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero (a former Massillon law director) who has adamantly fought (mostly through political proxies) a reduction in the credit.

The political background to all of this is that Ferrero (a least currently) is the arch-political-enemy of Catazaro-Perry prop-ups Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his "I couldn't exist without you" ally R. Shane Jackson.

Maier is Massillon's clerk of courts, (Jackson is his chief deputy).

Maier is currently executive vice chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party (former chairman 2003 - 2009) and Jackson in the party's political director.

Ferrero immediately preceded Maier as Stark Dems chairman.

And both (Ferrero and Maier) see themselves as dominant players in Massillon city politics.  There are plenty of examples in which they go after one another in the context of Massillon political life.

All of which brings us to a key moment in last night's discussion between the commission and council at their joint meeting.

Newly elected councilperson Megan Starrett (Democrat, Ward 5) works on Ferrero's staff and is perceived to be a Ferrero proxy on council.

It was Starrett who came up with a proposal in the meeting for council to abandon its heretofore insistence that any income tax reduction be sunset to expire on December 31, 2015.

Commissioner member Robert Gessner of Massillon Cable TV had - earlier in the meeting - talked about how an arbitrary sunset date was just that and made no sense.

He argued that council needed to have a change of heart on the matter and tie the retirement of the reduction to rational financial numbers rather than "just pick a date."

Starrett picked up on his plea and that is when the tone of the meeting began to change in a more positive and productive way.

As a consequence "the sticking point" is no longer a "drop-dead date" on the income tax credit reduction.  Now it is increasing the rate 2%.  At least as far as Catazaro-Perry is concerned.

The Report suspects that the mayor's digging in against a ballot initiative of going to a 2% rate is more about the near certainty that a 2% would ensure that the credit reduction never goes into effect and if that happens, her insistence (remember, pretty much from the beginning of her administration) in a reduction in the credit will have been in vain.

So while the SCPR believes that Sharon Hanrahan with her peace-inducing style of leadership has achieved a breakthrough, it is a fragile peace to say the least.

While Hanrahan cannot give the slightest indication that the latent belligerence of Catazaro-Perry is the "elephant in the room" of the commission and council reaching an agreement on Massillon's Financial Recovery Plan; behind the scene she needs to continue what appears to the SCPR to be her good work of bringing the two sides together.

The Report believes that one way or another the diplomatic Hanrahan will trump "it my way or the highway" Catazaro-Perry.

To the SCPR the majority of the commission is sensitive to and prone to follow the lead of the mayor.

A key part of Hanrahan's work is to provide Catazaro-Perry with a face saving way out of her intransgiance.

If last night's movement forward is a true indication as being the fruit of Hanrahan's labors, then Massillonians have reason to believe that "peace may be at hand"  between Mayor Catazaro-Perry and her allies and Massillon City Council.

Other councilperson reactions to the joint meeting include:

Councilwoman Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly.



And Councilwoman Nancy Halter who Hanrahan scored points with in remembering a prior exchange between the two.



Councilman Paul Manson looms large as a factor in the back and forth between council and the commission.



Although lengthy, the SCPR is posting the entire sessions of both the joint commission/council session and the separate council work session on intracouncil discussions of what the content of Plan 2 ought to be.

First, the joint session.




Next, the council planning session video:

Monday, April 14, 2014

(VIDEOS) A CITIZEN HOLDS THE COMMISSIONERS ACCOUNTABLE!



SCPR UPDATE:  (10:30 p.m.)

SCPR Note:  It could be that a person other than the person named in the 11:00 a.m. published e-mail (which The Report  for purposes of differentiation calls as being "the purported sender") actually sent that e-mail.

The SCPR is unsure because the name used is a common name and it just may be co-incidental that the actual sender has the same name as a person who works at the sheriff's department who has the same name.

To err on the side of caution, the SCPR shares with readers the essence of an e-mail received earlier today.

The purported sender's actual words to the SCPR:  I wanted to get in touch with you and let you know that someone is apparently purporting to bee me and writing to you using my name.

The purported sender has this to say about the manner in which George T. Maier has managed the sheriff's department:

I am a Corrections Officer with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office and very proud to be affiliated with this fine organization. I have come to know and respect Sheriff George Maier and am very pleased with the many professional improvements he is making at the Sheriff’s Office. 

The SCPR thanks "the purported sender" for notifying The Report of what could be a misuse of his name and accordingly has published this update to inform SCPR readers of this development and provide the purported e-mail sender space in the SCPR to express his support for Sheriff Maier so that nobody thinks he (the corrections officer) is being critical of Sheriff Maier.

As noted in the 12:40 PM update, which was before the SCPR became aware that of the name misuse (which came in an e-mailed denial at 5:48 and which The Report did not see until returning from a Massillon City Council meeting sometime after 10:00 p.m. tonight), The Report did confirm with another source that allegations in the 11:00 a.m. published e-mail of work done at the sheriff's office are well founded.

UPDATE:  12:40 PM  (corrected 3:14 p.m.)

A second source has confirmed the details set forth in the e-mail below.  The second source tells the SCPR that about $50,000 (corrected upwards from $15,000 [The Report having heard the message as being 15 rather the 50 [the actual number cited]) was spent on the "new duty belts" (aka "gun belts) alone.

New material:  The Report is told that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the "old?" belts.  But that the sheriff wanted the "splash and dash" (i.e. "the basket weave effect" [of the Ohio State Patrol]) for cosmetic purposes.

UPDATED:  11:00 AM (EMAIL TO THE SCPR)

Fantastic reporting on the Sheriff getting a free pass. Where has the money gone?

Well...

- New flooring in the old Sheriff's Residence, ( west side of original building )
- New flooring in employee entrance, complete with huge Sheriff star floor mats
- New flooring in supervisor's office
- New paint job for supervisor's office, complete with 'team colors' black and gold stripes around the ceiling
- New large star decals for just about any flat surface you can think of, proudly displaying the 'George T Maier' part. Doors, walls, windows, you name it.
- New duty belts for all of the deputies, for the sole purpose of having his preferred basket weave, versus the plain black they were wearing.
- Personal assistants like Derrick Loy. What exactly does he do anyways, we sure don't know.
- Signage signage signage. If he can put his name on it, it's there.

As far as the inmate capacity promise, I don't see it going to the full 501 any time soon. Today we are at 417, roughly the same as year ago.

We thought we were getting a new, good Sheriff. We got another politician instead.

 VIDEOS
 COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON
ON
NOT DODGING QUESTIONS

==================================

COMMSSIONERS
IN ACTION
WITH
CITIZEN WHO IS NOT ACCEPTING
"NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY"
STANCE 
ON ISSUE 29 PROMISES 

The Stark County budget is not "entertaining" and therefore it is difficult for the media to get the everyday citizen into examining, understanding and questioning the make up of the budget.

What's more is that to get citizens to challenge the county appropriators (i.e. the Stark County commissioners) to account for appropriations that appear to be having very little or any effect on the quality of  various Stark County departmental operations.

 Here are LINKS to the week long series that the SCRP did several weeks ago on the county budget.
  1. Volume 1
  2. Volume 2 
  3. Volume 3 
  4. Volume 4
  5. Volume 5 
  6. Volume 6 
  7. Q&A, Commissioners Comments
The Report is happy to see that one Stark Countian took the trouble as a responsible citizen to go through the series and get a grip on numbers.

Rather than publish the citizen's entire e-mail "en bloc," the SCPR chooses to take it point-by-point.

The core of the citizen analysis of the budget numbers is what has Stark County Democratic Party appointed sheriff George T. Maier doing with the millions more in taxpayer dollars that the commissioners have appropriated to Maier over and above what Sheriff Tim Swanson had to work with back in 2010, 2011 and 2012.


EMAIL POINT ONE (in bold italic)


Thank you for your coverage of the County Budget.

Thank you SCPR reader for paying attention and studying the nunbers.

EMAIL POINT TWO (in bold italic)

While everyone has been fixated on Maier's Qualifications, no one has paid any attention to his record as Sheriff.  

In Nov. 2011, County officials passed a sales tax with the promise of reopening the jail beds.  

It is April 2015, [sic - correction "April 2014"] 18 mos later and we still don't have the jail at full capacity, the road patrol restored, or the Sheriff's detective bureau reopened.

For the record, the SCPR has gone back to The Report's video archives to retrieve exactly what the commissioners have had to say ("in their own word") about what voters could expect of them if Stark Countians would be gracious enough to pass a new sales tax of 0.5% which they nominated and which appears on the Stark County budget as being the Justice System Sales Tax (JSST).



COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON ON ANSWERING QUESTIONS



As SCPR readers just saw, Commissioner Creighton in her on words says that she dodges no questions.

While the SCPR is pleased to pass the citizen's questions on to the commissioners, The Report's experience is that they (the commissioners) do face up to questions asked.

However, The Report does recall that on March 6, 2013 Stark County citizen Bruce Nordman appeared at a regular Wednesday (1:30 p.m.) commissioners meeting and during "Public Speaks" took the commissioners to task for not keeping county's promise (if the JSST passed, which it did see this LINK).  His specifically target promised had to do with the number of jail beds in use.

As The Report recalls, about 400 beds of the total of 501 were in use on the 6th.

The Report's take is that the commissioners tried to dodge responsibility by blaming various factors under the control of the sheriff (Swanson until February 10, 2013; Maier from Feburary 11, 2013 on) and emphasizing that they the commissioners are only appropriators of JSST revenues.

To his credit, Nordman was not buying.

He certainly understood as Commissioner Creighton (see the video below) said that the commissioners are not the sheriff's boss.

However, he recognized rightly that the commissioners have the "bully pulpit" available to lean on the sheriff to step things up.



Within a very short time after Nordman complained, with what the SCPR attributes to George T. Maier gimmericky, the usage shot up to 450.

Maier explained that he was able to increase the number by 12.5% by doing some manipulating of "trustee" type prissoners.

Apparently, the gimmerickery didn't last.

Interestingly enough, nine (9) months (i.e. late December, 2013) after Nordman queried the commissioners guess what the number of jail bed were in use?

How about 416?

So now you are 18 months out from when money first started coming in from the JSST (July, 2012) and Stark County was at 416 beds?

Hmm?

By the way, it could be higher than 416 now as the exact number is prone to change daily.

But the point - remember - is that the promise was and remains that "all" 501 beds, more or less, are to be in use.

Preferably, the citizen who wrote the SCPR will make an appearance like Nordman has (repetitively) at commissioners' meeting and ask the questions and keep the pressure one.

It does get a little bit dicey when a citizen confronts a public official.


 EMAIL POINT THREE  (in bold italic)

Maier claims he has been unable to open the jail beds due to an inability to hire enough qualified corrections officers and peace officers.  Did he return any of his 17.9 million dollar appropriation from 2013?  If not what did he spend it on?  Swanson was able to fully staff the jail, detective bureau, and road patrol in 2010 with 16.5 million.  Maier assuming he did not return any of his appropriation to the General Fund from last year, managed to spend 1.4 million (8.5%) more than Swanson did in 2010 and still not fully staff the jail, DB, or Road Patrol. 

We have been in a recession since 2010, the cost of living index has not increased more that 8.5% since 2010.  Maier should have easily been able to restore services to the level they were under Swanson in 2010 with 17.9 million.  Now, the commissioners are giving him another 2 million dollar increase to 19.8 million a 50% increase since 2012 and 20% increase since Swanson's all time high spending mark in 2010, a quarter of the year is gone and we still don't have the jail fully open, the road patrol restored, or the detective bureau back.

CITIZEN QUESTIONS

Where is the money going?  (Raises? Promotions? Overtime? New positions to reduce employee workload?)  

CITIZEN SAYS GIVE HIM MONEY MAIER HAS & HE WOULD GET RESLUTS

Give me a budget of nearly 20 million dollars, and 4 million in increases in two years and I can improve office increase morale too.   

 EMAIL POINT FOUR  (in bold italic)

I know Maier won't answer questions from you but where are the Commissioners? 

Yes!  Let the SCPR at Maier.

Of course Maier will not talk with the SCPR.  The Report has repeatedly tried to get him to answer the most basic of questions.  But he knows that there will be no softballs from the Stark County Political Report.

All of which goes to show that "the big, bad sheriff" doesn't have the gumption of Commission Creighton.

She has never dodged a SCPR questions.

Maier has a person pique with the SCPR (i.e. The Report has the audacity to critique him and his brother for their "power politics" way of getting their way") and he takes it out on Stark Countians who have no one but the SCPR in Stark County media to ask the really tough questions.

But he doesn't mind taking taxpayer money every payday!

In response to the citizen's questions, the commissioners need to call the sheriff in to a work session and ask "in your face" questions that they have and demonstrated that the can of certain Stark County officeholders and appointed officials (e.g. the Stark County recorder, the Veterans Service Commission, the Family Court judges, the county coroner and others).

For some reason, Maier, by and large, seems to get a pass.

Commissioner Bernabei seems to be enamored with George T. Maier.  However, it appears to the SCPR he is not willing to take him to task as he certainly did with Canton mayor William J. Healy, II when he was Canton service director.

It happens rarely, but every once-in-awhile Bernabei abandons his usual critical nature and gets totally out-of-character in dealing with county officeholders and appointed officials that he has apparently designated as being on his "one of my 'above criticism'" list.

CITIZEN SEES SAME THING THAT SCPR DOES

If it were any other officeholder, you can bet Commissioner Bernabei would be asking why last year's 8.5% increase from 2010 was not sufficient to restore essential services to 2010 levels.  Commissioner Bernabei (who appears to be Maier's chief spokes person these days) can point to the difficutly finding people, Maier's legal issues, the Supreme Court removing Maier (for a month) etc. but this is all missing the point

CITIZEN:  EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES

The excuses may explain the delay in restoring services, (I find it hard to believe that in this economy the Sheriff can't find enough qualified people in over two years) but any delay should also come with a corresponding delay in expenses.  Given that he had not restored the DB, Road Patrol and only restored 1/4 of the promised jail beds in 2013 one would think that he should have returned 1.75 million of the 2 million increase he received in 2013, especially since the Sheriff received a 2 million dollar increase in 2012 to start restoring those services  while virtually every other county department was still being cut.  

With all Maier's other press releases I'm certain if he returned a significant amount of money to the General Fund at the end of the year we would have read in the Repository Sheriff Maier returns $$$$$ to County General Fund.


CITIZEN FOCUSES ON COMMISSIONER CREIGHTON (NO 2014 OPPONENT)

Commissioners Creighton ran two years ago on a platform promising voters that they would restore Sheriff's Department Services.  Two years later she is again on the Ballot and that promise remains unfulfilled.  She and the Commissioners did their part, they not only restored funding to 2010 levels, they increased well beyond any reasonable inflationary index.  Despite the increases the Sheriff hasn't restored services to 2010 levels.  I know she is unopposed, but doesn't she owe it to voters to ask for an explanation if Commissioner Bernabei won't?          

The SCPR has made it clear of the past three and one half (3-1/2) years that The Report is well taken with Commissioner Janet Creighton.

However, it is never good for citizens for a public official to run for reelection unopposed.

It is interesting that former Democratic commissioner Gayle Jackson is reportedly itching to get back as a commissioner but she doesn't have the moxy to run against Creighton.

Jackson is part of the Maier Loyalty Club.  Most of the members of that politically incestuous group want no part of a real political fight.

And Jackson is no exception.

CITIZEN:  THE NUMBERS "DON'T ADD UP" FOR MAIER

Here it is appropriate for the SCPR to once again insert the historical budget numbers.


When Maier took office his office was at 97% of its 2010 funding level.  

Within a month it was increased to 108.5% of the office's 2010 level a 11.5% increase from the prior year. 

He now stands at 120.5% of the office's 20110 level and we still don't have 2010 level services.  2012 is on Swanson and if he were in office one should rightly question why he didn't do more to restore services to 2010 levels, but minus two months 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 are on Maier.  

The Commissioners have given him $4 million in taxpayer money (in addition to the $2 million they gave Swanson) to restore the Sheriff Department's service to 2010 levels and all we have gotten in excuses.  We have spent four million dollars since 2011 (under Swanson and Maier) to increase jail by beds 100.  After the commissioners agreed to another 2 million this year Maier has restored it to 450.  Will it take another 2 million next year to finally get back to the 500 Commissioners promised us in 2011?    

And we have made no progress on restoring road patrol or the detective bureau.

The numbers just don't add up.


The SCPR agrees with this citizen.

Maier and the commissioners need to start providing answers that are the equivalent of keeping promises made in the YES! for SAFETY Issue 29.

The SCPR and the people are watching!

2019 will be here before sooner than county officials think, no?

Friday, April 11, 2014

(VIDEO) THE "REVENUE THING:" OFF THE TABLE IN MASSILLON?



UPDATED:  10:30 AM

VIDEO

PAUL MANSON RESPONDS TO
CITIZEN DAUT
(From 03/10/2014)

LEWIS RESPONDS TO
CATAZARO-PERRY
CHARGE OF ELECTIONEERING FOR 2015
(From 03/10/2014)

It is appearing more and more that there is going to be no agreement between Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and Massillon City Council on a Massillon financial recovery plan.

At least the mayor did present council's plan to the state mandated commission overseeing Massillon's fiscal emergency situation.

However, the plan was rejected in a 7 to 0 vote.

Back on March 20th, the SCPR wrote:

The SCPR for one will be surprised if she [the mayor] relents.

The expectation is that if the mayor had not accepted as of the end of yesterday the following consequences will flow:
  • a 15% reduction in the city's budget using April, 2013 appropriation numbers, 
  • to be implemented on April 1, 2014, and 
  • to continue until the mayor and council agree on a plan
Looking at the politics of the situation, it could be that many if not most council members are just fine with the 15% cuts.

The die could be cast as early as this coming Monday night (April 14, 2014) when council is set to meet in a work session with the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission.

The commission is headed up by State of Ohio Office of Management and Budget representative Sharon Hanrahan.

The SCPR assesses that council has done 75% or more of the giving in negotiations with Catazaro-Perry.  But as The Report has written:  Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is projecting herself these days as "one tough lady" in the order of  "The Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, former (now deceased) prime minister of Great Brittain.


The Report understands that a number council persons think that a scaled down tax issue would not pass even if placed on November's general election ballot.

The SCPR was at a work session of Massillon City Council on March 10th.  Out of that session there were two interesting items to come up (for the acerbic exchange between Catazaro-Perry and Councilman Ed lewis of to this YouTube LINK);
  • Citizen Sam Daut asking Councilman Paul Manson why council would not consider putting a income tax measure for a limited period of time (5 years) on the ballot, and
  • Councilman Lewis responding to Mayor Catazaro-Perry's allegation that his insistence on conditioning the reduction of the income tax credit to the passage of an income tax increase as being his electioneering for the upcoming 2015 municipal elections



The SCPR thinks Daut raised a good point.  But The Report's impression that a limited duration income tax increase is not even on the radar.

The Lewis portion of the video The Report thinks goes a long way towards understanding why the ambient hostility between many on council and the mayor makes it very unlikely that they can reach a concord on a plan for Massillon' financial recovery.

And it does not look as if council is going to relent on rolling back the mayor/council negotiated reduction in credit that Massillonians working out of down get on Massillon income taxes should the proposed city income tax increase fail.

(SCPR Note:  [the proposal]  Reduce the credit that Massillonians who work out-of-town get for income taxes paid to the other city/village from 100% of up to the current 1.8% to 75% of that amount which will become 1.9% if Massillons agree to the .1% increase on an upcoming ballot initiative.

As long as Catazaro-Perry projects an "in-your-face" disposition in her relationship with many if not most of council's members, it is hard to see how there can be an agreement that spares the city the 15% across-the-board cuts that may be instituted as soon as next month.

From the beginning of the Catazaro-Perry's administration, she has achieved very little in terms of having a harmonious "let's work together" relationship with council.

The SCPR thinks that base of her rocky start with council had to do with the fact that Republicans took control of council while Catazaro-Perry was focused on her own election as mayor.

While the Democrats are once again in control (just barely at 5 to 4), only one or two of them are likely to support the mayor in her overall battle with council.

Last month an out-of-state developer stepped forward with a project which should have been a "no-brainer" in terms of Catazaro-Perry and council working together to bring the proposal (an aquarium/waterpark combo) to reality.

But that hasn't happened and the SCPR will not happen as long as the site contemplated is the city owned "The Legends" golf course.

Originally the plan was for the developer to lease the "excess" (i.e. the 9 holes added to the original 18 holes) part of the golf course for $10 per year for a term of 30 years.

The neighborhood surrounding The Legends is one of Massillon's posh neighborhoods and to have a very large aquarium/waterpark in the daily eyesight of the residents in an idea that is never, ever going to fly.

There is talk that that the developer is revamping the plan to included a buy out of The Legends for $15 million which would wipe out an outstanding $5.4 mortgage with yearly payments of about $500,000 per annum.

Return to the surrounding neighborhood factor.

As sweet as it would be for Massillon to be out of the golf course business for many Massillonians, there is indication that council may reject any such overture because members would not want to leave those who live in the vicinity of The Legends having to deal with the visage of the proposed commercial enterprise in what is essentially (notwithstanding that the golf course itself is a commercial endeavor) an upscale residential neighborhood.

Were the plan to be reconstituted in terms of its location, the SCPR gets the impression that the aquarium/waterpark project might be the occasion of "a new beginning" upon which the mayor and council could build on over the next year.

Even if the mayor and council were able to develop "a working relationship," there is very little likelihood that it could approximate what a healthy executive/legislative relationship should be.

For this time next year, political season will be in full swing.

It could be that Catazaro-Perry will draw a Democratic Party opponent in next year's primary.

Meanwhile, The Report hears that Massillon's Republican Party leadership is pushing Ward 6 Councilman Ed Lewis, IV to step up and position himself to be the Republican standard bearer in November, 2015.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, Mayor Catazaro-Perry and her political advisers have ill-served Massillonians in frittering away the first two and one-half years of her administration looking for a fight rather than using the break-in period of a new administration to build bridges.

It is all well and good for Catazaro-Perry for her own ego gratification to hone the role of being The Iron Lady.

But the citizens of Massillon deserve better!