UPDATED AT 8:07 AM
THE SUPREME COURT SURPRISE!
THE MAIER CAMP - SOMETHING TO CROW ABOUT?
IS SWANSON DONE YET?
WARREN PRICE'S STAKE IN THE OUTCOME
Local lawyers and political observers were united about one thing in the case of Swanson/Darrow v. Gonzalez and the Stark County Democratic Central Committee, the Ohio Supreme Court would say nothing with regard to the Swanson/Darrow effort to get Ohio's "court of last resort" to remove George T. Maier name from tonight's SCDP-CC ballot prior to the meeting itself.
And that was the reasonable position to take.
Because the court took almost nine months from the filing of Swanson v. Maier (February 12, 2013: a quo warranto asking the court to remove the illegally appointed Maier as Stark County sheriff) until its decision doing exactly that on November 6, 2013.
However, as the SCPR told one area attorney, The Report suspected that something was afoot when on Monday of this week the Swanson/Darrow attorney (Greg Beck) filed a motion to expedite the court's consideration of his clients' desire that Maier be ruled off the SCDP-CC ballot.
The suspicion became even stronger when the Gonzalez/SCDP-CC legal eagles filed a countermotion (i.e. Motion to Strike) yesterday.
As the SCPR pointed out in yesterday's "breaking news" blog on the filings, it was disappointing to see the Gonzalez side not join with Swanson/Darrow in getting the Supreme Court to speak to the matter of whether or not Maier was to be included in tonight's vote.
But nevertheless the court must have been agitated by Monday/Tuesday filings to respond in the fashion - though incomplete - that it did.
Within a very short time of the Gonzalez/SCDP-CC motion being filed, the court shocked the Stark County legal and political communities by intervening (sort of) in tonight's vote.
While the Swanson/Darrow folks were "crowing" on November 6th when the Supreme Court removed Maier from office; the Gonzalez/Maier/and the "92 for Maier" SCDP-CC folks were "crowing" at about 3:45 p.m. yesterday when the high court filed its ruling.
The court did not say specifically that Maier is qualified. The Dem precinct committee members still have to make that determination.
The SCPR believes that Maier ally and chairman Randy Gonzalez will coax a favorable determination one way or another.
There may be a challenge to Gonzalez presiding over the meeting and there may be a challenge to the way the votes are voted, but the SCPR thinks both efforts will fail.
Presuming such, George T. Maier is highly likely to be on tonight's ballot tonight and the SCPR expects him to win, if he is.
End of story?
Depends on what?
The dedication of Timothy Swanson.
Swanson surprised many of us when he filed the February 12th quo warranto.
lt appears to the SCPR that the Maier forces knew that it was problematical that George T. had qualification problems but were banking on Swanson not having the gumption to actually file the quo warranto with the Supreme Court.
But, of course, we now kown that they were wrong.
Not only did Swanson file the quo warranto, he followed up with a mandamus on November 18th which was designed to get the court to intervene in tonight's meeting in the way of keeping Maier off the SCDP-CC ballot.
One local attorney told the SCPR way before yesterday that he felt that the mandamus was ill-advised inasmuch it could turn against Swanson/Darrow.
And he was right, as it turns out.
Back to the question: so is this the end of the story?
The Supreme Court did NOT rule on the merits of the mandamus itself. However, as a practical matter, when the SCDP-CC meets tonight and votes, if the vote is for Maier (which, again, is what the SCPR expects to be the case) then the mandamus becomes moot.
Moot: "no real controversy."
Which means that there is nothing for the court to rule on.
End of story?
Swanson could maintain that the qualification date is February 6, 2013 as the Supreme Court seemed to say in its November 6th decision (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto) and file a new quo warranto asserting that the SCDP-CC solved nothing on December 11th in re-appointing Maier.
The committee merely made a second error.
But will Swanson file again?
It is hard to say.
Swanson for all intents and purposes seems to have moved to Florida where he enjoys the sunshine, warm temperatures and having close family nearby.
Why would he want to have to be separated from the weather warmth and family warmth while serving as interim sheriff while the Supreme Court possibly takes another nine months or so to "put this baby to rest," once and for all?
But Swanson fooled many of us in filing the February 12th action.
We should know later today what Swanson will do.
The Maier forces have to be "bouncing off the walls" with yesterday's Supreme Court decision. However, as former New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra is reputed to have once said: "it is not over until it is over."
One well placed Stark County Democrat told the SCPR before yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that he felt that the vote tonight would be even closer than the February 5th vote and that the result could swing either way.
The SCPR, for one, was surprised that the Darrow forces mustered 84 votes in February.
One of the factors in the 84 Darrow votes is thought to be a pervasive dissatisfaction among many rank-and-file "organization" Democrats with the Gonzalez/Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (brother of George T. Maier) style of leadership.
So, could it be - that not withstanding the Supreme Court ruling that the Maier folks are undoubtedly ecstatic about - that there is enough dissatisfaction with the Gonzalez/Maier Dems leadership team that Darrow can still win?
The Report thinks not.
But we will know for sure later today.
Another interesting sidelight to the Swanson/Darrow-Maier face off is the fate of Stark County Human Resources director Vivanne Whalen Duffrin.
Readers of the SCPR will recall that she was summarily fired by Maier on October 13th of this year.
Apparently, the Duffrin firing was in preparation for Maier to hire Warren Price (legal counsel in the Swanson/Darrow v. Gonzalez et al mandamus) as Duffrin's replacement.
The SCPR has received a number of reports that such was in the offing.
And in a email to Price on Monday asked Price that very question, to wit:
Subject: Employment with Stark County sheriff's department under Maier
From: Martin Olson [Monday, 2:54 pm]To date, the SCPR has not received a response from Price.
I have reports that prior to his being ousted by the Ohio Supreme Court in Swanson v. Maier on November 6th that you were in discussions with George Maier about your either by contract or by virtue of direct employment status were set to become a Stark County sheriff department employee.
Are these report accurate in any way, shape or form?
If so, would you kindly share the details with me?
You may prefer to do so on the telephone. If so, please contact me at 330 499 0465.
But here is a copy of an internal memo from within the Stark County sheriff's department which more than suggests to The Report that a Maier return to the Stark County sheriff's office is likely to result in Warren Price becoming the sheriff's department Human Resources director.
So does this memo indicate that Maier (presuming he wins tonight) will once again fire Duffrin and bring Price in?
It could be that "the crowing" is not over yet.
Darrow may stun us all tonight by winning.
If Maier wins, Swanson may once again file a quo warranto and win.
Wouldn't that be quite a scene?
George T. Maier once again being forced to vacate 4500 Atlantic Boulevard!
The only people who have nothing "to crow about" is the Stark County public and the uncertainly that all the political wheelin-and-dealin and the legal maneuvering brings to day-in, day-out law enforcement in Stark County.
But you can depend on the politicians "to crow 'til the cows come home" when they win this challenge or that challenge. "The public interest be damned!"
Such is why the general public has such high disdain for the politicos!