Tuesday, July 1, 2008
DISCUSSION: IS THERE A MORE MACHIAVELLIAN POLITICIAN IN STARK COUNTY?
The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr is clearing out "old guard" organized labor Democrats (and one of their allies) from the executive committee of the party. Who are the dump-ees? Former party chair Roy Gutierrez (a strong friend of unions), and union members Dan Scuiry (head of the Hall of Fame AFL-CIO), and Robert Thompson (AFSCME - Director, Council 8) and Canton City Council member and a long time union member Joe Carbenia (firefighters union).
The Report has learned from a reliable source that all of this political maneuvering has Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero (who immediately preceded Maier) upset. Will he be the next dump-ee?
This is the second foray against organized labor by Maier. On July 24, 2007 Maier dumped long time ironworker and Democratic party loyalist Billy Sherer ("dumped?" - correction: Billy "chose" [the word is used sarcastically]) not to seek another term).
Maier wanted someone more personally loyal to him. Maier pretexted that he was appointing an attorney (Samuel Ferruccio, Jr) to replace Sherer at the request of Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner supposedly to stop "those Republicans" who are up to what? The Report calls the move as being a pretext because Brunner denied in a Repository report that she asked Maier to appoint an attorney.
The Report believes that Maier is an insecure political person (can't get more charitable than that) who is suspicious of most everyone in the party organization, except, perhaps his ultra-loyalist - Shane Jackson - who works for Maier in the Massillon Clerk of Courts' office.
The Report knows Gutierrez and Scuiry very well and knows them to be no-nonsense guys who have vented on Maier frequently over the years. The Report has talked to Gutierrez and has confirmed that Maier could not handle the heat of Gutierrez's dissent from time-to-time as the being the reason he was jettisoned.
Carbenia says he voted against Maier continuing as party chairman the last time he ran and that Maier axed him as consequence. Carbenia says its fine with him.
The Report has yet to contact Scuiry and Thompson.
Maier appointed Billy Sherer's son as one of two ironworker replacements for two of the four unionists summarily dismissed. In this Machiavellian way, Maier strives to confuse his critics. But there is no confusion. Those who know Maier understand his manipulative ways as if he made a loudspeaker enhanced public announcement. He may be in for surprise with Sherer's son. Undoubtedly, the Sherers are still smarting from the way Maier treated Billy on the Board of Elections matter even in the face of Maier honoring Billy (which The Report says is deserved but believes is a Maier attempted manipulation) at the last Stark County Democratic Party event. Feeding Maier's suspicious mind, The Report poses this question: Could this appointment come back to haunt Maier?
The Report has written in the past of how Maier nears tearing up whenever he speaks of former strongman Ohio Speaker of the House Vern Riffe. Maier learned political maneuvering and manhandling from Riffe and models himself after the arm twister.
Maier seems to take it personally when someone exercising their democratic rights challenges him. The Report recalls witnessing his rant against Megan Todaro who ran against him in November, 2005 for the Massillon Municipal Court clerk of court's position. Maier had just beaten Todaro by 69.36% to 30.64%. It was hard to believe the ears. The message: anyone who crosses Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, - even exercising one democratic right to run for office - watch out!
Scary? The Report believes so.
Maier is a very powerful politician who does not brook opposition well.The Report believes that only media generated "light of day" will keep him in check.
Times are good for Maier right now, (former chairman Gutierrez says he's the luckiest man in Stark County - with all the electoral successes Democrats are having these days) just as they were for his mentor Vern Riffe for a very long time.
But there will come a day when "the worm turns." Then Maier will be looking for friends to stand by him. He will be amazed how quickly they turn aside from him. The powerful never believe it will happen to them.
All Maier will have to do is to think back to this piece.
Question: What is the proper role for a party chairman? Is it to accumulate personal political power for its own sake? How would you define the role?
Posted by Martin Olson at 8:32 AM