Saturday, March 19, 2011



In a rather naked "fear factor" play, the campaign of Kathy Catazaro-Perry, through one of its architects, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and current Massillon clerk of courts), is endeavoring to bring Tuscarawas Township residents into the Massillon mayoralty race.

Earlier this year Massillon Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. opened the door (perhaps, wisely; perhaps, unwisely) for prospective candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry (now filed) to bring "foreigners" into the Massillon mayor's contest.

Cichinelli, Jr., one of Stark County's most ardent economic development through annexation advocate and activist, came upon a plan to annex a mobile home development next in Tuscarawas Township which was adjacent to the Tuslaw schools.  The real prize was the Tuslaw schools and the sales of school district employees as a base to apply the Massillon city income tax rate to.

The Mayor earlier in the year authored an annexation to bring in (in a tortured way) the R.G. Drage vocational school complex which is located in Perry Township.  Again, the goal - get those teachers and their salary base added to the Massillon income tax formula.

Catazaro-Perry supported the R.G. Drage annexation move, but not the Tuslaw schools initiative.


Why the disparity.

Enter Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., his acolyte Shane Jackson and maybe even Municipal Court judge Edward Elum (all long time foes of Mayor Cichinelli).

Maier, a resident of Tuscarawas Township who is eligible to serve as/run for Massillon clerk of courts because Tuscarawas is part of the Massillon court district,  knows up close and personal of the rivalry between Tuscarawas/Tuslaw and Massillon.  Many of Tuscarawas' residents have exited Massillon, Canton and their like for the "rural" flavor (no zoning laws) Tuscarawas.

So why not use the Tuscarawas residents and their fear of ultimately being absorbed into Massillon proper as a campaign core to tromp through the neighborhoods of Massillon (door-to-door)?

It is getting increasingly difficult to get ground troops to staff door-to-door efforts. 

The SCPR doubts that Catazaro-Perry had the political foresight to see that in opposing the Tuslaw annexation, she would have the opportunity to tap into a Tuscarawas/Tuslaw campaign force.  But either Maier, Jackson or Elum (or a combination thereof, more likely) do and so it seems reasonable that such is the source of Catazaro-Perry playing playing politics with the issue.

What Tuscarawas Township residents need to ponder is this.  Should Catazaro-Perry become mayor, can they depend on this politician to keep her word?

Massillon, like many other local government entities, is under tremendous financial pressure to be able to balance it budget.  In fact, Mayor Cicchinelli has offered what The Report has told him is a "creative" budget.  It has the appearance of being both balanced and unbalanced:  only time will tell.

Beginning in July of this year, Massillon will begin to experience substantial state of Ohio local government funding cuts to continue through 2012 and 2013 with an added take away of Ohio estate tax revenues in 2013.

The pressure will be enormous on whomever is elected in November, 2011 to find additional sources of revenues.

So it could be that the Catazaro-Perry folks are correct, the Tuslaw annexation could be revisited.

Of course the Catzaro-Perry campaign wants Tuscarawas volunteers to "assume" (a_ _ out of 'u' and 'me') that Cicchinelli alone is to be feared on this score.

Not so quick folks.

The SCPR knows politicians well enough to caution that, if political factors dictate such, they - the politicians - can and do find a way to betray their promises, implied or otherwise. 

If elected mayor, Catzaro-Perry's sole obligation is to the residents of Massillon.  There should be no doubt that she will revisit the Tuslaw matter (probably through a proxy arrangement) if it appears that such is the shortest route towards solving Massillon's financial problems; even if in the short term.

In addition to Tuscarawas/Tuslaw residents being set up for ending up having been "politically bamboozled" into supporting a candidate who has no accountability to them, there is the phenomenon of Massillonians having their mayor - indirectly - chosen by non-Massillon factors.

Think about it.  Here you have a Tuscarawas Township resident (Johnnie A. Maier, Jr) playing a lead role along with his "go-fer" chief deputy clerk of court (Shane Jackson - a Perry Township resident) formulating a campaign plan for Catazaro-Perry for mayor to be primarily staffed by Tuscarawas Township residents.


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