Saturday, April 16, 2011
"GRABER VERSUS GAMBER" - FOR MASSILLON CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT- A REPLAY OF CATAZARO-PERRY V. CICCHINELLI?
In analyzing the race for president of Massillon City Council (Council), it is difficult know whether or not challenger Scott Graber is landing any blows on incumbent Glenn Gamber.
But Gamber could be vulnerable.
Well, first of all, Gamber is closely allied with Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. who appears to be fighting for his political life in his contest with Ward 3 Councilwoman Kathy Catazaro-Perry in next months Democratic primary. Catazaro-Perry is the candidate of the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr wing of the Massillon Democratic Party.
Maier, (former Stark County Democratic Party chair and Massillon clerk of courts) along with the likes of his sidekick Shane Jackson ( his deputy and also political director of the Stark County Democratic Party) appear to be advising Catazaro-Perry on campaign strategy.
His alliance with Cicchinelli could be problematic for his own re-election chances. A strong Catazaro-Perry victory could spell trouble for Gamber also.
Secondly, he sort of has mixed results in his election tries. He does have a couple slam dunks even where he had an opponent. However, he almost did not survive in one race and had a serious challenge in terms of vote margin in a couple of races going back to his initial election in 1995.
He did win the Council presidency by a strong margin in November, 2007.
By a comfortable margin in 2005.
However, he barely escaped a challenge by current Ward 5 Councilman Donnie Peters (a close friend of Maier, though a Republican) in 2003; winning by a mere 8 votes.
2001 was a good election year for him
He ran unopposed in Ward 5 in 1999 and 1997 and won in 1995 by about a 10.5% margin.
Gamber, by virtue of being a Cicchinelli supporter on Council (as president he only votes in case of a tie) has drawn the special ire of Graber.
Graber's strident animosity towards Cicchinelli (which in the mind of The Report, makes him a Catazaro-Perry supporter) goes back at least to 2002 when he says the Mayor bamboozled (The SCPR's term) the Recreation Board (Board) into taking in the Legends of Massillon golf course under its umbrella.
In the mid-1990s, Massillon voters approved a 0.3% income tax for its parks system. It appears that Board officials were told that they should not build funding of a golf course subsidy into the rate of tax that voters were asked to approve because the golf course was not going to be a part of Massillon's Recreation and Parks Department (Department).
Well, the thinking changed - post passage of the levy. In November, 2002 Mayor Cicchinelli lobbied the Board to have the golf course (which was created as a enterprise fund) to be made part of the Board.
Despite assurances to the Board by Cicchinelli (according to Board minutes) that the city would continue to service the approximate $7 million outstanding debt on the now 27 hole complex, the fact of the matter, Graber alleges, is that the Board's budget has been decimated and that Massillon's park system (that is, everything other than the golf course) is suffering big time in terms of upkeep and maintenance, and that Massillon has wasted $3 million servicing the golf course complex which he says will not begin making money until 2032.
Fast forward to April, 2011 and the primary election contest between Graber and Gamber.
Not to be outdone by Gamber, Graber issued his own letter to Massillonians who had filed applications for absentee ballots, to wit (in part):
Both Gamber and Graber have demonstrated an ability to be intemperate. In the view of the SCPR, moreso for Graber than Gamber. Not a characteristic that is desirable in a council president.
Gamber did apologize for his improper behavior. But The Report is not aware of any apologies that Graber has ever made for his rhetorical excesses.
Graber promotes himself as somewhat of an expert parliamentarian. And he does seem to have worked hard to school himself on procedures to conduct a proper, orderly and fair meeting.
But given his temperament, would he be able to follow through with what he knows to be the proper conduct of a meeting?
The Report is skeptical that he can given his rich history at lashing out of those who do not see things the way he does.
Graber might work out just fine if Catazaro-Perry is elected and her friends control Council.
But what if Cicchinelli wins along with his friends running for Council and they remain in control?