Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Last Thursday, the SCPR got a telephone call from a prominent Stark County Democrat alerting The Report to a meeting (called by Business Agent Dave Kirven) that was to take place at Local #94, Plumbers and Pipefitters union hall located at 3919 - 13th St SW, Canton at 10:00 AM on Friday, and that it was about a major shakeup that was being hatched up in the way of a change of leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party.

The caller was pushing hard for the SCPR to show up unannounced with camera in hand to film the makings of a political coup d'etat.

As yours truly listened, skepticism, if not outright disbelief, intuitively set in.

After mulling over the sketchy/vague information being presented, The Report concluded that something obviously was not right about "the scoop" being offered.

Oh, there there was definitely an agenda being played out by the caller and his supposed union member consort who was described by the caller as being a person who did not want his union used to conspire a political takeover.

But the "I've been around the block a time or two" SCPR was not about to bite.

As it turns out, it appears to The Report, after contacting and conversing with the three principals (AFL-CIO Hall of Fame president Dan Sciury, Kirven and Chairman Randy Gonzalez of the Stark Co. Dems), that the supposed conspiratorial "let's take over the party" meeting was anything but that.

In fact, the impetus for the meeting was to figure out ways and means to elect Democrats to Canton City Council who are labor-friendly.  Of particular concern to organized labor is the fate of Councilman-at-Large Joe Cole in the upcoming election, who is thought to be in political trouble in the light of polling which is said to exist to the effect that  he is running neck-and-neck with former 8th Ward Councilwoman Rosemary Diamond.

Mayor Healy was present.  He is said to hold Councilman Cole in the highest regard and wanted to be part of the brainstorming to figure out a campaign strategy to get Cole by Diamond in next month's election.

Another quest of the union/Dems conclave was to coordinate activities to work together to defeat Issue 2 (the anti-collective bargaining bill passed out of the Ohio General Assembly as Senate Bill 5).

It is well known by political insiders that Hall of Fame AFL-CIO President Dan Sciury and Stark Dems President Randy Gonzalez were once bitter enemies.

The bad blood goes back to a labor candidate for Jackson Township trustee (favored, of course, by Stark County organized labor) running for trustee and Gonzalez (a former trustee; now Jackson Township fiscal officer) supporting her opponents (two different elections).

To top off the trustee candidate union affront in Jackson, Gonzalez's political confidant and predecessor as chairman - Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.- (currently Massillon clerk of courts), decided about five years ago that it was time for Billy Sherer, Sr. (having been on the board 13 years) to give up his post as a Democratic Stark County Board of Elections representative in favor of local attorney Sam Ferruccio.

Maier claimed that the move was being made on the recommendation of the then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.  According to Maier, she felt it was important to have an attorney on the board to protect the rights of Democratic voters.  Brunner, when queried by media, denied Maier's account.

Stark's organized labor had come to think of the seat that Sherer occupied to be a labor seat and Maier's action (which Sherer went along with) caused a further deterioration between the traditional relationship between Democrats and unionists.

In fact, Mike McElfresh of the East Central Building Trades (also of the IBEW) ran a losing effort against Ferruccio.

But Dan Sciury in yesterday's conversation shared with The Report that the union/Stark County Democratic Party relationship is on the mend.

He admits that some hurt remains, but that it is the best interest of all that union members and Democrats work together on common interests such as electing Democrats who are more prone to favor union interests and, of course, bonding in opposition to issues such as Issue 2.

For his part, Local #94 Business Agent Dave Kirven put the purpose of the meeting this way:

When yours truly contacted Chairman Gonzalez (also later in the day on Friday), he was flabbergasted to hear of union dissatisfaction with his leadership, which, of course, turned out to be unfounded.

It is apparent that The Report's source and his anonymous "union" contact did/do have "an axe to grind." 

It will be interesting to see whether or not the unions and the Stark County Dems can keep things together in the light of the apparent (internal to the union) effort to sabotage their reconciliation process.

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