Sunday, November 20, 2011


In hindsight, outgoing Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. likely cooked his political goose in terms of continuing as mayor of Massillon in the summer of 2010 when he tried to annex the Tuslaw (Tuscarawas Township) schools in order to get at some $120,000 in school employee income tax money.

Earlier in 2010 when he picked off the R.G. Drage Career Center for about $70,000 in additional revenues for Massillon, there was no one to oppose him other than the school employees themselves who come from all over Stark County if not beyond.

But Tuscarawas Township was a different matter.

Communities like Tuscarawas are some of the most zealous about their schools being geographically, politically and government-wise within the boundaries of the actual community.

Tuscarawas has a unique factor about it in that it is also the home of long time Cicchinelli political adversary Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (Massillon clerk of courts and former chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party).

Maier had to break out in a huge smile when he learned of Cicchinelli's plan to take the "pride and joy" of Tuscarawas and make it part of Massillon.  For, being the astute politician he is, he had to know instantly that had Mayor Frank Cicchinelli right where he wanted him.

Where's that?

Right in the bullseye sights of Tuscarawas residents who, though not eligible to vote in Massillon elections, had been riled up by the Cicchinelli power move and came out in significant numbers and with great political intensity to aid Maier political devotee Kathy Catazaro-Perry in her May, 2011 Democratic Party primary quest to unseat the mayor.

Could it be that the irate Tuscarawas mustangs were the reason why 344 more Massillonians said they preferred Catazaro-Perry over the 24 year reigning monarch of Massillon?

And the larger part of the story might be how Maier has sat "as snug as a bug in rug" in his Tuscarawas Township home, a township in which his wife serves as the elected fiscal officer, and where his children attended Tuslaw schools and parlayed this secure base of operations (aided by being the chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party for a number of years) into control of Massillon city government via the election of his political protege Kathy Catazaro-Perry and in terms of his own election as clerk of courts (in his third term) along with having at one other high Massillon official in elected office.

A case of the country-bumpkin-appearing Maier besting city-boy-sophisticate Cicchinelli and the city-boy handed the victory to country-bumpkin boy on a silver platter?

While not everybody in Tuscarawas is enamored with Maier, he has had enough support to have had a comfortable cover to operate from.

Make no mistake about it, Maier is no country-bumpkin.  He rivals, probably surpasses, Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II in political knowhow.

Healy is very obvious about his political manipulations and power moves whereas Maier is content to be behind the curtain a la the Wizard of Oz.  Those audacious enough not to please Johnnie,  can expect

And, Maier, in orchestrating (along with his political appendage Shane Jackson [chief deputy clerk of courts and political director of the Stark County Democratic Party and all around Maier "go-fer"]) Catazaro-Perry's victory was a demonstration of his political wizardry.

As the SCPR has written many times - that if elected, whereas Kathy Catazaro-Perry will be the de jure (i.e. "as a matter of law") mayor of Massillon; Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (JAM) will be the de facto (i.e. "as a matter of fact") mayor of Massillon.  These political allies likely will operate in a Kitchen Cabinet fashion (a collection of unofficial "realpolitk" advisers [i.e. the Maiers and their close friends e.g. the Jacksons, the Elums, et cetera] a la the Andrew Jackson presidential administration of the early 1800s and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration (1932 - 1945).

Evidence of Maier's audacious clout is his being able to have a direct and immediate presence in the mayor's office with Catazaro-Perry's announced selection (Thursday) of Maier's brother George as the mayor-elect's safety-service director.  Moreover, the mayor elect's transition team is made up of those known to be JAM disciples.

George Maier has to be very thankful especially at this time of the year in having such a politically powerful brother.

Johnnie, of course, latched onto Ted Strickland (the first county chairman to endorse Strickland in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 2006) and became "family" to Strickland.

Does anyone doubt that Johnnie had to be the reason that George became an official in the Strickland administration?

However, there is at least one incidence of Maier not being able to work wizardry from his Tuscarawas Township roost.

Apparently Maier thought he a seized on the perfect candidate at the perfect time when he brought out all "the king's horses and all the king's men" to make former Tuscarawas Township trustee Celeste DeHoff state Representative Celeste DeHoff.

It was the election of 2008.  Republican John Hagan of Marlboro Township was term limited out.  The Republicans had selected the unknown Todd Snitchler of Lake (now Governor Kasich's public utilities chairman) to be their standard bearer. 

DeHoff, a former Republican, who Maier - apparently - convinced to switch over, proved to be a monumental flop as a candidate.

Notwithstanding Maier's seeming consummate effort to raise for her from the political action committee bigs located in Columbus and his bringing in Ohio first lady Frances Strickland, the governor himself, John Glenn, then Secretary of Treasurer Richard Cordray and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Celeste wasn't close to Snitchler when the final tally was tabbed.

Moral of the story:  Maier does make political miscalculations from time-to-time.

But overall, he has been impressive in seeing and seizing political opportunities to enhance himself and those who toady up to become part of his loyalist entourage.

Not too sure what he gets done for the benefit and welfare of the citizens of Tuscarawas Township and the city of Massillon, but there is no doubt that he does well for himself and his own kind.

Could it be, looking long range after kingmaker Maier has passed on to his eternal reward, that Massillon will unincorporate and be reborn as Maierville, Tuscarawas Township, Stark County, Ohio?

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