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Monday, March 19, 2012

FORMER CICCHINELLI OFFICIAL SAYS MASSILLON SAFETY SERVICE DIRECTOR GEORGE MAIER HASSLED HIM IN DISCHARGING HIS DUTIES AS ROADS AND STREETS SUPERINTENDENT



It was an amazing story to hear.

Former Massillon Mayor Cicchinelli administration official Mike Stevens (Operations/Street Department, also a Lawrence Township trustee) recited chapter and verse to the SCPR in an account of an encounter that he had with the then candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry and supporter George T. Maier.

Maier (brother of Massillon Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr,) is now Massillon's  safety service director having been appointed by Catazaro-Perry as one of her very first appointees when she became mayor on January 1st.

Stevens' account of the incident was particularly interesting to The Report in the light of allegations made against Maier in 2008 according to reports in the Columbus Dispatch. (Director quashed inquiry into No. 2 - Public safety chief rejects more action in intimidation case, The Columbus Dispatch, August 28, 2008)

According to The Dispatch account:
When state troopers leveled charges of misconduct against the assistant director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the top boss and top cop began butting heads.
Col. Richard Collins, superintendent of the State Highway Patrol, strongly urged that Ohio's inspector general be brought in to investigate Assistant Public Safety Director George Maier.
However, Public Safety Director Henry Guzman declined to dig into the charges against his No. 2, ruling that there were no grounds to justify either an in-house or outside investigation of Maier.
Some troopers and officers whom Maier once commanded as a captain accused him of threats, intimidation, favoritism and creating a hostile workplace.
As it turns out, Maier was never investigated insofar as The Report can determine even though a former Inspector General and some officials in the Ohio State Patrol thought that an investigation was warranted.

The SCPR can find no media reference to Maier commenting on or responding to the allegations.

The then-Democratic Governor Ted Strickland promised to take a look at whether or not Maier should be investigated on the accusations.  Ultimately, he decided that an investigation was not warranted.

While The Report thinks it is a certainty that Maier's brother Johnnie (then the Chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party and the first party chairman to endorse Strickland in his 2005 run for the Democratic nomination for governor) did not, directly or indirectly, weigh-in on Strickland's consideration of the issue because The Report believes Maier and Strickland are way too politically savvy to have initiated/allowed such a conversation; one does have to wonder whether or not the close political bond between Maier and Strickland was coursing through Strickland's mind in an indistinct, unarticulated, unfocused upon sort of way in his coming to a decision not to investigate.

Strickland may have thought he was doing the best thing for the overall morale of the Ohio State Patrol, but there is a point of view that in not directing an investigation, he left a cloud hanging over the entire matter.  An investigation would have cleared the air one way or the other.  A "no brainer," no?

Yours truly read The Dispatch coverage of the Maier allegations at the time its reports first appeared.  They lingered as a memory as background material until The Report had a telephone conversation with Stevens about a week ago.

In the conversation, Stevens went into some detail about a campaign trail incident that he says occurred at the initiative of George Maier about two days before the general election of November, 2011 which suggests to the SCPR when added on top of the 2008 allegations that Maier may have "a control of his temperament" issue.

And, in one sense (notwithstanding the existence of a police chief), he is Massillon's top cop!

As Stevens tells it, he, as Massillon's Operation/Street  Department supervisor, went out with employees of the department taking down political signs from the public right-of-way (two of which were Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. signs - Maier a candidate for Massillon clerk of courts).

The incident with George Maier occurred, according to Stevens, as he was leaving the Massillon's city garage.

Here is a bullet point account of the allegations that Stevens makes (re: George Maier):
  • drives up to Stevens, rolls down the window (has a woman passenger in his white pickup truck) and proceeded to bad mouth him:
    • in a m-f tone, up one side and down the other, who do [you] f...... think you are,
    • You'd better learn the difference be what's a right of way and not right of way,
    • who is your boss,
  • tells Stevens he needs to be his own man.
  • Stevens (of Maier), he appeared about ready to come out of his skin, he was vulgar and out-of-control.
  • Stevens (of Maier), his professional background and training at the very least should have taught him to be under control and to defuse and not accelerate the situation.
In the light of the uninvestigated allegations made of Maier in his role in the Ohio Department of Public Safety in 2008, and in the light of Stevens' allegations, Massillonians ought to know whether or not their safety service director has a temperament issue.

Catazaro-Perry had to know of the 2008 allegations.

Notwithstanding Strickland's cop out, Mayor Kathy should have vetted George thoroughly and completely on the allegations and reported the results to the Massillon public before appointing him director.

Now that Stevens has made his accusation, she owes it to the Massillon public to find out whether or not Stevens' account is accurate and, IF they are, ask George Maier to apologize to Stevens personally and to the citizens of Massillon for having been a "to-be-Massillon public official" disrespecting a man just trying to do what the public expected of him.

Supposedly Maier challenged Stevens "to be his own man."

Interesting.

The SCPR has long criticized Catazaro-Perry because her obviously too close of a relationship with the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. Massillon political machine.

The Report is told that one of the Maiers or Maier political "gofer" Shane Jackson can be seen tending to Mayor Catazaro-Perry on more or less constant basis at Massillon City Hall.

The question that comes rushing to mind?

When is Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry going to be allowed "to be her own woman" as the chief executive officer of the city of Massillon?

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