Wednesday, October 31, 2012



A SCPR thank you to Judge Richard J. Kubilus of the Canton Municipal Court for pointing out an inadvertent timeline error made by The Report with respect of the tenure of deceased Stark County Probate Court judge Robert D. Horowitz.

While the SCPR got Horowitz's elevation (2003) to the judgship correct, The Report inadvertently omitted Judge R.R. Denny Clunk of Alliance as being the predecessor to Horowitz.  Clunk ascended to the Probate Court judgeship on the untimely death of Reuben Z. Wise, Jr in September, 1985.

The SCPR's original blog has been correct to account for Judge Clunck having been Wise's successor.


Stark County has had a long line of first-rate prosecutors over the last several decades.

Preeminent among them of course is Republican and Massillonian David D. Dowd, Jr. who served in the office from 1961 through 1975 of which he was the top prosecutor for the last eight years.

Dowd in 1982 was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the federal bench where he continues to serve in "senior status."

He succeeded Republican Republican and Massillonian Norm Putman who went on to become a judge.

After Dowd, came Republican Jim Unger.

When Unger became a Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge, he was succeeded by Democrat Robert D. Horowitz, Jr.

The Democrats have held the prosecutor's office since 1985 when, in November, 1984, Horowitz defeated Republican Rick Ketler (who had served in the administration of the last Republican - Jim Unger - to hold the office) in a very close race.

In 2003, Horowitz was appointed probate judge upon the retirement of R.R. Denny Clunk in February, 2003.

Horowitz was preceded by R.R. Denny Clunk, a Democrat, who served from shortly after the untimely death (September, 1985) of Republican Reuben Z. Wise, Jr.

Horowitz's elevation to the judgeship had the ripple effect of the-then Stark County Democratic Party chairman and Massillonian John Ferrero being appointed by the Party's central committee to succeed Horowitz as prosecutor.

He was elected in his own right in November, 2004.

However, in 2008 the Stark Republicans could find nobody to run against him and he ran unopposed.

He does have Republican opposition in 2012, but the SCPR does not consider Michael Grady to be a serious threat to unseat him.

So while Ferrero has had the good luck to be in the right place and the right time, Stark County, in the opinion of yours truly, has been unlucky to have had him as prosecutor and moreover more unlucky that the Jeff Matthews-led Stark County Republican Party has not been able to come up with a more viable candidate than Grady.

Anyone who has read the SCPR over the nearly five years of its publication will figure out real quick that The Report has been less than impressed with John Ferrero as the elected prosecutor and the manner in which he has managed the office.

And, of course, Ferrero has been furious over The Report's political analysis of his performance in office.

A couple of years ago Ferrero filed a disciplinary complaint against yours truly (who happens to be an attorney of nearly 40 years of an unblemished record and who does not write this blog as an attorney, but rather as a political analyst) in an attempt to suppress yours truly First Amendment rights under the pretense of The Report's analysis being an ethics violation.

The complaint was thrown out summarily.

It is clear to yours truly that its filing was a case of politics inspired revenge.

Apparently, he did not figure on yours truly sharing his gambit with the SCPR readership.  A number of readers have expressed outrage that he would do such a thing.

If one reads Ferrero's campaign literature, the  SCPR's "unimpressed" of him has to be a head scratcher.  Nevertheless, The Report sticks by the "unimpressed" and, if anything, to a higher degree.

Using the Ferrero campaign flyer comparing him to opponent Grady, here goes the SCPR's analysis:  (using just a few of Ferrero's self-aggrandizing positives in counterpoint).

  • 97% Criminal Conviction Rate from 2007-2011,
      • What he does not talk about is that John Ferrero is not a courtroom prosecutor.  One of Stark County's leading criminal defense attorneys tells The Report that he has never seen Ferrero sit "first chair" as prosecutor.  Rarely, in high profile case (e.g. the Bobby Cutts murder trial which The Report is told he sat "third chair."
      • 97%?  Well, with all a prosecutor in any jurisdiction has going for him, to the SCPR 97% is not very impressive.  Should be like 99.97%.  A lot of the 97% consists of plea bargains.
        • The best that can be said for Ferrero is that he has been primarily an administrator; not a prosecutor trial attorney.
      • Among the 3% is the slam-dunk failure that Ferrero's office (Ferrero was nowhere to be seen at the actual trial) suffered in Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge Lee Sinclair's sustaining of the defense's motion to dismiss in the Ron/Kyle Devies case.
        • NOTE:  (In the Devies case he allowed Marlboro Police Chief Ron Devies and his son to be charged with fourth degree felonies (along with misdemeanors) in what it appears to yours truly to have been a communications problem between the Devies family members and former Marlboro Township trustees Wise and Wolfe.
  • Delinquent Collected Taxes 2008 - 2011 Approximately $7 Million Dollars [sic]
      • Only at the prodding of Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.  Before Zumbar took over for Gary Zeigler (2010, the SCPR's understanding is that the prosecutor's office performance under Ferrero's watch was lackluster at best.
  • Recovered Over $1.75 Million Dollars [sic] in the Zeigler case.
      • Only at the initiative and cajoling of Stark County local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley.  In fact, it was Conley who filed the first litigation to protect Stark County taxpayers' interests.
There is certainly much more that The Report believes makes John Ferrero a pretty unimpressive prosecutor given Stark's long line of truly superlative prosecutors.

But who do the Republicans put up?

A former corporate counsel.


Hardly someone who one would think would have a whole lot of appeal to the Stark County voting public just on the face of his law employment history.

GOP Chair Matthews et al should have been asking themselves:  Will the voters have the sophistication to figure out that Grady has very impressive private sector experience that would make him a refreshing and reinvigorating change from a man who became prosecutor through a political party appointment process?

To the SCPR's way of thinking, the way John Ferrero discharges his office (mainly as an administrator), it is likely that Grady, with his wealth of experience as an executive administrative/legal type at the major American corporation Babcock and Wilcox, is equipped to be a more effective administrative type of prosecutor.

The day-to-day work of a prosecutor is to manage the folks he hires to produce highly effective prosecutorial work.  It is not all that unusual for elected prosecutors to be chief administrative types.

Ferrero has had his problems in budgeting (LINK) and in managing his staff (he says because of budgetary contraints) and he has a record of constantly pressing for more general fund dollars when there are none to be had.

So, indeed, John Ferrero has been a lucky man.
  • He was politically situated to become prosecutor in the first place,
  • He had no opponent in 2008 when he last sought reelection,
  • Local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley [a Republican by the way] lit a fire under the prosecutor's office to get moving on recovering Stark County treasury losses due to the upwards of $3 million Frustaci theft loses,
  • Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar [also a Republican] prodded the prosecutor's office to pick up the pace on delinquent tax collections, and
  • Stark Republicans put up a prosecutor-inexperienced candidate up against him.
On the other side of the coin, Stark County has been unlucky.

Stark Countians will likely have to put up with four more years of fumbling and bumbling (on Ferrero's part, not the assistant prosecutors) at the hands of a John Ferrero-led and managed Stark County prosecutor's office!

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