Friday, November 30, 2012



On September 17, 2012, Mayor William J. Healy, II of Canton seemed to suffered a fatal blow to his hopes to bring Redflex traffic cameras to downtown Canton.

The SCPR wrote on the 18th (LINK) "[l]ast night's council action was an outright defeat for the mayor." 

But was it?  Is this 3rd try at Redflex headed to the "dead letter office?"

In a nightmarish, Freddie Krueger-esque fashion - "I'm back" - Hizzhoner, through the offices of Ward Two Councilman Tom West, has returned to trying to get Redflex traffic cameras installed at select downtown intersections (e.g. Market Avenue, North and 12th) as a "pilot project."

Call it getting "a foot in the door," "a trojan horse," or whatever but Healy is proving again that he a "never-say-die" politician.

And somehow he is consistently able to maintain a group of loyalists at his side to keep him politically alive.  In this instance, witness his hold on Councilpersons West, Smith (Ward 4), Dougherty (Ward 6), Babcock (at-large) and Cole (at-large).

In the long run, knowing this mayor and how pugnacious he is; he never, ever is going to give up on any issue.  Even if it is clear that most Cantonians do not want what he is offering up.  That's how much ego this man is consumed with.


When it became apparent that his plan to interest oil/gas drillers into fracking (a controversy to a number of citizens and councilpersons) on Canton owned lands was not going to make it through council, he withdrew it and went back to the drawing board.

Mark the SCPR's word; in time Healy will be back.  His ego simply will not allow him to be bested by anyone.

When it became apparent in August of this year that Healy's plan to dismantle the "independent" Canton Board of Park Commissioners (which has be around for nearly 100 years) was not going over with council and many in the electorate, he withdrew the proposal.  (Reference:  see Canton to seek levy for parks, Ed Balint, The Repository, November 28, 2012)

End of story?

Not on your life!  Not with the "my way or the highway" Healy!!

It appears that he now has commandeered the Canton Recreational Services Coalition (CRSC) which was started about two years ago considering ways and means to possibly merge the Canton Parks and the Canton Joint Recreational District.


The SCPR thinks so.

He has his main man administrative assistant Derek Gordon serving as "interim assistant park director" and Healy himself has led the discussion with the CRSC (undoubtedly made up of those committed to doing his bidding) to get it to promote putting a levy on at next May's primary election towards getting funding together to provide the finances for his outflank council move.

The eventual goal:  merge the recreation and park functions of Canton into an entity controlled by the mayor of Canton.

And for anyone who knows Healy, it would be a big mistake to count him out on reaching his goal.

This guy is a political Houdini who has demonstrated that "a cat with nine lives" has nothing over him.


No, if you believe Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher's take on the matter.

Here is what Fisher had to say to a SCPR inquiry about West's effort as specifically whether or not the 7 to 5 "no" will hold this coming Monday's council meeting.


I have every confidence that the Redflex contract will be defeated by the 7 to 5 margin, if not by a wider one. Despite the rebranding of the contract as a "Pilot Program", this is the same vote that was held a mere couple of months ago and in my frequent discussions with my colleagues on city council, I have seen zero indications that anyone has flip flopped on the issue since then.

I did not attend the sales pitch given by Reflex Tuesday evening. As I said when I was invited, that my presence would merely be a waste of my and everyone else's time. I am absolutely opposed to red light/speed cameras at every level and there is no sales pitch that Redflex could make to overcome my constitutional and philosophical objections. Furthermore, I do not feel that Redflex as a company is the type of vendor that Canton should consider doing business with (see their long history of suing their municipal "partners") even if I did not hold such objections.

The people of Canton are absolutely opposed to these cameras and recognize them as nothing more than a "cash grab" and their council has rejected them twice in 3 years. I look forward to voting against them again and putting this issue to bed for good. I think 3 "bites at the apple" are plenty for the proponents of Redflex and once we reject them for the third time, we should consider the topic dead.


Kevin Fisher

As The Report has written before, this council with the new "four young turks" (and yes, Frank Morris, you are young) as newly elected members being on board; Healy ought to be getting used to the new reality that his slick moves are losing their teflon qualities with the growing discernment that increasing numbers of councilpersons are demonstrating.

It has been talked for some time now that Healy is tiring of the mounting rancor he faces from week to week in the hubbub of Canton politics and governance and is looking to move on to a venue more fitting of a man of his political talents.

In a direct question put to him by the SCPR on his looking to move on, he has not denied that he is indeed surveying the field of possibilities.

While The Report thinks he has the "cloak and dagger" political skills and other oily qualities needed to succeed at a higher level, yours truly thinks it would be a mistake for voters to carry him to a higher level.

Why, you ask?

Though many of the folks who staff elective offices across Ohio and the nation are not Sunday School teacher types, it seems to The Report that Mayor Healy is over-the-top in terms of his ego and Canton government and politics should be his last stop on the political trail.

The nightmares "for the people" need to stop!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


There are some mayors of cities that roll up their sleeves and get to work on tackling the city's problems and there are others who take the job as more a ceremonial-esque job and leave the tough day-to-day governing to others.

The SCPR has written prolifically since before the Democratic Primary election of March, 2011 that, if elected, Kathy Catazaro-Perry, challenger to longtime Massillon Mayor Frank Cicchinelli would be the mayor of Massillon in name only and that she would leave the governing in a de facto sense to the likes of Massillon Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (JAM forces).

But maybe she would be a fooler?

Doesn't appear so.

Indications are that she shines up to being a "spit and polish" chief executive who likes to get into the limelight cheering on Massillon with her "City of Champions" public relations forte.

Whether it's appearing in front of the Duncan Plaza complex (the home of Massillon City Government) in a photo-op pose on the front page of the local newspaper or making a celebrity appearance on a charity-fundraising-event (Dancing with the Stars - for the benefit of the Canton Palace Theater), it seems as if madam-mayor has cottoned up to being "the face of the administration."

And, perhaps, this is the role that Massillonians should accept for her.

From what the SCPR has seen of her substantive side of being mayor, the day-to-day roustabout of governance is not her cup of tea.

She has been bounced around like a volleyball by Massillon City Council when she wades into the politics of governing Massillon.

A prime example is her effort to raise desperately needed revenues for Tigerland in view of the draconian cuts in state of Ohio funding (i.e. local government funding, elimination of the estate tax, and the like) that Massillon like nearly all other Ohio local government entities are experiencing at the hand of the Ohio General Assembly at the direction of Governor John Kasich.

She has made several attempts to get a reduction in the credit that Massillon allows its residents who work outside the city and may taxes to other communities.

But she has been unable to get to first base on her initiative.

Her initiative?

Okay.  Point well-made.  Likely not.  More likely the idea of Massillon auditor Jayne Ferrero or perhaps the Karl Rove of Massillon Democratic politics Shane Jackson:
  • who is the politically well connected acolyte of Clerk Maier and others who run the Stark County Democratic Party, and
  • who one would think likes to be thought as the person who engineered the election of election of Catazaro-Perry.
Yesterday, the SCPR was told, as an ongoing confirmation, by a reliable Massillon source that Mayor Catazaro-Perry is seldom seen out of the company of either George Maier (her safety-services director), or his brother Johnnie or Shane or one of the other of a collection of minders who comprise the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr wing of the Massillon Democratic Party.

All of which brings to mind the goings-on at the Massillon Parks and Recreation Board (Board) these days which The Report thinks shows how unreliable having the support of Catazaro-Perry is when her "behind the scenes people" think you have served your useful purpose and now are a liability.

Recently, the Board fired Bob Straughn as Parks and Recreation Director.

And talk about getting "thrown under the bus?"

Here is an excerpt from The Massillon Independent's Matt Rink (Rec Board mum on Straughn firing, 11/23/2012):  (the Maier reference is to Safety-Services Director George Maier)

Mind you, Straughn is perceived by a number of Massillon political figures to have been a longtime supporter of Catazaro-Perry and the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr-led Massillon Democratic Party machine.  He (as the Catazaro-Perry representative) coordinated the handover of power from the Cicchinelli administration about one year ago to this very day.

The SCPR can tell you from personal experience that in the world of politics once one has lost his/her political usefulness to the likes of a Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, it is like instant "I never knew you."

It appears like that is what has happened to Straughn.

The Report doubts that Catazaro-Perry had any part in the calculation.

While she will undoubtedly say and do as told by the JAM forces, The Report believes that she probably dislikes soiling her hands with the messiness of politics.

No, she'd rather be out in front of Duncan Plaza spitting on her political shoes and thereby polishing up her image as the First Lady of the City of Massillon:  "the City of Champions!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The SCPR has already written (LINK) about reasons why former Alliance Chief of Police Larry Dordea lost to Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike McDonald in their November 6th race.

But it still was somewhat startling to see the detailed numbers (published yesterday by the Stark County Board of Elections) which document the outcome of the race.  Especially in light of the fact that Dordea has run countywide before, losing in a very respectable showing to Sheriff Tim Swanson in 2008.

Yesterday's numbers show that McDonald actually picked up 1,249 votes of some 4,285 provisional ballots that are reflected in yesterday's count.  Originally, it was said by BOE officials that some 5,900 provisional remained to be counted and so there appeared to be a slim hope that Dordea (behind by 5,730 in the unofficial count) might astound everybody and get a vast majority of the provisions.

Well, as it turns out, such was not a possibility inasmuch as only 4,285 provisionals qualified for the sheriff race recount.

Three things stand out to The Report about the McDonald victory.

First, the inability of Dordea to pile up a large plurality over McDonald in Alliance.

Only a 298 vote margin for a man who was police chief in Alliance for about eight years and who is in his second term as councilman-at-large?

All one had to do on election night was to look at the Alliance differential to know that Dordea was not going to win countywide.

Second, and by contrast, how McDonald did in his home area:  the Louisville/Nimishillen Township area.

The way to make the hugely significant point of McDonald's home turf margin of victory is to compare it to the Smuckler/Regula race numbers for county commissioner (the only other Stark County race other than the presidential race that was competitive).

Regula out-polled fellow Republican Dordea by 400 votes in Louisville and 601 in Nimishillen Township and looking at the Regula numbers the turnaround results are astounding:  a Regula victory in the face of a Dordea loss in both communities to the tune of a 2,235 vote turnaround.

Thirdly, looking at Dordea's numbers in the Republican strongholds of Jackson and Lake Townships, while strong for Dordea, pale in comparison in what Democrat McDonald was able to do in vote margin victories in the staunchly Democratic cities of Canton and Massillon.

And McDonald won in the Republican/Democratic battleground area of Stark County (Plain Township) by 570 votes.

To win, Dordea had approximate (i.e. come closer) to how former Stark County commissioner Richard Regula ran in his former Canton City Councilman Bill Smuckler.

Or perhaps matching up better with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's?

Mike McDonald actually out-polled Stark County presidential winner Barack Obama by upwards of 3 percentage points.  Impressive, no?

In recent decades, Democrats have dominated control of the Stark County sheriff's department.  Only in 1981 - 1984 (Robert Berens) have the Republicans had a smell at running Stark County's top law enforcement agency.

With this loss, it could be decades more that the Republicans will be shut off from putting their law enforcement philosophies to work out on Atlantic Boulevard!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last night at North Canton City Council, Law Director Tim Fox reiterated the rules for "Public Speaks" at regular sessions of the council.

Here is Fox in a SCPR video making his presentation.

And well he should have in light of potential civil liabilities that may be sustained if such rules and actions based on the rules are not adequately constituted in terms of policies and procedures (including supervision and training) for dealing with what council members to be unruly Public Speaks participants.

It appears that Fox's guidance for council members is that above all, they be even-handed in applying the rules.

Another concern is that local officials provide for the proper training and supervision of any personnel who might be called upon to enforce those rules in terms of forcibly ejecting a Public Speaks citizen exercising his/her Constituional First Amendment rights.

The SCPR has learned that Fox took his cue from an incident which occurred in a Canal Fulton (Lawrence Township) on November 1, 2011.

In that evening's Canal Fulton City Council meeting (extracted account taken from plaintiff's allegations contained in pleadings of Mouse v. Swartz, et al, Stark County Court of Common Pleas, filed November 1, 2012) the following is alleged to have occurred:

Now to the part of the lawsuit that had to perk up the attention and interest of Law Director Tim Fox of North Canton.

The complaint alleges six "causes of action."  And it is the sixth, the SCPR believes, that gets to the heart of Stark County local government concerns, to wit:

The Report has been covering local government meetings for nearly five years now.

And in the course of such coverage, yours truly has observed a number of tense moments when local government leaders were put to the test in properly managing their Public Speaks segment of a given meeting.

In one instance, North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne was escorted from a council meeting at the direction of the-then council president Daryl Revoldt.

Current council president Jon Snyder told The Report last evening that Fox's presentation was not designed to target Osborne who is North Canton's most frequent presenter at Public Speaks.

Rather, Snyder says, the publication of the Mouse complaint on its filing with the Stark County Court of Common Pleas and the startling allegations gave North Canton Council pause for thought as to its policies, practices and preparation in prevention of a replication of a Canal Fulton incident in North Canton.

Fox doubled down on Snyder' point in telling The Report that it fair to say that his goal is to ensure that there is not a duplication of the Canal Fulton incident in North Canton.

The Report captured Fox on video in making his presentation.  It is interesting to note that he says nary a word about Canal Fulton as if he got a message from God that it was time to refresh everyone on the need to have a decorous public discussion during the time set aside for same.

Off camera, his discussion with the SCPR was quite another thing.  In this venue, he expressed his astonishment at the allegations made in the Canal Fulton pleading and his determination to prevent a similar occurrence in North Canton.

Off camera?

Yes, off camera at Fox's insistence over the protest of yours truly.

He had the lame excuse that he doesn't come across well on camera.


The Report thinks the refusal was a retributive action on his part because of his distaste for prior SCPR blogs on questionable procedures employed by council (in the opinion of yours truly) in his becoming law director.

As SCPR readers know, a video does not lie.

Reporters taking notes are always open to an allegation that they "misquoted" the subject.

Okay.  Go on camera.  Tell your story in your own words.  That's the SCPR response.

So The Report doesn't want to hear it from Fox that he was "mistook!"

The SCPR has seen many different versions of Public Speaks throughout the county and is convinced that Canton council President Allen Schulman is the most effective moderator of citizens addressing council.

He manages to keep order and decorum while managing to give citizens their full say.

If you take the same system and put Majority Leader David Dougherty in charge, Public Speaks in Canton does not go nearly as well.

Jon Snyder of North Canton seems to have Schulman-esque skills.

You can bet that all Stark County government entities that have Public Speaks forums will be paying close attention to the outcome of Mouse v. Swartz, et al.

As well they should!

Monday, November 26, 2012



Under the category of "no good deed goes unpunished," the Canton Police Department, apparently (a SCPR opinion) not having been thoroughly checked out by the Canton Law Department's prosecutor's office (in terms of the quality of police department's case), recently proceeded against a Mister Tony Porterfield of 12th Street, Northeast on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing official business.

(See Despite run-in with police, man still wants a better neighborhood, The Repository, Shane Hoover, 11/22/2012)


Mr. Porterfield in recent years purchased and moved into a residence on 12th Street right in the heart of 2nd Ward Councilman Thomas West's neighborhood.

His motive?  To have a quality home of his own and to help himself and his neighbors reclaim their neighborhood from the criminals and thugs who seem to have the run of Canton's inner wards.

Talk about a counterintuitive move, Porterfield's move into Mister West's neighborhood has to be a prime example.


That is, if the website "Neighborhood Scout" data is to be believed.

According to the website, Canton has a safety "crime index of 4."  Yes, "4" out of a possible maximum index of 100 which at 100 would be a completely safe neighborhood.

Of course, at the other end:  "4," - the neighborhood is completely unsafe.


So much for the Healy administration's Zero Tolerance program now that he has been reelected mayor for a second term, no?


February 9, 2010?

It's been nearly three years since Healy has been trumpeting on the city's website his crime interdiction success (i.e. Canton crime rate down 19.5%).



Porterfield seems to be a "good Samaritan" of sorts.  He says in Hoover's report of his acquittal by jury of his peers (eight Canton Municipal Court jurisdiction citizens) within minutes their getting the case (as quoted in the Hoover article):
“I was looking for a place to reside and stay forever,” the 43-year-old Alliance native said.

The bushes and grass around his home are neatly trimmed. A flag hangs from a corner of the porch. A red metal roof is the most visible sign of Porterfield’s effort to remodel the house and a building next door.

The neighbors on his block look out for each other. If a strange car is parked in the neighborhood, he will get a call or a text from a neighbor asking him to check it out, Porterfield said.

On July 9th of this year, a couple of Canton's finest parked their unmarked vehicle close to Porterfield's home on a mission to document an undercover police drug buy.

Unmarked car?

Police presumably in plain clothes?

In a neighborhood that is one of the most crime infested in all of America?

A man and neighbors who are determined to take their neighborhood back from the criminals?

Of course, the highly civic minded Porterfield is going to be asking questions, no?

And, indeed, he does!

Perfectly understandable and as it turns out, in the view of The Report, heroic.

According to Hoover, the police said:
  • "they politely explained they were conducting an investigation and showed their badges, but Porterfield refused to leave and began talking loudly and drawing attention to their vehicle,"
  • Porterfield refused to stop drawing attention to their vehicle, and persisted to the point of trying to record the license plate number of the unmarked vehicle whereupon he was arrested
Porterfield's account was quite different, to wit:
  • he was sworn at and told to get back in his house, and
  • the policemen never showed him a badge
The Report finds Porterfield's account more believable than the officers on the basis of:
  • his motivation to make the neighborhood a safer one,
  • a reading of Hoover's report (the actual lines and between the lines), and
  • a lifetime of experience of dealing with policemen

The SCPR picks out some key points from the report to chew on just a little:
  • KEY POINT ONE - If Tony Porterfield had his way, a police cruiser would be parked on his street and officers would get to know the neighborhood by patrolling on foot.
    • COMMENT:  A man who not only does not resent a police presence in his neighborhood but wants them there and on foot to boot.  Hardly, someone who going to get testy with police, unprovoked.
  • KEY POINT TWO - What exactly happened to Porterfield is in dispute — he has his version, the police have theirs and a jury acquitted him [within minutes of receiving the case] of misdemeanor obstructing official business — but the incident comes at a time when officer conduct and the department’s relationship with the community have been under scrutiny.
    • COMMENT 1:   "... acquitted him [within minutes of the jury having received the case]... ."   Hmm?  Within minutes?   Doesn't take a rocket scientist, err legal professional, to tell one something about the quality of the case notwithstanding what Chief Lawver and what Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio say about the unpredictability of jury decisions.
    • COMMENT 2:  "... incident comes at a time when officer conduct [e.g. Daniel Harless] and the department's relationship with the community [outbreak of summer shootings] have been under scrutiny."  Hmm?  Perhaps Chief Lawver is feeling a bit defensive these days and in no mood to square up with the Canton public and admit that he has some major reform to do within the Canton Police Department (CPD) in terms of how to connect to, relate to, and work with everyday Cantonians?
    The SCPR believes that the Healy administration has politicized the effectiveness of policing in Canton.

    Mayor William J. Healy's trump card in getting elected in 2007 was to promise zero tolerance of crime in Canton.

    Even though it is apparent that his political campaign ploy has not worked, Cantonians nonetheless are putting increasing pressure on the CPD to deliver on the failed Healy administration promise to make Canton's neighborhoods safer.

    But the police lack the manpower and financial resources to do so.  Accordingly, you get folks like Porterfield who get directly involved in making neighborhoods safer.  And you have the police turning to community policing efforts to make up for their inadequacies.

    It seems to The Report that the newly appointed chief (Lawver) is feeling pressure big time to roll back an apparent upsurge in Canton crime.

    And the July 9th incident and its attendant failure to deal effectively with a well-meaning citizen did not help matters any.

    Hoover's article insofar as it refers to the chief, reeks (in the opinion of the SCPR) of a man grasping for excuses/justifications (e.g. runaway jury?; uncharacteristic of McWilliams [one of the involved officers]; won't second guess; "highly successful and conscientious officers") and of a public official who may be out-of-touch with the citizenry and communicates such to his rank-and-file policemen/women.

    And there may be another factor.

    The SCPR addresses the possibility in the form of a question:  Is the Canton city prosecutor's office too tight with the Canton Police Department?

    Yours truly addressed that question to Canton law director Joseph Martuccio this past Friday.

    With the jury voting to acquit Porterfield "within minutes" of receiving the case, one has to wonder what kind of vetting that the prosecutor's office did on the quality/strength of the McWilliams/Gabbard (the other involved officer) case against Citizen Porterfield?

    Yours truly's daughter was a police prosecutor in Georgia for some five years (probably 2005 - 2010) and so thereby The Report does have some insight into a typical prosecutor/police relationship.

    One of the things daughter did as prosecutor was to shore up some pretty sloppy police work (before she got on the job) in terms of having a provable case.  Moreover, she always made sure she was the decider-in-chief as to whether or not a prosecution would go forward.

    While the Porterfield case is not quite the same thing (i.e. sloppy police work) inasmuch as it boiled down to a "my word against your word" situation; the "within minutes" verdict indicates to a reasonably thinking person that there may have been something very wrong in terms of the Canton prosecutor office's analysis of the quality of the case to be brought to prosecution.


    Back to the SCPR's question of Law Director Martuccio.

    The essence of his answer?

    "You never know what a jury is going to do."

    Additionally, Martuccio denied that if a Canton policeman makes an arrest, it automatically parlays into a prosecution in terms of the relationship between his prosecutors and the police.  However, he added that "it is rare" when an arrest does not result in a prosecution.

    As for Martuccio's "you never know what a jury is going to do," such is the identical thing that Canton Police Chief Lawver said to Rep reporter Hoover.

    Is that to say that law enforcement/prosecutions are a roll of the dice?

    Prosecutions must have a rock-solid basis to them.

    After all,  you are dealing with ramifications on the future of citizens who have differences with Canton police officials.

    As reported by Hoover:
    Porterfield said he does his best to look out for trouble, but a run-in with two undercover city police officers this summer almost cost him his freedom and his military career, and left him with a sense of unease about calling 911.
    The Report does not accept, nor should the Canton public, that in prosecuting cases that the police department appear to be treated by the Canton prosecutor's office as being determinative clients.

    And, as indicated previously as implied in The Report's reference to daughter-prosecutor; in working closely on quality case preparation prosecutors and police are susceptible of developing too tight of a relationship.  Perhaps, so much so that prosecutors might forget who their real client is.

    As the SCPR sees it, prosecutions are always to be pursued on behalf of "the people" in the pursuit of truth and justice; not as vindication of a police decision to arrest.  In fact, in many jurisdictions the cases are captioned:  "People versus John Doe."

    The SCPR chooses not to think in terms of the Lawver/Martuccio posited implication.

    Rather The Report sees the situation as being a jury of responsible citizens doing their civic duty.

    The Report is told that The Repository does not generally cover misdemeanor cases.

    That it did in the Porterfield situation, from the SCPR's perspective, is important in terms of The Report's thinking that Canton police and law department officials and the Canton safety director (former Canton policeman Tom Ream) of the Healy administration being put on notice that they all need to clean up their processes.

    The Report thinks for Tony Porterfield to have:
    • located into a notoriously crime-infested Canton neighborhood,
    • spent his hard earned dollars rehabbing the property, and
    • working collaboratively with neighbors and the police to clear the community of crime
    and to have gotten kicked in the teeth by Canton police officialdom is an outrage.

    The Porterfield case should give us all pause for thought.

    There but for the grace of God go you and I.

    And Canton officials wonder why people are moving out of Canton in droves?

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012


    2012 is the fifth annual Stark County Political Report salutation to those Stark County public figures who have made significant contributions to the well being of Stark County in a governmental/political context.


    Judge Charles E. Brown, Jr. has had a stellar ten years plus on the bench of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court.

    He was appointed in 2001 by Governor Robert Taft and went on to win two terms and could have stayed on the bench until the end of 2014 though he reached the mandatory retirement age for Ohio judges at age 70 in July.  However, have the self-awareness to realize that we all "lose a step or two," with advancing age, Brown retired effective October 31st of this year.

    Though he has proved to be a distinguished jurist in presiding over many criminal and civil trials during his tenure (including the Bobby Cutts murder trial), the SCPR recognizes him for his work on the Stark County Reentry Initiative.

    The Report's assessment of Judge Brown is that he is leading example of being a "tough love" judge.

    Recently (November 16th), representatives of the Stark County Criminal Justice Reform Committee wrote of Judge Brown:
    As indicated by his nickname, “Send ’Em Down,” Brown earned a reputation as a tough judge.

    This approach is often necessary, and prison sentences are a proven crime deterrent. However, he also understood that once offenders did their time, they needed opportunities to reintegrate into society.

    Brown presided over the county’s innovative Re-Entry Court, which steered returning citizens toward employment, housing and social service programs to ease their transition and reduce recidivism.
    Under Charles Brown's leadership, the Stark County Reentry Initiative was the recipient of the First Annual "Independence Day" Award. 

    The SCPR had the opportunity in July, 2011 to spend a morning in a session of Reentry Court.  For those readers who wish to see the program in action, here is video of an actual session.

    And here is a video that you will not want to miss:  a one-on-one time between yours truly and Judge Brown.

    The SCPR salutes Judge Charles E. Brown, Jr. for rendering over a decade of outstanding service to the grateful citizens of Stark County.


    Yours truly (J.D. 1973) has known Lee Sinclair (J.D.  1976) for 36 years.

    In fact, we tried a case or two against each other over those many years.

    For the last 18 years, Lee Sinclair has been a Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge.  And he has earned a reputation for moving his case docket along lickety-split.  Because of his lightening speed of moving cases along, he has become known as the "Rocket-Docket judge."

    In Judge Sinclair's court, there would be no "justice delayed is justice denied".

    Recently, Judge Sinclair announced he will be retiring as of the end of this year and will be devoting some of his time to teaching at the University of Mount Union located in Alliance.

    As a jurist, he has been a pre-eminent scholar.  Sinclair has been serving as chairman of the Ohio Judicial College Board of Trustees and has written about presiding over a capital punishment case as a part of a major treatise on the handling of capital cases.

    The SCPR has written extensively since 2009 about Judge Sinclair's handing of the Ron Devies and Kyle Devies case.

    In what yours truly believes was clearly a case of a communication problem, Marlboro Chief of Police Ron Devies and his son Kyle were charged with fourth degree felonies.  (For more details, here is a LINK to a prior blog).

    It was no surprise to the SCPR that Judge Sinclair ended up doing what he did in presiding over this case.

    After the prosecution ended its case, Sinclair sustained defense counsel's motion to dismiss.

    A case that never gone forward in the first place, in the opinion of The Report.

    For his speed in administering justice, his legal scholarship and doing justice, Stark Countians certainly have much to be thankful for in having V. Lee Sinclair, Jr. being a judge of the Stark County Common Pleas Court.


    The best thing for the city of Canton was the election of a group of four "young" men (Morris says he is not young) to Canton City Council in November, 2011.

    The four:  (left to right in the photo above)  Frank Morris, Jr., (9th Ward), Edmond Mack (8th Ward), John Mariol (7th Ward) and Kevin Fisher (5th Ward).

    Normally, the SCPR is not keen on officeholders being elected who ran unopposed.  But two of the four (Morris and Fisher) did and Mariol was appointed to replace Patrick Barton who moved on to become a member of Healy administration as IT director.

    But in a 9 to 1 Democrats to Republicans voter registration advantage city, candidates running unopposed is more the norm than the exception.  Moreover, Stark County Republican chairman Jeff Matthews has done an incredibly poor job in preparing Republican candidates to compete in those wards in which the GOP could compete.

    Cantonians has lucked out with the elevation of these four to council given the non-competitive political environment.

    For despite their shared political allegiance, they have put the Healy administration under close scrutiny.

    As regular readers of the SCPR know, The Report thinks Mayor William J. Healy, II is one of the slickest politicians we have seen in these parts in many of a year.  It seems that nearly everything he does in his role in Canton government is somehow designed to benefit his political future in some way, shape, or form.

    And The Report understands that such is the case for many, many politicians.  But really?  Isn't the best way to benefit politically, not to calculate for one's own interests, but to be working at fever pitch for the well-being of the people and everything will fall into place?

    That's how the SCPR sees Messers Morris, Mack, Mariol and Fisher and how the seem to function.

    Undoubtedly, all want to be reelected (retained in Mariol's case) next November.  Healy has been suspected of running a candidate to take out an adversary.  Councilman Greg Hawk appears to have been the butt of a Healy political attack.

    But despite this risk, Morris, Mack, Mariol and Fisher are going about it the right way:  doing their job as due diligence councilmen.

    The Report shudders to think what Healy would be getting through council that is not necessarily good for Cantonians with nary a question being asked without "the four" leading the way.

    To be sure they have needed help.  And they have been joined by a handful of veteran councilpersons (Cirelli, Hawk and Griffin), depending on the issue.

    To repeat, but for "the four" and their probing eyes and incisive questioning, The Report believes that Canton would be led down the primrose path of repeatedly and dutifully following the lead of a mayor fixed on his individual agenda which frequently does not square up with the best interests of Cantonians.

    They have scrutinized:
    • the matter of oil and gas drilling on Canton owned lands,
    • the reduction of the income tax credit that Canton allows for those living in Canton but paying village/municipal income taxes to another locality,
    • the consideration of changing policy the apprehension of stray, wild animals prowling the confines of the city,
    • the installation of traffic cameras at key downtown interchanges as a safety or revenue producing proposal.
    And there have been more.

    But suffice it to say that "the young turks" have been a breath of fresh air in a council environment which still consists of a number of Healy automatics.

    For "the four's" presence on council, Cantonians certainly have to be thankful this November 22, 2012.


    The SCRP has been watching Massillon City Council for some time now.

    As with Canton, Massillon is pretty much thought of as being a Democratic city.

    But not nearly to the degree as Canton.

    Massillonians undoubtedly have to be pleased with the fact that four Republicans were elected in November, 2011 and have made Massillon City Council a truly deliberative legislative body.

    And the SCPR sees Ward Two Councilwoman Nancy Halter as the leader of the pact in terms of digging in on issues, understanding them, offering solutions and sticking to her legislative goals.

    An example?

    This is what The Report wrote about Halter on September 4th of this year:
    Councilwoman Halter turned what appeared at one time to be "a death by a thousand cuts" legislative effort to make owners of Massillon neighborhood residences more accountable and trackable as Massillon's building code enforcer (William Kraft) sought council's assistance to get legislation with more teeth on the books to aid him in his effort.

    The battle in Massillon council has been going on over the requested legislation for about three years.
    Currently, Massillon is deciding whether or not it should raise its income tax rate next year.

    One of Halter's positions from day one on council has been fiscal responsibility.

    She understands that a breech of trust with the citizen voters means that you can ask all you want, but there will be no voting of additional taxes if you have lost the trust of the people.

    Her tack on the tax increase issue is to insist that the annual payment on the Massillon government owned The Legends golf course is summed up in a quote by Matt Rink of The Massillon Independent (City Council members see Legends debt as obstacle to passing tax hike, November 19th):
    The parks are not being taken care of.  The people did not vote the parks tax in to support a golf course.
    Hooray for Nancy Halter!  She is one impressive council member.

    And the people of Massillon have to be very thankful in this season of the year for a councilperson who is definitely is a person "of the people, by the people, and for the people."


    The Osborne selection was difficult for yours truly.

    It is a relatively close call as to whether he is a help in ferreting out bad government practices in The Dogwood City or in a strange sort of way provides cover for non-transparent practices, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of those with something to hide by virtue of their making Osborne the issue.

    The tipping point for the SCPR is the belief that Osborne's heart is in the right place and that "on balance" North Cantonians (whether they like his style or not) benefit from his bird-dogging of North Canton City Council on a multitude of issues.

    Recently, Osborne struck gold in coming up with a ballot initiative to require North Canton Council to cease providing health care insurance benefits to part-time elected officials.

    The SCPR has written two blogs (LINK #1, LINK #2) on the history of Osborne's health care insurance initiative.

    It was a no doubter to The Report from the beginning that the former councilman would succeed with his petition drive.  And he did in spades.

    It was also a no doubter that he would win this past November 6th.  And win he did.

    Implementation of the new ordinance will not take effect until a new council is in place as of December 1, 2013.

    Do you think that council will now have a new found if grudging respect for Osborne?

    The Report thinks that a majority of North Canton's council members see Osborne as a counterproductive citizen who makes a good point here and there.

    One only has to do is talk with a given councilperson (pick one, except perhaps for the newest one) to get a patronizing and disdainful evaluation of Osborne's engagement all in one conversation.

    See/say what they want, but there is little doubt that they feel Osborne's eyes on every move they make.

    And The Report believes this a good thing for North Cantoninans.

    From what the SCPR has seen of North Canton Council, especially since Daryl Revoldt left for a job with the Kasich administration in Ohio's Department of Development; council needs scrutiny more than ever.

    As far as The Report is concerned, the procedures employed by council in hiring a former councilman (Fox) as its law director left a lot to be desired in terms of transparency.

    Osborne's big drawback, in the opinion of yours truly, is that he appears consumed with a desire to get back into North Canton officialdom.  He was a councilman-at-large about ten years ago for a two year stint.

    Since then he has been unsuccessful to regain status in North Canton government.

    He has run for mayor, for a ward council seat and, most lately, applied for Tim Fox's vacancy when he became law director; losing out each time. 

    As The Report sees Osborne and his civic activity is in pretty much the role he plays now.   But with measured selectivity as to the issues he takes on and when he does engage, to do so in a less acerbic manner.

    Osborne's November 6th victory could be, if he plays his citizen activist cards correctly, the beginning of heightened effectiveness that might in time become a model for other Stark Countians who want make local government more democratic in terms of accessibility, openness, transparency, and responsiveness.

    He has the makings of an enhanced credibility that he can use to compel council to focus on the issues and not on Osborne the messenger.

    In the election, nearly 80% of voting North Cantonians demonstrated with their votes that they are thankful for and appreciative of Chuck Osborne's civic activist work.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012


    Back in February, 2011 the SCPR did a blog on the speculated cuts to local government funding at the hand of the State of Ohio.

    Here is a video (02/15/2012) of state Representative and Republican J. Kirk Schuring and Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez addressing the prospect of those cuts:

    Well, it is time for someone to tell Representative Schuring that the "reality" of the cuts are now being felt big time in the base (Jackson Township) of his constituency, the 48th Ohio House District.

    In a Jackson Community Connection piece (Donna Smith, November 19, 2012), Jackson trustee and president James N. Walters is quoted thusly:  " We need to figure out what we are going to do now that we are in a $3 million hole and we need to move forward.”

    On November 6th, Jackson voters rejected a "current expenses" levy which was designed to finance Jackson's parks and roads in an effort to offset some of the $3 million is less revenue with a local tax increase:

    What does the defeat of the levy mean?
    • All Jackson parks' operating houRS are curtailed to dawn to dusk and there will be no lighting,
    • Yard waste drop off shortened hours have been implemented,
    • Personnel reductions in the roads and parks department may be in the offing.
    What are the political consequences to Representative Schuring for having supported local government funding cuts?

    Despite working very hard, Democrat Amanda Trump made very little headway in sending Schuring a message that his safe district was becoming less safe.

    But now that reality will be setting in with Jackson residents with diminished services by virtue of Schuring's support of draconian state funding cuts, one has to wonder whether or not a similar effort by Trump going forward (i.e. continuing her campaign unabated) might not yield dramatically different results.

    It is always been a premise of the SCPR, that it will take something like a stunning electoral defeat of a Kirk Schuring for the Legislature to get the message that Ohioans are "damn mad and aren't going to take it anymore!"

    Recently, Ohio Policy Matters (a progressive think tank - LINK), published a comprehensive analysis of the huge impact that the "reality" of the effect cuts will have on the villages, cities, townships and special taxing districts of Ohio.

    Here is table that shows the overall picture of how large the cuts are statewide:

    And here is Policy Matters' take on how the cuts will specifically impact Stark County:

    While the focus of this blog has not included schools, it is interesting to note (according to Policy Matters) that Jackson schools face a 22% cut state revenues in the upcoming fiscal year.

    Over the next two years, it will be interesting to see whether or not Jacksonians might increasingly be thinking (as the reality of the cuts sink in) that it might not be that great of a thing to having the budget-cut-supporting Kirk Schuring continue to represent them in the Ohio General Assembly.

    Monday, November 19, 2012


    In recent years, the Ohio Supreme Court has been riddled with allegations that the appointment/election process has been rife with political considerations.

    Nearly two weeks ago, Ohioans decided that a rather well-known judicial name should once again be a presence on the bench of Ohio's highest court - the Ohio Supreme Court.

    The name O'Neill attained political/governance fame in Ohio under the name of C. William O'Neill.

    O'Neill, a Republican, served as:
    • Speaker of the Ohio House,
    • attorney general,
    • governor,
    • associate justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, and lastly and, perhaps, most enduringly,
    • chief justice of the Ohio  Supreme Court.
    He has been Ohio's only citizen to serve as a head of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

    Apparently, it was too much for some in Ohio that William M. O'Neill (a Democrat) of the Geauga County brought the name established by O'Neill of Marietta of Ohio back to prominence.

    Out-of-the-blue, The Repository goes out and - apparently - finds former Stark County Court of Common Pleas (Domestic Relations) Judge John R. Milligan (a Republican) to do a "guest column" decrying the way Ohio elects/selects (governor appointment) judges for Ohio's "court of last resort."

    Milligan of North Canton is now 84.  He served as a Stark County Domestic Relations Court judge from 1963 to 1980.  He was elected to the 5th District Court of Appeals (sitting in Canton, for the most part) in 1980 where he served until retiring in 1992.

    An interesting aspect to Milligan's column is that he only focuses on the name William M. O'NEILL impliedly being a play by him and ostensibly the Ohio Democratic Party to capitalize on the name of C. William O'Neil.

    But there is more to the story.

    Undoubtedly, Milligan's omission of the "rest of the story" was inadvertent.

    According to Geauga County O'Neill, (LINK) there is a grand plan underway on the part of the Ohio media to use the election of his well-known Ohio political/governance name to the high court as a basis upon which to once again try to reform the way Ohio selects judges.

    William M. O'Neill asserts that while the name O'Neill certainly was helpful, he is qualified to be a Ohio Supreme Court justice pointing out that he has more than three times the court experience of his opponent (Cupp) in that he has participated in 3,000 case as a judge of Ohio's 11th District Court of Appeals.

    The SCPR agrees that the O'Neill name may have been a factor to "out-of-touch" voters who perhaps couldn't tell you the name of their congressman, but with whom the famed name O'Neill rang a bell upon their voting on November 6th.  And, of course, the Republicans themselves added to the appeal of the specific name William M. O'Neill.

    Far and away the main reason William M. O'Neill was elected had to do with some dirty politics played by the Ohio Republican Party (not Cupp).

    The Report thinks that O'Neill describes the political play out very aptly.

    First, the themes of the respective campaigns:
    A full two million Ohioans voted for me over my opponent, Justice Robert Cupp. As you will recall, we had two distinct messages. His was “Cupp measures up”. Mine was “Money And Judges Don’t Mix”.  As you will recall, this was a very spirited campaign, with my message resonating statewide as newspapers everywhere reporting my criticism of Justice Cupp’s decision to accept campaign contributions from litigants who had matters before the Court. As I said then I believe it is fundamentally wrong for ANY JUDGE to accept contributions from ANYONE who has a matter in court.  And yes my name was attached to that message!
    Secondly, how the Republican campaign in support of Cupp backfired:
    As the respective messages started being heard, something truly bizarre happened.  In a very poorly executed attempt to somehow silence my “Money And Judges Don’t Mix” message, the Ohio Republican Party decided to run $750,000 worth of smutty television ads suggesting that as a Judge I was “lenient” with rapists.  ...
    Yes indeed, name recognition did play a role in this race.  For the few skeptics remaining in the State of Ohio, I encourage you to do a Google Search of three words: “ Robert Cupp Rape.”  You will be horrified to see what three quarters of a million dollars worth of cheap shot television can do to the name of a genuinely good man.  They literally ruined the good name of their own candidate. Unanimous condemnation of Justice Robert Cupp’s campaign… that’s what they bought from every newspaper in the state.  Indeed it was a name game.  And in the final weeks of the campaign, my name did indeed get a lot of coverage. Because I was the one running a clean campaign in a year that will be remembered for wretched excess when it comes to television ads!
    There are other instances of alleged political chicanery in the election/appointment process of who gets to sit on the Ohio Supreme Court.

    On April 2, 2010, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer died unexpectedly.

    On April 14th, Democratic Governor Ted Strickland picked Franklin County Probate Judge Eric Brown to replace Moyer.

    Here is an excerpt from a Cleveland Plain Dealer piece on the appointment:
    Strickland's move immediately exposed him to criticism that the appointment is political. He could have appointed someone else to hold the seat temporarily until voters fill the spot. But the governor said his selection of Brown was a given considering it was Strickland who talked Brown into running for chief justice.
    The SCPR agrees with those critics.  The Report believes that Strickland acted in what he perceived to be in the Democratic Party's interest.  But his gambit did not work.  Republican and incumbent chief justice Maureen O'Connor was re-elected.

    But such is typical of the consummate politicians that governors generally are:  Democrats and Republicans alike.

    For Judge Milligan to suggest a solution that includes the governor is no solution at all when it comes to getting the most qualified on the benches of Ohio, to wit:
    My preference would be a modest amendment that would apply only to the Supreme Court. A bipartisan commission would be established that would screen and recommend three candidates to the governor. The governor would then choose a Supreme Court justice who would run on a retention ballot in a general election in six years.
    The bipartisan commission suggestion by Milligan is okay.

    But compose the commission with two Republicans, two Democrats with the requirement that they (the four) unanimously select a political independent to constitute a fifth vote.

    And this commission should be the appointing authority anytime a vacancy comes into being for any Ohio court.

    Right now Stark County is set to get two appointments to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.

    Judges Charles Brown and Lee Sinclair (both Republicans) have announced their retirements.  Brown is already retired (October 31st) and Sinclair is stepping down at the end of the year.

    It is somewhat interesting that each of their respective magistrates are in play to succeed Brown.

    So if one of them gets the Brown seat at the hands of Republican governor John Kasich, does the other succeed Lee Sinclair?


    And, of course, as written previously by the SCPR, Democrat Chryssa Hartnett, a well-qualified Stark County prosecutor can't get any consideration by Stark County Republicans.

    Stark County Democrats can appoint a Republican to succeed a Democratic officeholder (Zumbar for Zeigler as Stark County treasurer), but the Stark Republicans did not have a sufficient enough grasp on the qualifications of candidates to at least submit the name Chryssa Harnett to Governor Kasich.

    So why didn't Judge Milligan weigh-in with his fellow Stark County Republicans on the Brown succession to get the most qualified candidates before the governor?

    The SCPR challenges Milligan (who yours truly knows well) to lobby Governor Kasich to consider Democrat Harnett as concrete evidence that he supports the best candidate become a judge no matter what the political persuasion of the candidate might be.

    Talk is one thing, action is quite another!

    Friday, November 16, 2012


    On the November 5, 2012 Canton City Council agenda under Communications, there was item 396:

    As the SCPR sees this move, it is an effort by the Healy administration through staunch council ally Tom West (Ward 2) to feign that the twice before defeated camera legislation is not really about city finances but a law enforcement (public safety).

    Hence the assignment of a consideration of the letter to the committee which West heads up as chariman:  Judiciary.

    In council's latest rejection of the installation cameras on September 17th (LINK TO PRIOR BLOG), the matter made it to the full council through the Finance Committee:

    The nub of it all is that Judiciary is predominated by Healy-independent-capable councilpersons whereas Finance is not.

    So it becomes a real test of the strength of West as chairman as to whether or not he can get the proposed legislation before the full council in hopes that the Healyites can flip one of the councilman (The Report thinks Griffin) from the September vote.

    That gets the ordinance's fate into the hands of Council President Allen Schulman's hands which, the SCPR thinks, means a Healy win.

    In quite a turnabout from a couple of years ago when Schulman and Healy were at loggerheads (e.g. Schulman excoriating Healy about getting Redflex connected campaign contributions), he now seems to be a reliable partner with Healy in running the city the Healy way.

    On controversial legislation in Canton these days, Healy can count on five automatics (Babcock, Cole, Dougherty, Smith and West).  After those five, Healy has to do some finessing, some arm twisting, some wheeling and dealing to get things going his way.

    Healy may have some leverage with long time political adversary Greg Hawk nowadays.  Hawk,
    The Report believes, desperately wants to be the successor to Canton City Treasurer Bob Schirack.  Accordingly, wouldn't Hawk be vulnerable to swinging Healy's way on something like the traffic lights camera issue in exchange for a "wink and a nod" on Healy supporting him for the treasurer position?

    It seems rather obvious that the attempted re-opener on the Redflex cameras is an example of the proverbial "getting the foot in the door."

    The plan?

    Get a demonstration pilot project up and running and demonstrate via the numbers that downtown Canton is a safer place.

    Of all the criticisms of traffic light cameras, to wit,  (from the September debate)

    there is one documented positive from many jurisdictions across the nation that have cameras installed at traffic lights:

    There is a research based and thereby documented 25% reduction in traffic accidents as a consequence of the cameras being present which, the research attests to:   causes drivers to be more cautious when approaching intersections.

    The bottom line though will not be the relative merits of the argument, pro and con.

    Rather it is the political skill of Mayor Healy and his desire to - longer term - get the city's hands on about $1 million in additional revenues in order to help solve its financial problems.

    Will this latest political gambit work?

    Can he and his political protege Tom West get the legislation through the Judiciary Committee?

    If so, can they (joined by the other four Healy automatics) get that vote or two from the remaining seven councilpersons to get it through the full council?

    As the SCPR has observed many times, Mayor William J. Healy, II is the slickest, brassiest and most audacious politician to ever serve on the eighth floor of Canton City Hall.

    The Report, for one, would not count Healy out on this one.

    A sidenote.

    Things, apparently, are picking up for Mayor Healy with his former adversaries Janet Creighton (whom he defeated in her re-election bid for mayor in 2007) and Tom Bernabei (whom he fired from his post as chief-of-staff in the first Healy administration), both of whom are now Stark County commissioners.

    At last Wednesday's commissioners meeting, Creighton brought up that Wednesday was the birthday of a Bernabei daughter and that the day was doubly significant as being the birthday of Mayor Healy.

    Her stunning announcement (obviously tongue-in-cheek)?

    She sent Mayor Healy a birthday card and impliedly suggested Bernabei should do the same for his "favorite" mayor.

    Commissioner meetings are getting to be very entertaining these days.

    Here is a video featuring Creighton and her birthday talk.