Wednesday, February 6, 2013


UPDATED:  11:00 AM

The Final Vote Tally

"Woe is Me"
Deals with Interruptions

Tribute to Mike McDonald

Checks Gonzalez on Giving Pro-Maier Speech

Motion to Table Meeting
(until all the candidates are qualified)

Motion to Vote on Candidates on Forchione List

Actual Voting


Not too bad.

That's how the SCPR sums up the quality of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDPCC) to pick a successor to Mike McDonald who on January 3, 2013 had to step down from being sheriff-elect due to unspecified health reasons.

Chairman Randy Gonzalez did an effective job of keeping the meeting moving despite frequent interruptions of callouts from the audience with points of order by one member in particular.

He did engage in a bit of a pity party for himself.  It is always interesting to see hardened political figures do a "woe is me" routine.

All-in-all the SCPR thinks the chairman conducted a fair meeting except the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party was weighing-in heavily for Maier which certainly must have had an intimidating effect on the some of those voting.

Of course, far be that from the minds of these leaders.

Voting committee members had to sign their ballots.  So the party leaders know how each and every precinct committee person voted.

Knowing positioned politicians like yours truly does, there in no doubt in The Report's thinking that mental notes were made as to who voted which way.

Given the closeness of the vote, the SCPR believes that a secret ballot vote, which was brought up by Kirven only to have Gonzalez brush him aside may well have resulted in Darrow being selected over Maier.

Gonzalez did an entirely appropriate thing when he took a few minutes to acknowledge Mike McDonald.

Unfortunately, the chairman made as one of McDonald's good qualities the fact that he stepped forward in the October 31, 2011 SCDPCC meeting to replace Gary Zeigler as treasurer to support Gonzalez.

Wait a minute.  Who was this to be about?  McDonald or the chairman?

The SCPR will concede that Gonzalez has done some good things (especially his work on rehabbing 9-1-1) for Canton, Jackson Township and indeed all of Stark County in his public career.

But hasn't he been well paid for it?  Hasn't there been other multiple benefits to his personal interests? 

It is becoming more and more apparent to The Report that the chairman is be fast becoming his own best cheerleader.

The problem will come, if it comes at all, with the questionable (at least in the opinion of many of the participants) qualifications of victor George T. Maier and manner in which Gonzalez in his capacity as party chair and thereby head of the central committee determined the candidates to be qualified.

And guess what the meat of the meeting opened with?

Dave Kirven, who is business agent of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 94, getting up and making a motion (quickly seconded) to table the matter of selecting a sheriff appointee "until such time that all the candidates are qualified."

Take at look at the motion and the ensuing discussion.

Well, the motion failed.  But reflect on the insistence of Gonzalez that the candidates were properly qualified. 

It was weak indeed that he cited attorneys Michael Thompson (selected by Gonzalez to represent him and the central committee in litigation filed Monday by appointment candidate Lou Darrow) and Steve Okey as authorities that the candidates are qualified.

And get this.

Thompson had the effrontery to accuse Ferrero of having bias as if he (Thompson) as legal counsel for the chairman was the personification of objectivity.

A classic case of "the pot calling the kettle black," no?

Ed Davila took command of the microphone to make a motion for a vote on candidates as qualified by Stark Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione.

Fair enough?

Not really.

Forchione only dealt with the ministerial matters of the requirements of ORC 311.01, to wit:
  1. be a U.S. citizen, 
  2. be a resident of Stark County for one year,
  3. be a qualified voter,
  4. have a high school degree or its equivalent,
  5. have no conviction record of a felony or first degree misdemeanor,
  6. be finger printed under the direction Judge Forchione who is to have the finger prints compared to local, state and federal databases and  (a process that takes about 7 to 10 days according to Forchione) who turns submits the results to the Stark BOE,
  7. residences going back 6 years, and places of employment going back 6 years,
  8. have evidence of a basic peace officer certificate of training [by an approved issuing authority as specified in the statute],
He did not assess on:
  • have been employed within the past four years as:a state highway patrolman,
    • a full-time police officer, OR
    • have been employed for the past three years as a full-time law enforcement officer, OR
    • having two years of post-secondary education at an accredited Ohio institution
The tack of the pro-George Maier forces was to ignore "the elephant in the room,'

Ed Davila's motion appears to have been designed to avoid "the inconvenient truth" that there were unvetted standards of qualification that had been addressed by nobody except by attorneys who, while entitled to their opinions, are no better situated to make the assessment that "the proverbial man in the street,"

See the debate for yourself.

For the most part on any given matter, attorney opinions are all over the ballpark.  Only court decisions will do in terms of being authoritative.  So it was a particularly painful process for anyone familiar with the law to watch.

The SCPR believes that properly applied (ORC 311.02 and 302.05 in pari materia), Ohio statutory law was not followed in qualifying any of the candidates.

Although The Report in an overall sense believes the meeting was fairly conducted (see qualification of assessment above), it is rather obvious that Gonzalez as chairman was pushing his "more than equal" voice in his apparent alliance with Johnnie A. Maier, Jr to guide George T. Maier's appointment through, even if by a narrow margin and even if doing so left him open to "possible" post-selection challenge.

Isn't this a political version of "getting one's foot in the door" or "possession of the office is 9/10ths of the law?

You have to understand that in dealing with the likes of Gonzalez and Maier (Johnnie), one is dealing with folks who practice politics every day of the lives and fully understand that they are thereby a mismatch for everyday citizens.

If Lou Darrow stays with his writ of prohibition lawsuit (LINK) on the matter or possibly takes a new or additional approach to challenge the vote, it could be that ultimately Maier will have to relinquish his SCDPCC victory should the Ohio Supreme Court find that proper procedures were not employed to determine his and other candidates' qualifications or that he is not qualified.

It is hard for the SCPR to see Darrow maintaining or initiating new litigation in the face of having to work (as one of the top administrators in the sheriff's department) for Maier.

Yesterday's meeting reeked of resentment by Gonzalez and Thompson at Darrow's lawsuit now pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Thompson to the central committee members;  "He sued you!" (paraphrase)

Gonzalez about Ferrero:  "How can he make that argument when he signed an affidavit supporting the [Darrow] lawsuit." (paraphrase)

Gonzalez brought up the mess that Stark County went through with the troubles in the Stark County treasury during the period April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 and his hope that by appointing a sheriff at the meeting Stark could avoid a repeat.

John Ferrero did too.

Strangely enough and the SCPR agree with one another.

Because of the questionable procedures employed by Stark officials in coordination with the Ohio secretary of state's office on the qualification issue, The Report thinks that the SCDPCC put itself at greater risk in proceeding.

We shall see.

Gonzalez kept his cool in the face of frequent outbursts from committee members (though concentrated to relatively few) and in the light of audio problems in the speakers being heard.

Bill Demora, a consultant to the Ohio Democratic Party who bills himself as being knowledgeable on parliamentary procedures, seemed to the SCPR to be a stabilizing factor in not letting things get out of hand.

He was particularly impressive in stepping in and stopping Gonzalez as it appeared that he was about to begin an endorsement speech in favor of Maier.

To his credit, Gonzalez heeded the Demora admonition.  To his discredit, it was bad judgement to make the attempt unless he was going to allow the supporters of other candidates to take to the lectern to making their supporting statements.

It did not appear that such was his intention.

Demora also intervened and stopped one of two other persons interested in being appointed sheriff from taking the floor inasmuch as that person was not a central committee member.

Gonzalez was just okay.  At least better than his performance in Massillon (January 29th) when Massillon precinct committee persons selected a city treasurer and city council president.

It is good that he demonstrated that he could learn from the tough Massillon experience.

Demora was effective and perhaps the saving grace for an orderly meeting.

At the end of the day, the SCPR's take is that the Gonzalez/Maier political juggernaut was going to win over the largely unsophisticated pro-Darrow forces and that it was amazing that the vote turned out as it did.

If, it turns out, that the Maier choice turns out:
  • to have been a poor choice in terms of his performance in office, or
  • to have been a poor choice in terms of being sucessfully challenged in the court and thereby puts Stark County into a policing state of crisis,
the SCPR thinks it will be only fair for the blame to be on the shoulders of Chairman Randy Gonzalez for his "rush to judgment" in the face of contested qualification issues.

It is The Report's assessment that "Gonzalez committed to the cause" was the tipping point that the Maier camp needed to make George Stark County's sheriff in the face of no secret ballot.

You can be sure that if the Maier appointment sticks and he turns out to be an effective sheriff, Gonzalez will be quick to take the credit notwithstanding him being the modest, serving the public interest guy that he says he is.

 Here is a video of the actual voting that took place last night.

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