Monday, February 25, 2013



A Split Within Stark County Organized Labor
Democratic Party Support?

American humorist Will Rogers said it best:

"I am not a member of any organized political party.  I am a Democrat."

And the Stark County Democrats have been working in spades since 2009, if not before, to prove Rogers right.

It is notable that the political party that bills itself as the patron of minorities has finally at the Stark County level gotten around to appointing a black person to an important county position.

However, it was not without anxious moments.

The latest glitch for the Dems occurred last Wednesday when Stark County Dem chairman Randy Gonzalez offered up Stark County Democratic political leader (originally from Cleveland) Deametrious St. John as the person he wanted to replace Clerk of Courts Phil Giavasis on the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE).

St. John is the first black ever to be appointed to this board.

Readers of the SCPR will recall that the Dems have used this seat on the BOE to shift between Gonzalez (a Giavasis employee), Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., Shane Jackson (a Maier employee) in what The Report has tabbed the Dems' "clerk of courts seat" at the BOE.

Ohio laws does not allow for anyone who is up for election (which Gonzalez, Maier and Giavasis have to do every so often) to serve on the board.

Probably because they are getting tired being hammered by the SCPR yours truly's belief that they play with this taxpayer supported office as their personal domain, the Dems this time around appear to have decided that they would throw The Report a curve and go off pattern in selecting St. John.

What better time than "Black History Month" for the Dems to right past wrongs?  Likely a mere coincidence of timing with the Democrats, but do you think the Stark Republicans will ever be getting around to  something similar?

The Report congratulates St. John.

But to the movers and shakers running the Party, the SCPR says what took you so long?

So exactly what was the nature of the problem that developed?

Yours truly has learned that the chairman's choice (St. John), ironically nominated by Ironworkers union head Billy Sherer, Jr. was met with resistance when Local 94 Pipefitters and Plumbers business agent Dave Kirven (who the SCPR deems to be political tight with Canton mayor William J. Healy, II) stood up and nominated American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union Region 8 (Akron) director Robert Thompson and was reportedly seconded by Canton city treasurer candidate and Healy ally Kim Perez.

"Ironically ... Billy Sherer, Jr?"

Yes, he is the son of his namesake who is a highly respected irornworker of yesteryear (now retired), who, several years ago, was asked by then Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. to step aside so that he could appoint local attorney Samuel Ferruccio at the behest of the-then secretary of state Jennifer Brunner (i.e. Democrats needed to have an attorney on the board).

The Report thinks Maier was correct, at least in the pretext and convenience sense for him (the SCPR's take is that Maier is not especially enamored with organized labor), but Brunner threw Maier under the political bus in denying that she had ever issued such a directive.

A kind of a political "what goes around, comes around" (i.e. being thrown under the bus) experience that the likes of Maier rarely experiences, no?

Another thing about Stark County organized labor has been the historic vitriol between AFL-CIO president Dan Scuiry and Randy Gonzalez dating back to Gonzalez's pre-chairman days.  Yours truly has seen/heard Scuiry of old scream at Gonzalez at Stark Dem candidate fundraisers.

Is that all changed now?

To the SCPR, if the objective was to appoint a black person just to make sure that minorities share in political largesse, African-American and unionist Thompson made more sense.  There are unionists who are still smarting from Sherer, Sr's removal from what, at one time, was thought to be a union perk because of almost exclusive Democratic Party support that unions in general provide.

Although the opposition to St. John proved weak in that Thompson only got a few votes, the SCPR thinks the Thompson candidacy and the real reason Thompson was presented as a candidate was as a precursor of a fight to come as to whether or not Gonzalez will remain party chairman when a new central committee is elected in the 2014 Democratic Party primary.

The central committee selects a slate of executive committee members who in turn select a chairman who heads up both the executive committee and the central committee.

You can bet your bottom dollar on Gonzalez on having to fight for his survival as chairman if George T. Maier is removed by the Ohio Supreme Court as Stark County sheriff.

Readers will recall that Gonzalez threw in his lot with the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. forces on February 5th to appoint George sheriff on the inability of November sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (who tragically passed away this past Friday [February 22]) when he was unable to serve because of the state of his health.

Many Stark County organized Democrats think that George is de jure (as a matter of law) unqualified to be sheriff and the vote on February 5th quantified that though as Maier (despite having political heavy hitters Gonzalez and Maier) in his corner narrowly won the vote 92 to 84 (Darrow) to 1 (Republican - Dordea).

So if the Ohio Supreme Court agrees with the 85 dissident Democrats, it is hard to see how Gonzalez keeps his job.

What has been developing in Stark County over the last couple of years (in the assessment of the SCPR) is an internal political fight in which Healy is looking to build his support among central committee members to unseat Gonzalez and his Maier-faction allies.

Healy made a feeble attempt to run candidates for the central committee last year in what the SCPR believes was a hope he could mount a challenge to Gonzalez, but he failed miserably.

What this fight is really boiling down to is a fight between Healy and Maier. Both, in the opinion of the SCPR, are insatiable political power mongers who joust in the political arena for the sport of it, to have bragging rights of being "king of the hill," and for the right to hand out taxpayer supported jobs to their local supporters.

In discussions yours truly has had with Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. going back probably to 2002, Maier has not been that well taken with Healy and has even said that Healy's father (who served in the Ohio General Assembly during the 1990s with Maier) was an overrated legislator.

So when one looks at Gonzalez, The Report think readers should see the real actor as being the "behind the scenes" junior Maier.

With the ascension of brother George to being sheriff of Stark County - if it sticks, then it is likely that a power politician such as Healy would take notice.  And more than that, spring into action.

So The Report believes the St. John/Thompson foray is just another skirmish between the Healy followers and other Democrats who may align with him temporarily because they cannot stomach Maier.   

In the SCPR's view, the Maier forces are much better put together than Healy's and it will take something like an Ohio Supreme Court unseating of brother George to make the Gonzalez/Maier political combo vulnerable next year.

Gonzalez presided over the appointment of Republican Alex Zumbar (October 31, 2011) as Stark County treasurer after former staunch Democrat and himself the beneficiary of a Stark Dems political appointment in 1999 Gary Zeigler fell on hard times because of the theft of Stark County taxpayer funds ($2.46 million admitted) by his chief deputy Vince Frustaci.

Zeigler was not implicated in the theft.  However, the State of Ohio Auditor's office issued a scathing report on Zeigler's management practices of the office which the Stark County public seems to have accepted making it politically impossible for Zeigler to continue in office.

One has to believe that should Maier fail to get Supreme Court authorization to retain office, it becomes a real possibility that the determiners of who the next sheriff will be (the Stark County commissioners [Republicans Janet Creighton and Richard Regula and Democrat Tom Bernabei]) they might well appoint Republican Larry Dordea.   He has impressive police credentials in that he is currently Hartville's police chief and before that served superbly as Alliance's police chief.

Dordea lost to McDonald last November and to Tim Swanson in 2008.

Even if the commissioners were to appoint Lt. Lou Darrow, a Democrat; Gonzalez is still probably in deep political doo-doo with his fellow Democrats.

Remember the vote of 92 for Maier, 84 for Darrow.

And Gonzalez as the ruling parliamentarian:
  • would not allow a vote on a secret ballot being taken, and 
  • sided against those who wanted to step back and get an official determination as to whether or not Maier was qualified 
and in doing so (ruling against the Darrow forces) likely put himself in the position of going down as chairman even in a scenario of Darrow becoming sheriff at the hand of the commissioners.

There is yet another wrinkle to the St. John/Thompson proxy fight.

When William J. Healy, II first made his appearance in Canton/Stark County politics who was his political shadow?

You've got it!  Deametrious St. John.

In those days (circa 2003, 2004 and until recent years), everywhere Healy was on the political hustings, one saw St. John.

Of late, not at all.

Recently, St. John told the SCPR that he was completely disassociated with Healy and was working for Progress Ohio in Ohio's 16 congressional district.

But he would not provide any reasons for his separation from Healy.

Note that on the Linked-In list of employment/position published above that all of St. John's work with Healy has been washed out.

To boot, take note that St. John political involvement with Kelly Zachary, a Kim Perez opponent along with Mary Cirelli in the upcoming city treasurer's race.


Thompson, on the other hand, appears to have established important connections with the mayor as evidenced by his appointment to the Canton CIC (community improvement corporation) by the mayor where he serves as chairman [does anyone remember the Healy "I was confused my personal credit card with ones he obtained without CIC approval but in CIC's" name fiasco?]) and as evidenced by his nomination for the BOE appointment by fellow unionist and ardent Healyite supporter David Kirven.

Hence, depending on how Swanson v. George T. Maier shakes out, St. John v. Thompson is likely a foreshadowing of things to come.

As Will Rogers famously said:

"I am not a member of any organized political party.  I am a Democrat."

The Gonzalez led Stark County Democratic Party is proving him right in ever so many ways:  seemingly time, after time, after time!

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