Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Last week at Canton City Council, Councilman Joe Cole (presently a councilman-at-large who seeks to become 9th Ward councilman) lashed out as being "deplorable" a vote by fellow councilpersons Cirelli, Fisher and Ward 9 opponent Frank Morris not to fund the Canton Regional Commerce to the tune of $175,000.

But he was not content to stop at that in his "apparently?" desperate campaign to stave off becoming ex-councilman Joe Cole as many political observers think he has an uphill fight to unseat fellow Democrat Frank Morris who was first elected two years ago.

After the meeting, as the SCPR was interviewing Vassar Park resident Bruce Nordman (Vassar Park is located in Ward 9) about his Group 175 effort to nudge the Canton Mayor Healy administration into finding the million dollars plus needed to fund the addition of 25 policemen to the Canton force to bring its strength to 175 officers, Council Cole stood nearby (within earshot and unleashed a political diatribe against the group.

Political diatribe?

What did Cole have to say?

Obviously, yours truly was focused on the interview and had to rely on others to fill in the details.

According to Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher (who serves as Morris' campaign manager) and a nearby newspaper reporter Cole said:
  • Group 175 is a right wing, Tea Party-esque organization,
  • Group 175 leader Bruce Nordman (who conducts "concealed carry weapons" [ccw] workshops) does not care about solving Canton's crime problem but is really about promoting his ccw classes which are designed to arm residents, and
  • Group 175 has members who are "charlatans" and "snake oil salesmen,"
Last night Group 175 had their say as spokesperson Bret Moore used council's Public Speaks forum to fire back at Cole.

One has to wonder who Cole is relying on for political strategizing.

Blasting a politically active group within Ward 9 would not seem to be the wisest action in the world, no?

One has to wonder if organized labor (Cole's prime support) can see its upwards of $10,000 campaign contribution investment going up in smoke as Cole seemingly self-destructs the more he opens his mouth.

Other than the unions there is very little that is noteworthy about Cole's list of contributors, but there are a few, to wit:
  • Tom Ascani of the Canton Civil Service Commission - $100,
  • Angela Cavanaugh of the Canton Building Department, $75,
  • David Dougherty (Ward 7 councilman) who is majority leader, $100,
  • Brian Horner (former Ward 9 councilman), $25,
  • Andy Padrutt (former Summit County Democratic Party executive director), $100,
  • Kim Perez who is a candidate for Canton treasurer, $120,
  • Warren Price (Canton's service director, safety director, annexation director and chief-of-staff all rolled up into one), $100,
  • Robert Schirack, the sitting Canton treasurer, $100,
It was surprising to see Price's name come up in Cole's list to the exclusion of having contributed to Morris' campaign - that is - so far.


While Frank Morris' has not piled up the massive dollar amounts (which are "unreal" for a council ward race) that Cole has, his "put your money, where you mouth" support among fellow councilpersons is impressive.

Among his council contributors:
  • Ward 5's Kevin Fisher ($50) who is serving as his campaign manager,
  • Ward 7's John Mariol, II who to-date has given a whopping $2,100.00,
  • Ward 8's Edmund Mack who also has made a head-turner contribution coming in so far at $1,000, and
  • Canton City Council President Allen Schulman who made an in-kind contribution valued at $400.
But it is just not current councilpersons weighing in for Morris:
  • former long term Councilman Bill Smuckler (who will be returning on January 1, 2014 as a councilman-at-large) has made $550 ($500, in-kind) in contributions so far, and
  • former Ward 8 Councilman Karl "Butch" Kraus has chipped in with $100,
And, of course, some Vassar Park folks are among those contributing to Morris:
  • Jean Hershberger, Vice President of the Vassar Park Neighborhood Association is in at $50, and
  • Bret Moore, (the Public Speaks presenter of last night) has contributed $35,
Other notable Morris contributors include:
  • former Stark County Commissioner Todd Bosley at $500,
  • Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez ($100) along with his son and chief deputy Stark County recorder Kody Gonzalez at $100,
  • North Canton Councilman Doug Foltz who has anted up $35,
Mayor Healy and Canton treasurer candidate Kelly Zachary contributed but they also contributed to Cole's campaign as an obvious "we're not taking sides in this race" gesture.  (Plain Township trustee Lou Giavasis did the same)

But The Report is not buying the Healy contribution as an indication of neutrality.  As far as the SCPR is concerned, Healy is squarely on Cole's corner.

With last night's council session, the "political spillover" is over as the meeting was council's last meeting before next Tuesday's final voter tally.

However, the SCPR suspects that in taking on the Vassar Park folks, Joe Cole put the final nail in his political coffin insofar as his remaining on council is concerned.

And if he is gone and at-large candidates Smuckler and Burns (who likely will be unopposed in November's general election) take office, there will be a different kind of political spillover for Mayor William J. Healy, II.

He will likely be facing a 7 to 5 downside on key issues that come before council.

Interesting, no?

Here is the entire Morris report (reconstructed by the SCPR from original Stark County Board of Elections records):

Monday, April 29, 2013


On April 17, 2013 Judge John Haas of the Stark Court of Common Pleas reversed the findings of the Massillon Civil Service Board (Board) that it would not count "the seniority factor" in favor of Massillon policeman Thomas Rogers in determining who had the most points to qualify for promotion to sergeant in the Massillon Police Department (MPD).  (see the Judge Haas' order at the end of this blog)


Well, let's play a little Jeopardy.

Answer:  "Seniority entitles a competitor extra points."

Question:  What was the Massillon Civil Service Board's ruling on the impact of superior seniority in the Board's determination of who scored highest in the competition between Keith Moser and Joe Herrick back in 2012?

The rest of the story is that under the rules in play Mayor Kathy Catazaro Perry (according to a source in a position to know) was obligated to appoint Keith Moser as Massillon police chief.  And she did so on June 7, 2012.


What does have to do with Tom Rogers getting or not getting promoted sergeant?

Maybe nothing.

But there are those who say that the cast of characters competing for the sergeant promotion may have had something to do with who got promoted.

Okay, let's go the next step.  Who was among several Massillon police officers competing with Rogers for the promotion?

Answer:  Officer Mike Maier of the MPD.


Well, he is son of current Stark County sheriff George T. Maier (service/safety directory at time of the promotion).  Also, he is the nephew of Massillon Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr who also a seasoned politician in that he was formerly chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

And get this.

Guess who sat in on the civil service hearing in which the Board determined that seniority points would not be added to Rogers total score?

Answer:  None other than George T. Maier (this is information provided the SCPR by the attorney [Craig T. Conley] for Rogers.



Well, he was service/safety director at the time and he had no input into the proceedings.

Nonetheless, some Massillonians feel that it was highly inappropriate for father to be present when the son was a subject of consideration.

And this seemingly is one of the fundaments of some in Massillon (including, the SCPR is told, a media type) who question whether or not the Board's initial decision passes "the smell test."

There is another factor which some suspect may have had an impact on the thinking on the Board's disparity in its seniority ruling.

Back in 2010 Officer Rogers was a player in a dispute between the-then Massillon police chief Robert Williams (he retired in January, 2012) and Judge Edward Elum of the Massillon Municipal Court.  (See Massillon municipal judge, police chief at war, Matt Rink, The Independent, March 5, 2010)

You got to be kidding, what does that have to do with anything?

Well, some Massillonians say that Judge Elum is a political ally of Clerk Maier and that Rogers' tete-tete with Elum in the context of the Williams/Elum tiff earned Rogers a special place on Johnnie Maier's "sh_t list?"

Undoubtedly and understandably that the Maiers would be supportive of and hopeful of  son and nephew Mike getting the promotion, but certainly one would think that a civil service board (which is devoted by its very nature to measure according to merit and objective criteria exclusively) would be impervious to considering as even as a scintilla a factor that a person with the surname Maier was a competitor for the promotion, no?

It is believable that it might be very important to the Maiers that Mike become a sergeant so that he can begin is climb to one day become Massillon's police chief. The family has a rich and deep history with the MPD and with Ohio policing in general.

So exactly what is wrong with the Maiers supporting a Maier, pray tell?

And consider this.

Members Walterhouse and Simpson were appointed to the Board by avowed Maier political enemy Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr.

One Massillonian keeps telling the SCPR that the supposed political feud between Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Frank Cicchinelli going back to their political competition when they were both students at Kent - Stark is a ruse.

The Report thinks that is more than a stretch.

The Maier political machine with Kathy Catazaro-Perry as its candidate put Cicchinelli on the political sidelines in the 2011 Democratic Primary after having served as mayor for 28 years and even more in Massillon elective office and its all political theater?

Who is going to believe that one?

And to thicken the political thicket, get this.

Yes!  In the 2007 general election Democrat Catazaro-Perry takes out Republican Walterhouse in Massillon's Ward 3.  And, by a pretty considerable margin.

So Walterhouse is going to pay attention (even subconsciously) to the hopes and prayers of the Maiers and their political allies?

Not likely, huh?

A Maier political foe and SCPR source also speaks very highly of Board member Marcus Simpson who, at last report, is dean of students at Massillon Middle School.

Undoubtedly, those who suggest that the changed original decision of the Massillon Civil Service Board "does not pass the smell test" certainly know about all the disconnections/connections cited above in this blog, no?

So what is the world is going on with the suggestion:  "the Rogers denial of promotion to sergeant 'does not pass the smell test'?

The SCPR says it is hard to say.

Could be good ole fashion sour grapes, no?

But there is no doubt that Judge Haas' decision has caused a flare up of the political fires between those who think well of the Maiers and those who think that at least Johnnie is a out-and-out political opportunist who is relentless in his drive to see to it that his kin and political friends get taxpayer supported positions.

Some folks believe that he is the reason brother George became deputy director of the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety (and even director in the last few days of the Strickland administration in January, 2011).

Johnnie was the chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party when Ted Strickland ran for governor in 2006 against Republican Ken Blackwell.

Strickland has made it very plain (reference an appearance in Canal Fulton in behalf state Representative candidate Celeste DeHoff [October, 2008]) that he was highly appreciative to Johnnie for his having been the first party chairman in all of Ohio to have endorsed him during the 2006 Democratic primary season.

If memory serves correctly, The Report's recollection is that local parties taking sides in a intraparty gubernatorial contest was pretty much of an "no-no."  But one does what one has to do, no?

Johnnie did have good material to work with IF he did lobby Strickland to promote brother George.

George, as we have learned from selection by the Stark Dems to be Stark County sheriff (replacing Mike McDonald who could not as sheriff elect take office because of health reasons) on February 5th of this year, has impressive de facto policing credentials (George Maier may or may not have the de jure credentials to remain sheriff.  The Ohio Supreme Court will decide the matter).

But does anyone believe that the Johnnie Maier/Ted Strickland connection didn't have a great deal to do with brother George becoming a top official in the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety?

Probably darned few, if anybody, no?

Anyway, in reading Judge Haas' decision, it is apparent to the SCPR that there was a "color of law" argument advanced by Massillon Law Director Perry Stergious that state law did away with the requirement (per the contract between the Henderson Lodge of the Massillon Fraternal Order of Police [FOP]) and the city of Massillon) that seniority points be granted by the Board to the likes of Rogers.

But Judge Haas did not see it that way.

And the SCPR thinks his reasoning is sound.

Moreover, his reasons seem to The Report to cut through any distinction that may have been in the minds of Chapanar, Walterhouse, and Simpson between the Keith Moser and Thomas Rogers situations.

Moser's was based pre-July, 2012 whereas Rogers' was post-July, 2012 which may be the basis in the distinction in the Board's thinking.

The Report is told that Law Director Stergios has not decided whether or not he is going to appeal the Haas decision.

If there is no appeal and thereby a lack of a higher court decision that results in a vindication of the Board, does not the Massillon Civil Service Board have some "explainin" (a la Sarah Palin) to do?

"Explainin to do?"


How does seniority apply to the police chief competition but not to the sergeant competition?

Shouldn't the Board address this question head on in a direct comparison?

Because the way things stand now, there are those Massillonians who think that Rogers' failure to get those seniority points "stinks to high heavens" and that thinking will undoubtedly persist and likely will cast doubt on the processes and procedures of the Board.

And how that can be good for anybody is beyond the SCPR.

Here is the Judge John Haas decision.

Friday, April 26, 2013



Timken Lobbyist Asks for Schuring Help
in Producing Municipal Income Tax Breaks
for CEO James W. Griffith & Others 

Schuring Momentarily Slipped in 
a Last Minute Amendment in Ohio's
Budget Bill to Exempt Millions of Dollars in
Executive Retirement Income
from City Income Taxes

Weighing the Impact
Schuring's Political Future

One week ago yesterday (April 18, 2013), the Republican controlled Ohio House of Representatives took exception to Republican Governor John Kasich and passed it own budget bill for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

The main controversy between the House and Kasich was whether or not to provide for a Medicaid expansion for needy Ohioans under incentives from Obamacare.

The House opted out, over the governor's objection.

But that is not the only controversy.


It appears that moneyed Timken Company executives through Timken's lobbyist Robert J. Lapp have been working with Stark County state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson Township - the 48th Ohio House District) to get "fair" (Schuring's appellation) tax treatment for the millions they earn in company bonuses in terms of retirement benefits in relation to municipal income taxes.


The SCPR has endeavored to get a reaction from Lapp but he has failed to respond to e-mailed questions.


A question arises:  Was the flap over Medicaid expansion the perfect cover for Schuring to slip language into the budget bill at the last minute modifying Ohio Revised Code Sections 718.01 and 718.03 whereby the Timken executives and every other Ohio-based corporate honcho getting compensation in the form of retirement benefits would not have to pay municipal income taxes on those benefits going forward?

An extract from an email (circulating among members of the Ohio Association of Tax Administrators)  that the SCPR obtained a copy of Wedneday, summarizes proposed changes, to wit:  (confirmed by Representative Schuring to the SCPR)
A last minute addition to the budget bill exempts Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans from qualified wages.    Amendments are made to 718.01 definitions, and 718.03 exempts the SERP from qualifying wages.
The SCPR has learned that The Timken Company CEO James W. Griffith likely paid about $180,000 to the city of Canton in 2012 on an estimated $9.7 million in a bonus from Timken in the form of supplemental executive retirement benefits.

Moreover, The Report is told that Griffith et al, unlike the fabulously wealthy Warren Buffett and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, bristle at paying taxes.

Apparently, executives of Ohio-based companies feel they are unfairly treated as participants in "traditional" retirement compensation plans under Ohio law as compared to other taxpayers who are already exempt from having their retirement income taxed by municipalities.

Yours truly understands that the Timken executive officer hierarchy through Lapp have been negotiating with Canton officials over the taxation of the Timken provided supplemental executive retirement payments.

Canton like many other if not most Ohio cities is strapped for revenues and has joined other municipalities in not going down without a fight on the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not into the millions, that the cities could lose if the Schuring amendment becomes law.

When the political heat was applied to Schuring back on April 18th (reference:  passage of HB 59 - "the budget bill") by the Ohio Municipal League lobbyists, he backed down and withdrew the amendment for the time being.

It will come back according to what Schuring told the Stark County Political Report in a conversation Wednesday evening:  Either in the budget bill or in House Bill 5 which is a bill which, if passed, would significantly alter how municipal/village income taxes are processed in Ohio.

There is almost universal objection and resistance to HB 5 by Ohio's cities and villages through their association:  the Ohio Municipal League.

A case can be made that Republican legislators are not all that fond of Ohio's largest urban and ethnically diverse communities.

And Representative Schuring has had his own moments in that regard.

Readers of The Report will recall that Schuring caused an uproar back in 2008 (June 5th) in his campaign against Democrat John Boccieri (who won the election) to succeed Ralph Regula in Congress in referring in a campaign stop in Ashland, Ohio at a John McCain for President Rally to Canton thusly:
So the other thing I know is that Ashland County has a rich history and tradition of rallying around Republicans, and I was telling people earlier where I come from we could never have a rally like this in the center of Canton.  If we did we might be shot at, but not in Ashland and that's what makes you so great.  (emphasis added)
However, he has been the only Stark County member of the Ohio General Assembly to actually try to do something to help Canton and other Stark County cities, villages and townships lessen the impact of a dramatic drop off of State of Ohio local government funding over the last State of Ohio budgeting biennium (FY 2011-2012).

Schuring and Democratic Representative Stephen Slesnick of the 49th House District (state Senator Scott Oelslager [the 29th Ohio Senate District] told Canton City Council officials he was too busy]) met with Canton officials on March 28th (LINK to a prior SCPR blog) and on the following Tuesday Schuring introduced HB 115 (LINK to prior SCPR blog) which is designed to allow for some transitory relief as local governments get used to and adjust to having less state aid.

Christina Hagan (Republican - the 50th - Stark County's mostly rural district) did not respect Canton officials enough to reply to their request that she come to Canton Council and address the city's revenue crisis.

Here are the points that Schuring made to yours truly in that discussion mentioned above as the talk is tied to the substance of the amendment:
  • His amendment is designed to treat Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans (SERP) like all other "traditional" retirement plans and exempt them from municipal taxation,
  • He took the SERP language out of the budget bill (it had been part of an omnibus amendment package) so that it can be debated in the Ways and Means Committee.  He did so:
    • in deference to those who expressed concerns about the amendment on April 18th,
    • on the condition that the amendment receive a fair hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee,
    • and, with the understanding that once the amendment is thoroughly debated the consensus language will either become a part of HB 5 (which is doubtful because it appears that HB 5 is not in any condition to be voted out of committee anytime soon), or other legislation,
  • He is pushing the amendment so as:
    • to attract the best and brightest executives to Ohio,
      • he compared the Ohio SERP situation to professional sports free agency saying that if there were some impediment to Ohio based professional sports teams from going out and getting free agents, then Ohio teams would not be able to compete
      • he says:
        • that eliminating local taxes on SERP benefits is a critical factor in attracting the best free enterprise executives from the midst of a worldwide market is essential to Ohio,
        • these are the folks "who will guide the ship and make sure that Ohio's top businesses are growing,"
    • to achieve basic tax fairness.   He wants SERPs to be treated like any other Ohio-based retirement plan which are not - in contrast to SERPs - subject to municipal taxation,
While Representative Schuring would not specifically identify Timken lobbyist Robert J. Lapp as a person who contacted him relative to promoting the amendment, the SCPR has information to the effect that it was indeed Lapp who got this proposed legislation rolling.

Continuing the trek through the SCPR's Wednesday chat with Schuring, here are points he made on how he became the point man for advancing the amendment:
  • he said The Timken Company is a vibrant part of our local economy and Ohio's economy and whether or not Lapp was part of the group lobbying for the exemption has no bearing on his driving the amendment forward,
  • again, while not specifically identifying Lapp, he did admit that Timken was among those lobbying him for the change to the taxation of SERP,
  • he held himself up as not catering to the concerns of the rich and insisting that he treats everybody alike whether poor or wealthy,
  • he offered to provide the SCPR with specific accounts showing that he has throughout his legislative career consistently helped middle and lower income constituents as evidence that he is not toadying up to the rich and powerful on the SERP issue,
With respect to Canton and its revenue interests in the light of his proposed amendment to ORC 718.01 and 718.03, he had this to say:
  • Canton is more than welcome to come to the table and discuss with him and legislators who staff the Ways and Means Committee their concerns,
  • Canton officials have to know how important The Timken Company is to the well-being of Canton and that they need to support moves to keep Timken being "a happy corporate citizen,"
    • Canton officials need to meet with Timken officials (a meeting he would gladly participate in) so that the city and the company can reach an accord on the matter,
  • ORC Sections 718.01 and .03 as they currently stand are an impediment to companies like Timken to recruit top level executives,
  • Stark County-based companies other than Timken have not been a part of the discussion on SERP with him but that companies across Ohio have been part of the discussion,
  • He understands that some will think that he is the captive of The Timken Company but he insisted that such is not true.  He emphasized that he takes each and every contact seriously and deals with them attentively with constituent input no matter what their economic/financial status is and no matter what their political persuasion is.
One might think that it is inconsistent to on the one hand, seek to help struggling urban area of Ohio (reference:  HB 115) while at the same time, "apparently" undermining them with his amendment to ORC Sections 718.01 and 03.

Schuring says that there is no inconsistency.

He says that if the Timkens of Ohio do well, then economic growth will take care of local government financial woes.


It was indeed an interesting conversation for yours truly to have with Representative Schuring.

More important will be what the Timken executives and Canton city officials think.

For it is folks like these who determine whether or not a Representative Schuring remains a viable political and government official.

The SCPR thinks Schuring took a huge political risk in taking the amendment on.

Undoubtedly, the flap has to be embarrassing to the multimillionaires who run the internationally respected and renowned Timken Company to possibly be thought of by the public as folks who begrudge local governments of 2% (more or less) of millions of dollars in tax revenues.

And it has to be ouchy for Canton officials too.

A disaffection on the part of Timken's managers with Canton government over a matter like the Schuring amendment could have dire long term consequences for a city that seems to be on the rebound from the ravages of The Great Recession which took hold in September, 2008.

For Representative Schuring, it could be either a political feast or famine; if not defeat in the November, 2014 elections.

If he can get his amendment in its final form accepted by the likes of the Ohio Municipal League and the likes of Timken Company officials, then he could become a rising star within the Republican dominated Ohio House.  The Republicans currently are near a veto proof majority and likely will achieve supermajority status in coming weeks as the debate on the outcome of the 98th House District election contest is being concluded in the House.

As we all know, Republican-legislators-in-general across the country, both at the federal and state levels, are bananas for tax cuts notwithstanding what they do to undermine governments' abilities to provide services demanded by their respective constituents.  

To boot, the higher income one has, the more joyous they seem to be in achieving tax cuts.

As a matter of political philosophy, Republicans want to starve the beast called government.  For those government services that survive, they must be super efficient.

A successful amendment effort by Schuring would likely put him in the Ohio House Hall of Fame as an blue ribbon tax cutter and thereby to be trusted as being on the team in the Republican quest to make government more efficient and to cut government at all levels where possible.

Moreover, he has been in the Ohio Legislature since 1995 and certainly has the longevity and the experience to be one of the institution's prime movers and shakers.

On the other hand, he risks incurring the ire of both:
  • the cash-strapped-urban areas officials of Ohio local government who will be hurt by his initiative, and 
  • the executive types who will benefit from his proposed legislation.
Local governments stand to lose millions upon millions; the company bigs stand to be placed in the glare of the public spotlight for their seeming greediness.

If his initiative turns sour, it could be that both interests demand Schuring's political scalp.

Representative Schuring is on the spot.

Is he up to the challenge?

Thursday, April 25, 2013


As to who will win the Democratic Primary for Canton city treasurer on May 7th, one veteran Canton politicians tells the SCPR that he thinks:
  • Kelly Zachary wins Wards 2 and 4,
  • Kim Perez wins Ward 1 (his former ward when he was in council),
  • Mary Cirelli wins Ward 3 (which she formerly represented) and Ward 5 and, perhaps 6, and
  • Wards 7, 8 and 9 are up for grabs,
The overall winner, he thinks, will be the candidate that gets her/his voters to the polls.

Not a whole lot there to disagree with from the SCPR's vantage point.

But there are a number of things to consider.

First of Ward 5 councilman Kevin Fisher has sided up with Kim Perez.  He worked for Perez when Perez was county auditor.  And it would have been surprising indeed for Fisher to abandon him in the treasurer's race.

So Mary Cirelli winning Ward 5 with Fisher doing a campaign flyer for Perez?  The SCPR is skeptical.  It makes a lot more sense that Fisher pulls Perez through in Ward 5.

If he doesn't, he may give pause for thought for someone to take him on two years down the road.

The Report believes it is likely that Cirelli comes in a competitive second in the 5th and by coming in second in the wards she does not win could be the key for a squeaker overall victory for her.  Should she slip to third in this ward, it could portend a Perez victory.

Also, Ward 6 is a troublesome spot for Cirelli.  Majority Leader Dougherty is the councilman for Ward 6 and one only has to take in his sighs of exasperation when Cerelli speaks up at council meetings to pretty much know that he (being Healy's point man on council) is going to be supporting the mayor's choice who, of course, is Kim Perez.

So yours truly does not see Cirelli winning Ward 6.  But she does come in a relatively close second.

But she will have to place first somewhere other than in the 3rd to become Canton treasurer.

Cirelli wins the election if she is victorious in Wards 7 and 8. 

They are Canton's largest (in terms of number of voters who show up on election day; election year-in, year-out) voting wards.  And they are Canton's most Republican wards.  Of course, this is not the general election and Republicans do not factor in.

The only question along these lines would be if the Democrats in these wards are more Republican like than any other wards in the city?  If they are, Cirelli wins because Perez is the personification of Democratic establishment politics (i.e. one of the Dems "good ole boys").

Keys in these two wards are Councilmen John Mariol (who is running unopposed in the 7th through the general election) and Edmund Mack (unopposed in the primary in Ward 8).

You have to believe that they are leaning Mary's way inasmuch as they often vote with Mary when opposing controversial Healy administration legislative proposals.

A Cirelli triump in Ward 9 (Frank Morris' ward - likely to have a large turnout because the of the Morris/Cole face off) would be icing on her political cake.  Cirelli is nonstop wearing her Group 175 button in support of Vassar Park (located in the 9th Ward) resident Bruce Nordman's campaign to force Canton to add 25 or so police offices to the Canton force.

The SCPR thinks her solidarity with the Vassar Park folks could be a key to a Ward 9 win for Mary.

Speculation is flying around that Fisher and Councilman-at-Large Jimmy Babcock (who also worked for Perez at the county auditor's office) are in line to work for Perez once again.

Fisher says emphatically that he will not be becoming a Perez employee.

Political sideliners seem convinced that Babcock will be off to the treasurer's office in a heartbeat if Perez wins.  And so he is certainly going all out for his former boss.

Why is the SCPR focusing on Cirelli and Perez and pretty much leaving Kelly Zachary out of the discussion up to this point?

Though she has impressive educational background and has the support of the Stark County Black Caucus (Caucus) and current treasurer Bob Schirak, the SCPR sees her likely to take Wards 2 and 4 and running third in the rest of Canton's wards.

It is hard to see how she has a winning campaign strategy.

She is part of a line up at a  Stark County Black Caucus Candidate Support Gospel Concert Rally to be had at the Mount Olive Baptist Church this coming Saturday beginning at 5:00 p.m.

While the Caucus should be able to deliver Wards 2 and 4 to her, the SCPR believes that such a base is a losing proposition citywide in heavily Democratic Canton with the likes of Kim Perez and Mary Cirelli on the ballot.

However, one has to wonder whether or not she might be vulnerable to being upset given her thrashing (though running as the incumbent) at the hand of current Councilwoman Chris Smith in the 2007 Democratic Primary?

Smith is now solidly behind Zachary and a good word from Chris may pull her through to victory.

Cirelli and Perez are proven vote getters citywide in Canton.

The city treasurer match up will be unlike Zachary's race against Republican Alex Zumbar in November, 2012 in which Zachary ran well against the Republican in Canton (winning by a substantial majority) but losing it once she got out into the townships and burgs of Stark County.

Her real role in the city treasurer's face off, the SCPR believes, revolves around the question:  Can she be a difference maker as between Perez and Cirelli?

Potentially she can be.

However, only in the sense of BUT FOR ZACHARY being in the race, the Caucus undoubtedly (with Councilpersons Smith and West being solid Healy supporters and therefore presumably Perez supporters) would steer the Caucus to endorse Perez which could have produced enough votes for him to edge out Cirelli citywide in a nip and tuck contest.

Other than being in an off-hand spoiler role, the SCPR does not see Zachary as having much to do with the overall outcome of who becomes Canton city treasurer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Re:  the "no" probable cause (by Judge Michael McNulty) that Judge Francis G. Forchone committed a "theft-in-office" in his handing of the $5,000 Sandy Hook School Support matter growing out of the Scott D. Studer case.

Links to prior SCPR blog for background on this and the Studer case:
If there was any doubt whether or not Judge Michael McNulty was going to find "probable cause" that Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione committed the offense of "theft-in-office" as alleged in the affidavit/complaint of one Louis W. Demis (filed February 28, 2013 in the Canton Municipal Court), it became clear that the answer would be "no" after Akron prosecutor Craig Morgan took his turn to address McNulty.

Watch the hearing (LINK).  It takes less than 10 minutes.  Morgan's presentation sealed the deal.  There would be no finding of probable cause.

What judge in all of America would find probable cause in the face of a prosecutor saying "I can't prosecute" and intimating "I will not prosecute?"

While McNulty said he would take the case under advisement and such usually means at least a day or two and in some cases weeks, even months with some judges;  it took him probably less than an hour. 

The hearing had to be over by 9:30 a.m. and the decision was filed with the Clerk of Courts' office at 10:35 a.m.  Obviously, it took some time for the judge to:
  • form his thoughts,
  • articulate them,
  • dictate them,
  • have them typed, and 
  • sign them
So now we have a new definition - time wise - for "under advisement?"

So why didn't he just make his decision from the bench and end what suspense there may have been? 


One reader of the SCPR wrote to yours truly:
Did you hear the judge overruled Conley? 
From your video, the prosecutor acted more like a defense attorney.
It was surreal to watch and hear Craig T. Conley (a local civic activist and attorney) make a well researched and planned argument get blown out of the water by Morgan's decidedly pro-Forchione stance.

Although Conley had to be pi _ _ ed, he didn't say a word.

Yours truly half-expected Conley to turn to Morgan at any minute and say to him something like:  "what's this all about, pal?"

Conley thinks Morgan made "much ado about nothing" about Demis' failure to appear.  Everything about the underlying facts of the case, Conley says, were agreed to.  What was there for Demis to add?

To boot, from his responses to press questions post hearing (LINK), The Report  thinks that Morgan was more than a tad uncharitable to affiant Demis in saying:
  • his affidavit "reeks of being in bad faith" inasmuch as he was not present at the hearing,
    • A SCPR question.  How could he know at the time of the hearing that Demis didn't experience a problem that prevented him from being present?
So it only appears in Ohio that there is such a thing as a similitude of "citizens arrest" (i.e. the right to bring criminal charges) in Ohio.  In reality, whether or not there are going to be charges is up to a prosecutor.

In this Demis/Forchione matter, Akron's deputy chief assistant prosecutor made it plainer than a bright sunshiny day that there was "no way, Jose" that this prosecutor was going to prosecute Judge Frank Forchione EVEN IF McNulty found probable cause.

How so?

Prosecutorial discretion is the magic phrase!

In one instance (in a case cited by Conley to McNulty), appeal to the Ohio's 5th District Court of Appeals (which sits primarily in Canton) had to be taken on a case in which an affidavit was filed because the prosecutor refused to call for a probable cause hearing.

The appellate court required that a probable cause hearing be held.

A curious part of McNulty's decision was that part that reads:  "Further it is doubtful that the $5,000 in question was ever the property of Stark County."

Must be that Judge McNulty thinks that the check was made payable to  the Sandy Hook School Support Fund on a certified check bought by Scott D. Studer means that it never belonged to Stark County.  However, when Forchione revised his order, then it did belong to Stark County?  Hmm?

Guess where it sits today?

In the Stark County treasury.

So does Judge McNulty's point leave Stark County open to having Studer reclaim the money?  Hmm?

Conley tells the SCPR he is looking into whether or not case law will support an appeal.  If so, it is ultimately up to affiant Demis as to whether an appeal will be made.

To sum up Conley's take on the day's proceedings he gave the SCPR this quote: 

"Our justice system does not always do justice and this case [State of Ohio v. Forchione] is an example."

To the SCPR, the most disturbing part of this saga is that two prime Stark County media outlets (The Repository and WHBC) sat on this story for weeks without nary a word to their readership/listenership which happens to be a significant part of the Stark County public.

It is only when the SCPR got wind of the story and started writing blogs did they get flushed out.
One has to wonder what else they may be sitting on when the topic concerns a prominent Stark County citizen?

As this blog is being written, yours truly is working on a topic involving some of Stark's rich and powerful who appear to be undermining the Stark County public interest in seeking a change to law to protect their private interests at public expense.

Who thinks that the editorial board of The Repository would turn their reporter staff loose on this story?

In Stark County, it appears that going forward it will be up to the likes of Conley to ensure that the powerful are accountable to the rule of law.

While Prosecutor Morgan may think in his own mind he was acting as an "independent-esque third party" yesterday, the SCPR's take was that he had pre-determined that:

"No way, Jose" was this case going anywhere!

Perhaps, in the future, Canton's Law Director (Joe Martuccio) should be rethinking who he brings into Stark County to try his conflict-in-interest cases?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


UPDATE:  (2:55 PM)

The SCPR has learned that Judge Michael McNulty has found "no" probable cause that Judge Francis G. Forchone committed a "theft-in-office" in his handing of the $5,000 Sandy Hook School Support matter growing out of the Scott D. Studer case.  (LINK to prior SCPR blog for background).

See the judge's order at the end of this update.

A complaining affidavit was filed with the Canton Municipal Court on February 28, 2013 by one Louis W. Demis now of Columbus, Ohio but formerly of Navarre (Stark County) Ohio.

Local media failed to inform the Stark County public about the filing of the affidavit when it was filed even though there is indication that they had access to the filing early on.

The SCPR published a blog on the matter forthwith on first learning about the existence of the filed affidavit.

Of course, both outlets (The Repository and WHBC) were all over the story once the probable cause hearing was announced.

Demis' attorney, Craig T. Conley, told yours truly that depending on his analysis of the articulated basis of Judge McNulty's decision, he may look into whether or not there is an appeal to be made.

The Report will have an analysis of the proceeding and the judge's decision in a blog planned for tomorrow.



Hearing:  State of Ohio v. Forchione

Press Conference

First Up:  Craig T. Conley

Followed By:  (same video)

Craig Morgan

The Stark County Political Report presents the entire video of the probable cause hearing of Stark County Common Pleas Judge Francis H. Forchione,

For background see the below lined blogs.

Press conference video:  Conley followed by Morgan.



  President Schulman Frames the Debate

Cole Slams Morris; Morris Responds

The Entire Debate
(Including Chamber of Commerce Input)

In what seemingly had nothing to do with 9th Ward politics, Councilman-at-Large Joe Cole lashed out at his May 7th primary opponent Frank Morris last night as being "deplorable" on Morris' "no" vote on spending $175,000 in city of Canton general fund dollars on what amounts to be a government subsidy of free enterprise; namely, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The ordinance:
Actually, as the SCPR sees it council president Allen Schulman had it right in saying that those who voted "no" were not against economic development and those voting "yes" were not against increasing the numbers of Canton safety forces.

However, the political stakes are such these days that such is exactly how Cole and Morris were trying to paint each other in last night's regular weekly meeting of Canton City Council.

With Morris, it is not so clear that he was going after Cole.  But the SCPR believes that he was. 

With Cole, in referring to "him" as being the object of his (Cole's) scorn, it was rather obvious that the "him" was Councilman Morris.

It further appears to yours truly that Cole realizes that it will take a political miracle for him to defeat fellow Democrat Morris in the May 7th Democratic Primary election.

Though he is a resident of the 9th Ward, it seems as if the Morris political forces have been able to paint Cole as a carpetbagger of sorts (i.e. someone coming into an area from the outside) who really does not belong in Ward 9 politics and certainly not one to represent the ward in city council.

Cole has fed into the perception in posting signs in the ward suggesting that he is the incumbent councilman.

If one thinks about it, in being a councilman-at-large, Cole does have some basis on which to claim a connection to Ward 9 (other than living there) because in being a councilman-at-large he does represent the entire city.

All of which makes it totally confusing as to why Cole would want to eliminate the three council-at-large seats.

There can be little doubt as to Cole's motivation for pushing the "eliminate council-at-large" legislation.

Back at the filing deadline for council positions, Cole got hoodwinked by fellow council-at-large Mary Cirelli into giving up his council-at-large position (i.e. she finessed Cole into believing that she was running for reelection and therefore he would be the odd man out in the face of Cirelli, Babcock [an incumbent councilman-at-large], and former Councilman Bill Smuckler competition) in a political cloak and dagger-esque drama at the Stark County Board of Elections.

If you haven't read the SCPR blog on this political vignette, you must do so.  It is the "political hoot of the year" if not of all time in the annals of Stark County politics (LINK).

Cole's plainly lashing out at Morris last night bespeaks an indication that Cole knows that he is not likely to prevail in the 9th and he is lobbing "hail Mary" after "hail Mary" in desperation to find something that sticks to Morris in order to pull out a stunning, "at the last second" come from behind victory.

The election is two weeks away.

And the stakes are not simply personal in the sense of who is going to remain on council:  Cole or Morris.

It could be that who wins in the 9th will determine where the balance of political power will lie in the new council which takes office in January, 2014.

By the SCPR's calculation, a Morris victory would likely mean, that on legislation that is the key to Mayor Healy realizing his agenda ambitions, a potential 7 to 5 vote against the mayor.

So Healy is solidly in Cole's corner.

But as The Report sees it, having the mayor in one's corner could be more of a liability in the 9th rather than a help.

The mayor is currently in a tussle with some Ward 9 residents (who have named themselves Group 175) over the overall manpower strength of the Canton Police Department.

They are intent on raising the force strength to 175 and the mayor determinedly resisting saying that the city does not have the $1.4 million or so to finance 25 additional officers.

So to have Healy as an ally appears to the SCPR not to be helping Cole in the slightest and in fact likely hurts him and therefore one can understand why the councilman-at-large is hurling "hail Mary."

And, of course, Cole has his own baggage on the police issue.

He (as chairman of council's finance committee) along with Ward 3 Councilman Jim Griffin (unopposed in the May 7th primary) deep-sixth legislation proposed by Councilpersons Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris recently to increase the starting pay of Canton cadet police officers so as to stay competitive with surrounding communities in attracting new hires.

Cirelli, last night, was heard referring to the Cole/Griffin act as being two thwarting the will of six (six being exactly one-half of the voting members of council).

All this trashing about by Councilman Cole appears to the SCPR to be an example of one who is the midst of political death throes.

So, so sad for someone who at one time was thought to be an up and coming star on Canton City Council, no?

Here is a video of the entire debate over the $175,000 Canton Council contribution to the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Tuesday, April 23, 2013 could be the most crucial day in the life (some 50 years, now) of Stark County Common Pleas Judge Francis G. Forchione.

For tomorrow is the day that Judge Michael McNulty (formerly of the Barberton Municipal Court, but now retired) is to determine whether or not there is "probable cause" to believe Judge Forchione committed the crime of "theft-in-office" in his handling of the fine portion of the penalty meted out to the now-former Jackson Township resident Scott D. Studer.

Studer pled guilty (December 19, 2012) to multiple felony counts of the Illegal Use of a Minor in a Nudity-Oriented Material or Performance [Ohio Revised Code {ORC} 21907.323(A)(1)](F2) in secretly taping Jackson Township High School freshman basketball players in the school's locker room.

A Columbus resident (some suspect with Stark County ties) on February 28th of this year filed what appears to be a "sort of" equivalent of a "citizen's arrest"  of His Honor (as provided for ORC Sections 2935.09 and .10) growing out of an incident in late December, 2012 in which he issued a series of orders and letters against now-former Jackson Township resident Scott D. Studer.

In this blog, text bearing the color as exemplified in this particular text indicates a timeline for the orders/letters/lawsuits related to how Judge Forchione dealt with the sentencing of Studer.

In this blog, text bearing the color as exemplified in this particular text indicates a timeline for the affidavits/pleadings/orders related to the probable cause matter re:  Judge Forchione recited above.

For the uninitiated, here is a string of links to prior SCPR blogs in which the Studer case and its ramifications are discussed:
On December 31, 2012, Judge Forchione sentenced Studer to 15 years in prison and fined him $5,000.

Here is where the judge got off the track of following the law of Ohio with respect to the fine.

"[T]he court orders [the $5,000] be forwarded to the victims of [the] Newtown, Connecticut tragedy."

Getting more specific on the January 2, 2013, Judge Forchione issued a follow up order, the key portions of which are:
Now comes the Court who hereby confirms that the Defendant, Scott D. Studer, has complied with the Court's previous order to pay the sum of $5,000.00 to the Sand Hook School Support Fund. ...   
The check was provided to the Court on January 2, 2013.  The Court forwarded the check along with a letter of instruction, attached to the entry hereto.  (emphasis added)
Here is a re-creation  (emphasis added) of Judge Forchione's "letter of instruction." 

                                                                          January 2, 2013

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main St.
Newtown, Ct 06470

Dear Sir or Madam,

     Recently I presided over a criminal case in Stark County, Ohio regarding Scott D. Studer.  Mr. Studer was a coach at Jackson High School who was caught videotaping basketball players in the locker room for his own self-gratification.

     A part of his sentence, I ordered him to pay the sum of $5,000, as well as serving a 15-year jail sentence. Since the nexus of the crime took place in an educational setting, I felt it more appropriate that the funds be given to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.  While it is unthinkable to compare this case to the tragedy that has occurred in your community, the Studer case shocked Stark County and left many people asking the same question with which Newtown surely struggles:  "How cound this happen?"  "What can we do to prevent this in the future?"; and, "How can we best help those affected?"  It is my hope that some good can come out of this case by helping  those in your community as they work to rebuild their lives after the Sandy Hook School tragedy.

     I would greatly appreciate it if the Court could receive a confirmation of this donation, so that I can ensure its proper application. (emphasis added)


     The Hornorable Frank G. Forchione, Judge


On January 23, 2013, Belthlehem Township resident Tom Marcelli asked local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley to initiate efforts (to the point of filing a lawsuit, if necessary) to compel the payment of the $5,000 fine to the Stark County treasury maintained county general fund as required by ORC 2949.11, in part to wit:
[A]n officer who collects a fine shall pay it to into the treasury of the county in which such fine was assessed, within twenty days after receipt of the fine, to the credit of the county general fund."
To that end, Conley wrote Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero  asking:
... on behalf of the taxpayers of Stark County, and more particularly on behalf of my client, Thomas M. Marcelli (a County [sic] resident, taxpayer and electorate), I request you immediately institute a civil action against Judge Forchione for the recover of and payment into the Stark County Treasury of Mr. Studer's fine ... .
On January 30, 2013,  Civil Division Chief Ross Rhodes wrote to Conley rejecting his request (Note: to see the entire Rhodes letter go to this LINK).

On February 1, 2013, Conley files a declaratory judgment action against Forchione on behalf of client Marcelli (LINK).

On February 4, 2013, Forchione wrote a letter (via fax) to a Sandy Hook School Support Fund officials acknowledging a telephone call of the same date wherein communicated:  "As I indicated, a Stark County taxpayer has filed a lawsuit over the donation.  The returned donation will need to be made out to the [sic] Nancy Reinbold ... ."

On February 6, 2013, the Sandy Hook School Support Fund wired the $5,000 payable to Stark County Clerk of Courts Nancy Reingold.

On February 14, 2013, Judge Forchione held a video-conference with Studer (who by then was in prison) wherein he re-sentenced Studer without mention of the $5,000 being for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

On February 15, 2013, Tom Marcelli instructs Conley to dismiss the February 1, 2013 filed declaratory judgment action inasmuch as Conley had advised him that the return of the $5,000 rendered the case without a justiciable issue.

On February 28, 2013, Louis W. Demis files his ORC Sections 2935.09 and .10 authorized affidavit alleging that Judge Forchione's actions as described above constitute "theft-in-office" which gave birth to the selection by Canton Law Director Joseph Martuccio of an out-of-town prosecutor (Craig Morgan, Akron's chief assistant [criminal] prosecutor and Judge Michael McNulty to conduct a probable cause hearing, ;which, as indicated at the beginning of this blog, is sent for tomorrow:  Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. in the Canton Municipal Court.

Probably to Judge Forchione's chagrin, guess who is lingering in the shadows in the prosecution of the probable cause hearing?

You've got it!  None other than his nemesis Craig T. Conley.

And Conley is taking his role very seriously.

He has prepared a well-done and thorough brief and supplement thereto (the SCPR provides a copy of the brief at this end of this blog for those readers who want to take them in) that appear to present the distinct possibility that Judge Francis G. Forchione of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas will have to defend himself on the accusation that in his handling of the Studer case he has committed a theft-in-office.

Judge Forchione has stated in area media accounts of the Studer matter that he does not believe in "creative sentencing."  But that is exactly what the SCPR believes that the $5,000 Studer fine being directed to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund is a clear case of.  And that is to put a kind face on it.

To be less than kind, one can do what Conley did with the area media in calling Judge Forchione out on "grandstanding" in making the order.

And to be ultimately unkind, to accuse someone of theft-in-office (as Demis has done Forchione) presents a real challenge to Forchione's continuance in office.

Neither creative sentencing nor grandstanding has a place in American jurisprudence.

Everybody participating in our civil and criminal system need - simply - to do one thing.

Follow the rule of law!

Wasn't the Marcelli/Conley declaratory action was the nudge that rectified Forchione deviation therefrom?

Does anyone believe that Frank Forchione will ever again venture into the "creative sentencing" waters?

So is the Demis action a case of overdoing it?

And will Judge McNulty see it as such?

It is regrettable that Judge Forchione went "off-the-reservation" and it could prove very costly indeed to him.

It is vitally important to the integrity of our way of life that no man, no woman, nor non-emancipated person be above the rule of law.

And that the SCPR thinks is what Marcelli's declaratory judgment action was all about.

And that is what Demis' affidavit appears to be about - underscored.

Nothing else matters!!!