Friday, November 22, 2013


If you ask Stark County recorder Rick Campbell and Clerk of Canton Municipal Court Phil Giavasis  (ran unopposed in November, 2013, which undoubtedly explains his arrogance as a public official) to apply the SCPR above-posed questions to one Kody Gonzalez (son of heretofore Canton Municipal Court Chief Deputy Randy Gonzalez) they definitely would say "cream always rises to the top."

Giavasis was very upset when the Stark County Political Report contacted him on Wednesday to ask about a tip The Report had received earlier in the morning that Kody had been installed as chief deputy of the Canton courts this past Monday (November 18, 2013) as a replacement for his father Randy whose last day, The Report is told, is set for January 1, 2014.

Why was Phil Giavasis upset?

First, because he knew (from past SCPR blogs involving his being Stark County clerk of courts days) that I was going to ask some direct questions.

On May 1, 2008 (a mere 45 days or so after I began the SCPR), I wrote a story about how it appeared to me that he had cut off any competition (in favor of Nancy Reinbold, wife of the-then Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Richard Reinbold) to whom his successor was going to be when he decided for himself that being clerk of courts for the Canton Municipal Court was a "greener pasture" than continuing to be the Stark County clerk of courts.  

Secondly, and undoubtedly, because he knew that the Stark County Political Report would not necessarily buy his line that "cream always rises to the top" in terms of his employing Kody.

Any more than the SCPR did when Stark recorder Rick Campbell pretty much used the same line when asked by The Report about Kody's leapedfrogging over longer-serving employees at the recorder's office (with only two years -  right out of college - of job experience [as a Plain (2005)/Jackson (2006) schools "entry-level" teacher]) to become the chief deputy recorder.

"How dare," Giavasis, Campbell and father Randy protested, that the Stark County Political Report would raise the question that, perhaps, Kody became an overnight Stark County/Canton government phenom because of the intervention of "it pays to be "politically" connected."

Randy said he was as surprised as anyone that Kody ended up with the next-to-the-top county recorder's job.  No doubt, it is a repeat "I was the-last-to-know" on Kody being handed Randy's soon-to-be "old job."

Don't you just love it when one of Stark County's most politically attuned and astute persons claims to be completely uninformed when a next-of-kin gets a top notch government job with everyone else being cut off from applying?

Giavasis told me in a telephone conversation on Wednesday (see a more detailed account of the conversation below) that Randy only learned after-the-fact that Kody had been hired.

What a coincidence?

As an "entry-level" teacher back in 2005, Kody (who graduated from Ohio University in 2005) was likely making somewhere in the low to mid $20,000s.

As Campbell's chief deputy less than two (2) years later, he likely was at $49,000 (according to the Stark County auditor) in cash salary and you can figure another $15,000 or so in fringe benefits.

As of October 10, 2013, he was making $54,461.60 plus, of course, the fringes.

So in the matter of six (6) years Kody received an increase of about 10% from beginning to end on his "uncompeted for" recorder's office chief deputy job.

Remember that this is a period of time that many other county employees were getting "zilch" in annual increases.

Probably because Recorder Campbell did not want to risk losing an employee who spontaneously emanates par excellence abilities, no? 

As Canton Municipal chief deputy clerk of court Kody Gonzalez will start out at $64,000 according to the Canton auditor's office.  Do not forget that the fringes boost the total take to about $90,000 per annum.


Since entering county/city "public service?," Kody has had an increase of 30%. 

I raise the "public service" issue because Randy claims that for the Gonzalezes working in the public sector is a family tradition of doing public service.

My response?

Well, it is certainly is "well-paid" public service.

Kody Gonzalez has to be the envy of many county/city employees.

Perhaps, that was what motivated a SCPR tipster to notify The Report of Kody's new hire status in a Wednesday e-mail.

The only time the SCPR gained any appreciation of Kody's work product was at the Stark County commissioners' annual  upcoming fiscal year budget hearings which occurred in January, 2013 for fiscal year 2013.

There was definitely "a spit and polish" (i.e. a fancy Powerpoint presentation) aspect to it that the SCPR will concede is beyond the apparent (to The Report) capabilities of Recorder Campbell himself.

However, I couldn't make "heads or tails" out of how much Stark County general fund funding for "new" (i.e. to be hired in 2013) recorder's office and microfilming employees was being asked for.

As the video in the linked blog above shows, Kody's work on the numbers appeared to be confusing the commissioners.  Especially, Commissioner Tom Bernabei.

If memory serves me correctly, the recorder's office had to do an follow-up presentation to clear things up.

But, perhaps, the budget presentation was an example of the proverbial "having a bad day" and not typical of Kody's day-in, day-out performance.

Anybody who knows anything about Stark County politics know that Randy Gonzalez is chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party and has been since 2009.   Moreover, he has been a Stark Dems kingpin for quite a few years before becoming chairman.

"Father" Gonzalez seems to have his hand in nearly everything political and governmental in Stark County over many years.

He is a one time Jackson trustee and currently fiscal officer and believed by many to be the foremost politically powerful person in Jackson Township who is "the-power-behind-the-throne" and effectively controls the likes of John Pizzino, Jr, Todd Hawke and James "Jamie" Walters.

The amazing thing about Democrat Gonzalez's clout in heavily Republican Jackson Township is that two of the three trustees (Hawke and Walters) are currently registered Republicans and Pizzino, Jr (a cousin to former Massillon mayor Franchis H. Cicchinelli, Jr) is a former Republican.

A couple of years ago in a conversation that I had with Trustee Walters, it was astounding to hear how Walters believed that Gonzalez was his political friend.

But that was not what I was hearing from Randy Gonzalez himself.

Which goes to say that the SCPR believes Gonzalez has honed a skill of being all things to all people (a considerable political skill) dressed in a cloak of finesse which can be beguiling.

Beguiling to many, except, of course, to the Stark County Political Report.

But suffice it to say, the SCPR believes the Gonzalez political factor has been instrumental in friends and family (direct or indirect on from key Stark officials ingratiating themselves unsolicited) in getting placed into government positions in various Stark County political subdivisions.

Gonzalez gets very angry when The Report writes such opinions.

While The Report thinks his preferred way of dealing with such situations is to "turn the charm on;" he is quite capable of and does play political hardball the equal or superior to the very best Stark County practitioners of the politics.

He has tried both with the Stark County Political Report.

When the SCPR wrote a blog questioning how son Kody was enshrined by Stark County recorder Rick Campbell as second-in-command in the recorders office in (June, 2007; no competitive interview conducted), father Randy contacted me to express his marked displeasure that I would suggest that he had anything to do (as Stark Dems chairman) with Kody's meteoric rise from relative obscurity as a "entry level" schoolteacher to becoming one of Stark County's very top public officials.

It could be that he had no direct involvement in the hire.

But it's certainly in the category of "who is going to believe that?"

Is anyone going to believe that Randy's role as party chairman had nothing to do with Campbell picking Kody from "out of nowhere" to become his chief deputy recorder.

There is no doubt that Randy has the requisite political skills not to "leave his fingerprints" on having anything whatsoever to do with his son's recorder office employment and now his landing a $10,000 increase in his move over to the Canton Muny Court position.

One local civic activist tells me that Randy Gonzalez is perhaps Stark's most highly skilled politician.

And I never argue the point.

Randy is a very likable guy with a terrific set of social skills, but, of course, with the Stark County Political Report, the blogs are never about whether or not I personally like/dislike this politician/government figure or that one.

For my money, "personality wise," he has it all over Stark Dems executive vice chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (chairman from 2003 through 2009).  However, the SCPR views Maier, Jr as the real power within the Stark County Democratic Executive Committee and from whom Gonzalez gets his marching orders.

But now back to the Kody Gonzalez hire as Canton Muny Court chief deputy clerk.

When public officials will talk to me, (some won't because of my incisive questioning style), I always hone in on "cut-to-the-bone" questions.

In a Wednesday phone call (I think I caught him by surprise that I knew about Kody's hire), I asked Giavasis whether or not he considered folks other than Kody to replace Randy.

Answer:  No.

Question:  Why not?

Answer:  Because I do not have to.

Question:  Whom contacted whom about the job?

Answer:  I contacted him.

Question:  Well, how about Stark County's (in this case Canton Muny court district) taxpayers?  Are they entitled to compete for the job?

Then he went on what I view as a rant about how one-sided the SCPR is as evidenced (according to him) by a blog I did on the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) that was not pleasing to him and Randy Gonzalez.

Stark Democratic Party stalwart Reinbold in 2012 was running for re-election as Stark County clerk of courts and I had written a blog wherein her opponent (Republican Jeff Heimbaugh) critiqued CJIS.

Consequently they invited me over to the the Canton clerk of court offices to take a first-hand look at CJIS in operation.

And I appreciated having been invited to see first-hand the Giavasis/Gonzalez cameo-esque presentation.

However, they should have known (as anyone who reads SCPR blogs know), I  always go to any such occasion with my full critical faculties intact.

Notwithstanding Heimbaugh's criticism, I am well-taken with CJIS which is largely Randy Gonzalez creation.  But I am not ready to coronate it as being "the best that it can be."  Apparently, that unwillingness has stuck in the craw of Giavasis, if not Gonazalez.

Randy's work on:
  • CJIS,
  • Stark County's 9-1-1 "broken" (according to a 2008 report) centralized dispatching system, and
  • His very recent  effort to bring Jackson Township, Plain Township, North Canton and Canton into a collaborative economic development mode
is impressive.

Seemingly, single-handedly, Gonzalez has "kept hope alive" that some day in the foreseeable future he will realize his dream of Stark County achieving a "state of the art" 9-1-1 dispatching system.

From what I have seen of Kody Gonzalez, I he think is a "work-in-progress" with potential for leadership but not yet ready for prime time.

He has always been civil and courteous to me notwithstanding my inquiring blogs.

I think it is a fair question that Stark Countians should consider as to whether his ascendancy is due to:
  • a case of "it pays to be politically connected," or
  • a case of "cream rising to the top"
I cannot say that Kody's father mirrors his son's demeanor and temperament.

He gets more than a bit snarky with me when I write in a fashion displeasing to him.

Campbell, Phil Giavasis and Randy Gonzalez can try to cajole or bully (the most used technique) the SCPR "until the cows come home," but such efforts have been and will remain "all in vain" as long as I write the Stark County Political Report.

The Report understands that a father is going to react to questions raised as to how his son got to where he has gotten in the public sector.

President Harry Truman on December 18, 1950 did so when a music critic panned his daughter's piano recital, to wit: (Source:  Wikipedia)
I have read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an eight ulcer man on a four ulcer job … Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes and perhaps a supporter below. 
Margaret, of course, was not a public employee.

Kody Gonzalez is.

And, accordingly, he is open to media scrutiny as to how he got to where he has gotten.

Readers of the Stark County Political Report know that The Report will continue to raise questions, to repeat myself, such as was a given hire:
  • "A case of  'being politically connected'" or
  •  A case of  "cream rising to the top"
I do express my opinion in my blogs but the deciders who count in terms of the persuasiveness of my opinions are the readers of the Stark County Political Report.

No amount of flattery or flack from the subjects of my blogs or their supporters alters the SCPR's "cut to the core" observations.

As a "for instance" on the flack side, the SCPR has little personal regard for Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero as a consequence of his attack on me and my constitutionally protected right of free speech as a media type and as a citizen of Stark County under the guise that I happen to be a lawyer.

I am still waiting for his apology.

Nevertheless, I have blogged that I consider him to have been "a stand up guy" for the "rule of law" in the instance of his having filed an affidavit in his capacity of Stark chief interpreter of the law that he considered George T. Maier "unqualified" under Ohio statutory law standards.

Ferrero must have been the recipient of Maier-partisan's ire ever since.

When one is a "political insider" like Ferrero is within the Stark County Democratic Party politics (Stark County Democratic Party chairman from 2003-2009); it takes a lot of moxie to do what he did on February 5, 2013 in filing the affidavit for consideration by assembled Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee members.

In my view, Chairman Gonzalez humiliated Ferrero in suggesting that Ferrero was a "fly in the ointment" of the chairman's desire that the members appoint Maier as sheriff.

The SCPR says "kudos" to Prosecutor Ferrero for sticking up for "the rule of law."

Agree or disagree with me; like me or dislike me, readers of the SCPR get my candid assessment of Stark County politics and politicians and other Stark County public figures.

A big Thank You! for reading the Stark County Political Report.

Like no other Stark County media outlet, the SCPR keeps the Stark County public informed on the seamy side of Stark County politics and government.

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