Monday, December 30, 2013


Anyone living in Stark County who has the least sense of political awareness, knows about the ongoing political battle of George T. Maier to have staying power as Stark County sheriff.

In his quest to be sheriff, Maier has been in, he's been out and now he is in again.

But for how long?

Back on February 12th, the SCPR captured Maier on video on he question of whether he is to be a sheriff "on a short term basis" or "over the longer term?"

We should find out this week whether or not interim Sheriff Tim Swanson will continue to wage war with Maier via quo warranto actions on the question.

There were rumblings late last week that Maier forces had prevailed on Swanson to drop that fight.

But even if he does, Maier might not be "home free."

As pointed out in a SCPR blog last week, with Maier taking out petitions to run in the May, 2014 Stark County Democratic Party primary, the Stark County Board of Elections has a role to play as to whether or not to certify Maier as being qualified under the statutory law of Ohio to be sheriff.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his Board of Elections member-minions (Phil Giavasis and Sam Ferruccio, the Dems on the BOE) are putting pressure on the Republican members (Cline & Braden) to fall-in behind George gloss over whether or not he meets Ohio's legal standards (i.e. "the rule of law) to be sheriff.

So it will be interesting to watch the Board of Elections even if Swanson abandons his effort.

Deserving of equal billing vis-a-vis the quo warranto fight is the civil suit filed by Stark County resident and taxpayer Thomas Marcelli (representing Stark County taxpayers, in general) versus Maier to recover compensation paid to Maier and expenditures made by him (primarily in re-branding the sheriff's office with his name) for the period - according to the Ohio Supreme Court (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto, November 6, 2013) that he was not legally the sheriff of Stark County (February 12, 2013 through November 6, 2013).

Since Marcelli's original filing (which was amended on December 13th):
Consequently, on and on this legal merry-go-round goes and where it will stop nobody knows.

The SCPR sees the civil arena aspect of the fight as a veritable "David v. Goliath-esque" legal confrontation that seems sure to leave the defeated legal gladiator much worse off for having waged the fight.

Hence, The Report names the fight as being the:  "Stark County World Series of Legal In-fighting!"

To understand where the progression of the Marcelli (Conley)/Maier (Rosenberg) legal fight stands, the reader of this blog should refresh him/herself on this "civil?" battle by clicking on the links provided by The Report of each cited aspect of legal pleadings filed.

In today's blog, the SCPR reviews Rosenberg's "Memorandum In Opposition To Motion to Disqualify Counsel" and his "Motion for Sanctions; 19 pages in length.

As in his motion to dismiss, Rosenberg appears (in the Memorandum) to go after Conley's jugular once again as it seemed to The Report to be the case in the motion to dismiss (i.e. the obvious personal attack on Conley), to wit:

In an off-hand sort of way, Rosenberg responds to Marcelli's amended and "verified" complaint (apparently still relying on his original motion to dismiss) in implying that the Conley-on-behalf-of-Marcelli has abandoned? the complaint in favor of a tangential issue of disqualifying Rosenberg in "a vexatious filing."


Notwithstanding Rosenberg's seeming "sleight of hand," the complaint in amended form remains in tact no matter what impression Rosenberg may wish to the public to believe.

To the SCPR, Rosenberg's Motion for Sanctions is the equivalent to Conley's Motion to Disqualify.

To The Report, he may point the finger at Conley but to the discerning he is to be "painted with the same brush" as with which he paints.

Readers of this blog should bear-in-mind the SCPR's "half-a-dozen of one" (Conley's Motion to Disqualify) and "six of another" (Rosenberg's Motion for Sanctions) point of view as one reads on. Otherwise, Rosenberg will have succeeded in marginalize Conley without he himself being "hoisted by his own petard."  A fair minded reader will not allow Rosenberg to escape scrutiny by his own standard.

That Rosenberg continues his "legal" name calling (started in his motion to dismiss) in this latest pleading is clearly indicated in his use of the word "vexatious" as seen in the extract from his pleading as set forth above.
Vexatious Litigation
A legal action or proceeding initiated maliciously and without Probable Cause by an individual who is not acting in Good Faith for the purpose of annoying or embarrassing an opponent.
 Getting deeper into the Rosenberg arguments:

The Report's take on Rosenberg's arguments against his disqualification, to wit:
  • that he (Rosenberg) did not make a false statement (as alleged by Conley) in chastising Rosenberg for using the word "duly" in describing how Maier came to be sheriff (in the February 5th SCDP-CC proceeding),
    • SCPR COMMENT:  Is Rosenberg serious?  
      • To be arguing that Marcelli/Conley have abandoned the complaint seems just a tad silly to the SCPR.  
      • There is no doubt in the the SCPR's thinking that Conley does not personally like Rosenberg and just as soon not have him on the other side of the case and it could be that seeking to disqualify Rosenberg does not advance the Marcelli/taxpayer cause because of the distraction but that is something quite different from abandoning the premise for being in court in the first place.  
      • Isn't Rosenberg himself by focusing on the disqualification factor suggesting that there may well be something to the Marcelli complaint that he would rather not deal with?
    • SCPR COMMENT:  The "duly" part of the legal jargon fight for laymen is like "two ships passing in the night." 
      • Conley sees "duly" in terms of the Supreme Court having ruled on November 6th that the SCDP-CC failed to "legally" appoint Maier because of he did not meet one of perhaps a number of criteria required by Ohio law for one to hold office as sheriff,
      • Rosenberg, understandably, wants to focus not on the substance of the result (i.e. Maier's being Stark County illegal sheriff "from the beginning" of being appointed) but on things like taking a vote in accordance with Democratic Party bylaws and the SCDP-CC making a determination (merited or not in the mind of a body [e.g. the Supreme Court] on the qualification issue.
    • SCPR COMMENT:  An obvious "bone of contention" that Judge Farmer will have to rule on.
  • that he (Rosenberg) does not have a "conflict in interest" in his having a "dog in this fight" (the SCPR's words) in his being paid $20,000 to defend Maier in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto either in the direct sense nor in the derivative sense of having provided Maier with speculated and alleged "faulty" legal advice (re:  indemnification/malpractice).
  • that Rosenberg (and co-counsel Traven) are not "material witness" and "necessary" witnesses to what advice they gave Maier in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto and therefore not into a "conflict in interest" situation.
    • SCPR COMMENT:  It could be that Rosenberg will convince Judge Farmer that his take on this issue is supported in law whereas Conley's is not.
    • The Report can see both sides of the argument but Rosenberg's is on procedure (i.e. legal standing [which makes laymen's eyes glaze over] and what seems to the SCPR to be circular reasoning.
    • "To be debated" reasoning?  Yes.  
      • Conley:  Maier was never the sheriff of Stark County and therefore retroactively the Stark commissioners could not pay his legal fees.  Anytime one receives public monies without legal authority, do they not have to be paid back?
        • If so, will not Rosenberg have to indemnify Maier for presumably taking the money "on the advice of counsel?"
        • If so, could Rosenberg be accountable to Maier in damages on Conley's alleged premise and supposition of potential of malpractice in providing the speculated giving of such advice?
      • Rosenberg:   In a sort of way (color of law/good faith) seeks to establish that there was legal authority to pay Maier and such ends any discussion of any potential legal accountability of Rosenberg to Maier and therefore no possibility of conflict in interest on the payment issue which authority negates any need for Maier to assert "on advice of counsel" as a basis for action.
    • SCPR COMMENT:   Again, a "bone of contention" to be decided by Judge Farmer.  

That he used 19 pages of briefing to make his case that the Marcelli/Conley motion to disqualify was a frivolous filing is testament enough in the opinion of the SCPR that, while it may have been "unwise" for Conley to get sidetracked on an issue of which particular legal counsel he was going to contend with on the merits of Marcelli's amended complaint, such number of pages (to repeat:  19 pages)  in and of itself shows that the Marcelli case deserves to be heard on its merits/demerits and that both the motion to disqualify and motion for sanctions are both "red herrings."

To repeat the theme of this blog.

All the motion to disqualify and the motion for sanctions indicates to the SCPR (and the attendant personalized language used by both sides) is that Conley and Rosenberg do not like each other.

One last point on Rosenberg and his apparent attempt to divert attention away from the underlying Marcelli "for the taxpayers" complaint is his focus on wanting a hearing on his own side issue, to wit:

The SCPR was mighty happy to see him request a hearing.

And The Report hopes the court itself will schedule a number of hearings.  But they should mainly be on the complaint itself and "only" tangentially on the motion to disqualify and the motion for sanctions in terms of clearing them off the table.

The Report plans on being in court to videotape each and every such hearing.

It will be a real test for Judge Kristin Farmer to stay focused on "the real issue" in this case (i.e. whether or not Stark County taxpayers have a case to be reimbursed for the Maier receipts and spending) and not get sidetracked on whether or not Rosenberg has a "conflict in interest" or whether or not Conley's client has made "a frivolous pleading."

To The Report the latter efforts are two lawyers going after each other because they plain do not like each other.

As Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei repeatedly says to The Report and all within his hearing that the Stark Dems' fuss as to whom will be Stark County sheriff is "the gift that keeps giving" in terms of the ongoing controversy in the context of side battles.

Of course, the media is a chief beneficiary of all the legal wrangling.

And it appears to the SCPR that we Stark Countians find ourselves witnessing a sort of Stark County World Series of Legal Infighting courtesy of Messers Conley and Rosenberg as manifested by their side issues.

How long will Judge Farmer allow this legal gamesmanship to go on?

Friday, December 27, 2013


Whom among Stark County's public officials and public figures will be the beneficiaries of a Stark County Political Report provided (suggested) New Years Resolution for 2014?

Recall last year's offerings?

Have a chuckle or two or three ... .

Click on this LINK for a refresher on the 2013.

And then sit back and think about some the momentous 2013 Stark County government and political happenings that might be fodder for The Report to make suggestions on Tuesday for 2014 resolutions.

The SCPR resolves to be creative!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Apparently, as a Christmas present, local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conlely representing Stark County citizen and taxpayer Thomas Marcelli, wanted to send contested Stark County sheriff George T. Maier's attorney (Thomas Rosenberg) a message.



What message?

First, a holiday greeting.

Starting out with the last line of the the Conley to Rosenberg letter:

P.S.  I offer you and yours my best wishes for the holidays.
Folks, that inclusion in the Conley December 24th letter to Rosenberg just goes to show what a decent fellow Conley is.

Not holding it against Roetzel & Andress attorney Rosenberg for launching an ad hominem against him in Rosenberg's motion to dismiss Marcell's taxpayer original lawsuit against Maier, he issues a "best wishes for the holidays."

How about that!

Truly impressive, no?

Second (for purposes of the structure of this blog), but obviously of the first order of import as far as Conley and Marcelli are concerned, is a tempering of the ending best wishes, to wit:
RE: State ex rel. Marcelli v. Maier, Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court Case No. 2013 CA 03075
Under the presumption that a second quo warranto action will shortly be filed seeking the ouster of Mr. Maier a second time, I wanted to provide you the professional courtesy of advance notice that, should that second action, (as I reasonably presume will be the case) again result in Mr. Maier’s ouster, my client will promptly thereafter file a second taxpayer lawsuit seeking the same type of refunds from Mr. Maier of public funds he is now seeking in the instant action.
A second taxpayers' lawsuit?


Conley tells the SCPR that he has received numerous telephone calls from people he deems to be Maier emissaries putting pressure on him to counsel his client (Marcelli) to drop the taxpayer lawsuit against Maier.

Awfully naive for the Maier supporters to think they can pressure Conley (Marcelli) to back off, no?

Perhaps, the December 24th "faxed" letter (to ensure that it was received before December 25th, undoubtedly) was sort of a response to both the Rosenberg "motion to dismiss" personal attack and the emissary pressure being applied?

However one takes the missive, it is clear to the SCPR that it is a blunt salvo putting Rosenberg's client on notice that (assuming Conley gets beyond the motion to dismiss, which The Report thinks he will) George T. Maier and his political boosters within the hierarchy of the Stark/Ohio Democratic Parties (local and state) they have some accounting to do on their "in-house"  and "inter-personal" discussions as to whether or not they coordinated efforts to make George Stark County sheriff, to wit:
That matter aside, in the meantime, I request you promptly provide me several available deposition dates in February, 2014 for Mr. Maier’s deposition, which I presently presume, depending in large part upon his level of cooperation in providing responsive answers to my inquires, will take a full day, if not longer.  (emphasis added)
Look at the Conley's list: (bulleted by the SCPR for clarity sake)
Along those same lines, it is my present intention to also depose, inter alia,
  • Judge Edward Elum, 
  • Stark County Democratic Chairman Randy Gonzalez, 
  • Ohio Democratic Party [ODP] Secretary William DeMora, 
  • Prosecuting Attorney John Ferrero, 
  • Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, 
  • Lt./Deputy Sheriff Louis Darrow, 
  • Sheriff Timothy Swanson, 
  • and some or all of 
    • the several attorneys who had represented and/or are still representing Mr. Maier before the Ohio Supreme Court
      • and/or had, prior to the November 6, 2013 issuance of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Slip Opinion No. 2013-Ohio-4767, otherwise (incorrectly) opined as to Mr. Maier’s statutory qualifications, 
        • [SCPR NOTE:  Meaning, perhaps, Steve Okey, Michael Thompson, Allen Schulman and Warren Price]
  • as well as Sheriff Swanson’s counsel, Attorneys Gregory A. Beck and James F. Matthews.

The Report presumes that Conley inadvertently omitted Maier brother and former Stark County Democratic Party Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (currently, executive vice chairman of the Stark Dems).

Maybe he should consider deposing the Stark Dems' political director R. Shane Jackson (who is Johnnie's chief deputy clerk of courts in Massillon city government).

Readers of The Report will recall Jackson's caustic email to the SCPR of September 18, 2013 decrying The Report's suspicion that the very top echelon local Democratic Party leadership had known for some time before his resignation on January 4, 2013 that Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2013) would be unable to take office as scheduled on January 7th because of an illness - which regrettably and tragically - eventually cost McDonald his life (February 22, 2013).

Conley's proposal to depose the likes of Gonzalez, DeMora and, hopefully, from the SCPR's perspective, Johnnie, Jr. and R. Shane, could prove to be of the utmost interest to Stark Countians who want the "political curtain" to be pulled back and the conjectured machinations, perhaps, to be revealed as having been "the real deal."

The Report believes that the Jackson e-mail was a "stark" (no pun intended) political calculation hatched up by Johnnie and Shane to put the SCPR on the defensive with an added quest to drive this blogger off pursuing getting forthright answers as to when George T. Maier and "his innermost political circle" first understood that McDonald would not be able to take office and consequently initiated laying the political groundwork to give George the edge in the political competition as to whom would become sheriff to succeed McDonald.

It is one thing to issue "not-under-oath" denials, but will they stand the test of being "put-under-oath?"

For as the SCPR sees it, a key component of the Marcelli lawsuit is whether or not George T. Maier acted in "bad faith" in accepting the first Stark County Democratic Party appointment (February 5, 2013) and therefore is legally vulnerable to having to return some $130,000 of Stark County taxpayer money, combined received (salary/benefits) and spent (re-branding), by George.

Digging into George T. Maier, Eddie Elum, Randy Gonzalez, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, R. Shane Jackson, William DeMora and Harrison County sheriff Ronald J. Maier conversations might shed floodlights of "under oath" testimony that may be revelatory of who knew what, when and the effect of such knowledge/information on George Maier's decision to apply for the appointment to succeed McDonald and the timing thereof.

Readers will recall that initially George Maier was guaranteeing that if he applied for the appointment, he would be qualified.

The essence of the question raised by the  Marcelli lawsuit - in everyday language - given the the Swanson v. Maier Ohio Supreme Court decision of ouster coupled with what information may be forthcoming from the above-reference depositions; is whether or not there has been a "breach of warranty" and that therefore Stark County taxpayers are entitled "as a matter of law" to be reimbursed?

The SCPR believes that the Maier forces will fight "tooth and nail" not to be put under Conley's incisive questioning.

Don't be surprised if Maier agrees to a settlement with Marcelli (acting on behalf of Stark County's taxpayers) in order to avoid his and his political allies being put on the "hot-seat" (i.e. put under oath) and having to answer the tough, dogged and "no stone unturned" questions of one Craig T. Conley.

On the other hand, it was a brazen move on the part of the Maier political cabal to think they could bulldoze through the likes of Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero and interim Sheriff Tim Swanson unchallenged.

The latter could indicate that the political bullying will continue and more audacity and arrogance is in the offing?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


At the conclusion of Monday's meeting this week (the substituted meeting date for today's regular weekly Stark County commissioners' meeting), the Stark County Political Report prevailed upon the commissioners to greet Stark Countians on this Christmas Day, 2013.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013



Oh my!

There are ever so many among Stark County's elected officials and public figures that the Stark County Political Report could selected as the "2013 LUMP OF COAL" (LOC) AWARD WINNER.

But whom to select, that is "a puzzlement."

Over 2013, the SCPR has published the better part of 300 blogs.

So there are many to pick from.



Interestingly enough, as early of January 8th, the Maier brothers (George T. & Johnnie A. Jr) had surfaced as candidates for LOC winners.

George, being pushed by Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez & brother Johnnie, Jr) who came out of nowhere (according to interim Sheriff Tim Swanson), as a candidate to replace Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2012) who could not take office as schedule on January 7th because of an illness that regrettably and lamentably cost him his life on February 22nd.

George was quoted as saying:

George was picked by 92 of 167 voted counted members of the Stark County Democratic Committee on February 5, 2013.

As we know know, his statement was "a lot of phony-baloney" and arrogant bravado inasmuch as the Ohio Supreme Court on November 6th said he was unqualified to be the pick and was ousted "as never having been the legal sheriff."

As if to say "in your face" to the high court, the Dems on December 11th (101 of 166 SCDP-CC members)  once again, under Chairman Randy Gonzalez's leadership, selected George T. Maier.

It appears that Tim Swanson is likely to file a new quo warranto seeking Maier's ouster for a second time.

Moreover, he has asked the Stark commissioners to reimbursed him nearly $34,000 in legal fees.

And, since they are bulking at doing so, the SCPR is being told that he might retract his statement that he will not seek to be paid for the time he should have been drawing a sheriff's salary ($88,511.75) as interim sheriff while (according to the Ohio Supreme Court) George Maier usurped the office.

The SCDP-CC February 5th appoint may end up costing Stark County taxpayers about $130,000.


Will the loses get doubled to $260,000 or thereabouts with the December 11th re-appointment of Maier?


Who can forget another ridiculous statement ("it would be a complete waste of time") made by a Stark County public official/figure Ross Rhodes (assistant Stark County prosecutor) in saying that Stark County citizen Tom Marcelli's demand through his attorney demanded that the prosecutor's office recover $5,000 in fine money for the Stark County taxpayers diverted from the county treasury by Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione for the benefit of the victims of the December, 2012 Newtown, CT elementary school shooting.

After Marcelli filed his lawsuit, guess what?

In no time at all, Judge Forchione was scrambling to recover the $5,000 to the Stark County treasury.

Want to say that again, Prosecutor Rhodes?


Not a year goes by that Canton mayor William J. Healy, II is not a serious contender for the SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime Award.

And  2013 is no exception.

Who can forget the furor Healy unleashed within the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) when he orchestrated the changing of the rules of the Stark County Crime Lab so that non-scientist and political pal Rick Perez (a former and "retired" Stark County chief deputy sheriff [operations]) could become the crime lab chief on February 5, 2013.

Healy tried to blame his safety director Tom Ream.

But nobody was buying Stark County's master manipulator politician Healy's.


At Canton City Council's February 11th meeting, President Allen Schulman let go with a barrage on Stark County's delegation to the Ohio General Assembly for standing by and letting Ohio's urban areas (Canton is Ohio's eighth largest city) get gutted in their local government funds (which includes the formal local government funds, the inheritance tax and a utility tax) from the state of Ohio

Representative J. Kirk Schuring (R - Jackson) and Stephen Slesnick (D - Canton) did respond to Schulman's call to come to council to answer questions.

But not Scott Oelslager (R - Plain) and Christina Hagan (R - Marlboro).

Oelslager, through an aide, said he was "too busy" to come to Canton in Stark County to account to Canton council and, Christina Hagan, she simply blew those Stark County city folk off.  After all, she is Stark County
s "rural" area representative.

And, what's more, though she not say she was too busy.

But it is highly likely she is.

According to an Akron Beacon Journal article of October 5, 2013 she is waiting tables (in addition to being state representative) to pay off an astronomical $80,000 student loan.

So two of Stark County's four legislators have no time for financially troubled Stark County communities?



Canton Council's Democratic majority leader David Dougherty (Ward 7) comes across as being an intelligent guy.

And that may be.

But as an adept politician among his colleagues, he comes up way short.

The word is that because of his abrasive manner with his fellow council members he will no longer be majority leader as of January 6, 2014.

And as far as the SCPR is concerned, he has only himself to blame.

Of course, internal politics like that are no reason to consider Dougherty as potential "Lump of Coal" award winner.

However, there is an aspect of his apparently abrasive manner that is deserving of consideration of being the SCPR's 2013 LOC awardee.

The SCPR opined on February 8, 2012 that Dougherty did not have "a good bedside manner" when chairing a Canton City Council meeting of February 6th.

One of the most important things that any government body or official does, is to hear their constituents on their concerns and questions respecting the operation of government.

A forum in which those concerns/questions are made known are generally titled on meeting agendas as being "public speaks."

Canton City Council has such an agenda item each and every meeting.

On the 6th, Dougherty appeared to be unnecessarily brusque with several citizen-presenters at Public Speaks.

Fortunately, in the view of the SCPR, Dougherty infrequently - as majority leader and hence vice president of council - chairs a council meeting.

One would think that he would have paid attention to the SCPR February 8, 2012 blog on The Report's observation of his apparent lack of an appropriate "bedside manner" in conducting meetings.

But he didn't.

Councilman Dougherty was back at it with his brusqueness on August (the 26th) of this year.

Hence, the SCPR considers David Dougherty for the 2013 SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime award.


Republican Alan Harold ranks up there as one the Stark County Report's favorite Stark County public official.

Alex Zumbar (also a Republican) is probably number one, but Harold is a close second.

A main difference between the SCPR and other Stark County media is that The Report just as easily critiques public officials/figures who impress in an overall sense as readily as The Report pans those who seem to consistently come up "short of the mark" on quality public office/function performance.

Scrutiny of the public sector is about good government; not being a respecter of persons.

One of the things that his predecessor (Democrat Kim Perez) got "raked over the coals" about (no pun intended) was a perception by the folks on the editorial board down at 500 Market Avenue, South that Perez (when he defeated Republican Brant Luther in 2004 [Luther had been appointed by the Stark GOP to replace Janet Creighton as county auditor when she took office as mayor of Canton on January 1, 2004] - when he took office - appointed his Democratic Party political cronies to positions within the auditor's office.

Not to be too harsh on my "editorial board friends," there is some evidence that their concerns had some validity (e.g. Jimmy Babcock and Kevin Fisher).

However, The Report thinks those editorialists are way too selective in singling out Perez.  Those folks are strangely silent when others appoint politically connected persons to office.

It seems that Democrats get lambasted to the exclusion of Republicans.


Well, as we all well know, Democrat Kim Perez got knocked off by Harold in November, 2012 because he was perceived by a majority of Stark County voters of having too politically close to Stark County treasurer Gary D. Zeigler (1999 - October 19, 2011) (see this LINK for background information as to why that perception likely developed).

As readers of the SCPR know, even if The Report likes a particular government official, if The Report thinks there is a transgression by "the favorite," a critical blog is going to come fast and furious.

And such was the case with Harold in his appointing A.R. "Chip" Conde to a lead position in the auditor's office.

Conde is a politically connected Republican who ran against incumbent Democrat William J. Healy, II in 2011 for the mayoralty of Canton.

While The Report thinks Conde is a highly capable guy (which is Harold's defense), there are lots of "highly capables"  and for Harold to hire him to the position (based on political connections - a SCPR opinion) is a breach of he public trust.

Wait a minute!  Harold did advertise the position.  How can you think the Conde hire has political underpinnings?

The Report thinks that Harold is more politically astute that either Campbell or Giavasis.  It appears to the SCPR that the advertising was a sop to the likes of The Report and that nobody except Conde was ever, ever going to get that auditor's department job.

The Report roundly criticized Democrat Rick Campbell for doing the same in hiring son - Kody Gonzalez - of Stark County Dem chairman Randy Gonzalez (who denies he had anything to do with the hiring) as his chief deputy recorder several years ago without seeking competitive candidates.

And, as if he lives a charmed life or something; the SCPR was again critical this year as Kody Gonzalez once again was the recipient of jumping from chief deputy recorder to being chief deputy clerk of courts (Canton Municipal Court) - again "no competition" - at the hand of Democrat Phil Giavasis - the elected Canton clerk of courts.  Kody succeeds father Randy as chief deputy as if the position a family heirloom.

Moreover, the Kody Gonzalez transition was made at - what the SCPR considers to be - a huge increase.  From $49,000 as beginning chief deputy recorder to $64,000 as beginning chief deputy clerk of courts over the course of about five years.

Undoubtedly, father Randy denies having anything to do with the appointment.  The SCPR did not bother asking Randy because the expectation is that all that is forthcoming is "a political spin" that matches or exceeds what comes from Mayor Healy.

Father Gonzalez has tried to sell the SCPR on the notion that "public service" is a Gonzalez family tradition.

The SCPR's rejoinder is a always a sarcastic "oh yes, 'well paid' public service."

Of course, a denial could be true.  But who is going the believe it?  The SCPR certainly has and will not.

To the SCPR, the Harold, Campbell and Giavasis moves reek of partisan politics and when they occur they have been and will continue to be roundly criticized by The Report.

To boot, such conduct will always be prime candidates as being worthy of consideration for the annual SCPR "Lump of Coal" Christmastime award.

Public officials wonder why public skepticism and even cynicism is on the rise?

As an aside - while we are on the topic of "political connectedness and public jobs" - the SCPR is hearing that Randy Gonzalez (who is retiring in January from the Canton chief deputy clerk of courts job) is being considered by newly re-appointed Sheriff George T. Maier as a replacement fiscal officer (Gonzalez is the elected fiscal officer for Jackson Township) for the most recent fiscal officer who resigned last Friday some two days after Maier's reappointment.

It may be that Maier was trying to "grease the skids" for Gonzalez this past Wednesday evening at a holiday gathering of the Stark County Police Chiefs Association when he was telling them "how devastated he was" to lose his fiscal officer.


One can't do without a fiscal officer very long, no?

One has to get one as soon as one possibly can, no?

Does anybody know of anyone who might soon be available?

Another side note.  Readers of the SCPR will recall the blog in which The Report revealed that before he was abruptly removed as sheriff on November 6th by Ohio's court of last resort, Maier was in negotiations with Warren Price (legal counsel for Chairman Gonzalez and the SCDP-CC in Darrow/Maier v. Gonzalez/SCDP-CC mandamus action)  for Price to come on board as either a direct employee/contract employee as the sheriff's legal counsel/human resource director.

Well, one has to wonder whether or not those Price negotiations are on again.

The SCPR has e-mailed both Gonzalez and Maier asking for confirmation of the reports, but neither have responded.

Don't hold your breath, but if they do, of course, the SCPR will supplement this blog to give them their due.


When Darryl Revoldt was North Canton Council president, the SCPR used to think that this council was one of the Stark County's better councils.

But no more!

While council President Jon Snyder is a pretty smooth guy, he does not possess the skills of Revoldt.

The nemesis of North Canton's council is civic activist and former councilman (2000 - 2001) Chuck Osborne.

Revoldt, more or less, kept Osborne in line, but, on one occasion, had him removed from a council meeting for being disruptive.

The SCPR's take on Osborne is that "he is a mixed bag."

Osborne has appeal to The Report in that he is one of only a few Stark Countians who have the stomach for holding public officials' "feet to the fire" in being responsive to the needs of citizens over their own convenience and druthers.

However, he take on projects that the SCPR disagrees with.

One was his recent initiative to make the mayor's office in North Canton a full-time position.

For his nonsense approach on this issue, Osborne does earn the attention of the SCPR as a potential candidate for the 2013 SCPR "Lump of Coal" Award.

Osborne is not the only North Cantonian deserving of consideration for this year's award.

Council President Jon Snyder is another.  As is Republican Councilwoman-at-Large Marcia Kiesling.

In the run up to this year's council election both Snyder (Ward 4 [Mueller]) and Kiesling (McCleaster) decided to file campaign ethics charges.

The point of SCPR dissatisfaction with Snyder and Kiesling is their reported attempt to deny Hillary Mueller and Jamie McCleaster a right to have legal counsel (namely, Warren Price) represent them at the Ohio Elections Commission hearing.


That's what the SCPR heard.

It seems that the objection was that Warren Price had been in discussions about becoming North Canton's water plant superintendent.

So?  What does that have to do with whether or not he represented Mueller and McCleaster before the Ohio Elections Commission?

Exactly the thinking of the SCPR!

As The Report understands the matter, the contention was that Price had agreed to become a North Canton employee and therefore Price would have a conflict in interest in representing the Snyder/Kiesling political opponents.

The fact of the matter is, as it turns out, Price did not accept North Canton's offer.

And the SCPR fails to see how - even if he had - how such is a conflict-in-interest in representing.  It was not the city of North Canton, Price was opposing in his representation of the pair.  It was Snyder and Kiesling in their individual capacities as candidates for political office.

In the final analysis, Price went ahead with the representation.

The SCPR was so unimpressed purported attempt to interfere with this basic right of a person to be represented that The Report believes Snyder and Kiesling are deserving of consideration for the 2013 version of the "Lumo of Coal" SCPR Christmastime award.

Lastly, the SCPR has not been impressed with North Canton City Council (Republican controlled) and North Canton Law Director Tim Fox (a Republican) in:

Accordingly, put North Canton City Council on the list of eligibles for the 2013 6th Annual "Lump of Coal" Award.

A roll of the drums please!


Monday, December 23, 2013


 Update:  10:00 AM

For the likes of a political blog such as the Stark County Political Report, there is no judge in all of Stark County that is quite the match of Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione in generating reader interest.

It seems like every time Judge Frank opens his mouth, he creates an opportunity for the SCPR to write a blog and The Report's numbers do indicate that the readers like to read political assessments of what the good judge is doing and saying these days.

The only other judge in Stark who draws much political interest on part of the press and the Stark County public is Judge Eddie Elum of the Massillon Municipal Court bench. 

Otherwise, Stark's judges (no offense, your Honors) are pretty much a bland group as far as political writers are concerned.

And one gets the impression that they "like it like that."

We know that Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court likes it like that.

Over the past several years or so she has made a number of proposals  (e.g. A Proposal for Strengthening Judicial Elections; May, 2013) to lessen the impact of politics on judicial races and to get the public more participative in judicial elections but not on the basis of political party identification or on candidates playing to the press.

Rather she wants to see restructuring of judicial elections instituted and educational opportunities made available to the voting public that voters will take advantage of.

The SCPR would like to be a mouse in the chambers of Judge O'Connor when she reads about the "creative' sentencing efforts of the likes of Judge Forchione which, one writer says, is sanctioned in Ohio law.
Since last December, Judge Forchione has been "one busy man" in terms of his creative juices flowing.

He had to do "an about face" on Creative Effort #1 (the Studer case sentencing [redirecting fine money to a charity) and he may be undone by the Ohio Supreme Court on Creative Effort #2. (see note)
    •  NOTE:  "an arbitrary" - the SCPR thinks - opening up the Stark County sheriff qualification process to new applicants whereon he quoted as wanting "to err on the side of democracy""
      • The Report expects interim Sheriff Tim Swanson to file a new quo warranto this week asking the Supreme Court to once again remove George T. Maier from office, which, if it happens again, would, in effect, undo Forchione's Creative Effort #2
His most recent foray into creativeness, Creative Effort #3, (sentencing offenders to jail on Christmas Day, according to a local media report) is probably going to stick and prove to be a reliable for Forchione to keep his name in the mainstream media and the blogosphere.

Not exactly some, the chief justice wants to see from her judges across Ohio, one would think.

But Judge Frank appears bound and determined to find ways to be a media headliner.

The SCPR has a copy of a recent day in the telephone life of Judge Forchione in hand and it reveals a number of telephone calls back and forth between the judge and the folks down at 500 Market Avenue, South.

How come the number of the SCPR does not appear in his telephone records?

Maybe just maybe that Judge Forchione knows that The Report is more than prepared and uniquely positioned to ask questions he might feel just more than a mite uncomfortable answering?

It is interesting to note "on the returned phone calls thing" how utterly even-handed (sarcasm folks) that Forchione is in his relationship with Stark County media.  But, of course, those other media folks need every advantage they can muster in order to stay on the same page with the SCPR.

Moving on, one has to wonder "what is yet to come" between now and November, 2014 with Stark County's most media-savvy judge.

Hopefully, Forchione will have an opponent next fall.  Whether or not a Stark County judge has an opponent is always a matter of concern for often they do not.

The number of "uncontested" elections in Stark County (not just judgeships) speaks volumes for the the effectiveness of  both the Stark County Republican and Democratic Party chairmen.

And, if he does get an opponent, Forchione's "creative sentencing" propensity should be a front and center discussion point as the respective campaigns unfold.

The SCPR would like for such a race to show results that indicate a public satisfaction with or against this type of the administration of justice.

Here are a couple of examples of what other judges across the American judicial landscape have done in the way of unusual sentences.
From a political standpoint, creative sentencing is a risky proposition for a judge to model him/herself on and which more than a few prominent American jurists frown upon.

Apparently, Forchione has concluded that the surest way for him to get reelected is via political grandstanding.

The SCPR will do its part to help him be front and center with the Stark County public between now and November, 2104.  Of course, The Report will be seeking out Forchione's opponent for reaction "what has been and what is yet to come" a la the ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future of the classic Christmastime story Scrooge.

The Studer case and the George T. Maier sheriff qualification matter have already served as "lightning rods" that have put him in the Grandstand of Stark County Politics.

The question becomes is this a wise or unwise thing for him to be doing from a political standpoint.

It seems that Judge Forchione is at the vanguard of Creative Punishments the New Trend in Criminal Justice.  

But "how will it play in Peoria err Stark County?

As far as the Stark County Political Report can determine, Forchione is the political equivalent of a Lightning rod that collects highly positive reviews and some let's say euphemistically "less enthusiastic reviews."

His former boss (as Canton law director) and Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei does a "the sun rises and sets on Frank Forchione" whereas (lawyers will like that word, no?) there are "unnamed" (readers can guess who they are, of course) others who seemingly "fly into a rage" at the mere mention of the judge's name.


The Report's take on Forchione is that if he senses unconditional endorsement of the way he comports himself, he couldn't be more gracious, friendly and correct.

However, like most folks with a strong political side to them, if one communicates scrutiny and implies a willingness to take exception in a given situation, depending on the situation, then feeling threatened he he is likely to react with frostiness, if not hostility.

So in the market place of ideas and political relationships, you've got those competing looks on Forhione out there floating in the larger Stark County political milieu.  And it appears the political sphere is the one that he really is paying close attention to in his creative sentencing stance as next November looms on the political horizon.

Undoubtedly, he sees himself as being an avant-garde judicial official who is advancing the cause of "tailor-made" justice.

The SCPR has scoured the Internet in order to get an appreciation of how "creative sentencing" is being received.
The SCPR shares the implied concerns "when judicial creativity in sentencing becomes just a bit too creative."

And, of course, one has to be concerned about "the rule of law" prevailing and that citizens not endorse a judge becoming a helter-skelter fashioner of the administration of justice.

In Stark County, it was exactly that concern that prompted a lawsuit being filed to force Judge Forchione to retract his sentence (in terms of where the fine money ended up).

And the SCPR thinks that Stark Countians should appreciate the effort of Citizen Thomas Marcelli in being willing to step forward to compel Judge Forchione to rethink his action in Studer.

As far as The Report is concerned, the best statement of worries about "off-the-reservation"  (err creative sentencing) judges apparently out to make name for themselves in the political reelectability arena has been expressed by television legal commentator  Jonathon Turley, to wit:  (Dear Judges: Your Creative Punishments Are Hilarious and Also Terrible. Please Stop)
The entire point of a code of laws is to move away from “common sense” justice and its attendant inconsistencies, and to professionalize the process by establishing a standardized list of crimes and punishments that’s valid in all jurisdictions.
The judiciary’s role is to interpret these laws and pass judgment on behalf of the state; judges are theoretically elected or appointed based on their supremely nuanced understanding of these laws, not based on their ability to hand-letter punitive signage.
This doesn’t mean that the system always works.
But it’s meant to ensure that, at the very least, the system proceeds with a measure of fairness and dignity.
Judge Frank Forchione already has enough of a track record on his innovative sentencing techniques for Stark Countians to assess whether or not his trend-setting methods are something that "the body politic" cottons to.

Undoubtedly, he is on a roll and more headline grabbing and grandstanding-esque sentences are in the offing.

Fochione's jury should be the Stark County voting public as educated by the Stark County bar.

For those members of the bar who have entered the discussion, and, in one case has taken action, the SCPR says that such is a good thing.

Judges are very powerful figures in the American society.

While many would like to take the selection of judges out of the hands of the voting public, the SCPR is not among them.

Forchione has to understand that his creative sentencing trek can result in a his becoming a political lightning rod that could result in his political demise.

Such should be the right of the people in our democratic-republican system of government.

"Let it be written, let it be said" - and - let the people decide come November, 2014.

The Stark County "voting public 'jury'" is out on Judge Frank Forchione, no?

Friday, December 20, 2013




The SCPR presents excerpted language from the motions which the SCPR succinctly states the case of relators Swanson and Darrow.

[Editor insertions]

To repeat:  "selected excerpts are presented" by the SCPR.

The Respondents [Chairman Gonzalez and the Democratic Party Central Committee] have elected [December 11, 2013] to ignore the actual vacancy in the office which resulted from Sheriff-elect, Michael A. McDonald's announcement that he could not assume office for personal health reasons.

As alleged in the complaint, and addressed. more-fully herein below, it remains the Relators' position that the Respondents are under the clear legal duty to fill the McDonald vacancy from the two applicants for that vacancy who satisfied all legal qualifications before the applicable "qualification date." 

The reappointment of Maier by the DCC demonstrates a gross departure from the Respondents' legal duties and, frankly, flies in the face of this Court's decision in Swanson v. Maier. 

Seemingly without regard to these facts, the Respondents ignored the McDonald vacancy in preference to what they deem the "new vacancy" created by this Court's judicial ouster of Maier.

According to the Respondents, there was a "vacancy caused by the removal of Maier," and reportedly this "new vacancy" allowed for an "updated 30 day qualification date" extending from the Court's decision in Maier. (Respondents' Response to Motion for Ancillary Relief, p. 12). This approach, of course, further ignores that, in Swanson v. Maier, this Court not only ousted Maier but, further, reinstated Swanson to his appointment as acting sheriff ... .

Incident to Swanson's reinstatement, the only vacancy remaining within the jurisdiction of the DCC to fill.

The Relators' claim in mandamus has the same logical foundation as the claim in Deiter [a cited case authority].

The vacancy that remains to be filled is that created by Sheriff-elect McDonald's inability to assume office - the January 7, 2013 McDonald vacancy. 

The fact that Maier was previously appointed to the office, and was actually removed through quo warranto, does not empower the appointing authority to skip or gloss over the McDonald vacancy.

Following the ouster of Maier, the DCC was called upon to appoint someone to fill the January 7, 2013 vacancy to which Maier had been appointed but for which he was not legally qualified. by appointment was the McDonald vacancy.

No "new" rules, time deadlines or other criteria or credentials can be utilized by the Respondents in the process of exercising appointment authority to fill the McDonald vacancy.

Relators maintain. that the jurisdiction and authority of the Respondents is confined to consideration for the appointment to that vacancy from. those eligible and legally-qualified candidates who timely submitted and processed their applications for that vacancy prior to the "applicable qualification date" of February 6, 2013.

A "person qualified under R.C. 311.01 to assume the office of Stark County sheriff" must, among other qualification, satisfy the qualifications date of February 6, 2013, for appointinent to the McIDonald vacancy and term. 

This Court did not expressly or by implication tell the DCC to use some new "updated" qualification date to proceed under R.C. 305.02(B).

If one accepts the Respondents' [Gonzalez and the DCC] argument, that "[a]fter 45 days, the DCC's legal authority lapses and it has no power to appoint," then the Respondents must recognize relator Darrow, who was the qualified applicant who received the most votes at the February 5 meeting, as the appointee to the McDonald vacancy. (Motion, p. 8). 

That is the result dictated by the code as opposed to recognition of some fictitious new vacancy and new qualification date. 

In this case, the Respondent DCC has a clear legal duty, fixed by law, to comply fully with R.C. 305.02 and 311.01 in filling the vacancy of Stark County Sheriff The DCC has already held a meeting for the purpose of appointment, and only Darrow and Dordea were the
applicants eligible for appointment with timely submissions prior to the qualification date. 

The DCC is under a clear legal duty to appoint from those two eligible applicants [Darrow and Dordea].

George T. Maier did not have any term in office as Stark County Sheriff.  To the contrary, he was judicially ousted, and that ouster is treated as though his appointment to the position had never occurred. 

Inasmuch as Maier served no tezm in office, and his appointment was never legitimate, his ouster did not create any new vacancy.

Remarkably, the Respondents even acknowledge that the "complaint" is couched in terms of compelling acts." ... That observation is correct - the relief sought in this case is an order compelling the Respondents to carry out the legal duties imposed upon them to complete the statutory appointment process. ... 

No form of injunction would "provide relators with the relief they request; an order to cornpel the [respondent] to comply with its duties under [the] R..C.......

Consequently, and "notwithstanding respondents" claim to the contrary, relators' mandamus claim is not an ill-disguised claim of declaratory judgment and prohibitory injunction, ... .

The Maier appointment was a nullity, and Maier's removal - coupled with the reinstatement of Swanson - did not create a new vacancy. 

The Respondents are under a clear legal duty to fill a lawful appointment for the McDonald vacancy, completing the process that was begun in February of 2013.

Recognition of the single vacancy at issue, the McDonald vacancy, and preservation of the applicable qualification date of February 6, 2013 for that vacancy, provide the only mechanism for protecting the appointment process.from manipulation. 

This Court should reject any approach under which an unqualified candidate for the office of sheriff can receive an appointment, usurping the appointment opportunity of qualified applicants, and then effectively create time to manufacture new credentials if ousted by a challenger. 

Such an approach to utilization of the statutes would lead to manipulation, as demonstrated by this case.

There was no "new vacancy" created by the judicial ouster of Maier. 

Maier was not legally qualified for the appointment, and he should never have even been in the office. Relator Swanson was entitled to the office, as Acting Sheriff, the entire time since his appointinent in January of 2013 under R.C. 305.02(F). 

The "exception" clause of R.C. 305.02(B) makes its clear that there is but one vacancy to be filled in this instance, that of officer-elect McDonald, and the person lawfully appointed will assume the McDonald vacancy at the beginning of the term.

There are significant issues to be determined by this Court in this mandamus action.

Moreover, the reappointment of Maier as Stark County Sheriff, in contravention of the applicable appointment authority under R.C. 305.02(B), does not end the controversy. 

If anything, the positions asserted and measures undertaken by the Respondents reenforce the urgent need for mandamus




This case addresses the enforcement of statutory appointment authority impressed upon the Respondents by R.C. 305.02. Because the context involves a vacancy in the office of county sheriff, the specific statutory requirements for one to receive such appointment, set forth in R.C. 311.01, are also essential to the determination of this case.

The procedures for appointment to public office complement Ohio election law in many respects. Thus, the crux of the Relators' Motion to Expedite Writ of Mandamus in this case is the suggestion to the Court that this case should be treated and scheduled as an expedited election case would be handled. As reflected in the Complaint, the Memorandum in Support of Writ, as well as the other filings to date by the parties, there appear to be no material factual disputes.

Rather, clearly-defined, legal questions control. Relators Swazison and Darrow maintain that the only vacancy which remains to be filled by appointYn.ent is that created when off icer-elect, Michael A. McDonald, announced that he was unable to assume office in January of 2013. The vacancy occurred January 7, 2013 and the applicable qualification date for appointment to that vacancy was February 6, 2013. "Here, McDonald indicated before the beginning of his term that he was unable to assume office, so the vacancy occurred on January 7, the first day of McDonald's term.. And 30 days after that date is the qualification date' February 6, 2013." State ex rel. Swanson v. Maier, ... .

Respondents on the other hand claim that there was a "vacancy caused by the removal of Maier" which resulted from the judicial ouster of Maier by this Court. Based upon that premise, the
Respondents then further contend that this "new vacancy" allowed for an "updated 30 day qualification date" extending from the Court's decision in Maier.

The Respondents have refused to recognize that the appointment authority they possess is confined to consideration of qualified candidates who satisfied the applicable qualification date of February 6, 2013 for the McDonald vacancy; instead, Respondents proceeded with consideration of applications meeting the so-called "updated" qualification date they created, for what the Respondents deem as the "Maier vacancy."

The legal issues implicated in this case are squarely presented and, for that additional reason, the Relators proposed expediting this case.

The Relators patterned their motion after the process very recently endorsed by the Court in the case of State ex rel. Cleveland Right to Life, Inc., et al. v. State of *Ohio Controlling Board, et al, Case No. 2013-1668.

In Cleveland Right to Life, the relators have commenced an action in mandamus and prohibition challenging whether the executive branch of the state can adopt the expansion of Medicaid spending. The complaint therein was filed on October 22, 2013, and on October 24, 2013, the relators filed a motion to expedite, relying upon former S.Ct.Prac.R. XIV, Section 4(c). Relators requested that, given the subject matter of the case, the Court place the case on a calendar substantially identical to that used in election matters. The Court sustained the motion to expedite by Entry filed on October 31, 2013.

Here, Relators request nothing more.

Wlile the Respondents have already proceeded with their meeting on December 11, 2013, and have already reappointed George T. Maier as Stark County Sheriff, that does not dispense with the need to proceed to the legal issues and claims alleged in this case. Relators maintain that this is still an appropriate case to place under an expedited calendar. The motion to expedite concerns only a schedule for the orderly advancement and determination of this case, and it does not seek any form of other, ancillary or injunctive relief.

WHEREFORE, Relators, Timothy A. Swanson and Lou Darrow, respectfully request that the Respondents motion to strike be overruled.





On December 25th of 2008 the Stark County Report initiated a "Lump of Coal Award in honor of former Repository Ohio Statehouse reporter Paul Kostyu.

This year will be the sixth year that the SCPR has awarded a "Lump of Coal" Award to a deserving Stark County public official or public figure.

The "Lump of Coal" Award complements The Report retinue of recognitions of Stark's public officials/figures which also include an annual Thanksgiving Award and SCPR suggested New Years Resolutions that various Stark political personalities ought to - in the estimate of The Report - be making.

Although the SCPR already has a person in mind to receive the 2013 6th Annual "Lump of Coal" Award, The Report is open to consider your nominee.

E-mail your choice and the reasons for your selection The Report.

Kostyu was known to single out state representatives and senators who embarrassed themselves during their terms in office as meriting a "bah-humbug-esque" award some time during the Christmas season.

Kostyu spent some eight (8) years in the employ of The Repository/Gatehouse before being "unceremoniously" (in the opinion of the SCPR) dumped by the folks at 500 Market Avenue, South.

In honor of Kostyu's work at the Statehouse, the SCPR has picked up on his awarding of a "lump of coal" idea.

His departure created a Repository void on political/government reporting and editorializing that the SCPR seized upon with great success.

A BIG  SCPR thank you! to the "bigs" running The Repository.

A VERY, VERY "MERRY CHRISTMAS" to the chiefs at The Rep.

Paul Kostyu has returned to academia (where he started his employment some 25 years ago) as shown in his "Linked In" biography.