Thursday, December 5, 2013





Notwithstanding Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez's spin (on a local talk radio show) a couple weeks ago regarding the status of political party precinct committeepersons (i.e. they are elected public officials), nobody who understands how people come to be committeeperson will buy the chairman's slick implication that these folks are the equivalent of let's say a Congressman Bob Gibbs, a Stark County Richard Regula and a Trustee Mike Stevens of Lawrence Township  (picked out by the SCPR because he is a favorite [sarcasm] of Stark Dems' executive vice chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr).

The SCPR knows full-well how most precinct committeepersons (SCDP-CC) get their posts.  And it is clear to anyone with any critical thinking skill whatsoever that there is not a weaker link in the American democratic-republican system of government than political party central committees.

The Report believes that political party central committees are controlled, manipulated and used by party officials to further their own personal political ambitions and the committees ONLY have an INCIDENTAL - at best - connection to the will (in the case of the Stark County Democratic Party and its handling of the Mike McDonald sheriff-elect replacement process) Stark Countians.

Mostly, aspirant central committee members run unopposed at the precinct level of a ward.

Mostly, extremely low numbers (sometimes as low as two, three and five votes [see vote totals below] of partisan-registered voters of the selecting party of total eligible voters (be it a Democratic Party primary or a Republican Party primary) vote.

A real expression of full-blown "the will-of-significant-numbers-of-voters,, Mr. Gonzalez?

In some locales (e,g, heavily Republican Lake Township for the Democrats), in most of the precincts, nobody runs (18 of 23 precincts were left vacant after the 2012 precinct committee elections in Lake).

By the SCPR's calculation the Stark Dems have about 80 vacant spots across Stark's political subdivisions (i.e. cities, villages and townships).

Those vacancies are subject to be filled between biennial elections by the party's executive committee on the recommendation/request of the party chairman.

Of course, the party chairman is not going to recommend just anybody.  He is going to have to be convinced that the prospect with be a "loyal" party chairman supporter.

There are a few contested committee precinct committeeperson races but usually only when the party bosses are fighting among themselves for control party precinct committee.

Last year in Stark County Democratic Party circles there was some jockeying going on between Canton mayor William J. Healy, II, Chairman Gonzalez, (chief deputy of Canton's clerk of courts and Jackson Township's fiscal officer), Executive Vice Chair Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (a former chairman who is Massillon clerk of courts) and John Ferrero (a former chairman who is Stark County prosecutor).  And, perhaps, Stark County's unions were behind some of the candidates in contested races.

Even in an exceptional year of Stark Dems party bosses fighting among themselves for sway over the precinct committee ONLY 37 of some 285 precincts were contested.

In sum, of the approximate 285 Democratic Party precincts, ONLY about 13% were contested in a democratic election.

Let's take a few case examples.

The Report presents Massillon's Ward 1 (where Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero lives).

In the 2012 Stark County Democratic Party primary vote for Ward 1B precinct committeeperson (according to Stark Board of Elections records) there were a total of five votes.

How many Democrats were there in Ward 1B eligible to vote?

Yes, 105?

So less than 5% of the eligible Democrats voted in the Ward 1B Democratic Party precinct committeeperson election.


Well, lets go to the other extreme in Massillon 2013 Democratic Primary precinctcommittee person election.

That would be Ward 5A.

Wow!  Look at the following Stark BOE records.

A whopping 74 Democratic voters voted in that ward's precinct committeeperson election.

Break out the champagne, no!

And Gonzalez would probably buy the champagne.



Because political gadfly and self-styled parliamentarian Scott Graber lost.  At the February 5th SCDP-CC appointment of Maier event, Graber was a real nemesis to Gonzalez.

Anyhow, let's get back to the task at hand.

What percentage of Democrats voted in this "best performing" (in terms of all registered Democrats) of Massillon wards of the Democratic precinct committeeperson vote?

Well, there were a total of 200 Democrats who were eligible to vote and 74 voted.

Hip-hip-hooray!  A huge 37%.  Kudos to the Ward 5A Massillon Democrats.

But still, the very best of all of Massillon's wards, the turnout was significantly below 50%.  Hardly a testament for vibrant democracy.

For Chairman Gonzalez and his legal counsel in Swanson/Darrow v. Gonzalez, et al to ballyhoo that the political party central committee structure is in any way, shape or form an equivalency to and a representation of the American competitive election system is an outrage and a complete insult to the intelligence even to non-politically-attuned citizens.

For all of SCDP-CC's democratic deficiencies, those 84 Stark County Central Committeepersons who voted for Louis Darrow are the folks who got screwed.  They voted for "the only viable qualified candidate.  The Ohio Supreme Court has said that the 92 votes for Maier were void votes.

What is so hard to understand about that?

Republican Larry Dordea was certainly qualified.  But being a Republican in a Democratic Party process there was "no way in Hell" he was going to get the appointment.  The one vote he got (in view of the fact ballots had to be signed in order to be counted) was truly amazing.

Even though the appointed sheriff is accountable to all Stark Countians (whether Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or whatever), make no mistake about it - only Democrats need apply.

Of course, the Republicans do the same thing.

Democrat Chryssa Hartnett (of the Stark County prosecutor's office) "qualification-wise" should have been "the odds on favorite" to replace Republican V. Lee Sinclair as Court of Common Pleas Court judge earlier this year.  But she didn't get a smell from the Stark GOP or Republican governor John Kasich.

In  a "good going Chryssa" moment, the SCPR is pleased to see that she has taken out petitions to run against the "politically connected one" (Republican - of course - Curtis Werren) who got the Stark Republican Party and Republican Governor John Kasich nod though he had not practiced law for some time before gaining the appointment.

Both parties show how important it is (sarcasm folks) getting the most qualified person into publicly appointed jobs.

It seems to the SCPR that Party loyalty and political connections, time and again, trumps merit as the prime criterion for selection/election when the politicos like Matthews, Gonzalez, Maier, Jr and the like get their hands on the process.

Matthews' big crusade to feather his own nest was apparently to help Jim Renacci become the Republican nominee for 16th district congressman (back "in the day" when it included all of Stark County) to take on then Democrat Congressman John Boccieri.

When the venerable Ralph Regula retired at the end of 2008, it meant that unless Republican nominee Kirk Schuring won in his race against Boccieri, Matthews' wife Heidi was likely going to be out of a job inasmuch as she was one of Regula's most highly paid staff persons.

Quite a blow to family finances, no?

As it turns out, Schuring did lose and Heidi had to go elsewhere looking for work.

But "lo and behold" along comes Renacci needing help to get the nomination to run against Boccieri in 2010.

Who was "Johnnie on the Spot" to shepherd the effort?

You've got it!

None other that Stark County Republican chairman Jeff Matthews (also Stark County Board of Elections director).

Who was one of Renacci's first hires when he took office in 2011?

Shucks!  You SCPR readers are just "too damn smart."

Of course, Heidi likely was only hired by Renacci to have her salary paid by federal tax dollars, not because of the pro-Renacci effort of husband Jeff, because she "reeked" of merit.

Much like Kody Gonzalez (son of Dems chairman Randy Gonzalez) who came out of obscurity to skyrocket through Stark County and city of Canton government to land top notch "chief deputy jobs" with the Stark County recorder's office and, of late, the Canton Municipal clerk of courts office.

Perhaps, it is something in the water.

Isn't it interesting that the Canton Municipal clerk of courts Phil Giavasis also sits in the Stark County Board of Elections.

Or, maybe, Matthews and Giavasis, though of different political parties, as an incident of being in proximity to one another incidentally "rubbed shoulders."

Who knows?  But they both have developed "a nose for talent" in detecting those most merited for public employment.

One has to wonder why we taxpayers have been willing to support a government that is staffed all to often with the politically connected?

It could be that George T. Maier would make a fine sheriff.

But because of:
  • his blatant use of political connections (e.g. Gonzalez, Maier, Jr), 
  • unanswered questions about his demeanor and temperament, 
  • evidence (to the SCPR) of his being a respecter of persons,
  • topped off by his apparent willingness to use Harrison County taxpayers as a  "cup of coffee, stopping off place" in "a quick fix" effort to cure his Ohio statutory qualification problem in Stark County
the SCPR thinks that it is risky indeed for him to become Stark County sheriff.

That he is in concert with the party bosses in an attempt to bulldoze his way through process of law in an old fashion Ohio General Assembly political strongman Vern Rife (brother Johnnie's model for political action) political power move should give Stark Countians "pause for thought."

The county's chief law enforcement official is one powerful person.

Who gets that job is critically important.

There are many Stark Countians who believe that the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee made a major mistake in selecting Gary D. Zeigler to replace Mark Roach as county treasurer back in 1999.

Few doubt that he was a quintessential party loyalist who had run as a Democratic Party representative in many, many losing efforts before he got the treasury appointment.

Notwithstanding his political party credentials, dare say that most Stark Countians - post Zeigler years as treasurer, would have had the Dems select someone who actually had a track record working of successfully managing a financial operation.

The Report believes that George T. Maier is much better "professionally" credential than Zeigler was.

However, it is highly disturbing that there is such a heavy political push at his back.

If he is "head and shoulders" above everybody else as a number of supporters want to say, why is he unwilling now that his qualification under Ohio law has been declared by the Ohio Supreme Court to be deficient to step aside and get qualified "with a Stark County law enforcement agency" and run for the Stark County Democratic Party nomination in May, 2014?

To The Report, knowing politicians as I do, I suspect there is something more than anybody currently knows (and, perhaps will ever know) as to why the Democratic powers that be are bulldozing ahead.

The graphic metaphor used in today's blog is that I think that Gonzalez et al. are on "thin" ice in using the SCDP-CC structure to pass judgment on George T. Maier.

Gonzalez himself should step forward and say:  "George, you know what.  Why don't you step aside and let us appoint Lou Darrow as sheriff.  Get your qualification under the law squared away and then run in our Democratic Party primary come May."

Though Gonzalez likes to paint himself as being a man whose first and primary focus is the public interest and that he sees himself as a public servant, the SCPR sees very little evidence of such.

He has been well compensated for his public work individually and number of folks close to him appear to the SCPR and other Stark Countians to have benefited from his prominence in Stark County political life.

Gonzalez's political push for Maier speaks much more loudly of being a naked political power move than an example of selfless public service.

So the SCPR view is that his self-aggrandizement is as in biblical terms a "noisy gong and clanging cymbal, absent substance.

The current situation is an opportunity for him to show in action that he can be a statesman in the public interest.

Some may say that his presiding over the SCDP-CC when it selected Republican Alex Zumbar as county treasurer as the replacement for Zeigler in October, 2011 was such action.

Not as far as the SCPR is concerned.

He had no other choice.  The uproar with the the Stark County body politic would have been such that had the Dems not appointed Zumbar, voters would have taken their wrath on any Democrat running countywide.

As it was, county auditor Kim Perez was a victim of the Zeigler situation.  Had the Dems turned Zumbar away, it was truly a "Katy bar the door situation" and the political damage to Democrats running countywide likely would have been much more extensive.

So he was doing the practical political thing to aid Democrats in "cutting their loses."  He was not trying to be the statesman.

The SCPR has plenty of videotape on previous blogs showing Gonzalez himself saying that he was not doing the statesman thing in asking the Democrats to appoint Republican Zumbar as treasurer.

The Dems needed to appoint Zumbar, he said, in order "not to make him a political martyr" and thereby put Democrat officeholders in harms way in future elections.

The current imbroglio is quite a different situation.

It does provide an opportunity for "doing the right thing" for "the right reason" and the Democrats did not need to appoint a Republican to get a qualified candidate.

And asking the SCDP-CC to appoint the obviously qualified Lt. Louis Darrow did not on February 5th and does not now entail Gonzalez abandoning his friend George T. Maier.

There is another day for Maier.

That day is called the Stark County Democratic Party primary and it will be held 147 days (four months and 26 days) from December 11th.

Stark County does not need another long drawn out court battle on a matter that will come before all Stark County voters in November, 2014.

Gonzalez can self-promote on his being all about public service "until the cows come home."

As far as The Report is concerned such the "I am primarily about public service" declarations are on "thin-ice" as long as he continues the track he currently on.

His insistence on appointing Maier absent a Supreme Court declaration that he is qualified is indication that the Maier thing is all about power politics.  It is not about following "the rule of law."

Moreover, he just needs to stop it with his ridiculous assertion that central committeepersons are elected officials in the sense that the general public understands elected officials to be.

As shown in the graphic at the beginning of this blog, the ice is not only thin, it is melting away and cracking up.

Stark County Democratic Party needs to get off the thin ice and get onto solid ground.

But does Gonzalez have it within him "to lead the way?"

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