Thursday, February 28, 2013

(VIDEO: COMMISSIONERS COMMENT ON HANKE) STARK CO. CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR MIKE HANKE'S LAST DAY OF WORK. RETIRES, EFFECTIVE TOMORROW. AN EXCELLENT HIRE, NO?



In the annals of Stark County commissioner history December has proved to be both the best of times and the worst of times for former Stark County commissioner Tom Harmon.

The best of times occurred on December 13, 2007 when on the strong support of the-then Commissioner Harmon, the commissioners selected former Repository managing editor and longtime employee Michael Hanke as Stark County's new chief administrator.

No one knew it at the time, the decision to hire Hanke was probably the saving grace in getting Stark County through the worst of times which were yet to come.

The first year went well enough for Hanke, but then came December 28, 2008:  the beginning of the worst of times (LINK - prior blog) for Stark County finances.

On that date the-then Board of Stark County Commissioners composed of Harmon, Todd Bosley and Jane Vignos decided to impose a 0.5% sales tax.

The imposition of the tax kicked off an furor among everyday Stark Countians which resulted in the tax being repealed in November, 2009 and coupled with a nose diving national/local economy resulted in Stark County government experiencing a financial crisis which the county is just now beginning to get out of.

Much of the credit for survival and even a degree of prospering is in the opinion of the SCPR owing to Chief Administrator Hanke.

But he did have help.

In November, 2010 former Canton mayor Janet Creighton (who has held a number of Stark County elective offices) and former longtime Canton law director Tom Bernabei (also a former councilman and Healy administration official) assessed that there was a large deficiency in county commissioner leadership quality and offered themselves to Stark Countians as having "been there, done that" type of leaders who on being elected teamed up with Hanke to pull Stark County through to the point it now occupies:  surviving and in small measure beginning to thrive.

The Report could go through all the many tests, trials and difficulties that Stark County has endured during Hanke's tenure, but to do so would be to spoil yesterday's celebration by the commissioners of the former reporter and editor turned top flight administrator's gig as chief administrator.

During Hanke's time, he has served with eight commissioners.


Stark County employees will hold a Hanke retirement celebration event at the Stark County Office Building tomorrow afternoon.

Hanke announced his retirement on December 13, 2012:  five years to the day of his initial hire.

Be sure to see this video of Commissioners Bernabei, Creighton and Regula commenting on the Michael Hanke era as chief administrator for the Stark County commissioners.

And thank you Tom Harmon for having the foresight in being a driving force in 2007 Board of Stark County Commissioners making the right choice!



Wednesday, February 27, 2013

STATE AND FEDERAL LEGISLATORS ABANDON LOCAL GOV'T FUNDING. IGNORE (EXCEPT FOR OELSLAGER) CANTON COUNCIL'S REQUEST FOR THEM TO PRESENT THEMSELVES & EXPLAIN WHY!



At the February 11th meeting of Canton City Council (SCPR blog LINK), President Allen Schulman got all over Stark County's federal and state legislators for allowing local government funding to plunge to levels that threaten the ability of Stark County's local governments to provide basic services.

On the 19th, he followed up with a letter, to wit:


Guess how many responses he has gotten so far?

Answer:  One!

That was a telephone call from state Senator Scott Oelslager's office (Republican [Plain] - the 29th which covers most of Stark County) saying:  "No, I am not coming to Canton City Council!"

No reason given.

And Oelslager is chairman of the Ohio Senate finance committee.  He just might be a guy who can do something about the plunge in state funding of local government.

But of course because he puts his political party's interest (more specifically Governor Kasich's balancing the state budget on the backs of local governments) over his constituents' local interests, he is going to be "a no show."

Hmm?

The rest of the Ohio General Assembly Stark County delegation:

From Christina Hagan (Republican - the 50th - Marlboro), Kirk Schuring (Republican - the 48th - Jackson) and Stephen Slesnick (Democrat - the 49th - Canton) NOT A WORD!

Well, how about Stark three congressional representatives:  Bob Gibbs (Republican - the 7th - Holmes County), (Jim Renacci - the 16th - Wadsworth [Summit County]) and Tim Ryan - the 13th - Youngstown [Mahoning County])?

And add U.S. Senators Rob Portman (Republican) and Sherrod Brown (Democrat).

These are the folks who are about to take the federal government into dramatic budget cuts (sequestration) and thereby cause financial hardship for local communities such as Canton.

Again, NOT A WORD!

What arrogant, unaccountable people, no?

At election time they are swarming all over us.  But when they are asked to do their job for local constituents, they are nowhere to be seen!

Just let some local government (let's say a school board) gin up an honor to bestow on one of them.

Oh, that's different.

He/she would be at the meeting dressed to the nine's and with photographers in tow.

And most likely, the locals would be licking their boots with nary a question about his legislative matter or that legislative matter that the legislator hasn't delivered on.

One doesn't like to be knee-jerk, but why would anybody vote for an incumbent legislator who will not come to the halls of local government to answer the constituents tough questions?

When are Stark County's political/governmental leaders going to unite and come out full force and say to the people of Stark County:  "do not vote for these people!"
  • Christina Hagan,
  • Scott Oelslager,
  • Kirk Schuring,
  • Stephen Slesnick,
  • Bob Gibbs,
  • Jim Renacci,
  • Tim Ryan,
  • Rob Portman, and
  • Sherrod Brown
"They disrespect us to the point that will not come hear our grievances."

The SCPR's attitude has always been that to the degree local government officials play nice with these folks, is the degree to which they get kicked in the teeth.

Schulman is showing some promise. He has chided Chris Borello and her Concerned Citizens of Stark County for besieging council with their anti-fracking concerns to go after Hagan, Oelslager, Schuring and Slesnick (who all support or supported taking local control of fracking away from local governments) at the right time - election time.

You can be sure that anyone of these legislators if they think they are going to be ex-Senator Oelslager or ex-Representative Stephen Slesnick over a given issue, are going to get attentive yesterday.

It is up to the likes of Schulman to bring people together at critical election times in order to get results.

What is good for Chris Borello and her followers is good for Schulman and all Stark County local government leaders.

Only yesterday, Policy Matters Ohio put out a graph that shows the devastation that the Ohio General Assembly has wrought on local government. 


A second graph shows that new revenues fall substantially short of projected losses.


And it not just Canton that is under the financial gun.

So are Stark's other cities and villages.


And townships.


The question that the SCPR has is whether or not Stark's cities, villages and townships will continue to allow the likes of Hagan, Oelslager, Schurng and Slesnick to thumb their noses at them.

If they do, then they get everything they deserve!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

CANTON COUNCIL MAJORITY (LEADER?) DOUGHERTY GETS REALLY DUMB?



UPDATED:  03/04/2013

After about a year of non-action, Healy acts to staff Tree Commission:


VIDEOS

Council Votes Down Rule Changes

Schulman Reacts

Morris and Cirelli React

Schulman Questions Redflex Representative

Morgan on Healy Failure to Appoint Tree Commission

The Stark County Political Report has seen political figures do some "really" dumb things.

But the apparent attempt by Canton council's political cabal of Dougherty (6th Ward; also majority leader), Griffin (3rd Ward; also assistant majority leader), Cole (at large), West (2nd Ward) and Babcock (at large) last night to slip through changes to the rules of council as if they were merely "cleaning up the rules" ranks up there as being a huge blunder.

Seemingly, the "suggested changes" to council's rules have been in the works for some time.  They were published on February 8th.  But Councilpersons Frank Morris (the 9th Ward) and Mary Cirelli (at large) told The Report (see video below) that they only learned of them on Friday, February 22nd at the end of the business day.



Just on that count alone (i.e. springing changes on council "not involved in the committee process" councilpersons "at the last moment) is not a politically wise thing to do.

And add to that a provision to strip council president Allen Schulman of his task, as the presiding officer, to assign proposed ordinances to committee.


A source (not Schulman himself) tells the SCPR that Schulman, when told of the proposed change, was "bouncing off the ceiling" as in upset.

The Report did get Schulman on camera last night.  If the "upset" account is accurate, then he certainly had cooled down by last night. 

Schulman is much more politically skilled than Messers Dougherty, Griffin, Cole, West and Babock as his measured response shows.



Another of the proposed rule change that was upsetting to the vote "no" group (Cirelli, Hawk, Fisher, Mariol, Mack and Morris) was one requiring that council members submit copies of proposed informal resolutions and other communications (agenda items) to the majority leader and the appropriate committee chairperson.


Seems harmless enough, no?

But not to the six who voted "no" on the "amend council rules" informal resolution.



To pass, the amendment needed eight votes.  It got only five (likely six, if Smith is present).   Who is doing Majority Leader Dougherty's counting?

The six no votes obviously had concerns about the new requirement.

The SCPR understands that "mum was the word" among the dissident councilpersons as they geared up to vote the proposal down in terms of tipping off Leader Dougherty at their plans.

Hmm?

Talk about "a lack of confidence" in Leader Dougherty!

Obviously, the six did not think talking sense to the Leader would change the minds of him and is consorts.

Of Canton council's 10 standing committees, only two are chaired outside the Dougherty, Griffin, West, Cole, Smith and Babcock council combined.

Likely council's most able financial man Greg Hawk (Ward 1), was removed as finance committee chair after serving for years in that capacity when council reorganized in January, 2012.  And he tells the SCPR, he was pushed off; he did not ask for another assignment.

Makes one wonder whether or not Leader Dougherty and assistant Leader Griffin can expect a new term as council leaders in the 2014/15 council?

Councilman Thomas West has practically been down on his hands and knees begging in trying to get his fellow council members (most of who, if not all, are among the six voting "no" last night) to vote as a majority of council in favor of his Redflex traffic camera "pilot project" proposal.

After having put the proposal back on council's agenda for a second reading last night, he had to have Leader Dougherty send it back to committee after it became apparent that council was not going to vote favorably on it likely due to concerns raised by Council President Allen Schulman (in the pre-council-meeting work session) about the desirability of contracting with Redflex given the media revelation that the company has been the subject of an investigation in the Chicago area.

Schulman (in this video) asks Redflex's representative to Canton City Council to get back to council with a full report of the extent to which Redflex is being investigated.


Strange that a man who needs the support of his fellow council members would participate in what seems to be a more or less a secretive rule change process until it got sprung on council at virtually the last minute?

To boot, about a month ago he and fellow councilperson Chris Smith were impliedly accusing councilmembers Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris of not being team players in going off and holding their combined meeting with residents of their respective wards.

The Report has got to think West is politically smarter than that!

All-in-all, last night's council meeting was very interesting.

And this blog does not even get into the details the matters of:
  • Schulman skewering state and federal legislators for their making no response (except for Scott Oelslager [Republican state Senator - 29th - chairman of the Senate finance committee] to council's request and explain state and federal cuts to urban communities' funding, and
  • Citizen and civic activist C. David Morgan's chiding of Mayor Healy for not appointing members to the council-voted in Tree Commission which passed a year ago.  (Healy said he will get the job done this week)



    The big story (from a "politics of council standpoint" standpoint) as far as the SCPR is concerned is the snub by the Dougherty, Griffin, West, Cole and Babcock fivesome (perhaps six, if Chris Smith had been present) of the remainder of council on the amended rule proposal.

    The snub shows that there is a deep, deep divide on council and that the majority leader and assistant majority leader (of all the councilpersons ?) were in on the clandestine rule action does not indicate that relationships will improve anytime soon.

    The ultimate loser?

    The citizens of Canton.

    The Report believes that the division is a product of and a consequence of a "divide and conquer" strategy that seems to be embedded into the political sinew of Mayor William J. Healy, II working hand-in-glove with Dougherty.

    It is really weird that they apparently think this helps them politically over the long run and, more importantly, the well-being of Canton.

    Monday, February 25, 2013

    INTERESTING? TWO STARK CO. BLACK POLITICAL LEADERS SQUARE OFF IN STARK DEM FIGHT OVER BOARD OF ELECTION SEAT: A PRELUDE TO PARTY CHAIRMAN FIGHT NEXT YEAR?



     SUBTOPIC

    A Split Within Stark County Organized Labor
    on 
    Democratic Party Support?

    American humorist Will Rogers said it best:

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

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

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

    However, it was not without anxious moments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Report congratulates St. John.


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

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

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

    "Ironically ... Billy Sherer, Jr?"

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

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

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

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

    Is that all changed now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You've got it!  Deametrious St. John.

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

    Of late, not at all.

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

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

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

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

    Hmm?

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

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

    As Will Rogers famously said:

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

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

    Friday, February 22, 2013

    SO YA THINK WILLIAM J. HEALY, II IS SUCH A SMART POLITICIAN?



     UPDATE:  February 24, 2013 at 07.24 AM

    Re:  Contact with Roland K. Burns, III

    Yours truly has contacted council-at-large candidate Roland K. Burns, III and, among, other matters spoke to him as to whether or not he had be contacted by Healy administration/Joe Cole political forces about his withdrawing as a candidate after getting through the Democratic primary so that those forces could place Cole (assuming, of course, he withdraws from the 9th Ward race) could through its central committee apparatus (as provided for in Ohio statutory law) replace him as one of three Democratic candidates for Canton city council.

    Burns response:  

    He has not been contacted by Healy/Cole political forces.

    And, if he had, he would not entertain any thought whatsoever about withdrawing.

    For a blog likely sometime next week, the SCPR plans on putting together an "introduction to Roland K. Burns, III presentation which will include a SCPR analysis of where and how Burns will fit into the projected make up of the 2014 through 2015 Canton city council.


    ORIGINAL BLOG (Revised)

    Canton Councilwoman Mary Cirelli has a number of Canton Democratic politicians fuming these days.

    The list?

    Kim Perez, Joe Cole and his joined-at-the-hip supporter Dave Kirven (business agent for Local 94 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters) to name just a few.  And, oh yes, you can throw Canton mayor William J. Healy, II into the mix too.  And Healy worshiper Ryan Brahler, too.  And Healy suck up Jimmy Babcock, for another.

    The Stark County Political Report has written quite a number of blogs about Canton's mayor Healy being an accomplished politician.

    And he is in a certain sense of the word accomplished.

    But he can make some pretty dumb moves too.

    One of them, The Report thinks, might have been to take on and unseat Mary Cirelli from the Ohio House of Representatives back in 2004.

    Call this "the pi??ing off Mary Cirelli move."

    It is likely to result in a new Canton city council line up which is configured vote-wise 7 to 5 against Healy on key issues which come before council.

    It could even go as low as 8 to 4, 9 to 3, 10 to 2? Who knows? But not a good thing for a guy who thinks he is Stark County's master politician.

    Here is the background to the materialization of "the pi??ing of Mary Cirelli move:

    This is what the SCPR wrote back on April 6, 2011:
    Mary is not the most polished Stark County politico in terms of articulation skills and political sophistication, but most will tell you that she is a good-hearted and nobody advocates more for her causes and constituents than Mary.  She had gotten some negative press from The Rep's Paul Kostyu (the then Repository Columbus Bureau chief) for having been voted by the statehouse press in 2003 as the Ohio House's least effective member (the 52nd).

    Healy jumped all over that designation and challenged Mary in the 2004 Democratic primary for the right to the representative for the 52nd.  While Republicans do run candidates in this Democratic stronghold; the 52nd is a "safe" Democratic district.


    The SCPR has just learned (not from Mary herself) that in the Healy/Cirelli campaign (probably the last few months before the election), Healy hammered her for not attending Ohio House committee meetings.

    What he did not tell voters - The Report is told - was that a member of Mary's family needed her full attention because of a critical care situation.

    Anyone would be highly upset by such a tactic, no?  And probably would be an enemy for life, no?

    Mary Cirelli, a nurse, was situationally and professionally and by her compassionate nature compelled to put first things first and attend to the family matter.

    So there you have too very strong reasons as to why Mary likely could not wait for February 6, 2013 to arrive and the opportunity to work Healy and his political henchmen over.

    And did she do it!

    Well, by 2006, despite the 2004 setback, she was back.  And guess who was elected mayor the very same year?  Of course, William J. Healy, II.


    Healy only lasted two years in the House.  William J. Healy, II:  1 of 99.  What a laugh for a guy who has to be center stage at all times, no?

    So was it worth it to incur the wrath of Mary Cirelli?

    He could have run against Republican Janet Creighton anyway in 2006.  Does anyone believe that he defeated her because of his undistinguished two years in the Ohio House?

    No, the truth of the matter is that his timing could not have been better.

    His election was probably owing to his father having been a long time Canton politician translated:
    • he won, in part, on the name Healy, 
    • he won, in part, on the fact that Canton has a 9 to 1 Democratic registration advantage and 
    • he won, in part, because Creighton had inherited a city in decline (thanks to her predecessor and fellow Republican Richard Watkins) and four years was simply not enough to get a turnaround going
    But anyhow, he did succeed in creating a political enemy in Mary Cirelli that plagues him to this very day.

    At last council meeting Healy lashed out at Cirelli in a fiery exchange in which the mayor could not suppress his outrage at being dogged with Cirelli question after question after question in the given topic.

    However, the big news was the political wizardry that Cirelli pulled off in luring Councilman Joe Cole into abandoning his at-large seat for an run at incumbent 9th Ward Councilman Frank Morris (which the SCPR thinks Cole cannot win).

    In order to get the full flavor of how Cirelli made Cole, Kirven, Perez and, likely Healy, the laughing stock of the Canton/Stark County political world; you absolutely have to click on this LINK and read the particulars of how Cirelli hoodwinked Cole into abandoning his council-at-large post.

    The Cirelli political gyrations which fooled Cole and friends are right up there with the SCPR's Phil Davision video (in which he shows how to be an "over-the-top" Republican and which went viral on the Internet and part of which appeared in this year's Super Bowl) in terms of being ONE HUGE LAUGH!

    Even Stark Dems chairman and SCPR political friend extraordinaire Randy Gonzalez got a hoot out of The Report's blog, so yours truly is told.

    Consequently, Perez, Cole, Healy and their political allies (e.g. Jimmy Babcock and political wannabe [and Babcock cousin] Ryan Brahler) are smarting.

    First of all they (Cole et al) are blaming former and to soon-to-be again Councilman Bill Smuckler for being behind the Cirelli wizardry.  Smuckler denies that such was the case.

    They simply refuse to accept the reality that Cirelli proved to be much smarter than any of them and all of them together.

    Second, it seems that Cole and friends are scrambling to get a Healy supporter in position to get back on council notwithstanding that the Healy political gaggle on council appear to be losing Cole himself.

    For in being finessed out of the council-at-large race by Cirelli, Cole provided an failsafe election to political newcomer Roland K. Burns, III.

    The Report hears that he is an avowed Healy political enemy.

    One gambit for the Healyites' recovery seems to be to have Brahler (currently an elected Canton Board of Education member, believe or not) to declare himself not to be a Democrat any longer and run as an independent/non-partisan for council-at-large.


    Here is a copy of a Facebook post by Brahler (February 13th):
    "Breaking News: Today I making two major announcements, first I will be leaving the Democratic Party.
    I am leaving the party so I can run as an independent "Non-Party" candidate in the Canton City Council At Large Race this November.
    Mind you this was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing all of the information and hearing from a number of concerned citizens, this is the best decision for me and citizens of Canton.
    The Democratic Party has failed to provide a quality field of candidates in the Council At Large race and as a result the citizens of Canton could suffer.
    It's time to act in the best interests of people before party, I thank everyone for coming forward and encouring [sic] me to do this and with your support we can make history and send a "Non-Party" candidate to city hall. Ryan A. Brahler for Canton City Council At-Large!!"

    The SCPR is told that a BOE official is saying that "no non-partisan/independent candidate" that has a BOE identity as either being a registered (by virtue of voting in partisan primaries) Democrat or Republican will be permitted to be on the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.

    So forget that gambit, no?

    Another gambit being talked about, according to a SCPR source, by Cole and friends is to talk Burns into withdrawing from the council-at-large race after he becomes the Democratic Party nominee in the May elections and thereby provide an avenue by Ohio law for Dems to get Cole back on the at-large ballot come November.

    The Report is highly skeptical of the source's account.  Why would an avowed Healy political enemy be willing to give the mayor's supporters the time of day on such discussions?

    "The political goof balls of the year" gave him a "free ride" into a councilmanic seat and he's going to bargain it away? Hardly.
    3513.31 Withdrawal, disqualification, or death of candidate prior to general election.
    (E) If a person nominated in a primary election as a party candidate for election at the next general election, whose candidacy is to be submitted to the electors of a subdivision within a county, withdraws as that candidate or is disqualified as that candidate under section 3513.052 of the Revised Code, the vacancy in the party nomination so created may be filled by a subdivision committee consisting of those members of the county central committee or ... .
    The SCPR has tried to contact Burns to asked him whether or not The Report's source is correct that such a deal is being talked.  But as of the publication of this blog, he has not returned the call.

    So it will be interesting to see if the pro-Healy-forces can recover from getting outsmarted by Mary Cirelli.

    It appears to the SCPR that Humpty-Dumpty is indeed broken and all of the King's (Healy) and the King's horses (Cole et al) cannot put Humpty back together again.

    And the real kicker is:  Mary Cireilli becomes Canton city treasurer (hear the "wailing and gnashing of teeth by Kim Perez) and rides off in the political sunset.

    William J. Healy, II wasn't so smart after all, no?

    Thursday, February 21, 2013

    HEALY POWER GRAB TO RESULT IN CANTON-STARK CO. CRIME LAB REVIEW?



     UPDATED AT 10:50 AM

    The Stark County Political Report is convinced that Canton mayor William J. Healy, II has been plotting a takeover (in terms of his power as chief executive) of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab.

    In the opinion of the SCPR, Mayor William J. Healy, II has an insatiable appetite to be "the-man-in-charge."

    For other Stark County political entities attempting to work collaboratively with the Healy administration on:
    • 9-1-1 emergency call receiving/dispatch, 
    • building code enforcement or 
    • health services, 
    the bottom line is always going to be - for the mayor -  focused on this question:  Is he going to being in charge at the end of the day?

    As naive as it was for him to think that his administration could revise the job description of the director of the lab and appoint former chief deputy Rick Perez (a long term personal/political pal of Healy safety director Tom Ream) to the post, the mayor does have the all consuming ambition and arrogance of imagined political heft to have thought he could get away with it.

    Healy and Ream not only adulterated the qualifications to crime lab director job description; they also removed (as authorized by Ohio law) civil service protection for the position.

    In an interesting twist, Healy then threw Ream under the bus when there was a public outcry against the Perez appointment. One can't be sympathetic with Ream.  He had to go into the safety director position knowing who he was dealing with.

    In taking civil service protection away from the crime lab directorship, you have a scientific person and her management of a scientific operation subject to the whims of a politician?

    And not just any politician, but one named William J. Healy, II?

    Wow!  Watch out, no?

    The SCPR has written often and LOUDLY that Healy is Stark County's quintessential political power monger.

    And he is exceptionally ambitious.  The Report believes he is biding his time for something more powerful and prestigious than being mayor of Canton provides.

    Yours truly has learned that Healy recently met with local McDonald's entrepreneur and franchise holder Guy Cucchini (among other well-heeled local businessmen) in an effort to get their support for his prospective run for Ohio secretary of state.

    Healy's pitch to Cucchini et al?

    "I am one of the finalists that the Ohio Democratic Party is considering for the race?"

    Anyone who knows the mayor, surely understands that the mayor is looking forward to the next political gig as a step upward on the stairway to political stardom.

    Moving on will put the Canton's troubles behind him leaving the clean up to others.

    The Rep's Matt Rink recently wrote and insightful article that documents Healy's philosophically based drive to power (Mayor has power to hire, fire declassified workers, February 17, 2013).

    His compulsion to power has never been more manifest and obvious than in the Perez caper.

    In secretly (the change appeared out of nowhere during the last week of January of this year) working with Ream to change the director job description to one that Perez (otherwise unqualified because he lacking a science-based college degree) became qualified, Healy may have opened a can of political worms that he may come to regret having opened.

    The question now becomes:  can he conjure up a bit more of political Houdini to escape a self-generated problem unscathed?

    Healy has been in one political scrape after another after another after another in his five years as mayor.  But because of his obvious rather accomplished "sleight-of-hand" political maneuvering skills, he, like the grand magical master Houdini, escapes as disaster is about to overtake him.

    While he appears to avoid personal political disaster, the city of Canton continues its spiral downward.

    Not content to limiting his being a drag on Canton, his actions in relation to the crime lab has the potential to adversely affect outside-of-Canton Stark County-based law enforcement capability and, by extension, the safety of all Stark Countians.

    But one wouldn't know Canton is in a downward spiral due in large part to his deficient leadership from Healy's continuous spinning of the state of the city to whomever will listen.

    In another two to three weeks, "His Magic" will be front and center with his annual State of the City sideshow (reportedly to be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame facilities).

    This year will it feature showing off a "Hail, Mary!" in a quest to divert public attention away from his botched crime lab operation?

    While he continues to survive, he does leave wreckage in his wake.

    This time could it be the continued existence of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (CSCCL)?

    For years the SCPR has been hearing about the excellence of the CSCCL.  Nary a critic in sight.  And thought to be a crown jewel in Stark County law enforcement's arsenal of weapons to bring the county's criminals to justice.

    But with the revelation of the Healy/Ream political power play and the concomitant scrutiny of the internal workings of the lab that the power grab has brought on, is the lab in jeopardy of becoming history?

    Stephanie Ujhelyi of The Alliance Review (February 15th edition) wrote an prize-winning-esque article (in the view of the SCPR) which The Report recently brought to the attention of Stark County Councils of Government (SCOG) executive committee chairman Tom Bernabei.

    Bernabei is also president of the Stark County Board of Commissioners.

    The Ujhelyi piece appears to have raised his interest in perhaps pursuing a thorough review as to the continued viability of the CSCCL as a SCOG project in the light of marked improvement of the effectiveness, efficiency and the expedition of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) crime lab work an outline of which was sketched out in her report:
    • A turnaround time of 20 days on DNA processing, despite a marked increase in volume of testing done,
    • forensic biology and DNA combined tests improved from 125.5 to 19.75 days; 
    • chemistry from 42.85 to 10.49 days; CODIS [DNA indexing] from 23.86 to 7.83 days; and 
    • firearms from 35.33 to 15.73 days.
    How was Attorney General Mike DeWine able to dramatically improve the performance of the BCI laboratory division?

    Again, according to Ujhelyi:
    • DeWine implemented a “three-pronged” approach to improving turnaround: 
      • [a]dding 21 scientists to the BCI staff; 
      • doubling BCI’s number of DNA testing and combined DNA index systems (CODIS) robots, and 
      • establishing a continuous quality improvement process.
    Currently, Stark Countians, through state of Ohio local government fund funding of Canton; the Stark County commissioners and Stark County's remaining cities, villages and townships ante up about $1.2 million annually to fund operations of the crime lab.

    As mentioned earlier in this blog, the CSCCL has been a point of pride of Stark County law enforcement for its excellence in enhancing the ability of local police departments to quickly obtain highly competent scientific analysis of collected crime scene evidence utilizing the lab's equipment (95% owned by Stark County) and facilities to process the evidence through:
    • chemical,
    • biological,
    • DNA,
    • firearms,
    • fingerprint,
    • polygraph,
    • document, and
    • trace analysis 
    About 33% of SCOG's crime lab funds come from Canton, 33% of them from the Stark County general fund and 33% from the remaining cities, villages and townships that make up the county.

    To boot, more than half of the crime lab's work is done for non-Canton Stark County cities, villages and townships.

    Ujhelyi interest got piqued because of an Alliance case, to wit (from her piece):
    Alliance city Safety-Service Director W. John Gross had pointed to a 14-month-old “theft by deception” case that remains unresolved, as city police continue to await results from the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab.

    According to the report, officers responded in the morning of Nov. 16, 2011 to a downtown antique shop, where the owner reported purchasing coins for $1,800 that turned out to be counterfeit.

    Taken into evidence were 80 counterfeit U.S. dollars, a three-ring binder and a handwritten receipt, according to the property report.

    Additional supplements stated that Detective Donald Wensel made contact with the crime lab on June 4, 2012; Aug. 30, 2012, and Monday, suspending the investigation earlier this week pending receipt of the fingerprint analysis results.


    Bernabei told The Review on Thursday that Foster informed him the silver dollar evidence was processed, and Alliance police should expect a report next week with the findings.
    Hmm?

    This kind of result from Stark County's prized crime lab?

    Well, the SCPR is learning that at least going back to a Canton Safety Director Tom Ream's firing of former director Robert Budgake in January, 2012 (in a Canton city government fiasco in which some 30 or so city retire/rehire employees were fired because of allegations that the rehiring was not lawfully done) and perhaps going back as far as eighteen months, the quality of CSCCL work has been slipping in terms of its backlog.

    Moreover, Ujhelyi reports that lab criminalist Michael Short was fired five months after the Budgake firing on allegations that "he had processed multiple gunshot residue cases at the same time" which, of course, raises questions of the quality of work.

    On top of all of this, coming full cycle, you have the Healy/Ream political machinations (i.e. revising the job description in bringing Ream pal Perez on board) and thereby possibly jeopardizing the accreditation of the city-county lab in their having eliminated an existing lab director scientific degree requirement so that Perez could qualify.

    Like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Healy was apparently contrite at the quarterly SCOG executive committee meeting of February 13th (LINK to prior SCPR blog) at having caused all the furor in the Perez hiring effective February 5th (which he undid by gaining Perez's resignation on February 12th).

    If Bernabei and SCOG follows through with a complete and thorough review of the CSCCL structure and operations (with special emphasis on its effectiveness, efficiencies and expeditiousness), there may be a silver lining to the Healy machiavellian operation.

    SCOG did take the immediate step hiring a qualified person to run the lab.  In an impressive but studied reaction to the Healy generated fiasco, SCOG reached out to CSCCL quality control manager Michele Foster to take over the directorship of the lab.

    It appears that she will continue under civil service protection at least for 120 days.

    It is the SCPR's position that in view of "the Perez affair," SCOG should insist that so long as Healy is mayor of Canton that if the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab is going to continue to exist that the director have civil service protection.

    Moreover, the relationship between SCOG and the city of Canton on management of the lab be structured so that there is in place a unanimity between the two entities on any decisions on the hiring, firing, job descriptions and compensation of crime lab employees.

    Lastly, the SCPR strongly urges SCOG to pursue a complete and thorough evaluation of the relative merits of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab compared to the Ohio BCI laboratory division (i.e. an "apples to apples comparison).

    Doing so will enable Stark's leadership to make a totally informed decision on which provides the very best in crime scene evidence analysis so that Stark County's citizens have state-of-the-art and first-rate competent support for the prosecution of Stark County-sited criminals.

    A big plus about going BCI (which is used by 90% of Ohio's police jurisdictions) is that it is "free" of cost to its local government users.

    But as one police official tells the SCPR, the CSCCL has been a very comfortable fit for local police agencies and going to BCI should only be done if there are clear advantages to doing so which outweigh the monetary savings.

    The SCPR endorses this point of view.

    Most important of all, SCOG owes it to we Stark Countians to give the utmost attention and priority and urgency to ensuring our safety by having a crime lab support system in place that equips the Stark County law enforcement team to put the bad guys and gals away.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    A CLASSIC CASE OF "NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED?" THE "ANONYMOUS" ATTEMPT TO DISCIPLINE CRAIG CONLEY FOR SUPPORTING THE PRIMACY OF THE RULE OF LAW?



     UPDATED AT 8:15 AM

    Although the author of this blog is an attorney, the blog is written (as are all SCPR blogs) from the perspective of yours truly being a blogger who comments on politics and government (mostly Stark County-based) from a journalistic perspective and not as a lawyer.

    THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RULE OF LAW TO AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

    On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, "the rule of law" has to be the highest order in a democracy.

    Dr. Mark Cooray has written eloquently on this topic (LINK).

    In part, he writes:

    The rule of law is fundamental to the western democratic order. Aristotle said more than two thousand years ago, "The rule of law is better than that of any individual." Lord Chief Justice Coke quoting Bracton said in the case of Proclamations (1610) 77 ER 1352

    "The King himself ought not to be subject to man, but subject to God and the law, because the law makes him King".


     APPLYING THE RULE OF LAW IN STARK COUNTY

    The SCPR believes that such is what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley had in mind when he decided to challenge Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge Frank Forchione on part of his sentencing order of Scott D. Studer of Jackson Township.

    Originally, Judge Frank Forchione had, as part of his sentencing of Studer, ordered him to pay $5,000 for the benefit of the Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, CT) shooting victims.

    Here is a LINK to a prior SCPR blog which provides background and more detail on the Studer matter.

    Conley originally attempted to right what he considered to be a Forchione transgression of "the rule of law" in a communication to Judge Forchione's legal counsel (Stark Co. prosecutor John Ferrero), to wit:
    January 23, 2013

    VIA FACSIMILE (3 PAGES TO 330/451-7965) ONLY

    Hon. John D. Ferrero
    Stark County Prosecuting Attorney
    STARK COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE
    P.O. Box 20049
    Canton, Ohio 44701-0049

    Re: State of Ohio v. Scott D. Studer
        Stark County Common Pleas Court Case No.  2012 CR 1790

    Dear Mr. Ferrero:

    As you are aware, in the above-referenced high-profile criminal action, Judge Forchione (with your formal approval) ordered Mr. Studer to “pay a fine in the amount of Five thousand dollars ($5000.00) . . . to be forwarded to the victims of Newtown, Connecticut tragedy”.  (Reference the Court’s December 19, 2012 Journal Entry Sentencing Form and December 31, 2012 Judgment Entry/imposition of sentence.)

    As you are also aware, on January 2, 2013, under cover of his Court-stationery letter of that same date, Judge Forchione forwarded Mr. Studer’s $5,000.00 check in payment of that fine to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.(Reference the Court’s January 2, 2013 Judgement Entry, to which Judge Forchione attached his aforesaid cover letter and a copy of Mr. Studer’s $5,000.00 check.)

    As you are also aware, Judge Forchione thereafter promptly informed the media of the Fund’s receipt of that check.  (See, e.g., a news article entitled “Studer’s check for $5,000 sent to Sand Hook support fund” which was electronically published in The Repository on January 8, 2013.)

    Grandstanding issues aside, as I reasonably presume is the case

    Hon.  John D. Ferrero,
    Stark County Prosecuting Attorney
    January 23, 2013
    Page 2 of 3

    with you, I am unaware of any Ohio Revised Code Section authorizing Judge Forchione’s tender of Mr. Studer’s $5,000.00 fine to any entity other than that specified in O.R.C. 2949.11 (effective May 6, 1986 and not since amended), which Code Section provides, in pertinent part, that “. . . an officer who collects a fine shall pay it 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”. (emphasis supplied)

    Indeed, in Ohio v. Cooper (2001), 144 Ohio App. 3d 316, the Eighth District Court of Appeals, citing (at 320 and 321) to that same Code Section, appropriately held “This statute mandates that all fines be paid into the county treasury; a trial court therefore does not have the statutory authority to direct payment of a fine to a charitable organization”.  (emphasis supplied)

    Along those same lines, in Lane v. Phillabaum (12th Dist. 2008), 182 Ohio App. 3d 145, 2008-Ohio-2502, that Court, citing to that same Code Section, held (at ¶ 18) that “. . . it was improper for the court to order the students to make donations to a particular charity or nonprofit organization . . . rather than paying a fine into the county treasury”.  (See also State v. Short (12th Dist. 1992), 1992 WL 158413, for that same basic proposition of law.)

    Accordingly, on behalf of the taxpayers of Stark County, and more particularly on behalf of my client, Thomas M. Marcelli (a County resident, taxpayer and electorate), I request you immediately institute a civil action against Judge Forchione for the recovery of and payment into the Stark County Treasury of Mr. Studer’s $5,000.00 fine, plus interest from January 2, 2012 to the date of such recovery and payment.  (Reference O.R.C. 309.12 and 309.13.)

    In that regard, because you, as the Stark County Prosecuting Attorney, signed your approval of Judge Forchione’s December 31, 2012 Judgment Entry (and/or because of the effect of O.R.C 309.09(A)), I respectfully suggest you should forthwith recuse yourself from any and all future involvement in this matter and

    Hon.  John D. Ferrero,
    Stark County Prosecuting Attorney
    January 23, 2013
    Page 3 of 3

    should request the appointment of a special (out-of-County) prosecutor.

    Please promptly advise.  Thank you.

                               Sincerely,

                               Craig T. Conley

    CTC/mps

    cc: Thomas M. Marcelli
           Stark County Auditor
           Stark County Board of Commissioners
           Stark County Treasurer
    BACKGROUND OF THE ETHICS COMPLAINT

    Well, it was the Conley "grandstanding" assessment which caught the attention of the "anonymous" complainant and generated his initiative to Ohio's Disciplinary Counsel after Conley's comment hit the media.

    An interesting factor here is that the "anonymous" complaint was originally sent to the Ohio Supreme Court Disciplinary Counsel (OSC-DC) only to be redirected to the office to the Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association.

    Why?

    Conley tells The Report because the OSC-DC said that there was a "conflict in interest" in the OSC-DC considering the complaint.

    Conley will not comment or speculate as to the specifics of why there would be a conflict in interest between the "anonymous" complainant and the OSC-DC.

    But the Stark County Political Report will.

    The Report thinks that the "anonymous" complainant may be either a very prominent Stark County attorney or judicial official who is well known to the OSC-DC.

    It only stands to reason that if such is the case, that the enforcer of ethics would want to be above reproach itself.

    The "anonymous" complainant (in filing the complaint on January 28, 2013) referred to a Matt Rink Repository piece (January 23, 2013) in which the following Conley comment is reported by Rink:
    "This was just grandstanding," Conley said.  "This is Jeeze, 'I can get my name in the paper.'  The courtroom is not a place for a popularity contest."
    THE ATTEMPT TO AVOID THE FILING OF A LAWSUIT

    Prosecutor Ferrero apparently was not inclined to (probably because of what the SCPR believes to be "bad blood" between the two growing out of the Zeigler case), or was unable to convince Judge Forchione to alter the order so as to be in compliance with "the rule of law:" (that is to say, ORC 2949.11) within the time frame set by Conley.

    The SCPR believes it was the former rather than the latter.  Accordingly, the SCPR posits that Ferrero bears some responsibility for Conley becoming frustrated in his quest to get an obvious error fixed.

    Conley and his client being the "rule of law" devotees they are, could not abide the delay in getting the Studer fine order fixed to what it eventually should have been from the beginning, to wit:

    As originally issued and in apparent violation of ORC 2949.11:


    As corrected by Judge Forchione on February 14th:


    Conley says the change in the order is in and of itself an admission by Judge Forchione that the first order was wrong despite the denial by the judge to local media he had done anything wrong.

    Clerk of Courts Nancy Reinbold told the SCPR yesterday that the correction/amendment is sufficient to cause her to pay the returned  $5,000 (see details of the return below) to the Stark County treasury for deposit in the county general fund.

    Had Ferrero taken Conley's letter at face value and acted to counsel Judge Forchione that the request be honored in quick order, then the declaratory judgement action likely would not have been filed for the simple reason that it was ultimately voluntarily dismissed last Friday:  the lack of a judiciable issue.

    CONLEY GOING PUBLIC 

    An argument can be made that Conley was too quick in going to the media with his "grandstanding" charge.

    He tells the SCPR that he was relying on Code of Professional Conduct Code Section 8.2 in his zeal to correct an obvious (to him) problem, to wit:


    Perhaps he needed to slow down a little devote more time and effort to a private remedy?


    Otherwise, doesn't he give credence to a charge that he was grandstanding himself?


    THE RETURN OF THE $5,000 STUDER FINE FROM THE SANDY HOOK SCHOOL SUPPORT FUND

    Eventually, Judge Forchione retrieved the money from the Sandy Hook School Support Fund (which cost the fund's agent [Western New England United Way] $25 in wire transmittal fees).

    Undoubtedly, the Marcilli initiated lawsuit was an instrumental factor, no?

    CONLEY NAMED A GRANDSTANDER IN HIS OWN RIGHT

    Of course, Conley's pursuit of the "rule of law" brought lots of media attention including the SCPR which in an ironic sense made Conley vulnerable to a charge that he was himself grandstanding.

    Such allegations were made by supporters of Judge Forchione's original $5,000 Studer fine to be paid for the benefit of Sandy Hook shooting victims.

    Conley denies that he was grandstanding.  He stands on his insistence that his going public was to fulfill his deep commitment to the rule of law.

    CONLEY HAVING A PERSONAL MOTIVATION QUESTION 

    Moreover, a least one of them ("warmsunshine" on The Rep's online comment section) having familiarity with the rocky interpersonal relationship between the judge and Conley (Conley filed an "affidavit of disqualification" on a case - which Forchione recused himself some nine months after winning on the affidavit issue) implied that the only reason that Conley was interested in taking on client Marcelli's cause (even suggesting that Conley had client-shopped) was because of recent acrimony between Conley and Forchione.

    ANONYMOUS COMPLAINANT

    Conley has some strong words for "anonymous" complainant:
    • That he views the complaint as an attempt to intimidate and muzzle and that such simply is not going to happen
    CONLEY'S VIEWS ON THE RULE OF LAW
      He has some interesting thoughts about his/any attorney's obligation to see to it that judges (especially judges) follow the rule of law.  Conley says:
      • He did nothing wrong in making the comments complained of by anonymous and that if attorney can't make truthful comments, such is not good for the American system of justice,
      • Every attorney has an affirmative duty to expose problems in the judiciary for the betterment of the judiciary and the rule of law,
      • Cited a Supreme Court decision which held out that members of the judiciary have a greater duty to follow the law than the members of the bar,
      LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THE CONLEY/FORCHIONE STAND OFF

      Lessons to be learned can probably be reduced to one basic lesson:  communication, communication and more communication.

      And the SCPR believes that Prosecutor John Ferrero was the key.

      As far as the SCPR knows, there was very little communication between Conley as legal counsel for Mr. Marcelli and Ferrero as the lawyer for Judge Forchione.

      During what Conley termed as being Zeiglergate, it was very obvious that Ferrero felt put upon by Conley in his seizing the initiative to push Ferrero to get moving to secure Zeigler assets in the event the county were to secure a judgment against Zeigler for the loss funds that Vince Frustaci stole from the county treasury.

      Zeigler was not implicated in the theft, but the State of Ohio Auditor issued findings that Zeigler's treasury policies, practices, procedures and inadequate, in some instances, physical facilities were deficient.  Moreover, Ohio statutory and case law makes a county treasurer strictly liable for loses that occur under a treasurer's watch for whatever reason it occurs.

      Conley felt Ferrero was remiss in protecting the county's interests quickly enough and therefore got the jump on Ferrero by filing a taxpayer lawsuit on the part of guess who?  You've got it:  Tom Marcelli.

      Hence giving birth to "bad blood" between the two of them which spilled out into the press.

      The similarities between the Zeigler and Forchione matters are striking in terms of the Ferreo/Conley relationship.

      Apparently, the "bad blood" lingers which is surprising between two lawyers.

      It is common knowledge that lawyers battle one another for the interests of their clients/causes, but at the end of the day bury the hatchet and oft times go out and have a drink with one another.

      Clients get disturbed by this phenomenon, but judges and lawyers think nothing of it.

      Such is the case with many athletes and coaches (e.g. witness the Harbaugh brother against brother match up in the Super Bowl) who vie with one another but then often fraternize when the contest is over.

      It is clear to the SCPR that Conley is going to continue to be Conley (i.e. a civic activist eternal and agitator).  And, Ferrero is likely to continue to be Ferrero (i.e. in the opinion of the SCPR:  oversensitive and just tad vindictive).  Does anyone doubt that there will be future face offs between the two?

      Because of the SCPR's incisive writing, Ferrero will not answer The Report's questions.

      Can yours truly do without access to Ferrero?  Of course.

      The Report gets plenty of information about his operation of the prosecutor's office without exchanging one word with him.  And the SCPR will continue to cover his performance in office whether he likes it or not.

      A man who gets paid by Stark County taxpayers, doesn't think he has to be accountable?

      He may not like, but there are quite a few Stark Countians who read the SCPR.

      He obviously takes the SCPR's criticism as being personal.

      Unbelievable!

      The man is an elected public official.

      If he can't stand the heat of being an officeholder, why does he keep running for office?

      So the SCPR's suggestion to Ferrero is that he toughen up his hide, grow up a little in his governance style and temperament and leave his disagreements with the likes of Conley and the SCPR and others who differ with him in the realm of it all being in the confines of a day's work.

      For if he doesn't,  he is likely to experience parade of miscommunications that are not going produce good results for anybody including himself and most certainly the Stark County community at large.

      Conley, on future civic activist issues, might want to try first picking up the telephone and talking to Ferrero before firing off a "I am putting you in a corner" type letter.

      Ferrero should be willing to take such a phone call and seek to reach common ground through continuing dialogue in which the goals of each and their respective clients get met, at least in part.

      DID ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF MARCELLI V. FORCHIONE?

      The SCPR thinks so.

      Judge Forchione showed himself to be a man of compassion.  Those who know him well are convinced that he acted out of the highest of motives.  Even Conley doesn't question that.  He simply says that the judge doesn't have the authority to do what he did.

      Moreover, he certainly has learned, in terms of his official duties that he cannot use his duty and power to sentence as a means to manifest his altruistic impulses.

      It would be quite shocking if Judge Forchione were to repeat a Sandy Hook type order.

      The Report does not believe he will.  So if he has learned his lesson, this is a good thing.

      Everybody makes a mistake in judgment from time to time.

      John Ferrero  should now realize that he needs to communicate (listen and converse reciprocally) with his colleagues at the bar (e.g. Conley) and with the media (e.g. the SCPR).

      America is a check and balance society and as a public official being critiqued is part and parcel of being an official.  Perhaps he is learning this reality.  Let us all hope so.

      Anonymous complainant certainly should understand that many people hold the cowardly with emphatic disdain and contempt.

      While it is his right to play the role of the coward, it cannot be very fulfilling.  Perhaps this experience will cause anonymous to rethink his cowardice. If anonymous is a person of conviction, then he should have the courage of his convictions.

      If his identity becomes known via his own loose lips (the only way it can happen), his cowardice will likely outweigh any claimed devotion to principle.

      Is cowardice what he wants to become known for?

      Craig Conley has had a new learning experience on the cost of being a civic activist.

      While he is confident that the "anonymous" complaint will fail, it has to be displeasing that a person who never been disciplined that he should be subjected to the process.

      It is impressive that he has waived his privacy rights and is allowing the Stark County public look on as he defends his right (duty in his eyes) to pursue his devotion to the rule of law.  In contrast to anonymous, a true demonstration of courage and public accountability.

      He has been through a firestorm of criticism from some quarters.  And he has shown himself and onlooking Stark Countians that he has the strength of character to stand firm.

      The bottom line for all of we Stark Countians is that "the rule of law" has prevailed.

      And Craig Conley was the moving force behind its realization.
       
      For that all Stark Countians should be thankful.

      To repeat:  The rule of law is fundamental to the western democratic order. 

      The SCPR presents the entire (except for the introductory and closing sentences) Conley response to the Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association.

      Conley waived his right to privacy and pro-actively asked the ethics committee to make its proceedings public.

       

      Tuesday, February 19, 2013

      VIDEO: STARK DEMS "JUMPING THE GUN" ON SHERIFF APPOINTMENT TO COST STARK CO. TAXPAYERS "A MERE" $20,000?



      UPDATED:  11:18 PM

      The Stark County commissioners met this morning to consider hiring legal counsel for Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee appointed sheriff George Maier this morning.

      Maier is being challenged by former Stark County sheriff Tim Swanson (Writ of Quo Warranto) as to his meeting statutory (ORC 311.01) qualifications set forth for anyone seeking the office of sheriff in Ohio.

      The Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDPCC) by its chairman Randy Gonzalez is being sued by applicant Lt. Lou Darrow (Writ of Prohibition) on the grounds that the Party failed to properly (i.e. complying with ORC 311.01) qualify candidates prior to the committee persons vote 92 Maier, 84 Darrow and 1 Dordea on February 5th in a meeting at the Mayfield Senior Center.

      The SCPR was unable to attend the commissioners' session today because of a prior commitment.

      However, yours truly did stop by the commissioners office afterwards and Commissioner Tom Bernabei went on camera (presented at the end of this blog) to explain to Stark Countians the circumstances, the terms and conditions of the commissioners agreeing to hire Maier's lawyers.

      Unless there is a complication, the commissioners have made an agreement with Maier's attorneys (Roetzel and Andress, Columbus/Thomas Rosenberg & Michael Traven) to pay up to $20,000 in legal fees for Maier's representation.

      Being the skeptic that the SCPR is, The Report thinks it is entirely foreseeable that complications will occur. 

      Stark County taxpayers ought to send Roetzel & Andress scads of thank you cards for not charging for the time Rosenberg and Traven were working for Maier before he became sheriff.

      Wasn't that considerate of the firm?

      Rosenberg said at today's meeting (according to Commissioner Bernabei) that about $2,000 to $3,000 worth of work was done before February 5th (the date of Maier's selection).


      It is more than a touch ironic (some folks might use stronger terms) that Stark County Democratic Party (SCDP) chair Randy Gonzalez and George's brother Johnnie spearheaded a "rush to selection" of George as the appointed Sheriff of Stark County (to replace the unable to serve sheriff-elect Mike McDonald) in the face of challenges (even among Democrats) to George's de jure qualifications and then for the taxpayers to have to pay George's legal bills when the seemingly inevitable lawsuit gets filed.

      Apparently, some of the dissident February 5th Democrats want some justice.

      Since they appear to think they didn't get it, vicariously they (via Swanson's litigation) resort to asking the Ohio Supreme Court to give them a fair hearing on whether or not George meets the statutory requirements of ORC 311.01.

      And it could be that if former Sheriff Tim Swanson wins that lawsuit, Stark County taxpayers will have to pick up the tab for his legal bills and court costs.

      That Roetzel and Andress did work prior for Maier prior to his being named sheriff, seems to clear evidence that he and his supporters (at the top level of the SCDP) fully expected that a lawsuit was coming.

      So when Gonzalez cries about how local governments are being squeezed by the Kasich administration on local government funding, his complaints are hard to abide in light of the $20,000 or better that Stark taxpayers will be anteing up defending the Dems selection for sheriff.

      Besides the money, it is the likelihood that a final resolution as who really is sheriff of Stark County could take anywhere from four to nine months or better.

      Turmoil vexed the Stark County treasury from April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 in a version of legal musical chairs as to whom was the rightful Stark County treasurer.

      So again Stark County's everyday citizens/taxpayers are about to be put through the wringer by the politicians.

      Don't you just love these folks?

      Wouldn't be poetic justice to these very same leadership Democrats if Maier were to ultimately lose the case and Republican Larry Dordea ultimately becomes the replacement?

      Dare we hope?

      Here is Commissioner Bernabei explaining the circumstances, the terms and the conditions of Maier's representation: