Friday, May 31, 2013

STARK CO. LEGISLATORS OELSLAGER, SCHURING & HAGAN COME OUT IN FAVOR OF SECRET GOVERNMENT!



It is quite a turnaround for a guy who has made his reputation in his some 25 years in the Ohio Legislature in promoting the enhancement of Democracy in Ohio to suddenly reverse course South on open and transparent government.

Back on April 26, 2010, the SCPR did a blog which recited current state Senator Scott Oelslager (Republican - Plain) and his storied political history in promoting Ohio's Open Meetings law.  (LINK)

In yesterday's Cleveland Plain Dealer, the editorial board expressed concern that Senate Bill 67 was rushed through passage in the Ohio House (Wednesday) and the Ohio Senate (yesterday) in order to insulate Jobs Ohio from audit by the State of Ohio Auditor (Republican David Yost).

At issue, according to the Columbus Dispatch (LINK), is 100 million in state whole liquor profits (leased by Jobs Ohio) which the Kasich administration defines as being "private money" and therefore not subject to audit.

In order to remove all doubt on the question of Yost's ongoing desire to audit Jobs Ohio, SB 67 was offered up this week for a fast track vote (co-sponsored by Oelslager) who, along with Statehouse Republicans from Stark County (Schuring - R/Jackson and Christina Hagan R/Marlboro) voted for
the bill.





In recent times Oelslager has been on the outside looking in on Republican leadership.  He has from time to time shown some independence of various votes against the wishes of various Republican governors and the leadership of the House and Senate.

Apparently, he has wiggled his way back into the good graces of the Republican leadership circles as evidenced by his appointment as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and  he is not about to blow it again.

Who knows, he may, if he stays long enough, one day be come president of the Senate or, if he gets term-limited out once again, Speaker of the Ohio House on the likelihood that he will once again play musical chairs with Kirk Schuring and change over to the 48th House District in 2018 with Schuring switching back to the 29th Ohio Senate District.

It appears to the SCPR that Oelslager has completely lost interest in Stark County except for the county being his ticket to Columbus.

His goal now appears to be his own personal status in insider Columbus politics and government.

Oelslager, to the SCPR, has left his trademark political career "open meetings, open records," transparency, accountability and the like in the dust of his ambition as a final act to crown his time Columbus with having been somebody.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

SIGNS GALORE AT THE STARK CO. SHERIFF'S OFFICE: "GEORGE T. MAIER" IS THE STARK COUNTY SHERIFF! HMM?



* Note:  Whether or not George T. Maier is the lawfully constituted sheriff of Stark County is being considered by the Ohio Supreme Court in the case:  2013-0274, State of Ohio ex rel. Timothy A. Swanson v. George T. Maier (LINK).

One of the most imperial preambles ever uttered is that of the Pharoah of Egypt:  LET IT BE WRITTEN, LET IT BE SAID!

Hmm?

What does that have to do with Stark County Sheriff* George T. Maier?

Well, yesterday the SCPR received a telephone call from one of many Stark County tipsters (this one particularly being in a position to know what he is talking about) who let it be known that SheriffI* Maier is spending "thousands upon thousands" of Stark County taxpayer money (reference:  Stark Countinans passed a 0.5% sales tax specifically for the "Criminal Justice System" in November, 2011) for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement.

Apparently, Sheriff Maier's personal insecurity (in terms of whether or not he is to remain sheriff) is a motivating factor in engaging a Stark County version of LET IT BE WRITTEN, LET IT BE SAID as if the self-heralding will have any effect on the Supreme Court's decision.

The message from the SCPR source:
"I have been getting some calls about Sheriff Maier and the complaints that I have been getting is that he has been spending thousands of dollars of putting his name on everything."

"Parking passes for the Stark County sheriff employees which is absurd because they have their own parking lot.  What do they need a parking pass for?  But it has his name all over it."

"... $1,700 to paint his door, new signs, stickers.  Just spending thousands and thousands of the taxpayers money just for self-promotion that he is the sheriff which is really absurd that after ... [one reads] those briefs [in Swanson v. Maier] he is not going to be in office very much longer."
Evidence of what the SCPR source is talking about comes in the form of a grandiose rework of the front page of the Stark County Sheriff's Office webpage (LINK).


More corroborative evidence?

Several weeks ago yours truly was in discussion with Stark Countian Bruce Nordman (a Canton Vassar Park resident) who is highly enamored with Sheriff Maier on the basis of having worked with him on getting the Stark County jail up to full capacity (501 beds).

This citizen almost single handedly organized a job fair for returned (returning) military veterans to staff numerous unfilled deputy sheriff positions (about 41 or so) vacated by layoffs when Stark County was in full financial crisis in 2010/2011 so that the jail could be brought up to capacity.

Nordman and a collection of Vassar Park residents believe getting criminals in jail is part of the solution to solving what they believe is a rampant crime problem in Canton.

During the discussion Nordman flashed out a post card sized "thank you" note from Maier to Nordman for his help in putting the job fair togther.

So?

Well, the note was not just written on a scrap of paper.  It was one "fancy Dan" post card which had to have a significant expense tied to it if the sheriff is using it as a matter of course to thank those many Stark Countians that help Stark County law enforcement.

The SCPR has brought the matter to the attention of Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei.

Why Commissioner Bernabei?

Because he and fellow Commissioners Janet Creighton and Richard Regula have gone to great pains to assure Stark County taxpayers that they would monitor the spending of new monies flowing into the county treasury to ensure that they were spent wisely, prudently and efficiently.

Unfortunately, the commissioners have no direct control over the likes of Sheriff Maier and other Stark County elected officials who receive Stark County taxpayer money in the annual Stark County budgeting and appropriation process.

For instance, during the process the commissioners (especially Creighton) have made a big deal out of their expectation that department heads not grant employees (many of whom who had not received a pay raise for perhaps four/five years) pay raises during the 2013 budget cycle in excess of 2% with the hope that the "'for raises' built into the appropriation" money would not go by and large to a few preferred employees (i.e. 4, 5 or higher percentages) which others getting less or no increase.

Well, the SCPR has indications that the commissioners' desire on the matter is being ignored.  Yours truly is already working on an analysis of Stark County auditor generated numbers in an endeavor to establish chapter and verse verification of The Report's suspicion.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the commissioners publicly call out the sheriff on his apparently wholesale expenditure of the plastering of his name Sheriff George T. Maier all over creation.

The SCPR doubts that the commissioners will utter a word.

Reason?

Because they all seem to be enamored with George T. Maier.

So they had better hope that the Ohio Supreme Court validates Maier as sheriff for if he is not, then the county faces a double expense of undoing all the signage that Maier as done when a new sheriff takes office.

Even folks favorable to Maier think he has no better than a 50/50 chance to remain as sheriff.

Others, including the SCPR, think the chances are significantly less than that.

Perhaps a saving grace (which, in and of itself, is no better than 50/50 or less that it will materialize) will be that if Maier is removed from office is that he will become the Democratic nominee in the 2014 primary election and go on to defeat the Republican candidate (presumably Hartville Chief of Police Larry Dordea) and then can pick up where he left off so that Stark County taxpayers will not be out "thousands upon thousands of dollars."

The commissioners should call Sheriff Maier into a commissioner work session and have him detail exactly what he has spent in county taxpayer dollars and to provide a justification for having done so in light of his tenuous hold on being Stark County sheriff?

Such, folks, would be real accountability.

Rhetoric is one thing, action on one word is quite another.

Will the commissioners call Sheriff Maier out on his - premature, at best - expenditures in letting the people of Stark County know - "George T. Maier Stark County sheriff?"

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

(VIDEOS) "CHESS MATCH" - AN APT DESCRIPTION OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MASSILLON MAYOR & COUNCIL?



UPDATED:  11:15 AM

VIDEOS

COUNCILMAN-AT-LARGE
LARRY SLAGLE
ON
PARKS & RECREATION CONTROVERSY
(COUNCIL MEETING OF 05/13/2013)

CITIZEN CYNTHIA BALAS-BRATTON
ON
PROPOSED HAMPTON INN SOLUTION

It is said that "hindsight is 20/20."

It was not all that apparent when she took office, however, in hindsight from the beginning of her administration, it is becoming increasingly clear to the SCPR that Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry sees her relationship with Massillon City Council (Council) as being akin to a chess match with the wrinkle that the moves in this game of city governance are of the "political - one up" variety.

But there is a huge difference in the thinkers behind the moves.

On the Catazaro-Perry side, the "deep-thinking?" comes from the self-styled "political pundits of Massillon;" namely, Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman) and his "loyal one;" namely, Chief Deputy Clerk of Courts Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark County Democratic Party).

On the Council side, it seems to the SCPR that there is genuine consensus building going on.

It does not appear to be a Republican and Democrat thing on Council.  Rather it appears as if Council members are authentically seeking the counsel of their constituents in their taking a stand on the various issues that compose the face of the chess match of issues evolving between them and the mayor.

One needs to go back to the beginning of the Catazaro-Perry reign to the first major issue.

Was Massillon to raise needed revenues through an administration promoted reduction in the credit in the city income tax for those Massillonians who live in the city but who pay taxes to other localities (plus assessing residents for street lighting), or was it going to be putting everybody's shoulder to the wheel (including the mayor's) and persuading Massillonians raise taxes by .3% for a tax that had not been raised since 1977/78 (except for a .3% tax increase specifically for the Massillon Parks and Recreation Board circa 1995)?

Catazaro-Perry lost several pawns in repeated moves to get Council to go along with the reduced income tax credit.

In a bizarre sort of way ("quietly opposing the proposed tax increase"), Catazaro-Perry exacted pawns of Council when Massillonians overwhelmingly rejected a .3% income tax ballot move supported by eight of the Council members (excepting Catazaro-Perry/Maier/Jackson automatic Tony Townsend) on the November, 2012 ballot.

Another big fight between the administration and Council has been what to do about the Hampton Inn financing situation.

Here is Citizen Cynthia Balas-Bratton addressing Council on the issue at its May 6, 2013 meeting.



Under the Catazaro-Perry administration generated proposal would be for the Hampton Inn folks to pay Massillon $1.2 million in exchange for Massillon giving up all rights to participate in a possible eventuation of a future in which the hotel turns respectfully if not hugely profitable and gets sold at a substantial profit.

Council would not agree and recently moved to squelch the idea in a six to three vote against the administration two weeks ago.  Another loss of chess pieces to the administration.  But the administration was not quite done.  Quickly after the loss, Economic Development Director Ted Herncane penned a letter to Council asking them to reconsider.  Answer:  No!

Then came the mid-May Catazaro-Perry "Let's have a State of Ohio Auditor (SOA) audit of city finances" move in which Massillon could come out as being less in control of its own financing depending on whether or not the SOA finds Massillon to be in "fiscal emergeny," or "fiscal watch" status.

A political chess-move gambit if the SCPR ever saw one.  It just reeks of "the behind the curtain boys" Maier and Jackson whispering instructions to the mayor after they had done some "deep, deep thinking?" about how to best dissenting majority of Council to administration moves.

What will Council do in rebuttal to the Catazaro-Perry/Maier/Jackson ploy?

Cuts to the mayor budget!  Cuts designed to make big inroads to Budget Director Ken Koher's projected $2.7 billion 2013 deficit.  That is what the SCPR is hearing.

If such cuts are exacted, don't they undermine anything that Catzazaro-Perry hopes to gain in negativity on Massillon's fiscal responsibility in the results of a SOA audit?

A side effect of Council generated cuts might be to expose the administration protection of certain Maier/Jackson favorites as continuing to be protected while cuts more critical to the everyday Massillon residents are implemented, no?

Yet another issue being played out on the chess board of Massillon government and politics is the Parks and Recreation Board (MP&RB) control issue.

Mayor Catazaro-Perry is intent on controlling the MP&RB and has told the board to submit a list of three names to her from which "she will select" a new director of the board.

Behind the political machinations of who will appoint the new director is a desire by a least three of the board members (thought by one councilperson to be members Del Rio Keller, Rickett and Hickey) for the MP&RB to be autonomous and make the selection and to rid itself of the annual obligation to pay some $500,000 or so annually (according to one Council person) in the financing/servicing obligations of The Legends (a Massillon owned golf course).

Of course, if such happens, then where would the $500,000 or so have to come from?

You've got it! - Massillon's general fund.   Which off course means more cuts to other city services, no?

The Massillon Parks & Recreation Board has been scheduled twice (May 20th and May 28th) to appear hold meetings at Council chambers in the hope that all of Council would be present to hear the case being made for board independence (of the administration).

Neither meeting has materialized which the SCPR believes in indication that backroom "politiking" is going on exactly what the presentation is to be.

The Report is told that legislation is in the works to tighten up Massillon's ordinance so that it is clear to everyone that the MP&RB is an independent entity that is to use the .3% 1995 monies to develop and maintain Massillon's park and recreation system.

Here is a video of Councilman-at-Large Larry Slagle (not running for reelection in November) offering his understanding of the controversy surrounding the power to hire/fire and direct activities at Massillon's parks and recreation facilities.



And, if that happens, will the mayor veto the legislation?

Beyond that, are there the votes to override a veto?

So look for the chess match to go on and on and on and on ad infinitum.

It appears to the SCPR that the November elections for Council offers no relief to the Catazaro-Perry administration.

It is looking more and more like there is going to be a Republican pick-up in Ward 4 (who would have thought this in Tony Townsend's old seat and one of Massillon's Democratic wards).  See this LINK to a prior SCPR blog for a detailed explanation).

No matter who wins in Ward 1 (former safety/services director and Democrat Mike Loudiana [Cicchinelli administration] versus incumbent Republican Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly), there is going to be no sympathy from either for the Catazaro-Perry agenda.

The Catazaro-Perry/Maier/Jackson forces are apparently banking on upsets in Wards 2 (Irwin versus Halter) and 6 (Litman versus Lewis) to make inroads on Council support.

The SCPR does not think that upset will materialize.  Halter and Lewis appear to be on the right side of the issues with Massillon voters.

Councilwoman Halter tells the SCPR that after the six to three vote defeat of Catazaro-Perry on the Hampton Inn issue, she received "the phone ringing off-the-hook-esque" telephone calls commending her for her "no" vote.  And, she says, other councilpersons had similar reactions from Massillonians.

In the at-large races Republican Milan Chovan (generally part of the Republican collective of Cunningham-Hedderly, Halter and Lewis [but not Peters, Jr], who incisively scrutinize Catazaro-Perry administration proposals) returns and does veteran Councilman Paul Manson.

Manson is a swing vote on Council (e.g. he voted for the administration's Hampton Inn proposal but in the opinion of the SCPR was equivocal on the vote).

Newcomer (at-large) Michelle Del Rio Keller (a Democrat) is an unknown factor.  However, there are indications that she is shifting or perhaps has shifted from being a Catazaro-Perry supporter to, at the very least, to being neutral, ironically enough, perhaps, over the control of the MP&RB issue.

So, in the Council race venue aspect of the chess match, the administration is not faring very well either.

For now, it appears to The Report that the Catazaro-Perry governance/political chess match is pretty much at a stalemate.

But over the longer term it is hard to see how the mayor wins this match.

While next mayoralty is two years away until the next election, it occurs to yours truly that all the moves now taking place will end up with Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry being checkmated.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HEALY & MORRIS CONTINUE TO "DUKE IT OUT" POST-ELECTION?




The election occurred on May 7th in which William J. Healy, II proxy Joe Cole (currently councilman-at-large) tried to oust incumbent Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris, III from office.


While Cole would have preferred to maintain a safe seat as councilman-at-large (although he now says that Canton City Council should do away with the at-large seats [LINK]) but got hookwinked by Councilwoman-at-Large Mary Cirelli (LINK) into believing it was not so safe.

Cole's alternative (undoubtedly with the political counsel of Mayor Healy) was to run against Morris since Ward 9 is home to Cole.  So what if a fellow Democrat and an incumbent was already in place?  Hey, man - politics is politics.  One does what one has to do to survive politically, no?

While the mayor tried to maintain pretenses (e.g. making equal contributions [$100] to each campaign. the SCPR for one is not buying.  Joe Cole has been way too much of a Healy foot soldier (and Morris a frequent opponent) for such to be true.  Plus, one of the mayor's chief supporters (David Kirven of Local 94, Plumbers and Pipefitters) was instrumental in raising upwards of $10,000, if not more, in the Ward 9 political imbroglio.

So with all that background, it was predictable that "political warfare" would break out between Healy and Morris over the Memorial Day weekend on Facebook.

On Sunday, the SCPR received this e-mail (recited, in part):
Hi Martin

just wanted to give you a [possible] news tip


kinda of a fight going on today on the Canton, Ohio Ward 9 News & Views [Facebook] page today between Frank Morris and the Mayor and a few others chiming in


[here's] the address
The opening salvo:  (the following are selected excerpts. For a full treatment of the overall discussion here is a Facebook LINK)
Cyndi Hofacre

Interesting article in Rep today about the blight in North Canton. Why is it that North Canton is proactive in dealing with these eyesores while Canton administration is not? Canton has ordinances but seems impotent when it comes to enforcement.  May 20 at 4:41pm
Apparently, Mayor Healy trolls the Internet looking for anything that may reflect negatively on the work of his administration.  So several hours after Hofacre's starter, here is the mayor weighing in:
William J. Healy II This was from decades of decay and lack of enforcing housing codes. While we have made a huge dent in the problem, there still is a tremendous amount of problem homes out there. We have improved our codes over the past few years and we are more effective today than in the past, we are still dealing with a problem that took decades to create. It will take years and years, and lots more money than we have to get to all the probem homes. However, 1000 homes demo'd is the most agressive clean-up program we have ever had in the city's history!
May 21 at 11:00pm  
William J. Healy II PS: North Canton has a handful of homes that fall into this catagory... much easier to deal with than the thousands we have!
May 21 at 11:01pm
Enter Councilman Frank Morris:
Frank Morris Everything in the City of Canton is reactive not proactive and when challenged as to why things aren't getting done. HA nothing but bullshit excuses. Sorry for the honesty it just slipped out. Saturday at 11:11am
And the Healy/Morris fight is on:
William J. Healy II Didn't you just post that you are bringing the City's I.T. Director and Police Chief to your next Ward Meeting to share all the new technology and proactive projects with your residents?  Saturday at 1:38pm

Frank Morris Yes I did however I wouldn't exactly call the new technolgy proactive. Shot Spotters is still not up and running, the Tips411 is reactive not proactive and after 12 complaints issued on the complaint system without resolution  Not exactly jumping for joy yet.  Saturday at 2:33pm 
 William J. Healy II We can always target other wards in the city with those new technologies if your not satisfied with our efforts! We have offered many new ideas, modern technologies, and different strategies that continue to find ways to address our city's problems. But all of them take money to implement. And even with our limited resources, we still continue to make positive improvements: hundreds of homes gone and hundreds more coming down this year, and crime IS dropping since the beds at the county jail are open again. Our monthly crime stats are down for 10 of the past 11 months and we are on pace for one of the lowest number of violent crimes our city has seen in the past thirty years if we continue at this rate. Our unemployment rate dropped by 50% in a two year period, nearly double the national rate of reduction! There are lots of very positive things happening here. You can look at the city's cup as half empty....or even less than half empty, I choose to look at our cup as half full, or having more in it today than before I got here. Yes, the city was a mess, and still is in many areas.... But we have made many improvements and will continue to do so as long as I am here.  [emphasis added]

As elected officials, we should be promoting the positives while also fixing the problems to the best of our abilities and available resources. We (elected officials) need to be giving our citizens hope and a positive outlook about our city and its future if we want people to stay here and to attract more people to move into our city. If we are the ones complaining, who is solving the problems? And by they way, there are more positive things happening in Canton today than we have seen in years! Canton is moving forward and we should be celebrating our successes. (And we should never be blind to the fact that we still have many serious issues that we must be working on every day to continue moving in the right direction.)
Saturday at 5:54pm via mobile
Frank Morris I'll quote you " We can always target other wards in the city with those new technologies if your not satisfied with our efforts!" I will only say that this isn't the first time I have been threatened for speaking my mind and most likely won't be the last time. You may say crime is down and the statics may say crime is down. I can say that there was an armed robbery on 20th St NE, a home invasion on 23rd St NW and a drive by 17th ST NE. Your glass can be half full and you can celebrate your success! Ohhh and by the way it's my job as the ward 9 representative to make sure their glass is full, not half full or half empty.  Saturday at 8:03pm  (emphasis added)
So while Frank Morris may have won a battle in winning the May 7th primary, readers should expect that the political war within the Canton wing of the Stark County Democratic Party will continue unabated.

After all, the mayor of Canton has friends in high places, to wit:


So what if Barack Obama decides to do a little checking on his friend William J. Healy, II by Googling his name on the Internet and happens to read on the Canton Democratic Party "Family Feud" going on?

Well, the mayor can't have it appear to the President that he is not in control of the locals, right?

So look for the Canton Democratic Party "Family Feud" to continue until the mayor accepts that Ward 9 pipsqueak (from Healy's vantage point) Frank Morris is not going to be under his control, no?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

VIDEOS: FORMER CONGRESSMAN (16TH DISTRICT) JOHN BOCCIERI ABOUT TO DECLARE CANDIDACY FOR CONGRESS?




UPDATE:  05/28/2013

See Youngstown Vindicator article Ex-Congressman doesn't plan to run next year (LINK).
 VIDEOS

 Boccieri on Future Congressional Run
(Prelude:  Barb Lewis on Boccieri-provided Flag)

Boccieri Assessment on Bob Gibbs as Candidate

It appears to the SCPR that former 16th District (back in the days when the district included all of Stark County) John Boccieri is about to announce whether or not he will be seeking to return to Congress in the fall elections of 2014.

Back in January, Boccieri undoubtedly caused a stir in the heart of Stark County Democrat Barb Lewis when he announced that he had filed papers with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run against 7th District Congressman Bob Gibbs in November, 2014.

On July 17, 2012, Boccieri (because of what appears to have been a intentional effort by Speaker of the House John Boehner, Congressman Gibbs and Congressman Jim Renacci [current 16th District representative] - all Republicans), a resident in fellow Democrat Tim Ryan's 13th District, made an appearance as an Obama surrogate at the Obama for President campaign headquarters in downtown Canton at the headquarters opened in the drive to re-elect the President in 2012.

One of the points that came up in the Rally for Obama was a statement by Stark County Democratic Headquarters office manager Barb Lewis expressing appreciation that Boccieri had donated the use of an American flag for the occasion.

But she added:  "He is not getting it back until he agrees to run for Congress."



Well, it is looking more and more like Boccieri may be in a position, if he so desires, to reclaim the flag.

While there is no doubt that Boccieri's wife will have a huge say in whether or not he run, apparently, the remaining determining factors are twofold as to whether or not he will "throw his hat into the ring" in the 7th District or the 16th District.

And the factors are?
  1. What the polls are showing as to his relative chances to unseat Bob Gibbs in the 7th or Jim Renacci in the 16th.
  2. Once the odds are determined whether or not his commander-in-chief (his wife) will hear to his running.
THE RELATIVE CHANCES FACTOR

The 16th District

A couple of days ago the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sponsored polling took place this past Monday within the 16th Congressional District on the question of Boccieri's viability as a candidate against sitting Congressman Jim Renacci.

Of course, it does not take polling to know that the 16th is competitive.

And it appears that the Democrats already know the 16th is competitive, the poll must be directed to some specific concerns the Dems have in terms of how to strategize the 2014 election.

"We think the district is competitive, and we think Mr. Renacci is vulnerable for a host of reasons" is what a knowledgeable national Democrat told the Plain Dealer.

In a face off between Renacci and former 13th District Congresswoman Betty Sutton forced because of the gerrymandering engineered by Ohio's Republican leadership in 2011, the final outcome proved the point:


About 15,500 votes separated the two in nearly 350,000 total votes cast.

Boccieri would have to turn around about 7,800 votes in order to reclaim the 16th District for the Democrats.

The 7th District

It appears to the SCPR that it would be more difficult for Boccieri to turn things around in the 7th.


About 40,000 votes separated Democrat Healy-Abrams (sister of Canton mayor William J. Healy, II) and Republican Gibbs.

Though Stark County is by far and away is the most populous part of the 7th (e.g.  Stark polled about 105,000 votes in 2012 whereas the next highest county [Lorain] polled fewer that 40,000), Boccieri would have to turn around 20,000 or better votes to send Gibbs packing.

The SCPR does not see any problem with Healy-Abrams stepping aside (assuming she is interested in a rematch in 2014) for Boccieri should he opt to run in the 7th.  The Healys are ardent John Boccieri folks.

Boccieri has said that he is not impressed with Gibbs' fundraising ability which might be a lure for the former congressman to take on the sitting congressman.

However, Boccieri can be sure that if the control of the U.S. House of Representative, if not the entire Congress is at stake in 2014, national Republicans will make sure that Gibbs has whatever he needs to make his case to 7th District voters.

Boccieri assessed in 2012 that Gibbs "is not that strong of a candidate," in his race against Healy-Abrams.  And that may be.  But he did best Healy-Abrams by 40,000 plus votes.



Only if Boccieri thinks he can better the Democratic numbers in the Stark, Lorain and Medina County parts of the 7th, does it make sense that he opts to run in the 7th.

WHICH WAY WILL BOCCIERI GO?

Probably the 16th in the opinion of SCPR.

Why so?

First  of all, it has to stick in the craw of John Boccieri to have lost to Renacci in 2010.


And, secondly, the newly configured 16th seems to be a better mix (in terms of the R & D mix and the somewhat more progressive voter mindset [than in the 7th]) from which Boccieri needs to achieve a turnaround from Republican to Democratic.

THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF FACTOR

Family is a huge factor with John Boccieri.

By 2013 standards, the Boccieri has a very large family.   And a central figure in John's political future is wife Stacey.  In a video interview back in July, 2012, Boccieri made it abundantly clear that he takes his family responsibilities very seriously and is not about to make a decision to run for office without the blessing of his wife.

Undoubtedly, wife Stacey wants John close to home to be in a better position to help raise the Boccieri brood.

But one has to believe that she also cares about the nation and providing President Obama the support he needs in Congress to get his programs and policies enacted.

One commander-in-chief to the rescue of another Commander-in-Chief, no?

WILL HE RUN?

The SCPR thinks John Boccieri will run and that it will be in the 16th Congressional District.

National Democrats are hungering and thirsting to achieve a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and it appears to The Report that John Boccieri could well be their ticket to picking up one seat.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WHO DOES COUNCILMAN-AT-LARGE JOE COLE THINK HE IS KIDDING?



Yours truly gets one hoot after another in following the political career escapades of Canton Councilman Joe Cole.

Now a lame duck councilman, having lost to Frank Morris, III (a fellow Democrat) in Ward 9 this past November, Cole - once a very promising councilman - in his work as councilman seems to the SCPR to have totally lost it.


For those readers who missed it, here is a LINK to the SCPR blog which details the hoodwinking Mary Cirelli gave him back in February at the filing deadline for the May 7th primary election.

The Cirelli move caused him to end up running against the Ward 9 incumbent Morris.

Why?

Likely because Cole, believed he would have to run against Bill Smuckler, Cirelli and Jimmy Babcock and (in the light of is previous "weak" election showings [see number below]) be the "odd-man-out" [so to speak]) in the 2013 council-at-large Democratic Primary.

As it turned out, Mary Cirelli made her own bad decision in opting to run for Canton treasurer. Astonishing nearly all of us who think we know something about Canton politics, Mary ran third of three candidates for the Canton city treasurer post.

So in the end, the "cloak and dagger-esque" scene at the Stark County Board of Elections between Cole and Cirelli was politically fatal to both of them.

Before the Board of Elections fiasco, Joe - in the opinion of the SCPR - made a big mistake in throwing in with Mayor William J. Healy, II.

But he probably was feeling politically vulnerable and thought that closely associating with the mayor might help him.

When he first ran in 2009, he barely bested Babcock in a field of 10 Democrats vying for the three council-at-large seats in the Democratic Primary.

Then in the November election he was way, way behind Smuckler and Cirelli.


And in subsequent elections, he has always been third in the race for one of the three Canton council-at-large posts up for election.


Cole was likely (well before the filings, when he was in the throes of picking his political allies) figuring that Bill Smuckler who lost to Healy in the Democratic mayoralty primary in 2011 and to Republican Richard Regula in November, 2012 for county commissioner would be itching to get back onto Canton council.

He knew that Healy was the political adversary of both Cirelli and Smuckler and what better ally than the mayor, no?

And, apparently, the mayor likely brought him the support of Stark County's trade unions and the man the SCPR believes is the Trades' most active political type; namely, Dave Kirven of Local 94 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters.

The SCPR has received a number of opinions from various Stark Democrats that Kirven is in cahoots with the mayor to take over the Stark County Democratic Party.

Local political observers can't quite figure out the Kirven/Cole relationship inasmuch as Cole is the superintendent of a charter school which, of course, do not generally hire unionized teachers.

The Report thinks that it is Healy who is the nexus between the Trades/Kirven and Cole.

The SCPR has reported the huge amount of money (probably to be shown to have been in excess of $10,000 in  post-primary campaign finance reports) [LINK]) that Kirven apparently was instrumental in getting the Trades to put into Cole's campaign against Morris (himself a member of an Akron-based glaziers' union).

So the moral of the political story for Cole is that the mayor was of no help in his race against Morris and that the large union war chest was of no help.

But how can anybody help a candidate who - during the campaign:
  • dissed a key segment of Ward 9 voters (LINK - i.e. Vassar Park residents [Group 175] who are pushing Canton government to increase the Canton police force to 175 strong)
  • in an open council meeting, singled out Frank Morris as being deplorable in voting no on funding the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce at $175,000 city taxpayer dollars.  (Morris wanted to the money to go towards hiring more police).
  • decided - during the campaign - he was against Canton having "council-at-large positions altogether beginning with the 2015/2016 term if approved by Canton's voters.
To the SCPR, the Cole Ward 9 campaign was "one big laugh" and all that union money from the hard working members' membership dues was not going to help a "comedy of errors" campaign.

Rather than admit the obvious that his anti-council-at-large-seats stance was born of having been hoodwinked by Cirelli, he persisted to bringing the matter to a vote this past Monday.

He only got two votes, other than his own:  Edmond Mack, Ward 8 and David Dougherty, Ward 6.

The Report sees the initial "during the campaign" proposal by Cole as being a political gambit (much after the model of that Mayor Healy presents in his "everything is political" way of thinking) that was laughably silly if he thought it was going to benefit him in terms of getting newspaper ink during his race against Morris.

While his reasoning may have some validity, to wit:
“This is territorial in a sense [...] These are individuals worried about their political futures and I understand that. That’s not a criticism. They are worried about what would be the landscape if you had individuals who would normally be at-large, who now don’t have those seats, they’re going to becoming into ward (races).”  (Source:  City Council keeps at-large seats, Rink, The Repository, May 20, 2013).
Of course, the best evidence of his point is himself.

When Mary Cirelli bamboozled him into thinking that she was going to run for council-at-large, what did Joe Cole do?

You've got it.  He took on the incumbent councilman in the ward he lives in:  Ward 9.

When his personal political survival was at stake, Cole showed how utterly political he is.  That his opponent was a fellow Democrat and an incumbent didn't faze him one bit.

What he did not talk about in his justification(s) for eliminating the council-at-large seats is that there is a better justification for keeping the at-large positions and redrawing the wards (to make them larger) so that there are fewer of them and thereby achieve a "cost to taxpayer" savings.

But who really believes that saving money was his "real" motivation?

More likely is:  "If I can't be councilman-at-large, then let's eliminate it for everybody."  In other words, as vain as it seems, "sour grapes - pure and simple!"

A the SCPR sees it, having three council-at-large positions is in moderation of the "territorial" feature and not territorial in the sense that Cole defined it (political self-interest, which he so amply demonstrated in Ward 9).

In The Report's definition of territorial, having three council-at-large slots on council should provide a more city-wide (i.e. global) input into what happens in city government and thereby lessens the competition among the Wards for city taxpayer money to be spent for parochial interest as opposed to matters which will benefit the entire city.

For instance, the three at-large councilpersons (Babcock, Cirelli and Cole) were naturals to take up the cause of Group 175 because presumably a greater police presence benefits the entire city.

But, as we know, only Cirelli supported Group 175.

The SCPR does not think Babcock and Cole function in a de facto sense as city-wide representatives.  Both have wedded themselves to Mayor Healy and his specific political agenda.

And in doing so, they are more narrowly focused than a number of the ward councilpersons.

The bottom line though is that the Cole proposal to eliminate the council-at-large positions were never about what is best for the structure of Canton government.

To repeat, the SCPR believes that Cole's proposal was a political gambit borne of the frustration of having been outwitted by Mary Cirelli and therefore, in the end, was nothing more than "a case of sour grapes!"

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY HAS MASSILLON IN A TAIL-SPIN AND HEADING TO THE GROUND?



To the SCPR, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry has Massillon into a tail-spin and heading towards running this one-proud city into the ground.

This seeming dive to the ground has to be excruciatingly painful to her predecessor; namely, Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr. who spent 24 years as mayor prior to be deposed in the Democratic Primary of May, 2011.

With the announcement about a week ago that the mayor had asked for and received approval for a State of Ohio Auditor (SOA) audit of Massillon finances which is to begin in June, financial matters could not be more dire for the city.

A consequence of the audit could be a finding that Massillon qualifies as being in:
  •  "fiscal emergency," or
  •  "fiscal watch" status.
Under the former, Massillon in effect gets taken over by the State of Ohio whereas under the latter the city is placed in a closely monitored financial recovery structure designed to bring the city to solvency.

City Budget Director Ken Koher is projecting that in 2013 a budget deficit of 2.7 million.

Back in December, 2011 Catazaro-Perry (before she actually took office) had asked the SOA to do an audit and was rejected.

Before that she was in discussion with North Canton mayor David Held as to the nuts and bolts of doing an audit at city expense a la what North Canton did a number of years ago.

According to Held, after preliminary discussion on the topic, it simply evaporated.

Hmm?

All of which generates with the SCPR, this question.

Is there a more effective way to put Massillon in a bad light insofar as prospective economic development activities taking hold than to try to gin up a "have the State Ohio" intervene in what is in the opinion of the SCPR a political dispute within Massillon government as to how to solve the financial crisis?

So why is Massillon in such dire straits?

What are the politics of this situation?

The SCPR's assessment is because of the obvious loggerheads that exists between Mayor Catazaro-Perry and city council.

It all pretty much started with the mayor's first revenue enhancement proposal of reducing the city's income tax credit to Massillonians working out-of-town and paying income taxes to the workplace city.  Another part of her proposal included charging Massillonians an assessment for street lighting.

Her proposal has been rejected a number of times by council.  But nonetheless she hangs doggedly onto the proposal.

So much so that she sat on on the sidelines - in quiet opposition - of a council lead effort to increase the city's income tax by .3% (there having been no increases since 1977/78 except for a Parks and Recreation levy in 1995 for .3%).

Catzaro-Perry may be correct in saying that whether or not she was on board with the income tax increase would not have made a difference in the ultimate outcome.

But she may not be.

When Stark County was in a fiscal crisis in 2011, the county commissioners did an impressive thing in getting Stark Countians to approve a 0.5% sales tax increase.

A key difference between the Stark County effort and the Massillon effort is that Stark County's elected officials were all-out for the levy.  And, consequently, it passed by a surprising margin.

Any chance that Massillon had of passing the tax issue was lost when the mayor and her administration set a clear signal to Massillonians that it was okay for them to vote the levy down.

Seemingly, it has been one battle after another between Mayor Catazaro-Perry and council and some outside Massillon officialdom (i.e. Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, who is from Massillon and remains a powerful force in Massillon politics) from the day she took office.

The conflict is part and parcel of the infighting going on in the city among
  • the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. political machine (Maier is a former Democratic Party chairman and currently Massillon court of courts who the SCPR believes recruited Catazaro-Perry to run against Cicchinelli),
  • the Frank Cicchinelli political forces, and
  • the John Ferrero political camp,
Also, one must not forget the Republicans who control Massillon City Council.

While the SCPR does not believe that the Republicans oppose the mayor merely because she is a Democrat, it does seem that they do not share her philosophy of government.

And it needs to be pointed out that Democrats on council frequently join with the Republicans in opposition to Catazaro-Perry proposals.  Republican Donnie Peters, Jr. (not seeking re-election) sides with the mayor here and there.  He was one of three votes for the mayor on accepting a proposed deal.

 It appears to the SCPR that Catazaro-Perry and her political handlers (Maier/Shane Jackson [a Maier employee and political director of the Stark County Democratic Party] are adding fuel to the political fires burning in Massillon in what seems to be a two-pronged strategy designed to help her get re-elected in less than two years from now (assuming the Republicans cannot put up a viable candidate), to wit:
  • blame her predecessor Frank Cicchinelli for nearly all that ails Massillon nowadays, and
  • to the extent that she cannot blame him, attribute her lack of success to an obstinate Massillon City Council
The current manifestation of internal political problems is the Hampton Hotel financing deal.

And there can be no doubt that it was a bad deal from the get-go as was the Cicchinelli administration's promotion of adding nine holes to The Legends golf course/restaurant complex.  Cicchinelli himself admits that the addition was a mistake.

As the SCPR sees it, Massillon stands to lose either $3.4 million (accepting the Hampton Hotel proposed buy-out) or $4.6 million, if not accepted.


Consistent with a seemingly blooming Catazaro-Perry attitude (i.e. "my way or the highway" as demonstrated on her reduced income tax credit proposal), after being rejected on the Hampton Hotel Buyout proposal a week ago in a special council session, she was back at trying to get council to re-consider its rejection as last night's meeting.

This time around Economic Development Director Ted Herncane was the vehicle of her persistence.

Additionally, there is the ongoing squabble between the Massillon city administration (whether Catazaro-Perry or predecessor Frank Cicchinelli) and the Parks and Recreation Board as to who is going to control matters on the board:  the administration (through its three appointees) or is the board to be its own entity making independent decisions?

It is hard to tell which city in Stark County is the most politically polarized between Canton and Massillon.  Whereas the competition on the football field is just a "good old rivalry," the political dysfunction measure is not for the cities themselves and certainly not for Stark County as a whole.

For right now, it appears to the SCPR that Massillon may be winning the political/governmental dysfunction inasmuch as Tigerland (as personified by Mayor Catazaro-Perry) seems hellbent on being in a tailspin that just might lead to a crash landing.

And, pray tell, exactly who will benefit from that?

Monday, May 20, 2013

CONLEY (ON BEHALF OF CLIENT DEMIS) FILES APPEAL OF "NO PROBABLE CAUSE" ON JUDGE FRANK FORCHIONE; THEN HIGH-TAILS IT OUT OF THE COUNTRY. HMM?




On April 23rd, the SCPR wrote, in part:
The SCPR has learned that Judge Michael McNulty has found "no" probable cause that Judge Francis G. Forchone committed a "theft-in-office" in his handling of the $5,000 Sandy Hook School Support matter growing out of the Scott D. Studer case.  (LINK to prior SCPR blog for background).

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

Local media failed to inform the Stark County public about the filing of the affidavit when it was filed even though there is indication that they had access to the filing early on.
 
... 
The SCPR published a blog on the matter forthwith on first learning about the existence of the filed affidavit. 
... 
Demis' attorney, Craig T. Conley, told yours truly that depending on his analysis of the articulated basis of Judge McNulty's decision, he may look into whether or not there is an appeal to be made.
 LINK to the entire blog .

On the following day The Report in analyzing McNulty's decision, in part wrote:
It takes less than 10 minutes.  Morgan's [Akron Chief Assistant Prosecutor Craig Morgan] presentation sealed the deal.  There would be no finding of probable cause.

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

Notwithstanding, Judge McNulty's "no probable cause" decision, local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has agreed to carry on behalf of Columbus resident (however, a former Navarre resident) Louis Demis with the case.

On the 15th of this month (last Wednesday), immediately on flying out of the country on a planned vacation (the SCPR was only joking in terming it "high-tailing" in this blog's headliner) Conley caused a Notice of Appeal to be filed.


So far Judge Frank Forchione (Stark County Court of Common Pleas) has to be "'feelin' good" about his prospects in the ultimate outcome of this case.

While it is common for those who lose in a trial court (or, in this case, a municipal court deciding on probable cause) to march out to the court house steps and declare that there will be an appeal.

The reality of appealing is that relatively few cases are overturned on appeal.

And, one has to believe that Conley and his client are not likely to succeed on appeal.

However, Conley tells the SCPR he feels very strongly that Demis v. Forchione is the exception rather than the rule; hence, the appeal.

If yours truly understands Conley's analysis, it appears that in his view is that McNulty's language:
 "Further it is doubtful that the $5,000 in question was ever the property of Stark County."
provides an opportunity beyond the points of law already argued by him in the probable cause hearing itself.

Notwithstanding the well known reality among attorneys who appeal cases as a matter of course that chances on appeal are pretty slim, one has to be struck by the Demis/Conley persistence.

In, reportedly, former Hall of Fame New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra lanquage:  "It ain't over til its over."

While Judge Forchione appears to be "sitting pretty" in terms of his legal position, one would think that there has to be some unease that the case is being carried on.

For we all are fully aware of another well known colloquialism:  "Its not over until the fat lady sings."

Only and only if the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals (sitting principally in Canton) confirms Judge McNulty, will Judge Frank Forchione finally have his rulings and actions in State of Ohio versus Studer fully behind him?

Friday, May 17, 2013

VIDEOS: STARK COUNTY TO BECOME PART OF THE STATE OF OHIO'S "CAD" SYSTEM? EMS/FIRE/POLICE RADIO SYSTEM? THE REPUBLICAN PHILOSOPHY OF GOV'T TAKING HOLD IN STARK CO.?



 UPDATED AT 08:45 AM

Normally, one does not like to be thought of as being a guinea pig.

But such might not be all that bad for Stark County officials charged with providing:
  • emergency medical services,
  • fire and
  • police services
to Stark County's residents.

Back in 2007/2008 the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) commissioned a study on the condition on the county's emergency call receiving and dispatching services and the verdict was not good.


For a copy of the complete copy of the original GeoComm report, go to this LINK at the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) site.

For more background on the continuing effort (Jackson fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez has been working on fixing Stark's 9-1-1 system for the better part of 20 years or more), here is a LINK to a prior SCPR blog.

It had to be music to Gonzalez's ears to hear recently that there might be an opportunity for Stark County to become the first in Ohio to join the State of Ohio (MARCS - "Multi-Agency Radio Communications System" Computer Aided Dispatch [CAD] system.

The reason that the news might be "music to the ears" is that joining the state system might mean more dollars remaining of the $2.35 million (from revenues collected for 9-1-1 rebuild purposes from the Bosley, Harmon and Vignos December, 2008 imposed 0.5% sales tax [repealed overwhelming by Stark County taxpayers in November, 2009]) that the Stark County commissioners are holding to be used for upgrading the radios being used by Stark's EMS, fire and police forces to state-of-the-art 800 mhz, platform 7X, P25 radios.

Here is a video in which the possibility of Stark County (the very first non-state agency) is presented by Joe Concatto (a Republican and a former safety director for the Janet Creighton administration) at a SCOG Executive Committee meeting held at Canton City Hall this past Tuesday.



The SCPR likes hearing about what is being worked upon by Concatto, Gonzalez (Jackson Township fiscal officer, and also the manager of Stark County's CJIS) and others in terms of integrating Stark County emergency forces into the bigger picture of statewide communication capability.

Along with the CAD, there is the need for the county to keep pace with state-of-the-art technology in its radio communications system in and of itself.

Stark County emergency forces are working with radios, for the most part, that will become outdated in 2017 and it is estimated replacing them could cost as much as $10 million to $15 million.

Accordingly, in addition to studying the possibility of joining the MARCS CAD system, Stark County is very interested in looking at joining the State of Ohio MARCS Radio system.

Right now, it appears the latter is more likely than the former.  However, if the numbers can be worked out as being beneficial to Stark County, then Stark may well become the very first county (i.e "the guinea pig" experiment works) in all of Ohio to become part of the MARCS CAD.

It is commendable that county officials are interested in being "on the leading edge" of working out partnerships with other government entities.

Stark County at the urging of Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar (R-Alliance) is at the forefront of counties in Ohio who are in the process of putting together a "land bank" (officially, the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation - SCLRC [a non-profit]) designed to remove abandoned houses, which are a huge blight on community aesthetics and serve as havens for crime, from Stark County neighborhoods.

A powerful motivating force for Stark County's first responders to come together within the county to reform and restructure emergency services is the draconian cutback in state funding of local government instituted by the Republican Kasich administration which is currently in charge in Columbus.

It is clear to the SCPR that whereas all state of Ohio funding of local government in its heyday cost some $600 million or so and the state currently is at about $2 billion or so in budget surplus, the real reason for the local government funding cutback is no longer - if it ever was - to be justified on a reported deficit in state finances.

The Report believes that the governor is using the purported financial crisis at the time he took office (January, 2011) to force elimination of duplicative local government services and nudge local governments into regional alliances and collaboration with state agencies in order to make government more efficient and effective.

While the dollars involved are important and taxpayers expect government at all levels to get the most bang for the taxpaying public's bucks, what we are seeing from Columbus is the implementation of Republican ideology of cutting government wherever possible and, to the extent that government cannot be cut, to make it as lean and mean financially as possible.

Out of this philosophy of government, or non-government, if you will, is born the Ohio Local Government Innovation Fund initiative and the like.

Sometimes rank and file citizens do not understand how political ideology affects their day-in, day-out lives.  Well, the SCPR is here to say that the Kasich administration is in the process of branding all of Ohio with its signature ideological stamp.  And it is apparent to yours truly that brand is making its mark in Stark County.

A quintessential part of the Kasich administration's unarticulated "government reduction and consolidation political philosophy at all levels of government plan" are pilot projects (i.e. let's use Stark County as a guinea pig) like the proposed integration of Stark into the MARCS CAD system.

And key Stark County elected officials, like local government officials across the state, are feeling the financial pressure and are wittingly or unwittingly responding with streamlining/consolidating moves which are consonant with the Kasich administration "Republican philosophy of government" objectives.

SCOG executive committee chairman Tom Bernabei (a Democrat) seems to be an effective coordinating force lead player in providing a structure in the context of the Stark County commissioners' meeting work sessions to prod the development of key information so that the commissioners are in a position to make a decision soon (probably within the next 60 days) as to which direction the county is going to go with its $2.35 million.

And the underlying impetus is the need to be efficient and effective.

While $2.35 million may seem to be a lot of money, it really is not in terms of all that needs to be accomplished in bringing Stark County emergency forces to state-of-the-art status.

Here is a video of a discussion that took place as the SCOG meeting that focused the Radio side of Stark getting its 9-1-1 dispatch system in order:



An interesting question that came up for discussion was whether or not Stark County signing up with the MARC Radio system is inevitable?

While the answer is clearly "no,"  it seems to be the thinking of many Stark County EMS, fire and police officials that there is a trend in that direction.

Trend?

The SCPR believes it is more than a trend.  As argued above, The Report thinks that the political forces resident in Columbus largely constitutes the so called trend.

Local Democrats such as Canton's Mayor Healy, Canton Council president Allen Schulman, Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez (also Stark County Democratic Party chairman) have fired back at the governor and his austerity moves, but it appears that like them or not, they are more and more falling into line.

The termination of the Ohio Estate tax has, for instance, denied Jackson Township on average $1 million a year with which to operate and maintain its park system.  Only after the second try (the May, 2013 election) did Jackson voters approve a parks levy.  In the meantime, Jacksonians had to put up with a curtailed use and availability of their parks and also risked a deterioration of the capital facilities of the parks due the lack to financial resources with which to maintain the facilities.

Locally, Republican controlled North Canton government is already a part of MARCS system as an efficiency and effectiveness measure and Democratic controlled Summit County government is looking at whether or not MARCS will be efficient and effective for Summit Countians.

Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II (Democrat - Canton), Chairman Bernabei, and Sheriff George Maier (a Democrat) weighed in on the Stark County discussion at Tuesday's SCOG meeting, to wit:



It is apparent that Ohio's MARCS' managers are working hard with Stark County officials to make Stark County integration into the MARCS CAD and Radio systems a reality.

If integration happens, it will be a testament to the likes of Concatto, Gonzalez, Bernabei, and a core of other Stark County officials that they never lost their vision of putting together the very best of emergency force systems to the benefit of everyday Stark Countians.

Near the end of his presentation at Tuesday's session, Concatto once again reaffirms his belief (see video at the end of this blog) that Stark County can achieve a "one dispatch center" operation.

Undoubtedly, he and Randy Gonzalez have some tales to tell and some huge frustrations to share to any who are interested in hearing about the many peaks and valleys they have gone over and through in their quest to make Stark County one of the state's if not the nation's very best emergency response local government.

This is work that most Stark Countians do not witness.

But the product of their work especially if coupled with a Stark County integration into a statewide MARCS CAD and Radio system (even if, as a state/county "guinea pig" operation) will prove to be life saving to many Stark Countians.

Here is Concatto on video expressing his belief that a Stark County "one dispatch center" is, perhaps, once again on the county's horizon:


Thursday, May 16, 2013

VIDEOS: CRIME LAB WEAKNESSES FOUND OUT THROUGH EFFORTS OF CANTON MAYOR WILLIAM J. HEALY, II?



LAST UPDATE/REVISION:  02:05PM

He has done it again?

Done what again?

Well, let's put it this way.  Ever hear the expression:  "He stepped in _ _ _ _, but came out smelling like a rose?"

As readers of the SCPR know, a repetitive theme in this blog re:  Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II is that he is the envy of a cat with nine lives because he can get into scrape after scrape after scrape and seemingly come out unscathed way beyond the proverbial nine lives.

It appears that he not only comes out unscathed from having prompted the redefinition and reclassification the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab (CSCCL, Crime Lab, Lab) director position so that he could appoint political pal and former Stark County Chief Deputy Rick Perez as director, but comes out as sort of a heroic figure in bringing to the surface in the process a realization that the Lab needs a major rework.

On Tuesday, the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) executive committee met in the mayor's conference room located on the eighth floor in the mayor's suite of offices atop Canton City Hall and a major fallout from the meeting was the revelation that the Stark County Police Chiefs Association (made up of the police departments of Stark County's cities, villages and townships) has decided not to have "new" DNA evidence processed through the Lab because of a 400 day processing time.

Until recent times, the CSCCL has been a treasured asset of Stark County government.  Now that Mayor Healy has opened the proverbial "can of worms" with his tinkering with the leadership of the Lab; it may be that its life is near an end, or, at least, scaled back just to doing firearms and chemistry work.

For those readers who are not up-to-speed on the particulars of Healy's messing with the Crime Lab through his then-safety director Tom Ream and then throwing Ream "under-the-bus" when "all Hell broke loose," here are several links to prior SCPR blogs to help get you current.
Here is a video (from Wednesday's SCPR one-on-one interview) in which Stark County Commissioner and SCOG executive committee chairman Tom Bernabei discusses the "scaling back" possibility.

And here is a video of some of the discussion which occurred at Tuesday's meeting including:
  • Canton Safety Director Warren Price on the need to have stable funding of the Crime Lab and Chairman Tom Bernabei on the loss off nearly half of the State of Ohio local government funding revenues (from about $15 million to $8.5 million over three years) resulting in a drop off of Crime Lab funding from $1.3 million annually to $755,000,

  • Chairman Bernabei on the history of the revelation of problems at the CSCCL:

  • Perry Township Chief of Police Michael T. Pomesky (president of the Stark County Police Chiefs Association - SCPCA) talks about the Association's actions on the the Lab problems:

  • Michele Foster, interim Crime Lab Director, on what are the causes of up to 400 days delay in DNA analysis at the CSCCL:

  • Warren Price on oversight and governance of the Crime Lab:

  • SCOG Executive Committee member Marty Chapman (from Minerva) on the history, governance and finances of the Crime Lab:

  • Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Fitzsimmons on the critical importance of the CSCCL to successful prosecution of criminal cases:

  • Chief Pomesky on reasons why the Stark County Police Chiefs' Association is recommending that "new" DNA tests be sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI):

  • Crime Lab Interim Director Foster takes questions from:
    • Perry Township trustee Craig Chessler
      • on grant that Foster assigned to Mansfield's crime processing unit,
      • on the extent of the CSCCL backlog,
    • Member Chapman
      • on the grant in relation to the CSCCL budget,
    • Canton Safety Director Price
      • on who is in charge at the Crime Lab:
      •  Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier weighs in:
        • on the need to have timely crime lab processing so that Stark's policemen can "look citizens in the eye" and keep them informed on the progress of prosecutions,
        • on doing due diligence with BCI to ensure that their turnaround times stay timely and that they continue to take direct contact from Stark's police agencies, and
        • expecting that BCI will get the job done for Stark's policing and prosecutors:

      • Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II spoke to the matter of using BCI as an on-going backup to the CSCCL when backlogs occur:

      • Prosecutor John Ferrero advised the committee that his Law Enforcement subcommittee would be coming forth with a plan for reforming crime lab governance in a future meeting:


      • Jackson Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez was emphatic about the need for SCOG to come out of the crime lab funding and governance crisis unity:


      In the final analysis, it does seem that Cantonians do owe Mayor Healy a debt of gratitude for having messed with the operation of the Crime Lab.

      For if he had not, a case can be made that the burgeoning backlog problems at the Lab might have gone on for quite a while before being detected.

      While he may get some perverse credit for helping identify the problem, like other episodes in his storied fumbling and bumbling at Canton City Hall, he leaves it to others to clean up.

      So in the end, is it "thanks, but 'no' thanks, Your Honor?"

      Especially if your name is Warren Price and your job titles include:
      • chief-of-staff,
      • service director,
      • safety director, and
      • annexation director
      Wouldn't you say?

      For anyone who doubts the unmitigated gall of William J. Healy, II
      • the man who precipitated the surfacing of internal Crime Lab problems (which, by the way, his administration failed to catch early and nip in the bud) with his move to water down the director's qualifications so that he could hire Rick Perez.
      Take a look at this video in which he scolds the SCOG's executive committee for having discussed what Healy defines (of course, we all know that in his own mind there is nothing that he is not an authority on) having been an inappropriate delving into personnel matters at the Lab.



      Yesterday, a day after the big SCOG confab at Canton City Hall, the SCPR sat down with Commissioner Bernabei to harvest his view of where the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab is heading in terms of its continued viability.

      With the dropoff of some $6 million in State of Ohio furnished local government funding over the past three years or so, it seems likely at the very least that eventually DNA testing will be dropped from the list of services provided by the Lab.

      Here is Bernabei's take on the future:

      Wednesday, May 15, 2013

      "THE-JURY (ERR - THE OHIO SUPREME COURT) IS-OUT" ON WHETHER OR NOT GEORGE T. MAIER CONTINUES AS STARK CO. SHERIFF!



      Back on January 11, 2013, the-then Massillon safety director George T. Maier said to an area media person:  “I guarantee I’ll be qualified for the position [Stark County sheriff] or I won’t apply for it.”

      He did apply and was (as the SCPR predicted) selected by the Stark County Democratic Party (on Feburary 5th) with the help of his brother and powerful Stark County Democrat (a former chairman and currently executive vice president).

      Democrat Mike McDonald (now deceased) was forced to step aside (for health reasons) from taking office on January 7th after having defeated Republican Larry Dordea (currently Hartville police chief) in the November 7, 2013 election.

      By Ohio law, the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee was empowered to select McDonald's successor.

      Well, here we are at what appears to be on the threshold of the Ohio Supreme Court making a decision on whether or not the Dems selection should be ratified and the SCPR ventures to say that Maier's qualification is far from being guaranteed.

      Former Sheriff Tim Swanson filed a Quo Warranto lawsuit against Maier on February 12th asking the high court to set aside Maier's appointment for the reason that the Dems' selectee was not qualified by the requirements of Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01 (specifically 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (9)(a) or (b).

      All the evidence is in (LINK to prior SCPR blog), the matter has been fully briefed (final brief filed on Monday) and the only question that remains is whether or not the court will hold an oral argument before deciding the question.  (LINK to Ohio Supreme Court website to see the progression of the case)

      The SCPR believes that the evidence and the briefs indicate Maier has not been able to deliver on his guaranty and would be surprised to see the Supreme Court leave him in office.

      And if such happens, it will be very unfortunate for Stark County which has been subjected to a number of political/governmental trauma: to wit:
      • an "imposed" sales tax and its repeal (2008/2009
      • the theft of nearly $3 million from the Stark County treasury (2009), and
      • the loss of huge amounts of local government funds from the State of Ohio which could result (in the opinion of the SCPR) the closure of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab and a consequent impairment of the ability of local prosecutors to put charged felons behind bars,
      There is no doubt to yours truly, that if the Supreme Court turns George T. Maier out-of-office, Stark County is in for another trauma.

      As it was when that august body returned Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer and in doing so removed Alex Zumbar.

      If Maier loses, it is hard to see how Randy Gonzalez remains as chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

      From the SCPR's perspective, the prospect of Maier being turned out of office was avoidable.

      It is now obvious to The Report (from looking at the evidence tendered to the Supreme Court and the arguments made) that Maier had to have known from the get-go that he has problems qualifying to be sheriff.

      It is stunning to The Report that he and the supposedly expert political operative in the family (i.e. brother Johnnie) would not have anticipated that George would one day be a prime candidate to be Stark County sheriff.

      Rule one for anybody is to prepare oneself for opportunities that may come along.

      That George put his qualifications to be sheriff questioned is unbelievable.

      From the time he left the Ohio Department of Public Safety (January 11, 2011) through January 7, 2013, he had ample opportunity and time to cure any lack he may have in qualifying under ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b).

      That he didn't do so is, to say the least, a head scratcher and may suggest that he lacks the ability to look down the road and prepare (in case he remains sheriff) his office for what suddenly appears on the horizon.

      While he appears amply qualified to be sheriff by virtue of his police work (i.e. de facto policing experience) going back many, many years to the days he served in the Hartville and Tuscarawas Township police departments and continuing through his years as a state highway patrolman, there is the question of his temperament that the SCPR has raised in prior blogs (LINK).

      Hopefully, if the Supreme Court rules in his favor, he has learned that it is very important for someone as powerful as a county sheriff that he develop the ability to control his temper; if, in fact, he has a problem in this regard.

      The SCPR believes that Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (in addition to brother Johnnie) has not served George's interests well and have not served the interests of Stark Countians well.

      Particularly telling on him, in the opinion of The Report, was his use of attorney opinion (whoop-de-doo!) to slide by  ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b).  Also, disconcerting was the use of "you must sign your ballot, to have it counted" ruling.

      It was amazing to the SCPR that 84 brave souls risked incurring the ire of the Maiers and the party chairman (who lobbied hard with the Central Committee members on behalf of Maier) in voting for Lou Darrow.

      The Report believes that the Maiers, Gonzalez and others supporting Maier fully understood the qualification problem but proceeded anyway in the belief that the likes of Tim Swanson would not challenge George's selection in Ohio's court system.

      Their approach reminds the SCPR of the legal adage that "possession is 9/10ths of the law."  Analogizing, yours truly figures that the Maier camp calculations was that once George is selected, the opposition will fade and the question of qualification will become irrelevant.

      To The Report, using such machinations and calculations is not the way for one to become county sheriff.

      The sheriff is a county's chief law enforcement officer and it is extremely important that there be no question whatsoever that he be qualified "as a matter of the rule of law."

      Attorney opinions are "a dime a dozen" and have no place in being determinative on questions such George T. Maier's qualification to be Stark County sheriff.

      The better course for Stark Dems to have taken would have been to have selected Lou Darrow as McDonald's successor.  There is no question about his qualifications under ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b) or any other part of ORC 311.01.

      In the meantime, George gets his qualification act together and runs for sheriff in the 2014 Democratic primary.

      Yours truly does not know much about Darrow, but it could be that he has the political magnetism requisite to become sheriff.  Some have suggested that he does not.

      The Report has seen George T. Maier enough to attest that this guy is very polished, very professional, and has a way with people that makes him a highly attractive political candidate.

      Accordingly, it appears that Maier would handily win a political face-off with Darrow.

      Then, of course, there would likely be another match up between the Democratic nominee (presumably Maier) and Republican Larry Dordea.

      Maier versus Dordea would likely be highly competitive.

      And both like McDonald and Dordea (in the 2012 election) would be prepared to be Stark County sheriff.

      Let the people choose; not the party bosses.

      Such was the concern of the SCPR when news of Mike McDonald's health concerns first arose.

      While the Stark County Democratic Party hierarchy emphatically denies that they knew during the run-up to the November, 2012 election that it was likely Mike McDonald would never take office as Stark County sheriff, yours truly remains skeptical.

      It may be that the Ohio Supreme Court will be convinced by the largely "equivalency arguments" of Maier's legal counsel and keep him in office.


      In terms of whether or not such a decision would heal any misgivings about Maier's legal qualifications depends on the court's legal analysis and, of course, the vote of the justices.

      If the justices vote 7 - 0 in Maier's favor, then and only then can he say:

      “I guarantee I’ll be qualified for the position [Stark County sheriff] or I [would not have applied] for it."