IT TAKES MAIER & THREE OTHERS
TO FIELD "ROUTINE" BUSINESS QUESTIONS?
HIRING KRUGLIAK & WILKINS
FILLING 501 COUNTY JAIL BEDS
(Not on the Agenda)
(Spontaneously Brought Up by Creighton)
(Not on the Agenda)
(Spontaneously Brought Up by Creighton)
On a relative basis, things are kind of like "All Quiet on the Western Front" in the issue of whether or not George T. Maier is to be sheriff of Stark County over the longer term.
Indication of such was present on Monday as the Stark County commissioners held their last meeting of the year.
The meeting was sort of like "watch paint dry" except for the appearance "in force" of Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee ("SCDP-CC;" 100 to 65) appointed Sheriff Maier at the meeting.
As he is wont to do, commissioners' president Thomas Bernabei, in the interest of getting county employees back on the job just as soon as possible - in service of county government efficiency, moved the agenda items concerning sheriff agenda items to the beginning of the meeting.
While the SCPR appreciates Bernabei's focus on efficiency, the SCPR does not think he went far enough on his efficiency drive.
One "elephant in the room" question he failed to ask was why Maier showed up with three of his employees to handle questions that he on his lonesome self was able to handle.
But the sheriff's presence did bring some interesting revelations.
First, it came out that Maier is hiring the Canton law firm of Krugliak, Wilkins to conclude labor negotiations with the union representing deputies. On October 11th, he fired Vivanne Whalen Duffrin who as interim Sheriff Swanson's legal counsel and human resources director negotiated other contracts with sheriff department employees which are dependent (in terms of cost to the taxpayers) on the deputies contract.
She did come back when the Ohio Supreme Court ousted Maier on November 6th (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto). However, when the SCDP-CC reappointed Maier on December 11th; she, seeing "the handwriting on the wall" resigned on that same day when the results were known.
Before she was fired on the 11th of October, Maier had been in negotiations with for Canton safety director Warren Price to come on board either as a full time employee or a contract employee.
It is interesting that Maier did not resume negotiations with Price.
The Report did e-mail Maier a question as to whether or not he planned to restart discussions with Price, but he failed to respond.
Maier proves over and over again that he is unwilling to answer questions that he deems may be of a critical analysis bent.
In the same e-mail he also blew off, as Gonzalez himself did, a question that the SCPR had as to whether or not a report that Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (retiring as chief deputy of the Canton Municipal clerk of courts office and being replaced by his son Kody) would be becoming his fiscal officer inasmuch as the former long time fiscal officer quit unexpectedly on December 13th.
As can be seen in the video at the end of this blog, if George Maier thinks you are unlikely to ask critical questions or if you hold a public office that he might have some accountability to, he couldn't be more accommodating, maybe even "sycophant-esque," in approach.
Commissioner Regula picked up on Maier's cloying of Bernabei, to wit: If you are going to call him Mr. President you need to come back more often."
Is this guy sheriff for all Stark Countians or only those of his choosing?
While there were a number of "ministerial items on Monday's commissioners' agenda (hardly, one would think even requiring the sheriff, by his lonesome to be present; let alone three others), a significant "second" matter - terms of being a revelation - that came up (not on the agenda, but brought up at the initiative of Commissioner Janet Creighton) was Maier's failure to get all 501 beds in use at the Stark County jail even after he has been in office nearly a year.
Only 416 of the total 501 beds are being occupied.
Oh yes, there are excuses galore being made for him (e.g. the difficulty of finding "qualified hires" and all the hullabaloo surrounding whether he will or will not be sheriff long term) as to why he hasn't delivered on the promise made by the Stark commissioners in the 2011 campaign for Stark Countians to approve a 0.5% increase in the county sales tax.
But the fact of the matter is that he (and Swanson) and derivatively, they have not delivered and indications are that it might be as much as 2-1/2 to 3 years before that the 501 beds in use is realized.
While for right now there appears to be "a lull in the storm" in the political/legal fight as to whether or not who will be sheriff come the election of this fall, there are stirrings afoot.
On December 12th, interim Sheriff Tim Swanson did send Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero asking him to pursue a second quo warranto and to seek recovering of Stark County taxpayer monies paid to/by Maier (receipts and expenditures [re-branding]).
After consulting with the commissioners on the 23rd, Ferrero on December 31st responded to Swanson, to wit:
So now it is up to Swanson as to whether or not a new quo warranto will be filed.
The SCPR in an e-mail asked Swanson when he was going to file a new quo warranto against Maier.
Answer: "to be determined by Greg Beck and Jim Matthews [after discussions with Swanson next week]"
While a lull appears to be in place right now, a storm of legal activity could be upon us by this time next week.
Stark Countians deserve a follow on-definition by the Ohio Supreme Court to its November 6, 2013 decision as to whether or not the SCDP-CC acted legally on December 11th.
And beyond that, Stark Countians need to be thinking in terms of (even if he finally passes the Supreme Court test) whether or not Maier has the demeanor, the temperament and respectfulness of those without portfolio to merit being elected sheriff.
For The Report, Maier comes up way short of the mark on demeanor, temperament and respectfulness when he is put under stress.
When it is glad-handing time, he does fine. But just don't cross him.
There have been developments in Stark taxpayer Tom Marcelli's (Craig T. Conley representing) civil suit in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas.
Kristin Farmer was assigned the case initially.
However, she has bowed out given the court's close involvement with the sheriff's department whomever the sheriff happens to be at any given moment.
On December 24th, the court's administrative judge, Frank Forchione, requested that the Ohio Supreme Court appoint a "sitting by assignment" judge to hear the case.
And the court heeded Forchione's request, to wit:
Well, who is Linton D. Lewis, Jr?
As it turns out, he is quite a well known Ohio jurist.
He was the judge from rural Ohio (Perry County; population about 35,000) who ruled Ohio's funding of public education unconstitutional back in 1994. (See Columbus Dispatch piece)
He retired from the Perry County Court of Common Pleas in 2010 after being on the bench for 27 years.
Over the years, he has taken quite a few cases by assignment.
In reading the Dispatch article, The Report is under the impression that Judge Lewis is a "no-nonsense" judge which is good because this case has two cantankerous attorneys representing (Marcelli/Conley) and (Maier/Thomas Rosenberg).
Prior blogs have detailed the acrimony which exists between Conley and Rosenberg.
Rosenberg added "fuel to the fire" in this missive fired off on January 2nd.
So expect things to be heating up on this front of legal challenges to George T. Maier.
The SCPR thinks that both on the quo warranto front and on the civil suit front things are about to get hot and heavy once again.
In the following video, George T. Maier along with three cohorts as he appeared at Monday's commissioners' meeting.
Did they "really" need to be with him?