Monday, January 27, 2014



There couldn't be a more glaring case of situational ethics.

Geroge T. Maier attorney Thomas Rosenberg (representing him on interim Sheriff Tim Swanson's quo warranto filed with the Ohio Supreme Court on February 12, 2013) did a very unwise thing on May 6, 2013 in terms of "counting his chickens before the eggs were hatched" in writing the following letter to Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero.

Fast forward to January 6, 2014 to Rosenberg's next letter (not to Ferrero) but to the Stark County commissioners,

To drive the point home.

Focus on the two dates:  May 6, 2013 (pre-Swanson quo warranto victory) versus January 6, 2014 (post-Swanson quo warranto victory)

What a super-hypocrite Thomas Rosenberg is, no?

What is "good for the goose, is NOT good for the gander" in Rosenberg's sense of fairness?

Did I get that right Mister Rosenberg?

When he thought Maier was going to win, Rosenberg was going "as a matter of public duty" to collect from Swanson the $20,000 that Stark County agreed to pay him  (Rosenberg) for representing the man (Maier) who the Ohio Supreme Court said on November 6, 2013 was never the legal sheriff of Stark County.

But when Rosenberg's "best laid plans of mice and men" failed to materialize, the "winner" Swanson was not entitled to recover as a "matter of law" from the commissioners and, moreover,  they (the commissioners) should not (implied by Rosenberg) as "a matter of moral obligation" pay Swanson fees (some $33,800).

And there appears to be a movement to put pressure on the commissioners "not to do the right thing" and pay Swanson his fees.

Here is where "a big laugh" comes in.

Commissioner Creighton responds:  "They will have to throw me in jail to get me to pay this bill."

Who believes that?

The SCPR certainly does not.

Stark County civic activist Bruce Nordman (of Group 175 fame; advocating that Canton increase Canton's fire and police safety forces to 175 officers each) showed up at last Wednesday's commissioner meeting with the same request.

Initially, Swanson was not going to claim some $80,000 in wages and benefits on the condition that the commissioners pay his attorney fees.

But Swanson's position has changed in the face of the commissioners' hard-nosed attitude (a la Creighton) towards paying his fees.

In one of their resolutions, the commissioners approved paying one of Maier's legal billings "as a matter of a moral obligation."

Now let me get this straight?

George Maier is found to illegally (by the action of Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee on February 5, 2013) to have assumed the office of Stark County sheriff and we Stark County taxpayer pay his legal expenses.

And, of course, Maier is a guy who cost Stark taxpayers several thousand in "re-branding" expenditures (which the Stark County commissioner knew about at the time) and they did nothing to intervene.

Kind of makes their selective concern about "in excess of 2% pay raises" for long suffering county employees just a little bit suspect, no?

What is going to happen is that the commissioners may end up costing taxpayers some $50,000 perhaps some $85,000 in their apparent willingness to take Rosenberg's (who is not a Stark County taxpayer) advice and not paying Swanson the $33,800 in legal fees.

What a terrific trade-off for the Stark County taxpayers, no?

Just as a refresher is a video of a sit down that the SCPR did with Commissioner Bernabei on the county's agreeing to pay Maier's attorney fees back on February 19th of this year.

And there is more to this story.

This part of the story has to do with allegations by local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley that the commissioners are not properly minding the store in scrutinizing Rosenberg's invoices to the commissioners so as to ensure that his billings are for properly billable items.

An interesting side note is that just a short time after (March 19, 2013) the commissioners approved on February 19, 2013 a "more or less" flat-fee contract with Rosenberg (of Roetzel & Andress) capped at $20,000, Rosenberg was asking for a doubling of the amount to $40,000.

Thankfully, the commissioners rejected the increase "for now."  But for how long?  Any day now a new quo warranto is to be filed against Maier given his reappointment by the Stark Dems on December 11, 2013.

Of course, they will be under pressure to "think twice, maybe three or four times" before they agree to any more fee payment arrangements for Maier.

As interesting as the foregoing is, "the rest of the story" is even more compelling.

First of all, to be noted is that the commissioners thought they were hiring an experienced/expert quo warranto legal counsel in Rosenberg, to wit:

Such is not the case, Conley says in the letter cited below, to wit:
Other than perhaps via self-laudatory representations by Attorney Rosenberg, I do not know how your Board came to that "under­standing", as my electronic search of quo warranto-related case law does not reveal Attorney Rosenberg's pre-Swanson involvement in any of that "kind of litigation". (However, I admittedly could have missed something during my search.)
Indeed, that biography refers nearly exclusively only to "construc­tion law" issues and to Attorney Rosenberg's attendant rather extensive experience in that area of law, noting the term "construction" appears therein literally dozens of times (with nary a mention of the term "quo warranto") .
As indicated above, Craig Conley (by letter dated January 16, 2014) is challenging the commissioners payment of Rosenberg's billings to date for the Maier legal representation, in that he:
  • Shares Rosenberg's (Letter of Opinion [LOP], January 14, 2013) own words of:
    • "... hav[ing] reviewed all applicable law and conclude that your [Maier's] qualification qualify [him] to run for sheriff.."
    • in alleging that the work done in the LOP pre-being-hired by the commissioners [February 19, 2013] was the basis of billing Stark County after the hire date,
  • Alleges that pre-being-hired had reviewed Maier's "employment history, and attendant job description" and post-being-hired billed Stark County for same,
  • Alleges that Rosenberg charged Stark County taxpayers for gathering and filing with the Ohio Supreme Court "completely irrelevant and immaterial matters such as:"
    • the LOP letter,
    • ... "Maier's self laudatory resume,"
    • "a number of 'atta boy' certificates,"
    • "several favorable 'Letters of Support," and
    • "ad hominem attacks on interim Sheriff Swanson and/or his counsel [Greg Beck],
  • Alleges that Stark County "was also billed for ... Maier's counsel's [Rosenberg's] successful efforts to have the Buckeye Sheriff's Association file an amicus [friend of the court] Brief in support of [Maier] and to provide County-paid legal advice to the Association's attorney for [the] purpose of"  preparing and filing of the amicus Brief,
  • Alleges that "the County was also billed a total of 12-1/2 hourse at $225.00 for two of ... Maier's attorneys to travel, presumably together, from Columbus to Canton to meet with [Maier] and to then attend a County Commissioners meeting," and
  • Alleges that "Roetzel & Andress, on all three of its fee Invoices, billed the County for "Copy Charges" and/or for "Outside Copies" (in the "whopping" total amount of $1,005.93) , it appears the County taxpayers have unnecessarily paid for "copies of copies" on one or more occasions; and, 
  • Alleges "that a significant number of those copies involved documents that, although labeled "Evidence" by ...  Maier's counsel, were immaterial and irrelevant and should not have been proffered to the Court in the first place.  
  • Raises questions about Rosenberg "apparently" paying (at Stark County expense) for meals in Cadiz, Ohio while there doing the deposition of Harrison County Sheriff Ronald J. Myers, and
  • Questions the commissioners approving the payment of "hotel" expenses for Rosenberg and co-counsel for the night of February 19th (the date they met with commissioners for approval of the $20,000 legal representation of Maier contract) when the meeting with the commissioner occurred in the morning of the 19th.
    The point Conley is making in his allegations is that the commissioners did not exercise "due diligence" (the SCPR's expression; not Conley's) in examining the Roetzel & Andress billings making of the $20,000 in total charges to ensure that the charges are ones that Stark County taxpayers are amenable for under the law of Ohio.

    In other words, the commissioners authorized payment of Stark County taxpayer money on a "rubber stamp" basis.

    In Conley's own words:
    In short, as previously suggested, it is clear that no one acting en behalf of the Stark County taxpayers scrutinized any cf Rcetzel & Andress's Invoices before same were, in *rubber stamp" fashion, approved by your Board for taxpayer payment.
    The Report used to think Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton were on top of their game in looking out for Stark County taxpayers, but in reading Conley's letters doubt is beginning to creep in.

    They may take offense at the missives, but they should not.

    They should take it as a "wake up" call that they need to be more thorough in their reviews.  It is not as if they do not have access to legal counsel who can evaluate - as Conley did - whether or not charges should be questioned.  Last year they hired David Bridenstine (retired from the Stark County prosecutor's office) to be of assistance to them.  And review of legal billings is clearly an appropriate way for him help the commissioners "rightly divide."

    Moreover, they need to separate whether or not the like/dislike certain public officials in determining how to handle attorney fee payment requests and the like.

    The SCPR is disturbed at the brazenness of the "flip-flop" of Rosenberg on whether or not Stark County should recover legal fees paid by the county depending on who the collecting is done from.

    It is obvious The Report that George T. Maier is being given a pass by the commissioners that virtually nobody else in Stark County government enjoys.

    While the SCPR is not calling for a hostile relationship between Maier and the commissioners, it certainly is incumbent upon them as "fiduciaries for Stark County taxpayers" to at the very least manifest an "arms length" relationship.

    On that front, there appears to be "work to be done!"

    Again, turning to Conley, the SCPR shares (as should all Stark County taxpayers) his admonition:
    As a Stark County taxpayer myself, I therefore remain hopeful that same lack of scrutiny does not happen, in "deja vu all over again" fashion when Interim Sheriff Swanson files (any day now) his second quo warranto  action against Pretender Maier.

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