UPDATED FOR ST. JOHN REACTION:
The SCPR updates this blog to give Deametrious St. John's "belated" explanation as to why he was not reappointed as a Board of Elections member.
Readers will recall that The Report cited St. John's emphatic refusal to do an "on camera" interview (verifiable on videotape of the BOE vote taken by the SCDP-EC included in the blog) in which The Report would have asked for his explanation for his not continuing on as a BOE member.
Within the hour of this "update," St. John telephoned the SCPR (The Report was on the phone at the time with a source) and left a message.
In the message, St John says that his step-down was:
- from the get-go, based on his agreement with Chairman Gonzalez (when the original appointment was made), he would only be serving for one year on the BOE, and
- as a part of his job:
- as a "Political Operative,"
- which means he works on campaigns
- he cannot be on the Board of Elections and work on campaigns,
- this the "mid-terms,"
- if he contracts with coordinated campaigns he cannot be on the Board of Elections,
- he cannot work on a campaign that is on the ballot and be on the Board of Elections and get paid for his work,
Moreover, even where a subject does as St. John has done (i.e. refuses to talk with the SCPR on the spot of the event), The Report is good to pass on to readers the subject's delayed response in an "update" to the original blog.
In the telephone message, St. John complained that a couple of years ago the SCPR blogged according him the status of being "the brains behind Canton mayor William J. Healy" and that the fact of the matter is that he has not worked for Healy since the 2007 campaign against Republican Janet Creighton.
The SCPR regrets the "error of having an opinion" (after all, St. John could still be advising Healy; notwithstanding a lack of a campaign role, no?) but nonetheless can well understand why he would not want to be attributed as being "the brains behind Mayor Healy."
But it is curious to The Report why he is just now bringing that matter to the SCPR's attention.
Had he contacted The Report at the time of the blog, the SCPR would have been all to happy to make sure that readers knew of the St. John's termination of having a "formal" campaign relationship with Healy as of the 2007 campaign.
The Report has talked here and there with St. John since the 2007 campaign (including questions on his relationship with Healy) and never once did it take issue with me over "the being the brains of William J. Healy, II" matter.
One more matter.
St. John said nothing in the telephone message about his oft repeated expression at yesterday's meeting to the effect "its about keeping one's word."
Maybe tomorrow morning when SCPR is at the Stark BOE certification meeting St . John will want to grace the Stark County public with an explanation of the significance of those words.
Inquiring minds will want to know, no?
UPDATED AT 12:36 PM
REVISIT PHIL DAVISON
On Partisan Zeal
THE DEMS LOVE-FEAST
In Replacing St. John
Board of Elections
THE GONZALEZ/SLAGLE FIGHT
"SENIOR" & "JUNIOR"
It wasn't a Phil Davison-esque event
but there was a little "extra-curricular activity as members of Stark County's Democratic Party Executive Committee (SCDP-EC) squared off against one another after having confirmed Billy Sherer, Jr. as the new Dems member of the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) Saturday morning at SCDP headquarters.
There are two items to report on as having occurred yesterday. And they present a contradiction in what Stark Democrats want to appear to be.
On the one hand there is "seeming" unanimity as a showcase to the Stark County public. On the other hand there is the admonition by a notable Stark County Democrat "to go public" with the Party's "dirty linen."
THE "APPARENT" HARMONY
In what appeared to the SCPR to have been a "done-deal," the SCDP-EC after paying homage to Deametrious St. John for his one year on as Stark County's first-ever Black American to be appointed to the BOE moved on to appoint Billy Sherer, Jr. to be his replacement.
The Sherer, Jr. appointment was - the SCPR thinks - recompense for Junior and Senior inasmuch as Senior was "unceremoniously" removed by then Stark Dems chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (JAM) back in 2008.
As The Report remembers, Maier himself was one of two Democratic BOE members. Well, anyone who knows JAM knows that he wasn't going to step down himself.
Obviously, the person who had to go was then 13 year member of the BOE Billy Sherer, Sr. Sherer worked over 50 years as an ironworker and served 21 years as a Ironworkers' Local #550 officer.
Maier spun it back then as he spun it yesterday as what a great guy Billy Sherer, Sr is. While Maier may genuinely believe the accolades he hands out, that did not mean he was not willing to sacrifice Sherer, Sr. to expediency politics. After all, that is what party chairmen do, no?
So "it was sweet indeed" yesterday as Maier, Jr was the one to nominate Senior's son Billy Jr. six years later to take up again the Sherer legacy on the Board of Elections.
Yesterday, the Democrats tried to make a virtue out the fact that the chairmen (Gonzalez and before him Maier) have treated what they call "the Johnnie Maier seat" as a revolving door to shuttle Maier, Gonzalez, Shane Jackson (the Stark Dems political director and JAM "go-fer") and Phil Giavasis in and out of the (maybe more appropriate than the Gonzalez attributed "the Johnnie Maier seat;" it should be known as:) "the Democratic Party seat" to the Board of Elections.
Until St. John was selected last February, the line of holders of this particular Democratic BOE seat was tabbed by the SCPR as being "the [Democratic] clerk of courts seat."
And the reason why - by Gonzalez's own words - is because one cannot be running for office while a Board of Elections member. Such was the core reason behind the changes.
For Gonzalez to twist that sort of "realpolitik" into a virtue shows how deeply he is infected with the political virus of "spin" that afflicts all too many politicians.
At the meeting yesterday, Gonzalez scored the Republicans for having William S. Cline and Curt Braden as the GOP members of the BOE "seemingly forever."
And the SCPR agrees with Gonzalez that such is not a good thing and it is time that Republicans take the Stark GOP out from the grip of Jeff Matthews (the current director of the BOE and Stark GOP chairman) and his joined-at-the-hip compadres Cline and Braden.
The BOE positions do seem to be the personal plaything of Matthews, Braden and Cline.
Likewise for Maier and Gonzalez on the Democrat side.
It is a false distinction to say that multiple persons holding the office is "real" diversity.
And it smacks of out-and-out political demagoguery to bring "racial diversity" in as a "by the way" dressing of what the SCPR thinks is sheer political calculation.
Such is just another example of Gonzalez's - let's say - "not too deep" of a thinking mode.
How is that for being kind Chairman Gonzalez?
Pure and simple: The SCPR thinks Gonzalez is merely putting a different face on exactly the same thing he says the Republicans are doing and arbitrarily calling it something different.
Some people have the mind to penetrate that kind of sophistry, no?
Of course, it is pretty apparent to the SCPR that Gonzalez thinks he and Johnnie ARE the Stark County Democratic Party. If the chairman was a reflective person, maybe just maybe the disharmony that came his way later in the meeting (see "THE ON-THE-FACE-OF-IT DISHARMONY below) would not be a surprise.
And, if as suggested by Slagle, the Party "truly" cast a wider net, there might be greater concord among Stark's organized Democrats.
To many Democrats and other Stark Countians, the Maier dominance of the Stark County Democratic Party is not a good thing for the health and vibrancy of the Stark County body politic insofar as who does and does not end up in elective office and the employ of Stark County governments depending on the apparent approval or disapproval of one Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., who, it needs to be remembered, remains as the executive vice chairman of the Party.
The SCPR does not know what to make of it, but sporadically throughout Saturday's SCDP-EC session, St. John could be heard to yelling out utterances about "people "not keeping their word.'"
What did that mean?
The SCPR attempted to interview St. John after the meeting concluded but he gave The Report an abrupt "NO!" when asked.
From St. John's demeanor and what The Report thought to be a highly emotional Deametrious St. John, the SCPR is not buying for a nanosecond that his seconding of the nomination of Sherer, Jr was anything other than being part of a Stark County Dems orchestration of returning organized labor to "a place at the table" within Stark Democratic politics.
St. John gave as a reason for not continuing on as BOE representative being his need to make some serious money. BOE members are paid about $17,000 annually. However, nobody thinks of the position as being a full time "earning a living" gig. If that was a priority with St. John, why did he sign on last year?
Labor has been "one big sore point" for Chairman Gonzalez ever since he took over for Maier, Jr in 2009. Maier himself - The Report thinks - is suspect among many organized labor Party members as being "loyal to labor."
The Report has been told time and again by some of Stark's leading labor leaders that Maier and the Stark Dems leadership are only too happy to have unionists contribute to campaigns in money and personpower, but treat them like "stepchildren" when organized labor needs Party support.
Hall of Fame AFL-CIO president Dan Sciury has long been a vocal critic of Gonzalez for his supporting a "then-Republican" Bill Burger for Jackson Township trustee over unionist Kathleen Kelly for Jackson Township trustee where Gonzalez serves as the township fiscal officer.
A couple of years ago, it appears that Local 94 (Plumbers and Pipefitters) business agent David Kirven teamed up with Canton mayor William J. Healy, II in an attempt to "involuntarily" unseat Gonzalez.
So it could have been a sop to Stark County's unions for Gonzalez and Maier to team up to bring the Sherer name back to the Board of Elections.
It is noteworthy that neither Kirven (who has been overheard fighting with Sherer, Jr over the St. John selection to the BOE last year) and his political ally William J. Healy, II were not present yesterday.
Even though the Sherer, Jr appointment seemed to be a love-in of sorts, the truth of the matter is that "a river of" discord on organized labor's role in Stark County Democratic Party politics has flowed under the Party bridge in the last six years, if not before.
Here are Billy, Sr. and Jr. in a post-selection interview:
THE "ON-THE-FACE-OF-IT" DISHARMONY
Why, he demanded, couldn't Chairman Gonzalez stop the intra-party fighting which is so obviously going on and is so utterly damaging to the Stark County Democratic Party?
Slagle's springboard for taking Gonzalez on was Gonzalez's "'transparent' to the knowing" (in the view of the SCPR) attempt "to sort of" use Stark County Democratic Party indicia in soliciting central committee members who had voted for George T. Maier as the Party's appointee for county sheriff to run for reelection.
Look at this SCPR blog for background. The only thing that seemed to missing on the Gonzalez "causing rancor within the Party" communique was the Stark County Democratic Party logo as the letterhead.
As with nearly all Democratic Party fights, all that occurred was "political" bloodletting and as we know from history, the practice of bloodletting did not cure the patient but likely hastened his/her death.
While the SCPR does not think the Stark Dems are anywhere near dead, the infighting and their poorly functioning "vetting process" in coming up with quality candidates for various Stark County sited elected offices has left a scar on the Party which is likely to cause the greater and greater difficulty in getting the voting public to vote Democrat on the ballot.
Yesterday's Dems meeting was not a "Phil Davison-esque" event, but for a political writer it was a "gift from Heaven!"