MASSILLON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Recently, the Massillon Financial Planning and Recovery Commission (MFPRC) voted to approve a "compromise" financial recovery plan negotiated between Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry and Masillon City Council.
Although council gave far more than the mayor did on the details of coming to an agreement, it was refreshing to see this mayor give even an inch in the negotiating process.
Her problem from the get-go of her becoming mayor on January 1, 2012 has been that it was apparent that she viewed the new council then controlled by the Republicans as being her enemy. From the Republican councilpersons' standpoint, the SCPR has been repeatedly told by various members of that political caucus that they were hopeful that the new mayor was going to be more accessible to and more communicative with council than predecessor mayor Frank Cicchinelli had been. But that did not happen. If anything, the Mayor Catazaro-Perry has been more stand-offish that Cicchinelli ever was.
With the Democrats regaining control of council with the elections of November, 2013, one might think that a Democratic mayor could get along with a Democrat dominated council, no?
Not this mayor.
In essence, this mayor has been her "own worst enemy" in terms of getting Massillon's finances and economic development in order and improving.
So - in the context of a continual stormy mayor/council relationship - what is a mystery to the Stark County Political Report is why anybody would want to be a leader in the Catazaro-Perry administration.
Yet she has hired some "well-thought-of" department heads notwithstanding that they would have to join her - at least, in a politically correct/indirect sort of way - in doing battle with council.
One such person is Al Hennon (a Republican) as safety-service director. Hennon, a former highly respected Massillon City Schools superintendent, unfortunately, the SCPR thinks, was put in an awkward position by the controversy surrounding his appointment.
And on Tuesday she hired Larry Marcus (a registered non-partisan, but who voted Republican in 2006 and Democratic in 2008). Marcus has built a solid if not superlative reputation as a Stark County-based banker and economic development facilitator with the Stark Development Board.
His professional reputation brought him instant recognition and deference at the hand of Stark County's commissioners at their regular weekly meeting yesterday that he attended only one day after his hire.
Here is video of his exchange with commissioners and his response to SCPR questions after the conclusion of the commissioners' meeting.
Marcus does not officially start until Monday.
The Report talked with a councilperson last night who, though hopeful that Macus will perform as advertised, was disappointed that council members learned of his appointment through the newspaper.
Again, such is a real problem with mayor. If she is going to quit being her "own worst enemy" in terms of having a better relationship with council, this sort of thing needs to stop.
Like with Hennon's appointment, she needed to do better by Marcus in terms of letting council know of her decision of his hire in direct communication and not through the media.
If he doesn't get caught up in and consumed by the negative Massillon government environment that The Report thinks his new boss is largely responsible for, Marcus has all the credentials and experience one needs to be successful.
The recent flirtation that Massillon had with some folks who were trying to interest Massillon in helping out in getting a waterpark aqua marine business up and running seems to reveal an underlying panic on the part of Mayor Kathy to get something, anything going on the economic development front.
Well, that's how The Report interpreted Canton mayor William J. Healy's remarks in a conversation with Canton's CEO on Tuesday afternoon.
The SCPR has been told by a number of sources that Healy has been one of Catazaro-Perry's mentors as she has endeavored to get a handle on being a government chief executive officer herself.
Healy says that he and North Canton mayor David Held have been mentoring the Massillon mayor, on and off, but that the relationship has tailed off recently.
In the conversation, Healy revealed that he thought that Catazaro-Perry's move to have the State of Ohio Auditor declare Massillon as being in fiscal emergency to be a brilliant move but too late in terms of her waiting until May, 2013 (nearly one and one-half years after her taking office) to push the matter with Ohio officials.
Yes, too late if Catazaro-Perry was going to be able to successfully implant in Massillon voters' minds that the dire fiscal condition of was all the work of her predecessor and arch political enemy Frank Cicchinelli.
While he acknowledged that he was part of advising Mayor Catazaro-Perry to press for emergency stress designation and all that such entailed (i.e. the creation of the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission), he gave Held credit as being the primary proponent of the idea.
With her original economic development person Ted Herncane moving on to the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor has been presented with an opportunity to get a fresh start in getting Massillon out of economic development stagnation.
Healy mused to The Report that he was asking himself whether or not he should telephone Catazaro-Perry as soon as news broke of her enchantment with the idea that the warterpark/aqua marine project in Massillon to tell her that he had had experience with the promoters and was not impressed with their plan for getting up and running in Canton.
But he didn't and, perhaps conequently, Massillon seemed to have been "played the fool," in treating, at least initially. the proposal as being a viable one.
With this background to work with, Marcus has his hands full in bailing the Catazaro-Perry administration out in the financial/economic development decline of Massillon during her stewardship of Massillon government.
Marcus may well have the skills to pull off the seemingly impossible in a time frame that will help the mayor
If he is successful in the next 11 to 17 months (Catazaro-Perry faces a voter referendum on, perhaps, in the Democratic primary in May, 2015, and, for sure in the November general election), he will have performed a herculean act in redeeming the mayor from a self-created condition of being her "own worst enemy."
Now, the SCPR hears, her political enemies are already working to undermine the plan that she and council recently settled on.
The Report is told that a meeting was called to be held last night on the question of putting on the ballot a measure to undo council's voted reduction in the city income tax rate applied to those Massillonians working outside the city.
On May 5th, council unanimously passed an ordinance reducing to 75% of the current city income tax rate (1.8%) which out-of-town working Massillons are permitted to take on their Massillon Income Tax return as a credit against the 1.8% tax rate.
One has to suspect that any such talk, if it has substance, involves Stark County prosecutor and former Massillon law director John Ferrero.
Ferrero, through his long time confidant and chief legal counsel at the prosecutor's office; namely, John Kurtzman has appeared at Massillon council meetings arguing against Catazaro-Perry's insistence that any financial recovery plan include an income tax credit reduction.
So in addition to the mayor having been her "own worst enemy," she appears to be in for a new round of battling with "outside herself" enemies (on the tax reduction) and perhaps others on the issue on whether or not the city's base rate shall increase in November.
The odds of her and her administration surviving the next election diminish by the day.
Had she not self-inflicted her troubles, her and the city's future would be much brighter.