Friday, January 31, 2014

HAS THE "O.K. CORRAL" RELOCATED TO CANTON CITY HALL?



As reported by the Stark County Political Report, Monday's Canton City Council meeting turned into - at the end, in the miscellaneous business section - one gigantic turmoil.

The cause?

Ward 2 councilman Thomas West!

Councilman Thomas West (D, Ward 2) renewed his effort to depose Frank Morris as council vice president and majority leader of the 11 member Democratic (of 12 total council members) caucus.

Notwithstanding that he got voted down 8 to 4, it appears that he is continuing what appears to the SCPR to be "provocateur-in-chief" in the sense of making one parliamentary move after another to keep council unsettled, to say the very least.

He seems to have Law Director Joseph Martuccio in a dither as he endeavors to play King Solomon (Martuccio is a thespian, you know) in rightly dividing the law on the question of whether or not the early January election of Frank Morris by a 6 to 5 vote (independent councilman Richard Hart abstaining) will withstand a legal challenge.

Legal challenge?

Yes, Martuccio fears that someone or some entity affected adversely by an ordinance with Morris as vice president of council might challenge on the basis of Morris not having been legally elected.

You do not have to be a biblical scholar to know that Solomon of about 1000 B.C. was going to cut a baby in half so that each contending mother could claim victory, but the "true" mother gave way to save the life of the child.  All of which was a smart thing for the "true" mother to have done as she ended up with the child as a consequence of the "wisdom of Solomon" in ferreting out the identity of the "true" mother.

But "Solomon" Martuccio should know better than play that card with the contending members of council because it is very obvious that nobody is going to give ground  - even if it means saving Canton City Council from itself.

Acting like a "wild 'West,' Councilman Thomas West is resembling a gunslinger of yore rather than a 2014 city councilman.

Canton City Hall these days appears to be a  preparation staging area for the gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona circa 1881 than an abode for Solomon about to dispense his wisdom.

On one side:


Side?

Yes.

The four (notice that West is the lead signature) fired off this letter yesterday:


Hmm?

And the other side?


The seven responded this way:


Note that Councilmen Griffin and Babcock didn't sign on with either group.

So what is this "special meeting" designed to achieve, when it occurs?

Well, Councilman West has worked hard to convey the impression he is doing God's work (the SCPR's attribution, not West's) in doing a "come, let us reason together" session.

But it is obvious that at least of his fellow councilmen are not buying his line.

One source tells The Report that West's ultimate game plan is is believed to be to force Councilwoman Chris Smith as a "compromise candidate."

And beyond this, the source says that West though he appears to be "the main man;" he is not, and is actually doing the bidding of  Mayor William J. Healy, II.

This take on the situation has Healy desperate to put Morris aside.

Already under Morris' leadership, council is going over Healy's budget proposal for 2014 with "a fine toothed comb" and thereby putting the mayor under scrutiny that he has never had to abide during his one and one half terms as Canton's chief executive.

Moreover, there is the committee assignment thing, which is the prerogative of the vice president/majority leader of council.

Already Morris has placed two allies in key committee posts.  West has been removed as chair of the Judiciary Committee in favor of Edmond Mack.

Mack is a proponent of charter government for Canton and had been frustrated by West in getting the legislation out of council so that council could vote on whether or not to submit the proposal to Cantonians for a vote.

Mayor Healy is thought to be an opponent of Canton going charter.

With Mack as Judiciary chair, the legislation will - at least - get to the reading/voting stage.  However, The Report is told that the pro-charter council members only have 7 of the necessary 8 votes to send the issue to ballot.

But that could change.  The Report believes that one of the remaining five members is persuadable.

But we shall see.

Another burr in the posterior of Mayor Healy has to be Greg Hawk's return (D, Ward 1) as Finance Committee chair.  Before the budget review process initiated by the Morris-led faction of council, Hawk was the only check on Healy's spin on this or that financial agenda item he has presented to council in the past.

And make no mistake about it, William J. Healy, II does hold political grudges.

The two have been bitter combatants over the six years of Healy's rule on the 8th floor.  The mayor is savvy enough to know that with Hawk being "in the majority" on key votes, he has leverage that has the potential to make Healy "cry Uncle" on finance issues that Hawk is intent upon.

As majority leader Chris Smith, Healy has to be thinking,  would likely restore West to chair of Judiciary and "anybody but Greg Hawk" as chair of Finance.

Of course, outside observers know it is likely that any such development would likely nudge council into out-and-out warfare.

Healy has clearly aligned himself with West and Smith and the SCPR believes that the West (and Smith) agenda being played out is in reality the William J. Healy, II agenda.

There is no doubt that West and Smith get something out of this fight if Chris Smith surfaces a majority leader.

The question for Canton's version of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral is who will be left standing when all the "political" bullets have been fired?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

WILL LARRY DORDEA END UP BEING THE ONLY "QUALIFIED" CANDIDATE FOR STARK COUNTY SHERIFF?




UPDATED AT 11:00 AM

It could be that Hartville (former Alliance) police chief Larry Dordea ends up being the only "qualified" (according to ORC 311.01) running for Stark County sheriff.

But even if he is not, he stands a very good chance to be the next "top cop" for Stark County.

He tells the Stark County Political Report that he figures that Republican Governor John Kasich being on the ballot this November and being the odds on favorite to win reelection bodes well for "down-ballot" candidates like himself.

While the SCPR agrees that Kasich will help, Dordea himself has very high name ID with Stark County voters having run in 2008 against Democrat Tim Swanson and in 2012 against Democrat Mike McDonald in losing but relatively close races.

In Alliance he is a household law enforcement name having been police chief for some 9 years.  Moreover, he has been a winning at-large candidate (twice) and thereby figures to run at a huge advantage in the Carnation city come November.

He is also well known in Lake Township where he has served as police chief of Hartville for several years.  While not holding an elective office in Lake, his notoriety as police chief in this predominantly Republican Stark County township puts him in good shape for the upcoming general election.

Another plus for Dordea is that he is not going to be relying on Jackson Township trustee Jamie Walters to be "his main man" in running the campaign.

The SCPR thinks his working with Walters as one of his top campaign guys was a major mistake.

One can't fault his thinking in that he felt he needed someone from western Stark County inasmuch as Dordea is not well known in that part of Stark County.

So it will be interesting to see whom he gets to carry "the Dordea banner" in the area dotted with Canal Fulton, Massillon, Perry Township, Jackson Township, Tuscarawas Township and Sugarcreek Township.

While he may not carry this part of the county (especially if George Maier ends up as the Dem's candidate), he needs to keep the numbers respectable.

Also a big bonus for Dordea could be getting "heavy hitter Stark County Republicans" coming out in force for him in November.

The graphic above is dotted with well-known Stark County Republican names (signing his candidacy petitions) like:
  • Timken (Jane Timken of the Stark County's industrial pride and joy:  The Timken Company family),
  • Schuring (Kirk Schuring, a longtime Stark County Ohio General Assembly member in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives [currently the 48th House District),
  • Snitchler (Todd Snitcher, currently PUCO chairman [not standing for reappointment] who served as state representative in the 50th Ohio House District 2009 through early 2011),
  • Creighton (Janet Creighton, currently Stark County commissioner and formerly mayor of Canton, Stark County auditor and Stark County recorder and probably Stark County's most powerful Republican),
  • Zumbar (Ales Zumbar [serving as Dordea's campaign treasurer] who is Stark County treasurer),
  • Andreani (Alan Andreani, current mayor of Alliance),
  • Currie (Richard Currie, current mayor of Hartville),
  • Middleton (Toni Middleton, former mayor of Alliance),
  • Halter (Nancy Halter, Massillon's foremost Republican councilperson),
  • Haws (Scott Haws, Plain Township trustee [one of Stark's largest townships]),
  • Park (Dixie Park, Stark County Probate Court judge),
  • Hall (Rosemarie Hall, Stark County Family Court judge)
And, of course, there are many other prominent Republicans signing Dordea's pettition.

Here is the entire list:


Here also is the entire "press release" issued recently by the Dordea campaign:

PRESS RELEASE START
Stating that it’s time to end the political circus currently clouding the office of Stark County Sheriff and have a qualified person serving and protecting the people of Stark County, Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea stepped forward and announced his candidacy today for the office of Stark County Sheriff. Dordea stated that the issue of fighting crime and protecting the Stark County citizens is far too important for it to have become a three-ring circus that has resulted in the loss of trust. “It’s truly an issue of qualifications,” stated Dordea, “and I’m proud of my record of more than 35 years in law enforcement.”

Dordea, a Stark County native and graduate of Alliance High School is the only potential candidate for sheriff who has graduated from the FBI National Academy. Aggressively pursuing violent crime, gangs & drugs; increasing road patrols; creating a detective bureau; and working closely with all criminal justice agencies to investigate and solve crimes remain at the top of Dordea’s list of goals for the office of sheriff. Serving as sheriff, he states that he will focus on the training and development of personnel, including reserve deputies; review and revamp policies and procedures to insure that we follow a best practices model; study each job and function with the goal of modernization, improved services and efficient management; and utilize more deputies and fewer supervisors.

Dordea’s list of impressive accomplishments includes the following:
• More than 35 years in professional law enforcement
• More than 13 years as police chief in Alliance and Hartville
• Under Dordea’s leadership violent crime in Alliance was reduced by more than 50%
• FBI National Academy Graduate

Wanting to move the office of Sheriff beyond the circus-like atmosphere of late, Dordea encourages citizens to talk to people who know him best, people he has previously worked for in his role of law enforcement. Those people include: Richard Currie, Mayor of Hartville or Ed Tucker, former Mayor of Hartville or Alan Andreani, Mayor of Alliance or Toni Middleton, former Mayor of Alliance. Their candid responses and the amount of respect that they each have for Larry will have nothing to do with politics. Dordea has proven to them and to many others that he understands leadership and what it takes to deliver a very high level of professional service while being very conservative with the budgets he has worked with.

Working with Dordea on his campaign are Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar serving as campaign treasurer and Alliance City Auditor Kevin Knowles serving as deputy treasurer. Also on the campaign committee are Pat and John Fehlman serving as Central Stark County Campaign co-chairpersons and communications directors.
Dordea is married to Deanna, an MRI supervisor, and is the father of four children, Chris age 33, Jillian age 31, Adam age 29, and Alex age 20 and the grandfather of one grandchild, Lincoln age 4 months. The Dordeas reside in Alliance.

Active in the community, Dordea is a lifelong Member of St. Nicholas Romanian Orthodox Church in Alliance and is currently serving in his fourth year as Parish Council president. In addition to his involvement in numerous clubs and organizations, he is a past president of the board of the Alliance of Children and Families, the president of the Stark County Chief’s Association, as well as a past president of the Stark County Community Mental Health Board.

Anyone interested in serving on the Dordea for Sheriff Campaign is encouraged to contact Dordea at 330-206-8491 – cell or ldordea@yahoo.com – email. 
PRESS RELEASE END

It hard to say who Dordea's opponent will be in November.

Of course, the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party thinks it is going to be Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee "appointed" sheriff George T. Maier.

It could be, but the SCPR thinks that the odds are against his surviving challenges to his candidacy at the Stark County Board of Elections level.  Beyond that he has to deal with a second quo warranto which is to be filed some time this week.

One wonders whether the two lawyers on the BOE (Cline [the Republicans]), (Ferruccio {the Democrats]) have looked at Shumate v. Portage County as they approach February 17th and the BOE candidate certification date?

Better yet, maybe the BOE ought to be getting guidance/advice from the Stark County prosecutor's office, no?

Maier was ousted by the Ohio Supreme Court on November 6, 2013 in Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto.

If the Democrats under the leadership of Randy Gonzalez continue to "stumble and bumble" around, it could be:

Republican Larry Dordea running "unopposed."

Wow!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"THE" - JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR - "LOYALTY CLUB" SHORING UP FOR FOR FUTURE "SCDP" POLITICAL FIGHTS?



SCPR SELECTIONS 
FOR THE
 "JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR "THE LOYALTY CLUB"

BOTTOM TO TOP

Sam Ferruccio, Jr
(Democrat - Stark County Board of Elections)

Kody Gonzalez
(Canton Muny chief deputy clerk)

Phil Giavasis
(Canton Muny clerk of courts)

R. Shane Jackson
(Massillon Muny - chief deputy clerk)

Johnnie A. Maier, Jr
(Massillon Muny clerk of courts)

George T. Maier
(SCDP-CC appointed county sheriff)

Rick Campbell
(Stark County recorder)

Randy Gonzalez
(Stark Co. Democratic Party chair)

Eddie Elum
(Judge, Massillon Municipal Court)

Gayle Jackson
(former Stark County commissioner)

Kathy Catzaro-Perry
(Mayor of Massillon)

Deametrious St. John
(Democrat - Stark County Board of Elections

UPDATED & REVISED 

IN THE ORIGINAL BLOG THE SCPR ERRONEOUSLY INDICATED THAT THE SELECTION OF A CHAIRMAN WAS BY THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

THE SELECTION IS MADE BY THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE

THE REPORT THANKS READERS FOR BRINGING THE THE ERROR TO THE AUTHOR'S ATTENTION

REVISED BLOG

When Stark Countians want incisive analysis of political moves of the various characters of Stark County politics, they turn to the Stark County Political Report.

THE EMAIL

It is a common occurrence for The Report to get an email like this.


Isn't that impressive?

The former president himself - the man who answer in the Monica Lewinsky case - "that depends on what 'is,' is?" has taken an interest in Stark County politics.

And well he should.

One of his biggest Stark County fans is Massillon clerk of courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. who served as chairman of the "organized" Stark Democrats from 2004 through 2009.

Make no mistake about it, though merely the executive vice president of the Stark Dems nowadays, he is clearly the guy who is "calling the shots" for the folks ensconced at 4220 12th Street, Northwest in Canton.

Although Chairman Randy Gonzalez likes to offer the pretense that he is "the man in charge," there is little doubt to the SCPR that he takes his marching orders from Tuscarawas Township's contribution to Massillon and Stark County politics.

Being the 'totally transparent person, he likes to present himself as being," The Report forwarded the Clinton email to the chairman for comment.

For he whines, whines and whines some more whenever the SCPR features him in a blog.  Somehow The Report never gets the chairman as he really is.   Hmm?

Sometimes he responds, sometimes he doesn't.  Apparently, it depends on whether not he "thinks" he can manipulate the message.

Gonzalez, the SCPR thinks, is a man who sees himself as "smarter than anyone else in the room."  In his own mind, it seems, he thinks that he can get folks to do "what they would not otherwise do" if they thought they were doing the will of Randy Gonzalez.

THE ATTACHMENT

But first, let's look at a copy the letter that was attached to the email, to wit:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------


January 10, 2014

To All Those Wishing to File a Petition for Precinct Committee Person: [emphasis added]


Enclosed please find a Declaration for Candidacy for Member of the County Central Committee for election in the May 6, 2014 Primary Election.

Please follow the steps below to properly complete your petition.

  1. Verify that the name and address is correct on the petition.
  2. SIGN YOUR PETITION on the front. Failure to sign your petition prior to circulation will disqualify the petition.
  3. Obtain no less than five (5) and no more than fifteen (15) signatures from registered voters in your precinct. Only democrats and non-partisans may sign your petition. A list of the eligible voters to sign your petition is enclosed. Make sure the voter signs their name in pen. Do not print.
  4. Complete the circulator's statement on the back of the petition after you have obtained the signatures. Print your name, member of the Democratic Party and the total number of signatures. Sign the circulator statement and include your address. Your petition will be Invalidated If you fall to provide this Information.
Helpful hints:
  • Please DO NOT sign your own petition as one of the nominators. Your signature will be invalidated. 
  • If anyone else circulates the petition, they CANNOT sign that petition page.
  • Do not let another person sign someone else's name. For example, a husband cannot sign for his wife and vice versa. Ohio Revised Code 3501.38 (D) prohibits anyone from signing another person's name to a petition. This prohibition includes anyone who holds power of attorney for another.
The filing deadline is February 5, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. However, your petition should be returned by January 31, 2014 to Stark County Democratic Headquarters at P.O. Box 35411, Canton, Ohio 44735 to ensure that the petition is completed correctly. We will check each petition and then file it for you at the Board of Elections. To facilitate your filing, we have enclosed an addressed envelope to return your completed petition.
I urge you to give this matter your immediate attention. If you have any questions regarding your petition, please call the Board of Elections and ask for Jeanette at 330-451 -7002.

Sincerely,

 





Randy Gonzalez Chairman
Stark County Democratic Party                                                                  C:/DemPty2/Cmtes/Centra!/Ltr to PrecinctCmtepersons

 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Questions:

Did Randy Gonzalez "really" write the letter?

If he did, what is the political import?

The SCPR did ask him the first question posed above, to wit:


The Gonzalez response:

'
And the SCPR follow up:


And the response back from Gonzalez?

Nada!  Nothing!!  Zippo!!!

Hmm?

So what is the political import?

In short, that "The Loyalty Club" as pictured above is running scared.

"The Loyalty Club?"

Well, it is only the opinion of the SCPR that Maier, Jr, obsesses about only having around him those who in one fashion or another indicate to his satisfaction that they will take their marching orders from him when an occasion for action is at hand.

And the SCPR believes those pictured above have satisfied Maier, Jr. that the will be loyal foot soldiers.

It had to take Maier, Jr. et al by surprise that they narrowly defeated the non-politician Louis Darrow only 92 to 84 in the February 5th (2013) round of Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC) voting between Darrow and Johnnie A. Maier, Jr brother George T. Maier as a replacement for Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2012) who could not take office on January 7, 2013 due to a illness that claimed his life on February 22nd.

It had to shake them up some more when 65 SCDP-CC members on December 11th stood tall for Darrow in the face of what is reported to have been a lot of Maier, Jr and friends pressure administered on some of the 84 to switch over to the Maier side when George (having been ousted on November 6th by the Ohio Supreme Court, Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto) had to stand for reappointment.

Hence, it makes sense to the SCPR that Chairman Gonzalez would be part of an effort to shore up the Maier, Jr. loyalists among the SCPR-CC membership.

The Report has spot checked with various voters from the February and December meetings and in the sampling had borne out that only Maier voters (presumably focusing on the December 11th vote) received the purported Gonzalez letter whereas none of the Darrow voters surveyed had.

But the political import of shoring up the Maier, Jr. support among precinct committee persons has nothing to do with the Darrow/George Maier saga.

Maier has gotten by the SCDP-CC and there will be no further need for that, the SCPR thinks.

His main barrier to getting to the November general election will be the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) meeting of February 17, 2014 wherein the BOE is required to certify whether or not the candidates filing petitions by the February 5th deadline have submitted valid petitions.

But in the case of the sheriff candidates, the SCPR believes that the BOE must make a determination as to whether or not the sheriff filers are qualified under ORC 311.01.  That is that statute that Maier failed to qualify under when he was ousted on November 6th.

Rather the import of the precinct committee activity has to do with whom will succeed Randy Gonzalez as chairman.

The Report is told by a Stark County politician close to - if not part of - the Maier, Jr, "loyalty" group that Gonzalez will not seek reelection as chairman and that Phil Giavasis (Canton clerk of courts) is "the pick of the litter" from among Maier, Jr. loyalists to succeed Gonzalez.

However, The Report is told, that Giavasis may be getting "cold feet."

That 84 and 65 precinct committeepersons voted against the Maier, Jr./Gonzalez sheriff candidate might mean that Giavasis or anyone else who as the Maier, Jr. taint on them might be in for "the fight of their political life" come the succession of Randy Gonzalez question which comes up on the SCDP central committee agenda this Spring.

When word spread about the purported Gonzalez letter, reaction was swift.

There is actually a group of party activists (believed to be centered around Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero [a former chairman but more importantly a George T. Maier foe] and unionist David Kirven) who are countering the Maier, Jr. and friends effort on organizing for the election of the "new" SCDP-CC.

The general public could be dismissive of all this political activity as being of no concern to them.

But that would be a mistake.

Central committees are often called upon to "appoint" to office when an officeholder dies or otherwise leaves office.

We in Stark County have been through a lot of travail in recent years - some believe - as a consequence of a person with "eminent" political party qualifications being appointed by the politicos but who - after the fact of appointment - came to be perceived by the voting public to lack the leadership/management skills to get the job done.

The SCPR thinks that the public should beware of Stark County politicians who appear to some of us to obsess about personal loyalty in the political arena.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

(VIDEOS) COUNCILMAN WEST KEEPS CANTON COUNCIL "IN A 'STATE OF TURMOIL?"'



 VIDEOS

LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO
ASKS FOR
"EXECUTIVE SESSION"

============================

CANTON COUNCIL
CONSIDERS
COUNCILMAN WEST'S
"POINT-OF-ORDER? 

============================

COUNCILMAN FRANK MORRIS
ON
WEST'S PERSISTENCE

============================ 

COUNCILMAN EDMOND MACK
ON
WEST "POINT-OF-ORDER"

============================ 

LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO
ON
MAKING
HIS LEGAL OPINION
KNOWN

Last night's Canton City Council meeting seemed to be an uneventful proceeding.

Until that is, council got to the "miscellaneous business" of its agenda.

But first as an aside, the SCPR notes that among the handouts made available to the public attending the meeting was a list of the 2014/15 committee member list which is a perogative of the vice president/majority leader of council.

And "apparent" (see discussion below) Majority Leader Frank Morris did make some significant changes!

Three notable ones in the view of The Report.

West is out as Judiciary chair.

He is replaced by Ward 9 councilman Edmond Mack (a big "charter government advocate") who was frustrated by West bottling up bottling up his desire to have legislation drafted to present to council for consideration of placing it on an upcoming ballot for Canton voters to weigh-in on.

Also, Greg Hawk (D, Ward 1) who returns as Finance chair likely to the consternation of Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Other than a few awkward moments as Councilman Frank Morris (D, Ward-9) struggled in the absence of council president Allen Schulman to man the reins of council (which all appeared to take "in good humor"), it was at the very end of the session that things got somewhat turbulent.

Back on January 6th's meeting, there was a fight between Ward 2 councilman Thomas West (a Democrat)  and Morris as to who was going to be vice president/majority leader of council.  Morris won that vote with a 6 to 5 majority with newly elected independent Richard Hart abstaining.

West takes the position that under the Ohio Revised Code, council rules and Roberts Rules of Order, the vote failed to have elected a majority leader in that 7 votes are required.

Hence this video of his "point-of-order;" Edmond Mack's counter "point-of-order," and an 8 to 4 vote in favor of sustaining Councilman Morris' ruling that West's "point-of-order" was - in a sense - "out-of-order." 



It appears to many on council that West lost his opportunity to challenge Schulman's January 6th ruling that 6 votes was sufficient under all the legal standards that he thought were relevant to have been elected vice president of council and concomitantly majority leader.

To add to the confusion was an executive session of council called by Law Director Joe Martuccio at the end of  the "council-of-the-whole" meeting that generally precedes Canton City Council "regular" council meetings.



Topic?

Martuccio's "work-in-progress" opinion (requested at the January 6th meeting by Councilman West) as to whether or not - in his opinion - Councilman Morris is in fact the "legal" (where have we heard that question before?  [remember Darrow versus Maier and the Stark County Democratic Party central committee]) vice president/majority leader of Canton City Council.

Martuccio told the SCPR back on the 6th that he planned on having the opinion ready by last night's meeting.

Why the delay?

Martuccio - apparently - cannot find satisfactory (to him) legal precedent to make a determination one way or another.

However, it could be - in the opinion of the SCPR - that he is delaying the decision in the hope that West and Morris will resolve their differences making "moot" (again ghosts of Darrow/Swanson v. Maier [a mandamus action] and the Supreme Court dismissal thereof - the SCPR believes - for mootness) any opinion he would render.

So where does the events of last night leave matters?

It depends on who you talk to.

Frank Morris thinks the matter is over.



So does Counciman Mack.



But Thomas West does not.



And, Law Director Martuccio:  who knows?



Although he apparently agreed with West during the above videotaped discussion that a special council meeting on the part of council as a whole to consider, once again, the majority leader question is something he agrees with; he seemed to be backing off that after council adjourned.

As if that were not enough to add to the confusion and hence turmoil of the evening, Director Martuccio intimated in the following video that if West and Morris cannot have a meeting of the minds on resolving the matter within the context of a special council meeting, then council may see itself involved in litigation.

If that happens then Canton City Council has seen absolutely nothing so far (as unsettling as proceedings have been) of the degree of turmoil that would ensure, no?

One final note.

Between the Committee of the Whole meeting and the "regular" council meeting last night, the SCPR had a "chit-chat" with Councilman Kevin Fisher (D, Ward 5).

So?

Well, he had an apt description of his political party that may explain in large part why Canton City Council (consisting of all Democrats, except for the "independent" Richard Hart) is experiencing great turmoil in deciding among themselves whether or not council has a legally elected vice president/majority leader.

Fisher said of Democrats:  "All we know is that we are not Republicans, beyond that we do know what we are!"

Hmm?

Meanwhile Canton City Council "remains in turmoil?"

Monday, January 27, 2014

SCPR SERIES (PART 2) NEW HAPPENINGS IN THE SHERIFF* GEORGE T. MAIER SAGA



THE COMMISSIONERS 
AND
THE TALE OF THE MAIER/SWANSON
ATTORNEY FEES 
QUESTION

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.

    Friday, January 24, 2014

    (VIDEOS) NORTH CANTON GOVERNMENT IN A "SWIRL" OF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES!



    FINAL UPDATE:  NOON

     VIDEOS

    COUNCIL
    DEBATES
    TRANSCRIBING MINUTES 
    ==========================
     COUNCIL
    DEBATES
    REDUCING NUMBER OF MEETINGS
    (to be posted)
    =========================
     COUNCIL PRESIDENT
    JON SNYDER
    ON
    COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
    (10/30/2013 Video)
    =========================
    CITIZEN OSBORNE
    ON
    COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
    (10/30/2013 Video)
    ==========================
    JON SNYDER
    ON
    COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
    (01/21/2014 Video) 
    ==========================
    MAYOR DAVID HELD
    ON
    COLLABORATION AGREEMENT
    (01/21/2014 Video) 
    ==========================
     COUNCIL
    ON
    PROPOSED PARK LEVY
    ==========================
    JON SNYDER
    ON 
    PARKS LEVY 

    North Canton City Council - the SCPR's take - is in a swirl of controversy these days.

    A list that the The Report has ginned up (not exhaustive by any means) include:
    • attendance at council meetings,
    • the structure of council:
      • discontinuing "verbatim" transcribing of council meetings,
      • reducing the number of council meetings,
    • the proposed North Canton, Canton, Plain Township and Jackson Township collaboration (JEDD/CEDA) agreement, and
    • a projected Parks Levy for the May, 2014 election
    THE ATTENDANCE ISSUE

    A North Cantonian posed the question to the SCPR - Do Marcia Kiesling and Stephanie Werren "really" want to be councilpersons on North Canton City Council (NCCC)?

    What a strange observation, no?

    For both were re-elected in November, 2013.  Werren ran unopposed.

    But on reflection, the observation may not be all that strange after all.

    Maybe it was just a co-incidence, but it was interesting to the SCPR that Kiesling was not at Tuesday night's Committee of the Whole meeting.

    A co-incidence?

    Well, one would think she wouldn't miss a beat on attending meetings each and every time there is a meeting involving council members - in general - (under the 2013/2015 structure of NCCC all North Canton Council committees are composed of all seven council persons).

    Why?

    Because one of her opponents (McCleaster) in the 2013 council-at-large race made a "really, really" big deal out of statistics gathered by long time council critic Chuck Osborne in which he claims that Kiesling miss 28% of all "regular" council meetingKiesling says her miss rate was more like 17%.

    And "God himself" only knows (only kidding Councilworman Kiesling) how many other committee and Committee of the Whole meetings she missed in the last term of council.

    According to Osborne, Werren's attendance during 2011/2013 term (she was appointed to office on October 3, 2012) was 91%.

    Moreover, the SCPR understands that she has struggled in "juggling the balls" of family life, other employment obligations and some times showed up late to some to some of last term's council meetings.

    So the SCPR believes that the observation has some merit.

    To repeat:  Do Kiesling and Werren "really" want to be or have the time to be council members? 

    THE STRUCTURE OF NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL

    END THE TAKING OF VERBATIM MINUTES

    On Tuesday evening past as The Report walked into North Canton City Council chambers during the Committee of the Whole meeting, Stephanie Werren was speaking about the justifications for council going from its 53 year history (according to one source) of recording and then transcribing "verbatim" audio recordings of council proceedings into written form.

    The transcribed records are available to anyone who wants to know "word for word" what transpired at any particular council meeting.

    The Report is told that Law Director (Tim Fox) is saying that the "only" reason that North Canton transcribes its minutes is for the benefit of citizen activist Chuck Osborne.

    It is common knowledge that Fox and Osborne do not get along.  The Report thinks it is outrageous for Fox to try to lay his perceived need for a change at the feet of Osborne.

    An apparent reason for the change that Fox is said to be (by a SCPR source) giving is his concern that requests for "electronic" requests for minutes (and, presumably, for any North Canton public records pursuant to Ohio's Public Records law) might be vulnerable to being intercepted and altered from their original form.

    What a head-shaker, no?

    If The Report's source is accurate, it is simply unbelievable to The Report that Fox would give such reason for changing a 53 year practice.

    Another interesting factor is that the "non-verbatim" rendition is to be posted on a "cloud" storage site on the Internet.

    Hmm?

    Guess how "the only way" one gets files off an Internet storage "cloud?"

    You've got it!

    By electronic transmission.

    What was that source assertion about Fox's concern?

    Doesn't make sense, does it?

    Another sub-issue to this issue that came up on Tuesday, was council's need to "approve" minutes.

    The proposal was to have council approve a "paraphrase" of the minutes.

    Now (sarcasm follows) that's a reliable way to ensure that council vouches for the accuracy of council meeting minutes, no?

    Unbelievable, simply unbelievable.

    North Cantonians should be a little more than upset with what is being bandied about on their city council these days.

    Finally, Fox is showing (in the video) his "not-citizen-friendly" stance is wanting to pass the cost of reducing council minutes to print along to individual citizens wanting to be able to read the minutes at a cost of $200 per hour.

    He makes no mention that council is not contemplating eliminating the position of the North Canton part-time employee who (The Report is told) makes about $26,000 a year.

    Snyder is shown on the video below as saying that the employee spends 99% of her time doing transcribing.  So if North Canton will no longer be transcribing, what is the need to keep the position in tact?

    In short, The Report thinks that Fox is engaging in a lot of phony baloney in representing that North Canton taxpayers are subsidizing individual citizens wanting a transcript at $200 an hour.

    To the SCPR Tim Fox is very unimpressive on the "transcribing issue" and - more generally - in his bearing/relationship with citizens making requests of North Canton government through his office.

    Moreover, he seems to have a hold on council that the SCPR thinks is a bit too much.

    He seems to have a particular problem with Citizen Osborne on the matter of Osborne (so Osborne tells the SCP$) getting his public records requests satisfied in a format (electronic) that Osborne asks for them to be in.

    Sounds kind of like Fox's attitude (from Osborne's account) is "I am going to make your (Mr. Osborne) requests getting public records satisfied as difficult as possible."

    In sum, the SCPR thinks he has shown as law director that seems on bent on creating barriers between North Canton government and the citizens of the city.

    Here is a SCPR video of council's discussion of the topic.



    THE STRUCTURE OF  NORTH CITY COUNCIL

    REDUCING MEETINGS TO TWO PER MONTH

    This one probably goes back to Kiesling and Werren and the attendance thing.

    On Tuesday night, Councilwoman Werren put the topic (going to two meetings a month) in terms of "seeing what is out there" in terms of what other councils are doing.

    Well, the Werren thinking apparently goes (and maybe Kiesling), if council only meets twice a month then it becomes easier to fit into my hugely busy schedule.

    And, it may be for some members.

    For others, meeting weekly is no problem at all.  And the SCPR's sense of the comments on Tuesday, the "no problem at all" group is by far and away the majority.

    Whomever initiated this idea needs to drop it now!

    Because it appears to have absolutely no chance of passage.

    Councilman Foltz (see video below) talks about "how pressed" he would be to vote for any "emergency" legislation under a structure whereby a Committee of the Whole meeting immediately preceded the "regular" council meeting on the very same night.  Moreover, he talked about how doubling up on the meetings would likely result in some very, very long meeting nights.

    President Jon Snyder (see video below) says it has no chance.  That's good enough for the Stark County Political Report.

    What follows is a video in which various councilpersons talk very candidly about their concerns on the topic.



    NORTH CANTON, CANTON, PLAIN TOWNSHIP & JACKSON TOWNSHIP

    ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT

    On October 30th, North Canton sent representatives to a meeting at Jackson Township Hall to "celebrate" what was touted as being a historical agreement between North Canton, Canton, Plain Township and Jackson Township whereby they agree to cooperate and collaborate in forming (as opportunities present themselves) JEDDs (Join Economic Development Districts) or CEDA (Comprehensive Economic Development Agreements) to encourage/empower/enable job creation activities in the participating communities.

    While most of those present at the October 30th meeting (mostly if not exclusively government officials from the putative participating communities); not all were there to support.  One of the opponents was the above-mentioned Chuck Osborne who states "the case against the agreement."



    One of the foremost proponents of the agreement has been North Canton council president Jon Snyder.

    Here Snyder responds to Osborne's opposition.



    All of which is to say that Snyder is fully invested in having North Canton sign on.

    And, as council president, he seems to have at least a of majority of council persons on his side.

    His side?

    Is there another side within North Canton government itself.

    Yes.

    One would not think it is on the basis of their having - for the most part, an antagonistic relationship, with one another - but North Canton mayor David Held more or less agrees with Osborne.

    Really?

    And he may hold "the trump card," which may result in North Canton bailing out on the agreement before it even gets started.

    North Canton is spending North Canton taxpayer money to hire Brickler and Eckler of Columbus to evaluate the agreement to determine whether or not said North Canton legal adviser thinks there is sufficient incentive for North Canton to enter into the agreement.

    As the matter now stands, Mayor Held would veto any legislation passed by council authorizing North Canton's participation.

    But, he says, in the following video, that should the law firm's analysis supplemented by arguments by the proponents of the combined Stark County political subdivision proposal convince him otherwise, he is open to withdrawing the veto threat.



    For his part, Snyder says (as seen in the video above)t hat he thinks he has the votes (as of Tuesday night) for an override.  Councilman Mark Cerreta is thought to be a "wavering" councilperson on either being a sustain or override vote.



    Lurking in the background is Law Director Fox.

    The Report is told that while he participated in the drafting of the agreement, he is with Mayor Held in having misgivings about it having enough of a benefit for North Canton to sign on.

    Held said that likely within about four weeks he will know whether it a "go" or a "no-go" on his vote and a fight with council on an "override" attempt.

    However, in speaking with Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis last night, the SCPR is told that Giavasis has communicated to Snyder that North Canton has until its February 3rd meeting to come on board; otherwise, Plain will be moving on in its February 11th meeting with partners Canton and Jackson Township without North Canton.

    Giavasis thinks that Held is softening in his opposition.

    Come February 3rd, we shall know for sure, no?

    This issue - no matter which way it goes - could be a point of dissension between council members and between council and Mayor Held for years to come.

    A PARK LEVY ON THE MAY, 2014 PRIMARY BALLOT

    North Canton like nearly every other Ohio village, city and township is reeling from the gargantuan cuts in local government funding that occurred over the first two - two and one-half years of Governor John Kasich's administration.

    The effect of the cuts is for local governments to try to pass the burden onto local tax payers.

    In Stark County, Canton and Jackson Township are examples of doing so in the form of Parks levies.

    Here is a video of council's discussion of the matter.



    Now it appears that North Canton is going to be seeking a levy that is projected to raise about $513,000 annually in revenue for a 5 year term with the revenue to be dedicated specifically to North Canton Park operations and upkeep.

    Presently the Parks are maintained through the city's general revenue fund.

    So a Parks levy will free up about one-half-a-million dollars annually from the general fund which represents a "back-door" tax increase to North Cantonians should council agree with Snyder that the levy needs to go on the May ballot.

    Snyder says North Canton faces about an $800,000 deficit in its general fund in the upcoming year.

    Here is Snyder addressing that issue with the SCPR on Tuesday night.



    Whether the issue is:
    • attendance at council meetings
    • the management of the taking of meeting minutes, 
    • how regularly council meets,
    • economic development agreements or
    • revenues for the city,
    one thing is clear about North Canton.

    The Dogwood City is "one gigantic SWIRL" these days!

    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    (VIDEO) STARK CO. BOARD OF ELECTIONS (BOE) PROVES, ONCE AGAIN, THAT IT IS NOT CITIZEN FRIENDLY!



    BOARD OF ELECTIONS
     MAY BE ON A COURSE
    TO MAKE A "MAJOR"
    LEGAL MISTAKE

    UPDATE 10:31 AM

    STARK CO. ASS'T PROSECUTOR
    DEBBIE DAWSON
    REPSONDS TO SCPR
    QUESTION ON
    SHERIFF CERTIFICATION

    VIDEOS

    ENCORE PRESENTATION
    COMMISSIONER RICHARD REGULA
    ON
    STARK BOE
    JOB POSTING
    (LAUGH, LAUGH)

    ====================================

    STARK BOE MEETING
    OF
    JANUARY 22, 2014

     UPDATED AT: 08:52 AM

    Being a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP), I have not had very many occasions to experience the sting of discrimination in my entire life.

    But the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE/Board) has managed to bring that bitter lesson home to this WASP in making it plainly obvious that the Stark County Political Report is not welcome to its meetings.

    Derivatively, Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and St. John will be affecting the Stark County public's right to know the "complete" story of what goes on at the Stark BOE.

    And, this from an entity of government supported by your tax dollars and my tax dollars.


    It all began in February, 2010 as I showed up to a meeting of Stark County Board of Elections meeting with my camera.

    William Cline and Curt Braden (the-then Republican members who remain to this day) and Democrat members Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Samuel Ferruccio, Jr (a remaining member) composed the Board.

    Here is a lift from a February 22, 2012 (see May, 2010 blog on the same topic) that explains the historical hostility:
    Well, why was the SCPR at this particular [the regular February, 2010 BOE meeting] meeting anyway?

    The Report had asked Director Jennette Mullane (an appointee of the Stark County Democratic Party which board member Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., is a former chairman of and who recently hired Mullane's sister to work for him as clerk of courts in Massillon), to place an item on the Board's agenda.

    What was the item?

    That the Board set up a plan with a timetable to scan in petitions and campaign finance reports as they are filed so that these documents are speedily and readily available to the Stark County Public.

    Well, was the matter on the agenda?

    No!

    So, what did The Report do next?

    After the meeting, yours truly asked Mullane about the omission.

    Her answer?

    The Board would not allow her to place the matter on the public meeting agenda.

    So that was complaint #2 filed with the Ohio secretary of state.

    Complaint #1?

    Board member and Chairman William Cline (Republican of North Canton) denied the SCPR's effort to video-tape the meeting.  No vote was taken of the entire Board.  No.  Cline, unilaterally makes the decision. But after having to delay the meeting's start to have a private tete-a-tete with board member Maier.

    Hmm?

    What do you suppose that little confab might have been about?

    While the discussion with The Report and Cline was going on, member Maier (in a sub voice) set upon disparaging blogs and the audacity of a blogger to be expected to be treated on a par with the likes of The Repository (which did have a reporter present).

    The SCPR understands Maier's disdain for blogging because for him blogging appears to be a partisan political weapon; not the equal opportunity incisive critic that the SCPR is.

    While Stark Politics was still up and running, Maier and his  Stark County Democratic Party political director Shane Jackson (who is Maier's chief deputy at the clerk of courts office) were going bananas over the blogs attacking Democrats and a scant few Republicans who were less extreme than the anonymous Stark Politics blogger..

    They wanted yours truly to do a countervailing blog.

    What an insult!

    But Maier is, in the opinion of The Report, a master of political insult and arrogance.

    Of course, the rest is history.  Not only did yours truly reject the request, but went totally the opposite and put together the SCPR to put both Republican and Democrat officeholders and candidates under intense scrutiny.

    Mutual acquaintances have fed back to The Report that Maier has been known to go into spasm with some of the political critiques appearing in the SCPR.
    Earlier this month a rather hilarious exchange between took place between Stark County commissioner Richard Regula on the occasion of BOE executive director Jeff Matthews (a target of quite of few SCPR blogs) presented the 2014 BOE budget request (all of which - to make the BOE/taxpayer tie once again to the bigs at the BOE - is funded with Stark County taxpayer dollars).

    Here is a repeat from that blog so that readers can fully understand the BOE pique at the SCPR.
    One of the things that the Bernabei, Creighton and Richard Regula of the Stark Board of County commissioners zero in on in the course of budget hearings are new hires and the year-to-year salary increases that Stark County departments of government hand out to their employees.

    In the course of the back and forth between the commissioners and Director Matthews was Matthews' revelation that the BOE 2014 budget included the hiring of four additional employees in the year 2014.

    Here is Richard Regula with his questions and Matthews' answer.



    What a hoot! - no?

    Not only the Stark County Board of Elections but any Ohio Board of Elections posting job listings for the taxpaying general public citizenry to apply for prompts a  "you have to be kidding!"

    The public perception is that these jobs only go to the politically connected, plain and simple.

    To say it again:  "job posting"  by a Board of Elections.

     Laugh, laugh, laugh and laugh some more!  Ha!, Ha!, Ha!

    The SCPR thinks that Matthews stumbled and bumbled all over the place answering Regula's question and the latter revealed (as least that is what The Report thinks) that three of the four "non-posted" to the public have already been hired, subject to official BOE approval.

    It is irony upon irony that each of Ohio's 88 counties have a department of government that is all about citizens having a choice (called elections) run by unelected, politically appointed folks who only have to account to the county Democratic and Republican party chairmen. 

    Hmm?
    One more sharing of the "very special history" between the SCPR and various members of the BOE.

    From a February 26, 2010 blog:

    In late 2009 or early 2010, BOE member Curt Braden had traveled to Columbus on official BOE business and "lo and behold" where does he spend over night?

    You've got it!

    At one of Columbus' most posh hotel and, of course, at Stark County taxpayer expense.

    While the SCPR understands that public officials do not necessarily concern themselves with being frugal with your tax dollars and my tax dollars, one would think that a guy like Braden would at least take care to get the very best rates at one of Columbus' finest hotel, no?

    Not on your life.

    "Who cares," he must have said to himself.

    Consequently, he signed up for a room at $144.00 a night whereas if he had gotten prior Stark County government approval - as he is required to do according "to the rules," the rate would have been $80.00 per night.

    So while Braden and his fellows are careful to rein in the Stark County Political Report with rules, he is not so careful about himself nor with our taxpayer dollars.

    SCPR rules?

    Yes at Tuesday's meeting, Director Matthews told me (seated in the first row in order to get the best picture of "our Stark County Board of Election members in action) that "the rules" did not allow me to sit in the front row (where nobody but a Repository reporter was seated) but that I would at least have to remove to the second row and once seated "was not to move about."

    While my experience is in no way, shape or form the equivalent of that experienced - even in 2014 America by African Americans and other minorities - the Matthews' (Board supported) rebuke caused me to reflect just a little as a WASP what it must feel like to experience somebody's prejudice.

    After Tuesday's meeting, I was told by one in the room that "the Board"  [Cline, Braden, Ferruccio and St. John) obviously does not like you.

    I hope that St. John (an African-American) - if he does not like me and the work of the SCPR - will disassociate himself from the discriminatory work of he fellow BOE members.  For it would be a bit hypocritical of him to take offense about African-Ameriocans are treated but not care about bloggers and the obvious put-down that I experienced by Maier (back in February, 2010) and the entire BOE in the fashioning of the discriminatory rules in favor of the mainstream press.

    Now to the reason why I attended the January, 2014 BOE meeting.

    First, to see Matthews' explain to the Board how he/Mullane (the Democrat deputy BOE director) labored long and hard to screen from among many, many applications the hopefully received for some of the best - if not the absolute "best" - paying Stark County government entry level jobs ($32,000 plus about another $10,000 in benefits) in all of Stark County.

    Second, to see whether or not the Board dealt in any kind of detail with the necessity of setting a date before February 18th for the Board to meet in order to pass on whether or not those Stark Countians filing partisan petitions (deadline:  February 5th) had done so properly.

    Mostly, the review includes making sure that the would-be candidates have obtained the minimum required "registered voter" signatures to be qualified.

    However, this year there is a wrinkle to the qualification process.

    The 2014 primary ballot will include sheriff candidates.

    As far as the SCPR is concerned, the BOE has to make a determination of whether or not the sheriff candidates meet the criteria of ORC 311.01 that specifically set out in Ohio law as being mandatory if one is to legally take office as a sheriff.

    The Report doubts anyone reading this blog does not know about the fight within the Stark County Democratic Party to appoint a sheriff.  Rather that regurgitate that fight and how George T. Maier got bounced by the Ohio Supreme Court from being sheriff, here is a LINK for readers to get up to speed.

    The SCPR hears that there is talk among the lawyer members of the BOE to ignore ORC 311.01 and merely deal with the sufficiency the validty/number of the signatures on the sheriff candidate petitions.

    The Report can assure the BOE members that if they go that route, they will face a legal challenge.  Perhaps the should be taking a look at this Ohio Supreme Court case which is an expression of current Ohio law on the matter.

    The BOE is truly between "the deep blue sea and the Devil" on this issue.

    For if the Board finds Maier to be disqualified, "you can bet your 'bottom dollar' that the Maier forces will be filing litigation.

    In viewing the videotape of Tuesday's meeting (posted at the end of this blog), readers can see what transpired in its totality unfiltered by the SCPR.

    What more could one ask for?

    Particularly noteworthy are the comments of member William Cline that make it clear that the BOE itself was not interested in vetting Matthews/Mullane, to wit:
    • about the specifics of how many applications were received, 
    • how the general public might have known about the job openings,
    • whether or not political affiliation or any other connection (laugh, laugh, laugh Commissioner Regula et al) had anything to do with whom got hired, and
    • what were the critical criteria which separated the applicants in the Matthews/Mullane determination of who would be recommended for hire.
    Cline's laudatory comments are clear indication to the SCPR through the words of Cline - who is an attorney and clearly knows how to cross-examine - was not interested in showing that the Board had done its "due diligence."

    Folks, it is this very blog you are reading and the revelations it contains that has put the SCPR in the category of receiving discriminatory treatment as being a second class citizen compared to the mainstream media representative.

    I expect any day to get a call from the bigwigs at The Repository - because of their devotion to the journalistic values of "Sunshine Week" coming up soon - with the message that they are going to weigh-in to insist that I and my blog be treated with respect (which nearly every other public entity/official accords The Report) and "the equal protection of the law."

    The Rep bigs uttered nary a word back in February, 2010?

    Should I hold my breath on this January 23, 2014 waiting for that call?

    Tuesday's meeting video follows: