Monday, March 31, 2014

BREAKING NEWS! WARREN PRICE "FINALLY" BECOMES SHERIFF'S HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR!



 VIDEO

Price Speaks with SCPR
About
HR Position at Sheriff's Department
(December 11, 2013)

Back on December 11, 2013 the SCPR spoke on video with former Canton Safety Director Warren Price about his negotiating with Stark County Democratic Party - Central Committee (SCDP-CC) sheriff appointee George T. Maier (February 5, 2013 and December 11, 2013) about reports of his negotiating with Maier to become the sheriff department's human resource (HR) director.

The discussion about the HR negotiations comes at the end of the video.



Several reliable sources have informed the SCPR that Price has been hired the sheriff' department's HR director today.

The SCPR has attempted in the past to get Maier to confirm his interest in having Price on board.

However, due to the fact:
  • that the SCPR has taken a critical look at Maier's political power move to become sheriff without qualifying (in the opinion of The Report) under ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a)(b) and (B)(9)(a)(b), and 
  • The Report's raising of questions of whether or not Maier has the demeanor and disposition compatible with being Stark's top cop,
Maier has buttressed The Report's suspicions that he doesn't have the desired maturity to be Stark sheriff in his refusing to answer SCPR questions.

Maier goes out of his way in a taunting sort of way to cozy up with Stark's mainstream media types in the view of The Report (or turning his back to The Report) as a sort of a "nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah, nyah."

Kind of juvenile for someone who wants to be Stark's sheriff, no?

His unwillingness to engage the SCPR is indication that he knows that he cannot handle The Report's incisive questioning.

Warren Price has always been forthcoming with the SCPR and so it is surprising he would want to work with Maier.

Price is one of those officials who served Healy (also Thomas Bernabei and Tom Nesbitt) quite effectively but who would have the temerity to question the mayor.

That is a huge, no!, no!, no! with the mayor,  Once an city employee starts the critical look stuff, the SCPR thinks it only a matter of time before the employee is an ex-employee.

He just got done with one control-freak in Canton mayor William J. Healy, II.

So why would he want to work for another guy who appears to the SCPR that he cannot handle it when scrutinizes him.

Perhaps Price thinks he is never going to have a disagreement with Maier.

Undoubtedly, he thought the same of Healy.

Is this a case of "someone not learning" or, perhaps, just needing a job and one just has to do what one has to do under the circumstances?

To boot, the SCPR believes Maier only "seems" to accept criticism and evaluate whether or not the critic has "a word of wisdom" for him to reflect upon and perhaps act on.  In reality, The Report thinks he is a "my way or the highway" type of guy.

It seems to the SCPR if George T. Maier thinks "you are somebody," he could not be more "kissy faced."  During the Stark County commissioner budget hearings, Maier, on one occasion, drew a "aha" comment of Commissioner Regula when Maier over-did it in obsequiousness with board president Tom Bernabei.

Though he has been a career policeman, the SCPR sees a lot of "politico" in George T. Maier.

Of course, Warren Price is used to working for politicians.

Maybe working for Maier (for however long that may be) will pan out for him.

The SCPR wishes him well!

STRANGE INDEED, GEORGE T. MAIER ATTORNEY CANNOT SEEM TO GET HIS REDACTING STRAIGHT



 UPDATED:  08:12 AM

The Stark County commissioners think Rosenberg is an expert on quo warranto's although he lost the only one that the SCPR is aware of that he has handled (i.e. Swanson v. Maier).


Readers will recall that the commissioners hired Thomas L. Rosenberg of the prestigious firm of Roetzel & Andress over a year ago (March, 2013) to represent George T. Maier.  Maier had been appointed by the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee to replace Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald (November, 2012) who was unable to take office on January 7, 2013 due to an illness which cost him his life on February 22, 2013.

The Dems appointed Maier on February 5, 2013 and Swanson filed his successful lawsuit on February 12th with the Supreme Court ouster of Maier decision coming on November 6th.

Apparently, Rosenberg takes the commissioners' attribution of his being an expert seriously.  Over the course of numerous lawsuits (including Cynthia Balas-Bratton's BOE protest of February 11, 2014) regarding his client Maier, he has seemingly taken it on himself to become "the minder in chief" of all things legal not only for client Maier but also for:
  • the commissioners, 
  • Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero, 
  • the Stark BOE,
  • Buckeye Sheriff Association CEO Robert Cornwell,
  • Craig T. Conley, who in a number of different legal proceedings contra George T. Maier or his interests represents:
    • Taxpayer Thomas Marcelli,
    • Tim Swanson,
    • Cynthia Balas-Bratton
And there may be others that Rosenberg has taken to counseling of that the SCPR has missed in this blog.

However, the focus of this blog is to show how wrong Rosenberg is in his recent admonition/threat on Craig Conley on his allegations that Conley has failed to redact sensitive law enforcement information on Rosenberg's client George T. Maier.

SCPR readers know of course that Craig Conley did file with the Ohio Supreme Court on March 11, 2014 a Writ of Prohibition with the court asking the court to overrule the decision of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted in siding with Democratic BOE Members in breaking a tie between those two Dem members with the two Republican members and thereby has ruled that Rosenberg's client George T. Maier is to be included on the May 6, 2014 Democratic primary ballot.

Look at this copy of the Rosenberg March 26th letter.



So first of all, Rosenberg gets his case caption wrong in his March 26th letter, to wit:


The incorrect cite (Marcelli v. Maier is a taxpayer lawsuit to recover taxpayer monies allegedly paid Maier or on behalf of Maier from February 11, 2013 through November 6, 2013) in only the beginning of what appear to be some monumental mistakes made by Rosenberg in the March 26th letter.

To cut through everything, the SCPR is convinced that what Rosenberg accuses Conley of is in fact the doing of Rosenberg himself and that it is on his letter of March 26th letter is an outrage.

So much so that The Report thinks that Rosenberg and/or the law firm he is associated with (Roetzel & Andress) should be issuing a public retraction and, of course, a personal apology to those who the SCPR thinks Rosenberg has erroneously fingered as being in violation of Ohio law.

Before we get into the details of Rosenberg's apparent error being focused upon by the SCPR in this blog, readers should go to a few other blogs to get a fix on what The Report thinks is Rosenberg's out-and-hubris.
Of course, The Report thinks that Rosenberg and George T. Maier is "a perfect match" in terms of the arrogance that both demonstrate to anybody who is looking at "the complete person."

Those of us who know Craig T. Conley know that he is more than capable of defending himself and his clients.

Let's have Conley speak for himself:

In that regard, I note you made a similar allegation in Swanson's first quo warranto action against your client, notwithstanding the fact that the source of the subject personal identifier information was mostly, if not exclusively, you by and through your submission of various un-redacted exhibits during one or more trial deposi­tions taken in that action.  (color differentiation added)

Your aforesaid grossly imprudent conduct aside, Mr. Maier^s home address is certainly otherwise no secret and in fact has been revealed to the public by vou and/or by him on many occasions via multiple un-redacted publicly-available filings

Here the SCPR picks to recite in Conley's words in a summary fashion the prior public publications by Rosenberg or Maier himself:
  1. The letter of support (signed by, inter alia, BOE Member St. John) for Candidate Maier on his personal letterhead that you caused to be filed as "evidence" with the Ohio Supreme Court; 
  2. Candidate Maier's three Applications for Candidacy as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court; 
  3. his Application for Candidacy as filed with the Stark County Board of Elections; 
  4. his Declaration of Candidacy as filed with the Stark County Board of Elections; his Party's Certifications by Party Central Committee to Fill a Vacancy in County Office or City Office as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court and/or with the Stark County Board of Elections; 
  5. his Notices of Peace Officer Appointment as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court and/or with the Stark County Board of Elections; 
  6. a copy of his Ohio Driver's License as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court and/or with the Stark County Board of Elections; his Stark State College "Transcript" as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court and/or with the Stark County Board of Elections; 
  7. your own January 14, 2013 "Qualifi­cations for Sheriff",letter to Mr. Maier; 
  8. Mr. Maier's own "vote for me" letter to the DCC; and 
  9. his Civilian Background Check fingerprint cards as filed with the Stark County Common Pleas Court and/or with the Stark County Board of Elections (some or all of which cards even include Mr. Maier's ... , which is also the case with at least one of your own post-redaction "evidence" filings with the Supreme Court in Swanson's first quo warranto action against your client) .
Conley goes on:

Indeed, other than those documents listed hereinabove that I obtained through the Ohio Supreme Court's website in Swanson's first quo warranto action against your client, I obtained all of the other hereinabove listed documents upon O.R.C. 149.43 public records requests made of the Stark County Auditor and/or the Stark County Prosecuting Attorney and/or the Stark County Board of Elections and/or the Stark County Board of Commissioners and/or the Stark County Clerk of Courts, none of which public records had Mr. Maier's "super secret" home address redacted therefrom (and some of which, as aforesaid, did not even have his ... redacted therefrom)
 
In sum, it is clear that the blame for any failure to redact personal identifier information from the aforesaid publicly-available documents lies solely with you and/or with your client:, certainly not with me or with my client (and certainly not with Attorney Beck or his client).


By the way, all of the aforesaid publicly-available documents aside, Mr, Maier's "super secret" home address is otherwise readily available to anyone both electronically and in "hard copy" via the Stark County Auditor's real property records, noting that Mr. Maier is a Stark County homeowner.


Accordingly, in light of the aforesaid non-exhaustive listing of publicly-available documents showing Mr. Maier's "super secret" home address, I respectfully suggest you need to reconsider your untenable position here, but should you nonetheless follow through with your outrageously inappropriate threat to "seek further redress against [me] and [my] client", please be advised that I will thereafter seek such redress against you personally and/or against your client personally and/or against your law firm.


Indeed, stated plainly, under the circumstances, I find your aforesaid "nastygram" to be both laughable and a grossly unprofessional (and shameful) attempt at intimidation and/or blame transference.

It therefore is requested that you forthwith refrain from transmitting further such "nastygrams" to me, as they only serve to demean our learned profession.

After all that, get this!

A sheriff is not entitled by Ohio law to have his home address information redacted, to wit:

149.43 [Effective Until 3/20/2015] Availability of public records for inspection and copying.

As used in divisions (A)(7) and (B)(9) of this section, "peace officer" has the same meaning as in section 109.71 of the Revised Code and also includes the superintendent and troopers of the state highway patrol; it does not include the sheriff of a county or a supervisory employee who, in the absence of the sheriff, is authorized to stand in for, exercise the authority of, and perform the duties of the sheriff. 

Isn't that something!

After all is said and done, it appears that ORC 149(A)(7)(g) specifically excludes a county sheriff from having his home address redacted.

Think maybe Thomas L. Rosenberg doesn't have some "egg on his face?

Think maybe Conley, Beck and others do not have an apology coming?

In the light of the foregoing, it is likely that many of us are thinking not What's the Matter with Kansas, rather we are more prone to be thinking:

What's the Matter with Thomas L. Rosenberg, no?

Answers please, Mr. Rosenberg!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FINAL BRIEF FILED TODAY!



UPDATED: 3:00 PM

Cynthia Balas-Bratton’s “reply” brief has been filed (LINK) with the Ohio Supreme Court.

As the graphic headlining this writing, “ANY WAY YOU CUT IT,” she should be victorious in her “protest” of the candidacy of George T. Maier to be on the upcoming May 6th primary election ballot.

To the Stark County Political Report, her attorney has written crisply, aptly and persuasively in support of Balas-Bratton’s Writ of Prohibition which she filed on March 11th in response to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s tie-breaking vote (March 7th) siding with the Stark County Democrat members of the Board of Elections (BOE) in placing Maier on the ballot - for now.

A clear thinking Supreme Court ought to find that Democratic member Deametrious St. John was so prejudiced in favor of Maier and was foolish enough to let the world know it well before his vote of February 21, 2014 (at the conclusion of the “protest” hearing) that it should be obvious to these guardians of “fair play” that St. John violated her Ohio/U.S. Constitutional due process of law rights and should roll back his vote and thereby overrule Husted’s “ERR(OR) on the side ballot access” in favor of Maier.  (emphasis added)

To the SCPR, Republican Husted was trying to “play every which way” in ruling the way he did.

The Report believes that he intentionally mangled his decision to benefit Republican Larry Dordea (who will be Maier’s opponent, should he get lucky and remain on the ballot).

Husted first admitted in the very expression “err(or)” on the side of ballot access” that he understood that Ohio’s law is not supportive of his decision to side with the Dems but his specious reasoning put a dress on the decision makes it look like he is a non-partision elections officer. (emphasis added)

Anyone who understands Ohio’s BOE structure knows that by its very nature it is a sort of political cold war (not unlike that between the United States and the Soviet Union of Socialist Republics of 1947 - the 1990s vintage) and the reason that Balas-Bratton “protest” was deadlocked 2 to 2 (Republicans Braden and Cline voting to keep Maier off the ballot; Democrats St. John and Ferruccio, Jr voting to place him on the ballot) was because of the political nature of Ohio’s BOE structure.

It only so happens that the Republican members’ position is in alignment with Ohio’s constitutional and statutory law.

It could be and the SCPR suspects that Braden and Cline made a political decision and would have voted the way they did no matter what the quality of the law was behind their decision.

But they were not foolish nor was Democratic member Sam Ferruccio, Jr contrasted to St. John to signal before the February 21st decision that “the evidence presented at the hearing ‘be damned,’” their minds were made up and they were voting their respective political party’s interest and hoping that they could connect to the law to a sufficient degree to get upheld if challenged.

Husted understands the process perhaps better than anybody in our Buckeye state.

The Report thinks he is politically devious enough and sophisticated enough to make his tie-breaking decision in such a fashion that Balas-Bratton could drive the proverbial “Mack truck” through.

But his doing so, is a bit chancy for the Republicans and Dordea.
It could be that the Ohio Supreme Court will find a way to validate the Dems’ position.

Not likely, but it could happen.

And that is exactly what George Maier et al have to be hoping for.

Understanding the power equation in government as they clearly do, the Maiers know the truth of the mantra: “The Supreme Court does not have to be correct in its decisions, it just has to be the Supreme Court.”

So far in the process, as the SCPR has written frequently, which started as a case of political bravado (the Maier camp thinking who is going to raise the question of whether or not George T. Maier is qualified under ORC 311.01; after all George guaranteed that he would be if he applied), has remained a case of politically bullying.

Well, three staunchly credential Democrats have courageously contested those that The Report thinks are out-and-out/in-your-face political power players.

Ferrero (Stark County’s prosecutor), Swanson (Stark County’s sheriff) and Balas-Bratton (Ward 2A Massillon precinct committeewoman, no less; which has to be particularly to the Massillon ensconced Maiers) have in the way of political heroism have stepped up to the plate.

The SCPR thinks that the Husted “play to everybody” may well work.

In his “heart of hearts,” he has to be banking on being reversed.

That will get him back in the good graces of Stark’s Republicans (a la “a wink and a nod,” let bygones be bygones”) and, of course, how could the Democrats complain.  He tried, didn’t he?
What Countians have witnessed of St. John (in what appears to be in a rather obvious way contrasted to the “not so obvious” Ferruccio, Jr, Braden and Cline) and Husted is political reality and why many citizens opt out of participating in our system.

Should the Supreme Court make a mistake and validate the Maier approach, still more citizens will say to themselves: “who needs this” and move out of our political system.

And it could happen.

But The Report does not believe it will happen.

Balas-Bratton attorney Craig T. Conley has done a superlative job of laying out a pathway for the Supremes to do the correct thing.

Now we are at the point of knowing what they opt to do.

In his reply brief which is being filed today, he outlines once again his three-pronged justification-in-law for the Ohio Supreme Court to do the correct thing.

First, there is Balas-Bratton being denied “due process of law.”

“In short, Respondents seek to ‘bypass’ the seminal due process issue here by minimizing and degrading its great importance to our justice system and by then, in ‘it’s too late to complain’ fashion and ‘better luck next time’ fashion, to simply delcare it moot (and therefore not properly before this Court.”

Such is how Conley in his brief aptly describes the feeble attempt by to knock down the - the critically important to all Americans - “due process of law” aspect of Balas-Branton v. Husted, et al.

Conley goes on: ‘Bottom line,’ it is no exaggeration to that due process of law (even in quasi-judicial arenas) is ‘sacrosanct’ to and in our justice system (Matters of Murchison, a U.S. Supreme Court decision).

In his brief, Conley recounts the St. John “due process of law” misconduct in great detail

Second, Conley sticks with his ORC 2733.14 argument.

He says its language “as a matter of law” makes his ouster on November 6, 2013 (Swanson v. Maier, quo warranto) makes him ineligible to be considered for sheriff “much less to be on the May primary ballot for the very same public office from which this Court has already ousted him.

Third, part one, Conley reiterates his arguments on the loosey-goosey arguments the pro-Maier forces make on two ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a) requirements.

They, he says, try to make the requirement of “corporal or above” language into an equivalency and, moreover, the required two “consecutive” years of supervision be something other than that indicated by the case law of the Ohio Supreme Court itself as being clear and unequivocal and not susceptible to toying with as the Maier supporters do in their respective briefs.

Third, part two, Conley reiterates his arguments on the loosey-goosey arguments the pro-Maier forces make on two ORC 311.01(B)(9)(b) requirements that he have two years of post secondary education and it be from a recognized certified state institution of higher learning.

He points out that Conley admits that he never enrolled at Stark State College much less actually achieve the post secondary requirement nor did he submit evidence that Stark State College is certified as is required by the law.

The Maier folks simply rely on speculation that had he enrolled and did the minimum course work set by the college he could have qualified for the needed credits.

But the fact of the matter is that Maier never enrolled at Stark State.

So how can Maier say that he has achieved that which he never put himself in a position to qualify for?

The answer obviously is that he cannot but is the epitome of the “thin, indeed” if not absurd nature of most of the Maier ORC 311.01 arguments.

Nevertheless, a decision is at hand.

Certainly within a matter of days the Ohio Supreme Court will be making its ruling.

At the end of the day, no matter which way the high court rules, Stark Countians should be pleased with and proud of the likes of John Ferrero, Tim Swanson, Cynthia Balas-Bratton and Conley (working on a “for the public good basis”) and their sacrificial devotion to “the rule of law!”

However, in the view of the SCPR, “ANY WAY YOU CUT IT” (the legal arguments) this case should go the Balas-Bratton way.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

LOOKING AT YESTERDAY'S PRO-MAIER BRIEFS, A SCPR ANALYSIS



 UPDATE:  10:00 AM

Yesterday was the “due date” for the briefs in opposition to Cynthia Balas-Bratton’s Writ of Prohibition filed one week ago today (March 18, 2014) with the Ohio Supreme Court on the issue of whether or not George T. Maier will be allowed on the May 6, 2014 Democratic primary ballot.
   
Of course, as always, readers of the Stark County Political Report are linked up with the original source to have a look at the documents filed.

1.  The Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted brief,
2.  The Stark Board of Elections (the Democrat members brief,
3.  The George T. Maier brief.

And for whatever it is worth (not worthy of a SCPR analysis), the amicus brief of the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association.

The best of the bunch is the one prepared by Erin Butcher-Lyden of the Ohio attorney general’s office.

Next best was that put together by Stark Countian and legal counsel for the Stark County commissioners David Bridenstine. 

He has been assigned the task by the commissioners to represent Democratic members (St. John and Ferruccio, Jr) of the Stark Board of Elections (BOE) who became the majority when Husted voted with them (March 7, 2014) to break a tie between the Dems and Republican BOE members Braden and Cline on the question of the Maier presence on the ballot tried in a hearing before the BOE on February 21, 2014.

Bringing up the bottom, who else, but Thomas L. Rosenberg of Roetzel & Andress (of Columbus).

When one looks at the Balas-Bratton brief (by Attorney Craig T. Conley of Canton) and compares it to the three pro-Maier on the ballot briefs it is striking at the contrast between the two sides.

The key is whether or not Conley “has missed the mark” in thinking he does not have much if any of a burden to show that Husted abused his discretion in breaking the tie between the Democratic and Republican members of the BOE.

It will be interesting to see Conley’s reply brief (due not later than Thursday, March 27th) and in particular how he handles Butcher-Lyden’s attributing to him an allegation of Husted having committed an abuse of discretion in that Husted failed to remove St. John as Conley repeatedly demanded during much of the period leading up to the February 21, 2014 BOE hearing.


For if the Butcher-Lyden take on the primary issue (i.e. “abuse of discretion” in a very narrow sense of the expression) before the Supreme Court is the one that the court adopts then the SCPR thinks that George T. Maier is likely to survive the Balas-Bratton challenge and remain on the May 6th ballot.

The Report thinks that Butcher-Lyden misinterprets Conley’s focus on the St. John refusal to recuse and the secretary of state’s refusal to order him off the hearing panel as being in its essence an allegation of abuse of discretion.  Rather the SCPR sees the St. John matter as an allegation that Balas-Bratton was denied her constitutional right to a fair hearing on February 21, 2014 and that the remedy should be that the Supreme Court recognize the infringement and invalidate the St. John vote which, of course, negates the Husted voted because an invalidated St. John vote keeps off the ballot on the 2 to 1 Republican majority vote.


Conley has repeatedly told the SCPR that he does not see his task as being to show the secretary abused his discretion.

However, Conley does cover the possibility that the Supreme Court will see it Buthcher-Lyden’s way in his argument that Husted failed to make a ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a)(b) determination on Maier qualification and thereby “abused his discretion” in refusing to fulfill his duty as assigned by the Ohio General Assembly in its passage of the aforementioned statute.

The secretary said he could not determine one way or the other whether or not Maier complied with (B)(9)(a)(b) because of its vagueness and lack of clarity.

The problem with the secretary taking an “I cannot determine” position is that the Supreme Court itself (according to Conley) has repeatedly said in its decisions on the issue at hand that (B)(9)(a)(b) are clear on their face and vagueness and lack of clarity are not an option.

So it makes legal sense to the SCPR that in failing to apply ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a)(b), the secretary abused his discretion.

Moreover, the secretary’s “err[ing] on the side of ballot access” is not a standard anywhere articulated in ORC 311.01.  For Husted to basis his decision on language not included directly or by implication in the ORC 311.01 statutory scheme is yet another basis for his having committed an abuse of discretion.

While the SCPR did not look at the Bridenstine and Rosenberg briefs in much detail, a quick perusal indicates “more of the same’ in terms of comparing them to the secretary of state’s legal arguments.
       
The secretary of state’s counsel limited herself to 15 pages of argument.  Bridenstine took 19 pages.  And, of course, “the weigh arguments by the pound” Thomas L. Rosenberg took 44 pages.

His client, George T. Maier, readers will recall submitted some 254 pages to the BOE in his application process whereas Republican Larry Dordea had some 53 pages.

No surprise here.

If there is anything clear about how George and his brother Johnnie, Jr (executive vice chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) do things political, the word that comes to mind for the SCPR is the word “bombast.”

It appears that Rosenberg and George Maier are a perfect match.

It would be surprising if the Ohio Supreme Court were to be affected by a bombastic-esque, volume approach to legal argument.

Monday, March 24, 2014

UPDATE: BALAS-BRATTON V. JON HUSTED, ET AL



IS MASSILLON ABOUT TO PILE ONE BAD IDEA ON TOP OF ANOTHER BAD IDEA?



Today the Stark County Political Report blogs from Grand Turk Island in the Carribean.


Whether The Report is in China, Fairfax, Virginia, England, Colorado Spring, Colorado, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or on the Grand Turk Island, readers of the SCPR can depend on a valiant effort to get a blog up on any given day.

These are clearly “times of desperation” in the city of Massillon these days.
           
It is in times likes these that very bad decisions get made.

With the announcement last week that a combo aquarium/waterpark is proposed for the city, it is exactly a time for the city’s leadership to step back and take thorough look before leaping.

Already the developers are talking about having the facility in place by either late this year or by Spring of 2015. 

Hmm?  Just in time for the primary elections 2015.  Isn’t that interesting?

It appears that the Catazao-Perry administration has already leapt and that cannot be a good thing.

What’s the rush?

All that the burst of cheerleading shows is that the mayor is a desperate politician looking for a “miracle” to come and rescue the city from her - at best - lackluster leadership which if anything has left Massillon worse off than former Mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr left the city in.

An argument can be made that Catazaro-Perry with her belligerent attitude towards and resultant antagonistic relationship with Massillon City Council has worsened the city’s financial crises.

Even Frank Cicchinelli admits adding nine (9) holes to original eighteen (18) The Legends golf course ideal was a mistake.  For Cicchinelli to admit that the extra nine were a mistake is quite a concession for a man who thinks he left office with the city in decent if not good shape.

It could be that his aggressive annexation policy proved to be his political undoing (i.e. the proposed Tuslaw schools annexation), but an argument can be made that in terms of cash flow the income tax receipts from annexations (especially with little or no added infrastructure cost to Massillon [e.g. the R.G. Drage annexation] has kept Massillon within or within shouting distance of financial solvency.

Ever since she took office on January 1, 2012 Catazaro-Perry has been casting about for “a gift from heaven” to make up for her obvious shortcomings as Massillon’s chief executive.

There have been a number of faux-Catazaro-Perry claims of economic development success (Baker, Hughes and Shearers [which would have happened in a Cicchinelli administration had he been reelected]).  It appears that the aquarium/waterpark is about the only thing that Catazaro-Perry that doesn’t have a Cicchinelli taint to it  can cheer about.  

Let the SCPR say this as a qualifier to blaming Catazaro-Perry for all that ails Massillon these days. 

The Report does not believe and has never believed for a second that she is the brains behind the ideas for running Massillon.  Way before she was elected, the SCPR was saying that Catazaro-Perry did not have the wherewithal to be an effective mayor of Massillon and that the real administration would come from her political sponsor and mentor Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Of course, if you ask Maier, he thinks he has the intellectual power to be an idea man.  But that only means he does not understand himself and his limits.  No one that The Report has ever talked to describes him as being an idea man.

What he does get described as being is a man who believes “might makes right/”

That is how he has handled himself in any political fracas he has been involved in over his 25 years or so as being a significant political factor in Stark County government and politics.

To make matter worse, Maier, Jr abides no dissent from whatever and his most trusted confidants settle on as being “the official position.” 

That is how insecure people act and thereby end up being their own worst enemies.  But when the failures come, they always point the finger at others.  Never at themselves.

On the aquarium/waterpark project, look for the administration (and Wizard [?} Johnnie, Jr. behind the curtains) to resort to form (i.e. being the political bully) and try to force council to approve a sweetheart deal for the company behind the project and to do so lickety-split.

Catazaro-Perry has hurt her administration’s ability to turn Massillon around or at the very least take it out of stagnation in her having adopted the Maier, Jr power politics model. 

The SCPR does not see her acting any different in her relationship with council on this matter than she has in playing “The Iron Lady” role in supposedly negotiating with council on the composition of Massillon’s financial fiscal emergency recovery plan.

As the SCPR sees the negotiations on the plan, Catazaro-Perry gave very little.  Council has demonstrated far more give in pursuit of getting Massillon a positive track than the mayor has.  But what would one expect in light of the source of her political training?

Look for her to push a deal that brings very little to Massillon in terms of sure-fire and substantial revenues. 

If “due diligence” is applied to analyzing the project proposed it likely to reveal a great deal of expense in terms of roads and other infrastructure and related expenditures placed, of course, on the backs and shoulders of Massillon’s taxpayers.

Expect the mayor to ignore intangibles such as the residential integrity and aesthetics of single family residences (after all it is not her neighborhood) which surround the golf course complex by “sweeping these qualities under the rug” and relegating them to inferior status in a milieu of orchestrated hubbub focusing on speculated benefits to the city as a whole.

Even on the face of it, the proposed aquarium/waterpark is clearly “a bad idea” on top of “a bad idea (i.e. holes 19 through 27 of The Legends).

Under the proposal the city is left with ownership of the “the bad idea ‘holes 19 through 27' if the “on top of it bad idea” lease for 30 years at $10 per year stands.

Massillon should insist that the deal include a cash payment outright purchase for this burdensome part of the golf course.

Moreover, there needs to be a thoroughgoing vetting of the proposal and some significant modification to ensure that the neighborhood and the city is held harmless in the wake of the proposal going forward.

What if the project goes belly up?

Is there going to be a skeleton of constructed remains left to be wasting away the cost of removing same will fall to Massillon’s taxpayers?

What other likely consequences of the aquarian/waterpark failing might fall to the taxpayers?

Doesn’t “due diligence” demand that they be protected from same?

The proposal apparently needs a lot of administration ballyhoo (witness the many newspaper articles over the past week) to deflect serious inquiry into whether or not the business model is a viable one which has enough potential for direct/indirect employment (good paying jobs; not minimum wage types) in sufficient numbers to justify any taxpayer assistance to make the project a reality in Massillon.

The owners are already on record as redirecting the project from the economically booming Austin, Texas area because of a reported determination that Austin is “entertainment saturated” and therefore apparently makes it problematical that it could succeed there.

This diversion should be a “red flag” to locals who examine whether or not the project is worth the risk of putting Massillon taxpayer dollars into the project.

The only leadership in Stark County that the SCPR thinks is up evaluating the worthwhileness of economic development projects in terms of whether or not taxpayer dollars should be used to support a given project is the Stark County Board of County Commissioners and it financial man Chris Nichols.

Certainly the Catazaro-Perry administration has no such person.

Because Maier, Jr does not abide the likes of a Chris “Tell It Like It Is” Nichols,  the Catazaro-Perry administration should not be trusted to adequately vet the project.

Massillon taxpayers can only hope that there are enough Massillon City councilpersons who have the intellect, the strength to resist being steamrolled and the determination to hold firm and require that hard numbers indicate that Massillon’s citizens will benefit before one taxpayer dollar is put into the aquarium/water park project.

Massillon City Council is the best hope for Massillonians avoiding a trap of trying to solve former may Frank Cichinelli’s bad idea with current mayor Kathy Catzaro-Perry’s bad idea!
                    -

Friday, March 21, 2014

HAS BALAS-BRATTON ATTORNEY CONLEY PUT TOGETHER "THE PERFECT BRIEF?"



By mid afternoon on Wednesday George T. Maier nemesis and Cynthia Balas-Bratton attorney Craig T. Conley had filed his client's brief and evidence with the Ohio Supreme Court in furtherance of his client's protest of George T. Maier being the Democratic candidate for sheriff in the May 6, 2014 primary election.


We shall know within a week, give a day or two, whether or not Conley put together "the perfect brief" in terms of being "the winning argument."

By the SCPR's analysis, Conley's brief is pretty impressive, perhaps even perfect, but - as The Report as frequently opined in these pages, in making a ruling "the Supreme Court does not have to be correct, it just has to be the Supreme Court."

Actually, the statement comes from Conley himself who, as I recall, picked it up from another source.

What is interesting about the potential of the Conley argument is that it is so constructed that the high court may never get to the merits of the case.

Really?

How's that?

THE BACKGROUND

Remember Conley's focus on one Deametrious St. John during the run up to the February 21, 2014 hearing on the Balas-Bratton protest?

St. John, one of two Stark County Democratic Party appointees to the Stark Board of Elections (BOE), had been foolish enough to make himself a media star and make pronouncements that indicated to Conley and many others that he (St. John) had already made up his mind on how he would be voting on a protest filed by Conley's client (Cynthia Balas-Bratton) on George T. Maier's qualification to be a candidate for Stark County sheriff on the May 6, 2014 Stark County Democratic Party ballot.

Balas-Bratton filed her "protest" with the Stark BOE on February 11th.


The BOE met on February 17th to set a hearing date (February 21st) and to dispose of several administrative and procedural issues.

On February 21st the hearing was held and as expected to the Republican Party appointed BOE members (Curt Braden and William Cline) deadlocked with the two Democratic members (St. John and Sam Ferruccio, Jr), and it was left to Secretary of State Jon Husted to break the tie.

Which, surprisingly enough he did in siding with the Democrats saying that he chose "to err on the side of ballot access" and that he was unable to determine one way or the other whether or not Maier was qualified under Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Section 311.01(B)(9)(a) or (b).


In doing so, the SCPR believes that Husted wittingly and intentionally left a large hole for Balas-Bratton and her attorney to drive a bus through in their quest to have the Ohio Supreme Court reverse him.

And who better to drive that bus than one Craig T. Conley.

Of all the legal counsel taking part in the Maier qualification matter, The Report thinks Conley is most knowledgeable and prepared.

And that takes in a lot of territory.

Readers of the SCPR will recall the filing of a quo warranto by interim Sheriff Tim Swanson on February 12, 2013 (Greg Beck, the lead counsel) to have Maier (appointed by the Dems on February 5, 2013 to fill in for Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald [who could not take office as required on January 7, 2012 due to an illness from which he died on February 22nd] removed as a usurper in that he was not qualified under ORC 311.01 to be sheriff.

The Ohio Supreme Court agreed with Swanson and Beck and removed Maier on November 6, 2013.

How impressive was that?

On December 11th, the Dems reappointed Maier.

Consequently, the battle of his ORC 311.01 looms large.

Sections 311(B)(9)(a) or (b) are a focal point of the Balas-Bratton challenge to Maier's candidacy to serve beyond December 31, 2014 as Stark County sheriff.

Had St. John not mucked things up with his desire to be a media celebrity, the SCPR thinks that Maier had a better (though likely still not better than 50/50) chance to remain on May's ballot.

And in doing so, he handed Balas-Bratton a gift that The Report thinks has plenty of promise to be George T. Maier's undoing.

What organization wouldn't like to be an executive vice president (St. John) who in a quest to be the local yokel "from the big city" savior? 

It is interesting to the SCPR that St. John appears to look down his nose at Stark County's "organized" Democrats on the basis of his having learned the "art of 'power' politics" at the feet of Cleveland/Cuyahoga County political strongman George Forbes might end up being the reason that George T. Maier is ruled off the May ballot and concomitantly the Democrats have nobody to challenge Republican Larry Dordea.

The Report imagines that St. John these days is frequently down on his hands and knees praying to the "God of 'all things political'" that his "day in the media sun" is not THE basis on which the Supreme Court makes its decision which results in Maier's disqualification from the ballot.

In a St. John induced-decision scenario, Ohio's "court of last resort" rules that St. John had locked himself in by his own words and, thereby, "on the face of it" tainted the BOE hearing process to such a degree that Balas-Bratton ended up being denied her due process of law constitutional rights.

Should the Supreme Court negate St. John's vote, then Maier fails to qualify by a 2 to 1 vote and Husted's tie-braker is thereby negated.

As the SCPR understands Conley's position, such is how he sees the likely outcome of the Supreme Court's handling of Balas-Bratton v. Husted, et al.

If Conley is correct and the Ohio Supreme Court takes the St. John way out, the court avoids having to go into a thoroughgoing analysis of the provisions of ORC 311.01(B)(9).

By Ohio statutory law, Husted was compelled - as the tie-breaker -  to sift through the evidence submitted and make a "finder of fact" determination in the light of ORC 311.01 statutory standards as to whether or not Maier meets subsection (9)(a) or (b) criteria.

Husted's failure (assuming the court rules that St. John should not have been one of the BOE decision makers) will have in effect left Maier "in the lurch" on the matter of his qualifying or not under the ORC 311.01 scheme of things.

Moreover, the man who self-describes as being a "a political operative" and who insinuated on February 15th of this year (the day he was replaced by the Stark Dems as a BOE member with his term set to expire on the 28th) that the Stark Dems were nothing but political "rubes" in comparison to his political upbringing under Forbes, will likely be thought in Stark Democratic Party Executive Committee circles (if his media grandstanding results in Husted getting overturned) as being the man who cost George T. Maier an opportunity to be elected sheriff.

CONLEY'S BRIEF



Thanks to St. John's media performance, Conley comes right out of the box with with a pathway the high court has to like.

The Balas-Bratton brief opens with the "threshold" question of whether or not Dem BOE member St. John's pre-hearing media comments worked a denial of "due process of law" on the prosecution of her "protest" of Maier's candidacy.

There is a saying:  "the first impression is the last impression."

In first signaling the Supreme Court that the court has an easy way available to dispose of the Writ on a concrete constitutional basis (.i.e. denial of due process of law) due to St. John's media exuberance, Conley has made, the SCPR thinks, an indelible impression on the court in using language that will catch the court's attention and likely will stay with the seven justices throughout the course of the court's deliberation.

No doubt the court will look at the ORC 311.01 arguments with interest.

However, it should be readily apparent that getting into taking the evidence submitted by the various parties in this consideration of Balas-Bratton v. Husted, et al and comparing it the provisions of 311.01(B)(9)(a)/(b) is a rather daunting task even for a body like the Ohio Supreme Court and its vast legal resources.

Readers need to recall that in Swanson v. Maier, the court refused to go further than an analysis of ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a)/(b) inasmuch as the court's scrutiny of those provisions was enough for the court to determine that Maier' failure to qualify under either of them made it superfluous to go on to 311.01(B)(9), to wit:


Accordingly, the focus of this SCPR blog will be on the Balas-Bratton "due process of law" argument which The Report thinks could well be a dispositive argument.

However, Conley does make another (in addition to the ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a) and (b) arguments) interesting argument under ORC 2733.14.

2733.14 Judgment when office, franchise, or privilege is usurped.

When a defendant in an action in quo warranto is found guilty of usurping, intruding into, or unlawfully holding or exercising an office, franchise, or privilege, judgment shall be rendered that he be ousted and excluded therefrom, and that the relator recover his costs.  Effective Date: 10-01-1953 


Of course, as we Stark Countians know all too well, the Ohio Supreme Court did find Maier guilty of usurping in its November 6, 2013.


Could this argument be another "easier way out" of the more difficult ORC 311.01(B)(9) legal minefield?

BUILDING THE "VIOLATIVE OF DUE PROCESS"
ST. JOHN BIAS ARGUMENT

Conley skillfully wends his way through the St. John "for Maier" history:
  1. St. John [SCPR note:  executive vice president of the Dems] citing qualification criteria endorsed George T. Maier [SCPR note: over Lou Darrow] on Maier personal stationery pre-February 5, 2013.
  2. St. John voted as a Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC) member on February 5, 2013 to appoint George T. Maier as McDonald's successor.
  3. St. John voted as a SCDP-CC member to appoint Maier a second time (after the 11/06/2013 Supreme Court finding a violation of 311.01(B)(8)) on December 11, 2013.
  4. St. John in a interview to local media within days of his sitting as a "quasi-judicial" public official on the Balas-Bratton "protest" of the Maier candidacy stated:  "I've always believed he [SCPR note:  Maier] met the qualifications."
  5. Balas-Bratton insisted pre-hearing that St. John step aside and not be one of the determiners of her protest but was refused by St. John himself, the Stark BOE and the Ohio secretary of state and in doing so preserved her "denial of due process" arguments.
  6. St. John, at the conclusion of the Balas-Bratton "protest," [SCPR note:  "go figure,'] moved to qualify Maier and voted for his own motion.


Hence, Conley's powerful closing on the "denial of due process" argument:

    The SCPR thinks it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will wade into the ORC 311.01 waters given the compressed time frame within which it must act given ballot publication timeline concerns especially with having been provided the justices' powerful legal pathway on "denial of due process" grounds.

    On the chance that the Supremes decide to wade in, it seems to the SCPR that advantage is still with the Balas-Bratton position.

    In the Applicable Jurisdiction section of his brief, Conley paints a vivid picture of principles of law that apply to Balas-Bratton.
    1. Citing 1995 Supreme Court legal precedent, Conley sets up that when it comes to interpreting ORC 311.01 provisions, "it is the responsibility of the courts to enforce the literal language of statute.
    2. Courts are not to add or delete words to/from statutes,
    3. A year is not the cobbling together of parts of years to make up full years, rather a year is defined in Ohio law to be "12 consecutive months."  (SCPR note:  the definition of a year is a bone of contention in the interpretation of a year under ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a))
    4. A number of Supreme Court decisions (despite the fact that Jon Husted says the law is unclear and ambiguous) have held 311.01(B)(9)'s language to be "definite," "unambiguous," and clear with specific reference in the precedent cases to:
      1. the requirement of two years supervisory experience as a peace officer, and
      2. the requirement of the officer being at the rank of "corporal or above."
    THE TWO YEARS OF SUPERVISORY EXPERIENCE- AS A PEACE OFFICER

    Even it one does not contest (which Balas-Bratton does) whether or not Maier's stint as the second-in-command (and about seven days as first-in-command) at the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS) meets the standard of ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a), to wit:

    (9) The person meets at least one of the following conditions:

    (a) Has at least two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer at the rank of corporal or above, or has been appointed pursuant to section 5503.01 of the Revised Code and served at the rank of sergeant or above, in the five-year period ending immediately prior to the qualification date;


    Conley's bottom line position is that Maier is short a number of days having "at least two years of supervisory experience as a peace officer."

    Maier in his application process did try to take the February 11, 2013 to November 6, 2013 time as SCDP-CC appointed sheriff to solve the ODPS time period deficiency.

    A problem?

    Indeed.

    In its November 6th decision, the Supreme Court said that in effect Maier was never the lawful sheriff of Stark County.

    So how can he bootstrap himself, Conley argues, into meeting the two year requirement of ORC 311.01(B)(9)(a) by adding service time that the Supreme Court itself said in Maier v. Swanson was from a legal standpoint "as if it had never occurred?"

    THE TWO YEARS OF SUPERVISORY EXPERIENCE
    - AS A CORPORAL OR ABOVE

    Inasmuch as Maier did not have a literal rank of "corporal or above," the Maier legal team can only argue "equivalency."  


    And that folks, the SCPR thinks, is a losing position because of the "literal" rule of construction Ohio's courts are held to and the reality that "equivalency" appears nowhere in ORC 311.01(B)(9(a).

    AT LEAST TWO YEARS OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION

    Finally, Conley attacks the contention by the Maier proponents that he meets the criteria of ORC 311.01(B)(9)(b), to wit:

    (b) Has completed satisfactorily at least two years of post-secondary education or the equivalent in semester or quarter hours in a college or university authorized to confer degrees by the Ohio board of regents or the comparable agency of another state in which the college or university is located or in a school that holds a certificate of registration issued by the state board of career colleges and schools under Chapter 3332. of the Revised Code.

    And to make short-shrift of Maier's failure to meet this criterion of Ohio statutory law, one need to go no further than to look at the affidavit of a Stark State College official (Vogley):


    "As of the date of this affidavit, Maier has not earned any credit at Stark."

    And Maier testified at the February 21st "protest" hearing that he had not done any academic work at Stark State College."

    Closed case on ORC 311.01(B)(9)(b), no?

    A key point for purposes of the Supreme Court's handling of the Balas-Bratton Writ, the SCPR thinks, is that Secretary of State Jon Husted completely and utterly failed to make any finding on ORC 311.01.

    In doing so, he totally undermined the import of his breaking the tie on the Stark BOE in terms of result holding in siding with the Democrats.

    Had he merely said in his written findings that he adopted the findings of the Democrats as stated in the Dems position paper, he would then have placed a huge burden on Balas-Bratton to show that in doing so he had "abused his discretion."

    But he didn't and thereby damaged the likelihood that Maier's place on the ballot will be validated.

    With friends like the Republican secretary of state, who needs the enemies?

    And one might add:  with friends (for the SCDP) like Deametrious St. John, who needs any enemies?

    The clincher however for Balas-Bratton prevailing in Balas-Bratton v. Husted, et al may well be that her attorney Craig T. Conley in his submissions of documents (the brief and evidence) to the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday may have submitted "the perfect brief!"

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    (VIDEO) WILL MASSILLON'S "IRON LADY" - IN THE MAKING - BE THE RUINATION OF THE CITY?



    UPDATE:  Area media reports that Mayor Catazaro-Perry in effect cried "Uncle" and submitted the Massillon City Council approved plan to the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission headed up by State of Ohio Office of Management and Budget representative Sharon Hanrahan sometime yesterday.

     VIDEO

    Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry
    Jousts
    with
    Councilman Ed Lewis
    over
    Massillon Financial Recovery Plan

    She can only "hope" that she might some day become America's answer to Great Britain's "Iron Lady:"  Margaret Thatcher.

    Who can doubt that Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry of Massillon is trying.

    And she does have a pedigree of meeting with heads of state.

    On August 1, 2012, as President Barack Obama was flying around the country campaigning for reelection as president, he stopped by Akron-Canton Airport for a "meet 'n' greet" with area public officials.

    One of the privileged was Catazaro-Perry.

    So it could be that the tenacity and tough skin that she has been honing since she became mayor on January 1, 2012 will one day catapult her into the national limelight as "one tough lady."

    And we who have been here and seen her political schtick will harken back to the days of 01/10/2012 going forward as having witnessed a political iron lady in the making a la the quintessential and actual Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.

    The SCPR has been on hand to see many Catazaro-Perry "in-your-face" routines.

    The evolving Iron Lady of Massillon, the SCPR believes, is not really who she has been as a person pre-political career.  However, she has been running with a political crowd since the early 2000s which has left its mark on her.

    Ten years down the road and she is no longer the person who some folks remember as being a different Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

    Right now Massillonians are taking in a confrontation between the politico-hardened mayor and Massillon City Council.

    Yesterday was supposedly "showdown" date between Her Honor and Massillon's legislators, at least eight (8) of them.

    The latest round in the stand off took place on Monday night when council passed a plan to:
    • Reduce the credit that Massillonians who work out-of-town get for income taxes paid to the other city/village from 100% of up to the current 1.8% to 75% of that amount which will become 1.9% if Massillons agree to the .1% increase on an upcoming ballot initiative,
      • SCPR Note:  This particular provision is the one of all the provisions of revenue raising measures being negotiated (?) between the mayor an council that Her Highness seems most fixed on.  Back in early 2012, Catazaro-Perry was proposing a 50% reduction in the credit.
      • SCPR Note:  Republican leader of council, Ed Lewis, IV (Ward 6) has been just as adamantly on the other side of the issue.  As has Massillon resident and Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero (an arch political foe of Catazaro-Perry sponsor and mentor Johnnie A. Maier, Jr).
        • Maier is Massillon's clerk of courts, a former Stark County Democratic Party chairman (2003-2009) having succeeded Ferrero.  Moreover, he is currently executive vice chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.  Noteworthy also his Maier's tie to the Stark County Democratic Party political director Shane Jackson who is Maier's chief deputy and as such - at last report - is paid a higher salary than Catazaro-Perry.
    • Reduced credit to begin July 1, 2014 and continue indefinitely if the .1% income tax increase passes,
    • Reduced credit to end on December 31, 2015 if the income tax increase fails,
      • SCPR Note:  It is the latter point (end on December 15th) which is "the sticking point" of whether or not the mayor will agree with council's passed plan

    Initially, Catazaro-Perry was saying "my way or the highway."  But some think that by the end of Monday's council meeting she was reconsidering.

    Witness this SCPR video of her exchange with Councilman Lewis (March 10, 2014 meeting):



    Reconsidering?

    Kathy Catazaro reconsidering?

    You have to be kidding, no?

    Well, for the good of Massillon, let's hope not.she is reconsidering.

    The Stark County Political Report buys Lewis' line that council has given much more than the mayor.

    Take a look at the rest of Ordinance 25 - 2014: (an extract)

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

    MASSILLON CITY COUNCIL FINANCIAL RECOVERY PLAN

    1.  Sources of Additional Revenue

    (a) 181.031 LEVY OF ADDITIONAL TAX

    In addition to the income tax levied pursuant to Section 181.03 there is hereby levied, to provide funds for the purpose of expenses of operation of the municipal government, a tax upon earnings at the additional rate of one-tenth of one percent (.10%) upon those items enumerated in Section 181.03.

    (b) Approve a street lighting utility fee with and effective date at the beginning of a quarter-year date, preferably April 1, 2014.  Under this plan, each improved property owner will be charged a fee of $25.00 per year.  (Same as Mayor’s)

     
    (c) Evaluate existing debt refinancing opportunities.  (Same as Mayor’s)

    (d) Identify non-essential City Assets.  (Same as Mayor’s)

    (e) Evaluate new and existing fees for permits, licenses and services and bring them current with other similar cities.  (Same as the Mayor’s)

    (f) Review and evaluate collections practices in various City departments (Same as Mayor’s)

    (g) Adopt selected revenue generating recommendations contained in the Auditor of State Performance Audits for the Police Department, Parks and Recreation Department and The Legends of Massillon Golf Course (Same as Mayor’s)

    (h) Explore grant possibilities for virtually every aspect of City operations (Same as Mayors)

    2.  Expenditure Reductions, Cash Management Strategies and Elimination of Deficit Funds (Same as Mayor’s)
    (emphasis added)

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

    The SCPR for one will be surprised if she relents.

    The expectation is that if the mayor had not accepted as of the end of yesterday the following consequences will flow:
    • a 15% reduction in the city's budget using April, 2013 appropriation numbers, 
    • to be implemented on April 1, 2014, and 
    • to continue until the mayor and council agree on a plan
    Looking at the politics of the situation, it could be that many if not most council members are just fine with the 15% cuts.

    Republican members of council have been pushing for expenditure cuts since Catazaro-Perry became mayor.

    If cuts take place, look for political dynamics to take over big time as both the mayor and council members are up for reelection in 2015.

    Massillonians will be inundated with "the blame game" as to who caused the impasse necessitating the cuts.

    The only hope that the SCPR sees in avoiding a drawn out fight between Massillon's "Iron Lady in the Making" and council is the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission headed up by State of Ohio Office of Management and Budget representative Sharon Hanrahan.

    Hanrahan is one of the few voices, if not the only voice, she heeds other than that - apparently - of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his "kitchen cabinet" of political loyalists.

    Let's hope she can slow down the accelerating pace of an "Iron Lady in the Making!"

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    BREAKING NEWS! BALAS-BRATTON "WRIT OF PROHIBITION BRIEF/EVIDENCE" FILED WITH OHIO SUPREME COURT


    The Stark County Political Report (Stark County's best source for news on the ballot challenge to Stark County Democratic Party appointed Sheriff George T. Maier) is told and has confirmed that Cynthia Balas-Bratton attorney Craig T. Conley has made it to the Ohio Supreme Court and his filed his client's (Cynthia Balas-Bratton) brief and evidence with the high court re:  Balas-Bratton v. Husted and Stark County Board of Elections, Writ of Prohibition, originally filed on March 11, 2014.

    The Report spoke with Conley before he left for Columbus earlier today and while he is not speaking with certitude he is confident that he has a winning argument to persuade the Supremes that Ohio Secretary of State Ted Husted should be reversed and the Stark County Board of Elections be ordered to remove Democrat Maier's name from the May 6, Democratic Primary ballot.

    In another case development, George T. Maier was granted the right by the Supreme Court to intervene (see order below) with a responsive pleading along with the secretary of state (represented by the Ohio attorney general's office) and the Stark Co. Board of Elections (represented by Stark County commissioners' attorney David Bridenstine).

    Here is a LINK to Conley's evidence submission.

    Here is a LINK to Conley's brief.

    (VIDEO) WRAP-UP ON SCPR SERIES ON 2014 STARK CO BUDGETING PROCESS



    VIDEO
     BUDGET REVIEW

    Marc Warner
    Stark Co Ct. of Common Pleas 
    Chief Administrator

    Alan Harold
    Stark County Audtior

    Richard Regula
    Stark County Commissioner

    Rick DeHeer
    Stark Co. Ct of Common Pleas
    Family Division
    Chief Administrator

    UPDATE:  03/19/2014 AT 7:20 PM

    Martin: (From Chris Nichols/5:30 PM)
    ...

    There were a few minor adjustments from the Operational Budget numbers you saw last week, primarily with the Prosecutor (to reimburse for a Capital Purchase made earlier in the year), Sheriff (due to some updating to actuals from estimates for liability and vehicle insurance premiums), Clerk of Courts (for an unanticipated retirement) and the Common Pleas Court (to correct a minor calculation error).  In net, these two Appropriation Resolutions complete a total 2014 Operational Appropriation amount of $57,729,005 or just $8,378 more than the budget presented at last week's meeting.

    That amount combined with the $3,200,000 Capital Budget provides a total 2014 Appropriated Budget amount of $60,929,005.

    I have also updated (and attached) the Budget Presentation to show the final appropriation amounts for each department.

    ... .

    Chris 



    ORIGINAL BLOG

    As "a public service" the SCPR brings to everyday Stark Countians a multi-part series (eight blogs in all) on the "proposed" (see disclaimer in graphic above) 2014 Stark County budget.

    Today, The Report presents Volume labeled "Wrap-Up" of Stark County Commissioners' Budget Director Chris Nichols' 2014 Stark County "proposed" budget.

    Readers of this blog to get a full appreciation of Nichols' presentation should make sure that they have read prior blogs in order as listed below:
    1. Volume 1
    2. Volume 2 
    3. Volume 3 
    4. Volume 4
    5. Volume 5 
    6. Volume 6 
    7. Q&A, Commissioners Comments
    In Volume 1, Commissioner Thomas Bernabei appears in the video and outlines the four (4) guidelines that he and fellow commissioners Janet Creighton and Richard Regula laid out to Nichols in formulating the 2014 budget, to wit:
    1. The county must live within its means,
    2. New revenue for the year must support the operation budget of the county through 2019,
    3. Carry-over funds cannot be used to fund the day-to-day operations of government,
    4. He must build a 2014 budget that forms a viable base on which budgets through 2019 can be realistically projected as being "sustainable budgets"
    Today's blog features: (in the video at the end of this blog)
    • Marc Warner, Stark County Court of Common Pleas chief administrator,
    • Alan Harold, Stark County auditor,
    • Richard Regula, Stark County commissioner, and
    • Rick DeHeer, Stark County Court of Common Pleas - Family Division - chief administrator,
    on their take on Budget Director Nichols' March 13, 2014 presentation featured in this SCPR series (Volumes 1 through 6) on the 2014 Stark County budgeting process.

    The reviews are positive for Nichols and the commissioners but we are only in the base year (2014) of a five year span.

    As the SCPR sees it, 2016 will be the "pivotal" year in which Nichols and the commissioners will first see the "tell-tale" signs of whether or not the budgeting work done in 2014 will result in a "sustainable" budget through 2019.

    Meanwhile, the apt expression is:  "the jury is still out!"




    (VIDEO) SCPR SERIES ON 2014 STARK CO. BUDGET - Q & A COMMISSIONER COMMENTS



    VIDEO
    BUDGET DIRECTOR NICHOLS
    &
    COMMISSIONER TOM BERNABEI
    Q&A ON BUDGET PRESENTATION

    =============================
    COMMISSIONER RICHARD REGULA
    ON
    "PLANNING ASPECT OF BUDGET"
    ==============================
    COMMISSIONER JANET CREIGHTON
    ON
    THE NEED TO BE FRUGAL IN BUDGETING
     
    As "a public service" the SCPR brings to everyday Stark Countians a multi-part series (eight blogs in all) on the "proposed" (see disclaimer in graphic above) 2014 Stark County budget.

    Today, The Report presents "Volume Question & Answer (including Commissioner Regula and Creighton comments)" of Stark County Commissioners' Budget Director Chris Nichols' 2014 Stark County "proposed" budget.

    Readers of this blog to get a full appreciation of Nichols' presentation should make sure that they have read prior blogs in order as listed below:
    1. Volume 1
    2. Volume 2 
    3. Volume 3 
    4. Volume 4
    5. Volume 5 
    6. Volume 6
      In Volume 1, Commissioner Thomas Bernabei appears in the video and outlines the four (4) guidelines that he and fellow commissioners Janet Creighton and Richard Regula laid out to Nichols in formulating the 2014 budget, to wit:
      1. The county must live within its means,
      2. New revenue for the year must support the operation budget of the county through 2019,
      3. Carry-over funds cannot be used to fund the day-to-day operations of government,
      4. He must build a 2014 budget that forms a viable base on which budgets through 2019 can be realistically projected as being "sustainable budgets"
      After about a 45 minute budget presentation (see Volumes 1 through 6), Budget Director Chris Nichols and Commissioner Tom Bernabei (president of the Stark County Board of County Commissioners) take questions from county employees in various aspects of the budget.

      Also, in the video which appears at the end of this video, Commissioners Regula and Creighton weigh-in on various aspects of the budgeting process.

      Regula has high words of praise for the five years out planning of Director Nichols.  Regula was commissioner from 2003 through 2006 and therefore has something to compare Nichols' presentation to.

      As for Commissioner Creighton, she was at her "salty best" in reminding Stark County employees including elected Stark County officials that the commissioners will not be letting up on their oversight of county finances.

      And finally a note (received by the SCPR late yesterday) from the "lead-man" of the entire budgeting process; namely, Chris Nichols, to wit:

      Martin:
      ... .


      As of now, it does not appear there will be any material changes, just a few small tweaks.

      I think your blogs have been a good and accurate representation of the proposed budget.  


      The only comment/note on an interpretation I would have is regarding the revenue estimates of Casino Revenue.  

      I agree that Casino Revenues are well behind what the state had initially forecast.  In my budget model, I am not utilizing any of the state's forecast numbers.  I am using last year's Actual Casino revenues received by Stark County as the baseline, so the assumption is that the actual revenue received by Stark County remains somewhat consistent to 2013.

      ... .

      Chris


      The Report joins Commissioner Regula is handing out kudos to Nichols.

      As readers of the SCPR know, it is rarity for The Report to hand out accolades to public employees.  To The Report, they are doing what they are paid to do.  And, as compared to the private sector (when one includes benefits), they are paid rather handsomely.

      Only those like Nichols, whom The Report sees so far as going beyond the call of expected duty, merit special recognition.

      That's why the SCPR wants to gag when the likes of former Canton Municipal Court chief deputy Randy Gonzalez (also Jackson Township fiscal officer and Stark County Democratic Party chairman) wants to attribute to himself (and, apparently, other family members in government employment) as rendering a "public service" as a matter of family tradition.

      While he has been involved in some notable Stark County enhancing achievements:
      • The rehab of Stark County's 9-1-1 call receiving and dispatch emergency services,
      • The cobbling together of the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), and
      • The formulation of an economic development pact among Jackson, Plain and Canton,
      in doing so, there is nothing extraordinary about his contribution. It has been "all in a day's work" for which he has been richly rewarded.

      Accordingly, Gonzalez has to try the "public service" self-promotion routine on someone other than the SCPR. 

      The SCPR has demonstrated journalistic "due diligence," as a matter of uncompensated "public service" to providing Stark Countians with insight into county budgeting process so that everyday citizens are in a position to judge how well or how poorly the commissioners and other elected and appointed public officials are doing with taxpayer provided resources.

      Most readers of the SCPR recognize the diligence and thoroughness of The Report.

      But because Gonzalez and his friends (i.e. the Maier Loyalty Club) are not used to being scrutinized by anybody, he and his ilk whine and complain when the SCPR spotlight gets turned on them.  Gonzalez, in particular, seems to The Report to have an expectation that media types act as his public relations agent.  And, by way of example, Ponder of WHBC, the SCPR thinks, accommodates.

      The SCPR counts it as a good thing to be criticized by Gonzalez et al.  It is one of those situations that if Gonzalez and company were to say anything positive about the work of The Report; such would be a cause for alarm.

      The Report has been covering the commissioners since 2008 and has seen numerous county budgeting processes.

      The Report's take on the current Board of Stark County Commissioners is that the board is far and away leaps and bounds over any previous boards which have served since 2008 and, perhaps, going back a ways beyond 2008.

      Much better than the likes of Todd Bosley, Tom Harmon, Steve Meeks and Gayle Jackson of more recent times.

      Commissioner Creighton to the SCPR is the leading "jawboning" commissioner in relation to tamping down on several (not all) Stark County department heads and their tendency to disdain frugality with taxpayer provided funds.

      During the department budget hearings held in the commissioners' meeting room in January and February of the year, Creighton is seen to be the most "in-your-face" of the three commissioners for those department heads who appeared to be "gaming" the commissioners on their budget numbers.

      Back in Volume 1, Director Nichols is to be seen talking about there being $64 million requested on what turns out to be about a $60 million appropriated in the 2014 budget.

      The excess $64 million request (remember, by some $4 million to $5 million) highlight the fact that Nichols and the commissioners have their work cut out for them as managers of county finances in staying on track for maintaining budgets 2015 through 2019 that will keep expenses within revenues without totally depleting the carry over.

      With the "due diligence" they have demonstrated, the current $10 million carryover is projected to dip to $6.1 million.

      The question going forward is, and, of course, the SCPR will be watching:  Can the commissioners and Nichols keep the county solvent through 2019?

      Only the passage of time will tell the story, but the SCPR is betting on this board of commissioners and Director Nichols getting the job done.

      Here is the last Thursday's Q&A video (led by Director Nichols and Commissioner Bernabei) with comments by Commissioners Regula and Creighton.

      In order, the first video is on the Regula and Creighton comments followed second by the Q&A session.