Wednesday, February 4, 2015







As part of a SCPR series, The Report on Tuesday, January 20th was in Massillon and interviewed Councilpersons Del Rio-Keller, Manson and Lewis on their "look forward" for 2015 on their respective agendas for improving governance in Massillon.

As readers of the SCPR know, Massillon City Council is staffed with legislators some of whom have very strong personalities.

The question that has often been a topic of SCPR blogs:  Who is stronger?  Council leadership or Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry?

One of yours truly's favorite blogs on Massillon government is discussion the mayor as being Massillon's iron lady as a take off on how former (now deceased) British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was characterized by the media.

But first readers, a favor please?

Don't tell the mayor that Martin Olson said this of her (if you don't tell her, she won't know because she says she doesn't read the SCPR), okay?

But Kathy Catazaro-Perry is NO Margaret Thatcher!

She is trying, though.

More and more, The Stark County Political Report thinks that the mayor is engaging political gamesmanship.

The latest episode occurred on January 26th.

Mayor Kathy called an "emergency 'special' session" of Massillon City Council which had to absolutely endear her to at least a majority if not all of council.

On the agenda of this supposedly urgent session was a proposed ordinance (7) whereby Massillon's administration would be authorized to seek $180,000 in Stark County funding to do road work in Massillon.
  • SCPR Note:  Though it was thought by some (apparently including Mayor Catazaro-Perry) that Friday, January 30th was the deadline for passing Ordinance 7 (originally written for repairing an intersection at Richville Dr SW/Southway Drive), such proved not to be the case.
  • Why the SCPR thinks the Ordinance 7 caper was a political gamesmanship maneuver. i.e. "Council inaction caused Massillon to lose $180,000 in road repair funding"
    • In the video below, note that though the mayor is said to have thought that a Friday deadline was in place, she did not utter a word to council.
    • the mayor has a history of obtaining permission to speak to council on pending legislation,
      • In the end council passed the ordinance at this past Monday's regular council meeting but changed to a higher road repair priority; namely, a portion of Main Street West to the city boundary
Well, this "emergency" session lasted a grand total of 6 minutes or less and council took "no" action, the mayor uttered nary a peep and rushed out so as not to be present for council's scheduled work session.

Councilman Paul Manson set the tone for the entire 6 minute meeting early on in the "emergency 'special' session."

Manson asked on the reading of Ordinance 5 (with 6 and 7 to follow) about:  "the necessity of this as an emergency?"


There wasn't one, said Councilwoman Del Rio-Keller.

So why the "emergency 'special' session" called by Mayor Kathy Catazaro?

Nobody seemed to know and Mayor Kathy who can be quite mouthy had a case of political lockjaw.

Quite a contrast to the shouting match she got into with the-then council president Glenn Gamber over a tax credit issue in August, 2012.

And quite a contrast to the shouting match she got into with acting council president Paul Manson over the Dwan St. John (see links below) hiring in July, 2014.

It appears that Catazaro-Perry will do "whatever it takes" in her playing the game of politics.

The SCPR thinks that "not talking" political prank was part of an overall plan by the mayor (likely under the instruction of her political sponsors/mentors Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and R. Shane Jackson of the Massillon Clerk of Courts office) to make herself look like some kind of strong willed executive out-to-knuckle-council-down to do her will which, of course, is best for Massillon.

First, there was the fiscal emergency thing which the SCPR thinks was a concoction by the mayor to underscore her assertion that former mayor Frank Cicchinelli left Massillon in a financial mess.
    Here are blog links for those readers who need to get up to speed on the SCPR's detailed thought of why The Report thinks that the move was unwarranted and a political gamesmanship antic.
    Second, there was the Dwan St. John matter in which she accused at least of a majority of council as being racist because there was a council insistence that the fiscal/financial basis of the hiring be vetted.

    Again, here are links for those readers to get to know more about the Dwan St. John matter.
    Third, of course, is the January 26, 2015 "emergency 'special' session" which the SCPR thinks in reality was another political gamesmanship ploy.

    The SCPR believes that there have been other instances in which the mayor was politically toying with council.

    As far as the SCPR is concerned, Massillon City Council is the best in all city councils of Stark County at meeting the city's executive head-to-head to ensure that politics not be "order of the day, but rather the "well being of the citizens of Massillon."

    Canton Council has had some success checking him, but Mayor William J. Healy, II has proved much more masterful (i.e. less confrontational, e.g. purportedly, if the Healy administration learns that Councilman Bill Smuckler is staunchly opposed to a piece of legislation; it is not sent down) than Mayor Kathy.

    In North Canton, The Report thinks that council has abrogated its duties not so much to the mayor but to Law Director Tim Fox.

    In Alliance there has been, for all the years that the SCPR has covered Stark County governance, pretty much "an era of good feeling" in place between council and the administration with a hiccup here and there from the mouth of former councilman (now council president) Steve Okey.

    Which brings the SCPR to the "real focus" of today's blog which is to say those councilpersons in Massillon that The Report sees as being part of a strong core of strong councilmantic leadership in Tigerland in terms of setting the agenda for Massillon's 2015 council.

    First, Councilman Ed Lewis.

    Second, Councilwoman Michelle Del Rio-Keller,

    And, finally, third, but certainly not least the dean of Massillon City Council:  Paul Manson.

    For all the mayor's political gamesmanship, all she is achieving, The Report believes, is prioritizing her personal political interests over the well being of the citizens of Massillon.

    She will have Democratic Party opposition.  J. David Ress has filed.

    And 2011 Republican candidate Lee Brunckhart will be the ballot in November.

    The SCPR thinks that all of Catazaro-Perry's political gaming has the potential to make her a one-term-mayor.

    If Massillon's council under the likes of Lewis, Del Rio-Keller and Manson can make it clear that the mayor is not in charge and is in fact out on a political self-interest limb, it could be that either Ress or Brunckhart who knock off.

    As the SCPR sees it, for the Massillon Political Machine's Kathy Catazaro-Perry to lose it will take more than just Ress or Brunckhart.

    It will also take strong leadership from those councilpersons who understand that the main reason there is political warfare in Massillon is because of the political agenda and political gamesmanship of Mayor Kathy.

    Theirs is a happy prospective role.

    By looking out - without regard to personal political interests - for the welfare of everyday Massillonians, they create a basis on which the Iron Lady will turn out to be a politically broken lady.

    2015 could be the year that a politically unsophisticated candidate coming out with a pledge of "I will work cooperatively with council," and, by the way, the agenda of council in 2015 as personified by council's strong leadership group "is an agenda that I wholeheartedly endorse."

    To repeat, such a concordance just might make Kathy Catazaro-Perry a one-term-mayor.

    Come January 1, 2016 - in terms of the mayor and council not, more or less, being at odds with one another -  things could be looking up in Massillon government?

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