MAYOR KATHY CATAZARO-PERRY
THE LEGENDS OF MASSILLON
WHO HAS BEEN IN CONTROL
PARKS & RECREATION MATTERS
PARKS & REC BOARD
(BY OPPONENT RESS)
PARKS & REC ISSUES
MAYOR'S LEGENDS PRESENTATION
A resident of the neighborhoods surrounding The Legends of Massillon told the SCPR that she was told that Massillon Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry had let it be known that if her Democratic opponent in next Tuesday primary election; namely, J. David Ress, was going to be at her "neighborhoods of Massillon" meeting at The Legends; then she wasn't.
Well, he was there, she came, she stayed and there was a mini debate of sorts.
She said his questions were political and therefore (impliedly) out-of-order at her "non-political" neighborhood meeting that she scheduled some five days before the primary election of May 5, 2015.
Of course her appearance was political and Ress's questions were politically inspired, pure and simple!
Anybody who knows and understands this mayor cannot be surprised that she would try to shut somebody up.
And that is exactly what she tried to do at The Legends of Massillon at last evening "neighborhood" meeting.
While there were some awkward and embarrassing moments for Mayor Kathy at the meeting, she likely managed to get through it without inflicting major political damage on herself.
The SCPR thinks she is likely to win on Tuesday, but this race may be closer than anybody thinks and if it is could harbinger a loss in November should former Democratic mayor Frank Cicchinelli he decides to run as an independent alongside Republican Lee Brunckhart.
In this blog, the SCPR will feature "highlight" short video clips of the interaction between the mayor and The Legends of Massillon area residents.
However, at the end of this blog, the SCPR makes available the entire footage of the mayor's night at The Legends.
THE DEBACLE AT THE LEGENDS
Council Put Doug Nist In Charge of Massillon's Park and Recreation Over the Objection of the Mayor
In essence, as Mayor Catazaro-Perry nearly always seems to do, she blames what she terms as being "the debacle of The Legends" as being the fault of Massillon City Council and in particular an "unnamed" councilperson who the mayor claims forced her to hire Doug Nist (August, 2013) as director of Massillon's Parks and Recreation Department before he was ready.
To boot, she claims that she was hamstrung by council in the oversight of Parks and Recreation until January of this year.
The SCPR's recollection is somewhat different.
The Report's take is that council always has known and supported the notion that it was not structured so as to manage Parks and Recreation.
And that only Massillon's administration was equipped to do so.
However, council did want to be part of the process of management in terms of being consulted with and protecting whomever was hired/fired as director from the political whims of various interest groups (including the mayor's office).
Here is a SCPR video of council reaction to proposals (one by then Councilman Larry Slagle and the other by the mayor) made back on July 8, 2013.
Readers of this blog can see the prior SCPR blog (LINK) which reports on the Parks and Recreation controversy and has embedded videos of Councilman Slagle making his proposal and Mayor Catazaro-Perry making hers.
Council and Law Director Perry Stergios were the Cause of the Debacle but Now the Mayor has Embarked (as of March 20, 2015) in Micromanaging The Legends of Massillon
As suggested early on by a Legends area resident last night, the SCPR thinks that her interest in asserting control is more a function trying to survive in upcoming elections as mayor than her claiming to have been freed from constraints placed on her by Law Director Stergios and Massillon City Council.
Questions to the Mayor
It was "grit your teeth" time for Mayor Kathy as she opened the session up to questions.
The Report's take is that she "bobbed and weaved" all over the place like a boxer who is trying to avoid a knockout punch.
Her defense of the current set of four Parks and Recreation Board (PRB) members (there is one Massillon School Board vacancy to be filled) was lame at best and is likely seen by some as insincere.
Marsha Harris smoked her out when the mayor put on the obvious pretense that "if only someone would apply" that the School Board would likely respond.
When confronted then she, as she is apt to do, turned about face and came up with the cockamamic but politically correct/safe response that the board is concerned with educating Massillon's children and not fulfilling its obligation to fill the vacancy on the PRB.
And she was in "a fully protect mode" on PRB member Dave Gallagher who, according to some at the meeting, is no longer qualified to be a member of the PRB because of a disqualifying number of absences from PRB meetings by the PRB's own bylaws.
These Catazaro-Perry responses the SCPR thinks is clear evidence along with her newly found optimism that the PRB members "all of a sudden" are open to do a 180 on a prior recorded unanimous vote (of those present and voting) to seek the closure of The Legends of Massillon.
What the SCPR believes we saw last night was a mayor being highly political and was supposed to be a non-political neighborhood meeting.
There will be other examples of such sprinkled in the remainder of this blog.
The SCPR thinks she has been using the PRB as "a trial balloon-esque" mechanism to see whether or not getting rid of The Legends of Massillon is a goal that can be achieved.
More questions to the Mayor
In the video immediately above the mayor's haste to jump on the proposal to put a Waterpark at The Legends came up.
The SCPR is of the belief that talking of "a debacle," the celebratory ebullience that broke out with the the Catazaro-Perry administration at the time was indicative of the desperation that the mayor was experiencing and continues to experience to bring big-time economic development to Massillon.
She has had some success. But a significant part of that success came from groundwork laid by the Frank Cicchinelli administration which Catazaro-Perry continues four years later to bash as being the fault of "all that ails Massillon, four years later."
She needs to give that one up.
Even Mayor Healy of Canton has given up bashing the administration of Janet Creighton as being the genesis of everything that is problematic in Canton. And, like Catazaro-Perry and Franchis H. Cicchinelli, Jr., Healy and Creighton continue to hate one another.
Mature people jettison personal animosity when they have an elected office responsibility.
That Catazaro-Perry has been unable to move on, shows that she is ill-suited to continue on as mayor of Massillon.
What is interesting is that she plays it both ways.
On the thing with the PRB and the members' antagonistic relationship with residents of The Legends area, she says "we need to move on."
But if she can lampoon former the former mayor and council for things past, guess what she does?
She goes after them with a vengeance!
So add to her characteristics, that she is utterly hypocritical.
More questions to the Mayor
One questioner committed an unpardonable "political" sin in attacking Massillon Municipal Court judge Eddie Elum who has been a advocate for Massillon's Parks for years.
Elum likes to use being a judge as a shield from political criticism/scrutiny when he in effect casts off the robe and enters the political arena on controversial political issues.
He got very ugly with The Stark County Political Report when The Report did extensive coverage of his political tiff with the-then Massillon chief of police.
Out of that episode Elum was disciplined by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Some think he got off with a mere "slap on the wrist" for what seems to be some very serious disrespectful conduct that one would think should not be coming from a judge.
So he is hardly the angelic figure that Catazaro-Perry likes to make him.
Moreover, the SCPR thinks that Elum is a member of a "Kitchen Cabinet" of sort (Elum, Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, and his chief deputy Shane Jackson) without whom the SCPR thinks Catazaro-Perry could not function as mayor.
Also included in the immediate preceding video, is an exchange between the mayor and her Tuesday primary election opponent J. David Ress.
The mayor is absolutely correct.
Ress's point that she is not qualified to micromanage The Legends was clearly a political attack.
She would have been in order to try to ignore him had she not timed her appearance before the area residents of The Legends within five days of the election.
In so scheduling, she herself was being political and of course her attacks on council and on the law director were political attacks.
In the session she made the point that "all" members of council are up for election this year.
Hmm? What was that allusion to?
Maybe that the folks gathered at last night's event ought to be voting against Councilwoman Michelle Del-Rio Keller, Councilman Paul Manson and Councilman Milan Chovan?
Think maybe, just maybe?
So her treatment of Ress is yet another case of demonstrated hypocrisy which Mayor Kathy is so accomplished at.
The SCPR has picked out the highlights of the more controversial elements of last night's event at The Legends of Massillon.
One not featured is the argument of whether or not Massillon should be in fiscal emergency in the first place.
The SCPR has written frequently that The Report thinks that Catazaro-Perry and her "Kitchen Cabinet" devised a political gambit designed "over the long haul" of being in office for four years that the mayor would look like some kind of financial/economic development "miracle worker."
Last night she tried to posture herself as being a mere bystander while the State of Ohio Auditor (Dave Yost) showed a lack of "due diligence" in not detecting what she likes to posit as being a dire financial situation.
The fact of the matter - the SCPR thinks - even before she took office on being elected in November, 2011 is that she was besieging Yost to put Massillon in fiscal emergency in the context of what the SCPR thinks was a political contrivance as described above.
Eventually (October, 2013) she was successful in convincing (there is a SCPR blog which contains her pro-active arguments as to why Massillon should be determined to be in "fiscal emergency") Yost to act and place fiscal emergency.
Even with Catazaro-Perry's highly active effort, Yost's folks found the slimmest of reasons for placing Massillon's fiscal matters under State of Ohio control.
In doing so, if it happens that she and council cannot agree or ultimately put together an agreed upon plan acceptable to Massillon voters to bring Massillon out of its "cash flow problem," then Massillonians will bear the full brunt of 15% across-the-board cuts that undoubtedly will visit extreme hardships on Massillonians in terms of greatly reduced city services (i.e. police protection, fire protection, street and highway repair, accessibility to city administrative service [e.g. obtaining permits, getting answers to income tax questions and the like]).
And the SCPR thinks - if such happens - will be a consequence of a politically-calculated-long-term-benefit to the reelection chances of the mayor will be the culprit.
Accordingly, it is mind boggling that Massillonians may well reward what the SCPR thinks was irresponsible behavior with re-election.
There is no doubt that Tuesday is a tough choice for Massillonians.
Catazaro-Perry's apparent to the SCPR political gaming versus an inexperienced candidate for mayor in J. David Ress.
Ress admits his obvious unpreparedness to be mayor and promises to bring in the very best to assist him as mayor.
And the SCPR thinks should he upset Catazaro-Perry in Tuesday's election, Ress will go on to be elected mayor in this heavily Democratic city.
Even if he doesn't, who thinks that Republican Lee Brunckhart is any more prepared than Ress to be mayor?
The only real alternative to Catazaro-Perry is former mayor Frank Cicchinelli.
But if Ress wins, the word is that he will not file/follow through as an independent candidate.
Indeed, the stakes are very high in Tuesday's election.
Anyway Massillonians' vote is a risky enterprise for this once proud city!
Here is the unedited video of the entire Catazaro-Perry presentation at The Legends of Massillon, April 29, 2015.