Monday, July 13, 2015





Monday's hearing on the protest of originally four (4) protesters protesting the certification by the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board) as an "independent" candidate might turn out to a very bad day for Canton attorney Steve Okey.

Okey is "knee deep" in Stark County Democratic as:
  • an executive committee member,
  • a central committee member (from Alliance precinct 3D),
  • president of the Alliance Area Democratic Club,
  • as the Stark Dems Central Committee (Alliance sector) appointee as Alliance City Council president,
  • as one of several legal counsel for the Stark County Democratic Party (Party) in a Writ of Prohibition named the Party as a defendant in the George T. Maier quest to become the appointee (Feburary, 2013) of the Stark Dems as Stark County sheriff,
Who knows, the above-listing - as extensive as it is - might be just "the icing on the case" as to his involvement in highly partisan politics?

One of yours truly's favorite blog graphics on Okey is one done on a blog in which Okey takes over as the "appointed," by the Alliance Dems' obviously via some political arm twisting, president of Alliance City Council from which post he has created a couple nasty encounters with council Republicans which resulted in his being censured twice.

And there is the one he came into office as a "political" hurricane in the name of standing up Ohio's Sunshine law.

Is there more?

Of course!

The SCPR thinks that he deserves the title Mister Democrat for his patently Democratic politics he has brought into Alliance City Council.

So his "political" playground includes Stark Countywide (i.e. representing the Stark Dems in the Ohio Supreme Court Writ of Prohibition case, Alliance (see above) and now Massillon.

Let's pause a minute.

The Cicchinelli case is not Okey's first foray into the political quagmire that has plagued Massillon ever since Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. term limited out of the Ohio House of Representatives came home as clerk of courts to ply his politics in western Stark County a field which now includes all of Stark County.

Okey got into the fight over whether or not Sheriff George T. Maier's son and Johnnie A. Maier's nephew was merited under Ohio civil service standards to be appointed a sergeant over others.

Okey took up the charge by Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry on behalf of Dwan St. John that St. John was was racially and sexist discriminated against by Massillon City Council members who questioned the fiscal sustainability of St. John being employed by Massillon.
And, of course, Okey took of the representation of Deametrious St. John when Craig T. Conley (yes, the same Craig T. Conley who is vying with Okey in today's hearing) challenged in the Fifth District Court of Appeals St. John's right to sit in judgment of George T. Maier's certifiability as a candidate for Stark County sheriff in the election of November, 2014.

But the process by which he came to name Townsend and Stinson as being protesters may cause him a problem (one source tells the SCPR) with Ohio Disciplinary Counsel to say nothing of the embarrassment he must be feeling as he proceeds with only two protesters on Monday.

Oh! there is one other thing about his partisan political involvement.

The SCPR thinks he, perhaps, is the leading supporter of former Stark County Dems' chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. who The Report tabs as being the head of the Maier Massillon Political Machine (MMPM).

The SCPR noted how anemic (as compared to Lee Plakas' filing on behalf of Tom Bernabei independent candidacy protesters) his listing of protester was when Okey filed a the Cicchinelli candidacy protest on June 6th.

It may be his close, close, close political association with Maier, Jr. that is at the heart of how he came to name claimed in their on words/actions (i.e the 7/10/2015 withdrawal) "unwilling" protesters in the initial petition with BOE.

Reading between the lines:
  •  "'its not an issue,'" 
  • "[f]ollow-calls to Townsend for clarification were not returned," 
  • teamed up with it taking Okey until July 10th (over three weeks later) to remove Townsend from the protest 
indicates to the SCPR that there has been a whole lot of jawboning going on between - at the minimum - Townsend and Okey and the SCPR believes:
  • Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, 
  • R. Shane Jackson, and 
  • perhaps even Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry, and 
    • who knows, who else.
IF a Disciplinary Complaint is filed against Okey as it has been suggested there might be, we may someday know exactly what the conversation was and who was involved if the matter gets to the Ohio Supreme Court and sanctions administered because if complaints get to that stage the high court publishes a chapter and verse account as it did when the justices disciplined Massillon Municipal Court judge Eddie Elum several years back.

For Okey to be subjected to Disciplinary Counsel action would to the SCPR be somewhat amazing and highly ironic in that he, over the past year or so, has worked hard to convey the impression that he is super-sensitive to doing law things at the very highest level witness the blogs by The Report:
Above anybody else in Stark County, the SCPR over past seven years plus, has stood foursquare for the "rule of law."

Even Okey tapped in on that well known SCPR devotion as evidenced in this e-mail of May 4, 2014:

Okey's effort on the Sunshine Law matter was the right thing to do (the "unconstitutional thing," however The Report thinks is open to debate), but the SCPR having been around the "political" block a time or two was not buying his "this is not a partisan matter" disclaimer in a follow up e-mail on the same day.

Apparently, Okey thinks the rest of us do not see his all-consuming (i.e. his seeming inability - to yours truly - to stand off - from individual political interests) involvement in partisan politics as being a basis for questioning the sincerity of his "objectively" acting on behalf of "the rule of law."

For now, we are left to conjecture about the nature and the extent of the discussions, unless, of course, Townsend decides to waive whatever attorney/client privilege that may exist between him and Okey (the privilege is for Townsend's confidentiality; not Okey's) and go public with either The Independent or the SCPR.

For The Report's part the SCPR "on camera and unedited" facilities are available to Townsend if he wants to tell all. Undoubedly, The Independent would be accommodating, too.

Readers have to set all this on the political background:
  • that Kathy Catazaro-Perry would not be mayor of Massillon if it were not for falling into the "good 'political' graces" of Maier, Jr., (a former Stark Dems' chairman and still a high official in the Party) and his sidekick R. Shane Jackson who is the political director of the Part,
  • that Tony Townsend would not be president of Massillon City Council if were not for falling into the "good political graces" of Maier, Jr. and Jackson,
Focusing on former Massillon Ward 4 Councilman Tony Townsend and incidentally on the mayor, the SCPR believes he would never have been elected council president in November, 2013 had Republican Al Hennon (a former highly respected Massillon City Schools superintendent) stayed in the race.

When it was too late for Republicans to replace him, Hennon withdrew from the race to become Massillon's service/safety director leaving Townsend to run unopposed.

Does anybody believe that Maier, Jr. and Jackson were not key factors in that development?

It may be that neither were, but what politically astute person would believe it?

And, of course, though the SCPR believes that in the de facto sense of Massillon government's executive operations, Maier, Jr. and Jackson are in charge; in the de jure (as a matter of law) sense they are not and so it did take the acquiescence of Catarzaro-Perry for the SCPR's speculated scenario to be realized.

Hennon only lasted a little over one year which indicates to The Report that he had outlived his usefulness to the Masillon politicos and therefore was dispensable especially in light of the likelihood that the former superintendent was not a sufficiently enough "yes" man to whatever Maier, Jr., and Jackson directly or through the mayor demanded of him.

The official report was that Hennon left for personal reasons.

And such may have factored in a la "Who needs this grief?"

But Al Hennon did not become a highly respect school official by sucking up to the likes of Maier, Jackson and Catazaro-Perry.

Now it appears to the SCPR that Townsend may be on "the political chopping block."

To The Report it seems he has given his political heart and soul to the Maier' Massillon Political Machine in his time on Massillon City Council.

However, his "going public" on June 16th with Grazier of The Independent coupled with his official withdrawal as a protester on July 10th might mean that the Maier, Jr. led MPM, like it appears to have happened with Hennon, has dropped him like the proverbial "hot potato" under a transit authority bus as it rumbled down Lincolnway this past Friday.

Or it could be that Townsend realized that these the MMPM support may becoming more and more of a liability in Massillon politics.

If Townsend initiated the separation, he did it "a day late and a dollar short" on when he should have done it.

Look for Townsend to lose big against "ironically" the now certified "independent" Claudette Ishnick (a former Massillon Ward 3 Republican who Catazaro-Perry defeated in November, 2003) in the November election.

Isn't interesting about how things run full circle in politics?

Another person who the SCPR thinks may be getting a "let's throw him under the bus" from the MMPM is current Ward 4 Councilman Shaddrick Stinson.

Now a lame-duck councilman, he is useless to the MMPM.

While he is not quoted publicly as saying he was not a willing participant in the original protest filed by Okey, The Report is told that there is political "buzz" to the effect that he was furious at being named a protester without his permission.

Like with Townsend, the thinking is that Okey probably was assured by the likes of Maier, Jr. and Jackson that it would be okay to name Stinson notwithstanding his reluctance because over time they (Maier, Jr. and Jackson) would "persuade" him to comply with their political will.

One of the smartest things that Stinson did in the 2013 council elections was for him to convince Frank Cicchinelli that he was not the captive of the MMPM.

That, the SCPR assesses, was the difference maker in his being elected as Ward 4 councilman.

One of the dumbest things that Stinson did in the two years he was on council after being elected in 2013 was not capitalize on Cicchinelli's belief he would demonstrate by his council votes and other activities that he was indeed not the captive of the MMPM.

Hence this result in the 2015 Democratic primary election.

Cicchinelli recently told the SCPR flat-out that he misjudged Stinson and thinks that Stinson was, though, at the time he was telling Cicchinelli otherwise, in reality "a card-carrying" (the SCPR's words, not Cicchinelli's)  MMPM guy.

Stinson got caught up in the "what to do with The Legends" controversy which is of course from the MMPM perspective "Frank Cicchinelli's baby" especially the added nine holes to the golf course which Cicchinelli himself now says was a mistake.

Catazaro-Perry was playing political "dodge-ball" with The Legends' area residents who vote in high numbers (see the above chart in the 2015 Stinson race) in Ward 4, the SCPR thinks.

The Report believes her "real" position is to get rid of The Legends.

But she pretends to be about finding a solution to the financial burden (i.e. the heavy debt interest servicing and principal repayment being paid by Massillon) to the golf course and club house complex.

Likely knowing her "real" position based on private conversations with her, Stinson found himself on "the horns of a dilemma, to wit:  "How to be a loyal MMPM foot soldier" while preserving his ability to get votes out of Precinct 4D.

Consequently, Stinson came to be perceived as not being in favor of finding a "suitable to Precinct D residents" formula for making The Legends become financially viable and therefore worth the city of Massillon keeping.

The Report thinks Stinson was getting bad (in the sense of impacting his political future) advice from Catazaro-Perry, Maier, Jr., R. Shane Jackson and perhaps Judge Elum on the issue.

If effect, to say it once again, The Report thinks some or all of the aforementioned persons threw Stinson under the political bus.

His loss this past May in the Ward 4 Democratic primary election was truly astounding.

A political newcomer (Jill Creamer, a Legends area resident) wiped him out overall though Stinson won most precincts.

The problem?

Precinct 4D is a locale in which the high percentage voting Legends residents are located.

As the chart above shows, he lost his seat on council because of the Precinct 4D vote.

The Report thinks that the high MMPM priority is salvaging the administration of Catazaro-Perry.

It appears that in the thinking of the MMPM leadership, the likes of Townsend and Stinson are politically expendable.

With their withdrawal after nearly a month of apparent haggling, it could be that Stinson and Townsend will gain credibility on not necessarily taking orders from Headquarters - MMPM.

Especially Stinson.

In SCPR discussions with other Massillon council members most, if not, they all seem to think well of him as a person.

The problem for Shaddrick has been a perception on the part of a likely a majority of councilpersons that he has been the captive of the MMPM.

Recently, Councilman Paul Manson told the SCPR that he likes Stinson as a councilperson in his most recent version.

And that may mean that if Stinson can hone "independent mindedness" even if remaining a Democrat, he may have a future in Massillon elective politics.

Politically engaged people need to wary of the likes of the MMPM.

Maier, Jr. and Jackson, the SCPR thinks, are probably the most ruthless politicos in all of Stark County.

Baseball is played with a hardball.

But baseball is a game.

Hardball politics affects peoples' day-in, day-out lives and often the body politic as in the case of George T. Maier (Johnnie's brother) becoming sheriff over Larry Dordea whom the SCPR sees as a person of significantly higher character qualities and certainly adequate policing credentials.

Maier, Jr., Jackson et al do what political people do whether part of the organized Democrat or Republican political parties.

While understandable from their selfish interests standpoint, such is not likely to be productive for the public good and accordingly not good for the public's confidence in the integrity of our democratic-republican system of government.

All too many of them take care of the party apparatus first and foremost because the political structure is the mask which obscures their personal interest in doing this thing or another and getting UNwitting people to donate money, to do things like door-to-door campaigning and argue the "official-party-line" et cetera in furtherance of their collective personal interests.

And they don't much like the likes of The Stark County Political Report which does a lot of de-masking.

Having said the immediate foregoing, let yours truly say that high quality political party structures are essential to the effective functioning of our democratic-republican system of government.

Oh yes! there are always going to be those who use the party structures in furtherance of their personal political agendas as The Report thinks the MMPM does.

But there are a number of first rate politically involved people who do demonstrate an "independent" streak even within the context being part of a partisan political party apparatus.

One such person to The Report has been - before he became an "independent" - Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei.

Republican Commissioner Janet Creighton is another such person as is Democrat Canton City Councilman (Ward 9) Frank Morris, III.

The hope is that Stinson is on his way to following their example and thereby jettisoning the perceived lock-step personal political loyalty relationship he is deemed by some to have with the MMPM operatives.

For Townsend, The Report thinks it is too late.

It is hard for the SCPR to see Massillonians ever again taking him to be his own person in government and politics.

Given the dynamics of how Okey has handled the filings in the protest of Cicchinelli's "independent" candidacy, the hearing itself is likely to produce fireworks.

And the SCPR will be there - notwithstanding the obstacles put in place by Director Matthews and BOE members Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and Sherer - protecting the Stark County (in the words of Okey):

"public's right to know the "complete" story of what goes on."

Thanks for the compliment, Steve!

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