Friday, July 10, 2015



The Stark County Political Report believes as between the two Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board) protests (i.e. Bernabei and Cicchinelli), former Massillon mayor Frank Cicchinelli has a significantly stronger legal case for certification as an "independent" candidate (hearing:  Monday, July 13th at BOE, 3525 Regent Ave NE, Canton starting at 9:00 a.m.) for mayor of Massillon than does Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei in his quest to be an "independent" candidate to run for mayor of Canton come this November.

Last Monday the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board) stalemated at 2 to 2 on whether or not Bernabei will be certified.  In a couple of weeks or so Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (SOS) will break the tie and then it is highly likely that it will be onto the Ohio Supreme Court - no matter who prevails at the BOE/SOS level.

However, The Report thinks that the law of Ohio has very little if anything to do with how Ohio Boards of Elections and for sure the Stark County Board of Elections decide controversial, highly politically-charged contests on "independent" candidate certification.

Accordingly, not withstanding his strong legal position, do not be surprised if Cicchinelli gets skunked 4 to 0 come Monday's protest hearing.

Around the time that Cicchinelli started talking about running as an "independent:"
  • hold your noses closed tightly folks as the SCPR is including a LINK to the Massillon Review (MR) blog,
    • the MR's anonymous blog author(s), the cowards they are,
      • who The Report believes to be Stark County Democratic Party political director R. Shane Jackson and/or Stark Dems Executive Committee official - at least in the de facto sense of the word official (and a former chairman) Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.,
    • have been writing nearly non-stop since April 30th bashing Cicchinelli for his move out of the Democratic Party
The SCPR sees the MR as a shill blog for the Kathy Catazaro-Perry administration whom The Report has long thought to be a puppet of Maier, Jr. allowing him and Jackson to be the de facto mayors of Massillon.

Recently, of course, the SCPR has been hanging out at the Stark County Board of Elections.

To show what yours truly thinks is an example of the utter historical politicization of the guardian of the sanctity of Stark County elections and candidate qualification, The Report notes that hanging on the wall at the Stark County Board of Elections is a photo including the likeness of Maier, Jr.

In the opinion of The Report, nobody in Stark County political subdivision government and politics personifies personal political interest as his overriding factor of public persona than Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

One of his stock answers when asked to do this thing or that thing is:  "Now why would I do that?"

A clear indication, The Report thinks, that to the degree he has wheels turning, they calculate the personal political advantage to himself and his political followers.

Though he is no longer a member of the BOE, his shadow lingers over the Democrat members of the Board.

Who believes that Dem members Ferruccio, Jr. and Sherer, II make any decision whatsoever without consulting with Maier, Jr.

As far as Sherer, II is concerned, there is a touch of irony involved with his apparent beholdence to Maier, Jr.

For The Report can still recall vividly Maier, Jr. engineering his father's "I don't want to go" departure from the BOE after some 13 years as what thought to be at the time "labor's seat" on the BOE as a political payoff for organized labor's perceived "in political lock-step" relationship with Democratic candidates.

It was a move that yours truly, as Democrat Executive Committee member at the time, voted against.

With Sherer, II's recent appointment, we have come full cycle.

Sherer, Sr., to compound the irony, was replaced by whom?

Sam Ferruccio, Jr, that is whom!

The Maier spin was that the at-the-time Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was telling Democratic officials of local Boards of Elections to have a lawyer among their appointees.

The Report thinks Maier had it right.  But that didn't keep Brunner from "throwing him under the bus" with a denial she had said what Maier attributed to her.

It is always nice when folks like Maier, Jr. get "hoisted by their own petard" (i.e. throwing fellow politicos 'under he bus' when the situation demands it).

Undoubtedly, Maier wasn't phased in the slightest at being thrown under the bus by Brunner.  For he understands that such is life in the world of political infighting.  All one does in the jungle of Democratic and Republican politics is "to live to fight on another day."

Maier, Jr. is quite accomplished at that.

If Cicchinelli makes it to the ballot, the SCPR figures he likely wins a three way race, but an all out effort by Massillon office holding Republicans could allow Republican Lee Brunckhart to slip into office through the backdoor.

The Report does not think such an outcome is likely, but it is a possibility.

To repeat The Report's point about how the shadow of Maier, Jr. lingers over Ferruccio and Sherer, II and evidenced by and keeping the Massillon Review focus in mind (the figures that it is the mouthpiece for the Maier Massillon Political Machine); does anybody believe that Dem BOE members would dare be open minded about Cicchinelli meeting "the good faith test" required for a successful disaffiliation from a political party?

In the Bernabei matter, the SCPR was completely unimpressed with lawyers Ferruccio and Cline (one of two Republican members) in being lawyer-like in discharging their quasi-judicial function as BOE members.

It drew a muted laugh among a number of observers on July 6th, when Member Cline reappeared after a 15 minute break after the conclusion of taking in testimonial and documentary evidence with what appeared to be several pages of printed material from which he read as he gave his supposed legal analysis for his vote to certify Bernabei as being qualified to run as an independent.

In Cicchinelli, Republican members are sort of in a political twilight zone as to what to do.

In Bernabei, they certainly seemed to have their marching orders and their vote to certify him appears to have been in compliance therewith.

But Cicchinelli presents a dilemma to them.

If one or both vote of them vote to deny Cicchinelli certification and the denial sticks through sure to come litigation, then the much disliked by Massillon organization Republican Catazaro-Perry breezes to a win in November against the Republican candidate; notwithstanding her close call in the May Democratic primary election.

Undoubtedly, the protesters attorney; namely Steve Okey, if the BOE vote is 4 to 0, 3 to 1 not to certify, will push his chest out like he's the Stark County legal expert on Boards of Elections cases.

For the SCPR's money, Okey can't hold a candle to what Lee Plakas did for his clients (the Ohio Democratic Party, the individual protesters, and the ghost of William J. Healy, Il) in gaining a 2 to 2 tie in the July 6 BOE hearing, but the political dynamics are as different as night and day.

If - on the other hand - the two Republicans hold rank and vote to certify Cicchinelli, then The Report sees Secretary of State Jon Husted affirming the Republicans in breaking a tie vote.

In Massillon, thanks to a Republican Party led by the likes of Councilwoman Nancy Halter, Councilmen Ed Lewis, IV and Milan Chovan, there is a viable candidate in Republican Lee Brunckhart in the right political environment.

In this scenario, Massillon Republican officeholders close rank behind Brunckhart and he ekes out a narrow "through the backdoor" victory while Catazaro-Perry and Cicchinelli engage in political bloodletting.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly detests the Ohio Board of Elections structure.  It is totally out-of-step with our democratic-republican form of government and only exists to enable "organized" Republicans and Democrats to use an institution of Ohio government support by the taxpaying public for the benefit of political parties and the personal political interests of those who control the respective parties.

An intriguing side of Craig T. Conley being Frank Cicchinelli's attorney is that he tellsThe Report that if his client is not certified at the BOE level, he plans to challenge the constitutionality of the underlying BOE "protest procedures" statute.

He says the statute is unconstitutionally vague terms of being said by courts applying it to require "good faith" (whatever that is) and needs to be thrown out.

If the courts agree with Conley and throw the statute (ORC 3513.257) out, then the Ohio General Assembly would have to visit the issue and perhaps even take a look at the archaic, out-of-touch-with-the-times (i.e. more and more voters are turning non-partisan)  partisan politics driven current BOE structure and do an overhaul.

The Report wishes Conley/Cicchinelli well on Monday.

But it sure would be nice to have a constitutional challenge to the terrible, terrible Ohio Board of Elections structure which results in it being dismantled.

And that would take a court challenge.

We should all wish that the challenge takes place and the pre-eminent role political party interests prevailing over the public interest comes to an abrupt end.

Perhaps those protesting (and their background supporters) will ironically achieve an end counterproductive to their selfish political objectives that they did not envision at the beginning.

Let's hope!

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