Monday, October 12, 2015





Just because a person gets a public sector job through political connections does not necessarily mean that said person will not be an effective employee.

However, The Stark County Political Report believes that such being the primary basis for employment is wrought with danger to the public in terms of a problem developing down the road which will shake the public's confidence in quality of administration of the appointing authority.

Though she put the hiring in terms of wanting to do something to combat racism and sexism in public employment  (LINK, see at about the 10:00 minute mark), there are a number of Massillon citizens who think that Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry hired Dwan St. John (in June, 2014) primarily because she in St. John's own words on her rèsumè is: "very politically connected."

Connected to whom?

In this case likely to former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr through her husband Deametrious St. John.

One Massillon citizen put it this way in an e-mail to the SCPR:

Whatever the specifics of the political connection were - unless one thinks that Dwan St. John was hired on the basis of merit, the hire is likely going to play quite large in whether or not Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry can weather the "rough seas" and her cargo of having - in the mind of a number of Massillonians - as mayor hired primarily because of political connections to key advisers R. Shane Jackson, Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and others in the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Party.

As stated at the outset of this blog, "political connectedness" does not in and of itself disqualify one from public employment and some of those employees turn out to be high quality employees.

Of course, readers of the SCPR know, that yours truly has a huge problem with "political connectedness" hirings because:
  • in addition to suspected lack of thoroughness in vetting (if done at all) the prospective "politically connected" employee in terms of merit qualifications and the person's running civilly or criminally afoul of Ohio law,
    • these jobs are paid for by the taxpayers and therefore they should be posted publicly and an opportunity for "non-politically connected" persons to apply for.
In the Catazaro-Perry administration, there are those who think that Massillon Building Department employee (Building Code Enforcement Officer) David Mayle (husband of the chief administrative assistant to Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., namely; Tammy Mayle) has done a splendid job trying to clean up Massillon's neighborhood blight.

Also, rave reviews are coming into the SCPR about the performance of Safety Director Joel Smith who has connections through the Ohio State Patrol with Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. brother and Stark County Sheriff George T. Maier (who, of course, got his political foothold in Stark County as Catazaro-Perry's appointee as her first safety director).

But as we who cover government and politics all know, it is always the troublesome hires that trump the productive hires in terms of media attention.

All of which brings us to a closer examination of the Dwan St. John hire.

As written this past Friday in a SCPR blog  (LINK), The Repository/The Massillon Independent broke the story on Friday about Dwan Gordon-St. John being fired in the context of "the problem" which was the basis of the firing being referred to the Massillon Police Department.

As is wont to happen with the SCPR, on the breaking of a major Stark County based political - government story, The Report was contacted by a highly reliable source with the following observations:
  • the person who discovered "the problem" was Massillon auditor Jayne Ferrero who is the sister-in-law of Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero.
    • SCPR Note:  A "hats off" to Ferrero, no?"
  • "the problem" was apparently discovered about two weeks ago at least in terms of The Repository/The Massillon Independent knowing about it, neither of which, of course, reported the firing until this past Friday,
  • allegations are said to be that "the problem" centers on and hence the Massillon Police Department investigation is said to be focused upon certain Gordon-St. John financial transaction(s) in the name of Massillon government and whether or not there were any violations of Ohio law in the alleged problematic use ("problematic" from the perspective of Massillon officials as might reasonably think as being evidenced by St. John's firing),
    The Report first knew about the firing on Thursday, October 8th and could have scooped The Rep/The Indy but elected not to.

    Sometimes it is best to wait and see whether or not local mainstream media will cover a highly significant story.

    On more than one occasion going back to the inauguration of the SCPR (March 12, 2008), it is The Report's take that local mainstream media has known about certain stories but for whatever reason decided not to go to print with them.

    In doing so, these outlets have provided the SCPR a fertile field within which to operate.

    In hindsight, the SCPR thinks that the outburst on the mayor's part of racism and sexism back in June, 2014 in Massillon City Council's fiscal responsibility and sustainability inquiry may well have been a cover for Catazaro-Perry to stifle any potentially enterprising council member who might have been a position to cite to the mayor public records on Dwan Gordon-St. John as to her past civil and criminal record of litigation with Stark County courts as published on the online CJIS (Criminal Justice Information System),  to wit:

    For the mayor should have known or made it her business to know what a "simple" CJIS check might reveal that she might deem to be relevant on whether not to hire St. John.

    And, of course, as mayor of Massillon, wouldn't one think Catazaro-Perry had authorized access to more detailed information on a prospective hire in terms of her history with Ohio's law enforcement and court system?

    It could be that Mayor Catazaro-Perry has a perfectly logical and acceptable (to the voting Massillon public) explanation for her "apparent" failure to vet Dwan Gordon-St. John prior to her hire.

    And she owes it to the Massillon public to provide chapter and verse on her basès for hiring St. John in light of a basic CJIS check and other more sophisticated investigatory tools she certainly must have at her disposal, one would think.

    It so happens that this Wednesday evening she should have her opportunity, to wit:

    Mayor Kathy herself should seize initiative at Wednesday debate and explain the reasons and justifications for having hired St. John only to fire her some 16 months later.

    If she doesn't, then her opponents ("independent" Frank Cicchinelli and Republican Lee Brunckhart) should initiate a discussion in terms of the vetting process employed by the mayor and/or the quality of her judgment in making the hire in the first place.

    Cicchinelli, in particular, one would expect to step forward on the questions raised in this blog in view of his recently published statement in an area media outlet:
    “Seems to me, they have turned into an employment agency (for family and friends), and Massillon is one of their dumping grounds.  The cronyism, I was always very careful when it came to that.”
    To top things off, the questioners from The Repository/The Massillon Independent have an obligation to their reading publics to ask their own set of questions and to in the context of the question reveal when the newspapers first knew that St. John's firing was imminent.

    The SCPR is skeptical that any of the foregoing will happen.

    But it might.

    Especially at the hand of Frank Cicchinelli.

    For he repeatedly tells the SCPR that this time around (unlike his 2011 Democratic primary election battle with Catazaro-Perry) "the gloves will come off."

    And The Report sees evidence that he is much more aggressive this time around.

    But Wednesday will be the testing ground as to whether his assertions are "so much rhetoric" or, indeed, he will put "action to words!"

    We shall see.

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