Tuesday, March 22, 2016




It appears that Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is in for a rough time.

When Massillon government had a few dollars, Massillonians were unhappy with how the city was keeping up with basic city services.

What do you think it will be like now that Massillon has Zippo when one factors in the many unmet capital needs (e.g. police cars, road equipment and the like) is negative on the financial resources with no help on the horizon?

It is laughable under these circumstances for State of Ohio officials and Massillon officials (Financial Planning and Supervision Committee, "FCPC") to be suggesting that there is a way out of Massillon "now" real financial crises without draconian cuts in fundamental city services:  less police, less fire fighters, less asphalt, less serviceable equipment and the like.

But the eternal optimist —approved by 40% of Massillonians in the November,2015 election—mayor ("We only lost by 739 votes") pretends to be (i.e. her "City of Champions" public relations phrase), is not going to cut it with day-in, day-out Massillonians forward.

One Massillon leader tells the SCPR that in discussion with negative March 15th levy voters they said that there is no way in Hell that they can be persuaded to vote for a levy any time in the near future.

Given the core Massillon voter attitude, there is the reality that a levy—that could not pass in the relatively still waters of a primary election—in terms of voter familiarity with the issues, could be presented again in the November general election with a realistic expectation of passage.

Massillon Stark County sister city Canton is also experiencing hard times with a $5MM plus deficit to solve.

But there is a major, major difference.

Thomas M. Bernabei is mayor and possesses the leadership skills and grip on political realities to over time turn things around in the Hall of Fame City.

He has already started with the Canton Park levy, to wit:

A 20% voter approval turnaround in four months and Bernabei has only been in office three and one-half months as of March 15th.

What happened?

Bernabei put folks in charge of the March effort who he knew that they knew what they (Sliman, Rinaldi, Hanke and Black) were doing in terms of getting the job done.

The SCPR credits Bernabei with being the principal architect in turning Stark County government around from financial disaster to financial health over the space of November, 2010 (shortly after his election) through December 31, 2015.

There was a time that former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II reportedly was mentoring Catazaro-Perry.  And before that David Held of North Canton.
Held was certainly okay, but Catazaro-Perry did not follow through on his main recommendations.
Healy seems to have been a negative influence on the Massillon mayor inasmuch as he left Canton in a $5MM hole when exited the Canton mayoralty on December 31, 2015. 

The only hope for Catazaro-Perry is for her to latch on to Bernabei and hold on for dear life following every recommendation by crossing every "t" and dotting every "i."

The mayor of Massillon and her "Kitchen Cabinet" of Maier, Jr, Jackson and Elum do not have a clue and moreover do not know how to get people in place who do have a clue.

Last Tuesday's defeat of Massillon's Issue 4 apparently drove former Massillon Income Tax levy effort leader Lew Garrett over the edge in frustration.
Garrett had to deal with rumblings in the lead up to the November, 2014 election that Mayor Kathy was displeased with his being the lead on the levy effort because "he had close ties" to Massillonian political power and Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero.
Former Stark County Dems' chairman Ferrero has been a political rival (he opposed Johnnie, Jr's brother George appointment by Stark Dems' Central Committee as sheriff in January, 2013) of Maier in Massillon politics going back years.

Here is Garrett's account of how he came to be chosen:
I was essentially picked by the committee that was initially formed to support the income  tax levy. This was early May of 2014. It was made up of mostly City Council members at the time.….Ed Lewis offered it to me. I thought….well, why not? I can’t be one of those people who complains about how bad things are, yet doesn’t help when asked. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how local politics worked.
Catazaro-Perry's displeasure was rather obvious in sitting on her hands in the levy promotion effort.

Thomas M. Bernabei became mayor for the first time on January 1, 2016.

Kathy Catazaro-Perry became mayor for the second consecutive on January 1, 2016.

Catazaro-Perry is a failed leader.

Bernabei will likely be thought by Cantonians on December 31, 2019 to be a "Great Leader."

Catazaro-Perry likely will be on her way out of office as a "failed leader."

Here is the Garrett letter, which, by the way, The Massillon Independent, Garret says, would not publish on the pretext (the SCPR's assessment; not Garrett's) that it was too long (i.e. 755 words, more or less, over the standard letter to the editor 300 words).

The SCPR suspects that given the tone of the letter, the editor (Veronica Van Dress) relied unduly on the number of words factor as a convenient way out.

The Letter:
Last Tuesday’s defeat of the proposed income tax increase should concern all of Massillon’s citizens.

This latest defeat, with our streets and roads in such deplorable condition, is just the latest non confidence vote by Massillon’s citizens directed at the leader of our city and her administration. Actually, this is the fourth vote against Our Great Leader. 3 income tax increase levies have been defeated, and 60% of the electorate voted for anyone but Our Great Leader in last fall’s Mayoral election.

Which pretty much answers the question:

How’s this been working out for you so far?

When first taking office in 2012, Our Great Leader had a wonderful opportunity to unite our city and put forth a plan that could transform our city. 

Instead, Our Great Leader and the self-anointed “Honorable” Clerk of Courts spent the better part of eighteen months wrangling to have the State of Ohio put our City in ‘Fiscal Emergency.” 

This self-inflicted wound, designed for one purpose only…. future political reelection capital…… was the height of folly……..which has cost the city time and money over the past three years, as well as having every piece of legislation put before our City Council ending with the ignominious phrase….”and declaring an emergency.”

What should have happened in 2012 was for Our Great Leader to take a clean sheet of paper and design a plan and budget for Massillon based only on the city’s needs, with at least 20% of the budget dedicated to capital improvements that our city sorely needed. 

That would have required forward thinking. Instead, we got some minor cuts and have kept departments within the city because “we have always done it that way.” Zero forward thinking.

Clearly, it was and is much more important to Our Great Leader to hire friends, those owed political favors, family members, and political hacks to fill spots in her administration. The hiring of a convicted felon [editors note:  pardoned by Governor Ted Strickland]  is simply the most egregious example. Because, you know, “people need jobs and benefits.”


How’s this working out for you?

The revolving door for Director positions within the administration has been dizzying. 

There have been……. what?.....12, 13, 14, 15….who can keep count?……various Directors who have headed departments within the city since 2012. 

Our current Director of Public Service and Safety, by all accounts a good and decent man, is just the latest example. 

Each morning he goes to work and the ball is put on the dot on his nose and he is expected to perform. The treat is continued employment. But even he must know that when he was hired an expiration date was printed on the back of his neck. That date, known only to Our Great Leader, is when he will have outlived his usefulness….or…..when he simply has had enough.

Then: Number 16….come on down!

You might think at some point Our Great Leader might say, “Maybe it’s me.”

You would think.

How does Our Great Leader change this and regain the trust of the citizens of Massillon?

First…..….tear up the current budget. 

Have a turnaround expert or firm come in who has no allegiance to anyone except the citizens of Massillon. Have them start with a simple premise: Here’s the revenue…….and then only list what is absolutely necessary to run the city……and leave 20% for capital improvements. Everything else must be eliminated. It won’t be easy. It will be very hard. It will take civic minded steely fortitude to do this. Political considerations must be discarded.

It can be done. It should be done. 

It must be done.

Show the people of Massillon that you can be a responsible steward of their money.

Regain their trust.

Once this has been done, then, and only then, put a streets and roads levy on the ballot. Revenue goes only to streets and roads. Period.

Our Great Leader should want to do this. 

Absent of this you can expect more of the same for our City: Tax levies that fail, more vapor shops, consignment stores, gag gift stores, gun ranges, dive bars…..you know the list of current and soon to fail shops in downtown Massillon…..to continue to litter the landscape….yet be praised as “economic growth” by Our Great Leader.

If none of this occurs, citizens can take heart that we have only 3 years, 8 months and 9 days left for Our Great Leader to occupy the highest position in the city.

And that should sound exactly like what it is for the Citizens of Massillon:

A sentence.

No comments: