Wednesday, May 23, 2012


One of the dumbest things that Massillon Mayor Catazaro-Perry chief supporter Johnnie A. Maier, Jr has ever done in his role as a Stark County Democratic Party kingmaker was his failure to figure out that Ken Koher (now Massillon's budget director) would have made a terrific Stark County treasurer over a decade ago.

Koher (the non-politician, he is) naively applied as one of the contenders in 1999 (which included eventual appointee Gary D. Zeigler, a consummate politician) to be Stark County treasurer.

The politically connected Mark Roach (his father Harold had been a long time Stark County treasurer)  was removed from office because of his failure to meet minimum education/certification requirements that the state of Ohio imposes on treasurers.

The Stark County Democratic Party had the responsibility through its central committee to select a successor.

Though he was not yet party chairman, Maier clearly, even at that time (he was wrapping his stint as state representative [the 56th] having been term limited out], was the most politically powerful Democrat in all of Stark County.

With a drop of a word to the precinct committeepersons (as he did in 2010 - when being "non-political" in fashion), Maier could have been instrumental in making Koher treasurer.

In 1999, Ken Koher, as Stark County treasurer, would have been laughable to Maier.

So Zeigler became the county treasurer.

Anyone who has been conscious in Stark County since April, 2009 and has been following media reports and editorials on local government and politics knows the rest of the story. 

For those who haven't or are from out of the area just "google" the phrase:  Stark County treasurer.

Stark County voters were blessed in November, 2010 to have to first rate candidates (Koher and Republican Alex Zumbar) run for treasurer.

As mentioned above, the prime mover for Koher was Maier.

While he lost to Zumbar, Koher left office with his head held high as having done very good work in beginning the process of shoring up policies, procedures and practices in the treasurer's office.

One had the feeling that with the loss, Koher had had it with politics and he would sail off into the sunset of private enterprise banking.

Enter in Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. again.

For years he had been competing in varying degrees of intensity with his former college classmate (Kent State - Stark/1969 - 1973) Francis H. Cicchnelli, Jr. for who was going to dominate Massillon area politics.

Cicchinelli got a leg up on Maier.  He achieved the pinnacle of Massillon political success in becoming mayor in 1987.  

It took awhile, but Maier in the 2000s he found a way to get at Cicchinelli in the form of Kathy Catazaro-Perry who came to town and settled down in the third ward.

In short time Maier became her "go-to-guy" as her chief sponsor in her quest to hit the political bigtime.

In May, 2011 (after serving for a period as Ward 3 councilwoman) at the urging and prodding of Maier and others that had joined the Maier formulated anti-Cicchinelli coalition, she ran for and dethroned Cicchinelli.

Going on to easily defeat the Republican candidate in November, lo and behold! January 1, 2012 arrives and guess what?  Catazaro-Perry has to govern.

This is where Ken Koher comes back into the picture.

One of the bases on which Catazaro-Perry defeated the 24 year mayor was to hammer him on Massillon city finances. 

So in the vein of "what goes around, comes around," Catazaro-Perry had to go to work immediately to turnaround Massillon's financial health picture.

Who does she turn to (undoubtedly via Maier)?

You've got it!

None other that the "non-politician" Ken Koher as budget director, among of other duties he has assumed.

As far as the SCPR is concerned, the mayor (err Maier) couldn't have made a better choice.

And if she is to politically survive to run for re-election, it will be because of the non-political financial management skills of Ken Koher bails her out; not politics personified:  Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

However, in signing up with the politician Catazaro-Perry and her cohort Maier, Koher runs the risk of having his public persona of being a non-politician, "straight talkin" financial man tarnished.

Nowhere is that danger more pronounced than in the dispute between critics of the Catazaro-Perry administration and the mayor as to whether or not her decision to layoff 19 fire (10) and police (9) as to whether or not the layoffs will save the $1 million or so that Mayor Kathy says it is devoid of political considerations.

The SCPR doesn't believe the "not political" claim.

The Report believes that the layoff package was conceived and designed to force Massillon City Council to do a turnabout and approve a tax increase in the form of a reduced city income tax credit for those working outside of Massillon.

The political strategem did not work.

Council again refused to pass the tax reduction.

The political enemies of Catazaro-Perry (those allied with former mayor Frank Cicchinelli and Republicans wanting to see the mayor humiliated) began an attack on the administration saying that not only would the layoffs not save Massillon $1 million as claimed but would in fact cost the city.

To The Report, the political attack set up a debate much like that which occurred between Al Gore and George W. Bush back in first presidential debate on October 3, 2000 in Boston.

As we all remember, Bush accused Gore of using "fuzzy math" in arriving at his position on a income tax issue the two were debating.

That exchange prompts the SCPR to ponder:  Is the Catazaro-Perry administration into "fuzzy math?"

Matt Rink of The Massillon Independent recently did an incisive analysis on the "fuzzy numbers" (the SCPR's terms; not Rink's) that the Catazaro-Perry administration is putting out supplemented by projected overtime numbers (June through December, 2012) estimated by the fire chief and police chief.

These numbers show that over the next six months, Massillon will lose about $168,000 on the firefighter layoffs and $172,000 on the police layoffs mainly because of overtime costs to meet minimal staffing mandates of negotiated labor/management agreement in place.

The loss figure could actually be higher because as Rink notes in his piece:
Other expenses not included in the data sets include accumulated sick leave pay out, uniform allowances, as well as the loss of income tax revenue
Rink demonstrated journalistic splendor and excellence in giving the Catzaro-Perry administration their say on their interpretation of the numbers.  (City budget:  Koher does math on OT, May 23, 2012).

And in the opinion of the SCPR, Koher's explanation is pretty much based on "a hope and a prayer" which in other words, in the take of yours truly, is to say based on "fuzzy math."

Look up the article to see for yourself.

Koher uses expressions/words such as:  "wild guess," "if," "what we don't know," and "[i]t is incumbent upon department managers to manage overtime at its minimum possible staffing levels ... ." et cetera.

To The Report what is coming out of the Catazaro-Perry administration is a clear case of "fuzzy math," at least for the period June through December and perhaps for a period beyond.

It makes sense that eventually - once minimum coverage standards get scaled down by a renegotiated contract - the layoffs will save substantial money.

In the meantime, the non-politician Koher must be under tremendous pressure to make the Catazaro-Perry case that the layoffs are purely a "by the numbers" case and have no political factor to them whatsoever and will in fact save the city money now.

Convincing Massillonians via speculation that the layoffs will save money now is sort of a political face saving ploy by an administration conceived in political intrigue.

That the SCPR believes that the Catazaro-Perry inner circle folks are driven by politics makes Koher an odd fit.

One has to wonder how long the non-politician Ken Koher will last in an administration that born of a master politician, by a political surrogate for and in the service of the politically advantaged?

No comments: