Tuesday, May 8, 2012


It is sadly bemusing that Kathy Catazaro-Perry's administration thinks that the "trust climate" in city government is such that she can ask Massillon City Council (Council) chairman Donnie Peters, Jr., to give Council's blessing to a proposed passing of the city's street lighting costs to Massillon taxpayers.

It appears to the SCPR that a number of the new Massillon city administration's words and actions have had the effect of sewing seeds of mistrust during its first four months plus in office, that it is mind-boggling for the administration to presume that Peters would sign off putting the matter on Council's agenda without having needed information.
What I  (Peters) was really upset about was they wanted me to approve the assessment before they told me how much.  It’s like saying I’m going to pass an income tax, but I’m not going to tell you how much until you decide.  (Will residents have to pay for street-lighting assessments, Matt Rink, The Independent, May 5, 2012)
But it is not just the street-lighting situation that is creating "trust havoc" in Massillon.

There are Massillonians who think the administration's layoff of 27 employees (19 police and fire) is not all that its cracked up to be in terms of savings.   These folks think the administration may be playing politics with the layoff to make it appear it is taking bold action when the reality is that it is engaging in a shell game.

It has been pointed out to The Report that contractual safety force staffing requirements may cost the city enough in overtime pay and unemployment compensation expenditures that Massillon will end up saving very little if any towards closing its projected $1.1 million 2012 deficit.

In fact, the source says, the layoffs could end up costing more than if no layoffs had taken place.  The administration failed to provide Council certifiable numbers on the costs.

Moreover, some look at the layoffs as a political move designed to give the administration the upper hand in getting Council to approve tax increases in one form or another for the city.

Not sharing the actual numbers showing the savings or extra cost is hardly a way to build confidence in the credibility of the administration's move.

Sources also tell the SCPR that it is very uncomfortable working for Massillon government with Mayor Kathy in charge.

Mistrust, suspicion and paranoia is said to be running rampant within the halls of the city administration.

There is the disparity in the financial treatment between different sets of employees which work for the city.

The SCPR has heard for years (even going back into the Cicchinelli administration) about a frosty relationship existing between administration employees and Massillon Municipal Court employees over disparate pay package treatment.

It is somewhat ironic that Catazaro-Perry has not been able to or willing to get a handle on the differences and get court officials to bring court employee remuneration packages into line with the rest of Massillon city government employment.

After all, her biggest booster is none other than Johnnie A. Maier, Jr (Massillon clerk of courts) who is thought by the SCPR to be - in league with his brother and Safety Service Director George Maier - the de facto mayors of Massillon city government.

One would think that if they want the titular leader to succeed, they would be working a breakneck speed to smooth over the dissonance between administration workers and court employees.

And, of course, there is the pay boost thing for members of Council as well as the law director, the city auditor, the city treasurer and the mayor.

Apparently, the mayor is not content in refusing the raise for herself thereby making her an example-in-action as to what she thinks the right thing to do is.  She has an "out-of-control" safety/service director shaming Auditor Ferrero, Law Director Stergios, Treasurer Lambert and council members Townsend, Manson and Slagle for taking automatic pay raises.  Hardly a trust inducing move.

That the safety/service director would do such a thing is more evidence that Catazaro-Perry is not in control and therefore cannot be trusted by council members or independently elected officials as the person who really is in charge.

Add on to all the foregoing, the flap over possibly ending Massillon's trash collection function.

With Republicans controlling Council by a 5 to 4 margin, it is predictable that sooner or later the city will be getting out of the trash collection business.

Most Republican officeholders these days seem to be bent on privatizing any and everything they can get their hands on.  Especially if union jobs are at stake.

Catazaro-Perry is a huge beneficiary of union contracts in her successful run to become mayor.  It is not going to set well with her organized labor supporters that she is not likely going to be able - over the long haul - to protect the sanitation worker union jobs.

There are two trust problems for her in the trash collection issue.

It appears that the majority of Council (i.e. the Republicans) does not trust the mayor's ability to manage trash collection to the overall benefit of taxpaying Massillonians.

And, her inability to protect union jobs has to be an opening for distrust to creep in and eventually disrupt an important political relationship for her.

It seems to the SCPR that Mayor Kathy Catzaro-Perry is keeping "the faith" that in the end that things will work out for her administration.

But how can faith thrive in a sea of mistrust?

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