Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Back on January 11, 2013, the-then Massillon safety director George T. Maier said to an area media person:  “I guarantee I’ll be qualified for the position [Stark County sheriff] or I won’t apply for it.”

He did apply and was (as the SCPR predicted) selected by the Stark County Democratic Party (on Feburary 5th) with the help of his brother and powerful Stark County Democrat (a former chairman and currently executive vice president).

Democrat Mike McDonald (now deceased) was forced to step aside (for health reasons) from taking office on January 7th after having defeated Republican Larry Dordea (currently Hartville police chief) in the November 7, 2013 election.

By Ohio law, the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee was empowered to select McDonald's successor.

Well, here we are at what appears to be on the threshold of the Ohio Supreme Court making a decision on whether or not the Dems selection should be ratified and the SCPR ventures to say that Maier's qualification is far from being guaranteed.

Former Sheriff Tim Swanson filed a Quo Warranto lawsuit against Maier on February 12th asking the high court to set aside Maier's appointment for the reason that the Dems' selectee was not qualified by the requirements of Ohio Revised Code Section 311.01 (specifically 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (9)(a) or (b).

All the evidence is in (LINK to prior SCPR blog), the matter has been fully briefed (final brief filed on Monday) and the only question that remains is whether or not the court will hold an oral argument before deciding the question.  (LINK to Ohio Supreme Court website to see the progression of the case)

The SCPR believes that the evidence and the briefs indicate Maier has not been able to deliver on his guaranty and would be surprised to see the Supreme Court leave him in office.

And if such happens, it will be very unfortunate for Stark County which has been subjected to a number of political/governmental trauma: to wit:
  • an "imposed" sales tax and its repeal (2008/2009
  • the theft of nearly $3 million from the Stark County treasury (2009), and
  • the loss of huge amounts of local government funds from the State of Ohio which could result (in the opinion of the SCPR) the closure of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab and a consequent impairment of the ability of local prosecutors to put charged felons behind bars,
There is no doubt to yours truly, that if the Supreme Court turns George T. Maier out-of-office, Stark County is in for another trauma.

As it was when that august body returned Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer and in doing so removed Alex Zumbar.

If Maier loses, it is hard to see how Randy Gonzalez remains as chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party.

From the SCPR's perspective, the prospect of Maier being turned out of office was avoidable.

It is now obvious to The Report (from looking at the evidence tendered to the Supreme Court and the arguments made) that Maier had to have known from the get-go that he has problems qualifying to be sheriff.

It is stunning to The Report that he and the supposedly expert political operative in the family (i.e. brother Johnnie) would not have anticipated that George would one day be a prime candidate to be Stark County sheriff.

Rule one for anybody is to prepare oneself for opportunities that may come along.

That George put his qualifications to be sheriff questioned is unbelievable.

From the time he left the Ohio Department of Public Safety (January 11, 2011) through January 7, 2013, he had ample opportunity and time to cure any lack he may have in qualifying under ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b).

That he didn't do so is, to say the least, a head scratcher and may suggest that he lacks the ability to look down the road and prepare (in case he remains sheriff) his office for what suddenly appears on the horizon.

While he appears amply qualified to be sheriff by virtue of his police work (i.e. de facto policing experience) going back many, many years to the days he served in the Hartville and Tuscarawas Township police departments and continuing through his years as a state highway patrolman, there is the question of his temperament that the SCPR has raised in prior blogs (LINK).

Hopefully, if the Supreme Court rules in his favor, he has learned that it is very important for someone as powerful as a county sheriff that he develop the ability to control his temper; if, in fact, he has a problem in this regard.

The SCPR believes that Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (in addition to brother Johnnie) has not served George's interests well and have not served the interests of Stark Countians well.

Particularly telling on him, in the opinion of The Report, was his use of attorney opinion (whoop-de-doo!) to slide by  ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b).  Also, disconcerting was the use of "you must sign your ballot, to have it counted" ruling.

It was amazing to the SCPR that 84 brave souls risked incurring the ire of the Maiers and the party chairman (who lobbied hard with the Central Committee members on behalf of Maier) in voting for Lou Darrow.

The Report believes that the Maiers, Gonzalez and others supporting Maier fully understood the qualification problem but proceeded anyway in the belief that the likes of Tim Swanson would not challenge George's selection in Ohio's court system.

Their approach reminds the SCPR of the legal adage that "possession is 9/10ths of the law."  Analogizing, yours truly figures that the Maier camp calculations was that once George is selected, the opposition will fade and the question of qualification will become irrelevant.

To The Report, using such machinations and calculations is not the way for one to become county sheriff.

The sheriff is a county's chief law enforcement officer and it is extremely important that there be no question whatsoever that he be qualified "as a matter of the rule of law."

Attorney opinions are "a dime a dozen" and have no place in being determinative on questions such George T. Maier's qualification to be Stark County sheriff.

The better course for Stark Dems to have taken would have been to have selected Lou Darrow as McDonald's successor.  There is no question about his qualifications under ORC 311.01(B)(8)(a) or (b) and (B)(9)(a) or (b) or any other part of ORC 311.01.

In the meantime, George gets his qualification act together and runs for sheriff in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Yours truly does not know much about Darrow, but it could be that he has the political magnetism requisite to become sheriff.  Some have suggested that he does not.

The Report has seen George T. Maier enough to attest that this guy is very polished, very professional, and has a way with people that makes him a highly attractive political candidate.

Accordingly, it appears that Maier would handily win a political face-off with Darrow.

Then, of course, there would likely be another match up between the Democratic nominee (presumably Maier) and Republican Larry Dordea.

Maier versus Dordea would likely be highly competitive.

And both like McDonald and Dordea (in the 2012 election) would be prepared to be Stark County sheriff.

Let the people choose; not the party bosses.

Such was the concern of the SCPR when news of Mike McDonald's health concerns first arose.

While the Stark County Democratic Party hierarchy emphatically denies that they knew during the run-up to the November, 2012 election that it was likely Mike McDonald would never take office as Stark County sheriff, yours truly remains skeptical.

It may be that the Ohio Supreme Court will be convinced by the largely "equivalency arguments" of Maier's legal counsel and keep him in office.

In terms of whether or not such a decision would heal any misgivings about Maier's legal qualifications depends on the court's legal analysis and, of course, the vote of the justices.

If the justices vote 7 - 0 in Maier's favor, then and only then can he say:

“I guarantee I’ll be qualified for the position [Stark County sheriff] or I [would not have applied] for it."

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