Tuesday, November 12, 2013


UPDATE:  12:30 PM

One of the "Perhaps Happening Today?" as listed at the beginning of today's blog has gone down.

The Stark County Political Report learned minutes ago that local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has sent to Stark County Prosecutor John Fererro "a demand" that he initiate legal action against:
... George T. Maier for the recover of and payment into the Stark County treasury of all ... the salary, benefits, expenses, legal fees and expenditures plus statutory interest from the dates of payment of same to the date of such recovery and payment ... .
Because he is a participant in the Stark County Democratic Party proceedings involving the appointment of a successor sheriff to Mike McDonald who was unable to take office as scheduled on January 7, 2013, Ferrero will have to as a matter of ethics recuse himself and appoint alternative legal counsel to consider Conley's demand.

Here is the complete letter sent today by Conley to Ferrero:





The supporters of George T. Maier during his quest to become sheriff of Stark County point to his "administrative, technical, mechanical" skills as a policeman as being clear-cut evidence that he is qualified to be sheriff.

However, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on November 5th (last week) that de facto (as a matter of fact) is not the same as de jure (as a matter of law) and ousted him from office in finding for Sheriff Tim Swanson in his quo warranto lawsuit against Maier launched on February 12, 2013.

Quo warranto: (Medieval Latin for "by what warrant?") is a prerogative writ requiring the person to whom it is directed to show what authority they have for exercising some right or power (or "franchise") they claim to hold.

In his arguments in Swanson v. Maier, the former Ohio highway patrol director (mostly as second-in-command; only a few days at the top) could not establish "by what authority" to the satisfaction of Ohio's "court of last resort" his appointment as sheriff was vested in and therefore was bounced out of office.

Stark Dems chairman Randy "Gonz" Gonzalez injected, back on February 5th, the assertions of local attorneys Michael Thompson and Steve Okey that Maier was qualified under the statutory standards of Ohio to be sheriff.

Now we know that Thompson and Okey were very, very wrong in their legal analysis.

Maier's law enforcement employment history in terms of being qualified as of February 7, 2013 (the qualification date as determined by the Supreme Court in its Swanson v. Maier ruling) on application to the law of Ohio did square up, the high court said.

On February 5th, the Dems were replacing Mike McDonald (elected in November, 2012) who resigned before his scheduled taking of office set for January 7th due to an illness which regrettably and tragically ended in his death on February 22nd.

Gonzalez made out on the 5th that the Thompson/Okey pronouncements were as if they had come down from God Almighty himself and thereby convinced a majority of Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDPCC) persons that Maier should be included alongside the unquestionably qualified Democrat Lt. Lou Darrow currently then and now of the sheriff's department and Republican Larry Dordea as a group of three that the SCDPCC could consider.

Gonzalez also overreached in imbuing Judge Frank Forchione of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas with judicial deification in discharging his limited role on the matter of qualification that neither Forchione claimed for himself nor provided for by Ohio statutory law.

It appears to the SCPR that Gonzalez, Thompson and Okey along with others executed a Maier strategy to, a la rugby style, thug him across the finish line.

It seems to The Report that Okey was more of a player of the bulldozing variety than has heretofore been noticed.

Okey is a former Democratic Alliance city councilman who ran for mayor of Alliance in a losing effort in November, 2011.

An interesting thing about his councilman days, is that also a member of the Alliance city council was Republican Larry Dordea who has run for sheriff twice (losing to Swanson in 2008 and to Mike McDonald in 2012).   

In talking with Dordea, The Report's take is that these two really do not like each other.

Dordea is currently chief of police in Hartville and previously served as police chief in Alliance where both now live.

On reading the relevant statutes in the light of George Maier's published policing resume as of the date of the statutory qualification date (30 days from the date that the vacancy occurred [e.g. January 7 plus 30 days equals February 7th], a number of Stark County attorneys took strong exception to Okey's and Thomspon's reading of the law.

One such attorney was Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero.  He signed an affidavit to that effect.

To repeat, now that the Supreme Court has ousted Maier,  we know Ferrero was correct in his analysis that Maier was unqualified.

No wonder - looking back - that Gonzalez moved, in the opinion of the SCPR, in a  pugnacious manner to belittle the prosecutor's affidavit.

It was strange indeed for Gonzalez to accord Thompson and Okey precedence over Stark's county prosecutor.

Over the weekend Steve Okey revealed how heavily invested he is in the apparent to the SCPR Maier/Gonzalez  strategy of bulldogging Maier into office.

Okey, on Saturday, weighed-in with the SCRP over this blog (CLICK ON THIS LINK) posted by The Report on Thursday:

Here is Okey's initiated email:


The graphic below that you created for your post of Nov. 7 is absolutely inappropriate.  Showing someone in the crosshairs of a rifle scope is never a good idea.  Even worse is depicting a uniformed law enforcement officer in the crosshairs.  We should recognize and respect the added risk that peace officers face in the line of duty.  Your graphic does neither.  Do the right thing and change or remove this graphic.

This has nothing to do with politics or who I support in the current dispute.  It would be just as inappropriate to put Tim Swanson, Lou Darrow or Larry Dordea in the crosshairs.

Steve Okey

I try to be attentive to the concerns of readers of the SCPR.

But the part of the e-mail I took special notice of was:   We should recognize and respect the added risk that peace officers face in the line of duty. 

OMG I said to myself, this guy has the audacity/arrogance (consistent with how Maier/Gonzalez/and Maier's brother Johnnie play "hardball" politics) to attribute by implication that by virtue of my "original" graphic that I had demonstrated a disrespect for the safety of police officers in the line of duty.

As will be seen in my responding e-mail below, I rejected out-of-hand Okey's implied assertion.

The import of the original graphic was a political representation (note the "watchdog") that Conley is focusing on Maier and his illegal holding of the sheriff's position and his thinking that Maier is subject to having to pay back monies received and unwisely and unnecessarily expended (e.g. changing signage to the name George Maier).

Even though Okey was way off base, I decided to change the graphic.  But only slightly.  Maier remains - in the slightly modified version - the focus of Conley's attention.

But I was not about to let him think for a nanosecond that his basis for objecting had any acceptance whatsoever from myself.  (See my responding e-mail below)

It was, I think, a tortured creation of Okey's politicized mind which I believe is in line with the arrogant ways of Maier/Gonzalez et al.

And for him to bring Darrow and Dordea into the discussion was a verifying tip-off to me that the real point was his unhappiness with my critical attitude towards the Stark Dems selection process of February 5th and his role in it.

Knowing Steve Okey as I do, having observed his words and actions in the Alliance political/government context, I had no illusion that he would apologize for his outrageous implication.

My perception of him is that as a physically large person he has taken to his size in his demeanor which manifests itself in his getting overbearing.

Of course, I have demonstrated that I can and do shove back when attacks like Okey's come along.

 And, accordingly, I sent this response:
[Your] commentary regarding the graphic is insulting of me and unwarranted (i.e “do the right thing”).  I reject the premises of your objection.

The context of the graphic is solely political to make the point that Mr. Conley says he is focusing on Mr. Maier and in my view it takes quite a stretch to come up with your assessment of how the graphic might be perceived.

I believe that your concern may be grounded in a personal political philosophy that entails a political correctness filtering process.

All you had to do was to write something to the effect: “have you thought of how someone might misconstrue the point you are making in using such a graphic” without jumping to conclusions and making your suggestion that I deem to be insulting and unwarranted.

You should have assumed that I would be open to making the change you asked me to consider in light of  what I think is your unwarranted personal sensitivity.

Why would I assume that your objection has anything to do with your support of Mr. Maier?

It is interesting that you should raise such a point.

Now that I have dealt with your inappropriate suggestion, I ask for your apology for not giving me the benefit of assuming that I did not realize that there is a Steve Okey out there who might jump to an unwarranted construing of the original graphic.

Do the right thing, Steve, and apologize to me.
His predictable (to me) answer:
You can forget it, Martin. I owe you no apology.

Over the years I have known Okey, I have not detected that he has the capacity for humility when he oversteps.

So no surprise in his inability "to do the right thing."

On the other hand, I had no problem whatsoever making the minor modification I did to my graphic if only to satisfy what I believe to be Okey's phantasmagorical supersensitivity.

I see the Okey's disingenuous, politically inspired attack in the same light as Shane Jackson's "shaking and trembling" over a point in a blog mine with regard to what may have gone on within inner Stark County Democratic Party circles with respect to being prepared well in advance of the November, 2012 election to replace McDonald should he appear likely not survive his illness.

Apparently, both Okey and Jackson are Maier foot soldiers on a mission to bully the Stark County Political Report on behalf of Maier.

In Jackson's attack, he alleged I was disrespecting McDonald in discussing what may have gone on within the hierarchy of the Stark County Democratic Party.

I have it on the word of what I deem to be a good source that the Stark Dems had approached Louisville police chief Andrew Turowski to consider stepping in for McDonald.

Jackson is totally ridiculous and embarrassed himself in sending out the email.

I have always had the highest regard for Mike McDonald.

I think Okey shows - notwithstanding his self-serving disclaimer - that he serving as a Maier/Gonzalez "political attack dog."

I believe is a bit more politically mature than Jackson.

Jackson, the coward he is, said "don't respond to my e-mail" [that he copied to a seeming "Who's Who" list of  Stark County politicians] because "I won't read it" is a telling the world with his very own words what an unfair person he is.

When the likes of Okey and Jackson write e-mails like they have to me, they can expect a SCPR public response.

Though both Jackson and Okey are strong "organizational Democrats," one has to wonder how committed they are to a wide ranging discussion of the merits of candidates and issues within the framework of the U.S./Ohio constitutions given their ad hominem attacks on me.

Beyond the Swanson/Maier legal fight over de facto and de jure, The Stark County Political report has a much more expansive standard as to whether or not one is qualified to be sheriff than either the Maier apologists or the Supreme Court deal with.

The SCPR definition incorporates such qualities as demeanor, temperament and how one treats seemingly unimportant persons.

We all know that a policeman is a very powerful person, even at an entry level.

To be Stark County's "top cop," we Stark Countians should insist that demeanor, temperament and respectful treatment of citizens of high station in life or low station in life and those who may differ with a candidate politically and otherwise be treated with respect.

There are "signs and signals" that the SCPR interprets as being indications that Maier may not meet minimal standards on demeanor, temperament and respectful treatment that The Report believes a county sheriff should possess.

Remember that George Maier was haughtily guaranteeing Stark Countians back in January that he would qualify (de jure) to be sheriff if he decided to apply for the Democratic appointment or he would not apply.

As lawyers full well know, one cannot "guarantee" anything when it comes to knowing how courts will rule.

That Maier would "guarantee" the "unguaranteeable" the SCPR believes is an "in his own words" revelation that he has "demeanor" (in this case:  arrogance) problems.

And then for Okey and Thompson to have the legal chutzpah to declare him de jure qualified is in the mind of The Report an equal measure of Maier-esque hubris that he apparently (in the form of Chairman Gonzalez's ruling on the qualification matter) was all too happy to be the beneficiary of.

The Report does not recall hearing any equivocation or hesitation in the Okey and Thompson declarations re: Maier de jure qualifications though questions aplenty were raised as to Maier's qualification at the Dems' conclave.

To repeat, Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero put his challenge to Maier's qualification in a sworn statement (affidavit) form.

Not to forget Chairman Gonzalez.

For him to bull ahead and thereby impliedly proffer that he could conduct a fair meeting notwithstanding his written declaration that he was an avowed supporter of George Maier is an unbelievable manifestation of conceit.

Now on top of that, Chairman Gonzalez declares in the local media that notwithstanding the Supreme Court's ruling he is going to forge ahead once again on an apparent continuing arrogant binge in support of Maier.

Some months ago, the SCPR notified Stark County commissioner Tom Bernabei that Maier (though still under litigation as to whether or not he was the legitimate sheriff of Stark County) was spending Stark County taxpayer money (it turns out $13,671) plastering his name on county property as a sheriff?

Bernabei has always impressed the SCPR (along with Commissioner Janet Creighton) with their exercising "the bully pulpit" function of the office to bring independently elected/selected (in Maier's case) officeholders "to heel" on fiscal matters.

But not a word on Maier's expenditures.  The SCPR thinks that such Maier actions were a self-important disregarding of the hard earned tax dollars of Stark Countians.

In comments to local media (not the SCPR) within the last few days, this is what Maier had to say about those expenditures:
Maier ... said he chose to add his name to the decals, signs and shirts after receiving guidance from the Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association and other sheriffs that it was an appropriate practice to do when the office's leadership changes.

"I guess it's part of the branding for the sheriff's office."

Sounds like he is really concerned about the hard-earned taxpayer dollars, no?

Not a part of the newspaper report on his comments is a reference that the Ohio Buckeye Sheriff's Association file a "friend of the court" brief on behalf of Maier in Swanson v. Maier.

Also reported is Maier's caution that, perhaps, returned sheriff Tim Swanson should not be erasing his name completely because he plans on being back as the Stark Dems "repeat the mistake" (of course, the SCPR's interjection) appointee.

Sounds a little like a double standard, no?

A guy who is under challenge and had to know that stay as sheriff was uncertain to say the least did not bat an eyelash in spending Stark County taxpayer money in the face of that uncertainly.

Go figure!

As if what the SCPR cites in today's blog were not enough to raise questions about Maier's demeanor, temperament and respectfulness to all (regardless of station in life), The Report has in previous blogs noted an anecdotal incident (which occurred in Massillon) and linked to a Columbus Dispatch report both of which add to the mix of questions that Maier should be answering to the satisfaction of Stark Countians before he gets reappointed.

Returning to the de jure side of the Maier qualification question, it appears that it centers on "the qualification date."

Insofar as the SCPR is concerned, the qualification date is and remains February 7, 2013 as articulated by the Ohio Supreme Court and its decision.

If The Report read is correct, then there is nothing Maier can do to cure his not meeting the de jure qualification in terms of the Stark Dems doing a "re-do" of the illegal February 5 appointment.

Apparently, Swanson's attorney Greg Beck also sees it this way although he does not specify such in his recent letter to Gonzalez.

Should Beck be compelled to re-open the matter with Ohio's high court as threatened in his letter to Gonzalez and should the court find differently on "the qualification date," it is hard to see how Maier could then qualify on the basis of having "illegally" assumed the position of sheriff and therefore according to the court was never the sheriff in the eyes of the law as a bootstrap into qualification as a cure to what the Supreme Court says was a fatal flaw in the first place.

The latter point may explain why the SCPR is hearing unconfirmed reports that Maier is back down to Harrison County (he tried this unsuccessfully before as revealed in documents filed in Swanson v. Maier) working as a full-time deputy sheriff for his longtime police friend Sheriff Ronald J. Myers.

But that will only work if the Supreme Court adjusts the qualification date.

It appears to the SCPR that Gonzalez and his "undisclosed" five legal advisers (according to local media reports) are banking on and assuming a changed qualification date for the Harrison County gig (if the report is accurate) to work.

However, the SCPR believes that one should not expect the Supreme Court to change the qualification date.

Consequently, the SCPR thinks Maier and friends are highly likely to lose the de jure battle in the end.

However, it is clear to The Report that Maier will run in the May, 2014 Stark Democratic Party primary.

The Report, for one, welcomes the prospect.

Such will be the first opportunity of Stark County voters to weigh-in on the demeanor, temperament and respect-for-all factors in evaluating whether or not Maier is qualified on this expanded definition to be sheriff on the part of Stark's Democrats.

If he passes that test, then it will be up to a combination of independent, Democratic, Republican and folks of other political persuasions to make that evaluation.

If he passes that test, then Stark Countians should rally behind him and get out of the "three steps forward, five steps backward" condition that Commissioner Janet Creighton says Stark County government seems to be in these days.

Maier could help Stark Countians to get to clarification and stability sooner than later if he were to drop all the political infighting and work his way through the electoral process.

But a prime question with the SCPR is this:  does he have it in him to do what is best for political stability of Stark County government and politics?

Or will he with the help of the likes of Gonzalez, Thompson and Okey continue with his bullying ways?

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