Monday, December 9, 2013




For those Stark Countians that want to see the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr Stark County Democratic Party political machine defeated in Wednesday's SCDP-CC (Stark County Democratic Party-Central Committee) meeting are likely to be disappointed

So thinks the Stark County Political Report.

The Wednesday Dems meetup (as a "do-over") for the failed February 5th meeting, comes some 11 months after McDonald declined, as of January 7, 2013 (the date that his term of office was to begin), to take office because of illness.

On November 6th, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the SCDP-CC made an invalid selection on February 5th because the appointee George T. Maier was unqualified to be sheriff under Ohio statutory law.

While The Report does not think that Maier and his alter ego R. Shane Jackson (SCDP political director) are nearly as skilled as politicos as they like to portray themselves; they likely are more than a match for sheriff-appointee-aspirant Louis Darrow.

But look for some "political" fireworks at Wednesday's meeting to select a successor sheriff to November, 2012 sheriff-elect Mike McDonald.

Here is how the vote lined up back in February.

For Darrow:

 For Maier:

The SCPR thinks that Maier, Jr./Jackson and Stark County Democratic chairman Randy Gonzalez made a major miscalculation on the opposition they might encounter in pushing Maier, Jr. brother George T. Maier for the appointment.

They must have been amazed when the vote tally showed Maier squeaking out a 92 to 84 victory over the political neophyte Lieutenant Lou Darrow who has been with the Stark County sheriff office for some 27 years now.

A combination of unionists and loyalists to the Swanson/Ferrero (united for  now) political forces (the "Anti-Party Establishment") within the Stark County Democratic Party are aligned against Chairman Gonzalez and Johnnie A. Maier and folks within the party who are beholden to them in the upcoming Wednesday night fight.

Readers need to refresh themselves (LINK to prior SCPR blog) as to how "utterly" non-political Lou Darrow is. 

The pages of the SCPR are replete with stories of utterly politicized (reward your friends; punish your enemies?) Maier, Jr, Jackson and Gonzalez are (i.e. the "Party Establishment" is).

Because of their cockiness, they can get complaisant and consequently they sustain a "political" black eye once in a while.

And December 11th could be such a occasion.

There is a bloc of "potential votes" that if either the George Maier or Lou Darrow supporters can get them to Wednesday's session to vote for their man that could be pivotal.

There were about 20 or so "no shows" at the meeting of February 5th and there have been two new appointees during the interim, to wit:

Presumably, the contenders have been working this list hard as well as trying to flip the other's February 5th voters to their side.

Maier and Jackson do have some political victories to crow about and which provide some basis for thinking that they are the "odds on favorite" to prevail on Wednesday.

Chief among them is the defeat they administered to 24 year Massillon mayor Frank Cicchielli in May, 2011.

However, that victory was tempered by the Democrats losing control of Massillon city council in the election of November, 2011.  While the Dems regained control in the election of November, 2012, the Maier, Jr./Jackson wing of the Massillon Democratic Party are still outside looking in inasmuch by the SCPR's measure only Tony Townsend (a non-voting council member except in the case of a tie) and Rhoderick Stinson (elected in Ward 4) are reliable Maier, Jr (hence Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry) supporters.

The moral of this latter political story is that Maier, Jr., Shane Jackson and the politically dependent on them and Stark Dems chairman Randy Gonzalez can be beat.

But it probably takes more than the loosely jointed coalition that Lou Darrow has going for him to pull it off.

The Darrow campaign is being run by Lou Darrow's wife Laura.

If Laura Darrow can engineer a victory for her husband in Wednesday's vote, she will have pulled off an amazing triumph for her and her husband being political novices.

The SCPR believes that Darrow was on February 5th and remains competitive to Maier to eventually become Stark County sheriff is because of his long standing ties to interim sheriff Tim Swanson (who did not run for reelection after serving as sheriff for fourteen (14) years (1999 - 2013).

Moreover, Swanson is not the only Stark County powerful public figure supporting Darrow.

As alluded to above, so is Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero who, like Maier (2003 - 2009), Jr, is a former Stark Dems chairman (1995 - 2003).

The way the SCPR sees it, the Maier, Jr, Jackson and Gonzalez forces were stunned when Ferrero got up at the February 5th meeting and read his sworn-statement (i.e. in affidavit format) to the effect that he as Stark County's chief legal officer did not think that George T. Maier was qualified under Ohio's statutory law.

The Report believes that Gonzalez showed disdain for Ferrero and humiliated him in the February 5th meeting in the manner of speech and tone he (Gonzalez) addressed the assembled SCDP-CC members.

If Maier, Jr et al were shocked to witness Ferrero's act, they hadn't seen anything yet.

On February 12th, Sheriff Swanson filed a quo-warranto (i.e. "by what 'legal' authority does George T. Maier serve as the Stark Dems appointee as sheriff) against Maier.

Apparently, George T. Maier believed what his legal advisers must have been telling him, to wit:  "he was going to win before the Ohio Supreme Court."

For he went out and spent your money and my money (i.e. Stark County taxpayer money) to have his name plastered on Stark County sheriff department property.

Of course, the SCPR from the get-go has disagreed with the "high-brow" duo's assessment from the prestigious Roetzel, Andress (Columbus branch) law firm.

And, as we all know now, the Supreme Court told Maier and Chairman Gonzalez that the February 5th meeting was not lawfully conducted.

Not to be deterred by one finding of illegality, Chairman Gonzalez (in the opinion of the SCPR) has embarked on a course of conduct in calling new meeting to be held this Wednesday (December 11th) that The Report believes - if challenged with a new quo warranto - (assuming, of course, that George T. Maier, once again, is the SCDP-CC appointee) will result in a new Ohio Supreme Court finding of illegality.

The SCPR is not surprised by the Gonzalez, Maier, Jackson "continue to push it" mode such being indicative of them playing the "political bully" role.

Johnnie A. Maier, Jr in the assessment of the SCPR is an "old school power politician" who learned at the knee of yesteryear (and, perhaps, the last we will see of his ilk; except, of course, for Maier, Jr) Vern Riffe.

The Report believes that much of Maier, Jr's success is to be attributed to his bulldog, "never-ever-give-up" bulldoze style of politics within the Stark County Democratic Party.

To beat him, one has to match him stroke for stroke and then some.

And the question is whether not Lou Darrow and his advisers are up besting Maier, Jr.

The SCPR is skeptical that they are.

But they have put up an spirited fight so far. 

If one has read SCPR blogs on the George T. Maier quest to become the "legal" sheriff Stark County, it is quite obvious that The Report thinks there are way too many concerns about Maier in addition to "the qualification factor" that may not make him a good choice for Stark County sheriff.

One way or another though, the SCPR  expects Maier to prevail simply because The Report believes that his political backers are more savvy, more persistent and more Machvellian than Swanson/Ferrero et al.

If George T. Maier is appointed again on Wednesday and even if a new quo warranto (assuming that the Supreme Court will not rule on the Swanson/Darrow writ of mandamus [filed November 18th]) successfully challenges him; he will be back.

He will run in the Democratic primary on May 6th.

Unless Darrow and his key advisers "get up to speed" on their political skills, Maier is likely to win a Democratic primary.

Darrow on Thursday released a letter to the members of the SCDP-CC, to wit:

Louis Darrow

5700 East Blvd NW

Canton, Ohio 44718

December 5, 2013

Dear Stark County Democratic Central Committee Members:

Thank you to all precinct committee members who have encouraged me to continue to pursue the position of Stark County Sheriff. I greatly appreciate your support. But there is still much work to be done. Together, we can prevail and ensure that Stark County has an experienced and qualified Democratic sheriff, but I need your help. If you did not support me last time, please take another look at my qualifications in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Ohio Supreme Court has decided that the February 2013 appointee was not qualified to hold the office of Stark County Sheriff. There is a difference of opinions as to the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision. I have asked the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute prior to the appointment process, but to date they have not done so. As a result, the Stark County Democratic Central Committee (SCDCC) will meet again on December 11, 2013 to make a new appointment. It is my sincere hope that you will support me at that meeting.

There is no question that I am qualified to be Sheriff. I have made serving in the Stark County Sheriff’s Department my life’s work. During the past twenty-seven years, I have served in every division of the sheriff’s office (corrections, road patrol, civil, and operations). No one can suggest that my full-time service as a sergeant and lieutenant for the past sixteen consecutive years does not meet the statutory requirements of the office. Unfortunately, I anticipate that I will not be permitted to address you or answer your questions during the meeting. I take this appointment process very seriously and I can assure you that I meet every requirement under the statute and that I am in compliance with every statute relating to seeking this appointment.

Because the Ohio Supreme Court did not rule on all of the qualifications that were challenged under the Ohio Revised Code, questions remain. If the SCDCC appoints an unqualified person, we run the risk of losing the office entirely. Regardless of who is appointed, the citizens of Stark County will soon be given the opportunity to vote for sheriff. We need to ensure that the citizens of Stark County have an experienced, qualified democratic sheriff to support. A second failure to appoint a qualified candidate may cause voters to doubt the ability of the Democratic Party to offer a qualified candidate.

I hope you will be able to attend the December 11, 2013 meeting and will support me. If you have any questions please feel free to call me at (330)327-2288.


Lou Darrow

The SCPR would like to see Lieutenant Darrow win on Wednesday.

But, again, The Report is skeptical that he will.

Of course, it could be that the Ohio Supreme Court will rule on the mandamus and say:
  • that Maier is not to be included in the field (because he did not meet the February 6, qualification date), or
  • that he can be included because the February 6th date does not hold for a re-convened SCPR-CC selection meeting
In the former case, the next action will be the Stark Dems May 6th primary.

In the latter case, we could be in for another Supreme Court challenge because of if Maier gets the appointment again because his opponents likely view his cure of working a few weeks in the Harrison County sheriff's department as an obvious ineffective attempted end-run around the original finding that the high court was not buying "a weekend in Harrison County" as being curative of his statutory deficiency.

If we all get surprised and Darrow pulls an upset over Maier on the 11th, the we - at least - will be out of the court battles phase and on to a intraparty political primary fight that Stark County has not seen the likes of for some time.

Out-of-the court battles phase?

Well, not really.

There is still Craig Conley's taxpayer, civil law suit against Maier to recover monies collected by him as salary, fringe benefits, expenditures (e.g. the signage) and legal fees (his attorneys.)

One of his attorneys fired "a shot across the bow" of Conley last week when Conley was on a local talk-radio show in sending an email to the effect that Conley is talking about pending litigation MAY HAVE violated Ohio ethics rules for the government of the bar.

The SCPR will deal with this wrinkle is a later blog.

In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether or not Lou Darrow and his political advisers prove to be a match for the likes of Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, Shane Jackson and Stark Dems chairman Randy Gonzalez come Wednesday.

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