Monday, December 2, 2013


UPDATE:  11:00 AM

Within the past few minutes the SCPR has talked with Lt. Lou Darrow with regard to the question of whether or not he has been contacted by Judge Frank Forchione in the context the judge's work performing ministerial duties under Ohio statutory law regarding the qualification of sheriff candidates for the re-do appointment by the SCDP-CC as ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court on November 11th.

Darrow tells the SCPR that Forchione had not contacted him at the judge's initiative.

However, Lieutenant Darrow added that he, himself, had contacted the judge out of concern that Forchione's re-opening the qualification process (see below) for the Democrats to consider additional candidates for the SCDP-CC appointment to the county sheriff position "would be used against him" (the SCPR's words; not Darrows) if he did not go through the application process once again.

Darrow did reaffirm that he believes that he and Republican Larry Dordea are the only two candidates who by virtue of the decision in Swanson v. Maier are qualified for consideration when the SCDP-CC meets on December 11th.


The Stark County Political Report has learned from a person whom The Report considers a highly reliable source that Stark Common Pleas Court judge Frank Forchione (Democrat) was making phone calls last week.


Agreed, there is nothing particularly newsworthy about that in and of itself.

But once you know that one such call was supposedly made to Ohio Supreme Court ousted-sheriff (November 6, 2013) George T. Maier, does that make the ordinary into - perhaps - just a tad more than an ordinary practice of making a phone call.

Maybe, just maybe, no?

And The Report has reason to believe the alleged call was not a return phone call.

Add in that the SCPR has confirmed with Republican Larry Dordea (a SCDP-CC sheriff appointee aspirant; see explanation on the appointment process below), that he did not receive a Frank Forchione call last week or ever in the current application process.


Does that make the Maier thing even more interesting?

Also, why would Forchione need to talk to Maier anyway?

Everything is in place from Maier's first go at becoming the SCDP-CC appointed sheriff.

It is hard to imagine any need for the judge to talk again with Maier, no?

What else does he need in addition to Maier's widely disseminated press reports that he is again an applicant for appointment?

Remember, all the "ministerial" stuff is taken care of as of the February 5th Stark Dems.

And Judge Forchione says that assessing that part of qualifying is his only role.

Who else among sheriff-appointee prospects did or did not receive a Forchione call?

The Report has learned that Douglas Smith initiated a contact with Judge Forchione last Monday to arrange an interview with him as part of the ministerial qualifying process preliminary to being considered by the SCDP-CC.  Smith said that Forchione did return his call (Smith having left his telephone number) in order to arrange a mutually satisfactory date for the interview.

How about Lou Darrow?

The SCPR tried but was unable to contact Darrow for a response.

But if the judge was contacting all the candidates, wouldn't Dordea have received a call at the judge's initiative?

We all learned recently that Forchione on his own initiative interpreted (even though a "current" case (Swanson/Darrow v. Gonzalez, et al) is pending in the Ohio Supreme Court) "the ouster-decision" (Swanson v. Maier) as authorizing him to re-open the application process to one and all who think they are qualified to be Stark County sheriff.

The Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee (SCDP-CC) has been ordered by the high court to re-do its February 5, 2013 defective appointment of Sheriff-elect Mike McDonald's replacement.

They are scheduled to do so on December 11th.

McDonald submitted his resignation before his January 7, 2013 "take office" date.

A critical problem with Forchione's interpretation is that the only date mentioned in Swanson v. Maier as being "the qualification date" on criteria listed in Ohio statutory law was February 6, 2013.

That date is one that the Ohio Supreme Court has said George T. Maier cannot meet.

If the Forchione to Maier telephone call report is true, which the SCPR believes it is, why is Judge Forchione calling Maier apparently at Forchione's initiative?

Well, the SCPR has already reported that he talked Douglass Smith, so what is different about him being in touch with Maier?

For one, The Report, to repeat the point, is under the clear impression that Forchione initiated the purported contact with Maier whereas in the Smith situation it was Smith who seized the initiative.

Secondly, Smith had not applied in the first round of the SCDP-CC consideration of who was to be McDonald's successor.

And, of course, there is the "no contact" with Dordea.

Wouldn't it shock all of us if the supposed call to Maier was:  "don't bother George, I am now clear the February 6th date applies and therefore you cannot qualify for the re-do appointment?"

Folks, do not hold your breath on that one.

The Report would call/visit (with camera in hand)/email Judge Forchione and ask the question full-throated and direct to him.  But, but, but . . . the good judge is not taking Stark County Political Report calls/on-camera visits/emails these days.

It appears to the SCPR that Forchione only takes media questions if he thinks they are softball questions of the "kiss-up" variety that unfortunately for Stark Countians seems to be standard fare from so much of Stark County local media these days.

And It is probably not the "why?" the phone call to George T. Maier" question so much with Forchione.   Undoubtedly, he has a ready answer for that one.

Rather he knows as do all Stark County public officials and public figures, it is a certainty that SCPR questions are going to probe much deeper than the obvious.

For instance, the SCPR would press Forchione on his re-opening process rationale and justification much harder than has been done by those media persons he has been willing to talk to.

As The Report wrote last week, it was strange indeed that a man who likes to project himself as a conservative type has gotten to the point that some Stark Countians see him as a judicial activist type.

Of course, there is the whole thing with the Studer case wherein he was forced by a local civic activist to do a U-turn on ordering a $5,000 Studer fine paid to an out-of-state charity and have it deposited in the general fund of the Stark County treasury which happens to be the mandate of "the rule of law" in Ohio.

And now the "open the appointment process" controversy.


So maybe Judge Forchione's true nature is that of being an activist who sees some benefit from the publicity that comes with doing controversial things as part of his judicial function?

He does these things and then cherry picks which media get to ask him questions and he has consequently been seemingly comfortable in the confidence they will uncritically publish his self-serving statements (e.g. "I err on the side of enhancing democracy).

None of Stark County current media knows of the connective tissue that may or may not bind various players in the "select a new sheriff process" as does the SCPR.

Insofar as Judge Forchione having or not having historical connections to these folks, isn't the Stark County public entitled to know that the judge has been vetted by a prepared media person with questions which go to the heart of the matter?

Could "zeroed-in" questions clearly raise THE QUESTION as to whether or not Judge Forchione should be involved in the qualification process at all?  

Especially in light of his interpretation of "the qualification date" including the post-February 6, 2013 period which happens to be the - in effect - "substantive" (i.e. no longer merely "ministerial") interpretation of the leadership of the Stark County Democratic Executive Committee and the Maier side of the appointment controversy. 

Was any consideration given to having one of the Republican Common Pleas judges - who has no connection with Democratic politics - do the ministerial processing?

Shouldn't this have been considered going back to the original application process?

It is hard to believe that one of them would venture into the "I think I know the mind of the Ohio Supreme Court" landscape?

How convenient that Judge Forchione wraps himself in a safe media cocoon, no?

Other Stark County judges and Stark officials have no problem going on camera with the SCPR.

These interviews are put on the SCPR blog in their entirety.

They are the best and truest forum from which Stark Countians can make an informed assessment.

The camera tells all.

If Forchione is so confident that he has gotten into the minds of the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court in his brash interpretation of Swanson v. Maier, he should be willing to take on all related questions.

Why is Judge Frank Forchione being so selective? 

What is he protecting himself from?

The SCPR suspects that there is way more to this story and whom is talking to whom out of the public spotlight than the general public has any idea of as this matter currently stands.

The Report goes all the way back to the meeting that Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez called with Stark County commissioner Tom Bernabei, interim sheriff Tim Swanson which included George T. Maier via telephone.

The topic, according to Tim Swanson?

How can we fix George T. Maier's suspected problem of qualifying to be Stark County sheriff?

It appears to the SCPR that nothing has changed from that meeting in January, 2013 to the very date of this blog!

Only now the qualification factor is not "suspected."

George Maier is down in Harrison County trying to fix the unfixable if the February 6th date holds.

Ohio's "court of last resort" has clearly ruled as a matter of "the rule of law" that he was never the legal sheriff of Stark County from February 11, 2013 (the date he was bonded) through November 6, 2013.

Unless the high court forthrightly says before December 11th something other than February 6, 2013 as being the operative qualification date, the Stark Dems and Judge Forchione have their marching orders!

Wouldn't it be ashamed if Stark County were to be put through another trying time?

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