Friday, February 14, 2014


Yesterday, Stark County Board of Elections (BOE, Board) Democratic member Deametrious St. John was quoted as having - in effect - made up his mind on an issue now before the Board for the its decision.

And Protester Balas-Bratton's attorney jumped right on St. John's  - perhaps - injudicious remarks, to wit:
With reference to my February 12, 2014 request for Board Member St. John's abstention from voting or otherwise participating in this Board's not-yet-set Protest hearing, I respectfully refer you to today's Repository wherein Mr. St. John unequivocally stated "I've always believed that he [Maier] met the qualifications."
Indeed, The Repository, at page A-7, appropriately labeled that statement as "PRO-MAIER" and noted that Board Member St. John was the "ONLY ELECTIONS BOARD MEMBER TC OFFER AN OPINION PUBLICLY ON MAIER'S QUALIFICATIONS''.
Obviously, Mr. St. John has already, without the benefit of a hearing, determined and publicly announced that Mr. Maier is statutorily qualified; i.e., Mr. St. John has already decided, pre­hearing, that my client's Protest should be denied (and never mind any due process considerations).
That advance determination quite clearly disqualifies Mr. St. John from participating in this Board's upcoming quasi-judicial proceed­ing; and, if Mr. St. John does not agree, this Board should decide the issue for him; and, if this Board does not do so, my client will file suit to have the Court decide that issue for him. (emphasis added by the SCPR)

Please immediately advise, as time is obviously of the essence here. (emphasis added by SCPR)
One would think that St. John by the time he was interviewed by the press, had to know that he had been challenged by Balas-Bratton on his ability to render a fair and impartial decision as one of four Board members who have to vote individually for the Board to come to a collective decision of whether or not Maier is Board certifiable as a "qualified" candidate for sheriff under the statutory law of Ohio.

The Balas-Bratton challenge letter was sent to the BOE on the day before yesterday (February 12th), to wit:
It is well established that it constitutes a denial of due process whenever a quasi-judicial tribunal is biased. (See, e.g., Jennings v. Xenia Twp- Bd. of Zoning Appeals (2nd Dist.), 2007-Ohio-235.)

In short, "due process entitles an individual in an administrative proceeding to a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal". [North Coast Payphones, Inc. v. City of Cleveland (8th Dist), 2007-Ohio-68414 at ... 23.)

Accordingly, my client, the instant Protestor, respectfully requests, for the reasons set forth here in below, that Board member Deametrious St. John abstain from voting on the Protest issue at hand and that he otherwise abstain from any participation whatsoever in this Board's hearing deliberations.

In that regard, it is more than merely "noteworthy" that Mr. St. John, as a DCC Member, voted twice to appoint Mr. Maier Stark County Sheriff, which of course means that Mr. St. John has already twice determined that Mr. Maier met the same O.R.C. 311.01(B) statutory qualifications now at issue before this Board.

In fact, prior to Mr. Maier's first DCC appointment, Mr. St. John signed a letter (on Mr. Maier's personal stationery) to his fellow DCC Members urging them to join "in supporting the most qualified person to serve as Stark County Sheriff . . . George Maier". ... [SCPR note:  see referred to signature in graphic below]
Clearly, this request should forthwith be granted voluntarily, without the need for judicial intervention - but if it is not, my client will timely seek appropriate judicial redress.

Please immediately advise, as time is obviously of the essence here.   (emphasis added by SCPR)
Perhaps, St. John should have talked with legal counsel before agreeing to talk with the media.

But on second thought, what would have been the point of it?

He had already "let the horse out of the barn" on his "being star-struck" with the "spit and polish" George T. Maier with his February 5th and December 11th (2013) votes for Maier over Lou Darrow.  Before the first vote, he was a signatory to a Maier generated "please appoint me" campaign letter.  A letter - by the collection of signatories - which shows St. John to be among the "elite" of the Stark County Democratic Party leadership group.

On January 31st, Chairman Gonzalez of the Stark Dems sent out a letter announcing that the Democratic executive committee will be meeting this Saturday, to wit:

And, interestingly enough, on the agenda is:  "Appointments to the Board of Elections."

An obvious reason for the agenda item is that St. John was appointed by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (March 26, 2013) to fill out the term (on the recommendation of the Stark County Democratic Party Executive Committee [SCDP-EC] [February 20, 2013]) of Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts Phil Giavasis set to expire on February 28th of this year.

St. John is the first African-American to have served on the Stark County Board of Elections.  He is also executive vice president of the Stark County Democratic Party.

The Report thinks it is likely that the Dems will re-appoint St. John tomorrow.

However, one has to wonder whether or not he has subjected himself to a rethink by the "powers that be" within the Stark County Democratic Party hierarchy with his "I have made up my mind on Maier" ditty and thereby prompting the Balas-Bratton challenge.

Not that they don't appreciate his public expressions of devotion "to the George Maier cause," but what good is he to them if he is forced off and the Republicans are left with a 2 to 1 advantage?

Maybe St. John should be asked to step aside for now, they may be asking themselves.

There is a rumble or two that a replacement is being talked about.

But The Report is told that the hearing on the Maier protest could be over and done with by the 28th.

And, what's more, even if St. John were to be replaced, the official appointment is done by the secretary of state who took about 30 days to validate the SCDP-EX recommendation when St. John got the committee's blessing about a year ago.

So it would appear to achieve nothing for the Dems to replace St. John if having someone else in place on the Maier protest is the objective.

The time simply is not there to achieve such a purpose.

That's why the SCPR is skeptical that he will be replaced on Saturday.

With Balas-Bratton's attorney challenging his ability (in light of his extra-Board of Elections statements and actions) to perform a Board member's quasi-judicial role of not making a decision until the evidence is in and the arguments have been made on whether or not George T. Maier qualifies under O.R.C Section 311.01 to be a county sheriff, St. John is in a tough spot.

Does he bull his way through (in the manner of his political mentors) and in effect tell Conley to "go stuff it where the sun doesn't shine" and that he will stay on "the protest matter" notwithstanding Balas-Bratton's objection or does he take Conley sage prodding and step aside just for this matter?

Conley's demand only pertains to the George T. Maier matter.

Look at the latest letter sent by Balas-Bratton's attorney to the Board late yesterday: 
As to my prior correspondence to you regarding Board Member St. John, I want to make it clear that I am not asserting any miscon­duct by him under O.R.C. 3501.16 (entitled "Removal from office").
I also am not urging the County Democratic Executive Committee to refrain from re-appointing Mr. St. John at the expiration of his current term-Indeed, by all accounts Mr. St. John is a man of good character who has faithfully performed all of his statutory duties as a Member of your Board; and, although it is not my "call", I believe his party should, at the appropriate time, support his re-appointment and attendant continued service on your Board.
In short, my request of Mr. St. John and/or of this Board (and/or, if need be, of the Court) is quite limited in scope; i.e., that request is that he, [St. John] for the reasons previously stated, and in the interest of assuring due process to both my client and to Mr. Maier, abstain from any vote or participation in "adjudicating" the instant Protest.  (emphasis added by SCPR)
Saturday's SCDP-EC meeting could be a big nothing or it might turn into something quite different.

To repeat, The Report thinks it will be the former rather than the latter.

But life is full of surprises, no?

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