Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Of The Stark County Political Report's nearly 3,000 blogs over the eight plus years of this blog, relatively few have been from Alliance.

To the extent that The Report has blogged about government and politics in The Carnation City a high percentage of those blogs involve Canton personal injury attorney Steve Okey who lives in Alliance and has been the city's most controversial political figure over the past ten years.

For example:
To the relief of some in Alliance, Okey was out of government after he lost to Republican Alan Andreani for mayor of the city in the November, 2011 general election.

But then early in 2014, long time council president and Democrat John Benincasa died.

It was then up to Alliance members of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee to select a successor.

The person who the SCPR thinks should have been selected by the Dems to become president of council was long time and highly respected Democrat who has served on Alliance City Council for a number years is Sue Ryan.

To the degree that there has been discord in the deliberations of council in recent times, the acrimony seems to mostly come from Okey.

Ryan is the complete opposite.

Her track record is to reach across the aisle and work with the Republicans for the good of Alliance and not sow seeds (as The Report thinks Steve Okey does) of political strife on for what he believes is in his benefit and for those he favors (e.g. Democrat George T. Maier, now sheriff of Stark County).

As an attorney, he has brought his legal experience to the political/government arena in having:
  • represented the Stark County Democratic Party when sued in the Ohio Supreme Court over the George T. Maier as the Democratic Party choice to succeed Mike McDonald as Stark County sheriff,
  • represented the-then Stark County Board of Elections' Democratic member Deametrious St. John when St. John's ability to function as a quasi-judicial in a fair an impartial manner was questioned,
    • Note:  the challenge failed,
  • represented Massillon policeman Michael Maier (son of George T. Maier) when he was promoted by George's brother Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (a former Stark Dems' chairman) mentored/sponsored mayor of Massillon; namely, Kathy Catazaro-Perry over what the courts determined was a more merited candidate (Rogers),
  • represented Deametrious St. John's wife (Dwan) before the Ohio Civil Right Commission (OCRC) in her claim that Massillon City Council was being racially discriminatory in questioning on fiscal grounds her hire by the Catazaro-Perry administration,
    • Note:  the OCRC found no discrimination, 
  • and it is believed that he will soon be representing Kathy Catazaro-Perry before the Stark County Board of Elections protesting the coming certification (tomorrow morning, the SCPR believes) of former Democratic mayor Frank Cicchinelli of Massillon to run as independent candidate against Catazaro-Perry in November's general election
And, of course, Okey filed a lawsuit against Alliance City Council (which he eventually dropped) on its voting procedures.  Procedures which he himself had participated in while an Alliance city councilman.

Okey claimed a devotion to Ohio's Sunshine Law as motivation for his filing the Alliance lawsuit.  But the SCPR thinks its was designed to embarrass Councilman Larry Dordea who was George T. Maier's opponent in the November, 2014 general election for Stark County sheriff.

The SCPR in a blog suggested that Okey did not have the self-discipline to stay away from controversy as council president.

And "right-out-of-the-chute" as president, he got into a fight with nearly the whole of Alliance City Council on the voting procedure thing.

That controversy quickly abated and Okey has been on this best behavior ever since.

That is until last night.

Council president declines to sign nuisance ordinance
By STEPHANIE UJHELYIsujhelyi@the-review.com Published:June 16, 2015 3:00AM
ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Alliance City Council President Steve Okey on Monday declined to sign a nuisance properties ordinance due to questions about the legislation's constitutionality
Early this morning the SCPR's e-mail box was filled with e-mails from various Alliance sources detailing the new Okey generated controversy.

It could be that Okey will be the subject of a lawsuit himself at the hand of Law Director Jennifer Arnold of his refusal to sign.

From a source:
Law Director Jennifer Arnold is considering filing a mandamus to compel him to sign it. I think it is the initial first shot in the election season.

It was just over a year ago that Alliance council censured him remember.
Like in the Sunshine matter, you have Okey refusing to sign some nuisance legislation passed by council because - according to him - he is protected our cherished democratic-republican values in that he is saying the legislation is unconstitutional.

Undoubtedly, a lawyer and as a citizen, Okey cares about the Sunshine Law and the constitutionality of legislative acts.

However, sorry to say, The Report thinks Okey is attuned to political factors to such a degree that he largely uses democratic-republican values as a smoke screen to elevate his personal political interests into being viewed by the unsuspecting public as being a selfless devotion to the rule of law.

It is a bit early for politicking.  Labor Day is the traditional kick off date for political campaigns.

But Okey, the SCPR thinks, is in an uphill battle to retain his seat as Alliance City Council president.

His opponent, Arthur Garnes, a former Alliance City Schools superintendent - The Report believes - is the odds on favorite to defeat Okey in November's general election along the lines that Andreani defeated him for the mayoralty in 2011.

Running for citywide office in Alliance is a tad different than running for a position within the Stark County Democratic Party and the help he gets from the likes of the Maier brothers, Randy Gonzalez and other well placed Democrats.

Does anybody doubt that Sue Ryan's unpleasant experience with the Stark County Democratic Party hierarchy in contending for the presidency of council will come back to haunt Okey.

And, of course, all those Republicans in the Alliance city government leadership will be working feverishly to put Okey on the political sidelines once again.

Steve Okey is deserving to be thought to be Mister Democrat.

But as for The Stark County Political Report, yours truly will pass on his self-assumed role as being the protector of Ohio's Sunshine Law and the constitutionality of laws generally.

His self-portrayal simply cannot pass the smell test!

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