Thursday, July 2, 2015


Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry's way or the highway?

Perhaps not.

While yesterday's vote resulted in a stalemate (a 3 to 3 tied vote) and therefore the 07/01/2015 Massillon Financial Restoration Plan was not adopted, there may be a way out notwithstanding Mayor Catazaro-Perry seeming to be an impassable roadblock.

It appears to The Stark County Political Report that the key to the Massillon Financial Planning and Supervision Commission (Commission) being accepted by a simple majority (likely a 4 to 3 vote; Hanrahan:  "consensus is not likely") is for Massillon City Council to scrap that part of its Restoration Plan (Plan) that calls for council to cut the pay of certain elected officials.

Dropping the cuts will only cost the Plan some $30,000 in revenue:  A mere "drop in the bucket" when it comes to solving Massillon's longer term financial woes.

Commission member Bob Yund, the SCPR thinks, committed himself to changing his vote from "no" to "yes" on the Plan presented to the Commission yesterday on the condition that council takes the elected officials pay cut out of the Plan.

As The Report sees it, Yund was the only realistic person among the three "no" votes (Catazaro-Perry, Campbell, and, of course, Yund) when the six members present (council president Tony Townsend was absent) voted on the Plan submitted to the Commission on June 19th and formally considered by the Commission yesterday.

The Report suspects that Townsend likely knew he would be put on the spot in breaking the three to three tie on accepting/rejecting the 07/01/2015 Restoration Plan submitted to the Commission yesterday and therefore opted to bail out on the meeting.

Bail out?


Democrat and Catazaro-Perry ally Townsend is in for the political fight of his life to remain as council president this November with former Republican Claudette Istnick qualifying to run as an "independent" against him this November and The Report thinks he knows that he must avoid any controversy if he is to have any chance at all remaining as council president.

Hence his absence reportedly for "personal/family" reasons yesterday.

However, to repeat, there is a pretty simple way out of the stalemate that the SCPR assigns to Mayor Kathy as being the cause of as between her administration and Massillon City Council.

To say it again, the simple path to resolution is through MFP&SC member Bob Yund.

The Report sees Yund as a "good faith" member of the Commission.

From the video of Yund's participation in yesterday's meeting (see video posted at the end of this blog) note that:
  • He initiated a detailed discussion of what the specific levy passage campaign would entail and in the process got a response from Councilman Paul Manson on the particulars as they exist as of 07/01/2015,
  • He broached a topic that appears to have gone over like "a lead balloon;"  that being the idea of eliminating the income tax reduction credit completely, but MOST IMPORTANTLY,
  • In responding to desperate moves by Chairwoman Hanrahan, as cited above, he offer to changeover from a "no" to a "yes" on the 07/01/2015 Plan if only council would remove the pay cuts to elected officials as specified in the graphic above.
Yours truly does not see Catazaro-Perry nor Elaine Campbell as a "good faith" members.

The latter two seemed to throw in everything but the kitchen sink in explaining to the very, very, very patient chairwoman (Sharon Hanrahan) when she asked each "no" vote what it would take to change their respective votes to a "yes" vote.

Some of what Campbell had to say yesterday includes:
  • Out-of-the-gate her questioning of the "good faith" of council in formulating its part of the Plan,
  • She was obviously disappointed that the 07/01/2015 Plan does not contain a formal and developed campaign, and 
  • she gave specific examples of what council should have done prior to yesterday's meeting very little of which could be accomplished before the Commission next meets in August
Massillon Cable TV owner and Commission member Bob Gessner finally did it!

Did what?

He looked Her Honor in the face and zinged away with one direct question after another and showed her for the impossible person she is on the question of working out a "come let us reason together" restoration plan for the financial fiscal emergency that the SCPR thinks she brought on unnecessarily in the first place.

If readers watch no other video published in this blog, this one pretty much tells the whole story about the obstinate mayor of Massillon.

Several meetings ago, The Report detected in Gessner a statesmanlike quality and in the two meetings since, he has done nothing but confirm and expand upon that impression.

His questions are such that it is obvious that he has carefully read the Plan presented and he persists with his queries until he gets clear answers.

A focus on Mayor Catazaro-Perry's engagement yesterday shows:
  • The mayor to be zeroing in on the restoration of the income tax credit reduction
    • to those who work out-of-town on the base 1.8% Massillon income tax rate,
      • which she and council have battled over the percentage of which almost from day one of her administration in January, 2012,
    • as bringing back the reduction means according to her:
      • that there will be a loss on the 1.8% rate loss of MP&RD revenue,
  • Her transitioning into a discussion (in the manner of throwing everything including the proverbial kitchen sink) from the effect of the restored income tax credit on the 1.8% and the effect of same on MP&RD revenues to the Plan or lack thereof as such impacts on:
    • the reduction of revenue to replace equipment in all Massillon departments of government,
    • the loss of some $85,000 in proprietary fund dollars used to deal with street repairs,
    • Massillon's crumbling streets and the need to replace scads of storm sewer grates,
    • Being behind on vehicle replacement,
    • Thinking the proposed .2% income tax increase will have a hard time getting passed,
      • Notes that council has not yet passed authorizing legislation to place the .2% proposed increase on the March, 2016 ballot
        • SCPR Note:  which of course will not be collected until beginning with January, 2017 and will not be available to deal with the mayor's concerns as outlined above probably until mid-2017,
    • Saying that the Plan is not a good faith, doable, supported by all of council and therefore will not work because it is not a solid plan,
  • Making the 10% cuts of elected Massillon elected officials a sticking point,
  • Using her discussion with one member of council (Andrea Scassa, Democrat, Ward 3) as evidence of the administration reaching out to council only to be rebuffed by council,
  • Requesting that the Commission reject the Plan and "go back to the drawing board" claims that she has been shut out of the process of Plan development by council, 
  • Rambling on in a confusing, disjointed dissent to the Plan
The Report suspects that Catazaro-Perry and MFP&SC member Campbell spend a lot of time on the telephone jointly preparing their hand-in-glove agenda that comes off as being an tag team effort to undermine and make impossible council's endeavor to work collaboratively with the administration to develop a Plan which all can wholeheartedly support.

More and more it seems that the mayor is intent on sabotaging any Plan - though she has signed off on it (see Gessner grilling her on inconsistency in the Gessner video above) - in hopes she can delay the Commission process enough to get by November's election with herself re-elected and perhaps a sufficient number of new councilpersons (there will be at least three) sympathetic with her whims so that she can have her way.

It is a risky strategy she appears to be embarked on.

As things stand now, if former mayor Frank Cicchinelli gets on the ballot as a "independent" candidate for mayor in November; The Report believes she would lose rather decidedly.

Many times when reality of a losing hand sinks in, the bad cards card holder seeks to delay for delay's sake in hopes that the adversary will make a huge mistake and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

That's where the SCPR sees Catazaro-Perry at the present time.

Who knows?

She might "pull a rabbit out-of-a-hat" and surprise everybody by winning a second time over Cicchinelli and if she has fantastic good fortune on election day in November, she might even get a favorable simple majority (5 to 4) on council out of the election.

There no doubt with The Report that "Hell will freeze over" before the mayor and her joined-at-the-hip-friend Campbell will vote for any plan but one the mayor thinks is a face-saving-plan for her politically-out-of-control ego.

By the way, the SCPR agrees with the mayor that there are those council members who are being political with the Restoration Plan matter.

However, not nearly to the degree as she is.

The SCPR is highly impressed with Sharon Hanrahan with her patient, methodical and peace making approach of leadership.

As shown in the video the entire one hour and 42 minute session posted at the end of this blog,   Chairwoman Hanrahan's commitment to cobbling together a majority (four of seven members) to get a Plan on the road to implementation is obvious:
  • She, in contrast to Catazaro-Perry, focuses on the positives of council's contribution to developing the Plan, to wit:
    • Emphasizing that council included "drop-dead dates" of getting things done such as:
      • August 1st, the date by which council and the mayor will have put together a campaign committee staffed by community persons, and
      • August 31st, the date by which council says it will have passed legislation by to put the .2% income tax increase on the March, 2016 primary election ballot,
  • She points out that in setting dates for action to be taken, council creates a standard by which the Commission can judge the genuineness of the body's commitment to making the Plan work, and therefore,
  • She expresses a willingness (which how she actually voted) to give council the benefit of any doubt that council's work on the Plan has been and will continue to be in "good faith."
But Hanrahan with all her experience as the top Ohio Office of Management and Budget administrator of Financial Planning and Supervision has not had to deal with the volatile political situation like the one currently in place in Massillon.

The Report gets the impression that she thinks that most of the problem reaching a concord lies with Massillon's council.

However, as with Gessner, yours truly sees her slowly but surely coming to a realization how dug in the mayor is on having things go her way notwithstanding the mayor's disingenuous insistence that she has bent over backwards to work with council.

Hanrahan has to be totally frustrated with the political battles taking place between the mayor and council that has made it seemingly impossible to get the two sides together on a Plan for the well being of the people of Massillon.

But if anybody can pull it off, it will be Hanrahan.

All Massillon council has to do is to leave the Plan unchanged after dropping the elected officials pay cut.

And if Yund is a man of his word, he will join the Hanrahan, Gessner and the third "yes" vote and pass the Plan 4 to 3 at the Commission's next scheduled meeting of August 3rd at 1:30 p.m. at the Massillon Chamber of Commerce conference room.

Council members should not waste their time trying to satisfy the mayor's and Campbell's multiple and confusing and undoable (timewise) objections.

If council were to change anything else in the Plan, such would only be new material for the mayor twist into a new basis for why a majority of  Commission members should reject the Plan.

Council should not be foolish enough to take the Catazaro-Perry/Campbell bait.

Catazaro-Perry is so far out there in political "la-la-land" that she actually thinks that her "behind-closed-doors" session with solitary council member Andrea Scassa was the equivalent having a successful negotiation with all of council.

Councilman Paul Manson told the SCPR yesterday that Councilwoman Scassa herself told her colleagues that what she brought to them from her one-on-one with the mayor were what she termed as being "talking points."

The Report does see Scassa as person of enormous goodwill who could be a bridge between council and the mayor except the mayor has not and yours truly thinks will never authentically reach out to council in a collaborative mode.

Manson after the meeting had this conversation with The Report:

And here is the full video of yesterday's session:

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