Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A FEELING OF "TENSION" IN NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS?



At Monday's meeting of North Canton City Council, the minister offering the opening prayer referenced a "tension" that she seemingly felt in the room.



Faith United Methodist Church of North Canton co-pastor Cara Stultz Costello intoned that there "may" be tension in the room.

As an attendee to quite of few North Canton City Council (NCCC, Council) meetings since 2008, the SCPR would use a word stronger than "may."

For some time now (probably going back to the appointment of Tim Fox as law director [September, 2012]), dis-ease seemingly has been the predominant feeling in the relationship between certain key North Canton leaders and the certain community persons seeking redress of their grievances.

As a child attending church, I reall us singing a song entitled:  Deep and Wide.  (LINK)

But that "deep and wide" song is a reference to a blessed "deep and wide" that all can drink in and go away fulfilled.

The "deep and wide" that exists in the disconnections (for the most part) that exist between North Canton City government and any who question the government's programs, policies and actions is a political darkness that of course is the complete opposite the tenor of the Sunday School song.

At Monday's meeting, Citizen Larry Tripp described his indignation of being treated disrespectfully by Council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters not only one-on-one but in standing by and allowing Fox to treat him in what Tripp deems to have been highly disrespectful.  (abbreviated version of video)



For readers on want more background on what prompted Tripp's remarks, here is the content of information provided by Mr. Tripp in response to a SCPR e-mail follow up:
Probably the best description of my recent encounters with North Canton government officials is to direct you to minutes of NC council meeting of June 6, 2016.   
This is where I spoke of the Ward 2 and 3 at Dogwood Park which was to be an informational meeting of CRA Program and Dogwood pool. 
It also included remarks of a near confrontation with NC law director after meeting when he approached Mr Covey and myself in a non -professional manner.         
After meeting of 6/6/2016, I was approached by Councilman Fonte and asked "why don't you like Jeff"?   
That question caught my attention!     
I responded to Mr Fonte's question with remarks on June 13, 2016.   
My remarks can be viewed on video as supplied by Mr osborne's e-mail of 6/15/16,  ... 
I answered Mr.Fonte's question in a manner I thought appropriate. 
It apparently caught the attention of Councilman Peters based on his remarks to me right after I spoke.and can be viewed on the video.                                     
Thus my remarks of June 27, 2016.  
                     Larry
The SCPR has long contended that Director Fox is the "be all and end of all" in terms of North Canton government.

And that he has assumed that role as the expectation of at least of majority of Council members.

So they own the problem of acerbic North Canton government/community relations.

A problem if a citizen dare seek redress of a grievance.

A citizen coming "to praise Caesar" is received with arms wide open.

That is how insecure Peters and his ilk on Council are.

A number of North Canton citizens land on Fox for his arrogance and the SCPR understands why the do so.

But to repeat, Fox operates at the sufferance of a majority of North Canton City Council members.

One North Canton resident speculates that Fox is now hard a work writing up a legal justification for the the way in which North Canton has handled its Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) ordinance.

Former Council member, president and mayor Daryl Revoldt says he thinks North Canton's CRA has been administered illegally and has cost North Canton's schools thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Back in November, 2012 a huge majority of North Canton voters (78%) voted for an referendum which was designed to deny part time council members who had other coverage available from receiving city paid for healthcare coverage.

Fox wrote a legal opinion that was subsequently validated by the courts that the vote was illegal and therefore participating in North Canton council members in city provided health care benefits were entitled to continue doing so.

North Canton voters were denied a look at that opinion for over a year.

Only intervention by North Canton mayor David Held got the opinion released to the North Canton public.

Eventually, the Council member benefit recipients (Peters, Kiesling, Werren and Snyder) saw the handwriting on the wall in terms of the obvious voter dissatisfaction (re:  November, 2016 vote) on continuing to receive healthcare coverage at North Canton taxpayer expense and dropped coverage and returned the monetary value of the premiums paid by the cit.

Fast forward to the CRA matter.

Is Fox up to a repeat of his healthcare justification opinion?

Here is a repeat publication of the demand letter that North Canton recapture what is alleged to have been illegal reduction of property tax bills.

Is there any doubt that Fox is working feverishly to placate the expectations of his majority support on North Canton City Council?

Unfortunately, the expression Deep and Wide has application in the context of North Canton government and its citizenry in the negative sense of there being a very large rift between a majority of Council and questioning North Canton citizens.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

HUGE DIFFERENCES IN APPROACH: MAYOR HELD & COUNCIL PRESIDENT DANIEL PETERS



One of the most ill-suited council presidents in all of Stark County Political Subdivision government is North Canton's Daniel "Jeff" Peters.

The SCPR thinks he reeks of underlying hostility to those who address North Canton City Council during council's "public speaks" portion of its meeting agenda.

Mayor David Held on the other hand generally handles himself in a responsible and cordial manner even in the face of confrontational remarks coming from some of the "public speaks" presenters.

Peters selectively enforces council's "no interaction between council/administration members and the 'public speaks' presenter."

Held, to his credit, is not put off by any attempts by Peters to thwart his providing answers/responses to complaints being made by public speaks speakers.

Peters seems bananas about enforcing the five (5) minute rule for public speaks.

Several weeks ago former stalwart North Canton government official Daryl Revoldt (councilmember, council president and mayor) was cut short by Peters at five (5) minutes on a presentation in which he contended that council allowed an appointed North Canton administrative office to apply North Canton's CRA (Community Reinvestment Areas) ordinance on his solitary standard in a manner that Revoldt considers to be illegal.

A member of council could have move to extend Revoldt's time.  That someone didn't tells the tale that this council will not hear out disagreeable public speaks comments.  Marcia Kiesling is said, after the meeting, to have dressed Revoldt down for the five (5) minutes of commentary that he made.

While Peters at least last night did not go off on a tirade, one could sense that he was not a happy camper as three citizens donned the lectern to complain about various interactions with North Canton government.

The format of this blog is to present three "public speaks" presenters and then the response of Mayor Held.

The Report would like to present Peters responding to the citizens but there is absolutely nothing to show.

It appears that Peters (a Ward 2 Republican) presents no problem to his fellows on council in what the SCPR takes as Peters thinly disguised hostility in his interaction with activist citizens who address council.


The SCPR does not place all members of North Canton City Council in the Peters' category.  For the ones who are in the top tier of council, The Report's admonition is that they need to put peer pressure on their lower tier fellows to clean up their act.

SCPR ratings of North Canton City Council members in terms of their friendliness to basic democratic-republican values:

#1 - Mark Cerreta
#2 - Doug Foltz
#3 - Dominic Fonte
#4 - Dan Griffith
#5 - Stephanie Werren  (note:  #5 and #6 in a virtual tie)
#6 - Marcia Kiesling
#7 - Daniel Peters

Not everybody is suited to be a council president.  And Peters proves it in spades.

Peters, the SCPR thinks, is of the tradition of former council presidents Steve Okey of Alliance and Tony Townsend of Massillon.

Okey more than Townsend seem divisive council president.  Both both had their moments.

Peters is said to have taken on a psuedonym online to bash certain Canton civic activists who voice their displeasure with North Canton City Council policies, actions and programs.

If true, which the SCPR thinks it likely is,  how cowardly can one get?

David Held on the other hand is generally forthright and out front with his reactions.

Of course, Peters makes it very clear to all except for his apologists on council that he his openly hostile to Citizen Chuck Osborne.  He has ejected Osborne from a number of council meetings.

While uncomfortable with the Osborne style, Held does a much more mature job in handling Osborne's all too often abrasive style.

And on and on goes the lists of attributes in which Held does much better than Peters in his dealings with the public.

Model council presidents that Peters ought to check out as to an appropriate way of being in that role include:  Allen Schulman of Canton and the late John Benincasa of Alliance.

If anything, Peters as council president has regressed since he took over in the wake of Jon Snyder's resignation several years ago.

As mayor, in stark contrast to Peters, David Held is in the judgement of the SCPR an example of civility, courtesy and charm (in most instances) in his "in council meeting" relationship with North Canton citizens.

Last night Held handled himself in exemplary fashion in the following three instances:

FIRST, CITIZEN LARRY TRIPP SPEAKS ON PETERS' ABIDED NORTH CANTON GOV'T INSULT



HELD'S RESPONSE



SECOND, CITIZEN OSBORNE SPEAKS ON CLAIMED "ILLEGAL" CRA ISSUE





HELD'S RESPONSE



THIRD, CITIZEN SPEAKS ON NORTH CANTON POOL PROBLEMS

(SCPR Note:  North Cantonians who want the latest on the status of North Canton's Dogwood Shelter Pool this is much to learn from this video including responses by:

  • Mayor Held, 
  • Chief Administrator Grimes
  • Councilpersons Griffith, and
  • Cerreta




Peters had to be grinding his teeth at the Held, Grimes, Griffith and Cerreta responses during public speaks juncture of last night's meeting.  Of course, the "real" stickler for forbidding such interaction is Law Director Tim Fox.

Overall, David Held is a credit to North Canton government.

President of Council Daniel "Jeff" Peters, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired.

And a number of the councilpersons; namely, Kiesling and Werren are neck and neck with Peters.

Werren is particularly troublesome on this count inasmuch as she is the director of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Stark County.

In the SCPR's book she is the worst possible example of leadership in a public forum venue.

To The Report, her leadership training position is owing to her political connectedness in at large Stark County social circles.  Not by demonstrated leadership skills.

Monday, June 27, 2016

SMITH BESTS SLESNICK "HANDS DOWN" IN NEXT CHAPTER SATURDAY-JUNE 25TH-DEBATE

UPDATE:  06/28/2016

CANDIDATE SMITH MAKES APPEARANCE AT NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL

(See video  below)


VIDEOS

SEE THE ENTIRE DEBATE
(At End of Blog)

(Added 06/28/2016)

CANDIDATE SMITH
AT
NORTH CANTON CITY COUNCIL





ORIGINAL BLOG

As I walked in the door of NextChapter Bookstore, I was met by NextChapter owner Chad Minor to tell me that the I was welcome to cover for The Stark County Political Report the evening's debate between state Representative Stephen Slesnick and Canton Township trustee Bill Smith BUT no video was to be permitted (except, of course, NextChapter's own live streaming of the debate).

In order to get Slesnick onsite in the first place, NextChapter had to agree with Slesnick's condition:  NO VIDEOS!

Slesnick let it be known when NextChapter arranged for last night's event that it was either ban the camera or Slesnick would not be appearing.


Either Olson's SCPR be denied the right to videotape or he would not be appearing.

Never mind that NextChapter itself streams the debate live and makes it available online post-debate.

Obviously, Slesnick is being retributive because the SCPR has never been enamored with his work as a public office holder and has blogged frequently with chapter and verse support that viewpoint.

Minor deserves credit for getting Slesnick to participate the the debate notwithstanding that the SCPR was going to the recording the event Slesnick participating or not.

Minor's Next Chapter/Rising Hope Ministry is doing a terrific community service in providing Stark County youth with an opportunity to get up close to Stark County's leaders.

Asking the SCPR to cover a public event without camera in hand is like taking the pen from and plugging the ears of a reported.

It is a compliment to the SCPR that certain Stark County political figures feel the heat by virtue of this blog's thoroughgoing coverage.

Much more in-depth than any other Stark County based media outlet.

But it is a loss to the Stark County public when the likes of:
  • former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II,  
    • (re:  Strickland comes to Canton to support Healy for mayor on last weekend of campaign)
  • Dave Kirven of as president of the Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Club (JJC), 
    • (re:  denial of coverage Democrats running for Stark County political subdivision government and appearing at JJC),
      • Note:  Shame on Democratic candidates who abide the banning.
    • Stark Republican Party chairman Jeff Matthews,
      • (re:  no SCPR video coverage of Republican candidate appearing before Stark GOP central/executive committees since the Phil Davison Internet gone viral taping of September, 2010,
    • Stark County Board of Elections (Matthews, the executive director) 
      • (re:  relegating SCPR to secondary status among Stark County media in physical proximity to Bernabei/Cicchinelli in recording witness testimony),
    • Sheriff George T. Maier,
      • (re:  ignoring except in one case, SCPR e-mail requests for information/response to various law enforcement issues that the Stark County public deserves to be privy to)
    deny access or request "turn the camera off" of "open to the public" events.

    The Stark County public should be asking:  What are Slesnick and his ilk afraid of?  What are they hiding?

    Of course no Stark County media outlet provides the space that the SCPR does for the subjects of blogs to respond in.

    The personification of attempted manipulation and control is former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II.

    Take a look at this video of Healy chasing me around Canton council chambers demanding that I turn the camera off.



    The SCPR is undeterred by public officials/figures who cannot "stand the heat in the 'political' kitchen and nearly always a finds way to keep Stark Countians informed about the political/government activities of all who try to get in the way of being held accountable.

    Accountability is a prime democratic-republican system of government value and one can only think that those who deny/demand must have a strong streak of "anti-democratic" blood coursing through their bodies.

    After seeing last night's debate, I understand fully why Stephen Slesnick would not want the voting public seeing him on camera.

    In all the years that I have be covering Stark County political subdivision politics (going on nine [9] now), I have not seen a more pathetic presentation than Slesnick's last night.

    Normally, the SCPR does an analysis of any video recorded public event.

    But last night's clearly speaks for itself.  And all readers of the SCPR (and, for that matter, any November, 2016 prospective voters) need do is to invest 44 minutes in viewing last night's face off to seem for themselves how utterly unprepared Stephen Slesnick is to be a Stark County commissioner.

    Hopefully, all SCPR readers will make that investment of time.

    But, if not, here's an outline of the highlights of the debate:
    • Bill Smith clearly as a 15 years Canton township trustee comes across of being intimately familiar with county commissioner government and how county government connects with other Ohio political subdivisions.
    • As pointed out by Smith, he not only understands being a government official in being a trustee; he also has operated several businesses successfully for several years.
    • Boiled down, Slesnick's reason for running for county commissioner seems to be that he was born and raised in Stark County and has a impulse to continuing to serve in some capacity of government,
      • SCPR note:  Unstated by Slesnick, which is the "real" reason The Report thinks he is running, is that he is as of December 31, 2016 term limited out of the Ohio House of Representatives and therefore needs to new landing place in order to sup at the public trough,
    • Slesnick claims that he has brought millions back to Stark County over the course of his eight (8) years representing the general Canton area (now expanded to include most of Massillon) in the Ohio House of Representatives.
    • He also claims to have brought $5 million back to specifically benefit Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame Project,
      • SCPR note:  Quite frankly,  SCPR does not believe either claim to be accurate and will over the space of the remaining campaign to investigate Slesnick's claims,
    • A positive thing that Slesnick spoke to was in his response to a question about what needs to be done to make Stark County government better.   He opened a discussion of looking into merging health department operations and building department operations across various Stark County political subdivisions into "one-stop-shop" operations.
      • SCPR Note:  A good idea that needs to be accomplished.  Slesnick's much more capable cousin (Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler) ran for commissioner a number of years ago with that agenda as a prime mission.  Had he been elected, The Report thinks Stark County would have achieved some semblance of that goal under his watch.
    • Slesnick repeated a couple theme throughout his presentation Saturday in saying that he accords high priority to Stark County being fiscally responsible and, by implication, that he wants to implement measures stop the brain drain (i.e. work on economic development) that is occurring in Stark County.
      • SCPR Notes:  
        • #1-When Janet Creighton and Thomas Bernabei became commissioners (2010), they took office and immediately instituted measures to tighten Stark's fiscal profile.  Consequently, the Stark County commissioners, who have a prime responsibility of budgeting and appropriating for all Stark County departments of government, have converted a shaky fiscal status into one being top notch in context of available financial resources and monitoring department performance.
          • A main reason for the development of a solid fiscal foundation and operation is fellow Canton Township trustee (to Bill Smith) and Stark County budget director Chris Nichols.  Quarterly, he issues accountability reports which only the SCPR publishes in full.
          • In the SCPR's book, Nichols is Stark County's #1 rated "appointed" public official.
        • #2-A major weakness with the Stark County commissioners is the board's lack of an economic development plan.  The commissioner make an annual contribution to the Stark Development Board (SDB).  As far as the SCPR is concerned relying the SDB is hugely inadequate.  However, Slesnick has to do better than banter that he wants Stark to not be subject to a "brain drain," but rather be into developing ways a means to create conditions whereby Stark experiences a "brain gain."  All Slesnick did was to invoke "glittering generality" language with no specific  proposal being provided as to how he as commissioner would correct this glaring inadequacy of the current and former Stark County Boards of Commissioners.
    • Bill Smith repetitively chided Slesnick about his being present in the Ohio House and yet local governments saw greatly reduced "local government funding" at the hand of the Ohio General Assembly complicit with Governor Kasich.
      • SCPR Note:  Smith's foray into this subject matter was the perfect opportunity for Slesnick to jump all over Smith who is a staunch Republican inasmuch as the drastic cuts to local government funding by Ohio government are owned "lock, stock and barrel" by the Republicans.  But he merely let it pass.  Wow! Who is advising this guy on political strategy?
    A interesting aside.


    During his presentation, Smith referred to Stark County having a new prosecutor.  Apparently this was his expectation that fellow Republican Jeff Jakmides who was in the audience is going to unseat sitting prosecutor (going for his fourth consecutive term in office) come November.

    Interesting no?

    NextChapter's June 25, 2016 debate between state Representative Stephen Slesnick and Trustee Bill Smith (Canton Township) was a  debacle for Slesnick.

    He showed how utterly "unprepared" he is to be Stark County commissioner.

    The Report has been covering the Stark County commissioners for upwards of nine (9) years and cannot recall ever seeing Slesnick at a meeting.

    And his unfamiliarity with commissioner functions showed in the debate.

    For example, he calls the annual commissioner "carryover" a surplus.

    Anyone familiar with commissioner operations know that "unplanned" expenses happen frequently with Stark County government facilities.  Several years ago, the Stark County Board of Elections experienced a major water problem which had to be dealt with today!; not tomorrow.

    Bill Smith, on the other hand, has been a frequent visitor to commissioner meetings since he announced that he was running for commissioner.

    Besides his attending commissioner meetings, Smith likely has been dealing with the commissioners in his capacity of being a Canton township trustee going back some fifteen (15) years.

    The Reports adds "unqualified" as a label that should be attributed to Slesnick.

    Unqualified in the sense that the debate shows that he does not understand the structure of Ohio's form of commissioner governance.

    This from a state Representative of some eight (8) years in Columbus?

    Take a look for yourself.  The entire debate.  A videotaped debate as a SCPR public service that one can understand that Stephen Slesnick has to wishing he had stuck to his guns and never participated in.

    This video in and of itself shows how utterly unprepared and unqualified Stephen Slesnick is to be a Stark County commissioner.


    Friday, June 24, 2016

    CONTINUING SCPR SERIES: WHY WOULD ANYBODY TEACH IN EAST CANTON (OSNABURG LOCAL) SCHOOL DISTRICT WHEN HE/SHE COULD MAKE $20,000 ON AVERAGE MORE TEACHNG NEXT DOOR IN CANTON LOCAL?

    ALSO

    87% OF NORTH CANTON'S OPERATIONAL BUDGET
    GOES TO TEACHER SALARIES/BENEFITS


    Not long ago, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) published "District Profiles" data on its website.

    As the SCPR is wont to do with this blog is to do in-depth analyses of various Stark County government issues.

    Databases galore are made available to everyday Ohioians as one of the ways to check up on Ohio and local boards of education as to whether or not our taxes are being used effectively and efficiently.

    Not long ago, the SCPR published a blog questioning whether or not we Stark Countians are getting our money's worth in light of the graphic constructed from ODE data and published on this blog.



    Only four Stark County superintendents were willing to provide the SCPR with responses as to why so many Stark County districts (33%) received an "F" grade from the ODE.

    The answers varied.

    The main one was that the ODE keeps shifting the testing criteria upon which the grading is based.

    Taking second in the list of reasons was that students were not comfortable take the tests online.

    The SCPR is not buying either.

    School boards across Stark County are not getting the job done in making sure that their respective highly paid superintendents are getting the job done in ensuring that Stark County students are getting a world class education.

    Some think that the Canton Board of Education in hiring and continuing on with Adrian Allison in particular seems to be a shortchanging of Canton's parent/student community.


    The Report thinks the Canton system may be on a path (LINK #1, LINK #2) to replicate the dire situation that exists with the Youngstown public education infrastructure.  (LINK)

    The Report believes that a perfect storm of educationally deficient parents, students, administrators (i.e. superintendents) and teachers (and their unions) and boards of education is to blame.

    Of those factors, too many superintendents of schools appear to be more about making huge salaries and exercising authoritarian control than devising effective/efficient strategies to turnaround the quality of American education.

    Stark County's education community leadership deficiencies appear to be in line with what is going on in large part nationally.

    Over time, school officials from Ohio's 610 school districts will, through political lobbying. likely force the ODE to change it evaluation tools to the liking of school officials and bingo! all of a sudden the grades will skyrocket.

    An embarrassing problem solved through political maneuvering, no?

    Once the class of the world in educating generations of Americans with a "free" public education, America's school system is spiraling downward.

    One of the claims for the downward movement by some has been the matter of teacher pay.

    So let's take a look at the highest teacher pay in a Stark County school district as compared to the district having the lowest teacher pay.

    CANTON LOCAL

    On the chart above, on the criteria graded by the ODE, Canton Local (Canton South) received:
    • four (4) "Fs," 
    • two (2) "Ds,"
    • two (2) "Cs," 
    • two (2) "Bs," 
    • zero (0) "As"
    • including an overall grade of "C."

    OSNABURG LOCAL

    On the same criteria, Osnaburg Local (also referred to as "East Canton") graded out:
    • three (3) "Fs," 
    • three (3) "Ds,"
    • two (2) "Cs," 
    • zero (0) "Bs," 
    • three (3) "As"
    • including an overall grade of "C."
    While there is a huge amount of difference in how each district got to an overall "C" grade by the Ohio Department of Education, Osnaburg (East Canton) seems to have a higher quality "C."

    The East Canton Hornet district had fewer "Fs" and more "As" (actually the Canton South system go no "As") than the Canton South Wildcat district.

    But look at the difference in what the teachers of each system earn "on average:"


    Wow!

    These two communities abut one another and yet there is nearly a $20,000 difference in what a Canton Local teacher earns over what one in the Osnaburg system earns.


    Another notable factor in the teacher salary chart (prepared from data published by the ODE is that North Canton spends 87 cents of each operating fund $1 for teacher salaries.  Another sizeable chunk of salary expense (a future blog will show) in North Canton is dedicated to administrative (superintendent, et cetera) expense.

    What in the world is left for equipment, supplies and other financial support needs for a Hoover Viking student?le

    The 87% factor leaves a mere $0.13 for the rest of North Canton's operational budget.

    In North Canton, it appears to be all about the teachers and administrators at the expense of the students, no?

    Somebody appears to not have been an effective negotiator in holding North Canton's teacher costs in line with most of the rest of Stark County.

    North Canton supposedly recently resolved its leadership problem with the hiring of former Lake superintendent Jeff Wendorf in what appears to have been in a cloud of mysterious "wheelin and dealin" that made Lake officials very angry.

    The "average" percentage devoted to teacher salary across Stark County is 78%.

    North Canton is nine (9) percentage points higher.

    Again, wow!

    There is much more to be garnered from the ODE provided Ohio School District Profile database.

    The SCPR will continue on with this ongoing series analyzing that data.

    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    WHO IS-FROM AMONG STARK COUNTY OFFICIALDOM-"THE BIGGER CAVS' FAN:" CREIGHTON OR REGULA?




    There was an empty chair at yesterday's regular weekly meeting of the Board of Stark County Commissioners.

    And Commissioner Janet Creighton was quick to land on the absentee; namely, Richard Regula who absconded Stark County Tuesday evening with his family from the family abode in Bethlehem Township to metropolitan Cleveland to attend "the really BIG" (an estimated 1.3 million) celebration parade and party.



    The SCPR uses the term "abscond" in jest to emphasize had she known, Creighton would likely taken measures to have Regula stopped before he could exit Stark County inSasmuch as she bills herself as being Stark County's ultimate public official fan.

    The Report talked with Regula last evening on his return from Cleveland to get his account of his trip to Cleveland.

    Here is Regula's eyewitness account which includes his having contact with Stark County Board of Elections members Bill Sherer, II and Sam Ferruccio, Jr. who were in Cleveland on BOE business at an event put on on by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.


    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    STARK CO. PUBLIC OFFICIAL POLITICAL PARTY LOYALTY: A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING?



    Stark County Commissioner Janet Creighton is a "no bones about it" committed Republican.

    Most of the time, Stark Countians would have no problem with that.

    For such is the fundamental political base upon which our democratic-republican form of government rests.

    But the likelihood is that she will vote for Republican presumptive presidential nominee come the November general election is very high.  So thinks The Stark County Political Report. 

    While in a conversation that The Report had with Creighton yesterday, she would not say forthrightly that she will be voting for Trump, one thing is clear:  she will not be voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    Which in a way is surprising to me.

    As a Republican woman, Creighton at the onset of her political career (her run for and election as Stark County recorder) experienced political rough housing at the hands of some Stark's leading Republicans seemingly because she was a woman making her way in what to this very day is deemed by all too many to still be primarily a man's world.

    As the father of three highly successful professional women (a high ranking military officer, a lawyer and a doctor), I have  seen first hand the hurdles women have to overcome to achieve leadership positions in American society.

    Some see Trump as the pinnacle of "woman as object" in his basic take of the female gender and generally not persons who possess prized unique leadership qualities.

    Trump can and does point to specific women as being worthy of leadership roles.  But his overall record indicates to the SCPR for one that such women the exception and not the rule.

    Commissioner Creighton is Stark County's foremost Republican politician.

    The only blight in her political success record is her 2011 mayoralty loss (running for a second term) to William J. Healy, II in heavily Democratic Canton.

    That she might be voting for Trump in the name of party unity come November is more than a touch ironic inasmuch as many of us see Trump and Healy being of the same political ilk.

    Creighton has demonstrated her leadership prowess as Stark County recorder, auditor, mayor of Canton and now Stark County commissioner.  Moreover, she has a stint in the George W. Bush White House to vouch for her being a top flight leader that her gender is irrelevant to.

    I like to think that were the Democratic nominee were anybody other than Hillary Clinton, Creighton would cast aside her political party allegiance and support a woman who is trying the break through the ultimate American glass ceiling.

    Clinton's high negatives (and yet significantly lower than Trump's) attest to the political reality that many of us wish the first viable female candidate for president in Hillary Clinton.

    Like her or not, Clinton is a highly competent person whom polls show that Americans generally rate her as having traits that make her more qualified to be president than Trump on several key issues.   (see this CNN polling report)


    A Republican woman nominee for president, no problem!

    But a Democrat?

    It is this kind of stuff that turns many of us off about partisan politics.

    Primary justification for Creighton's likely position of "holding her nose" and voting for Trump is political party unity as a critical stabilizing factor on American politics and government.

    And there is a case to be made for such.

    But to the SCPR, just not a persuasive point.

    Democratic Canton Councilman Edmond Mack (Ward 8) used the same tack in supporting fellow Democrat William J. Healy, II for a third term as mayor of Canton in the face of a challenge from former Democrat turned political independent Thomas M. Bernabei in the November, 2015 general election.


    The SCPR holds Edmond Mack in very high regard.  He is far and away the best Canton City Council has to offer in terms of through and through quality as a representative of the Ward 8 people of Canton.

    Mack has not told me this, but my take away from conversations with him post-mayoralty-election is that he now sees that Bernabei is vastly superior to Healy in leadership skills which likely, over time,will translate into an authentically rehabilitated Canton as one of Ohio's premier urban areas.

    But had Mack had his way in denying Bernabei political independent status, Canton would be stuck with Healy and his self-serving ways which translated into his using Canton for his own political enhancement.

    To me, Creighton is doing much the same thing in hanging on to the political party loyalty thing in her apparent, if reluctant support of Trump.

    In discussing with Creighton the movement among Republican National Convention bound delegates (which Creighton is one of as pledged to Republican John Kasich) to deny Trump notwithstanding his clear mandate by Republican primary voters (some 14 million votes, more than any Republican ever), she says, and the SCPR can see the logic of her analysis, that to deny Trump the nomination could well lead chaos, rioting and the like and in the end spell the end of the Republican Party as we know it.

    Given Trump's over-the-top (like Healy) "its all about me" stance, she could be be correct in her analysis.

    A "care about the future of my political party" and "care about the going forward stability of the nation" candidate for the nomination for president, who—unfairly (i.e. changing the rules and thereby negating 'the will of Republican voters')—denied the nomination would step aside from the personal devastation and accept the unfairness in furtherance of the greater good.

    But few expect (certainly not the SCPR) that the bombastic, "how-great-I am, just ask me," name-calling, fear mongering, xenophobic Trump has that capacity.

    So the answer to the Creighton's concern about the consequences of not nominating Trump, while realistic given the "Donald Trump first" mindset of the presumptive Republican nominee, is not a satisfactory answer in our democratic-republican system of government.

    Creighton has many admirable qualities of having political spunk.

    But if she follows through with her—apparent to the SCPR—support of Donald Trump in the general election and he gets elected, then she and those fellow Republicans who think of the welfare of the Republican Political Party as being more important than the well being of the nation will collectively bear the burden of having had the wrong priority.

    Edmond Mack escaped the consequences to Cantonians of his supporting William J. Healy, II in November, 2015 with the Thomas M. Bernabei victory.

    Janet Creighton and those all Republicans who have pronounced reservations about Donald Trump as president of the United States of America, but as a matter of political party loyalty support Trump, may not be so lucky.

    With Trump at the head of the Republican ticket, the prospect for wholesale losses down ticket which might cost Rob Portman his U.S. Senate seat.  Moreover, Republican Stark County commissioner candidate Bill Smith (who Creighton is politically close to) and Republican Ohio House of Representative candidate Dan McMasters might also be victims of Trump being a the top  the ticket.

    Creighton pointed out to me yesterday the positive effect for Republicans of Ronald Reagan being the top of the ticket in the 1980 election, to wit:


    It could be, as conjectured above, that Trump at the top may result in a reversal of the political fate of local Republicans in 2016.

    If elected, Donald Trump likely will undoubtedly go to work to remake the national Republican Party and national governance over in his own image.

    One can only shudder at what kind of Republican Party and federal government a Trump election would entail.

    There is a time and place that reliably Republican and Democratic elected public officials to jettison party loyalty, no?

    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    A SCPR MULTIPART SERIES: BIRTHING THE CANTON PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT, AS PAINFUL AS CHILD BIRTH?


    PART TWO

    CANTON JOINT RECREATION BD MEMBER

    DON PETERSON, III

    WANTS CJRD TO BUY FORMER CANTON JEWISH CENTER



    VIDEOS

    ENTIRE
    CANTON JOINT RECREATION DISTRICT BOARD
    MEETING
    OF
    JUNE 16, 2016
    (2 HOURS, 15 MINUTES)
    AT END OF BLOG

    ADDITIONAL VIDEOS

    TRANSITION MEETING SET FOR 07/19/2016
    4:30 PM
    CANTON GARDEN CENTER

    ==================================

    DISCUSSION OF MEMBER PETERSON
    PROPOSAL FOR CJRD
    TO CONSIDER PURCHASING
    FORMER CANTON JEWISH CENTER

    lt came out at the regular June 16, 2016 meeting (this past Thursday) of the Canton Joint Recreation Board (CJRD) that the CJRD has some $850,000, more or less, in revenue surplus to spend before it dissolves into oblivion with the impending (likely about December 31, 2016) merger into the into the new Canton Parks and Recreation Department (CPRC) of Canton city government.



    SCPR Note:  Members Peterson and Ross-Freeman were about 30 minutes late to the meeting.

    Though a department of Canton government, the CPRC is separate from the city in that it has its own governing body (a commission of three commissioners appointed by the mayor of Canton for three year terms; one appointee each year) and an independent source of revenue in the form of its only 5 mill levy.



    After failing in November, 2015, the levy passed in March, 2016 and now the march is on to consolidate the CPRC and the CJRD.

    The passed levy was largely the work product of CJRD president J.R. Rinaldi.

    On July 19th both the CJRD (at 4:30 p.m.) and the CPRC (at 5:30 p.m.) will be meeting to continue preparations for the merger of the two entities under the authority of the CPRC.




    In this Part II of The Stark County Political Report series on the birthing travail that is taking place as the merger of the CJRD into the CPRC with the former Canton Park Commission with three board members appointed by the mayor of Canton picks up a full head of steam.

    As far as the SCPR is concerned, one of the more controversial members of the CJRD has been and continues to be Don Peterson, III. 

    He and former CJRD president Eric Resnick (now a member of the Canton City Schools Board of Education) created a ruckus when they as members of the CJRD personnel committee hired without prior board approval Canton based attorney Sally Henning to provide legal advice to the CJRD dating back to December, 2014/January, 2015. 

    Current CJRD president J.R. Rinaldi roundly criticized Resnick and Peterson at the time for the hiring which was approved by the CJRD after the fact.

    Rinaldi and Resnick faced off in 2013 for a CCS BOE seat in a bitterly fought contest which Rinaldi won.  (SCPR blog LINK)

    Peterson has been among those CJRD board members (the only other, the SCPR thinks, was Resnick) who pushed hard for the CJRD to be the surviving entity in the-then in talking stages merger (2014).  

    As seen in the this video, Peterson in his contribution to the discussion of the future relationship of the CPRC and the CCS, points out:  had his model of parks and recreation merger been adopted (three members of the board appointed by the mayor; two members by the CCS-BOE), there would be a formal role for the schools in the administration of the merged unit.

    It also appears to the SCPR that Sally Henning and Sharon Fladen (an attorney who Henning hired to work on CJRD matters) were heavily involved in advocating that the CJRD and its funding source (a larger tax base inasmuch as the district is composed of the Canton City Schools' tax base footprint) as the "makes sense" lead in the proposed merger.

    Matt Rink, now editorial page editor of The Canton Repository wrote (as a then reporter for The Rep) a thoroughgoing piece on the controversy that SCPR blog readers out to read.  (LINK)  (also, see SCPR blogs on the topic:  LINK 1, LINK 2, LINK 3).

    Peterson came in late to the CJRD regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening. 

    Perhaps he was getting "all his ducks line up in a row" prior the gracing the meeting as he asked that the board to continue a discussion regarding the CJRD purchasing the former Canton Jewish Center (CJC) which he said was brought up at the May meeting of the CJRD. (LINK)


    The center located at 2631 Harvard Ave., NW opened in 1964.

    The proposal presented was the feasibility of purchasing the CJC and its 14 or so acres for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million (with a State of Ohio low interest loan that state Rep. Kirk Schuring told him "might" be available).

    A forty-two minute discussion ensued, to wit:



    Peterson did specify what portion of the money remaining in CJRD coffers after spending for this year's operation (thought to be about $850,000) would be drained off to complete such a purchase.

    Board president J.R. Rinaldi came prepared with a preliminary written outline of what to do with the $850,000 or so in surplus funds.  In the meeting, assertions were made that previous CJRD boards had failed to "along the way" to make needed capital improvements.



    It was apparent to the SCPR that the CJRD is not about to merely hand over its revenu surplus to the CPRC.  However, Rinaldi did say that any capital equipment/property items would be split 50/50 between Canton and the Canton City Schools on the finalization of the merger between the two entities.

    One of the main persons that Peterson brought into last Thursday's discussion was one Greg Luntz  an commercial real estate agent for NAI Spring.


    There was something about Peterson's "buy the Canton Jewish Center project" that does not seem quite right to the SCPR.

    For one thing, Luntz was unable because of what he said was a confidentiality factor to provide very little useful information to the CJRD board if board members were to be interested in pursing the Peterson advocacy.

    For another, Luntz said that the property may be unavailable for purchase because of an existing "option to purchase" held by an "unnamed 'potential' buyer."

    So it appears that the Peterson CJRD initiative is being treated by NAI Spring as a back up plan for moving the property should the option to purchase not be exercised.

    For a third, Peterson could be viewed by some to having played a "race card" in giving reasons why the the CJRD ought to purchase the Center.


    That Peterson jumped on the revelation of Canton rehabbing the Southeast Community Center complex at a cost of $4 million including $900,000 from Canton's current levy  got a reaction from former CCS BOE member Ida Mae Ross-Freeman (an African-American) who was defeated in a bid for reelection in November, 2015.

    Just as easily Peterson's initiative could be viewed as a North side, South side argument.  The Southeast Community center is in Ward 4.  The J. Babe Stern Center also received $900,000 and is located in Councilman Kevin Fisher's Ward 5.

    There are no equivalent Canton government supported facilities in the north side of the city.

    For a fourth, Peterson's bringing the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOFVP) as somehow connected to the fate of the former Jewish Center seems to the SCPR to be quite a stretch.

    For a fifth, he brought Canton City Council into the fray in having a Councilman John Mariol substitute Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack (Mariol is Ward 7 councilman, the site of the former Canton Jewish Center) appear at Thursday meeting 

    For a sixth, Peterson strongly suggested that those opposing or resisting a consideration of buying the CJC lacked vision.

    Does Peterson consider that they might well have a more plausible vision and the future they envision is taking on a burden in acquiring the CJC that the CPRC can ill-afford given the tight, tight budget that the commission faces in allocating scarce dollars to park and recreation activities and facilities?

    Peterson invite Craig Luntz wouldn't even tell (ref:  the confidentiality thing) CJRD board members when the option expires.

    How lame is that in terms of Peterson's preparation for the presentation?

    It is unreal that Peterson would advance "let's think about purchasing the former Jewish Center" idea in the context of the marked uncertainty of the property's availability let alone other telling points advanced by a number of those in attendance at Thursday's meeting.

    If the CJC becomes available, one would think that Luntz and his anonymous client have gotten the notion from Peterson's zeal in favor of the purchase that they can pretty much depend on getting the asking price of $2 million, no? 

    The  SCPR's take on:
    • "the give and take" between CJRD board members "other than Peterson" and Peterson and CPRC board members (Black, Hanke and Sliman, who were in the audience of the CJRD meeting as was recently chosen CPR director Derek Gordon) 
    is that Peterson's proposal is a non-starter and that his persistence is being abided out of considerations of giving him a diplomatic "no."  



    The July 19th meetings are looking more and more interesting as the interplay between the CJRD and CPRC continue and Peterson seeming intent on forcing the CJC matter.

    These meetings should be a top draw for Cantonians who care about the future of park and recreation facilities in Canton, Ohio.

    The SCPR video of the entire June 16, 2016 meeting of the Canton Joint Recreation District meeting: