Thursday, February 26, 2009
DISCUSSION: A MAN WHO CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR CAMPAIGN BECOMES THE BEST LABOR ATTORNEY IN OHIO - HOW CONVENIENT?
The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) put the words defining "disingenuous" into the mouth of Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II.
Just listen to his interview with Ron Ponder ("Points to Ponder" WHBC-AM 1480) on February 6th.
Incredible! How idiotic this guy thinks the rest of us are.
Some people think Healy is an awfully smart guy. And if you don't believe these folks, just ask him. He'll tell you himself.
But on scrutiny The Report says he is more slick than smart. To make the slick appraisal, let's do an analysis of his discussion with Ponder.
First, Healy ignores Ponder's clearly implied question about "avoiding" accountability to Canton City Council on hiring outside legal counsel for labor negotiation by negotiating a contract with the attorney (Gary C. Johnson of Johnson & Colaluca of Cleveland) for $14,999. Of course, we all know the rest of the story. At $15,000 Canton City Council must give it approval for hiring the Cleveland attorney.
Second, he slams the Canton Law Department by citing the definition for insanity, to wit: "to do things the same way and expect different results." Moreover, in referring to the existing labor contracts (negotiated by guess who? - yes the Canton Law Department), Healy says that "most people from the outside say, wow, these are very favorable contracts for the employees" (in other words the law department of years gone by have not done a good job and it would be insane to continue with them).
Third, Healy speaks of how "fabulous" Canton's organized labor employees are and that they are the ones who keep Canton going (impliedly its not Mayor Healy and his administration but the employees - mind you). Oh yes, our New York University Stern School of Business grad takes second fiddle to the ordinaries?
Fourth, Healy suggests that these "fabulous" employees who "really" run Canton are paid too much: 80% of Canton's budget. Eighty percent because of the "sweetheart" contract that the Canton Law Department negotiated with the union. Think about that Law Director Joe Martuccio?
Being a Democrat, Healy has to walk a fine line with organized labor. Looking at Healy's campaign fiance report, organized labor gave TeamHealy lots of money. For instance, Laborers Local #15 contributed $8,000.
The Report believes Healy merely plays the "rhetoric" game with organized labor in order to keep the campaign funds flowing. The Report further believes that Healy feels much more comfortable with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce crowd. It's kind of like he is trying to be accepted in the "hoity-toity" club of Canton. But they only made token contributions to his campaign. And, in the opinion of The Report, the chamber types will never accept Healy as one of their own. After all he is a Democrat and he did take out their political darling Janet Creighton-Weir.
Fifth, Ponder asks Healy "so you didn't want to entrust that to the law department?" (which The Report thinks Ponder got exactly right) Healy denies the lack of trust. But then he goes onto "I WANTED OUTSIDE EYES TO LOOK AT THE CONTRACTS." Clearly, the mayor is a man who thinks that the rest of us are totally stupid and does what lawyers call a "confession and avoidance" (i.e. no but yes).
Sixth, then, according to Healy, "we contacted a gentleman, a gentleman came in with his credentials." A curious and subtle change from "we contacted" to "a gentleman came in," which The Report thinks is a cover for a politically connected person close to the Healy administration who wanted to steer Canton to the Cleveland law firm.
We need to remember that political consultant Jack DeSario (also a political science professor at Mount Union College) DR Consulting managed the Healy campaign for mayor. What is relevant here is that when DeSario consulted with former North Canton Mayor Tom Rice's campaign, he admitted that he had told Rice that Gary Johnson was "available" to replace Bob Tscholl as North Canton's labor negotiator.
Did DeSario have the same sort of conversation with Healy? With all due respect to Mr. Ponder, that line of questioning should have been pursued.
Sixth, notice how Healy cites all of Johnson's outstanding credentials, then, in the opinion of The Report, diminishes Johnson's role. All of a sudden the Mayor does an almost 180 and begins waxing eloquent about his team, to wit: the law department, the service director, the safety director, the auditor. It almost as if the "best labor attorney" in all of Ohio is just one of the guys on this team. Who believes that will actually be the case?
The Report predicts (if North Canton's experience is an indicator) that Johnson will be totally in charge and when he submits the final bill to Canton for his services, $14,999 will seem like a pipe dream that only William J. Healy, II believes. In North Canton, officials were stunned when what they were paying Bob Tscholl about $15,000 for ended up being approximately $55,000 from Johnson & Angelo (a predecessor firm, which included Jack DeSario, to Johnson & Colaluca - DeSario is not a part of Johnson & Colaluca). Guess who is back negotiating for North Canton. Yes, indeed - Attorney Robert Tscholl.
Seventh, the opinion of The Report the mayor impugns Robert Tscholl's motives in writing the letter cited by Ponder. On what basis does The Report have this opinion?
Well, The Report spoke with Tscholl about his letter (see a copy of letter by CLICKING HERE) and Tscholl told The Report that he was astounded at the mayor move to hire outside counsel. Tscholl said first of all that Canton had no need to hire him or any other legal counsel (Stark County based or not) to negotiate with the unions because the Canton Law Department has first-rate ability and an unquestioned record. But if outside legal counsel was to be hired, there were others - other than Robert Tscholl - who have great credentials in representing the management side of labor negotiations. Tscholl said local legal counsel would charge somewhere around $140 per hours whereas Johnson hires out at somewhere around $225 per hour.
The Report has listed in the accompanying graphic contributions that TeamHealy received from Johnson and one other member of Johnson & Colaluca (Attorneys).
The Report there are other connections between Gary C. Johnson and other TeamHealy contributors. The Report has endeavored to talk with the Healy or someone in the Healy administration and campaign about these contributions but to no avail.
One has to wonder why Healy and his campaign is being unresponsive, when you are on record as saying Gary C. Johnson is the best management side labor negotiator in Ohio.
Wouldn't it just be a formality to say something to the effect that: "The campaign contributions by Attorneys Johnson and Schmitz are by out-of-town folks who believe in Jamey Healy and his efforts to bring good government to Canton. Gary C. Johnson was hired because of his labor negotiating experience."
The Report's take on the "refusal to respond" is that Healy et al know that there are many other questions to answer about TeamHealy's campaign finance report.
Certainly the Healy folks understand that The Report is foraging through the campaign finance report to find out exactly who all the out-of-town contributors are in order to provide The Report's readers with background material, in terms of their interests, on the contributors so they can begin to make sense of the contributions - other than, the obvious and obligatory "we're for good government" spiel.
The Report fully expects the "non-cooperation" to continue. But The Report is tenacious and will not be put off easily.
Here is the audio excerpt from "Points to Ponder" to follow in comparing same to The Report's analysis:
Posted by Martin Olson at 5:41 PM