Monday, February 9, 2009


The STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) has learned that the brouhaha going on in Canton politics has a strong Smuckler versus Healy tint to it.

When you look at the historical political relationship between the two men, it certainly makes sense that the "real" fight is: Who is going to control the city of Canton - Smuckler or Healy.

In 2008 Democrat Bill Smuckler was "entitled" to take on Republican Janet Creighton-Weir for the mayoralty of Canton. But the "having paid his political dues" factor flew out the window when political newcomer (from an established Stark County political family) decided he needed a job.

Healy's father had lost in a mayoralty race to Republican Richard Watkins in 1999. Looking around the political landscape, Healy decided to run against the "entitled one" for two reasons. First, Smuckler only appeals to Democrats and not to all of them. Smuckler in particular is not a favorite in the African-American community. Therefore, the "Team Healy" forces decided Smuckler was vulnerable. Second, there was the "redeeming the family honor" factor. Healy's father had served in various elected political offices (most notably as state representative) covering the city of Canton. To Healy, the senior Healy's defeat did not set well. Becoming mayor of Canton became a consuming passion for the junior Healy.

As it turns out, Jamey (as his close friends call him) made a huge political miscalculation that haunts him to this day. He loses to Smuckler in the primary and then, in the minds of Smuckler supporters, "sat on his hands" while watching Smuckler lose to Creighton in a heavily Democratic city. The Report believes that Smuckler to this day nurses a political grudge against Healy.

Another political mistake was his running against popular Canton and Stark County Democrat Mary Cirelli while she was the incumbent in the 52nd House District seeking re-election.

Mary is a "homespun" type who is absolutely loved by many Canton voters. Her major strength is servicing her constituents; not thinking up and seeing enacted into law policy initiatives. The Report believes that Cirelli severely underestimated the drive, the determination and the polish of Healy and his "Team Healy" campaign force.

So Healy wins this one. Subsequently, Cirelli runs for city council at large and has no problems whatsoever getting elected.

Healy doesn't enjoy being a "little fish in a big pond" and so he decides to run for mayor once again. He has a relatively easy time against Creighton as any Democrat ought to and wins with a significant margin.

Well, who sits on city council as Healy takes the oath of office as mayor of Canton? Indeed, Smuckler and Cirelli.

In probably one the worst moves that he could have possibly made, Healy chose another Canton political mainstay as his service director and chief-of-state: Tom Bernabei.

Really? The worst?

Yes, the worst from the Healy interest standpoint.

Tom Bernabei is, perhaps, the most respected and skilled politician and elected official to ever serve the people of Canton. You have to give Healy credit. He knows a gem when he sees one.

What he didn't see was that Tom Bernbei is a man of his own mind. His loyalty and devotion to Canton clearly trumps political loyalty to his boss. In this case, Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Bernabei tries to talk sense to Healy but (as The Report has written before) Healy is arrogant and cannot take counsel from anyone for more that in an episodic fashion. Who knows better than William J. Healy, II, Healy muses to himself.

Bernabei has a solid relationship with Canton City Council, having been a key member of that body. While Healy was denying to The Report that he had troubles with council, Bernabei in a deflected sort of way admitted such to be the case but clearly felt he used his relationship to smooth things out for the Healy administration. Smuckler, in particular, has almost reverential respect for Benerbei.

So it should be no surprise that Bill Smuckler - especially in the light of the Bernbei firing - is the resister-in-chief to Mayor Healy.

Being a resister is one thing. But, to imply, as Healy has; that anyone who is a resister to Healy's self-assumed role as "changer-in-chief" is somehow a suspect in the "anonymous letters" matter - is way over the line of propriety.

It is more than a bit ironic that the mayor gets very indignant at malicious rumors being spread by someone who is not willing to be "front and center" about the allegation(s) and to provide the proof - and, indignant he should be. Then, on the other side of things Healy suggests, implord and aspersesd that mere political opposition is grounds in and of itself to merit inference that the opponents are behind the anonymous letters.

The Report knows that Healy is well-taken with his own intelligence. And smart he is.

What the mayor hasn't realized is that there are people in and about Canton city government that are every bit as sharp as he is - if not sharper!

A final point.

Playing his own game, one might ask: Why is Mayor Healy - as a matter of a full court press - engaging in these diversionary tactics anyway?

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