Monday, June 21, 2010
THINGS ARE UNRAVELING FAST IN NORTH CANTON? COUNCIL TO CONSIDER LEGISLATION TONIGHT TO LIMIT THE MAYOR'S SPENDING AUTHORIZATION WITHOUT COUNCIL APPROVAL?
Last week the SCPR reported on an apparent rift between North Canton City Council and the Mayor David Held administration.
Readers will recall that the springboard for the blog was that the Held administration (actually, City Administrator Earle E. Wise, Jr.) requested that Council authorize the administration to spend up to $15,000 for the administration to go out and hire temporary clerical help.
Not only did Council not approve the request, but did so in what The Report thinks was in an insulting way. A councilperson did move to approve the request. However, not one single councilperson would second the motion.
A day later The Report spoke with Mayor Held about the matter. Held described to yours truly about being reduced to one clerical employee while Council has three. He talked about how he had recently lost an employee to Council. The mayor did allude to a situation with the move that indicated that it was in the best interest of all that the move be made. But he did not get anymore specific than that.
Apparently, the request for money for a temporary employee for the administration was to be a "make-up" for the loss of the employee to Council.
Also, readers will recall that the Held administration is using employees from the engineer's office and the civic center to help cope with the excess of work that the administration is inundated with.
Readers of the SCPR know that The Report is not content with a vague reference to relational problems in the administration of city government as being reason for action or inaction.
So The Report turned to a favorite of North Canton government: Chuck Osborne.
Osborne is a former councilman who is a burr to most of North Canton governmental officials. A annoying factor about Osborne to a number of the officials is that, in some instances, he knows more about the happenings at North Canton City Hall than some of these same officials.
And Osborne has turned out to be a terrific source to provide the SCPR with "the rest of the story" of the "behind the scenes" activity in the inner chambers of North Canton government.
Osborne says that City Administrator E.E. Wise, Jr is impossible to work with. And in the switching of the employee from the administration to Council was a consequence of the employee taking no guff from Wise. Apparently, the air got so saturated with acrimony, it was decided that the best solution for all was to move the employee.
The Report focuses on Osborne's account to make a larger point.
It appears to the SCPR that North Canton Council members, folks like Osborne (and Osborne says he knows of others) are having a difficult time getting along with Wise and that they find it discomforting to engage Wise.
Wise, a Democrat, was a former Stark County prosecutor who has run for a couple of local offices. The last was for the judgeship of the Stark County Probate Court which he lost to Republican Dixie Park.
His selection by Held, when he took over as mayor, as North Canton's city administrator was hailed in the local media as a breakthrough on partisan politics. Most local political observers including the SCPR, view North Canton as being a Republican enclave.
In recent times, the SCPR has been hearing a number of rumblings about Council's growing negative perception of Wise's performance. However, Mayor David Held is not hearing any of it. He tells the SCPR that Wise has his fullest confidence and that he is paying no attention whatsoever to Council discontent.
The SCPR believes North Cantonians witnessed the first public shot last Council meeting when the request for the $15,000 was made and rejected out-of-hand.
Unless Council changes it mind, The Report hears that there may be an ordinance on the table at tonight's Council meeting requiring Mayor Held to get specific Council approval for any administration expenditure over $2,500.
Another expected move is for Council to allocate X number of dollars to the Held administration in the 2011 budget (which is expected to have a $231,000 shortfall) with a salutation: "here is your 2011 allocation boys and girls - spend it any way you like, but there will be no more."
So is there a standoff between Council and the administration in North Canton?
Yes and no.
Council is bending over backwards not to have a fight with the administration. And Mayor Held, if he is anything, is a peacemaker.
The sticking point? The SCPR believes it is the continuation of E.E. Wise, Jr as city administrator.
The Report has reason to believe that despite his public stance of "being squarely behind" Administrator Wise, Mayor Held is working the Stark County political circuit to help Wise find a alternative position.
The Report is told that Held had made inquiry with his friends in the Stark County Democratic Party about the availability of an appointment of Wise as a successor to Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler, if Zeigler decides to step down in the light of troubles facing the Stark County treasury over the loss of taxpayer money.
First, the SCPR does not think Zeigler will resign as treasurer.
Second, a Republican (Held) trying to influence the Democrat: really?
Third, if Zeigler does quit, The Report thinks the position is set aside for Stark County commissioner Steve Meeks should he lose to Republican Janet Creighton in November; which The Report thinks he will.
So what is to happen, if Held cannot find an alternative for Wise?
A continuation of muted acrimony between North Canton City Council and the North Canton administration, that's what.
And that cannot be good for the future of North Canton.