Thursday, July 22, 2010

MAYBE IT WON'T BE FIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS THAT SCUTTLES THE CHARTER INITIATIVE IN CANTON; THE NUMBER MAY BE DOWN TO THREE?



AN AMPLIFICATION:  It has been pointed out by a reader of the SCPR that by the Rules of Procedure of the Canton City Council that a council member may ask Council as a body to remove an item from within a committee. If Council refuses to remove the matter from committee and the committee never reports it out, then the matter is effectively killed at the end of Council's term.  It would have to be reintroduced in a new term.

If Council does remove, by a majority vote, the measure from Council, then it goes to Council's Committee of The Whole where it will need seven votes (a simple majority) to get on City Council's agenda for consideration of passage.

ORIGINAL POST

The SCPR wrote on Tuesday that Councilman Mark Butterworth (R - 8th Ward) may have trouble finding eight of twelve votes within Canton City Council to get a measure on the May, 2011 to create a Charter Commission to formulate a charter for Cantonians to vote on in November, 2011.

Like it or not, this measure is getting caught up in politics and the political insecurities of at least two of the councilpersons who sit on the Judiciary Committee headed up by Councilman Thomas West (D - 2nd Ward).

So it could turn out that only three "no" votes (25% of the voting members of Council) refusing to report out the measure to full Council will kill the charter movement for Canton.

Another factor is that the Healy administration is cool to the idea of Canton going to a charter.

In a larger since, it is also probably a case of the "establishment" caucus of the organized Stark County Democratic Party on Canton Council who are trying in a stealth manner to kill the charter proposal.

Why?

Because the establishment folks are in charge now and any change is likely seen by them to threaten their control of Council.

Who are some of these folks?

A source tells the SCPR that Councilmen West, Cole and Hawk, if they can conjure up a superficially plausible basis for voting "no," they will do so.  The source says that one of the consequences that West and Hawk fear is that the drawing of new council district lines under a charter would put them in the same district and therefore have to run against one another in a face off.  Such a race would likely mean the end of Hawk's career on Council.

The SCPR believes Mayor Healy is "cool" to the idea of charter because Councilman Bill Smuckler is for it.  Smuckler has for many years advocated for Canton going to a charter form of government.  Smuckler is likely to run against Healy in next May's Democratic primary to be the Democratic nominee for mayor in November's election.

An important factor in all of these political maneuverings is that a Republican (Mark Butterworth) is pushing the charter thing.  A mistake that Butterworth made in proposing a charter commission is not getting a Democrat, any Democrat, to join him.

His mistake seems credible to the "establishment" Democrats being whispered around City Hall that this is a plan by Republicans to gain more representation on Council.  After all, it was Republican operative Michael Cunnington who earlier this year call a community meeting at Malone College to discuss the idea of circulating petitions for a ground-up movement to install a charter in Canton.

The SCPR is told that Cunnington ran into a buzz saw of "establishment" Democrats beholden to Mayor Healy who caused a ruckus at the community meeting over the Cunnington proposal.

The SCPR believes that it is a difficult task that the "establishment" Democrats have to pull off.  With Canton being in the financial/economic doldrums, it is clear that something has to be done to reverse Canton's fortunes.  But what?

Well, how about a change in structure of government which suggests the infusion of "new" blood into Canton government?  One not overwhelmingly controlled by the organized Stark County Democratic Party.

Cantonians are likely to be infuriated if they come to believe that they are being denied the right to vote on whether or not they want to go to a charter government by insecure Democratic politicians.

So the "establishment" Democratic forces have a touchy matter in their hands.

We will know better after August 9th and a meeting of the West-controlled Judiciary Committee at which Councilman Butterworth will seek to educate committee members on the ramifications of going charter.

Will this matter get out of Judiciary?

The SCPR thinks it depends on Councilman Joe Cole.

Why Cole?

Well, he is the new kid on the block in Council and has not really identified himself as being part and parcel with "establishment" Democrats on Council and also with the Healy administration.

The Report believes that if Cole signals he favors a vote of the people, then West and Hawk will likely flip over to voting "yes" with him.

But if he indicates strong reservations about charter proposal, it would not be surprising at all to see 25% of the members of Canton City Council deny the entire City of Canton electorate the opportunity to vote on the charter measure.

It all boils down to what the anti-charter folks can cook up that makes it appear to Cantonians that they are not being obstructionists.  But, rather, they are doing the responsible and productive thing for Canton.

The charter thing presents an interesting sideshow to the looming showdown between Mayor Healy and powerful Canton Council Bill Smuckler in a mayoralty face off in May of 2011!

1 comment:

Frank said...

Martin, Is a charter government in the best interest of the City of Canton? As a former candidate for city council and a future candidate my thinking is that it really doesn't matter what council members think. They are elected to represent and be the voice of their wards. This should not rest in their hands but in the hands of the voters.