Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Canton City Council has been fighting over the form of updating its building code and concomitant inspection requirements for about a year.   It's a fight between the "white hats" (those favoring mandatory inspections at sale or once every five years) and the "black hats" (those who worry about the cost to slumlords and whether or not the increased standard of inspection will pay for itself or threaten an additional drain on the city's general fund).  An outsider might think this is a good thing.


Because one of Canton's many problems is neighborhood deterioration.  For what good building codes are, Canton's prior codes have not been effective towards deterring slumlords from coming to Canton in droves to collect their rents, put very little - if anything, into the rental units and then move on when their houses/apartments collapse.

And the SCPR agrees that it would be a good thing for Canton to vigorously attack its neighborhood.deterioration problem.

But is restoring the neighborhoods "really" what's at play in this fight?

The Report thinks not.

This fight is against a political backdrop of incumbent Democratic Mayor William J. Healy, II straining to survive an intraparty challenge from Councilman Bill Smuckler come May, 2011 and the Democratic primary.

What the Smuckler forces on council will be doing from now until May will be to find one issue or another to make political hay for the challenger.  And, Healy supporters will be doing the same for the mayor.

Doesn't mean that some "good for the citizens" won't come out of the political vying.  But it does mean that the governors (the mayor, the appointed officials and the council members) cannot for the life of themselves get out of their primarily political stance into a more civic model.

Unless and until Canton's governing class learns to minimize the political, Canton will continue its downward slide.  New businesses will not be attracted to a city in constant political turmoil.  All that will get any new economic development to Canton will be the special deals (i.e. tax incentives, et cetera).  Once those evaporate, the businesses will vamoose.  For there is nothing inherently compelling about Canton as it presently stands and is operated.

All Cantonians can hope for is for May 3, 2011 to come and go quickly.

Perhaps, if Smuckler wins - remember, the word is "perhaps," Canton has a better chance to get out of the "politics for the sake of politics" mode and move on to a bona fide repair of its image, its infrastructure and onto "real" economic development.

Smuckler appears to be less political than Healy.  However, that may not be saying much.  Mayor Healy is, in the view of the SCPR, a master politician.  Maybe enough of a master to survive as mayor of Canton.

Here is a video snippet of the argument between the two adversaries Healy (West) and Smuckler (Hawk).

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