For nearly three years now the SCPR has been doing blogs by the score forewarning Cantonians that newly elected Mayor William J. Healy, II was taking the city over the financial/economic precipice. Any chance Healy had to avoid the financial mess that Canton finds itself in today vanquished when he fired now newly elected county commissioner Tom Bernabei as one of his top lieutenants early in his administration.
Anyone who knows Healy at all, knows he cannot abide critical thinkers and courageous "Pardon me, King William, but you do not have any clothes on" types.
Finally, Cantonians are getting some stand up people on Canton City Council ("Council") to sound the alarm. But it is likely too late to avoid a financial calamity. However, they are suspect because they have a political incentive to diss Healy.
Monday night President Allen Schulman (of Council) and a Bill Smuckler supporter is reported by Ed Balint of The Repository (Canton in death spiral?) as saying
“... This boat is sinking, This is a death spiral we’re in. This is not sustainable. We will go broke. We will be unable to pay bills.”Contrast this to Balint's report of Mayor Healy being in denial by virtue of reporting Healy's feeling good about the budget.
When Healy took office in January, 2008 he had a $57.7 million budget. Last night Council passed the 2011 budget at $47.9 million. Feeling good? You have to be kidding Mayor Healy!
Healy, February, 2011, Democratic primary foe Bill Smuckler; along with his sidekick and arch-Healy enemy Councilman Greg Hawk, voted "no" on the budget as did Republican Mark Butterworth. So there is no doubt that politics is at least part of the reason for the no votes. However, anyone who does not realize that Canton is in a "real" financial crisis must be spending most of his/her time on another planet.
The SCPR believes that the finances of Canton are going to get a lot worse than the currently are. And, interesting enough, one of the players pushing a state of Ohio policy on local government funding that The Report thinks will exacerbate Canton's financial difficulties is none other than the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In the last few days the Ohio Chamber of Commerce ("Chamber") has come out with it economic policy recommendations for the state of Ohio entitled "Redesigning Ohio - Transforming Ohio into a 21st Century Institution."
The recommendations as they relate to Canton, and, indeed to all of Ohio's 3700 local governments is that the Chamber promotes the slashing of guaranteed levels of Local Government Fund monies from flowing from Ohio state government to localities.
One might say, "the Chamber can make its recommendations, so what?"
Well, anyone making such an observation does not understand that the Chamber is the economic policy arm of the newly elected Republican Governor John Kasich, to wit:
Accordingly, there is no doubt that Canton is about to take a major hit on its local government funding from Ohio which now stands at about $6 million annually. Talk is that the cuts in 2011 could be anywhere form $600,000 to $1.2 million. So Canton's "real" 2011 deficit is more likely about $2 million to $3 million with the latter figure being the more likely figure.
Again, note that the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce ("CRCC") is signed on to the Redesigning Ohio.
As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has very little use for the CRCC. And the "little use for" applies to the Ohio Chamber.
21st century for Ohio? Hmm? How about the Chamber and its satellites themselves?
The CRCC has had no answer for many years to help shore up, boost and rebuild the economy of Canton and, indeed, all of Stark County in recent years. Nor has the Ohio Chamber insofar as the State is concerned.
Yours truly remembers attending a meeting in the City of Green put on by the Green Chamber of Commerce at which, then Republican candidate for Ohio's 50th House District (a Stark County district), Todd Snitchler was in attendance. The Ohio Chamber was in a dither about the possibility that a constitutional amendment to the Ohio Constitution (sponsored by organized labor - which holds great sway with Democrat officeholders) was going on the November, 2008 ballot to guarantee sick leave to Ohio workers. The Chamber was fanning its personnel over Ohio to resist the union effort in what turned out to be a successful attempt to keep the measure off the ballot.
One of the points of the Chamber reps was that if the measure made the ballot and passed, it would devastate Ohio's economy.
Your truly then asked the Chamber rep the following: "Well, the Republicans have been in control of Ohio government going back about 20 years and it is common knowledge that the Chamber is the idea bank for the Republican statehouse crowd, how is it that Ohio's economy is in such feeble shape?"
Answer: "Statehouse Republicans have not followed "all" the recommendations of the Chamber."
The Report is skeptical of the Chamber disclaimer. A more candid answer would have been: "our recommendations were not up to solving Ohio's problems."
Nor are the proposals in the Redesigning Ohio. It appears to The Report that Ohio and Stark County are in for another round of market based panaceas that do not work in reality as they seem to in a theoretical plane. While aspects of the Redesigning Ohio package might be effective, as a total package it consists of tired old bromides that Libertarians have been offering seemingly forever.
Canton will be a victim in the Ohio Chamber's rework of local government funding for sure in the short term and very likely in the long term, also.
The goal of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, its client Kasich administration and the likes of thorough-going "government as free enterprisers" state Representative Todd Snitchler (Republican - Lake) apparently is to make the state of Ohio one big gigantic corporation. Perhaps they will renaming the "State of Ohio," "Ohio SuperCorp' and at the local level, perhaps, we will see: "Canton SuperCorp," "Jackson SuperCorp," "North Canton SuperCorp" and the like.
While Ohio and Stark County is visited upon by these unbalanced "true believer" libertarian-esque economic fixes, the state and the county (including, of course, Stark's cities, villages, townships and boards of education) get further behind the rest of the nation.
As financial matters get worse for Canton city government as well as all of Stark County's local governments, their elected officials need to look no further than the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and their urban-based fellow organizations working in concert with the Ohio Chamber in a collective drive to reconfigure local government funding as being a primary cause!
As unions have a perspective, so do chambers of commerce. Neither perspective is complete and balanced enough to serve Ohioans and Stark Countians well.