Thursday, December 16, 2010


The Texas state bird is the Mockingbird.  A bird that mimics other birds.  Up to 25 to 30 other birds.  However, the listener is unable to distinguish on sound alone that he/she is not hearing the actual bird mimicked. 

Perhaps the city administrations of Canton and Massillon should adopt the Mockingbird as their official city birds.  Over the past several years, it appears that "smoke and mirrors" are the order of the day when comes to formulating budgets in "pupland" and "tigerland."  And it doesn't hurt to mimic what seems to be a real budget a la the Mockingbird.  For the object seems to be to leave those following the process in a state of confusion.

Both cities are in the midst of an election year and the deception on budget numbers is likely to be running amok.  Both Canton and Massillon could see new mayors come out of the May, 2011 primary.  The lack of specificity and candor on the cost of running the cities, when added to other negatives, could sew enough additional distrust and cynicism among voters to prompt the ousting of both Mayor William J. Healy, II and Mayor Francis H. Cichinelli, Jr.

In Canton the telltale signs of masking over of a deep budgetary crises can be seen in borrowings against capital, diversion of capital and the vetoing of mandatory housing inspection legislation.  We do know that Healy has to come up (by his own word) about $2 million in short order to make the city budget balance come next year.

A similar picture apparently is at play in Massillon.  A main economic development tool in Massillon is annexation.  When Massillon grabbed the R.G. Drage educational complex earlier this year, it was clear that it was a naked grab of income tax money  for city coffers (incurring little or no expense in terms of additional city services) with which to help balance future budgets.  A second annexation ploy was hatched in the high counsels of the city administration (Tuslaw schools), however, the plan came apart when Massillon City Council figured out that the mobile home park in the pathway to Tuslaw would be at a cost that might outweigh the gain in revenues.  Now we see a story about the city administration leaving blank or underfunding salary and overtime general fund budget items to meet a project $1.2 million shortfall on the police and fire aspects of the overall $16 million city budget (Time is running out on Massillon's budget, Matthew Rink, The Independent, December 14, 2010).

Both Healy and Cicchinelli are apparently trying to avoid massive layoffs in 2011 of police and fire.  Neither are talking such in public, but both administrations' budget manipulations seem to The Report to be centered on ways and means to avoid fire and safety force "strength of force" implications in 2011; especially because it is an election year.

If the SCPR's read on the reality behind the "smoke and mirrors" and "mockingbird" qualities of the budgetary discussions is correct, then it is only a matter of time that reality will set in and Healy and Cichinelli will have to face up to the consequences. 

The Report has never understood public officials who refuse to "man-up" to the realities of holding office.  Do they really think that they can avoid the consequences of having failed to keeping city finances sustainable? 

And what could be the consequences for Healy and Cichinelli?

How about ex-mayor status come January 1, 2012?

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