Friday, February 4, 2011


Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez (also fiscal officer in Jackson, also an employee in the Canton clerk of courts office) likes to brag about Canton and Jackson Township (after their economic merger via annexation) being the largest financial/economic unit in all of Stark County.

Add to that unit the city of Massillon, you really do have the largest slice of Stark County.

However, improperly managed bigness is not good.

And Canton's and Massillon's city governments is poorly managed to say the least.

Canton is borrowing from capital funds to meet payroll, is shifting capital to operating funds to finance some of Canton's day-to-day operations, missed out on about $400,000 in a federal grand and is understating the cost of certain safety services (fill in the blank later) in order to make it appear the city has a balanced budget.

For several years now, local media have been screaming out headlines about projected deficits in the millions for Canton.  Of course, Mayor William J. Healy, II likes to blame Canton's financial/economic maladies on everything but his own leadership ineptitude (i.e. the overall economy, the predecessor Creighton administration, Canton City Council - on and on and on goes Healy's list).

Much of the same can be said for Massillon and Stark County government (missed out on $10 million in stimulus money because it did not have a "shovel ready" list ready).

Massillon:  a city which has a golf course that is eating away at its financial viability (a $5.9 million debt tagged to it) as an example of one among a number of financial/economic models employed by the city administration which are simply unsustainable.

So when an SCPR reader passed on an online article from the MainStreet blog showing Canton/Massillon as being the second most debt-ridden area in all of America, it got The Report to thinking:  "which comes first, the chicken or the egg."

Translated into political/governmental terms, is the horrible political/governmental leadership reflective of who the pool of people from which leadership comes or, is it leadership not leading by sustainable fiscal example?

But the fact of the matter is that both Canton and Massillon political/governmental (and, The Report believes North Canton and Stark County political/governmental) leadership is absolutely bankrupt in terms of providing a healthy example of fiscal/financial responsibility.

What is even worse for Canton, Massillon and North Canton is that there does not appear to be any leadership remedy on the horizon.  Smuckler is not an answer for Canton.  Time will tell as to whether or not either of the Republican candidates for mayor and any of the alternative council candidates can offer an any hope of leadership capable of pulling Canton out of its financial/economic morass.

Ditto for Massillon and the Democratic challenger (Catazaro-Perry) there.

It appears to the SCPR that the Catazaro-Perry challenge is mostly about political power combat between the Maier/Jackson/Elum forces and the Cicchinelli political cabal and does not offer any hope to Massillonians whatsoever that Catazaro-Perry has any exemplar leadership-esque qualities which presages better days for Massillon were she to be elected mayor.  Do the Republican candidates (both at the mayor and council levels) possess leadership qualities that the Democrats have been unable to provide?

Canton Council President Allen Schulman said it best a few weeks back when he said that Canton's financial model was akin to being on a death spiral.  Glenn Gamber (his equivalent in Massillon) could just as well say the same thing about Massillon as could North Canton Council President Daryl Revoldt about the North Canton track on finances.

North Canton is faced (because of allegations of mismanagement) with the possibility of having to pay back $3 million in Jobs Ready Sites grants to the state of Ohio and lose out on $2 million yet to be spent.  What kind of leadership is that?

An answer could be "we are what we are:"  Our leadership comes out a pool of people who rank 2nd in the nation in terms of irresponsibility.

If that is the answer, then there is truly no hope for Canton, Massillon, and, perhaps, for all of Stark County.

As the SCPR walks through Stark County's councils of political/government power, the despair is overwhelming.

There may be a twinkle of light coming with the introduction of former Canton mayor Janet Creighton and former Canton city official Tom Bernabei into Stark County government.

But will they have the courage to call a spade a spade with their political/governmental fellows?

Do they have the guts to look people with whom they have long term relationships with in the eye and tell them:  "you know, what you have been doing is not working; we need to adopt a new way of leading."

Will they call out the Stark-based political/government leadership misfeasance they see, or will they simply bury it because they do not have the stomach for facing down their long-term friends?"

Will they they look their constituents in the eye and say to them:  "you too must become responsible partners in our self-government?"

These are critical times for Stark County leadership.

Are there any who are up to the challenge?

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