Wednesday, April 20, 2011
IF RE-ELECTED, MAYOR HEALY PROMISES "A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT" FOR CANTONIANS? THE STATE OF THE CITY: "PROSPERITY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER?"
If William J. Healy, II as mayor of Canton, in the early days of his administration, hadn't screwed up so royally - given his supreme political skills - he'd probably be a "shoe-in" for renomination as the Democratic candidate for mayor. Moreover, he'd likely be the heavy odds on favorite, in the environment of a heavy Canton Democratic voter registration advantage, to defeat whichever Republican comes out of the primary on that side of the political equation.
But he did screw up and so now he not only has to deal with a severely depressed economy in the Hall of Fame city; he has to erase the memories of controversy after controversy after controversy he has been embroiled in over a good part of his nearly three and one-half years in office.
What's more, is that Cantonians have to worry what is next? Currently, he is embroiled with a controversy with the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) over whether or not Canton will - as he and his administration once promised - make its communications center available as part of a countywide rehabbed 9-1-1 call receiving/dispatch center that has been described as being broken.
His technique in dealing with his negative past as mayor is to mask what is "over and done with" (apparently, from his perspective) and focus on the promise of the future.
Healy was at his political best at Malone University's Silk Auditorium last night. If there is a slicker presenter in all of Stark County than William J. Healy, II, the SCPR would like to meet that person.
He is showing that he is the master of relativism and sleight of hand. Relativism in the sense he has shown he can take statistics which demonstrate a dire situation (i.e. rate of crime, et cetera) and use a statistical improvement as evidence that his administration is successfully dealing with the underlying problems. Sleight of hand in the sense of doing a Mayor's scholarship program and contortedly linking the program with the improvement of Canton's high school graduation rate.
Only recently did he create a neighborhood commission, a entrepreneurial commission and a series of monthly meetings on Canton's dire financial condition. Kind of like cramming for an exam (the elections) at the last minute?
With PowerPoint slides in-hand he for about an hour put on a polished performance in front of a crowd of clearly less than 50 (many of whom were members of his administration and campaign workers). It was particularly telling that only Councilman at Large Joe Cole and Chris Smith (4th Ward) showed up.
Just a few weeks ago Cole told The Report that his read is that a majority of council members support Mayor Healy in his primary square off with fellow Democrat and Council at Large Member Bill Smuckler.
As The Report sees it, the State of the City address was the perfect cover for the covert Healy supporters on council to appear without necessarily being seen as supporting Healy over Smuckler as a State of the City address is nonpolitical, isn't it?
Actually, that 10 of the 12 council members were not present should be seen as a "vote of no confidence," no? One would think that if they thought that the city was on the brink of great things, they would want to be at the Malone-sited event to hear and share in the good news.
Other than mention Cole and Smith being present, Healy had nothing (as The Report recalls) laudatory to say about Canton City Council and any positive role it may have played in dealing with Canton's many problems.
Prolific council member absence speaks volumes that they must think that the speech was more about the politics of Healy's re-election than a civic coming together to solve what ails Canton.
The Report believes the Mayor is the consummate politician and his address last night was more like a "how great I am" political convention speech than a "dealing with reality" of what his administration has wrought on Canton and by extension to Stark County.
Next week, Healy said last night, expect a major economic development breakthrough to be announced. Most likely on Monday or Tuesday.
Hmm? Primary election: May 3rd. Go figure, no?
The best that can be said about the Healy administration is that it appears to be "keeping its head above water" these days. But barely. The Mayor himself said last night that the coming Ohio cuts in local government funding will keep the revenue side of Canton city operations trending downward.
It is hardly the rosy scenario that Healy pointed to at Malone in his overall presentation.
However, there are few better than Healy at massaging whatever positive numbers exist into a - relative - "prosperity is just around the corner" theme.
And that exactly was the implication of his State of the City address.
But who believes that "prosperity around the corner" (even relative to the immediate past) is in the offing for Canton anytime soon?