Tuesday, April 12, 2011
IS HEALY HOLDING STARK COUNTY'S 9-1-1 REBUILD HOSTAGE TO USING COUNTY FUNDS TO HELP SOLVE THE CITY OF CANTON'S FINANCIAL PROBLEMS?
It may be "a marriage made in heaven." That is, the political marriage between Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II and Canton Safety Director Thomas Ream.
While Healy could not get along with "men of their own minds" (Tom Bernabei [former services director/chief of staff] and Tom Nesbitt [former safety director]), he apparently has found his spiritual twin in current Safety Director Tom Ream (a long time Canton policeman) who seems to mirror Healy's cocky ways.
Until recently Stark County officials working on a revamp of Stark County's broken 9-1-1 call receiving/dispatch operation (since July, 2007) thought they were on track to have a vastly improved system up and running by May, 2011.
Well, you can scratch May, 2011 and plug in, let's see: May, 2012? - perhaps. That's what project manager? Joe Concatto tells the SCPR.
While the total blame does not lie with Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II and his sidekick and Canton Safety Director Tom Ream, a good part of it does (in the opinion of the SCPR).
Concatto and his fellows (Randy Gonzalez [Stark Council of Governments Governance Committee - SCOG - chair], Tim Warstler [Director - Stark Emergency Management Agency]) appear to The Report to be astounded by the actions of Healy and Ream in backing the Canton Communications Center (CCC) out of the proposed rehab whereby the CCC and the current Stark County Sheriff dispatch centers would serve has the hub of a centralized system which would bring Stark County into a "state-of-the-art" emergency call receiving and dispatch operation which would be capable of locating the whereabouts of cellphone callers: an essential attribute given the proliferation of cellphone use by Americans.
What's more, no one seems to know why Healy is acting the way he is other to say (by some, not all) that Healy is being Healy (which, by the definition of the SCPR, is to say "being consummately political."
The Report has a theory.
As everyone knows, Canton is in a financial crisis which Canton City Council President Allen Schulman has described as being "a death spiral." And The Report believes that Schulman is right on the mark.
An apt description of Healy these days would be that he is flailing about, to and fro, looking for something, anything to somehow miraculously pull Canton out of the spiral.
Somewhere along the line, The Report speculates, Healy had an "aha moment." It dawned on him that given Canton's dire financial straits, Canton was being way too accommodating to and beneficent to SCOG in agreeing to bring the CCC into the SCOG at virtually no cost to SCOG. He had to be thinking that there was money to made for Canton to help in solving its financial mess. What better way than to find "creative" ways to tap into the money sits in waiting (e.g. residual sales tax money, 9-1-1 wireless find money, et cetera) to build and support the new 9-1-1 system.
And there is a sub-theory.
Both Healy and Ream are viewed by many who know them to be arrogant. Accordingly, everything that gets done in Stark County that touches upon Canton must be controlled by Canton.
To go one step further, The Report believes that the Healy Plan on 9-1-1 may include a circle no wider than himself and his trusted loyalist Tom Ream. Others around them have to have their suspicions, but it is entirely likely that the Healy Plan is a tightly held secret.
The SCPR for one does not think there is anything wrong with Healy looking out for Canton along financial lines. There is a problem if he thinks that Canton can be "the tail wagging the dog" in terms of controlling everything in Stark County.
For him to change from "anything Canton do and there is enough benefit to Cantonians from a revamped countywide 9-1-1 system that it is an even exchange" to "hold on a minute, there is premium money to be made for Canton" reaffirms to The Report how utterly politically conniving and manipulative Healy is.
This is where the rub is so far as the SCPR is concerned.
Healy is holding all of this close to the vest in saying that Canton cannot act until his law director (Joe Martuccio) and safety director (Tom Ream) sign off on the current plan (the major piece of which is for Canton to agree to lease the CCC to SCOG for $1 per year for 99 years). The Report believes such is an example of Healy politicized "phony-baloney!"
Solution: The likes of Healy's opponent, namely; Bill Smuckler, needs to force the discussion out into the open so that Cantonians who are voting in the Democratic primary can make a judgment as to whose plan (Healy's or Smuckler's) they want to follow as part of the decision making process of whom they are going to vote for.
Moreover, Cantoninans need to make a judgment as to whether or not Healy has the ability to work with others in creating and implementing a 9-1-1 plan.
The SCPR reads Smuckler as being in favor of the original understandings between Canton officials and SCOG officials. Moreover, there is no doubt that he has a track record of working with government officials throughout Stark County in a collaborative and cooperative way.
The Report has learned that Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio is in the process of or has prepared legislation for Canton City Council (Council) to authorize and direct a merger of the CCC with SCOG's 9-1-1 along the lines originally contemplated.
But no one has called the legislation to the floor of Council. Hmm?
Okay, Candidate/Councilman Smuckler, it is time to act!
Smuckler does tell the SCPR that he plans "to smoke Healy out" (The Report's words). However, he would not commit to forcing the legislation to the floor of Council.
The concern, it appears, is that Council can pass the legislation, but that it is up to Healy and Ream (the executive branch of Canton government) to implement it. So the thinking seems to be that if Healy and Ream have not bought into the legislation, then there will be a lot of foot dragging and May, 2012 may be an overly optimistic date as to when a reworked countywide 9-1-1 is realized.
The political shenanigans which are the subject matter of this blog is a crystal clear example of why Cantonians and Stark Countians do not trust their government.
The Report believes that Stark County commissioners Tom Bernabei, Janet Creighton and Pete Ferguson are making progress in restoring a measure of trust to local government.
But when the likes of a William J. Healy, II gets into the mix, then much of what they do gets undermined.
So if Candidate Smuckler wants open, accessible and transparent government; then now (before May 3rd) is the time for him to force a full blown discussion on what the parameters of Canton's involvement in Stark County's rebuilt 9-1-1 will be.
The Report believes that whether or not Stark County achieves its goal of fixing the county's broken 9-1-1 system in large part depends on the cooperation/collaboration SCOG gets from Canton.