Monday, April 11, 2011


It appears to the Stark County Political Report that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II and Safety Director Thomas Ream are hindering the fruition of a re-worked countywide 9-1-1 call receiving/dispatch operation by kicking the "Stark 9-1-1 ball" around to one another and not toward scoring a goal and a win for Canton and Stark County on the fix of Stark's broken 9-1-1 emergency services.

But why?


Well, that's what Mayor Healy suggests of his mayoralty opponent Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler (May 3rd Democratic primary).

And, that is what Smuckler implies about Healy.  On March 8, 2011 at Mayor Healy's monthly financial forum designed to get ideas for solving Canton's financial crises, Smuckler brought up the fact (confirmed by Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio as to savings; not the specific amount) that Canton could be saving $400,000 or so by blending Canton's emergency services call receiving/dispatch center with Stark County's through SCOG (Stark County Council of Governments).

Meanwhile, the fact that Stark County's 9-1-1 has been broken for years now does not seem to faze Healy and his safety director Tom Ream.  Canton city's operation in and of itself is fine; but not the county's.

But for Healy and Ream to sit back and smugly feel comfortable with the known quality of Canton's 9-1-1 is to fail to recognize that Cantonians many times have emergencies out in the greater Stark County community and find themselves contacting 9-1-1 through the decrepit county system.  Accordingly,  it seems highly irresponsible for Healy and Ream (Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio, the SCPR believes, is not a part of the Healy/Ream "kicking the ball around operation") to be delaying the merger of Canton with the SCOG rehab.

The SCPR recalls a conversation that yours truly had with Stark Emergency Management Director Tim Warstler (a person uniquely situated to know) a year or so ago to the effect that as he travels across the nation, he often wonders about the quality of the 9-1-1 call receiving/dispatching services in the particular locale he happens to be in at any given moment.  For he knows that the quality of 9-1-1 can be determinative of whether or not one lives or dies in terms of getting access to immediate medical/police/fire (et cetera ) services.

If there is a "playing of politics" with the Canton/Stark 9-1-1 merger process (the SCPR believes there is), it is Healy and Safety Director Ream who are on the "bad side" of the issue.

They appear to  delaying that which needs to go full speed ahead.

It does appear that Candidate Smuckler has also injected politics into the matter.  However, he is on the "good side" of the issue in that his political pressure is to expedite the merger.

The battleground upon which Healy/Ream are merely "passing the ball around" as soccer players might do in strategizing to achieving their goal.  Right now their goal appears to be playing "keep away" from the people of Stark County including their own citizens who find a need for emergency services out in the larger Stark County.

An outrage!  So thinks the SCPR.

Cantoninans who care about their own safety and security should be bombarding Healy/Ream to get on offense and score a goal for effective and efficient countywide 9-1-1 services.

The Report has no objection whatsoever to the Healy administration thoroughly scrutinizing the way countywide 9-1-1 is put together.  In fact, "due diligence" is its obligation to the Canton citizenry.  But delay because of some sort of political consideration is something else.

It is interesting that Healy's nemesis and former Canton services director (Healy administration, whom Healy fired) has gotten in on the act.


Well, one, the balls being kicked around by Healy/Ream is whether or not Joe Concatto (official in bitter Healy rival Janet Creighton's administration) will continue on as project manager of SCOG's 9-1-1 effort in light of the fact that federal funding of his position has expired.

In a highly imperial way (a typical Healy-esque operation), Safety Director Ream - as Concatto's employment was to expire on March 31st - sent one of his Canton fire captains to the county's 9-1-1 operations "to learn the ropes" as he apparently anticipated that Concatto was going to be gone and therefore Canton would be "taking over" SCOG's operation.

Ream is the chairman of SCOG's executive committee.  And, as the SCPR understands the situation, was requested to call a meeting of the executive committee to deal with the end of federal funding and to provide for an alternative to keep Concatto in charge until the revamped countywide operation gets up and running which is anticipated to be within the next few months.

But The Report is told, he refused.

In response, board members Bernabei, Louidana (Massillon's services/safety director), Ferrero (Stark County Prosecutor and Randy Gonzalez (SCOG governance committee chair) call the meeting themselves.

Well, at the meeting, "all hell broke loose," directed mainly at Ream and his "unresponsive" and "imperial" ways. 

At the executive committee meeting, it was agreed by members (outvoting Ream 7 to 1; one member was absent) to recommend to the SCOG general membership a curtailed continuance of Concatto on the job on a per hour basis.  The general membership is to be held on April 18th and the measure is expected to pass.

One has to wonder as to whether or not Ream being the chairman of the executive committee and appearing to use his pre-eminent position in furtherance of the seeming Healy administration delaying tactics is not in the mode of having a conflict in interest?

If not, the other eight members of the executive committee have to be understanding, at the very least, that it was a huge mistake to put Ream in charge.

The SCPR caught up with Bernabei (now a Stark County commissioner) and here is his "striking" reaction to the Healy/Ream exercise in kicking the SCOG 9-1-1 ball around:

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