Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The Stark County Political Report is not ready to say that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II has had a "born again" political experience.

Perhaps, Canton City Council President Allen Schulman is (see/hear Schulman in his own words in the video immediately below this paragraph), but not The Report. 

However, there are increasing signs that the erudite (at least, in his own eyes) and beleaguered mayor is making significant progress along the lines of acquiring political maturity.  

It seems to The Report that Healy has been somewhat chastened by the rough and tumble experiences (largely brought on by himself - e.g the firing of critique prone Tom Bernabei as service director and chief of staff early on in his administration) of "fishbowlish" political and government life.

Inside information that The Report started getting almost from the get-go of his newly elected administration's assumption of office as the executive function for Stark County's largest city and county seat indicated trouble was brewing for the man who incessantly touted that he was uniquely qualified to lead the Hall of Fame city by virtue of his having been a successful (?) businessman with an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business.

The Report remembers an occasion when Democratic Governor Ted Strickland came to Stark County (Brewster) in the spring of 2008 to tour a local business - in a back and forth with Healy - in which he spent most of the conversation bashing his predecessor Republican Janet Creighton for "the unbelievable mess she left Canton in."
That slam on Creighton was a clear indication that Healy was going to start out his administration as a excuse making regime.  And that is exactly what he has been doing for most of his three years plus in office.   Rather than manning up and cleaning up the mess (giving him the benefit of a doubt that he is accurately describing the Creighton legacy), Healy did what many immature politicians do:  blame someone else.

But the SCPR is starting to see small changes in the Healy administration.

There was a fuss between Healy and Councilman-at-Large Bill Smuckler (who lost to Healy in the May mayoralty primary) over police cadet pay.

It seems as if the pay has been like a volleyball in recent years:  too low; too high; maybe just right and now the argument - just right or too low.

The Healy administration does not want the cadets to come out of their twelve month training (probation) period and jump into a job where the new policeman is making more money than a second-year policeman.  This is what Healy claimed in Monday night's council meeting at which the Healy administration announced a reduction the cadet pay range to $26,000 up to $30,000.

Councilman Smuckler argued that the reality is that the numbers of highly qualified cadets eligible for the $30,000 pay will be few and far between and that the reality will be that most will get paid the $26,000 which he claims means inferior policing because only marginal candidates will apply at that pay.

Healy tells The Report that he disagrees with Smuckler.  The mayor thinks that $30,000 will be more the norm and that Canton will be graduating competent, capable policemen and policewomen.

Who is correct?

The Report thinks it depends on how many police are to be hired.  Healy could or would not say on Monday night.  If large numbers are hired, then Smuckler is likely closer to the mark.  If a small number is hired (the most likely given Canton's financial stress), then Healy is probably closer to the mark.

The redeeming point is that the discussion between Healy and Smuckler is the obviousness that reasonable minds can differ respectfully.  However, should Healy prove incorrect over time and the quality of Canton's policing suffers, then Cantonians will be right to question whether or not the mayor is looking out for them.

Here is a video summary of the Healy and Committee of the whole exchange.

One other matter that came up for discussion was between another Healy adversary (Ward 1 Councilman Greg Hawk) and His Honor.

The topic this time?

The need to take $160,000 out of the general fund to supplement the City Parking Deck/Lot Fund (CPDLF).

Councilman Hawk chided Mayor Healy about not budgeting the total amount needed for the CPDLF for the entire year earlier in the year when council passed the city budget.  Hawk's needling was clearly an attempt to get to Healy's goat.  A major riff between some on council and the mayor as the budget was being put together was the administration's short funding of police and fire functions in order to make it appear that the budget was balanced.

Healy did not take the bait.  But he did somewhat regress into the blame game again (guess who? - yes - the Creighton administration and a ten year economic development package designed to keep Huntington Bank in downtown Canton).  However, he did not use the Creighton name in the public discussion.

Those of us who have been following the council/administration knew full well the identity of the blame though.  It did take prodding by the SCPR in a person-to-person interview for Healy to actually accede to the naming of the Creighton administration as the blameworthy factor.

Here is a summary video of that discussion.

Recently, the Healy administration has had success with economic development in bringing 1,000 jobs to Canton Centre by attracting VXI Global Solutions, Inc (a China-based company).  Mayor Healy told The Report that a few minor details still remain to be worked out with VXI, but that he is confident that the deal is a done deal.  Moreover, last week an announcement was made that the Cleveland Cavaliers are bringing their D-League (minor league) basketball franchise to Canton to the Canton Memorial Civic Center.

Here is a video of Healy talking about the economic development projects.

All in all, the SCPR agrees with Council President Allen Schulman:  good things do seem to be happening in Canton.

It could be that a primary reason is that Mayor William J. Healy, II is finally getting a grip on the reality that as talented as he may think he is individually, success only comes through a committed team approach.

Healy has tabbed his campaign efforts since he first ran for mayor, then state representative and then mayor again as being "TeamHealy."

When yours truly noticed that the reality was anything but a team approach (it was William J. Healy, II - the man in charge), it was apparent that Healy thought he could full people with rhetoric.

He has persisted for quite a long time in this vain effort.  Consequently, he and Canton has gone through the experiences that were more owing to the mayor's ego problems than outside factors (i.e. the legacy left by the Creighton administration and the downturn in the economy).

The Report sees more and more that Healy realizes he is not "Superman" and that he and Canton can only succeed through collaboration and cooperation.

A litmus test of what The Report sees is real progress or a mirage will be in what the mayor does in the way of collaborating with and cooperating with Stark County and Stark's other political subdivision to bring into being more cost effective and service efficient regional project such as a countywide 9-1-1 and merged/consolidated building, health and information technology departments.

As stated above, the SCPR is not willing at this time to declare Mayor William J. Healy, II being born again. 

"Let's keep hope alive!!!"  With God, all things are possible!

No comments: