Osborne's insurance costs are incorrect. Three members of Council receive health benefits, the Mayor also receives health benefits. In addition to, I at present, receive single coverage at $5380.08. The at present total cost to the city of North Canton is $61,047.60. His argument that the council member work part time is disingenuous. Personally, I average 30 to 35 hours per week conducting city business between constituent concerns, telephone calls, in preparation and conducting of council meetings.
Let's have all the facts correct before it's spun. The cost to conduct a successful council campaign in the city is currently approximately $4000. At present, the current council yearly rate of pay is $4,800.00, the Mayor's pay rate is $16,000.00. The last pay increase was the year 2000. Council members make less than minimum wage.
The Stark County Political Report knew before anyone but North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne himself what a superlative job he did on collecting "valid" signatures.
The Report examined a couple of pages of his initiative petition to enact an ordinance by a vote of the people of North Canton to deny part-time elected officials city paid for health insurance benefits, and found that on the two pages checked out, it appeared that Osborne was well north of 90% in having collected the signatures of validly registered North Canton voters.
Here is a LINK to a prior blog reciting the finding.
In that same blog, the SCPR mused that Osborne likely has hit the political gravy train on this one and that he is likely to be successful on the November 6, 2012 ballot.
As it turns out, the Stark County Board of Elections has verified that Osborne collected 1108 signatures of which 1090 are valid for a validity rate 98.3755%.
Collecting valid signatures is a really simple enterprise.
All one has to do is to get a copy Stark County voter registration list which can be downloaded for free from the Ohio secretary of state website and create a sub-list of voters in the affected geographical area (in this case, the city of North Canton) where the vote is to take place (issue or candidate) and "bingo" the circulator can know with a extremely high degree of certainty whether nor the solicited petition signed is validly registered.
And that is exactly what it appears Osborne did.
But every election it seems that the Stark County Board of Elections bounces candidates who have filed petitions for office from having qualified to run because of why?
You've got it: not enough valid signatures.
And for many local and even state office (e.g. state representative) only 50 valid signatures are required.
Can't collect 50 valid signatures? Unbelievable!, no?
Osborne had to collect about 745 valid signatures. No sweat. He gets 1090. Truly impressive!
So what, some might say. A lot more North Canton voters vote than the 1090.
But remember Senate Bill 5 (State Issue #2) - the anti-collective bargaining bill?
Collectors for that initiative petition collected about a million total signatures. Way more than what was needed. A high percentage of which were valid.
Governor Kasich was impressed.
After he and his allies in the Ohio General Assembly jammed SB 5 down the throats of the Democrats and their union allies and thereby generated the reaction of the initiative petition and seeing the numbers of signatures collected, what did he want to do with the Dems and their union friends?
You've got it! Negotiate.
With their numbers, the petition circulators were in no mood to negotiate and it was all of a sudden jam down time for them courtesy of Ohio's voters and the voters obliged with a massive defeat of State Issue 2.
It appears to the SCPR that Chuck Osborne is pretty much in the same place as the Dems and friends were on the state issue.
The only question is so far as the SCPR is concerned is whether or not Osborne will blow it.
On June 13th he sent The Report an e-mail which, in the opinion of yours truly, is laced with political paranoia and conspiratorial thinking and therefore not helpful to his quest.
Exactly the kind of thing that may turn North Canton voters off on his latest initiative.
Here is an the bulk of what was in the e-mail:
I wanted to bring to your attention something that is being talked about here in North Canton as a way to for North Canton elected officials to get around proposed changes to minimum salary requirements to qualify for PERS.
I heard this from a former North Canton City Councilman last year.
I expect you are aware that there are proposals in Columbus to raise the minimum salary to qualify for PERS. I am not sure how far this proposal has gone through the legislative process but I was told that the minimum monthly salary being discussed is $1,000 per month.
As I noted above, a former city councilman told me last summer that there has already been discussions among councilmembers that if the new monthly salary requirements actually become state law that North Canton is prepared to drop city-paid health care coverage that is currently offered to part-time elected officials and then raise the salary of city council members from $400 per month to the minimum $1,000 per month. Coupled with the salary increase, council members would be allowed to buy in the city’s health care plan.
With that thought already being formulated among certain councilmembers to undo what the legislature is proposing, it is clear that those actions will also undermine the intent of the Initiative Petition.North Canton part-time elected officials feel entitled to the level of benefits they have received for the last 20-30 years.
I do not think any of them realize that the level of benefits they presently receive was tied the fact that the City of North Canton had The Hoover Company with several thousand high-paying jobs and a product that was known worldwide.
I suspect that the reason that Massillon, Alliance, Louisville, and Canal Fulton have never offered the level of benefits to part-time elected officials that North Canton provides is because they were never graced with the likes of a Hoover Company in their town.
And if Timken ever pulled out of Canton, I don’t think Canton would continue to offer the level of benefits it offers to its part-time officials.
The proposed Initiative Petition is modeled after what is now in place in the City of Green.
I fully expect that North Canton City Council will undermine the intent of the Initiative.
Whether they stop it from going on the ballot or undermine it with changes outlined above.
I would not be surprised to learn that the City has already employed Bricker & Eckler to find ways to block the issue from ever getting on the ballot.
Your friends, Alex Zumbar and Daryl Revoldt, did exactly that in 2008 after the Stark County Board of Elections validated the signatures I had collected on another Initiative petition.
The Columbus Law Firm of Bricker & Eckler was hired to derail the issue going on the ballot and they succeeded. North Canton taxpayers paid $8,300 for those efforts.
How do you like that – use taxpayer money to fight the taxpayers and halt a Constitutional right to the Initiative Petition process....At any rate, don’t be surprised what North Canton City government will be dishing up. And it will not benefit the citizens of North Canton.
Of course, Osborne can campaign for his initiative petition any way he wants.Chuck Osborne
But it seems to The Report that the key for the voters is what it is costing North Cantonians to provide the health insurance benefits to its part-time elected officials.
First, there is this e-mail that he received from the clerk of council (Gail Kalpac) documenting the premium cost at about $111,000, to wit:
Moreover, there is what the SCPR believes is a highly relevant and valid point that he made to an area media person in an e-mail which he provided a copy of to The Report, to wit:
That number could be in the tens of thousands of dollars in terms of costs to North Canton notwithstanding stop-loss insurance carried by the city.Without violating HIPPA Laws, the city should be able to provide the aggregate cost of the claims made to the city’s health care plan by the part-time council members and their families.
If Osborne can develop that number like he did the premium cost number, he adds clout to his case for initiative approval.
In the judgment of the SCPR, Osborne has some powerful arguments to make to the citizens of North Canton on the costs to the city for part-timers in a time when voters across the nation are taking a careful look that the benefits (pension benefits, insurances et cetera) pubic officials (not just part-timers) are getting from taxpayers.
And he can do so without getting off message with speculation galore, ad hominen-esque attacks and perhaps playing into the hands of those who may wish to discredit him.
In the end, the SCPR's take is that Osborne may be embarking on a course of political campaign action that ends up with his "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!"