It was a week ago today that the Canton Community Improvement Corporation (CCIC) met to consider the "accidental" (Mayor William J. Healy, II) and unauthorized use of a CCIC credit card account by Healy and other members of the organization from February through mid-summer of this year. (LINK - see video of entire meeting included last Friday's SCPR blog)
The meeting as conducted was nothing more than window dressing for the organization to do formally what it had no choice but to do, to wit: make it official that Healy's claimed "accidental" use was not approved by the non-profit, "quasi-governmental" corporation headed up by none other than the mayor himself.
Oh yes, Healy was asked by Canton law department attorney Thomas Burns to recuse and absent himself from the meeting (also, Service Director Warren Price) which request was complied with.
But one could not help but feel that members Steve Katz (Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce), Don Peterson, III (business representative [general manager of Q92 - Alliance] and, the SCPR believes, a personal friend of Healy), Robert Thompson (union representative - regional director of AFSCME, Region 8) and Canton City Council members Joe Cole (at-large) and Jim Griffin (Ward 3) were well aware that if they went further than the obligatory, they likely were in for a tongue lashing at the hand of Healy once the CCIC returns to its "business as usual" modality.
So it should be no surprise to anyone that the CCIC members failed to censure Healy. While he says that the personal use of the credit card was inadvertent, the SCPR has found nobody who believes the claim. But if Hizzoner has any distinguishing quality about himself, it is his audaciousness.
At the end of the meeting, Canton citizen Deloris Angeli (a member of the CCIC during the Janet Creighton administration) asked to address the members.
Here is a video of union representative and acting CCIC board chairman denying Angeli the right to address the board's members.
Had she been allowed to have her say, this is what she would have said, if permitted, last Friday: (taken from email by Angeli to the SCPR, 09/25/2012)
- As a Canton business owner, former CCIC Board Member (under JWC) & supporter of the local art scene, I felt it was my civic duty to attend the Sept. 21 CCIC Board Meeting.
- During the meeting, it became very clear to me that this hand selected board (by Wm. Healy) was NOT capable in reprimanding Healy for:
- taking out Credit Cards WITHOUT their knowledge or approval.
- ps..........note that there are no other community & economic development boards that have their own Credit Cards. Any debt that incurred as a result of Healy's unilateral decision to unscrupulously obtain a credit card, should be the sole responsibility of Mr. Healy and not the responsibility of the CCIC or of the Board. After all, all expenditures must have the approval of the CCIC board prior to the purchase.
- ANDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD....that there was going to be NO ACCOUNTABILITY on Healy's, Fonda Williams, or Linda Barnes part.
- My questions were about the accountability of the parties included:
- What else has he been spending the tax payers money on???
- Automatic blinds for the 8th floor?
- Big screen TV [actually a "smartboard" with big screen TV capability] in the board room?
- ... There are more employees on the 8th floor than ever before!!!
- Shouldn't this money go somewhere else? Why cut the safety force while maintaining a fully staffed administration?
- Healy reduced the starting salary for police officers, stating that anyone would take the job.
- These officers risk their lives for us. Yet Healy insists that he must pay higher starting salaries for his staff, while all they risk is carpal tunnel syndrome.
- We are a small city, getting smaller with each & every shooting, We need to do more to protect our citizens not the administration.
.... a plea to the mayor: Please be more careful next time.A SCPR question to the editors: How many embarrassing episodes over five years in office is the mayor entitled to before one concludes that the mayor is beyond redemption? Was the mayor summoned to 500 Market Avenue, South for a metaphorical "a slap on the wrist?"
Pulling the wrong card out of your wallet? It can happen to anybody ... but 16 times?
It seems that the mayor is genuinely embarrassed by and remorseful for this episode. We trust that he has learned his lesson and will be more careful in the future.
For the SCPR's part, it seems that Citizen Angeli has a much better take on Mayor William J. Healy, II than the editors of Stark County's only countywide newspaper which has the advantage of being the only newspaper in a one-newspaper-town.
After the meeting the SCPR caught up with Canton City Councilwoman Mary Cirelli who had a number of thoughts to share, to wit:
Cirelli: "conflict in interest." Hmm? Interesting.
To the SCPR, while the claimed "accidental" Healy credit card use and the unauthorized obtaining of the credit card in the first place are very important issues; one comes away from the September 21st meeting wondering about seemingly inherent conflicts in interest that may have been present in CCIC members voting to use CCIC funds to pay for certain expenses of a sitting board members (e.g. Steve Katz in his Canton Chamber capacity and city employees in their official city employment capacity ) with Katz and city representatives (Cole and Griffin) on the board voting to approve those very expenditures.
What if there had been a disagreement among board members about whether or not to pay for Katz attending an event at CCIC expense? And what if he becomes a difference maker in the outcome of such a vote?
It also cuts that way for Canton's city officials who serve on the CCIC board but in an more exaggerated situation.
Let's see. You have Councilmen Cole, Griffin, Mayor Healy, Service Director Price (all city officials) and a majority of the entire board (four out of seven) who can vote to pass what should have been a city of Canton expenses onto the CCIC.
Quite a temptation that is for a city that is strapped for cash, no?
The CCIC money is for economic development, is it not?
And The Rep editors did not pick up on the potential conflicts issue? They are more concerned with being understanding of Healy and hopeful he has learned his lesson?
As the SCPR recalls, on asking legal adviser Burns about the potential conflicts after last week's meeting, he responded that perhaps there needs to be more members added to the CCIC so that there are enough disinterested voting members who can make a conflict free decision.
The Report thinks he is correct.
What's more, there has to be a mechanism instituted so that Mayor Healy does not have carte blanche to appoint political friendlies to the CCIC board.
And lastly, why doesn't a citizen like Deloris Angeli have the opportunity to address the board on citizen concerns?
The SCPR came away from the September 21st meeting totally unimpressed with CCIC procedures and the manner in which it does business with taxpayer (from various levels) money.
The way Canton handles its CIC function through the non-profit, quasi-governmental mechanism provided for by Ohio law is one more reason why Cantonians are losing confidence in the integrity of city government.
It is appearing more and more that Canton will be asking for a tax increase come the primary election of 2013.
Who would vote to increase their taxes for a government that abides a quasi-government operational model demonstrated by the current makeup of the Canton Community Improvement Corporation?