Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It is beginning to look more and more like former North Canton Councilman Tim Fox (Republican - 3rd Ward - see bio LINK) has been the pick to replace former North Canton Law Director Hans Nilges (resigned June 29, 2012) ever since council had a inkling earlier this year that there was going to be a parting of the ways between North Canton and Nilges.

Getting to the point where Council President Snyder now says he would be surprised if a majority of council did not join him (he is definitely a Tim Fox man) in selecting Fox on Monday evening next, has been tortured.

Fox defeated fellow Republican Jeff Davies last November.

After a mere eight months and a few days in office, Fox, currently working as an attorney for Black, McCuskey, Souers and Arbaugh (since 2006), has surfaced as the odds-on-favorite to become North Canton's next law director.

While North Canton City Council apparently (at least to The Report) has toyed around with some 16 attorneys who have applied for the postion, Fox bided his time until September 6th before resigning from council and submitting his application for the $72,000 or so position.

And only on the initiative of fellow councilman Jeff Peters, Snyder says, did Fox consider taking on the law directorship.

While Snyder appears to the SCPR to be continuing a charade of acting as if the five other remaining candidates are still in the running; the politically savvy have to believe that Fox would have never, ever resigned his council position if he did not have absolute assurance that he will be named Nilges' successor.

Snyder counters that as far as he knows, the fact of the matter is that Fox talked to nobody on council (even informally) about the position let alone resigning knowing full well he had secured the directorship.  Moreover, Snyder says that he is only sure about his vote for Fox and that he cannot speak for others.

Nonetheless, the  Fox situation is exactly the kind of "apparent" political maneuvering that turns everyday folks off and makes it more and more difficult for government (even local government) to be credible with them.

In hindsight, Snyder is quick to say that council should have focused on Fox at the beginning, asked him to resign his council seat and spared everybody what is likely to end up as having been exercise for the 16 initial and 5 final candidates.   But he insists that while he understands the appearance, such was not the intent of council.

Snyder says he knows that there are folks in the public who see the process of getting to Fox as council's choice as being "a good ole boys" type process, but that such is simply not the case.  Moreover, he says that he is more than willing to sit down with any North Cantonian individually and explain the hiring process.

The SCPR raised with Snyder the potential difficulty of council (which, if he gets selected, will be evaluating the work of Fox) might have in dealing with a former colleague.  Snyder says council has crossed that bridge with Fox and neither side sees it as being a problem.

But the question remains with the SCPR.  Does anybody believe Sndyer's assertion that Fox has had no engagement whatsoever, even informally, with his fellow council members on the open law director position before Peters approached him?

No doubt Sndyer et al have crossed their t's and dotted their i's on the formal stuff (i.e. do not allow Fox to sit in or executive sessions which discuss the vacant law director position and have him resign from council before actually applying), but it is quite a stretch to ask everyday North Cantoninans to believe that Fox has not been involved in "informal" discussions about the viability of his filling the position before the Peters' approach.

Before Fox put his two cents in, highly regarded North Canton attorney Donald P. Wiley (Baker, Dublikar, Beck, Wiley & Matthews - bio LINK) was thought by some to be the frontrunner.  However, Snyder says, Wiley took himself out of what certainly could have been being the leading candidate by presenting a plan whereby the firm he is a member of would be providing counsel (with Wiley being the lead) to council at a lower price than Nilges did with the firm approach.

As it turns out, Wiley himself is a former North Canton councilman.  He was appointed to fill a council-at-large vacancy in 2000, but was defeated in the 2001 election.

So there you have it folks.

There is no doubt about it.  It is likely that many amidst the North Canton citizenry are going to say that the law director process that North Canton council put together stinks!

Some might even say that "there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, err 'the city government of North Canton.'"

The ultimate question is:  Will the smell linger?

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