Monday, December 24, 2012

2012 SCPR "LUMP OF COAL" WINNER: JOHNNIE A. MAIER, JR.



Now that Kathy Catazaro-Perry has been mayor of Massillon for a few days shy of a year, it appears, as the SCPR predicted leading up to her election in November, 2011, that - if elected - the people of Massillon will never get to know what her leadership abilities are because she would likely not be calling the shots from the executive suite of Massillon City Hall. 

Rather, as SCPR projected, the de facto mayor would be her political patron, mentor and confidant:  Massillon Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

America no longer has political bosses a la Boss Tweed of New York's Tammany Hall political machine circa 1858.  However, his appeal lingers on among some who want to make the body politic over in their own image.   As the SCPR sees it, Maier has aspired over the years that yours truly has known him, to collect unquestioning adherents to whatever his political whim of the day might be.

Tweed (of the 1800s)  undoubtedly has not been Maier's direct example as The Report does not see Maier has having enough of a grasp of American political history to even know who Tweed was.

But rather Democrat Vern Riffe, who served as Speaker of the Ohio House (1975 - 1995), and whom, during his time in state government, was the undisputed boss of the Ohio Democratic Party would be his model.

Maier served a rather undistinguished career (in terms of substantive legislative achievements) in the 56th (now the 50th) Ohio House District from January 3, 1991 through December 31, 1999.

The five year overlap between Riffe and Maier left its direct political mark on Maier.   Johnnie went onto to become chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party in the 2000s and used his position (the first county party chairman to endorse) to ingratiate himself to the Democratic governor Ted Strickland adminstration (2007 - 2010).  Addtionally,  as chairman, he had a playground within which to workout the political chess match lessons learned at the feet of Riffe.

Despite being political strongman Riffe's right hand man, it seems he only had two notable achievements during his tenure in the Legislature; namely,
  • the development of the Ohio DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, and
  • sponsoring a bill that qualified children of murder victims to receive state compensation as victims of crime.
Sounds like his elected successor, Republican John P. Hagan, no?

One or two achievements over eight years.  Wow!

In The Report's book, being a legislator with the responsibility for looking out for policy, program and service interests of his constituents was an inconvenient aspect of Maier's being a representative.  

Yours truly recalls being privvy to one conversation during the 1991 - 1999 timespan in which he more or less bragged about avoiding press questions as to where he stood on a particular piece of legislation whereupon he was asked by one politically and otherwise close to him:  "Johnnie, what do you stand for anyway?"

Answer?  Silence.

A real eye opener to yours truly!

Maybe just maybe Maier didn't stand for anything much other than his personal political interests?

After taking in that exchange, yours truly began scrutinizing Maier as to his bottom line motivation(s).

Some political leaders bring people together in united action for the good of national, state and local communities whereas others use people to achieve their own goals and use political processes and the prerogatives and perks of office they have a say in or over to reward themselves and their political friends while rendering minimal officialdom services.

It took a while, but yours truly came to the current standing assessment about five or six years ago that Maier was in the latter camp rather than in the former.

The lamentable thing about the self-serving is that they strive to take independent thought and action from those with whom they are politically associated as a price for the association. 

The SCPR believes that Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry is paying an unacceptable price (in terms of the well-being of Massillonians) for having been the front person for the Maier (in the 2011 Democratic Party primary) in the most recent encounter (the elections of 2011) in an apparent longstanding competition with former Massillon mayor Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr going back to their Kent - Stark days as to whom was going to be the more politically accomplished in Massillon politics.

Agree with him or disagree with him on policy and practice, decades long (as elected councilman and mayor) Massillonian elected official Frank Cicchinelli has won that contest with Maier.

Not living in Massillon, Maier could not have run against Cicchinelli in 2011 and, moreover, the SCPR believes if Maier had been eligible to run, he would not have the political "b_ _ _ s" to do so.  For losing would undoubtedly been an ultimate political humiliation for him in a seeming continuing parade of coming off second best.

How convenient, he couldn't run.

For that task, he and his allies recruited proxy Perry transplant Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

If she loses, she becomes a political expendable. Sort of like being a pawn on a chessboard.  Isn't that how the Maier version of politics is played?

But she won and now comes the governing.

Catzaro-Perry demonstrated nothing as a Massillon councilwoman of having any special governance skills.  She wasn't an exceptional councilwoman; maybe not even a run-of-the-mill one.

However, for politics first people, preparedness for office is not the first priority.

And, after a year in office as mayor, her lack of governing skills seems to be showing in spades.

What's more, it appears to The Report that Maier (in his de facto role) and his cohorts (brother George and Massillon clerk of courts chief deputy and Stark County Democratic Party political director Shane Jackson and others) were good at criticizing Cicchinelli but have no solutions of their own.

What they appear to be good at is obstinance as evidenced by the current standoff between the administration and Massillon City Council on ways and means to raised much needed revenues for Tigerland.

Should Catzaro-Perry prove in the final analysis to be a failure as mayor, she only gets what she deserves in not being prepared for the role she sought and for naively thinking that Maier et al could provide what she lacks

The real victims in this Maier generated political power play are going the citizens of Massillon.

For putting Massillonians in a position to experience possibly the most trying four years in all it its proud history in order to satisfy his political ego (i.e. "the Cicchinelli thing") is why the Stark County Political Report awards:

To:  Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, 

From:  Santa (the SCPR)

THE 2012 "LUMP OF COAL" AWARD

Have a wonderful Christmas Johnnie!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

MASSILLON COUNCIL PRESIDENT STEPPING DOWN. HOW WILL IT SHAKE OUT IN THE POLITICS OF COUNCIL?



In a somewhat surprising move Massillon City Council President Glenn Gamber is resigning on December 28th.

In an e-mail sent out to area media, this is how Gamber put his resigning:
... I will resign my position as Council President on December 28.  As I did not plan to run for another term in 2013, I feel that this year-end is a convenient time to step down.  Personal priorities change with time; I am now in my 60's, my wife is retired and we have two out-of-town grandchildren.  And who knows, the Mayans might be right.

City Council is a constantly-changing body.  There have been 35 council members and 4 council presidents since I was first elected in 1995.  I offer my best wishes to all council members and thank those in the community who have supported me over the past 17 years.

Glenn
The political effect?

It depends.

Depends on what?

If the make up of the new council coming out of the elections of 2013 results in 50/50 votes in the 2014/2015 term of council.  Council president is only significant in terms of breaking ties on council votes and making parliamentary rulings.

The main political division in Massillon politics is between those loyal to Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr., and those who line up behind former longtime mayor Francis H. Chiccinelli, Jr.

So for what it is worth, you can bet your bottom dollar that when the Stark County Democratic Party (the Massillon branch) precinct committee persons meet after the first of the year to select a successor to Gamber, the choice will be someone to Maier's liking.

The SCPR notes that Maier's "gofer;" namely, Shane Jackson (Maier's chief deputy who, at last check, makes more money than the mayor) appears to be back at it with a shill of a blog "for all things Maier."

Prior to a post on December 6th, the last post was May 20th.

The main value of checking in on Shane's handiwork is to get it "straight from the horse's mouth" what Maier is thinking and doing in Massillon politics.

There is no doubt that the Maier crowd is glad to seem Gamber gone.  But seeming paranoia persists that Gamber is not "really" gone.

It could be that the surprise of the 2011 election, with the Republicans taking control of council, will be undone in 2013. 

Councilman-at-Large Milan Chovan says that business considerations may force him not to seek reelection. 

With Mike Loudiana (former safety-service director) taking out petitions in Massillon's first ward, it is likely that Republican Cunningham-Hedderly will not be returning.

So Massillonians will likely see a "shake out in the politics" of Massillon City Council, but not because of Gamber's resignation.

But because of the "cloak and dagger" machinations of the Maier and Cicchinelli camps, with a dash of Republicanism thrown in.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

(VIDEO: PRICE, CIRELLI & SCHULMAN ON CANTON WATER PROCESSING) ANTI-FRACKING GOES INTERNATIONAL & STARK COUNTY IS PART OF IT DUE TO THE EFFORT OF CHRIS BORELLO'S "CONCERNED CITIZENS OF STARK COUNTY."



The Ohio and Stark County anti-fracking community is in a celebratory mood today as a consequence of the publication of a White Paper (LINK) by ControlRisks (an independent global consultancy).

ControlRisks (LINK) defines itself thusly:
Control Risks is an independent, global risk consultancy specialising [British spelling] in political, integrity and security risk. We help some of the most influential organisations [British spelling] in the world to understand and manage the risks and opportunities of operating in complex or hostile environments.
Why are the anti-frackers more cheered up these days?

Because of the descriptive material  that ControlRisks uses in assessing the impact of the anti-fracking movement in shaping policy at the local, state, national, and indeed, international levels of government includes locals and Ohioans as being among those attaining some success against the oil gas industry.

One anti-fracker euphoric mood is expressed in an e-mail (on which the SCPR was copied) with the ControlRisks' assessments (in quote marks and bold italics), to wit:
Here is one of my favorite lines so far:  (page 4)

"The O&G industry has repeatedly been caught off guard by the sophistication, speed, and influence of anti-fracking activists"


WOW !!
 The subject line on the e-mail?

KUDOS to ALL of the anti-fracking activists !! - read what the O&G industry says about us in their "White Paper on Anti-Drilling Activity"

And there is growing evidence that local long time environmental activist Chris Borello's (a forwarder of the above-cited e-mail) of the Concerned Citizens of Stark County and her supporters are affecting, in a limiting way, the ability of the oil and gas industry to operate within the geographical confines of Stark County.

Borello cut her teeth on the Uniontown Industrial Excess Landfill (IEL) beginning in the early 1980s and continuing up to this very day as the leader of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township (CCLT).

The local effort to stymie the oil and gas industry fracking initiative started back in the Fall of 2010 when Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis (the godfather of the Stark County anti-fracking movement?) raised concerns about fracking and it environmental effects in his part of Stark County (LINK 1, LINK 2, LINK 3LINK 4, LINK 5 and LINK 6 [prior SCPR blogs]).

Borello and her followers were in the thick of Giavasis fight against the oil and gas industry fracking proponents.

Plain Township did pass a resolution prohibiting fracking on and under township properties (July, 2011) And trustees asked Ohio to place a moratorium on fracking in February, 2011.

Fast forward to 2012 (some two years later) and to Canton City Council.

The Stark County anti-fracking fight continues in this venue on several fronts.

On March 1st, Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II sensing an opportunity to right his city's failing financial ship declared Canton to be friendly to fracking in declaring the Hall of Fame City to also be known as The Utica Capital (LINK).

In order the underscore to the oil and gas industry that Canton was fracking friendly, he subsequently introduced legislation whereby Canton City Council would authorize the his administration to explore leasing opportunities for fracking purposes.

In doing so, he awakened the Borello and her anti-fracking allies and they have been out-in-force opposing anything remotely supporting anything helpful to the fracking industry.

The SCPR believes that the anti-frackers effectively used council's Public Speaks forum and entre to a few somewhat sympathetic council members to convince a majority of council to turn down Healy's request and Healy, seeing the handwriting on the way, withdrew the authorization request.

But Healy was not done antagonizing Borello's supporters.

A few weeks ago his administration proposed legislation whereby Canton's water treatment plant would accept leachtate from American Landfill and process it through Canton's state-of-the-art water processing facilities and thereby get one-hell-of-a-financial-deal for piping Canton's residual sludge to the landfill for a proper burial.

So?

The problem is that the leachate would necessarily include fracking process materials dumped at the landfill by the oil and gas industry and necessarily to one degree or another be present in the leachate going through the Canton water treatment plant.

Think there might be an objection by Borello and friends?

Is there fresh water in Lake Erie?

Meaning, of course, yes they would and, in fact, have objected upsetting the Healy administrations little apple cart of having, in its mind, created a win-win scenario for the oil and gas industry, American Landfill and for the city of Canton.

The Borello inspired civic activism as been instrumental in council agreeing to put off a vote on the proposed ordinance until December 17th and then again until January 7th.

Witness this entry on the council agenda for the 17th:

ORDINANCES & FORMAL RESOLUTIONS FOR THIRD/FINAL READING & VOTE:  POSTPONED UNTIL 1/7/13 

12. AUTHORIZE SERV DIR TO ENTER INTO LONG-TERM AGMT WITH AMERICAN LANDFILL, INC. FOR LEACHATE & SLUDGE DISPOSAL; EMERGENCY

It is important to note that the Concerned Citizens of Stark County (CCSC) appear to have some important sympathtics on council; namely Councilwoman Mary Cirelli and Council President Allen Schulman.

Cirelli has been with the CCSC folks from day one going back to the beginnings in Plain Township in 2010.

Schulman has been on, off, on again (apparently) and who knows where he will end up.

As the SCPR sees it, had Schulman not intervened on during a council work session on December 3rd, the agreement between Canton and American Landfill would now be an accomplished fact.

The delay has to make the oil and gas folks, American Landfill and the Canton administration just a tad nervous as to whether or not "the dream solution" to their common problem will ever be realized.

From time-to-time, Borello et al have been confused by Schulman's vacillation on the Canton water quality issue in the context of the fracking issue, and, accordingly, have questioned his reliability to support their perspective.

But the fact of the matter is that he is the key from the SCPR's way of thinking as to whether or not the Canton/American Landfill agreement gets approved even though he is not a voting member except in case of a council tie on a given issue.

The SCPR has been watching Schulman for a number of years and, too boot, yours truly has known him going back to the 1970s as a fellow member of the Stark County bar.

Schulman is a highly skilled trial lawyer and is council's most urbane member which is to say he is sophisticated, articulate, persuasive and, if he is on your side, a passionate and committed ally.

So the question is this:  will he line up with the anti-frackers?

The Report thinks he cares deeply about protecting the quality of Canton's drinking water, which by the way, also supplies communities and enterprises outside of Canton (e.g. Lake Township located in northern Stark County).

However, he will have to be convinced by the anti-fracking activists that Canton's accepting leachate from American Landfill unreasonably puts Canton's water supply at risk.  If he is not persuaded by "clear and convincing evidence, The Report sees him siding with the Healy administration because doing so helps Canton's finances which he also deeply cares about.

While basically a non-voting member of council, The Report sees him as perhaps the most listened to among all of the councilpersons by fellow his council members.

Here is a videotaped session of a council work session (December 3rd) in which Healy adminstration Service Director Warren Price addresses the matter of Canton's proposed relationship with American Landfill along with Councilwoman Cirelli's (and Schulman's) request for a delay on a vote on the question.



It is obvious that the delaying tactics have been urged by the anti-frackers to buy time to persuade a majority of council to defeat the Healy administration proposal.

Will the Borello faction be successful?

The SCPR for one would not count them out.

As the ControlRisks' White Paper says:  Groups like the Concerned Citizens of Stark County are "sophisticated [in their community activism], speedy [in responding with articulate objectors and thereby] influen[tial] [in the role of being] anti-fracking activists."

If they can turn Schulman into an out-and-out supporter, one has to think their chances are very good indeed in stopping the Canton/American Landfill agreement right in its tracks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

THE 'SCPR' FROM COLORADO SPRINGS: CANTON AND MASSILLON A HOTBED OF HIGH TECH JOBS? REALLY?



A "feel good" article?


Kind of looks like it to the Stark County Political Report.

The Report took a look at the underlying study and sees nothing which identifies exactly what specific companies have generated the claimed increase of 1,400 high tech jobs in Stark County in the Canton/Massillon area.  Nor does the study specify job titles for the supposed high tech jobs that Stark has in 2012 that it did not have in 2005.

Of course, Canton mayor William J. Healy, II is front and center seemingly claiming credit for helping create what appears (for lack of identify specific companies except for Timken and Diebold) to be jobs that it is hard to get a particularized grip on from reading the Bay Area Council of Economic Institute (BACEI) published study.

Healy:  “We are thrilled to hear we are one of the top 15 high-tech job cities in the country."

Really?

The study says Canton/Massillon area?  And, that is to say "area" equates to the city of Canton?

Okay, Mayor Healy.  Who are the companies located in Canton city limits?  What are the job titles and what salaries/wages do they generate?

Need a little help in identifying high-tech jobs mayor?


Want to try again mayor?

To be fair to the BAECI, the study is a prime case of everything being relative.

First of all, the study refers to a broad classification of jobs:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (hence STEM).  But such a reference is to very broad categories which take in a lot of territory.

Secondly, while it does get a little more specific in referring to:
  • medical professions, 
  • scientific research and development services, 
  • software publishers, 
  • Internet publishing and broadcasting, and 
  • data processing,
the study does not develop a nexus between those subcategories of STEM to companies in the Canton/Massillon area that have created actual/specific jobs.

Moreover, the study speaks to a 10%/13% increase of 1% of the total jobs in the Canton/Massillion "area."

Hmm?

Ten (thirteen) percent of one percent is not all that impressive, no?

A case of making numbers say more than the really say?

The Report thinks so.

Overall, Akron (3% of total jobs), Cleveland (3.8% of total jobs) and Ohio (4.1% of total jobs) is outpacing Stark County.

So what is all the ballyhoo about?

And, again:  no "real" identification by locals, to wit:

From Pritchard's article:   "Paquette [Stark Development Board CEO) cited Timken’s work with wind turbines and the fuel cell developments by Rolls Royce as possible contributors to the high-tech job growth."  (emphasis added).

Interpretation?

If there are 1,400 high tech jobs now that were not here in Stark in 2005, I really can't tell you where they are and title them and assign an income figure to them.

From Stark's economic development czar?

Now that's impressive, isn't it?

Kind of like when Tom Harmon was county commissioner.  Reacting to a series of blogs by the SCPR chiding the commissioners for not developing a gameplan for bringing jobs to Stark County.

At a subsequent commissioners meeting, Harmon comes waltzing into the commissioners' meeting room and on seeing yours truly hands me what he described as being an economical development plan.

"How's that for economic development he bellowed out."

 In hindsight, The Report can say:  "not much!"

Harmon's plan, working in concert with local attorney Elizabeth Burrick (a horse show lover),  consisted of an idea of building a horse show arena on the Stark County fairgrounds.

Initially, the Stark Development honcho Paquette said it was not a feasible idea.  That did not go over well with Harmon et al.  Guess what?  Over time Paquette modified his view to say maybe.

Guess what again?

The arena has NOT been built.

And even if it had been, a single facility on the sprawling Stark County fairgrounds complex is not evidence that Stark County had a plan for a rehab, a restructuring of the deteriorating facilities on the grounds that would be a start towards creating a state-of-the art revitalized fairgrounds that could be both a Stark County community center and an additional tourist/convention complex center.

If Stark County had any big-picture, visionary leadership (attention:  Leadership Stark County), perhaps, Stark Countians might have hope that the fairgrounds could reach its potential.

But the evidence is that no such leadership exists in Stark.

From Pritchard's article:  "Healy noted that Canton has worked hard in recent years to recruit and welcome innovative companies to the area. The city has seen economic development, which has helped cut unemployment."

Are the 1,000 call center jobs at VXI high-tech, high paying by the mayor's definition?

Probably, from a mayor who likes to throw everything in "including the kitchen sink" in support of whatever point he is making. 

How about a little chapter and verse Mayor Healy as to companies, specific jobs and the income they are producing for actual employees?

Other reasons that the study is suspect to the SCPR in terms of real significance to the Stark County economy (and in particular the city of Canton) include:
  • with all of Canton's crime problems, do highly paid, personal security conscious high-tech types really want to come in live in Canton?
  • does Canton have a collection of attractions which make prospective high-tech types of young generations of Americans who are highly education making high incomes say to themselves:  "you know what, Canton, Ohio is really at the top of my list of a place I would like to live."
The Report is highly skeptical that Stark County (which the SCPR thinks is a more accurate to identify the geography than Canton/Akron area) is on the threshold of becoming the Silicon Valley of Ohio.

Nobody wishes more than the SCPR that there be justifiable optimism that Stark in on the verge of a break through on economic development.

Over the past five years The Report has written many, many blogs chiding local government and economic development officials for "standing in place."

Last year the Stark County commissioners put $0 into economic development with Paquette's Stark Development Board.

And this year, maybe $50,000.

Pathetic, no?  But the county has no money.  It is barely getting by.

The closest thing that might suggest reality-based hope might be the oil/gas fracking industry.

Louisville in particular has made an impressive move forward in tapping into the promise that fracking might bring.

But for all the hype that Mayor Healy made earlier this year with his designating Canton as The Utica Capital, as time rolls on, it seems, the proclamation is turning out to be vintage Healy spin.

The SCPR doesn't understand the point of Pritchard's article and Healy's and Paquette's excitement.

Gin up the data, such as it is, all you want, but it still comes down to:

Where's the beef?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

(VIDEOS: LEWIS, MANSON, HALTER, SCASSA & PETERS) MASSILLON COUNCIL TAKES CHARGE; MAYOR CATAZARO-PERRY DOIN' HER OWN THING? OTHER NEWS: CHOVAN MAY NOT BE RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION, FORMER COUNCILMAN/SAFETY-SERVICE DIRECTOR LOUDIANA TAKES OUT PETITION FOR WARD ONE SEAT. HMM?



UPDATE:  09:30 AM


ORIGINAL BLOG

Last night the members of Massillon City Council (Tony Townsend - 4th Ward - was not present at the work session) reached a consensus on a plan to meet the financial demands of the city in the upcoming and immediately ensuing years.

Finance Committee chairman Donnie Peters, at the end of the meeting, said - based on the consensus arrived at by members participating in the work session - that he would request that Massillon Law Director Perry Stergios prepare legislation placing on the May 7, 2013 ballot (primary election) to question Massillon voters whether or not they were willing to have their income tax rate go up from 1.8% to 2.1% with the proviso that out-of-city working Massillonians would be capped at the 1.8% figure in terms of the credit they will receive for paying taxes to another taxing jurisdiction.

Notwithstanding the near unanimity of council (remembering that Townsend was not present during the work session discussion), one important factor is on record as not being in accord with council's plan; namely, Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry.

Her plan has been to reduce the 1.8% tax credit to out-of-town workers and to have council impose street lighting fees.

Will council's plan pass not having the support of the mayor?

The SCPR talked with most of the members present.

COUNCILMAN MILAN CHOVAN

Councilman-at-Large and Republican Milan Chovan said he thinks that everything has been done that can be responsibly done in the way of cuts and that he is fully on board with asking the voters whether or not they want to supply additional revenues to city coffers.

As an interesting aside, Chovan told The Report that he is undecided as to whether or not he will seek a second term on council.  He says that business considerations may make remaining on council impractical in terms of his having to do job related travel that might interfere with his ability to be a fully participating member of council.

He did say that he would not file petitions and run for office and if elected decide later that his new business directions were compatible with his being on council.

There is another development that may have implication on how the 2014 Massillon City Council lines up.

The SCPR notes that Cicchinelli administration Safety-Service Director Mike Loudiana has taken out petitions to run for Ward One council seat now held by Republican Sarah Cunningham-Hedderly.


Loudiana, a Democrat, is a former councilman who knows his way around council.  And you can bet that, if elected, he would be big-time trouble for Catazaro-Perry

The Report's take on Loudiana is that as councilman he would bring all of his insight gained as a Cicchinelli administration insider to bear on scrutinizing each and every move of the current mayor.

He would - in a phrase - "be Catazaro-Perry's worst nightmare."

Especially so, if he believes that any given Catazaro-Perry initiative, apparently from her administration is, in reality, right out of the of the playbook of Clerk of Courts Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

One would think that the mayor and her Massillon political cabal would make Ward One "a battle royale" if Loudiana actually files his petitions.

With the possibility that Chovan will not be seek reelection and with the distinct probability that a Loudiana Ward One candidacy would result in the Republicans losing a ward seat, it seems that come January 1, 2014 Democrats might once again control Masillion City Council.

But such would be of little solace to Democrat Catazaro-Perry.

For it is rather obvious that in Massillon the Democratic Party is not a united entity.

It is hard to see going forward, how the difficult road the mayor now has to trod gets any better.

While it is three years until she comes up for reelection, signs are already appearing that getting reelected may be a tall order indeed for the mayor.

Might we see Francis H. Cicchinelli, Jr back as mayor come January 1, 2016?

COUNCILMAN ED LEWIS

Ward 6 Councilman Ed Lewis (a Republican) was the focus of a SCPR blog of about a week ago (LINK) in which he basically took the position that the democratic thing to do was not for council to take the question of city financing out of the hands of the voters (as the Catzaro-Perry plan would do in having council implement it) but rather to let the voters decide the matter.  He is open to the possibility that Massillonians will say "no," and, of course, council would then have to work with the administration to make additional cuts.

Here is Lewis speaking with the SCPR after last night's work session.



COUNCILMAN PAUL MANSON

Councilman-at-Large Paul Manson (a Democrat) does not see the tax issue as being a cure (over the longer term) for Massillon's financial ills.  What he is interested in is Massillon growing it way out of its fiscal doldrums with the creation of new jobs which of course generates "new" income tax revenues for the city.

Such was the focus of his video comments to the SCPR.



COUNCILWOMAN NANCY HALTER

Ward 2 Councilwoman Nancy Halter (a Republican) says she is pleased with the way council has worked through the question of what to do about Massillon's financial difficulties.

The SCPR's impression has been that Halter has been a leading voice on council to insist that the Catazaro-Perry administration make cut before council consider any kind of a revenue increase for the city.  A significant point that she makes in her interview with The Report is that she is satisfied with the cuts made by the administration.



COUNCILWOMAN ANDREA SCASSA

Democratic Ward 3 Councilwoman Andrea Scassa.  She is Catzaro-Perry's successor.

However, it appears to the SCPR that she is not overly concerned that the mayor has decided to go her way whereas council has decided on a different direction in terms of whether or not the mayor's position will hurt the electoral chances of a tax issue passing in May.



COUNCILMAN DONNIE PETERS

Ward 5 Councilman Donnie Peters a week or so ago was saying that it would be impossible to pass a tax issue in Massillon without the mayor's support.

But last night, he was singing a somewhat different tune.



It seems to the SCPR that Massillon City Council is as united as it has ever been and it will be interesting to see whether or not a 0.3% income tax increase can pass in the face of Mayor Catazaro-Perry not being on board with council's plan.

Perhaps, as Councilman Manson was hopeful of in his on camera remarks, the mayor will rethink matters and get solidly and enthusiastically behind the council plan.

Her support probably is not critical to the measure's passage, but having it is certainly better than not having it.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly feared that the election of Catzaro-Perry would result in Massillon having a "figure-head-esque" leader.

The Report believes that she is the political captive of Massillon Clerk of Court of Court Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his Massillon political machine. 

The Report thinks that Catazaro-Perry's intransigence vis-a-vis council on the tax issue is borne of her relationship with the Maier camp and Maier's historical opposition to tax increases (in the context of ballot initiatives).

Maier is an "old school political might makes right" guy who learned at the knee of the quintessential past Ohio political power broker Vern Riffe when Maier was a member of the Ohio House during part of Riffe's long term as Speaker of the House.

And the SCPR's concerns seem to have been realized.

Catazaro-Perry has surrounded herself with Maier people in her administration.  The only person that The Report has confidence in in terms of being his own person is finance man Ken Koher (a former Stark County treasurer).

In her overreliance on the Maier entourage, The Report thinks that the mayor is demonstrating a political immaturity and thereby shortchanging the citizens of Massillon on providing leadership unique to her and her alone.

Yours truly is currently reading a book on Thomas Jefferson.  The writer of the book cites German philosopher Immanuel Kant on the topic of maturity.

Kant defines immaturity thusly:
If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them ... regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult.
So the SCPR calls on the mayor to abandon her over dependence on her political supporter and mentor and to be her own person.

Perhaps, if she does, she might find a way to work with council to do what is good for the city of Massillon!

Monday, December 17, 2012

WILL STARK CO. DELEGATION TO OHIO GENERAL ASSEMBLY BE EFFECTIVE FOR COUNTY IN KASICH TURNPIKE FUNDING PLAN FIGHT THAT IS SURE TO COME?



Tom Suddes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote a column (LINK) over the weekend that members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly should be paying close attention to.

That is, if they want to make sure that Stark County gets Governor Kasich's defined share of bond revenues for bonds (underwritten by Ohio Turnpike ["Turnpike"] tolls).

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) plans to float bonds to leverage up revenues available to local governments across Ohio and, of course, the state government itself to maintain and upgrade Ohio's highways.

Since Kasich (Republican - Columbus) has been governor, he has endeavored to carry out his underlying philosophy that government should be stripped of everything not fastened down that can be moved and shuttled off to the private sector.

Accordingly, speculation has been rampant that he would move the Ohio General Assembly for authority to lease (long term) the Ohio Turnpike to the private sector.

Ohioans will remember that such is what losing Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell proposed doing in his 2006 campaign, had he been elected.

But lo and behold! Kasich has fooled us all.

On Friday last, Kasich began his campaign for reelection; not that any incumbent in less obvious ways ever ceases campaigning.

The governor unveiled his bond-underwritten-revenue-generation program as a "free lunch" for all Ohioans.  And, of course, Republican officeholders as a generality like to say that "there is no such thing as a 'free lunch.'"

Free lunch?  Indeed!

Bond interest and set up fees will come off the top of Turnpike revenues.

Not a dime is to be taken out of the pocket of any Ohioan.  And a high percentage of Turnpike revenues come from guess who?  You've got it:  out-of-staters who travel portal to portal across the Buckeye state.

Kasich aides, in his political barnstorming trip Friday across the Ohio Turnpike corridor running across Ohio's northern most counties, said that the Kasich "tax free to the taxpaying Ohioans highway funds plan" will raise about $3 billion.

And, get this.

Some 90% plus of the $3 billion or about $2.7 billion is to go to "northern" Ohio community roads and highways.  Northern Ohio?  Yes, "northern" Ohio.

And "northern Ohio" is defined to mean?

According to Kasich aides, the area of Ohio north of U.S. Route 30 otherwise known as The Lincoln Highway.


Terrific for Stark County, no?

But not so fast.

Does anyone believe that there will not be a fight in the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) when the Kasich proposal comes up for consideration after the first of the year in its new session (the 130th) on:
  • how "northern" gets defined, or
  • whether or not northern gets expanded into "the funds are to be distributed over all of Ohio."
Suddes, being Cuyahoga County tied, seems to be suggesting if not advocating that "northern" should be the area north of U.S. 224 (including, of course the Turnpike itself), which, of course, cuts Stark County out of the 90% plus factor.


Under the U.S. 224 and north scenario, Stark would share in $300 million with 61 other Ohio counties.   Compare this with about $2.7 billion with 32 other counties under the U.S. 30 and north Kasich administration plan.

Hmm?

Question to the  Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly:  
  • Oelslager (Ohio Senate - R/Plain, the 29th),  
  • Schuring (Ohio House - R/Jackson, the 48th),  
  • Slesnick (Ohio House - D/Canton, the 49th) and
  • Hagan (Ohio House - R/Marlboro, the 50th):   
Is a pie of $2.7 billion (spread over 33 counties) over one that is $300 million (spread over 61 counties) one worth fighting for?

If Suddes is merely suggesting the north of U.S. 224, then obviously he is hearing from some Cuyahoga County legislators/northern Ohio legislators representing legislative districts right along the path of the Ohio Turnpike that since the revenues are coming from the Turnpike that the lion's share of revenues should go to a more limited area (i.e. U.S. 224 and north) rather than the more expansive U.S. 30 and north.

Moreover, isn't it predictable that the legislative fight will involve more than the 33 north of U.S. 30 counties versus the 26 north of U.S. 224 counties.

Does anyone believe that those 61 counties out of both definitions won't be advancing arguments as to why there should be "an equal distribution" across all of Ohio?

In 2008, the-then governor, Democrat Ted Strickland, came out in favor of doing an equal distribution statewide.  He failed, but citing his action is evidence that such sentiment does exist in Ohio political circles that the fair thing to do is to distribute the money across all 88 Ohio counties.

Citation authority on Strickland action:


Kasich, for his part, has a total win-win-win reelection equation to work with.

If the "north of U.S. 224" plan wins out, he has enhanced his chances to cut into the traditional Democratic majorities (particularly in Cuyahoga, Lucas and Summit counties) against a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.

If the "north of U.S. 30" plan wins out, he is in about the same shape, plus he picks up Stark County which can go either way in statewide elections.

If it ends up an "all of Ohio" plan, he still wins.  He can say and will say to the 26/33 counties that he tried to advantage them on a rational basis since the Turnpike runs across the northern most counties of Ohio
Summit, but that politics internal (i.e. rural counties dominate) to the Ohio General Assembly prevailed.

Of course, the latter prevailing means he gets the least political benefit, but he still will benefit in his quest to stay in the governor's mansion.

The SCPR thinks Kasich's plan is "a political stroke of genius."  In a close race, it could be the difference maker come November, 2014.

And get this quote from the Suddes piece:
Then aides [of Kasich] showered [northern] Ohio with endorsements, including -- very significantly -- one from Democratic Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, and another from Gary Tiboni, president of Teamsters Local 436, which represents 688 turnpike employees.
It is big news when Republicans get Democratic mayors and union officials supporting their projects.

Kasich in 2011 bloodied his political standing in north/northeast Ohio with his politically "unwise" Senate Bill 5/Issue 2 plan to deal with public unions last year.

Perhaps his Turnpike plan with help him mitigate the lingering adverse political effect from having inartfully attacked public unions in the guise of Senate Bill 5.

And the good news for Stark County Republicans Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan is that they can get on the governor's bandwagon and in doing so help themselves and the governor politically.

But most importantly for the well-being of Stark Countians and our transportation artery infrastructure work to make sure that Stark County is part of the $2.7 billion and not the $300 million.

Friday, December 14, 2012

WHO IS RIGHT IN MASSILLON? A HOUSE DIVIDED OR FAIL-SAFE LEADERSHIP? MASSILLON'S VERSION OF THE "FISCAL CLIFF" FIGHT?



It is kind of interesting to take in the discussion that is going on in Massillon these days about how to deal with the looming financial deficit.

Depending on whose numbers one wants to latch on to, the projected 2013 deficit in Massillon ranges somewhere in the mid-$2.5 million scale of things.

The real argument between Mayor Kathy-Catazaro-Perry and what seems to be a growing viewpoint on the part of various members of Massillon City Council seems to be whether or not the people of Massillon are going to be given the opportunity to decide the question of how the city increases its revenue.

Catazaro-Perry wants to put the onus of raising revenues on backs of council.

She is adamantly insisting that council reduce the credit that Massillonians who work outside the city get against their Massillon city taxes for taxes they pay to another village/municipality.  Moreover, she wants council to implement a street lighting assessment on city property owners.

It is hard to believe that councilpersons up for election next year would under any circumstances agree to the adopt the mayor's position.

Perhaps there are a few who are suggesting that their incumbency means nothing to them, but we shall see.

Already candidates are taking out petitions to run.  Republicans astonished everybody in 2011 in taking majority control of council in electing four new members (Halter, Lewis, Chovan and Cunningham-Hedderly).  They joined Donnie Peters (Ward 5) to form the new majority.

And, if the petitions get filed, it appears that at least three (Chovan, Lewis and Halter) of the Republicans caucus will have competition from the Democrats in order to retain their seats.

A majority council viewpoint may be forming to push back on the mayor in which Massillon voters decide whether not Massillon is to get a revenue boost in next May's primary election cycle.  The thinking appears to be to place before the voters a decision of whether to raise the city income tax from it's current 1.8% to 2.1% and to cap the credit paid by Massillonians to other taxing jurisdictions at the 1.8%.

To the SCPR, this is a very politically wise position for any incumbent councilperson to support; Republican or Democrat.

If the voters say yes, revenue problem more or less solved.

More or less?

Yes.  The most optimistic guesstimate of how much such an increase might raise is in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.

With the mayor projecting a deficit to be ranging from $2.1 million to $2.6 million, there would be a half a million to a million to cover.

But how?

Apparently, with cuts.  There are councilpersons who presently are insisting that the administration has not come up with enough austerity.

Even Catazaro-Perry's plan seems to indicate cuts will be needed even in the face of revenue enhancement.

What if Massillon's voters turn thumbs down on a tax increase proposal?

What then?

Obviously, additional (to those already made) and draconian cuts will be in the offing post May, 2013, pure and simple.

This is where the "fail-safe" factor of the ballot initiative viewpoint kicks in.

The SCPR spoke with Councilman Ed Lewis about the blossoming proposal which he says might pass even in the face of Catazaro-Perry's opposition.

The Report interprets his explanation to be that he and others interested in putting the initiative before the voters are not endorsing the tax but merely providing Massillonians with a "democracy enhancing" opportunity to be heard on the matter of Massillon government getting additional revenues.

Hence, the SCPR's tabbing such a plan as being in the nature of a fail-safe political leadership plan.

What Councilman Peters (Republican - Ward 5) is suggesting with his statement:
I’m not interested in wasting any more of my time unless everyone is on board.  If the administration is not going to back it, there’s no sense putting it on.  (Reference:  On tax hike, council may go it alone, Massillon Independent, Matt Rink, December 10, 2012)
and his Lincoln-esque "... house divided, cannot stand ... " stance that the standoff between Catazaro-Perry and council is an either/or situation.

But is it a question of either/or?

Should it be?

Does the Catazaro-Perry administration want to put the next Massillon election into a framework that you are either for a tax increase or you are not?

Is she looking for political profit or she about seeking consensus on the future financial well being of Massillon?

Has Councilman Lewis come up in his "let the people decide" with "a third way"  that solves everybody's political problem and, perhaps, might end up solving Massillon's looming "fiscal cliff?"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

(VIDEOS) COMMISSIONERS HOLD FAST IN REFUSING A STARK COUNTY BIDDER ON CONSTRUCTION BID. HOW COULD THIS BE GOOD FOR STARK COUNTY? ALSO, HANKE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT, HOOVER RETIRES FRIDAY, FERGUSSON TO RESIGN EARLY & RICK PEREZ RETIRES ON 12/31/2012



 SPECIFIC LIST OF VIDEOS:
  1. COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR MIKE HANKE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2013,
  2. 25 YEAR STARK CO. COMMISSIONER EMPLOYEE MARILYN HOOVER TO RETIRE AS OF FRIDAY, AND
  3. STARK CO. BASED CENTRAL ALLIED ENTERPRISES, INC LOSES OUT TO A WAYNE CO. COMPANY ON MARLBORO SEWER PROJECT NOTWITHSTANDING ITS "LOWEST BID."
Yesterday, as yours truly opened the stairs doorway to the 2nd floor of the Stark County office building, it was a sight to behold.

Some 75 workers for Central Allied Enterprises, Inc. were milling around in the area in front of the building elevators extending down the hall towards the commissioners' office and then in the other director down towards the Stark County auditor's office.

What's up?

The SCPR as always had viewed the day's agenda and from the looks of it, the meeting seemed as if it was going to be rather pedestrian.

But as The Report has said in many SCPR blogs, one never knows what surprises awaits yours truly in the course of public meetings.  And Stark County commissioner meetings are no exception.

Before getting into the big controversy that erupted yesterday in the commissioners' meeting room, here are the "milder" surprises that happened yesterday:
  • Mike Hanke, the chief county administrator of some five years, announced he is retiring effective March 1, 2013,
  •  
  • Commissioner Pete Ferguson notified all that he is resigning effective December 31st though his official term runs through January 3, 2013, and
  • Marilyn Hoover, a key Stark County commissioners' administrative staff member who announced her retirement last month after 25 years of service will spend her last day working for the commissioners tomorrow.
  •  
  • Also, information came out that Chief Deputy Sheriff Rick Perez is retiring (a second time?) from the sheriff's department as of December 31st.
The big, big surprise, perhaps (the Hanke retirement announced was pretty surprising), was the attempt by Central Allied Enterprises, Inc. (a Stark, County company) to get commissioners to not follow the recommendation of Stark County Sanitary Sewer Engineer Jim Jones that they reject Central's "lowest bid" on the Marlboro Township Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer Improvement project to benefit about 90 Marlboro residents who live in the vicinity of State Route 619 and Marlboro in unincorporated Marlboro.


But the commissioners chose to follow the recommendation of Jones notwithstanding the impassioned plea of Central Allied's CEO Gerald Orn.

So what is so surprising about this turn of events?

One of the first and most emphatic points that Commissioner Creighton made when she took office on her election in November, 2010 was that she was interested in seeing to it that Stark County-based companies got county business whenever the county made purchases for products and services.  And Commissioners Bernabei (elected originally in 2010; reelected in November, 2012) and Ferguson (elected in 2008, but choosing not to seek reelection this year) were on board with her on that very point.

For a number of years the Stark County sanitary engineer's office has been working to put together a project to replace sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure in Marlboro.

So it had to be pleasing to the commissioners when the bids were opened on the Marlboro project on October 12th of this year that a Stark County company (Central Allied) was the low bidder by some $13,000.

But the law, as the SCPR understands it (LINK), is that the commissioners have some discretion within which to accept bids in that the catch phrase is not "lowest," but "lowest and best."

Well, how do they determine what is best?

Answer:  they rely on their expert on such things which in this case is Engineer Jones.

On Tuesday Jones wrote the commissioners telling them that in his judgment the $2.5 million (plus a little) contract should go to Wenger Excavation of Dalton, Wayne County, Ohio.

The project is funded by a combination of:
  • a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers administrated federal grant,
  • Community Development Block Grant funding through the Stark County Regional Planning Commission, and
  • Metropolitan Sewer District funds.
His reasons for selecting the Wayne County company over the Stark County company?
  1. Central Allied's bid ($2,547,138.20) is in its essence equal (given that we are talking slightly in excess of $2.5 million) to the Wenger bid ($2,580, 299.55),
  2. Wenger "has performed many satisfactory projects" for Stark County "over the last 30 years," according to Jones' recommendation,
  3. Central Allied, on the other hand, has had two projects in the last six years for Stark County and Jones says "that there were problems ... on both projects,"
  4. "The quality of the work was non-standard, causing delays, safety issues, added expense, excessive noise, and quality problems."
  5. Jones cites "dewatering of ground water" issues with Central Allied on the two previous project and says that dewatering may be a factor in the Marlboro project,
  6. "Central Allied Enterprises was non-responsive to the List of public projects request in the Bidder's profile section of the Bid Documents,"
  7. "Central's list did not indicate type of project or project contact person or phone number information,"
  8. One of Central's references "which included storm sewer had some negative comments to standards which may relate sanitary sewer installation" on the Marlboro project.
A main point raised by CEO Orn in his remarks to commissioners yesterday was the number of Stark County (which he estimated at 100, but which the company's legal counsel guessed to be about 80) citizens who work for Central Allied.

Here is a video record on proceedings yesterday.



Off camera, he told the SCPR that Central's failure to get the contract from Stark County could negatively impact as many as 40 Stark County jobs.

The bottom line was that the commissioners were going to follow the county engineer's recommendation and were not going to yield to the pressure of some 75 workers and company officials (including Orn) who appeared at the commissioners meeting.

From what the SCPR can gather from Jones' report, it appears that the commissioners did the right thing by Stark County's sanitary sewer customers (of which, yours truly is one) and most importantly the folks who live in Marlboro Township who will be directly benefiting from the work done.

The SCPR has covered the Stark County commissioners for all of the time that Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson have been in office.  During that time, it is The Report's clear impression that they make every effort to award county contracts to Stark County based business so long as they can ensure quality products and services.

One thing that worried The Report somewhat was the heavy reliance of the commissioners on Engineer Jones' say so.

Not so much on this particular bid, but whether or not the commissioners, in general, are biased to what a public official's stand is on any controversy that comes before them for which the commissioners are the deciders.

So The Report sat down with Commissioner Creighton and engaged a "devil's advocate" position on yours truly's concern.

Creighton in the back and forth convinced The Report that such was not the case.

She cited a recent case involving a situation in Beach City in which the public officials were contesting the citizens and the commissioners sided with the Beach City residents.


Moreover, there is a street naming issue (Brook Avenue) between affected Perry Township residents and safety officials (fire, police and emergency services) that the residents brought to the commissioners' Public Speaks forum a number of weeks ago.


Creighton, for one commissioner, assured yours truly that she was hearing the residents' concerns loud and clear and that the commissioners are working to formulate a solution that will satisfy everyone.

Her point?

She was not going to be an "automatic" for the public officials.

That is what the SCPR wanted to hear.

Bernabei and Creighton came into office at a time that Stark Countians were disgusted with a perceived lack of openness, transparency, communicativeness, accessibility and the like being handed out by a number of county officials.

The have vowed to change that perception.

The Report thinks that the commissioners have made progress, but work along this front remains.

For instance, the SCPR has not been impressed with how the commissioners have handled the Stark County Dog Pound Advisory Board (SCDPAB).

These folks in The Report's estimate have been terrific advocates for the well being of stray and abandoned dogs housed at the Stark County Dog Pound (Pound) and have volunteered thousands of hours at the Pound in the face of resistance, yours truly believes, by employees, management and, yes, even the commissioners.

Former commissioner Todd Bosley was instrumental in forming the SCDPAB.  Commissioner Creighton says that he (and his fellow commissioners at the time) had no authority for doing so.

The Report believes that members of the SCDPAB (which only has a couple of members remaining out of a total of seven; the terms of the others having expired and left unfilled by Bernabei, Creighton and Ferguson) were so much of a "pain in the _ss" to folks working/running the Pound and to the commissioners themselves that the commissioners are simply letting the SCDPAB atrophy through the expiration of all terms over time and thereby put it out of existence.

The SCPR thinks that the commissioners handling of the SCDPAB matter is disrespectful of these folks and dishonoring of all the hard work they have blessed the county with over the years.

A very compelling case can be made that BUT FOR the activism of the SCDPAB members, the "in process" replacement of the Pound's HVAC system would not be happening.

However, to their discredit is the manner in which they are handling the the demise of the SCDPAB.

They should go front and center and outright disband the board.

And it wouldn't hurt to have past and the remaining few members into a commissioners meeting to honor them for their service.

While the SCPR sees a substantial improvement with this board of commissioners over previous boards, they are not perfect.

Returning to the commissioners action yesterday, it seems to the SCPR that the commissioners showed that they have spine when it comes to an influx of complaint and criticism.

There is no doubt to The Report that they want to see Stark County-based business get the county's business.

So it had to be particularly difficult for them not to award the Marlboro project to Central Allied.

Whether one agrees with the decision or not, the commissioners demonstrated in not choosing the Stark County company that they have the fortitude to do what they think is the right thing to do in terms of what Ohio law allows and in their perception of the overall interest of Stark Countians.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

(VIDEOS OF CANTON COUNCIL IN ACTION) "FOUR YOUNG TURKS" BEGINNING TO DRAW "THE FIRES OF JEALOUSY" FOR THEIR EFFORTS TO PULL CANTON OUT OF ITS PLUNGE TO THE BOTTOM?



The political sniping has begun!

The SCPR, from many decades of life experience, knew that it was inevitable that the activism and energy of a group of Canton councilmen whom The Report has affectionately dubbed as "the four young turks" (Fisher, Ward 5; Mack, Ward 8; Mariol, Ward 7 and Morris, Ward 9) would draw the attention of those whom have not been all that effective in solving Canton's longstanding problems.

The Report believes that a line of inquiry at Monday night's council meeting initiated by Councilwoman Chris Smith (Ward 4) on the availability of a downpayment subsidy for those who want to locate in Canton's surplus housing was a tip-off that the inquiry is, perhaps, indicative that there is a sub rosa discussion underway among oppositional circles within Canton City Council, with contribution from the Healy administration, on finding ways to rope in the straying councilmen.

Joining Smith (by happenstance, of course) in the indirect criticism of the Ward 5, 7, 8 and 9 councilmen, was Ward 2 Councilman Tom West.

It was a weird sort discussion that involved, in turn, Smith (to start), then Mariol, then West and then Mack in sort of a zigzag line and finally Councilwoman Mary Cireilli (at-large) defending her fellows from 5, 7, 8 and 9.


Smith obliquely approached what The Report believes to be the real issue:  What are these councilmen doing banding together, just the four of them, to lay a foundation for finding solutions for Canton's decaying neighborhoods in partnership with the people?

Cutting through all the crap, The Report  believes that is where she and West were heading.

Take a look at this little "dog and pony show" (so, The Report thinks) put on by Smith and West.



Judge for yourself.

Please note that Smith's apparent "mask question" asked of Community Development Director Fonda Williams was, in effect:  "Doesn't Canton already have the ability to subsidize the downpayment money to those who want to buy redeveloped/rehabbed property in the city?

It so happens that the idea of a downpayment subsidy was discussed at some length by Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris at their joint townhall meeting of December 5th.

But it seems to The Report that there was just a tad of dissembling going on by Smith, West and their "silent" allies.

So, whose bright idea was this to, by insinuation and in misdirection, to start a "below the radar" campaign against the collaborative effort of the four?

The Report believes that Mayor William J. Healy, II is the "behind the scenes" person.

His objective?

Yours truly thinks: to create just enough turmoil (a divide and conquer strategy) to make Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris back off their scrutinizing of his poorly thought schemes of government and to back off their aggressive and proactive search for effective and enduring solutions for what ails Canton.

They have been a primary force is making him retreat from several legislative initiatives and you can bet that this man MBAed by the New York University Stern School of Business is not liking it one bit!

The Report thinks he will do what he has to in order to come out on top.

And there is precedent for Healy trying to put others up to doing his dirty work.  It could be that the tools of Healy's effort are not even aware of how they are being manipulated.

Does anyone doubt that as Canton's chief executive that Healy (given his grandiose view of himself), in his heart of hearts, thinks he and his administration is the only legitimate authority to deal with Canton's overwhelming problems?

However, Healy has one huge chore in trying to sell that notion to Cantonians.

Notwithstanding his having been mayor for five full years, Canton is not making headway in solving its problems.  Many think Canton is sliding more quickly and deeper into an abyss of no return than ever before.

Healy undoubtedly sees that if allowed to show success, the four newer council members will put him on the sidelines looking on.

Anyone who knows Hizzoner has to know that being on the sidelines is not a option for him.

So we shall see what kind of determination that Fisher, Mack, Mariol and Morris have.

All they have done so far is to start meeting with their constituents on a regular and sustained basis and in doing so they are raising eyebrows.

And for the four to have come together on December 5th for a mass meeting, wow!  The raised eyebrows appear now to have been converted into clanging alarm bells.

If they actually get some "redeem Canton" solutions up and running and showing effectiveness restoring Canton into becoming a viable city, they "ain't seen nothing yet" in terms of the subterranean lighting and thunder that will began flashing to the surface.

It could be they will "get the message" and back off.  After all, they are elected officials likely with future political aspirations. Moreover, they are human beings.  And if they start producing results, the pressure to back off will ratchet up proportionally. 

If they do, then Canton loses perhaps its last chance to escape its inexorable destiny of political and governmental oblivion.

The Report looks for Healy to try to use the likes of West (Ward 2), Smith (Ward 4), Babcock (at-large) and Cole (at-large) in one fashion or another to stymie Fisher et al.

They already are pretty much in Healy's hip pocket.  But that is not enough to fire them up to do "in the trenches battle" with the insurgent councilmen.

Aha! (a finagler might think)

Who likes to standby and watch peers achieve what one has not been able to do him or herself?  Think that won't generate some passion?

Indeed, the recipe!  "Look, you are being shown up!!"

Go figure that one of the observations on Monday night was in effect a finger pointing at the four young turks as being a cause for concern as bringing division within council for actively pursuing solutions - just the four of them - for Canton's deep, deep problems.

Blame the victim, pure and simple!

Another telltale sign that an attack is underway?

As far as the SCPR is concerned, what is beginning to unfold has William J. Healy, II's hand written all over it.

For the future well being of generations of Cantonians, the question is: will these "can do councilmen" have the strength of character and personality to hold their ground in doing the right thing; not the politically expedient thing?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

(VIDEOS: 3 CITIZENS, SCHULMAN, REAM) CANTONIANS "UP IN ARMS" AT LAST NIGHT'S CITY COUNCIL MEETING OVER RAMPANT CRIME PROBLEM & LACK OF POLICE RESPONSE! ALSO, THOSE 1,000 VXI JOBS: THEIR NOT ALL THEY ARE "CRACKED UP TO BE?"



The Stark County Political Report has come to expect the unexpected at Canton City Council.

Last night was no exception.

The tone at the meeting was a la Howard Beale in the classic movie Network (1976):  "I'm mad as hell and I not going to take this anymore."

The Report highlights three citizens who stepped up to the lectern each with his/her version, more or less, of being mad as hell.

First up, Mike Myers owner of "Your" Pizza Shop, 420 12th St., NW, Canton.  In his presentation, Myers relates the following:
  • His business at Cleveland and 12th St NW  (Tom West's Ward 2) was robbed on Sunday, December 2nd,
  • He feels like his business is located in a war zone (Myers is a 20 year Army veteran),
  • "A week later [after the robbery], and [he] still has not seen a detective,"
  • He's had to make calls to people in the Canton Police Department "because nobody is doing anything,"
  • "We're not going to get people down [to downtown Canton] until we clean these streets up,"
  • Anyone can get on YouTube and hear the exact same lyrics as being descriptive of how the robbery of his business on the 2nd went down,
  • "The detectives don't have time for me because I'm just a little guy."
Here is Myers on video:



After Myers spoke, Mayor Healy immediately got up out of his chair and went to talk to Myers as well he should have.

As Cantonians know, when he ran for mayor in 2007, a main theme for him as a political issue during his campaign against incumbent Republican mayor Janet Creighton, was Zero Tolerance of crime in the Hall of Fame City.

Early on in his administration for non-specific reasons there was a dip in crime (at least according to FBI statistics) in Canton.  Of course, being the political opportunist the mayor is, he was quick to claim that the lesser crime numbers were because of his administration's improved policing over what existed in the Creighton administration.

After 2009, there is no mention by Healy on Canton's website about reduced crime in Canton on account of his administration's policing policy.

Now all we hear from the Healy administration on the obvious policing deficit is a series of excuses such as:
  • there being a shortage of funds to hire policemen with,
  • the loss of 200 beds at the Stark County jail due to the county's financial crisis of 2011 which means that many of those charged with crimes remained on the streets.
But those sound hollow in the light of what Mike Myers and others (including Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris) are describing about police deficiencies.

Here is another video of Myers meeting with the press after the meeting and after he had talked to the mayor.



At the end of council meeting, Safety Director Thomas Ream made brief remarks on a Repository article which inaccurately stated the number of beds that were lost to area police agencies during Stark County's financial crisis in 2000 and also made a response to Myers' outrage.



Second up, Vicki Boatright owner of BZTAT Studios in the Arts in Stark district of downtown Canton.  Here is the gist of her statement:
  • While she agrees with Mayor Healy that Canton has lured VXI and its 1,000 employees to downtown Canton directly across from her business is something to celebrate, there is another less attractive side to the matter, she says.  For example:
    • having 1,000 people camped out on her doorstep,
    • the employees "are anything but professional and loiter on Fourth Street across from [her] home,"
    • "they are extremely loud and disruptive,"
    • "they speak in vulgar terms" and she goes on to describe other offensive conduct,
  • She makes the point that one cannot have 1,000 people located in a confined area without consequences,
  • The consequence is that "there is a large, unruly crowd on Fourth Street every day,"
  • She has spoken with management at VXI, with her councilman (Thomas West) and Healy administration employee Derek Gordon (in September); all to no avail,
  • She doesn't want the employees gone but she does want their conduct managed so as not to be troublesome to folks like herself,
  • She says that the behavior threatens to destroy downtown and perhaps drive other businesses away.
Here is the Boatright video:



Boatright did get a strong statement of empathy and support from Council President Allen Schulman.



But Healy?  Nothing!

Wouldn't want to offend VXI, heh?

Third up,  John Anderson, owner of Anderson's Flowers, 12th & Cleveland NW.  He was present to express concern about the experience of Mike Myers.



One can sense that more and more Cantonians are getting angrier and angrier, madder and madder and what seems to be the Healy administration's ineptitude at getting Canton's mushrooming crime problem under control.

The "politicizing" worm has turned on Healy and now he must "pay the piper" for having made it a political issue back in 2007 through 2009.

Cantonians increasingly are saying that they are mad as hell and they are not going to take it anymore!

The consequences?

Mayor William J. Healy's future political ambitions are in deep, deep trouble?