Monday, May 13, 2013


Recently, Canton Repository columnist Jim Hillibish wrote a piece North Canton:  A city that works (May 10, 2013).

Well, Hillibish couldn't have consulted with North Canton civic activist and former Councilman Chuck Osborne prior to penning his North Canton Chamber of Commerce-esque glossy brochure material.

Moreover, he could not have visited Osborne's website. (LINK)

If one takes a cue from Osborne, one would think nearly "nothing works in North Canton."

Just take a look at a list of complaints he has logged with the Stark County Political Report (via emails) going back no further than January of this year.

And here is a LINK to a prior Stark County Political Report blog which, in turn links to blogs which detail other examples (i.e. street sweepings, the Maples Street Commerce project, and the Bitzer Park Veterans' Memorial) of Osborne's chronic vexation of North Canton City Council.

So which is it?  "A city that works?" or "A city that does NOT work?"

How about something in between?

There are some things with which to be impressed with North Canton about AND there are things to be unimpressed with about The Dogwood City.

All of which brings yours truly to this question:  Is activist Osborne a help or a hindrance to being "a city that works?"

Or, put another way:
  • Is his motivation to help the city:
  •  Is his motivation primarily to self promote and/or work out political comeuppance?
As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly nearly always applauds those Stark County citizens (i.e. civic activists) who are willing to stick their necks out in endeavors designed to be a check and balance on the excesses and deficiencies of government.

And Osborne has been a recipient of some of those accolades over the five plus years of The Report's existence.

However, with his latest effort to reform(?) North Canton government; it is becoming more and more apparent to yours truly that he is more interested in keeping his name in the headlines and, perhaps, work out political vendettas than in working with the city's political/governmental leadership to make North Canton "a city that works;" not in the sense of a journalistic puff piece, but as a matter of - day-in, day-out, reality.

The SCPR's take on North Canton is that as municipalities go these days, with the huge financial problems brought on by the State of Ohio ripping away massive amounts of state funding of local government, North Canton is demonstrating that it can and is adjusting and endeavors to be "a city that works."

City leaders like to point to the Maple Street Commerce project (the city's Hoover industrial complex rehab and economic development effort) as a huge success.

Yes, there is some success in that it may have (depending whose numbers one believes) perhaps, upwards of 1,000 jobs or so.  However, that number, whatever it truly is; is a long way from the 3,000 jobs that one key North Canton insider tells the SCPR the project should have produced by now.

So the telling barometer of whether or not North Canton "is a city that works" largely has to do with getting the city back on track in having, maintaining and producing jobs as in the Hoover heyday period.

Even it he makes a point or two here and there, many of Osborne's offerings to make North Canton "a city that works" are of a nit picking, insubstantial variety.

Osborne's latest project:  making the mayor's office a full time position, is not (in the opinion of the SCPR) about making North Canton government more efficient and responsive to the "real" needs" its citizenry.

It is likely, in part, borne of a Osborne political vendetta against Mayor David Held.

Held and Osborne have been - in a political context - at one another's throats for years.

So much so that the basis of the acrimony often gets lost in the fight.  These two appear not to like each other.  And the "make the mayor full time" effort seems to be the latest in a series of back and forths between the two.

If his amendment passes - of forcing Held out of the mayor's office inasmuch as he is the executive director of the prestigious and well-paying Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste Management District.

Having to make s choice, the SCPR thinks Held would opt out of the mayor's office.

Osborne undoubtedly understands this likely outcome.

Moreover, The Report sees Osborne's "amend the charter" effort as grandstanding pure and simple so that the name Chuck Osborne makes the headlines between now and November 6, 2013 and beyond.

In yours truly's discussion with Osborne on his justifications for pushing the petition, The Report's take is that the those reasons are tortured and forcibly cobbled together (e.g. a full time mayor can help Administrator Grimes with the day-to-day administrative tasks in the wake of the administrative director's post being left vacant) to make it "appear" that Osborne cares about helping Grimes get North Canton's administrative work done.

Osborne says that the bump up in the mayor's annual income (he suggests to $65,000) would come from the money previously paid to now vacant director of administration.

Such reasoning rings hollow.

If Grimes has a need for help, there are better ways to bring it on board than the full time mayor proposal.

In a historical context, we all know how Osborne is always harping on saving North Canton money.   With his successful 2012 amendment, he convinced North Cantonians to end health care benefits for part-time elected officials.

Except, of course, when he was councilman he took health care benefits.

How is that different from what any other politician?

Osborne has had one office-seeking electoral success in North Canton. 

After losing his reelection bid, he ran for mayor, for council several times and tried to get the third ward seat via appointment when Tim Fox resigned last year to become law director.

To the SCPR, Osborne's incessant drive to achieve elective office manifests a motivation to achieve political power for its own sake which is attendant to his seeming desire to always be in the limelight in constantly cooking up one thing or another to be unhappy with North Canton Council or the Held administration about.

His "make the mayor a full time position" is his third effort since 2005 to force his ideas on council.

As mentioned above, he won last year on the health care issue.

However,  he was unable in 2005 to get a measure on the ballot to redirect North Canton's Community Improvement Corporation monies to the city's general fund.

So it appears to The Report that he is in a sense forcing his way onto council via the petition process.

Doing such is a proper and helpful exercise for citizens in general.

However, when it becomes a substitute for being unable to get elected/appointed as councilman in repetitive tries, then the SCPR thinks it is fair to conclude that the process is being used by him to circumvent the articulated will of the voters in rejecting his candidacies in 2003 and beyond.

Over the years of doing the SCPR, yours truly has been supportive of Osborne on occasion.  But those blogs were done in the context of believing that he was primarily acting as a civic minded citizen working to make North Canton a better city.

The Report is saddened to pretty much come to a realization/belief that Osborne primarily aspires to be a political power broker for the ego enhancing fix it brings to him; not necessarily for the merit of a given proposal itself.

Such is not a formula which helps make North Canton "a city that works!"

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