Shame on North Canton City Council and the council's president Jon Snyder (Republican - Ward 4)!
Who does Snyder think is going to believe his statement to area media, to wit:
Council President Jon Snyder, Ward 4, says most ordinances are passed as emergencies because they’re administrative actions and officials want to avoid cumbersome delays. He said he has never attached an emergency clause to a bill to avoid a referendum (Emergencies routine for North Canton council, Wang, August 12, 2013) (emphasis added)Apparently, Snyder and his fellows on council think that the North Canton citizenry are made up of a bunch of naive, unsophisticated rubes who do not know "up from down," "backwards from forwards" or "how to come in out of the rain" and the like.
Most people (except perhaps former president Bill Clinton of "that depends on 'what is is'" fame) know when they have been caught on deceit, own up to it, apologize and move on.
It seems to the Stark County Political Report that all of North Canton Council has been caught by council's nemesis and seemingly perpetual and eternally persistent Chuck Osborne in what most folks most certainly have to believe is a bold face lie.
Only a fool would believe that North Canton has had 90%, 93%, 83% and 90% from 2013 (so far, the year is not yet over) back through 2010 of its legislation to be of an authentic emergency nature.
Those are the numbers that Osborne cites in a lawsuit he filed against council on August 5th in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to invalidate council pay raises passed as an emergency ordinance with the emergency being articulated as being necessary "to meet the Stark County Board of Election's deadline for the November 5, 2013 general election."
As Osborne points out in his lawsuit, these council members have been on council since 2011 and could have moved on the legislation way, way before getting into an emergency situation.
It was "all to convenient" for council to induce an emergency and thereby avoid a vote of the people of whether or not future councils will be getting a raise.
As readers of the SCPR know, while yours truly treasures folks like Osborne who are eternally vigilant in keeping Stark County's villages, cities townships and boards of education on the "up and up," he himself has been the subject of critical blogs in terms of his motivations for doing this thing or that than vis-a-vis North Canton Government (e.g. his initiative petition to make the mayor of North Canton a full-time position, which The Report thinks is a thinly veiled attempt to in effect oust political enemy David Held from office).
But in filing this lawsuit, Osborne is performing an extraordinary public service.
While it has been pointed out that as the law of Ohio stands now, the odds (in the opinion of yours truly) are against Osborne prevailing on getting the courts to invalidate the recent pay raises, The Report applauds the effort.
Applauds the effort?
Yes, not so much because the SCPR thinks the raises are undeserved, but for the reasons that yours truly:
- does believe that the legislation was an end run around North Canton's voters on being to put the matter of the raises on the ballot for voter determination, and
- does believe that the pay raise was a consequence of the passage of an initiative referendum by Osborne whereby part-time North Canton elected officials (i.e. North Canton's councilpersons) are not eligible for health care benefits at city of North Canton expense.
Because of the "in your face" via disingenuousness attitude of Snyder in his public comments, a remedy that North Cantonans should avail themselves of this fall is:
- one, for North Canton's fourth ward voters to replace Jon Snyder as the ward's councilperson (Hillary Mueller is his opponent), and
- two, to replace one of North Canton's council-at-large candidates (Kiesling, Cerreta or Griffith - all of whom have consistently voted for what the SCPR believes to be largely "phony" emergency legislation) with newbie Jamie McCleaster.
The election of Mueller and McCleaster will go a long way in ensuring that future bogus use of emergency legislation will be vetted far better than the current make up of council is able to do.
Osborne's lawsuit is likely to have ramification across Stark County's skyline of local governments whether or not it achieves its specific goal.
And, should it make its way up the legal trail to the Ohio Supreme Court, it may have a major impact on governments throughout Ohio.
No matter how the suit fares before Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge John Haas, we should all earnestly desire that the losing side appeal the case first to the Fifth District Court of Appeals and beyond that step to the Ohio Supreme Court.
As matters stand now, some take the position that existing Supreme Court articulated law to - in its essence - stand for the proposition that though Ohio statutory law requires written specificity be part of any ordinance designated as being an emergency, the mere statement of some superficially plausible reason is enough to carry the day.
Others, obviously, including Osborne's legal counsel Robert Cyperski, argue that such is not the case. That there is, in the mix of Ohio Supreme Court cases, law to the effect that Ohio's courts are to look into the actual facts and circumstances of legislation being designed as an emergency and to make a determination on a case-by-case basis as to whether or not the procedure as been exercised lawfully so has to deprive the citizenry the right to overturn a given piece of legislation by an initiative referendum.
The argument as outlined above makes it imperative that the issue be resolved "once and for all" by Ohio's "court of last resort."
In the meantime, this November (it is highly unlikely that Osborne's suit will be settled before then) North Canton voters have an opportunity in Ward 4 and "at-large" to make their presence felt.
McCleaster and Mueller should make the over and indiscriminate use by council of emergency designation in legislation as being an overriding issue that strikes at the very heart of the integrity of the processes of our democratic-republican system of government.
It does appear that Councilman Snyder and his fellows are trying to play North Cantonians for "being the fool."
It is up to North Cantonians to take the opportunity in November to drive home Abraham Lincoln's point: "you can't fool all the people all the time."
And a "Hats Off!" to North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne for bringing this issue into focus.