Thursday, August 22, 2013
NORTH CANTON IGNORED WARNINGS ON "OVERUSE" OF EMERGENCY LEGISLATION GOING BACK TO AT LEAST 2003
It is always a jolt when those among us who are democratically elected do things while in office that thwart democracy.
There couldn't be a clearer case of the phenomenon than with North Canton City Council going back at least to 2002.
On August 15, 2003 the-then State of Ohio Auditor Betty Montgomery issued an annual audit report to the mayor and members of North Canton City Council cautioning them on North Canton's overuse of emergency legislation.
One would think that being the responsible types that we all likely assume city council members to be, that the problem to be abated by the 2003 report, no?
Well, think again.
Here is an extract from Betty Montgomery's 2004 report.
Fast forward (apparently, nothing changes over the ensuing ten years) to the 2012 audit report of current State of Ohio Auditor Dave Yost.
So much for those who expect all of us to comply with the laws they pass respecting a State of Ohio audit.
It is obvious by the date of this audit that North Canton council members are infected with a strain of political arrogance which is striking.
And as if to underscore this point, take a look at an extract of the latest audit.
Mayor David Held of North Canton (running unopposed for re-election) has been a big proponent of state audits.
If memory serves yours truly correctly, it was Held who initiated a request with North Canton City Council to have the State of Ohio Auditor do an audit at an expense of some $60,000 of North Canton government in 2008 as a consequence of the shutdown of the Hoover plant that had been a mainstay financial of North Canton government going back many, many decades.
North Canton wanted to know how the city could be more efficient in order to deal with the draconian drop in revenues.
His fascination with state audits can be seen in his influence with Massillon mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry (whom he has been know to be an "unofficial adviser" to) as evidenced in her having asked the State of Ohio Auditor to do an audit of Massillon government to determine whether or not Massillon has arrived at a financial state of qualifying to be named to be under "fiscal watch" or alternatively "fiscal emergency." A report is do out any day now.
And, The Report understands, North Canton has implemented many of the January 6, 2009 recommendations made.
But don't expect North Canton to respect democracy enhancing recommendations apparently made in routine annual audits going back at least a decade.
So the message is that Mayor Held and council pick and choose what audits to heed.
What this seeming exercise of arrogance in derogation of democracy (emergency legislation eliminate the "right of citizen referendum" and dispenses with the three reading requirement of non-emergency legislation) has done for North Canton is to invite the filing of a lawsuit over a specific piece of emergency legislation whereby council raises their annual pay beginning with the 2014/2015 term of council.
Ohio's law as articulated by the Ohio Supreme Court seems to provide cover for North Canton council.
However, the case law is fuzzy enough and "not 'really' on point" enough that maybe just maybe the Ohio Supreme Court will eventually end up with the North Canton case so as to provide a forthright (lawyers call it "black letter law") definition of specific situations in which emergency legislation is appropriate for.
Whether or not the case makes it to the "court of last resort" for Ohio, it should be disturbing to North Cantonians, in particular, and to all of us, in general, to see the blatant demonstration of arrogance in derogation of democratic rights that North Canton Council has been practicing for at least ten years.
By any measure, North Canton overuses emergency legislation.
North Canton Council needs to PAY ATTENTION to the audits and take corrective action NOW!