Make no mistake about it, the Stark County Political Report thinks that Stark County has not seen a more skilled political operator than Canton mayor William J. Healy, II "in many, many of a moon" if not ever.
However, substantively, I think he presents a much different story. And it is a story that is not good for Canton nor for Stark County. After all, Canton is the county seat and the largest city in Stark.
And the difference between the two (i.e. his political skill versus the subtance of governance) could not have been more clearly contrasted than his one-on-one with residents with Councilman Frank Morris' constituents in a two hour meeting held at the north branch of the Stark County District Library on September 25th.
I was present at the meeting with what some readers like to call the "SCPR trusty videocam" recording nearly every word that the mayor exchanged with Ward 9 residents present.
The impetus for the meeting was a facebook exchange between the mayor and the residents on Councilman Morris' page on May 21, 2013.
An outgrowth of the back and forth was last Wednesday's meeting.
I think that the September 25th meeting presents Healy in terms of his quintessential self.
"One smooth (political) operator!"
However, unfortunately for him was that political reality and accountability was also in place in the form of Ward 9 residents well prepared to deal with his:
- self-serving blandishments,
- his excuse making and
- his failure to be a good listener.
For starters, Councilman Morris pretty much let the mayor have free reign.
Only here and there did Morris chime in.
It was gratifying to me (only kidding, of course) when the ontset of his remarks Mayor Healy acknowledged that the SCPR is the pre-eminent authority "on everything Canton and Stark County" from a political insider standpoint.
But the shot on me does indicate a glimmer into how Healy smarts from any critique of him as mayor and his conduct of the administration of the city of Canton.
Over his years of being mayor he has been in verbal fisticuffs with the likes of council president Allen Schulman, fomer service director and chief of staff Tom Bernabei, Councilman Morris, former Councilman Bill Smuckler, Ward 9 resident Bruce Nordman, former safety chief Tom Nesbitt and former service, safety, annexation director and chief of staff Warren Price, to name - not all his antagonists, but to present the foregoing sampling as clear evidence of his being a "conflict-ladened" and embattled mayor.
In this "Volume 1 blog," Healy starts off with his excuse making.
He does start off on a positive and strong note by bringing up his "four pillars of governance" that has been a mark of his administration for a number of years now if not back to the very beginning, to wit:
However, it is not long until he brings out his crutch of "blaming others."
He says "make no mistake about it, Canton has been going backwards for decades now" (04:11 mark of the video) in the face of his administration having been in place for 5-1/2 years.
At least the ragging on prior administrations now extends beyond his immediate predecessor and Republican Janet Creighton. Such used to be his focus. Apparently, he has realized that to lay everything at her feet just "was not playing in Peoria."
Neither do I think extending the playing field plays.
Right, wrong or indifferent, what is past is past and all Cantonians and Stark Countians care about is what results is his administration is producing today and tomorrow that makes the city and county a desirable place to live in.
Were he to abandon his excuse making mode and truly and fully embrace a "we are up to the challenge" and "we are producing results," then he might actually be convincing.
But his words "road bumps along the way" language seems to me to be a reverison to the safe harber of "I have an excuse for not achieving more." For example, he cites the county financial problems and the curtailing of available county jail bed spaces from a maximum of 501 beds to 200 as being a reason why Canton's crime level has not been on a steady trek downwards.
I do not accept that nor do I believe most Cantonians.
Then there is his "rules and regulations" which limit what the administration can and cannot do.
Excuse making again, pure simple.
"I don't want to sound like we're trying to hide things from the public (video: 06.42)."
Who would ever accuse the Healy administration of that?
What a laugh.
William J. Healy, II has a replendent track record of wanting councilpersons to come to the eighth floor to discuss their concerns and not to bring them out during council meeting "to the embarrassment of" the administration.
But his actual track record on the "details" of his governance style, do not keep him from repeating the nonsense "I don't want to sound like we're trying to hide things from the public."
One has to wonder how Councilman Morris restrained himself from interjecting at this point.
A resident did (09:57 of the video).
Katherine Brunoni-Angelo of Harrisburg Road, NE asks: "Why is this being address just now?"
Answer: (to paraphrase) "You are ignornant of all the many things we have been doing during the 5-1/2 years of my administration."
Only one problem for the mayor. Ms. Brunoni-Angelo is not buying that as an answer. She and Ward 9 residents live in Ward 9 and they know that whatever the Healy administration has been doing in not working.
So at the end of the first video, we have a mayor who makes one generalized assertion after another, but when he is forced into the details the residents of finding that though he is "one smooth operator" on the glittering generalities level but when one gets to the details it is indeed a clear case of: "the devil being in the details" of insufferable neighborhood life in the city of Canton.
Volume 1 video of Healy on location in Ward 9.