The SCPR just received a communication from Councilman West, and in the conversation he raised three (3) main points:
- That contrary to The Report's conjecture (which is based on information provided by others on council) that Mayor William J. Healy, II may be involved in devising the political tactics and strategies in the fight over who shall be Canton City Council majority is unfounded,
- That he is the subject of "being ganged up on" (the SCPR's words; not West's) by Councilpersons Morris, Mack, Mariol, Fisher, Smuckler, Hawk and President Allen Schulman and the resources of Schulman's law firm and the law firm that Mack is associated with, and
- That he was "surprised" (West's term) when President Schulman made his ruling and did not allow space and time for debate on his ruling.
The Report's impression is that had West not been "surprised" by the swiftness of Schulman's move onto other business, it was his plan to "appeal" the ruling and thereby prompt a debate among the council members as to whether or not Schulman's ruling was to be abided.
As is the policy of the SCPR anyone who has difference with The Report, or wants to add their points of view to a blog is given ample opportunity to do so.
The Report thanks Councilman West for his imput both after the meeting (last Thursday) and in today's telephone conversation.
It seems to the SCPR that should West get his thorough going discussion of the Schulman ruling, he is then prepared to move on as he told The Report he wanted to do at the conclusion of Thursday's meeting.
West's Argument for Selection
Morris' Argument for Selection
West Post-Meeting SCPR Interview
Morris Post-Meeting SCPR Interview
Executive Session Motion
Schulman Post-Meeting Interview
(On West's Planned Parenthood Point)
Schulman Post-Meeting Interview
(On "Ease of Reaching Decision")
Curtis A. Perry
(Includes Public Speaks)
Chris Smith Post-Meeting Interview
Last Thursday night's "organizational" meeting of Canton City Council proved to be anything but humdrum.
The "key" moment in the proceeding was Allen Schulan's ruling (in his capacity as Canton City Council president) on the issue of whether the 2014-2015 majority leader had to be elected by a majority of 12 votes or a plurality of 11 votes, one member having abstained.
Here is Schulman with his decision:
Before Schulman made his decision, the contenders (Thomas West, D-Ward 2 and Framk Morris, D-Ward 9) for the majority leader post "put their best feet forward" in advocating as to why council should choose one over the other as majority leader (officially, "Vice President"):
And next, the actual vote:
After the vote, President Schulman turned to Law Director Joe Martuccio for his take on the significance of the vote while carefully reminding all that, though he treasured Martuccio's opinion, he would not necessarily adopt the opinion in making a ruling.
As readers now know on viewing the video above, he did not.
The SCPR video-captured the reaction of West and Morris on the outcome of the vote.
Thursday's meeting (in terms of the outcome) was pretty much of a repeat of the December 17th meeting of council (including members-elect Bill Smuckler [a Democrat] and Richard Hart [an independent] but minus Mary Cirelli and Joe Cole who after December 31st were no longer council members EXCEPT that the December 17th meeting was held in executive session on the motion of the-then majority leader David Dougherty (Democrat - Ward 7).
The Report is told that nothing was said in the executive session that had not already been said in public.
After the meeting, President Schulman elaborated on his determination that Council Frank Morris was "duly" elected having achieved a 6 to 5 plurality (see video below).
That the December 17th meeting included an executive session is distressing to the SCPR because the quintessential political liberal of Stark County government circles; namely, Allen Schulman, in his role as president of council, cast the deciding vote (as seen in the above-video) to break a five to five tie vote which resulted in Dougherty's executive session motion prevailing.
While Schulman has not completely escaped The Report's critical assessment, but as public officials go, he ranks very high as being one of those public officials who bends over backwards to enhance the public's right to know and to be heard and generally is highly supportive of small letter "d" democracy.
Clearly, December 17th was not a good night for President Schulman by SCPR standards.
Many think well of Dougherty as a councilman.
However, as a government official, he, in the opinion of The Report, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of his facilitating public expression. The Report has written a blog or two of how Dougherty as majority leader (subbing for Schulman) seemed to discourage citizens who availed themselves of the "public speaks" forum of Canton City Council.
So The Report is glad to see that he will not be serving in a leadership position in this term of council. He seems to the SCPR to not be all that friendly to public accountability, accessibility and transparency.
But it was not for a lack of trying that Dougherty is out as leader.
In the political jockeying that took place post-November, 2013 election, the SCPR is told that it became apparent early on that Dougherty had "burned too many bridges" among his fellow council members to get over the top with a majority of the twelve council votes. One councilperson calls Dougherty a "a hot head."
While Dougherty might have been able to pull off a tie, President Schulman let it be known that he was leaning towards Frank Morris (Democrat - Ward 9). Schulman supported Morris in the challenge by the-then Councilman-at-large Joe Cole in November's election.
Tom West (Democrat - Ward 2) was waiting in the wings to see whether or not Dougherty could get that one vote he needed from among Hawk (D-Ward 1) or Smuckler (D, at-large). It certainly was not going to come from among "the four young turks" (Kevin Fisher (D-Ward 5), John Mario (D-Ward 7), Edmond Mack (D-Ward 8) and, of course, no-way from Frank Morris (D-Ward 9).
Dougherty's failure explains Tom West's emergence on Thursday night.
And further back in the wings, it appears to the SCPR, is Mayor William J. Healy, II.
Now why would Healy want to foment division on council?
How about getting council so divided and at one another's throats that even if legislation is passed that he does not like, he can veto it and there would be very little chance of get 8 voters to override it?
Some think that Healy was the person behind the political scheming and strategizing to make West majority leader.
Knowing that if there was a tie (six to six) vote among the 12 members of council and that President Schulman was going to break the tie in Morris' favor, The Report is told that someone (thought to be Healy himself) prevailed upon newly elected Councilman-at-:Large Richard Hart (a political independent, formerly a Republican) to abstain from the vote as between West and Morris so as to make it impossible for Morris (unless he could get to a 7 to 4 vote from the 11 non-abstaining members of council) to achieve a majority vote of the total of "the present and voting one way or the other" members of council.
Hart, by the way, is seen by a number of councilpersons of allowing himself to be used as "the tool of political shenanigans." Hardly, a good start for the new councilman, no?
West went the additional step of pulling out (undoubtedly, aided by Healy) a vote on an "informal" resolution on a Planned Parenthood issue, the "non-lawyer" he is, as legal ammunition, to wit:
The SCPR, in the post-meeting interview, asked President Schulman (who is one of Stark County's premier lawyers) specifically about the Planned Parenthood matter.
Moreover, here is the rest of the video in which he talks about his decision that the six to five vote was a valid vote to elect Frank Morris as majority leader.
West apparently proved to be a very unskilled politician in effectuating what appears to be "the Healy Plan."
He was supposed to appeal the ruling of the chair (Schulman) to throw the matter into further council debate and consideration as set forth in Canton City Council Rule 42, to wit:
Rule #42 APPEALING DECISION OF THE CHAIR
A. An appeal may be made from any decision of the Presiding Officer (except when another appeal is pending), but it must be made only immediately after the ruling that is being appealed.
B. If this appeal is seconded, the Presiding Officer shall state clearly the question at issue, and he or she may state his/her reasons for his/her decision, and then state the question as follows:
"The question is, shall the decision of the Chair be sustained?" This question is then voted upon to determine whether the decision of the Chair shall be sustained. A majority vote of those present is required to sustain the Chair. The President of Council may vote to break a tie vote.But he did not do so. The Report is told that a number of his supporters were unhappy afterwards that he failed to fully execute the plan.
Here is Allen Schulman's take on West's failure to appeal:
Had West appealed, he would certainly had lost even if Councilman Hart voted to overturn Schulman because, undoubtedly, the chairman on a six to six vote would certainly have broken the tie to sustain his initial ruling.
After the meeting, The Report interviewed West supporter and well known Stark County businessman Curtis Perry. Watch the video very carefully to perhaps pick up on a tip-off that maybe Tom West would not be "moving on," but rather carrying on his fight to become majority leader.
(Note: The video includes the SCPR interview of Mr. Perry post-meeting as well as a video of his "Public Speaks" video as well as that of Mr. Chet Werren)
The SCPR's clear take, as seen by the follow up questions, was that Curtis Perry was considering advising his close confidant West to take up a legal challenge to Schulman's decision.
The Report immediately went to West who was standing nearby for a reaction.
West would no go on camera with his response, but he did say that he wanted "to move on" and was not thinking of a legal challenge.
Well, apparently, he thought otherwise overnight (likely on hearing the dissatisfaction of his supporters) and fired off a letter to Canton law director Joseph Martuccio sometime on Friday (January 10th).
WEST LETTER TO MARTUCCIO, JANUARY 10, 2014
REQUEST FOR "FORMAL" LEGAL OPINION
A "formal legal opinion."
Isn't that interesting?
So the "on the record of council proceedings" (duly recorded) opinion by Martuccio that seven votes are required is not good enough?
That one should be easy for Martuccio, for in this blog the SCPR published (see it above) the video of Martuccio issuing his opinion. All he has to do is reduce the video to print form.
REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION & SUSPENSION OF MORRIS A MAJORITY LEADER
For whatever it is worth. And the SCPR thinks: not much!
WEST SUMMARY OF "WHAT HE WANTS"
All the SCPR can say to Councilman West is "lot of luck!"
If West expects Martuccio to take on a power that he does not have and declare President Schulman's decision "null and void," he can forget that one. For "it ain't gonna happen!"
The Report thinks he is going absolutely nowhere on his inartistic and poorly executed "politiking" and apparent legal maneuvering, even if Mayor Healy is the supposed tactics/strategy genius behind the effort.
Implicit in West's letter when coupled with Mr. Perry's comments is a suggestion that he may take the issue into the courts.
So we shall know soon whether or not West's word to the SCPR that its "time to move on" was mere words that he undermines with contrary actions.
There is no doubt with the SCPR but that Dougherty was Healy's point-man on council. When it became apparent that Dougherty was not going to make it, The Report thinks that there were only two viable councilpersons to step-in unless one thinks Jimmy Babcock is leadership material.
And they were West and Chris Smith (D-Ward 4).
It has been suggested to the SCPR that though they appear to be "joined at the hip," there is a sort of competition between Smith and West.
It seems that that coming from the 2012 organizing of council when Smith nearly became assistant majority leader when she challenged Jim Griffin (D-Ward 3). The Report is told that she had 5 votes of the 7 needed to oust Griffin.
Had she won, she would have surpassed the longer serving West and as can be seen from the following West video from Thursday night, he thinks "seniority" should count for something.
What's more, The Report is told that West, Smith and Ward One Councilman Greg Hawk are pointing to two years hence when 49th District Ohio House representative Stephen Slesnick is term-limited out of the Oho General Assembly as a possible replacement.
It appears that Smith is more popular with and esteemed by fellow council members than West is.
Her nomination and election as First Vice President (assistant majority leader) Thursday night was a "slam dunk-esque" process, witness the 12 to 0 vote.
And that West in his letter to Martuccio suggests that Smith be elevated to serve as de facto majority leader on the presumption that that Schulman will be of a mind to reconsider this ruling suggests that knowing that Smith's election was to be uncontested suggests that it was a Healy/West pre-plan to offer her up as a stop-gap to the requirement that a majority leader be selected by Friday, January 10th in the case that they could successfully stop Morris has having been the victor in council's plan.
Here is Smith's reaction to having been selected as assistant majority leader:
It has been pointed out that some councilpersons view West dimly because of his propensity to "spring surprises" on council like his grandstanding-esque proposal that council adopt and adapaton of the National Football League (NFL) "Rooney Rule" whereby "persons-of-color" are required to be interviewed in the filling of any leadership vacancies in the NFL.
Moreover, it didn't set well with a number of members of council that West refused to have the Judiciary Committee (of which he was chair in 2012-2013) take up the proposal to possibly submit to Cantonians the question of whether or not Canton should have a charter of its own and not continue to have its powers defined exclusively by the state of Ohio via its statutes.
Because of the charter government issue and one held up, a council person tells the SCPR, by Councilman Greg Hawk for two years (the pool issue in Smith's Ward 4) when he was finance chairman in the 2011-2012 term of council; there is agitation to change the rules of council to lessen the power of committee chairpersons.
Moreover, because of what some council members believe to be the "high-handed" manner of handling the prerogatives of majority leaders; there is sentiment to curb the powers of the majority leader.
So tonight's meeting (the 5:30 p.m.; which immediately precedes the regular 7:30 p.m. meeting) might be more than a tad interesting.
One huge issue is whether or not Greg Hawk is to be finance chair, once again.
The Report is told that Councilwoman Smith is saying "anybody but Hawk!"
The SCPR believes that comes straight out of the Healy penthouse on the 8th floor of Canton City Hall.
Had David Dougherty handled himself differently in his relations with the rest of council, it appears to the SCPR that none of what has been written about in this blog would have occurred.
For he would have been the choice to once again to be elected majority leader.
The "chickens do come home to roost," no?
Moreover, Cantonians should be holding Councilman West to his word, no?
It is time to move on, isn't it?
That's the sentiment expressed by veteran councilman Bill Smuckler to the SCPR. He who returned this term as a councilman-at-large after taking a two year break.
Will Tom West get the message that "moving on" is exactly what the everyday citizens of Canton want?
Words are one thing, action is quite another!