LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO
COUNCILMAN FRANK MORRIS
COUNCILMAN EDMOND MACK
LAW DIRECTOR JOE MARTUCCIO
HIS LEGAL OPINION
Last night's Canton City Council meeting seemed to be an uneventful proceeding.
Until that is, council got to the "miscellaneous business" of its agenda.
But first as an aside, the SCPR notes that among the handouts made available to the public attending the meeting was a list of the 2014/15 committee member list which is a perogative of the vice president/majority leader of council.
Three notable ones in the view of The Report.
West is out as Judiciary chair.
He is replaced by Ward 9 councilman Edmond Mack (a big "charter government advocate") who was frustrated by West bottling up bottling up his desire to have legislation drafted to present to council for consideration of placing it on an upcoming ballot for Canton voters to weigh-in on.
Also, Greg Hawk (D, Ward 1) who returns as Finance chair likely to the consternation of Mayor William J. Healy, II.
Other than a few awkward moments as Councilman Frank Morris (D, Ward-9) struggled in the absence of council president Allen Schulman to man the reins of council (which all appeared to take "in good humor"), it was at the very end of the session that things got somewhat turbulent.
Back on January 6th's meeting, there was a fight between Ward 2 councilman Thomas West (a Democrat) and Morris as to who was going to be vice president/majority leader of council. Morris won that vote with a 6 to 5 majority with newly elected independent Richard Hart abstaining.
West takes the position that under the Ohio Revised Code, council rules and Roberts Rules of Order, the vote failed to have elected a majority leader in that 7 votes are required.
Hence this video of his "point-of-order;" Edmond Mack's counter "point-of-order," and an 8 to 4 vote in favor of sustaining Councilman Morris' ruling that West's "point-of-order" was - in a sense - "out-of-order."
It appears to many on council that West lost his opportunity to challenge Schulman's January 6th ruling that 6 votes was sufficient under all the legal standards that he thought were relevant to have been elected vice president of council and concomitantly majority leader.
To add to the confusion was an executive session of council called by Law Director Joe Martuccio at the end of the "council-of-the-whole" meeting that generally precedes Canton City Council "regular" council meetings.
Martuccio's "work-in-progress" opinion (requested at the January 6th meeting by Councilman West) as to whether or not - in his opinion - Councilman Morris is in fact the "legal" (where have we heard that question before? [remember Darrow versus Maier and the Stark County Democratic Party central committee]) vice president/majority leader of Canton City Council.
Martuccio told the SCPR back on the 6th that he planned on having the opinion ready by last night's meeting.
Why the delay?
Martuccio - apparently - cannot find satisfactory (to him) legal precedent to make a determination one way or another.
However, it could be - in the opinion of the SCPR - that he is delaying the decision in the hope that West and Morris will resolve their differences making "moot" (again ghosts of Darrow/Swanson v. Maier [a mandamus action] and the Supreme Court dismissal thereof - the SCPR believes - for mootness) any opinion he would render.
So where does the events of last night leave matters?
It depends on who you talk to.
Frank Morris thinks the matter is over.
So does Counciman Mack.
But Thomas West does not.
And, Law Director Martuccio: who knows?
Although he apparently agreed with West during the above videotaped discussion that a special council meeting on the part of council as a whole to consider, once again, the majority leader question is something he agrees with; he seemed to be backing off that after council adjourned.
As if that were not enough to add to the confusion and hence turmoil of the evening, Director Martuccio intimated in the following video that if West and Morris cannot have a meeting of the minds on resolving the matter within the context of a special council meeting, then council may see itself involved in litigation.
If that happens then Canton City Council has seen absolutely nothing so far (as unsettling as proceedings have been) of the degree of turmoil that would ensure, no?
One final note.
Between the Committee of the Whole meeting and the "regular" council meeting last night, the SCPR had a "chit-chat" with Councilman Kevin Fisher (D, Ward 5).
Well, he had an apt description of his political party that may explain in large part why Canton City Council (consisting of all Democrats, except for the "independent" Richard Hart) is experiencing great turmoil in deciding among themselves whether or not council has a legally elected vice president/majority leader.
Fisher said of Democrats: "All we know is that we are not Republicans, beyond that we do know what we are!"
Meanwhile Canton City Council "remains in turmoil?"