Monday, March 3, 2014




Effective Friday of this past week, it appears to the SCPR that North Canton councilman Jon Snyder took the first step of two steps in stepping down from the legislative perch of North Canton government.

Here is Snyder speaking to the SCPR last Monday evening:

His resignation letter - in full - sent out on Wednesday of last week:

To my Fellow City Council Colleagues:

   As an official duly elected by the voting citizens of the 4th Ward of the City of North Canton, I have dedicated my energies to serve them faithfully and with integrity, without regard for any personal gain.  I, in partnership with my elected colleagues, have spent hundreds of hours performing our duties for the betterment of our city on all levels, for the protection of our citizens, with our vision focused on the future.

   In my capacity of Leader of Council, I have diligently sought ways to advance the progress of the city, and establish strategies to assure its continued development across the years.  This I have done without the expectation of praise or supplemental compensation.

   After a lengthy and proud record of service to my community, I now find it impossible to continue in a leadership position when I have become, for reasons unknown to me, the target of unmerited criticism.  In my professional capacity as a public servant, I have from time to time been subjected to adverse confrontations and taken them in stride; but of late these have condescended to a personal nature, causing considerable emotional harm and endangered my relationships with friends and family.

   While I am determined to continue representing the citizens of the 4th Ward, I am compelled to tender immediate notice of my resignation as President of Council.  In so doing, I wish to assure the many citizens that I have served in the past and continue to serve that I am ready to respond to their needs and inquiries by telephone.  And to all who will take note of my departure, I ask only their recognition and respect for more than 25 years of dedication to the City of North Canton, Ohio.

In this blog's headline, the SCPR terms Snyder as being a North Canton "institution" of government.

How's that?

Well, for starters he has been around the Dogwood city's government since about 1990.

It wasn't until 1999 that he became an elected official.  Before his attaining elected official status, Snyder was an appointed member of North Canton's planning commission.

In 1999 he ran for and won a seat as the city's Ward 4 councilman replacing another (in the view of The Report) icon of North Canton politics and government; namely, Daryl Revoldt.

In that very same year, Revoldt (Snyder's predecessor) ran for mayor and was elected by a large margin.  Of course, Revoldt had a huge advantage over this opponent in being a top aide (district level [1985 through 2001) to the enormously popular Republican and Stark County-based Congressman Ralph Regula of Navarre. 

North Canton was then and pretty much remains a bastion of Republicanism.

Revoldt began his career as a North Canton councilman in 1981, serving through 1998 when he was appointed (1998) and then elected (1999) mayor. 

He returned to council in 2007 after having resigned the mayoralty (in 2001) to become Republican Governor Bob Taft's region 9 economic development director out of the Akron office.

Since Revoldt's latest departure (2011) to take an economic development job with the Kasich administration (a Republican up for reelection this year), Snyder has been the kingpin of North Canton City Council as its president.

The SCPR's take on Snyder is that he is North Canton's most knowledgeable council person; he lacks the skills of Revoldt in handling council member infighting and for some reason seems in the view of The Report to have incurred the special attention and ire of former North Canton councilman Chuck Osborne (early 2000s [one term]).

Osborne recently sent a letter to Stark County Prosecutor John Ferrero alleging that Snyder, among a number of North Canton officials, may have done wrongdoing, to wit:

The SCPR believes that Osborne's allegations is likely to get nowhere with the prosecutor on his allegations and it will be interesting to see whether or not there is a fallout visited on Osborne as a consequence of having sent the letter out.

Snyder tells the SCPR that he has consulted with private legal counsel and has been assured that he has no misconduct concerns, contrary to what Osborne alleges in his Ferrero letter.

But the point of the SCPR publishing the excerpt is to show an example of why Snyder wrote:  (see full letter above)

    I have become, for reasons unknown to me, the target of unmerited criticism.  In my professional capacity as a public servant, I have from time to time been subjected to adverse confrontations and taken them in stride; but of late these have condescended to a personal nature, causing considerable emotional harm and endangered my relationships with friends and family.

Osborne has not been the only Snyder detractor.

Surprisingly enough, one inquiry bearing on the question of whether or not Snyder's had a personal interest in promoting North Canton's participation in a proposed North Canton, Canton, Jackson Township and Plain Township Mutual Economic Development Agreement (MEDA) with North Canton Council came from Mayor David Held.

The Held question (presented "not as a rumor" as some have attributed to Held) but - according to Held - "face-to-face."

(A paraphase of the question and answer).  Held to Snyder:  Was it true that Snyder's wife would be advantaged in her application to get a job with the Canton Health Department if North Canton Council agreed to participate - as originally proposed - in the MEDA?"

Snyder:  "Absolutely not!"

The SCPR take on Snyder's presidency resignation is that he is doing so as his contribution:
  • to getting North Canton Council's focus off the health care issurance issue, and
  • to moving off the intracouncil fight over the MEDA and 
  • to a lesser extent, off the likely distraction of his fight with in 2013 Ward 4 opponent Hillary Mueller (and, fellow member Marcia Kieslings complaint with Jamie McCleaster) on campaign ethics charges with the Ohio Elections Commission.
on to pressing "bread and butter" issues concerning North Canton government.


As readers of the SCPR will recall, voters of North Canton at the initiative of Osborne passed an ordinance affecting the ability of North Canton council members to be covered under North Canton provided health care insurance.

Basically, the ordinance (which passed in the November, 2012 general election, 72% to 28%) prohibits council members from family coverage altogether and also individual coverage unless it is not available from his/her employer.

To The Report the 72% to 28% vote was a compelling "clarion call" to North County City Council members as to what "the will of the people" of North Canton is on providing health care insurance to council members.

What materialized in the wake of the ordinance (Issue 5) being passed was council doing nothing between November, 2012 and the taking of office of the "new" 2013 through 2015 council on December 1, 2013.

Snyder to this day (i.e. the SCPR interview of him on Saturday) believes that Issue 5 is not an enforceable ordinance.  However, he on February 24th voluntarily removed himself from North Canton heath care insurance coverage.

Snyder acknowledges that he made mistakes:  (1) in not taking his wife off coverage as soon as he learned that there was a controversy over whether or not he was entitled to family coverage, and (2) in not introducing an ordinance - at the time - correcting the flaws in Issue 5.

He is dismayed that Osborne went to Buffalo, NY in recent days (the week of February 24th) in an effort to track down whether or not Snyder was eligible for insurance under his company's (he operates a tuxedo retail outlet in the Canton area) benefits package.

Moreover, he terms the digging into his "private" employment situation by Osborne and Concerned Citizens of North Canton (lead by Jamie McCleaster) as being "pretty low."

In an overall sense, Snyder says that he is saddened by the turn of events that has resulted in his concluding that he needs to step aside "for the good of the order" (the SCPR's characterization; not Snyder's).

He goes on to describe his "love for the city of North Canton" and emphasizes that it is an affection so great that if his stepping aside help to get the council moving forward, so be it.  He reiterated that he knows he made a bad judgment on the health care issue and must now suffer the consequences of relinquishing the president's chair for the good of North Canton.

    SCPR Note:  In a "copy to the SCPR" email, Osborne denies that he was prying into the "personal" employment specifics of Snyder.

    In the email to Gayle Beck of The Repository (as well as to the editorial board), Osborne says:
  • That today's editorial ("Citizen's request for public records led to disclosures,") is both defamatory and incorrect,
         Osborne's words: (an extract; not the entire email):

            While your report that I drove to Buffalo, NY, to ascertain whether former Council President Jon Snyder had health insurance available through his employer, Tuxedo Junction, is correct, I at no point used Mr. Snyder's name or mentioned any store location. I made no direct inquiry.

            My point in going to the corporate headquarters was to get complete contact information that I would forward to North Canton City Hall. I never revealed that intent to the woman at the corporate office. As far as they were concerned my presence was simply to inquire about job opportunities.

            ...  I traveled hundreds of miles and made general inquiries with no mention of anyone's name. I simply asked if healthcare benefits were available to the employees of Tuxedo Junction and in the process picked up several applications for employment.

            I ask that a complete retraction to what you have incorrectly stated in today's editorial be made. In the future, a simple phone call to me would be in order as that would save your paper ink needed in subsequent corrections to apologize for defaming citizens.


Will The Repository print Osborne's email and make a retraction?

Will The Repository accept Osborne's characterization of the editorial as having been a defamation and concomitantly apologize?

It will be interesting to see.

Back to Snyder's words:  "pretty low."

Snyder's words:

    "When they start attacking my wife and start attacking me that's not fair.  I have a political life [for them] to go at.  My record speaks for itself."
  •  SCPR Note:  For an explanation as to how Snyder's wife came to become a topic for Snyder's critic, see The Report's coverage below of the Mutual Economic Development Agreement that North Canton City Council recently rejected
However, Sndyer does knowledge that council did not handle the matter properly in terms of recognizing the clearly express "will of the people" and getting the matter behind council so they could move on to other legislative business.

Snyder says that council had three options it could have pursued:
  • It could have decided (as it ended up doing) to  "take its chances" (meaning those who chose to get or continue to get city provided health care insurance benefits, and trust that eventually they be vindicated by subsequent legal developments,
  • It could have introduced a "repair Issue 5" ordinance and pass it, or 
  • It could have legal counsel seek a "delararatory judgment" (the SCPR expression; not Snyder's) from a court to rule on the matter of whether or not Issue 5 is legal. 
To reiterate, in choosing to take option #1, Snyder acknowledges that doing such was a large mistake in judgment.

In one observation during the interview, he reflected that "it only takes one misstep in public office and you can lose the public confidence built up over 20 years" of service.

However, he is comforted by the fact that he has been contacted by a sizeable number of city officials and Ward 4 constituents telling him to "hold [his] head high."

Snyder reacted to reports that he likely will be by mid-summer of this year the target of a recall as provided by the terms of North Canton's charter.

As of Saturday, Snyder says that he will fight any such effort.

He talked briefly about who his replacement as council president will be (Marcia Kiesling will replace him temporarily until the replacement is chosen at Tuesday night's reorganization meeting because she is currently vice president of council).

He thinks that Ward 1 Councilman Doug Foltz, Ward 2 Councilman Daniel "Jeff" Peters are the most likely candidates but did acknowledge that it is reasonable to believe that Mark Cerreta (at large) might be in play.  Snyder says he has no personal preference.

He says he is willling to serve as a mentor to whomever is selected.

Now with Snyder's "fall from grace" and Revoldt's departure in 2011, only Doug Foltz as a member of council longstanding institutional knowledge of the operation of North Canton City Council.

Snyder says that he is skeptical that Foltz (a Democrat in a city that clearly has a Republican cast to it) wants to once again be council president as he seemed not to like being president in his prior experience.


The SCPR's take is that the failure of North Canton's council to embrace the Mutual Economic Development Agreement weighs heavily on Snyder.

In fact, after last Monday's meeting, Snyder told The Report that its rejection by council was an outright defeat for him as a councilman.

Snyder, Kiesling and Dan Griffth (Republican - at large) were the spearheads in pushing North Canton to signal in October, 2013 that the city was likely to join in the effort that has been envisioned for a number of years  by various Canton officials, Trustee Louis Giavasis of Plain Township and Jackson Township fiscal officer Randy Gonzalez.

Readers of the SCPR know that The Report is not much of a fan of Gonazlez generally (i.e. his political operations as chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) but he deserves the lions share of credit for being the impetus behind MEDA.

The Report agrees with Snyder, Kiesling and Griffith that North Canton is making a mistake in not joining in on MEDA.

Instead, when it became apparent that Dan Peters and Doug Foltz had been "flipped" by Mayor David Held, the votes were no longer there for Snyder to lead council in overriding an expected Held veto.

We who follow politics know that the strangest of alliances are forged in the realm of political maneuvering.

None is stranger than that developed between Held and Chuck Osborne.  When Councilman Mark Cerreta a few weeks ago convinced council to table a vote on MEDA and it was pretty obvious that Held was going to prevail in his opposition to MEDA, Held was "hugged" by Osborne.


Sndyer tells the SCPR says that he feels that the health care insurance matter undermined his effort to keep a veto proof supermajority of council in place on MEDA.

Moreover,  there was the factor that a nearby but not contiguous property owner (Heiser) let it be known that he wants to annex to North Canton.  Snyder does not think that the probability of that ever happening is very great that an intervening property is owned by a relative of Canton City Council president Allen Schulman.

Of course, the relative is not Schulman, but he is on record as being wildly enthusiastic about MEDA.

In a conversation that the SCPR had with Plain trustee Louis Giavasis earlier on Saturday, Giavasis gave Snyder high marks for "having fought the good fight" for North Canton participating in MEDA.  Snyder says that Randy Gonzalez contacted him and conveyed to him his appreciation for the work that Snyder did in his endeavor to get North Canton's participation in the agreement.

As promised above (under the heath care insurance discussion), in which Snyder referred to recent political attacks being made on his wife, here is Snyder's explanation of how she got involved:

When asked by The Report whether or not it was true that Mayor Held had weighed-in on his wife's situation, Snyder said that he had.

Snyder's version:  (after confirming that North Canton mayor David Held had weighed-in on the matter as to whether or not his wife's situation had anything to do with Snyder's zeal for MEDA, see Held's version below),
  • His wife, Kathy Lewis, about 2-1/2 years ago took a civil service exam for a position as an administrative aide at the Canton Health Department (CHD), [remember Canton, North Canton, Plain Township and Jackson Township are the potential partners in MEDA]
  • Lewis had scored second on the exam.  When the number one scoring person (who had taken the CHD job) decided about six months ago to take a job in the Healy administration, Lewis was called and asked whether or not she was interested in the CHD job,
  • Lewis interviewed for the job and put Held down as a reference and Held was contacted by the CHD,
  • Lewis did not get the job nor has she been promised a job with Canton,  (Snyder noted that Councilman Mark Cerreta asked whether or not Lewis had been offered a job with reference to North Canton Council's consideration of MEDA to which Snyder answered:  "Hell, no!"
    • (SCPR Note:  Snyder said that Randy Gonzalez told him that he, Louis Giavasis and Mayor Healy would appear, if he wanted, at North Canton City Council "Public Speaks" and say on the public record that Jon Snyder nor his wife were offered anything by Canton, Plain Township or Jackson Township with reference to MEDA
Held's version: With respect to the Lewis matter and the claim by some (including Snyder) that he had started a rumor about Snyder's wife being in line for employment at the CHD while North Canton Council was considering whether or not to join the MEAD, he tells the SCPR:
  • He went face-to-face with Snyder and asked whether or not Lewis had applied for and was being considered for employment at the CHD during the consideration by North Canton City Council as whether or not to enter into the MEAD.
  •  To which, Held says, Snyder responded to in the negative. 

Bottom line on all the foregoing as far as the SCPR is concerned is that the loss of Jon Snyder as North Canton council's presiding officer is not a good thing.

However, The Report agrees with him that his resignation in an appropriate self-imposed consequence of his having made a poor judgment before his term began on December 1, 2013 not to have seized the initiative in light of the November 2012 vote (72% to 28%) to have fixed the flaw that Law Director Fox opinionated as existing in Issue 5.

It is refreshing that Snyder changed his attitude from his "deep sixing" of the SCPR question (on video) about his tenuous hold on the council presidency on February 24th.

With his decision of Wednesday to resign the presidency, Snyder took ownership of and accountability for his "bad" decision in ignoring the 72% to 28% vote of the people of North Canton in November, 2012.

For the rest of the council member participants in the "bad" decision, it is imperative that they figure out ways and means to restore the trust of folks like Kimmie Peters who at Public Speaks on the 24th said council had lost her trust.

Otherwise, it is not going to be happy times being a council person for the city of North Canton!

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