UPDATED 5:19 PM
THE WORST OF TIMES
It could be that North Canton hit bottom yesterday.
Not that anybody is indispensable, but the loss of Jon Snyder as Ward 4 councilman with his resignation yesterday, effective this coming Sunday, June 1st is one of a long line of calamities that has hit The Dogwood City since the sale of the venerable Hoover Company in 1985.
And on top of the Snyder resignation, you have the resignation of Clerk of Council Gail Kalpac to coincide with Snyder's step-down.
While Kalpac, the gracious person she is, gave family reasons (helping to care for her parents and spending time with grandchildren) as the "why" for leaving, the SCPR has reason to believe that her difficult relationship with Law Director Tim Fox going back a year or so and an incident during the week immediately preceding her resignation letter were "the straws that broke the camel's back" insofar as Kalpac's sudden departure is concerned.
These two resignations are likely to cripple North Canton government in the foreseeable future and it will be interesting to see whether or not council can get a Kalpacesque quality of clerk from this advertisement in The Repository classified ads sections:
There is talk that Snyder's wife (Kathy, who currently works part-time in Canal Fulton city government and who formerly worked at the Stark County Board of Elections) will be candidate to replace Kalpac.
The SCPR's take is that it will take somebody with extraordinary"strength of personality" to work with Law Director Tim Fox. Kathy Lewis Snyder appears to have the experience of working with egotistic government leaders to perhaps be a leading candidate.
But of course it is way too premature to either endorse or not endorse the selection of a particular person for the job. Remember, applications are open until June 16th.
That is unless you are Chuck Osborne.
Osborne is a former councilman (of about 13 years ago) who also has run for mayor and for a return to council who witeh the resignation of Snyder may now be the most knowledgeable North Cantonian in terms of knowing the "ins" and "outs" of North Canton government.
He, since he lost his post as a councilman, has been "a thorn in the side" of North Canton councilpersons and officials of the North Canton administration as a civic activist.
It appears to the SCPR that he sort of has a political "love-hate" relationship with Snyder.
Here is the substance of an e-mail he wrote last evening to the SCPR.
May 27 at 10:11 PM
To: Martin Olson
Jon Snyder called me late this afternoon and I just returned his call. Mr. Snyder was very gracious but I think he was hoping to mute any criticism of the timing of his resignation in regards to the opening of the Clerk of Council’s position.
While I understand it would be gratifying for her to find a full-time position I just do not think it would be a good appointment given the situation. Jon gave me a myriad of reasons as to why he is stepping down now but when I asked him if his resignation opened the door for his wife to apply, he could only say that was true.
Personnel changes like this are for the most part choreographed and I suspect that is what we are going to see played out.
I am sorry to say this but Government exists for the players who like to play with the public’s money.
It is amazing that North Canton Council (principally members Ceretta, Griffith and Kiesling [who may now be vacillating], Snyder and Stephanie Werren [Fox came from a law firm that a member of Stephanie Werren's family has been associated with] but who (i.e. Werren) is now said to be now allied with members Foltz and Peters in a desire to replace Fox, has seemingly allowed him - in the opinion of the Stark County Political Report - to be "a one-man-wrecking-crew" on the stability of North Canton government administration.
And the SCPR thinks Mayor David Held is part of Fox's political support system.
The Report is told that in the opinion of one key player in North Canton government and politics that Fox's future with North Canton hinges on the success/failure of a lawsuit filed in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas seeking a declaratory judgment that civic activist Chuck Osborne's "cutting council out from health care coverage" ordinance (Issue 5 in the November, 2012 general election which passed overwhelmingly) was defective and therefore invalid.
On Friday, May 23rd, Osborne filed an answer to that lawsuit and also filed a lawsuit of his own (called in legal parlance "a counterclaim") against North Canton.
It was on Fox's legal interpretation of Issue 5 that several council members (including Snyder) accepted city financial subsidy of health care benefits.
That North Canton government did not recognize the November, 2012 vote on Issue 5 resulted in a political firestorm being unleashed and the members of council participating in the health care subsidy program (Peters, Snyder, Kiesling and Werren) terminated their respective coverages and made returns of premium subsidies received.
THE BEST OF TIMES?
Note the question mark.
Both "yes" and "no" with the "no" being with reference to the failure of North Canton government officials over the years (from 1985 on) to see the gathering storm clouds which in time would let loose a torrent bad financial/economic factors which the SCPR believes has pretty much brought this one proud city to her very knees.
And, with the loss of the likes of Daryl Revoldt (a former mayor, council person and council president), Kalpac and now Snyder, it appears to The Report that North Canton is now in a survival mode and it is not all that clear that the city will survive intact over the long haul.
In a conversation with Snyder yesterday, he told the SCPR that still riding on the coattails of the glory days of a thriving Hoover Company, North Canton, as late as 1997, had $24 million in reserves invested and earning about 20% per annum and apparently not a cloud on the horizon.
In hindsight, the fact of the matter is that there were indeed "clouds on the horizons" beginning with the purchase of "the cash cow" Hoover Company by "the coming out of bankruptcy" Chicago Pacific Railway in 1985.
As Snyder tells it, Chicago Pacific seemed to be forking out $535 million for Hoover whereas the truth of the matter is that the buy was actually acquiring Hoover for its richly funded pension account which, Snyder says, Chicago Pacific used to pay for the Stark County based vacuum cleaner company.
So the underpinnings of the transfer of the company from the Hoover family to North Canton "outsiders" seems to the SCPR to have been such that North Canton government leaders and civic leaders should have "read the 'tea leaves'" and started planning for the day when The Hoover Company would no longer be the city's cash cow.
But they didn't and North Canton is now at the door of financial disaster that Stark County's other major cities (Canton, Massillon and Alliance) are also gracing.
While North Canton has historically had "the best of times," its overall political/governmental leadership proved to be deficient of foresight and consequently the city faces "the worst of times."
THE FUTURE FOR NORTH CANTON (SCPR BLOG LINK)
Answer: It depends!
Depends on what?
Whether or not North Canton's voters can figure out who to bring into the council/mayoralty of North Canton government that have the qualities required to bring North Canton back to a semblance of "the best of times."
The SCPR does not see those folks for the most part currently being in place.
The loss of Revoldt (it does not appear that he will be Snyder's replacement), Kalpac and Snyder seem to have gutted the city of what few resources that North Canton has to right it to a "true North" direction.
And David Held in the stance he took in the MEDA (Mutual Economic Development Agreement) negotiations with Canton, Jackson Township and Plain Township showed the SCPR that he is one very confused leader in terms of finding his way "to the light" for the well-being of North Canton's future.
Time will tell whether or not council president Jeff Peters and veteran councilman Doug Foltz are enough of a leadership factor to redirect North Canton "northward."
A question remains as to whether or not council has the political will to get control of its legal leadership factor. Right now it seems to be a 50/50 factor. And it clearly appears to be a case of "the tail wagging the dog."
How can the city move in a positive direction with such being the case?
City officials appear to have banked the future of North Canton on the restoration of the Hoover complex (i.e. Maple Street Commerce) as its prime time commercial/industrial complex.
But that project (which the city has invested $5 million in) is not likely to be nearly enough even if it fully develops and matures to bring bring back "the best of times.
The SCPR thinks these are critical times for North Canton in terms of telling the tale of whether or not The Dogwood City will have a return to an approximation of "the best of times" or continue to be mired in downward spiral into the abyss of "the worst of times."
Whom in North Canton from among the citizenry will step forward to get the city headed "true North?"