News broke at Monday's Canton City Council meeting that bids on the 12th Street Corridor Project (from Mercy Medical Center to the Mahoning Road Corridor Project) came in $4.5 million over estimates by the Canton Engineering Department.
One of the councilpersons who had a reaction was - who else: Bill Smuckler, councilman-at-large who is upset that 12th Street's sorely needed repairs as a consequence of "the problem" will be delayed by about six (6) months.
Moreover, Smuckler's upset goes deeper than the delay.
He told the SCPR in a conversation last night that he thinks that the Healy administration knew that the project would be overbid so that the administration can include an "in the talking stages" City of Canton Bond Issue proposal of some $18 million (to be repaid over ten years or so) including money for repairing Canton's streets, including, of course, needed additional money for the 12th Street project.
Smuckler says that most of council object for the simple reason that the life of repaired roads is some 7 to 12 years (depending on traffic volume), and that spending bond money on street repairs is an imprudent thing to do.
There was no hint of any such plan by Major Healy in the following interview done by the SCPR yesterday afternoon.
However, in an off-camera discussion with the mayor immediately after taping the session, Mayor Healy did share with The Report his frustration with Councilman Smuckler.
Healy projected to the SCPR that he thinks Smuckler is in "full political battle dress" (The Report's characterization, not Healy's) and that Smuckler's opposition to and/or criticism of various Healy administration proposals/projects are evidence of same. Since taking office on January 1st, they include:
- the development of a long range plan for Canton at the cost of $350,000,
- the Bond proposal,
- the Perez/Smuckler plan to end Canton's reduced income tax credit for Cantonians working outside of Canton, and
- the 12th Street Corridor project
- SCPR Note: Councilman Smuckler gives the mayor high marks for having engineered the 90/10 split between federal/state-City of Canton funding of the project which will probably end up having so a $20 million or price tag to it.
For a refresher, here are a couple of SCPR videos of Councilman Smuckler speaking of his opposition to the Healy administration to paying the $350,000 for the work up of a long term plan for Canton:
If Healy is correct and Smuckler (who neither confirms or denies that he will run for mayor) runs again, it will be the third time the two have run against each other.
In 2003 Smuckler bested Healy in the Democratic primary and went on to lose narrowly to Republican Janet Creighton (now a Stark County commissioner) in the 2003 general election.
In 2007 Healy defeated Smuckler and then went on to trump Creighton in November, 2007.
So it will be interesting to see whether or not Healy's certainty materializes.
Smuckler tells the SCPR that he has to walk a tightrope in his relationship with the mayor and that consequently he has found himself not speaking out when he felt he needed to because of his concern that he would be dismissed as a politically inspired crank.
He shared with The Report a conversation he had with Healy's safety director Andrea Perry yesterday about the same of the SCPR/Healy interview.
In the conversation Smuckler and Perry were exploring ideas how he could get on board with various Healy administration proposals. He says he is willing to consider working to bridge over differences with the mayor but he wants to meet with Healy, Chief-of-Staff Fonda Williams and Perry in a neutral setting (i.e. not on the 8th floor of city hall nor in council chambers).
When Smuckler told The Report of his suspicion that the overbid scenario was one orchestrated at the mayor's direction for the ulterior motive of getting funds for the project from Bond money, The Report was skeptical.
Of course, SCPR readers have read blog, after blog, after blog of how utterly political The Report thinks William J. Healy, II is.
So why would The Report be skeptical on Smuckler's take on the deeper significance of the overbid?
A very good question, indeed!
Only time will tell as to an answer on Smuckler's suspicion.
We shall see in due course.