Wednesday, July 16, 2014


UPDATE:  06:51 PM

Public records

        [Jeff Peters, president of council]

        Today at 3:22 PM


Martin, I would like to thank you for your report on the issue of public records. However, I will take you to task regarding your opinion on me.

I have always taken the stance that public records should be delivered to Chuck, Miriam and Jamie  and anyone else who may make a request in the medium that they request.

After I became president and before Gail retired, that is exactly what I did.

Even though we had an opinion from our law director, I instructed our clerk(Gail) to email records as well as the meeting agendas and all accompanying documents to all who wanted them.

When Gail retired and before our new clerk came on board, the law director was handling his and the clerks duties.

We knew, and I suspect that the few folks who make the majority of records requests knew, that there was going to be some hiccups.

Now that Mary Beth Bailey is in her new position, we are going to accommodate all requests in the medium that they request.

My reasoning for asking the OAG their opinion on the Law Directors interpretation was for my information only. I've had multiple phone conversations with Miriam and Jamie and told them that once our new clerk was on board, we would be back to normal business, and that is exactly where we are at today.

To characterize the situation as I or council trying to make life difficult for the few who make the majority of records requests could not be further from the truth.

For example, I've known Miriam since I was 9yrs old and I hold her and her opinions in very high regard. She is someone that I can go to for advice and direction, and know that she'll never steer me down the wrong path. I would never intentionally bring harm to her, or anyone else in our great city! It is my intention, moving forward, to lead in an open and transparent manner which will bring honor to all that call North Canton home. We have many difficult decisions on the horizon and we owe it to our neighbors to give that our full attention, and that is exactly what we are going to do.

Regards, Jeff Peters

UPDATE:  09:49 AM

E-mail regarding Public Records Training going on in North Canton this morning:

Public Records Training
        Today at 9:40 AM

To:  Martin Olson

Ironic that a Public Records training class is scheduled here in North Canton this morning. Has been scheduled for several months. Just arrived myself. Miriam Baughman will be here as well.

Sent from my HTC One on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network




Although, at about 5:15 p.m. yesterday, North Canton mayor David Held called to thank The Stark County Political Report for The Report role in helping to bring about a change in the way North Canton responds to citizen public records requests, the credit belongs to the Concerned Citizens (chiefly Miriam Baughman) of North Canton, civic activist Chuck Osborne and citizen Holly Pierpont.

The import of the telephone call is that Peters sat down with Law Director Tim Fox yesterday (which the SCPR was told over the weekend was in the works when Peters returned from vacation) is a lesson of great significance to Stark County's core of civic activists who take on the hand of various branches of Stark County government when elected/appointed officials decide to become a problem rather than a help to Stark County's taxpaying citizen base.

Since he was appointed law director in September, 2012, former North Canton Ward 3 councilman Tim Fox assumed the role of "tough man" (which the SCPR thinks was his taking a cue from North Canton city council members and Mayor Held) and started giving everyday citizens "a hard way to go" in obtaining public records.

Not to exonerate Fox at all, but the SCPR thinks the North Canton public should blame Held (the mayor); former Ward 4 councilman Jon Snyder (as council president, apparently the leader in the effort), Jeff Peters (now the council president), Marcia Kiesling, Dan Griffith, Doug Foltz, Mark Cerreta and Stephanie Werren for the hostility that developed between North Canton government and North Canton citizens on the matter of access to public records.

While the focus has been on Fox's refusal (on council's approval, he says) to honor e-mail requests for public records (including one made by the SCPR), the difficulties run much deeper than the e-mail factor.

Right now we are only dealing with words.

Whether or not there has been a real change in the attitude of North Canton government through Fox and the clerk of council office will only be known through the passage of time.

The SCPR thinks that Law Director Fox will be drug kicking and screaming to a "new" citizen friendly posture on the matter of access to North Canton's public records.

The Report suspects Fox will continue to be Held's and Council's "tough guy" designee.

The Report credits Miriam Baughman (supported by Concerned Citizens leader Jaime McCleaster and the overall membership of the group) with putting the hard work of research and confrontation in motion that The Report believes has been the major factor in the North Canton turnaround.

The Baughman/Concerned Citizens/Osborne/Pierpont success should give heart to all Stark County activists who are dissatisfied with the way local governments throughout Stark County are interacting with the taxpaying citizen base.

Readers should take a minute and go back and review the SCPR blog of July 2, 2014 to get a full appreciation of Baughman's superlative work of poring over Ohio attorney general pronouncements on public records.

All too often, elected and appointed government officials forget who they are in office to serve.

However, one Miriam Baughman is enough to awake them from their slumber.

In all the developments on this issue, it appears that the SCPR right was "right on the mark" on the suggestion by North Canton officials (including Fox) that he was contemplating getting clarification from the OAG's office, to wit:
There has been talk that Director Fox might seek an opinion of the OAG's office as to the legality of his unwillingness to use e-mail to transmit copies of public records.

The SCPR thinks that such a suggestion is a lot of Fox "huffing and puffing" inasmuch as the OAG's mediation service is an  existing available forum that has been around for some time but which the law director appears to not have sought out.
Well, take a look at this "e-mail" (don't you just love the irony of the medium of the communication) exchange between the OAG's office and North Canton citizen Holly Pierpont.

Gold text equals Pierpont

Green text equals Ohio attorney general

        Holly Pierpont
        Jul 15 at 3:31 PM

To: [Stark County Political Report]

Mr. McCleaster,

Upon recently reading a blog on the SCPR website regarding your struggle to receive public records from the North Canton city law director, I forwarded the story to the Ohio Attorney General.  Below is the response I received from them today.

Take care,
Holly Pierpont

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Jeff Clark <>
> Date: July 15, 2014 at 3:16:45 PM EDT
> To: "" <>
> Cc: Kristen DeVenny <>
> Subject: FW: CID # 940387 - Pierpont
> Dear Ms. Pierpont,
> I wanted to let you know we’d received your e-mail, and that we appreciate your interest in the area of public access law.  Although you hadn’t specifically asked us to contact the City, I gave Mr. Fox a call to see whether the city or the county prosecutor had contacted our Opinions Section for a formal opinion, and if not whether we could facilitate that contact.  However, Mr. Fox advised me that some further discussion of the legal points, and city policy, had already concluded, and that the results of that discussion will likely be posted on the city web site soon.  You may want to check their web site over the next couple of day.
> Thanks again for your interest.
> Jeff Clark
> Assistant Attorney General
> From: Kristen DeVenny
> Sent: Friday, July 11, 2014 4:38 PM
> To: Public Records Unit
> Subject: CID # 940387 - Pierpont
> This matter is assigned to Jeff.
> Thanks!
> -----Constituent Information-----
> MatterID:       940387
> Constituent:  Holly Pierpont
> County:         No County entered
>                     330-999-9999
>                     Email:
>                     Received Date:  07/02/2014

> --------Original Message--------
> It has come to my attention that North Canton City Law Director, Tim Fox, has reached out to the OAG for assistance in interpretation of the Ohio Sunshine Laws pertaining to recent public records request originating with North Canton, Ohio constituents.
> I would like to bring to the attention of the OAG, this blog written by a local Stark county reporter, which has highlighted the true struggle that North Canton citizens are encountering in obtaining public records according to the law.
> I would like the Attorney General to help by:
> I would like the OAG to consider the requests embedded in this blog, as well as the responses sent by law director, Tim Fox, in their "interpretation" to secure that the citizens of North Canton should not have to jump through extreme hoops to request what is rightfully due to them via a standard public records request.  Please review the links included in this concern, for a 360 degree view of the issue at hand. 


Undoubtedly, it was an eyeopener to Law Director Fox to have gotten a telephone call from the OAG's office.

An office which commented last week that Fox's position of refusing to send public records as being "ridiculous."

North Canton officials are trying to make the best of a bad situation that they and they alone created.

The SCPR encourage citizens across Stark County to take heart from the success of the likes of Baughman, Chuck Osborne, the Concerned Citizens of North Canton and Holly Pierpont and take up the mantle of holding their respective local government accountable to the taxpaying public.

An appropriate close to this blog is an e-mail response from Baughman to the SCPR on her reaction to the change in North Canton's public records policy, to wit:

Attorney General e mail

        Miriam Baughman
        Jul 15 at 8:17 PM


My comment is:   Why did it ever come to this?     Why didn't our North Canton City Law Director read and interpret the Ohio Public Records Law correctly frpm the beginning?


Miriam Baughman

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