UPDATED: 09:30 AM
OHIO ATTORNEY GENERAL
ON OAG MEDIATION SERVICE
North Canton's mayor (David Held) and North Canton's city council
ought to be "hanging their collective heads in shame!"
As can seen above, North Canton's website lists council members in red, white and blue.
In fact, its website color theme is red, white and blue, to wit:
And, its website shows the American and Ohio flags waving in full glory over the North Canton government complex.
But as far as the Stark County Political Report is concerned, North Canton city council's (and Mayor Held's) failure to rein-in city's law director (Tim Fox) on the matter of unfettered accessibility (including e-mail transmission) is not in accord with democratic-republican values upon which our great nation was founded.
Last night on CantonRep.com and preresumably in today's print edition (the SCPR blog is being written in the early morning hours of July 11th), The Canton Repository's Robert Wang has written an article (North Canton declines to email public records) on how North Canton deals with requests (by the requesters) for the transmission of North Canton government records by e-mail.
The SCPR welcomes "the Johnnie Come Lately" interest by The Repository on public accessibility to the peoples' records.
Stark County media of every stripe needs to step forward and put the heat on Held, and councilpersons Foltz, Peters (council's president), Werren, Fonte, Kiesling, Cerreta and Griffith to cut the "BS" and take measures to compel Law Director Tim Fox to provide public records by e-mail, if so requested by a citizen requester.
As things stand now, North Canton's website color scheme should be in black and white.
Black and white?
It appears that North Canton government is countenancing if not encouraging Fox's drawing of an antagonistic line between the mayor's office and the city council office on the matter of full and unfettered access to the peoples' records.
How dare North Canton officials play its disingenuous game of dodge ball as to whom is responsible North Canton's instituting anti-democratic-republican values.
Fox points the finger at council and its various members past and present.
It seems as if North Canton government officials are proud to be part of the 10% of Ohio's political subdivisions which are not totally complying with Ohio's Sunshine Laws on public records.
North Cantonians and Stark Countians should frequent the website of the Ohio Coalition for Open Government.
The website offers up-to-date news on developments on open-government issues as well as pointing readers to resources that citizens can use in battling local Ohio governments such as North Canton's.
One such resource from a series of "training" videos published by the Ohio attorney general (OAG) office is the Ohio attorney general's mediation program.
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.
And, of course, individual citizens can seek the OAG's mediation service out and the SCPR encourages them to do so.
Here is an Ohio attorney general "training" video on how one can invoke the mediation process.
The SCPR thinks that the "elephant in the room" in North Canton government in enabling and encouraging Fox "to stiff-arm citizen access to public records" may well be North Canton mayor David Held.
Moreover, though Fox likes to bill himself as a "tough guy," it appears to the SCPR that he falls all over himself "kissing the posterior" of those he thinks are the power brokers in North Canton government as a way to stay in place as law director even though the Concerned Citizens of North Canton want him out and out yesterday.
As readers know, the SCPR has been all over North Canton government for a long, long time for its decidedly "to Hell with the citizens" attitude when it comes to respecting the wishes (e.g. the 72% vote [November, 2012] favoring Citizen Chuck Osborne's limitation on part time employees receiving North Canton subsidized health care insurance.
That same attitude surfaces in a number of instances in the conduct of North Canton government business vis-a-vis the public.
The SCPR thinks that a marked shift towards antagonism of North Canton government in relation to the public stepped up markedly with the hire of Tim Fox as North Canton's law director.
As written before, and as former Councilman Jon Snyder said in an interview with the SCPR this past Monday; it appears that the ratcheting up "us against the public" has to do with Held's and council's fear of Mr. Osborne.
With Snyder's departure, Osborne is by far more knowledgeable, informed, and experienced (de facto) than anybody currently in North Canton government.
They know that and their reaction is just that, "a reaction," and what we are getting is a refusal of North Canton government to release a report to council by Fox on the legality of the Osborne's health care ordinance for months.
Held tried to don the mantle of being a champion of the public's right to know when the report was finally released, but the truth of the matter is likely that Held was up to his eyeballs in deep sixing the report.
As shown in The Report's graphic for today's blog, North Canton government deserves A BIG FAT "F" when it comes to assessing its public accessibility factor whereas the Stark County commissioners (with Janet Creighton and Thomas Bernabei having come aboard in November, 2010) having restored county government credibility to be fully consonant with our nation's founding fathers'democratic-republican values.
Wang in his piece did an effective job in showing former councilman and council president Jon Snyder being complicit in Fox's stonewalling of public accessibility.
In the SCPR's video of Snyder on Monday he seemingly threw Fox under the bus in his criticism of how the law director's lack of social skills in dealing with the North Canton public.
But Wang's revelation of documents apparently linking Snyder to the stonewalling is persuasive to The Report that Snyder has deep roots in the problem.
With Snyder being gone, it is time for the current body of council members to place a policy for providing public record via e-mail (if so requested by a requester) in ordinance form.
Wang, in his reporting, gathered some telling quotes from the Ohio attorney general's office, to wit:
- Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said about the Sunshine Laws manual, “we would not put it out, if we didn’t believe it was factual and correct.”
- He pointed to a provision that says the person requesting records can have them duplicated “upon any other medium upon which the public office ... determines that it reasonably can be duplicated as an integral part of the normal operations of the public office...”
- Tierney said for a city to say it’s not required to send records by email it would have to say email wasn’t part of its normal operations.
- Fox called Tierney’s argument“ridiculous.”
Even though it appears that Tim Fox is answerable to nobody in North Canton, the fact of the matter and the law of the matter is, that he is.
On July 2nd the SCPR did a blog on chapter and verse examples of Law Director Fox foot dragging.
The longer council allows Fox to pursue his public-accessibility-belligerent attitude; is all the more evidence that they cannot pass off "the public be dammed" attitude as being an "off-the-reservation" law director.
It is a scandal on American democratic-republican values and citizen-electors exercising the voting franchise for an elected mayor and elected city council members to allow an "unelected" law director determine in what manner citizens can obtain public records.
Mayor Held, council members Foltz, Peters, Werren, Fonte, Kiesling, Cerreta and Griffith need TO STOP THE "BS" AND DO IT SOONER THAN LATER!!!