UPDATED: 12:40 PM
The play last night at Canton City Council was "a play to fear!.
That's how The Stark County Political Report sees the 7 to 5 vote against allowing the citizens of Canton to decide for themselves whether or not charter government is right for this Hall of Fame City.
Seven members of council, for last night anyway, made Canton a Hall of Shame city in their denying the franchise on this issue to Cantonians.
We all know what a powerful factor fear is.
And we also know that fear can make otherwise good people do some very bizarre things.
To put the best spin on things (the decision having been a "political" one), Members Babcock, Dougherty, Fisher, Griffin, Morris, Smith and West were not able to conquer their fears that they would somehow be affected in their personal political stakes were they to allow Cantonians to, perhaps, start out on a path to change Canton's structure of government.
An example of the paralyzing effect that fear can play in a human life is that experienced by 1950s baseball player Jimmy Piersall.
From the website from the movie "Fear Strikes Out:"
The best part of the movie "Fear Strikes Out" was when John Piersall finally understood what he did to his son Jimmy in pushing him like he did. Later at the institution John was accepted by Jimmy who for a time wanted to have nothing to do with him. For once just being his father, not a hard as nails lion trainer, the two had an friendly but emotional game of catch.Well, "fear DID NOT strike out" with the seven Canton city council members who by their votes sent the clear message that they did not trust the voters of Canton to decide the city's future structure of government.
Jimmy did in the end recover form his personal demons and went on to be an All-Star outfielder for Boston Cleveland and the New York Mets, among outer teams he played for. Despite his fine record as a professional baseball player Jimmy's overcoming the fear that almost destroyed him was by far Piersall's greatest achievement.
Pretty arrogant stuff, no?
Fear hit a Home Run last night, in fact, seven home runs in the personages of Members Babcock, Dougherty, Fisher, Griffin, Morris, Smith and West.
William McKinley must turning over in his grave at the sight of the spectacle of a majority of city council giving into personal political fear and letting person political interests triumph over a fundamental tenet of our democratic-republic.
But he would be pleased to see the courage of Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack and the four councilmen (Hart, Hawk, Mariol and Smuckler) who put personal political concerns aside and did the right thing in our democratic-republican system of government and supported Canton's citizens' right to vote.
Next, John Mariol.
Next, Bill Smuckler.
And last up for the "yes, let the people vote side:" political independent Richard Hart.
There couldn't have been a finer line up of distinguished Cantonians to have shown up and expressed themselves in pleading for council to allow Cantonians to exercise the fundamental democratic right of voting on an issue that may determine whether or not the once proud city of Canton gets to be great once again.
FORMER COUNCILMAN CAPESTRAIN
C. DAVID MORGAN
CITIZEN STEPHANIE SWEENEY
FORMER JUDGE HARRY KLIDE
CITIZEN LEON COTE
FORMER JUDGE RICHARD REINBOLD
From the "we are afraid of the people" crowd, Councilman West had a particularly amusing moment when he asked for a show of hands from the audience of who would run for a slot on the 15 member charter review commission provided for in Ohio law should voters approve the writing of a charter which itself would have to be approved by Canton's voters.
From what The Report could determine, those raising their hands were run-of-the-mill citizens.
Then West tried to save himself embarrassment by following up with: "do you know [all about] charter government?
Even West does not know much about charter government! How disingenuous can you get?
Majority Leader Frank Morris had in his comments - the SCPR thinks - slammed some politically prominent Cantonians ("Who's Who in Canton Politics") who had been mentioned by Mack and others as potential candidates for the commission as being "the same old crowd" (The Report's characterization; not that of Morris)
That is all well and good for Morris to bash people who care about civic life enough to engaged. But what has he and fellow member West (see below) done to get "everyday people" involved? Morris and the opponents to Mack's ordinance have known for a year that the charter government ordinance was going to come up. And they have known for about six months that last night's vote was on the political horizon.
The Report thinks that the claim that 23 days to gather 50 signatures is too sudden and burdensome is a bogus and disingenuous argument.
Richard Hart smoked out Morris, West et al on the 50 signature thing by proposing an amendment to the primary ordinance (#26) changing the requirement to 15 signature.
What did the seven opponents do?
As seen on the video, they all voted against the amendment.
Nothing precluded them from voting for the amendment and then voting against the amended ordinance.
But it would have been contradictory to do so.
Which to the SCPR just buttresses The Report's take that the opponents' arguments on the 50 signature requirement was a "throw everything in but the kitchen sink" exercise to mask what was really going on in prompting their "no" votes on allowing Cantonians a vote on charter government.
It appears to the SCPR that Morris likely was motivated by fears that his "fought hard for" majority leader status might be in jeopardy were Cantonians to ultimately change the structure of Canton's government.
Morris is a guy who presents himself as being "a what you see is what you get' sort of person.
Well, the SCPR is all for people being who they "really" are. But The Report sometimes gets the impression that his "rough around the edges" persona has somewhat of an orchestrated tone to it.
Was his cite of a Harry Truman quote ( "I don't give them Hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell.") last night designed by him to be in line with a Morris desired effect of being boorish?
Continuing the Morris theme of only the politically privileged will be on the review commission, West, when he took to the microphone asked those in the audience to stand who planned to run for a commission slot.
Apparently, West thought that "the prominent" were going to be the ones to stand up to the exclusion of everyday Cantonians.
Well, he was wrong.
To be sure, West et al gussied up their fundamental fear of personal political repercussions with cockamamie reasons why they were going to deny citizens their fundamental right to self-determine.
West stooped so low in what the SCPR thinks his pervasive entitlement attitude to complain that a Ward 2 minority person was not a part of the Healy administration leadership team.
Nobody thinks that Mayor William J. Healy, II is short of minority persons in his leadership team.
Nobody that is except for Thomas E. West.
Maybe the mayor ought to offer Councilman West an administration position?
What a laugh, no?
THE SPECIAL CASE OF KEVIN FISHER
Kevin Fisher is the SCPR's most disappointing Canton councilperson.
Fisher could be one whale of a councilperson.
The Report thinks that of the seven voting to limit democracy in Canton, he knows better.
Here is a guy that embraces nearly every left-wing political cause known to man (e.g. a participant of the Occupy Canton movement) and thereby supposedly ought to be an ardent proponent of democracy and the sanctity of the vote.
And yet he was among the most dedicated of those committed to denying Cantonians their franchise on the charter government question.
Of the seven, he; day-in, day-out, appears to The Report not to be concerned at all about his sustained political viability.
All the SCPR can figure about Fisher is the adage: "appearances can be deceiving."
The SCPR does not go by appearance.
The Good Book says: "by their deeds ye shall know them."
Of the "play to fear" council team of seven, only councilpersons Morris and West spoke out at last night's meeting.
Of the remaining non-speakers (The
Report having dealt with Councilman Fisher above, the SCPR has the following observations:
Councilman at Large Jimmy Babcock
Babcock has the good political fortune to bear the surname of a former Canton mayor (Charles) and long term councilwoman (Mary) Babcock.
Other than that, Jimmy has little to recommend him for being a councilman.
Oh! He is a nice guy who "dresses to the nines," but other than that appears pretty much "an empty suit" that enjoys the status of being a councilman.
Ward 3: Councilman James Griffin
Jim is just glad to be a councilman. He said so at a candidate's forum that the SCPR attended a number of years ago. So he would not want to "upset the apple cart, no?"
Ward 4: Councilwoman Chris Smith
Councilwoman Smith, the SCPR thinks, does not have a mind of her own.
She seemingly follows Councilman West's lead on nearly everything that council deals with.
Ward 6: Councilman David Dougherty
Dougherty is in the estimate of the SCPR "Mister Sour Grapes." To see him as former majority leader conduct the Public Speaks part of council's agenda (when President Schulman was absent) was a sight to behold.
The Report thinks he was brusque, and generally communicates an aire of inhospitality.
Last night Schulman noted that he felt Dougherty was growing annoyed with him, which prompted Dougherty to do what? You've got it. Complain!
To sum up the seven, it is apparent to the SCPR that they all (except maybe for Fisher) are basically fear ladened people when it comes to their political future.
And last night they let their fears get the best of them and they stepped up to the plate and "hit a home run for fear."
What we need in government is not the all too many politicians who are "fearfully" looking out for their own political hides. But rather we need more courageous types like Mack, Hart, Hawk, Mariol and Smuckler.
Citizens of Canton should be mindful of President Franklin Roosevelt who clearly understood the power of fear within humanity recall his statement:
"The only thing we need to fear is fear itself."
Roosevelt was right on the mark.
To repeat, last night the Canton 7 hit a home run for fear.
Let's trust that the courageous Councilman Mack will continue his fight for democracy-in-action and will look fear in the face and stare it down!
Then and only then will "Fear Strike Out" in Canton, Ohio governance.
One final note.
The SCPR agrees with Councilman Edmond Mack (see video below in the Video Appendix) that for the charter issue to pass council, there will have to be a remix of council's composition.
The Democratic primary next year hopefully will produce a number of fresh faces who - before the election - need to be vetted by citizens to ensure that they are committed to letting the people determine what form Canton city government should be.
POST MEETING COMMENTS
COUNCIL PRESIDENT ALLEN SCHULMAN