Tuesday, September 30, 2014







The SCPR thinks the "hotbed" of citizen action is between Cantonians and Canton city government.

But after last night, The Report has to ask whether or not Canton's councilpersons and the Healy administration seeming interest in citizen input and acting thereon is simply a mirage?

Citizen Laura Simon was first up at last night's Public Speaks.

On September 8th, Ms. Simon was behind the lectern in the weekly (or nearly so) opportunity afforded by council to citizens to - in effect - lobby the council and/or the mayor and his administration to see things the citizens' way and to change course on policy formulation and/or implementation.

On the 8th Ms. Simon pushed council to override Mayor Healy's veto of previously passed legislation (June  2, 2014) whereby Canton's income tax credit would have been (if not vetoed) been restored to a full 2% (which is the current rate of Canton's city income tax),to wit:

LAURA SIMON: Good evening everyone. My name is Laura Simon. I live at 520 32nd Street NW, Canton,Ohio 44709. I am here tonight to express my views on Ordinance 108/2012 which changed the city income tax credit for residents of Canton who work in another municipality from 2% to 1.7%.

I am unhappy and think this Ordinance is an unfair tax targeted to a certain group of Canton city residents. On July 30, 2012,City Council voted on Ordinance #108 to reduce the income tax credit from 2% to 1.7%. This is a 3/10's of a percent tax increase to all working Canton city residents that work in another municipality. The vote was 6 to 6 with the tie breaking vote by President Schulman who voted yes.

The discussion previous to the vote was by Councilmen Morris and Fisher.

Their concern was about construction workers being penalized becausethey could work aside the city of Canton and incur the additional income tax.

I will give you another concern. Me. I have lived in Canton 30 of my 39 working career years. The last 25 years have been with my 3rdgeneration family business in East Canton. Our business has an accountant who, to keep track and pay the income tax due to each of the municipalities where our employees live.

When I filed my 2013 city income tax, I had already paid the correct amount.

The accountant had adjusted to the additional 3/10's of a percent.

I did not recognize the change and did not realize at the time I was paying 3/10's of a percent more city income tax than my neighbor. It wasn’t until my college student daughter’s Canton city income tax paper came back in the mail, stated that she owed more income tax. She lives at home and went to Kent State University main campus and worked in Kent. It wasn’t until the second letter came, that I investigated and found out that she also has been penalized an additional 3/10's of a percent because she lives with me but worked in Kent. I understand that Canton needs more money.

I understand that it is difficult to ask Canton city residents to vote to raise the income tax but targeting only the working wage earner because they work in another city is unacceptable.

I do applaud however our Treasurer, Kim Perez and Councilman Morris and Smuckler in trying to reverse this inequality this past spring only to be passed in Council and vetoed by the President, by the Mayor in June 2014. Mr. Mayor....

PRESIDENT SCHULMAN: Well ma’am you’ve got about 15 seconds to wrap it up if you don’t mind.

LAURA SIMON: Do you remember when Stark County Commissioners voted on their own to raise the county sales tax. People who feel they were taken advantage of by the, that very group that was voted in to watch over them, don’t forget that action.
PRESIDENT SCHULMAN: Thank you very much ma’am. That’s, that’s all we have. Thank you.(APPLAUSE) And Miss Simon I would invite you to stay through the meeting. I’ll be happy to make some remarks in Miscellaneous Business for you.

LAURA SIMON: Will you give me a refund.

PRESIDENT SCHULMAN: I would probably give you a refund, yes.
(SCPR note:  colored text added to differentiate)
On September 22nd, Canton City Council did just that.

Councilmen David Dougherty (Ward 6), Kevin Fisher (Ward 5) and James Griffin (Ward 3) changed their votes from July and the mayor's veto was overriden.

Give Citizen Simon a "high five!," no?

Well, according to Simon some of her friends and relatives did.

The SCPR got to thinking.

Did "everyday" Citizen Simon's September plea "really" have any effect on Dougherty, Fisher and Griffin.

First, listen to Fisher and Griffin after last night's meeting.

Think Simon should have been "high-fiving" over her "apparent" victory?"

Then there was the announcement by Mayor William J. Healy, II that by January, 2015 (only months before the Democratic Party primary election) that his administration would be beefing up the overall strength of the Canton Police Department from its current 162 members to 169.

Readers of the Stark County Political Report will recall the many blogs
The Report has done with regard to a group of Ward 9 Vassar Park citizens (self-described as being Group 175, headed up by everyday citizen Bruce Nordman) wherein various members are shown seemingly week-after-week-after-week besieging council and the mayor to beef up Canton's finest to 175 police officers strong.

With Healy's announcement, the SCPR could not resist.  The Report put to the mayor the question of what effect the Nordman/Vassar Park Group 175 had on his administration being on the brink of the Canton Police Department (CPD) getting to 175 strong.

Here is Healy's answer.

What do you think?

Is mayor giving Group 175 any credit for pushing him and prodding council to push him to get the CPD to 175 officers?

The SCPR thinks "not really."

For generally the egos of public officials are such that they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that "everyday" citizen-activists had any role in their "seeing the light."

And so much "hurrah" for everyday citizen Leon Cote for thinking he could get Canton government to be more efficient and effective in bringing diversity to the CPD.

Here is Healy responding to Cote's criticism that Canton "is not getting 'enough bang for the buck' spent" with its current hiring diversification program.

Healy sees the need to bring black Americans in greater numbers into the police force to be of  such a critical factor that he told The Report last night that if Canton does not, then, perhaps, Canton will become the "Ferguson, Missouri" of Ohio!

And yet the administration's program of developing diversity resources is not working if one give credence to information provided the SCPR recently by Canton Civil Service director Sam Sliman.

So to return to the base questions:

Canton Canton citizens make a difference?

Are they currently being effective with the Healy administration and with Canton City Council?

First of all, the SCPR knows and can point to a number of Stark County examples wherein citizens have been shown to be difference makers.

However, the politicians are loathe to give "everydays" any credit whatsoever for having moved them on any given issue.

Which phenomenon bleeds in to the answer to the next question.

Is citizen action effective?

The Report thinks it is and has been and will continue to be in Canton, notwithstanding the "in effect" denial of Fisher, Griffin and Healy.

Which responses the SCPR does not quite get.

Shouldn't public officials be eager to signal "everyday citizens" they are heard and whenever the officials can do so they incorporate the ideas and recommendations of "everydays?"

Oh! but that ego.  The ego not successfully managed by many human beings and certainly not by the politician public officialdom.

For way too many politicians/public officials must be "the greatest" and "have all the answers," no?

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