On Thursday evening, Canton Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack (a Democrat) hosted a Townhall-esque meeting at St. Mark's Episcopal Church out on 48th Street NW.
Whether or not Ward 8 shall have a park.
Why would citizens want to reject the establishing of a park and their share of tax dollars that comes with it?
Well, the overwhelming majority of the northern reaches of Ward 8 do want to "turn down -in effect - 'free' money" and have been in a public argument with their councilman and the Healy administration "at least" since Canton City Council's meeting of September 8, 2014.
After the meeting, the SCPR asked Councilman John Mariol (Democrat, Ward 7 and along with Mack one of four councilmen The Report has tabbed as being "the four young turks), his take in action.
And The Stark County Political Report agrees.
About 20 Ward 8ers took to the lectern at Thursday's meeting.
While the SCPR does much more video than any other Stark County media outlet, The Report made a special effort to publish each and every public comment/question registered with Messers Mack and Gordon (see appendix videos below).
There was one humorous moment during the exchange when near the end of the session Director Gordon opined that "one more speaker" would be allowed, then two more speakers would be allowed, then three more speakers would be allowed," to wit:
As it turns out, "things did not go Mack's way" at the St. Mark's meeting, so the SCPR thinks.
The plan presented to Ward 8 residents involved Canton city government leasing from St. Mark's, a church owned playground park with a picnic shelter building, and putting the complex in "Grade A shape" over a three year period of time.
Though he never claimed to be absolutely committed to convincing his constituents of the wisdom of his and Gordon's idea, the SCPR thinks Councilman Mack has been "bullish" on the St Mark's idea.
As committed as The Report thinks Mack was to selling the St. Mark's park rehab project to area residents and taxpaying citizens, the SCPR came away from the meeting believing that Mack is even more committed to making our democratic-republican form of government work at the grassroots level.
And he demonstrated in commitment on Thursday night "in spades."
Whether they agree with or disagree with Councilman Mack on a given substantive issue, Ward 8 residents should be immensely pleased with him on process.
Though resident Tom Berbelis (who many Ward 8 residents credit with organizing the effort to stop the St. Mark's playground/shelter rehab) did not seem to realize the success of his effort after Thursday's meeting, to wit:
Contrast the foregoing video of Berbelis with one done in September.
Their persistent effort did pay off.
Here is a video of Councilman Mack on Thursday conceding that the plan to rehabilitate the St. Mark's grounds is dead.
The SCRP commends Mack and the residents of Ward 8 for engaging one another in coming to a resolution of the issue.
Mack showed great maturity and civility in working through the "give and take" with his constituents.
More importantly, he heard them and responded as he should have in our democratic-republican system of government and politics.
Mack presents a model of civic engagement that should be adopted by all Stark County elected officials in cities, villages, townships, boards of education across the county.
Even the Stark County commissioners could stand instituting a re-commitment to the fresh start that then newly elected commissioners Bernabei and Creighton gave the county with their election in November, 2010.
The Report thinks they have slipped quite a bit from their beginnings.
Mack is politically sophisticated beyond his age and his time (three years) in government.
The SCPR thinks that Canton will not solve its' severe problems (upwards of 40% poverty level existence in areas of the city) until there are more Edmond Macks in Canton government.
The Report thinks that he and "his fellow turks" are a promising start of Canton developing leaders that - over time - will develop ways, means and workable ideas that eventually will bring Canton back to a semblance of her former self.
But until the mantle of leadership passes from the likes of William J. Healy, II and Kim Perez (the likely candidates for mayor in 2015) to the likes of "the four young turks" Canton is going to continue to stagnate at best or decline in a worst case scenario.
But with Mack and fellow councilmen Mariol (Ward 7), Fisher (Ward 5) and Morris (Ward 9) waiting in the wings, Cantonians can now "see light at the end of the tunnel."
However, "the four young turks are not enough."
Additional young, energetic, forward thinking, imagination embracing and visionary Cantonians need to come forward and inject themselves in the Canton - Rehab project.
In today's blog, the SCPR is going to take you (the reader) video step-by-step (relatively short video clips) through Thusday's meeting so that you can see democracy (everyone having the right to be heard and express her/his opinion (vote), and republicanism (to the man they have twice elected "to represent" them in the councils/counsels of Canton city government) in action!
First, allowing the SCPR to get on the "soapbox" for a moment.
Thursday's meeting is in stark contrast to what The Report has been seeing at North Canton City Council meetings of late.
In this paragraph, The Report links to several blogs done on what has been happening in "The Dogwood City" of late and, in the opinion of yours truly, it "ain't pretty in terms of democratic-republican processes.
The SCPR is convinced that Mayor David Held and at least four North Canton City Council members (four being a majority of seven) have given over their respective executive/legislative functions to Law Director Tim Fox.
As much as the SCPR is impressed with Mack and his "respect the people" processes, The Report is horrified with the "disregard the people" process going on in North Canton councils/counsels of government.
BACK TO THURSDAY NIGHT
Several very democratic/republican enhancing important things happened in the collaborated opening with Mack and Gordon.
VIDEO SEGMENT 1
First, Gordon did a disclaimer as to his interest in seeing the project go forward. (1 min, 16 sec; correction on video title: Gordon is director, not a commissioner)
He is a member of St. Mark's which stands to benefit in offloading its deteriorating park to the city for repair and upkeep.
Moreover, he made the point (rather empty in the view of the SCPR) that he "does not have a vote" on whether or not the church, Canton City Council, the Canton Park Commission proceeds on the question.
- While indeed he does not have a vote, Gordon is the "go-to" guy on Canton park matters and in a sense is an "E.F. Hutton figure, (i.e. when E.F. Hutton speaks: "people listen") and therefore the less entanglements the more comfortable citizens can feel about the integrity of the process.
- Moreover, remember he is the director and an "overall" key figure in the Mayor William J. Healy, II administration.
BUT he did lend credibility to the discussion by owning up to his connection with St. Mark's and being a key figure within Canton government.
VIDEO SEGMENT 2
FORMULATION OF WARD 8 PARK PLAN
Next, Gordon informed those assembled at St Mark's on Thursday evening as to how what the SCPR calls the Gordon/Mack Ward 8 Park Plan got started.
VIDEO SEGMENT 3
COUNCILMAN MACK PRESENTS PLAN
Next, on Gordon's heels, Councilman Mack took over. (Video: 2 min. 10 sec.)
VIDEO SEGMENT 4 (3 min. 58 sec.)
COUNCILMAN MACK WRAP UP
"If you don't want this, I don't want this."
ST MARK'S OFFICIAL SPEAKS
VIDEO SEGMENT 5 (7 min. 20 sec.)
FIRST QUESTION - Q&A SESSION
At the end of this blog, the SCPR presents the remainder of the Q&A between Ward 8 residents and Director Gordon and Councilman Mack.
These additional videos are in process, please check back as the SCPR fills out all the Q&A session.
A SCPR "tip-of-the-hat" to those Ward 8 residents who participated in Thursday's meeting!
APPENDIX: ADDITIONAL VIDEOS