Wednesday, October 22, 2014


UPDATED:  12:17 PM (10/23/2014)

CORRECTION:  The SCPR inadvertently attributed to Law Director Fox as having accumulated and taken "the most" comp. time.

Actually, it is North Canton Chief Engineer James Benekos who takes "the honors" of being at the top of the list.  Fox is second.

Undoutbtedly, this is a rare case of Fox liking coming in second rather than "top banana" as he appears to accustomed to insisting upon, no?

The Report thanks the "eagle eyed" SCPR reader who picked up on the error.

As always, readers can depend on the SCPR to correct errors and to allow subjects of SCPR blogs to respond to the opinions of The Report.



Readers of The Stark County Political Report need to go back to the blog of June 24, 2014.

The June 24th blog contains a "spot-on" summary of the many grievances that a group of civic activists (who call themselves the "Concerned Citizens of North Canton" [CCNC]) have with North Canton City Council and its law director Tim Fox.

It may be that North Canton's council should be billed as "the biggest 'screw up' council" in all of Stark County.

As the SCPR sees it, since former council president Daryl Revoldt left council and since Jon Snyder,  Pat DeOrio and Jeff Davies are no longer council members "all Hell has broken out on council" and rather than "hear" and "work with" North Cantonians, the current council has chosen to do battle with the likes of the CCNC.

Not that Revoldt, Snyder (also a former president), DeOrio and Davies were perfect council persons, but, at least, they listened and they did not let the sitting law director at the time be "the tail that wags the dog" as appears to be the case with Law Director Tim Fox.

Wednesday's SCPR blog first reported an apparent additional (others: e.g. health care and public records management) North Canton City Council screw-up that has been in the works for some time; namely:  the formulation of a seemingly (according to the State of Ohio Auditor's office) illegal "compensatory time-off" policy and implementation.

Now this memo from council president Jeff Peters:

> From: ...  <>
> Date: October 16, 2014, 12:36:49 PM EDT
> To: "" <>

> Subject: Memo from NC city council president
> Good afternoon all! City council, in the coming weeks will be addressing "comp time" among other compensation related things. 

With that in mind and questions surrounding how the final legislation will look, we want to address the current status of all accrued " comp time." 

Any accrued "comp time" to date  will not be recognized by council. 

We hope to have draft legislation ready by mid November so that we have a comprehensive and clear direction moving forward from that point. 

We want all to know that their hard work is noted and appreciated! 

If you have any questions re; this issue, please reach out to me or VP Foltz, and we ask for your patience while we move through the legislative process..
> Regards,
> Daniel J Peters
> NC city council president

The smoking gun in the memo?

Any accrued "comp time" to date  will not be recognized by council. 

 As of September 6th, this is how the accumulated/used comp. time chart looked.

Isn't it interesting that Tim Fox is the second largest accumulator and user?

And, if the the SOA makes in finding of "illegality," perhaps, the biggest payer of "cash equivalent" into the North Canton treasury.

If he is ordered to do so, wouldn't this be a case of "poetic justice?"

Why the "abrupt" stoppage?

The SCPR thinks that Peters/Foltz have reason to believe that when the State of Ohio Auditor's office next audits North Canton,  there might well be a finding that as of September 16, 2014 (presumably there has been more comp time earned and consumed in the ensuing 30 days), recipient North Canton employees will have to repay the city for the comp time consumed.

Not because the employees did anything wrong!

But likely because council blindly relied on the position and therefore advice of Law Director Fox that in his opinion the State of Ohio Auditor (SOA) is wrong on its interpretation of the legality of North Canton's formulation and implementation of the comp time policy.

As far as the SCPR can tell, the whole scheme got up and running on the basis of a letter issued by Mayor David Held who "unduly" (in the opinion of the SCPR) relied on the legal opinion of Law Director Tim Fox.

What does Fox's opinion appear to be?

That North Canton could cast aside State Auditor  e-mails implying (the SCPR's interpretation) that there would be "a financial reckoning day" for those employees that received time off from January 1 through October 16th because North Canton is "required as a matter of law" to provide for comp. time in ordinance form.

Apparently, as evidenced by the Peters memo, council is now having second thoughts about taking the law director's advice.

Mind you, the CCNC is not challenging the desire of council to compensate certain exempt employees (which means they do not get paid overtime for working in excess of 40 hours a week) for "beyond the call of duty" hours worked.

But rather the CCNC cares about, in council's failure to act via a city ordinance, exposing the beneficiaries of the policy change to the possibility that these employees "down-the-road" will have to pay "cash" - potentially in the thousands of dollars category - because of council's apparent reliance on Fox's position vis-a-vis the State of Ohio Auditor's office.

The Concerned Citizens have tracked the issue for some time.

In Wednesday's blog, the SCPR did not include documents which show the progression of events.

But being the only Stark County media outlet that fully informs its readers, the SCPR today shares relevant documents with The Report's readers.



January 8, 201[4]

To: Directors of Finance, Law, and Clerk of Council Re: Compensatory Time for Exempt Employees

Dear Karen, Tim and Gail,

Because you are exempt employees, the law prohibits the City from compensating you monetarily when you are required to work beyond the normal workday. I know that you have sacrificed a significant amount of your off-duty time for the City—simply attending weekly City Council meeting over the period of a year would account for nearly 12 days of overtime. Accordingly, beginning with the first pay period this fiscal year, I wish to offer you the ability to earn compensatory time, as described below, as recognition for your past and continued service to the City.

The Exempt-Employee Compensatory Time Policy below is in draft form and I intend that it be included in the update to the City of North Canton’s Employee Handbook:

1. Accrual and usage of compensatory time for exempt employees

a. The employee’s supervisor must approve overtime in advance.
b. Compensatory time may be earned one-for-one for required work hours in excess of normally scheduled hours.
c. Is recorded on time curds when earned and when used.
d. Is earned and used in not less than 0.5 hour intervals.
e. May accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours.
f. Compensatory leave shall be granted by the employee's supervisor at a time mutually convenient to the employee and the supervisor.
g. Earned compensatory time shall be used before an employee is granted a leave of absence without pay.
h. Earned compensatory time shall not be used to extend an employee’s date of resignation or retirement.

2. Transfer and cash out prohibited

Earned compensatory time may not be transferred between employees, converted for payment, or converted to another form of vacation time or compensation. Employees forfeit compensatory balances upon transfer, termination, resignation, or retirement.

Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.

cc:  Mayor, Council mbrs

January 8, 201[4]

To: Finance Director 

Re: Directors’ Time Sheets

Dear Karen,

Beginning with the first pay period for fiscal year 2014, the Directors of Finance, Law, and Administration, and the Clerk of Council will not require a supervisor’s signature for their time sheets or for the City Employee - Time Off Request form. Employees serving in these positions are at the highest level of supervision, trust, and accountability within North Canton’s government. Accordingly, their signatures attesting to the accuracy of the aforementioned documents require no additional validation.

Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns or comments.

cc/  Mayor, Council Mbrs,
Dir. Admin, Law, Clerk of Council, MAYOR DAVID HELD


January 21, 2014

To: Director of Administration, Mike Grimes

Re: Compensatory Time for Exempt Employees

Dear Mike,

The law prohibits the City from compensating exempt employees monetarily when required to work beyond the normal workday. I know that our exempt employees sacrifice a significant amount of "off-duty" time for the City during the year for simply attending weekly City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, Zoning Board meetings, snow plow duty and many other type of events.

Accordingly, beginning with the first pay period this fiscal year, I wish to offer them the ability to earn compensatory time, as described below, as recognition for past and continued service to the City.

The Exempt-Employee Compensatory Time Policy below is in draft form and intended to be included in the update to the City of North Canton’s Employee Handbook:

A. Accrual and Usage
1. Exempt employee overtime must be approved in advance by the employee’s supervisor.
2. Each hour of approved overtime is earned one for one for comp time.
3. Comp time is used in not less than 0.5 hour intervals.
4. An employee may accrue comp time to a maximum of 40 hours.
5. Comp time shall be granted by the employee’s supervisor at a time mutually convenient to the employee and the supervisor.
6. All comp time must be used before an employee is granted a leave of absence without pay.
7. Comp time is recorded on time sheets when earned and when used.

B. Transfer and Cash Out Prohibited

1. The City does not permit comp time to be transferred from another employer or between employees.

2. Similarly, the City does not permit employees to cash out comp time or convert it for payment.

It is the assessment of The Stark County Political Report that two North Canton government officials (Finance Director Karen Alger and former Clerk of Council Gail Kalpac) and Jamie McCleaster, president of the North Canton Concerned Citizens deserved "the" credit for council president Daniel Jeff Peters' e-mail of October 16, 2014 which stopped the Held/Fox/Snyder (former council president and Ward 4 councilman Jon Snyder) "dead in their tracks on the apparently illegal (according to the SOA) plan.

The SCPR waited through Council of the Whole meeting, an exceptionally long (cough, cough) executive session of council on Monday evening, to get an interview with Mayor Held.

The Report wanted to get Peters on camera, too, but it appeared to the SCPR that Peters scurried out quickly - perhaps - to avoid the SCPR camera.

Of course, it is possible that Peters had "home matters" to attend to and therefore had to make a quick exit.  It is a SCPR impression that Peters normally hangs around after a meeting.

The following interview of Held, the SCPR self-servingly thinks, was quite incisive and effective in smoking Held out on what went on between him, Snyder, Fox and others in their coming together in a consensus that Fox's inexplicable advice - i.e. to ignore the SOA and its insistence:
  • that an amendment to North Canton's original base time worked ordinance or,
  • a completely new ordinance be put together to make compensatory time taken off legal and,
    • therefore take affected employees "out-of-fiscal-danger" of potentially having to reimburse the city treasury for the compensatory time taken off.

    The primary theme that Held sounded out in the interview as the reason why recipient comp. time employees should not be concerned about a SOA imposed "cash" recovery of comp. time used through October 16th (reference:  the Peters memo to council) is a repetition in this excerpt in his January 21st letter, to wit:

    Notwithstanding Held's video denial, the SCPR is convinced that Timothy Fox is in charge in North Canton government.
      Should Fox's boss (in effect, a majority of council, i.e. four of the seven members) fail to rein him in and reassert its dominance; groups like the CCNC (in the 2015 elections) should target enough of the sitting council members with opponents (or get existing members "to see the light") pledging and committing to reassert council hegemony in North Canton government.

      The SCPR thinks that when the SOA auditing personnel show up on the steps of North Canton City Hall, Mayor Held, Fox, former Councilman Snyder and Peters "may end up eating crow."
        As written before by the SCPR, the Concerned Citizens are not against the compensatory time policy adjustment, only that the program be implemented according to the "rule of law."

        Obviously, Fox and the SOA have a different take on what the law is. Such is not new for Fox.  
        He has a different take than others on:
          • the legality of legislation passed by a nearly 80% to 20% on the vote of North Canton's voters,
            • the interpretation of Ohio's Open Records law as contrasted to that of Ohio's attorney general, and
              • now contends with the State of Ohio Auditor on the proper legal foundation for comp. time policy change and implementation.
              Is this a case of the world being wrong and Tim Fox being right whenever Tim Fox is having a legal opinion?

              The Report thinks that the CCNC ought to take another look at any policy change and insist that any legislative change:
                • have a cap (notice the SCPR broached that topic with Held), and
                  • that perhaps the accumulation of compensatory time not begin to accrue for any given work week until an included employee has worked 50 hours.
                  Former Clerk of Council Gail Kalpac in a conversation on Monday afternoon with the SCPR says that she alerted Jon Snyder to the need for an amended or new ordinance immediately on her learning of the Held/Fox/Peters scheme for putting a policy change in effect.

                  She also mused about how for the many years she worked for North Canton that there was no thought by exempt employees of being compensated (time wise or cash payment wise) for working beyond the normal American work week of 40 hours and that she thinks somebody ought to be looking out for North Canton taxpayers in that respect.

                  The SCPR agrees with Kalpac and thinks that council and the CCNC should rethink that matter and adjust any forthcoming legislation to address Kalpac's points.

                  There were a flurry of e-mails going back and forth between Held administration officials, Law Director Fox and council members and the SOA on the legality of (let's call it what it really is) "the Fox plan." Here, in the estimation of the SCPR, are two key e-mails that reduce "the bone of contention" to a succinct rendition of the the overall controversy, to wit:


                  First, from the State Auditor's Office:

                  And then, the ultimate authority (SCPR sarcasm, folks):

                  It is apparent to the SCPR that Fox, who is said to have been recruited (in 2011) by Held to run for the Ward 3 council seat then occupied by temperamental but talented Councilman Jeff Davies, has Held's loyalty and has insight into the internal dynamics of council politics and thereby has survived in maintaining at least four council votes.

                  Jon Snyder tells the SCPR that he is likely to run against Held next year but might opt instead to run for council-at-large.

                  In any event, The Report thinks that unless or until council gets Fox under control, North Cantonians can look forward to one pitched battle after another between a majority of council (being manipulated by Fox) and North Canton's vigorous citizen activists. And the SCPR thinks that the North Canton Council as presently constituted is not about to get Law Director Tim Fox under control!


                  "No cash changed hands" and therefore the 15 or so affected employees have nothing to worry about? 

                  How about North Cantonians as citizens and taxpayers receiving diluted city services because a given employee was off the job and on comp. time?

                  Is there a "cash equivalent" in the opportunity cost of North Cantonians not having access to city employees out-of-the-office on comp. time?

                  The bottom line of all this discussion is Law Director Tim Fox and - to the SCPR - his holding a majority of council and Mayor Held in thrall.

                  Again to say, unless and until a majority of council pledged and committed to controlling the law director is in place, there are rocky times ahead for North Canton government!

                  No comments: