No, President Allen Schulman of Canton City Council (CCC) is not playing Santa Claus to the councilpersons.
On second thought, maybe he is?
The Stark County Political Report has been told by a source, in a position to know, that Schulman was a main actor as "the man" behind the December 17, 2103 removal* of Ward 6 councilman David Dougherty as vice president (i.e. also Majority Leader) of CCC.
- * SCPR Note: The actual removal did not actually take place until January and the withdrawal of a contest by Ward 2 Councilman Thomas West to the election in council's January organization meeting in which Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris, III (the one challenged) was elected as majority leader and Ward 4 Councilwoman Chris Smith was elected assistant majority leader.
Schulman, the SCPR has been told in recent days, was the catalyst that made Dougherty's denouement doable.
Of course, The Report is no big fan of Dougherty.
And now, it appears, that Schulman is the provocateur for yet another leadership change come the 2016/2017 term of Canton City Council.
It is only February, 2015 and the Democratic caucus for the 2016/2017 term of council will not occur until December of this year, no?
But the SCPR hears that Schulman and his allies on CCC have "a case of political upset" on the uppityness of Leader Morris in vociferously and publicly questioning/opposing certain "let's rebuild downtown Canton" projects; namely:
- Canton's Citywide Comprehensive Plan,
- Onesto LLC Lofts, and
- Market Square
Well, it was President Schulman who cast the deciding vote when the Democrats (holding all the seats at the time but, who, after the November, 2013 election held 11 of CCC's 12 seats) "aspirationally" met to determine which councilpersons were going to be vice president (Majority Leader) and 2nd vice president (assistant Majority Leader).
The Report has always been a huge fan of Schulman.
Because yours truly (who has known Allen going back to the 1970s) has perceived him as been a dedicated small letter "d" democrat as well as obviously being a "left of center" organized Democratic Party person.
But on December 17, 2013, yours truly began to think differently of Schulman's "small letter 'd' democrat credentials.
It was curious to the SCPR that Schulman was the person to break a tie
(in a vote of the participating Democratic elected councilpersons (2011) the "aspirational meeting" to get a sense of who would don council leadership roles beginning in January, 2014)on the issue of whether or not the meeting would be an "executive session" (the public excluded).
Schulman, the supposedly raging liberal, voting to exclude the public from a discussion which The Report strongly suspects was not "executive session stuff?"
Councilman Dougherty, interestingly enough, made the motion to exclude the public. In hindsight, his having done so makes sense. For who wants his/her political laundry exposed to public view?
To the SCPR, Schulman's tie-breaking vote did not fit yours truly's perception of his small letter "d" politics, a core component of which, of course, is openness and transparency.
Schulman likely would answer that he did not want to see Dougherty embarrassed.
Now, a little over a year later (i.e. December 17, 2013 as contrasted to February 17, 2015) it seems to the SCPR that Schulman and his allies on council may have had something to hide.
The apparent - from a public perspective - the contest was between David Dougherty (Ward 7) and Frank Morris, III (Ward 9).
What the general public did not know in December, 2013, according to The Report's source, is that there was absolutely no way Schulman was going to abide Dougherty continuing on.
For public consumption, it appeared in the period preceding Dougherty's ouster, that Schulman, as council president, and the Ward 7 councilman, as council vice president (and leader of the Democrats on council) worked smoothly together on council's business.
But, the SCPR is told, that was all appearances.
The reality is, the source says, Schulman simply could not abide Dougherty as a council leader.
So where does he turn?
Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris, III.
As we all know, Frank Morris, III is not exactly a candidate for a presidential appointment to a diplomatic post a decade or two down the road when he has accumulated a personal fortune and national political notoriety.
Morris, at the time, seemingly was an acceptable if not desirable alternative to Dougherty as far as Schulman was concerned.
But not to all the Democratic councilpersons participating in the December 17, 2013 which, at the time, was termed by Schulman as being an "aspirational" meeting of council.
So with Dougherty out insofar as Schulman was concerned, who were the "we cannot support Frank Morris" councilpersons to turn to as an alternative?
Councilman Thomas West, that's who.
Hence the battle between West and Morris ensued.
In that battle (see links above and the videos contained therein), Schulman made a ruling on the "rules of council" which favored Morris (against the advice of Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio) and obviously therefore at the time in clear evidence that Schulman was a Morris supporter.
Accordingly, West "officially" became the anti-Morris rallying point which phenomenon stagnated council in moving forward for considerable time in January, 2014.
For West is as far from Morris as West is from East in terms of their respective diplomatic qualities.
The SCPR sees (as apparently a number of his council fellows do) Councilman West as also being as a matter of personality Councilman Smooth.
At this point in this blog we have come full circle.
Morris is now the person (given his lack of support of Schulman-favored council policy/action as cited above) that Schulman cannot abide as council vice present and leader of the Democrats on council.
Moreover, The Report is told that Councilwoman Chris Smith has lost favor with Schulman as 2nd vice president (assistant majority leader) because she too has shown signs of not taking orders from headquarters.
And so Schulman - apparently - ten (10) months in advance is allegedly marshaling his political allies in order to force yet another leader to the sidelines come December, 2015.
The SCPR likes Morris and his bluntness in calling things as he sees them and follows through with action.
While the SCPR has always understood that Schulman is well-liked by nearly all, if not all, of the members of Canton City Council; it had not dawned on The Report that in a "political back room sort of way" Schulman is much more of a factor in what happens or does not happen in terms of who leads council's legislative agenda from among the 12 other than Schulman councilpersons.
So who is, 10/11 months out from decision date for the 2016/2017 CCC leadership - as having the blessing of Santa Schulman - slated to become majority leader and assistant majority leader?
How about Ward 9 Councilman Edmond Mack and Ward 2 Councilman Thomas West, respectively?
That is what the SCPR is hearing.
As readers of The Report know, yours truly is enormously impressed with Mack.
- his political maturity that belies his age as evidenced in discussions with Ward 9 constituents in listening to them in not pressing forward with an unpopular Canton parks development issue,
- his thoroughness as a councilman witness his extraordinary work in developing a case for Cantonians to latch onto in determining whether or not to authorize the formation of a Charter commission; a goal that the SCPR supports
Unless a political independent files on or before May 4, 2015, Mack will be running unopposed in November.
So he will be free to run an all out campaign to get Canton voters to approve the formation of a 15 member commission.
And if he succeeds on the commission formation issue, as council vice president/majority leader, he will be in position - though not allowed to be a member of the commission itself "as a matter of law" - to push for the commission's recommendation being approved by voters which vote presumably will come before voters in November, 2016.
Therein likely lies an additional reason (the other being Morris' transgressions of not supporting downtown rehab projects that Schulman does) why President Schulman appears to be pushing for Mack to replace Morris as council vice president.
As for Councilwoman Chris Smith and her speculated Schulman approved replacement by Councilman Thomas Smooth err West?
If you are a liberal Democrat (i.e. Schulman), how could he replace a council minority member with a non-minority member?
The overall moral of this blog is that Canton city councilpersons need to be on Santa Schulman's "gift list" and not his "sh*t" list.
With President Schulman, it appears to mean everything whether he perceives a given councilperson as being "naughty or nice."
Remember, as council president, Allen Schulman has no vote unless council as a body is deadlocked.
How is that Schulman has so much "unofficial" sway on council?
Schulman is a highly skilled "inside the political beltway" politician who has a way of projecting as an "aw shucks, me?" persona about himself to the general public.
But, as the reported machinations on who is to lead council seem to reveal, the reality of Allen Schulman as the driving political force on council is something quite different than the public perception.
That being said, the SCPR sees Schulman as being a first-rate leader notwithstanding what appears to be his possessing a retributive aspect to his political personality.
The surfacing of this perceived take (retribution for disagreement) on Schulman is inconsistent with how Schulman handles himself from the president's chair.
However, the SCPR believes this blog's source to impeccably credible.
It appears that the lesson of the leadership jockeying reports, if true, is that Schluman cultivates and exercises political power "behind the scenes!"
And that is okay. Such is politics.
But the SCPR disapproves of any public official taking action to punish those who initiate and participate in vigorous debate on issues that come before a body such as Canton City Council.
Thoroughgoing discussion, disagreement and voting one's conscious as to what is best for Canton without political recrimination is the "mother's milk" of our democratic republic.
They may be other reasons for Morris' replacement but disagreeing with and voting contrary to the wishes of any other councilperson IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE REASON.