UPDATE: 07:45 AM
"ENCORE" SCPR VIDEO
NORTH CANTON LAW DIRECTOR
A refrain that The Stark County Political Report keeps hearing from various councilpersons across Stark County is that pretty much "law directors are to be seen and not heard."
Especially this is the case in localities where a law director is appointed by city council as is done in North Canton.
Being "elected" officials which Tim Fox is not, the likes of Alliance's Jennifer Arnold, Canton's Joe Martuccio and Massillon's Perry Sergios are going to make sure they are heard inasmuch as they have to justify their reelection.
But even they "take-a-back-seat" to council during council's public meetings.
One North Canton activists notes that on reviewing North Canton council's meeting transcripts, it is apparent that Fox is a lead vocal participant in North Canton City Council meetings.
The Stark County Political Report suspects that when North Canton City Council hired Tim Fox as law director (September, 2012) thus plucking from his place on council his having defeated the-then incumbent and Republican councilman Jeff Davies (Ward 3) in the November, 2011 general election that there was an understanding (perhaps of the "wink and nod" variety) that Fox would be "the heavy" for council in whipping a very active community activist corps into line.
One of if not the lead proponent for hiring Fox, it appears to the SCPR, was Ward 2 councilman Jeff Peters who has succeeded to presidency of council with pre-the-resignation of long time Councilman Jon Snyder in June, 2014 over a flap about health care coverage. His resignation was preceded weeks earlier by his stepping down as council president.
An irony in Snyder's resignation was his reliance on a Fox interpretation of law that a health care coverage ordinance (passed at over 70% voter approval rating in November, 2012) prohibiting family coverage of part-time city employees (which, of course, includes councilpersons) at North Canton government expense.
If Snyder was "bullish for the Fox hire," then the civic activists would likely think that it was a case of "poetic justice" that he got "hoisted by the petard" of being for Fox's appointment as law director.
Also benefiting from the Fox interpretation of law on the validity of the health care ordinance were Councilpersons Peters, Kiesling and Werren.
They like Snyder retreated quickly in the face of public heat on the issue and took themselves off North Canton government provided health care and returned any monetary benefits they received as a consequence receiving such benefit.
If anything, the public flap over the health care benefits cemented what the SCPR thinks is "an unholy alliance" between at least of majority of North Canton City Council and Fox from the date council decided to hire him as law director.
From then on, it appears that no matter what advice Fox gave was, for at least the controlling majority on council, as if Fox was "the oracle of God Almighty!"
Moreover, from the get-go of his ascension to the law directorship, it is the SCPR's take that Fox embraced and fostered "the tough guy" image vis-a-vis the citizen activists with the seemingly admiring approval from most if not all of North Canton's councilpersons.
And to its political disgrace, council has done little if anything to rein Fox in and thus the graphic in today's blog depicting Fox as hiding behind the figurative skirt of North Canton City Council.
As written earlier this week, there was an eruption of a new furor by a group of citizens (mainly a group that goes by the name of Concerned Citizens of North Canton - PAC).
- Council being poised to eliminate an appeal to council of Zoning Board of Appeals decisions which North Canton citizens may wish to challenge, and
- A rewrite of the city's public records policy,
- (deficiently, in the opinion of the CCNC insofar as Fox would be the sole decider of whether or not a citizen allowed access to a requested public record)
But the SCPR thinks that council's move may well have been "a mere strategic retreat" to regroup forces under Fox's apparent "one-man-control" North Canton government in order "to live to fight - with its citizens - another day."
North Canton's council is by far the most belligerent of all of Stark County's major cities' councils vis-a-vis its citizenry.
Except, that is, when someone appears at the Public Speaks lectern to fawn over a councilperson or a council action.
So "the beat goes on" with Fox battling the activists (thereby protecting his patrons on council) who merely desire to have the fullest extent of democratic-republican values instituted in North Canton.
The Report has written quite a few blogs chronicling and detailing the adverse relationship that North Canton Council has empowered in unfurling a full-skirt of the largest dimension to shield Fox from citizen accountability.
Video from November 27, 2012 Meeting.
The only solution the SCPR sees as remedying the seeming "unholy alliance" between council and the law director is for challengers to surface before the August 8th deadline to challenge each and every councilperson.
The Report is projecting that CCNC leader Jamie McCleaster will win a council-at-large seat in November likely putting Dan Griffith on the sidelines. Griffith is friends with Stark County auditor and leading Stark County Republican Alan Harold who now and then defends Griffith to the SCPR.
The Report has more respect for Harold's candor than many Stark County elected officials, but his "hanging on for Griffith" is a puzzlement.
There is a report out there that North Canton Chamber of Commerce director Doug Lane is considering a run for Ward 3 councilman and one time councilman Chuck Osborne has taken out petitions for Ward 3.
The Report is told that Lane has given some consideration to running for mayor against David Held.
For the SCPR's part if Lane runs for anything it should be against Held.
On the surface Held seems like a hip politician.
But on close examination, it is the SCPR's analysis that Held is a "spit and polish" variety politician that does very well with the rhetoric but is largely ineffective as a mayor. Moreover, if you gain favor with him (e.g. former administrator E.E. Wise, Jr. and now Tim Fox) he, the SCPR thinks, will "go to the wall" to protect.
Lane has the attention of and respect of North Cantonians and therefore would be a realistic threat to Held's continuation as mayor.
Wholesale changes need to be made in North Canton government by the Dogwood tree city's voters if North Cantonians are to enjoy fundamental democratic-republican values.
Each and every North Canton voter needs to project herself/himself into the role of taking exception to the likes of Fox and wanting an civic environment in which he/she is respected and heard and not cast aside as a troublemaker.
Council's protective skirt needs to be ripped asunder and thereby put Director Fox out there in the line of political fire when he tramples on the honoring of core democratic-republican values.
At the beginning of his tenure as law director, Fox made a big gratuitous production out of telling yours truly how tough he is.
Undoubtedly, he has read the blogs of the SCPR going back seven years plus now and knows that yours truly is a non-nonsense "ask the tough questions" journalist who is not "a respecter of 'politically powerful' persons just because they hold political power.
Interesting the self-described tough guy is a coward when it comes to answering The Report's questions.
- a former life (the military) he had rank (being a top non-commissioned officer ranking) to order that this or that thing be done,
- professional life he has the power of a legal education with which to "cow down" non-lawyers with, and
- North Canton government he has had "the skirt of council" to hide behind,
Back in mid-March, State of Ohio Republican auditor Dave Yost announced his office was adding to the arsenal of Ohio citizens seeking public records from Ohio government folks with attitudes like Fox by providing his office's services in brokering a resolution of stand offs on whether or not records are public and therefore obtainable by Ohio's public.
Yost's initiative had to be discomforting to Fox and members of North Canton City Council and may account for the tabling of the move by council to pass an ordinance to make Fox the final North Canton authority on whether or not a record is a public record.
Now there is a new "fly in the ointment."
Within the past few days, news has broken that the Ohio House of Representatives has in its proposed amendment of Ohio's budget bill (which the SCPR thinks is a violation of Ohio's Constitution mandating that legislation be limited to "as single subject) inserted language to take away Yost authority to assist citizens to obtain what is ours, that is to say: public records.
If this attempt is successful, one would think that a guy like Fox and probably the antagonistic to the public council members would see such as being a validation of his being a tough guy vis-a-vis the North Canton public.
Pure and simple, it isn't!
Like the "Wizard of Oz," the SCPR thinks he stands behind a political and governmental curtain (err skirt).
It is high time the curtain (err skirt) be ripped away and for North Canton council make the unelected Fox be directly accountable to the public for the decisions he makes in his obvious dominant role in setting public policy.
Failing that, there needs to be wholesale changes on North Canton City Council come November!