Traditionally, American political campaigns do not begin in earnest until after Labor Day in any given election year.
For a campaign to take on a heated nature before Labor Day is probably an indication that by the time the November general election day rolls around, things will get quite nasty and ugly.
It appears to the SCPR that in the 2015 North Canton council at large race and in Ward 3, ugliness has already set in and the initiator is none other than council president Daniel Jeff Peters via his Facebook page.
Now how is that for mature political leadership one normally expects from the leader of the entire council?
Why are the aforementioned contests on a track into ugliness and nastiness?
Answer: If the contests result in the election of Jamie McCleaster and/or Chuck Osborne, then it is likely that "a battle royale" will ensue of whether or not Tim Fox (an appointee of council) will remain law director of North Canton.
It will take four votes on council to unseat Fox, and one can be sure that either McCleaster and/or Osborne will work from day one in office to find a way to cobble together four anti-Fox votes.
Although Mayor David Held has told the SCPR that Fox (who has fought and fought and fought some more with a core of citizens over a variety of issues [mostly access to North Canton public records) "must shape up or ship out," The Report does not think council as presently constituted will ever, ever, ever dismiss Fox as law director.
And Mayor Held himself has no charter (North Canton is a charter city) authority to dismiss Fox.
Fox, the SCPR thinks, has overtly injected himself into the campaign(s).
He recently put up a webpage (quickly taken down on the insistence of Mayor David Held) in which it appears he is holding a number of citizens up to the North Canton voting public as troublemakers for simply exercising their lawful (statutory, case law and U.S./Ohio Constitution) right to seek redress of their grievances at the hand of The Dogwood City government.
Even observers outside the target group see Fox's webpage as having possibly been a use of taxpayer dollars (the expense of maintaining the city's website) to advance the campaigns of incumbent council members who are solidly behind Fox.
Recently, North Canton City Council president Daniel Jeffrey Peters has taken to a Facebook page to attack some the subjects of Fox's actions and one of the subjects thinks that Fox had a hand in putting the page together,
The main Peters' target is Ward 2 resident Miriam Baughman who apparently triggered Peters' ugly Facebook outburst in having a letter to the editor published in the Canton Repository, to wit:
And here is Peters' response:
Who is using the provocative, personal attack invective?
From Peters statement:
The Report doubts that.
What likely happened is that McCleaster and other North Cantonians if not political/government observers across Stark County wondered whether or not there was a criminal law violation in Peters, Kiesling, Werren and Snyder continuing to take the health care insurance benefits AFTER the citizens voted not to allow such.
When Judge Haas granted declared the citizen voted for ordinance invalid, the thinking is that by virtue of the decision there was no criminal violation.
One observer told yours truly he thought Haas' main motivation in issuing the ruling that he did, was to protect a fellow judge from the possibility political embarrassment in possibly having his wife (Councilwoman Stephanie Werren) subject to a prosecutor's inquiry - if the decision had gone the other way - of whether or not any of Ohio's criminal laws broken in her and the other North Council council members having received the benefits.
The Report does not buy that theory.
The recipient councilpersons continued to take the benefits under the advice and counsel of Law Director Tim Fox and who believes any prosecutor would undertake any such analysis under such circumstances?
To repeat, the SCPR does not think so.
In addition to what The Report thinks was a misrepresentation of what McCleaster said, Peters takes big time license with Baughman's statement, to wit:
- "Sometimes something legally right can be morally wrong,"
- "I am being called 'Morally bankrupt' by Miriam Baughman."
Baughman doesn't even mention Peters name in the operative sentence.
On Peters interpretation of what he alleges McCleaster said and his characterization of Baughman's legality/morality statement, The Report believes Peters has a credibility problem.
The Report is told that Peters has made factual error with respect to allegations of involvement of Osborne in the Concerned Citizens of North Canton.
Miriam Baughman says she doesn't know where Peters gets his "we were the best of friends-esque" statement.
Years and years ago, Baughman says, there was some inter family involvement between Peters and the Baughman family.
Emotion saturates Peters' statement.
The Report thinks emotional saturation (e.g. "I was personal friends with Baughman" therefore her letter is "heartbreaking) is a dissembling attempt by Peters to get folks off the anti-democratic tone of North Canton City Council (including himself) and onto emotional-laden drivel.
Politicians are wont to do this sort of thing and it appears that Peters is trying to ramp up his skills.
Yours truly has seen any number of them try to mask their political calculating mode of being with maudlin talk.
How unbecoming of a city council president, no?
If Peters had a genuine democratic-republican spirit about him, he would honor Baughman, McCleaster and Osborne for being interested enough in the quality of North Canton government even if he disagrees with them on given approaches they take and/or the substance of this or that policy or program council implements in North Canton.
Like so many Stark County political and governmental figures, Peters is showing he way too thin skinned to be a member of council let alone be city council president.
While he says "I also am aware as a public official I am fair game for any type of criticism ..."
Is he really aware?
The tone and language of his response indicates otherwise.
It is more like that the council president of who thinks he is immune from scrutiny and critique for a city that he in his imperial wisdom designates in be a "great city" and if that is not enough he terms his city council colleagues thusly:
This group of elected officials that I work with on a daily basis are good people that truly care about our city and want only the best for the community in which we live and raise our children..It is not Peters' right to conclude for the citizens of the city "once and evermore" that North Canton is a great city.
It is not Peters' right to conclude for the North Canton general public once and evermore that in the sense of being effective governors that his colleagues "are good people that truly care about" North Canton and by implication McCleaster, Osborne and Baughman do not.
As for his claim: "here is the whole story as it pertains to me," he couldn't be further from the truth as far as the SCPR is concerned.
There is a whole lot of background material NOT included in his self-serving missive.
He never, ever mentions the name Tim Fox who The Report thinks Peters' was the moving force in his initial hire back in September, 2012.
Fox, the man who as law director issued an opinion in November, 2013 (a year after 72% of voting North Cantonians voted in November, 2012 to deny Peters et al healthcare coverage) upon which Peters, Kiesling, Werren and Snyder (since resigned from council) relied in keeping coverage well after the people of North Canton spoke in the negative.
Fox, the man as law director who refused to release the opinion to the general public and as far as the SCPR Peters, Kiesling, Werren and Snyder did nothing (they as council members were the client who could have waive the attorney client privilege that Fox was hiding behind) to get the opinion out to the tax paying North Canton public.
Mayor David Held is the person who finally, finally, finally after much delay released the letter in February, 2014. (LINK)
Fox, the man as law director who has refused many times to release what are clearly public records to citizen requesters McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne.
Fox, the man who order at public expense the publication of a webpage clearly designed to put McCleaster, Baughman and Osborne in a bad light.
But let the SCPR hasten to add.
Tim Fox is doing exactly North Canton City Council commissioned to do when he stepped down as Ward 3 councilman to become law director.
Voters of North Canton need to be very clear that North Canton City Council is responsible for the turmoil that now exists between North Canton government and citizens simply doing what they are entitled to due under the law.
Rather than write his self-serving statement like that included in this blog, let Peters sit down with yours truly and the SCPR camera and answer The Report's questions.
Mayor Held has frequently done so. He regularly answers The Report's questions: "no holds barred."
Yours truly would love it. But The Report thinks that Peters' does not have the political gonads to go on the SCPR camera in a "no holds barred" interview.
He holes up in the social media with all his "I want to be your friend" types who reassure him about his greatness, his colleagues greatness and North Canton city government's greatness, but he can't handle it when out in the public square he gets asked some tough questions.
Prove me wrong, Daniel "Jeff" Peters!
It is almost certain that there are going to be some ugly, nasty North Canton City Council races from now through November and it is looking very likely that North Canton City Council president Daniel Jeffrey Peters aspires to be a star performer of ugliness and nastiness.
When the SCPR made Peters the #7 worst Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Official List (LINK), it was more in a representational capacity than his personal conduct.
But with his July 30th Facebook letter being published by him serving as evidence of his political baseness, perhaps; in the new list that will be coming out before long, he will skyrocket towards the top.
The Report thinks in responding the way he did to Baughman's letter (note: he signs off as council president), he dishonors the public trust that the voters of Ward 2 and his fellow council members have placed in him as the top leader on council.
He needs to apologize for his unwarranted personal attack on Baughman, McCleaster and Osborne and his effort to make out that it was he who Baughman personally attacked. But that likely will happen when Hell freezes over.
Tim Fox would not name the person who told him to put the disgusting webpage (see above) up on the North Canton government website paid for by North Canton taxpayers including, of course, Baughman, McCleaster and Osborne.
From the tone of his response to Baughman's letter to the editor, could it be that Peters is the unnamed person the cowardly Fox has refused to identify?
In any event, look for Peters to be the point man with his bag of ugliness and nastiness at the ready as the North Canton council campaigns unfold.