Tuesday, December 8, 2015


UPDATE:  7:40 AM

The Stark County Political Report has learned that at least one North Canton resident will be appearing before the North Canton Zoning Commission this coming Wednesday to weigh in on whether or not the commission should approve a zoning request for a cell tower to be erected on property owned by First Friends Church which is located near Montebello Estates in the northern part of Canton adjacent to the "within North Canton city limits location" of the proposed tower.

And she—though friendly to the allowance of the tower—will not be complying with North Canton law director Tim Fox's edict that her statement of support be done under oath.

She says that a far as she is concerned, her statement will be voice recorded, transcribed and thereby make part of the public record therefore making an "under oath factor" unnecessary.

The "under oath factor" became an issue as a consequence of statements by Law Director Fox in a local area report on the upcoming meeting to the effect that those wishing to address the commission will be asked to do so under oath and subject themselves to cross examination.

Some North Canton residents found cause for alarm in Fox's "under oath" requirement.  Even those who "have no dog" in this fight.

As the SCPR sees it, implied in Fox's statement is that any resident who makes a statement is subject to having the statement disregarded if not given under oath and objected to by legal counsel representing the tower applicant.

Here is exactly what Fox is reported to have said:

“We don’t want to inhibit anyone, we’re not going to prevent anyone from speaking."

“Our rationale is not to inhibit anyone, we just want to get it right the first time."

To some, Fox implied warning of sanction (the objection thing) fits within what the United States Supreme Court has defined as being a "chilling effect" on free expression, to wit;
... our overriding duty [is] to insulate all individuals from the "chilling effect" upon exercise of First Amendment freedoms ... .
(Walker v. City of Birmingham, 388 U.S. 307 (1967) citing Dombrowski v. Pfister, 380 U.S. 479 (1965)
It could be that Fox is correct in this instance that those who want their input to count in the final legal determination of whether or not the tower is allowed may be wise to make their input under oath.

And it could be that he has the best of intentions in looking out for the effectiveness of those who want to weigh-in on the matter.

BUT given his track record in being difficult with North Cantonians who want to their exercise rights under law for openness, transparency, coummunicativeness and accessibility, it reasonably appears that the tower testimony warning is just one more instance of Fox being in his heart of hearts an anti-democratic/republican-prone appointed public official who is following the marching orders of North Canton City Council.

He appears to be a top-down, arbitrary type who comes to government with a military background history and as a lawyer who is used to giving orders/dispensing "to be followed advice" and therefore does not abide the messiness of democratic/republican back and forth kindly.

In short, The Report sees Fox as an imperial type who does not do well in two-way communication.  Moreover, most of North Canton's council members demonstrate the same malady.

Accordingly, his disclaimers on not wanting to dampen citizen participation has a quality of "thou protestest too much!" about them and thereby betraying his true intent.

Here are what a number of North Canton citizens are saying about Fox's reported statements on citizen input in the upcoming Zoning Commission hearing, to wit: (excerpts)

... The last sentence of the article really made me laugh out loud.   Per Fox,  "Our rationale is not to inhibit anyone. - We just want to get it right the first time."  Wait,  hasn't the first time a[l]ready been around.  

... The story reports that Law Director Tim Fox is going to require residents speaking before the Planning Commission to swear an oath and face cross examination.

North Canton Law Director Tim Fox continues to rein supreme and torment the citizens who pay his salary and City Council bows to every pronouncement made by Mr. Fox. 

The actions of Law Director Fox will continue unabated. 

I guess the voters have spoken and they get what they deserve.
... It appears that those who wish to speak before the Panning Commission on Wednesday night, will be asked to swear an oath, and be subject to cross-examination.

I have no problem with the proposed cell phone tower, but these sure seem like bully tactics aimed at keeping people from talking. 

This is certainly not an example of open and honest government. North Canton's elected officials should be embarrassed at this, yet another anti-citizen move perpetrated by Law Director Fox.

Since when is a public speaks portion of a meeting subject to such activity?  Public speaks isn't an interrogation opportunity.  It's the outlet for the public to express concerns.

I'm off the record here but I wanted to be sure you saw this.  Council President Jeff Peters needs to step up and represent the residents and put his foot down and rein in the law director once and for all.  

And if he doesn't, you've got more material to keep moving him right to the top of the top 10 worst list.

As readers of the SCPR know, yours truly has been highly critical of the way North Canton City Council and council enabled Law Director Fox interact with North Canton citizens who question council and/or Fox and/or seek public records of the city.

The only way to correct the North Canton City Council attitude towards citizen activists for one or more of the sitting council persons to be defeated.

A valiant effort was made on November 3rd to do just that.

However, none of the candidate candidate committed to a change of culture on North Canton City Council was elected.

But they should not give up. 

In less than two years, the offending of basic democratic-republican government values seven sitting council members will once again be up for election.

Foltz (Ward 1), Peters (Ward 2), Werren (Ward 3), Fonte, (at-large) Cerreta, (at-large), Griffith (at large) and Kiesling (at-large) all need to be opposed by vigorous challenging candidates in 2017.

Whether or not the current flap is an instance of citizen harassment is open to question.

What is unquestioned is that the current North Canton City Council membership is hostile to critiquing citizen input.

Because voters are largely uninformed about the shenanigans of the likes of the current members of North Canton City Council, challengers need to double down beginning now on changing the knowledge and understanding base of the North Canton voting public.

Then and only then will challengers be in a position to win those election contests.

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