A Uncomfortable Opening
Canton Parks & Recreation Meeting
April 13, 2016?
Ida Mae Ross-Freeman
"Good Ole Boys"
Who would have thought it?
Canton Parks and Recreation Department (CP&R) reviewing whether or not to replace its director (presently Healy administration holdover Derek Gordon) would become the proverbial "can of worms."
Some things are best left unopened.
For one might find that the upon a thing or matter being opened, it may prove to be infested with worms and of course nobody likes to have deal with worms.
The CP&R directorship going forward may be one of those matters.
It had to be awkward yesterday as newly appointed CP&R commissioners Sam Sliman and Mike Hanke (appointed by newly elected—November, 2015, "independent" mayor Thomas M. Bernabei—along with holdover commissioner Andy Black sat down at the meeting table with Director Gordon with the first item of business being: "Parks and Recreation Director Job Posting Review."
Look at this segment of the Canton Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners meeting opening in which Gordon makes the point that he will not be in that he is going to be an applicant to succeed himself be part of the process of the board of commissioners deliberation/consideration of who will be the director of the newly reorganized Canton Parks and Recreation Department.
Recently, Canton City Council recognized Gordon, Sliman and J.R. Rinaldi (likely to be a candidate to succeed Gordon as director) for their collective successful effort to get funding in place for the merger of the Canton Parks Commission and the Canton Joint Recreation District (CJRD) which obviously take place not later than December 31, 2016 because on that date the independent funding source for the CJRD will expire.
Rinaldi is a member of and vice president of the Canton City Schools Board of Education (CCS-BOE).
And, he is very close-in with the Bernabei administration.
Notwithstanding Canton City Council including Gordon in its recognition of the passage on March 15, 2016 of the funding for the CP&R, the SCPR believes that there are those in key Canton political power positions who blame Gordon's lackluster approach for the defeat of the original issue back in November, 2015.
But there is recognition that the wording of the ballot language may have been to blame also.
Though Sliman and Gordon were included in the council recognition, it appears to be widely believed among Canton officialdom that Rinaldi was the heart and soul of the successful November effort on the levy.
The SCPR thinks that "behind the scenes," there will be a Battle Royale as to who becomes the first director of the newly reorganized Canton Parks and Recreation Department.
The Report has a very supportive/glowing e-mail from a sitting member of Canton City Council that will be published in a later part of the planned multi-part series.
Undoubtedly, many, if not most, perhaps all of Canton's councilpersons would be pleased to have Gordon selected.
Competition between Gordon and Rinaldi might provide an opportunity for a "compromise" candidate being selected as director.
A local version of the Republican National Committee selection of a presidential candidate?
Added spice to yesterday's meeting was the presence of the members of the fading CJRD. The CJRD held a special meeting immediately on the conclusion of the Canton Parks and Recreation Commission meeting.
In the course the the CP&R commission meeting, various CJRD members participated in a dialogue with CP&R members on various topics.
One of the more controversial inputs came from Ida Mae Ross-Freeman (a former CCS-BOE member who was defeated for reelection in November, 2015).
The Report's take on Ross-Freeman as at least insinuating if not outright accusing Black, Hanke and Sliman of acting as elitists in setting up the format for selecting the new CP&R director.
Take a look for yourself:
There is much more to come on The Stark County Political Report as the process to select a director gets going and winds down to a conclusion.
Here are a couple of files provided by the Canton Parks and Recreation Department which outlines what the qualifications are for being director:
And more details on the expectations of a director and the process:
The Report will be sharing video in future parts of this multi-part which provides the context to Ross-Freeman's comments as well as revealing input by other CJRD board members.
The merger of the Canton Parks Department with with Canton Joint Recreation District was conceived and birthed in pain, anguish and controversy and it appears from yesterday's meeting now to be experiencing growing up pains.
But for opening up a reassessment of who is to be the director of the merged entity going forward, it might not have been open to public consumption the travail that continues.
The Report thinks that whomever came up with the idea of opening up the directorship question might now be thinking: "OMG, we opened a can worms!"