THIRD IN A SERIES: DEMOCRACY TAKES A HIT IN NORTH CANTON
WILL NORTH CANTON'S POOL OPEN ON WEDNESDAY?
Former North Canton Elected Official
(Mayor, president of council and member of council)
Implementation of Community Reinvestment Area Ordinance
As Stark County Political Report readers know, North Canton City Council (NCCS) has the distinction, in The Report's view, of being Stark County's worst legislative body.
Two of its members, President Daniel Jeff" Peters and the longest serving council person Marcia Kiesling, occupy two of ten spots on the SCPR's "Worst 10 Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials.
Were it not just a bit over-the-top, it seems that Councilwoman Stephanie Werren deserves to be on the list too.
Werren is the director of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's (CRCC) Leadership Stark County which has the mission to develop quality leadership for the county.
Leadership Stark County has a unit devoted to enhancing the leadership qualities of those who already serve in Stark County political subdivision government or who have aspirations to be a part of Stark County government.
From what the SCPR has seen in her work as a councilperson and The Report's opinion of that work, it is hard to believe that the folks at the CRCC thinks she is a good example to lead Leadership Stark County.
The Report sees the CRCC as the political counterweight to organized labor. Yours truly sees the CRCC as basically being a Republican Party support group whereas unions appear to be the captive of Democratic Party candidates and officials.
Werren is the wife of Canton Municipal Court judge Curtis Werren and both she and Curtis (both Republicans) have been the beneficiaries of political appointments. Judge Werren received two Governor John Kasich appointments because he was unable to retain office when appointed a judge to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas in the face of a challenge by political neophyte Chryssa Hartnett.
The Report's singling out of Peters and Kiesling on being among Stark County's worst political/governmental leaders is based on a determination that they in a representative sort of way demonstrate hostility to "democratic/republican" values of:
- transparency, and the like
And last Monday night's council meeting provides more evidence that the assessment is well-founded.
Former "elected" North Canton official (councilman, president of council and mayor) Daryl Revoldt made an appearance at the meeting and during the "public speaks" portion of the meeting castigated council for its handling of the Community Reinvestment Areas legislation in what he alleges has been in an illegal fashion.
The Report is told (not by Revoldt) that after meeting Councilwoman Kiesling upbraided Revoldt for his comments.
Kiesling who admits to having received campaign contributions from two of the commercial beneficiaries of North Canton CRA "years ago" but nonetheless sees no "conflict in interest" in pressing hard, along with Ward 3 councilwoman Stephanie Werren, for an expansion of the CRA to include properties eligible for property tax abatement city wide (including properties planned by the commercial developers) which of course likely would mean a major revenue loss to North Canton City Schools and may force the schools to ask North Cantonians for a property tax increase sooner than later.
On Monday, after Revoldt spoke, council tabled the CRA expansion legislation.
In theory, the legislation promoting councilpersons (Peters, Kiesling, Griffith and Werren) say that the expansion will encourage owners of housing in North Canton neighborhoods built in the World War II era to make substantial capital improvement which on Stark County auditor periodic reassessments cause the taxable value to increase and therefore on the expiration of the abatement term (for whatever number of years council decides on, which term is not yet been agreed upon) will, long term, benefit the the NCCS.
As a practical matter, the parts of North Canton's housing stock that needs improvement and upgrade are such the ownership most likely lacks the capital resources to do things like add garages, bathrooms and other basic amenities that prospective buyers would require to consider purchasing for use as owner-occupied housing.
Moreover, many of these units are rental properties. What motive would landlords of these properties inspire them to make such improvements?
Most of us see landlords as folks who want to put minimal upkeep into their properties so as to keep the units rentable and income producing.
Are they going to make major capital improvements in the tens of thousands of dollars for perhaps a thousand dollars a year for 12 years of tax abatements?
Financially savvy people see such thinking, as the SCPR thinks is apparently being what's going on with many of North Canton's councilpersons, as being unadulterated fantasy.
Now, getting back to Revoldt.
Its been about six years since Revoldt was on council as council president and in the assessment of the SCPR NCCS has been in a downward spiral ever since.
Since August 2014, Revoldt has been a top official at Stark State College, to wit:
And look at the rest of this Stark County leader's resume.
The SCPR cannot not resist "a play on words," hence the blog headline: Revoldt inspires a Revolt in Government "Post-Revoldt" North Canton.
It is obvious that Daryl Revoldt is no political revolutionary.
He is about as establishment as one can get.
An outside of North Canton former Stark County education official tells the SCPR that he holds Revoldt in high esteem and predicts that the tabled legislation will never see the light of day again.
Revoldt apparently he cannot abide the deterioration of North Canton government and council processes since he left in 2010.
There have been a number of council actions since Revoldt departed that boggle the mind.
For those readers who regularly take in SCPR blogs, the litany is well known.
And they continue to accumulate.
The Report thinks that Law Director Tim Fox in one fashion or another may well be "the man behind the curtain" calling the shots as legal guidance for Kiesling, Warren to March on in their quest. While they appear to be the primary proponents of the CRA expansion, President Peters and Councilman Dan Griffith talk as if they are pretty much in concord with them.
If Revoldt is correct in asserting that NCCC has acted illegally in administering the CRA program, it is hard to imagine that Fox has not had a look at the legislation and the manner in which it is administered and made it be known internally that he thinks the legislation is legal in substance and as implemented.
Revoldt says that for council to leave to one unelected administrative person (Housing Director and Economical Development Eric Bowles) the right to decide which property owners get abatements and which do not is unbelievable. He says that hundreds of thousands of dollars in abatements are granted without North City Council having a say in the matter.
Take a look at the following video of his comments at last Monday's meeting on the CRA (the video is an excerpt from the video of the entire meeting taken by North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne which can be seen in its entire it at this LINK)
Osborne, of course, an out and out nemesis to most if not all North Canton's councilpersons, has sent a letter to Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero challenging the implementation of North Canton's CRA legislation, to wit:
Recently, the SCPR reported on a Ward 2 (Peters) and Ward 3 (Warren) sponsored at Dogwood Shelter community meeting (LINK).
The Report thinks that there were about 90 folks (including North Canton "public" officials) at the meeting.
Citizen Osborne asked Director Fox (who himself was at the meeting in sort of a background mode) for a copy of the "sign-in" sheet of those who attended the meeting.
Here is Fox's response:
Fox may or may not be correct in his interpretation of the law.
Even if Fox were to be validated court ruling(s), it is downright silly for him to refuse to authorize the release the list.
For Mayor David Held to abide such silliness is inexcusable and he and council should direct Fox to send Osborne and any other citizen who want a copy of the listing to send it yesterday!
This is exactly the kind of ticky tacky administration of government that turns citizens off.
North Canton elected officials (mostly city council and the council enabled law director) should collectively hold their heads down in shame for the manner (i.e. anti-democratic-republican consistent principles of conduct)in which they do the peoples' business!
Here we are at the end of the blog and no mention has been made of the debacle that is underway in the rehabbing prof city's pool (built in 1973) located at Dogwood Park.
Last week the SCPR stopped by the pool and snapped this picture.
Yes, indeed the pool was empty. Earlier in the week last week the pool had developed a leak and had to be drained.
The Report is told that it takes a full day to refill the pool.
In addition to electrical problems that has being instrumental in the pool rehab not passing Stark County and State of Ohio inspection.o
The Report is told that North Canton did not get required city permits nor have inspections conducted over the months of the rebuild of the pool at a cost of upwards of $1 million (in the total sense of costs; not just the pool liner itself which cost $850,000) which, if true, is an outrage in terms of government setting the example for citizens who are required to comply with legal requirements for their construction projects.
In addition to the liner costs, there will be welding costs, electrical system repair costs and who knows what else. When asked last night what the final bill might be, Mayor David Held refused to speculate.
A source does tell the SCPR that the pool has been (about 500,000 gallons per filling) refilled "sort of."
Yes, sort of!
The source says that after refilling the pool it has to be lowered a foot or so to create space for some welding that needs to be done.
The Report also has information to the effect that the Stark County and State of Ohio inspections are to take place either today or Tuesday.
Mayor Held says that he has high hopes that the pool originally scheduled to open on Memorial Day (May 30th) will open this coming Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
A silver lining is the delay in the pool opening, Held says, is that the pool is much safer than it has ever been that the liner and other equipment is "state of the art."
Held was candid with the SCPR is saying that he is dissatisfied with the management of the pool project by North Canton city employee Jim Davis who has been North Canton's Utilities and Service Director since May/June, 2012. (LINK)
Held in his conversation last evening with The Report also was highly critical of the pool rehab contractor performance.
However, he praised Don Walker (North Canton electrical inspector, LINK) and the city's chief building official (Rito Alvarez) for holding their ground and not allowing the pool to open until they deemed it to be safe.
At the Ward 2 and 3 Community Meeting, Peters, Warren and Kiesling were defensive and combative with many of the citizens asking provocative, probing questions.
Clearly, North Canton's council is increasingly a council under siege at the hand of its constituency.
Council members have nobody to blame but themselves.
They have fostered the development of North Canton government culture which communicates a "us versus them" for any citizen who dares question the actions of themselves and leading city administrators.