READER RESPONSE TO BLOG
Just a quick comment to disagree with your Monday blog. You criticized my husband, Chuck Osborne, for not taking advantage of the chance to thank North Canton Council for opening up the dialogue process between Council and citizens during Public Speaks.
The problem is he would have had to "thank them" for breaking their own rules; there is to be NO dialogue from the dais to the audience during Public Speaks.
If the Council truly wants to open the door to dialogue, it needs to CHANGE the rules so they apply to ALL CITIZENS. This was not a "new day dawning in North Canton." This was a selective breaking of the rules for any citizen except Chuck and some others in the "raucous citizen activist core."
His cynicism--that you criticize--is perhaps his showing his "'due diligent' citizen activism ...the key to making hopes and prayer into reality," no?
Thank you, Rita Palmer
It could be that relations between North Canton City Council and the citizen activist core (probably the most vibrant in all of Stark County) are improving.
No Stark County media has been as critical of North Canton government in terms of administration/council lack of receptiveness to citizen input as has been The Stark County Political Report.
Two of council's members (council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters and long time Councilwoman-at-Large Marcia Kiesling) have prominent places on the SCPR Worst Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials Top 10 List.
And the primary basis of the attribution of "worst" has been their "in your face" attitude towards any who critique the processes of North Canton government and sometimes even on the substance of North Canton policies.
But, perhaps, at least on Peters part, change may be in the wind. And being council president and how he handles himself is a tone setter for all of council.
Up until last Monday's meeting, Peters has been a "negative" tone setter example
At that meeting, the SCPR was astonished to witness the back and forth that occurred between council members and various administration officials and the "Public Speaks" participant North Canton citizens.
Had he wanted to, Peters could have put a stop to that with the rap of the president's gavel.
But he didn't and North Cantonians should be hopeful that "change is in the air."
But, apparently, there are those who are not hopeful.
Listen and watch citizen activist Chuck Osborne's consternation at the easy and free council/citizen dialogue that took place.
Osborne and the SCPR have a different take on the night's interaction.
To Osborne, the change from the "rules are the rules" in terms of previous enforced "n o dialogue allowed between a Public Speaks participant and North Canton officialdom" is mind boggling (not Osborne's words, but the SCPR's interpretation) and therefore, the SCPR infers, to be criticized.
The Report agrees with Osborne that the "apparent" turnabout is confusing.
Let as trust that it is for real.
Does Osborne not welcome such a change, if last Monday's meeting was an indication of such?
What a missed opportunity on his part, no?
How about a: "Thank you President Peters, Mayor Held and council for opening up the process."
Monday's—September, 12, 2016—was presided over in a much, much, much different manner by President Peters than previously for most in not all of his time of being president of council.
But again, an unwelcome change?
Not at all!
The SCPR has taken the media lead in criticizing North Canton council for stifling dialogue with the city's activist citizens in the Public Speaks forum.
These citizens have operated as "a check and balance" on council and in doing so have done a terrific service to North Cantonians to have their government be accountable.
The "apparent" shift in Peters' attitude might lead to a constructive exchange of points of view which bring productive results to government.
In the past, council under Peters' leadership has only given ground to and listened to the activists grudgingly.
An example of the "grudgingly" was council adopting Osborne's legislative initiative of November, 2012 (passed 72% to 28% by North Canton voters, but invalidated in a court challenge) denying health care premium subsidy to part-time council members who have no alternative for health care coverage.
In the mix of council adopting Osborne's initiative, North Canton government officials (elected and unelected) taunted the citizen-activists about having lost in court on that issue and other issues that have been litigated over recent years.
How immature, no?
Maybe, just maybe the likes of Peters, Kiesling, Warren and Law Director Tim Fox are starting to gain some political maturity?
Only time will tell, but all of us who want civil, open, respectful and "I am listening to you" communication between the governed and the governors in Stark County are hopeful that "a turning of the page" is occurring North Canton.
An indicator of whether or not "real" change is taking place might come in the context of the consideration of council of what to do about North Canton Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) legislation.
An example of North Canton Council hearing its citizens and moving to correct "an error in judgment" in what many, including the mayor of North Canton (Held), believes to have occurred at
the hand of former economic development director/housing officer Eric Bowles.
Correcting the error may subject North Canton to a lawsuit, but The Report believes that failing negotiations between the beneficiary (North Ridge Place, LTD) and the city (note: North Canton schools stand to lose nearly $900,000 over the next 11 years on account of the Bowles' action).
Mayor Held tells the SCPR that he agrees with Citizen Glenn Saylor's overall assessment (i.e. that North Canton should not abide the North Ridge Place abatement) as presented at last Monday's meeting.
Watch and listen:
The Report thinks that council/citizen relationships pell-melled into a dramatic nosedive when council hired former councilman Tim Fox (Republican, Ward 3) as the city's law director back in September, 2012.
It is hard to know why North Canton council chose to become hostile to anyone who came to council to take exception to the actions of council.
Was it because Fox (a former chief master sergeant in the United States Air Force, [the "enlisted ranks" equivalent to the highest level commissioned officer ranks]) at his initiative was out to prove what a tough guy he is, having read the "tea leaves" on the temperament of a majority of council members?
Or was it because "being tough" on anyone who questioned North Canton Council was an unwritten understanding between council (if true, likely communicated by personnel committee chair at the time Daniel "Jeff" Peters) that council expected him to rein-in North Cantons raucous citizen activist core?
That was the approach that Fox took with the SCPR as The Report sought to interview him at the conclusion of his very first meeting after being appointed law director.
As everybody who reads the SCPR on a regular basis knows, this blog is by far the most reliable Stark County media that citizens can rely upon to get to "the truth of the matter" on governance and/or political issues.
Even before the Fox's "I'm a tough guy, Martin, Councilperson Marcia Kiesling (councilwoman-at-large) had served up a "I'm a tough gal, Martin" initiative.
A clear messaging of "I am a really insecure government official," no?
That's how the SCPR always takes that kind of stuff.
From finesse attempts to bullying maneuvers, the SCPR has been the object of many different endeavors on the part of quite a number of Stark County government officials and/or political figures to blunt the candor of this blog.
This manipulation/bullhying phenomenon runs the whole way up the political chain to the national level of politics as exemplified by:
- the Trump campaign's refusing to credential critical media outlets (e.g. the Washington Post), and
- the Clinton campaign going seemingly forever in having press conferences.
But that does not mean that citizen activists get a blank check from the SCPR.
From time-to-time, The Report will get into the excesses of these well-meaning but perhaps have become misdirected folks.
Why would anybody criticize—even impliedly—a refashioning of the way North Canton government interacts with its citizens?
Skepticism is understandable.
But Osborne's seeming cynicism is something else.
A model example of how a citizen ought to interact with government is exemplified by former council president now everyday citizen Daryl Revoldt, to wit:
North Canton's citizens activists provide an invaluable service to the North Canton public and would be well advised to adopt the Revoldt way of dealing with North Canton government.
These good folks have much more to do in keeping the pressure on for North Canton government to be "of the people, by the people and for the people" in both democratic-republican processes and in promoting the substantive general welfare of North Cantonians.
We should all hope and pray that a new day in dawning in North Canton and that going forward citizen participation in the peoples' government will be welcome with wide open arms.
But "due diligent" citizen activism is the key to making hopes and prayer into reality.