Highly respected North Canton civic activist Miriam Baughman respectfully declined an invitation issued via text message to her by city council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters for her and fellow activist Melanie Roll, also well regarded in the larger North Canton community, to meet with him and Law Director Tim Fox so they could disabuse them of their being misinformed about council's activity on existing Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA) legislation in terms of reworking the CRA.
Baughman said she and Roll appreciated the overture but wanted to pursue an independent (the SCPR's characterization) investigation which The Report takes by implication to include resources other than Peters and Fox.
Here is the exact language of Peters' response:
I am very disappointed to hear this.
What would you have me conclude from this response?
Dou feel that the adversarial environment is a benefit to our community?
I am stunned, but will honor your position, however misguided it is.
Take care. Jeff
There was nothing adversarial about the Baughman/Roll response.
It appears that when a citizen does not respond in the manner in which Peters thinks they ought to, he takes it as a personal affront and takes up negative language like:
- the implied "not beneficial to our community," and
Chuck Osborne does get disrespectful of North Canton officials.
But Baughman and Roll do not.
Notwithstanding that Osborne in the opinion of the SCPR gets out-of-line on occasion, such is part of the territory for a government official and mature/skilled leaders develop effective ways to deal with such and certainly do not go on personal vendetta campaign against a citizen like The Report thinks Peters has and continues to do with Osborne.
The Report is not optimistic that council will censure Peters like it ought to on the Osborne thing alone.
Moreover, even with the likes of Baughman and Roll who are not in the slightest belligerent with North Canton officials including Peters, council seems to have a besieged mentality and, if anything, are likely to endorse Peters' over-the-top relationship with any North Canton citizen who dares question the actions of council.
The Report thinks that Peters' and at least Councilpersons Stephanie Werren and Marcia Kiesling view analytical/critical public interaction with council with hostility.
At least when former Alliance City Council president got censured by council on June 25, 2015, it was not for getting ugly with an Alliance citizen.
He had a disagreement with council on whether or not he could in good conscience sign off as council president on a piece of legislation passed by council.
And that was not the only censure of Okey by the Alliance City Council.
On June 2, 2014, Okey, for his conduct as council president, was censured for insisting on going through a roll call vote on all legislation voted upon by Alliance council that evening. A practice contrary to how Okey's predecessor functioned as council president.
As the writer of the above-linked Alliance Review article Stephanie Ujhelyi penned:
"Through America's 200-plus-year history, censure can occur in politics when a body really wants to show extreme disapproval of a colleague."
That what the SCPR thinks is in order for North Canton council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters.
Peters seems to have been on North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne's case for at as long as he has been North Canton City Council president, if not before.
Some might want to excuse Peters' conduct because Osborne is an intense civic activist who bores in on North Canton governance issues that he takes on and in the course of doing so tests the temperament of those council persons with whom he clashes.
Osborne has had repeated run-ins with North Canton City Council presidents including Peters' predecessor Jon Snyder and Snyder predecessor Daryl Revoldt.
In the course of expressing his intensity, he has been expelled from a number of meetings by a number of council presidents.
To the SCPR, Peters' focus on Osborne is different than other North Canton council presidents.
With Snyder and Revoldt, their action vis-a-vis Osborne was marked with a need to keep order at council meetings. Never did the SCPR think there was anything personal in their respective discharge of presidential duties.
In fact, Osborne is working closely with former president Revoldt on North Canton's—thought by some to be illegal— implementation of it Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) ordinances.
It appears to The Report that Peters—in his role as council president—for some time now has been hellbent on dogging Osborne, taunting him, humiliating him, disparaging him, smearing him in an endeavor that surely seems as if he is out to destroy Osborne's effectiveness as a civic activist.
And effective, Osborne has been. Make no mistake about it!
Returning to the CRA.
Just a few days ago, Mayor David Held told the SCPR that North Canton is in discussion with William Lemmon about mitigating what could turn out to be an upwards of $1 million tax abatement granted Lemmon's company by recently retired economic development director/housing director Eric Bowles, according to an adamant Held "on Bowles own initiative" without the counsel and advice of anybody in North Canton government.
Held says that, without a doubt, Chuck Osborne and other North Canton civic activists have prompted those discussions that may end up saving North Canton City Schools hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And who can forget Osborne's successful effort on his health care initiative whereby the voters of North Canton overwhelmingly voted to deny city council members with alternative ways of obtaining coverage the right to have North Canton pay health care premiums.
Oh yes, North Canton won in the courts in overturning the vote of 72% of North Cantonians voting in the 2012 election.
But part of the reason that council itself adopted the core of Osborne's legislative initiative, was that the political pressure on council members who received health care premium subsidy (which included Peters) to so was irresistible.
All the councilpersons (four of them) who received the subsidy repaid the North Canton treasury.
Osborne has been the impetus of considerable litigation against North Canton government at great expense to him. He has been unsuccessful in most of it. And he likely is going to file suit once again over the North Ridge Place LTD (Lemmon's company).
Such is his right as an American and a citizen of North Canton.
In the United States of America "check and balance" is a key feature of our system of government.
And "check and balance" includes citizens keeping our governors on "the straight and narrow."
Beyond exercising his constitutional and legal right and functioning as duty-bound citizen, Osborne has greatly aided North Cantonians in having an "accountable" local government.
To the SCPR, it is shameful for Peters to appear to be targeting Osborne.
Accordingly, someone among members Fonte, Warren, Kiesling, Griffith, Cerreta and Foltz should offer a resolution of censure condemning Peters'.
The Report is prompted to call for a Peters' censure as sort of it being "the straw that broke the camel's back" as a consequence of an text message sent to Osborne on last Friday when it became known that Osborne had lost a case before Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge John Haas on manner in which North Canton handled a parking lot construction issue adjacent to the former Hoover industrial complex which complex is being reworked to house companies to over time replace the jobs lost when Hoover was bought out and eventually moved out of North Canton.
Here is the message:
Chuck, just saw your email to Olsen [sic, Olson is the correct spelling] re; video streaming of council mtgs. Are you just trying to create issues out of thin air now?
The quote was reasonable and kinks will be worked out.
Now, we can have UNEDITED video of mtgs and not what you cherry pick from your recordings! As a side note, do you want me to forward the courts decision re; Hoover district parking lot? It is an interesting read. I can only wish to have as much money as you have to waste on losing court battles.
Let me know.
Have a great holiday wknd.
Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone."
Moments after receiving the text above, Mr. Peters sends me an email with the ruling from Judge Haas attached along with a snide remark. (Osborne interjection)
From: Daniel J Peters [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, September 03, 2016 2:32 PM
To: C Osborne
Subject: Osborne v North Canton, 2015CV02535, Stark Cty Common Pleas, Jmt Entry.pdf
Here it is! Can you please forward the invoices for the legal fees?
What a smart aleck, no?
Conduct clearly unbecoming of a city council president.
Steven Okey kept his fight within the confines of Alliance City Council and his tiffs with various political opponents on council.
Never did he go after an Alliance citizen.
The Stark County Political Report in the nearly nine years of covering the city councils of Alliance, Canton, Massillon and North Canton ever seen the likes of Peters' who in a government capacity appear to abuse everyday citizens.
And The Report could go back through the many blogs written about Peters' conduct in relation to Osborne as abundant evidence of Peters' untoward conduct directed at him.
Undoubtedly, council members are well aware of Peters' conduct not only with Osborne but also with other members of North Canton's citizen activists.
As the SCPR sees Peters, anybody who takes exception to him in his capacity as a North Canton city official is likely to come under personal attack.
If North Canton council respects its citizenry, it will censure its president Daniel "Jeff" Peters.
Now is the time for council to demonstrate "extreme disapproval" of his conduct!
Does council have the ability to stand off from colleague Peters' conduct and chastise him for same?
Or, are they all in it together?