Friday, April 28, 2017


UPDATED:  04/30/2017





UPDATED:  04/29/2017

Analysis of the Quality of Canton Council Members

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Watching the election returns in the Democratic primary of March 15, 2016.

Political novice and unknown Katherine Baylock leading former Stark County commissioner Pete Ferguson in an effort by him to reclaim a seat that he held from 2009 through 2012.

Exactly what Ferguson was when he ran against and defeated Republican political veteran John P. Hagan who had be 50th Ohio House District state representative in the eight years preceeding the 2008 county commissioner race.

But there is a major difference.

Pete Ferguson has been a Canton-based chiropractor for over 40 years.

So far as I know, Katherine Baylock does not have a similar notoriety in Canton/Stark County.

As the election returns continued to roll in on the 2016 Democratic primary for commissioner
  • (a post won by Republican and former Canton Township trustee Bill Smith in general election over Democratic nominee Stephen Slesnick [he like Hagan having served in the Ohio House for eight years prior to the commissioner race]
I fully expected, as undoubtedly did nearly every other political junkie in Stark County did, that Ferguson would pull away from Blaylock and challenge Slesnick in a nip and tuck race for the Democratic nomination.

Surprise!  Surprise!  Surprise!

Baylock came in a somewhat distant second to Slesnick.

I think that the likely winners on Tuesday will be:
  1. Bill Smuckler,  
  2. Jimmy Babcock (Ward 3)
  3. Corey Minor-Smith
But who knows this day and age.

It could be:
  1. Bill Smuckler (Ward 8)
  2. Corey Minor-Smith (Ward 4)
  3. Katherine Baylock (Ward 4)
And, it is likely that the three Democratic nominees, whomever they are, will win in November in the heavily Democratic Canton.

However, if former Councilman Richard Hart decides to run to reclaim his council-at-large seat he held (2014-2015), there might not be a Democratic sweep this fall.

No matter who wins Tuesday and no matter who wins in November, Canton City Council will not be an improved deliberative body.

Except for Edmond Mack (Ward 8) and his positive, future-thinking-perspective, council is mostly made up of plodding types at best with a few hangers-on to boot.

In my view, the "hanger-on-in-chief" is Jimmy Babcock.  Were he not the son of a former Canton mayor and long time council member, he would never have surfaced as a council member.

Other than Mack, the most capable person on council is Bill Smuckler mostly because he has been around the longest and therefore has "seen this parade before."

However, as one leading Stark County political/government figure told me off-the-record, what has Bill Smuckler really achieved for all his years in Canton government.

His ideas about government efficiencies are right on the mark, but he has been unable to translate much or any of it into policy and programs.

As I recall, former councilman Thomas West (long time Ward 2 councilperson and now a state representative replacing Stephen Slesnick) fought (along with former Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher) fellow councilman Edmond Mack's effort to bring charter government to Canton.

Their basic premise of opposition seemed to me to be based on a  premise that it was highly unlikely that candidates for the charter commission from predominately Canton African-American wards and more generally from the south side of Canton could be elected in a citywide election context.

Northside political domination (i.e. principally from Wards 8 and 9) of Canton government would likely result in a commission "recommended to voters" plan which would likely diminish African-American and Canton southside influence in Canton government.

Well, Mack's charter effort failed and so the West/Fisher concerns never ripened into an actual possibility.

If Tuesday's election were to play out along  the lines of Smuckler,  Minor-Smith and Baylock becoming the Democratic nominees; wouldn't that blow a big hole in the West/Fisher position?

Speaking of Minor-Smith and Baylock, what would they bring to the table?

Minor-Smith, first.

On her Twitter page, Minor-Smith bills herself has being the candidate to "help" and "change" Canton City Council.

I doubt that she has the political/governance girth to do either.

She is not yet a year into her being elected to the Canton City Schools Board of Education (CCS, CCSBOE) and from what I have learned, she had not made a significant contribution to repairing the badly damaged CCS educational infrastructure.

Minor-Smith has run for a judgeship (against the highly regard Richard Kubilius) and the CCSBOE. Moreover, she has held a number of public appointments (see this LINK on her background)

In her personal education she has impressive credentials and in 2009 she was named to the top 20 of under age 40 Stark County.

However, as far as I am concerned she is a underachiever big time.

She does have potential to flower into a constructive and helpful public official.  But the keyword is "potential."  Minor-Smith should serve at least one full term on the CCSBOE and demonstrate that she is in realpolitik a "help" and a "change" for the better agent of the people in a highly practical and useful way.

Right now I think she will be nothing more than a wallflower and not up to being effective as a city councilperson.

Katherine Baylock.

I was absolutely stunned that she bested Pete Ferguson in the above-referenced "for the Democratic nomination" county commissioner race.

Baylock a year earlier than the commissioner race (see graphic above, November 2015 charter commission candidate results) finished with 2,397 votes whereas Ferguson garnered 3,235.

Council candidate Nick Mussulin (see below) got but 943 votes.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the charter commission vote is predictive at all on how Baylock, Ferguson and Mussulin finish in the eight person race.

Baylock, seemingly a very nice lady, but clearly not up to being an elected Canton citywide or Stark countywide elected official.

Even Pete Ferguson by virtue of his track record as an elected commissioner was more window dressing than substantive as commissioner.

I have learned that Nick Mussulin is turning some heads and some local politicos in a position to sense a winner in the making are thinking more and more that Mussulin might surface as one of the top three Democrats to face off with independent/Republican opposition in November.

Here is Mussulin on October 19, 2015 in a video appearance before the camera of The Stark County Political Report answering questions in his run for the Canton Charter Commission.

Of course, there is the shopworn Mary Cirelli.  This election should determine once and for all whether or not she is a viable city of Canton political figure.

Ida Ross-Freeman who several everybody in winning a CCSBOE race and then lost lost time out seems likely to bring up the tail end of also rans come Tuesday.

Is Canton about to experience a touch of political irony this coming Tuesday in a context in which seemingly unprepared candidates might surface as winners?


Increasingly, it seems in American politics that one should expect the unexpected.

From Wikipedia.

In June 2014, in his bid for re-election, Cantor lost the Republican primary to economics professor Dave Brat in an upset that surprised political analysts. In response Cantor announced his early resignation as House Majority Leader, and several weeks later, he announced his resignation from Congress, which took effect August 18, 2014. Immediately thereafter, Cantor accepted a position as vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company.

Though he lost the popular vote my nearly three million votes (13 million, if one counts the votes that went to the collectivity of third party candidates), Donald J. Trump shocked most political pundits in winning a majority of the electoral college.

Could this "expect the unexpected" phenomenon be reaching all the way down to Stark County local politics?

Is Canton in for a double surprise on Tuesday?

Monday, April 24, 2017


UPDATED:  04/27/2017 at 09:14 a.m.

I have not done a blog since November 9, 2016.

The reason(s)?

I have been doing The Stark County Political Report for going on ten years (started March 2012, 2008)  and I figured that post-election was a good breaking point to step back and reassess whether or not I wanted to continue the effort and, if I do, what, if any changes, will there be to the content I focus on.

And what better place to take stock than "sitting on an island in the Pacific" as the Hawaiian Islands chain of islands was described this week by United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The day after our arrival was December 7th and as any American student knows is the day in 1941 which Imperial Japan bombed the U.S. Fleet in harbor at Pearl Harbor.

I was privileged to witness a commemoration of that day of infamy 75 years later.  Casualties number numbered 2,335 for U.S. military forces.

Moreover, 68 civilians lost their lives.

Wish I were in Hawaii err "... an island in the Pacific" today so I could take a firsthand poll on local reaction to what at least one Hawaiian thinks of the Sessions comment as being an insult on the people  of the 50th state of the our union.

With the attack by the Japanese attack on Hawaii, the nexus of the then island nation was fixed and it was only a matter of time until Hawaii became the 50th state (August 21, 1959)

On December 6th, wife Mary and I took the long flight via Detroit and Seattle to Honolulu to visit daughter Kasi (a USAF medical doctor); her husband Will (a flight surgeon) and grandchildren Austin and Aspen.

In 1963 I had a stopover in a Hawaii on my way to South Korea for a one year stint as a member of the United States Air Force.

We were greeted at Honolulu International airport at about 5:00 p.m. on the 6th having left Akron-Canton airport on the 6th early, early, early in the morning (about 5:00 a.m.)

Festooned with leis by the grandchildren we knew instantly that we were going to thoroughly enjoy two months in the warmth experienced in "sitting in the island in the Pacific" having left behind the frigid months of northeast Ohio.

And indeed we did.

My own take away from the Sessions description of "sitting in the island of the Pacific" was a typical Trump administration slam on anybody (in this case, a Hawaii based federal judge who ruled against the administration's immigration travel executive order) only to deny that obvious insult import of the words that Sessions uttered is aptly expressed by Senator Shatz.

Sessions fits in perfectly with a boss (i.e. Trump) who tweet-slams any and everybody who differs with him.

One has to suspect that the Sessions remark was also an aside at former president Barack Obama who was according to all but the lunatic fringe of American politics was born in the "state" of Hawaii.

While President Trump has admitted (one of the few times he has owned up to being wrong about anything) he was wrong to join the "birthers" in asserting that Obama was not born in America, the Sessions' nasty suggests that the attorney general acts as a surrogate for the "Chief of Political Ugliness."

Trump has provided the climate for the likes of Sessions to pick up on insulting innuendo direct at the disagreeing.  It is obvious that Donald J. Trump will say and do whatever it takes to divert and deflect his gargantuan inadequacies.

It is apparent that he is a consummate transactionlist who has no political agenda other than what he thinks will make Donald J. Trump look good.  Among the many examples, "If [Putin] says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him." (September 7, 2016, to NBC's Matt Lauer at a townhall meeting)

It is interesting that Hawaiians dissented from Trump's election as president by a 62% to 30% margin.

Might that have been a factor in the Sessions put down?  Just another juvenile "tit for tat?"

By and large, ugliness does not play in Hawaii.

Sessions' Alabama does have a history of political and racial nastiness.  All one has to do is to draw up our memories of "Bloody Sunday, Selma, Alabama of 1965.

Weather-wise, picturesque-wise and diversity-wise, "... the island in the Pacific" is more or less a paradise.

I had ample opportunity to mix with local while in the Aloha state.

Native Hawaiians, Japanese, Anglos, Blacks, Filipinos, Koreans and Chinese.

Take a look at his chart based on year 2015 data provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Rather than casting implicated aspersions because a Hawaiian based federal judge does not see the law his way and Trump's way, Sessions, America's top lawyer charged with ensuring civil rights for all Americans, should be praising Hawaii-as a full throated state of the United States of America-and top model of how diverse populations can work together for the common good.

In the context of complementarity, the 50 states as a whole demonstrate the greatness of the American demographic landscape, in over span of more than two centuries, in melding immigrating diverse cultures into a melting pot that has proved to be a win-win for particular cultures and the grand scheme of American culture.

Many Americans are not surprised at what Trump's electoral college majority election has wrought on the nation's body politic in terms of vitriolic political discourse which largely emanates from the president, a few of his cabinet officials and quite a number of his close in political advisers (e.g. Stephen K. Bannon, Stephen Miller and the like).

But of course a majority of voting Americans did not vote for Donald J. Trump unless, of course, perhaps one buys into the Trump fabrication and fantasy of three to five million voters voting illegally.  (LINK to Charlotte Observer article)

Many of the anti-Trump voters were less than enthusiastic about Clinton.

As stale and tied to the Washington swamp as Clinton was likely to be, it was highly predictable that Trump would bring a brand of in politics and governance worse for ordinary Americans than the self-serving Clintons demonstrated in terms of moral leadership in the years they occupied the White House.

And as far as Trump dealing with the swamp is concerned, many think the swamp continues on supplemented by nepotism.

"... only 34 percent approve of his having given his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, major positions in his administration (61 percent disapprove)."  (see ABC News report citing the above)

Clinton represents the established political order and is a specific manifestation of America's political/ruling class (also includes the Bushes, Kennedys and others who trade on well known surnames) which vast numbers of us are growing tired ,of because of their self-serving, personal wealth building dominating of Democratic and Republican political party structures as vehicles to lording it over the rest of us.

Many of us yearn for a presidential election which French voters have before them on May 7th.

Two candidates unconnected to major French political parties.

Both candidates outside the established political party setup.

How refreshing, no?  And one of them is a political centrist.  Wow!


Yesterday a ABC/Washington Post poll came out showing U.S. voter disenchantment with the Democratic and Republican political parties

With a mere 54.7% of registered voters voting in 2016, it is abundantly clear that about 45% of the national electorate do not see the importance and relevance to them in participate in a national election.

That 45% is nearly as high as Trump received (46.1%) of the national popular vote totals.

Futility in participating in elections seems to be setting in big time.

Nevertheless, Stark County's Republican and Democratic organizations go on in apparent disregard of "the out-of-touch" factor.

In 1992, 1996 and predominantly ever since, Stark County Democratic Party leaders lined up on the basis of "establishment factor" political party allegiance in support of nearly everything if not everything that the Clintons have done and stood for.

I don't recall one single Stark County Democratic Party leader come out in support of Bill Clinton's impeachment.  And no Democratic U.S. Senator voted to convict Clinton.

Though she lost to Barack Obama in the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, she was clearly the candidate of establishment Democratic leadership including local leaders.

I think that Hillary Clinton in part failed in her 2016 presidential bid because of the legacy she shared with husband Bill which, when added, to her penchant for secrecy (i.e. her maintaining a private e-mail server) and other politically arrogant stances; gave the totally unprepared in demeanor, veracity and competence Donald J. Trump the opportunity to slip through with a electoral college victory.

Just like in the Healy/Perez Canton Democratic primary mayoralty race of 2015 in which everyday Canton Democrats were underwhelmed with the qualities of the candidates.

As a corollary, many voters in November, 2016 including myself felt bereft of the opportunity to vote for a viable alternative to Clinton or Trump.

Amazing to me from a local standpoint in the 2016 presidential race was the number of candidate/elected official Stark County Republicans who openly supported and perhaps continue to support Trump's outrageousness.

In contrast to local Democratic leaders of 1998 and the Clinton/Lewinsky matter, the Stark County Republican Party organization did put out this statement:

But the "Donald Trump's behavior is indefensible" comes up a bit empty in light of the number of local Republican candidates/elected officials who showed up at his Canton rally in September, 2016.

As far as The Stark County Political Report is concerned, these folks of Stark County Republican political/governance leadership are accountable for their public support and perhaps continuing allegiance to the obviously unprepared and unfit by temperament and personal conduct Donald J. Trump who, of course, is the de facto head of the national Republican Party.

It seems pretty clear that political party loyalty is more important to our locals than the welfare of the nation.

What quality of judgment do our local Republican leaders have anyway?

It is interesting that Stark's only countywide newspaper has failed to put local Republican leaders on the spot for their having and continuing to openly support a clearly deficient person as leader of this great nation of ours.

Granted, Hillary Clinton was not a deserving alternative for them.

Independent minded and acting voters had to hold their noses in voting for Clinton.  There likely was also a number of staunch registered Democrats who had the same experience.

By boycotting the Canton sited Trump campaign event, local Republican could have in their own small way communicated to Trump that his deficiencies as a candidate were unacceptable for a leader of the free world.

One of the loudest cheerers for Donald Trump was then-Stark County Republican Party vice president Jane Timken who went on to become the Trump endorsed candidate for chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.

Shame on her!

As the nation suffers with the leadership debacle now in full swing in Washington, she is a local person who bears a special responsibility for having put the nation at risk to sustain a political/governance catastrophe.

I understand the need for political parties and some semblance of political organization loyalty, just not all consuming.  Notice I did not use the phrase "political party loyalty."

Trump has been/is so over the top that the welfare of the nation calls for Republican leaders locally and across the nation to send him a loud and clear message that they will back off and withhold support until and unless he changes his ways.

Jane Timken (and Stark County GOP chair Jeff Matthews) have proved to be highly ineffective during her time as a local Republican Party official in working to make Canton city politics and governance competitive.

So not only has she let the nation down, Jane Timken has as a Republican Party operative let Canton, Stark's county seat, down.

While necessary in some format in our democratic-republic, political party organizations as presently constituted under the banner Republican/Democrat are failing Stark Countians, Ohioans and, indeed, the entire U.S. population.

There is hope that the likes of the Tea Party (politically right) and Indivisible (politically left) will equalize as offering different outside of the political party structure contenders and going forward provide an alternative to the increasingly moribund American mainstream political party system.

To be politically healthy, there needs to be a centrist alternative not embedded in the current political party structure.

According to an article appearing in Salon yesterday, it might be that all too many American voters are so devoid of a cogent, consistent political viewpoint that they are not equipped to account for blatant ongoing rhetorical inconsistencies (i.e. flipfloping) and results (compared to campaign promises) that a analytical person might conclude that core Trump and to a lesser degree Clinton voters are stupid.

Ninety-six percent (96%) of Trump voters say (reference:  the ABC/Washington Post poll above) they would still vote for him given what we know about the reality of his governance 100 days into his administration.

Eighty-five percent (85%) say the same for Clinton.  However, in Clinton's case in that she did not become president therefore voting persistence does not have the quite the same illogicalness to it as does the 96% Trump factor.

A good part the the persisting 96% and 85% is owing the mindless political party loyalty.

A question that should have been posed to the Clinton voters is knowing what they know now (i.e. extracting defeat from the 'jaws of victory') how many would have supported Democratic nomination contender Bernie Sanders in the light of 20/20 hindsight?

Voter ignorance on the panoply of issues inherent in any political campaign at any level makes them vulnerable to demagogic, conning campaign styles worked nearly to perfection by Trump in the 2016 election.

To be sure, Clinton also played a strong hand of cards of the demagogue and political con artist with her campaign style.  Just not as well as Trump did.

Going forward, The Stark County Political Report will focus on encouraging the development of local political organizations a vehicles to make government accountable to everyday people and on an effort to goad voters into becoming responsible voters by equipping themselves to be informed voters.

Political organizations need be vehicles of informing voters; not propagandizing them.

The Stark County Political Report:  your source of equal opportunity critiques of politics and governance affecting Stark County.