Monday, August 28, 2017


"You know, I know, everybody knows" that North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne can "get the goat" of the best of us with his persistent, dogged and seeming everlasting dedication to task when it comes to critiquing the process and substance of North Canton government.

And last week North Canton president of council Daniel "Jeff" Peters apparently fell victim to having had his "goat gotten."

(Note:  President Peters tells the SCPR that his FB piece was taken down by him within 24 hours of being published, copy of post provided SCPR by Chuck Osborne)

Osborne has been surveilling North Canton government for some 15 or better years now and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Stark County Political Report's (SCPR) favorite account of Osborne going beyond due diligence in gathering evidence to make his point occurred when Jon Snyder was president of North Canton City Council during the big hubbub of council having the city pay for health care insurance on several of its members (Peters, Snyder, Kiesling and Werren) despite a voter referendum in which nearly 80% of North Cantonians said part-timers like the councilpersons should not get health insurance unless they had no alternative source.

Osborne traveled all the way to Buffalo, NY (the site of the headquarters of Snyder's then-employer) to learn whether or not Snyder had the option of getting private employer health insurance coverage.

There is no question about it.  Chuck Osborne is the Make North Canton Great Again "pit bulldog" of Stark County civic activism.

A good thing or a bad thing?

It depends where one is situated.

If you are Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling,  probably a bad thing.

It is likely she thinks Osborne's tenaciousness is over-the-top as exemplified by the videotaping/picture taking of her at the soccer event incident.

Take another look at the reputed Facebook posting of North Canton City Council president Jeff Peters:

Going back over Kiesling's 15 year career as a North Canton councilperson, she seems to have had some difficulty from time-to-time in making it to council meetings and also to meetings of the North Canton Planning Commission.

On Monday past (August 21st), council's work session only lasted 15 minutes or so.

Kiesling easily could have satisfied her official obligation and her desire to support her student-child school connected activity.

There are those public officials who are similarly situated who resolve such conflicts in favor of prioritizing the office they ran for and were elected to.

Can you imagine a candidate saying:  "I will faithfully attend council meetings unless my son/daughter is participating in a school activity at the same time as the meeting."

We all recognize that that there might be an exception here and there but not at the rate that Kiesling seems to have exercised in prioritizing attending a child school connected activity over her official obligation.  And Kiesling does get paid North Canton taxpayer dollars for being a councilperson whether or not she attends meetings.

One has to say "God Bless You" to any parent who prioritizes family over all else.  One of the more troubling phenomenons in American life, is that all too many parents have priorities that trump family values.

But in the case of putting family school activity matters over official duties, the appropriate remedy is, in the SCPR's view, not to run office until after the children have graduated.

Obviously, Councilwoman Kiesling "wants her cake" and "to eat it, too."  Which, of course, is, unfortunately, is a common characteristic of politicians.

As if Kiesling's too frequent absenteeism weren't enough, enter in North Canton "apologist in chief" and council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters with the Facebook entry.

It could be that for President Peters, President Donald J. Trump is a model in terms of using social media to bash those who differ with him or, worse yet,  call him/his administration of the executive branch of federal government into question.

While acknowledging that the Trump Twitter phenomenon in terms of name calling and the like is not a model for Trump or any other public official to engage in, he says that his personal history with Osborne:
  • (e.g. commenting in the past as "Big Daddy" on Repository articles in response to Osborne entries, and, he says, countermeasures taken by Osborne against him), and
  • His (Peters') perception that Osborne wished him dire personal consequences for his having participated in having North Canton pay health care insurance for him [note:  Peters reimbursed North Canton for the payments],
were factors in his succumbing to the temptation to publish his social media rebuke of Osborne.

Other points made by Peters:
  • He assessed that some of the commenters on the piece were over-the-top on their condemnation of Osborne,
  • When the over-the-top factor of some of the comments dawned on him, he personally removed the entry,
  • He realizes that public officials (especially one with a special role [e.g. president of council] should not use Facebook in the manner in which he did vis-a-vis the Osborne/Kiesling matter and will not in the future repeat such an approach,
  • He has reached out to Osborne to apologize, but that Osborne is refusing to accept his attempted contacts, and
  • While he agrees that part of the price that public officials pay is that they often have to sacrifice family time to the discharge of public duties, he sees the latest Kiesling missing of a meeting as being understandable.  Moreover, he points out that she had no leadership role (i.e. a committee report) to share.
Peters, in a rough equivalency to Trump, is chief administrator of how North Canton city council functions.

For Council President Peters to defend what the SCPR thinks is  indefensible and then endeavor to smear via social media the messenger as being a "bully" and, to boot, a sexist, is clearly unbecoming of a president of any office including that of city council.

As the Peters' Facebook entry shows, there were those who as commenters joined in with Peters to disparage Osborne for tracking the whereabouts of Kiesling during last Monday's North Canton's Committee of the Whole meeting.

For Peters to incite, seemingly on whim and impulse, via social media a pummeling of a civic activist is clearly unbecoming of presidential leadership even at at a city council level of government.

It is however interesting that a few commenters take Osborne's side.

Could it be that these brave souls were key factors in the post being removed?

Unfortunately, Peters is running unopposed for re-election to North Canton's Ward 2 seat.  The ideal solution for conduct like Peters' is a Ward 2 voter having the opportunity via the ballot to remove him from office.

However, two of the candidates for the November 7th general election include two former council presidents.

One in particular, namely; Daryl Revoldt—at large, has a solid if not exemplary track record as a former council member/president of managing the processes/substance of North Canton council without resort to measures demonstrated by Peters with his Facebook post.

Revoldt tells the SCPR that he is not interested in re-assuming a presidency role once again.

It is likely that Revoldt will be one of the three top vote getters on November 7th and whether he wants the role or not, the SCPR thinks he will be deemed by some to be a de facto/shadow president of council even if Peters continues to occupy that role in the post-November election of a new council.

And, Stephanie Werren who has attendance problems of her own (especially, the SCPR is told, with regard to her non-attendance at Zoning Board of Appeals meetings) could be ousted by Snyder in the Ward 3 race come November.

Accordingly, even if Peters remains as council president in a new term, he is likely (at least behind closed doors) to be admonished for acting impulsively and thereby "unpresidentially" as council president should he do a repeat of the removed Facebook post.

It is not enough that the Facebook post has been taken down and relatively soon after it was published.

Peters ought at North Canton council's next public meeting apologize to the North Canton public for being irresponsible and unpresidential in his functioning as North Canton City Council.

As for Oborne, in general the SCPR thinks he has done productive work in holding North Canton government accountable.

However, Osborne is not flawless in approach and demeanor and therefore has not and does not and will not get unfettered support from the SCPR even though The Report is sympathetic with the civic activist model.

He like those who he unmasks as falling short of what they ought to be as public officials is himself as a civic activist accountable for how he conducts himself.

He, along with Peters, needs to be responsible in the way he handles himself in the interaction between government and citizens participating in government.

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