Thursday, June 11, 2009


By all accounts, North Canton's David Held is viewed as being a stellar executive director of the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Joint Solid Waste District (Solid Waste).

On the other hand, he is viewed by many as a mediocre mayor of North Canton.

Consequently, it is difficult to get a fix on the administrative skills of Held.

North Canton could be a special situation. How is that?

Well, you have former mayor, councilman, Ralph Regula chief of staff and Bob Taft economic development official Daryl Revoldt sitting as the current president of North Canton City Council.

How does one top the Revoldt act?

Not easily and apparently David Held has chosen to let Daryl lead North Canton rather than challenge.

On the other hand, Held gains the plaudits of everyone the SCPR has spoken with as to the quality and strength of his leadership at Solid Waste.

Analyzing David Held's leadership skills is important because the SCPR has reason to believe that Held intends to apply to replace H. Michael Miller (who will be stepping down in January, 2010) as superintendent/CEO of the Stark County Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities Board (MRDD).

Miller's retirement should be welcome news to Stark Countians. SCPR sources say that Miller has been presiding over the dismantling of the once "top-of-the-line" MRDD. Now the worry seems to be, whether or not there will be anything to salvage before a new MRDD leader takes over.

The next question is: what qualities should the successor possess?

First, the new leader should examine what has worked well for MRDD in the past and take these viable activities and projects and make them the bulwark of a reconstituted MRDD.

For example, SCPR's sense is that users want a MRDD that keeps its clientele active and engaged. One of the complaints against Miller was that he was bidding MRDD workers out of jobs because he raised the costs to area businesses beyond what they were willing to pay for the skill level MRDD could deliver.

To satisfy MRDD families, a new director will have to rebuild what the sources claim Miller has dismantled.

Second, the new leader should be exploring new opportunities to integrate adult users into the workaday community in a fashion that is highly remunerative to MRDD in the context of needing to be competitive.

Third, the new leader needs to strengthen MRDD's ties to the total Stark County educational system in its operation of Eastgate and Southgate schools. New leadership needs to aggressively pursue upping the ante on the share that the 17 Stark County school districts partner financially with MRDD to ensure that MRDD's critical education services have the financial resources to be top notch.

Stark County Educational Services Center superintendent Larry Mogan wrote a strong letter of support for MRDD in its recent successful effort to pass a 1.4 mill levy. Morgan was effusive in his praise of MRDD schools and emphasized what a financial disaster it would be if MRDD schools were closed.

Well, the question becomes this. Will the new MRDD leader have the skills and strengths needed to convince Morgan to lean on already financially strapped school districts to up their contributions to MRDD?

Just ask area teacher union officials (i.e OEA - Ohio Education Association). Larry Morgan is one tough negotiator. Yes, he is sympathetic to MRDD and mindful of their critical role in the success of the Stark County educational classroom infrastructure. But nevertheless he will fight tooth and nail not give you one more dollar.

Does David Held have the qualities referred to above as well as others not elaborated upon in this piece required to be an effective MRDD leader?

If so, Held ought to be a leading candidate to succeed H. Micheal Miller.

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