Monday, October 12, 2009

SCPR "ELECTION 2009 SERIES (VOL 11): CANAL FULTON HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO "REALLY" CHANGE THINGS AROUND?


The opportunity for citizens to make a "sea change" in how government runs does not come along very often.

But, in the opinion of the Stark County Political Report, such an opportunity is presented to Canal Fulton voters this November 3rd.

There are 4 slots up for election on the Canal Fulton City Council.  However, there are 10 candidates running.  How can the voter make sense of this field and who to vote for?




The answer.

Canal Fulton citizens should consider voting for "the slate of four" the candidates of which are set out in green highlight in the graphic above.

The red highlighted candidates are the incumbents.

If Canal Fulton citizens like how the city is being run, then they should vote for the incumbents.

But if Canal Futonans want change, the SCPR believes that the "alate of four," if elected, will make needed change in Canal Fulton government.

Here is a list of ten items that the "slate of four" will change:


The SCPR likes how the "slate of four" have laid out the issues facing Canal Fulton, to wit:


The November election is a grand opportunity for the citizens of Canal Fulton to get the "canal boat city" headed in the right direction.

The question is:  Will Canal Fulton\'s citizens "seize the day?"

5 comments:

Victor said...

I received the "slate of 4" candidates flyer in the mail over the weekend. Of interest are items #3; #8, #9 and #10.

Item #3 -- Councils past & present (to include the term when candidate Mike Mouse was a councilman) always came up with a suatainable budget. And the current council has followed suit. I urge voters to do public records requests for financial information to verify if the "slate of 4" are being totally forthright and accurate with their "item" reference the cuty's budget.

Item #8 listed is amusing!!! From 2004-2007 (2 yrs of that time period candidate Mouse was a counciman) 13 joint meetings were held with Lawrence Twp Trustees to see if things could be done jointly such as CEDA's or JEDD's. At one meeting a draft CEDA agreement was given to the trustees with a slew of blanks for them to fill in on what they would like in said agreement -- NOTHING was ever received back by them. Meetings were also held several times with Lawrence Twp to discuss moving forward with a joint fire district or a joing purchase agreement between each fire/EMS department. Again, Canal Fulton's council as on board, but the Lawrence Trustees were not. Had the trustees been ameanable, both municipalities could have saved over $400,000 in capital equipment purchases over a 3 yr period! And the legal fees mentioned?? All of the lawsuits filed were initiated by the Lawrence Twp board. Was Canal Fulton supposed to "roll over" and play dead??

Item #9 -- Over the past 2 yrs, Canal Fulton has seen new businesses come in (again, a public records request would verify this). It would also be nice to know what "business friendly practices" this "slate of 4" would promote, since one of them couldn't tell me when I asked the other day!!

Item #10 -- again, another amusing bullet point!!! More and more public records, meeting minutes, announcements, etc etc etc are now on Canal Fulton's web site than have ever been in the past. Plus, Canal Fulton City Hall is open daily 8AM-4:30PM as many city halls around Ohio are. So what does the "slate of 4" mean here??

While I agree with some of the bullet points listed (when I served as a councilman along with Mike Mouse, he and I were the only ones to vote against the pay increases for elected officials (slates item #2) ), mush of their "agenda" seems a bit far-fetched and lacking in details!!

EricB said...

I can only speak for myself. We are a slate and we do share some principal ideals (which we stated in our mailer) but we have some varying opinions on the way to achieve them. This would seem to be a healthy thing for our town council as currently it appears we have a group of six identical minded individuals that rarely disagree or discuss any issue(I have DONE the research, in the last 24 months over 90% of resolutions and ordinances have passed unanimously without discussion). I believe that differing opinions foment a healthy exploration of the facts.

That being said, it appears that there are some misunderstandings here so let me attempt to correct the matter as I see it.

With regards to your interpretation on point #3 (living within the city’s income and committing to a sustainable budget) let’s start with a definition:

Sustainable
Pronunciation: \sə-ˈstā-nə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1727
1 : capable of being sustained
2 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods

I think the main misinterpretation you may have here is that we are claiming the city went bankrupt at some point. This is not the case. The issue here is that the economic climate NOW, is vastly different from the economic climate when Mr. Mouse and you were on council. I am no expert but I don’t think one needs to be in order to ascertain that double digit unemployment, record home foreclosures and the lowest retail numbers in the last three decades indicate the use of caution fiscally.

MY personal interpretation of point #3 is that instead of making changes to spending, acquisitions and fiscal planning in anticipation of fiscal distress in the near future (which seems likely), council has happily told us “Things will be fine! Everything is great.” Common sense would dictate that given the current economy…doing things as they were always done before could end in tragedy. In our personal lives many of us have had to make changes. State Governments have had to make changes. The Federal Government has had to make changes. In a time when entire states are issuing IOUs to employees, I believe sticking your head in the sand and saying “It won’t affect us” is not only ridiculously irresponsible…but it borders on negligence.

A perfect example of this is the income tax money being collected from Northwest Schools (who consequently is now the largest employer in the city) employees. The annexation is in dispute. If the City loses the court battle, it will have relinquish all the income tax money it collected. The prudent thing to do at a time when unexpected expenses and debt could be devastating would be to hold this income tax money in escrow until the dispute over it is resolved. What was done with this money? It was spent. No consideration is given to the potential risk here…just an ongoing attitude that nothing bad will happen to our city and that the well to repay a carelessly incurred debt will never run dry. If you need facts then check them, the city had a deficit for 2008.

EricB said...

Your response to #8 is less a misunderstanding and more a point of view. It appears you value the health of the city over the health of the township. This makes sense as you are a city resident. What it doesn’t do though is make your viewpoint any more or less valid than the view of a township resident that values his township. I have the records; I have copious notes on the matter. The reason an agreement could not be reached was one of the oldest roadblocks to compromise…pride. The crux of the matter comes down to a division of the fruits of such a pact. The city always asks for the lions share, the township has always sought an equal (or more equal) share of the proceeds. Please note here that equal refers to raw dollars. Each has a viewpoint, each carries validity. Pride creeps in though and this turns into the proverbial urination competition between people that are otherwise reasonable. What is needed is an EQUITABLE agreement. One that benefits each in kind and according to their share of responsibility.

When you say the trustees where not amenable…I would question amenable to what? A split of the proceeds that they saw as being grossly unfair? To answer with your own words…the division of dollars was set forth by the city…what were the trustees to do, “roll over” and play dead? You have made the fatal error of assuming that because their opinion of fair differs from yours…it has less merit. This breeds disrespect and invites pride to derail the entire process of diplomacy. As a candidate I can tell you that I understand working with people of differing opinions towards a common goal is a key to being successful. I would promise you that if elected I will not keep the best interests of the township heart…neither will I keep the city’s best interests above others…instead I will keep the best interests of the CITIZENS as my guiding principle.

EricB said...

Moving on, your response to #9 is ridiculous to anyone who drives around town. We have more empty store fronts, more for lease…for sale…for rent and space available signs than any time I can recall in town history. Where five years ago we saw the construction of new retail shopping centers, now we see ENTIRE CENTERS standing vacant. Even downtown, the number of empty store fronts is appalling. I actually considered creating a direct mail advertisement for my campaign that would include a collage of all the “For Rent”, “For Sale”, “Space Available” signs around town but there were too many for me to get all the photos in time for the mailer!

When you say, “Over the past 2 yrs, Canal Fulton has seen new businesses come in…” I would agree with you. We have several (who knows…maybe even many) new businesses in town. By “new” I believe you are talking about businesses that are new to Canal Fulton. This is a completely different concept from “growth”. Indulge me in a simple analogy. Imagine a large bucket hanging from a farm faucet directly under the spigot. The bucket is our town and the water inside is our businesses. Now, put a large hole in the bottom of the bucket. As the water level drops you turn on the faucet which represents ineffective stimulus attempts. Now you have water going in and water going out. Unfortunately the spigot cannot catch up to the rate at which the water is running out the bottom. Slowly but steadily that water level will continue to drop. The argument we are having here is that I am saying there is a hole in the bucket and you are saying there is new water in it.

Let me answer your direct question about “business friendly practices.” I would direct your attention to the council meeting minutes from June 2 2009. They may seem familiar because I believe you were involved in the meeting. If you read through you will see a rather long and lengthy discussion. During this conversation, the City Manager, Fire Chief, Fire Inspector and most of the sitting members of council could not figure out exactly what the CURRENT policy and procedure was for obtaining an occupancy permit for a new business. If you think I’m joking, sadly I’m not. To go even further into absurdity, the conversation included examples of local business people that actually chose to LEAVE TOWN and open their business elsewhere rather than continue to struggle with a governing body that could not define its own rules. So you ask for a business friendly policy? How about making our zoning and inspection rules easy enough to understand (and properly communicated) to allow businesses to actually open in our town instead of heading for the border in frustration. As a side note, I will leave you with this quote from a current council member, “..if they are running the businesses out of town then they are making the town safer.” Doesn’t seem too friendly to me.

EricB said...

Your response regarding item #10 is really more an emotional issue than one I can refute with hard evidence. Aside from the fact that there has been no plan to regularly codify the ordinances and make a CURRENT version available online on an ongoing basis…my issues are all about attitude. I would encourage any citizen to attend a council meeting…not now…before the election. The flurry of activity and the polished smiles are always there before an election. No, better yet I would encourage a curious citizen to seek out someone who has had to bring an issue before the council and ask THEM how they feel they were received.

I continue to despair at the magnanimous and royal attitude that some government officials display. They act as our benevolent benefactors instead of the citizen servants that our form of government was designed to accept. For certain people to take this attitude is an affront to all that is American. To take that attitude while accepting a paycheck…well that’s just plain arrogance. If the citizens have elected you to represent them then you work for them. If the citizens pay the taxes and fees that pay your salary, then you work for them. If they stop you on the street and commend you on the job you are doing, please accept the praise and go about your day. If they tell you they have concerns or problems then LISTEN. But to PRESUME that you wield power over them, to DEMAND respect instead of EARNING it…well…I would submit to you that this is not only un-American but it flies in the face of the basic undeniable rights we all hold as human beings.

I would like to share the thoughts of Thomas Paine, Father of the American Revolution and one of our Nation’s Founding Fathers.

“In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense,



It’s fundamental principle of who we are as Americans. An ideal that though rarely achieved is still stridently wished and hoped for throughout our society. That public service is NOT a job, a career, a privilege or a right…it is a RESPONSIBILITY to be taken with respect and care. I weep that you consider this “another amusing bullet point.”

If you have read this far, thanks for hanging in there with me. The implication was that I or my colleagues were either ill prepared or not driven to be thorough. I wanted to make sure that both of these misconceptions were addressed. I don’t know what about setting a high bar for ideals and direction seems “far-fetched”. As far as details, well you can only fit so much on an 8.5” x 5.5” postcard, sorry for lack of detail. I know you were just asking for clarification and offering opinions…not making the classic blunder of confusing restraint for weakness.