Tuesday, December 22, 2009


A significant part of last night Canton City Council meeting was Council president Allen Schulman's grilling of Mayor Healy on his need for a communications director.

Here is Schulman grilling on video.

As yours truly was leaving the meeting last night, I heard "Martin" uttered from the distance.  Turning to see who had called for me, lo and behold it was Adam Herman, Mayor William J. Healy, II's communications director.

It soon became obvious that Director Herman was not happy with Schulman singling him out.

"You know," he said "there are other departments with employees that are similar in significance to me.  Why is Schulman's focus on me?"

To which, yours truly retorted:  "You have a good point and I am the guy to make good points to."

The Healy top-level administration thinks that the SCPR is dead set against the mayor.  Actually, the opposite is true.  The analyzing and critiquing is designed to prod the administration into doing better.  Healy is the mayor of Canton, like it or not, and everyone should be pushing him to become a better mayor.

If Healy can control his arrogance and demonstrate that he can work with others and take hard questions, governmental and political, and be responsive, and, above all, demonstrate that he has good, workable ideas to bring the city of Canton out of its funk, then The Report is open to revising his take on Healy et al.

Healy has been two years in creating a negative impression; it is likely to take that amount of time - perhaps longer - to reverse the impression.  Should Healy be of a mind to change himself, there is hope.  But he better get cracking because in a little over a year the 2011 Democratic primary will be upon us and Healy will have to had done enough by then to have any chance at all of surviving the primary.

Back to Adam Herman and the communications director job.

Herman does have a good point.  He appears to have been made the "poster child" of everything that Schulman and others do not like about Healy and his close-in staff and cabinet. 

Is it fair for Schulman and other critics to tie Herman's job to the $4.5 million projected city deficit for 2010?  Are there jobs in other departments that merit the same scrutiny that the communications director job has gotten?

Perhaps, Canton does need to eliminate the communications director job, but it should not be just that job.  There have to be others spread out over Canton's 35 departments of government.  If there were 15 such jobs (at a total cost of about $70,000 per), you would have $1 million in savings.

There was much talk about shared sacrifice at last night's Council meeting.  The SCPR gets the idea that there is an Animal Farm-esque (remember:  "more than equal") quality about the cuts that are going on.

There is some evidence that the firefighters are among the "less equals" with the Healy administration.  Healy never really answered Schulman's question on whether or not the director of communications job is essential.  Of course, everyone knows that firefighting and police jobs are essential.

It is obvious that there is a lot of political infighting going on among Canton city employees over who gets cut or the size of pay cuts or the number of furlough days.  And, the elected officials are doing a lot of demagoguing the "cuts" issue.

Schulman is, in the opinion of the SCPR, the brightest of all of Canton's Council.  Accordingly, he has to fully understand that he was grandstanding - on Herman - as a play to the Canton firefighters assembled at last night's meeting. He did seek to tamp down the raucous response of the safety forces, but he had achieved the desired reaction.  Kind of like asking the "inadmissible question," getting a response, and then having the judge to tell the jury to disregard, no?

Having said the "demagoguing" thing, the SCPR will say that Schulman has, over the years, been highly attentive to the voice of organized labor, while Mayor Healy has not.

So what is the SCPR position the director of communications job?

If the effort is to embarrass Healy and single out Herman, then the matter should be dropped.  All a move like this would accomplish would be to fan the fires of mutual animosity that now engulf City Council and Mayor Healy.  Yes, there would be some savings to be applied to saving a firefighter job or two; however, the "intangible" cost in terms of damaged relationships may not be a good trade off.

If Herman's fate is meted out to similarly situated employees (i.e. useful, but not essential) in other departments and the city can save a half-millon, a million or more, then by all means make the cuts.

Above all, scapegoating Adam Herman in his capacity of being the communications director will not help Canton through this financial crisis!

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