Monday, June 14, 2010


Revised at 10:00 a.m.

In a democracy, citizens should always have choices on how to manage themselves.

While the idea of Cantonians considering a change in form of government is attractive and deserving of support and THE STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT DOES SUPPORT A VOTE BY CANTONIANS ON GOING CHARTER, it is important that the leader of promoting such an idea not be a high grade partisan who some may suspect of having an ulterior motive.

The Stark County Political Report believes that neophyte Cantonian Michael Cunnington is such a person.  Accordingly, while the idea of Canton becoming a charter government should, once again, be considered by Cantonians, The Report suggests to those who want to push this notion ask Cunnington to step aside from any leadership role.

Otherwise, the effort is destined to get embroiled in to a Republican versus Democrat fight.

On this score, it appears to the SCPR that The Repository is compromised on the charter matter in terms of its involvement with Cunnington and W.R. Timken, Jr.

The Report believes that The Rep Editorial Board agrees with SCPR's position that one-party-politics is bad for any level of government. That is why the editors say they journalistically attacked the Democratic commissioners on their handling of the Stark treasury/State of Ohio Auditor's office on the one-time secret "letter of arrangement."

The Report can see a carryover agenda (getting more Republicans in office in Stark County/Canton government) on The Rep's part from the county matter to City of Canton charter consideration.

Despite denials, the SCPR believes that Strategic Public Partners' Chair of the Board W.R Timken, Jr. (chairman of the Timken Company board of directors - and a longtime Repository favorite) opened up the doors for Cunnington to get access to the publishing prowess of The Repository to pump for a Canton charter as a way to get more Republicans on Canton City Council.

Michael Cunnington is a former executive director of the Stark County Republican Party who by force of his office engaged in activities virulently anti-Democratic Party.  Moreover, his political associations remain saturated with the Republican perspective.

Obviously, Cunnington is entitled to his political point of view.  But his continuance in a charter initiative leadership role surely would cause many Cantonians (in the light of Canton voter huge Democratic Party registration majority) to "knee-jerk" reject a thorough consideration of a change in Canton's governance structure.

The SCPR is highly skeptical Cunnington's denial of any charter effort associations with Strategic Public Partners Group (owned by thorough going Republicans)  and its board of directors chairman W.R. Timken, Jr (also chairman of the Timken Company board of directors).

Moreover, the SCPR suspects that Cunnington was the author of the Stark Politics blog which was written "anonymously."  Whoever wrote Stark Politics is clearly a cowardly type.

The Stark Politics blog was about a partisan as blogs get.  It obviously was a Stark County Republican Party effort to bash Democrat officeholders merely because they are Democrats.  To make it appear that Stark Politics had a scintilla of objectivity, its writer would attack - from time-to-time - Republicans who did not share the Republican right wing view of the writer.

To the SCPR, there seems to be a rough correspondence between Cunnington's coming to Stark County via Ohio University to become the executive director of the Stark GOP and the beginning and end (when Cunnington left the Stark GOP) of Stark Politics.

Maybe some day Cunnington will a reincarnation of Bush White House political operative Karl Rove, but he does not seem to be able to cover his political tracks nearly as well has Rove has been able to.

Republican Canton Councilman Mark Butterworth could become of casualty of a Cunnington-led effort.  He has already embraced the idea of Canton going to a charter.  But the fact that Cunnington was one of his prime supporters in Butterworth's successful campaign to unseat, popular with other Democratic members of Council, Karl Kraus, Jr will make Butterworth's introduction of legislation virtually impossible in a body in which Butterworth is but one Republican among 11 Democrats (including Council president Allen Schulman).

First, Butterworth has to get a 60% "yes" vote to get the measure out of Canton City Council's judiciary committee, to wit:

 The SCPR does not see anyway for Butterworth to clear this hurdle.

If he pulls a political "rabbit out of the hat" and gets the legislation through the committee, then he has to get 8 votes out of 12 voting councilpersons.  So the odds jump from 60% to 75%. Whoa!

With Canton mayoral politics at the fore in 2011, Mayor Healy and his challenger Canton Councilman Bill Smuckler will find a way to divide Council over a charter issue as well as many other issues that come before Council over the next ten months or so until the Democratic primary in May, 2011.

The Report believes that Butterworth will be fighting for his own political life in November, 2011 and will have little space for pushing a charter issue.  Expect Karl Kraus, Jr. to try to reclaim the 8th Ward seat.

Butterworth and others interested in this worthy issue should step out of the fray and find a coalition of good government Democrats and Republicans to push a "vote on the charter" issue.

The SCPR believes Butterworth may have committed political suicide in seizing the initiative.  The Report trust not.  Because he has been a terrific addition to Council with his different perspective and his obvious leadership ability.

However, his being talked into introducing the charter legislation (which The Report believes to be the case - despite denials - at the hand of Cunnington) was clearly a "rookie mistake."

Butterworth should admit that he has made a rookie mistake and withdraw the legislation and try to find a way to reintroduce it with a Democratic co-sponsor.

Yes, the citizens of Canton should have an opportunity to vote yet another time on charter government.  Clearly, Canton government is not working.  The Report thinks it is more of a "quality of individual politician" staffing elective office in Canton than the structure of government.  However, charter government does offer more flexibility to tailor to the needs of unique local factors and does more readily invite readjustment in the future with its built-in review function.

So if Cunnington will step aside and if Butterworth will reconstruct his legislative initiative, yes! Canton citizens should have the right to consider a change in their government

These are dire times in Canton much due in the large part, in the opinion of the SCPR, of the destructive, manipulative negative leadership of William J. Healy, II. 

But it hasn't only been Healy, but his challenger Bill Smuckler hasn't exactly been a paragon of "what's good for the citizens" advocate.  He is mainly about "what is good for Bill Smuckler - political."

If any government is to work, it must have effective and confidence inspiring leadership.  Unfortunately, for Stark County, there is no reliable source for dynamic leadership.

In the SCPR's assessment, Leadership Stark County (an effort of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) is a gigantic failure.

So along with restructuring local governments, the private sector needs also to get its act together and reconstitute its leadership training infrastructure so as to produce substantive people who have the ability to lead!

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