Friday, June 10, 2011


In recent weeks it has appeared that Stark County's effort to rework it countywide 9-1-1 operation was doomed with the announcements that the Stark County Sheriff and Canton was pulling out of the project.

On Tuesday past (June 7th) the Stark County Council of Governments (SCOG) general membership assembled at Canton City Hall to discuss the future of countywide 9-1-1 in light of these announcements.

It appears to the Stark County Political Report that countywide 9-1-1 rehab is far from dead.  In fact Tuesday's meeting was highlighted by a motion made by SCOG 9-1-1 Governance Committee Chair Randy Gonzalez (fiscal officer for Jackson Township) for formal approval by the general membership that SCOG be the entity that undertakes countywide 9-1-1.

Here is a video of Gonzalez setting up the motion.

The SCPR presents a summary of the discussion of various issues that the membership engaged in on the group's endeavor to make a decision on the motion (which passed unanimously).

The issues were:
  1. Should SCOG be the entity to run countywide 9-1-1 in light of the fact that currently SCOG is not a PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) which it must become to qualify as a operational unit?
  2. What Stark County government unit should serve as fiscal agent for SCOG (assuming it becomes the 9-1-1 operational organization)?  A corollary point was what, if any, impact Ohio Senate Bill 5 (which does not permit a COG to have unionized employees) would have on putting together countywide 9-1-1 under SCOG?
  3. The financing of SCOG's 9-1-1 operations.
  4. Establishing separate legal counsel for SCOG's 9-1-1 operations.
Appearance-wise all seems "peaches and cream" on the matter of countywide 9-1-1.  But don't you believe it!

As indicated in the masthead of this blog and as articulated by Stark County Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Canton Safety Director Tom Ream:  "the devil is in the details."

An issue which was a sort of "an elephant in the room" that Ream never brought up and which could keep Canton out of countywide 9-1-1 is a rumor that financially strapped Canton is holding out for some kind of commitment that Canton be compensated in some way for the equipment currently in place in its Canton Communications Center.

Another one is who - in terms of the person - will be in charge as "executive director" one SCOG's 9-1-1 countywide system gets centralized and begins formal operations.  The SCPR believes that Canton Mayor William J. Healy, II and Ream will be pitching for that person to be a Canton-friendly (if not an actual Canton city employee/official) individual.

These details, The Report believes, are the "real" stumbling blocks to Canton being part of countywide 9-1-1.

But Canton - while strongly preferred to be in the countywide system - is not essential to countywide 9-1-1 going forward.  If Canton won't budge on its "secret" agenda items, then look for SCOG's countywide 9-1-1 to be formed with the Stark County Sheriff Tim Swanson's dispatch center being teamed up with the RED Center (western Stark County) to be the nucleus of Stark countywide emergency services system.

It is anybody's guess as to whether or not Canton will come around.  To The Report - township, village, city and county officials should not allow Canton to be the "tail that wags the dog."  And yours truly does not believe that they will.

In the end, the matter of Canton's inclusion is whether or not Mayor William J. Healy, II and Canton City Council want to be team players or not.

What follows is a series of video that give Stark citizens a look at what discussion went on in Tuesday's meeting:  some of "the devil's in the details," but, of course, not those "elephant in the room" devilish details that Canton officials are keeping to themselves.  It seems to The Report to be a game of brinkmanship being played by Canton's administration which does not speak well of the Healy leadership group.

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