Friday, October 28, 2011


The SCPR senses that there is unease these days among North Canton City Council (NCC - Council) members on the possibility that former Councilman Chuck Osborne might be elected to Council on November 8th.

For at least a decade Democrat Osborne has been a force to be reckoned with in political/governmental circles in North Canton.

In 2001 Osborne was elected to Council with the highest vote total of all five candidates for three Council positions.

Osborne had an opportunity to build on his election to become a dominant force somewhat like former Republican Councilman Daryl Revoldt (twice a councilman [also a president of Council] and mayor of North Canton) who is now working for Republican Governor John Kasich on economic development matters as he formerly did for former Republican Governor Bob Taft.

However, Osborne does not have the political and relational skills that Revoldt has and consequently soon fell out of favor with North Canton voters.

So the question becomes:  why?

On Wednesday evening the Canton League of Women Voters (LWV) had a candidates forum for the at-large candidates for NCC.

The SCPR's take on LWV forums is that they are the least informative of all the venues for candidate presentation because moderator Dick Kuhn clamps down real quick on discussions when they get direct and personal.

Yes, such exchanges can get a little messy.  But democracy at its finest is messy.  And for the likes of Kuhn to thwart the processes of democratic dialogue is why The Report is not enthusiastic for LWV presentations.

Wednesday night was somewhat of an exception for the hoity-toity LWV types in that they allowed a question that was on everybody's mind but was not likely to be permitted by Kuhn (in the SCPR's experience) to be put to the candidates.

The responses of the candidates were interesting to say the least (reference: the video at the end of this blog to see the the complete exchange):

Osborne defended his way of being as between himself and Council, to wit:
  • fell back on an opening of the forum remark by Moderator Kuhn (i.e. 'the press spins the news, partial reporting; that's the way it has been") in obvious reference to The Repository's anti-Chuck Osborne (pro-North Canton Council) stance.  In other words, apparently, The Rep has misreported or insufficiently reports an authentic description of Osborne's relationship with Council.
  • Council treats him differently than others addressing them on the Public Speaks (PS) portion of Council's agenda.  According to Osborne, he is reigned in to be in compliance to individual PS time limitations whereas others are given carte blanche to go on and on in violation of Council's time standards.
  • his tense relationship with Council is grounded on his making Council accountable because he has done his research on issues and they have no answer and consequently they resort to personal attacks on his credibility.
  • Council baits him into making disruptive outbursts by spinning what he has said by undermining what he has said in his PS remarks
Other to admit - implicitly - that he gets out-of-line "occasionally," Osborne does not square up with the base question as to whether or not he can work in a non-combative way with the rest of Council, if elected.

Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling (first elected to Council along with Osborne (and Kathy Magel) in 2001 says that she has worked well with Osborne in the two years spent on Council about 10 years ago and there is no reason to believe that he would be a problem if elected this year, but then belies (in the opinion of the SCPR) that statement by going on to comparing him to her irrepressible ten year old.

She tries to cast an maternal understanding on Osborne's outbursts which is hardly the type of relationship that voters expect of collegial Counsel members.

In essence, notwithstanding her literal words to the contrary, The Report interprets her remarks "in reality" as being a negative on Osborne's ability to work with Council in a politically mature manner.

To his credit, Councilman Mark Cerreta does not try to deal with the question.

Cerreta has been on Council long enough (since being appointed to replace Revoldt) to know how Osborne operates vis-a-vis Council (which included one occasion in which then Council President Revoldt had Osborne escorted by a North Canton policeman out of Council). 

The SCPR in the several years of covering North Canton Council has seen numerous reactions on Council members' parts in which they express their dissatisfaction (in public and privately) with Osborne's approach to Council.

The SCPR's point is a belief that Kiesling's response to the question on Wednesday was disingenuous and not indicative of the actual view that most, if not all, Council members have of Osborne, to wit:  that he is as a citizen addressing Council and would be as Council person be disruptive.

The Report sees value in Osborne continuing to appear before Council as a citizen who is always consummately prepared and press Council (with in time limits - which Counsel needs to apply even handed way) in a "check and balance" sort of way to justify their decisions.

It appears to yours truly that there are disagreements on key issues affecting North Canton's future between Council members that do not make it out into public view (where they belong in a democracy) in service of a desire to paint an artificial picture harmony.

But the remedy of this Council shortcoming is not:   having Osborne on Council.

Implicit in his remarks on Wednesday last is a realization that "he takes the bait" and loses control "on occasion."

Moreover, Osborne has a tendency to take a technical point of Council insufficiency and "gild the lily" on it so as to turn off those who otherwise admire the work he does.

Osborne needs to use the next two years (until the next election) to show in he can manage himself to change his interaction with Council from the PS lectern.
  • No more outbursts from the audience.  
  • No more standing at the lectern and continuing to talk on when he has been told that his time has expired.
  • and, putting Council miscues in the context of broader take of an overall issue (i.e. not failing to see the forest for the trees).
In defense of Osborne, the North Canton should know that a lot of Osborne's information about non-public issues and planning et cetera that goes on in North Canton government comes to him in conversations he has (or more correctly, has had) with various members of Council chief among whom is Councilman Jeff Davies.

Osborne has shared with yours truly numerous matters which Davies has held counsel with Osborne on and then  (according to Osborne) has nary a word to say about in public Council meetings when a given topic is brought up.

If such is the case, Osborne needs to learn the adage:  "first time, shame on you; second time, shame on me."

Why would he keep going back to such a source?

Also, The Report believes at least one Council member "pulls Osborne's leg" with disinformation designed to get an - in the public, before Council at Public Speaks - reaction.

Such conduct, if true, is unbecoming of public officials and needs to stop now!  Additionally, Osborne needs to be more discerning as to whom he is getting information from.

The SCPR's point in bringing up the Davies and annoymous things is to suggest that these Council members need to clean up their own acts and thereby assist Osborne to getting to the place that he achieves a public perception of being a consistently valuable asset to the processes and substance of North Canton government.

Every government unit in America needs solid, knowledgeable citizen participation and involvement and North Canton has a ready, willing and potentially able such person in Chuck Osborne.

Perhaps in two years henceforth Osborne can bring his superior knowledge of North Canton government (acknowledged by nearly everyone who has seen him in action) to the table for North Cantonians to consider in the context of having reined himself in and thereby being fully capable of being a non-disruptive, in fact, positive, constructive asset to Council.

Given his history vis-a-vis Council since being off Council (December 31, 2002), the SCPR thinks it is problematical, if not predictable, that the well-meaning Osborne would be a disruptive force if elected this time around.

Osborne believes he will be elected this time around.

A number of North Canton political/government figures do not agree, largely because the believe that North Canton's voters picture him as being a polarizing figure who would likely embroil Council in unhelpful conflict and debate.

Nonetheless, they are nervous about the possibilities.

And, perhaps, for good reason.

Name familiarity is a big factor with many voters because of their unpreparedness of knowing the candidates and their stands on issues.

In North Canton politics, there is probably no name that strikes a cord with the citizenry than the name: CHUCK OSBORNE.

Here is the video of Wednesday nights discussion on the issue of whether or not Chuck Osborne would be divisive as a member of North Canton City Council, if elected:

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