Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Since 2001 and his one term in North Canton government as a councilman, Democrat Chuck Osborne has been a "royal pain in the a_ _" (the SCPR's words) to David Held.

Republican Held came from Marlboro Township where he was a trustee to become North Canton's city administrator.  For the last five years or so he has been the elected mayor of The Dogwood City.

But partisan politics (Democrat/Republican) has had very little, if anything, to do with their acerbic relationship which has coursed over more than 10 years.

Over those years Held has had to sit and listen (sometimes contending) as Osborne has lambasted him for one position/policy/action or another seemingly meeting, after meeting, after meeting.

So it was no surprise to North Cantonians who regularly attend North Canton City Council meetings regularly held on Monday nights for Osborne to get up and pillory Held on the evening of March 26, 2012.

The question among local political observers is the "real" purpose of such outbursts.

Is it a case of Chuck Osborne desperately flailing about seeking an issue that will catapult him back into a role in North Canton government or is it all about a citizen who is selflessly extending himself to make his local government "be all that it can be?"

On the 26th, Osborne took to the lectern during the "public speaks" portion with his latest round of castigation of Held, to wit:

Osborne was speaking in opposition to the issue of whether or not proposed North Canton Ordinance 24-12.  An ordinance he says allows for an employee to take vacation that had not yet accrued.

Moreover, he went into a chapter and verse description (quoted, in part, below) of an employee (not specifically named) whom he alleges was hired by Mayor Held knowing full well that the employee had a major medical condition:

In Osborne's words:

In recent weeks after securing payroll records of an employee recently hired by the City, I found that the employee has taken all their personal days allowed for the year, all their sick leave allowed for the hours worked and the one vacation day they had accrued on the job. Even with the sick time, personal days, and vacation time taken, the employee lost several days of work due to the need for major surgery.
The changes proposed in Ordinance 24-12, would have allowed this new employee to use their ten days of vacation to cover their lost work days even though they had been on the job for only a few weeks.

This begs the question. Does the City require a pre-employment physical before hiring an individual for employment and are political appointees made promises as to the availability of medical benefits for known major health problems before they are hired?
Osborne says that his concern is that North Canton taxpayers, by virtue of Held's hiring practices (which he alleges amount to Held hiring his friends and acquaintances), will be stuck with avoidable (North Canton is a self-insurer with stop-loss insurance coverage) medical costs.

Held was not present at the meeting because he was on a family vacation trip.

However, he did contact Osborne when enroute on the vacation wanting to know who was the source of his allegations due to his concerns for the employee's HIPPA privacy rights.

Osborne refused and continues to refuse to reveal his source.

What's more, Osborne requested that North Canton City Council ask the FBI to investigate the hiring that he complained about.

On learning that council was not going to act on his request, Osborne took it on himself to hand deliver a letter of complaint and a request for investigation to the Canton FBI office on April 12th.

Last evening the SCPR contacted Mayor Held for his reaction to Osborne's initiative of contacting the FBI on the matter.

Osborne filing complaints against Held is nothing new.  His Honor tells The Report that he has been subjected to complaints with the Ohio Ethics Commissioner, the Ohio EPA, the U.S. EPA and the Stark County prosecutor's office.

Initially, Held was outraged on hearing the news that he was the subject of an FBI complaint (alternatively, he was dismissive), and, let's say, was less than charitable in his assessments of his antagonist.

One response was "I will never, ever hire Chuck Osborne into my administration."  

The mayor said that when he was about to hire a permits administrator, Osborne asked to be hired.  When asked by The Report whether or not Osborne had made a formal application for the post, Held said that he had not.

So Held's response essentially was that the latest in a long series of confrontations between him and Osborne (remember:  going over more than 10 years) is an example of "sour grapes" at not being considered for the permits job by Held.

End of conversation between Held and the SCPR?


Minutes later Held followed up with yours truly to share a more circumspect view of Osborne and his interaction with his administration.

While he maintained that Osborne is vexatious to him (e.g. not quite getting his facts right and/or taking fragmented facts and not connecting the dots accurately) by virtue of his determination and tenaciousness; Held's overall conclusion was that the testy relationship results in his being a better leader of North Canton.

He says the Osborne interplay has the effect of:
  • compelling him to  "constantly sharpen, retool, refine and strategize what [the administration] is doing,"
  • making him a more humble person.
Held went on the cite a couple of examples that Osborne has made him a better mayor:
  1. His criticism of the purchase of and the maintaining of the Arrowhead Golf Course which Held says was bought for $4.2 million and now stands valued at $1.9 million.
  2. His criticism of North Canton not doing enough to solve the flooding problems associated with the Zimber ditch that runs adjacent to the city.
He also says that Osborne has had good things to say about him in his administration of the city and that they maintain a personally respectful relationship despite their acrimonious exchanges on various topics of North Canton government.

Coming full circle to the blog headline question:  Is the Osborne-Held ongoing contention good for North Canton?
Well, what better source than Mayor David Held himself?

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