Tuesday, June 12, 2012


There was a heavy touch of political irony taking place in North Canton last evening.

On the one hand, you had 16th District Congressman Jim Renacci (R - Wadsworth) decrying the growth of the national debt and vowing to fight to put the brakes on federal spending so as to protect, he says, the wealth of future generations of Americans.

On the other hand, you had North Cantonians present last night and last Wednesday (at the Stark County commissioners community meeting) beseeching public officials (the commissioners, North Canton Mayor David Held, North Canton City Council et cetera) to seek federal funding now to help fix Stark County's flooding problem.

One such person is Marty Martin of North Canton.  Last night he got in the ear of Congressman Renacci as he was trying to make his way out of the meeting.  Martin wanted to know of Renacci:  Why can't the federal government fix the infrastructure problems of America rather than doing nation building in Afghanistan.

While Mayor David Held seemingly was content with lauding Renacci for merely showing up to North Canton to have an eyeball look at the the problem, the reality is that he expects the congressman to deliver federal money to Stark.

As does North Canton Council president Jon Snyder.

The focus of officials dealing with Stark flooding is on Zimber Ditch which courses down the middle of Stark, but is by no means the only flooding problem in the county so says Gary Connor who is Stark's chief hydraulics engineer working out of the Stark County engineer's office.

But just to fix Zimber Ditch will take millions upon millions of dollars and many years of continuous repair projects.

Some estimates have the total bill ranging from 60 to 80 million being spent over a 10 year period of time.

Where is the money to come from?

Certainly not Stark County, remember just months ago the county faced financial ruin.  The sheriff had laid off 41 deputies and all departments of Stark County government were cut severely.

And, had a November, 2011 0.5% sales tax issue not passed, Stark County would be facing even more drastic cuts for years 2013, 2014 and on and on and on.

As it is, there is no money for finding millions upon millions upon millions to use in fixing Stark's flooding problem.

So where is the money to come from?

Answer:  the United States treasury at the expense of other American taxpayers, that's where.

Like it or not Stark Countians either directly to federal elected officials (e.g. Renacci) or through local elected officials (through Renacci) are asking Congress  for "a transfer of wealth" from the nation to Stark County.

That, folks, is a form of lobbying!

We typically think of the likes of the following as lobbying groups:

However, anytime anyone asks of the government: a grant, a tax break or for an exclusive government enforced right; the activity is lobbying, pure and simple.

It is not a question of the justness of the cause.  It is a question of the persuasive power of those doing the asking.

Congressman Renacci says he is for protecting future generations which means cutting the federal deficit and federal spending, but can he deliver for the future when he is being pressed by the "here and now?"

Is he a man of his word?

If he is,  Stark County will get precious little, if anything, in terms of federal funding in order to fix its long neglected ditch maintenance.

But the congressman will come and look.   And he will write letters like he did to the Army Corp of Engineers.  After all, it is an election year.  He is running (because of redistricting and the loss of two Ohio congressional seats) against another incumbent:  Betty Sutton, Democrat of Copley, Summit County, Ohio.

Maybe Mayor Held's first expression last night will prove to be prophetic in his saying that its more than North Canton could have expected that the congressman came to visit council and take a look at the ditch.

While the effect of citizen and public official requests for federal funding is lobbying for the rest of America and future generations to pay to fix Stark's problem, the local political pressure factor is not the equivalent of an AARP.

But lobbying it is.

So the generalized Renacci described problems of deficit and spending really does have a reality and a share in local communities clamoring for federal dollars.

Here is a video of Congressman Renacci's entire talk at North Canton City Council last night.

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