Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Last night at Canton City Council Mayor William J. Healy suffered another damaging political blow.

His "crown jewel" piece of retrenching Canton finances - the installation of Reflex camera traffic control devices - went down in defeat largely at the hands of four new members of council:  Fisher (the 5th), Mariol (the 7th), Mack (the 8th) and Morris (the 9th).

The vote:

NO:  Fisher, Mack, Mariol, Morris, Cirelli, Griffin and Hawk (7).

YES:  Babcock, Cole, Dougherty, Smith and West (5).

This group which the SCPR has respectfully dubbed "the young turks," except 9th Ward Council Frank Morris informed all last night that he is not young at age 45, is getting very skilled at blunting Mayor Healy's control of Canton's government.

As the video below shows, "the young turks" came prepared (with help from veteran council persons Cirelli and Hawk). Witness them ripping into the administration,s Redflex plan:

  • A Redflex citation means that citizen has to prove innocence rather that being proven guilty (Fisher and Cirelli),
  • Once council approves the safety director negotiating a contract with Redflex, it loses control (Schulman),
  • Redflex is an Australian company which means outsourcing (Cirelli),
  • Citizens putting pressure on council (Morris),
  • Canton becomes a collection agent for Redflex (Mack),
  • Canton exposed to "unlimited" liability in case of breach of contract (Schulman).
Last night's council action was an outright defeat for the mayor.  In previous council sessions over the summer of '12, council has derailed his proposal to allow oil and gas fracking on city owned land and put on hold his plan to revise city parks administration.   Healy had to retreat on the fracking issue and on his parks reorganization in the face of a near certain loss on a city council vote, if it was allowed to go forward.  Only his proposal to reduce the city income tax credit has passed council and that with Council President Allen Schulman breaking a 6 to 6 tie in Healy's favor.

And had Healy been able to get to 6 to 6 last night, Schulman would have broke in favor of Healy.

But he wasn't and so it appears to the SCPR that the council has pretty much taken control of Canton city government these days.

Healy's world has been crumbling of late and all of it is not all the new majority's doing.  Healy is proving to be quite adept at shooting himself in the foot.

Right now he is embroiled in controversies about:
  • his claimed "accidental" use of a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) credit card for personal expenses,
  • his fight with the Canton Law Department over the proper formula for squaring up financially with the 30 city of Canton employees the administration dismissed earlier this year over improper retire/rehire procedures,
  • his hiring "out-of-the-blue" a new administrator at a cost of $38,800 during a time he has been claiming that Canton faces a $3.7 million financial shortfall in 2013, and
  • also amidst the financial crisis, he is projected as spending perhaps as much as $40,000 on such things as remote control blinds, a smart board (and maybe programming for the board) as well as a camera for his 8th floor office.
Putting together his legislative defeats and his seeming self-destruct mode, it all looks to The Report as if he is losing control.

Of course, anyone who knows anything about Healy knows that whenever something negative happens to him (self-inflicted or not), he always spins it so as to appear to coming out on top.

So if he is losing control in Canton, he will undoubtedly find solace in a point of view that there can be strength, meaning and happiness in an out-of-control world.  And he will embark on a spin campaign that puts him in a positive light in the world he finds himself in the midst of.

Below is an SCPR interview of Mayor Healy (also a few questions by The Rep's Ed Balint) after last night's defeat in which it appears that he is grappling with his falling-apart-world.  Key among the points he makes are:
  • Defeat of the Redflex proposal puts a hole in 2013 budget,
  • Departments of city government will shortly be told to start planning for 2013 reductions,
  • That it now appears (at one time Healy was projecting a $3.7 million 2013 shortfall) that the "real numbers" of shortfall will range between $1.5 million and $2.5 million by the end of December,
  • If he as mayor loses $1 in revenues, he loses 70 cents on the dollar for safety (police and fire) since police and fire represents 2/3rds of the city's budget,
  • Further cuts (in light of four years of cuts) to the administrative operations of Canton government will make those offices cuts dysfunctional and therefore the look has to be at police and fire, health services, the courts and the like,
  • Even if a city income tax proposal is placed on the ballot in May, 2013 and even if it were to pass, it would not help the 2013 budget,
  • On the matter of lobbying council to vote for Redflex:
    • he spoke with two of the new members of council and made sure they understood that a "no" vote was in effect a vote in favor of cutting city services,
    • that he understands that council members are accountable to their constituents but that they needed to put the well being of the city as a whole and the stability of revenue to maintain safety forces above the politics of them getting re-elected,
    • council members had indicated in one-on-one discussions that the Redflex proposal (among other proposals) was preferred over a hike in the city income tax,
  • The administration still has some tweaking to do on some remaining proposals to generate revenue to present to council the outcome of which will play into the actual 2013 projected deficit,
  • Other factors that are a negative on city finances include:
    • that casino revenues are to be about one-half that originally projected,
  • While he would not say "Redflex is dead forever, it is on life support"
  • "The odds are incredibly high" that there will be police/fire reductions for Canton in 2013,
  • "The governor's impact on us (the Kasich administration's draconian cuts in local government funding and the elimination of the Ohio estate tax) is greater ... than The Great Recession.

No comments: