Friday, December 7, 2012


Revised and updated at 1:00 PM (re:  Young's living out-of-town status)

The SCPR has known Canton Councilman-at-Large Jimmy Babcock for about ten years.

Generally, one comes up with an initial overall impression of a public figure such as Babcock.  And the impression, either positive or negative, usually contains something substantive.

But for the life of The Report the only thing that stands out - even after 10 years - about this son of a former Canton mayor (Charles Babcock:  1958 - 1961) is a pretty irrelevant thing when it comes to evaluating his preparedness for public office: to wit, his impeccable dress, hence the graphic descriptor:  Dapper Dan.

Unless, of course, one counts as "standing-out," his political pedigree.  In addition to his father having served as mayor, his mother, Mary, served as a longtime Canton councilwoman.

Only the latter one (his political heritage) has any connection whatsoever to being a public official.  In the minds of many, being politically connected is a negative; not a positive.

But it appears that his political pedigree has gained him entre into the inner circle of "the good ole boy club," to the degree that it exists in the Stark County organized Democratic Party.

Babcock has run for office several times (including a run for mayor) and was unsuccessful until he finally clicked in the 2011 Democratic primary election.  He had no Republican opponent in the general election.

And as councilman, Babcock has not distinguished himself.  He barely opens his mouth in public sessions.

What comes to mind by way of analogy would be to coin a metaphorical expression that he is "the Clarence Thomas of the Canton City Council."

For those who do not follow national politics and government, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas merely sits by and listens to court arguments (rarely, if ever questioning the lawyers) as excruciatingly important issues of America are being argued.

In November, 2004, Democrat Kim Perez (formerly a Canton city councilman and auditor of Canton) ran for and defeated Republican Brant Luther (who was appointed to replace Janet Creighton when she decided to run for mayor of Canton) for Stark County auditor.

Apparently, one beneficiary of the political spoils that accrue to the winner, was Babcock.  He landed a job with Perez.  Obviously, one expects that Babcock remains closely allied with Perez even after Perez's defeat at the hands of Republican Alan Harold in November, 2010.

Recently, Canton treasurer Bob Schirack announced that he is retiring no later than December 31, 2013.

Perez and Canton councilman Greg Hawk (D - Ward 1) are two early entrants into the field of those who wish to replace Schirack.

The SCPR wrote a blog recently (LINK) touting Canton Chief Deputy Auditor Gary Young as being the most qualified person to become the new Canton treasurer.

Well, little did yours truly know that Councilman Babcock would take offense at The Report's enthusiasm for Young.

Not that yours truly cares one iota what Babcock, and, for that matter, Perez thinks.

So it was interesting that this past Monday right before the beginning of the regular Canton City Council meeting that Babcock would launch into an attack on yours truly.  And, it must be said, somewhat amusing.

"How dare you (implied) for not supporting Perez in his drive to become treasurer.  When you ran for office (in the early 2000s), we came to your fundraiser in Hartville.   We supported you and, now, how quickly you forget!" (paraphrase)

"Gary Young?  He doesn't even live in Canton."

And, of course, the answer to that point is that there isn't any reason why he couldn't relocate to the city of Canton proper.

It is not likely he would do that, The Report understands that.

But he is exactly the kind of guy that should be in charge of  the Canton treasury.

Babcock and others that The Report sees as being a part of the Stark County Democratic Party "good ole network" simply cannot believe that former associations fall by the wayside when one does the work that yours truly has taken up with the Stark County Political Report.

They are consummately caught up in that highly partisan political world they live in.   It is incomprehensible to them that some of us can jettison our partisan hats and look at and analyze the political landscape and political figures from a more or less objective perspective.

To the SCPR, this incident is a prime example of someone who refuses to understand that our political system is not intended to serve political parties and the personal stakes of those who staff them.

Rather our democracy is to serve the well-being of day-in, day-out citizens; not self-serving politicos.

So it was easy for yours truly to abandon involvement as a political partisan when it became obvious that for all too many of elected officials public service gets sacrificed to self-service.

Gary Young, as far as the SCPR is concerned (assuming he would be willing to move into the city) is the person who should - on the merits of his qualifications and job performance as chief deputy auditor for Canton - have the job as treasurer.

Young is much more in tune with public service than self-service.

Perez as Canton treasurer?

Kim Perez is a likable guy, but to The Report he does not have the gravitas to be the head of such an important office.

Republican Alan Harold defeated him in the general election of 2010, the SCPR believes, because the Stark County electorate perceived that he did not do enough in the way of raising alarm bells on signals to him that, perhaps, all was not right in the Stark County treasurer's office.

To The Report, Perez was a public official, in terms of yours truly's perception of his demonstrated approaches to the management of the county auditor's office, who was not fully engaged enough in the particulars of the office to have clear sense of the significance of incongruities of data from the treasury that came into the auditor's office which cried out for deeper analysis and more persistent and vehement action than Perez took.

The gist of the preceding paragraph is that the Perez style of management seems to the SCPR to be a "don't rock the boat" approach.

Alan Harold couldn't be more different in style than Perez.

To The Report, Harold is an excellent blend of characteristics of leadership that are both attentive to the smooth functioning of an office and to standards of strict accountability as to how an office is operated. Moreover, he has shown that he is not afraid to go public in a noisy way when he thinks the circumstances justify same.

Gary Young, in the view of yours truly, would function more like Harold than Perez.

An alternative to Young (should he not be interested, which is likely) would be Ward 1 Canton City Councilman Greg Hawk. 

Hawk has done a very effective job of scrutinizing some of the poorly thought out financial schemes of the Healy administration.  So much so that it is widely thought that Healy has been behind an effort to make Hawk ex-Councilman Hawk in the form of finding an opponent for him.  And his courageous stand likely cost him the chairmanship of the Canton council's finance committee.

Hawk's weakness is that he has not worked in a government office (except for a brief stint the Massillon clerk of courts office) and therefore would have a steep learning curve in getting acclimated to the job.   He has run his own business but that is not like running a department of government.

In addition to his unimpressive demonstrated history of managing the Stark County auditor's office, yours truly thinks that Perez is way too enmeshed in Stark County Democratic Party "good ole boy" politics to be an attractive candidate for the Canton treasury post.

And, The Report hears, that he has the unflinching support of Canton master politician Mayor William J. Healy, II.

Added to Healy's support is that of the seemingly quintessentially politically dependent James (Jimmy) O. Babcock who seem.

Of course, that makes sense.

Babcock is one of, if not, the most reliable "'yes for anything Healy," on council.

With his outburst against yours truly last Monday,  he indicates that he has taken on a role of being a prime Perez proponent.

If Perez succeeds in becoming Schirak's successor, can we expect political supporter Jimmy Babcock to find his way into employment in the treasurer's office?

Canton, more than ever before, needs leadership that is based on merit; not based on political connections.

It would really be a break for Cantonians if Young were to be interested in the treasury job and someone like Stark County Democratic Party Chairman Randy Gonzalez would get behind him "doing the right thing" for citizens like he did in leading the Democrats to make Republican Alex Zumbar Stark County's treasurer.

This time he would be supporting an eminently qualified Democrat.

And there certainly would be no problem whatsoever for the non-politician Democrat being elected in overwhelmingly Democratic Canton.

One final note.

Babcock cannot be reading SCPR blogs very closely.

If he had been, he would know how utterly idiotic is was for him to think that chastising yours truly would in any way affect how the SCPR is written.

What is going through that man's mind?

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