Tuesday, April 2, 2013



Healy Gets Council to Agree
 Call for Executive Session
With Nary a  Question?


What SCPR & Others
Question as Being a Valid Use of
Executive Session 

It is apparent to the SCPR.  Once again, William J. Healy, II is stomping mad that Canton City Council is intent on sitting on his imperial executive style.

So what does he do?

Well, he asked for and received (with no dissent) authority from that very same council to hold an executive session on a discussion that has every outward appearance of being a policy matter that Ohio's Open Meetings law requires be held in public view.

To yours truly, for not one single council member to have asked why the session had to be an executive session is simply unbelievable.

Here is a video of how the request and how the vote went down:

On to council's post executive session reaction to the session itself.

Other than glittering generalities, to wit:
  • “very general information explaining the basic framework:" Councilman John Mariol, Democrat 7th Ward,
  • “It could have been done in public:” Councilman Greg Hawk, Democrat 1st Ward,
  • “[o]utside of some examples used, I didn’t think there was anything discussed that we needed an executive session. They were using examples. There were a couple of names thrown out just because everyone in the room knew who they were:  Council Kevin Fisher, Democrat 5th Ward,  (for quotes see Canton talks raises behind closed doors, The Repository, Matt Rink, 04/01/2013)
which validate the SCPR's position (the executive session "appears" to have been improperly held), there is very little, if anything, to indicate that the session was, in de facto reality, one that fit within the scope of Ohio Revised Section 121.22 (Public meetings, exceptions):
(G) Except as provided in division (J) of this section, the members of a public body may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold an executive session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the following matters:

(1) To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official,  ... .
With Healy in public sessions telling Cantonians that Canton can't do this and Canton can't do this because Canton has no money and then to shower certain of his most loyal Canton city government managers with "merit" raises doesn't quite wash.

And it seems that there is a clash coming (perhaps as early as next week's meeting) between the mayor and the likes of Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris on proposed legislation to empower the mayor to give raises of 2.5% (to match what unions received earlier this year) to nonunion members of his administration.

Perhaps the most telling revelation of what the mayor took council into executive session last night is contained in this excerpt of an email sent out by staunch Healy supporter David Dougherty (Democrat - 6th Ward):
There will be a couple of proposed amendments that night.  The first one submitted by Majority Leader Dougherty pertains to the twelve individuals who received a 3% salary increase in December of 2012.  Majority Leader Dougherty is suggesting if this legislation passes that these twelve individuals will not receive an additional 2% salary increase.  The amendment will read to the effect of "provided they haven't received a salary increase in the last six months". 

The second proposed amendment is by Member Mack eliminating Elected Officials participation in increases. 
Section 2 of the proposed legislation also provides the possibility that elected officials of the City of Canton will similarly enjoy a 2% wage increase at some point in the future by increasing the maximum salary of said elected officials. 
In light of the budget constraints discussed elected officials of the City of Canton should lead by example. 
Member Mack is requesting that all elected officials be removed from the unit classifications described in Exhibit A to the proposed legislation.  He feels this will eliminate the possibility that the salaries of our elected officials will be increased during a time when our City is experiencing economic difficulty.

Also, in the near future Personnel Chairman Griffin will be having a personnel committee meeting to discuss amending Ordinance 100/2011.   The goal of this amendment is to eliminate the discretion the Mayor has in regards to dispersing increases every six months and have the salary increases come before Council for approval.

(underlining emphasis added by SCPR)
As anyone can see in reading this excerpt, it is pretty obvious that there is nothing private or sensitive about the debate between Healy and his opponents on council, it is, to repeat, about curbing Healy's authority to pass out raises to administration favorites:
Also, in the near future Personnel Chairman Griffin will be having a personnel committee meeting to discuss amending Ordinance 100/2011.   The goal of this amendment is to eliminate the discretion the Mayor has in regards to dispersing increases every six months and have the salary increases come before Council for approval.
The SCPR believes the proffering of the names by the administration of specific individuals was a CYA operation that may make the session (if it were to be challenged in court) "technically" legal.

Nonetheless, from a political standpoint Cantoninans should be affronted that its government is willing to debate what appears to the SCPR to be policy questions out-of-the-public-view.

Predictably, post-council-meeting, Deputy Chief Counsel Kristen Bates Aylward (Canton Law Department) provided her justification for the Healy executive session call.

Good try chief counsel, but the SCPR is not buying.

We all know that Healy (the MBA graduate New York University's Stern School of Business, he is) is well taken with himself (some might, certainly not the SCPR [sarcasm, no?], even say he is arrogant) who brooks no opposition to what he determines he wants to do with the taxpayer provided resources.

Witness his firing of Tom Bernabei (service director/chief-of-staff; now a Stark County commissioner) early on in his administration and his encouraging of former Safety Director Tom Nesbitt to move on is ample indication of Healy's "my way or the highway" mentality.

More recently, his attempt to bring former Chief Deputy Sheriff Rick Perez on board as director (re: "the sort of" Healy administration of the Canton-Stark County Crime Lab), is recent indication that the "tiger (in his own mind) has not changed his stripes."

The "sort of" Healy administration of the Crime Lab entailed taking the directorship out of civil service (giving the mayor power to hire and fire) and collaterally reducing the qualification to the point that, perhaps, the all important evidence certification, validation and verification function of the lab has less credibility because its chief is not required, under the revised job description, to be a scientist.

What is at stake, mind you, is "putting bad guys/girls away" for the benefit of the public's safety, no?

So do Cantonians/Stark Countians want "the imperial one" in his apparent insatiable drive for enhanced personal political power anywhere near being in charge of Crime Lab administration?

One wouldn't think so, no?

Because he is forced to work with the Stark Council of Governments (SCOG) and because Canton is a minority factor (in financing, utilization and equipment ownership compared to the outside-of-Canton Stark County part of SCOG) is in the process of reining him in.

And when "the writing was on the wall" in terms of SCOG calling him on his political power move, what did he do?

He threw Safety Director Tom Ream under the bus.  According to Healy, it was all Ream's doing.

Do not believe that.

The Crime Lab fiasco has Healy written all over it.

But that will not stop Healy from being the quintessential political hypocrite he is.

Soon (it was announced last night) Healy will put on a "dog and pony show" testifying to what a terrific safety director Tom Ream has been.


Ream has been asked how it felt having the Healy driven bus run over him.  He reportedly feigned showing the tire marks across a part of his anatomy.  Despite the joking attitude about it, he had to feel the pain. 

Perhaps the upcoming show will lessen the pain?

Moreover, The Report thinks he did not deserve the treatment he received at the hand of Healy.

And, by the way, the SCPR is told that Healy has offered the safety director position to two or three, but has been turned down flat out.

Hence, Warren Price is to now be:
  • service director
  • annexation director
  • safety director, and
  • chief of staff
Coming full circle, the ball is in council's court.

Is council going to allow Healy the authority to use the hard earned Cantonian taxpayer money to reward his out-and-out loyalists while throwing the rest a few crumbs?

Make no mistake about it, at bottom, this battle is on the issue of whether or not Canton is going to be an example of "for the people and taxpaying public" open, accessible, communicative, accountable or transparent government.

Or, if the mayor controls the agenda, is it going to be about an (in his own mind) philosopher-king-esque mayor who thinks he can politically maneuver in secret (which the SCPR thinks may be a clear indication of "bad faith" in doing good things for the taxpaying public) to enhance his personal political power?

Massillon, Plain Township and Stark County government (the commissioners) are making great strides in making local government for democratic friendly, but Canton appears to be backsliding.

Last night Canton City Council did not do a good thing in voting unanimously - without having questioned the need - to go into executive session with nary a question or protest.

And to add to "the bad night" they were having, they stayed the course for 45 minutes when it should have been apparent that the session was about public policy and not about the privacy rights of individuals and their pay.

One would have thunk that once the reality of the meeting sank in, at least one of the councilpersons would have gotten up and walked out.

It should be distressing to Cantonians that nobody did!

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