Tuesday, April 9, 2013



The Entire Debate 
on the 
Nonbargaining Employee Pay Raise Issue 

Citizen Leon Cote Speaks Out Against Raise

Citizens David Morgan & Bret Moore
Make a Point of Identifying
9th Ward Incumbent as being
Frank Morris

Yours truly has the feeling that the race between incumbent Ward 9 Councilman Frank Morris and "hoodwinked by Councilwoman Mary Cirelli" Joe Cole (currently councilman-at-large) into running for the ward seat is reverberating throughout Canton City Hall these days.

Two Morris supporters (Morgan and Moore) are shown in the following video making it abundantly clear to Cole that Morris is the incumbent councilman in the 9th. 

Last night the battleground was how much of a raise are non-bargaining city hall employees going to get? 

Answer?  2.5% rather than the alternative of 2% preferred by the anti-Healy bloc. 

Before the debate on what amount the raise should be, Cantonian Leon Cote spoke to the issue.

What the SCPR thinks is the anti-William J. Healy bloc (more or less) of Canton councilpersons (Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris) lost one last night to the Healy loyalists (Babcock, Cole, Dougherty, Griffin, Smith and West) on a tie roll call vote on an amendment of the original legislation.

There was language in the amendment curtailing the frequency of which non-bargaining employees can get raises which was sort of a concession to those voting no on the modification as was language excluding elected officials (including council itself) from participating in the raise.

In what The Report thinks was dubious legal reasoning on the part of Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio that although council president Allen Schulman is not entitled to vote on tie votes on amendments of legislation (only on tie votes of the prime legislation itself) that because the council members actually voted roll call rather than a more typical voice vote basis, they thereby empowered Schulman  to break a tie he could not otherwise have voted on.

Yours truly's recollection is that tie votes where there is no tie breaker means the proposal fails.

This was after Martuccio made a passionate plea for the raise on behalf of employees in his office to get the 2.5% rather than the 2%.

Maybe just an itsy-bitsy conflict in interest?  Think maybe?

Before the vote, Schulman himself said to council that if it came down to his voting on a tie among council members, he was voting for the 2.5%.

To the SCPR, this was a not too subtle hint that members might just as well vote for the 2.5% figure.

An interesting tidbit:  Schulman is the one who called for the roll call vote.  It was not a councilperson that made the call.  And that equals council consenting to Schulman voting on what he is not otherwise entitled to vote on?  Hmm?

Kevin Fisher did flip on the vote on the legislation itself thereby sparing Schulman from actually having to break the tie on the underlying legislation as (properly ?) amended.

Even the normally "cool as a cucumber-esque" Warren Price got caught up in the emotion of the evening in announcing that he was rejecting his $12,000 raise for taking on Tom Ream's duties as safety director inasmuch as Ream is leaving in about two weeks.

Price offered that the 2.5% raise would cost about $150,000 and therefore ($150,000 minus $12,000) makes the cost $138,000) which is only $18,000 over the $120,000 estimated cost of a 2% raise.

Indications are that while Price's outburst was in the order of being high drama, council is not going to stand for him being service director, annexation director, safety director and chief of staff without receiving the additional $12,000.

Apparently, the Healy administration asked Canton city government department heads to be at the meeting in force.


So that those who wanted the raise to be 2%,  inasmuch as Canton still faces a projected $1.3 general fund shortfall for the 2014 city budget, had to look the managers in the eye before voting against the amendment calling for a 2.5% increase.

In light of the full court press applied by Healy, it was pretty impressive to the SCPR that Cirelli, Fisher, Hawk, Mack, Mariol and Morris stood their ground on the amendment issue and voted no.

Here is the SCPR video of the entire debate on the pay raise issue.


Who was representing the Canton taxpayer?

Presumably the six no votes on the amendment. However, only Councilman Mack articulated that he was fending for the taxpayers.

One has to wonder why council didn't come up with an amendment to make the pay raise applicable only to non-supervisory, non-bargaining employees?

How does Canton justify increases to those making let's say $50,000 and up in the light of the constant crying by Mayor Healy (when it suits him) about the dearth of revenues.

Moreover, we all know Healy always manages to find money for what he thinks is important.  Witness his 2011 out-of-town trips.

The pay increase fight is just one of quite a number between the warring forces on council.

The underlying political tussle has gone under a variety of names over the past 16 months:  Redflex traffic cameras, the parks' funding and structure, fee increases for various city services, to name just a few.

The clearest manifestation of the war is the Morris/Cole face off.

If the Healy administration fails to keep Cole on council then it looks very likely that the mayor will be facing a clear 7 to 5 majority against him on controversial legislation.

Some may look at the 9th Ward race as a localized affair that has nothing to do with the political divide that currently consumes city hall.

But to do so is to be politically naive.

The stakes in the Ward 9 election could not be higher.

It is not a question of whether or not council will still be divided.

The question is which side of the divide will control Canton City Council!

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