Monday, April 1, 2013


(UPDATED:  08:15 AM)
Schuring & Slesnick Show Up
at Canton City Hall to Talk
Local Gov't Fund Reduction

(also:  Schuring video talk about meetup)
 Vassar Park Resident
Bruce Nordman
"No More Excuses" Mayor Healy
On Police Force Numbers
Funding Reduction Notwithstanding

(also:  video  Healy/Nordman exchange) 

Okay!   So it's April 1st.  On the Slesnick part of the headline:  Happy April Fools Day!!!

After weeks of trying, Canton City Council's president Allen Schulman's effort to get members of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly (OGA) is bearing fruit.

Last Thursday, the SCPR was at a North Canton sponsored event (solving the Zimber Ditch flooding problem) held at the North Canton Civic Center and had the blessing of encountering state Rep. J. Kirk Schuring.

On greeting the good state representative, the first thing yours truly asked of him:  "When are you going to show up in Canton?"

This would be in response to Schulman's request (make about six weeks ago) that he and his fellows (Hagan, Oelslager and Slesnick) do so for the purpose of explaining what you are doing or not doing to solve the local government funding crisis which is ravaging most of if not all of Stark County's school districts, townships, villages, cities, and, indeed, the county government itself?

As Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) circa (1964 - 1969:  "Gomer Pyle - U.S.M.C.) used to say:  "Sur-prise, sur-prise, sur-prise!"

Schuring knocked yours truly's socks off in saying:  "I met with several members of Canton City Council today (Schulman and Councilman Jim Griffin as well as a few other Canton officials (Finance Director DiRuzza and Annexation/Service/Safety Director Warren Price).

Though he would not reveal much about the conversation (by the way, he did say that the representative representing Canton proper; namely, Stephen Slesnick) was also present, he did leave The Report with a nugget of information:  He (Schuring) is going to introduce legislation on Tuesday that apparently has something to do with the deficit funding matter.

Again, he would not specify.  He only said that he would leave revealing the specifics to Canton authorities and in a provocative way teased:  "stay tuned!"

Here is the Schuring video wherein he talks about meeting with Canton officials.

The SCPR has gotten in touch with President Schulman and here is what he had to say in an reply email to The Report;

From: allen schulman
Subject: Re: Schuring & Slesnick meeting today
To: "Martin Olson" <>
Date: Friday, March 29, 2013, 9:36 AM

Good morning Martin!

To answer your inquiry, we did meet with Representatives Schuring
and Slesnick yesterday.

Member Griffin, Director Price, Director DiRuzza and I were present to conduct an informal session to understand what was being done in Columbus to help struggling urban areas like our own.

The meeting was informative and candid.

While I will share my views at a  later date, it is probably best to let the General Assembly Representatives speak for themselves.

It does appear that these State Representatives understand and [are] concerned about the serious impact on urban centers from the various cuts to local communities.

Personally, I believe that there may be a response from Columbus, albeit on a limited basis.

At this point, any additional funding would be welcome. However, it is clear that a significant change in philosophy is required before local communities are restored to their previous funding levels. State Republican leadership believes that local government is bloated and inefficient. That view is not borne out by the facts. Nevertheless, I will continue to speak out against these destructive funding cuts and the terrible cost to local communities like Canton that are  the result of misguided policies driven more by ideology than sound public

I hope that answers your questions. ... .


It had to be gratifying for Schulman and his fellow Canton city officials to see Representative Slesnick (a Canton Democrat) in Canton.  However, not all was "peaches and cream."  For the snub of Canton officialdom at the hand of state Representative Christina Hagan and state Senator Scott "I'm too busy" Oelslager continues.

As mentioned above, Slesnick was present also.  But clearly "as second fiddle" to Schuring.  Being a Democrat in the supermajority Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly he is little more than a wallflower on the ornate walls of the House chamber.

Slesnick's presence had to be bittersweet inasmuch as last Monday night Slesnick was in Akron for an Akron Budget Town Hall meeting.  He couldn't even send a legislative aide to his home district.  Hmm?

His snub of the hometown is almost enough to start a rumor that he must be planning to move from the Hall of Fame city to the Rubber Capital to start a new political career.

But that couldn't be true.

For in Akron the name Slesnick would not have near the political oomph that it does in Canton.

He desperately needs the family name Slesnick if he is to be a political success.

Stephen is in his own right is so colorless and boring and therefore unimpressive to the extent he could not generate enough personality to get elected dog catcher outside his home digs, no?

The SCPR was not the only one caught by sur-prise on Slesnick and Schuring showing up.

Yours truly inquired of Councilpersons Cirelli, Fisher, Mariol and Morris and was told the meeting was news to them but it was welcome news.

The Stark County Political Report agrees with Vassar Park resident Burce Nordman who has been working feverishly to help Canton and Stark County government to solve the county's/the city's crime problem.

He says that Canton needs to solve its perceived and REAL crime problem if it is going once again to become the shining jewel of a city it once was (producing President William McKinley).

Mayor William Healy, notwithstanding his political campaign (2007, 2011) rhetoric of "zero tolerance of crime in Canton", has utterly failed as a matter of substance to make any headway on reducing crime.

Now that Nordman and his Vassar Park friends are putting the heat on to increase the police force from 150 policemen to 175 policemen, Healy is crying that State of Ohio government cuts of approximately $6.5 million in recent years prevent his administration from putting more police on the streets.

Witness this video exchange (last week council meeting) between Nordman and Healy:

Before this latest political gambit, Healy was blaming the county financial crisis and the defunding of the sheriff's department which forced a reduction in the use of county jail beds in use from 501 to about 300 as a reason why his claimed reduction of  crime in Canton (a claim which is clearly open to dispute) has leveled off if not increased by his own numbers.

We have all come to know the mayor as being a veritable artist of political spin.  Accordingly, it is difficult to give him any credibility for anything he says.

While there is documented credibility to his claim that the State of Ohio has balanced its budget on the backs of local government, he undermines the significance of the impact on Canton city government by his seemingly spendthrift ways in hiring new folks for the mayor's office, to wit:
  • William Bartos, communications director at $58,500 on 02/05/2013
  • Michelle Chyatte, management assistant at $38,800 on 08/14/2012, and
  • Ashley Wright, research and referral assistant at $26,000 on 11/12/2012
Also, he has legislation in the works to increase (at his whim, meaning that some will get no raise while others get more than the overall percentage of raises) non-bargaining employees at 2% of the current total salaries of this classification of employees.

And that is not all.

He has found $3 millon of capital funds at risk from what the SCPR believes to be a very shaky Hercules Project.

There is another $360,000 for a questionable in terms of real effectiveness of a "shotspotter flex" program passed by council or March 18th of this year.  Consider these other expenditures (LINK to September 17, 2012 blog):
  • $13,895.00 for remote control blinds in the mayor's 8th floor of city hall office,
  • $12,673.00 for a big-screen "smart board-esque TV" and another
  • $14,995 for camera and programing for the smart board
Also, there is the matter of pay increases that the mayor is contemplating to Finance Director DiRuzza (from $62,450 when he hired in two years ago to his present $68,399 to soon-to-be $80,000 [about $17,500 in increases in two years]) and to Warren Price (service director, safety director, chief-of-staff and annexation director) who gets about $33,000 in increases in four years.

So between DiRuzza and Price the city will be paying $50,000 a year more in 2013 than in 2009.

And there is more to the story.

Other city officials (including city council members) have gotten raises that builds upon the $50,000 more that DiRuzza and Price likely will soon be getting.

And, of course, Healy is - as pointed above - is asking for another 2% of the cumulative non-bargaining unit salary base for additional raises.  The cost?  Probably about $120,000.  Hmm?  (Note:  the SCPR calculates the 2013 contemplated raises to be approximately $120,000 based on the 2011 $198,000 3.2%-based figure)

The SCPR has learned from a councilman that some on council are insisting that the law department  amend language to the effect that Healy cannot concentrate the raises on certain administration favored employees and also that council itself would not again participate in a previous round of raises as occurred in July, 2011.

In June of 2011 council lifted a freeze on pay increases which resulted in a 3.2% increase that amounted to about $198,000 total in increases passed out to various city non-bargaining unit employees.
These expenditures show that the mayor can dig up money for what he deems to be important but then poor mouths it when it comes to what the citizens of Canton want.

What do they want?

More policemen patrolling their neighborhoods.

The cost?

Beefing up to 175 officers as Group 175 wants will be about $825,000 a year according to figures developed by Nordman.

Healy said in the video above that it would cost Canton most if not all of the money ($6.5 million over six or seven years) to fund police expansion.

Quite a disparity between $825,000 and $6.5 million, no?

Undoubtedly, the difference is that the mayor is looking at sustainability over a period of years whereas Nordman is looking at a one year cost factor.

It also points out how slick Healy is when he starts talking numbers.

If called on it, he would backtrack immediately and correct the apples and oranges comparison sleight of hand that might not be that apparent to the casual observer.

So lets add up the numbers:

Does anyone believe that the expense numbers in the spreadsheet above constitute the ONLY discretionary expenditures during the 2009 - through 2012 time period?

If so, then yours truly want to talk to you about you perhaps buying some Florida swamp land.

The SCPR is convinced that Nordman et al is a political force that Healy has not reckoned with before in terms of being intelligent, dynamic, researched, persistent, enduring while non-belligerent as a civic action effort.

And he will find that out if he does not already know it now when he meets them on April 16th.

Political spin and finesses will not work with these folks!

The Report believes that in the end Nordman's 175 Group (the number of Canton policemen they are insisting upon patrolling the streets of Canton) will be the number that Canton's officials will find the financial wherewithal to support.

And of course, if Stark County Democratic Party chairman Randy Gonzalez will get off his duff and pick up on the vulnerability that the likes of Oeslager, Schuring and Hagan (all Stark County Republicans) might be facing for their support of the gargantuan State of Ohio local government funding cuts (which is contributing to local tax increases and/or less ditch repairs, road/street repairs/resurfacing; less park hours [Jackson] and the like) in the 2014 elections and field "real" candidates that have a "real" chance to run "really" competitive campaigns, then Stark County (indeed, all Ohio political subdivisions) might experience a reversal of the State of Ohio apparent abandonment of local government.

The same for Republican Stark County chair Jeff Matthews in finding viable opposition to Democrat Stephen Slesnick.

All four of them stand by and watch the State of Ohio accumulate upwards of $2 billion dollars in surplus while school districts, townships, villages, and cities have to ask for local tax increases or that citizens accept less in local government services.

Stark Countians should be besieging Gonzalez and Matthews to find more than token candidates to take the Stark County legislative incumbents on and thereby provoke a change in Columbus.

It is a credit to Canton City Council President Allen Schulman who has gotten this ball rolling.

It is a credit that Vassar Park resident Bruce Nordman has seized the initiative to make Canton a safer place which business/industry/commerce might one day seek out as a desirable place to be.

Representative Schuring may be in the process of redeeming himself now that it is being driven home to him that Stark Countians are saying in increasing numbers that enough is enough in terms of State of Ohio local government funding cuts.

If he actually does something, the SCPR will be laudatory of his action in future blogs.

Now all one can do is assume disingenuousness.

He could be pulling a Healy and making it look like he is taking action while in reality all that being said and "apparently" done is nothing more than appearance and in the end more garbage for the political dumpster.

Such is why everyday citizens are becoming more and more cynical of, disenchanted and disaffected with elected officials.

But maybe not,

Perhaps he has seen the light and will take some political risks with his own political party for the benefit of Stark Countians.

The core of his district is Jackson Township.  Because of State of Ohio cuts, the township's parks are at risk in terms of scope of use to township residents and in terms of keeping up with maintenance and repair with no money for capital improvements.

The SCPR will be watching and a growing body of Stark Countians are watching to see whether Schuring will stand up for Stark's local governments.

Oelslager and Hagan have signified by their refusal to meet with local government officials over their participation in the reduction of state monies to:
  •  all of Stark County's political subdivisions in the case of Oelslager (he represents all but the western fringe of the county),
  • Alliance, East Canton, East Sparta, Louisville, Magnolia, Minerva, Nimishillen Township, Marlboro Township, Pike Township, Lake Township, part of Plain Township, Osnaburg Township and Sandy Township in the case of Christina Hagan
that it is their political party and its ideology of strangling government at all levels over the everyday needs of their districts' citizens.

Their decision has been made.

If their constituents re-elect them in 2014, then the SCPR does not want to hear them complain.

The SCPR retort will be:  Buck up Oelsalger and Hagan (and perhaps Schuring constituents - as said above, "we shall see") constituents.  You have made your choice for less government - now live with it!

No comments: