Tuesday, April 16, 2013



See Osborne's exception to Snyder at the end of the original blog.


The Stark County Political Report can understand why certain members of North Canton City Council get irritated with civic activist Chuck Osborne (a former city councilman himself [December 1, 2001, through November 30, 2003] corrected), but to single him out for different treatment when he accesses council's Public Speaks forum is totally unacceptable, IF singling out is occurring.

Assessing whether or not the former city councilman's claim of discrimination is borne out by the facts is sort of like figuring out "which comes first:  the chicken or the egg."

The SCPR's perception - from having attended many North Canton City Council meetings over the last five years - is that the relationship is a little like "it takes two to tango."

The SCPR for one finds Osborne to be a whiny, "How can you possibly see things differently than I do" type who thereby stretches the patience of his hearers to the limit of their tolerance of being annoyed.

Here are links to a number of blogs that the SCPR has done relative to Mr. Osborne and his interaction various North Canton officials:
It appears to The Report that council (mostly personified by Councilman Doug Foltz (re:  meeting 8/23/2010, Foltz wanted Osborne banned from council for a period of time:  LINK) and now council president Jon Snyder are at the end of their patience with one of Stark County's leading gadflies.

And The Report believes that to some degree Osborne has brought the "by the rules" administration of North Canton's "Public Speaks" forum down upon himself by his from time-to-time interjections from the audience when things are not going his way in council deliberations, considerations and responses regarding his public speaking forays.

Yesterday, Osborne e-mailed a local reporter (with a copy to the SCPR) his viewpoint on how he thinks he has been treated by North Canton City Council in its "Public Speaks" forum (in part) to wit:
The bigger picture, which you should be reporting on is the bold and brazen inequality that exists in the way I am treated.
You were there three weeks ago when Mr. Wechter spoke. Mr. Wechter was not even flagged for exceeding his allotted five minutes until after six minutes had elapsed. And when he was alerted that his time had elapsed, Councilmember Foltz quickly called for allowing Mr. Wechter to be able to continue and the five council members who were present, (two could not even bother to attend the council meeting) voted to allow Mr. Wechter to continue. Mr. Wechter was allowed to continue. His remarks to council lasted a total of 20-25 minutes. 
[SCPR note:  see transcript of exchange below in this blog]

Several weeks earlier, the individual (Tom Besozzi) who assaulted me and who later apologized publicly with the approval of the Canton City Prosecutor, was never advised he had exceeded his five minutes. The overflowing audience shouted him down after six minutes.

This country is all about equal treatment under the law. If the law says five minutes for Public Speaks, it should be five minutes for everyone.

North Canton City Council has repeatedly played favorites and this has gone on for years.
Just last week there was a new incident of an Osborne outburst in which he narrowly missed being "police escorted" out of council's meeting that earned him the ire of Councilman Snyder, to wit:

Moreover, it is the SCPR's assessment that Osborne has antagonized council members and members of the Held administration (and the mayor himself) with his from time-to-time "in your face" style.

If such were not enough, he has, on at least two occasions, more or less taken over council's legislative function as evidenced by his legislative initiative drives designed to get the people of North Canton to approve ordinances over the head of council as a body.

One of the initiatives passed last November.  The ordinance prohibits council members (as part-time elected officials) from participating in North Canton's health care plan.

Back in November, 2005 Osborne's initiative petition ballot quest to curb use of city funds for its Community Improvement Corporation operations was rejected by North Cantonians.

Still further back (2003) Osborne failed in an effort to get to the ballot a referendum of whether or not North Canton should purchase Arrowhead Country Club.

At last check, Osborne says that North Canton has yet to include the healthcare ordinance in its codification of North Canton law.

So it appears to the SCPR that there is plenty of "bad blood" between him and North Canton officialdom and that he may now be paying the price.

It may well be that council members are not consciously singling Osborne out.  But it is hard to believe that clash, after clash, after clash does not taint the way that council views him and, perhaps, deals with him.

On March 25th of this year, several speakers appeared at North Canton's regular meeting to address council as participants in the Public Speaks forum.

One was Gary Wechter a former North Canton councilman (like Osborne) who wanted to express his concern to council about how American Electric Power was handling the trimming of trees as they affect electric power lines.

Turning to a transcript of the meeting, follow along:
Fox: (Tim Fox, North Canton law director)

Excuse me sir. 

Wechter:  Yeah ...

Fox:  I apologize.  You have reached the five-minute point.

Wechter:  Okay.

Fox:  But if the Chair wishes, it can extend ...

Snyder:  (Jon Snyder, council president)  I'll allow him to speak.

Foltz:  (Doug Foltz, Ward 1)

(The same Doug Foltz who wanted to ban former Councilman Chuck Osborne from council for a time back in August, 2010)

I'll make a motion to approve the additional time for Gary Wechter.  He is a former councilman and a great community activist here so I'll make a motion to do that.
Clerk's note:  Mr. Foltz moved and Mrs. Werren seconded to all Mr. Wechter additional speaking time [no limit?  hmm?].  All members present voting:  Yes:  Griffith, Kiesling, Snyder, Peters and Foltz.  No:  0.
Fast forward to Chuck Osborne and his use of Public Speaks.
Osborne:  (after having made his substantive points to council)

And also Mr. Foltz.  I'd like to thank you for extending the extended time to Mr. Wechter.  It was only the right thing to do.  It shouldn't be an ordeal for anybody to come up here and speak and if they have anything intelligent to say.  I'm a former councilman myself.  I'm battered up here every time I come to speak.  And I only hope I get the same courtesy the next time I come up here to speak.

Foltz:  I was afraid of that, Chuck.  But I think Gary is [the] exception rather than the rule.  So we're going to leave it at that. As long as there are four votes on Council, we can discuss that.  Okay?

Clerk's note:  (Laughter)

Snyder:  Thank you, Mr. Osborne.

Osborne:  (Apparently directed to Foltz)  You never cease to amaze me.
To the SCPR,  this vignette encapsulates the acerbic relationship between council and North Canton's leading provocateur.

Note the sarcasm initiated by Osborne:  "I'd like to thank you for extending the extended time to Mr. Wechter. ... And I only hope I get the same courtesy the next time I come up here to speak."

To be contrasted to laughter (apparently directed at Osborne).

Laughter, hmm? Who was laughing?  Hopefully, no one on council the democratically elected body it is, was participating in the laughter.

Fairness and equal application of the rule of law gets laughter?

But Osborne's unhelplful injection of sarcasm is an example of his fanning the fires of council antagonism going forward.

It would have been constructive and helpful for either President Snyder or Councilman Foltz to admonish that the laughter apparently directed at Osborne was unwarranted.

Here is what Councilman Foltz did have to say to the SCPR last evening.

The SCPR is inclined to say that North Canton Council demonstrates in its relationship with the former councilman of being respecters of persons but said assessment is far from clear.

Yours truly is struck by the numerous times over the years that councilpersons have praised Osborne for his ongoing contribution to the public discussion on issues that council has to deal with.

He has demonstrated that he can be a constructive force.

While The Report knows full well that Osborne can be a proverbial "pain in the _ ss; in our democratic republic, he is entitled to be such to some degree.

On the other hand, council does have a responsibility to the orderliness of public proceedings to keep dialogue from getting out of hand.

Small letter "d" democrats treasure citizen-generated corrections in a "check and balance" way that "Public Speaks" utilizers from time-to-time bring to bear on our government.

The answer to the seeming loggerheads appears to the SCPR to be that each (council, in its implementation of the "Public Speaks" rule of five minutes each) and Osborne (as a speaker) think twice, perhaps three times, about drawing lines which lead to confrontation.

So here we are at the end of the blog and yours truly still cannot say who is to blame.

Yes, we are stuck on "which comes first:  the chicken or the egg" and "it takes two to tango."

It does nobody any good to try to place blame on who is at fault in the clearly deteriorated relationship.

What is needed is for both council and Mr. Osborne to strive to build a constructive relationship going forward!

The SCPR liked Councilman Foltz (in the video) putting his "ban Osborne for a time" threat in the past, not to be acted upon for now.

Osborne should take the Foltz position as the offering of an olive branch.

Why shouldn't he, why can't he tone down the rhetoric?

Why shouldn't council, why can't council soften its seeming hostility?

There is no reason why there cannot be a healthy give and take that benefits the citizens of North Canton.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013 11:14 AM

Hello Martin

I have looked at your video interview with Mr. Snyder and his account of the treatment of me at last week’s council meeting differs from what the record will show when the council clerk completes the transcript of the meeting.

First Mr. Snyder says the issue had been discussed for 55 minutes prior to my remarks and seems to say there was no reason to repeat that discussion. Public Speaks occurs in the first five minutes of every council meeting, shortly after the Pledge of Allegiance. When I hear gross distortions of facts from any individual, I very quickly begin to discount what it is they say on the subject at hand.

Second, Mr. Snyder’s assertion that I spoke for 11 minutes is also incorrect. Time was quickly called on me at five minutes. There is absolutely no doubt about that as well. There is no way on God’s green earth that they would have let me or anyone go on for 11 minutes without an act of council and probable an act of Congress as well.

I did advise Mr. Snyder that I was almost done and he said he would give me thirty seconds to finish. With interruptions from the Law Director, I am not really sure if I got thirty seconds. I only had two sentences to finish my prepared remarks but was unable to finish.

My remarks were prepared and they addressed the Mayor’s public actions as Mayor. They were critical of the Mayor’s conduct of public business, but the remarks were civil. You have a copy of my prepared remarks.

City Council cannot defend their actions and now they have to distort their account of the meeting to justify their conduct. As an attorney yourself, if Mr. Snyder were cross-examined in a court of law, his testimony would easily be questioned and discounted by any juror. Sad commentary regarding an elected public official.

Mr. Snyder is generally a very likable individual who I enjoy talking with. I have told him many times that when he reaches his days of retirement that I hope he can look back on his days as a representative of the people and remember that he always did right by his constituents while conducting the public’s business.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne

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