Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Yours truly gets one hoot after another in following the political career escapades of Canton Councilman Joe Cole.

Now a lame duck councilman, having lost to Frank Morris, III (a fellow Democrat) in Ward 9 this past November, Cole - once a very promising councilman - in his work as councilman seems to the SCPR to have totally lost it.

For those readers who missed it, here is a LINK to the SCPR blog which details the hoodwinking Mary Cirelli gave him back in February at the filing deadline for the May 7th primary election.

The Cirelli move caused him to end up running against the Ward 9 incumbent Morris.


Likely because Cole, believed he would have to run against Bill Smuckler, Cirelli and Jimmy Babcock and (in the light of is previous "weak" election showings [see number below]) be the "odd-man-out" [so to speak]) in the 2013 council-at-large Democratic Primary.

As it turned out, Mary Cirelli made her own bad decision in opting to run for Canton treasurer. Astonishing nearly all of us who think we know something about Canton politics, Mary ran third of three candidates for the Canton city treasurer post.

So in the end, the "cloak and dagger-esque" scene at the Stark County Board of Elections between Cole and Cirelli was politically fatal to both of them.

Before the Board of Elections fiasco, Joe - in the opinion of the SCPR - made a big mistake in throwing in with Mayor William J. Healy, II.

But he probably was feeling politically vulnerable and thought that closely associating with the mayor might help him.

When he first ran in 2009, he barely bested Babcock in a field of 10 Democrats vying for the three council-at-large seats in the Democratic Primary.

Then in the November election he was way, way behind Smuckler and Cirelli.

And in subsequent elections, he has always been third in the race for one of the three Canton council-at-large posts up for election.

Cole was likely (well before the filings, when he was in the throes of picking his political allies) figuring that Bill Smuckler who lost to Healy in the Democratic mayoralty primary in 2011 and to Republican Richard Regula in November, 2012 for county commissioner would be itching to get back onto Canton council.

He knew that Healy was the political adversary of both Cirelli and Smuckler and what better ally than the mayor, no?

And, apparently, the mayor likely brought him the support of Stark County's trade unions and the man the SCPR believes is the Trades' most active political type; namely, Dave Kirven of Local 94 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters.

The SCPR has received a number of opinions from various Stark Democrats that Kirven is in cahoots with the mayor to take over the Stark County Democratic Party.

Local political observers can't quite figure out the Kirven/Cole relationship inasmuch as Cole is the superintendent of a charter school which, of course, do not generally hire unionized teachers.

The Report thinks that it is Healy who is the nexus between the Trades/Kirven and Cole.

The SCPR has reported the huge amount of money (probably to be shown to have been in excess of $10,000 in  post-primary campaign finance reports) [LINK]) that Kirven apparently was instrumental in getting the Trades to put into Cole's campaign against Morris (himself a member of an Akron-based glaziers' union).

So the moral of the political story for Cole is that the mayor was of no help in his race against Morris and that the large union war chest was of no help.

But how can anybody help a candidate who - during the campaign:
  • dissed a key segment of Ward 9 voters (LINK - i.e. Vassar Park residents [Group 175] who are pushing Canton government to increase the Canton police force to 175 strong)
  • in an open council meeting, singled out Frank Morris as being deplorable in voting no on funding the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce at $175,000 city taxpayer dollars.  (Morris wanted to the money to go towards hiring more police).
  • decided - during the campaign - he was against Canton having "council-at-large positions altogether beginning with the 2015/2016 term if approved by Canton's voters.
To the SCPR, the Cole Ward 9 campaign was "one big laugh" and all that union money from the hard working members' membership dues was not going to help a "comedy of errors" campaign.

Rather than admit the obvious that his anti-council-at-large-seats stance was born of having been hoodwinked by Cirelli, he persisted to bringing the matter to a vote this past Monday.

He only got two votes, other than his own:  Edmond Mack, Ward 8 and David Dougherty, Ward 6.

The Report sees the initial "during the campaign" proposal by Cole as being a political gambit (much after the model of that Mayor Healy presents in his "everything is political" way of thinking) that was laughably silly if he thought it was going to benefit him in terms of getting newspaper ink during his race against Morris.

While his reasoning may have some validity, to wit:
“This is territorial in a sense [...] These are individuals worried about their political futures and I understand that. That’s not a criticism. They are worried about what would be the landscape if you had individuals who would normally be at-large, who now don’t have those seats, they’re going to becoming into ward (races).”  (Source:  City Council keeps at-large seats, Rink, The Repository, May 20, 2013).
Of course, the best evidence of his point is himself.

When Mary Cirelli bamboozled him into thinking that she was going to run for council-at-large, what did Joe Cole do?

You've got it.  He took on the incumbent councilman in the ward he lives in:  Ward 9.

When his personal political survival was at stake, Cole showed how utterly political he is.  That his opponent was a fellow Democrat and an incumbent didn't faze him one bit.

What he did not talk about in his justification(s) for eliminating the council-at-large seats is that there is a better justification for keeping the at-large positions and redrawing the wards (to make them larger) so that there are fewer of them and thereby achieve a "cost to taxpayer" savings.

But who really believes that saving money was his "real" motivation?

More likely is:  "If I can't be councilman-at-large, then let's eliminate it for everybody."  In other words, as vain as it seems, "sour grapes - pure and simple!"

A the SCPR sees it, having three council-at-large positions is in moderation of the "territorial" feature and not territorial in the sense that Cole defined it (political self-interest, which he so amply demonstrated in Ward 9).

In The Report's definition of territorial, having three council-at-large slots on council should provide a more city-wide (i.e. global) input into what happens in city government and thereby lessens the competition among the Wards for city taxpayer money to be spent for parochial interest as opposed to matters which will benefit the entire city.

For instance, the three at-large councilpersons (Babcock, Cirelli and Cole) were naturals to take up the cause of Group 175 because presumably a greater police presence benefits the entire city.

But, as we know, only Cirelli supported Group 175.

The SCPR does not think Babcock and Cole function in a de facto sense as city-wide representatives.  Both have wedded themselves to Mayor Healy and his specific political agenda.

And in doing so, they are more narrowly focused than a number of the ward councilpersons.

The bottom line though is that the Cole proposal to eliminate the council-at-large positions were never about what is best for the structure of Canton government.

To repeat, the SCPR believes that Cole's proposal was a political gambit borne of the frustration of having been outwitted by Mary Cirelli and therefore, in the end, was nothing more than "a case of sour grapes!"

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