Tuesday, July 23, 2013


UPDATE:  07/23/2013 AT 09:00 A.M.

C. David Morgan has had this to say about the SCPR point about African American candidates having been elected citywide:
I did find one comparison that you drew missed the mark a bit, in my opinion. You used the Canton City School Board as an example of the ability of African Americans to win city-wide elections, and then you asked aren't Canton City School Board Members elected city-wide?
Actually, they are not. 
A large portion of Ward 8, while in Canton City as a municipality (via prior annexations), it is also in Plain Twp Schools.   
Likewise, parts of Ward 4 (mainly in the far East) are in the City, but not in the Canton City School District. And in one of the more curious bits of boundaries, there is a portion of the area around Meyers Lake that is in the Canton City School District, but is not within the municipal boundaries of the City of Canton (CCS Board Member Nadine McIlwain lives in such an area).
The Report thanks Reverend Morgan for having provided his correction.










At the outset of last night's Canton City Council Judiciary Committee meeting (Thomas West, D-2, chairman) it was apparent to the SCPR that West was in a "delay and hope it goes away mode"  on a proposal by sponsors Edmond Mack (D-8, a judiciary committee member) and Mary Cirelli (D, at-large; also a judiciary committee member) to have council consider placing a measure on the ballot to have Cantonians elect 15 (unelected to city office Cantonians) to a Charter Review Commission.

West, clearly on the defensive, jousted with Councilman Greg Hawk (D-1) on what allegations that West was holding the proposed legislation up.

West cited the effort by former Ward 8 and Republican councilman Mark Butterworth (ironically and interestingly running against Edmond Mack this November in an effort to get his seat back) in October, 2010 to get Canton council to consider putting a charter government review commission measure on the ballot.

He could have even gone further in delving into a rather obvious Republican drive to change the structure of Canton government so as to advantage Republican city of Canton office seekers who in recent times have been shut out from office in Canton.

Even the politically powerful Republican Janet Creighton (now a Stark County commissioner) was unable to get re-elected in 2007 after four years of her very respectable administration of the city.

Canton has about a 9 to 1 Democrat to Republican registration plurality.

In June, 2010 a former Stark County Republican Party executive director (Mike Cunningham) with ties to W.R. Timken, Jr. who was at the time chairman the board of directors of a company (Strategic Public Partners) which employed Cunningham surfaced with an initiative to get a convert to charter city proposal before Canton voters.

What has to be troublesome to West is that the new agitation is from a number of fellow Democrats on council.

So there is no partisan factor at play.

And after January 1st, the totally Demcratic council will include former long time Councilman Bill Smuckler who back in 2003 or so was pushing hard to change Canton from a statutory city government to a charter city government.  A status now held by 73% of Ohio's cities.

The Report is told by Smuckler that it will take eight of twelve members of council to get before Canton voters a measure to elect a charter review commission.

Those numbers clearly are not there now.

But they might be after November of this year with the addition of Smuckler and Roland K. Burns, III.

That is, if Kevin Fisher can be turned into a "yes" vote and David Dougherty repeats his prior support for having the voters elect a commission.

So it appears that perhaps eight votes could be wrangled out of the new council for a May, 2014 primary election opportunity for Cantonians to elect a charter review commission.

Such a commission will have one year to come up with a specific proposal for Cantonians to either accept or reject at the ballot box.

The star attraction last night was Councilman Mack.

Mack made a very powerful and persuasive Powerpoint supported presentation, to wit:

After Mack presented, Frank Morris (D-9) chimed in.

He went after West on the "educate the public factor."

Basically he took the position that "time is awasting" and Canton needs to restructure its government in order to deal effectively with Canton's 21st century needs.

Then it was Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher's turn.

What was interesting to the SCPR about Fisher was his separating himself from what The Report has tabbed as "the four young turks" (Mack, Mariol and Morris being the other three) on this issue.

He takes the position that charter government is oversold and that Canton government as it exists has the wherewithal to deal with Canton's problems.

However, as a member of the committee he urged Chairman West not to refuse to report the legislation out to the full council as he feels that the full body is entitled to consider the Mack/Cirelli sponsored proposal.

The SCPR knows Fisher to be a thoughtful councilman and finds it hard to believe he has his mind made up at this juncture of the deliberations.

In the end, yours truly thinks Fisher will be reconsidering his current stance.

West got into it with Frank Morris over Morris' assertion that West had said he would not sign off on the legislation to get it out of committee and before the full council.

West held firm that his statement was conditioned on his insistence that once he was satisfied that Cantoninans were informed on the issue, he would sign off on the legislation.

It did get a little heated between the two as the video clearly shows.

Next up, Democratic Councilman John Mariol of Ward 7.

He faced West down on what his definition of "educating the public" is.  Actually, this exchange proved to be useful in getting the chairman to agree to report the legislation out of committee.

The ultimate agreement was that the chairman would sign off on the legislation on the agreement by Councilman Mack to host a "town hall meeting" on August 19th at 6:30 p.m. at Canton city council chambers.

But, as the foregoing video shows, Councilman Hawk was not quite done (having parried with him earlier) with West.

He honed in on the point that council's job was to get the Canton public a new opportunity (the last having been over 50 years ago [1962]) to vote on whether or not to make Canton a charter city.

After everything was said and done, it was apparent to the SCPR that Councilman West's reluctance to report out the legislation is twofold, to wit:
  • He is ticked because he is convinced that Councilwoman Cirelli (who, although a member of the judiciary committee, was unable to be at last night's meeting) agreed to join Councilman Mack in sponsoring the charter review commission legislation in order to get back at Canton City treasurer-elect Kim Perez whom Cirelli lost to this past May in the Democratic primary election.
  • He worries that African-Americans will not be among the 15 commissioners to be elected to come up with a charter proposal for Cantoninans to vote on.
The Report is not impressed with either reason and thinks that his concern that African Americans cannot be elected citywide is not supported by Stark's recent electoral history.

How can Councilman West say that a proportional number of African Americans cannot gain seats on the review commission of the 15?

Barack Obama won in Stark countywide in 2008 and again in 2012.

How does West account for the strong race that Kelley Zachary ran against Republican Alex Zumbar countywide in 2010?

How does West account for the strong race that she ran against Kim Perez for Canton city treasurer this past May?  

A case exists that if Cirelli was not in the race, perhaps Zachary wins, no?

How does West account for this picture showing African Americans as members of the Canton City Schools Board of Education.  Don't they run citywide?  

Bill Smuckler tells the SCPR that he ran for council-at-large with Fonda Williams (a key member of the Healy administration now) a number of years ago and that Williams lost by seven votes in being the third of three "to be-elected"candidates.

Like any candidate, Williams had to be kicking himself afterwards with "should haves" on the particulars of his candidacy.

It seems to the SCPR that Councilman West may fast becoming the "anti-democrat."

He wants less accountability of ward councilpersons as evidenced by his pushing for extending councilpersons terms from two to four years.

And now he appears to not want to allow Cantonians the opportunity to speak again on the charter issue after a 50 year plus gap in having had the chance in 1962?

Yours truly finds it to be strange indeed that African American West would not be at the forefront of enhancing the rights of Americans of every stripe to enjoy the full measure of democratic rights including the opportunity to hold him and his colleagues accountable every two years.

Here is the SCPR one-on-one with West.

The Report also did a one-on-one with Councilman Edmond Mack.

The SCPR believes that the case has been made that Cantonians should have an second chance after a 50 year plus as to weigh in on whether or not they want a charter government.

As was pointed out in yesterday's committee meeting, those who want charter government had better do voter educating come an election on the issue, for if folks are uninformed or confused they will surely vote "no."

Last night's meeting was productive in getting West off dead center in threatening to be a one-man-wrecking-crew by inaction in committee and thereby deep sixing any chance of the full city council voting on the Mack/Cirelli charter review commission proposal.

Now it is time to go to work on council to get those eight votes needed to provide Cantonians the opportunity to exercise the franchise on a very important issue going forward.

If he can pull it off, it certainly will send Councilman Mack's political stock soaring.

Here is an unedited version of the entire proceeding of last night's meeting.

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