Monday, October 14, 2013


UPDATE:  10/16/2013


UPDATE:  1:50 PM (10/14/2013)

The Stark County Political Report has received a copy "version 3" of North Canton City Council's proposed resolution in opposition to Citizen Osborne's Initiative Petition Ordinace 13.


Many of us are familiar with the 1973 film The Paper Chase which is about the frustrations of being a law student at the highly competitive Harvard University School of Law.

Well, turns out that five of seven members of North Canton City Council (to a greater and lesser degree) were embarked in a paper chase of their own with former councilman (early 2000s) Chuck Osborne.

The quest of the chase?

Find a copy of a Resolution (containing council's opposition to Osborne's legislative initiative to be voted upon on November 5th making the mayor a full-time position) modified from its original version (see below), which Council President Jon Snyder last Monday night described as containing "inflammatory" language.  The "original" was passed out to all of council and the media (inadvertenly) on Thursday of last week believed to have been by or at the direction of Osborne antagonist and North Canton law director Tim Fox.

The "object of the chase" (i.e. the modified resolution) is to be voted on at tonight's council meeting.

The "original" resolution (likely result of a joint enterprised between Mayor David Held and Law Director Tim Fox) was canned last Monday, even though on the agenda, when it was learned that the "inflammatory" language had evoked an outcry mainly in the form of a face-to-face between Osborne's wife (Rita Palmer) and Councilman Snyder a week ago Sunday at Fishers grocery on 44th Street.

Here is a copy of the "original" resolution.  To enlarge, click on the graphic.

Here's how Osborne describes North Cantons "paper chase" to locate a copy of the "replacement" ordinance.
After not finding a copy of the revised resolution in opposition to Issue 13 in the council packet that was released yesterday (Thursday) and refusal by the North Canton Law Director to comply with a Public Records request (Law Director’s response pasted below) this is what I have encountered this afternoon.

1)    Called Council President Jon Snyder. Mr. Snyder told me around 4:00 pm today that Law Director Tim Fox met with Mr. Snyder at his place of employment to review  a draft of the revised resolution. The revised resolution was then delivered to the Clerk of Council to be typed up this morning and was subsequently emailed to all members of council this morning. Look at the law director’s response to my public records request. Anyone see a discrepancy here?

Mr. Snyder told me that when he got home this evening he would email me the revised resolution that was emailed to him early today (Friday morning).

Around 6:00 pm this evening (Friday) Mr. Snyder called me to tell me that he left his council-issued laptop at the council office and that he was locked out of the council office and would be unable to email the document as he had promised two hours earlier. I asked if he could arrangement to have another member of council email the document and Mr. Snyder advised me that he would have Councilmember Marcia Kiesling email me the document. It is 9:00 pm and I have heard nothing.

2)    Just before talking with Council President Jon Snyder around 4:00 pm I left a voicemail and a text message with Councilmember Jeff Peters asking if he could email me the revised resolution.

3)    Around 5:30 I called my Ward Councilperson and the Chairman of the Committee sponsoring the proposed resolution, Stephanie Werren, and asked her to email me the revised resolution. She responded by saying that the document was simply a draft and that council was to discuss further changes before it was considered complete and that she was unsure if the revised resolution would be considered a public document. I told her she should get her story straight as Council President Jon Snyder told me that the resolution had been reviewed by him, Snyder, with the Law Director Tim Fox, and that it is was typed up by the Council Clerk this morning (Friday) and emailed to all councilmembers this morning.

4)    Around 6:00 pm, my wife and I stopped by Councilmember Peters home to inquire about the resolution and found no one home.

5)    Talked to Ward 4 Candidate Hillary Mueller around 6:30 pm and she offered to attempt to contact Councilmember Dan Griffith to secure a copy. As of 9:00 pm, have heard nothing.

6)    Around 8:00 pm, Mr. Peters responds via text that he is away at his in-laws for the weekend and will not have access to his council-issued laptop at home and will not have access to it until Monday morning.

What are the odds the public will get to see this public document before it is voted on by City Council?
Quite a tale, no?

Well, "the odds the public [would] get to see this public document before it is voted on by City Council" turned out to be pretty good.

But it probably would not have happened BUT FOR the persistence of Osborne.

He proved to be "a paper chaser - extraordinaire," no?

Through his effort on behalf of the citizens of North Canton we are all able to see a copy of the "proposed" resolution.  Eventually, it was sent by Councilwoman-at-Large Marcia Kiesling to Osborne.

In transmitting a copy of the "revised," perhaps, "double-revised" resolution to the SCPR, Osborne added to this description of "his paper chase:"
Attached and pasted below is what I have received in a text message from Councilperson Marcia Kiesling. She told me in a brief conversation that she received it Thursday from Law Director Fox.
Mr. Snyder had told me yesterday that the resolution was emailed to all councilmembers yesterday (Friday) morning to their council-issued laptops.
Mrs. Werren seemed to confirm receipt to me on her laptop when I talked to her yesterday evening.
Apparently either Mrs. Kiesling was sent an earlier draft of the resolution the day before (on Thursday) or there is another version of the resolution that was sent out Friday morning.
Here is the "revised" ordinance itself:
In-Work Draft

A resolution expressing North Canton City Council’s strong opposition to Issue #13 – Charter Amendment, on the November 5, 2013 General Election ballot, as it pertains to the Mayor’s qualifications, powers, and duties.

The Council of the City of North Canton met in regular session on the 14th day of October, 2013, with the following members present:  Mark Cerreta, Doug Foltz, Dan Griffith, Marcia Kiesling, Daniel Peters, Jon Snyder, and Stephanie Werren.

 Member                                  moved for adoption of the following Resolution:

WHEREAS:  The City’s Charter serves as its constitution, by which all other City laws, ordinances, and polices are subservient; and

 WHEREAS:  The Charter requires that a commission composed of 15 residents meet every ten years to review, discuss, debate, and recommend Charter alterations, revisions, and amendments, if any, as in the judgment of the commission are desirable, and upon which City Council shall hold a public hearing on such recommendations; and

WHEREAS:  The City has enjoyed the Mayor-Administrator-Council form of government since the original City Charter was adopted in 1960; and

WHEREAS:  Local resident, Chuck Osborne, wishes to change the City’s form of government through ballot Issue 13; and

 WHEREAS:  Issue 13 shall increase City expenses without increasing its efficiency; and

 WHEREAS: Issue 13 creates conflicts with other Charter provisions that may not be resolved without additional Charter amendments; and

 WHEREAS: It is this Council’s opinion that a proposed charter amendment, such as Issue 13, occur only after thoughtful consideration, deliberation, and debate amongst a charter commission’s membership; and

 WHEREAS: After careful consideration of the relevant issues, because a charter commission has not conducted the necessary consideration and deliberation befitting a proposed change in the form of the City’s government, this Council strongly opposes Issue 13.
Indeed, North Canton City Council "strongly" opposes Osborne's issue 13.

And, as shown in videos in a prior SCPR blog of the comments of Council President Jon Snyder, Councilwomen Marcia Kiesling and Stephanie Werren, council is plenty worried that Ordinance 13 is on track to pass.  The most worried however has to be Mayor Held.

Osborne did do "the paper chase," but he was not "a happy-camper" - witness this outburst in his e-mail to the press and to his supporters:
Are members of North Canton City Council working on behalf of the residents of North Canton or against the citizens? Has anyone in North Canton City Government ever heard of Ohio’s Open Records and Open Meetings Laws, collectively known as the “Sunshine Laws” that give Ohioans access to government meetings and records?
The ultimate losers in what appears to be demonstrated "official" North Canton government hostility to citizen Osborne's civic activism may be in the form of the end of David Held's reign as part-time mayor and Tim Fox as law director.

The SCPR is already hearing that Fox (and his self-defined "tuff guy" image) does not appear to be endearing himself to council in his handling of the resolution and his obvious seeming overall belligerent tone towards Osborne.

The SCPR is hearing from a couple of sources that they believe Fox may be jeopardizing his continuation as law director.

If Fox's dismissal occurs, it would be quite a turn of events.

Some think that council became too quickly enamored with Fox as councilman (he defeated fellow Republican Jeff Davies in the 2011 election).

It could be that he projected a  "steely" disposition to council and they saw in him someone who might be able to get a grip on council nemesis and perennial civic activist Osborne.

Though denied by council as a whole, a number of citizens are not buying the denial (under the category of:  "who's going to believe that?) that council decided to replace the-then law director Hans Nilges with Fox while he was still councilman and that the search for a replacement was a subterfuge for a decision already made.

One North Canton political observer has told the SCPR that Fox acts more like a councilman than he does a law director.

The Report is told that North Canton's law directors have a history of NOT participating in the political battles of council which it appears that Fox is doing in the resolution tiff.

The SCPR has heard estimates that Fox will last anywhere from three months to nine months as North Canton's law director.

The Report's own assessment is:  "it all depends."

Depends on what?

If Osborne's ordinance fails, then Fox may well survive the hullabaloo about the original resolution "going over the top" with "inflammatory" language to the embarrassment of council and continue on as law director.

Though he denies it, I am told that Jon Snyder was "on board" with the "inflammatory" language until he got called out on it.

So count Snyder as being a Fox ally whom, one would think, will go to great lengths to project Fox's longevity.

A countervailing factor however is that if council decides to keep him on-the-job then they can look forward to "battle-after-battle-after-battle-after-battle" with Osborne because of the rather obvious "we 'really, really, really' do not like each other" attitude of Fox and Osborne.

On the other hand, council likely would be loathe to appear to be giving in to Osborne.

So in the failure of Ordinance 13 scenario, we are likely to see additional "paper chases" involving the two and the attendant spillover into council deliberations.

Osborne has filed a lawsuit against the city for overuse of "emergency legislation" designation which Fox is defending on behalf of the city.

An end may be near if Fox's Motion to Dismiss is granted.  He filed a reply brief on October 7 and it will be interesting to see whether or not he succeeds.

If he doesn't, then look for a long drawn out battle that could end up in the Supreme Court of Ohio.

In any event this litigation is another Osborne burr in their collective butts that has to be bugging council.

If Ordinance 13 passes, then those predicting Fox's imminent departure are probably correct in the SCPR's opinion.

He and Held will likely become the "fall guys" for apparently having become political allies in their seeming effort "to get Chuck Osborne."

And "the paper chase" that appears to have been orchestrated by Fox (e.g. Werren's:  "she was unsure if the revised resolution would be considered a public document") will not have helped his cause in the slightest!

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