Friday, January 31, 2014


As reported by the Stark County Political Report, Monday's Canton City Council meeting turned into - at the end, in the miscellaneous business section - one gigantic turmoil.

The cause?

Ward 2 councilman Thomas West!

Councilman Thomas West (D, Ward 2) renewed his effort to depose Frank Morris as council vice president and majority leader of the 11 member Democratic (of 12 total council members) caucus.

Notwithstanding that he got voted down 8 to 4, it appears that he is continuing what appears to the SCPR to be "provocateur-in-chief" in the sense of making one parliamentary move after another to keep council unsettled, to say the very least.

He seems to have Law Director Joseph Martuccio in a dither as he endeavors to play King Solomon (Martuccio is a thespian, you know) in rightly dividing the law on the question of whether or not the early January election of Frank Morris by a 6 to 5 vote (independent councilman Richard Hart abstaining) will withstand a legal challenge.

Legal challenge?

Yes, Martuccio fears that someone or some entity affected adversely by an ordinance with Morris as vice president of council might challenge on the basis of Morris not having been legally elected.

You do not have to be a biblical scholar to know that Solomon of about 1000 B.C. was going to cut a baby in half so that each contending mother could claim victory, but the "true" mother gave way to save the life of the child.  All of which was a smart thing for the "true" mother to have done as she ended up with the child as a consequence of the "wisdom of Solomon" in ferreting out the identity of the "true" mother.

But "Solomon" Martuccio should know better than play that card with the contending members of council because it is very obvious that nobody is going to give ground  - even if it means saving Canton City Council from itself.

Acting like a "wild 'West,' Councilman Thomas West is resembling a gunslinger of yore rather than a 2014 city councilman.

Canton City Hall these days appears to be a  preparation staging area for the gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona circa 1881 than an abode for Solomon about to dispense his wisdom.

On one side:



The four (notice that West is the lead signature) fired off this letter yesterday:


And the other side?

The seven responded this way:

Note that Councilmen Griffin and Babcock didn't sign on with either group.

So what is this "special meeting" designed to achieve, when it occurs?

Well, Councilman West has worked hard to convey the impression he is doing God's work (the SCPR's attribution, not West's) in doing a "come, let us reason together" session.

But it is obvious that at least of his fellow councilmen are not buying his line.

One source tells The Report that West's ultimate game plan is is believed to be to force Councilwoman Chris Smith as a "compromise candidate."

And beyond this, the source says that West though he appears to be "the main man;" he is not, and is actually doing the bidding of  Mayor William J. Healy, II.

This take on the situation has Healy desperate to put Morris aside.

Already under Morris' leadership, council is going over Healy's budget proposal for 2014 with "a fine toothed comb" and thereby putting the mayor under scrutiny that he has never had to abide during his one and one half terms as Canton's chief executive.

Moreover, there is the committee assignment thing, which is the prerogative of the vice president/majority leader of council.

Already Morris has placed two allies in key committee posts.  West has been removed as chair of the Judiciary Committee in favor of Edmond Mack.

Mack is a proponent of charter government for Canton and had been frustrated by West in getting the legislation out of council so that council could vote on whether or not to submit the proposal to Cantonians for a vote.

Mayor Healy is thought to be an opponent of Canton going charter.

With Mack as Judiciary chair, the legislation will - at least - get to the reading/voting stage.  However, The Report is told that the pro-charter council members only have 7 of the necessary 8 votes to send the issue to ballot.

But that could change.  The Report believes that one of the remaining five members is persuadable.

But we shall see.

Another burr in the posterior of Mayor Healy has to be Greg Hawk's return (D, Ward 1) as Finance Committee chair.  Before the budget review process initiated by the Morris-led faction of council, Hawk was the only check on Healy's spin on this or that financial agenda item he has presented to council in the past.

And make no mistake about it, William J. Healy, II does hold political grudges.

The two have been bitter combatants over the six years of Healy's rule on the 8th floor.  The mayor is savvy enough to know that with Hawk being "in the majority" on key votes, he has leverage that has the potential to make Healy "cry Uncle" on finance issues that Hawk is intent upon.

As majority leader Chris Smith, Healy has to be thinking,  would likely restore West to chair of Judiciary and "anybody but Greg Hawk" as chair of Finance.

Of course, outside observers know it is likely that any such development would likely nudge council into out-and-out warfare.

Healy has clearly aligned himself with West and Smith and the SCPR believes that the West (and Smith) agenda being played out is in reality the William J. Healy, II agenda.

There is no doubt that West and Smith get something out of this fight if Chris Smith surfaces a majority leader.

The question for Canton's version of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral is who will be left standing when all the "political" bullets have been fired?

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