Wednesday, February 5, 2014





All the talk at Monday night's North Canton City Council (NCCC) Committee of the Whole (COW) was "politically correct," but the Stark County Political Report is skeptical that public officials of "the Dogwood City" - really - mean it.

Politically correct?

The SCPR thinks so.

Witness this video excerpt of the meeting in which Councilman-at-Large Mark Cerreta (referencing the presence of the SCPR camera) emphasizes the desire of North Canton to enter into what is officially titled:

Three of the four "prospective" partners have signed onto the original agreement, but not North Canton.

From a January 24, 2014 SCPR blog:
On October 30th [2013], North Canton sent representatives to a meeting at Jackson Township Hall to "celebrate" what was touted as being a historical agreement between North Canton, Canton, Plain Township and Jackson Township whereby they agree to cooperate and collaborate in forming (as opportunities present themselves) JEDDs (Join Economic Development Districts) or CEDA (Comprehensive Economic Development Agreements) to encourage/empower/enable job creation activities in the participating communities.
And, according to Plain Township trustee Louis Giavasis, the law directors (or legal representatives) of the participating communities (including North Canton law director Tim Fox) met for hours in the context of several meetings and presumably exchanges of e-mails and telephone calls hammering out the details of the agreement which Plain, Jackson and Canton have signed.

In an apparent (to the SCPR, anyway) "vote of 'no confidence" in Director Fox, North Canton went out and hired an "expert" in economic development agreements (Christiane Schmenk of Brickler and Eckler/Columbus [LINK to her "bio"]) and she is telling NCCC that the "original" agreement is not good for North Canton.

Below (in this color; white is "original" version) is the main part of her recommended changes:



    A.  The parties agree that whenever any of the Property is annexed into North Canton or Canton, it shall remain in Jackson or Plain, and not become part of McKinley Township or Hoover Township after the approval and acceptance of said annexation.  Jackson, Plain, North Canton and Canton shall fully cooperate with State and County officials to create an additional taxing district if necessary.

     B.  North Canton and Canton agree not to engage in any annexation of the Property in Jackson Township unless the Jackson Township Trustees agree to the annexation or Plain Township unless the Plain Township Trustees agree to the annexation.

Now, North Canton's reworked version: (underlined shows added language, strike through show deleted language from the original):



     A.  The parties agree that whenever any of the Property is annexed into North Canton or Canton, it shall remain in Jackson or Plain, and not become part of McKinley Township or Hoover Township after the approval and acceptance of said annexation.  Jackson, Plain, North Canton and Canton shall fully cooperate with State and County officials to create an additional taxing district if necessary.

     B.  North Canton and Canton agree that if they intend to not to engage in any annexation of the Property in Jackson or Plain Townships, they will provide written notice to Jackson and Plain Townships and will first negotiate in good faith, with said Townships for an agreed annexation or some other means of economic development such as a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) or Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ). unless the Jackson Township Trustees agree to the annexation or Plain Township unless the Plain Township Trustees agree to the annexation.

Question:  Will Canton, Jackson Township and Plain Township officials agree to the proposed change?

Answer in a word:  No!

That from Plain Township trustee Giavasis in a telephone conversation between him and myself late Wednesday evening.

Giavasis stands by his insistence (sounds better than "demand," no?) that North Canton ratify the agreement not later than Plain's upcoming February 11th meeting.

Let me preface The Report's analysis of Fox's role in Monday night's meeting with a "sort of" disclaimer to the effect that from the get-go of Fox becoming North Canton's law director have tangled.

Undoubtedly, he was smarting from blogs done from the days he was a councilman when it appeared in hindsight to the SCPR that he segued from being a councilman into becoming the law director in what a number of folks including The Report believe to have been a done deal arranged by council before Fox resigned as councilman.

Of course, council as it was then composed and Fox denied that such was the case.

So at the very first meeting in which he was law director that the SCPR attended, when approached with camera in hand, Fox refused to be interviewed and laced the back and forth with gratuitous remarks about "how tough he is."

Since then, The Report has received a number of reports of incidents in which various North Canton citizens who have had to deal with Fox have - according to their accounts - encountered a surly, uncooperative and recalcitrant Law Director Tim Fox in their endeavors to obtain public records from the city of North Canton.

Clearly, North Canton city council members have to be aware of the discontent among some sectors of the North Canton citizenry with Fox's civility and cooperativeness in dealing with them.

Nevertheless, he seems to continue on "unchecked" by council.

The SCPR now takes the position that North Canton City Council as a whole bears responsibility for Fox's demeanor and apparent acerbic relationship with some members of the North Canton public and media.

In a sort of "poetic justice" being meted out, it seems to the SCPR that council itself got a good dose of what The Report thinks is an arrogant Tim Fox.

The SCPR believes that council prized hiring Fox because the hiring membership wanted a "tough guy" to deal with the likes of "boring in" civic activist like Chuck Osborne to make life difficult for Osborne.

So whatever they say about being transparent, accessible and accountable to the North Canton public, such is suspect if the SCPR belief is accurate.

It had to do with Fox's failure to provide council at the Council of the Whole meeting of Monday night with a marked up copy of the MEDA and that he was sent scurrying to get a copy of the missing document despite putting council off with a "I will provide you with a copy of the document tomorrow" rejoinder.

To their credit, council was having none of that.

But to their discredit, they have only themselves to blame for how Fox treated them Monday night.

Below is an edited video in which The Report takes excerpts of exchanges between Fox and council members and puts them in one video to focus on Fox's interrelationship with council.  Keep in mind that this meeting was not sprung on Fox.  He had plenty of advance notice that Chairman Marcia Kiesling was going to be presenting on MEDA on Monday evening.

SCPR comments on video:
  • At the 8 minute mark note that Councilperson Daniel Griffith (at large) asks Fox for "the attached document,"
  • Griffith is followed up by Councilperson Daniel "Jeff" Peters with a question (at 09:30 into the video):
    • "[Schmenk] references 'an attached marked document,' does it exist or does not exist?"
      • SCPR NOTE:  Aha!  Council was not given every document by Fox.  Hmm?
  • Fox at the 09:45 mark:  "I was begging for this document all day long."
      • SCPR NOTE:  A case of "passing the buck" to Attorney Schmenk.  The fact of the matter is as of council meeting time Fox had the document to be presented to council. 
  • Fox at the 11:15 mark says that he had already given council 5 or 6 pages and implied that if he had given council "the attached marked up document" that it simply would have been too much for council to absorb,
      • SCPR NOTE:  The, the SCPR thinks, demonstrates the arrogance of this guy.  "He will decide" what is good and acceptable for council to have.  The Report thinks this attitude is typical of how Fox interacts with some members of the North Canton public and the media. 
  • Fox at the 12:10 mark:  (This is hilarious)  "If anybody is thinking I am hiding this [i.e. "the Schmenk 'attached up document'],
      • SCPR NOTE 1: Again, "what a hoot!"  Why on God's "green little acre" would the notion cross anybody's mind that Fox was hiding the document from council?"
      • SCPR NOTE 2:  Actually The Report does not think he was hiding the document.  The Report's point is that his withholding shows the arrogance of the man.
  • Fox at the 17:00 mark:  (This is another hilarity - because most people, the SCPR thinks, would have "gotten it" that council wanted the "attached marked up copy" and the wanted it now!)  But Fox says that he would get council members a copy of the document "tomorrow."  At the 19:14 mark of the video, at the urging of Chairperson Kiesling, Fox can be seen to be exiting the meeting to go get the document for council to see "now."  At the 19:20 mark he is to be seen returning and distributing the document to councilpersons. 
  • As a "parting shot" Fox is to be seen "continuing" to make excuses for not having provided council with the "unattached marked up [Schmenk generated] document," 
Here is the "Tim Fox/North Canton City Council Video:"

    Note:  At the end of this blog, the SCPR will, in due course, present the "entire" discussion of MEDA so that Fox cannot claim that the whole story was not available to the the readership of the SCPR.

    As if Fox did not embarrass himself enough, after the meeting council president Jon Snyder "sort of" piled on as witness the video below.

    In the video, Snyder, can be seen:
    • terming the "initially" missing document as being "critical" to the consideration of council,
    • giving Fox the "benefit of the doubt" in attributing the document's omission to, perhaps, that Fox viewed the document to be protected under the "attorney client privilege," 
      • SCPR Note:  Nowhere during the meeting did Fox mention the "unattached marked up [Schwenk generated] document" as being withheld on account of an "attorney client privilege,"
    • declaring that the document is available to the general public including the media which of course includes the SCPR,
      • SCPR Note:  The Report requested an "electronic copy" about 24 hours ago and still has not been provided the requested copy by Director Fox

    Hopefully, this aspect of the blog will lead to someone on council (which should be council president Jon Snyder taking ahold of Fox and making it very clear to him that he must treat "all" members (even those who criticize him) and the media with respect, dignity and cooperativeness.

    Beyond Cerreta's assertion that North Canton wants to collaborate and the Tim Fox focused videos (Fox engaged video is not included in this video), the SCPR has put a video in which highlights Chairman Marcia Kiesling's (as chairman of North Canton economic development committee), Mayor David Held (the first and most steadfast opponent to MEDA), and various other council members in the exchanges among themselves on the topic.

    Highlights of this video - posted after the bulleted points (including SCPR comments thereon):
    • At the beginning the video, Chairperson Community and Economic Development:  "I don't know where we are"
        • SCPR  Note:  Well, then who does?
    • Mayor David Held: (beginning at the :53 second mark of the video)
      • "To find ways that we can work in cooperation with our neighbors,"
      • "Our goal is to enhance [North Canton's] revenue,"
      • "The cities and the townships are inherently at odds,"
      • "The specific benefits or liabilities [e.g. no annexation for 50 years] to the city are not stated" in the MEDA,
      • "If we can make modifications [to the MEDA] that would benefit the city, I would be fully supportive of that,"
      • (at 11:40 mark) "We may or may not be able to come to an agreement on a JEDD" over the next 50 years, 
      • (at 18:10 mark) "I am sure that Jackson, Plain and Canton will give us ... a couple of weeks three weeks ... to review ... and make the changes ..."
    • President Jon Snyder address the tax issue (at the 7:55 mark):
      • Township keeps about 9% of tax revenues, however, a condition of getting that revenue the townships service the affected JEDD/CETA area,
    • Chairperson Kiesling: (8:40 mark)
      • Non-annexable territory is territory that North Canton cannot get to now, but things could change over 50 years,
      • Canton, Plain and Jackson do not need North Canton to be part of the the MEDA,
      • Canton, Plain and Jackson are extending the hand of cooperation (a SCPR characterization; not Kiesling's) as a matter of being friendly,

    To summarize:

    For North Canton - in pursuing its interests - to join the compact, Schmenk recommends/advises the changing of language in the "annexation" provision of the original agreement.

    The Canton, Jackson and Plain "insisted upon" language (i.e.the original agreement which included participation by North Canton law director Tim Fox):

    The SCPR believes that Held has convinced enough members of North Canton's council that the MEDA needs to be changed as a condition of North Canton signing on, and that therefore it is highly likely that North Canton will not end up being a participant in the collaborative compact.

    While North Canton talks collaboration, official re-action communicates something quite different, no?

    Here is a video of the entire discussion of MEDA at Monday night's North Canton City Council meeting.

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