Sunday, February 9, 2014






It appears to the Stark County Political Report that the "unelected" law director of North Canton is running "the Dogwood city."

There have been a number of indicators that such is the case since Tim Fox (a less than one-term councilman, Ward 3, November, 2011, resigned September 6, 2012) was first appointed "law director" by North Canton City Council on September 19, 2012.

From an Akron Beacon Journal report (Dottie McGrew) at the time of the hire:
“The best advice I could give him is to get along with council, because he works for them,” Batista [a former North Canton law director] said.

Fox was elected to represent Ward 3 in 2011. He stepped down from that post Sept. 6 after Ward 2 Councilman Jeff Peters, who chairs the Personnel Committee, approached him and asked about his interest in the law director’s position.

The city received 16 applicants for the post, which pays $72,000 a year.
Council members deny the allegations, but a number of North Cantonians think that the Fox hire was "an inside job" and that the solicitation that drew 16 applicants was a ruse designed to fool the North Canton public into believing it was an open question as who was going to succeed Hans Nilges (resigned June 29, 2012; effective July 31st) as law director.

This is what Councilman Snyder said immediately after the Fox appointment: (from the SCPR blog linked above)
In hindsight, Snyder is quick to say that council should have focused on Fox at the beginning, asked him to resign his council seat and spared everybody what is likely to end up as having been exercise for the 16 initial and 5 final candidates.   But he insists that while he understands the appearance, such was not the intent of council.

Snyder says he knows that there are folks in the public who see the process of getting to Fox as council's choice as being "a good ole boys" type process, but that such is simply not the case.  Moreover, he says that he is more than willing to sit down with any North Cantonian individually and explain the hiring process.
Seemingly, Fox has taken Batista's advice to heart:  remember?  "Get along with council."

For it seems no matter:
  • how overbearing he gets, 
  • how impossible he gets with certain North Cantonians,
  • nor how arrogant he gets
in taking on roles that some think are more the roles of council members themselves or the mayor; he appears to have had the unquestioned support of his former fellows on council including his initial solicitor Council Daniel "Jeff" Peters.
Undoubtedly, Fox's position has to be that such is not an example of Batista's advice "get along with council," but it is interesting that Fox has reportedly taken on the role of "in effect" defending Peters and council president Jon Snyder - though part-timers - in their receiving health insurance benefits in apparent contravention of a ordinance passed by the North Canton voting public in November, 2012.

And get this.

And email (yesterday) to the SCPR:

regarding North Canton Insurancegate

From:  Miriam Baughman 


North Canton part time EMS, part time Firefighters, part time Police DO NOT get City paid health insurance


Here is the ordinance that was passed in November, 2012.


An ordinance ending city-paid health insurance benefits for family members of part-rime elected officials, and further, limiting city-paid health insurance benefits to individual primary coverage only for part-time elected officials who do not have access to health insurance benefits through their full-time employer.


SECTION 1: That it is hereby determined that the City of North Canton ("City"), having lost thousands of jobs and substantial income tax revenue following the closure of the City's largest employer (The Hoover Company in 2008), and having since that time struggled financially, must find substantial savings and reduce the costs of city government

SECTION 2: That the surrounding Stark County municipalities of Alliance, Louisville, Massillon, and Canal Fulton provide no city-paid health insurance benefits to part-time elected officials, and that to reduce the cost of city government, overly generous city-paid health benefits for part-time elected officials must be brought in line with what taxpayers experience themselves.

SECTION 3: That city-paid health insurance benefits for family members of part-time elected officials is no longer authorized.

SECTION 4: That city-paid health insurance benefits be available only to part-time elected officials who have no health insurance benefits available to them through their full-time employer and that city-paid health insurance  be available as primary individual coverage and not serve as secondary health insurance.

SECTION 5:  That the Director of Finance of the City of North Canton is only authorized to draw funds for the payment of city-paid health insurance for part-time elected officials as outlined above.

SECTION 6: That if any provision of this Ordinance is or becomes illegal, invalid Ot unenforceable, that shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision of this Ordinance and that any and all legislation inconsistent herewith, be, and is hereby repealed.

SECTION 7: That this ordinance shall take effect and be in force upon adoption by a majority of voters at the polls. Otherwise, it shall take effect and be in force from the earliest period allowed by law.

So how did the North Canton electorate respond? (from the Stark County Board of Elections results website page)

Yes, better than 7 out of 10 North Canton voters of more than 9,000 in the November 12, 2012 (a presidential election year, mind you) voted "for" the ordinance!

And, yet one voter, the "unelected" law director reportedly is saying that the ordinance is invalid and therefore unenforceable?

Invalid and unenforceable?

That's the allegation.

An excerpt from an email received by the SCPR earlier today:
For nearly a week now, members of a group, known as “Concerned Citizens of North Canton,”  and I have been trying to find out on what basis North Canton Law Director Tim Fox has decided that the Health Care Ordinance approved by North Canton voters 3 to 1 in the November 6, 2012, General Election is invalid or unenforceable.
 And that is not all.

There are additional allegations that council has discussed with Fox his rationale for reportedly declaring the ordinance to be "invalid and therefore unenforceable" at an executive session of council (January 27, 2014) alleged to have been called for another purpose (i.e. "discussing imminent litigation").

The Report's source goes on:
I find it ironic that I am quizzing Stephanie Werren on the conspiracy and secrecy of North Canton’s willful violations of a lawfully enacted ordinance while we are in attendance at a Law Seminar regarding Open Meetings and Public Records Laws, collectively known as, “Ohio’s Sunshine Laws.” 

And get this:

Concerned Citizens 
North Canton

Media Contact Jamie McCleaster +1 330 806 7381



  • North Canton, OH, 2/4/14 - A group of concerned North Canton residents have discovered that while its City Council searched for ways to trim the city's budget, two members, Council President Jon Snyder of Ward 4, and Daniel "Jeff" Peters of Ward 2, were still opting to take city-paid health insurance for themselves and their families, 15 months after North Canton voters overwhelmingly voted to end the benefit for part-time, elected city officials. (empahsis added by SCPR)
    • This finding comes as the city needs to trim $800,000 to $1 million from the city's General Fund, according to Snyder's comment at Council's January 27, 2014 meeting.

  • On November 6, 2012 an initiative petition for a proposed city ordinance was passed by 6,480 residents, or 72% of those voting. 
  •  The initiative was to end city-paid health insurance benefits received by family members of part-time elected officials, and limit city-paid health insurance benefits for individual part-time elected officials only if said benefits weren't available through their full-time employer. 
    • Peters and Snyder each have $90.52 per month deducted from their monthly council pay-checks while the city pays the remaining $1,018.86 per month for each of their policies.
    • If Peters and Snyder aren't offered health insurance benefits from their respective full-time employers and both are eligible to receive individual health insurance coverage from the city, 
      • the added cost for the family coverage is $627.62 per month for each of them. Combined, is an added expense to the city in the amount of $1,255.24 per month, or $15,062.88 per year. 
      • Relevant is that Peters, Snyder, and other Council members received a 50% pay raise when sworn in for their new terms two months ago.

  • Given the financial state of the city, and a majority of North Canton residents voted to end city-paid health insurance for family members of the city's elected officials, the concerned city residents who made this discovery request a quick resolution to the problem: that Mr. Snyder and Mr. Peters promptly return the cost of the insurance premiums to the city, and that the city remove the family members from these health insurance plans. These actions will help to improve the city's fiscal situation, and will restore the confidence of the voting public.
Not only on this particular matter, but on a number of items having to do with "the running of North Canton city government," it appears to the Stark County Political Report that North Canton City Council and Mayor David Held (e.g. the North Canton, Canton, Jackson and Plain Township economic development agreement negotiation) have given Director Fox way too much say in the policy making and operational functions of North Canton government.

The SCPR applauds Jamie McCleaster (who ran as a candidate for council-at-large in November, 2013) for bringing together group of "concerned North Canton citizens" to contest the implementation of the Health Care Insurance Ordinance.

It is time for the general run of North Canton citizenry to get involved with the Concerned Citizens of North Canton and to reorder who is in charge in the city.

Ultimately, the people are in charge.

Not council, not Mayor Held and CERTAINLY NOT the unelected Law Director Tim Fox.

And if council and Held ignore them, then in less than a year petitions will once again be in the offing for filing for Wards 1 through 4 and the three council-at-large positions.

As a backup plan, the Concerned Citizens of North Canton ought to be laying the ground work on February 9, 2014 for putting together a slate of candidates to run against Foltz (Ward 1), Peters (Ward 2), Werren (Ward 3) and Snyder (Ward 4) and Councilpersons-at-large Cerreta, Griffith and Kiesling come November, 2015.

And the campaign should be no more complex than that the incumbents allowed the clear "will of the people" to be ignored.

That the people cannot abide!

Finally, The Report hears that North Canton Council at their meetings scheduled for tomorrow night will have Director Fox explain his reasons for saying the November, 2012 ordinance is invalid.

While Fox undoubtedly has his "legal opinion," that is exactly what it is:  "a legal opinion."  North Canton Council members may decide treat him as if he is "God Almighty" on the matter,  he and they can be assured that the judges of Ohio will not.
The Report has indication litigation against council is in the offing should North Canton Council buy into Fox's reputed legal position.

In the end for North Cantonians - having spoken resoundingly on the issue - whatever Fox has to say cannot possibly be allowed to override the will of the people of North Canton, can it?

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