Monday, November 10, 2014


The Canton Citywide Comprehensive Plan (CCP) meetings are over.

Now it is time to think about holding Canton's city government officials and elected politicians accountable for "implementing" it when it comes down from CZB, LLC next spring.

Its unveiling will likely take place during the lead up to the 2015 primary election season.

As only The Stark County Political Report is wont to do with regularity and consistency among Stark County's media, in the wake of Stark County government officials introducing this or that plan; The Report follows up on the rhetoric to assess whether or not any such plan is likely to bear any fruit.

Stark County and political subdivision government has a graveyard full of various "quick fix" schemes for this or that ill that plagues countywide and local government.

When in April Council authorized the CCP - a well over one-quarter-of-a-million-dollar Canton taxpayer financed expenditure  - there were councilpersons with reservations, to wit:

- Frank Morris, III (Ward 9),
- James Babcock, (At-Large),
- Richard Hart, (At-Large),
- Bill Smuckler, (At-Large)

Undoubtedly, all four will be in sync with the SCPR in tracking the taxpayer dollars spent by a city that has precious few discretionary dollars to spend.

The base question?

Whether or not the CCP is just "so much hot air" designed to deflect attention from a largely failed two term city administration (the Healy administration) sprung on Cantonians so that William J. Healy, II can get elected a third time.

Morris, in particular, the SCPR thinks should be paid a lot of attention to by Cantonians as "a bellweather critic" on the issue of whether or not the CCP "is for real" and "probably will" produce long term "we're on our way back" results for Canton.

He is a political curmudgeon to be sure.

But in the judgment of the SCPR, Morris is the  most reliable councilperson in terms of showing The Report that he is willing to "cut through the crap" and "call a spade a spade" when the realities command such.

One might object that the $350,000 Canton city taxpayer-paid-for-plan has not yet been formulated or published and will not be shared with Cantonians until March, 2015.

The SCPR's response?

Plenty is already known from the series of meetings as to what ails Canton and what needs to be fixed and "time's 'a wastin'" on getting on coming up with solutions.

This series will serve as primary resource for Cantonians to know about the Canton Comprehensive Plan; A to Z.

A secondary purpose if this series is to inform Canton voters who is doing what to bring about a revitalized Canton as a indication as to whether or not those elected officials who are currently in place deserve to be continued in office.

Here is a catalog of prior SCPR blogs which have dealt with the CCP from the idea stage to where it is now.

Besides "specific to the point" SCPR blogs on the CCP, there are other city of Canton developments that The Report considers "to be in the manner of identifying and correcting fundamental flaws in Canton recovering a portion of her former glory.

These include:  
  • (process) (negative)
    • Lowest voter turnout in Stark County (Councilwoman Chris Smith, 11% in precinct 4F) in the recently concluded November 4, 2014 general election
    • Of the 16 Stark County precincts voting 20% or less, Canton precincts included:
      • Councilwoman Chris Smith's Ward 4 at four,
      • Councilman Tom West's Ward 2 at four,
      • Councilman Greg Hawk's Ward 1 at two,
      • Councilman Fisher's Ward 5 at one, and
      • Councilman Morris' Ward 9 at one
It is good news that Ward 3 councilman Jim Griffin will not be seeking a new term as councilman. While Griffin is a terrific guy at the personal level, he is not the type of councilperson that Canton needs going forward.
It is bad news that former Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts Tom Harmon (also former Stark County commissioner [appointed]) says he has taken out petitions to run for council at large.

He, as a matter of public record:
  • has indication of personal problems to deal with, 
  • is "a has been" politician 
who as commissioner was very unimpressive in dealing with the county's serious financial problems at the time.

Many expect Mary Cirelli, a long time council person, former state representative and county commissioner to seek a return to a council-at-large position.

Again, the SCPR views Cirelli (like Griffin) as a terrific individual at the personal level, but not equipped to provide what Canton City Council needs of a council person.

The SCPR discourages her of the notion of seeking to return to council.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report takes citizen involvement in their governments to be a critical part of us having a healthy democratic-republic.

On that score, Wards 2 and 4 are far and away the worst in the city.

The Report thinks that all public officials need to do more to develop ways and means to impress upon citizens their obligation to engage government officials and government itself.

At the base level of our system of government is the absolutely elementary level of citizen participation in casting the ballot.

Grassroots elected officials (e.g. city council members, township trustees and the like) should be the vanguard of GOTV (getting out the vote) irrespective of an individual citizen's political bias.

Stark County as a whole has a problem.

Only 41% voted in the November 4th election.

In 2010 (like 2014, a gubernatorial election year) 48% voted in Stark County.
It is clear that base level politicians are not getting the job done in finding ways to interest their constituents in exercising the franchise.

The most grievous examples come out of Canton's Wards 2 and 4.

In the May, 2014, Councilwoman Smith had a precinct that voted a disgraceful 2.03%

Last Tuesday, 13.3% of Ward 4B's voters voted.

Wow!, no?

Smith might want to brag that between the primary and the general Precinct 4B increased over 600%.

On the other hand, she might want to hide somewhere?

When you're talking an increase from 2.03% to 13.38%; a 600% increase is not all that impressive, no?

The low voter turnout overall in Wards 2 and 4 which are wards that have the bulk of Canton's 40% plus poverty rate suggests to the SCPR that West and Smith are highly ineffective leaders.

But that did not keep them from seeking leadership positions in Canton's government in the Democratic caucuses of December, 2013.

West challenged Morris for being majority leader. Smith, when it was apparent that West was "destined for failure" was, the SCPR is told,  a compromise for assistant majority leader.

As the new term of council convened in early 2014, West got council hung up on the leadership question to the point that council could do very little else for several weeks.

Could the voting/economic data and belaboring the leadership question suggest that West (10 years on council) and Smith (6 years on council) mode of leadership is not working and that their "doing what they always done" is a significant part of Canton's chronic problems and that they are unlikely to be coming up with any solutions?

Maybe the CCP information gathering and planning process will prompt them and other marginal Canton leaders to rethink their role in Canton city government?

Let's hope!

In the meantime, readers of the SCPR can depend on The Report to hold Canton City officials' "feet to the fire!"

Political rhetoric is out.

Getting results is all that counts, if Canton is to turn things around.

Is the CCP the answer?

Vetting and actual "productive" implementation will "tell the tale!"

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