Monday, January 25, 2016


# 5

Because North Canton's city council is scheduled at tonight's "Committee of the Whole Meeting" to take up discussion of an ordinance designed to suppress media/citizen coverage of council meetings, the SCPR in this blog's update of the #3 position in the "Bottom 10 List"  (List) of Stark County Political Subdivision Elected Officials skips over the #4 position in order to herald the "negative" promotion of council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters, individually, and, and as being representative of council as a whole, towards, perhaps, one day achieving #1 status and thereby become The Report's absolutely worst elected official/body.

Compared to Alliance City Council, Canton City Council and Massillon City Council;  North Canton has already achieved being Stark County's worst council in terms of its SCPR documented anti-democratic, anti-republican legislation, policies and empowerment of unchecked Law Director Tim Fox (an unelected council appointee) vis-a-vis North Canton's citizenry and the media.

Before proceeding in reading this blog, readers should pause and read the August 2, 2015 SCPR blog wherein Peters/North Canton City Council was ranked at #4 on "The Bottom 10 List."  (LINK)

Not long ago a North Canton citizen began videotaping North Canton council meetings and a selection of sub-council meetings (e.g. North Canton Planning Commission on the Montabella cell tower issue, LINK).

The Report recalls overhearing/observing North Canton appointed official Eric Bowles,  Director of the North Canton Department of Permits and Development, censuring the citizen on where and where he could not position in tripoded camera in the west end of and to the front of where the general public sits.

It was obvious to the SCPR at this moment that the citizen videotaping North Canton government proceeding had caught the eye of somebody (likely Law Director Fox) and discussions had taken place among North Canton elected and unelected officials on devising ways and means to disadvantage the citizen's ability capture viewable/hearable footage.

Media types, the SCPR included, at the Planning Commission meeting were positioned in the unused council seats to the immediate south of where the citizen was located.

Initially, The Report took up a position that was within a seat or two of where Law Director Fox located himself as a participant in the meeting.

Yours truly was told by Bowles and readily acquiesced to reposition to a seat or two to the north so that Fox had plenty of room to lay out his paperwork.

During the meeting, when it became obvious that The Report's camera was not positioned to ideally capture charts/graphs/photos and the like, Fox invited yours truly to reposition at the original place where The Report had set up.

Confusing, no?

Not sure if Fox's invitation was done to ingratiate yours truly to him or to give the readership of the SCPR the best vantage point to see the exhibits.

As SCPR readers know, yours truly is Stark County's foremost "independent" minded journalist who asks no favors.

The SCPR never before has been hassled by North Canton officials on yours truly's videotaping of council meetings.

The Report is always super-careful not to be a disruptive factor at any of the many Stark County Political Subdivision meetings/court sessions that the SCPR has covered over the past eight years.

Yours truly has never received any complaint about the manner in which it videotapes these public events.

But the ability of anyone including The Report to obtain quality video of North Canton Council meetings appears to be in jeopardy.

At tonight's Committee of the Whole meeting, North Canton council is set to discuss the advisability of passing this ordinance, to wit (an extract thereof):

If passed, this ordinance seems to have been crafted to single out the citizen videotaping.

The Report:
  • sit at the council designated table presumably as determined by "the President of Council" in front of the public area, 
  • does not use a tripod with the SCPR camera, and 
  • does not take up any more space with the camera in hand than if sitting in the press area without a camera
So presumably the proposed ordinance would not affect the SCPR.

But The Report is of a mind that so long as a citizen's camera setup does not cause a disruption to the meeting being videotaped, that should be the end of the matter.

That the proposed legislation includes with its ambit "apparent" justification for the legislation, for example:
  • [so as to prevent] "creating noise that keeps others from hearing the proceedings,"
  • [so as to save space in requiring video equipment to be] "stationary due to the limited space of Council chambers," and
  • "video cameras, tripods and crew shall be behind public seating" [so as to prevent] "obstructing the view of others" 
indicates that those who have put their heads together and devised this proposal know that they will be charged with singling a certain citizen out and the justifications inclusion  in the proposal is an obvious attempt to mask the law director/council "true" motivation in advancing the legislation.

Such conduct is unbecoming of public officials (elected or unelected) and is the primary reason the SCPR "negatively" promotes President Peters and all of North Canton council to the #3 position of Stark County Bottom 10 List.

Additionally, there is this: (LINK)

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