Friday, June 3, 2016







If the above collage from Wednesday night's North Canton government sponsored meeting with Ward 2 and Ward 3 residents suggests a "raucous" meeting to readers of The Stark County Political Report, such would be an accurate take on the tone of the meeting.

Republican Ward 3 Councilwoman Stephanie Werren told those assembled that the idea to hold such a meeting was hers.

After the turmoil she experienced in the course of the meeting, it will be interesting to see whether or not she has the stomach for encore meetings.

The meeting was held at North Canton's prized Dogwood Park located on 7th Street NE close by North Canton Hoover High School.

Recently and ironically in the context of the meeting, North Canton Council passed legislation decommissioning North Canton being The Dogwood City.

However, Council has designated the Dogwood tree as the "official" tree of North Canton.

Stephanie Werren (also director of Leadership Stark County [a project of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce] which includes a course of study designed to train Stark Countians to be effective local government leaders), at the outset said to the 90 or so assembled that she got the idea of having a Ward meeting while campaigning last year in her successful bid to retain her post as councilwoman.

Werren's tone was that she and Ward 2 Republican councilman and council president Dan "Jeff" Peters coming together to host the meeting was an effort to connect better to the North Canton citizenry.

By the end of the meeting, it was arguable whether the meeting created more connection or sewn seeds of greater discord going forward.

As readers of this blog know, the SCPR has tabbed North Canton City Council as Stark's absolutely worst in terms of demonstrating in the councilpersons' collective relationship with North Cantonians on democratic-republican values of accessibility, accountability, transparency, communicativeness and trust.

The Report's assessment is that Wednesday's meeting was pretty much a failure in terms of creating greater cohesiveness between North Canton officialdom and everyday North Cantonians.

And a big reason for the failure is the inability of President Peters to deal effectively with North Canton's foremost community activist:  Chuck Osborne.

Peters was way to quick to have the police called on Wednesday night.  Osborne in his conduct got nowhere near needing police intervention.  

To The Report, Peters asking for the police to be called was exercise in "political theater" pure and simple and moreover conduct unbecoming of a democratic-republican system of government leader.

Osborne is a former councilperson (one two year term at the beginning of the 21st century has run for mayor and a seat on council several times including a 2015 unsuccessful run against Werren in November, 2015 as graphically shown above.

But mind you Osborne did get 470 votes out of Ward 3 less than a year ago.  And the total of 711 "no confidence" votes on incumbent Werren.

Nobody is as knowledgeable about North Canton government as is Osborne.

Nobody is as dogged in pursuing North Canton governance issues that he takes an interest in as is Osborne.

However, he is not the Dale Carnegie of civic activism.

His wife Rita Palmer pretty much is.

And Chuck could be far more effective than he is if he were to take lessons in a balance a fashion as Rita.

For instance, with a large crowd gathered to hear and to engage North Canton officials, Osborne, who is in almost daily contact with one North Canton elected or appointed official or another, should have pretty much stood down and let the those who do not have the inclination to dog government officials have a maximum space to dialogue with North Canton officialdom.

That he didn't, to the SCPR, indicates that his mission was not so much to get answers to his questions but rather to gain a perceived political advantage in holding them in a bad light before the large crowd, many of whom do not attend regular North Canton City Council meetings.

For those of us who appreciate civic activism, Osborne presents a problem.

We treasure the energy, spunk, drive, persistence, thoroughness with which he hounds public officials into serving their constituencies authentically and with results for the public good.

We lament that he seems to be his own worst enemy in his approach to public officials and thereby dramatically lessens his ability to convince them of the merit of his cause, whatever it may be.

There was another incident in which Osborne was ordered to leave the meeting by President Peters.

Here is the video of the incident.

The SCPR has written before that Peters is not an ideal personality to serve as council president in that he appears to have a very thin skin and quick to land on any citizen, not just Osborne, who questions his or his fellow council persons actions.

The Report's impression of President Peters' in relation to Osborne is that he looks for opportunities to land on Chuck.

Take a look as this video exchange between Peters and a citizen discussing Osborne's public modus operandi.

Case made?

There were quite a few issues discussed at the June 1st meeting.

It was advertised as focusing on pending North Canton Council Community Reinvestment legislation and troubles on rehabbing the city's Dogwood Park swimming facility which is managed by the North Canton YMCA.

Subsequent blogs in this series will deal with those issues and others that were discussed in detail and in some instances with pointed if not vitriolic exchanges.

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