Friday, July 22, 2016


As service director and chief of staff in the then newly elected Healy administration, Thomas Bernabei wanted to hire J.R. Rinaldi to run Canton's sanitation department.

It probably did not dawn on Bernabei at the time, but Mayor William J. Healy, II set about making Bernabei's druthers in the matter a non-starter.  He offered Rinaldi $40,000 as a salary.

It should have dawned on Bernabei (a maybe it did) that Healy's handling of the desired hiring was an omen that Healy was not about to let Bernabei actually put people in place who could be effective in solving Canton's problems.

It was not long after the Bernabei to Rinaldi overture that Bernabei got fired (January, 2009).

The SCPR has written frequently that Healy's ego is such that there was no way was he going to allow a situation develop that it became apparent to one and all that Bernabei, if given free reign on such matters, would begin a "real" turnaround for Canton.

Had Healy allowed Bernabei to do his thing, William J. Healy would be serving his third term as mayor and would not instead be a Vice President of the Elderly Housing Development & Operations Corporation (EHDOC) located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

EHDOC has properties in Canton, namely, Mayfield Manors I, II & III.

Of course, we all are familiar with the series of events in which former Democrat Thomas M. Bernabei on May 4, 2015 declared as a political independent and survived a Board of Elections challenge and Ohio Supreme Court challenge to get on the November, 2015 general election ballot and defeat Healy.

It has been apparent to the SCPR for some time that Bernabei thinks well of Rinaldi.

Some will get a smile on their faces and say:  "Well, that's because J.R. is and has been dating (going back some six years) Bernabei's daughter Kim will plans to marry sometime on a unspecified future date."

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail that the SCPR recently received:

Hi Martin, (July 20)

There is a recent new hire at the building and code department for the city of Canton. JR Rinaldi was hired by Bernabei to be the number 2 in charge there.

It seems kind of interesting that he is seeing the mayors daughter and has no experience in building and code.

I don't know much more than that but he started yesterday.

And here is Bernabei's confirmation of the hire:

But the Sanitation job thing was eight years ago seems to undermine such thinking.

The SCPR appreciates tips like the foregoing and set about checking it out whether or not the "daughter" thing was "the reason" that Mayor Bernabei hired J.R. Rinaldi.

Readers of the SCPR know that The Report does not much like it when hires like this one are made without the job being posted and therefore not available to the tax paying public at large.

And in this instance, it seems to the SCPR that Rinaldi is going to have a much more significant role in the Bernabei administration than being #2 in the Canton Building Department.

One of the criticisms of Healy heard by The Report repeatedly over his years in office was that he would stash what were really administration employees in this or that department taking their orders from Mayor Healy.

There is a difference with Bernabei.

He forthrightly says in the above letter to council that he plans on using Rinaldi as a Executive Specialist.

A reason offered up by elected officials for making a selection of someone that the official knows and is well taken with is that the official wants key people in their employ to be a person they know they can rely on.

Such reasoning is perfectly acceptable in the private sector where a company's or an business person's investment is at stake.  Not in the public sector.  If taxpayer monies are involved, then the public official has an obligation to the public to seek the best possible person for the job and if the hiring process is short circuited then it cannot be said that the insider hired was the best possible person.

The SCPR has a very high regard for Mayor Bernabei.

He is Stark's top political subdivision elected official on the SCPR "Top 10" List.

The Report agrees with Bernabei that Rinaldi is a highly capable person.

Recently, he went through a competition with Canton Parks & Recreation director Derek Gordon when at the onset of the Bernabei administration it was announced that with the formation of a new entity (Canton Park Commission merging with the Canton Joint Recreation District pand emerging as the Canton Parks & Recreation Commission), the directorship question was being opened up as to who would lead the new entity.

Rinaldi was one of the finalist for the directorship which went to Gordon.

The Report was impressed that by all accounts Mayor Bernabei did not attempt to intervene with his appointees to the new commission (Mike Hanke and Sam Sliman) on behalf of Rinaldi.

Yours truly knew about the relationship between Rinaldi and Bernabei's daughter and his hands off on the selection process is further evidence that the relationship probably is not a factor in the current hire.

Rinaldi is already at work on a couple of projects in his added role as the mayor's Executive Specialist.  One has to wonder though whether or not Rinaldi's special relationship with the mayor will ruffle the feathers of some top in the top tier of the administration

Having to deal with a $5.2 million deficit this year and perhaps more deficit next year, there is no doubt that Bernabei can use the likes of a John Rinaldi to troubleshoot/fix the many problems that Canton faces.

And there could be more to this story.

Over four years, Bernabei's being mayor will get Canton headed in the right direction.

However, the rehab of Canton is at least eight years in the making,

Mayor Bernabei is not a young man.

Could he be preparing Rinaldi to succeed him as mayor of Canton?

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