Wednesday, November 28, 2018



The Stark County Political Report has a great deal of direct contact over nearly 11 years with many Stark County political subdivision processes of government, which, is to say, includes the cities, villages, townships and boards of education and other government entities.

Of those political subdivisions, North Canton is far and away the most adversarial with its citizens who differ in the context of "Public Speaks" ("recognition of visitors," on the published North Canton Council meeting agenda document).

Here is a summation of the latest flap.  (from a citizen e-mail to the SCPR among other media types, reporting on an November 12, 2018 North Canton City Council meeting) 
North Canton Law Director Tim Fox apparently is of the opinion that if a citizen addresses City Council in a public meeting and is not under oath, that person is not giving truthful testimony. 
 In spite of the fact that Law Director Tim Fox is not an elected representative of the citizens of North Canton, he is regularly given a bully pulpit to attack citizens of North Canton who choose to speak to their elected representatives at what is termed on the Council Agenda as RECOGNITION OF VISITORS and also referred to as Public Speaks. 
Although Mr. Fox interjects his opinions and thoughts throughout the course of every meeting, these particular remarks came at the end of the evening's meeting, during the portion of the meeting agenda termed COUNCIL REPORTS. 
        Mr. Fox begins his remarks at 1:01:35 and his remarks quickly turn into an attack on anyone who addresses City Council at PUBLIC SPEAKS. 
(Verbatim remarks of Tim Fox beginning at 1:01:45) [SCPR NOTE:  SEE VIDEO LINK ABOVE}
"…I just want to point out to those that may not attend meetings as regular as some others, for those that appear and offer their opinions; you notice that they're not under oath. There is no legal requirement that they give truthful testimony. And that's so they can give their opinion.
... . (enlarged portions of text for emphasis sake)
A primary reason for the SCPR blog is to hold Stark County political subdivisions accountable for the substantive and procedural actions with "process" being the priority.

Of all North Canton councilpersons, only former mayor and council member (also president for a period of time) Daryl Revoldt gets anywhere near treating citizens wishing to be heard by Council to be heard attentively and taken seriously.

Accordingly, the SCPR sent this e-mail to Councilman Revoldt which is shared, in part, in this excerpt:

So it "appears" that Law Director Fox in picking up on your (Revoldt's)  "opinion" that you and perhaps many if not all of Council have that North Canton Public Speaks input is to be indulged but not examined for value? 
Everyone knows that "Public Speaks" contributions are opinion and so why would you in particular and Council in general not dress down Fox for his (in my assessment) officiously devaluing of citizen input 
Moreover, in the meeting post-Fox commentary, on what seems to me to be a continuing attack on North Canton citizens (with particular emphasis on Chuck Osborne); [why] did you allow the Fox attributed to comments go unclarified? 
As you know the SCPR has attended many, many, many city council, township trustee and board of education meetings over the 10 plus years, North Canton has stood out to me as being the most antagonistic to citizen input. 
Is there something in this story that Osborne is misrepresenting?
Councilman Revoldt did respond via telephone to the points made/questions made in the SCPR email.

Here is a summary of the key parts of his response:
  • He values public opinion and cites examples in which he thinks Council has demonstrated that it is authentically hearing North Canton citizens,
    • the SCPR, nonetheless, questions whether or not his six colleagues value citizen input, and, this blogger thinks Fox's "under oath" thing is absolutely ridiculous.  He and council members are not "under oath."  What's to keep them from being "less than truthful."
  • Law Director Fox's "under oath comment" was not very artful,
  • Seems to justify Fox's "under oath" admonishment (what The Report thinks is chilling on public input) that Council only deals with facts.
    • the SCPR says that for the law director to a priori seems to determine that anything a citizen says is pure speculation and that only he and council members offer factual material is an expression of the height of government arrogance,
  • On the substantive issue of whether or not North Canton accepts Maple Street Commerce's (Stu Lichter) offer to deed a parcel for building of a North Canton Safety Centers will be determined by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  "factual" determinations,
    • Revoldt seemingly dismisses the possibility that citizens might through questioning Council provoke Council to urge the EPA to take a deeper look at environment safety factors in the context of placing an open to public access government facility on it to say nothing of North Canton government employees who would be working in the facility,
    • Some North Cantonians think that the short (in terms of time) notice of the  EPA's meeting with the general North Canton public on October 24th, on the overall Hoover contamination issue, was an attempt by North Canton government to get the EPA by incisive public inquiry and therefore more likely to see things favorable to redevelopment of remains of the former Hoover complex,
  • In somewhat in a paradoxical fashion, Revoldt then says that North Canton Council needs to avoid "group think,"
    • Hmm.  Really? The Report's take on North Canton Council is that by and large its processes are an example of "locked in arms, 'group' think,"
  • Revoldt:  "Your worst critic is your best friend,"
    • Amen!!! to that.  But North Canton Council is a long way from embracing criticism and reaching out to its citizen base to achieve "win-win" results,  And such is the case for much of government in Stark County, in Ohio and across the nation,
  • Though generally understanding and supportive of Fox because he thinks Fox has been more restrained in recent times from "getting out of his lane" (the SCPR's characterization; not Revoldt's) and appears to be hopeful that Fox will limit himself rendering legal advice to his client (i.e. North Canton Council and its members) in the context of the official business of Council.
Yesterday, post North Canton Council meeting of Monday, November 26th, Revoldt tells the SCPR that on Monday Council agreed to restructure the order of business so as to facilitate council member responses to questions/points made and the like during the Reports section of agenda which is to be the last item on the agenda going forward.

Revoldt has noted and the SCPR agrees that Fox's obvious dissing of the public

  • (e.g. unreliable to be truthful, not factual because they are not in the legal straight-jacket of being "under oath; a standard that apparently in his mind does not apply to Fox himself, the Held administration and the members of Council),
    • While Fox has not previously  been so audacious as in  the foregoing November 12 example indicates in the past; there have been times and places in the functioning of North Canton government that he has as an "unelected" official gotten out-of-hand in attacking the public with special asides directed at a particular member of the public,
      • apparently, doing so, in his perception was he was carrying out a private understanding back in 2012 that such is what Council expected of him,

appeared, before the 12th, to be tamped down.

But his November 12th outrageous questioning of the credibility of the commenting public, indicates that he probably is not a chastened law director (behind the scenes) by various council members law director.

Revoldt can be optimistic that Fox  will "stay in his lane" going forward, this blogger is not unless and until it becomes apparent to him that Council's expectation of him has changed.

As long as North Canton Council allows Law Director Tim Fox and his seeming  chronic anti-public participation in government ways persist, there will continue to be a North Canton Council that appears to be out-of-touch with its public and may at least explain in part why its November, 2018 levy attempt failed.

A 15%  loss might be viewed by some as one whale of a being "out-of-touch" indicator, no?

The Report has learned that it is likely Council will try on November, 2019 to get  voter approval of a increase in the North Canton income tax rate.

This space of nearly a year gives Council ample opportunity to "turn over a new leaf" and do what all elected officials ought to do and that is listen carefully to their constituents and engage them frequently but respectfully in public forums.

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