Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Negotiated Agreement With Plain Township by Councilman Repace Raises Questions

Prepared Comments Made to
March 26, 2007

I would like to know where in our North Canton City Charter Council Member Jim Repace believes he is authorized to serve as the city’s negotiator in meetings with other local governments or agencies?

This question has perplexed and unnerved me ever since Mr. Repace revealed last summer at a council meeting that he and Council Member Pat DeOrio had been meeting for months in closed door meetings with Jackson Township trustees.

At least one council member was similarly perplexed at a council meeting last summer when Mr. Repace reported that he had been holding discussions with Jackson Township trustees. According to the minutes of the July 10, 2006, meeting, Council Member Lane naturally thought that other members of North Canton City government would be included in the discussions when he stated “…the Administration would have to get involved and so would the Law Director…”

Council Member Jim Repace replied “No… I’m gonna do the negotiating” and then quickly added “with Pat’s help”

Mr. Repace followed this proclamation by stating “[the] Administration is not going to do any negotiating.”

Clearly Council member Lane thought something was a little amiss as he continued his line of commentary on Mr. Repace’s bravado by stating “...I would think, what I am trying to say is, that side of the fence has to be represented as well, I would think.”

Obviously, one member of this council was questioning the role Mr. Repace was defining for himself. It is unfortunate that other members of council did not speak to this issue as well.

Apparently Mr. Repace is confused as to what his role is as a council member because Mr. Repace at this same council meeting stated that his closed door meetings with Jackson Township was “…something that former Mayor Tom Rice had started working on and I just kind of inherited this thing.”

Councilmember Repace, it may come as a surprise to you but you are not the mayor and you are outside your authority in negotiating any agreements for the City of North Canton. Your position as the President of the Hoover labor union does not give you negotiating privileges for the city. That is not your role as a councilman.

Quite frankly, I am more than surprised that remaining members of this council, City Administrator Earl Wise and Mayor David Held have all sat idly by while Mr. Repace overstepped his authority as a member of council and pursued closed-door negotiations with Jackson Township last year.

Does anyone in this room believe for one second that former Mayor Tom Rice, or any previous mayor or city administrator would have allowed a member of council to proclaim themselves as the city’s negotiator? Would any previous mayor or city administrator allow a council member to be the exclusive representative in negotiations with other local governments or county agencies? Not for a minute!

A few on this council have proffered charges against a council member before. This occurred just a few years ago. Why did council show so much concern years ago with that councilmember? Why is there no concern today for a council member who by self-proclamation takes a role that is clearly outside his authority? How can this kind of conduct be overlooked?

Now, after last summer’s failed attempt by Mr. Repace to have city council approve an agreement with Jackson Township that was highly unfavorable to North Canton, Mr. Repace is pushing a similar agreement with Plain Township.

The Repository reported in a June 30, 2006, article titled, “Officials spar over hiring family;” stated “The younger Repace has a job as a general laborer with Plain Township. He started in April.”

Mr. Repace, I am glad your son was successful in securing employment with Plain Township but it does raise questions given the close relationship you have with certain Plain Township officials.

And now, by all appearances citizens would now have to ask if Mr. Repace is now expected to return a favor to Plain Township by pushing a legislative agreement through council that is highly desired by Plain Township and detrimental to North Canton.

The presence of Plain Township Trustee Louis Giavasis at numerous North Canton City Council meetings over the last few months shows how eager Plain Township is to see the agreement passed by North Canton City Council.

Mr. Giavasis has been available in the audience at council meetings to assist Council Member Repace every time this legislation has been discussed. Apparently, Mr. Giavasis is now an adjunct member of North Canton City Council when legislation beneficial to Plain Township is on the agenda.

In a North Canton City Council meeting on January 16, 2007, Mr. Giavasis stated “…the reason why Plain Township is cooperating with North Canton right now is solely because of Jim Repace.”

The public’s business should be conducted in an arms-length manner. The fact that both Mr. Repace and Mr. Giavasis are Democrats and the fact that they are friends should not be the basis for any agreement passed by North Canton City Council.

Lastly, I would like to say that I was dismayed by the appearance of numerous Democrats at a North Canton City Council meeting on January 16, 2007. The list of Democrats included two Jackson Township Trustees, one Plain Township Trustee, the Stark County Treasurer, the Stark County Auditor, and others. These individuals were elected to serve the public not their party cronies. A city council meeting should not be turned into a political rally.

The purpose of a council meeting is to discuss the public’s business. Party politics does not belong in a city council meeting. It is not a place where partisan politics should be staged for the benefit of Democrats or Republicans.

The appearance of the Jackson Township trustees at the January North Canton City Council meeting turned political rally for Council Member Repace makes one wonder if their presence was payback for Council Member Repace’s effort to push a legislative agreement through council last summer that was highly favorable to Jackson Township but equally detrimental to North Canton.

City council scuttled the proposed agreement with Jackson Township last summer.
I urge this council to scuttle the proposed agreement with Plain Township that is before you now. The agreement has been pursued by a council member acting outside his authority. Furthermore, I believe the agreement furthers friendships and not the future of the City of North Canton.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton