Monday, November 28, 2011

North Canton Mayor’s Appointment of Permits Superintendent Is a Plan of Deception

Prepared Comments Made to
November 28, 2011

Since mid-November I have followed Mayor Held’s quest to staff an assistant administrator position at City Hall and I am concerned that City Council is either complacent in letting the Mayor staff that position or is blind to the Mayor’s plan of deception to accomplish that end.

Two months ago, on September 19, this council failed to act on the Mayor’s request for an assistant administrator, and yet without a doubt, Mayor Held is working his way to getting that request fulfilled with what I believe to be a plan of deception.

Mayor Held, your statements in the press over the last two months are contradictory and call into question the course of events transpiring behind the walls of City Hall.

In a Repository report on September 19, 2011, titled “North Canton considers assistant administrator post” you stated you will keep Eric Bowles tasked with the added duties of permits and inspection, saying “With Bowles doing double-duty, the city has saved money by not paying a salary for the permits and inspections job.”

Two months later, the Repository in a November 14, 2011, report titled, “North Canton hires permits superintendent” you state that the city has hired a new superintendent of permits after spending several months with the development director doubling up on duties.

In that report Mayor, you say, “Eric Bowles … once again will be able to focus on bringing new business to the city now that Bill Bartos has been named superintendent of permits. You, Mayor, are quoted as saying, “We can’t go with one person managing both departments.”

A week later at the Council of the Whole meeting of November 21, under questioning by Councilmember Foltz, Mayor Held stated that Eric Bowles would continue in Permits and Development with the new title of Director of Permits & Development.

Which is it Mayor Held? Either Mr. Bowles can handle both the Department of Development and the Department of Permits & Inspection or he cannot?

If Eric Bowles is going to continue to head up both departments, what was the reason for the appointment of Bill Bartos to be Permits Superintendent two weeks ago?

Clearly, Mayor Held, the appointment of Bill Bartos to the position of Superintendent of Permits has been nothing but a ruse. It is obvious to me that you have intended from the beginning to hire an assistant administrator so that you will have a replacement for City Administrator Grimes when Mr. Grimes steps down early next year. I might add that you have acknowledged to me in speculation that Mr. Grimes would serve as City Administrator for only 12 to 18 months from the time of his appointment in March 2011.

Last week, more than one week after Bill Bartos began his new job as Superintendent of the Permits & Inspection Department, I learned in a phone conversation that the newly appointed permits superintendent had never met some of his staff. Given that newspaper accounts had reported that Mr. Bartos had been on the job over a week as the Superintendent of Permits, one would expect that Mr. Bartos would be fully engaged and involved with all the staff in his department.

Is Mr. Bartos actually working and heading up the permits Department or is he employed elsewhere?

The fact of the matter is that Development Director Bowles revealed to me that the newly appointed permits superintendent was not working in the permits department but in fact has been assisting City Administrator Grimes at City Hall.

Mayor Held, I would like to know the purpose in announcing the appointment of Bill Bartos to be the new head of the Permits & Inspection Department when you apparently never actually intended for Mr. Bartos to fill that position. I would also like to know if you find this kind of deception serves the citizenry of North Canton.

From City Council, I would like to know if you are privy to these orchestrations by Mayor Held and if you are a partner in this less than forthright plan?

Doesn’t North Canton have in place a search process written into the city’s personnel procedures that outlines the proper way in which high-level leadership positions are to be filled in the city?

It seems to be public knowledge that the city’s new permits superintendent was hired on the recommendation of a neighbor of Mayor Held. I would not call this an acceptable hiring process for North Canton’s next City Administrator.

Mayor Held, there is no manner of transparency and accountability in cronyism and that is what your recent closed-door appointment of a permits superintendent can be called.

Cronyism should not be the accepted method to finding qualified individuals to fill high-level leadership positions in the City of North Canton.

On tonight’s agenda is proposed legislation, titled Ordinance 103-11, to establish the classifications and rates of compensation for the positions of Director of Administrative Services and Director of Permits and Development.

I might interject here that the Director of Administrative Services was a position that was created for a former City Administrator in the present administration who was removed from office and then allowed to collect a salary for the remaining six months of 2010 before his employment with the City ended due to budget cuts.

North Canton’s financial situation has continued to deteriorate and there is certainly no room to fund newly created job classifications. With salary and benefits, the requested new job classification of Director of Administrative Services will increase personnel costs for North Canton taxpayers by nearly $92,000.00.

For the record, I would like to add that the press has published incorrect information regarding the salary of the recently filled position of Permits Superintendent. The salary for that position is $67,582.32 per year. This is considerably more than the $60,000 reported to the public by the press.

I would ask that this council not ratify Ordinance 103-11. To do so would reward Mayor Held for his efforts to bypass commonsense personnel policies in the recruitment, screening, and hiring of high-level city employees. Passage would also reward Mayor Held for trampling any notion of transparency and accountability in North Canton City government and make this council a partner in the Mayor’s plan of deception.

I ask that this council not let North Canton’s reputation be discredited by the statements and actions of the Held Administration that are intended to mislead the citizens of North Canton. Checks and balances in North Canton City Government are certainly needed to stop the plans of deception now being perpetrated on us!

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton