Monday, September 30, 2013

North Canton Resorts to Extortion and Blackmail in the Name of Economic Development


Prepared Comments Made to
September 30, 2013
            I would like to address last week’s presentation regarding the proposed JEDD for Cain Toyota which is, in part, the basis for entering into a mutual economic agreement with the City of Canton and the townships of Plain and Jackson to be voted on tonight as Resolution No. 63-13. 

            I listened intently last Monday night and took close notes as Council President Snyder described the following: That Cain Motors could no longer meet their water needs with a well and that the City of North Canton was better positioned to extend a water line some great distance to Cain Motors as opposed to the City of Canton who would have to extend its waterline from 38th Street to provide water service. Mr. Snyder also said that Cain Motors would be afforded inside water rates in spite of the fact that Cain Toyota is outside the North Canton City limits. In exchange, Cain Motors would agree to the imposition of a two percent municipal income tax. 

            Wanting to dig deeper into the facts of this situation, I was able to meet the next morning with David Cain, the owner of Cain Motors. 

            I introduced myself to Mr. Cain and the first thing I said was, “I believe you are being blackmailed and I also believe the City of North Canton is being blackmailed.” Without hesitation Mr. Cain said, “I agree!” 

            What I learned next from Mr. Cain astounded me as he told me that his BMW dealership was presently a water customer of the City of North Canton and that the BMW dealership has received water from the City through a four-inch waterline for many years.  

I am very upset in the total misrepresentation of this entire situation at last week’s council meeting. North Canton has water lines already in place right across the street from Cain Motors and have been a North Canton water customer for years.  

Mr. Cain told me that when he built the BMW dealership several years earlier, he simply made a request for water services from North Canton and it was provided without delay.   

Mr. Cain related to me that his current request for expanded water service for his Toyota dealership has gone on for five months with numerous cost estimates from the City. Over the months of delay, he has appealed to State Representative Kirk Schuring and then to State Senator Scott Oelslager to prod North Canton into action. Three calls made to North Canton Mayor David Held for assistance were never returned. 

I am not sure when the idea of a JEDD was presented to Mr. Cain and the accompanying demand that an income tax be imposed, but Mr. Cain knew that the Toyota dealership could not open as scheduled without water service. As the weeks and months went by, he asked everyone he talked to why this wasn’t a simple business deal. North Canton has a product to sell and he wanted to buy it.

These demands on Cain Motors are nothing more than extortion and blackmail and I hope Mr. Cain seeks legal representation. 

North Canton has thousands of outside water customers. Are we going to let them become pawns in these games with the City of Canton and the townships of Plain and Jackson? 

The City of Canton is providing no services in this proposed JEDD and yet, like a mafia thug seeing easy money for the taking, they are slated to receive one third of the income tax collected for participating with Plain and Jackson Townships.  

This is not a collaboration of governments but a conspiracy of governments that border North Canton, designed to forever end annexations by North Canton in Plain and Jackson Township.  

Promises of additional income tax collections from the construction of two new hotels have been made to sell this pig-in-a-poke agreement. Hotels employ mostly minimum wage part-time employees. Not much in the way of income taxes here. And then you want to split it three ways?  

Extension of water service generally brings along with it annexations which allows North Canton to expand its borders in the future. The only other benefit to North Canton in extending water service outside the City is the added revenue from the higher outside water rates that subsidize inside rates, thus keeping water rates low for inside water users. 

For Mr. Cain, this was never about water rates but simply a need for more water. The offer of inside rates to an outside water user violates our long-standing water rate policy, is patently unfair to all North Canton water customers, and undermines the financial integrity of the City’s water fund. 

David Cain of Cain Motors has been very generous in supporting community events in North Canton and is known to many of you. I am stunned this City is treating Mr. Cain in this manner.  

North Canton water is enjoyed far beyond municipal boundaries. The City has spent decades putting in place this infrastructure. Do not now change course on all that this City has built. The current political climate will change in the future negating catastrophic proposals such as the one now before you.   

Consideration of this JEDD for Cain Motors by City Council simply makes this City and all of City Council a party to extortion and blackmail.  

I ask that you not pass Resolution No. 63-13. It simply moves the City closer to surrendering its autonomy as well as its prospects for a successful future.     

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton





Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Apparently North Canton City Council Places Loyalty to Its Members Above Service to City Residents

Prepared Comments Made to
September 16, 2013 

            Tonight I would like to address the poor attendance record of some members of North Canton City Council and make recommendations for legislation that will help to make Council attendance at public meetings more transparent and economically fair for taxpayers.  

            I have spoken privately to Council President Snyder on this subject on numerous occasions and recently to Mr. Peters, Chairman of Council’s Personnel & Safety Committee. 

            I will preface my remarks by stating that in my two-year term on City Council I do not recall any absences of the seven members of Council during the entire two-year term that was December 1, 2001, through November 30, 2003. Mr. Snyder has told me that is his recollection as well. 

            Sadly, that is not the case today with the members of the current City Council. 

Almost weekly there are at least one and sometimes two council members absent. On February 11, 2013, voting on legislation, scheduled for passage as “an emergency,” was delayed for an hour until a sixth member of Council arrived to garner the required minimum votes for passage. Apparently the declaration that legislation was needed as an emergency meant little for this late arriving member of Council. 

This situation was repeated at another Council meeting April 15, 2013, when only five of seven Council members were present to vote on “emergency legislation,” scheduled for passage at a Special Council meeting.  

More often than not, each week a vote is taken to excuse a Council member, sometimes two Council members, from scheduled meetings that require their attendance. Apparently North Canton City Council places loyalty to its members above service to City residents as members of Council are routinely excused. And whether a Council member is absent or not from a publicly scheduled meeting all members are paid just the same. 

How many of us in the real world get paid for not showing up for work? Rhetorical questions, as we all know that “no work means no pay” and that if one is habitually late or absent from work one will find him/her- self no longer employed. 

Two years ago, I began tracking the attendance of council members and this is what I have discovered: 

            Mr. Snyder, I would say you would qualify for a “gold star” as by my calculations you have missed or been tardy for only three of 127 publicly scheduled Council meetings which equates to 98% attendance. 

            Mr. Peters ranks second, missing or being tardy for eight out of 127 meetings, equating to 94% attendance. 

            Mr. Foltz ranks third, missing or being tardy for 9 out of 127 meetings, equating to 93% attendance. 

Mrs. Werren ranks fourth as she has missed or been tardy 6 out of the 65 meetings since her appointment in mid-term which equates to 91% attendance. 

Mr. Cerreta and Mr. Griffith tie for fifth as each has missed 13 out of 127 meetings which equates to 90% attendance. 

Mrs. Kiesling ranks at the bottom as she has missed or been tardy for 35 of 127 publicly scheduled Council meetings, equating to a 72% attendance rating. 

I guess I am getting old as I harken back to an earlier time period and remember when people had a different work ethic. We all remember an aging relative who would tell us how things used to work.
I would urge at this time that Council put in place legislation that requires the Clerk of Council to keep attendance of Council members at all publicly scheduled meetings. Further, I would ask that members of Council not be paid for meetings which they do not attend. 

I would also like to say that continuing to approve of non-attendance of Council members at publicly scheduled Council meetings could make Council party to what could be termed theft in office as the taxpayers are paying for services that are not being rendered as an ongoing matter of business. 

Mr. Snyder, I would like to thank you for a fine attendance record. For the rest of Council, you made a commitment to your constituents to represent them. Showing up four evenings a month for City Council meetings is what you promised your constituents and it the very least that the public expects from you.  

Members of North Canton City Council should show in every way that their loyalty is to City residents, first and foremost.

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton