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