Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Distinguished Ohio Law Firm Recommends City NOT Enter Into Economic Development Agreement

Prepared Comments Made to
February 18, 2014

        There is an issue that has been hanging over the heads of North Canton City Hall for many months and that is whether or not North Canton should ratify the proposed Mutual Economic Development Agreement with the City of Canton and the townships of Jackson and Plain. 

        One could speculate why there has been such a long delay on this decision, but one thing is certain. There can be no do-overs on this. Get it wrong and the beneficiaries in this agreement will get the last laugh and your children, when they are the age you are now, will still be bound by the terms of this agreement and asking long after you have departed this world why anyone would have accepted such an agreement. 
         Mayor Held retained the services of an expert in the field of economic development from the distinguished Ohio Law Firm of Bricker & Eckler. This firm has practiced in the field of economic development for several decades. 
        Christiane Schmenk, the attorney from Bricker & Eckler who analyzed the Mutual Economic Development Agreement, is herself a former Mayor of Marysville, Ohio. 
        Marysville, a community of approximately 22,000 residents in the greater metropolitan area of Columbus has a very interesting philosophy that I think is applicable while we all discuss the merits of this agreement. 
        The philosophical statement on Marysville’s Website is found under the tab titled Government and the tab titled, Residents. The dropdown box for each of those tabs reveals a link labeled, Transparency in Government. The opening statement of this page reads, “Elected officials and city executives have a responsibility to the taxpayers and members of the community to make sound decisions that benefit present and future generations.” 
        This is a philosophy that is especially applicable today as the fifty-year term of the proposed agreement in question will impact future generations, and then some. 
        I ask that all council members put aside loyalties and politics as they consider their vote on the economic development agreement. I ask that you consider the analysis and the recommendations of the expert who has been asked to advise you and the administration on the best course of action. 
        The six-page analysis is an informative and enlightening report. In summary, the report states that “the Agreement is incomplete…. [and asks the City] to give up future rights… without the ability to understand what it might gain in return…. [The agreement] lacks critical information that would allow it to make an informed decision whether the Agreement is in its citizens’ best interests.” 
        The report continues with “…this Agreement is more aptly characterized as an ‘anti-annexation’ agreement, not an economic development agreement.” 
        In conclusion, Christiane Schmenk, the legal expert states unequivocally “…I recommend against entering into this Agreement.” 
        I do not believe there is a single individual on this council body who has the necessary credentials to evaluate the proposed Economic Development Agreement to the extent of Mrs. Schmenk. 
        Experts in a wide range of specialized fields of endeavor are consulted for their expertise. We seek them for assistance in making decisions in which our knowledge is limited or nonexistent. We seek out medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, CPAs, and hundreds of other specialists when we need sound advice and information. 
        One does not seek out experts for advice and then disregard the advice that is provided. 
        The citizens of North Canton would expect this council to abide by the expert advice you have received. 
        Moving forward on the recommendation you have received from the Law Firm of Brickler & Eckler is your duty.  Vote NO on the Mutual Economic Development Agreement with the City of Canton and the townships of Jackson and Plain. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton