Monday, June 23, 2014

City Council Shamelessly Snubs Applicant For Vacant Ward Council Seat

Prepared Comments Made to
June 23, 2014 

Last Monday, Council President Peters announced Council’s pick for the vacant Ward Four Council seat. The vacancy came about when a long-time member of Council and for many years President of City Council abruptly resigned his seat under a cloud of controversy.  

Compounding problems exponentially in the Council office is the loss of a highly valued, high-skilled, and extremely professional Council Clerk who had served North Canton City Council for nearly seventeen years. 

One would think that with the chaos that has been broiling within North Canton City Council for the last year that this Council body might have wanted to restore some stability and confidence in its government.  

Sadly, that apparently is not the case. 

The request for interested applicants for the vacant Ward Four Council seat resulted in the timely application of one individual. I say “timely” as only one resident of Ward Four expressed an interest in the vacant Council seat by the deadline set by Council. 

The applicant in my estimation was “manna from heaven” for the City of North Canton at this moment in time. City Council has been reeling in turmoil with its Law Director Tim Fox in the driver’s seat, and the City desperately needs to restore stability and sensibility to City Hall. 

The applicant who filed in a timely fashion for the vacant seat was Roy Batista, a former 27-year Law Director for the City of North Canton. One could not find a better qualified more knowledgeable individual to return order and stability to City Hall at this time. 

But leave it to North Canton City Council to inject a double dose of politics and self-interest into the selection process.  

I should interject here that it was Roy Batista who, nearly two years ago as temporary Law Director before current Law Director Tim Fox was appointed, sanctioned the placement of the Health Care Initiative on the ballot. The proposed Health Care Ordinance, known as Issue 5, was passed overwhelmingly by the voters 3 to 1 in the 2012 General Election.  

Four members of this City Council violated the legally enacted Health Care Ordinance and three still remain on this Council. The fourth member of Council recently resigned creating the present opening on Council. And now City Council is contesting the Health Care Ordinance in Common Pleas Court at the urging of Law Director Fox and in spite of the fact that members of Council have surrendered their enrollment in the City’s Health Care Plan per the legally enacted Ordinance initiated by the citizens of North Canton. 

Could Roy Batista have brought some valuable insight to the Health Care issue now before the Courts? You betcha!  

Do members of City Council want to hear anything other than what their current Law Director has to say about that pending case? 
 Obviously not. 

As a result, a second applicant was sought out for the vacant council seat who then submitted a letter of interest after the deadline posted by Council. It is my understanding that Councilmember Cerreta sought out this second applicant.  

No one is better qualified to sit as a member of North Canton City Council than an individual who has been an attorney for over forty years and further, who has served this City so well as its Law Director for twenty-seven years. 

What were you thinking, Mr. Cerreta?  

The next time you board a flight to Florida tell the  Captain sitting in the left seat in the cockpit with 20,000 flight hours that you would rather have a friend of yours who recently got his private pilot’s license fly you and your family. How many of your fellow passengers would agree with that logic?  

The decision to select a novice to serve on City Council over an individual with the credentials of a Roy Batista reflects on this Council’s ability to make sound decisions, and quite frankly is an utter embarrassment for North Canton citizens. 

Mr. Peters, Council’s choice to fill the vacant Council seat clearly is a choice of self-interest over what is best for the community. 

This Council did the very same thing nearly two years ago when it advertised for candidates to fill the position of Law Director, then abandoned the selection process after advertising and interviewing applicants and abruptly chose a sitting council member to be the City’s first full-time Law Director.  

This City has been paying a grave price ever since for that failed decision. The current Law Director is a wrecking ball at City Hall, so much so that a highly qualified and respected Clerk of Council has left the City rather than continue to work in the Council office.  

Council’s choice for the vacant Council seat was a shameless snub of Mr. Batista.  

Shame, shame on every single one of you for the politics you play at the expense of the citizens you are sworn to represent. 

Thank you,
Chuck Osborne, Resident
City of North Canton