By virtue of its proximity to the Timken Co., Gregory Galvanizing and other plants, Southwest Canton historically has been a stable community, fiercely proud of its blue-collar roots.
I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but the southwest part of town seems to be on fire. In the last two months, it’s become a Murderer’s Row, with two fatal shootings and a fatal stabbing. The latest, but probably not the last, occurred on Monday with the murder of a 22-year-old.
By virtue of its proximity to the Timken Co., Gregory Galvanizing and other plants, Southwest Canton historically has been a stable community, fiercely proud of its blue-collar roots. Many residents are descendants of the European immigrants who were recruited to work in the mills. Their homes, a stone’s throw from the factories, boasted manicured front lawns bearing Virgin Mary statues.
The neighborhood still is dotted with tiny neighborhood bars, corner stores and restaurants tucked into places only locals can find.
The factories remain but are demanding more skills and education of those they hire. In the last decade, the quadrant has come under siege from dilapidated rentals, arson, drugs, gangs of rootless kids and the kind of decay that occurs when the unequipped flounder.
Steve Mardis survived Vietnam but barely missed becoming a casualty on his own front porch when his home was riddled like Swiss cheese by 20 bullets in April. Mardis dared Mayor William J. Healy II, who’s pinning his re-election hopes on the crime rate, to spend a month in his Hammond Street SW neighborhood.
That the overall number of reported crimes is declining is of no comfort to a man who can’t sit on his own porch.
In 2008, Canton firefighter Susan Seiler literally fought for the right to stay in her southwest home but was driven out by the lawless behavior of people patronizing the Pastime Inn, whose closing came too late to prevent yet another productive, law-abiding person from fleeing the city.
Cities cannot exist unless officials are willing to stand up for the residents in them. Mardis and Seiler shouldn’t have to leave their neighborhoods; they’ve done nothing wrong. The law-abiding residents of Southwest Canton — who still constitute the majority — deserve better.
WHO’S ON FIRST?
You couldn’t make up what happened at the Stark County treasurer’s office last week.
Gary Zeigler was boomeranged back into the job, thanks to a smart lawyer who found a screwy contradiction in the law. The state Supreme Court declared that the law Stark County commissioners used to oust Zeigler last year was in violation of another law.
On June 23, the court ordered that Zeigler be allowed to go back to work.
On Monday, it was determined Zeigler can’t resume work because the bond required for all elected officials was canceled during last year’s theft investigation.
Page 2 of 2 - By the time this column goes to print, another rabbit probably will have been pulled from the hat.
Who’s on first? Who knows?
Zeigler has been arguing all along that he was denied due process and shouldn’t have been held responsible for the nearly $3 million stolen in plain sight by his chief deputy treasurer.
He has a point. When a firefighter commits a crime, no one calls for the chief’s head — unless the crime were to involve, say, a $3 million fire truck, driven out of the station in broad daylight.
Though the courts have upheld his argument, and though he committed no crime, Zeigler has lost the public trust, and no law, no court order, can restore it.
It goes without saying that Vincent Frustaci, who actually took the loot, is the responsible party.
But there’s a reason captains go down with their ships.