|
|
The Suburbanite
  • N.C. council criticized about law director hiring

  • Former Canton service director Joe Concatto told City Council on Monday that it had compromised its integrity by hiring former council member Tim Fox as the city’s law director about 11 days after he resigned, and although Fox was not one of the original 16 applicants for the job.

    • email print
  • Former Canton service director Joe Concatto told City Council on Monday that it had compromised its integrity by hiring former council member Tim Fox as the city’s law director about 11 days after he resigned, and although Fox was not one of the original 16 applicants for the job.
    “I’m here to dispute the way you went about choosing the person,” he said.
    Concatto also criticized council’s hiring Fox without allowing public input at a regular council meeting.
    “Not one of you questioned whether this was right or wrong. You just merely voted,” he said.
    Concatto said his son-in-law, Rodney Baca, was one of the five finalists interviewed by council for the position and one of the 16 applicants who submitted their applications by the deadline in July.
    “This isn’t about him. This is about the procedure,” said Concatto, a North Canton resident. “He (Fox) was a member of council when the position was created.”
    Concatto referred to the fact that council converted the position from part-time to full-time.
    Concatto said the council had brought residents’ suspicion and distrust upon itself by its actions. Comparing the process to bidding out a road project, he said the next time council posted a position, anyone who applied for it couldn’t be confident that one of the people who followed the application process would get the job.
    He said if council wanted Fox to apply, it should have started over, readvertised the position and had Fox apply then.
    Former councilman Chuck Osborne also criticized the process, saying, “For city council to totally abandon due process … is indefensible.”
    Council President Jon Snyder, Ward 4, said the law allowed council to hire anyone who had been a licensed attorney in Ohio for at least five years and did not require council to interview candidates. He said at least three city law directors had not been interviewed before being hired.
    “I apologize if we shrouded the process,” said Snyder. “That was not our intention.”
    Councilman Jeff Peters, Ward 2, chairman of council’s personnel committee, said there was no public discussion of the hiring of Fox because “I’m not going to come up here and disparage and make my own opinions known to the public based on someone’s character … there were certain skills we felt were lacking (among the five finalists), and I wasn’t going to come out there and air that out.”
    Peters would not say which skills were lacking. He said the five finalists all were about equal in experience and knowledge of the law, but council was looking for “soft skills,” or the ability to interact with council members and the public. And he said that was what differentiated Fox.
    Page 2 of 2 - “What we ended up with was the best person for the job,” Peters told Concatto. “I appreciate your comments. We’ll have to agree to disagree.”
    Mayor David Held, who said Fox was the best for the job, said sometimes his first choice he wants to hire isn’t always available. At the application deadline, Fox decided not to apply because he was reluctant to give up his council seat before later changing his mind.
    NORTH CANTON COUNCIL
    Monday meeting
    Other Action:
    • Set new law director Tim Fox’s salary at $75,000 a year. Peters said he had thought of setting it at $72,000, but Fox already had heard he was going to get $75,000, and Fox was forgoing health benefits that can cost $6,000 a year.
    • Amended the proposed graffiti ordinance by removing the civil penalty. If a property owner does not clean up grafitti, the city will clean it and assess the costs to the owner on the property tax bill.
    • Interviewed three candidates Monday for the Ward 3 council seat vacated by Fox. The candidates were former U.S. Census Bureau manager Clyde Kemp, former councilman Chuck Osborne and Kevin Frank, owner of real estate managment company Frank Properties, Ltd.
    Council will interview Michael Hale, the North Canton City School District building and grounds supervisor; Stephanie Werren, the development director for Leadership Stark County; and former councilman Jim Repace on Wednesday and former councilman Rick McLaughlin on Monday. Council then will appoint the new Ward 3 council member to serve the rest of Fox’s two-year term sometime after 5:30 p.m. Oct. 3.
    Todd LePage, vice president of Whitacre Engineering Co., has withdrawn his application.