Thursday, July 19, 2018

CAN KEN HARBAUGH BUILD ENOUGH "TRUST" AMONG "LOOKING FOR THE BEST CANDIDATE" REPUBLICANS TO WIN?

UPDATED:  9:45 AM

WHEN IS CONGRESSMAN BOB GIBBS
GOING TO HOLD A
"OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC & 'ALL' MEDIA"
 TOWN HALL MEETING 
IN THE "CENTER OF CANTON?"


The "favoring a Republican Party candidate" political index is about +12 in Ohio's 7th Congressional District.

In very blunt terms, Democrat candidate Ken Harbaugh is going to have to win traditionally Republican votes in order to unseat three term incumbent Republican Bob Gibbs on November 6, 2018.

Harbaugh appears to be doing everything right in terms of:
  • having gotten out into the public early on with his candidacy (June 2, 2017),
  • being competitive with Gibbs in campaign financing and accepting no PAC campaign financing in contrast to Gibbs who gets almost all his money from PACs/corporations,
  • having a first rate campaign staff run by his highly politically skilled wife Annmarie that is working the phone and door-to-door at a frenetic pace,
  • pretty much on the go 24/7 with campaign appearances throughout the district, and
  • focusing on Stark, Lorain, Medina and Tuscarawas counties which constitute the controlling vote as to whom gets elected in the 7th
Nevertheless, as The Stark County Political Report sees this race it is much like that in Ohio's 12th Congressional District in which a Washington Post article identifies a winnable on August 7, 2018 by the Democratic candidate (O'Connor) over the Republican candidate on the retirement before his current term expired Republican congressman Pat Tiberi on January 15, 2018.

Tiberi was re-elected in 2016 by nearly a 40% margin in a district that went 11.5% for Trump  and had been in Congress since January, 2001.

While a Cleveland.com article today cites polls which show Balderson with a 5/10 lead, Kyle Kondik of the University of Virginia Sabato Chrystal Ball indicates that O'Connor could still pull off an upset.

So how is it that Democrat Danny O'Connor has a chance to take this Republican seat over Republican candidate Troy Balderson who is a longtime state legislator?

In a word:  TRUST that seems to exist between O'Connor and Balderson.

This is how the Post article put it:

“Bashing Trump is not going to win the election for Danny,” said Zack Space, a former Democratic congressman and current candidate for state auditor, whose old district included parts of the new 12th District. “What wins the election is if people trust him. He’s done a good job distancing himself from the powers that be.”

To the SCPR, it sounds a lot like the Ken Harbaugh campaign and what it needs to do in order to unseat Gibbs.

The Report has covered three Harbaugh campaign events beginning with his March 15, 2018 appearance at a Town Hall meeting at the Canton Veterans of Foreign Wars post.  The Harbaugh campaign seems highly transparent and accepting of media and the general public in contrast to the Gibbs campaign.

Here is what a Republican attending Monday night's education roundtable discussion had to say about the session:

"He has a competent amount of charisma and a friendly gift of gab.  He displayed good people skills, telling his own story but also listening.  He gave background of his philosophy but little concrete personal policy vision.  Of course, this meeting was billed as a round table discussion, not a chest thumper."

This blogger has tried repeatedly to get access to the Gibbs campaign even to the point to being willing to travel some 80 miles to Shelby, Ohio in April, 2018 at which he denied SCPR access.

Last night the SCPR was at Harbaugh education forum held at the Stark County District Library's Perry-Sippo branch beginning at 6:00 p.m.

As at other Harbaugh campaign events covered by the SCPR, the candidate reeks of political authenticity.  And, one can see in the faces of those who came to hear him take questions and intently listen to the comments/observations of those in the audience that the actually believe this guy is a "country over party" politician.  A rare, rare, rare commodity these days.

Like O'Connor in the 12th, Harbaugh has said that if elected he will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the United States House of Representative.

And like O'Connor, Harbaugh (in the words of former Congressman Zack Space): Ken Harbaugh, so far, has done a good job distancing himself from the [Democratic Party] powers that be.

Exactly, the type of person the SCPR covets running for public office whether the candidate be a  Democrat or Republican.

Here is Harbaugh in his own words when implicitly being urged to play political hardball in advancing traditional "organized" Democratic Party positions in dealing with 7th District campaign issues. (2 min 56 sec)



As readers know, this blogger pays no attention at all as measure of the person whether a given candidate is a Republican or a Democrat.  The only term in identifying context that catches the attention of the SCPR is "independent" as in former Democrat Thomas Bernabei abandoning his longtime Democratic heritage to run against two term, seeking a third term, Democrat William J. Healy, II in November, 2015.

And even if a candidate/elected office holder wears a party label, such is fine with the SCPR so long as this blogger believes that the person will abandon the political party when the needs of our country, state and local communities demand it.

As supporters are sometimes wont to do, there was an exchange on Monday evening at Perry-Sippo in which Harbaugh could have played out an all Democratic Party partisan role.

It was a compliment to the SCPR when he acknowledged the presence of this blogger as he composed himself in responding to a point made by an attendee that could easily devolved into a partisan rant but for his self-control in staying on focus with his "country over party" campaign theme.

He had to be aware that his Republican opponent has a 96.5% in agreement with the Trump-ized Republican Party according to Nate Silver's 538 blog.


Harbaugh also has to know that he cannot win "being the consummate partisan" in the 7th Congressional District.

Here is the video of that exchange.

As the SCPR nearly always does, the entire Harbaugh education forum is viewable in the appendix section of this blog.  There were a couple of recording glitches due to a tempermental SD card.

The forum on Monday was attended by about two dozen Stark County educators and a few non-educators.


One thing that was apparent to The Report from what the educators had to say is that teaching these days is a stressful thing to do and teachers need the support of government at all levels to devise methods, strategies and remedies for what ails American education.

Here is a LINK to an article by Carolyn Warner originally written in 1992 for a speech she gave at a Summer Leadership Academy which, in 2018, is likely magnified in spades.

There were a number of exchanges which the SCPR shares with readers for individual attention in this blog.

First up in SCPR segmented videos on Ken Harbaugh education forum this past Monday is Ken describing his and his wife and his wife's family connection to public education (2 min, 50 sec).



Next is Candidate Harbaugh speaking on his reaction to the Trump/Putin Summit in Helsinki on Monday the 16th.

Here is his Twitter post referred to in the video.


The video (1 min, 20 sec)



Next:  Ken Harbaugh on what motivated him to run for Congress.



Next:  What was the origin of campaign theme "Country over Party?"



Next:  Forum discussion of teachers carrying guns in classroom (5 min 35 sec)



A week from today, the Harbaugh campaign will be doing another Stark County sited Town Hall meeting.



Where will Gibbs be over the weekends when he is back in the district from Washington?

Can anybody in their wildest imagination fathom Bob Gibbs' getting anywhere near southeast Canton with his campaign?

Not even Stark County native and current Republican state Representative Kirk Schuring (Jackson Township) felt comfortable in Canton during his campaign to succeed Stark's beloved Ralph Regula on Regula's retirement at the end of 2008 when "all of Stark County" was in the 16th Congressional District.

In his 2008 losing effort against Democrat John Boccieri, Schuring, in a campaign appearance in an Ashland campaign stop, Schuring said this:


Gibbs likely shares Schuring's view of "the center of Canton" and will not be scheduling a heart of the City of Canton campaign stop in this election cycle, no?

Nothing on his Facebook/Twitter/Website pages about where he will be this weekend or any other time (e.g. the annual August Congress recess) promoting his campaign for re-relection.

Of course, it appears that for whatever events he has, the public notice has been and likely will remain very sparse and, of course, only "select" media are allowed access.

Why is Bob Gibbs hiding from 17th Congressional District voters?

Will his campaign aloofness make him ex-Congressman Bob Gibbs come November 7, 2018?

Like O'Connor in the 12th, the SCPR figures that at best Ken Harbaugh has a 50/50 chance to defeat Gibbs.

A little over three (3) months (111 days) remain until election day November 6, 2018.

It seems that the Gibbs campaign style is making a Harbaugh victory more and more likely each passing day.

Stay tuned!

APPENDIX

Here is the entire "unedited" SCPR video of the Harbaugh forum on education issues held by the candidate at the Perry-Sippo branch of the Stark County District Library on Monday, July 16, 2018 lasting 1 hour and 04 minutes;


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

PART I - SCPR SERIES - ISSUE 1: "REALLY" ABOUT DEALING WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES OF STARK CO PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS?

UPDATED:  2:28 PM

MUST SEE
BY PLAIN LSD (MAY & HALKIAS) ISSUE #1 PRESENTATION
FOR PARENTS, STUDENTS & SCHOOL OFFICIALS


The baseline question that Stark Countians living in participating districts (see above)  have to deal with in considering whether or not to vote for Issue 1 is, mainly, from The Stark County Political Report's (SCPR, The Report) perspective is the mental health of a portion of Stark County public school students who offer the potential to turn violent and turn a Stark County school into a Columbine, Chardon, Sandy Hook or Stoneman carnage.

For a full background on how Issue #1 came to be on the ballot, LINK to this April 24, 2018 SCPR blog.

And here is a "sample" ballot for the issue:



Plain Township school officials John Halkias (president of the Plain Local School District and president-elect of the Ohio State School Board Association) and Brent May (beginning his ninth year as superintendent of Plain Local Schools) said nothing to dispel the SCPR's take on the "real" problem with public school security.

Clearly, the key issue is a mental health issue that has the promise of "preventing" in-school violence/suicide problems.

Having more armed guards or armed school employees is "stop-gap" at best.

Here is a copy of the "kick-off" campaign literature piece mailed out within the past few days by the pro-issue-#1 campaign group.



May, on Thursday, July 12th and Halkias appeared before about two dozen or so "interested-in-school violence issues" citizens at the Stark County Democratic Party Headquarters located in Oakwood Square in Plain Township.

In the appendix to this blog, the entire session (1 hour, 22 minutes) can be seen.

May opened the meeting in reciting that since August, 2017 (folks:  a period of less than a year) 15 Stark County public school students have committed suicide.

A National Institute of Mental Health report (2014) alarmingly says that suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens but does temper the alarm in adding that teen suicide "still is a rare event."  The highest group is the age 45 to 50 group which stands about about 25 per 100,000 of population compared to about 5 per 100,000 of population.

A recent USA Today article citing a Center of Disease Control chart speaks to a "soaring" rate of teen suicide as shown in the chart below and to the the left of this text.

Of particular concern to public school officials has to be that the leading means of suicide is reported to be by firearms in the context of the school environment and a "suicidal" mission in which a suicidal person's perception is that he/she needs to bring his/her fellow students into a scenario in which he/she dies either at his/her own hand or at the hand of law enforcement officials.

May compares the 15 over the past year to "since 1980 Stark County has been having 1 to 2 suicides a year."  (presumptively, he was talking about teen suicides but did not directly say so)

He then asks the question:  "Why 15, why so many, why the spike?"

May went on:  "Last year 199 kids ages 15 to 17 went to Aultman Hospital went for  mental health issues including suicide ideation and suicide attempts  ... 72 of them were kids from Plain Local ... to Akron Childrens' Hospital ... for mental health issues 1,344 kids from Stark County and 493 of those kids were from Plain Local."

May cites numbers from a Center for Disease Control study (having been asked to come to Stark County because of the spike in teen suicide deaths by the Stark County/Ohio Health Departments) showing: (of the students [grades 7 through 12] willing to participate in the survey [85% did] in participating school districts [implication being that not all districts participated]):
  • 9% say they had attempted suicide at least one time,
    • Note:  there about about 6100 public school students in Stark county which (if the 9% are representative) means that approximately 600 Stark County public school students have attempted suicide
  • 10.5% engaged suicide ideation "with a plan,"
    • the highest percentage of the 10.5% were females in the 12th grade
May went on with the following statistics and anecdotal information:
  • Ohio #2 in the nation in school threats
    • cited Stark County as having many threats ("almost daily in Plain")
      • a lot of "copycats" prompted by social media postings
      • which were wildly exaggerated by the time they got to Plain's administrationP
    • Plain's SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)
      • contact sheriff's office,
        • who would get out into homes so that
          • schools could be ensured that school would be safe the next day
  • On the data from the CDE survey of participating school district 7 - 12 students:
    • of the 85% of students taking the survey; they had to complete the entire survey,
    • Plain schools has a plan to share the insights gained from the survey with the Plain administrative/teaching staff,
May described the make up of the county task force promoting the 1.49 mills Security and Mental Health Resources levy up for a special election for participating school districts on August 7, 2018:
  • FBI,
  • Stark County sheriff George T. Maier,
  • Homeland Security,
  • many local law enforcement officials, and, of course,
  • participating school district educators
Considerations, according to May:
  • What should we be talking to our community about?
  • What should we be looking at?
Task Force recommendations (again, according to May):
  • having additional law enforcement in public school buildings,
  • dealing with mental health issues,
  • using metal detection wands,
  • a system that would give video access to first responders (fire, police & ems),
  • a way of access for people to get into a school building for purpose of identifying those who pose a risk to the safety of students,
  • instituting a curriculum/reporting system called "Sandy Hook Promise,"


  • training for bus drivers and bus aides,
  • training for students ("digital citizenship")
    • how does a student use social media the "correct" way,
Halkias:  Two things not recommended by Task Force:

  • Use of metal detectors because of logistical problems of numbers of students and number of entrances to many school buildings,
  • arming school employees,
    • an individual school district decision
      • some districts in Stark arming school employee
What is the Plain plan for security and mental health resources?

According to May:
  • adding law enforcement personnel to Plain buildings
    • two at the high school,
    • two at the middle school,
    • two at intermediate school, and
    • one each on east/west side of district for elementary schools
  • implementing a 10 year agreement with Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health to be on-site (the high school) as a fulltime service to the Plain School District community that will be accessible through a seperate entrance,
  • placement of MARCS' (Multi-Agency Radio Communications System) in every building which:
    • communicates emergency communications between schools to first responders which engages any law enforcement personnel in the area of the building to respond to a call no matter what policing unit the law enforcement person works for,J
  • placement of blue strobe lights in buildings as a warning that there is a problem within a given building
    • e.g. bus pulls into discharge of students area of building sees "blue strobe" light and immediately pull right out,
    • light initiates an announcement:  "Do Not Enter" building, classroom, hallway, gym, et cetera,
  • continue emergency drills mandated by the state of Ohio (Plain does 19 drills a year),
  • encourage students to communicate with law enforcement/school officials "see something, tell us."
  • annual meeting with first responders,
  • "active shooter" training for staff,
  • implement "codes" for entrance re: first responders,
  • communicate with community (e.g. parents of students) of how to interact with schools when an in building emergency situation develops,
What is the county plan for security and mental health resources?

May had this to say about the county scheme of things on security:
  • Joe Chaddock, superintendent of the Stark County Educational Service Center (SCESC), worked with state officials to make the 1.49 mill levy proposal possible,
    • Note:  this blogger's wife is a member of the SCESC and attended the May/Halkias presentation of July 12th)
  • SCESC:
    • put together the county task force,
    • brought in Sandy Hook Promise to Stark County,
    • bring together educators, law enforcement, mental health providers and put them all in the same room in considering measures to deal with security/mental health issues in Stark County's public schools,
Now that readers have an outline of the May/Halkias presentation, here is the "actual" video of the presentations (about 26 minutes long) to hear in their own words why Superintendent May and Plain Local School president John Halkias fervently believe that citizens is the following listed school districts (Stark County portion only) ought to vote for Issue 1 on August (or before [i.e. early/absentee voting] 7th.

Note:  Not everything May/Halkias had to say is in the outline set forth above.



In additional parts of the SCPR series, The Report will present Questions and Answers between the May/Halkias and those attending their July 12 presentation.

There were a number of audience members who pressed May and Halkias quite effectively in posing questions the answers to which or lack thereof that voters will want to consider before deciding how to vote on the issue.

Readers can depend on the SCPR to fully and comprehensively cover "all" the material relevant to their deciding how to vote on the issue.

On or about July 26th, the SCPR will be publishing the pre-election campaign finance report so readers will know who is financially support the effort to pass Issue #1.

The Stark County Political Report's objective is to have anyone planning to vote in this special election to be fully informed before casting a ballot.

APPENDIX

Entire video of May/Halkias Plain LSD "security/mental health resources" 1.49 mill levy presentation of July 12, 2018 at the Stark County Democratic Party Headquarters (1 hour, 17 min).


Saturday, July 14, 2018

STARK EDUCATORS: OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE EAR OF-PERHAPS-THE NEXT 7TH DISTRICT CONGRESSMAN

UPDATE:  2:16 PM, MONDAY



While incumbent Republican congressman Bob Gibbs appears to be hiding from the constituents of the Stark County portion of the 7th Congressional District and The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) Democratic challenger Ken Harbaugh is flooding Stark County environs and the rest of the district with his presence.

Over the next two weeks, here is his Stark County presence schedule:
Saturday, July 14th 
8AM — Ken and some members of the team are participating in the B.A.N. Litter clean-up at Cedar Elementary. 
10AM — Ken will launch another big door-knocking initiative from the Stark County Democratic HQ — especially as we draw closer to November, we would love to have you come knock doors with the team some time. 
Thursday, July 26th 
6:30PM—Ken Harbaugh will be hosting another in his series of Country Over Party Town Halls. Press Release forthcoming, but it will be held in the Edward Coleman Community Center at 1400 Sherrick Rd SE. Ken has held over a dozen Town Halls in the past few months — including one of the 1st town halls here in Canton back in March. However, he has been asked repeatedly to come back, so we are. 
Consequently Harbaugh seems to be getting a serious look-see as a "underdog" Democrat in the gerrymandered with decidedly Republican tilt by Ohio statehouse Republicans 7th District  (who have supermajority control of the Ohio General Assembly)



On Monday (July 16, 2018) Harbaugh will be at the Perry-Sippo branch of the Stark County District Library in a Town Hall meeting specifically dealing with education issues.



A check of Gibbs "issues" Facebook page shows that "education" is not one of his key issues.

If one believes that Gibbs endeavors to be his own best spokesperson on issues, his government website reveals he has had nothing "official" to say about education since March 6, 2015.

Compare what the Gibbs' website has to say on education issues as contrasted with Harbaugh's press release.

The SCPR is sending a link to this blog to both to Gibbs and Harbaugh camps in hopes that the Gibbs' folks will respond to the Harbaugh challenge on education issue.

Except for one brief e-mail exchange, the Gibbs' campaign has ignored the SCPR's questions and denied The Report access to a Shelby, Ohio appearance in April of this year.

Get this, the SCPR was willing to travel 80 miles (one-way) to Shelby so Stark Countians could get a first hand look at Gibbs on issues in a back and forth between him and constituents ONLY TO BE DENIED.


What is Bob Gibbs hiding from?

Maybe a question whether or not he supports the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education, a "from the beginning" Republican goal,"  as a cabinet level entity created in 1980 by then-president Jimmy Carter.

In our wildest dreams, maybe Bob Gibbs will show up unannounced at Harbaugh's Perry-Sippo Town Hall meeting (like John Boccieri did at a 2010 Jim Renacci North Canton Town Hall meeting) so that Stark County voters can assess the two on the education issue.

The SCPR is betting that Bob Gibbs will for the next 116 days (until the general election date of November 6, 2018) be avoiding one-on-ones with Ken Harbaugh at all costs.

And, by the way, he likely will be avoiding the questions of an incisive variety from the likes of The Stark County Political Report.

In any event, Monday at Perry-Sippo presents area educators with a grand opportunity to press their case to Harbaugh that he, if elected to Congress, needs to flesh out his campaign them of "Country over Party" by supporting federal education policies, practices and programs that effectively benefit all Americans.

Area board of educations members, teachers, superintendents and any voter who wants to have the ear of the person who the SCPR thinks has at least a 50/50 chance to unseat Bob Gibbs hear them out on what they think the federal government policies, practices and programs ought to be.



Thursday, July 12, 2018

LET THE "GOOD TIMES ROLL" WITH THE STARK CO COMMISSIONERS?

STARK COUNTIANS TO BE SAFER AFTER JANUARY 1, 2019?

NEW P-25 SAFETY FORCES INTEROPERABLE RADIO SYSTEM


Pictured above is an ebullient (arms raised in celebration) Commissioner Janet Creighton as discussion was wrapping up on the imminent  Stark County commissioners' approval of what is named an "Exchange Agreement" (see full copy in the body of this blog) between The Board of County Commissioners of Stark County, Ohio and The State of Ohio Department of Administrative Services which agreement upgrades to "state-of-the-art" communications among Stark County-based public run emergency services, fire departments and police services under Ohio government's Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS).

In and of itself, the MARCS upgrade providing for:


was a exceedingly an "good for Stark County residents" occurrence which should make us all feel much safer in terms of our emergency needs witness this resolution passed unanimously by the commissioners yesterday:

A Resolution approving an Exchange Agreement between the State of Ohio, Department of Administrative Services and the Board of County Commissioners of Stark County, Ohio for participation in the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS).

It is the County’s intent to participate with the State of Ohio in thedevelopment of a P-25 compliant, 700/800 MHz, IP-based System benefitting
  •  end users,  
    • creating economies of scale, 
    • reducing costs, and
    • eliminating duplication of effort
The joint development of the  MARCS System will provide the County, and all participating jurisdictions within the County, including all existing MARCS subscribers statewide as they work or roam into the County, with more
  • complete, dense, and reliable portable radio coverage, 
    • providing more 
      • channel capacity in support of additional talk paths, and 
      • facilitating direct communications between jurisdictions and differing safety services. The term of the agreement shall be effective as of the date of the last signature and expire on June 30, 2019. Thereafter, the agreement shall automatically renew at the beginning of each State biennium.
But there was more at yesterday's meeting.

Jackson Township officials (Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez, township legal counsel Mike Vacaro and legal counsel Randy Hunt (Krugliak, Wilkins) for ComDoc were at the meeting asking the commissioners to approve the following resolution:


In a subsequent blog within the next few days, The Stark County Political Report will deal with the Jackson/ComDoc agreement in detail and also present the SCPR video of the exchange between Hunt and Gonzalez and the commissioners.

For today the focus is on the Stark County Commissioners/OHIO DAS/MARCS "Exchange Agreement."

First, it is a relatively short (14 pages, including exhibits) agreement which "informed" Stark County residents ought to want to read.


(Photo as part of commissioners' signing MARCS Exchange Agreement)

Here is a SCPR videotaped interview published on December 1, 2014 with former Stark County commissioner Thomas Bernabei (now mayor of Canton since January 1, 2016) which digs deep on the time period going back that Stark officials knew that its "antiquated" safety forces radio system (a patchwork of countywide inadequate interoperability) would have to be replaced by the end of 2018 because the vendor for the old analog radios would no longer be servicing them (5 min, 32 sec).



The new Stark County/MARCS based system is scheduled to become operational January 1, 2019.  As early as July 23rd, Stark Countians will be seeing Motorola technicians work on the the AEP tower located in downtown Canton.

Canton's "Cromer" site is already completed.

Next, the SCPR produced video of interactions of various Stark County/Ohio officials (11 min, 32 sec).



In a follow up blog within a few days,  The Report will be sharing with readers this blogger's analysis of the positives and possible pitfalls implementation of the agreement is likely to bring.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

HEY MASSILLON GOV'T: "DON'T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS UNTIL THE EGGS ARE HATCHED!"

UPDATE:  2:16 (7/12/2018)
COA DENIAL OF MASSILLON MOTION TO INTERVENE

The SCPR has learned that legal counsel for Affinity did not make an appearance at the May 31, 2018 oral arguments session before the 5th Appellate District of Ohio.

However, Andrea Scassa, law director for the city of Massillon, did pursuant to a Motion to Intervene.

The COA on July 10th (not posted on CJIS) yet did file an entry denying Massillon intervention.  



Here is a copy of the COA order denying Massillon entry into the case on its Motion to Intevene:




That there is no mention of Massillon government in the court opinion issued on July 9th indicates to the SCPR  that while the court panel made up of Judges John Wise (presiding judge), W. Scott Gwin and Craig Baldwin reportedly allowed Scassa to present on the 31st; the court, apparently, did not entertain Massillon's motion.

The SCPR has publish a pdf copy of:
  • Massillon's motion to intervene,
  • a brief by Massillon Rotary Foundation Trust "in opposition" to Massillon's motion, 
  • AMC's legal counsel waiver of oral argument, and 
  • the COA denial of Massillons motion (in process of obtaining)
in the APPENDIX to this blog

ORIGINAL BLOG

From a May 6, 2018 blog by The Stark County Political Report:

MASSILLON TO NAB RIGHTS TO $800,000 TRUST IF AFFINITY DEAL OK'D.

After reading the article interprets the confusing a perhaps contradictory text to the above-cited headline, it appears to the SCPR that Massillon's legal counsel David Dingwell "implied" that if council approves the settlement he will be filing pleadings with the 5th District Court of Appeals (COA) to supplant AMC as appellant in an attempt to get the COA to overturn Stark County Court of Common Pleas Court judge Dixie Park's June 20, 2017 ruling that AMC would not be entitled to the $800,000 from the trust, to wit:




Well, in the case of  a la "the best laid plans of mice and men" going awry, here is the full decision of the 5th District Court of Appeals (headquartered in Canton) upholding Judge Park (Congratulations! Judge Park, for getting this one right) denying Affinity Medical Center (Massillon government now standing in the shoes of Affinity) participation in distributions from the Seymour trust.



APPENDIX

MASSILLON'S MOTION TO INTERVENE




MASSILLON ROTARY FOUNDATION BRIEF IN OPPOSITION




AMC'S LEGAL COUNSEL WAIVER OF ORAL ARGUMENT




COA ORDER DENYING MASSILLON'S MOTION TO INTERVENE




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

IN HINDSIGHT: STUART LICHTER HAS BEEN BAD MEDICINE FOR STARK COUNTY?

UPDATED:  2:36 PM

JULY 9, 2018 RECORDED VIDEOS
OF
NORTH CANTON MAYOR
DAVID HELD
ON
THE HOOVER PROJECT 


It appears to The Stark County Political Report that North Cantons Hoover Rehab Project (Hoover) and the Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Expansion Project (HOF, HOF-VP) are going nowhere these days.

What is the common factor with both?

Master Developer (in the case of the HOF-VP) and "just plain-ol'" and if you believe some local media portrayals of being "folksy" (also, drives a 10 year old car and could care less about money) Stuart Lichter (developer, [never described as "master" re: Hoover project]) in the case of Hoover.

Laughable, no?

It appears to the SCPR that Lichter has outsmarted/out maneuvered many of, but not all of "the best and brightest" of Stark County political subdivision leadership.

The focus of this blog is on the Hoover project, however, one cannot from a Stark County wide impact not talk about Hoover without also noting the development stagnation afflicting the HOF-VP.

As this blog is written, both projects are pretty much at a "standstill:"
  • as desperately needed additional long term "private" financing is being sought for the reported $1 billion plus HOF-VP and, 
  • in the case of the Hoover complex project, Lichter's company Maple Street Commerce, LLC (MSC) deals with bringing the complex up to standard on North Canton's building and fire codes and, of course, as graphically indicated in the lead of this blog curing deficiencies in a U.S. Environmental Agency mandated Facility Investigation Work Plan which is a prelude to MSC as a "potentially responsible party" (PRP) getting on with the work of remediating/removing documented hazardous materials that testing reveals to be on site at Hoover in unacceptable levels, and to monitor levels that are being dealt with measures other than in outright removal.  (Note:  MSC includes partner Chris Semarjian and 10% interest holder and North Canton developer Robert DeHoff)

Lichter who is described in one article as a developer who specializes in redeveloping old industrial sites got to work in North Canton on Hoover in the latter half of 2007.

By 2013 with jump-start "Kick Off" $5 million state of Ohio Jobs Ready grant in hand at the outset, there were to be a variety of office, retail, restaurant and residential housing factors in place in the 400,000 square feet that formerly housed vacuum cleaner industrial giant The Hoover Company (closed earlier in 2007)  as a locally owned (1908 - 1986) enterprise that at one point provided about 40%, if not more, of the income for North Canton government.

At the time, it made sense for North  Canton to bring Lichter in.


Though North Canton mayor David Held denies what once made sense has turned out to be a mistake, the SCPR believes that in his "heart of hearts" thinks it has turned out to be a nightmare.

In the course of reading this blog, readers are presented in segments (the full video will be published in the Annex section of this blog so that readers can determine for themselves if the segments are fairly contexted) as this blog moves along.

But first readers should read the entire EPA letter which is reproduced below:


NOTE:  THE EPA HAS EXTENDED PLAN COMPLIANCE TO JULY 31, 2018


The most worrisome part of the findings at paragraph 8 of the EPA letter is the description of the environmental concerns regarding former Hoover Company owned ballfields transferred to the North Canton City Schools in March, 2018.


The SCPR is told by a person in a position to know that area youth do play on those fields except for a small part of the area.

Beyond health concerns going forward should contamination be found, there has to be the incurring of expense that a "no room for 'financial' setbacks" North Canton City School system school system might have to spend to meet the EPA requirements should unacceptable levels of contaminants be found.

That the US EPA has not banned the use of the fields pending testing for possible existing contaminants seems to indicate that the EPA does not think there are immediate health concerns.

But what if the EPA is wrong?

As soon as the SCPR got a copy of the June 13th letter, reading it raised concerns about the viability of the part of the Hoover complex covered by the missive.

Mayor David Held brought the letter up during the public official comments section of last night's council meeting.

Of course, the SCPR was going to follow up.

Here is the beginning of the Held interviews of July 9, 2018 interviews in which he begins to outline the environment outline (4 min,06 sec):



Held in the following video says that the 130 planned apartment units for the complex are still doable from an environmental standpoint notwithstanding the June 13 EPA to Maple Street Commerce officials.  (1 min, 56 sec)



However he does enumerate two overall factors that outsiders (to MSC by virtue being outsiders) cannot gauge, which is to say:
  • Can MSC generate (through additional public sources the monies needed to finance completion of the project?
  • Does MSC in light of the complexities/complications of the project have the willingness to persist through the complexities/complications 
Held thinks that Lichter's Maple Street Commerce does have the "willingness" given the Held's believe that MSC has $12 million of its (perhaps in combo with partners) money invested in the Hoover project IF (the SCPR's interpretation) there is more public money out there including a revival of a North Canton Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) property tax credit that covers the Hoover project.

Here is Held on those matters:



And even more in the context of laborious economic development can be and troubled when it comes to implementing CRAs and other tax relief

Moreover, he says there are three non-negotiable conditions (the latter two of which set forth in the bullet points below come in later video segments) being satisfied by MSC for the realization of the residential phase of the project and indeed for the completion of the estimated at the beginning to be a $50 million project, to wit:
  • Environmental problems,
  • Not being in compliance with North Canton's building code, and
  • Not being in compliance with North Canton's fire code
In this video, Mayor Held adamantly maintains:
  • that North Canton government will see to it that MSC comes up to standard on the  city's building and fire codes whether or not the project is finally completed, and, of course
  • that the EPA will see to it that environmental standards are met (Held says perhaps at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars if not into the hundreds of thousandS but certainly not in the millions)
Additionally, he says that he is  confident that the Hoover complex will not end up being put to the wreckers ball in the event MSC walks away from the project.

Here is the video (5 min, 40 sec)



The SCPR does not share Held's optimism on MSC completing the Hoover project.

As this blogger said to Held in the above-video, to Maple Street Commerce/IRG $12 million to $20 million is peanuts compared to the HOF-VP and the many other much larger projects Lichter is involved with across America.

Here is Held in a less optimistic mode at a Strengthening Stark meeting in January, 2018 which ironically was held at the Professional Hall Fame complex (which the SCPR thinks Lichter is paying attention to at the expense of the Hoover rehab) at 2121 George Halas Drive.



There has also been the need for MSC (a beneficiary of federal Historical Preservation tax credits [HPTC] used by MSC for restoring the Hoover smokestack  to comply in its construction activities the standards of HPTCs.

As the SCPR sees it, North Canton over the longer term could be facing a "tear-down" and capping of the  of the part of the Hoover complex (i.e. the section facing Main Street directly across from North Canton City Hall) should the lingering presence of hazardous materials prove to be financially strapping on MSC which consequently might cause the Lichter owned company to lose its will to complete the project.

If such were to happen or appear in the perception of North Cantonians to be inevitable, the political consequences for Mayor Held and long time council members could be ominous by the time the 2021, if not the 2019 municipal elections roll around.

As sort of a parallel to the HOF-VP, there are those in Stark County leadership circles who tell the SCPR that if the HOF-VP could replace Lichter as the master developer on the HOF-VP, a lot of the problems which has led to a stalling out of work on that project would get settled rather quickly.

However, those same leaders are quick to say that to think HOF master developer Stu Lichter will be replaced given his large owners equity in the project is "pie-in-the-sky" thinking and that he and his companies will be part of either the success or the short of success (i.e. the project as envisioned is never completed) realities.

Mayor Held right now, the SCPR thinks, is understandably in a "spin mode" as The Report is evidenced by his emphasis on the "success" (his characterization) of Phase I of the Hoover project.

Even that, the SCPR thinks, is ignoring what appears to be a high probability that the Schroer Group (about 300 employees) will be leaving the Hoover complex within the next two years because (according to Held and others) a difficult relationship (landlord/tenant) that Schroer is said to be experiencing with MSC.

Here is Mayor Held speaking about the impending Schroer Group exodus from North Canton and his overall take on North Canton's tax revenues going forward (6 min, 38 sec).



In the video he cites 1100 employees located in Phase 1 facilities at the rehabbed portion of the Hoover complex which, of course, will be reduced to 800, more or less, if Schroer does in fact relocate to a site said to be near Akron Canton airport.

In the following video (6 min, 19 sec) Held elaborates on the slow pace of most economic development projects and provides readers with some insights to some the problems inherent in putting together government financed incentives with a specific explanation of why the North Ridge apartments (DeHoff/Lemmon) proved to be troublesome.



At Wednesday's meeting of North Canton City Council, council held its second reading on raising the city's income tax from 1.5% to 2.0% on an affirmative vote of the voters of North Canton in the upcoming November 6, 2018 election.

Nobody is talking about the seeming imminent departure of the 300 Schroer group employees as a reason for the proposed income tax increase, but could that prospect be at least part of the reason for asking North Canton voters to approve the .5% increase.

While the proposal is for a 10 year life of the increase, who believes that in 10 years city officials will not find reasons why the voters approve an extension of the life of the increase?

As a side issue, Citizen Chuck Osborne presented a chart to North Canton City Council on Monday evening showing that North Canton is not making the most of the proposed increase when compared to other Stark County municipalities and their respective income tax rates/credits, to wit:



These are trying days for North Canton government and it appears that the city frustrations in dealing with MSC and its owner Stu Lichter is the overwhelming problem that the city faces.

Others can try to portray Lichter as an "aw shucks," unassuming guy, but the SCPR is not buying.

The Report believes Lichter is a hard-nosed business guy who does not miss a penny and any political/government leader who deal with him need to have the guard up at all times.

Mayor David Held has learned this the hard way.

And other Stark County leaders are learning fast.

Mayor Held had a tough time in the interview admitting in hindsight (which of course presents an opportunity to have 20/20 vision) that bringing Lichter in was a mistake.

Here is that part of the interview in which the SCPR presses Held on what this blogger thinks has been a mistake for having brought Lichter in (7 min, 50 sec).



It could be, that despite Mayor Held's abiding confidence that all will turn out well for what was once named "The Dogwood City," that North Canton will be stuck with Lichter like "chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe" that seemingly is cemented in place.

One has to question whether or not North Canton officials are to dealing with the hardscrabble Lichter.

The persistent questions in the minds of North Cantonians going forward some ten years later on the Hoover rehab with no end in sight likely will be:  Will the ultimate outcome be that the walls of its nostalgic Boss Hoover industrial complex have to come tumbling down?

As opined before in this blog, IF SO, there could be political consequences in the 2019/2021 North Canton municipal elections!

APPENDIX

The entire Held Interview.


Friday, July 6, 2018

NATIONAL FOOTBALL MUSEUM, iNC: "LEGAL QUAGMIRE ON TOP OF FINANCIAL QUAGMIRE?"




"It's not Welty's fault but it is Welty's fault?"

Confused?

Join the crowd of the rational!

Before the August 7, 2016 incident in which, according one online commenter, the paint on the field at Tom Benson Stadium was like a tar-esque goo which resulted in cancelation of the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts as they readied themselves to play the first professional football game of the 2016 season (i.e. the exhibition season) this is what Professional Football Hall of Fame  (HOF, formally:  National Museum, Inc.) president/CEO C. David Baker was reportedly saying about the company that was in charge of installing the playing surface:
After reviewing five nationally respected providers of synthetic turf, we selected UBU Sports for having the highest quality and safest product.
But as evidenced by a lawsuit filed against UBU (among other defendants), do you think Baker might be singing different tune today?

Maybe not.  Maybe he thinks it was one of the other defendants which was at fault.

Or maybe it was the HOF itself and its propensity to be up against a deadline in nearly everything it does (according to multiple sources) on the HOF-VP may have played a part on the "for that game" catastrophe?

Readers should take the few minutes it takes to read the actual complaint filed in Stark County Court of Common Pleas (John Haas, the assigned judge).  Reading it will not take long, it only goes on for 17 pages.

Here is the complaint:




On the one hand, lawyers of one Canton's most prestigious law firms (Krugliak Wilkins) say that Welty Building Company dropped-the-ball in a legal liability sense of the cliche phrase in ensuring that all was right with the playing field.

On the other hand, HOF public relations officials say that it has a "strong" relations with Welty and the two entities share similar values.

Having it every which way seems to be the order of the day these days starting with the executive branch of the United States government.

The Stark County Political Report's take is that when it comes to millions of dollars in losses allegedly sustained by the HOF;  "strong" can become "hostile"  and "similar" can become "different) "hostile" in nanoseconds.

It appears that Pro Football Hall of Fame public relations officials need to consult with the HOF lawyers in order to get the HOF's story straight, no?

The passage of time will tell the tale what the HOF/Welty relationship will be going forward.

The debacle of August 7, 2016 is nearly two years old and one would think that if the HOF/Welty relationship was "strong" and in accord "value-wise" a settlement on the damages the HOF says it sustained would have been worked out in the meantime.


It is interesting that in local media coverage the obvious contradiction in filing of the suit and the characterization of the HOF/Welty relationship does not get drilled down with some incisive Q&As.

But what does one expect of a publication which is the "official newspaper of the Professional Football Hall of Fame?"

The Repository managers could have chosen to include a copy of the HOF complaint.  But they didn't.

Hmm?

Maybe just maybe Repository readers who actually have the opportunity to read the complaint with the SCPR's thoroughgoing work might raise an eyebrow or two to see the detailed and specific finger pointing at Welty language of the complaint in view of the pollyanna stuff coming out of the HOF public relations machine which, as pointed out above, apparently went unchallenged with a:  "wait a minute, something is not squaring up here" follow up.

Repository publisher James Porter and his apparently close, close, close relationship with HOF officials would not abide "drilling down" on the aforementioned glaring contradictions any more than do the bigs at Fox News with a "select" group of  national political/government figures that Fox covers.

Undoubtedly, Porter loves to have his newspaper compared to Fox News in terms of playing favorites because he and his fellows at the top of Repository management pretty much ape HOF coverage a la what Fox News does with the Trump administration.

It has just been reported that Bill Shine (a former Fox executive) has signed on to become communications director at the White House.

Following that example, when will we see an announcement from Porter that The Repository is providing space at 500 Market Avenue, South to a HOF communications official so that the two can coordinate more closely The Rep's fawning of everything HOF-VP and ignoring as much as possible anything negative in the management of the project.

Even The Rep's unionized employees worried when it was announced that the newspaper and the HOF had formed a contractual relationship:


Accordingly, the SCPR points the finger at the management at The Rep (not individual reporters) when it appears that HOF reporting is:

  • unduly laudatory of how HOF officials are handling the building of the HOF-VP,
  • not thorough enough on the matter of  transparency when it comes to accountability for how federal/Ohio/Stark County taxpayer is being spent, and
  • lacking follow through with documents return on investment to the taxpaying public

It should be very good news to Stark Countians who want to know "what really went before, during and after the debacle"  that there is a lawsuit (originated in federal district court in central California) now transferred to the Northern Ohio Federal District Court filed by none other than "the thorn in Donald Trump's side" on the Stormy Daniels lawsuit and Michael Avenatti.

Here is some indicated of the activity going on right now as the court decides whether or not to certify the case as "a class action:"

CLICK ON GRAPHIC TO ENLARGE

And look at the list of those deposed:

CLICK ON GRAPHIC TO UNLOAD

On March 16, 2018 an "amended complaint was filed in the Ohio case, to wit:



What an interesting read this is and is a mere 10 pages long.

The deposition of HOF president/CEO C. David Baker is "sealed" of course.  One wonders if we will ever get to see it.  Let's hope so! For the SCPR thinks it will reveal a lot about Baker that not many Stark Countians get to see.

While all the legal stuff is going on, the HOF is desperately seeking to get its financing for the HOF-VP in order.

It appears that it won't be that long until the HOF has to pay off its "up-to-$100 million" bridge loan with a permanent financing arrangement and the last the SCPR heard the HOF has not even been able to nail down a contract with supposed savior of the full HOF VP; namely, Michael Klein of The M. Klein Company.

What a quagmire err double quagmire that C. David Baker and his National Football Museum is in, no?