Thursday, October 27, 2016





Normally,  local board of education (BOE) elections are not political.  Candidates do not run as a matter of Ohio law as Republicans, Democrats or whatever.

BOE candidates run as "non-partisans."

Of course, "organized" Republicans and Democrats know who is who in terms of BOE candidates' political affinity and communicate same through the political grapevine.

Where BOE membership can really get political is when a labor dispute.

Many times, while there is a lot of "huffing and puffing," the two sides (the board and the unions representing teachers and others) come to an amicable agreement and life resumes as it was before the temporary discord developed.

However, here and there the "huffing and puffing" escalates in "bad blood" and results in a work stoppage that is likely to have political reverberations years going forward.

As the SCPR sees it, the Louisville City Schools are now on the "brink of no return" in the BOE/unons impasse that may be sliding over into the "bad blood" scenario which might bring on political repercussions beginning with the 2017 Louisville City Schools board of education election.

In 2015, Frank Antonacci (the board's president) and Michael Thomas were elected.


Monday night, in excess of 500 Louisville residents packed the Louisville Elementary cafeteria (see Teachers, community urge Louisville school board to return to negotiating table, Kelli Weir, 10/24-25/2016), mostly in support of the union position (according to Weir) to pressure for a resumption of contract negotiations to prevent a November 2nd walk out by teachers and perhaps involving other unions.

At yesterday's Stark County commissioner meeting, Tim Aral of Louisville, who works at the Stark County Jobs and Family Services took front and center during the Public Speaks portion of the commissioners' regular Wedneday (1:30 p.m.) meeting to address his concerns about the Louisville BOE/union impasse.

Tim attends the commissioners' meeting nearly every week "on his own time" (his lunch hour).

Back in May, 2014 wrote a blog (LINK) which featured Aral.

Here is what Tim had to say yesterday about the Louisville BOE/teachers et al impasse.

To the SCPR, the current situation in Louisville if it results in an actual walkout and the hiring of substitute teachers, bus drivers and whatnot bodes political recrimination perhaps for years to come in Louisville BOE matters.

Next year, a majority (three ) of the five member board have to stand for re-election.


Make no mistake about it.

It is critically important that all sides come together between now and next Wednesday (November 2nd) and resolve the impasse.

For it they do not, Louisville City Schools Board of Education elections will likely be a political battleground for years to come beginning in 2017.

And this is to say nothing of the figurative bad blood that likely will be flowing down the hallways of the buildings creeping into the classrooms and administrative offices of the Louisville City Schools complex for who knows how long.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016



Realpolitik people understand that in reality when Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump talks about the upcoming in less than two weeks 2016 general election as being "rigged," his real point is that he is likely to lose and to lose big time.

Only Trump and his core supporters (whatever Donald says "is the gospel") think that the American election system as a whole is rigged.

SCPR readers who want a comprehensive guide to the ridiculous Trump camp claim take a look at this excellent summary done by Politico (LINK) published yesterday.

While our nation's election system is not rigged, one cannot say the same thing about those of several of the states of our union.

Up front and foremost in that regard is Ohio's system.

Oh! The Stark County Political Report thinks Stark County's (Republican Jeff Matthews, director) and Ohio's overall (Republican secretary of state Jon Husted) ensure that there is very little if any fraudulent voter.

The rigging comes in not with the actual vote casting and counting but in the gerrymandered legislative districts that the supermajority Republican control of the Ohio General Assembly has instituted across Ohio.

Seventy-five percent (75%) of Ohio 16 congressional districts through political/legislative rigging are held by Republican.

Compare the 75% Ohio congressional district ratio in favor of Republicans to the 2012 presidential race results:

Think there isn't more than a little political hanky-panky going on with the statehouse Republicans?

Putting a face and name on those responsible in the local context.

Of the three pictured above, District 48 representative Kirk Schuring owns the current "rigged" system the most.  For he has completely catapulted into being a politician first and foremost with his recent selection a majority leader for the Republican side of the aisle in the Ohio House.

Interesting enough, Schuring is one of the prime beneficiaries of having a "rigged" legislative district heavily indexed Republican to run in.

In 2016, guess what?

Schuring's Democratic opponent has withdrawn from the campaign having moved out of state.

And, in the case of Christina Hagan and her lopsided Republican-indexed 50th District Ohio House seat, her opponent was considering withdrawing but apparently has decided to play the token opposition candidate role instead.

So indeed it is self-evident by the numbers that Ohio's legislative districts have been rigged by Ohio General Assembly Republicans (including Stark Countians Hagan, Oelslager and Schuring) to produce 66 Ohio House Republicans (33 Democrats) and 23 Ohio Senate Republicans (13 Democrats), while it is anybody's guess who will win the 2016 presidential election.

Moreover, it is self-evident by the numbers that Ohio's congressional districts have been rigged by Ohio General Assembly Republicans (including Stark Countians Hagan, Oelslager and Schuring) to produce 12 Republican congressmen and a mere 4 Democrats while it is anybody's guess who will win the 2016 presidential election.

In 2015, there was a successful effort to rectify the rigging done by the current set of Ohio General Assembly supermajority Republicans.

The statewide passage rate was about 70%.

However, the current set of Ohio General Assembly Republicans (which Majority Leader and Stark County Republican Kirk Schuring in a key player in) have not lifted a finger to come up with a plan to present to voters and Issue 1 commissioner members (2020/2021 reapportionment) for perusal and consideration.

And it appears that the Republicans are not about to move on the matter.

Readers should take a look at a October 23rd Columbus Dispatch editorial (LINK) on which details the inaction on the part of the Schuring et al evidencing his and his Republican caucus completely ignoring the "will of the people" of Ohio as expressed in the election of November, 2015.

Some choice quotes from the editorial:

The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, which had been trying to broker a redistricting-reform deal for the legislature, said it is deadlocked on the issue. The ball is back to lawmakers.

“We’ve had lots of hearings, lots of testimony,” commission Chairman Fred Mills recently told Gongwer Ohio recently. But there has been no consensus, writes the news service, “His message … It’s out of our hands.”

It is, however, still in the hands of the General Assembly, whom voters expect to find solutions. 

The editorial is all to kind in using the language "gerrymandering" to described what the likes Stark Countian Schuring and his Republican pals in the Ohio General Assembly are engaged in.

Republican presidential candidate has the right word for Statehouse Republicans including our locals Hagan, Oelslager and Schuring.

They are rigging Ohio legislative elections to keep themselves and the Republican Party in power!

That's the truth of the matter!!!

Monday, October 24, 2016


UPDATE:  09:17 AM


Note:  See Akron Beacon Journal article of yesterday (10/23/2016; LINK) for a discussion a local twist in the increase of the "disgust" factor among voters on the Trump/Clinton campaigns.


As readers of The Stark County Political Report know, I am "pleased as Punch" to be a native of Gettysburg, Pa.

But it was on Saturday past troubling to see the highly "unliked" by the American public Donald J. Trump using the backgrounds of the hallowed fields which embrace Gettysburg as a back drop for his hate filled, negative presidential run.

Trump, a man, who like the man he frequently attacks; namely, the 42nd U.S. president:  Bill Clinton, who, as we all obviously know is the husband of Trump opponent Hillary, took deferment after deferment and never spent a day preserving the union.

In my prime growing up years (the 1950s), it was a dream childhood to have the historic civil war "turning point" of the American civil war battlefield to explore day-in, day-out during our summer breaks from school.

As a teenager, I was to experience another Gettysburg "claim to fame."

Then U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower:

  • (the heroic supreme commander of World War II allied forces), 
  • having had a nostalgic military officer tour of duty at Camp Colt in Gettysburg (1915—1918) that prompted him to seek out a spot in Gettysburg as a retirement home
bought a farm just outside the borough of Gettysburg (1950, LINK) and as president, on having had a heart attack in 1955, used the farm in conjunction with The Gettysburg Hotel (LINK to history of hotel located at Carlisle Street and Lincoln Square [actually a circle]) in downtown Gettysburg as a "temporary White House."

The Olson family had a personal/political connection with Eisenhower through next-to-oldest brother John as is shared below.

But first a word about the Olson family background.

My father Arthur was about rabid a Republican as one could possibly be.

He spent his young adulthood in southwest Virginia as the son of a 1890s Swedish immigrant Sven Augustus Olson.

Sven made it pretty big financially pursuing the American dream as a logging contractor with the Hassinger Lumber Company which established "a company town" in Konnarock, VA in the 1920s.  (LINK)

But with The Great Depression came the Bank Holiday declared by the newly elected Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), to wit:

Grandfather was one of the big losers in the belly up of the banks but did manage to salvage enough of his theretofore industrially acquired small fortune by 1920s standards to buy a farm just outside Gettysburg in the mid 1930s.

In the 1920s, of course, there were no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) guarantees on a significant portion of one's bank deposits.

Accordingly, FDR, in particular, was in my childhood understandably a persistent object of Arthur's political scorn.  Moreover, he tried to infuse unquestioning Republicanism into each and every one of his eight children.

Father's effort eventually yielded fruit with Brother John who really took to "organized" Republicanism a larg way.

As a young man, John had secured a political patronage highway maintenance worker job under either Democratic governor George M. Leader or David H. Lawrence somewhere in the 1955 through 1963 timespan.

How painful job being at least a nominal Democrat had to be  for my father!

In 1963, Republican William Scranton was elected governor and John made the switch back to his Republican roots in order to keep his job.

The politically prodigal son returning home, no?  An occasion of great rejoicing in the home of Arthur Olson!

By 1966 John was president of the Adams County Republican Party, the elected (Republican) tax collector for Adams County's Straban Township (1978 through 1992) and a long time member of the Adams County Republican Party executive committee.

Growing up in Gettysburg, I remember the halcyon days of the 1950s which in which seemingly everybody "liked Ike" Eisenhower and his brand of Republicanism that made all of us seem safe, secure and free to pursue our individual American dreams.

Undoubtedly, little Marty Olson walked the streets of Gettysburg with my "I Like Ike" button firmly and prominently planted on by shirt.

The 50s were the days of  Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, Kenneth Keating, Earl Warren, Mac Mathias, Hugh Scott, Mark Hatfield, Margaret Chase Smith and Edward Brooke.

These folks constituted the Republican Party model that I grew up with and basked in.

But then came 1972 and Richard Milhous Nixon and Watergate with the Nixonian cover up of the criminal break-in by operatives connected to his 1972 re-election campaign (CREEP, an appropriate acronym no?).

By 1976, I was out of the Republican Party and a Democrat who was enthralled with the high moral standards of James Earl Carter.

Carter, as it turns out, and his high standards which he still evidences with his untiring work for Habitat for Humanity, is not indicative of national Democratic politicians of today especially if one focuses on the Clintons.

Who can ever forget the disgrace that William Jefferson Clinton (1992—2000) and his moral standard low points of objectifying quite a number of women which stained the U.S. presidency.

Though he bashes Clinton almost daily, the thought the cross the mind that Clinton and his behavior vis-a-vis women in his personal world was in reality a role model for Trump as being what one can get away when one is rich and powerful.

And, of course, there is model Hillary also.

Secreting away her e-mails as a government official on a private e-mail server.

Hillary, a model?

For starters, how about Trump's refusal to release his tax returns from the privacy of IRS protections for let's say "trumped up" reasons.

It took a while, but by 2008 and the start of The Stark County Political Report (March, 2008), I was politically where I feel the most comfortable:  an political independent who can see the warts of all the aligned "politico" Rs & Ds and how they collectively are dragging down the country with their self-serving ways.

As readers of the SCPR know, Martin Olson is "an equal opportunity" critic and analyst that has no affinity for either the organized Republican or Democratic parties nor for candidates like Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In July, this was the blog of the SCPR.

As this blog is being written, Hillary Clinton's "unfavorable" rating among prospective voters stands at 53%.

If she is elect, as it appears now she will be, she will be the most unpopular presidential candidate EVER elected.

As this blog is being written, Hillary  Trump's "unfavorable" rating among prospective voters stands at 61%.

If he is elected, however unlikely it now appears he will be, Trump would be the most unpopular presidential candidate EVER elected exceeding Clinton's record unfavorable rating by eight (8) percentage points.

What a horrible state of political/election affairs, no?

Wouldn't we all like to bring back the days of "I LIKE IKE" days of the 1950s?

Isn't it more than a tad ironic and a blight on the hallowed fields of Gettysburg that Donald J. Trump (like Bill Clinton, accused of objectifying and abusing women) and the least liked presidential candidate of all time U.S. presidential election history would have the gall to hold a campaign rally in "the heart and soul" of "I LIKE IKE" land?

There are some who think that Eisenhower was "as pure as the white driven snow," as there are questions of whether he was completely and totally faithful to wife Mamie.

True or untrue, it is obvious that Dwight David Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, was many, many, many levels the moral superior of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

In 2016, dislike of our politicians had definitely triumphed over liking them.

To the extent that voters wed themselves uncritically to any political party or political candidate, voters thereby contribute to the lack of or deficiency of party/candidate accountability and consequently undermine the quality of our democratic/republican system of government.

Hopefully, future presidential candidates will pick up on the respective 61% (Trump) and 53% (Clinton) disapproval ratings and conduct future campaigns on a much higher plane than is the case with the 2016 presidential election.

No matter which of the two current contenders are elected, this election has already resulted in the worsening of American presidential politics to new all time low.

May God Almighty has mercy on the United States of America!

Thursday, October 20, 2016


A few days ago, The Stark County Political Report came across this Cleveland Plain Dealer article ( [LINK].


Time to checkout Stark County local governments, no?

With the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP; SCPR blog LINK)  and the Stark County Area Broadband Task Team (SCABBTT; SCPR blog LINK) looking for ways and means to get Stark County political subdivision financial (either cash or in kind) support for their respective endeavors, stretching local government monies with added interest earned could be a critical difference in whether or not local government is in a position to help out the HOF-VP and/or SCABBTT.

And, of course, Stark County government has it financial hands full in scratching up money at the margins of the Stark County annual budget with which to make headway on repairing drainage ditches that—unrepaired—are the source of flooding problems in parts of the county when the heavy rains come to Stark.

In checking with Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar,  Stark County did lose about $32,000 for the period in which the return from state of Ohio's STAR (State Treasury Asset Reserve) fund exceeded STAR Plus which begin in December, 2015 and continues to this day.

To his credit, Zumbar (Republican from Alliance) did not try blame Republican Ohio treasurer Josh Mandel for the loss.
However, as the Plain Dealer article points out, Lucas County treasurer (a Democrat) is not so gracious with Mandel.

The SCPR notes that Mandel has no authority as state treasurer to switch the funds to ensure local governments get the highest rate of return.

However, The Report thinks that his office should be notifying participants of rate differences as they occur via e-mail so that there are no excuses among local officials for not having maximized the return on local government funds.

But let's be clear, there are reasons why local fiscal officials might not want to change over from STAR Plus to STAR.

Reason #1

Ohio treasury officials claim that the returns on STAR PLUS are not as volatile as is the STAR fund.

The Report thinks the consistency of return factor is a lame reason when the return is "consistently" and significantly under the STAR account rates.

Reason #2

A reason that might be worth sacrificing some rate of return on,  is the fact that STAR Plus is FDIC insured whereas STAR is not.

That Stark's Alex Zumbar in making the switch earlier this month signaled he was not concerned speaks volumes to the SCPR that the lack of FDIC's guarantee (the STAR fund) is not a worrisome factor.

Zumbar is likely Stark County's most astute financial person of a solidly conservative bent whose judgement on financial matters is like "money in the bank" to financiers in and out of government.

Zumbar, who first came into office in what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley dubbed as being Zeiglergate in September, 2010 (then treasurer Gary Zeigler having been unconstitutionally removed from office by the-then Stark County commissioners, according to the Ohio Supreme Court by court decision in June, 2011).

Zeigler's chief deputy Vince Frustaci had stolen what is believed to be upwards of $3 million from the county treasurer over a period of time which culminated with revelations on April 1, 2009.

Subsequently, Zeigler was cited by the Ohio Auditor of State (Mary Taylor) for not having appropriate and adequate policies, practices, policies and secure enough physical facilities in place to have prevented the Frustaci thefit.

Zumbar was in, out and then in again for good on October 31, 2011; Zeigler having reached agreement with the commissioners to retire.

Zumbar is seeking re-election in the upcoming November election.  Former state of Ohio Board of Education president Debbie Cain (Democrat, Lake Township) is his opponent.

Programs, policies and practices as well as the physical facilities of the county treasury have been revamped to a "state of the art" level earning Zumbar a place on the SCPR Top Ten List of Stark County Political Subdivision Elected officials.

Currently (as of the date of this blog) STAR generates 0.64% (which is a little over 1/2 percent) whereas STAR Plus produces 0.40% (not quite 1/2 percent).

Readers of the SCPR know that when this blog gets into a topic, the treatment is generally much more exhaustive than The Repository.

And this topic is no exception.

First of all, here is a list of Stark  County political subdivisions who as of last Friday had money in STAR Plus that was earning about 1/4 cent less in interest that it could have been earning in a STAR account.  Note, that in some cases, the 1/4 cent less was on millions of dollars.

Next up is a series of  e-mail exchanges between Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar and The Report regarding the county's treasury factor on the list:


From: Martin Olson [] 
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2016 1:21 PM
To: Alex A. Zumbar <>

Please read this Plain Dealer article (on today's regarding investment of taxpayer funds and tell me how Stark County is doing on the matter presented.



Alex A. Zumbar <>  Oct 18 at 9:58 AM


The majority of the County Investments are in Federal Agency Coupons (callable and non-callable), Treasury Securities, Commercial Paper & Foreign Government Bonds.

This accounts for a slightly over $128 million of the Stark County Portfolio.

We also have interim investments with JP Morgan Chase Bank, First Merit Bank and Star Ohio and Star Plus.

Investments are in accordance and full compliance with Ohio Revised Code 135.35 and the Stark County Investment Policy. 

The investments are based on a policy of Safety, Liquidity and Yield.

Balances deposited with Star Ohio and Star Plus may fluctuate throughout the year based on the interim amount available and the needs of the County Auditor for paying warrants/bills.

For example, in July of this year Stark County invested just over $93 million of interim funds with Star Ohio until the monies were to be distributed to the subdivisions on whose behalf we collected the funds. 

This occurs in late August or early September once settlement with the Auditor office has concluded.  The funds are distributed to the School Districts and the County Municipalities, Townships, Villages and special districts, etc.

As of October, the amounts invested with Star Plus were moved into Star Ohio.

YTD Investment Income:
September 2016  - YTD   $ 1,236,284  (88.31% of Budget estimate $1,400,000)
September 2015 – YTD   $     958,820




Alex A. Zumbar <>  Oct 19 at 12:24 PM

To:  Martin Olson


Below are my responses to your questions. 

Thank you for your interest in how the funds are being invested by your  Stark County Treasurer and as the Chief Investment Officer for Stark County.

Do not hesitate to contact me If I can be of assistance in explaining any further question you may have.



1.  What is the grand total amount of the Stark County Portfolio as of today?


[Rest of Investment Accounts]

2.  Of that residual amount, as of today, what are the amounts on deposit with:  Chase, First Merit, Star and Star Plus?  

     Ans.  See Above

3. For Chase and Merit what are the equivalent rates?

   First Merit Earnings Credit – .51%
   Earnings credit is used to offset the bank charges for services.
   First Merit Interest Sweep .20%
   Chase Savings Account    . 08%
   Chase ELockbox Account .20%

4. On the investments in Federal Agency Coupons (callable and non-callable), Treasury Securities, Commercial Paper & Foreign Government Bonds, what are the equivalent rates?

The rates vary from .63 to 3.17 as due the type of investment and the length of maturity

5. Did you learn of the higher rates to be gained in switching from Star Plus to Star on your own initiative or did you learn through an alternative source?

After discussion and review with the Chief Deputy and the Head Cashier about the need for these interim funds it was determined that the Auditor did not require them forpayment of warrants/bills and that they could be moved to the First Merit Earnings Credit account to offset potential bank service charges or to a higher interest bearing account 

6. Star began to exceed Star Plus (as I read the PD chart) in November/December, 2016, why did it take you 10/11 months to react? 

A review of the period in time shows that the rates began to change beginning in December 2015. The basis point rate change differences between Star Ohio and Star Plus

    2015 Dec . 03        2016 Apr  .11       2016 Aug  .15     
    2016 Jan  . 02        2016 May .13       2016 Sept .19
    2016 Feb  . 05       2016 June .15
    2016 Mar  .08       2016 July  .13
The invested funds are reviewed on a monthly basis by myself, the Chief Deputy and Head Cashier.  
The decision to move the amounts available for investing rests soley on the Treasurer as Chief Investment Officer for the County.  Many factors are taken into consideration before investing the funds.
Among these factors are Ohio Revised Code Section 135.35 and the Stark County Investment Policy.  I follow the principle of Safety, Liquidity and Yield. 

Another factor that is considered involves the County Auditor office and the need for interim funds to pay warrants/bills.  

The Treasurer office works closely with the County Auditor office to determine if interim funds are required in order pay warrants/bills.  If the funds are not needed they may be invested or used for earnings credit with the main operating account currently held by First Merit/Huntington Bank. 

The Treasurer office currently does not budget to pay First Merit/Huntington bank service charges/fees.  Nor have the County Commissioners appropriated a budget item to
pay these main operating First Merit/Huntington bank service charges/fees.  The Treasurer office offsets these bank service charges/fees by utilizing the earnings credit offset on deposits held by the bank.

In February and July of each year the real estate and mobile manufactured home tax bills 
come due.  

This period of time allows for an excess of interim funds to become available  for the Treasurer office to either invest or earn credit to offset bank service fees. 

Available interim funds may also be invested in short term our Star Ohio or Star Plusaccounts.  Amounts were invested in both Star Plus and Star Ohio.
By late March/early April and late August/early September of each tax cycle the Treasurer and Auditor office settle the real estate tax collection and distribute the funds collected to the subdivisions on whose behalf we are collecting these levies and real estate taxes.

7. How much less in interest did Stark receive as a consequence of county money remaining in Star Plus over the period cited above? 

The amount of interest earned in Stark Plus during that time period was $106,354.

The estimated amount of additional interest that could have been earned with Star Ohio    
was potentially $32,000

8. Some treasurers in the PD article are saying that FDIC coverage in and of itself is worth the difference of 24 basis points in their staying with Stark Plus.
As earlier stated Stark County Investments are based on the principles of
Safety, Liquidity and Yield.  

All investments are in accordance and full compliance withOhio Revised Code Section 135.35 and the Stark County Investment Policy.  

All investments are reviewed and approved on a quarterly basis by the Investment Advisory Committee.

So there you have it folks from Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar "in his own words."

Over a period of time, the SCPR will be going through the entire list of Stark County political subdivision to determine the status of dormant (but needed to be at the ready for "on call" use) taxpayer funds in terms of their being invested to the best benefit of local government units having been entrusted with revenues by Stark County taxpayers.

Notwithstanding Zumbar's candor in revealing that his office missed out on approximately $32,000, the SCPR thinks county taxpayers should be highly pleased with the manner in which Treasurer Zumbar manages the Stark County treasury.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016




           as only the SCPR
                                          questions commissioners
                                                                                      on executive session 
with Lichter of IRG & HOF official

Why all the secrecy about the financing/"public" assistance needs of the  Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP)?

Why all the secrecy on IRG (Industrial Realty Group) LLC involvement?

While all Stark Countians including the SCPR want the project to be as productive as projected in a chart presented at a work session (see below) by IRG president and chairman of the board Stu Lichter and others in his retinue including a Canton based Professional Football Hall of Fame official to Stark County commissioners David Bridenstine, Janet Creighton and Richard Regula; "due diligence"—in public—is in order.

The foregoing are "threshold" questions that Stark Countians should demand be forthcoming before one more dollar of public money is put into the hands of the HOF-VP connected

Additionally, for the benefit and protection of  Stark County political subdivision taxpayers (including the county itself) an overriding question in the minds of Stark Countians should be:
Will our government protect us from being taken advantage of (i.e. an insufficient ROI [Return on Investment] on any taxpayer money put at the disposal of IRG, the HOF-VP and others involved in the constructing what many believe to be significantly over 500 million plus Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Project notwithstanding Lichter's presenting of a slide using the figure $476 million.

Other entities that have or might be asked to contribute taxpayer provided resources include the city of Canton, Plain Township, the Canton Park system and the Canton City Schools.

And there may be other local government entities that the SCPR is not aware of in a taxpayer subsidy of the HOF-VP enterprise.

Now is the time for Stark Countians to press any local government entity negotiating with IRG and the HOF-VP to exercise extreme caution and the highest degree of due diligence in protecting the public purse and the public interest.

Because Stark County is just middling along and several of the county's major cities, foremost of which is the city of Canton itself ($5.1 million deficit last years and probably more deficit in Fiscal Year 2017) are in financial stability jeopardy; it is critically important that local government HOF-VP involved entities be absolutely sure that what appears to the SCPR to be "pie-in-the-sky" projections on the ROI actually withstand the highest degree of vetting.

Last Friday, The Report noticed on the agenda of the October 12, 2016 regular meeting of the commissioners that a work session was set for yesterday (October 17) on the HOF-VP.

And show up they did, the folks from and/or associated with IRG and the northwest Canton based Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Only one Stark County citizen without portfolio showed up.

Republican Canton Township trustee Bill Smith, who the SCPR thinks is pretty much a cinch to be elected commissioner on November 8th, was present as was an official from the Stark County Convention & Vistors Bureau.

Other than that, only The Stark County Political Report as a solitary media type.

Get this.  Nobody from The Repository, the self-reported "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was at yesterday's very important meeting.


Is this something like "Delta:  the Official Airline of the Washington Nationals?

Can anybody imagine Delta officials critiquing/evaluating/questioning the management of this NBA franchise?

Again, Wow! for a newspaper that purports to be protecting the public interest NOT to be present is a cause for concern, no?

But, then, again; maybe its for the better in terms of the reliability (i.e. objectivity) of what is reported given "the 'official' connection," no?

The public part of the meeting lasted only 21 minutes.

And, of course, the SCPR was there to record every minute of it.  With the graphics presented by Lichter as published above, The Report already in this blog has provided a snapshot of what Lichter had to say for public consumption.

But the real news is that at minute 21 of the meeting the commissioners opted to go into executive session justified by IRG's assertion through Lichter that proprietary information was likely to be shared with the commissioners.

The Report waited around during the secret session with Smith, the citizen and the representative from the Stark County Convention & Visitors Bureau as they peeled off one by one until only yours truly was left.

Finally, finally, finally after over an hour wait, the doors opened and the lone member of the public (the SCPR) was granted entrance as the meeting was being gaveled to a close by President Creighton.

But wait!

The SCPR had some questions to ask.

And here they are on video:

Not much in the way in answers.

Vague stuff about perhaps a request that Stark County taxpayers at an purportedly unknowable dollar amount (even ballparking the number) being asked to participate in the HOF-VP.

The commissioners did promise that they will not make any decisions that mean the appropriation of taxpayer provided resources without first giving the public an opportunity to weigh-in.

Thank the Almighty for that, no?

Monday, October 17, 2016


(Originally Posted on Saturday)







County Commissioners
Broadband & HOF Village Project
(In Terms of County Involvement)



Pictured above (from Stark County's Graphic Information System [GIS] is the neighborhood development where I live.

As publisher of The Stark County Political Report, I attended Wednesday's the Stark County Area Broadband Task Team (SCABBTT) "Report to the Community Broadband Feasibility Study on the implementation of broadband Internet connection.

Having a personal history and interest in the potential for computer and computer related infrastructure, I am intrigued with how SCABBTT might play out as a boon to the Stark County economy across every sector of Stark County economic life as well as the personal benefit as a taxpaying citizen who might benefit in a tangible "in my home" way.

But at what cost?

Here is a teaser on the cost from the executive summary published by SCABBTT which every reader of this blog who cares about the economic future of Stark County ought to read (LINK), to wit:  (Note:  Initial start up cost estimated to be $22.5 million)
Stark County includes 165,000 residential units. If we utilize an average industry cost per passing (avg. cost per home served) of $1,500 per unit, we can identify a full fiber buildout cost in the range of $250 million. When we apply a cost of $1,250 per subscriber connected (to cover drop fiber cable, CPE2 , and battery backup) and apply a 35% uptake, we arrive at a budget just for subscribers connected of $72.5 million. In addition to these costs, design/engineering, data center, network components, and operational requirements will likely push a FTTP project for Stark into the $330 - $400 million range – again, to connect 35% of premises in the County. 
As the "ultimate" cost figures show in the text above, it is unlikely that 1GB broadband is coming to your Stark County neighborhood anytime soon.

Current projections are that on about 1/3rd of Stark's residential areas will being seeing robust Internet connectivity speeds as a consequence of SCABBTT's effort.

In 1982, running my business as a Stark County sited lawyer, I brought computer technology to my office.

See that tiny 5" screen.  One my early administrative assistant hires spent about an hour working on this computer (hooked up electronically to a Facit electric typewriter) only to stand up to say:  "That's it, I am not working on this thing.  I quit!"

I tell this story to make the put that—no matter the difficulty, inconvenience and frustration— I was and remain an "early adopter" of forward looking technology or any other phenomenon I think will ultimately make for a better world for you and I to live in.

And I see the three year effort so far by forward looking Stark Countians to ultimately bring high speed (a minimum of 1 Gigabit) broadband Internet connection to the county as being a pioneer effort that has the potential to put the county at the forefront of technological and thereby inescapably economic development that—if done correctly—likely will result in a renaissance of Stark County; the likes of which has not existed since the iron/steel/vacuum cleaner industry was going full bore.

As seen in the Wikipedia graphic to the left of this text, Stark County a whole significant growth was over by the mid to late 1960s.

So it has been over 50 years that Stark County has been atrophying and thereby is in clear and present danger of of slipping into an abyss of being an undesirable place of live and raise one's family.

A few years ago, excitement abounded as the fracking of oil and gas came on the scene and local politicos like former Canton mayor William J. Healy, II (supported by Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce officials) made wild-eyed predictions that the county was on the brink of a stupendous rising from the financial/economic ash heap into become a robust economic juggernaut resembling the heydey of the mid-19th century.

Healy made great fanfare in his March 1, 2012 (LINK) State of the City address of renaming Canton as being the Utica capital.

But as we all now know, those predictions are now themselves in the ash heap of pie-in-the-sky thinking notwithstanding lingering optimism of former Repository editor and Chamber official David Kaminski (LINK).

It wasn't all that long after Healy, apparently; as a matter of executive action, named Canton "the Utica Capital" that one of fracking's biggest players (Chesapeake Energy) moved (LINK) from Canton to Louisville (LINK).

To me, the fracking phenomenon is at best a temporary thing  that exhausts natural resources; rather than building up enduring community resources as I think the 1 Gb SCABBTT effort and its focus on Stark County wide infrastructure does.

And there is the current "ga-ga" over the in the process of development Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP).

Guess who is at the lead of promoting the HOF-VP as a cure-all of all that ails Stark County?  You've got it, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce!

And the local mainstream media has thrown in on the hoopla in a cheerleader-esque fashion as evidenced by its billing itself as "The Official Newspaper of The Pro Football Hall of Fame."

Interesting, no?

What kind of scrutiny can Stark Countians expect of The Rep regarding HOF-VP operations/functioning given its "inside" relationship with the folks who run the Hall of Fame?

My blog is the only Stark County media outlet that questions the viability of the HOF-VP, here are links to those blogs:
To compare the HOF-VP to the Utica Share unbounded optimism take a look at this Healy State of the City address of March, 2015 as covered by my Stark County Political Report (LINK).

Like all other Stark Countians, I hope that the HOF-VP is all that its promoters say it will be at a cost of some $500 million plus with the promise that the project will produce some 13,000 Stark County jobs.

But I am skeptical that the financing needed to complete the project will materialize.

And, if it does, how durable/lasting will the project be in terms of long term economic benefit to Stark Countians?

The city of Canton has invested $5 million in Canton taxpayer dollars in the HOF-VP but HOF officials has not delivered a response to the SCPR accounting for how the $5 million has been spent nor how the $10 million in Ohio taxpayer funds that state Representative Kirk Schuring (Republican - Jackson Township; the 48th Ohio House District) procured for the HOF-VP.

HOF officials so far have not been transparent to the general public with information about the taxpayer portion of the funds spent on the project so far.

On Monday, HOF officials will be at a Stark County commissioners work session (10:00 a.m.) apparently to make a project progress report.

At the regular weekly meeting of the commissioners later on the same day as the SCABBTT presentation, Commissioners Regula and and Bridenstine (Commissioner Creighton said she was not yet ready to comment) weighed-in on both the Broadband and HOFV projects as seen in this video (4:47).

It will be interesting to see whether or not the county commissioners will delve into the public portion of the financing of the HOF-VP and be questioning of the ongoing viability of the project.  On Wednesday, Commissioner Bridenstine characterized the Broadband project as "having the cart before the horse" and the HOFV project "as the horse and cart not being hitched at all."

I think it the session will be a sweetheart type of exchange and the citizens of Stark County will not know more about the finer details of the HOF-VP than we know now.

I have gone over the foregoing in order to contrast the exhaustible (i.e. natural resources) and, perhaps, the ephemeral (the long term viability of professional football) [see this LINK {NFL ratings plunge could spell doom for traditional TV} about the prospects of the enduring quality of Pro Football] with the durable and lasting which I think broadband fiber optic middle-backbone infrastructure is likely to be.

The background foregoing sets up this SCPR investigative series.

Up next in this series of blogs:  A cost/benefits analysis of Utica, HOF-VP and Broadband, including extensive SPRR video of key points presented on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Yesterday's Stark County weekly commissioner meeting was nearly over when a Canton citizen and his "significant other" entered the commissioners' meeting room.

Much earlier in the meeting, the time slot for "Public Speaks" had long come and gone with nobody participating.

Nevertheless, commissioner chairman of the board Janet Creighton did not miss a beat in recognize the late coming citizen and inquired of him whether or not he wished to addressed the board.

As can be seen in the forgoing video, he did.

As it turns out, his problem was one that one that could not be solved by the commissioners but rather needs the attention of his Canton city councilperson (Councilman John Mariol, Ward 7) and, perhaps, Canton building department official and Mayor Thomas Bernabei all-around troubleshooter J.R. Rinaldi.

County Administrator Brant Luther took "the bull by the horns" and "on-the-spot" researched information to redirect the citizen to the likes of Mariol and Rinaldi.

An impressive thing about yesterday's commissioner/citizen interaction was that notwithstanding that the citizen had shown up way, way, way past the time for participating in Public Speaks, Commissioner Creighton was quick to recognize that the gentleman-citizen had something on his mind to address commissioners about and almost instantly departed from yesterday's official agenda to recognize him.

Should be standard practice throughout Stark County government, no?

Not to say that a citizen should be recognized mid-way in a meeting but after Public Speaks, but certainly before adjournment.

What Creighton did yesterday in breaking meeting protocol and providing a forum for the citizen with a problem that needs solving was to bring home to the citizen and the rest of us that with the Stark County Board of Commissioners "citizen participation" is a high, high, high priority.

And such is the kind of thing that is a "head-turner" for everyday citizens and is "superb example of" how a seemingly little thing like Creighton's citizen friendly act, if followed across government at all levels of U.S. government, has the potential to go a long way in rebuilding the alienation that exists across much of America between the governed and the governors.

As a contrast to what Commissioner Creighton did yesterday is to muse on what the response would have been had the citizen shown up beyond the official Public Speaks agenda slot in most Stark County political subdivision (villages, townships, cities, boards of education) jurisdiction.

Being the veteran of many such meeting, the SCPR is reasonably certain that such a late entrant would be summarily ignored.  And, should such a citizen gain the attention of the government official running the meeting, "you can bet your bottom dollars" that the official would say something like "sorry, but time has passed, and you will have to come back next meeting."

In some Stark County political subdivisions, one can show up on time for a given meeting allotted Public Speaks slot,  but if prior notice has not been given to the presiding officer (usually a day or two before the meeting), then, forget it; permission to speak will be denied.

While the SCPR thinks that the governor/governed model in North Canton is improving (LINK), there is no way that a late arriving citizen would get the type of reception that Creighton accorded the tardy Cantonian yesterday.

Americans anymore have a rather dim view of the receptivity/friendliness/facilitativeness of public officials to citizen input.

Commissioner Creighton's initiative yesterday is one that should be a model for all Stark County government political subdivisions to adopt.

Over time this kind of thing has the potential to reverse the skeptical if not cynical attitude that many ordinary citizens have toward government.