Friday, March 27, 2015

PART 5: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



On Monday, The Stark County Political Report started a new feature:  Stark County Top 10 Leaders.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentations on:
  • Stark County's #1 leader; namely, Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei, and
  • Stark County's #2 leader; namely, Massillon Councilwoman Nancy Halter,
  • Stark County's #3 leader; namely, Canton Councilman Edmond Mack,
  • Stark County's #4 leader; namely, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold,
Today's blog is on Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Along with yesterday's SCPR subject Stark County Auditor Alan Harold and Stark County commissioners Thomas Bernabei and Janet Creighton; Alex Zumbar has been a key figure in restoring the Stark County public's confidence in county government following what local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley has termed as being Zeiglergate (April 1, 2009 through October 19, 2011).

There is however one key difference between Zumbar and the others.

In Zumbar's case there was an alternative selection to be had to succeed Gary Zeigler as Stark County treasurer.

Zeigler, as it turned out, was "unconstitutionally" removed as treasurer by the-then commissioners Bosley, Meeks and Ferguson in August, 2010.  The Ohio Supreme Court restored Zeigler to office in June, 2011.

The September, 2010 alternative was Democrat Ken Koher who did serve for a short period of time which was from September 20, 2010 through November 24, 2010.

Koher who had been selected by Stark County's "organized" Democrats to replace Zeigler had to face Republican nominee Zumbar (September 9, 2010 at a Stark Co.  GOP meeting which resulted in the SCPR "gone Huffington Post Internet viral" Phil Davison "over-the-top Republican" video) on November 2, 2010.



Zumbar won and was sworn in on November 24th.

But, of course, as indicated above,  Zumbar was out in June, 2011 only to return on October 31, 2011.


From the Stark County treasurer's website:
Alexander Zumbar was first elected Stark County Treasurer in November of 2010. 
Prior to assuming his current position he spent 18 years in public service. 
Beginning in 1996 Treasurer Zumbar was elected to the Alliance City Council and held that position until 2003. 
Also, in 2003 he held the dual position of Administrative Assistant to the Honorable Charles E. Brown Jr. in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas- General Division. 
In November, 2003 he was elected to the position of Alliance City Auditor and held that position until May of 2008 when he was appointed as Finance Director of North Canton and held that position until his election as Treasurer. 
Civically, Alex is on the District Eagle Scout Review Board, Regina Coeli Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus #558, and Christopher Columbus Society. 
Professionally Treasurer Zumbar is a member of Auditor of State Dave Yost-Northeast Ohio Regional Advisory Board, Government Finance Officers Association, County Treasurers Association of Ohio and Association of Public Treasurers of the United States and Canada. 
Alex holds the following certificates and special awards and honors: Emerging Trends in Fraud Investigation and Prevention certificate, Public Records and Open Meetings Law Training certification and the Ohio Financial Accountability certification. He has received the CAFR Award from the State of Ohio Auditor’s Office and the Government Finance Officer Association from 2004 through 2010. The State Auditor Award and is a BSA Eagle Scout. 
Treasurer Zumbar received his B.A. degree in Accounting from Mount Union College.

This is what the SCPR had to say about Zumbar in a November 23, 2011 annual Thanksgiving Day blog: (an extract)
[Zumbar] is a Republican through and through. 
He, picking up where Democrat Ken Koher had left off, on his winning of office in November, 2010 went to work instituting many structural, policy, practice and procedural changes in the Stark County treasury to ensure that a Vince Frustaci-esque theft of taxpayer moneys could never happen again. 
Moreover, Zumbar went to work in proposing and helping establish a Stark County-based land bank program to identify condemned, abandoned and to be torn down properties to be put to more productive use. 
Picking up on local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley's focus on the fact that some $40 million of back property taxes are owed to Stark County and its political subdivisions, Zumbar has put together lists of properties for the Stark County prosecutor's office to pursue in order to get much needed revenue into the hands of the county and the subdivisions. 
This despite being bounced in and out of office like a yo-yo. 
Indeed Stark Countians should be thankful that Alex Zumbar had the fortitude to stand tall and do what's good for Stark County.
Zumbar continues his restructuring of the Stark County treasurer's facilities in order to achieve maximum protection of Stark County taxpayer money to the degree it is still kept at the treasurer's office which is located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building.

Zumbar has done sterling work as the initiator of (March 21, 2012) and guiding factor in the formation of and development of the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (SCLRC, aka Stark County Lank Bank).

A number of Stark County political subdivisions have benefited from the formation of the SCLRC.

Canton with some 4,000 of 5,000 blighted and abandoned residential units remaining (the 1,000 removed so far coming from SCLRC administration of an Ohio attorney general office grant and Canton's $1 million local match) has been a major beneficiary of the existence of the SCLRC.

However, as stated by the SCPR in this series about Commissioner Tom Bernabei and Auditor Alan Harold, as well as The Report thinks of Zumbar, he is not perfect.

It was alarming to the SCPR when it appeared that Zumbar:

  • appeared (in July, 2014) to be trying to increase the pay of his chief deputy (Jaime Allbrittain, a former Stark Co. treasurer herself) at the expense of the SCLRC without bidding the "to be created SCLRC position" out to the general public,


Needless to say, Zumbar was furious with yours truly about the blogs on the incidents described above as he has been from time-to-time on other SCPR blogs.

What public officials like Zumbar can't quite seem to figure out is that yours truly does not seek to be liked by Stark County officialdom.  In fact, The Report gets just a tad nervous if a given relationship with a public official gets comfortable.  The question always becomes:  Am I doing my job as a journalist?

The Report gets along well with most of Stark County officialdom.  But things do get testy from time-to-time and that's the way it should be.  Zumbar has been among the most unhappy with the blogs that the SCPR publishes.

And, of course, word filters back to The Report that Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. and elected official members of his Maier Massillon Political Machine go absolutely "bonkers" at some of the SCPR's incisive blogs on how they perform as Stark County officials.

The Report see these folks as cowardly types who only answer questions posed by the "fawning" press.

The SCPR does not mind elected officials having a strong political party loyalty side to them except when The Report thinks that party connections seem to unduly play in the discharge of the official functions.

The Report suspects that Zumbar and his sidekick Allbritain and Stark County Probate Court judge Dixie Park were into some sort of political quid pro quo (something for something) in Park's daughter ending up on the Stark County treasury payroll and Allbritain's showing up on Judge Park's payroll.

Moreover, Zumbar hired into his office the child of a Republican Alliance councilman (Roger Rhome) apparently without making the job available to the general public.
There is probably nothing more odious to the SCPR than these types of "do not meet the smell test" personnel transactions.

On the Democratic Party side, Sheriff George T. Maier is the personification of the "does not meet the smell test" on the question of his non-union hirings.

Notwithstanding Zumbar's warts, the SCPR thinks that he is a superb Stark County official.

And he can be assured that The Report's thinking well of him will be no barrier whatsoever in terms of writing blogs chastising him for what yours truly thinks is this or that inappropriate public action.

A vigilant press helps make the likes of Zumbar better public officials.  Unfortunately, Stark County's only countywide newspaper all to often give certain public officials a pass on intense scrutiny.

On balance the SCPR thinks well enough of Zumbar to make him make #5 on the Stark County "Top 10" List of Stark County political subdivision elected officials.

Tomorrow the SCPR will feature #6 on the list.

Hint:  He is in the context where partisan elections are held for public office, Stark County's only "independent."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Part 4: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS




On Monday, The Stark County Political Report started a new feature:  Stark County Top 10 Leaders.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentations on:
  • Stark County's #1 leader; namely, Stark County Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei, and
  • Stark County's #2 leader; namely, Massillon Councilwoman Nancy Halter,
  • Stark County's #3 leader; namely, Canton Councilman Edmond Mack,
Today's blog is on Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.
Alan was raised in Louisville and had public service as a calling from an early age.  
After a career in banking and in small business, he was elected to office in November of 2010.  
SCPR Note:  Among Harold's private sector endeavors, he was employed by:
  • Huntington Bank, and 
  • Coon Restoration and Sealants, Inc. as its CFO
Alan is an active member of many community organizations, including United Way, Buckeye Council – Boy Scouts of America, and St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
He has participated in the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Stark County (23rd Class) and Government Academy (2nd Class). 
Alan has a Master of Business Administration degree from The Ohio State University (2003); a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Union College (1998); and is a graduate of Louisville High School (1994). 
He and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Harold, live with their two children, Caroline and Andrew, in Avondale.
SOURCE:  Stark Auditor's Website


Harold has long been a favorite of The Stark County Political Report who may in time rise to the very top of The Report's quarterly published Top 10 List of the best Stark County Political Subdivision elected officials.

To do so, he will have to pass a number of tests that will come his way in ensuing months/years in the context of his being Stark County's auditor.

Back in 2011, Alan was among one of five Stark County-based elected officials that The Report singled out in this blog's annual Thanksgiving Day blog as person for Stark Countinans to be thankful for with respect to the year of being recognized.

The span of April 1, 2009 through October 31, 2011 was an excruciatingly difficult time for Stark County as will be apparent to the reader of this blog in the material that follows.

Alan Harold was among several newly arrived elected Stark County officials (November, 2010) that "saved the day for this 212 year old county.

This is what yours truly had to say about Harold back in 2011:
The SCPR views Stark County Auditor Alan Harold as a Republican enthusiast.

But that is okay.

Beyond that, The Report is convinced that Harold is determined to do the right thing for Stark Countians who use the services of the auditor's office.
 
Harold was one of the more indignant Stark Countians (both as a candidate for auditor and as an elected official) at the what he has described as the failure of former Stark County Treasurer to implement adequate structural, policy, practice and procedural reforms while Zeigler was office (1999 - 2011) to have prevented Vince Frustaci from stealing Stark County taxpayer money. 
Harold showed spunk and courage in standing fast in the face of Zeigler being restored to office on June 23rd of this year in withholding Zeigler's pay and his use of county provided equipment (i.e. telephones and computer) in the face of Zeigler not being able to obtain bonding that is statutorily required by Ohio before one can serve as a county treasurer in Ohio. 
It could be that Harold's steadfastness was instrumental in Zeigler being willing to negotiate with county officials regarding his eventual retirement/resignation from office on October 19, 2011.
Another impressive thing about Harold was his persistence in running for office.
 
In 2008 he endeavored to run against Zeigler.  Harold has told The Report that he was all set to run when word came down from his then employer that if he persisted in running it would cost him his job. 
Having a family to support, Harold had no choice but withdraw.   
However, he came back as a candidate for the Stark County Educational Service Board in 2009.  While he lost that race, once the Frustaci revelation took place he found a seized an opportunity to run for county auditor. 
Rightly or wrongly, it appears that the Stark County voting public felt that the then Auditor Kim Perez (a Democrat), which many Stark Countians perceived to have close political ties with Zeigler, did not act decisively enough when he had questions about the accuracy of data coming from the Stark treasury to the auditor's office and turned to Harold by electing him to replace Perez. 
The stamina of Alan Harold is a quality to be admired and the SCPR believes the Stark County public should be pleased that Alan Harold is now serving as their auditor.
The SCPR thinks that he continues to distinguish himself as auditor, but like the well thought of (by the SCPR) Stark County Commissioner Thomas Bernabei, he is not perfect.

It may appear in spots that The Report is counter-arguing support for the notion that Harold deserves to be #4 on The Top 10 List.

Never mind, such is simply the style of yours truly.

As stated above, Harold being much younger does have the potential to topple Bernabei from the top of The Top 10 List.

However, there is also the potential to completely fall off the list.

Quite a number of Stark County elected officials treat their offices as if they were running a private corporation and are apt not afford the general public the opportunity to apply for taxpayer paid for positions that come open.

Such is not okay with the SCPR.

If the person these officials prefer to hire uncompetitively is so great, he/she will certainly be able to withstand the challenge of a competitor, no?

And maybe just maybe the hiring official, when faced with a competitor who has skills and attributes that clearly trump the preferred "insider," in the context of the public interest - if they care at all about the public interest rather than their personal comfort personal interest - may have to step away from the familiar and personally comfortable and hire the person who has more to offer to taxpaying public that he/she serves.

The SCPR suspects that Harold's hiring of A.R. "Chip Conde," clearly a competent and seemingly qualified person, was done to satisfy his personal comfort level and, perhaps, part of the Stark GOP reward system (i.e. "thank you 'Chip' for running for mayor of Canton in 2011") and not necessarily as case of hiring the most qualified person.


Conde is a guy the SCPR thinks well of and still believes was the far superior candidate in the 2011 Canton mayoralty race.

But as far as The Report is concerned nobody including the obviously competent and able Conde gets a free pass (i.e. apparent but not "real" competition) to a taxpayer supported job.

As Stark County elected officials know, the SCPR keeps an keen eye on this seemingly private-esque transactions.

Harold says that he did post the position that Conde was hired into and denies that Republican politics had anything to do with Conde's hire.

While Harold is not a part of the Stark GOP structural officialdom, nobody should think that he is not a de facto power within the "organized" Stark County Republican Party official family.

As the SCPR retorts in the case of every suspicion that a given GOP/Dems official hiring has a political aspect to is this:  It may be true that politics had nothing to do with it, but who is going to believe it.

Unlike The Repository, the SCPR does not single out certain officeholders for critique (a la The Rev vis-a-vis Kim Perez when he became auditor in the early 2000s).

Harold is not resting on his laurels as cited above.

He is making tremendous strides in updating his office's internal practices and procedures and the county's information technology infrastructure.

And he and his staff have done some admirable "in the interest of Stark County taxpayer" work.

Here is a blog link to blogs wherein yours truly details some of the auditor's office work in this regard under Harold's leadership.


However, there has been a curious development in development on this matter.

For tax year 2012, Auditor Harold's office appraised the Huntington Bank and associated  property at $8.9 million based in the actual purchase price by Amerimar and the appraisal was affirmed by the Auditor's office Board of Revision.

The buyer objected and filed an appeal with Stark County Court of Common Pleas.  Judge John Haas heard the case and decided that the $8.9 million appraisal was the correct number in the light of Ohio law that seems to stand for the proposition that the sale price is the best evidence of value for real property tax appraisal purposes.

That case has been appealed to the 5th District Court of Appeals and is pending.

Then something "very" strange (in the opinion of the SCPR) happened.

For tax year 2013, Harold's office dropped the appraisal to some $4.5 million.

A huge difference, no?

Of course Amerimar had to be happy.  However, the Canton City Schools was not.

But Harold's tax year 2013 $4.5 million appraisal action (attributing the re-evaluation which is not directly done by Harold to him for purposes of this blog) was short-lived.

The Stark County Board of Revision ( BOR, LINK to Ohio statutory basis, which interesting enough Harold was a member of) overrode the $4.5 million and once again set the appraisal at $8.9 million.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that in the tax year 2013 BOR decision, as mentioned above, Harold joined Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar and Stark County commissioner Richard Regula in reversing the $4.5 million appraisal.

Weird, no?


Amerimar Canton Office, LLC (Amerimar) once again appealed to the Stark County Court of Common Pleas (Judge Kristin Farmer) and the case is stayed pending the 5th District Court Appeals decision on the 2012 appraisal.

The focus of the SCPR on this series of events (specifically, Harold precipitous drop in appraisal value from $8.9 [2012] million to $4.5 million [2013]) is: Why?  And then why vote to override?

The Report did a quick reading of the transcript of the 2013 appraisal BOR hearing and does not see a Harold explanation as to why the $4.5 was made in the first place.

An explanation may be in there some where.

However, the transcript of the BOR proceedings is 61 pages long and the SCPR did not spot an explanation.

A month or so ago, the SCPR was at a Canton City Council work session and was interested to note that Deputy Mayor Fonda Williams was seemingly aghast at the 2012 Huntington Bank real property tax appraisal being at the sale/purchase price of $8.9 million.

He said that the 2012 appraisal caused rents at Huntington to skyrocket (the SCPR's term, not necessarily Williams, but it may have been).

The reason that the Huntington Bank matter came up with Canton has to do with the issue of what the tax appraisal will be for the Onesto Lofts project of former Harold employer (i.e. as CFO) Coons Restoration and Sealants, Inc.

Coon's company bought the Onesto for a little over $100,000 in about 2007/2008.

Well, with the restoration being nearly complete, and an appraisal (Coon's appraiser) indicated the property is now worth some $10.8 million, the the SCPR's suspicion is now that the tax man cometh all of a sudden there may well be a challenge to the $10.8 million figure.

If not now, perhaps a few years down the road.  

For Canton's council has granted Coon's company a 75% Tax Incentive Financing (TIF) credit, which of course is "real money," to use in finishing up the Onesto.

But the TIF "only(?)" last for ten years and once Coon's company gets the 75% of $10.8 million may it will not be so keen on paying taxes on that amount if not more after the TIF expires?

Sort of like Amerimar are we going to see Coon's company do a nuance of the Amerimar approach, to wit:  Buy the property low, get a high appraisal for TIF purposes, then during the 10 year TIF period or at the end there ask for a auditor's office tax valuation much lower?

How sweet!  No?

The SCPR has bought into the criticism of Councilman Frank Morris (Ward 9 and Majority Leader) that Canton council's action is a give-away of huge numbers of Stark County political subdivision dollars (the 75% factor) for a project that was highly likely to be completed without the TIF.


The Report's concern is that given his prior employment relationship with Coon's company, Harold should recuse his office of any work whatsoever on the evaluation of the property for real property taxes purposes.

Twenty-five percent (25%) remains a revenue factor for Canton government, the Canton City Schools and other Stark County political subdivision entities such as Children Services and Mental Health.

As readers will note by the tenor of this and prior blogs, at this time Harold is esteemed in his official capacity by the SCPR.

However, should Harold not have a "within reason" acceptable explanation for the precipitous drop in the 2012 to 2013 Huntington Bank appraisal and/or should he "put his finger into the 'appraisal' pie" of the Onesto project, his #4 ranking is likely to be lost come the next quarterly SCPR Top 10 List (due July 1st).

Hopefully he will clear this apparent contradiction in position up and if he does the SCPR will published it as a supplement at the beginning of this blog.

So we shall see how this saga unfolds.

As The Report sees it, these are critical times within which to make a deeper determination of Harold's leadership qualities.

He has picked "the low hanging fruit" and has performed admirably in doing so.  However, with any elected official, it is always a case of "what have you done for me lately."

After going through the above caveats, the SCPR finds much about Harold outside the foregoing concerns to like about his auditor's  leadership.

At the county level, Harold is set to be the best and the brightest that Stark County has to offer.  Time will only tell whether or not he fulfills that billing.

One area that his office clearly deserves huge accolades on is his technology group's work to improve/restructure the county's computer network.

While in December, 2012 he hired an Information Technology Manager (Rhodebeck) at $88,005 who has not been on board long enough to evaluate; Chief Deputy Auditor Anita Henderson  ($87,149) (Note: income data from Stark County Auditor, February, 2015)  has been around the county since 2005 and has earned universal praise for her work with maintaining and upgrading county information systems technology.

Ironically, she started out with former Stark County auditor Kim Perez way back in 1987 when he was Canton's auditor.  Perez brought Henderson with him from the city when he defeated appointed Republican auditor Brant Luther in 2004.

Harold defeated Perez in November, 2012 likely as an outgrowth of his being to politically close to former Stark County treasurer Gary Zeigler.  Moreover, some think that Perez should have been more aggressive in raising a red flag when some of the numbers coming from the treasury were not squaring up.

The SCPR's take is that large numbers of Stark County voters perceived Zeigler not to have effectively managed the Stark County treasury in putting in place safeguards to have prevented his chief deputy Vince Frustaci from stealing some $2.46 million in Stark County taxpayer money over a number of years and culminating in the Spring of 2009.

Some departments of county government are in the Stone Age of computer technology particularly the courts and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Antiquated technology does impact the quality of services these departments of government can provide to Stark Countians.  Moreover, those departments of Stark County government which do not have "state of the art" technology have to be terribly inefficient and thereby diverting precious few Stark County general fund refunds from more productive use in service of Stark County's citizens.

Nobody that the SCPR knows of though disputes that Perez did a good thing in bring Henderson to the Stark County auditor's office.

The Stark County courts are just now getting on-board with an electronic filing system. Years and years after other Ohio counties have implemented the huge taxpayer money saving efficiencies that such a system will bring.

The Report understands that overall the court's technology remains as a hodgepodge of unsustainable technology pieces that will take Henderson and the new guy quite a long period of time and effort to get countywide technology to "state of the art" status.

It's a politically and "separation of powers-esque" sensitive thing for Harold to undertake.

Not only vis-a-vis the courts, but with the likes of the Stark County Sheriff's office and the Stark County Board of Elections.

Harold needs to stand behind his technology gurus and thereby keep nudging the technological Neanderthals (e.g. Stark BOE Director Jeff Matthews  [Stark County GOP chairman] and the BOE's members) who occupy taxpayer paid positions to put their agencies of government in a more capable and prepared technological status with which to serve the taxpaying Stark County public.

A simple thing that the Stark BOE can and should be doing is providing the general public with spreadsheet format election results data.

But when you have board members (Braden, Cline, Ferruccio and Sherer) who are out-and-out politicos in the sense they owe their jobs to their respective local political parties, it appears that they don't care one iota about making easily digestible and accessible election results information available to the general public.

Notwithstanding what the SCPR thinks are potential concerns about the integrity of the real property appraisal processes and, perhaps, politics being a factor in some of his hires, Alan Harold - for this quarter - deserves recognition as the SCPR's #4 Stark County in the Top 10 leaders because of:
  • his current and so far successful effort to tease technological advancement, restructuring out of various recalcitrant Stark County departments of government, and
  • his sea change in terms of the quality of "in the service of the public interest" changes he has made in the internal operation of the Stark County auditor's office pretty much across-the-board.
Like him (as the SCPR does) or loathe him, the fact of the matter is that Alan Harold is going to be a fixture in Stark County government and politics for a very, very, very long time.

Accordingly, he needs to be "at the head of the class" in terms of qualities he brings to Stark County leadership!

Tomorrow The Report will be presenting #5 on the Stark County Top 10 List of leaders.

Hint:  He benefited from political help from others.  But seems to lack the ability to step out of his comfort zone notwithstanding that he has a track record of being an outstanding administrator.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PART 3: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



On Monday, The Stark County Political Report started a new feature:  Stark County Top 10 Leaders.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentations on:
Today's blog is on Canton Councilman Edmond Mack.


Years In Office:  January 1, 2012 to present

Political Affiliation: Democrat

Education:

Juris Doctor, University of Akron School of Law

Bachelor of Arts, Kent State University

Current Employer:

Attorney - Tzangas Plakas Mannos Ltd.

Committees:

Judiciary Committee (Chairman)
Member, Public Property Capital Improvement Committee
Member, Rules Committee
Member, Downtown Development Committee

Special Interests:

Reducing storm water drainage problems in Ward 8.

Decreasing the amount of blighted and abandoned houses in Ward 8.

Increasing the number of police patrolling Ward 8.

Professional Recognitions:

Recognized as 2014 Top 20 Under 40 Young Professional by the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, ystark!, and the Canton Repository.
    
Recognized as one of Ohio's best attorneys under the age of 40 for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 by Super Lawyers "Rising Stars" rating service.

Community Service:

Provides pro-bono legal services on behalf of non-profit organizations in Ohio Appellate Courts as amicus curiae.

Volunteers legal services through the Wills for Heroes Foundation.

Serves as a Member of the Kent State University Stark Chapter Alumni Board.

Serves as a Trustee on the Stark County District Library Board.

Term Expiration: December 31, 2015

SOURCE: CANTON CITY COUNCIL WEBSITE

Elected in November, 2011 over incumbent Councilman Mark Butterworth (a Republican), Mack has had a stellar rise in government and politics in terms of honing his leadership skills over his nearly four years as Ward 8 councilman.


Butterworth as Ward 8 councilman (2010 - 201) used to talk about the advantages of charter government but was so utterly intimidated by the 11 ward and at-large Democrat councilpersons' dissonance that his talk proved to be just that:  "talk."  As councilman he proved to be an out-and-out "mealy-mouth."

That Mack won by a mere 43 votes out of 3,443 cast, should make the case to voters that voting can make a critical difference on how their government functions in their interests.

Added significance to the Mack 2011 victory is that Ward 8 is about the only chance that Republicans can win a ward seat in council.

Edmond Mack has shown that on the charter government issue he has added "action" to the Butterworth rhetoric and, accordingly, has achieved productivity in terms of getting the measure on the November ballot.

In July, 2014 Mack sponsored an ordinance for council to place the creation of a charter commission on the November 2014 ballot.

But he was defeated.


Mack was undeterred.

Since the defeat, he has been working tirelessly to get the matter before Canton's voters.

He tells The Report that he will be filing his petitions with the Stark County Board of Elections in June.

Cantonians may or may not reject Mack's work, but he has worked hard and intelligently in shepherding the charter government issue to the ballot.

If there is  a rejection, Mack will pick up and go on as he did when Ward 8 residents rejected his initiative to find a use for $10,000 allocated to the ward from the November 2013 passed Canton Parks & Recreation levy proceeds.

If it passes, the SCPR can think of nobody better equipped to promote that Canton voters accept  the charter plan formulated by the 15 member commission selected this November for presentation for an up or down vote within a year (likely the November 2016 election) by Cantonians than Edmond Mack.

In that he is a councilman, Ohio law prohibits him from seeking a place on the commission.

However, it is likely that when Edmond Mack as a citizen speaks, commission members will be listening attentively.  For BUT FOR his effort, there would be no opportunity for Cantonians to vote in our democratic-republican system to weigh-in on the matter.

It was a sad day for citizen participation in our government when on July 14, 2014 Councilpersons West, Griffin, Smith, Fisher, Dougherty, Morris and Babcock voted to deny Cantonians the opportunity to have their say.

Mack himself repeatedly demonstrates that he listens when his fellow councilpersons speak and super-listens when his constituents speak.

The SCPR did a thoroughgoing blog on a meeting in the ward hosted by Mack on the proposed site (St. Mark's Episcopal Church) where the $10,000 was to be spent.


It was clear to one and all that the residents who showed up at the meeting were overwhelmingly opposed and, consequently, Mack withdrew the proposal.

All to many elected officials "bull ahead" despite clear opposition because their egos cannot take "no" for answer.

But not Edmond Mack.

The impressive thing to the SCPR was that Mack provided each Ward 8 resident who showed up at the meeting to have his/her full say and he endeavored to provide a full and complete answer (whether liked or not) to each citizen question.

On this question, Councilman Mack proved that he can "handle the heat in the kitchen."

It is difficult to rank Mack as being superior to his fellow young councilpersons on council (the others being Fisher [Ward 5], Mario [Ward 7] and "sort of" young [at least in term of his time on council] Frank Morris [Ward 9]).

They all deserve consideration to be among the SCPR's Top 10.

However, the SCPR puts Councilman Mack in the #3 slot in this initial quarterly evaluation because of:
  • his persistent activity (currently) in getting the charter government question on the upcoming November ballot, and
  • his demonstrated sensitivity to his colleagues and constituents
Nobody knows what the future holds.

But the SCPR sees Mack as having the potential to be a future mayor of Canton.

He may not be interested in that:
  • he has a child that he needs to nurture, and
  • he is a high quality lawyer with one of Canton's prime law firms and being mayor would be at great professional career path cost and surely long term would entail considerable financial sacrifice
The SCPR trusts he is considering such.  For he has qualities (i.e. intelligence, character and a vision) that are sorely needed in Canton government.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilman Edmond is named #3 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Tomorrow's blog will be on #4 on the SCPR Stark County Top 10 leadership list.

Hint:  A county official who once demonstrated against John Boccieri in 2008 in Boccieri's successful campaign (opponent:  Republican Kirk Schuring) to replace Stark Countian Ralph Regula upon Regula's retirement.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PART 2: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS



Yesterday, the The Stark County Political Report started a new feature.

On a quarterly basis, The Report plans on ranking Stark County's political subdivision (villages, cities, township and boards of education) leadership in terms of the "Top 10."

See previous blogs in this series for the particulars of how the quarterly "Top 10" blogs will be constituted, revised and what the timetable is for publication.  (reference:  the Tom Bernabei blog)

And, of course, to see the SCPR's presentation on:
Today, Councilwoman Nancy Halter (of Massillon) is presented as the SCPR's #2 ranked leader within Stark County Political Subdivision government.


Born March 28, 1940.
Married Ronald Halter June 17, 1961.
Two sons, Martin and Ted. 
Church affliation: St. Joseph Catholic
Church Education:  St. Marys Elementary School.        
Central Catholic High School, Class of 1958.
Occupations: 
Manager - The Massillon Club - Nov. 1999 - July, 2005 
Events Director: Massillon Area Chamber of commerce -April-1992---Nov. 1999 
Stark Cooling & Heating, Inc. - April-1985 -- April 1992

Demmer Hardware, Inc - Aug. 1980 -- April, 1985 
Halter's Party Line - Halter's Bridal Studio - Sept. - 1969 - 1980 
ORGANIZATIONS & ACTIVITIES 
While at the Chamber - I scheduled & organized all Chamber Breakfasts with's, Let's Do Lunches & business After Hours.  Worked very close with Massillon Alive, Pride In Appearance. 4th of July, & Tourism committees, the Business Education/Advisory Council & the Massillon Main Street. I was the Events Director for the Ohio All Star Football Classic, directing all of the events associated with the 10 day Classic.  In that capacity I worked very closely with the Ohio High School Coaches Association.  
After  I left the Chamber, the Coaches asked me to stay on & in 2001, in Columbus - they presented me with an award that read "Nancy Halter - the first lady of the Ohio All Star Classic"  In sincere appreciation for your tireless efforts in working with Ohio's All-Star High School Football players. Presented June 30, 2001.   I AM MOST PROUD OF THIS AWARD. 
Served as co-chairman & chairman of Massillon Relay for Life. 
Served on Massillon City Council Council-at-Large for 5 years. 
Westark Republican woman President for 2 terms. 
Stark County Republican of the Year 1999.
Massillon Republican Volunteer of the year 1999.
Woman of the year Award from the YWCA Academy of Women for Business/Law/Government 1997.
(SCPR Note:  Above biographical material extracted from larger body of information provided by Councilwoman Halter).

Going back to her election in November, 2011 for a second stint as a Massillon councilperson (the first being in the late 1990s), The Report recognizes that she put together a group of Republican candidates for Massillon City Council that surprised Stark County's political pundits in that she thereby engineered a Republican takeover of council all to the betterment of Massillon's government.

Political competition is the lifeblood of check and balance government.

Canton City Council suffers because there is no political competition from the GOP in the Hall of Fame city.  The general public has to rely on Democrats fighting among themselves.  And some of that does happen, but not nearly enough.

Registration wise, Massillon is predominantly Democratic.

But you would not know that from the make up of council.

Especially so in 2011 as a consequence of Halter's work:

  • Ward 1 - Republican Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly,
  • Ward 2 - Republican Nancy Halter,
  • Ward 3 - Democrat Andrea Scassa,
  • Ward 4 - Democrat Tony Townsend,
  • Ward 5 - Republican Donnie Peters,
  • Ward 6 - Ed Lewis, IV,
  • Council-at-Large:  Republican Milan Chovan,
  • Council-at-Large:  Democrat Larry Slagle, and
  • Council-at-Large:  Paul Manson
In 2011, Massillon Maier Political Machine mayoralty candidate Kathy Catazaro-Perry ran against long time incumbent mayor (28 years) Frank Cicchinelli and defeated him in the 2011 Democratic primary.

One thing that Maier and sidekick Shane Jackson (political director of the Stark County Dems) lost sight of in their zeal to elect Catazaro-Perry was the make up of Massillon City Council.

It appears that it never occurred to them that former council member Halter was catch them napping.  And, indeed, she did.

Halter went out and recruited the likes of Milan Chovan, Ed Lewis, IV, Sarita Cunningham-Hedderly and of course herself to run in 2011 and the results were stunning.

Massillon's Republicans with very little if any help from the "organized" Stark County Republican Party administered one of the most embarrassing political defeats ever suffered by Maier et al.

So "in the making of the 'political' pudding" you have an interesting set up.

A formidable political machine supported mayor who has to deal with a Republican controlled city council.

The SCPR was really excited about the conflict that was sure to develop given the partisan divide, no?

Well, think again.

The first overture from the Republican controlled council to the new mayor was let's not have political warfare, let's work together for the betterment of Massillon.

But Catazaro-Perry, a disciple of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman and political power politician Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. (also Massillon clerk of courts), was having none of it.

From the get-go, the mayor made it clear; "its my way or the highway."  Taking a page out of the political playbook of Maier himself.

Consequently, since January 1, 2012 through today, Mayor Kathy and Massillon City Council have agreed on little on key substantive issues and therefore Massillon is stagnating if not declining notwithstanding the cheerleading mode that the mayor is in.

The SCPR thinks that Catazaro-Perry humiliated and embarrassed this once proud city in insisting even before she took office that the State of Ohio declare that the city be designated as being in fiscal emergency.

Nancy Halter for one had to be totally put off by the new mayor's action.

For as Halter's biography shows, she has put many, many, many hours in over many years (as part of a Massillon community effort) to build Massillon up only to have it ripped asunder "in one fell swoop by an outsider (she came from Perry Township).

As it turns out, the State uses six criteria to determine whether or not a city is in fiscal crisis.  And Massillon barely fit into one of the six on State of Ohio Auditor Steve Yost acceding to the Catazaro-Perry wish.



Isn't that bizarre?

The placement of Massillon in fiscal emergency is one of the key battlegrounds in which the mayor and council have battled.

Because Massillon is in fiscal emergency, the mayor and council need to agree on a "restoration" plan or face 15% across-the-board cuts to all departments of Massillon government.

Catazaro-Perry (grudgingly) and council recently formulated a second restoration plan after the first (also agreed to after much acrimony between the mayor and council) failed in November, 2014 with the overwhelming defeat of an income tax increase among other measures.

While the obvious leader of Massillon's council Republicans is Councilman Ed Lewis, IV (Ward 6; running at-large in this year's election), the SCPR's read is that Councilwoman Nancy Halter - though largely behind the scenes - is the equal of if not the superior to Lewis in terms of influencing the stances of council on various key issues.

The SCPR sees Lewis as the public face of the Republican side of council whereas Paul Manson appears to be the Democratic councilmantic spokesperson.

It appears that there is very little if any political difference between the Republicans and Democrats on council (SCPR note:  non-Maier Democrats regained control of council in the 2013 elections) and, except for the likes of Shaddrick Stinson (Ward 4 Democrat), most votes garner across-the-aisle support on key substantive issues that council has vis-a-vis the mayor.

Though the SCPR sees Halter as a behind-the-scenes de facto council leader, she has taken on one substantive issue very publicly:  that being strengthening of and enforcement of Massillon's housing code.

One bane of many of an American city is that political and government leadership has allowed citizens to ignore keeping a obligation under city housing codes to keep their properties in repair.



Nancy's sterling housing code legislation, if properly implemented, will help lessen the neighborhood blight that Massillon incurs as compared to other cities, one, of course, being Canton which has about 4,000 residential units decayed to the point that demolishing them is the only recourse left.

Here is a YouTube LINK featuring a number of Massillon political and government officials including Councilwoman Halter.

In reaching out "across-the-aisle" to Catazaro-Perry on her initially becoming mayor, Councilwoman Halter (who was once a Democrat herself) demonstrated responsible and exemplary leadership.

Moreover, while the mayor pretty much sat on her duff during two prior levy attempts (the latter of which was part of the first restoration plan), Halter joined with her fellow council members in trying the persuade Massillonians to raise taxes (except for a parks and recreation levy) since the late 1970s.

There is no doubt about it, Halter is a committed Republican.

However, she does not allow her political preference to interfere with working with the mayor and her fellows on council to bring better times to the citizens of Massillon.

Regretfully, Councilwoman has sustained some health issues recently and therefore has decided not to seek another term on council.

However, the SCPR believes that there are councilpersons who will be continuing on beyond December 31st who will carry the Nancy Halter "responsible" and "mature" style of leadership going forward.

The mayor who is a few years younger than Councilwoman Halter would do herself a lot of good in following the Halter model of leadership.

Though she leaves council on December 31st, one has to believe that Nancy will continue working behind the scenes in her unofficial capacity to ensure that Massillon continues on its path to restoration of a semblance of Massillon of yore.

For the foregoing reasons, Councilwoman Nancy Halter is named #2 on the SCPR first quarterly leadership honor roll.

Coming up tomorrow.  SCPR Top 10 list leader #3.

Hint:  From the plethora of young leadership on Canton City Council.

Monday, March 23, 2015

PART 1: "NEW" SCPR FEATURE - QUARTERLY REVIEW OF STARK'S "TOP 10" ELECTED OFFICIALS


Tomorrow: #2 on the SCPR "Top 10" List

With the recent coming and going of March 12th, The Stark County Political Report is now into its 8th year.

On reflecting over the past seven years, it dawned on yours truly that there is now enough familiarity with "elected" Stark County elected officials that The Report is in a position the meaningfully evaluate who is doing an exemplary job, who is mediocre and who the dregs of Stark County political subdivision are.

Today, the SCPR states with the initial Top 10 listing.

Quarterly, The Report will reevaluate the listings to determine whether or not the ten listed in the-then current list merit continuing on the list and, if so, whether or not the list has that official in the appropriate ranking slot.

All of which means that it is possible for future quarterly assessments to drop down/move up the various listed persons and finally whether a given official should be on the new list at all.

A corollary is that an official heretofore not on the list could catapult to a place on the list on the basis of new actions which the SCPR thinks is a major move for the improvement of one level or another of Stark County Political Subdivision (i.e. villages, cities, townships and boards of education).

The next edition will appear beginning on July 1st and then continuing on the first day of each ensuing new quarter thereafter.

The first list of course is the brainchild of yours truly.

However, The Report is open to nominations from the SCPR reading public.  Nominators should send nominations to tramols@att.net with a convincing argument why the nominee deserves a place of honor on list.

No anonymous nomination will be considered.

While the SCPR is pleased to point out those officials who have provided exemplary leadership; The Stark County Political Report would not be The Stark County Political Report if the derelicts of Stark County political and government leadership did not also get their quarterly "day in the sun."

Accordingly and soon, the SCPR will initiate a Bottom Ten of Stark County leadership.

After all "fair is fair," no?

THE FIRST QUARTERLY "TOP 10" LIST

#1:  STARK CO. COMMISSIONER THOMAS BERNABEI


Tom Bernabei is a lifelong resident of Stark County and lives in Jackson Township. He graduated from Canton Lehman High School in 1964, Brown University in 1968 and The Ohio State University School College of Law in 1975. Between college and law school, Tom served four years in the United States Army, including one tour of duty in Vietnam.

Tom's first public service job out of law school was as Assistant Prosecutor in Massillon Municipal Court. He later served as an Assistant Law Director in Canton. In 1998, he was elected Canton Law Director. Tom retired in 2000 and subsequently -- after his wife tired of having him around the house - served one term as Councilman at-Large in Canton. Tom then worked as Director of Public Service in Canton from 2008 to 2009, and as SARTA's interim Executive Director in 2009. In 2010, Tom was elected Stark County Commissioner.

Tom proudly practiced law with his father, Joseph, from 1975 to 1989. He equally is proud to be married to his wife, Bebe.

Source: Stark County commissioners website

To the SCPR, Bernabei is "the best of the best" of Stark County political subdivision leadership.

Not perfect, to be sure.

But The Report thinks he is "head and shoulders" above the rest.

Stark County is really, really, really deficient in leadership that is forward looking in its planning and developing a vision of a future that captures the imagination of Stark Countians.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Village concept is an example of what Stark needs more of.

While Greater Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (GCRCC) CEO and president Denny Saunier himself has demonstrated some of the leadership qualities the SCPR has in mind, The Report sees the Chamber's leadership training and development component as being "a credential gathering" watering hole for those who want to get leadership positions on the basis of polished résumés and not upon real leadership skills and ability.

The GCRCC needs to completely overhaul its leadership development mechanism and thereby convert it from "a spit and polish" operation into "a boot camp-esque" (figuratively speaking) regime that produces fewer but more highly prized leaders-in-the-making (as contrasted to the merely "credentialed") and thereby provide a resource that over time will provide all sectors of the Stark County community with visionary direction and accomplishment.

Returning to Tom Bernabei.

He is long-time Canton law director and short-time service director in the first William J. Healy, II administration, he appears to be to the SCPR pretty much "his own man" who by and large (but not always) "calls them as he sees them" which of course are characteristic that the SCPR likes the most in public officials.

In January, 2009 (having been hired in January, 2008) he got fired as Canton's service director/chief-of-staff because Mayor Healy could not handle his incisive critiques of the fumbling and bumbling going on under the neophyte mayor.

Seven years down the road it seems to The Report that things have improved with Healy's leadership style but a casualty of his slow and grudging improvement has left a number of sacrificial lambs (Bernabei being the foremost example of) strewn along the pathway.

Healy learned early on that there are those in government and politics who will not bullied nor can they be finessed.

Healy may not admit it, but Bernabei's time on his staff was a blessing in terms of his modeling what "real" leadership looks like.

The major mark that Thomas Bernabei has made on Stark County government has been as Stark County commissioner.

With the onset of Stark County government troubles with the charges in early 2009 that Stark County Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci had stolen perhaps as much as nearly $3 million of Stark County taxpayer money (to which he plead guilty stealing about $2.46 million and was sentenced to federal prison for ten years), Stark County government was reeling in public distrust of "who was minding the store."

It took Democrat Bernabei and former Stark County recorder, auditor and Canton mayor Janet Creighton (a Republican) to put together a plan of action to restore public confidence in the integrity of Stark County government to the point that the commissioners were able to convince Stark voters to approve an increase in the county sales tax of 1/2 cent in November, 2012.

It was truly remarkable to see a turnaround in the public attitude in the brief time span of some eleven of Bernabei and Creighton taking office.

While the SCPR thinks Creighton has been an above-average commissioner; she is not - in The Report's judgment - at Bernabei's level.  She and the third commissioner (Richard Regula) make a good supporting cast, but Bernabei appears to be the decider-in-chief.


She has not let their different political perspectives be much of a factor in doing what's best for Stark County.  But from time-to-time she will team up with fellow Republican Regula to advance what seems to the SCPR as being a partisan interest.

It is clear to the SCPR that it has been Commissioner Bernabei who has been the driving force behind structuring and implementing core democratic-republican values of accountability, accessibility, openness, communicativeness and transparency into Stark County government.

Moreover, he been the "due diligence" commissioner who vets each and every commissioner action in coming to position on the many various issues that the commissioners had had to deal with over the past four plus years.

The Report has disagreed with a number of his positions (e.g. to hire the commissioners' very own legal counsel and the awarding of the Computer Aided Dispatch contract process among a number), but there is no doubt that he was convinced of his take on his interpretation of his due diligence.

The SCPR shutters to think what the county would have been in for had Jackson Township trustee Jamie Walters been elected in 2010 (as the The Report thinks he would have been had it not been for an "independent" candidate being in the race).

But for Thomas Bernabei being a Stark County commissioner, the SCPR thinks Stark County would be stuck in a quagmire of bickering and infighting and fiscal chlaos and therefore in a mode of governance that nurtures public cyncism.

Another quality that Bernabei brings to the commissioners' office is "a wry sense of humor."  He is apt "at the drop of a hat" to make some pretty bizarre associations that provoke hearers to laughter.

Here is a SCPR videotaped example:



All the foregoing is why the SCPR thinks Commissioner Thomas M. Bernabei is "the best of the best" in Stark County Political Subdivision governance.

Tomorrow, #2 on the SCPR "Top 10" list.

Hint.  From Massillon.  And not Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

IS CANTON OVER THE LONGER TERM TO BE RENAMED THE "HALL OF FAME CITY?



UPDATED FINAL:  12:35 PM

VIDEOS

MAYOR HEALY'S PERSPECTIVE
Beginnings of the HOF Village Project
==========================
MAYOR HEALY PRESENTS 
$5 MILLION CHECK
TO
HOF CEO C. DAVID BAKER
==========================
BAKER'S PERSPECTIVE 
ON UNFOLDING OF
HALL OF FAME VILLAGE CONCEPT
==========================
MAYOR HEALY
"Can you Imagine" 
==========================
 POST-EVENT INTERVIEW
HOF CEO C. DAVID BAKER
==========================
HALL OF FAME AFL-CIO PRESIDENT
DANIEL SCUIRY 
==========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Councilman Thomas West
==========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Councilman Richard Hart
=========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Councilman Edmond Mack
==========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Councilman Frank Morris
=========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Councilman John Mariol
=========================
REACTION TO STATE OF CITY
Deputy Mayor Fonda Williams
=========================
POST-EVENT INTERVIEW
MAYOR WILLIAM J. HEALY, II

Back on March 1, 2012, Canton mayor William J. Healy, II delivered his 5th Annual State of the City address.


In that address Healy dubbed Canton as being "The Utica Capital."

Here is how the SCPR in a March 2, 2012 blog described the unveiling:


At the time, Healy and a number of Canton councilpersons and representatives of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and others were exuding euphoria at the prospect that Canton was on the cusp of a huge financial/economic turnaround from the doldrums to bliss without seeming end.

Canton to this day maintains the trademark of being The Utica Capital.

However, the projected financial/economic boom has not materialized.

There is no doubt that the horizontal fracking of shale for oil and gas products has had financial and economic benefits for Canton and Stark County, but not on the scale that the March 1, 2012 euphoria projected.

Ironically, the company which had located in Canton (Chesapeake Energy), a mere four months later purchased 291 acres of land in nearby Louisville, Ohio and moved its local office out of Canton to "The Constitution City" in July, 2014.

At last night's 8th Annual State of the City address, euphoria was once again the order of the evening as Healy put on a fireworks display at the end featuring C. David Baker who became executive director of Pro Football Hall of Fame on January 2, 2014.

Mayor Healy's address went on for about 45 minutes before a crowd of a few hundred at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Complex that straddles Interstate 77 near the Fulton Road NW exit.

Much of it was a rehash of the history of William J. Healy's administration of the government of Canton.

The "really big thing" (a la Ed Sullivan of the 1950's TV variety show) which deserves the most media attention is the appearance of Baker with a "promo-esque" video clip touting the potential of what has been dubbed The Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-V-P).

Yours truly recalls Canton Councilman Greg Hawk (Finance Committee chair, who was not present last night) at a Canton City Council work session boldly predicting that hundreds of millions of dollars in Hall of Fame Village development expenditures would enormously benefit Canton as a reason why Canton City Council should allocate $5 million in city financial resources to the initial phase of the multi-dimensional the HOF-V-P).

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the unveiling of the project and who is contributing what (so far) to the project, here is a SCPR LINK to a prior blog (December 14, 2014) which provides more details.

Last night in a grandiose style that shows a quintessential "think big" William J. Healy, II, the mayor (surrounded by Councilpersons Tom West [Ward 2], Chris Smith [Ward 4], Kevin Fisher [Ward 5], David Dougherty [Ward 6], John Mariol [Ward 7], Edmond Mack [Ward 8] and Frank Morris [Ward 9], Richard Hart [At-Large] and Jimmy Babock [At-Large] presented Baker with a gigantic (for show) 5 million dollar check.


What Healy did not do last night was to change the name of Canton to Hall of Fame City.

It could be because he missed his cue as shown in the graphic that was part of the video mentioned above.


Now that the SCPR has brought this representative to the attention of the mayor, will his wheels be turning to come up with a way to convince Canton City Council and Canton's citizens to buy into a name change?

The Utical Capital thing seems to suggest that the thought of changing Canton, Ohio to Hall of Fame City is roaming around in the mayor's mind.

But how could he sell a renaming?

Answer:  He probably can't but the question is this:  Is the SCPR onto something here?  Renaming a centuries old city certainly would be a big PR coup, no?

When the SCPR covers an event like last night's, The Report generally posts the entire video.

But in this instance the SCPR narrows the video coverage to the Hall of Fame segment of the address.

In a nutshell, the rest of the address:
  • got into the particulars of Canton's financially distressed history pretty much from the time Healy became mayor and how his leadership is slowly but surely pulling the city out of its financial stress, and
  • focused on his four pillars (Link to prior SCPR blog) upon which to revitalize Canton on a stable and sustainable pathway to recovering some semblance of Canton's former glory,  to wit: (i.e. the four pillars)
    • SCPR Note: many of the slides used last night by Mayor Healy were merely updates of those used in prior State of City addresses and which are contained in the above-linked blog of April, 2014.

In today's blog, yours truly picks up with Healy turning to the HOF-V-P at the very end of his presentation.

VIDEO 1

Mayor Healy

How the HOF Village Project Got Started



VIDEO 2

Mayor Healy Presents $5 Million Check to HOF CEO C. David Baker



VIDEO 3

HOF CEO C. David Baker's Perception of the Development of HOF Village Concept



VIDEO 4

Mayor Healy:  Can You Imagine?

As far as the SCPR is concerned this part of the mayor's presentation was the most inspiring.

And the mayor, being the accomplished politician he is, hammed it up big-time (i.e. the crescendoing music).

Yours truly is not much into politicians and their typical political hype.

But one thing that the SCPR thinks is lacking in Stark County government and political leadership is the lack of the ability to motivate the citizenry to action.

Of course, this can be overdone to point that one gets suspicious of whether a leader's use of emotion is sheer hype or a desire to get "boots on the ground" to achieve "the seemingly impossible."

The Report for now will take Healy's finale as being a case of the latter rather than the former.

Authentic inspiring, motivating leadership is sorely lacking among Stark's leadership.

Hopefully, Healy over time will prove to be "the real deal."

And if he delivers, then the SCPR's admonition to the rest of Stark County's leadership is to go and do likewise!

Here is the Healy "Can You Imagine" video.



VIDEO 5

HOF CEO David Baker

Impressions of Canton



VIDEO 6

AFL-CIO President Dan Scuiry

Regarding "Organized Labor's" State in HOF Village



VIDEO 7

Ward 2 Councilman Thomas West

Likes HOF Village Project

Likes What He Heard on Ward 2 Projects



VIDEO 8

Councilman-at-Large Richard Hart

Canton Has Many Unresolved Problems

Likes HOF Project



VIDEO 9

Ward 8 Councilman Edmond Mack

Likes Mayor/Council Partnership Talk



VIDEO 10

WARD 9 COUNCILMAN FRANK MORRIS

A Wait and See Attitude



VIDEO 11

Ward 7 Councilman John Mariol

Likes Talk of Market Square and HOF Village



VIDEO 12

DEPUTY MAYOR & CHIEF OF STAFF FONDA WILLIAMS

Likes Working With "Team Healy"



VIDEO 13

Mayor William J. Healy, II

On Feedback from Audience Members after Speech



Ward 5 Councilman Kevin Fisher got away last night before the SCPR could get around to interview him.

But he did provide The Report with the following comments regarding the mayor's presentation.
I think the Mayor did an excellent job of laying out where the city was a few years ago and where it is today, as well as where he wants to take it.  
He also did a particularly good job of showing the size and scope of the Kasich Tax on local governments. I don't feel many in the public know the correlation between the state budget and local services.
I was also very happy that we got to hear from David Baker on the Hall of Fame Village. 
The more people get to see the impact that the Village will have on Canton, the more excited and optimistic they will become about Canton's future. 
As Charita Goshay [a Repository columnist] pointed out her latest column, there is a tendency to be pessimistic among some in Canton...and after the decades of neglect communities like ours have suffered at the hands of the state and federal government,  I can't blame them.  
I wish everyone had the opportunity to hear David Baker speak, because he really makes you want to strap on the chinstrap and get on the field (please note my football themed metaphor, for extra credit).
While I was happy to hear the Mayor talk about increases in safety forces, I would have liked to hear about the needs we have in other departments as well.
The Streets Department has  been understaffed to handle the fallout from two horrible winters...
Code Enforcement does not have nearly enough manpower to handle the workload our residents expect from us....and the same holds true throughout nearly every department. 
While I applaud the commitment both Council and the Mayor have had in recent years to getting safety forces back to near full strength,  we must recognize that important work needs done in many other areas, and that will require collaboration from both Council and the Administration to accomplish. 
All and all, I think the evening went very well. I compliment the Mayor and his staff for putting together a great presentation... 
Kevin