Monday, September 7, 2009


UPDATE 090709@04:50 PM

The SCPR spoke with a North Canton Councilman today at the Stark County Fair who agrees with Osborne that Held did not consult with Council on the "security deposit forgiveness.

On the review by the North Canton Law Department. It is clear to the SCPR that the only thing that did not happen was for the Law Department to initial the document to indicate that it had reviewed it. The SCPR believes that Osborne is nitpicking on this point.

Here Osborne's e-mail the SCPR

Hello Martin,

I just read your BLOG and I would like to clarify a couple of things.

City Council knew nothing of David Held’s decision in 2003 to not collect the security deposit. The question is who did know of Held’s decision in this matter. I would certainly think that the former Finance Director, Julie Herr knew as she would have been the one to collect the security deposit. Furthermore, she was quite familiar with the Arrowhead Lease and kept track of the $50,000 in capital improvements that Larizza was required to make annually on the property as part of the lease. I am still not satisfied that this requirement was satisfied. In the first year of the lease $43,000 in business expenses were credited toward the required $50,000. Another story for another day.

I would like to know if former Mayor Tom Rice was aware of the decision by Held to not enforce the terms of the lease. As I mentioned, the lease called for collection of a security deposit, in two installments totaling $50,000. Did Rice participate in this decision. Who else had knowledge?

Also, I do not think it is clear under your bullet points that the North Canto Law Director did not review the lease as required by state law.

It is not for public release at the moment, but I suspect that I will file a complaint with the Canton City Prosecutor and possibly the Ohio Ethics Commission. Laws were broken and officials exceeded their authority resulting in a great financial loss to taxpayers.

I would think with all of this unfolding that city officials would want to call for an investigation and learn why this happened. But that traditionally has not been how North Canton has righted its wrongs. “Sweep it under the rug” is more the norm.



Democracy is messy.

North Canton's council meeting of August 24th proves the point.

Former North Canton councilman Chuck Osborne read a prepared statement (some 13 minutes in length) at the meeting highly critical on Mayor David Held's role as city administrator and mayor in the purchase and decisions who would manage Arrowhead Country Club which North Canton purchased for $4.2 million in 2003.

Osborne, who was on council at the time, vehemently opposed the purchase.

Held says that the then ownership was bailing out and North Canton had a stark choice: Let the ownership go belly up or to move in swiftly to conserve a major community asset.

Major community asset?

Yes, Held aays in terms of the economics of the situation and to preserve the "greenspace" for future generations of North Cantonians and to not let the property fall into the hands of residential housing developers which burden the city with street maintenance expenses and the schools system with additional students.

North Canton opted to make the purchase.

But the city was totally unprepared to take on this "unique" asset without outside-the-city help. First, legal help costing the city $4,200 ("the best money he ever spent" - says Held). Secondly, North Canton needed a "new" manager to step forth.

With Osborne, that's where things really went awry.

For Held, the city made the best possible choice - at the time - by selecting Larizza Management Group because Larizza had actual experience owning/managing golf clubs (Chippewa in Doylestown and Rosemont in Akron). Other possible managers were inexperienced.

Osborne has a list of "should haves" that he lays at the feet of Held.
  • Required a performance bond as recommended by North Canton's law director.
  • Required a "personal guaranty" by Kevin Larizza.
  • Requiring North Canton Law Department approval prior to signing and should have state law on the approval process codified in North Canton law (which Councilman Jeff Davies agrees with).
  • Should not have hired outside legal help at the cost of $4,200. North Canton should have used the North Canton Law Department, exclusively.
  • Collected (by legal action) the contract provided for security deposit when not made.
Held: The performance bond was too expensive (Osborne still disagrees), and that the city administration in consultation with the then council decided not to force the collection of the security deposit. And, Larizza (being the game in town at the time) simply refused to do the bond and simply refused to make a personal guaranty. Moreover, the North Canton Law Department did review the contract and the "missing stamp of approval" was simply an oversight.

Again, Held says that the $4,200 the city paid to a Texas law firm to assist in find "Larizza" through iths "Request for Proposals" recommendation was the "best money the city ever spent." Hmm?

Held repetitively makes the point that the golf course is a valuable North Canton asset.

Which makes the SCPR ask: why does he put such emphasis on this point?

Osborne does not say that North Canton should rid itself of the golf course/restaurant and agrees that current managers are doing an effective job of making the enterprise work.

Back to the point/counterpoint:

Osborne: Initiate action to collect some $104,000+ (confirmation of amount ABJ story 10/08/08).

Held: Is adamant about his "I have no regrets" in purchasing Arrowhead position and says North Canton is doing its best but is not in the best legal position because where would North Canton levy any judgment to satisfy the judgment (which, of course, is Osborne's "personal guaranty" - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" remedy).

Enter North Canton Council President Daryl Revoldt, the referee?

Revoldt's main points at the August 24 meeting were: that mistakes were made in the 2003 purchase but lessons have been learned by "this council" (maybe not future councils) on contract management and that North Canton needs to learn to be a a team and that the legislative and executive sides of government in North Canton have historically not worked very well together.

Above a beyond all was Revoldt's call for legislature/executive teamwork.

The SCPR take.

So who wins the argument?

All the citizens of North Canton, that's who.

Osborne makes some telling points and Held has some effective rebuttals.

And Revoldt in what he says is his last up coming term (presuming he wins in November), tries his best to be a broker between the two.

However, what is the future for North Canton leadership?

It is hard to say.

If Revoldt quits after 2011, who will step forward?

For now, the SCPR sees Revoldt as the only factor in holding North Canton together with some sort of vision of the future of North Canton.

Over the next two years, Held (who will be mayor for at least 4 more years), needs to progress in his leadership style and become a much stronger mayor. He needs to decide how important being mayor of North Canton is to him. Applying for this job and that job over the last several years, put his commitment to North Canton city government in question.

About a year ago, a sitting North Canton councilman told the SCPR that Held is a weak mayor and that Revoldt was the "de facto" mayor. Is "weakness" a perception or is it a reality. If perception only, then Held needs to make the reality and perception merge.

If North Canton is going to make the best of its future, David Held must seize a strong leadership role if North Canton is to dig itself out of the economic hole that the loss of the Hoover Company left.

Can Held pull it off?

Citizen Osborne and some members of city council are skeptical as is the SCPR.

For the well-being of "the dogwood city," let's hope the skeptics are wrong!

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