Thursday, September 10, 2009


UPDATE:  09/15/2009

Settlement amount $35,000 rather than the origianlly reported $30,000.

 CORRECTION: 09/10/09
Blog has been updated to reflect a correction in the time period that Held was not part of the North Canton city administration.  However, the point made by the SCPR remains unchanged

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR/The Report) has learned that North Canton City Council will consider giving its sanction to a proposed negotiated settlement with Larizza Management Group where by Larizza will pay North Canton $30,000 of $104,000 owing to the city in satisfaction of North Canton's legal claims.

Because a citizen started digging and asking questions, it appears to The Report that North Canton city officials are scrambling by considering this deal to help David Held and derivatively North Canton city government save face.

Why would the SCPR say this?

Well, maybe because city officials are going to great pains to give as many reasons they can think of  (after the fact) to justify the purchase Arrowhead Country Club for $4.2 million as it was on the brink of going belly up back in 2003.  Moreover, the justification process carries over to the negotiation of and enforcement of the terms of a lease agreement with a new club operator.

It is kind of like the shifting sand of the ever blowing grains of sand (i.e. one reason after another on ad nauseum) that the Bush administration floated before the American public in desperate hope that the public would buy one of them as a justification for going into Iraq. 

Remember Maxwell Smart of "Get Smart?"  He would make an outlandish statement only to be met with obvious skepticism.  Then he went to "Plan B."  Smart's question would segue into:  "Would you believe?"

It is this sort of thing that is highly insulting to folks.  As soon as yours truly started hearing all of these "developing" reasons why Arrowhead was "a must do in a  hurry" purchase and the lease to Larizza was "a must do in a hurry letting," the "red flags" were up all over the place. 

Just look at this list.

At the top of the list appears to be that it gives North Canton "green space."  Last week the SCPR spoke with Mayor Held and he kept coming back to the emotionally favored environmental positive of "green space."  Who can be against having "green space?"

Second, it seems as if a driving reason, in hindsight, that the capital real estate asset would deteriorate "in a hurry" if someone did not jump in and prevent any break whatsoever between the former ownership and new ownership.

Third, that although developers were interested in buying the property, this would not be a good idea because creating a new residential area would burden North Canton city government and the North Canton schools with overwhelming financial burdens with new streets, sewers, water lines and the like (the city) and, of course, students for the schools.

Fourth, Arrowhead needed to be  purchased for its "water" resources.

And there undoubtedly are other justifications flying around North Canton City Council and the Held adminstration.

Telling counterpoints exist to all the reasons advanced.

Most important is the SCPR's belief  that North Canton has been taking a financial bath on this property for nearly six years now.
The compelling reason for the financial negative is that North Canton was woefully unprepared to become a golf course owner.  City officials readily admit this.

You think you are not up to something, but you take it on anyway?  Does that make any sense?

Even though Mayor Held says it was the best money he ever spent as a North Canton administrator, the SCPR's take on the city hiring a Texas based law firm to advise for $4,200, is that even with the assistance, the city did an horrible job in negotiating the terms of the contract with Larizza Management.

A city councilperson recently told The Report that Held is no negotiator.  If he is the person who primarily negotiated the Arrowhead/Larizza agreement (and not former mayor Tom Rice), then such is substantial evidence supporting the councilperson's assessment.

One thing yours truly can't quite figure out is why one would think it is an exoneration of David Held (the city administrator under former mayor Tom Rice) vis-a-vis the Arrowhead/Larizza lease agreement to point out that he got fired on January, 2004 and was out of city government until November 8, 2005.  Another notion floated by yours truly.

Excuse me.  Held was back as the leader of the administration in late 2005/early 2006 almost 4 years ago.  What has he been up to all this time?

Held was into the Larizza deal up to his eyeballs (no performance bond, no personal guaranty, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera) and his hiatus in North government service is virutally irrelevant to the current situation.   So Held was gone for five months? What is the point?

One has to wonder whether or not the security deposit was ever a "real" part of the lease agreement.  Did Held and North Canton city officials have a genuine expectation that the money would be paid in to cover unpaid obligations of the lessee, if any materialized?

And, indeed, they have materialized and now the taxpayers of North Canton are on the hook for 71 cents on each and every dollar!

People are taking pay cuts and are out of  jobs at the rate of 12 percent plus in Stark County (which, obviously, includes North Canton. and North Canton can forgive 71% plus of a significant amount of what should be taxpayer revenue?

Situations like these are what cause increasing numbers of citizens to take a cynical view of government.

What is even worse about this whole situation?

David Held - the nice guy everyone agrees he is, is set to be mayor of North Canton another four years because he is running unopposed.

Running unopposed?


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