Thursday, January 28, 2010

FORMER CANTON MUNICIPAL COURT CLERK AND FORMER STARK COUNTY COMMISSIONER TOM HARMON IS BACK?



 REVISED:  01/28/2010 AT 10:30 AM

Harmon retired from being Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts several years ago, only to be appointed county commissioner by Stark Democrats (succeeding newly appointed Ohio Lottery official Gayle Jackson).  He got retained by voters in November, 2008, only to resign on December 1, 2009.

Well, former clerk of courts/commissioner Harmon is back once again according to The Report's source.

This time it is not in an official capacity, but rather to head up local attorney  Elizabeth Burick's proposed Canton-Stark County Agricultural & Livestock Expo Arena.

Burick is a well connected Stark County Democrat who is a horse lover who hails from Lake Township.

Yesterday, Steve Paquette, president of the Stark Development Board was at the regular weekly meeting of the commissioners to give the recommendations of the Board for recipients of Recover Zone Economic Development bonds which are part of the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed recently by Congress to stimulate the American economy.

The connection?  Harmon, Burick, Stark commissioners and the Stark Development Board.

One of Paquette's recommendations was that the Burick initiative get $500,000 in bond backing to aid in the Burick's nonprofit corporation effort to raise $7.5 million to build a horse show expo arena on the Stark County fairgrounds.

Harmon, of course, is a former commissioner (as outlined above) who was pushing the Burick project while he was yet commissioner.  In fact, he represented to yours truly that the expo arena was his idea of Stark County economic development.

But the SCPR is not buying the spin.

No, it appears to The Report that it is a quest for Burick to realize her individual dream with government assistance.  The proposal falls far short of what it ought to be (a la Clarke County) to be a major economic factor for Canton and all of Stark County.

If the "Burick Plan" was scaled up to redo the entire Stark County fairgrounds complex on a grand scale - over time, it could be a "real" boost to Canton's and Stark County's economy and bring many jobs to the area.

Stark County commissioners should establish a working relationship with Clarke County's commissioners and other Clarke County involved folks to reconfigure the Clarke County concept to take advantage of the Stark County agricultural community's unique qualities.

More about Harmon.

According The Report's source, Harmon is to head up the Burick project.  The Report further understands that Harmon's role has the backing of Stark Commissioner Steve Meeks.

Meeks has been meeting with Harmon, among others, on the Burick version of an expo project.

For several years the SCPR has been prodding the Stark commissioners (pre-Meeks) to get something going on economic development.  The Report was encouraged by Harmon's rhetoric on taking office in mid-2007.

While commissioner, Harmon never did deliver on his promise to produce economic development in Stark County.  But he did vote to "impose" a county sales/use tax on Stark Countians.

What about Paquette and the Stark Development Board?

While a number of plans were submitted to the Stark Development Board, only Hercules convention center project and the Burick plan survived the vetting.

The SCPR is skeptical of the "vetting" that Paquette claimed the Stark Development Board did.  The Report came away from the presentation made yesterday with the feeling that there was more to the selection of Hercules and the expo arena than presented by Paquette.

The Report will be digging more into this matter.

4 comments:

mary said...

Gee, so all my well wishes for Mr. Harmon's 'health problems' weren't necessary?

When I was at the last commissioner's meeting, I thought he looked bad, and my heart went out to him.

Did he resign so there wouldn't be a hint of a conflict of interest when he took up this new venture?

Keep digging SCPR, as I'm sure you will. This is starting to smell like a bunch of horse manure.

Marc said...

There is a job opening for dog catcher...oh that's right his step-son is already in!

Brett said...

Tom Harmon.....why isn't he part of the good ole' political club...aka back scratchers and envelop pushers.

This is no surprise; I used to support Harmon until I finally got by his B.S. as I do think people are waking up a bit.
I think all the smiles and handshakes were his way to redeem them later for votes.

Politicians like that, that smile, shake your hand and pat you on the back is no different than them putting their hand in your pockets
all the while they are stabbing you repeatedly in the back.

mary said...

OUCH! Brett. Next time I go to a political rally for anyone, I'm going to make sure I wear something without pockets. lol