Monday, January 3, 2011


The Stark County Political Report wanted to cheer the publication of "Stark 20/20" by The Rep "powers that be" in yesterday's edition of the paper, but on careful examination of "the New Year resolution," a discerning person has to ask: "where's the beef?"

Apparently, the bigs at 500 Market Avenue, South are so used to uncritical acclaim in this "one- newspaper-town" that they think they can merely throw out a "Stark 20/20" and get "oohs and aahs" galore.

That may be the case with some, but not from the SCPR.

It takes very little scrutiny to determine that "Stark 20/20" is a tree exercise as in the expression "not being able to see the forest for the trees."  And, Stark Countians should not be surprised to see such a roll-out.  After all, Executive Editor Jeff Gauger seems to spend an lot of time managing the "comments section" (i.e. trees) of The Rep. while there are obviously "bigger fish to fry" in terms of pushing the county forward to an economically viable future.

Gauger and friends seem to be infected with the same virus that The Report believes inhabits the likes of former Stark County Commissioner Thomas Harmon as evidenced by his leadership role in promoting the placement of  a horse show arena at the Stark County Fairgrounds.  While the arena is okay as a limited start toward making fairgrounds "all that complex can be;" a horse show arena is hardly what needs to be done to make the fairgrounds a first rate economic development project right in the heart of Canton and Stark County.  As far as the SCPR knows, Harmon et al have no grand plan for rehabbing the fairgrounds.

So while the fairgrounds steadily deteriorate and the Fair Board is trying to entice the Stark County commissioners to throw good money after bad just to keep the grounds from falling apart, the commissioners (not including Bernabei and Creighton inasmuch as they are newly serving) have not been able to do an "acre of diamonds" type analysis to understand what a terrific start to resurrecting Stark County's economy is to be had if only Stark had the leadership with a vision to see what the folks in Clark County saw and have achieved with Clark's fairgrounds.  If anything, Stark could make much more of a modernized and fully developed economic oasis than Clark because Stark already has a built in attraction bringing out-of-towners to Stark; namely,  the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In order to do what the Clark Countians have done, Stark would have to have "see the forest" visionaries who have the creativeness to fashion ways and means to achieve a grand vision.  If Stark's leadership (e.g. the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's "Leadership Stark County Signature Group")  could demonstrate bold creativeness, then perhaps Stark could build on the success to develop an ongoing, sustainable collection of creative leaders who could take Stark to new economic development heights.  To The Report, "Leadership Stark County" is more a credentialing phenomenon than being about developing a creative leadership class with an assigned task of working constantly at renewing Stark County's cultural and economic infrastructure.

Yours truly knows a number of Signature Group graduates who seem not to have a creative bone in their entire bodies.

A constructive thing The Rep poobahs could be doing is to push their friends at the Chamber to beef up their leadership programs to produce "in the trenches" leaders rather than the resume building that The Report believes is the essence of the current Chamber leadership programs.

While there is nothing wrong with the examples in and of themselves that Repository editor (Beck) presents and The Rep deserves high marks for the prolific participatory aspect of the proffer,  the guidance strongly tilts towards identifying "trees" in need of repair, however, once repaired there does not seem to be a grand plan (a forest) into which the trees are to fit.  

The "Stark 20/20" concept, if left unmodified, will end up, in ten years, perhaps being a number of community resolved issues that in a sort of way might make Stark a better place to live.

However, unless the selected topics and issues, once repaired, coalesce into being the infrastructure of achieving a concrete economic development reality, Stark County will be left in ten years with the realization that we have been chasing our tail. 

In the meantime, Stark County will have slipped further behind!

Stark will not have a 21st century Hoover Company, Republic Steel and other like enterprises that once made the county one the premier places to live in the state of Ohio, and, indeed, in the entire nation, if not the world.

At the end of discussion, there must be "a pot at the end of the rainbow."

For "where there is no vision, the people perish!"

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