(SEE HIS E-MAIL TO SCPR) (6:10 AM 10/06/2016)
jsnyder@... Oct 5 at 9:11 PM
It's true I have a personal relationship with Lemmon and DeHoff, As i've told you before, I had nothing to do with the North Ridge Tax Abatement. Eric Bowles offered the abatement; with whom he spoke within the Administration I have no knowledge.
I look forward to being placed under oath or to be deposed relative to this issue.
Whomever is your source, should verify their facts before pointing fingers.
If they check with the actual parties involved they will verify I had no involvement in this matter.
NORTH CANTON CITY SCHOOLS
SUPERINTENDENT JEFF WENDORF
NORTH CANTON'S CRA
North Canton citizens Melanie Roll and Miriam Baughman are leading the fight to "roll back" tax abatements granted by North Canton former economic development director/housing officer Eric Bowles on behalf of North Canton government to North Ridge Place, LTD (owned by well known Stark County/North Canton real estate developers Robert DeHoff and William Lemmon as well as the property owners of 331 Harmon St, NW, North Canton.
The issue that Roll and Baughman along with a number of other North Canton citizens have zeroed in on is what is known as the North Community Reinvestment Areas legislation in terms of:
- its past application,
- whether or not it should be expanded, or
- done away with altogether
No matter where one stands on CRAs, North Cantonians deserve a thoroughgoing vetting of the matter.
On past and prospective application, the SCPR sees nothing disharmony and dispute which likely will only be resolved in a court of law.
On expansion or jettisoning of the CRA (probably at next week's council meeting) it will boil down to counting councilperson noses.
Peters (Ward 2, council president)
Foltz (Ward 1)
Kiesling (at large)
Werren (Ward 3)
Could go either way:
Cerreta (at large)
Griffith (at large, on record as being against CRAs that affect school revenues)
On expansion, Ward 4 councilman Dominic Fonte being in the real estate business has been recusing himself and the SCPR expects him to continue doing so.
On jettisoning, Fonte, if he votes at all, will likely vote to do away with North Canton's CRA.
If the CRA is scrapped, contrary to local media reports to the contrary, the SCPR thinks CRA in North Canton is a non-starter for the foreseeable future.
The Stark County Political Report applauds Roll and Baughman for taking on the role of citizen activists in their (along with a core of other North Canton community activists) quest to compel North Canton City Council to face up to the ramifications (mostly to the schools of North Canton) of council having created a municipal legislative scheme authorized (if properly done) by Ohio statutory law.
The claim is that North Canton government has gone about forming and implementing the relevant "Community Reinvestment Area" legislation all wrong therefore "as a matter of" needs to clawback abatements already given and to rescind future abatements.
The SCPR has been led to believe that city officials were in discussion with Lemmon and DeHoff about getting a voluntary agreement from them to give back the first year's abatement and forego those in the offing over the next 11 years.
But DeHoff and Lemmon are having none of that. Clearly, a case of wishful thinking on the part of city officials (in the main, Mayor David Held), no?
Let's parse the DeHoff/Lemmon letter.
Translation: Councilwomen Marcia Kiesling and Stephanie Werren (wife of Republican Canton Municipal Court judge Curtis Werren, who, himself received to Republican John Kasich Stark County judgeship appointments).
While six of seven of North Canton's councilpersons are Republicans (Ward 1 councilman Doug Foltz being the only Democrat), most of them are "reasonably" loyal to Republican political connectedness whereas The Report believes that Councilwomen Kiesling and Werren are "sold out" Republicans who let political party identity and connectedness have an undue place in whom they support for North Canton staff positions (e.g. the law director position) and, perhaps, on issues like the CRA; especially, when well-known Republicans such as DeHoff and Lemmon (at least it appears that they are registered as such on the Ohio secretary of state registered voter list) have a stake in a given issue.
Kiesling (a councilperson at large) admitted at a North Canton Wards 2 and 3 meeting several months ago that she had in received "in the past" political contributions from DeHoff and/or Lemmon.
The SCPR thinks Kiesling and Werren rank among the most partisan of all of Stark County political subdivision councilpersons.
Because of their perceived high degree of partisanship, it is difficult to think that political I.D. doesn't factor into their government decision making.
Of course, one always has to take the position that Kiesling and Werren denials that political party I.D. nor political connections with DeHoff/Lemmon have anything whatsoever to do with their respective positions on the DeHoff/Lemmon abatement and/or their support of a CRA expansion could be true.
But such always comes down to the reality among extant among everyday citizens: "Who is going to believe it?"
Many issues at the local level of politics have no political factor to them whatsoever and partisanship/non-partisanship is irrelevant.
However, every once in a while an issue that has a historical Republican/Democrat point of view to it will surface.
For instance, Democrats generally favor enforcing government regulations to deal with community problems.
Republicans generally are in love with turning to the private sector to solve this or that community problem.
A part of the DeHoff/Lemmon argument that does hold water, to wit:
But to compare North Canton's housing stock to Cleveland, Akron, Canton, (why is Massillon missing?) and Alliance is just "way out there!"
Oh yes, there are properties that need attention and the SCPR agrees with DeHoff/Lemmon that local government official and the failure to do "due diligence" code enforcement is the reason why many cities in Ohio, Stark County and, indeed, the nation inner city housing stock is being torn down in huge numbers (Canton is presently facing a 3,500 unit, more or less, problem).
Canton, Massillon and Alliance are heavily involved with the Stark County Land Reutilization Corporation (a non-profit) in getting funding (to the tune of millions and millions of dollars) to tear down its abandoned and condemned housing.
North Canton's neighborhood housing stock deficiency has more to do with the "due diligence" factor cited above and the lack of foresight and vision on the part of past generations of North Canton government leaders in allowing homes to be constructed on very small lots, in some cases without basements and/or garages.
Undoubtedly, decades and decades ago, developers were clamoring city hall in the way of pressuring government officials: "let's get them up and get them up now, with no planning" for their future viability in terms of durability and saleability.
Talk about setting up prospects for having a hard time marketing housing stock?
Overall North Canton's deficient housing stock is nowhere near the likes of Stark County's other urban centers.
To lump North Canton into afore-described is forcing an argument of the significance of the DeHoff/Lemmon contribution to the overall improvement in North Canton housing stock, is more than a little bit disingenuous.
Again, some agreement on the part of the SCPR with DeHoff/Lemmon.
The Report believes from talking with former and present North Canton officials that Bowles was indeed the initiating factor on the North Ridge project.
Moreover, itis hard to believe that nobody in North Canton government knew about the Bowles action vis-a-vis North Ridge Place, LTD, especially Held and Law Director Tim Fox.
Some North Cantonians tell the SCPR that they think that former Ward 4 councilman and president of council Jon Snyder knew but because of a close friendship with DeHoff and Lemmon failed to alert other city officials and/or school officials object himself to the loss of perhaps as much as $800,000 plus in school revenues.
(Note: See post-orginal-posting of blog e-mail at the beginning of this from Snyder denying any knowledge of the North Ridge LTD abatement)
Again to say, the SCPR believes that ultimately this matter may well come before a court of law.
And that could be a good thing.
For in that context there is a strong likelihood that the likes of Bowles, Held, Sndyer, Fox, DeHoff and Lemmon will be required to testify "under oath."
Maybe such will be the only context in which North Cantonians will get to the truth of the matter, no?
Here is a video of Superintendent Wendorf as he raised objections to the abatement having been given North Ridge and the continuation thereof.
An interesting side to the Wendorf video is the zeal with which Councilwomen Kiesling and Werren support the abatement and, indeed, an expansion of a North Canton CRA.
The downside of the looming fight between and among citizens city officials and DeHoff/Lemmon on the abatement/CRA issue, is that therein lie the seeds of a whole lot of damage being done to the North Canton body politic.
The DeHoff/Lemmon letter suggests that they are in no mood to do a "come let us reason together" rapprochment with city officials on the matter.
And that could well mean the divergent interests putting the boxing gloves on in an endeavor to beat the other side into submission in a zero-sum fashion.
It that happens, you can bet your bottom dollars that North Canton will never be the same again.
Is that a good or bad thing?
Answer: It will all be in the eye of the beholder, no?
But in any event, the matter the issue needs to be fully