ONLY 21 MINUTES OF "PUBLIC SESSION!"
as only the SCPR
on executive session
with Lichter of IRG & HOF official
Why all the secrecy about the financing/"public" assistance needs of the Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP)?
Why all the secrecy on IRG (Industrial Realty Group) LLC involvement?
While all Stark Countians including the SCPR want the project to be as productive as projected in a chart presented at a work session (see below) by IRG president and chairman of the board Stu Lichter and others in his retinue including a Canton based Professional Football Hall of Fame official to Stark County commissioners David Bridenstine, Janet Creighton and Richard Regula; "due diligence"—in public—is in order.
The foregoing are "threshold" questions that Stark Countians should demand be forthcoming before one more dollar of public money is put into the hands of the HOF-VP connected
Additionally, for the benefit and protection of Stark County political subdivision taxpayers (including the county itself) an overriding question in the minds of Stark Countians should be:
Will our government protect us from being taken advantage of (i.e. an insufficient ROI [Return on Investment] on any taxpayer money put at the disposal of IRG, the HOF-VP and others involved in the constructing what many believe to be significantly over 500 million plus Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Project notwithstanding Lichter's presenting of a slide using the figure $476 million.
Other entities that have or might be asked to contribute taxpayer provided resources include the city of Canton, Plain Township, the Canton Park system and the Canton City Schools.
And there may be other local government entities that the SCPR is not aware of in a taxpayer subsidy of the HOF-VP enterprise.
Now is the time for Stark Countians to press any local government entity negotiating with IRG and the HOF-VP to exercise extreme caution and the highest degree of due diligence in protecting the public purse and the public interest.
Because Stark County is just middling along and several of the county's major cities, foremost of which is the city of Canton itself ($5.1 million deficit last years and probably more deficit in Fiscal Year 2017) are in financial stability jeopardy; it is critically important that local government HOF-VP involved entities be absolutely sure that what appears to the SCPR to be "pie-in-the-sky" projections on the ROI actually withstand the highest degree of vetting.
Last Friday, The Report noticed on the agenda of the October 12, 2016 regular meeting of the commissioners that a work session was set for yesterday (October 17) on the HOF-VP.
And show up they did, the folks from and/or associated with IRG and the northwest Canton based Professional Football Hall of Fame.
Only one Stark County citizen without portfolio showed up.
Republican Canton Township trustee Bill Smith, who the SCPR thinks is pretty much a cinch to be elected commissioner on November 8th, was present as was an official from the Stark County Convention & Vistors Bureau.
Other than that, only The Stark County Political Report as a solitary media type.
Get this. Nobody from The Repository, the self-reported "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was at yesterday's very important meeting.
Is this something like "Delta: the Official Airline of the Washington Nationals?
Can anybody imagine Delta officials critiquing/evaluating/questioning the management of this NBA franchise?
Again, Wow! for a newspaper that purports to be protecting the public interest NOT to be present is a cause for concern, no?
But, then, again; maybe its for the better in terms of the reliability (i.e. objectivity) of what is reported given "the 'official' connection," no?
The public part of the meeting lasted only 21 minutes.
And, of course, the SCPR was there to record every minute of it. With the graphics presented by Lichter as published above, The Report already in this blog has provided a snapshot of what Lichter had to say for public consumption.
But the real news is that at minute 21 of the meeting the commissioners opted to go into executive session justified by IRG's assertion through Lichter that proprietary information was likely to be shared with the commissioners.
The Report waited around during the secret session with Smith, the citizen and the representative from the Stark County Convention & Visitors Bureau as they peeled off one by one until only yours truly was left.
Finally, finally, finally after over an hour wait, the doors opened and the lone member of the public (the SCPR) was granted entrance as the meeting was being gaveled to a close by President Creighton.
The SCPR had some questions to ask.
And here they are on video:
Not much in the way in answers.
Vague stuff about perhaps a request that Stark County taxpayers at an purportedly unknowable dollar amount (even ballparking the number) being asked to participate in the HOF-VP.
The commissioners did promise that they will not make any decisions that mean the appropriation of taxpayer provided resources without first giving the public an opportunity to weigh-in.
Thank the Almighty for that, no?