Sunday, December 31, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017


UPDATE:  (10:35 a.m.) Hagan Reacts to Larkin Criticism

Amen! Brother Larkin. Amen!!! (added)  Larkin Photo Added

The Stark County Political Report has written prolifically over her years in the Ohio General Assembly (since March, 2011) how much Christina Hagan does not belong in government at any level.

The Report has identified Hagan as, in Cleveland Plain Dealer editor Brent Larkin's words, being "a resident of the Republican [P]arty's lunatic fringe."

Here are links to samplings as of some of those blogs:
A question raised by Larkin's editorial (LINK) is whether or not it is fair to compare Hagan to Roy Moore.

Well, it depends on what part of Roy Moore one is talking about.

Does Christina have a history of suggesting that she harbors pedophilia as has been alleged about Roy Moore?

Absolutely, not!

However, there are factors that the SCPR thinks that a Roy Moore/Christina Hagan comparison is right on the mark.

The most preeminent factor is her over-the-top touting of her religious faith which is right in line with Roy Moore (for a summary of Moore's [e.g. Ten Commandments on public property] positions on religious issues, see this LINK).

Go to this LINK for Christina Hagan "in her own words" on her intermingling of her personal faith with being an elected official.

Though the SCPR sees nothing on Hagan's "for Congress" website that embraces Roy Moore, she does absolutely pledge her loyalty (along "Dear Leader" lines?) to President Trump who of course is alleged to have sexually abused women.

As a person who touts the very highest in moral standards, one would think Hagan would have been front and center in questioning Moore's fitness to be a public official in light of the allegations against him and, moreover, to distance herself from the president who has many, many, many sexual misconduct charges against him (e.g. Access Hollywood tape) and has been repeatedly shown to be a serial liar.

But she has done neither.

In fact, she touts herself as being "pro-Trump."

Kind of looks like Hagan's supposed devotion to "high moral standards" get "trumped" by political considerations, no?

She herself has made her religious faith a political issue as evidenced by this LINK.

Now she plays the role of unmitigated hypocrite with this Hagan campaign Facebook posting today:

No, Christina; the shame is on you for making your faith a distinguishing factor (by implication) vis-a-vis opponent Anthony Gonzalez.

And while the SCPR is at it, shame on Christina for using her child as a political prop.

The simple fact that Hagan lives in the 7th congressional district but is running in the 16th brings into question in and of itself the strength of Hagan's moral compass.

Most folks probably would say that "the right thing" for a person to do is to run for political office in the district they live in.  Running out of district, many would say, suggests "political opportunism" as the underlying  motivation which, of course, is a SELFISH consideration.

So which is it Christian?  Are you a principled, faith-based candidate or are you merely a political opportunist like so many American politicians are?

Most "political" questing parents want to keep the kids out of the political limelight in any run for political office.

But not Christina!

By the way, though Gonzalez graduated from a Catholic high school (which implies that his family values religious tenets), he keeps his personal faith beliefs off his "Gonzalez for Congress" website.

Maybe, just maybe the Gonzalez approach is the better one if one does not want this highly personal aspect of life to be a matter of public scrutiny.

Sounds like Hagan might have "a persecution complex," no?  A healthy state of mind for a would-be congress-person, no?

There are three paragraphs in the Larkin editorial that tells 16th congressional district Republicans all they need to know about Christina Hagan, to wit:

The 28-year-old Hagan is a member in good standing of what is widely referred to in Columbus - by Republicans as well as Democrats - as the GOP's "caveman caucus." She twists the truth on guns and state finances, and is an author of the "heartbeat bill," an unconstitutionally restrictive abortion law vetoed by Gov. John Kasich.

Hagan proudly boasts of her unwavering support for Trump, Bannon, and Jesus Christ, not necessarily in that order. Her campaign website solemnly proclaims, "Christina believes when we fix our hearts and attention on Jesus, the founder, the author of our faith, things begin to change."


So toxic is Hagan's candidacy that normal Republican leaders in the district's southern end, near where she lives, seem to be pretending she doesn't exist. Hagan actually resides in Rep. Bob Gibbs' district.

All of which the SCPR says:  "amen! Brother Larkin, Amen!!!"

If Hagan stays in the congressional race (which the SCPR thinks it is questionable that she will), Stark Countians who live in the 16th ought to be voting for Anthony Gonzalez in the May 8, 2018 Republican Primary.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


UPDATE:  09:00 AM (12/28/2017)




Some people never learn, no?

Apparently, the "some" people is exemplified by North Canton City Council membership.

Years 2012—2017 has been a shameful era for North Canton mostly owing to the doings of North Canton's council and how it legislatively structured and "undemocratic-republican" implemented its formula for granting tax abatements under its Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) policy.

As a consequence, Council, because of adverse reaction from many connected to North Canton City Schools (NCCS) officially and user-wise (i.e. parents of students), ended up scrapping its CRA in totality.

In brief, the CRA became controversial because the legislation was structured to be  and actually was implemented in 2012 by a North Canton "un-elected" official titled as being the Housing Officer which resulted in a 100% property tax abatement being granted to North Ridge Place, LLC (owned by North Canton developer Robert DeHoff, et al) for a multi-unit apartment complex.

For a more detailed account of the abatement, go to this SCPR blog LINK.

Eventually, Council did undo the 100% abatement and in effect through a number of agreements and supplemental legislation mitigated the abatement to 50 percent.

But the damage was done!

North Canton schools reacted by placing a "cannot succeed" combined bond/income tax based levy (Issue 44) on the November, 2017 ballot which, predictably, got trounced at the polls on November 7th past.  Most of North Canton's government officialdom opposed the schools' levy effort.

Now the schools are scrambling in meeting with key opposition figures to come up with a "winning" formula for getting the NCCS the revenues it needs to keep North Canton schools among the very finest in all of Stark County.

The SCPR hears that there seems to be an agreement that a property tax levy of about one-half-dozen mills, more or less, will be supported by key North Canton officials and citizens.  Moreover, The Report is hearing that the massive plan to re-do North Canton schools' building complex is being abandoned for a much slower paced, piece-meal approach to modernizing the schools' physical facilities.

It remains to be seen whether or not "the damage done" will be "undone" by the "new" plan.

One always hopes that fumbling and bumbling public officials learn from their mistakes.

But a new situation has arisen in North Canton government which makes it highly questionable that the North Canton Seven (Peters, Foltz, Werren, Fonte, Cerreta and Kiesling) learned anything.

And with the Fieldcrest zoning matter on the horizon, unless the experienced and seemingly wise man of North Canton governance (Daryl Revoldt) proves to be a difference maker; North Cantonians may be in for a double dose of failed council government in 2018.

Now taking front and center in North Canton as a potential "do it again" screw-up is a October, 2017 ordinance whereby North Canton Council created a "Water Board" which, it appears, is once again afflicted with having decisions being made by un-elected persons who serve on the board.

The new situation.

Back in 2011, North Canton Council decided that if anybody wanted any of its bountiful and pristine water supply, they would have to annex to the "boxed-in" on nearly all sides city, to wit:

(Highlighting added for emphasis)

Focus on the word "shall not/shall" sprinkled throughout North Canton Ordinance 935.08.

Now take a look at the ordinance amending 935.08 that council passed this past October:

(Highlighting added for emphasis)

So now the "shall" has pretty much become "may" unless the Water Board and chair of Water, Sewer and Rubish Committee of North Canton City Council "in their SOLE discretion (sole bolded/capitalized for emphasis sake) decide to make the "may" a "shall."


Guess what?

Only one of the deciders between the "may" and the "shall" is an elected official that being the chair of the chair of the Water, Sewer and Rubbish Committee which as this time is Councilman at Large Mark Cerreta.

And let's do a "guess what" one more time with a slight change.

GUESS WHO  was the applicant for North Canton water without the necessity of agreeing to annex this company's Jackson Township sited property to North Canton?

A clue:  He was a principal in the North Ridge Place, LLC council empowered/enabled debacle.

You've got it!  None other than Robert DeHoff.

There are those North Cantonians who believe that DeHoff gets what DeHoff wants of North Canton government because his seeming hold on, at the very least, a majority of North Canton government officials.

Here is a copy of an e-mail exchange between the SCPR and North Canton government administration:


Justine Avery <>  Dec 27 at 1:41 PM

Martin Olson/SCPR,

Please see the reply (in red) to your questions.

Thank you,

Justine A Avery
Administrative Assistant to Director of Administration

From: Martin Olson <>
Date: December 26, 2017 at 14:58:19 EST
To: Mike <>
Subject: Re:  Water Board Meeting of December 21, 2017
Reply-To: Martin Olson <>

Administrator Grimes,

Who put together/published the Water Board agenda for the December 21, 2017 meeting? Administration

Who are the current members? Director of Administration, Director of Finance, Director of Law, Council’s Representative        

Is there a plan to add members? Unknown

If so, what are the names/official positions of those persons? n/a

What are the names of the officers (names and positions, please) chosen at the meeting. Chairman of the Board/ Director of Administration , Vice Chair / Council Representative

Please have the Stark County Political Report ( placed on the list of media to be notified of all North Canton "open to the public" meetings. will be added to the distribution list.

Thank you,

Martin Olson/SCPR


Harkening back to the North Ridge Place, LLC abatement, readers will recall that the initial 100% abatement was a complete and total surprise to seemingly EVERYBODY in North Canton government except for the Housing Officer himself.

Practically nobody familiar with the matter believes that there were NO North Canton elected officials who were aware of—"at the time"—the North Ridge Place LLC abatement being in the offing.

But they ALL deny knowing!

Only former councilman Jon Snyder owns up to knowing about it "after-the-fact" with his source being DeHoff himself.

One North Canton citizen is suggesting that the DeHoff connected company (WILLMOLL DEVELOPMENT I) application was purposely (on the part of city officials) done on the QT .

Ever want to see a "pathetic" agenda?

Here is a real prize winner:

"Consideration of a water service agreement."

Little short on the details, no?

Do ya think that had the name of Robert J. DeHoff and his associated company appearing on the agenda might have raised some interest and, maybe just maybe, some eyebrows?

(Source:  Osborne video)

And there is more.

Read this by North Cantonian Chuck Osborne: (an excerpt from a longer e-mail)

It is only through happenstance that word of the meeting got out. NO agenda was posted on the City’s website nor was it on display in the lobby downstairs.

An agenda was not provided when requested via an email request.

For some quirk of fate, Mark Cerreta called Melanie Roll and told her of the meeting. Mrs. Roll called me and I got the word out to Council member Revoldt as well as Repository reporter Jessica Holbrook.

I have learned since that no one on City Council had any notice of the meeting, other than Mr. Cerreta. Not even Council President Jeff Peters.

Why are six out of seven of the public’s elected representatives being kept totally in the dark?

Note:  The SCPR is told that the media (i.e. The Repository) did receive timely notice of the meeting after a search of records was made.

See Osborne's videotape of the meeting which can be viewed here.

In researching material for this blog, the SCPR came across a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Ohio (Stark Countian Sara Lioi presiding) in which by virtue of holding a 10% interest in Maple Street Commerce (a principally owned Stuart Lichter company rehabbing the former Hoover Company factory complex into viable commercial/residential) Robert DeHoff has an indirect interest in, to wit:

What should "really" excited North Cantonians is this paragraph in the lawsuit:

(Highlighting added for emphasis)

When he was running for re-election as mayor, David Held seemed highly confident that the Hoover rehab would be completed within a few years.

But will it?

In light of the lawsuit and the unmistakable position of the plaintiff that it is doubtful that it will be.  (See the entire lawsuit at the end of this blog.  One should focus on paragraphs 104 through 116).

One would think that North Canton officials beginning with Mayor Held ought to be pressing Lichter and DeHoff by virtue of this 10% interest as of the filing of CMB v. Lichter et al on the question.

Ward 4 incumbent candidate Dominic Fonte made a big show in a SCPR interview with him of talking person-to-person with Lichter about the aesthetics surrounding the Main Street side of the Hoover complex.

Why wouldn't he and for that matter the remainder of North Canton City Council be asking Lichter and DeHoff by virtue of the aforementioned minority interest in MSC for assurances that the project will be completed and pin them down with a date certain.

The SCPR did try to contact legal counsel for CMB in order to obtain a read on the prospects for settling CMB's lawsuit or a date that the matter is likely to go to trial, to wit:

Martin Olson <>  Dec 11 at 11:09 AM


Attorney Gray,

What is the likelihood that the above reference case is going to settle?

Martin Olson
Stark County Political Report

More than two weeks later, no answer.

It appears to The Report that the court is trying to get the case solved through mediation.

Mayor Held seemed to be surprised when the SCPR brought up the CMB lawsuit and DeHoff''s interest and the skepticism by CMB that Hoover would ever be completed.


If Held and council is unaware of the litigation and/or is not pressing for answers, North Cantonians should be highly concerned.

So the seeming secrecy and not being on matters like the lawsuit on the part of North Canton government should be grist enough for citizens to press North Canton government officials for answers.

It will take time but The Stark County Political Report thinks that the election of Daryl Revoldt to council has already and will continue be effective to change the "closed to the public, if possible" attitude that seems to permeate the public persona of his fellows on council.

Revoldt, as talented and as capable as he is, cannot not change the anti-public-attitude of most of the rest of council on his own.

He needs help.

The time is now for the likes of B.J. Boyajian to begin their campaigns for the 2019 election which is less than two years away.  Starting a few months before election day is not going to be enough for the largely uninformed North Canton voting public.

Unless there are others who persist and successfully win election to council, it is likely that North Canton Council will do IT (i.e. fumble and bumble and be anti-democratic-republican)  again and again and again.

As the Washington Post prints on its masthead:  "Democracy Dies in Darkness."

Regrettably, North Canton government appears "hellbent" on making a Stark County contribution!

Sunday, December 24, 2017








Thursday, December 21, 2017


UPDATED:  12/22/2017 10:06 AM

UPDATED:  12/23/2017  07:00 AM




ADDED 12/22/2017

ADDED 12/23/2017

On Christmas Eve, The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) will be featuring a skit put on by the Board of Stark County Commissioners in the last regular meeting of the commission this past Wednesday.

It is a "hilarious—you DO NOT WANT TO MISS" presentation.

Today, the SCPR begins daily blogs through Christmas Eve featuring various Stark County political elected and appointed officials wishing Stark Countians "happy holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year" however a particular official terms the greeting.

Today featured are Stark County commissioner Richard Regula and Canton mayor Thomas Bernabei.

First, Commissioner Regula:

Next, Canton mayor Thomas Bernabei:

Next, Canton Councilwoman (Ass't Majority Leader) Chris Smith:

Next, Law Director Joe Martuccio, City of Canton:

Next, President Allen Schulman, Canton City Council:

Next, Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar.

Next, Stark County Auditor Alan Harold.

Last, but certainly not least, Chris Nichols who is Stark County Budget Director and a Canton Township trustee:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


UPDATED:  11:37 AM


Here is a SCPR video of Harmon being recognized by his Canton City Council colleagues:


From the notes in the Canton City Council meeting agenda report:

Member Mariol said that it was a great pleasure working with Member Harmon. He has learned a lot from him over the past two years, and will look back and enjoy their time working together. 

Law Director Martuccio  ... thanked Member Harmon stating that he was a role model in working with the Law Department. He gave the example of when Member Harmon brought to them a state of the art parking ordinance. He said that Member Harmon was always extremely courteous and diligent, and he will miss working with him. He wished him the best for the future, and Happy Holidays to him, his wife, his family and all his friends and support group. He ended with a quote from Charles Dickens’ character, Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.” 

Member Smuckler teased Member Harmon about not understanding Rule 22A and about passing a Resolution for his hearing doctor. He said you can always count on Member Harmon for his friendship. There have been many opportunities to call Member Harmon for help and he has always been there. He is looking forward to their plans for this summer to attend a New York baseball game. 

President Schulman said that Member Harmon is amazing.  He helps everyone, he has helped the whole community, and he will miss him. He thanked Member Harmon and his wife foreverything they’ve done for the community. 

Mayor Bernabei wished Member Harmon and his wife well, and told him to make this his final decision not to re-enter public life. He thanked him on his behalf and on behalf of his entire Cabinet. 

Clerk Dougherty thanked Member Harmon for his hard work and dedication and support for the Council staff.

Monday night's Canton City Council meeting was supposedly Tom Harmon's (62 years of age) "last gasp" as a Stark County political subdivision elected official.

But there of those of us who thought that moment had arrived years ago.

So who knows, a political reincarnation of "started-as-Canton-clerk-of-courts" Thomas Harmon may still be in the offing.

The Stark County Political Report has known Harmon for some 15 years.

Back in the days he was Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts, a 2003 Canton Municipal Court "Annual Report" described Harmon thusly:

In 2007, Harmon "retired" as clerk of courts to be replaced by current Stark County Dems' chairman Phil Giavasis (then, clerk of courts employee Randy Gonzalez, was chairman of the Stark County Democratic Party) who moved on from being Stark County clerk of courts and a significantly higher pay grade and attendant enhanced retirement benefits when he finally decides to "retire, retire, retire" from local government service.

Was Harmon done in having retired as Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts?

What's the expression?  No way, Jose!

 In 2007 he as appointed by the Stark County to the Board of Stark County Commissioners to replace Democratic commissioner Gayle Jackson who had been appointed to Democrat Ted Strickland's administration (undoubtedly through the efforts of another former Stark County Dems chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.) to a position in the Ohio Lottery Commission.

Harmon did not last long as a commissioner.

But as commissioner (initially serving along with Democrat Todd Bosley [who defeated Republican Richard Regula in the 2006 general election] and Republican Jane Vignos) in concert with Bosley and Vignos did major damage to the public's confidence in county government when the trio voted at the end of 2008 to "impose" a 1/2 cent sales tax WITHOUT A VOTE OF STARK COUNTY VOTERS.

In November, 2009, responding to a campaign put together by Stark County civic activist and attorney Craig T. Conley, Stark Countians overwhelming rejected the Bosley, Harmon and Vignos imposed sales tax

Days after the rejection, Harmon announces his resignation as commissioner, to wit;

The SCPR was covering the Stark commissioner meetings all the while Harmon was commissioner and The Report's recollection is that:
  •  (with the replacement of Republican Vignos with Democrat Steven Meeks (a former Jackson Township trustee and close to the Stark Dems' chairman Randy Gonzalez [who was then and remains Jackson's fiscal officer], whom, himself, had been an appointee of Democratic governor Ted Strickland in the Akron Regional Office of the Ohio Department of Economic Development.
Those were the "dark days" in terms of quality of Stark County governance (especially in the treasurer's office [Zeigler] and auditor's office [Perez]) and, of course, in the commissioners' office itself.

One of Harmon's contribution (in his own mind) was to propose the building of a Horse Show Arena within the Stark County Fairgrounds complex.

The Report had been chiding commissioners about the financial/economic development stagnation which had become "the reality of the day" under Bosley/Meeks/Harmon.

It was truly amusing when, as he entered the commissioners' meeting room at a regular weekly meeting of the Board of Stark County Commissioners that he plopped a glob of documents on the lap of the SCPR with the statement:  "How's this for an economic development plan!"

The ultimate answer, as we now know, was;  "Not much!!!"

The Report thought that Harmon was finished as a Stark County political subdivision elected/appointed by "organized" Democrats official with his commissioner resignation.

Apparently, who Canton councilman Bill Smuckler has told The Report he (Smuckler) is very tight with, prevailed on Harmon to run for a Canton council at large position in 2015.


Maybe a little bit of electoral humiliation for Smuckler?

Although it had been a number of years ago, Harmon bests Smuckler in November, 2015 elections notwithstanding this 2011 headline:

Apparently, Harmon could not handle success in coming back from the seeming "political" dead with this headline of 2016:

The Stark County Political Report's assessment of Harmon is that he has been he has been a "loyal" foot soldier for the "organized" Stark County Democratic Party and has been rewarded with benefits for his dedication to the welfare of the party.

As a public official, he has been mediocre at best.

When Harmon was a Stark County commissioner, he would often say before the meeting began that he did not want to read The Stark County Political Report but found that he could not resist.

Thank you Tom for the unintended compliment.

For it is the SCPR's candid assessment/coverage of Stark County political subdivision officials which for nearly ten years now has been a compelling draw for those who want "a fair and balanced look" at Stark County government and politics.

Readers know that the SCPR does not function as the "official publication" (e.g. The Repository and the Pro Football Hall of Fame) or a public relations-esque treatment of any Stark County governance entity or public official.

Monday, December 18, 2017


UPDATE:  3:30 PM (On Black McCuskey legal services payments)







For Cantonians that "really" care about the future of Canton will take 39 minutes and 47 seconds to take in the entire The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) videotaped  Canton City Council committee "in-the-public-view" consideration of two proposed "formal" agreement between the city of Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Most members of council attended the meeting.  Committee member and Ward councilman Greg Hawk did not.  Nor did council president Allen Schulman.

And for those readers are "really, really, really" dedicated to ensuring that you understand what is at stake for Canton, here are the agreements themselves for you to read:

First, the Development Agreement: (34 pages)

Second, the Operations and Maintenance Agreement: (40 pages)

And if that is not enough to satisfy a craving to know as much as one can about the stakes for Canton in unfolding of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP), then here are links to eight previous blogs that the SCPR has published on the project:
Of course, the SCPR recognizes that readers are very busy people and as much as they might want to obtain a thorough knowledge of particularities of the project, there is not enough time in their schedules to set aside the hours needed to be up-to-speed.

Accordingly, the SCPR is always good to summarize and break down complex matters such as the HOF-VP into digestible units.

The key question to Cantonians as far as the SCPR is concerned is how "deep-in" does Canton government want to get into the HOF-VP?

Though, like every other Stark Countian, the SCPR "hopes" that the entire projected at least $800 million gets realized; The Report increasingly doubts the viability of the project to complete fruition.

The city has already invested $5 million and undefined but obviously substantial amounts of taxpayer provided monies in administrative and infrastructure (present and future) taxpayer dollars expenditures to help the HOF-VP folks make a go of it.

Of course, $5 million in cash is not the only "out-of-pocket" payment by the revenue strapped city of Canton.  Witness the following letter from Canton finance director Mark Crouse showing the need to appropriate in 2017 nearly $70,000 for the current annual interest cost inherent in Canton issuing a $5 million bond:

In light of a likely Canton's "at-the-end-of-the day" contribution (cash, services and infrastructure improvement) appears to be relatively small compared to what could turn out to be a $1 billion dollars (when finished, if completed) project, it probably is "worth-the-risk" of the project coming up way short of ballyhooed bonanza that promoter-in-chief C. David Baker (executive director of the HOF-VP) dangles out as a "shiney object" for all to see as an irresistible lure to the down-and-out desperate as certainly the city of Canton is in terms of its finances these days.

If nothing else, as the project exists, Canton will come out of the:

expectations with a PRICEY $150 million high school football stadium that Director Baker thinks is something to brag about on the part a failing school system.

Not bad:  $5 million for $150 million.

Of course, the question will be, should the rest of the HOF-VP go belly-up (compared to "great" expectations):  Can the city and the school district afford to maintain the $150 capital asset?

A school system, by-the-way, that is "marginal" at best.

And how will Canton getting a "boondoggle" go down with those "private sector" companies who have yet to be paid for the work that has gone into the stadium:

For example:

It appears that there has nothing been going on (even before the recent "exceedingly-cold-weather-snap) in terms on getting on with aspects (right now, the hotel) of the project beyond the stadium itself.

Recently, a Stark County official pointed out to the SCPR that a previous web page on the HOF-VP website regarding the construction of the project hotel has been taken off a "feature" page and relegated to the "back" pages (i.e. one now has to "search" for 'hotel') of the HOF-VP website.


Construction scheduled to start in September, 2017?

Having trouble raising financing?

Canton, being in dire financial straits nowadays, needs a heavy dose of "due diligence" to ensure that to the degree the city is involved, it and its taxpayers are fully protected.

The SCPR's take is that council with Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack (the de facto leader on council in scrutinizing the agreements) digesting the agreement in minutia is doing its job of exercising "due diligence."

Here is Mack in a SCPR interview post-December 13, 2017-Community and Economic Development Committee meeting. (4:43)

Of course, as pointed out in the video, Mack is NOT the city's attorney. But it certainly is an empowerment for council to still have Mack aboard.  Before the candidacy filing deadline in 2017, Mack was saying he was not going to run for re-election because of new responsibilities at the Plakas Law Firm in Canton.

Mack is listed in professional publications as one of Canton/Stark County's premier up-and-coming attorneys.

From everything the SCPR has seen of Mack, the attribution is merited.

Also weighing in on the meeting was Majority Leader (Ward 9 councilman) Frank Morris (who openly says that he does not trust IRG HOF developer Stu Lichter) talking about the obscure ways in which lawyers draft documents (including the HOF Operations/Maint & Development Agreements) so that non-lawyers have a very difficult time understanding the import of the language, to wit:

In all the coverage that the SCPR does on Stark County political subdivision government, Frank Morris is by far the most colorful local government official.

And he is painfully direct and pointed to those who cross his path of scorn.

One of the SCPR's most favorite photos of local government proceedings came at the Wednesday committee meeting as legal counsel Bruce Soares response to Morris' be incredible at agreement language which seemed to him to be saying that the HOF folks could have it every-which-way on zoning matters.

Based on having covered Bernabei in many different contexts over the past six years or so, The Report thinks that in a Bernabei unique way of countenance is cracking a "feint" smile as Soares addresses Morris' "every-which-way" comment.

Of course, this SCPR observation could be wrong.  But, if not, to The Report a "feint" smile in this context is hilarious!

In addition to Mack's "legal-eagle eyes,"  it appears to the SCPR that Canton's law department (Joseph Martuccio, the elected law director) under the watchful eye of city attorney Phil Schandel, Jr. and hired (May, 2017, see hire document below) private sector attorney Bruce Soares (Black McCuskey) is doing a fine job vetting processes and the law on protecting Canton taxpayers as the city moves forward on the HOF project.

But at what cost?  Over this continuing series, the SCPR in collecting information should be in a position to tell Canton and Stark County taxpayers how much (educated estimation) local government (in cash and opportunity cost) is putting into the HOF-VP.

Earlier this year, council appropriated $15,000 to pay Soares (actually Black McCuskey) for his work.  Apparently, there were earlier appropriation(s) inasmuch as Canton finance director (Mark Crouse) tells the SCPR that Canton has spent 44,480 in payments to Black McCuskey through November 30, 2017.

This expenditure and the interest cost of the $5 million bond issue is tangible evidence that Canton is spending scarce cash that it can ill afford to be spending.

And that is not all.

Canton's finance director has told the SCPR that Canton being scheduled to lose $80,000 in local government funding in 2018 is going to be difficult to absorb.

Moreover, Canton council will likely pass this ordinance tonight:

Well, what about the drip-drip-drip of $70,000 (estimated annual bond interest) and $44,580 in outside-legal-counsel legal fees and other (not publicly reported) undoubtedly thought to be de minimis expenditures?

Read this document on the legal expense factor.

Here is Schandel and Soares answering SCPR questions:  (3:03)

There were a number of meaningful (of course, in the opinion of the SCPR) council member inquiries during last Wednesday's session.

First, there was the discussion on who (as between Canton and the HOF) would be providing police/fire services at HOF special events.

As Attorney Bruce Soares explains in the following video segment, Canton has "the right of first refusal" in the sense that if city charges for services are not acceptable to the HOF folks, then the HOF goes out and gets competitive bids which Canton has the right "if within 10% of the competitive bid right to be the contractor for those services.

The video of Soares' explanation: (2:46)

Second, Ward 9 councilman Frank Morris raises two question (with Soares).

One re:  Canton government liability should there be a problem with non-government safety services contracted by the HOF:

and, two, (after criticising lawyers for using legalese) about whether or not under the contract language the HOF could supersede Canton's zoning laws.  (3:51)

A striking part of this video (at about the 3:30 mark) is Morris recognizing Canton Law Director Joe Martuccio as having taught him in agreement/contract interpretation:  "Look out for the little words like "may," "might," "shall,":  they'll screw you every time!"

All-in-all it seems to the SCPR that Canton City Council members (led by Mack and Morris) are making "due diligence" a priority in perusing the Operations/Maintenance and Development contracts that council will be approving in tonight's meeting.

Nonetheless, the SCPR thinks that the deeper Canton gets into the HOF expansion project, the risks of being "left holding the bag" in some fashion or another grow in the light of what The Report increasingly is skeptical that the HOF-VP will ever get anyway near the euphoria that super salesman C. David Baker generated in promoting the HOF Village concept back as far as 2013.

As said before, we all hope Baker knew what he was talking about nearly five years ago now and had a realistic plan to realize his dream.  Much of the evidence that is publicly available suggests that the Baker Plan was founded on a wing and a prayer.

Time will tell.

We likely will know "sooner than later!"

And it may not be a pretty picture for Canton government.

Friday, December 15, 2017


UPDATE:  12/16/2017 AT 07:56 AM


In September, "The Stark County Republican Party" was supporting the candidacy of Marlboro Township resident Christina Hagan (Republican state Rep Ohio's 50th House District) to become the Republican nominee to replace the running for Ohio governor Jim Renacci as Ohio 16th District congressperson.

In December, not so.

How can The Stark County Political Report figure that out?

On Monday, December 19th, Hagan is holding a "make or break" fundraiser at 10798 Ravenna Ave, NE (State Route 44) which Stark County auditor office records indicate is owned by JADJ Field of Dreams, LLC (incorporated on 12/22/2015) which was incorporated by Jonathan Sarchione who is one of the owners of Sarchione Auto Sales (the family has been in the auto sales business since 1917) which is principally located in Alliance, Ohio.

And the extended Sarchione family has been good to Hagan in terms of campaign financing contributions.

The star attraction at Monday's event?

For one, Sebastian Gorka.  He is thought to be, at the very least, sympathetic towards if not one of a political grouping known as the ALT-RIGHT.  (see Wikipedia for a summary of ALT-RIGHT agenda, some of which Christina Hagan may not support)

In contrast to the September 27, 2017 Stark GOP supported Hagan Fundraiser, Hagan is going all-out for "big-buck" contributors, to wit:

Here is an extract from an August, 2017 newspaper report on Gorka (Bannon) associations with the ALT-RIGHT.

Rights leaders demand Trump fire ‘alt-right’ hero Steve Bannon

AUGUST 13, 2017 07:32 PM

UPDATED AUGUST 14, 2017 11:34 AM


Religious and civil rights leaders called on President Donald Trump to fire White House advisors Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, whose association with the white-supremacist “alt-right” movement have come under heightened scrutiny following Saturday’s violent racial clash in Charlottesville, Va.

And maybe, just maybe the chief ALT RIGHT (see Wikipedia article on ALT RIGHT) politician in America; namely, Steve Bannon?


Perhaps, fresh off "licking his 'political' wounds" from the astounding defeat of extreme religious right wing Republican Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore, Bannon will be Christina Hagan's "surprise special guest?"

Hagan, who does not live in the 16th but rather in the 7th (represented by Republican Bob Gibbs who has endorsed Hagan "mainstream" Republican Anthony Gonzalez) always, in the assessment of the SCPR being a fringe religious right political figure, will pony up to establishment Republicans if they will have here.

With the well-known and formidable in mainstream Republican politics Timken family apparently seeing "the handwriting on the wall" in hosting a Gonzalez sited fundraiser at Brookside Country Club in late November (despite the family's historical support for President Donald J. Trump) and seemingly seeing that should Hagan be the party nominee come May 8, 2018 and Democrats are able to anticipate such a development; then one can "bet [his/her] bottom dollar" that the Dems will go out a find a quality/experienced candidate to file before the February filing deadline.

As President Trump's favorability continues to dip (some polls now showing 32%), an "all-in-for-Trump-candidate" such as Christina Hagan becomes an attractive political target for Democrats who are sensing more and more a Democratic congressional takeover come the November, 2018 election.

ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT?  Of course after Chistina Hagan gets rejected by mainstream Republicans.

PRO-TRUMP?  Without a doubt!  Hagan has nothing to lose.  In fact some political folks are speculating that in light of rumors to the effect that 7th congressional district Congressman Bob Gibbs likely not to run again in 2020 (the 7th is Christina Hagan's residential district) that she is using the 16th District run to gain experience and maintain political notoriety so has to be in a position run in the 7th.

FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS?  Hardly!  Hagan throws in with every corporate PAC and monied right wing politico (by definition "screw the middle class") that will have her.

And, oh yes! Hagan holds a "high roller' fundraiser on a property valued by the Stark County auditor at $2.4 million.  

Now, how many middle classers could afford this political bash?

On or about January 15, 2018, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) will be publishing the list of Hagan's December 19th contributors as well as the Gonzalez Brookside Group of November 29th.

Now who do you think is going to win that battle?

In bringing Gorka to Stark County (and, perhaps, even Bannon), Hagan, front and center, has brought ALT-RIGHT political craziness to the county.

It will be interesting to see what Stark Countians are going to be willing to see their names publicly listed as having attended/contributed to Christina Hagan who now appears to be Stark County's very own ALT-RIGHT candidate.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Update:  09:50 AM
Update:  12:17 PM




Commissioner Creighton
Counts Down to Christmas
12 Days Until Christmas


Commissioners Approve 
2018 "Operations" Funding Budget

For the past several meetings Commissioner Janet Creighton has been in a festive mood as she, in her capacity of being president of the Board of Stark County Commissioners, has opened commissioners' meetings with "excitement" that Christmas is on the way.

Twelve Days 'til Christmas!

The commissioners had an additional cheerfulness yesterday because they were able to adopt resolutions approving 2018 Fiscal Year (operations only) budget appropriations BEFORE THE END OF 2017!

Commissioners recently attended (December 10 through 12) the 2017 Annual Winter Meeting of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio (CCAO) and recited (Creighton and Regula) compliments and amazement the Stark Commissioners were able to pass operating budget appropriations before the end of 2017.

And they were able to do so without being viewed as either being Santa Claus or Scrooges.

Here is a SCPR video recording of the passage of the resolutions and commissioners' comments of the recognition they received from some of their peers.

Commissioners were, at yesterday's meeting, quick to recognize that Budget Director Chris Nichols and Stark County Chief Administrator Brant Luther were the real reason why commissioners have been able to deal quickly with operational budget matters this year and last year.

The SCPR has been covering the commissioners since 2008 and has witnessed first hand the tortured county budgeting processes that occurred in most of the years up until about three years ago.

There had been showdowns:
  • with the Veterans Service Commission with threats of lawsuits over the funding levels of the VSC, 
  • involving an implicit threat that Judge Dixie Park would order (a power that judges have) the commissioners to appropriate according to her will, and 
  • with Prosecutor John Ferrero about his seemingly annually asking commissioners for additional mid-year or later appropriations
And, of course, there was the perennial problem of department heads padding their requests knowing that the commissioners would as a matter of course significantly pare down the actual amounts appropriated.

All that hubbub and turmoil is pretty much a thing of the past.

However, there is always something to be questioned in reviewing the final product of the operations budgeting process.  Nichols tells the SCPR that the "capital" will take place in January.  Likely during the time The Report will be basking for some two to three months in the warmth and "sunny nearly every day" of Oahu Hawaii where youngest daughter Kasi lives.

And, of course, readers of  The Stark County Political Report know that The Report delights in asking public officials questions and the budgeting process fertile ground for doing so.

The SCPR thinks that there are three notable factors in the 2018 FY Stark County Operating Budget:

First, the Stark County Coroner takes the prize for not only staying in line with commissioners' expectation but in absorbing a lesser 2018 over 2017 appropriation of $58,977 for a prize winning reduction of some 6%.

Second, on the other end of the appropriation spectrum, is the Stark County Auditor overall department increase (including Information Technology) of 20.3%.  If one takes Nichols numbers per auditor office line items at face value (auditor:  5.9%; IT 14.4%), then the increase appears to be 20.3%.

But Nichols says not so, to wit:

By aggregating, Nichols computes the overall department increase at 11.7% (still way over what other departments are getting in 2018 operations appropriations.

To the SCPR, Nichols ought to in future budgets  (in order to avoid confusion) asterisk (*) the Auditor/IT line items and give what is the "real" overall picture of 11.7% rather create an illusion that the total increase is 20.3%

The SCPR inquired of Auditor Alan Harold and Budget Director Chris Nichols for a justification for the sizeable increase for the office over 2017.

Apparently, why one cannot simply add up the 5.9% and the 14.4% is that the IT budget is two times the rest of the auditor's office budget.

To repeat, hopefully Nichols will reconfigure these numbers in 2019 to avoid confusion.

Additional explanation by Nichols on the 11.7% increase, to wit:

In the Auditor’s Office, 2 employees are scheduled to get greater than a 2% increase.  One raise is for a promotion, to replace a retiring employee and the 2nd is a merit increase. The rest of the increase comes from a $10,000 increase in Medical Insurance costs and the cost of hiring an employee to train in the department with the retiring employee, before the retirement, causing a temporary staff increase, until the retirement takes place.

In the IT department, as noted on Slide #13, under “New or Increased Required or Contractual 2018 Expenses”, $295,000 of the $325,000 increase is the County’s Microsoft License expense, which had previously been paid as a Capital expense, but needed to the moved into the Operating Budget.  This is not a new expense to the County, but needed to be moved into the Operational Budget this year, from Capital.  If you back out the $295,000, the increase in the core IT budget is only $30,000 or 1.3%.

A third noteworthy item is the $700,000 ($1.4 million for a full year) in retiring/servicing the bonds being issued by Stark County to finance purchase of a state-of-the-art radio system for law enforcement and emergency services uses.

The commissioners expect that the county will pay about $1.45 million in interest over the ten year life of the bond issuance.

Finally, there is a SCPR question on the matter of in excess of 2% of commissioner guidelines for employee pay increases.

Here is Nichols response:

·         Auditor – As noted above.  Merit Increase of 9.23% to Dennis Winner and 12.51% Promotional increase to Jessica Preston (replacing the retiring employee)
·         Prosecutor – Had requested ½ of an IT person (that had previously been shared with Family Court, plus 1 Juvenile Secretary.  Was provided $35,000 towards one of those requests, not both. – Employee to be determined by the Prosecutor
·         Sheriff – As noted in the presentation, was provided $341,000 for increases required by union agreements for all bargaining unit personnel
·         Common Pleas Court – General Division – $34,600 increase towards salary increases for the Intensive Supervision Probation Officers, per a salary study, to stabilize the workforce and in anticipation of increased workload related to the F5-TCAP changes.  8% Increases to ISP Officers
·         Family Court – Increase $23,000 for the ½ of the IT position previously shared with the Prosecutor.  This is not a salary increase to the employee, just a redistribution of the cost between departments.
·         Records Center – Increase for the full year expense of an employee hired mid-year in 2017.  Again, not a salary increase to the employee, just allocating a full year expense for someone hired mid-year in 2017.    
·         Facilities – Increase for Org Chart changes made in 2017, for the addition of an Assistant manager and changing 1 Maintenance (I) position to a Maintenance (II). .  Again, not a salary increase to any employee, just allocating the full year salary expense for the updated Org Chart positions.    

All-in-all, the SCPR agrees with the commissioners highly positive evaluation of the budgeting work done by Nichols and Luther.