Thursday, October 12, 2017



First of all, plaudits to the Canton Area~Ohio League of Women Voters (LWV) in making available to Plain Township residents a first rate forum of a highly civil nature (contrary to what is going on currently at the national level of American politics) in which participating (John Juergensen has decided not to participate) Plain Township trustee candidates answer written questions posed by audience members and The Repository (co-sponsor of the event).

And by the way, here are LINKS to prior SCPR blogs which deal with the Plain Township trustee race:
Unfortunately, and The Stark County Political Report (speaking, of course, "only" for myself) assigns blame to "the powers that be" at The Repository for only a handful of "unconnected to the candidates" or the LWV Plain Township citizens being on hand to take in this highly informative to "undecided" Plain voters forum.

The SCPR singles out The Rep because its daily printed newspaper is Stark County's only countywide publication that could be, if properly focused, a difference maker in public participation at events like Monday's LWV put together Plain Township trustee candidate forum.

A Wikipedia article says that The Rep has a staff of about 300 and a circulation of 50,000 plus/60,000 plus depending on the day being a weekday or Sunday.  Of course, that number would include non-journalists.  But any way you slice it, The Repository has a journalism staff that numbers way more than the staff of one that the SCPR has.

The point being that The Rep does have the staff to do a much better job than it currently does on local government and politics.

As the self-billed official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOFVP), Repository officialdom shows how well it can marshal its journalistic forces to promote this or that project.

A problem that comes along with signing on as "the official newspaper" of the HOFVP project is:  who is left to credibly assess and investigate whether or not the HOFVP is making effective use of public monies and local/state government (including Plain Township efforts) administrative and legislative support of the HOFVP?

The Report shall continue efforts to goad the likes of owner Gateway Media, Inc and local publisher James Porter  and executive editor Rich Desrosiers to accord the same zeal, enthusiasm and energy level for LWV-esque projects as it does for the HOFVP.

While The Rep as a private enterprise entity can do as it wishes in promoting the HOFVP, can "the powers that be" there complain about quite a number of folks within the Stark County newspaper reading public question its ability to be a credible assessor of the use to which the HOFVP puts state of Ohio/Stark County subdivision taxpayer provided for resources.

So far, there has been precious little in The Rep since the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its humongous expansion to the tune of upwards of a $1 billion as to whom the project managers need to be held accountable for effective use of public resources.

Now to get off the soap box and back to the task at hand of evaluating candidate performance at Monday night's LWV/Repository sponsored event of Monday of this week.

The format of this blog is to put up video clips that vary in length of some four to six minutes.

The questions dealt with in this blog are ones which the SCPR deems to be key in the evaluation of Plain Township voters (early voting began on Tuesday, October 10th) as to which of the "participating" candidates to vote for.



Candidate John Sabo shines in his answer in highlighting the financial problems and empowerment deficit that townships including Plain, of course,  have to deal with in improving local government services as a consequence of the work of state of Ohio government in undermining local government viability.

As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has for nearly seven years now, issued journalistic raspberries on the supermajority Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly (OGA) and Republican governor John Kasich (Kasich) for the draconian and continuing work they have implemented in order to balance the budget of Ohio; all on the backs of Ohio local government while state government sits with upwards of $3 billion in "rainy day" funds.

Only president of Canton City Council Allen Schulman has done anything near adequate among Stark County political subdivision officials in condemnation of the OGA, Kasich and core Republican members of the Stark County delegation to the OGA (Scott Oelslager [Senate District 29], Kirk Schuring [House District 48], Christina Hagan [House District 50]) for their being the means by which local government funding cuts have been implemented and thereby putting pressure on local voters to increase village, city, township and school district taxes paid by local residents.

But even Sabo failed to name names.  What kind of accountability is that?

City councilpersons, trustees, mayors and board of education members within county political subdivisions need to develop the capacity to "get in the face" (in a civil manner) of state and federal officials.

The likes of Renacci, Gibbs, Ryan, Brown, Portman, (federal); Kasich, Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan (state of Ohio) love it when they can do their devastating work to local governments in relative anonymity.



Candidate Haws has the most specific and realistic approach on this question.

Candidate Rich persists in suggesting that somehow current Plain Township trustees Haws, Sabo and Leno with the township's legal counsel somehow failed in working out a collaboration with Canton on the potential development of a hotel at a "before Canton annexation" Plain Township property (I-77 [107A]).

But the fact of the matter is that the current board led by Haws did everything humanly possible to get Canton into a joint agreement.

The fault for the failure for a Plain Township/Canton collaboration is two fold:
  • Canton annexation director Sam Sliman and his governance fetish for annexing everything in sight into Canton despite of the fact that Canton cannot effectively manage its current footprint,
  • Going back to the gigantic local government funding cuts; in Stark County the city of Canton has lost millions of dollars in state funding on account of the cuts, accordingly; Canton and ill-afford in the immediate futures to share any revenue with any other Stark County political unit,
Haws, in focusing on area tourism, takes Plain Township assets (for example, its hotels and shopping areas) and advocates Plain Township developing a promotions expertise to get those who come to visit an enhanced HOFVP to make their way to nearby Plain Township businesses.


Background information:

Brant A. Luther <>  Oct 5 at 11:11 AM
To:  Martin Olson

Hello Martin,

The Board did pass (on 12/21/17[correction"16") Resolution pursuant to the ORC to establish a TIF on the property parcel known as “The Venue at Belden”.  Per the statute, it will last for 10 years, beginning in Tax Year 2017.  It directs 75% of the new tax Dollars (which result from any increase in valuation during the 10 year period) to fund public improvements that directly benefit that parcel of land. 

Here is the Engineer’s language from the Resolution regarding the future use of these TIF funds:

Public infrastructure projects made, to be made, or in the process of being made by the county that directly benefit, or that once made will directly benefit, the identified parcel include:

Zimber Ditch and Watershed improvements, including but not limited to, maintenance and repair, storm water management, water quality and flood management; and

Public road improvements, including but not limited to, the Everhard and Whipple Intersection Improvement Project including construction, construction administration and right-of-way phases; improvements to the Stratmoor Circle Traffic Signal on Everhard Road; and roadway improvements in the immediate area of Everhard and Whipple and ancillary roadways including studies, maintenance and repair, traffic signals, access management, and congestion mitigation.

As a point of information, this property sits directly on the Zimber Ditch and experiences, as well as contributes to, flooding on the Zimber.  It is the plan that these funds will be used primarily to assist in helping to alleviate some of the Zimber’s chronic flooding issues, and to a lesser extent assist with the roadway improvements that also benefit the parcel.    


Brant A. Luther, Esq.

Stark County Administrator



Candidate Anthony Rich was right to chastise sitting township trustees (which includes candidates Haws and Sabo) for not being on top of the consideration of and approval by Stark County commissioners Creighton, Smith and Regula of the Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) of property located at Whipple Avenue NW and Everhard Road known as "The Venue."

A highly credible source tells the SCPR that the fact of the matter is that while Sabo himself may now have known, Plain Township officers absolutely knew well in advance that the Stark County commissioners were going to be proceeding with The Venture TIF before 2016 ended.

Under the TIF, Stark County will redirect taxpayer monies to enhancement/improvements for a period of 10 years.  Plain Township will apparently lose some $400,000 plus in revenues.  The North Canton City Schools will lose about $2.5 million.

For candidate Sabo as a sitting trustee to plead ignorance and deflect blame to others is inexcusable.

Jackson Township and Canton knew about and objected to the effort.  The Report is told that Jackson fiscal officer of Jackson led an effort to enlist Plain Township and Canton in an effort to dissuade commissioners from approving (3 to 0) the TIF.  However, any dissatisfaction with the TIF on the part of Canton and Jackson were completely different in terms of interests than Plain's.

The Stark County Educational Service Center Board legal counsel (Slick) did appear and vehemently on behalf of the North Canton City Schools (NCCS) objected to the diverting away of $2.5 million from from NCCS revenues for the project.

The SCPR is convinced that someone (perhaps not Sabo) knew about and talked with county officials about the impending "The Venture" TIF well before the commissioners' approval in December.

But the reality is that Plain Township officials could have jawboned the commissioners until they were "blue in the face," and the commissioners still would have approved the TIF as they did on December 31st.



"Best" shared between candidate Brook Harless and candidate Haws.

Harless for expressing in general the notion of "go bring them (Plain community investors) in."

Haws for providing specific existing models (e.g. Oakwood Square) as a model of how Plain ought to double down for future economic development.



Again, a shared "best answer" as among candidate Sabo and candidate Haws.

Candidate Sabo for doubling down on providing the framework for local government entities to come together to pressure the state of Ohio to restore some of the lost local government funding.

Ohio to date has taken away about $600 million, more or less, in local government funding.  Ohio has a "rainy day" fund that is now upwards of $3 billion.

There is a weakness in what candidate Sabo says, to wit:  Who is going to bring Stark County local governments together to pressure the likes of Oelslager, Schuring and Hagan?

Will candidate Sabo, if retained, spearhead such an effort?

Candidate Haws for spelling out in chapter and verse ways that Plain Township has instituted more efficiency to make up for the cuts.



Actually, in combination, the complementary answers of all the candidates
pretty much fill out for voters the information they need to know to have the correct answer to the question.

A recent SCPR conversation with a "in the know" person on the relative pros/cons on CEDAs, JEDDS and TIFs show that for townships a JEDD provides an avenue for township to gain access to otherwise unavailable nearby city income tax revenues.

Jackson Township has such an arrangement with Canton whereby the township gets 1% of Canton's income tax revenue on an affected property within the township which BUT FOR the JEDD it could not get.  Canton via a JEDD with Jackson gets to obtain via extension income tax revenue from an wholly within Jackson Township property as a consequence Canton and Jackson having a JEDD.

This is the win-win-win situation that candidates Haws and Rich focused on.  Harless' contribution is that Plain must develop a trustee with the capability to persuade the likes of Canton and or a relationship with a limited number of property owners (Sabo's analysis) that it is a winner for the city and Plain to avoid a Fulton Road CEDA failure.

As the SCPR understands JEDD, had Plain been able to persuade the owner of the Fulton Road property to eschew Canton annexation, then Canton would have been left with no alternative other than to do a JEDD with Plain in order to obtain at least 1 % (being a 50/50 split on Canton's rate of taxation) on property wholly inside Plain Township.

Plain's failure to the SCPR seems to be that among its trustee administrative operation, the township does not have a par excellence negotiator to have kept the owner of the Fulton Road property from requesting Canton annexation thereby leaving Canton with no alternative but to do a JEDD.

The Report thinks Haws and Sabo (and former long term trustee Louis Giavasis) are at fault for not having a person of such skills on the payroll in Plain Township.

The forum discussion on this issue ought to be a spur to correct this obvious oversight.

One more point.

The Venture TIF does have significant value for Plain Township.

The Zimber Ditch flooding problem in the the area of The Venture  has, the SCPR is told, has resulted in 10 properties being torn down.  Of course, the tearing down of properties mean greatly reduced tax revenues for the North Canton schools and also for the township.  The TIF, The Report is told, will result in repairs to Zimber that will significantly reduce if not eliminate the further loss of tax generating properties.



If "public safety" candidate experience is a primary criterion for a Plain Township voter, then, without a doubt, John Sabo has to be your top candidate.

His decades of experience in the Plain Township fire department (17 as chief) indicates his superior credentials to the other candidates.

Haws is next in ranking in the SCPR's opinion in terms of his having administrative connections with community safety matters.

The videos presented do not constitute the entire forum but do contain what The Stark County Political Report thinks are the "key" issues the answers to which should weigh heavily with township voters as they determine who to vote for in this year's election which is underway and culminates on November 7th.


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