Wednesday, November 29, 2017

CHRISTINA HAGAN: TRYING TO MAKE THE BEST OF A BAD TURN OF EVENTS FOR HER 16TH DISTRICT CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN?

CHRISTINA HAGAN - THE ANTI-GOP-ESTABLISHMENT CANDIDATE

A DESPERATE POLITICAL PLAY!

(Source:  Hagan Facebook page)

November 29, 2017 has to be a trying date for the campaign of Christina Hagan (R, Marlboro Township).

Tonight 16th congressional district opponent Anthony Gonzalez will be on Hagan's home turf (i.e. Stark County) raising large amounts of campaign finance money courtesy of the renowned Canton-based Timken family who constitutes Stark County's foremost industrial/manufacturing enterprise which has provided Stark Countians jobs since 1901.

And the event will be held at the posh Brookside Country Club which borders a community which is one Stark County's haven for the wealthy; namely, Hill and Dales.

Gonzalez (a former Ohio State Buckeye football star and Indianapolis Colts professional player) upset Hagan's political aspirations apple cart recently in announcing that he is seeking the Republican nomination on May 8, 2018 to succeed current congressman Jim Renacci who is abandoning the seat to seek the Republican nomination for governor.

It is obvious that Gonzalez has been recruited by Washington-based organized Republicans to challenge Hagan for the nomination.

Apparently, the Washington GOP movers and shakers do not put much stock in an "unsourced" poll being bandied about by Hagan in the November 24th edition of The Hartville News, to wit:

Christina currently leads in polls to replace current Congressman James Renacci ... 

Has Christina adopted the ways of Donald J. Trump in inventing stuff out of whole cloth?

While there is a Republican alternative to Gonzalez and Hagan (Kit Seryak of Rocky River); with the with the departure of Republican state Representative Tom Patton of Strongsville from the congressional district race (citing personal/family reasons), make no mistake about it:  it is Gonzalez versus Hagan to succeed Renacci.

The Report does not believe that personal/family factors is the cause for his withdrawing from the race.

Unlike Hagan, Patton appears to be a political realist who can read "the handwriting on the wall."

The Stark County Political Report's money is on Gonzalez.

First of all, he lives in the district and Hagan does not.

Moreover, he has out fundraised her so far by about a $6 to $1 margin despite Hagan having a huge jump start in entering the race.

Most tellingly,  Gonzalez appears to be much more politically palatable to the type of Republican who makes up the 16th congressional Republican voter base.

Hagan is in the assessment of the SCPR, an extreme right-wing religion-based (as a part of her political profile) candidate who connects only with fringe Republicans.

Exactly the kind of crowd that Gorka appeals to.

The Report's perception of Sebastian Gorka based on having seen him on political talk shows is that he is likely even more out there politically than Hagan (that's hard to believe, no?), to wit; (from a Wikipedia article)

During his time in the Trump administration, Gorka gave a series of combative interviews with the press in which he defended the administration's positions on national security and foreign policy. 

Various national security scholars in academic and policymaking circles have characterized Gorka as fringe. Some critics have challenged his academic credentials, his views on Islam and radicalization—as well as his motives for identifying with the Order of Vit├ęz or supporting the EU-banned Hungarian Guard.

Hagan and Gorka:  a political match made in Heaven?

In addition to her Gorka association, Hagan is all-in with President Donald J. Trump and his family.



The SCPR has taken the step that with Gonzalez in the race, Hagan is finished as a viable candidate for the GOP nomination.

Moreover, The Report thinks that should he become the Republican nominee, Gonzalez might want to think twice maybe three times before associating too closely to the president.

Even though the 16th has been gerrymandered (with Christina's help in her work as a Republican representative [the 50th Ohio House District]) to make it difficult for any Democrat to seriously challenge a Republican candidate, the president in working hard to make a Democratic challenge.

The current field of Democratic candidates is not going to get the job done.

The filing deadline is February 7, 2018.

Look for Washington-based organized Democrats to watch their internal polling numbers closely.

Should it appear that a well-financed and known Democrat (e.g. current Democrat governor candidate Betty Sutton) can be competitive, the 16th could be on the front lines in the battle to determine whether Republicans or Democrats control Congress on January 1, 2019.

With the entrance of Gonzalez into the race, it is clear that that organized Republican decision makers worry about the likes of a Christina Hagan as the party's standard bearer in November, 2018.

Look for Hagan to drop out (like Patton has) and run for two more years as state representative for the 50th Ohio House District.

Monday, November 27, 2017

THE HALL OF FAME VILLAGE PROJECT: (7TH BLOG IN A SERIES) "A RUNAWAY HOF-VP" LOOKING FOR A TAXPAYER BAILOUT?


WHO WILL HOLD THE "HOF-VP" ACCOUNTABLE?

FOR VIABILITY

FOR USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS


WHO CAN "CREDIBLY" BELIEVE  IT WILL BE 
THE REPOSITORY?

the numbers simply DO NOT add up 
on the viability factor

It was shocking to The Stark County Political Report to learn that The Canton Repository had apparently solicited and obtained an "official" relationship with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP).



The Repository in Canton, Ohio, was recently named the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (emphasis added)

As a part of the three-year partnership, all Hall of Fame guests will receive a daily edition of the Repository, which will be wrapped in a specially created section that will share the latest information about the Hall’s news and events and features about the game.

Readers of the newspaper and the website will receive specially created Hall of Fame content, including a daily feature on the paper’s front page. Cantonrep.com will also host a daily video series, which will feature the latest Hall of Fame news.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with an organization of excellence like the Hall, and we look forward to working together during this exciting time for the Hall and our region,” said Jim Porter, the Repository’s publisher.

Of course, "the powers that be" at The Rep have published a number of disclaimers as to its ability to credibly convince the taxpaying/reading public that it can pointedly report on and editorialize upon the HOF-VP in light of its business relationship with the HOF folks.

Here a couple of cites to The Repository's self-serving declarations in that regard:
Todd Porter's piece is particularly pathetically thought out.

Porter's account goes all the way back to the 1950s  (1959, to be exact) to justify what the SCPR thinks is a journalistic unethical relationship between The Rep and the HOF-VP folks in terms of undermining the credibility of The Repository when it comes to the general Stark County public or any other HOF-VP involved taxpayer jurisdiction relying on the scrutiny of a media company to dig out secreted information that might reveal details that raise manifold "red flags" as to the viability of and the efficient/effective use of public money that has been and continues to be solicited to prop up what more and more appears to be destined to fall far short of the grandiose plan unveiled in it 2014 roll out.

Oh! yes, Mr. Porter, longevity of being a cheerleader justifies everything.

Now that's about the most loosey-goosey logic ("logic," of course, a misplaced word in the phrase) the SCPR has ever heard.

For a journalistic enterprise (i.e. The Repository) to be "gilding the lily" in resourcing somebody to say that its three year contractual relationship with the HOF-VP is an "evolving" norm of ethics in journalism should simply be unacceptable to the reading/taxpaying public.

Quite a turn of events, a media entity that is supposed to be holding the likes of the HOF-VP accountable, does not want to be held accountable to the "highest" ethical standards.

What would the venerable Akron Beacon Journal publisher and editor John S. Knight think? This question should resonate with Desrosiers, he once worked at the Akron Beacon Journal.

Of course, the likes of Desrosiers and (Jim )Porter can do whatever they want in arguing that The Rep's relationship with the HOF-VP meets an ethical standard that is comfortable and opportunistic for them.

But the SCPR, for one, is not buying.

The Report thinks that authentic/credible journalism in not having any financial or other relationship with a subject of a journalistic inquiry should be at an ethical level "of avoiding the very appearance of impropriety" (i.e. conflict in interest).

The Rep's argument is at the low end of ethical standards, if a ethical standard at all.

Getting back to Desrosiers' use of the word "skeptical." The SCPR thinks, of course, readers should critically think about every medium of communication information.

When a media outlet argues for a "low" ethical standard, which the SCPR thinks The Repository has done on the HOF-VP matter; then readers need to have heightened scrutiny and proudly wear the label "skeptical" even though Desrosiers' attribution appears to be an offhand dissing of discerning readers.

The SCPR's read on the general tenor of Repository "official newspaper" coverage so far is to create a "rah, rah, rah" environment in which in-depth scrutiny is disfavored and "bias confirmation" of "all things coming up roses" is the order of day.

Why doesn't The Rep go the full measure and staff the public relations office for the HOF-VP operation?

All Stark Countians should want the HOF-VP to be a success and, of course, the SCPR shares that desire.

But not at the price of  "NOT" having:
  • a reasonable assurance based on a workable/documented financial picture of its viability, and 
  • an accounting on how much public money has been/is to be infused into the project, and 
    • the providing of an mechanism by which the  taxpaying public is empowered to know whether or not the public money expended can be shown to either have been productive or unproductive.
A critical phrase in Executive Editor Desrosiers' June 10th editorial, to wit:

Our task, editorially, is to remain transparent, remain independent. There will be skeptics. To them, we say: If something doesn’t seem right, let us know.

In a blog subsequent to this one, the SCPR will be dealing with a specific exchange between Desrosiers and the SCPR concerning the foregoing Desrosiers' assertion "[if something doesn't seem right, let us know."

The SCPR has a story to share with readers which The Report thinks shows how a defensive, not meaningfully responsive Desrosiers (in his representative capacity of leadership at The Rep) betrays a knowingness that The Rep does not have the distance it ought to have from the HOF-VP/IRG pairing so as to be positioned to evaluate the project's viability and accountability credibly to Stark Countians.

And let it be known that the SCPR looks at the leadership and not its reportorial staff for decisions made/not made at The Rep with respect to reporting/editorializing on numbers that beg not to be overlooked in digging deep into what appears to be all too many "held in private" data points that seemingly are being hidden to the public by the HOF-VP folks under the guise of being proprietary "trade secret" information.

It is somewhat understandable that The Rep as an iconic and long lived Stark County institution would want to focus on the "best case scenario" hoped for financial/economic development productiveness for the county flowing from the HOF-VP.

A succession of Repository leaders have seen Canton, the county seat, take a nosedive in economic life since its heydey circa 1950.

Though a part of the Canton/Stark County business community, as the mainstay countywide newspaper, it is vital that Stark County's only countywide newspaper endeavor "to tell it as it is" so that community leaders have to face stark reality no matter how discomforting that may be.

There is no doubt about it, nearly seventy years of decline now has placed Canton in a survivalist mode joined in recent years, perhaps, by the NFL and its handmaiden of enshrinement and preservation of football as a core essential of American cultural life.

While they undoubtedly will deny it, the SCPR thinks that the impetus for the concept and fleshing out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project as an extraordinary entertainment complex in the order of Disneyland (California) and Disney World (Florida) is a desperate measure for professional football and its museum to stay relevant in a fast changing society as to what is and what is not to be society acceptable youth sports participation for future generations of middle class Americans.


The SCPR has embarked on a quest to develop information on whether or not Canton and Stark County embracing the HOF-VP is a wise move in terms of investing Canton/Stark community social, economic, financial and political resources in the project.

A part of the analysis has to be whether or not the HOF-VP/IRG folks will allow the transparency needed for area leaders to assess in the context of knowing all relevant information the viability of the project.

If HOF/IRG leaders want to persist in withholding critical information from the general Stark County public, then, that in and of itself should prompt local leaders to say "thanks, but no thanks" we cannot take on all out support of a project that seemingly is based on "a hope and a prayer" and having "faith" that those leaders will give at least equal billing to the welfare of the Canton/Stark County public welfare as their private interest.

On the private interest factor, take a look at the following extract of documents the SCPR has obtained from the Stark County commissioners' office, to wit;



The import of the foregoing highlighted language the SCPR thinks is that "private sector businesses" will benefit from public monies being infused into the HOF-VP which suggests a possibility that should the HOF-VP "go belly up," the taxpayer could be left with a financial clean up like the federal government was in the 2008 national financial crisis.

Isn't it interesting of how some (certainly not most) from "the private sector" make financially unsound plans/decisions that on their face suggest if not reek of unsustainability and ultimately in some fashion the public picks up the deficits while the "some" walk off with profits.

The national media largely failed America in forewarning us of the impending 2008 financial crisis.

Only a government bureaucrat; namely, Brooksley Born, saw the crisis coming well in advance of its actual happening.


It could be that something somewhat analogous awaits Stark County taxpayers that might dwarf the 2009 county financial in which county employee Vince Frustacci was not properly monitored coupled with the treasury office not being properly structured, physically and procedures wise.

It may be that public investment in the HOF-VP will worth the risk and thousands of new jobs get created and the return on public money will be magnified many times.

But it is unacceptable that "we the people" are not being provided with in-depth information as to exactly what that risk is.

It is the job of all levels of government dealing with the HOF-VP/IRG corporate partnership ensure that the risk is NOT "an undo risk" and that legal protection is in place that taxpayers not be left with "a pig in the poke."

To repeat, it is interesting that Desrosiers would apply the word "skeptics" (see his italicized statement above) to those of us who:
  • examine promises made versus those kept,
    • Note:  Ask North Cantonians about the eyesore that prime Hall of Fame developer Stu Lichter has let go on and on in front of the former Hoover complex across from North Canton City Hall, and
  • push for strict accountability for public money finding its way into the HOF-VP including:
    • direct benefit Ohio/Canton government payments and redirected sales tax revenues,  and
      • Note: $3.8 million in federal/state funds are to be expended to fix perceived potential traffic problems as construction of the HOF-VP proceeds.  Of course, the expenditure of monies for the HOF-VP improvements might mean that other State of Ohio funded Stark County road projects lose or get diminished funding
    • indirect expenditures in the form of government administrative expenditures that would not be incurred BUT FOR the HOF-VP  (particularly those provided by Canton government and Stark County government)
The SCPR sees such an attribution as subtle putdown by an experienced word crafter labeling anybody who endeavors to comprehensively analyze the viability and public accountability of the project and raises questions why his employer seems to be giving a pass to HOF-VP administrators with incisive questioning.

Skilled readers of the above-cited Repository articles clearly see the journalistic ethical downside of the business relationship between The Rep and readers getting "no holds barred" coverage of the HOF-VP financial vulnerabilities.

Moreover, it is clear that Repository publisher Jim Porter and Desrosiers themselves also see the obvious conflict in interest and hence they perceived a need to go out a get an ethical opinion which in effects says "nearly everybody in the news reporting/editorializing business" is creating.

In today's blog, the SCPR focuses on two instances in which there are questions about the quality of Repository coverage of the HOF-VP as the project has evolved.

Look at this slide presented by HOF prime developer Stu Lichter at a October, 2016 meeting with the Stark County commissioners:

NOTE:  VERY FIRST COST PROJECTION?  $24.3 MILLION


Compare the slide to what HOF-VP Executive Director C. David Baker said about the "final" cost of the Benson Stadium phase of the project:

Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker extended an invitation to the school district to “break in” the field. He spoke with band members on Monday after they finished posing for a photo and told them the stadium cost close to $150 million and is “the finest home of any high school in the world.”

Baker asked the students to remember three C’s when they use the stadium: To keep it clean and safe, to be classy, and to be competitive. He told the younger students they would have the responsibility of teaching incoming freshmen how to treat the stadium with respect.

“This is your house,” he said.

The foregoing was reported in The Repository in July, 2017 but insofar as the SCPR knows, The Rep has not dug deep and found out the reason for the more than six times the original cost estimate of the stadium.

So from $24.3 million to $80 million to $150 million?

Who came up with that initial $24.3 million figure?

Wow!

Talk about inaccuracies in estimating costs!!!

Even at $24.3 million, it would take a long, long, long time to attract enough revenues to start making money on the capital expenditure?

Well, go six (6) times $24.3 million and the $150 million, more or less;  how many generations of Cantonians/Stark Countians/Ohioans will it take to offset the $150 capital expenditure for "the finest home of a high school in the world."

Though the HOF-VP folks ballyhoo a possibility that Canton City Schools (about $6.7 million over 30 years [$223,333 annualized average]) and Plain Local Schools (about $3.3 million over 30 years [$110,000 annualized average]), if the project turns out to be "pie-in-the-sky," then those numbers will be dramatically reduced.


What the HOF-VP do not talk about in a press release about a Tax Increment Financing agreement worked out with Canton and Plain schools is an implicit projection that the HOF-VP/IRG duo will walk off with $30 million with which to pay for bonding/interest/underwriting on the $9,500,000 in bonding issued by the Summit County and Lucas County Port Authorities to pay for work done on the HOF-VP.

A high school, by the way, which way too many letter grade "F" rank in terms of the quality of education it offers its students, to wit:


Now that is getting one's priorities right, no?  

And David Baker thinks it is a good thing that a failing school system has a $150 million football stadium to brag about?

Based on the cost overrun on the reconstruction of the former Fawcett Stadium (remember from $24.3 million to $150 million (more or less), where will the final cost of the HOF-VP end up?

$1 billion.  $1.5 billion.  $2 billion?

Even though Johnson Controls has at least $70 million to go on its commitment to the HOF-VP, the $70 million plus is still is a "drop in the bucket" in which the SCPR thinks it is quite clear, to wit:  if ever finished, it looks likely that the HOF-VP will be at least $1 billion.

Moreover, the SCPR has a credible source in the eyes of this blog report that there are some $24 million outstanding HOF-VP invoices that lack funding to be paid that is said to have come out at a recent Stark County Port Authority meeting.

As far as the SCPR can determine, The Rep has yet to deal with that report and its suggestion that the $24 million together with a $54,420,000 "developer's equity" might just, might just, might just (repeated on purpose) suggest a project viability problem?

So far as we know, the HOF-VP is costing about $137 million not counting the state of Ohio $10 million infusion. Taking $54.5 million plus $24 million and dividing $137 million into the result, one comes up with with a Debt to Capital Expense (D/CE)  ratio of some 57%.

Hey! forensic accountants out there:  any cause for concern on the sustainability of that financial picture?

Questions begging to be asked of the HOF-VP/IRG folks?

Do contractors/developers build HOF-VP-esque projects to acquire equity stakes in a given project?

Do contractors/developers have a business model of "We will do the work, pay us when you can?"

Probably not very interested in engaging the SCPR in an exhaustive Q&A, no?

The SCPR is increasingly hearing that local government officials are starting to be concerned that local government will be "left holding the bag" for what appears to be lack of accounting for unpaid bills and the carrying of debt as having an equity stake in the HOF-VP.

There are those who say that the National Football League will swoop-in at the end and ante up the likely necessary millions if not tens of millions of dollars to ensure that the profit-making companies involved in the project get paid.

Hmm?

Here is a spreadsheet that the SCPR developed from the June 4, 2017 Repository article which The Report thinks suggests that such is dispositive of any questions that anybody might have about the viability and accountability of the project.

The SCPR encourages readers to go to the links provided in this blog, thoroughly vet the material and all other material The Rep has published and look the SCPR in the face and say that The Rep has critically analyzed, thoroughly vetted (meaning: asking and sticking with unanswered questions until answered with a high degree of plausibility) and investigated with third party sources so that folks who read The Rep feel assured that the HOF-VP is viable and taxpayers are fully accounted to and protected.

What will happen first?

Readers being so assured or Hell freezing over?

As the SCPR sees it, the joint private enterprise effort of HOF-VP/IRG cannot negotiate "private sector financing" of even the initial phase (i.e. $137 million) of the HOF-VP cost without millions upon millions of dollars of public money let alone the untold millions which will be needed to complete the project as envisioned by the Baker led crowd as he does a masterful job of ginning up excitement and enthusiasm for community that is in desperate need of a financial/economical shot in the arm.

It may be that the millions of dollars of public money put into the David Baker vision is worth the risk that vision may not materialize.

As HOF-VP matters stand now, it is very, very, very, very, very hard to see a pathway forward to the realization of promises made without millions more of public money being pumped into was supposed to be a private enterprise project.

The SCPR is totally in favor of private enterprise.

BUT private enterprise needs to keep its fingers out of the public till.

Obviously, that is not happening with the HOF-VP/IRG project.

To the degree a private enterprise project gets public money,  it absolutely MUST be a viable project in the sense that there is a certainty that there will be a return on investment to taxpayers and progress to the realization of the certainty is monitored through transparent accounting to the taxpaying public.

The October, 2017 meeting between the HOF-VP/IRG officials and the Stark County commissioners included an executive session.

Such is not transparency.

In the private sector, company officials are entitled to be secretive.

But we taxpayers should not tolerate that our elected officials provide public funding without knowing how each and every public dollar is spent.

If The Repository with its vast resources (as a part of the Gateway media complex) is not up to protecting the public interest because of its own financial needs, then the one-person Stark County Political Report will do its best to dig, dig, dig and dig more so that the taxpaying community is informed on the goings on with the HOF-VP.

The greatness of America is that here and there one person achieves  the seemingly impossible in being a difference maker.

Could it be that the SCPR will prove to be a difference maker in forcing out information relevant to the productive feasibility of public investment in the HOF-VP?

As matter stand now, there are far too many unanswered questions for the taxpaying public to be comfortable in investing public money in the HOF-VP!

Links to SCPR blogs on the HOF-VP:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

SCPR POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS: JAKMIDES DOMINATES ALLIANCE POLITICS:

UPDATED:  11/22/2017 AT 3:51 PM


The two biggest winners on the evening of November 7th were incumbent-Councilwoman-at-large Julie Jakmides and "I finally made it" Alliance council-at-large candidate Brian Simone.

Jakmides' re-election is bad news for the Alliance city administration in terms of Jakmides being a leading force for holding the administration (re:  the city's safety service operations and Director Michael Dreger) accountable to the taxpaying Alliance public.

In August, 2017, Jakmides walked out of a council meeting (LINK to an account of that meeting) because she thought she and her fellow council members were being disrespected by Dreger/the administration in refusing to discuss in public questions she and other council members had about the handling of certain matters by Dreger and the administration.

In a late October, 2017 University of Mount Union on Alliance City Council candidates forum covered extensively by the SCPR (LINK), Democratic candidate David Smith tried to make an issue of Jakmides' walk out.

So much for trying.  Jakmides overwhelming win shows that the "walk-out," if anything, enhanced Jakmides favor with Alliance voters.

Look at the numbers in the graphic shown above (note:  base data provided by the Stark County Board of Elections).

Jakmides (in unofficial returns) 401 votes over well known fellow Republican Roger Rhome and over 800 over Democrat Brian Simone (the 3rd of three selections to be made)  a person who has made a number of attempts to get elected to Alliance's legislative body.

Jakmides likely will also be Law Director Jennifer Arnold's worst nightmare going forward over law department/administration spending decisions on outside legal services.

Jakmides openly sided with Democratic candidate Mark Whitaker (corrected from original version) in 2015 when Arnold ran for retention as law director after having been appointed by an Alliance political party process in 2014.  Whitaker lost narrowly to Arnold (corrected from original version) which the SCPR thinks was largely due to Jakmides support of his candidacy.  Nearly every other, if not all, elected Alliance elected officials supported Arnold's re-election.


The characteristic that the SCPR likes about Jakmides above nearly every (perhaps, every) other Stark County political subdivision is her pre-eminent commitment to accountable, accessible, communicative, open and transparent government.

Though a solid supporter of Republican approaches to governance, Jakmides appears to the SCPR to be first and foremost devoted to effective, efficient and qualitative government in the best interest of the entire electorate (Democratic, "independent" or Republican) no matter what her political party's stance might be.

If there is a co-incidents, "fine and dandy."  But, if not, she shows no reluctance at all to depart from the party line.

Jakmides got a plurality in 15 of the 17 Alliance voting precinct wards and tied for the lead in the 16th.

Julie Jakmides is good friends with Stephanie Werren who was on November 7th re-elected to a new term as North Canton Ward 3 represented.

To boot, Werren is director of Leadership Stark County (an effort of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, CRCOC).

Jakmides and the SCPR have differed on Warren.  And, Jakmides has differed with The Report on another blog.

But to The Stark County Political Report, mature public officials disagree without becoming disagreeable and do not cut off communications/accountability because of differences with a given media perspective.

Councilwoman Julie Jakmides consistently demonstrates an uncommon political maturity in functioning as a public official.

To the SCPR, Jakmides is nearly everything a councilperson ought to be in terms of understanding the priorities that an elected official ought to be about whereas Werren is quite the opposite.

If the CRCOC had its head on straight, Julie Jakmides would be its director and not Stephanie Werren in terms of their respective conduct a municipal legislators.

If more Stark County political subdivision elected official operated like Councilwoman Jakmides, then they would like experience the same electoral success that she did on November 7th.

The SCPR applauds Jakmides being a principled politician who thereby engenders the abiding support of the Alliance voting public.

Monday, November 20, 2017

SCPR POST—ELECTION ANALYSIS: STARK CO. GOP MISSES OPPORTUNITY TO "IMPROVE" MAKE UP OF CANTON CITY COUNCIL?



With The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) rating seven of Canton's councilpersons (including council president Alan Schulman who only votes in the case of a tie) being either consistently productive or top tier; the quality of council over all is let's say at a C+.

In that former long time Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts and former Stark County commissioner Thomas Harmon (filling out a term as councilman-at-large) opting not to run for re-election likely in light a a few legal problems he has experienced in the relatively recent past, the quality of council going forward gets a boost to B-.

The Report thinks that Harmon is a political hanger-on who has built up a wealth of political connections with the "powers that be" in the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party, to wit:
  • Johnnie A. Maier, Jr, 
    • currently Massillon clerk of courts and former Stark Dems chairman, 
  • former Stark Dems chairman Randy Gonzalez
    • currently Jackson Township fiscal officer, a former Jackson trustee, and former chief deputy Canton Municipal Court clerk of courts under both the current clerk Phil Giavasis and Harmon himself,
  • the Giavasises ,
    • Stark County Clerk of Courts Louis P. Giavasis, and
    • his brother Phil Giavasis current Canton Municipal clerk of courts and current Stark Dems chairman,
A virtual political party "swamp" which the SCPR believes that Harmon, Maier, Jr., Gonzalez and the Giavasises have created.

But to be fair about it, there are Stark GOP officials (e.g. Stark GOP chairman Matthews) who the SCPR thinks qualifies as the flip-side of Harmon, Maier, Jr., Gonzalez and the Giavasis brothers.

Troublesome to the SCPR is The Report's suspicion that Stark County political subdivision elected Republican officials Alan Harold, Alex Zumbar  Judge Dixie Park among others have hired Republican Party connected individuals onto the public payroll on a primary basis of personal political compatibility/connections and not primarily on the basis of having superior non-political qualifications.

Such self-serving/political-party serving conduct damages more than any other factor the public's trust of Stark County government in terms of accessibility, accountability and a fair opportunity to the general taxpaying Stark County public to land public jobs.

Besides the departing Harmon, The Report thinks an equally accomplished Dems' hanger-oner is Councilman Jimmy Babcock who the SCPR has dubbed as the "Dapper Dan" of Canton City Council.

Babcock is the son of a former Canton mayor (Charles) and councilwoman (Mary) who, the SCPR thinks, would never have seen the political light of day BUT FOR his political pedigree inherited from his parents.

So it was a sad day indeed for improving the quality of council governance in Canton that Babcock was re-elected on November 7th.

The SCPR thinks that Babcock's election was due to the ineptness of the Stark County "organized" Republican Party under the leadership of party chairman Jeff Matthews.

Matthews and his fellows out on Fulton Drive NW should have gone about selling Cantonians on the notion that of the three filed non-Democrat candidates, Patrick  Wyatt was the most merited of the group.

Accordingly, he should have asked Republican Springer to step aside.


Such a political strategy in the assessment of the SCPR would likely led to a Wyatt election in displacement of wallflower councilman Babcock.

But, of course, Matthews wouldn't want to offend the Timkens.


For Matthews, taking marching orders from the Timken family is more important that doing what is best for Canton governance.

Why does the SCPR focus on Wyatt to the exclusion and Hart?

Because:  
  • Wyatt by far out raised Hart and Springer on campaign finance resource and thereby would have been and was able to do more campaign voter outreach,
  • Wyatt had the endorsement of prominent city of Canton former and current elected officials, and
  • Wyatt has "put his money where his mouth is" as shown in him and his wife living in downtown Canton (i.e. the rehabbed former Onesto Hotel), and 
  • Hart ran a "non-existent' campaign not getting enough in campaign contributions or putting enough into his own campaign to break the $1,000 threshold to have to file a campaign finance report
Had "independent" candidate Patrick G. Wyatt been elected on November 7th as a councilman-at-large over Babcock,  the B-- grade would have prompted the SCPR to raise the grade on these obvious marked upgrade to A-.

The overriding statistical study question is, based on actual vote number::  Had "independent" Wyatt been the sole non-Democrat running,
    • NOTE:
      • A significant number of Stark politicos consider Wyatt in reality of a Republican philosophical view, 
      • Hart a former Republican ran as a Republican and "independent" in bygone years and was elected and not re-elected, 
      • Springer was the sole candidate run at-large as the sole Republican candidate,
        • The SCPR thinks that Wyatt, if were the "sole" non-Democrat against the three Democrats would have been the strongest candidate from among that group based upon:
          • prominent Stark County subdivision elected offices supporting his candidacy (e.g. Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton (a former mayor) and Ward 8 councilman Edmond Mack 
Would have been elected as one of the top three in the "three to be elected" format for city of Canton city council?

The SCPR analysis:  YES!

Here is a chart showing the actual "unofficial vote" of November 7th comparing the Babcock vote with the combined vote of Hart, Springer and Wyatt.


To the SCPR, these numbers clearly indicate that Canton voters wanted a non-Democrat among the mix of the three elected from the three positions to be elected.

Politically sophisticated analysts should point out that it unfair to compare Babcock's numbers against three combined candidacies.

On the surface such is the appearance.

But digging deeper, the SCPR assigned a likelihood factor as to any given Canton voters' choice of three candidates to get one of most voters' three votes (of course, some voters voted for only one candidate or perhaps two and not three, but only—in the estimate of the SCPR relatively few).

If Babcock of 50% or better votes (counting ONLY those votes that went to Babcock and one of the non-Democrat candidates) then the SCPR assigned a value of +1 to Babcock as being more likely than not that he would in the context of four total candidates would have gotten a plurality of votes over Wyatt were he to be the "sole" fourth candidate.

Conversely, where the combined non-Democrat vote went 50% or better to the group, then The Report assigned +1 to Wyatt.

Using that formula, 37 +1's are assigned to the sole non-Democrat candidate whereas 17 are assigned Babcock on his being the lowest citywide vote getter among the three Democrats.

Using foregoing sentence rough measure as the standard for differentiating, the SCPR thinks that Wyatt (or Hart or Springer, whichever of the three surfaced as the sole "non-Democrat" candidate) would have won that ward's plurality as between Babcock (who received the lowest vote total citywide) and either Wyatt, Hart or Springer.


To say it again, had the Republicans marshaled their forces behind "independent" Republican-leaning philosophically Patrick Wyatt as the "unofficially" they did behind philosophical Democratic "independent" Thomas Bernabei when he ran for mayor of Canton against two-term Democrat William J. Healy, II Canton could have elected Wyatt who undoubtedly would have, over time, surfaced as a "top tier" Canton city councilperson.

Shame on the Republicans!

And shame on Richard Hart.

To run a lackluster campaign if not a non-existent campaign and drain off votes from the Wyatt candidacy is inexcusable.

More importantly, a Hart withdrawal if coupled with a Springer withdrawal would have made Wyatt's election certainty.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

SCPR POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS: NC SCHOOLS TAX ISSUE & HUNT/STROIA BOE RACE



"You knew, I knew and everybody [familiar with the North Canton Schools (NCCS) levy environment] knew" that the North Canton City Schools levy was going to go down to a massive defeat on the recently concluded November general election.

The Stark County Political Report's pre-election prediction was that Lake Township precincts in the NCCS district would lead-the-way in rejecting the North Canton Board of Education tax play which included a 0.75 "permanent" income tax levy on "earned" income coupled with a $55 million bond issue.

Why so?

Lake Township government in general has no income tax and so to ask part of the electorate to take on such a tax was way out there somewhere in terms of the thinking processes of the North Canton City Schools' administration and school board members Cross, Hunt, Greenwald and VanVranken.

Add to the Lake factor, NCCS Plain Township precincts and one can double down on the obvious impossibility that the income tax part of the levy could pass.

Add to the Lake, Plain factors North Canton most elected city officials (prime examples:  Mayor David Held, Councilmember Mark Cerreta) being especially against the income tax of the combo tax initiative and one can triple down on the obvious impossibility that the income tax part of the levy could pass.

Of course, North Canton officials did have a "dog in this fight."  North Canton city government currently has a 1.5% income tax in effect (the lowest in Stark County and probably in all of Ohio) and undoubtedly wants

  • in light of the pressure of huge state of Ohio local government funding cuts at the hand of Republican governor John Kasich and the supermajority Republican Ohio General Assembly (OGA) beginning with the 2011/2012 state biennium budget to the tune of $1.25 billion across the state,
to preserve as a "safety net" the ability to go to North Canton voters and say:
  • "sorry folks, we have tried to 'hold the fort' on NOT increasing North Canton's income tax but our governor and the supermajority Republican OGA has so gutted state subsidy to Ohio local government that we have no choice but to  ask for more tax revenue so that we can—at the very least—maintain our highly efficient level of local government services,"
Nobody should be surprised at the numbers on the following chart:

As the foregoing graphic shows, Lake Township voters in four of the top voting "no on 44" precincts voted 80%, 75%, 74% and 71%  against the levy package.

And there was some correlation between the levy vote and the battle for a spot going forward on the North Canton Board of Education.

The only incumbent running was board president, Bruce Hunt.

Well, he will be board president no more come January, 2018, to wit:

An irony in comparing the NO on 44 vote to the Stroia victory over incumbent Hunt lies in Hunt doing better than Stroia in the townships.

Apparently, Stroia did a very poor job in communicating to Lake/Plain voters that a vote for Hunt was a vote for a leading proponent of imposing a heretofore non-existing income tax on them.

Clearly the North Canton school administration is out-of-touch with their constituents.

Now the salvage operation begins.

The SCPR is told that the NCCS administration (i.e. Superintendent Jeff Wendorf and his top aides) is putting together a select group of stakeholders which includes Councilman-elect at large Daryl Revoldt and council president Daniel "Jeff" Peters.

The SCPR has also learned that Wendorf has been advised by Stark County education officials to include the core leadership of the "Vote NO on 44" political action committee that in pre-election campaign finance reports put some $6,000 into fighting Issue 44.

It will be interesting to see who makes the "final list" of deemed to be players on the matter of North Canton City Schools finances.

Friday, November 17, 2017

SCPR POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS: MARLBORO TWP, THE EDDLEMAN/HAGAN RACE


SOURCE OF DATA & MAPS (STARK COUNTY BOE)




In the "unofficial" tally of the voting in Marlboro Township on November 7th, incumbent 19 year trustee John P. Hagan won two of three Marlboro precincts but lost "apparently" has lost the election.

Had Eddleman not rolled up a 33 vote margin in Marlboro precinct 1, he likely would have come out the loser.  Eddleman and a number of Eddleman family members live in precinct 1 and so it is a touch ironic that he had to rely on precinct 2 to come out the winner.

Another interesting result of the SCPR Marlboro precinct study is that 48% of  precinct 2 voters voted on November 7th whereas 41% voted in precinct 1.

In a previous blog (since corrected), the SCPR had calculated erroneously that Hagan, if the eight vote separation holds, seemed to be entitled to an automatic recount.

On talking with Ken Eddleman, The Report became aware of the calculation error and the revision appears in the graphic above.

Of course, John Hagan could ask for a recount but he would have to bear the expense of doing so.

Indications are that he is not expected to ask for recount at his expense.

Sources are telling The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) that Hagan is showing a mixed bag in terms of his "apparent" loss.

Nobody can say for sure until the official count becomes public November 28th whether or not there will be an automatic recount in the Eddleman/Hagan race,

There are 1,528 outstanding provision/absentee ballots outstanding countywide, but only a small number of those will qualify to be counted in the Marlboro trustee race.

Hagan is presenting a mixed reaction to the "unofficial" results.

With Eddleman and Battershell, he has been congratulatory.

But with the third Marlboro trustee Wayne Schillig (the most congenial politician in all of Stark County) he got testy when Schillig called him to console him on his apparent loss.

An interesting contrast, no?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

COMMISSIONERS EXERCISING "DUE DILIGENCE" ON CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT CHANGE ORDERS!


MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON err CANTON


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR) has a long memory.

That memory came to the fore yesterday at the regular Wednesday meeting (1:30 p.m. at the Commissioners' office complex in the Stark County Office Building) of the commissioners.

The prompt?


In the ensuing commissioners discussing of the requested led by board president Janet Creighton, less-than-a-year-on-the-job commissioner Bill Smith relayed to attendees at the meeting that he had personally investigated the reasons for the change request and came away with an assessment that in the interests of total safety to any person working with the generator and in doing the job correctly the first time, he recommended that his fellow commissioners (Creighton and Regula) join him in voting to approve the Horn Engineering request. And they did.

So why would a "change order request" be a hot topic for a SCPR blog?

For the full story go back to a July 20, 2107 blog (LINK) regarding the commissioners' considering approving another contract on the IT Center.

A core point in a summary of  July 19th commissioners meeting is an alert issued by Commissioner Smith that he had information to the effect that N.L. Construction had a history of bidding low on government contracts but then made prolific use of "change orders" to in Smith's words "live on."

Here is a repeat of the SCPR video of Smith speaking on the need to watch N.L. closely and Auditor Alan Harold embracing of Commissioner Smith's admonition:



A point of emphasis:  N.L had underbid the expected $440,000 cost of the project by nearly $73,000.

Well, guess what happened recently?

You've got it.

A "change order" came flying into the commissioners for some $4,000 in increase expense to N.L. Construction for a change ALREADY DONE!

This is to be contrasted with the Horning request being submitted to commissioners BEFORE the work was undertaken.

And get this.

Stark County auditor Alan Harold who has a track record of being stingy of paying out county money where he thinks (e.g. Gary Zeigler matter bonding matter LINK) all is not right with any requested payment was in the July 19, 2017 meeting in which the commissioners informed by Commissioner Smith's concern let it be known that N.L. Construction would be under scrutiny on any change order requests.

Harold vowed (see above video) to be part of vetting any N.L. Construction change requests.

Hmm!

Amazing!!! no?

The SCPR, in light of the Horning agenda item—after the meeting ended—initiated questioning of Commissioner Smith on whether or not there had been any change order requests by N.L. Construction.

Answer?

Yes!!!

So what follows is a video SCPR question by question examination of Commissioner Smith on the matter.
  • NOTE:  The other questioner is Robert Wang a reporter with The Canton Repository


Harold was not at yesterday's meeting.

Accordingly, the SCPR has contacted him for a response to the unanswered questions that Commissioner Smith in the video would require questioning of Harold to get the answers to.

The Report has contacted Harold on this matter and here is his response:

Alan C. Harold <acharold@starkcountyohio.gov>  Today at 9:26 AM
To:  Alan C. Harold  Brant A. Luther  Martin Olson

Martin, thanks for the note.  I'm out today at a conference, and I believe Brant is out today, too.  I'll have Angie gather the documents related to the change orders today and get them to you tomorrow when I am back.  Not speaking for Brant, but I don't believe they have anything different than what I will provide.  All documents for this project come through me for eventual presentation to the Board.

The project is moving along and is back on track after the first change order was approved last month.  The initial change order in the $64k range came as a result of conversations with the architect and contractor.  In large part it involved changes to the types of doors proposed and, as Commissioner Smith stated, Brant and I walked through the site and came to resolution on the changes that would move forward.  I want to be clear - this was not a "give and take" negotiation between Brant/Commissioners/me - where I wanted X and they said they would agree to Y.  There were a host of issues presented after construction started, I asked for a price, the price was too high, and we collectively found a way to make things work that met my vision and kept the costs in line.  This change was less than 4% of the contract total and still well within the overall budget for the project.

Alan

Moreover, the SCPR has made public records requests of the commissioners' office and the auditor's office to provide more of the details of the progression of the N.L. Construction change request in terms of:
  • when it was generated,
  • it's size,
  • to the degree that it was granted,
  • the rational supporting any approvals, et cetera
Check back to this blog throughout the day for updates on the details of how the auditor and the commissioners have dealt from beginning to end on the N.L. Construction change order request.

It should be encouraging to Stark Countians that the current board of commissioners seem to be exercising "due diligence" in protecting the public purse from inappropriate expenditures.

The Stark County Political Report is committed to keeping government officials accountable to the tax paying public.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SCPR 2018 GOVERNOR SERIES: DEWINE IN NORTH CANTON AT STOLLE MACHINERY—PART 2


POST-EVENT VIDEO INTERVIEWS

CANDIDATE DEWINE
FRAN DEWINE
STARK CO CHAIR - ALEX ZUMBAR
BRO. DAVE LOMBARDI
&
MORE



LINK TO PART 1 OF DEWINE COVERAGE

Unlike Democrat Connie Pillich's event last Thursday at the Stark County Democratic Headquarters (Oakwood Square in Plain Township), Stark County's leading Republicans were out in force on Monday as leading Republican candidate Mike DeWine was in North Canton on a campaign tour of the local area (including Akron) promoting his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor that will be decided on May 8, 2018.

Getting around the campaigns (Republican and Democratic) as The Stark County Political Report does, one can get a sense of the quality of the campaigns.

As reported on last Friday, the SCPR was unimpressed with the Pillich campaign appearance in that it was sparsely attended.  Moreover, there were NO elected Stark County Democratic officials attending the Pillich event.

Accordingly, there seems to be a world of difference between those staffing the Pillich campaign as compared to Mike DeWine's.

In attendance at DeWine's event were:
  • Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton, northeast Ohio regional campaign director,
  • Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar, Stark County chair of the DeWine campaign,
  • Stark County commissioner Richard Regula,
  • Stark County commissioner Bill Smith,
  • Jackson Township trustee Jamie Walters (also a filed candidate for Ohio House District 48)
  • Paris Township trustee Reggie Stoltzfus (also a filed candidate for Ohio House District 50),
  • North Canton mayor David Held,
  • North Canton councilman-at-large Daryl Revoldt, and
  • Former Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge and a former head of the Stark County Republican Party Charles Brown and his wife Sarah who is an Ohio Republican State Central Committee elected member for a district which includes Stark County
There may have been other Republican officials and/or party officials that do not come to mind as this blog is written.

The point of the foregoing list is to evidence the work that effective political campaigns do in furtherance of a successful campaign from an organizing standpoint.

Of course, quality organization has to do with political staffers working with elected officials (in this case Stark County Republican officials) in putting on polished campaign events.

A noteworthy factor with the Democrat gubernatorial candidate Pillich appearance in Stark County last Thursday is the complete absence of Stark County Democratic elected/upper level party officials at her event.  Moreover, the candidate herself gave the SCPR "the bum's rush" when it came to The Report posing questions—post event—to candidate Pillich.

Not real smart, don't you think?

DeWine's staffers appear to be top notch and the results showed on Monday as one hundred or better enthusiastic DeWine supporters but also including a few uncommitteds were in attendance at Stolle Machinery on Monday.

Recently, DeWine opponent for the Republican nomination Jim Renacci (currently congressman for Ohio's 16th congressional district) had an event which became a bit controversial (LINK) as reported in Brunswick, Ohio media that Bikers for Trump (also, has a Facebook page Bikers for Renacci) forcibly ejected a non-Renacci-supporting citizen attending  what was termed in the media report as a "routine" campaign stump speech.

None of that at DeWine's Stolle Machinery event.

Most of us who follow politics across the nation are aware of the bitterly contested gubernatorial race in Virginia a little over a week ago in which the Republican candidate Ed Gillespie while not bringing the divisive President Donald J. Trump in the campaign did embrace—uncharacteristic of Gillespie according to those who know him well—did embrace a Trump "misinformation" style of campaigning.

In the SCPR's post-Monday-DeWine event interview of candidate DeWine the Gillespie approach was brought up to DeWine in order to prompt DeWine to disavow such happening in Ohio in the months leading up to November, 2018 should he become—which The Report thinks is highly likely—the Republican nominee for governor.

Here is DeWine's response to that question together with his addressing issues that local school officials wherein students are experiencing depression to the point of taking their own lives (three very recently within Stark County school districts):



Though the forte of the SCPR is to name names and provide evidence based support in blogging on accountability,  accessibility, communicativeness and transparency of public officials and their offices; first and foremost those of us who probe and question need to do so in a civil manner.

Although the SCPR is for needed change in eliminating to the greatest degree possible what has been termed as being "a [politics-first & foremost] swamp" in national, state and local politics and governance; it is important to support those candidates who do not engage in fear mongering, deceit, lying and self-serving framing of issue discussion.

DeWine seems to disavow the Gillespie style of campaigning in the video above.

The Report thinks DeWine has to be much more forthright and clear in making such a commitment.

Republicans, Democrats and political independents ought to put on a high priority assessing candidates for governor on whether or not a given candidate will "stay out of the 'political' mud" come the November, 2018 general election.

If DeWine has the high quality of character that North Canton mayor David Held says he does and which DeWine ascribes to, then DeWine will take up the SCPR challenge to make a clear statement on how he will conduct himself in the Republican nominating process and beyond should he become the party's nominee.

A key figure in the DeWine effort is Mike's wife Fran.

The SCPR interviewED her for a few minutes on Monday, to wit:



The SCPR was surprised to see Brother Dave Lombardi of the Trinity Gospel Temple (some 53 years in ministry in Canton/Stark County) and chatted with him a few minutes following DeWine's remarks:



Wife Mary Olson is first cousin of Minister of Christian Education Arva Stump at the Trinity Gospel Temple.  Another personal connection is the fact that Lombardi attended L.I.F.E Bible College with my brother in law.

One thing that every candidate ought to do when appearing at a facility like Stolle Machinery is to mingle with the workers.  DeWine did not miss a beat in doing so.

The SCPR did catch up with one Stolle Machinery employee for his take on the day's event, to wit:



The Report also caught up with a Stolle Machinery executive level official, to wit:



Last and certainly not least is Stark County treasurer and Stark County chair of the DeWine for Governor campaign is Alex Zumbar and his take on the DeWine appearance in Stark County: