Wednesday, December 13, 2017


UPDATED:  11:57 AM


Prior to today's blog, the SCPR has published seven other blogs on the HOF-VP, to wit:

Links to SCPR blogs on the HOF-VP:
Weather permitting, Canton City Council's Community & Economic Development Committee (CEDC) will assemble at 5:30 p.m. today at Canton City Hall to go over the provisions of two "complex" and "voluminous" agreements that the Pro Football Hall of Fame folks say must be approved not later than December 31, 2017.

The Stark County Political Report does not expect that any of the members of CEDC  has the ability to to read and UNDERSTAND the import/implications of the two lengthy agreements (Operations and Maintenance Agreement [41 pages]; Development Agreement [34 pages] presented to council.

See copies of these agreement at the end of this blog.

On all of council, The Report thinks that only council members (who happen to be private sector attorneys) Edmond Mack and Allen Schulman (council president) have the intellectual/experiential ability to sift through the presented agreements and have much of a clue as to what liabilities to Canton's taxpayers lurk in the in the total of 75 pages which ought to be gone through with a "fine tooth comb" before council approves them.

For Edmond Mack not to be placed on the committee as "a special appointee with regard to examining the proposed agreement," is a major, major, major mistake.

Another councilman who ought to be involved in the committee vetting is the dean of Canton City Council, Bill Smuckler.

Smuckler is not an attorney but he has a wealth of experience/knowledge effective business models and has learned how to parse and analyze agreement presented to Canton government and to develop penetrating questions of the likes of the HOF folks.

Oh, yes! they have the capable Canton Law Department under the leadership of long term director Joe Martuccio to rely on.

But, if these agreements "blow-up" in the face of Canton government and end up costing a hugely financially strapped city (note:  Canton's finance director tells the SCPR that a loss of $80,000 in local government funds in FY 2018) and of course its taxpayers unexpected expenses, then there will be finger pointing galore.

Odds are, if they have not done a thorough vetting which empowers them to have a full understanding of what they (the council members) are getting Canton's taxpayers in to;  they will be ultimately held accountable by Canton voters.

If it is reasonably certain that the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP) is on a pathway to completion and hence success, then there may be nothing for Canton officials to worry about.

The SCPR is in the process of collecting numerous documents (available through public records requests) to determine if it appears that the HOF-VP is viable and whether or not there is sufficient accountability of ensure that taxpayers know to the penny what public money is being spent for.

The Report has been hearing from numerous high ranking Stark County political subdivision officials (both elected and unelected) that it is highly questionable from their perspective that a successful end to the tune of at least $800 million or so to the HOF-VP seems likely.

The SCPR doubts that the HOF-VP meets the "reasonably certain" to succeed standard,  which The Report thinks is a financially fair standard, as of December 13, 2017.

C. David Baker's braggadocio to Canton McKinley students that they have the finest $150 million (originally slated to be about $24 million) football stadium appears to be to the SCPR a diversion from folks focusing on the the financial viability of the entire project.

One does not have to be a financial/economic development expert to understand that getting profitable return on $150 million in investment "in several lifetimes" is absolutely a pipe dream.

One SCPR source says that if completion occurs, it certainly will not be according to the timetable presented by HOF officials.

The SCPR has been told that at a October 31st meeting of the Stark County Port Authority it came to light that there was some $24 million in contractor billings to the HOF-VP that were unpaid.

Specific evidence supporting the claim that HOF-VP officials are struggling to pay project bills as exemplified in the following document:

The SCPR has placed telephone calls to Tracy Green and Donzell Taylor to determine whether or not the Welty demands have been satisfied.

Multiple attempts have gone unresponded to.

The SCPR has been hearing allegations that Welty is not the only HOF-VP contractor who is struggling with getting paid.

We all know that Canton government has $5 million in the cold hard cash of Canton taxpayer money tied up in the HOF-VP.

Shouldn't the first order of business be for city officials to dig into and locate the likes of the Welty November 17, 2017 letter as bases upon which to  make an assessment of the viability of the HOF-VP.

The scrutiny should be made under  the guidance of expert financial analysts who HOF-VP officials ought to provide existing documentation (like the Welty letter) to such analysts in order for them to be in a position to do a thoroughgoing assessment of viability for the benefit of Canton taxpayers.

Everybody in Stark County should want the HOF-VP to succeed and the SCPR is among the "everybody."

Nonetheless, government has a fiduciary duty to the taxpayers to ensure that they do not get into helping finance through "cold hard cash" and services and infrastructure development when there seems to be evidence of the overall viability of the project.

For those hardy souls among SCPR readers here are copies of the Canton/HOF VP Development and Operations and Maintenance Agreement:

First, the Development Agreement:

Second, the Operations and Maintenance Agreement:

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