Tuesday, January 9, 2018





A Stark County Political Report (SCPR) "Hats Off" to the Stark County Foundation and it support of the birth, development and maturation of a Stark County effort of a group tabbed as being the Stark Civic Group:

But of course the "proof is going to be in the pudding" of what the Stark Civic Group can provide in "effective" leadership to get Stark County out of what the Stark Civic Group through its initiative STRENGTHENING STARK:  A CALL FOR  ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION.

Those accountable for evaluating the viability and projected effectiveness of Strengthening Stark showed up about 50 strong, to wit:

The most compelling aspect of yesterday's meeting (two more to be held, one for western Stark elected officials and one for eastern Stark elected officials) was the post-basic-presentation Q&A.

However, the answers were far a few between.

Strengthening Stark is going to have do much, much, much better with ans

A first it was like pulling teeth to get the attendees to stand up and ask questions, any kind of questions.

The icebreaker?

The second questioner who was North Canton mayor David Held in which exchange of views he focused on "the good, the bad and the ugly" of North Canton losing The Hoover Company in 2008.

Held remarks included: (pre-SCPR recorded-video-segment presented below)
  • Complemented Strengthening Stark officials for the quality of the one hour plus a little presentation on history of the Stark Civic Group and its offspring Strengthening Stark,
  • Went in to some detail about the blow that North Canton sustained when The Hoover Company was no more in North Canton,
    • Talked about the "good, bad & ugly:"
      • pre-Hoover-departure of North Canton getting some $7 million in income tax annually,
      • post-Hoover-departure, the city going from $7 million in revenue (2000) to $5.4 million annually by 2008 which was a 23% drop,
      • North Canton government having to cut employees from 116 to 91, 
      • North Canton obtaining a $5 million state of Ohio Jobs Ready grant (JRG) to plow back into the Hoover complex to bring replacement jobs back to the city and which is now producing an 8% return by virtue of North Canton receiving about $400,000 a year in income taxes attributable to the JRG investment which means that North Canton will have matched Ohio's taxpayers having paid for the $5 million JRG to assist North Canton's recovery in about 12 years,
Here is David Held with his incisive questioning which had to shake up the Strengthening Stark/HOF-VP folks and hopefully all of the Stark County elected officials in attendance.  (3:52)

In the above video, Held was diplomatic in not fingering by name a culprit in his expressed consternation of plywood boarding up windows on the North Main Street side of the former Hoover Comlex that some $30 million in EB-5 money that has not made it into the rehab of the North Main Street side of Maple Street Commerce LLC (a principal owner of which is Brownfields developer Stu Lichter of Industrial Realty Group.

Interesting also, is an allegation that North Canton developer Bob DeHoff (listed as a member of the Stark Civic Group) in federal court litigation filed against Maple Street Commerce and Lichter, et al, to be a 10% owner of Maple Street Commerce.

For those SCPR readers who are interested, material underlying Held's remarks show up in allegations made in the following document:

Lichter's IRG is the lead developer of the HOF-VP.

A mere three days after C. David Baker was brought to Canton as president and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Lichter was in Canton "huddled up"  (interestingly enough, a favorite theme of the HOF-VP folks in selling the nearly $1 billion expansion of the project) with Baker.

The timing of Lichter coming to Canton seemingly was pre-planned with Baker's hiring and does not appear that came bolting out of Baker's mind with his January 2, 2014 hiring.

Also interesting on looking at the hiring of Baker timeframe is the advertised Stark Civic Group coming into being in 2015 which, of course, was the beginning year of the "full-court-press" for those advocating for the Canton/Stark County community to embrace a then $500 million expansion HOF-VP.

Today's blog is focused on what a tough, tough, tough job the Stark Civic Group AKA the Stark Foundation AKA Strengthening Stark has on its hand in trying to convince Stark Countians and their elected leaders that Strengthening Stark is about the well-being of all of Stark County and not merely a front for a bailout of the financially troubled HOF-VP.

Just as when county commissioners had to deal with the shattering of confidence of Stark Countians in county government after the April 1, 2009 revelation that former Stark County treasurer chief deputy had stolen from the county treasury (subsequently thought to be upwards of $3 million), the current set of Janet Creighton, Richard Regula and Bill Smith (all Republicans) have to tread very carefully on the proposal of the Stark Civic Group (of which both Creighton and former commissioner and Canton mayor Thomas Bernabei are members of) in its various manifestations for the SCPR thinks that danger to public confidence in county government may lurk in the Strengthening Stark movement unless it is vetted under the leadership of the aforementioned officials so as to be nearly guaranteed of success across a wide range of Stark County economic development efforts.

How and Commissioner Creighton and Mayor Bernabei continue to be members of a group that is just another manifestation of Strengthening Stark County?

Are they not part of the "elected official" collection determining whether or not Strengthening Stark County is worthy of public support?

Jim Porter, the publisher of The Repository which bills itself of the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame should step aside, no?

For if ultimately Stark Countians conclude that if the Strengthening Stark is/has been merely a front for the HOF-VP to get its hands on Stark County taxpayer money to stave off financial disaster and the project does not get anywhere near its original projections of "real" benefit to everyday Stark Countians even with millions of dollars of county taxpayer money brought to the rescue, then the setback to Stark County economic development will be much more severe than that currently being projected in the Stark is "losing population, getting older and getting poorer."

Super "due diligence" is the order of the day for not only the commissioners but all levels of local government elected officials.

The SCPR has a lot of interesting video collected of today's proceeding and will be sharing it with all of Stark County as a tool with which to determine whether or not Strengthening Stark is the real deal to benefit ALL of Stark County and not just one institution.

Future SCPR blogs will focus on the Q&As of participants; not the presentation itself.

However, for those readers who want to take the core of the presentation side of today's meeting here is a pdf file on the 2017 Stark County Foundation commissioned report on Strengthening Stark.

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