Sunday, February 4, 2018


UPDATED:  Monday, February 5, 2018


"Who Believes That?"

Today's blog is the 12th in a series specifically on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project.  What follows are links to the 11 previous blogs plus two "Strengthening Stark" blogs which are related to the HOF-VP but more expansive than just the HOF.
Added 02/05/2018.

More tomorrow after Canton City Council passes this evening (02/05/2018) a resolution placing on the ballot for May 8, 2018 a 1/2 percent increase.  

Will the city's failure to collect over $300,000 in HOF promised reimbursement for 2017 HOF Festival Canton provided safety services affect the city ability to persuade Cantonians to raise the tax rate?

TODAY'S BLOG (02/04/2018)

The Stark County Political Report ("SCPR") has learned that a 100 year old Canton based company (Hilscher-Clarke) is on the brink of filing a lawsuit in Stark County Court of Common Pleas "apparently" against Johnson Controls and perhaps including the:
  • Johnson Controls,
  • Stark County Port Authority,
  • Hall of Fame Village, LLC,
  • Hall of Fame,
  • Welty Construction, and 
  • Canton City Schools
On January 30, Hilscher-Clarke attorney Robert Murphy sent a communication to "the stakeholders" in the Professional Hall of Fame Village Project ("HOF-VP").

Initially, Murphy for his client (he names President Scott Goodspeed, LINK) set February 1st as a deadline for the HOF VP folks to pay or presumably make arrangements to pay Hischer-Clarke or have the HOF-VP's non-payment problems involving Hilscher-Clarke and others erupt in a more advanced the filing of mechanics liens about one month ago.

Readers of the SCPR know that The Report has been saying for some time now that it appears that there are "real" questions about the viability of what is thought by some to be upwards of $1 billion expansion program that Hall of Fame CEO/president C. David Baker has been selling to local governments going back as far perhaps as far as 2014 which is the year he became CEO and president of the Hall of Fame.

Here are some excerpts from the Murphy communication presented in such a way so as to highlight certain points.

First, Hilscher-Clarke has run out of patience on not being paid the $1.9 million that is owed to it:

As counsel for Hilscher-Clarke Electric Company I have been asked to inform you all as various stakeholders in the Hall of Fame Village of the following: As Hilscher-Clarke Electric Company (HC) continues to wait for payment for the Hall of Fame Stadium Phase II project, it has come to the conclusion that continued patience is not warranted based on the inaction of the involved parties.

Next, Murphy recites the $1.9 million owe, and interesting enough, says that Hilscher-Clarke is prepared to go on a public relations campaign to make sure that the general public including the National Football League fan base knows about the HOF's failure to pay.

Hilscher-Clarke is still awaiting $1.9M+ in payment for services primarily performed in June and July of 2017 in the expedited ramp up to finishing the stadium for the 2017 Hall of Fame events.  If HC is not paid in Full on or before February 1st, Hilscher-Clarke is planning to file suit against Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) under its contract with JCI, engage a professional team to initiate a public relations campaign to ensure the general Stark County public and general NFL fan base is aware of the egregious non-payment that has occurred and continues and finally will consider initiating or joining with other unpaid contractors to file against the Stark County Port Authority,  Welty, Hall of Fame Village, LLC, the Hall of Fame, Canton City Schools and any other party with an interest in the project ... . (emphasis added)

The SCPR likes Murphy's recounting (see text below) of the rich history that Hilscher-Clarke (LINK) has in Canton and Stark County and that the company went to extraordinary lengths to have its work done before the 2017 HOF game.  

Remember, the 2016 game proved to be a debacle in that it was canceled because of the "turf' problem.

Moreover, this is a company that pays its employees well (union employees) which is particularly important to Canton as Canton's government is nearly certain to place a 1/2 percent addition onto its 2% income tax on the May primary election ballot with a hope that the measure passes and the employees of Hilscher-Clarke participate beginning in July adding to the city's desperately needed additional revenues.

Think city officials (Canton government has already contributed $5 million in cash to the HOF-VP) won't be muscling in on the HOF-VP project folks to pay up and to pay up yesterday?  

Here is the text from the next section of the Murphy communication:

The fact that an over 100 year old Canton based, Stark County company which employees hundreds of union electricians and pays thousands in local taxes has to pursue these means simply to get paid for the work it completed professionally and on an incredibly aggressive timeframe is supremely disappointing. 

As if to make sure that the HOF folks did not miss Murphy's "adverse publicity initiative" point of earlier in his communication, he repeats it.

Moreover, he highlights information to the effect that Stark County government itself in effect has paid money to the HOF-VP by the use of the Stark County Port Authority whereby the county did not receive the 1/2 cent sales tax on items in the contract(s) subject to sales tax.

As the SCPR is saying all along in this series of blogs:  Stark County political subdivision taxpayer supported entities:
  • in cash, the foregoing of revenues, expending extra beyond the scope of normal government operations services and the like 
have far more in the HOF-VP than has been publically accounted for in terms of assigning a number to the value of same.

HC wants to ensure the public is aware of the local impact to stark county families, businesses and individuals caused by this non-payment, especially given that the project was structured through the Stark County Port Authority to avoid the payment of sales tax to the community and continues to be supported by State and Local tax dollars, publicly backed bonds, Tifs, specially crafted state TDD legislation and other public financial support.     

As momentous as the Murphy communication is, "that ain't all, folks."

Here is an email that the SCPR sent to Pete Fierle (chief of staff and vice president of communications) of the Hall of Fame including his response:

In converting the e-mail to a pdf file, the following text was partially obscured:

The SCPR is being told that Eck has been conducting what sounds like a "due diligence study" some 100 days and the source understands that the study was due to be completed two weeks ago, more or less.

The Report is not buying Fierle's characterization of the M. Klein reported activity and Baker's talk of the "in the making" $40 million as being rumors.

The SCPR has sources that insist that both the M. Klein factor and the $40 million statements are "actual" occurrences.

The Report is told that Murphy's deadline has be extended to Thursday of this week (February 8, 2018)?

Could it be that it is soon going to become apparent to the Stark County and beyond public (if a lawsuit gets filed) that "the viability question" of the HOF-VP is the "real" deal and not a mass of glitches/rumors as it seems that HOF officialdom want to portray.

And who believes that the HOF folks have an genuine intention to be transparent as claimed by Fierle and a HOF associatne witness this video taken by the SCPR in early January at a "Strengthening Stark" meeting at the HOF attended by central Stark County officials?

The video: (7:21)

Certainly not The Stark County Political Report!

Perhaps, "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" does?

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