Sunday, March 4, 2018




(Puts Him in Top 1% of U.S. Income)  LINK


At a Stark County Port Authority (SPA) meeting several weeks ago one member is reported to have said: (paraphrase)

"How could the Professional Football Hall of Fame Village Project "stadium phase" reconstruction BALLOON from $24 million to $150 million right under our noses?

Growing numbers of Stark Countians officials representing taxpayer interests are asking the same question question directed not only to Port Authority officials but also to the National Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum, Inc (HOF, HOF-V) Board of Trustees.

HOF CEO/president C. David Baker (Dave, to his close-in pals) who has bragged to Canton McKinley (a student body rife with academic problems) that they have the "best damn high school football stadium in the US of A.  If he had the Donald J. Trump penchant for grandiosity, he could have done better and said "in the world" and, unlike Trump with many of his over-the-top braggadocios, be right on the mark.

Not only is the estimated stadium cost way over what was originally, there is a humongous, corollary  BALLOONING cost of the entire project from $480 million to $1 billion, if not more; should? the project reach completion, which The Stark County Political Report believes it will not!

In terms of generating income to recover the capital cost of the stadium in the lifetimes of Stark County's 2018 newborns, at cost of $150/170 million, more or less, IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

As suggested by the graphic that headlines this Stark County Political Report blog; those with whom The Report is in conversation are increasingly looking at the non-profit Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees for accountability.

Increasingly, these folks are saying that an apparently Board of Trustees "unchecked" C. David Baker and his HOF-VP administrative team "aided and abetted" by cheerleaders (i.e. The Repository "the official newspaper of the Hall of Fame and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce) are out to make the expansion a "gilded in gold" project.

A source tells the SCPR that Repository publisher James Porter meets with Baker weekly.


If the HOF expansion was wholly and completely a "private" project, then, of course, there is absolutely nothing on which the general taxpaying public should be weighing-on.

In America's economic system, it is perfectly okay for private entrepreneurs to put private sector money at risk.  Were that the case with the HOF-VP, the Stark County public would not be hearing a word of critiquing on the part of the SCPR.

But as The Report knows, SCPR readers know and, indeed, everybody knows the HOF-VP is  "knee-deep" into Ohio's/Stark County taxpayers' pockets.

The fact of the matter is that millions of dollars of taxpayer money has been and continues to be poured into the project seemingly without any check whatsoever on Baker et al which factor is compounded by the HOF-VP folks hiding from the tax paying public any meaningful accounting of how it planned (from the beginning) to raise the then $480 million and now that things have gotten out-of-hand $1 billion plus.

Earlier this week, the state of Ohio put out information to the effect that the projected 2019-2020 capital budget includes $1 million for a sketched out Center for Excellence.  The SCPR intentionally used the phrase "sketched-out" because it is predictable that the $30 million project cost (which under David Baker probably means $60 million, $90 million maybe more) will never be built.

To repeat, "putting private sector money down a rat hole" is perfectly okay in a wholly "private sector" project.

But not so with public sector (taxpayer) money.

Of course it is a duty of local elected public officials to ensure that investments of taxpayer dollars have a near certain chance of over a reasonable period of time to have a beneficial effect and financial return in "for the public welfare" prospects.

The SCPR thinks that one of the bulwarks for due diligence emanating from the public sector on whether or not public money/administrative assistance be extended to the HOF-VP have been the Stark County commissioners.

The commissioners effort appears to be in marked contrast to the one being discharged by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees (HOF-BOT).

Reports that the SCPR is getting about HOF-BOT meetings is that only local-based trustee Barbara Bennett is asking meaningful/probative questions of President Baker and his administrative staff.

By and large, the reports indicate that the HOF-BOT has been a incurious/rubber stamp operation for Baker who is reported to have told Bennett at a meeting (paraphrase):  "Now, don't you worry about the cost overruns and the financing to cover them, I have everything under control."

A good source for getting some idea of the internal financials of a non-profit such as the National Football Museum, Inc (dba Pro Football Hall of Fame) is to look at its IRS Form 990.

The SCPR has gained access to HOF's going back three (3) years, to wit:

According to the National Football Museum, Inc's (the HOF's "official name") 2015 IRS Form 990 (non-profit's annual reporting form), the HOF paid Baker  $615,995 a year, has the HOF-BOT eating out of his hand much like some but not all elected Stark County political subdivision officials.

NOTE:  The "latest available to the public" IRS Form 990 is 2015.

When he was hired in (January, 2014 [a number still being reported by The Repository as far as the SCPR knows] his total pay factor was $367,450.

Local well thought of Stephen Perry who served as an appointee in the President George W. Bush administration (LINK)  made a mere $279,886 in 2013 in his last year in heading the HOF.

So in addition to the 67.6% increase Baker got from 2014 to 2015, he received almost 25% over Perry's 2013 income.

So how much is Baker making in 2018?

In the range of $1,000,000, more or less?

Perhaps, the "official newspaper of the Professional Football Hall of Fame" and its "special" relationship with Baker et al can find out?

Maybe just maybe our local officials who have a role in providing tax revenues to the HOF-VP will ask the HOF for and provide to the Stark County public via public records requests a copy of the 2016 National Football Museum, Inc.  As far as the SCPR knows, the 2016 return though likely filed has not been released to the public.

Won't that return be interesting when it comes out?

To say nothing of the 2017 return in another year or so?

Now doesn't all the remuneration numbers on Baker sound like responsible HOF Board of Trustee boardmanship?  (SCPR sarcasm, of course)

In addition to his big-time remuneration and pay increase as noted above, which, undoubtedly, is why he is hyped up to get all Stark Countians behind his vision, perhaps, to local government's (i.e. taxpayers) detriment; he has, among the trustee membership, the full support of the likes of Roger Goodell (commissioner of the NFL) and Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys), whom, likely are pushing Baker to produce big for professional football (hence the HOF-VP) which more and more appears to be losing favor with the American sporting public.

The downside for the NFL involvement (e.g. Goodell/Jones and the number of former players and other well known "national" public figures who staff 14 HOF-BOT positions on the 25 member board) is that their involvement amidst reports of financial trouble (e.g. the filing of mechanic liens by various contractor interests) is reportedly gotten the attention of the New York Times who is said to have contacted Baker about the financial hubbub going on presently as apparent from the goings on at the Stark County Port Authority meetings and Saturday's Canton City Schools meeting.

As expanded upon later on in this blog, board of trustees members by Ohio law have obligation that transcend blind loyalty to the likes of C. David Baker.

And, it makes no difference whether they are paid or not.  They still are accountable to comport with Ohio law.

According to the 2015 IRS 990 form, three members of the executive team of the board of trustees receive compensation, to wit:

Here is a list of the Pro Football Hall of Fame board of trustees membership:

(Highlighting Added by SCPR)

The SCPR has highlighted the list (obtained from by the SCPR from the HOF website) on yellow to show the "locals" (meaning Stark County connected community leaders) who are part of the 25 member board of trustees.

The Report lays a higher responsibility on the "locals" to get Baker under control and to get the project on a "sustainable" scale which with some $150/170 million in the football stadium alone in already past.  As explained above, there is no way that there will be a capital cost pay back even if the Canton Schools/HOF were able to schedule "sold out houses" 365 days of the year, which, of course, is not possible even within the fantasy world that C. David Baker apparent lives.

Baker is absolutely the best charmer who has set foot in Stark County and, in the assessment of a number of more discerning Stark Countians which the SCPR is conversant with, seems to them to be Stark's very own version of The Music Man.

The "locals" on the HOF Board of Trustees number 11 of 25.  Also, among the executive officer corps, there are 3 of 5 who are Stark County connected.

As observed in Thursday's blog, Chairman Hunt appears to be a lead "local" factor in trying to maximize taxpayer involvement in the "private sector" HOF-VP.

One has to wonder whether or not Hunt has a conflict in interest in being legal counsel for the HOF Village, LLC and being chairman of the HOF Board of Trustees) in that Ohio's charitable entities law applies legal standards of conduct to?

One half of HOF Village, LLC is master developer Stu Lichter's private sector "for a profit" Industrial Realty Group entity.

So how is it that Chairman Hunt, pray tell, can guide the HOF-BOT in compliance with Ohio's charitable organization legal duties (see standards below) while advocating for, at least partially, for a profit making enterprise?

Are there other locals on the board of trustees who have conflicts in interest by virtue of holding a public position?

Local officials (including state Representative Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager) should have been all along and now need to be pressing the Board Trustees to release minutes/recordings of past trustee meetings to show what, if anything, the trustees have done, are doing to ensure that every escalation of the HOF-VP has been justified with "financing or commitment thereof is in place" on the part of the HOF Baker administration before $1 of public money has been and continues to be and prospectively is likely to be put into the project.

To the degree that public money has been placed in what appears to be a "highly speculative" venture without proper financial due diligence having been done, should be brought to bear politically on those very same public officials should the project fall short of the phenomenal promises made by Baker et al.

That the HOF is working out details on what its officials are calling a "bridge loan" of "up to $100,000 million, is evidentiary indication that folks (member of the Board of Trustees) who are supposed to know better in being "captains of commerce/entertainment/healthcare/industry" may not be fulfilling the duties under Ohio law as set forth above.

Don't want to hear the "this is a 'private sector' therefore not accountable to the public" remonstrance on the part of the trustees or the Baker administration.

Way to much public money and supportive services being placed at the disposal of the project for such an argument to have any credibility.

If local elected officials who have collaborated with the HOF-VP on financing in varying degrees do not press for a HOF-VP public accounting, then the SCPR thinks they are culpable as being participants in the masking of information that ought to be available to the tax paying public and should be held accountable at the next election cycle.

There are standards that boards of trustees are legally held to, to wit:

And this from the attorney general's Q&A on filing complaints on non-profit operations:

Misuse of charitable funds by nonprofits that fail to properly govern themselves: Nonprofit board members have several legal responsibilities, including the duties of care, loyalty, compliance and the duty to maintain accounts. Failure of board members to adequately get engaged in the activities of the organization can result in the squandering of charitable assets. Additionally, problems can result when there are significant conflicts of interest affecting staff and board members. Charitable assets and objectives may suffer when personal enrichment results from inattention and fraud, and these issues are routinely investigated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

For more information about the duties and responsibilities of charity board members, a separate publication, titled Guide for Charity Board Members, can be found 

at or obtained through the Ohio Attorney General’s Help Center at (800) 282-0515.
(Capitalization Added by SCPR for Emphasis Purposes)

Accordingly, a possible avenue for Stark County elected officials who by virtue having a "protect the taxpayers" obligation for those units of Ohio/Stark County units of government which "have skin in the game" in having approved public monies being placed in the private sector HOF-VP, is to ask the attorney general to investigate the HOF Board of Trustees to determine whether or not the board has complied with Ohio law with respect their legal duties and ethical obligations.

If an elected official will not ask the attorney general to investigate the functioning of the HOF Board of Trustees operation, then, perhaps, one of Stark County's taxpaying citizen-activist will?

The SCPR is not optimistic that an elected Stark County official (of an entity of government which has money "invested" in the HOF-VP) would ask Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine to look into the functioning of the HOF Board of Trustees.

DeWine makes a big deal as attorney general about investigating this and that matter.

But does DeWine have the "political fortitude" to investigate the functioning of the Pro FootBall Hall of Fame entity Board of Trustees according the standards set forth above in light of what obviously appears to have been an Pro Football Hall of Fame expansion project (HOF-VP) soliciting partial public money financing without having had funding or commitments for funding in place?

After all elected public officials are "politically attuned" and the HOF Board of Trustees is staffed with some powerful, powerful, powerful folks even at the "local" level to say nothing of the big-time names of national public figures such as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboy owners Jerry Jones.

It is very unlikely that "I want to be governor' Mike DeWine will act on his own initiative (though the SCPR thinks he has the legal authority to do so) and it is equally unlikely that any local public official, elected or not. will initiate a complaint which is another way to prompt the attorney general to take a look see.

But Stark County does have some committed activist citizens.

Is there any Stark County citizen who will step forward and ask the attorney general's office to take a look see at the operations of the HOF Board of Trustees functioning?

Who believes that gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine will do it on his own?

Let's hope that he surprises us all and delves into the matter on his own.

Or, that there is a citizen who will file a complaint and make him decide whether to investigate or not and not let him simply ignore what seems to be a situation that begs for looking into!


Links to prior SCPR blogs on the HOF-VP
The full 2015 National Museum, Inc (dba Pro Football HOF) 990

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