Sunday, March 25, 2018






So what is North Canton's abundant, pristine water supply: (choose one)
  1. A Curse?
  2. A Blessing?
  3. Something In Between?
A blessing, a curse or something in between?


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) opts for "3. Something In Between," at least initially.

A North Canton/mayor-council decision in the offing on whether or not a prospective buyer (OMNI)
of  a Jackson Township located property (Portage & Whipple) from North Canton developer Bob DeHoff  wanting North Canton water without annexing into North Canton can get North Canton's council and/or Mayor David Held approval will likely ultimately  "tell the tale" on the question of the city having high quality water for sale ends up being a blessing or a curse.

Here is the ordinance as proposed:


For a detailed understanding of the context of the "access to North Canton water" fight which erupted on the floor of North Canton Council on Wednesday night, readers of this blog should read a December 27, 2017 SCPR blog on the groundwork that has been carefully undertaken by a mysterious elected North Canton official apparently designed to help well known North Canton developer Bob DeHoff parlay access to North Canton water for a property sited in Jackson Township without the requiring of the property to be annexed into North Canton city limits.

Readers of this blog should opt to read the "in depth version" contained in the above-linked blog.

A shorter version of the "access" question goes like this:

Some apparently "unaccountable" (in terms of identity) official in North Canton government conjured  up the need in October, 2017 to form a solely administrative arm of North Canton government (Water Board) to determine applications for access for North Canton water and whether or not a concomitant factor (i.e. a discretionary requirement of annexation into North Canton) will be imposed.

SIDE NOTE:  A side note that is relevant is that North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne has been in the thick of s sub-fight as to whether or it has been legal for the city to form a Water Board in the first place.  The Report has learned that he plans to file a lawsuit in the coming week to challenge the legality of the Water Board.
For purposes of the proposed DeHoff (WILLMOLL)/OMNI transaction, in that North Canton City Council itself has taken up the matter for decision —it likely makes the legality of the Water Board establishment irrelevant as to whether OMNI get North Canton water without annexation.

One more thing, there is some tussle over whether or not the ordinance authorizing city water without annexation should be tagged as "emergency" legislation.

If an enacted ordinance is not designated as an emergency but passes with a majority of council and survives a Mayor David Held veto, the ordinance is highly likely to be challenged by a Chuck Osborne referendum on the November ballot.

To top things off, the SCPR has learned that Osborne will not be working on a referendum alone, if matters come to that.  He will have heavy duty support from others with the names of whom would surprise readers of this blog.

Osborne is hopeful that the OMNI matter loses on a up or down vote so that a referendum would not be needed.

SIDENOTE:  Readers are reminded that Osborne in 2012 challenged North Canton City Council's action in approving health care insurance benefits for themselves only to be rejected overwhelmingly by North Canton voters some 78% to 22%. 
While the referendum was later declared by Judge John Haas of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas to be invalid under referendum standards contained in Ohio law, council members rescinded the authorizing legislation in light of the obvious voter rejection of council members getting such benefits.
Originally the OMNI proposal included a provision that would have enabled a subsequent owner of the subject property piggyback into continuing to have access to North Canton water without annexation.

Now, supposedly, a new owner would have to annex or lose water access.

The SCPR thinks Law Director Fox is selling North Canton council a boatload of untenable legal certainty.  Think about it.  Do readers really think that if during the 30 year OMNI term OMNI sells out that a successor wouldn't be in a terrific position to convince a court of "equity" that it would horribly "unfair" to cut off the property's water supply.  Especially so, given that the language of the proposed agreement does not have clear and explicit language in the NC/OMNI agreement specifically saying that there will be no water absent annexation that the contract provides for being a restrictive covenant in a deed from NC to OMNI.

Of course, Law Director Fox will likely be long gone if and when the matter becomes a down-the-road legal issue for future North Canton generations.

Along the lines of the Fox/council relationship, The Report hears that some council members (perhaps, a majority) think that all they need is a "easily attained to the needs of council Fox legal opinion" and then they will take their chances of a North Canton citizen filing a lawsuit challenging the Fox opinion.

The SCPR is told that Councilwoman Marcia Kiesling may have let it slip out that the main body of
council may have made a "violation of Ohio's Sunshine Law" decision to do the NC/OMNI deal.

Citizen Chuck Osborne's planned lawsuit challenging the legality of the formation of North Canton's Water Board could take on added significance.   If he does file, undoubtedly Osborne's legal counsel in depositions will want to explore the alleged violation in questioning council members "under oath."

If the water access measure gets enacted without an emergency tag on it, look again for Osborne to challenge the enactment with an invalidating referendum.

Wednesday night's (March 21, 2018) "special council" meeting (a highly unusual time/day of the week for a North Canton council meeting) produced an intense debate among council members, the mayor and council and members of the North Canton public.

If one is a pro-water-access-without-annexation advocate, how does such a person convince North Canton voters that it is a good thing for North Canton government financing for the city to pass up a potential of $100,000 annually (1.50% income tax rate on approximately 75 jobs), more or less, income-tax-into-the-general-fund for $10,000 annually, more or less, in utility charges to OMNI as city revenue enterprise fund restricted to spending for water operations, maintenance and capital facilities?

If it comes to a referendum, the SCPR is willing to say here and now that North Canton voters will reject the proposed OMNI project application for annex-free access to water along the super majority lines as the health care referendum of 2012.

Osborne tells the SCPR that formation of a Water Board (October, 2017) is "deja vu, all over again" as with North Canton's Housing Council.

North Canton's Housing Council Office headed up by an "appointed" Housing Officer, once had the authority to grant tax abatements on the decision of one person; namely, the non-elected, "appointed" Housing Officer without any knowledge or participation of the elected members (i.e. the mayor and council members) in the decision.

As pointed out in the referenced blog, guess who was the center of the controversy over whether or not it was legal for the Housing Officer in 2012 to have granted a 100% property tax abatement for a period of years for a apartment project knows as North Ridge Place, LLC?

SCPR readers are so, so, so smart!  Yes, the person is none other than Mister Robert DeHoff!!!

Only on action by Citizen activist Chuck Osborne (in bringing the abatement matter to light and keeping it in the limelight) did North Canton property tax recipients (in the main the North Canton City Schools) eventually get a recovery of 50% of the abatement.

If this blogger didn't know better (or do I?), Bob DeHoff and North Canton are synonymous somewhat like North Canton and Boss Hoover back in the heydey of The Hoover Company.

He seems to control a majority if not most of the North Canton City Council membership.

To the SCPR,  Councilpersons Mark Cerreta, Marcia Kiesling, Stephanie Werren and Dominic Fonte seem to be "in thrall" to DeHoff. 

Werren in particular should be ashamed of herself for what the SCPR thinks as being a councilperson  locking onto the DeHoff interests inasmuch she is the director of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Stark County (which includes a program for schooling elected and aspiring to be elected Stark Countians) who, by her conduct on council, certainly cannot say that her model as a North Canton councilperson should be followed by aspirant Stark County political subdivision leaders.

Snow-Werren and her husband Canton Municipal Court judge Curtis Werren who the SCPR thinks never would have been heard of in Stark County subdivision political/government circles BUT FOR their coming from prominent Stark County based politically connected families.

There are bright spots in North Canton government these days.

However, there are definitely dark spots.

One of whom the SCPR thinks is Councilman at Large Mark Cerretta.

Watch/listen to this 2:20 video on Cerretta on the OMNI issue claiming everything was honky-dory on getting approval on OMNI until Monday night is more than a stretch.   Note the entire video of the debate on the water issue is embedded in the appendix to this blog.

Now, read this:

Chuck Osborne <>  Today at 1:30 AM
To:  Martin Olson
I have pasted below my description of the video of the December 21, 2017 Water Board meeting.

I am sending this to you to rebut Mark Cerreta’s statement that there has been no opposition to providing water to the DeHoff property and waiving annexation until last Wednesday’s Special Council meeting held on March 21, 2018.

Opposition was raised immediately upon hearing of the request at the Water Board meeting held on December 21, 2017. The meeting was held on a Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m., two days before the long Christmas Holiday weekend.

Mark Cerreta’s statement was patently untrue.  

Thank You,

Chuck Osborne

Pasted below is a link to a video of the North Canton Water Board Meeting held on Thursday morning, December 21, 2017.

LINK to the video.  (23:10 mark on video

The SCPR agrees with Osborne that Cerreta's claim of no opposition to the OMNI's attempt to "get water without annexing to North Canton" is untrue.

As pointed out as described in his email to The Report, Osborne offers (see his video) irrefutable proof that Cerreta's Wednesday assertion is untrue.  Newly elected Councilman Daryl Revoldt did oppose granting water to OMNI without much greater detail of the proposed transaction being revealed to, not the Water Board, but all of council for council to make the decision.

The Report that has learned that BUT FOR Mayor Held's pressure on Councilman Cerreta, the OMNI water access issue would not have made it to council.  Consequently, you would have a decision made by a likely 'illegally constituted" Water Board with "yes" for approval votes made by the likes of Held administration appointees Finance Director Laura Brown, Chief Administrator Mike Grimes and administrative official Pat DeOrio with Councilman Cerreta being the ONLY elected official voting on the matter and, of course, "yes."

It is a curious matter that all the voting members (Law Director Tim Fox recused himself after a "conflict in interest" factor was brought to his attention) of the Held administration voted in favor granting OMNI water access right "with the right to pass access rights on to a successor owner" in light of  Mayor David Held's assertion to the SCPR (in a conversation yesterday) that he has always opposed water access without annexation.

While Held says he encourages internal to his administration deliberation on various issues that come up in North Canton government, he expects and demands that once he has made a decision as the city chief executive that all of his appointees will fully and demonstrably support his decision.

There can be little doubt that the Water Board was somebody's (like the Housing Council) end run around democratic-republican elected official "accountability" for the actions processes.

The Housing Council and the Water Board offer compelling evidence that North Canton City Council has too many members who are willing to abrogate their duty to be front and center deciders-in-chief after open and accessible (not 9:00 a.m. in the morning as with the Water Board) and "opportunity to be heard" council meetings.

It seems that one cannot believe much of anybody from the president of the United States of America right down to a city councilperson these days in this country.

Shame on Councilman Cerreta!

During this past Wednesday's council meeting,  Doug Foltz, the dean of North Canton Council, admonished the deliberative body to be civil to one another. and rightfully so.  For the SCPR's part, the major offender  of incivility was Councilman Mark Cerreta.

Undoubtedly, Cerreta fancies himself as urbane and sophisticated.  His boorish behavior in the meeting of the 21st belies his being polished and diplomatic.

Newly elected Councilman Daryl Revoldt (a former council president and mayor of North Canton) is leading the charge to require OMNI to agree to an annexation to North Canton as a condition of the city approving the sale of water to the company.

Revoldt first challenged Cerreta at the December, 2017 Water Board meeting.  "Get the details of the proposed deal out, Revoldt says was his injunction to Cerreta at that meeting.

So how, Councilman Cerreta, is that a show of disrespect?  Cerreta as talked about what a terrific country we Americans live in.  And, of course, he is absolutely correct.  However, we are great not because we have "some know-it-all" who decrees on arbitrary standards what is good or not good for our communities, but because communities including our elected representative delve into the details of this or that issue and make a collective decision of what is best.

Here is SCPR video of Councilman Revoldt's back and forth with Councilman Fonte in which he underscores that he effectively quelches Cerreta's charge of disrespect which the SCPR thinks was aimed at Revoldt.

Revoldt and Mayor Held are allied on the annexation condition and the mayor says he will veto the proposed ordinance if it stays as it is.

Mayor Held, in the opinion of the SCPR, made Councilman Dominic Fonte (keep in mind he tabs himself as a "newbie') look foolish in a 10 minute back and forth between the two of them on the issue of water for OMNI without annexation.

Fonte's only argument was in allowing OMNI to open up adjacent to North Canton city limits without being in the city but nonetheless getting city water for 30 years creates a general vicinity energy that might one day produce neighboring to OMNI businesses which "might" want to annex to North Canton out of some sort of gratuitous civic affection for North Canton.

How ridiculous!

Held kept asking Why! Why! Why!, which and he wants to talk respect, motivated Cerreta to chime in using the expression "Why? Why! Why! in what the SCPR thinks was in a mocking manner.

The question "why" connotes an expectation of a reason or reasons.  Why should always be a pre-eminent Q&A exchange in any endeavor of life and most certainly when elected representatives in the current decision making will be affecting untold quality of life issues for future generations of North Cantonians.

For Cerreta to mock the mayor doing the intellectually proper thing to do is an absolute disgrace on Cerreta's part.  And he talks about respect?  And he settles on a arbitrary, capricious and whimsical standard of "business by business by business" decision.  To his credit, Held did not respond to Cerreta's mocking ways.

One thing that did not come up in Wednesday's discussion is the fact that North Canton's income tax is 1.50 which is probably one of if not the lowest in all of Ohio.  Moreover, OMNI's employees bear the brunt of the tax; not the corporation itself.

Another thing when it comes to fire, police and EMS services, Fonte, Cerreta and other councilpersons of their persuasion seem to think that if OMNI does not annex then if a need arises for North Canton police, fire and EMS services that North Canton will sit idly by and refuse to respond if called to the OMNI site.


Ever heard of "mutual aid?"

As the SCPR understands "mutual aid" it is the "holy grail" of emergency services and it is a non-starter to say/suggest:  "Oh, OMNI refused to annex to North Canton and therefore North Canton fire, police or EMS will not respond to OMNI's call for help."

The SCPR has always thought Cerreta was more reasoned than he showed on Wednesday night.  What a disappointment to hear him settle on an arbitrary/capricious standard which of course is a fertile field for politics to be at play in a large way.

The Held/Fonte/Cerreta video is a compelling video for those readers who care about the processes of government to watch. 

(NOTE: The Report has learned that Finance Director Brown was annoyed at Held's engagement of her in a rhetorical Q&A on whether or not enterprise water fund money could be used on North Canton's general fund functions (which they cannot.  Who is Laura Brown to get annoyed with the mayor of North Canton.  She serves at his pleasure.  The SCPR thinks it was a master ploy to make a powerful point.)

There is no doubt on the part of the SCPR that there will be a majority of North Canton council members to approve OMNI's application for North Canton water WITHOUT ANNEXATION.

Passage of the OMNI exception is likely to occur despite this 2011 ordinance.

In October, 2017 council amended the ordinance to make annexation "permissive" rather than "mandatory."

The ONLY question on this issue in terms of ultimate passage is whether or not Councilpersons Peters or Foltz (one or the other, perhaps both) peel off their fellows to make the majority decision vulnerable to almost certain Mayor David Held veto.

The financial stakes to North Canton government?

To repeat, about $100,000 in income tax revenue going to the General Fund versus some $10,000, more or less, going to the city enterprise "water" account which CANNOT be used for the city's general government functions (confirming:  see Held questioning of Finance Director Brown in Held video above) such as fire, police, roadway (construction/repair) and the like.

Though it appears that some North Canton councilpersons were "gung-ho" on passing Ordinance 19-2018 on Wednesday evening, there are those who think that foremost advocate Cerreta did not push on in the matter because he feared that he would only get five (5) votes, a number which would have made in likely that Mayor Held could sustain his promised veto.

In sum, the SCPR thinks that North Canton City Council's controlling majority (Cerreta, Kiesling, Werren and Fonte) are anti-democratic-republican in their "heart of hearts" and that North Canton government, consequently, will continue to fumble and bumble in the face of those who question their arbitrary ways.

Until North Canton's voters replace Cerreta, Kiesling, Werren and Fonte, North Canton will continue to take what could be blessings (e.g. the water asset) and turn them into curses


Watch the following citizen responses (before Cerreta even made his assertion) about the "exclude the citizens" model of government demonstrated in this instance and pretty much historically by Councilpersons Cerreta, Kiesling, Werren and Fonte seemingly aided and abetted by Law Director Tim Fox.

First and compellingly Citizen Brandice Schnabel: (first name spelling correction)


Citizen Melanie Roll:

Next, Citizen Chuck Osborne:

Next, Doug Lane:  North Canton economic development liaison ($15,000 annually paid by North Canton government) and is a NC Chamber of Commerce official.  Lane is also a former NC councilman.  A highly reliable source tells the SCPR that North Canton Chief Administrator Pat DeOrio asked Lane to come and present at Wednesday's meeting.

Though Mayor Held says DeOrio is with him in Held's opposition to granting OMNI "no annexation required" water access, the SCPR is skeptical that such is the case.  Some sources suspect that DeOrio's prior employment experience may have connected him with a long standing Jackson Township (the locale of the OMNI project) elected official and that DeOrio's, at least at the Water Board phase, pro-DeHoff/OMNI position might have been grounded in that connection.

Note:  Though Lane implicitly claims to have "no dog in this fight" the tenor of his comments clearly indicate a preference of not requiring OMNI annexation.  SCPR wonders whether or not as a Chamber official he has had dialogue with Bob DeHoff and is in reality advocating for the DeHoff/OMNI position.  The Report thinks that Lane has a huge conflict in interest and his viewpoint should be looked at in that light.

The SCPR video of the Lane "public speaks" comments and Q&A with Councilman Dominic Fonte:






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