Tuesday, April 3, 2018







In preparing for an appearance on WHBC's "The Week That Was" hosted by Joe Palmisano every Saturday morning from 8:00 a.m. through 11:00 a.m., The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) came upon Palmisano's February 24th show which was a measured but somewhat provocative Palmisano take on the unfolding story of serious concerns, at least on the part of the SCPR, about viability of HOF CEO/president C. David Baker's phantasmagorical vision of what Baker's dreams were apparently imparting to him.

More and more, the Baker dreams are taking on a tone of being a nightmare.

The February 24th tape revealed an unacceptable state of affairs whereby the McKinley football team is shown, except on game day, to have to use off-stadium-site facilities for a locker room.


At the 25:20 mark of the audio of the broadcast, Palmisano takes a call from a person he identifies as being Ray.

Cited relevant to this blog conversation:


Have we forgotten about the Canton McKinley football players having no locker room going on the third year now?

What are we going to do about that buddy?


It's all part of it and I agree with you.  I am glad you brought that up Ray.  Because the stadium is functional.  It is not finished.  It has to be done.  The stadium has to be done prior to doing anything else.  And that means the locker room for the McKinley team.

I mean you took the stadium away, you took their locker room away.  You gotta replace that!


Exactly.  ... Its crazy.  I wish you guys could go see what they have to go through after practice and during the game.  They move in for the night and that's it, they have to be out by the morning.



(Palmisano goes through a brief description of not having proper facilities when he became the first head coach of the-then Malone College football program, 1993—1994)

So, I get it.  I get it that with growth there is some growing pains.  But, let's get it done.  Let's get it done.


It's time for the board of education, the super, the coaches; they have to go to a meeting to get something for these kids this year.  We can't wait any longer.


You know what Ray and  I will tell you. I have spoken with multiple leaders, civic leaders who have addressed that issue with me.

I can't tell you who they are and all of that, I am not going to get into all of that, but they have addressed that issue with me.  So, I know its a priority with them.

But is it a priority with Messers Baker and Lichter?

Indeed it is shocking and, the SCPR thinks, that it is scandalous that for some three years, the McKinley football program has been, by all appearances, hamstrung by the likes of HOF-VP officials C. David Baker and master developer Stu Lichter in terms of the Bulldogs having full access/use of the stadium.

Baker and Lichter have processed through at least $171 million in stadium rebuilding expense that originally was estimated to cost $24 million and on arriving at $171 million the stadium still be "incomplete" and most tellingly of all "no day-in, day-out 'state of the art' locker room" available for use by the McKinley football team.

Use to assemble, to dress, to practice/game prepare, to shower and otherwise have a home away from their "personal" homes as they ambassador-esque represent Canton's only remaining high school to Stark County, the state of Ohio and indeed all of America.

Baker, cynically, The Report thinks, has tried to play a cost overrun (from the initial $24 million) to at least $171 million as being a point of pride of Canton having "the best damn stadium in the land" in his glaring omission that the CCS have much more pressing educational infrastructure needs as well as obscuring a potential that whole HOF-VP might ultimately collapse and thereby saddle the CCS with a potentially bankrupting assets because the schools cannot keep up with inherited debt servicing, upkeep and maintenance costs.

It is said that HOF Village LLC  was never going to build two CCS Football Operations Centers (which, the SCPR understands is, when built, according to expectations at a projected cost covering receipts of some $4.5 million in HOF Village LLC payments over the next 10 months).

Moreover, accordingly, the CCS has had to suffer the humiliation of being in an off-stadium site (i.e. the "Smith" facility) so that HOF Village could save some $5 million.

It appears to the SCPR from extensive backgrounding with "persons-in-a-position-to-know" that there is a widely shared opinion that the onus is on CCS superintendent Adrian Allison in having largely failed the CCS BOE and its students/student-athletes in protecting the financial/facility interests of the schools in his seemingly (to his detractors) of not having had an "arms length" relationship with Lichter and Baker.

There seems to be a growing suspicion among CCS community members that Allison is more sympathetic to HOF Village LLC needs than those of the Canton City School System.

Here is Allison in a SCPR video of January, 2015 CCS BOE event tipping off that he might not be an official who the CCS constituent groups could rely upon to be a straight talking, transparent and obvious by his official conduct "arms-length" proponent of the interests of CCS users.

If the changing membership of the CCS BOE of having been bamboozled/snookered by the Lichter/Baker Axis in HOF Village LLC/CCS agreements (the current assessment of the SCPR) including the granting of the "certificate of estoppel" agreement is an accurate perception, then it seems inescapable that Allison as superintendent in asking the BOE to follow his advice/direction has been a critical factor in perhaps compromising the schools'/Canton school district's taxpayers interests biased toward the interests of the IRG/Pro Football HOF as a higher priority than of the tax paying families of the CCS.

Perhaps in the end, Allison's seeming (to some) to be "sympathetic to the HOF Village LLC perspective" proves to be an illusion which in reality is a case his having an "open" communication relationship with HOF-VP officials that long terms pays dividends to the city of Canton and to Canton's educational infrastructure in terms of collaboratively with HOF officialdom creating a win-win environment that advances he interests of the schools and the HOF-VP.

But the fact of the matter is that presently Allison's/the CCS BOE's willingness to abide for three years "inconvenient" (to say the least) access to onsite locker room facilities is more than a bit perplexing.

Folks can talk about perceived Allison positioning all they want, but the bottom line is not what Superintendent Allison's viewpoint is, what his recommendations to the CCS BOE are but rather the "due diligence" of the BOE itself and the decisions "they collectively make" and not what Allison may or may not have or prospectively recommends.

The "buck does stop" with the five-elected-members of the BOE itself!  Allison's is but one voice that the BOE pays attention to.  Allison's voice (point of view) but it is certainly a powerful one which deserves in his role as superintendent to be a major BOE resource.  To repeat, "the buck stops with the BOE."

You can bet your bottom dollar that Baker and Lichter spare no expense in clothing themselves in more than adequate ("adequate, being a standard the McKinley footballers would undoubtedly be content with) quarters in which they do their work.

Baker, for example, joked (the SCPR guesses) in a meeting with Canton City Council members in January, 2015 about escalating the costs of the stadium project in having had contractors dig, re-dig and re-dig to lower the surface of the stadium so as to "fit' the HOF office complex where Baker's office is housed.

A rather startling yet likely inadvertent admission by Baker of his personal druthers outweighing having adequate on-site within the stadium locker room facilities for the McKinley Bulldogs?

For the Canton McKinley Bulldogs to win 6 of 7 games under such trying and horribly misplaced priorities circumstances is a credit to the young men who focused on proper priorities in generating a successful season and thereby bringing positive public notice on the Canton City Schools (CCS) notwithstanding the failure of their adult leaders (i.e. the school administration, the board of education, the coaching staff and other elected/appointed city officials) to see to it that the players have "respectable" facilities to call home.

As the SCPR sees this matter, WHBC's Palmisano in discussing the topics publicly with Ray has done a terrific public service to the CCS in bringing the locker room  to long overdue reality and "not allowing the HOF Village LLC" to in effect lease Benson Stadium and Don Scott sports field complex for next to nothing if not having the schools owe net money annually to the HOF Village LLC matters into "light of day" where HOF Village LLC officials likely feel highly uncomfortable.

The Report has learned that there are public officials who believe (this is not some "rumor" among the "uniformed public" as HOF communications director and VP Pete Fierle would undoubtedly have the public believe) that there is a grand plan to deed the McKinley present site to HOF Village LLC in exchange for the HOF Village LLC to build a $100 million "athletic (including a new high school) complex' on the north side of Tuscarawas Street, West not far west of  former Timken High School complex.

If such a project were to become reality as reportedly envisioned by CCS architect Rod Meadows; it likely would eliminate about 60% of inner core Canton's blighted properties.  So the SCPR is told.

From what the SCPR can determine, it appears that Allison's staying power beyond his one year extension of November, 2017 might be evaporating by the day.

There is a persisting thought rumbling and tumbling through the CCS constituency there are "powers-that-be" within Stark County leadership circles as exemplified by Strengthening Stark ("the Stark Civic Group") but as undergirded by and energized by Canton Repository publisher James Porter and his seeming hand-in-glove partner president of Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (Denny Saunier) to force a relocation of Canton McKinley High School to a "west of the former Timken High School and north of Tuscarawas Street" inner city Canton site.

Probably one of most prominent manifestor of the "powers that be" is aforementioned "all wrapped up in Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce" as its president:  Denny Saunier.

Here he is weighing in on the CCS/HOF "early on" relationship.

From what the SCPR sees and hears, "the rumbling and tumbling" has evidence based reality that takes the descriptors out the attempt-to-discredit characterization into populating a "realm of believability."

In the end, the obligations of the government sector official dome is to exercise heightened "due diligence" to ensure that situations like having no day-in, day-out access to basic facilities never, ever happens again.

It appears to the SCPR that there was a certain amount of "trust'em to do the right thing" positioning/actualizing going on from  the CCS perspective.

You've got to be kidding?

All one has to do is look at the an easily Internet researched query on Stuart Lichter and/or IRG as well as others, to wit:

Think you might ought to excise a "hale and hearty 'due diligence'" before taking on a financial relationship with Lichter and or his companies?

The SCPR considers Stu Lichter and C. David Baker as being among the most accomplished in all of America in what they do.

To have a chance of coming out of dealings with them with all one's body parts intact, one must be at least equally skilled and likely more skilled/smarter/savvy than they are.

While local-dom has some skilled analysts and managers, the SCPR has seen nobody that matches Lichter and Baker, especially with them bound together collectively in HOF Village LLC.

Consequently, any endeavor for local and state government to have "a beneficial to the public financial interest" relationship with Lichter/Baker is by its very nature is, in the opinion of the SCPR, "a high risk" adventure.

Palmisano and most Stark County political subdivision officials seem to hold onto a belief that "in the end" everything will turn out just fine for the public.

The Stark County Political Report respectfully disagrees with Palmisano et al.

At best, the SCPR sees the HOF-VP (when and "likely" when the stadium finally, finally, finally gets completed on the condition that Baker and Lichter can somehow, some way cobble together the financing to pay "all the bills" in getting to stadium completion is that the project pretty much stops "dead-in-its-tracks" with what is currently in place.

Let's all hope that the SCPR is wrong and the "hopefuls" are correct.

With BOE having $151,000 plus in 2017 billings on hand that goes a long way into eating into the $285,000 annual payment, the BOE is now on notice that it is increasingly clear that business sharp HOF Village LLC goal in  having gotten lease control of the schools' property, it now seeks to make it a perfect deal for the private sector in effect paying nothing annually towards the supposed annual purchase price if not attain a truly perverse situation in which HOF Village LLC gets payment for having taken the property off the BOE's hands?

The SCPR is told that school officials think that the perverse can be avoided through after-the-fact of reaching agreement via re-negotiations.



Is the next chapter in this saga going to be:  CCS-BOE versus HOF Village LLC?

Looking more and more to be a likelihood to the SCPR.

An event such as that will be a dagger in the heart of those stout Stark County souls who have worked tirelessly for a viable, sustainable and accountable and therefore realizable countywide economic development plan.

That, the HOF-VP is not!

Do we all now need to become "prayer warriors" and trust the Lord God Almighty! to spare future generations of the kids of the Canton City Schools from suffering a financial calamity that might put Canton's educational infrastructure at great risk?

Is there enough match'em Stark County political subdivision leadership capability on hand to avert "additional" public funding of the HOF-VP which the SCPR thinks might well take on the dimension of putting additional taxpayer money down an unfillable financial abyss?

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