Friday, April 20, 2018



North Canton mayor David Held put the apologists for the bizarre financing of the Professional Football Hall of Fame (HOF-VP, HOF) "on-the-spot" when at a "Strengthening Stark" meeting on January 6, 2018 held at the HOF complex at 2121 Halas Drive (Canton) with this "explosive" video that in effect was a "where is the [pea]" in what appears to be "three empty shells turned-upside-down game" seemingly being played by HOF-VP master developer and partner (HOF Village, LLC) of Professional Football Hall of Fame; namely, Stuart Lichter of the Industrial Realty Group (IRG).

Held, by far, at the Strengthening Stark meeting put most forcefully and effectively the question "where is the EB-5 Visa money?"

As the SCPR understands Held's quest, he is not talking about "private sector" money.  Rather he is talking about "public sector" money:  EB-5 money which is the subject of a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Federal Court (Northern District of Ohio; i.e. CBM v. Lichter, et al).

Let the SCPR say this one more time:  It should be of "no concern" to the Ohio/Stark County "taxpaying" public what Lichter/C. David Baker (HOF president & CEO) and consorts do with "private sector" money put into the HOF-VP.  They may reap millions or, more likely, the SCPR thinks, lose millions in Baker's phantasmagoric vision of bringing a Disneyworld-esque entertainment complex centered on professional football themes to Stark County.

Godspeed! the SCPR says:  "do as you wish with 'private sector' money, and in addition to what appears to be a Cerreta-esque  "wished for" Divine blessing - GOOD LUCK!'

But not with public sector money "unaccounted" for!

Public officials (Canton Council, CCS-BOE, State of Ohio officials and the likes of state Representative Kirk Schuring) have a "fiduciary" obligation to taxpayers to see to it that public money is not going down a rat hole.

Public officials ought to be requiring of HOF-VP officials accountability, transparency of that money to ensure public officials affected Stark County political subdivision entities that the project is viable and tax dollars will not end up being non-productive in terms of return on investment.

There are plenty of signs that professional football, indeed football of all levels of American society, is waning and that the HOF-VP is an effort by Baker et al to stave off irrelevance of the HOF in future decades.

Now that the once heralded NFL drafted for 2019 or 2020 is pretty much a bust (at best Canton will get pretty much meaningless third day of a three day draft event, the prime first two days going to Cleveland), the HOF folks has ginned up a new scheme two years down the road to save the HOF-VP from disaster; namely, what has been billed by "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" (i.e The Canton Repository, Fox News of Stark County? [at least on HOF matters]) as being "a centennial celebration of pro football."

The SCPR sees the centennial effort,  at least in part, as being one to divert public attention away from the the severe financial difficulties that HOF Village LLC et al are having in raising $1 billion plus (which began as a $500 million, more or less, projected) to complete the project.

As with the HOF-VP project, the likes of Repository publisher and CEO James Porter (the chair of the event) through his editorial board and reporter staff is using spectacular language to whet the appetites of locals who hope against hope that Canton's professional football connection will turn out to be the financial/economic salvation of Canton and indeed all of Stark County.

On Thursday night the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (CRCC, Chamber) is having a $100 a plate dinner featuring what the Chamber, the HOF Village LLC and The Repository hope is the coming of a savior of the HOF-VP, namely, one Mark Klein of the M. Klein Company.

The SCPR has been denied access to the event as media which, of course, leaves Stark Countians to having accounts of the meeting in the hands of "the official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame."  Maybe Jim Porter will have cousin Todd write up the "official" version of what transpires?

Of course, Porter/Sanuier/Baker don't want the SCPR anywhere near the Kleins.  How would they respond to SCPR incisive follow- up questioning after the M. Klein Company presentation is made?

The Stark County Political Report is NOT the official media of anything as is The Repository vis-a-vis the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If permitted, the SCPR would grill down on the Kleins as to whether or not The Klein Company in its own name or the names of the principals of the company put their money where their mouth is.

How much money in fees does The Klein Company expect to reap in being a financial consultant for the HOF-VP?

And on and on would go the questions.

It is obvious from the shill newspaper's report of the event that The M. Klein Company was called in by NFL/HOF bigs in what obviously is desperation move to save the floundering project.

Stark Countians' message to Michael Klein ought to be "keep your hands off public officials and public money."  Get the money from your well heeled friends in the private sector.

If there were no taxpayer money in the HOF-VP project, then the "private" sector investments aspect of the project is none of the public's business.  However, if public money is put in jeopardy in terms of "return on investment" because the money is not going to be there to complete the HOF-VP at the $1 billion plus level, then it is the public's business.

C.  David Baker and his NFL friends who dominate the membership of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustee apparently think they can have it both ways which is to say:  "get public money but not have to account for it" to the Stark County public.

And it seems to the SCPR you can throw in Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Denny Saunier and The Rep's James Porter into the "get public money but not have to account for it" grouping.

For Porter to be of that ilk is unreal for a daily/Sunday newspaper which is supposed to be devoted to accountability, accessibility, communicativeness and transparency.

But the Porter modality is not surprising given the "very special relationship" The Repository admits to having with the National Football Museum, Inc. (dba the Pro Football Hall of Fame).

Porter seems to be so into the HOF-VP that he, the SCPR has learned, is into threatening elected Stark County officials with Repository political opposition when they come up for election.

All Stark Countians should be skeptical of anything donning the pages of The Rep relevant to the HOF-VP that has had to pass muster with Porter and his fellow managers at 500 Market Avenue, South.

To the degree that those "elected" Stark County political leaders are "all-in" on the HOF-VP and the project turns out to be a bust in terms of taxpayers realizing a substantial benefit, then local political subdivision voters ought to be holding those officials accountable come future elections.

Readers of this blog owe to themselves to listen closely to the SCPR Held video published above to get an accurate sense of the oomph with which Held's question (which shell is the pea under?) resounded with a "boom!" as the likes of Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Denny Saunier,  HOF communications director Pete Fierle and a bevy of Stark County political subdivision elected/appointed officials listened.

Recently, The Stark County Political Report received an e-mail the substance of which is spellbinding as an example of a public office having "backbone" in confronting Saunier et al with a telling question, to wit:

Part V 

Why did Lichter/HOF Village LLC give Capital Contributions and Capital Investments to the PFHOF in 2015 and 2016?

Look at the 990’s Schedule R - Part V

2016 990 on Page 66

$15,176,635 in Capital Investment

$12,000,000 in Capital Contribution

2015 990 on page 52

$9,100,000 in Capital Investment

The total amount given by Lichter/HOF Village LLC is $36,276,635

Interestingly, the breakdown shows the Capital Investment totals $24,276,635

The Capital Contribution is $12,000,000

Lichter/HOF Village LLC becomes a investor in the PFHOF with a bold infusion of $24,276,635 of Capital Investment and $12,000,000 of Capital Contribution at a time when the EB-5 Visa program is coming under scrutiny of the Trump Administration and may actually be discontinued. 

Keep in mind the following:

Lichter pledged the EB-5 Visa money to the Hoover District Project in 2012 and it was $36 million.

The EB-5 Visa money pledged in the Pots of Money article to the HOF project showed that it also was $36 million.

Coincidental ….

I stopped believe in coincidences a long, long, long time ago.

The SCPR uses the "backbone" metaphor as a example of hypocrisy on the part of North Canton councilman at large Mark Cerreta who while accusing the likes of Mayor Held of lacking "backbone" in North Canton government negotiations with OMNI Orthopaedic over whether or not OMNI will have to annex to North Canton to get city water.

Watch/listen to Cerreta:

The Report thinks that Cerreta is in reality the  prime North Canton government official who lacks "backbone" and is in the words of North Canton civic activist a "pie in the sky" guy who on the water issue is an example of his pejorative-intended "wishful thinking" label he attempts to place on Held (said he would veto OMNI getting water without annexation) and on Councilman at Large Daryl Revoldt (a former mayor and council president).

The SCPR thinks that Cerreta (given his fascination with developers especially North Canton's
Bob DeHoff [the last the SCPR knew, a 10% ownership interest in Lichter's Hoover rehab project known as Maple Street Commerce, LLC]) demonstrates that he is part of the "wishbone" crowd that seems to populate Hoover rehab optimists and HOF-VP enthusiasts.

Moreover, the SCPR is being told that Stuart Lichter has been in direct contact with at least one North Canton councilperson and in the opinion of the person sharing with The Report is trying a divide and conquer routine between council and the mayor.

Bottom line in the assessment of the SCPR source, Lichter is trying to convince North Canton government to come up with "more" public money in order to finish Phase II of the Hoover rehab.

The mayor quite openly says and is acting through North Canton's administrative staff to get Lichter to do one thing:  "get the Hoover facility 'up to code!'"

No more public money for Stu Lichter to complete the Hoover project, so says Mayor David Held.

A question the SCPR has for Councilman Cerreta.

What has Councilman Cerreta done to ensure that the millions of taxpayer money (a State of Ohio grant funneled through North Canton government) as well, perhaps, as the $36 million EB-5 money, more or less,  find its way into the Hoover project so as to provide a return on investment to North Canton, Ohio and U.S. taxpayers?

Here is a copy of a pending lawsuit against Lichter et al that focuses on the EB 5 money.

And here is a copy of Sarah Lioi's  (a former Stark County Court of Common Pleas judge) latest order in the case which gives the parties until June 11, 2018 to work out a settlement or the case becomes active again

Where pray tell Councilman Cerreta is that $36 million that the SCPR has been told by numerous North Canton officials was to be spent on completing Phase II of The Hoover project?

Do you Councilman Cerreta have the backbone to face up with Stu Lichter et al and get answers for the North Canton taxpaying public?

Is this guy "all mouth," and very little action?

A typical tactic that pontificators like Cerreta employ is to accuse others what he himself exemplifies.

Again, returning to the HOF-VP, to repeat and emphasize:  "Godspeed & Good Luck" to the HOF-VP with "private" sector money.


If there is a failure for public money invested so far to produce a return to taxpayers, then those public officials named in Stark County Political Report blogs should be held accountable "at-the-polls" once it becomes apparent that the HOF-VP is not going to produce a return on investment on taxpayer dollars.

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