Friday, June 8, 2018



TAKEAWAYS: (Participants:  Board president Halkias, Superintendent May & Treasurer                                       Jordan)

  • Meeting did nothing to convince SCPR that there was a makes sense in the first place for filing the complaint and just as mysteriously dropping Plain's objection to Tom Benson Stadium being valued at $4.5 million,
  • Highlights of meeting:
    • Apologized for not responding in more detail to SCPR e-mail inquiries and for none of Plain's board members not returning SCPR calls,
    • Deny that Plain LSD got anything in return for dropping valuation complaint on Benson Stadium baseline appraisal for something in return and deny that the drop was because Repository publisher James Porter (a Plain SD graduate) and zealot HOF-VP supporter"twisted" Superintendent May's arm (as conjectured in SCPR blog),
    • Complaint based on common knowledge that stadium rehab obviously cost more than $4.5 million,
    • Current appraisal of about $40 million offered as a justification for dropping the complaint which does not make sense to the SCPR because the dismissal let Auditor Harold's baseline go unchallenged.
      • The $40 million sets the amount (for now) on which HOF Village LLC gets the revenue for to finance bond debt servicing over 30 years at 100% of "increased" property tax,
    • Apparently sending a message to auditor's office on baseline valuations for HOF-VP properties that lie in Plain School District as the HOF-VP 
BOTTOM LINE:  The SCPR is still skeptical that Halkias, May and Jordan gave "real" reasons for the actions taken.

UPDATED:  2:45 PM 6/8/2018

"a puzzle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma"

On or about March 29, 2018 the Plain Local School District filed with Stark County auditor's office a Form DTE 1 which is the means by which anyone or entity who wants to challenge (nominated as being a "complaint") the assessment of the Canton City Schools' Tom Benson Stadium by Alan Harold who is the current sitting elected county auditor.

On June 3, 2018, Canton Repository publisher/CEO James Porter (a "prime mover/promoter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village Project) wrote a column extolling the leadership qualities of Plain Local School District superintendent Brent May.

In the column Porter reveals that he has had (presumably) recent meetings with May "the purposes: of which he says were:
  1.   How can May keep moving the community forward by partnering with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and 
  2. [H]ow can we figure out a way to get a great project he has envisioned off the ground.
The SCPR is told that HOF and Canton City School officials were none-too-happy about the Plain LSC challenge to the $4.5 million baseline evaluation of Benson Stadium in advocating that it be appraised at $85 million.   (see analysis below)

The Report is also told that a list of demands in settlement of the challenge was communicated to the Canton City Schools.

The word is that the challenge, if it were to proceed and were to be successful could possibly really, really, really muck up plans to give to life to the "fallen-on-hard-times" financial viability of the overall HOF-VP.

One Stark County political subdivision official suggests to the SCPR that the "mucking' problem lies in the HOF not having adequately planned for the financing of the project.  

On June 4, 2018 this:

Isn't the timing of the Porter column interesting?

What a wonderful guy Brent May is, he says.

Maybe somebody ought to check May's arms and determine whether or not Porter administered some "arm twisting" (figuratively speaking, of course)  during those meetings?

And, get this?

According, to Plain LSC officials, (Jordan is Plain LSD's treasurer) the district got absolutely nothing for dropping its valuation complaint.

Kathy Jordan <>  Jun 5 at 4:45 PM

To:  Martin Olson
CC:  Brent May

Good Afternoon Mr. Olson,

We do not have any records which relate to your questions and do not have any agreements or did not receive anything to dismiss the complaint.


Brent May and Kathy Jordan


Plain and Canton school officials are proving to be highly resistant to SCPR efforts to ferret out what The Report believes to have been some sort of wink and nod assurances, "not-in-writing-promises," or the like that Plain LSD got for dismissing the complaint.

That the Plain complaint has mysteriously and puzzlingly gone away without having achieved anything is an enigma that cannot pass a "smell test."

The SCPR has telephoned all five Plain Board of Education members and not one of them responded.  One of them, Monica Gwin, was unable to take a message for a call back because her voicemail box was full for two attempts made over several days.  Good luck to Plain residents who want to contact member Gwin, no?

The converse of Porter's piece is: Who is not so wonderful?

Perhaps Stark County commissioners Janet Weir Creighton, Richard Regula and Bill Smith?

Smith though serving on the HOF Centennial Committee preparing for a Canton Pro Football 100 year celebration extravaganza in September 2020 (likely to cost millions in Stark County taxpayer provided money and services) was left off Porter's "praised be" list  (reference:  The Handmaiden's Tale on Hulu) as written by Porter and reproduced below in this blog.

Porter, again:

These incredible reasons for hope, get brighter if we can get all elected officials, especially on the county level, on board.  (large print, italics added for emphasis)

To add insult to injury in the context of Porter's  "especially on the county level" language, Porter lists a number of Stark County political subdivision officials he apparently sees as compliant, "ask no probing questions" types who seemingly toady up to him as the publisher of the monopolistic Repository.

Let’s follow the lead of individuals who are moving our community forward: Denny Saunier and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce; Mark Samolczyk, with Stark Community Foundation; Ray Hexamer, with Stark Economic Development Board; and Joe Chaddock, with the Stark County Educational Service Center.

When all of our political leaders start working in unity with the above entities, we will be the talk of the state. When all elected officials follow the examples set by state Rep. Kirk Schuring, Sheriff George Maier, Stark County Common Pleas Judge Frank Forchione and Canton Mayor Tom Bernabei, we will be a community that reverses the trends of the past 20-plus years.

For The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report) has learned from several sources that Porter has insinuated to one Stark County political subdivision official that, he, Porter in his capacity as publisher, that come re-election time will see to it that the refusing official to a Porter demand for the official to do what the official believed could not lawfully be done on a HOF relevant matter will incur the ire of the editorial board of The Rep.

Urging a public official to disregard the official's perception of what the law allows for and he calls for public official unity?

How could a public official possibly unify with a guy who attempts to strongarm?

The Stark County Political Report sees Porter as a bully who plays the role articulated years ago by former Repository editor David Kaminski as likening The Repository to a "800 gorilla that buys ink by the barrel.

Moreover, the SCPR hears from a highly credible source that Porter is not all that forthcoming about disclosing to The Repository reading public regarding special relationships he has with HOF-VP connected companies.

The Report is told that this past December he was in New York City and he and family members were feted to "the bright lights of Broadway" or some sort of similar entertainment by Michael Klein of the M. Klein Company which company has agreed to undertake finding financing to move the HOF-VP further along if not to completion.

Would Porter allow a letter to the editor writer publication space without revealing special relationships with the topic at hand?

Of course not!  He appears to be a man of a double standard.

Lastly, readers should not forget the special relationship that The Repository has with the Hall of Fame itself.

In June, 2016 when The Repository forged its "official" relationship with the HOF; the association raised concerns on the part of Local 1 of the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild about conflicts in interest, transparency and concomitant ethical considerations inherent in The Rep being "official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame" as posted to this very day on the local's Facebook page to wit:

Isn't that letter interesting?

Apparently, Publisher James Porter did not thinks the concerns were newsworthy inasmuch as The Report does not think he ever published the letter for Repository readers to take note of.

Kudos to the unionists for having ethics as an higher priority than Porter seemingly does.

This Porter run newspaper celebrates "Sunshine Week" every March as does the newspaper industry as a whole.

Sunshine on whom?

Maybe somebody ought to place a very large sun lamp next to 500 Market Avenue, South next March?   Another one at 2121 George Halas Drive!  And yet another one at 222 Market Avenue, North!

Of course and undoubtedly all Stark Countians wish the "private enterprise"aspect Pro Football Hall of Fame the very best in cobbling together the $1 billion plus of needed money to complete the project.

However, we all need to insist that to the degree public taxpayer money is involved, there must be a public accounting as to whether or not our tax dollars are being put to "with near certainty, highly productive "return-on-investment."

The Repository coverage likely on orders from Porter is almost all cheerleading and relatively little of asking the tough questions.

Sources tell the SCPR that Porter meets with HOF officials weekly.  And undoubtedly there is a hotline from 500 Market Avenue, South to 2121 George Halas Drive that is in frequent use.

Accordingly, Porter has to know much more about the precariousness of the private funding of the project that he is allowing to be put in Stark County's only countywide newspaper chain.

The SCPR's attitude is that if the private sector is not flocking to support the project, then public dollars already invested and being lobbied to be invested (i.e. a countywide sales tax part of which would go for the HOF-VP) are at risk of not being productive enough or perhaps even lost.

In addition to Cheerleader-in-Chief James Porter and his Special Projects Coordinator and cousin Todd Porter, of course, there is C. David Baker who is known to be both fawning and disparaging of Stark County political subdivision officials depending on whether or not a given official is "all-in" or maintains a analytical posture on all-things-HOFVP-matters.

Baker's forte is being a charmer.  But those who see him in different contexts say that he can get quite nasty in a hurry.

Baker is great at blaming others when his unrealistic dreams hit head on with financial realities.

Now turning to Stark County auditor Alan Harold's role in all of this.

What makes Plain's complaint front page news in Stark County is that it was initiated as a challenge to Auditor Harold's appraisal of the contested valuation property includes the following factors:
  • Parcel 10009054, aka Tom Benson Stadium, is owned by the Canton City Schools [CCS] and which is the site of the annual Canton-based first of the new pro football year exhibition game,
  • The parcel has been leased for 99 years to the HOF Village LLC.
    • HOF Village LLC is a partnership between the National Football Museum, Inc. (dba Professional Football Hall of Fame and HOF Village Project developer Stu Lichter,
  • The parcel is subject to a 100% Tax Increment Financing which provides for the return of any increase in value of the parcel (i.e. the rehab of the formerly named Fawcett Stadium) to infrastructure projects to benefit the HOF-VP,
  • Harold  as of January 1, 2018 appraised the property as being worth $4,5 million
    • The $4,543,600 ($4.5 million) is what Auditor Harold defined to the SCPR as being the "base value" as of the date of his appraisal which he says is mandated by Ohio law as it exists and in implement the language of Canton's ordinance as to when valuation shall take place ("commencing in the tax years in which the improvements first appear on the tax list") even though it was and continues to be commonly known that ultimately a finished Tom Benson Stadium cost could be as high as $250 million,
      • The significance of the $4.5 million valuation is that Canton City Schools in light of the TIF being a 100% TIF will only be for the life of the TIF (30 years) the "sole" value upon which the district and other Stark County subdivisions will collect taxes.
Out-of-the-blue Harold has come up with this sort of  (actually there was earlier one that was some $29 million which Harold did not make available to the public) first "increase in value" appraisal which yet has to be approved by the state of Ohio:

What valuation model does Harold use?

You've got the SCPR!

Cost?  Selling value?  Cost but  not items that do not enhance value.

Harold hem-hawed all over the place in his description of how he arrived at $40 million as the current valuation of parcel 10009054.

Some Stark County Political subdivision officials think Harold is "gung-ho" for the HOF-VP and is spellbound by Baker and therefore takes his marching orders from 2121 Halas Drive.

Harold admitted to the SCPR that he is bullish for HOF-VP and may have received campaign contributions from HOF connected persons he is friendly with, but insisted, nevertheless, that he made his independent determination on the current $40 million valuation figure.

Maybe just maybe Harold should have had another county auditor do the parcel 10009054 appraisal work?

Had Plain persisted with its challenge and the baseline value was set at $85 million:   
  • the HOF-VP gets $-0- for 2018 and not the $1 million that second chart shows, but
  • the CCS likely gets over $2 million annually for the 30 year span of the TIF, and
  • the HOF-VP gets millions less because of the more realistic in terms of a "fair" appraisal with the baseline value being $85 million
    • Note:  With a baseline value of $85 million, only the auditor's office sees fit to go over that number in appraised value would the HOF Village LLC get any money.
      • That's why the SCPR thinks Porter had those meetings with Plain LSD superintendent Brent May.
Now that we know that parcel 10009054 will not have a realistic valuation, it seems likely that HOF Village LLC will benefit to the tune of millions upon millions upon millions of "publicly unaccounted for"  taxpayer provided money over the 30 life span of the TIF.

And, of course, there are additional millions going to the project in other financial schemes designed to get into the pockets of Stark County and Ohio taxpayers to pay for what is billed as a $1 billion "private enterprise" project.

Private Enterprise?

Not even close!

Canton City Schools recently opted to participate in the Stark County Education Service Center 1.49 mill "security and mental health resources" levy that would have, if it passes in August, brought in (according to Stark County auditor office figures) over $1 million.  Others tell the SCPR that it would have brought in more like $2 million.

Apparently, the CCS do not need upwards of $3 million dollars a year in additional revenue?

The SCPR has heard one highly credible observation that questions CCS superintendent Adrian Alison's focus on the financial interests of Canton's schools when it comes to HOF/CCS negotiations.

While Canton's schools are scheduled to get $285,000 annually (for the time being) in lease payments, it is appearing that the CCS will be paying at least $115,000 annually for usage of facilities that the school system owns.


Here is a model compiled by a Harold staff member which shows how much Canton schools will be locked into notwithstanding that as the stadium is completed the increase in value will be reflected in future auditor office reappraisals. (two charts:  [data from Stark auditor's office]; first the 20l7 chart and second the 2018 chart])

To repeat the SCPR's take on the Plain LSC challenge and dismissal:

"a puzzle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma!"

The SCPR believes there are those who fancy themselves as Stark County leaders (in and out of government) who know precisely how the Plain LSD complaint and dismissal in all its detail processed.

But they are not talking.

Why should day-in, day out taxpaying Stark Countians trust these folks in dealing transparently, accountability-wise and communicatively with the peoples' money?

Some say that The Repository as managed by James Porter is the local equivalent in relation to the HOF and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce as is Fox News to the Trump administration:  a virtual propaganda machine.

"Ain't that ducky?"

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