Tuesday, July 31, 2018




Many people of "power" cultivate mastery through the use of fear.

Of Watergate writing fame, Bob Woodward then of the Washington Post is reportedly on the cusp of releasing a new tome entitled:  "Fear:  Trump in  the White House" on  September 11th (an interesting date in and of itself, no?)

Politicians are particularly prone to "to put the fear of God" at work against those who criticize, oppose, question or resist them.

Newspaper editors/publishers?

Not so much!

Most leaders in the industry are for "let[ting] the sunshine in" coupled with "let the chips fall where they may" in celebration of industry-wide Sunshine Week in March of each year.

Except, apparently, in the context of thinking of The Canton Repository leadership.

Yesterday, Cleveland.com published an article with describes the critical role that quality newspaper discharge in terms of being a community watchdog.  Readers should step aside, click on this LINK and read the article, to wit:

Especially culpable on the delelection of "watchdogging", the SCPR thinks is Repository publisher James Porter.

The SCPR believes Porter more than anyone else at The Rep orchestrated local paper becoming "the official newspaper of the Professional Football Hall of Fame and thereby put readers on notice to be highly skeptical of information or more likely, lack thereof, on accountability of public monies spent on the HOF-VP and whether or not those monies will have a sufficient "return on investment" to justify the risk of "opportunity cost" be lost on more worthy projects.

Of course, we all hope the HOF-VP succeeds at a "realistic" level, but not at the price of the lack of transparency for the public side investment in the project. 

If private sector financiers want to take on a undue risk, more power to them and the HOF managers!

Probably about ten years ago, more or less, the Repository executive editor David Kaminski (since retired) wrote a line (equating The Rep to an 800 lb. gorilla) that struck The Stark County Political Report as uncharacteristic of "come let us reason together" types that staff the editorial/publisher positions of America's leading newspapers.

It appears that current publisher James Porter fully embraces Kaminski's characterization.

On what the SCPR considers to be highly reliable sources, The Report believes that Porter had Stark County prosecutor John Ferrero "quaking in his boots" recently when word got out that a member of his staff as his legal counsel had advised Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar not to sign a tax lien agreement that the Hall of Fame Village proponents were insisting upon.

On July 8, 2018 Publisher Porter wrote, in part:
This happened this past week. County Commissioner Bill Smith, County Prosecutor John Ferraro  (sic - actually "Ferrero") and Visit Canton Executive Vice President of Marketing & Communications Tonja Marshall all mentioned to me in recent days they want to make a difference. 
A county prosecutor who is willing to meet with individuals and groups to cut through the “red tape” when necessary is a powerful asset to our community. 
Bringing the current county treasurer to the table might be a tough task for anyone, though.
Note:  capitalization/text color change added for emphasis sake

Apparently, Ferrero contacted Porter with a:  "Are you mad at me?" inquiry.

So it seems that Porter has left a significant part of his conversation out of his July 8th column.


Hence a ensuing conversation likely occurred (reported in "bits and pieces) in which Ferrero must have pledged his undying loyalty to The Repository's (the self-described "official newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame") quest to jam the HOF-VP down everybody's throat in terms of:
  • not abiding questioning the missing accountability of how public money is being spent, 
  • not abiding questioning the missing accountability of how a $424 million project has turned into a $1 billion plus (including Fawcett Stadium [now Tom Benson] rehab from $22 million to at least $139 million) project "right under the noses" of public bodies (e.g. the Stark County Port Authority), public officials (e.g. members of the Canton City Board of Education)
  • not examining the overall viability of the HOF-VP given the very, very, very public discussion of INADEQUATE private sector financing which has led to Stark County based (and others, of course) contractors not being timely paid with some $11 million in debt still lingering
Hence through the medium of one James Porter The Repository playing the role of Kaminski's 800 pound gorilla which buy ink by the barrel.

Apparently, Prosecutor Ferrero has been intimidated.

Accordingly, Ferrero bears watching on how he exercises his authority as county prosecutor vis-a-vis his staff members when it comes to dealing with "the red tape" (which, likely, is in place to protect taxpayer interests) touching on the HOF-VP.

What Porter ought to be pressed on is how does he defines "red tape?"  Does it include an attorney having the professional independence to provide advice and legal support for the likes of Alex Zumbar when such is at odds with the interests of the HOF-VP?

The SCPR has learned that Porter has threatened to use the editorial power of The Rep to unseat Zumbar the next time he comes up for election which of course is consistent with Porter donning the "800 lb. gorilla" mantle.

The SCPR thinks Plain Local School District superintendent has also been strong armed by Porter (May denies such) by virtue of Plain having filed a complaint (later withdrawn) on Stark County auditor Alan Harold "unrealistic" (in the view of the SCPR) appraisal of Tom Benson Stadium for purposes of establishing the baseline for Canton City Schools and Plain Schools collecting property taxes for education purposes on HOF property going forward.

In any event, perhaps a pertinent question in light of GateHouse Media LLC having purchased The Columbus Dispatch and The Akron Beacon Journal, that Porter might ought to be asking himself is:  How long will The Repository continue to exist in his current, stand-alone, form?

It has to be tempting on the part of GateHouse to consolidate the Canton/Akron news demographic and save tons of money without any appreciable change in the quality/quantity of coverage by Porter's operation, no?

Who knows?

Perhaps one day GateHouse's coverage of all of its current major holdings in Ohio might be known as "Ohio Today" with The Columbus Dispatch being the cornerstone of the flagship-esque publication?

Kudos to Commissioners Creighton, Regula (who, the SCPR has good reason to believe, has been told by HOF-VP C. David Baker he needs to resign for comments he made on the HOF-VP to the NY Times), Treasurer Zumbar for standing their ground as "protecting the public interest" on HOF-VP issues as they intersect with the private sector interests of HOF Village LLC (a partnership of the National Football Museum, Inc. [dba the Professional Football Hall of Fame] and master developer Stu Lichter's IRG).

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