Thursday, August 30, 2018



A common perception of a Stark County Board of County Commissioner meetings is that they are like "watching paint dry."

The current version of the Board of Stark County Commissioners seem to be engaged in the weekly agenda items to a degree that "like watching paint dry" for nearly every meeting (if not all) is not an accurate take on the general attractiveness of a given meeting.

Here is Wednesday's agenda.  On its face, it does not look all that interesting.

The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report), more or less, has been covering Stark County commissioner weekly meetings for some 10 years or better since March 12, 2008.

Over that span, The Report has had the experience of witnessing various meeting approaches of former commissioners Todd Bosley, Tom Harmon, Jane Vignos, Steve Meeks, Pete Ferguson, David Bridenstine, Thomas Bernabei as well as the current set of commissioners; namely,  Richard Regula, Bill Smith and Janet Creighton and a coming and going of a parade of Canton Repository reporters.

Over that span, The SCPR has taken in among other things:
  • the imposition without vote of Stark Countians a 1/2 cent sales tax (December, 2008) by Bosley, Harmon and Vignos in part to fix "a broken countywide 9-1-1 system" and an infusion of millions in general revenue funds,
  • the rejection of the imposed tax at the hand of a determined core of Stark County citizens (local attorney and civic activist Craig T. Conley (November, 2009),
  • the revelation (April 1, 2009) what proved to be an upwards of $3 million stolen from the Stark County treasury by then Chief Deputy Treasurer Vince Frustaci and the political fallout sustained by the then county treasurer (resigned/retired October, 2011) and county auditor (defeated for re-election in November, 2010) because of a public perception that they had not exercise sufficient oversight so as to have prevented or caught the theft earlier over the several years it had occurred,
  • a turmoil over the handling of the Stark County Dog Pound operations which the SCPR thinks was generated by Todd Bosley (as The Report thinks he unwisely prevailed with Vignos and Harmon on the "imposed" sales tax) and which was not resolved until the appointment by commissioners of Jon Barber as Dog Pound Warden in August, 2013,
  • a county government financial crisis (2010 through 2012) likely generated by the theft of treasury funds and the public's rejection of the imposed sales tax of 2008,
  • the restoration of public confidence in the commissioners leadership with the election of Bernabei and Creighton (2010 election) and the commissioners (including Pete Ferguson) hiring first Mike Hanke and later Brant Luther and Chris Nichols to place the county on a sound fiscal footing, and
  • the passage by Stark County voters of a 1/2 cent sales tax in November, 2011 (renewed recently).
The forgoing list is a testament to the importance of local government as embodied in the Board of Stark County Commissioners.

However, many of us devote our citizenship efforts to impacting federal and state office holders.  

But the political reality is that the likes of Sherrod Brown, Rob Portman, Bob Gibbs, Jim Renacci, John Kasich, Ted Strickland, Kirk Schuring, Scott Oelslager, Christina Hagan and Tom West largely blow off Joe and Mary Public.

Government officials who are most likely to hear a citizen's plea for attention to his/her issue is much, much, much higher at the county, township, city, village and board of education levels of government.

In today's blog the SCPR asks for readers' attention for a "look, see" in this SCPR breakdown of the anatomy of a commissioners' regular meeting.

Commissioner meetings are held most nearly every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m in the commissioners meeting room located on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building, 110 Central Plaza, Canton, Ohio.

Former commissioner Thomas Bernabei often jazzed up meetings during his tenure as commissioner (2010-2015) with his sometimes eccentric-esque wit.

Current commissioner Janet Creighton sprinkles an entire meeting with her jovial, fun-poking style as president of the Board of Stark County Commissioners.

A sample of the commissioners' "by design" entertaining style published by the SCPR on December 24, 2017: (4 min, 16 sec)


On Wednesday earlier this week, the commissioners meeting (which lasted a total of 30 minutes) was a mix of humor and a consideration/discussion of important issues that will affect the lives of Stark Countians who:
  • use the services of the Stark County Dog Pound,
  • get public assistance including SARTA services,
  • suffer from public ditch drainage problems,
  • rely on the ongoing training and hence expertise of Stark County appointed officials
    • Engineer's office,
    • Coroner's office,
    • Emergency Management office,
    • Job and Family Services office,
    • Sanitary engineer's office, and
    • Treasurer's office
  • benefit from Ohio Public Works funded projects: ($3.243 million in total)
    • Perry Township (Jackson Avenue and Perry Drive)
    • Jackson Township (Applegrove and The Strip),
    • Hills and Dales Road to Massillon city limits Brunnerdale Road,
    • Belden Village Avenue from Whipple Avenue to Everhard Road, South,
    • Spangler Road Bridge (Plain Township)
    • Weimer Drive Bridge (Osnaburg Township)
    • Hills and Dales Road/Avondale Storm Sewer
  • use the intersection of Lake Center Street and Cleveland Avenue in Lake Township,
  • use the intersection of Shuffle Road, Pittsburg Avenue and Orion Street in North Canton, and
  • need infrastructure repair as in Lexington Township and the Village Green Lift Station,

First, "The 169th Annual Stark County Fair" - an unusual Stark County commissioner meeting opening: (1 min, 30 sec)

And here is Commissioner Richard Regula (post-meeting) reminiscing about the Stark County Fair going back to his childhood, the value of 4H and other thoughts on the fair.

Second, the Pledge of Allegiance:

Third, Amendments, Approval of Minutes, Public Speaks and Administrator Jean Young time:

Fourth, Administrator Rick Flory on Ohio Public Works projects: (2 min, 39 sec)

Fifth, a break from the "serious" agenda items for a little "fun poking" at Commissioner Richard Regula and his years' long fastidiousness on getting U.S. Route 30 improved to the Pennsylvania state line:  (44 seconds)

Sixth, Administrator Flory and Engineer Torrence on Lake Center/Cleveland Avenue (Lake Township) signal light installation (re:  signal pole backlog, should be completed by December, 2018):

Seventh, Flory/Torrence on plan to reconfigure Shuffle Road to Pittsburg to Orion intersection:

In the following video, there is an extensive discussion of the merits of "roundabout" intersections which Commissioner Bill Smith says he once opposed but is now convinced are the way to go:  (4 min, 51 sec):

Eighth, a follow up consideration to the Jackson Ave/Perry Dr project: (1 min, 32 sec)

Ninth, the Whipple Ave/Everhard project.  The commissioners discuss with Torrence soon to be Whipple closing and next year Everhard closing:  (4 min, 48 sec).

The video has important Torrence provided closing information on both Whipple and Everhard.

Tenth, the commissioners review with Engineer Torrence Stark's "long line" road stripe painting program:

Lastly, the commissioners consider a sanitary sewer project in Lexington Township:

So there you have it folks.

A video walk through of the August 29, 2018 Stark County commissioners meeting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018





Early in the life of The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report), former Local 94 Plumbers and Pipefitters business manager Daniel Fonte aptly described Martin Olson as being "an equal opportunity critic."

It wasn't all that much later (May, 2012) that one of his proteges at Local 94 (David Kirven) was part of a movement banning the SCPR from Jefferson-Jackson Club (of the Stark County "organized" Democratic Party) meetings.

The offense?  The SCPR showed the Democratic candidates as they presented themselves.  As inadequate for public service as that may have been.

But before the banning, Kirven had no qualms whatsoever in asking The Report to cover an organized labor event at Mills Business Park billed as "Justice for Labor."

Here's a guy who is willing to be part of the trampling of the public's "Justice to Voters" right to know political candidates as they really are as he dons the cloak of "Justice for Labor."

How hypocritical can one be?

Somewhat similar from the Republican side of the same political coin was the Stark County "organized" party (Jeff Matthews, the executive director of the Stark County Board of Elections and currently chairman of the "organized" Stark GOP) after this blogger captured the "politically over-the-top" Phil Davison in September, 2010 of banning the SCPR camera from "organized" Stark County Republican Party functions.

To show what an utter hypocrite Matthews can be, he is reported by Stark County commissioner Janet Creighton to this blogger of having uttered "Where is Martin when you need him?" post-Creighton after she had given what he deemed to have been an outstanding speech.

"Cherry-picking" types like Kirven and Matthews want to have it every which way and it seems to the SCPR to be "bullying" types who appear to this blogger not to have the public interest at heart but their self-serving individual or political party interests as the motivator in how they handle their public functions.

While it wasn't Matthews but rather the political party appointed members of the Stark County Board of Elections (Cline, Braden [Republicans]'; Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and Ferruccio [Democrats with Ferruccio being the current chairman of the Stark Dems] who initially prohibited the SCPR from videotaping board meetings

Of course we all readily recall Trump repeatedly calling the free press "the enemy of the people" which is nothing other than as thinking himself to be the whole of the American people.

There is no doubt that much of the media goes after Trump and his incessant lying, name calling, refusing to deal with those media types to differ with him and his concomitant bullying.

Maybe just maybe the man brings the intense scrutinizing on himself?


Ferrero, the man who reportedly worried that The Repository publisher (who himself fits a characterization of being a bully) was mad at him for an attorney on his staff doing the attorney's job for Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar in complying with Ohio law tries to intimidate others.

Elum a man who collects civic awards like he is reaching into a bag of candy and yet cannot bring himself to treat those with whom he disagrees with anything but contempt and the vilest of language.

There have been and continue to be other Stark County public officials/public figures who seem to share the Trump sentiment and intimidating conduct in relation to the press.

At the local level, the SCPR has not hesitated whatsoever to identify these folks by name so that they have to walk in the light of day.

Of late, there has been a Stark Countian who has taken to ranting to this blogger in e-mails in defense of President Donald J. Trump.

LINK referred to

From a June 25, 2018 e-mail concerning the SCPR blog of June 21, 2018 (LINK).

            I normally agree with you on most issues, but your demeaning article against Trump today is over the edge. 

Obama started the screwup with illegals, not Trump.  

I am an unhappy Republican who now is a Trumplican.  

Kasich has turned into a slimey, snivelling worm. 

Trump has raised our economy, lowered black unemployment to record levels, raised income, is working to make this a safer country and I 100% support building the wall to prevent and stop not only the illegals crossing the border, but the Pakistanis, Syrians, Libyans, and any other terrorists filtering through the border. Also the drugs coming through the border are the real cause of our heroin problem, not pharmacists or doctors.

Trump might not say things the nicest way, but at least he has the balls to say them.

The Democrats have become almost satanic in their opposition and attacks on Trump. 

The Mueller investigation is pure illegal, corrupt, biased bullshit and the IG investigation is just the tip of the iceberg against him. The more they attack Trump the more we will support him.

Schmidt is a RINO just like McCain. He's in the mold of Kasich who should just resign because he no longer has any working person Republican support. 

You are way off base this time. You say none have the backbone to denounce Trumps departure of Republican community/ family building core values?

He's lowered unemployment for all to historic levels. He is working to keep America safe. He is pro traditional family, He just took a historic step in peace with North Korea who we have technically been at war with for the last 70 years. He's bring jobs back to this country. 

You call Trump a lying, scheming and totally self serving president. 

You are a fool. 

Trump is the voice of those of us who are tired of the Democratic, liberal, Obama / Clinton decade of decline, lies, corruption, and moral collapse.

 Why aren't you writing about the corruption with Strzok,,  Page, McCabe, Comey, Brennen, Clapper, and Lynch?

Trump is working to clean up this mess and I'd rather have a president who has enough backbone to say what he needs to say as opposed to Obama and Clinton who lied continuously.  

 (CAPITALIZATION = emphasis added)

What venom! no?

And disturbingly the fulmination comes from a self-described (by implication) former Stark County "working Republican," now a Trumplican, who apparently fancies himself (from material not included in the foregoing e-mail reproduction) as a veteran's veteran, who, of course, had nothing to say about the draft dodging Trump (like Democrat Bill Clinton) and Trump's bashing of the heroically courageous Vietnam War prisoner John McCain.


Citizens out to be standing up against the bullies of life wherever we find them while honoring the "come let us reason together" folks.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


UPDATE:   September 5, 2018

UPDATE:  August 28, 2018

U.S. Senator Brown introduces legislation to return up to $130 million of federal money to Ohio if Feds recovery it.  (LINK)

UPDATE:  August 26, 2018

LINK to editorial (Larkin)

UPDATE:  August 12, 2018 

UPDATE:  August 9, 2018 (08:30 AM)

Are ECOT campaign finance recipients Scott Oelslager (Oho Senate, R-29th) and Kirk Schuring (Oho House, R-48Th) going to make amends for the $591 million diverted from local education to ECOT?

Especially so, in light of the Ohio Supreme Court decision yesterday denying ECOT's appeal of an Ohio Department of Education determination of ECOT liability to the taxpayers of Ohio.  (see full decision in Appendix to this blog).

ECOT was formed with the legislative support of Oelslager and Schuring in 2000.  An Innovation Ohio study (LINK) shows that since 2012, Stark County public school districts have lost over $14 million to ECOT alone (not counting other charter/online schools receiving diverted public school monies).  The $14 million, of course, does account for the period 2000 through 2011.

Will Stark County school superintendents and board of education members hold them politically accountable in November?

Superintendents of school districts are notorious for being political with their respective boards of education.  But when it comes to the likes of Oelslager and Schuring, they show themselves, by and large, to be gutless.

In particular,  how about Ohio State School Board Present-elect John Halkias (president of the Plain Local School Board; also a 19 year school board member) John Halkias?

Will he use his new position to lean on the Ohio General Assembly to hold local school district harmless on the $591 million taken from Ohio's local school districts?

UPDATE:  August 8, 2018


5TH District COA W. Scott Gwin (of Stark County) concurs in 4 to 2 majority opinion.

See entire opinion in the Appendix

ORIGINAL BLOGS (Vol 1 05/30/18 - 10:13 AM)

LINK to Volume 1 of this series.

There is a largely political drama playing out in the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio General Assembly (OGA) under supermajority control of Republicans (for the most part) reportedly have put some $1 billion Ohio taxpayer  dollars into the pocket of  Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder and entrepreneur William Lager since the assembly approved in 1998 House Bill 700 which was the start for Ohio into the waters of charter/community/online alternatives to Ohio's public school system.

Ohio is currently in the process of trying to collect some $80 million in Ohio taxpayer overpayments to ECOT assessed by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE)

There two cases pending in the Ohio Supreme Court in a double-attack by ECOT on ODE's prospects for ever collecting the $80 million.

Stark County's Scott Gwin (a Democrat and a member of the 5th District Court of Appeals) is sitting by assignment on case 20170-0913 (LINK to video of session).

Members of the 1998 OGA included Republican current state Rep J. Kirk Schuring (in the OGA since 1995) and Republican W. Scott Oelslager (currently a state senator, in the OGA since 1985).

And campaign finance records show that they are knee-deep in what some call "pay to play" in the form of campaign finance contributions they have received from Lager or Lager connectioned contribution entities.

Stark Countians Schuring and Oelslager have to be among the longest serving legislators in the OGA if not "the longest serving" in the light of a 1992 voter approved referendum saddling OGA with eight year consecutive years term limits, to wit:  (a Wikipedia descriptions)
Republican activists, led by Fred A. Lennon, began pursuing term limits in the 1980s, in 1992, a referendum set term limits of eight consecutive years in office: four consecutive terms in the House or two consecutive terms in the Senate. Years in office are considered consecutive if they are separated by less than four years.
They have switched back and forth since 1992 every eight years between a largely "all-of-Stark" Senate seat (currently the 29th) and "Jackson Township centered" House seat and thereby violated a supposedly "sacred" Republican cause of bring "fresh" faces to the Ohio Legislature.

Both Oelslager and Schuring are affable types who have achieved some legislative good for Ohioans and Stark Countians.  Oelslager at one time was a leading figure on formulating/strengthening Ohio's Open Records Law.

As a major achievement, Schuring apparently thinks promoting economic development legislation (Tax Increment Financing, TIF)  at the expense of  (or on the backs of) public school districts in allowing for the taking of a hefty percentage (up to 100%) of property tax revenues on increased assessed value of developed property and passing it onto the developer.

All-in-all Schuring shows that his Republican colleagues are not enamored with his leadership skills given his apparent ineptness in getting them to agree for the "under-FBI-investigation" of former Republican Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger.

Climbing towards three decades in the Ohio General Assembly and he demonstrates that he has no political muscle with his colleagues?

The Stark County Political Report's take on Schuring and Oelslager is that given a combined nearly 60 years in the Legislature especially in light of term limits taking effect in the late 1990s are far less effective than they should have been given their seniority edge.

Between ECOT, charter and community schools, TIF legislation drain-offs of school support over the years by the Oelslager/Schuring duo and their support since Republican governor John Kasich took office (January, 2011) of "local government funding," it is hard to see the two being a net positive factor for Stark County.

In 2018 alone, with Oelslager and Schuring supposedly looking out for fiscal wholeness of Stark County school districts (source of information:  Ohio Department of Education), Stark County city school districts lost over $11 million to community/charter/online schools and the county school districts as a whole over $15 million.

As the SCPR will show in future blogs, Schuring and Oelslager have failed to protect Stark County school districts from community/charter/online revenue losses (of which ECOT is just part of the picture) to the tune several hundred million dollars.

One hears local school leaders decry their financial struggles at the hand of the Republican dominated OGA and one hears the likes of Canton City Council president lambaste the supermajority Republican Legislature for gutting state support of local government funding.

So one would think that local Democrats would be "chomping at the bit" to unseat them by tapping into the education community and local government officialdom dissatisfaction with the inability of Schuring/Oelslager (remember with nearly 60 years combined seniority in the OGA) to protect educator and local government units from financial duress, no?

But the SCPR thinks that the Phil Giavasis-led "organized" Democratic leadership
  • with former Dems' chairman and Oelslager/Schuring Stark County legislative delegation  colleague [1990-1999] Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.  still a party power lurking in the background,
is not all that committed to the Friedman/Wilburn candidacies.

No doubt, Giavasis et al have to be thinking that there is no way that either Oelslager or Schuring and certainly not both will be defeated in November.

The SCPR believes Friedman and Wilburn working with Democrat incumbent Thomas West (the 49th) would have the ear of local education/government officials and be the vanguard of a turnaround in the state of Ohio's financial relationship with local boards of education and the cities, villages and townships of Stark County.

Wilburn sent this e-mail to the SCPR:

And here is a press release on the topics encompassed in this blog sent out by Wilburn:

Candidate for Ohio House, District 48 responds to continued Statehouse dysfunction
North Canton — Lorraine Wilburn, the Democratic candidate for Ohio House 48 today issued the following statements in response to today’s FBI raid of Rosenberger’s home and session cancellation notice from House Republicans hours before the House was scheduled to vote on a new Speaker:

“The news of the FBI raids of the home of disgraced former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger is yet another indicator of the chaos and dysfunction hanging over the Statehouse. It seems clear that current leadership has allowed an environment of pay to play corruption at the expense of hardworking Ohioans. Our representatives have forgotten who they serve. It's disturbing that Scott Oelslager is running to join the House GOP caucus, and he has no comment on the dysfunction and nasty infighting that's happening there. If he can't stand up and speak out now, how is he going to be an independent voice in the House for Stark County? We can do better. We need new leadership in the statehouse who will do the jobs they were elected to do and put people over partisan politics and personal profit.”

The SCPR has no doubt that Wilburn/Friedman would be a welcome change for Stark County in getting local education officials and local government officials voices heard in Columbus.

Wilburn's/Friedman's beef should not be with the SCPR telling it like it is in terms of both being faced with a gigantic uphill fight to be competitive with their respective races, but rather with motivating the likes of the:
  • Stark County Democratic Party leadership,
  • Stark County superintendents of education,
  • Stark County board of education members,
  • Stark County school teaching and administrative staffs,
  • Stark County political subdivision officials:
    • (cities, village and trustee)
      • mayors,
      • city council members, and
      • citizens
to turn their seeing impossible dream into a reality that will shake the halls of the Ohio General Assembly.

The SCPR is highly skeptical.

But The Report would be delighted to be proven wrong!


Full text of Ohio Supreme Court decision on ECOT.

Friday, August 24, 2018


(See below main graphic)


On August 21st, the Massillon Independent published an article regarding the identity of "Three groups vying to take over closed Affinity hospital."

Here are a few sentences from the article:
Catazaro-Perry declined to name the three entities making private, separate pitches to the city, and wouldn’t say whether any group is based in Stark County or Ohio. 
Privacy is paramount during the negotiations, she said while citing the city’s ongoing contract with the law firm Tzangas, Plakas and Mannos to ensure attorney-client privilege, thus keeping talks confidential. 
“If we share any specific information (or name them) publicly, a company can walk away,” the mayor said. “But we’re heading in the right direction.”
So the identity of the groups slipping out into the general public could only have come from somebody in Massillon government, no?

So one can imagine the astonishment of this blogger that (August 23, 2018) when in an "out-of-Stark-County-venue" heard two hospital industry employees talking (talkers) about by name what one said was the identity of two of the three groups "vying to take over Affinity hospital."

There was no indication whatsoever in that conversation that the topic of the conversation was "forbidden to be talked about" from the talker's source nor was the revelation shared in "hushed" tones.  Any of estimated six to eight other employees and others in the vicinity of the talkers discussion could easily has overheard the conversation.

To the SCPR that the identity of the Affinity pursuing groups (or, two of them) was being so openly and loudly talked about indicates that somebody in Massillon government has shared ultimately the source.

All of which is to point out the futility of governments and private sector entities of trying to keep the government's respective general publics"out-of-the-loop" on information.

The SCPR is highly skeptical of Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perry's:   “If we share any specific information (or name them) publicly, a company can walk away.” 

Of course, anything can happen whether or not the company's names are generally know by the public or not.  What a ridiculous statement by a seeming disingenuous mayor.

Such (Catazaro-Perry's "can" statement) is not a good enough basis on which Massillon government should be withholding information from the taxpaying/voting public.

It seems to the SCPR that from the get-go Massillon government has rushed to do things re: Affinity which may have been unwise from the public interest standpoint and the danger in the current "secrecy mode" is that Massillon's citizens may once again (for lack of information) be brought up on the short end of the "financial stick."

From an April 29, 2018 SCPR blog:

It will be interesting to see whether or not the information that The Stark County Political Report has as to the specific identity of Cleveland-area-based (two of the three entities interested in picking up where Affinity left off) is accurate.

Irrespective of the identity factor, the take-away for Massillonians ought to be "Beware of Agreement(s) made Behind Closed-to-the-Public Doors" and then rushed through Council without the public having had the opportunity to thoroughly vet the quality of any such agreement(s).

The Report's experience is that it is government that wants to hide as much as possible the details of a really bad agreement for its taxpaying public when that government is between a self created "rock and hard place" and needs to make a deal; any deal.

When citizens apply for government jobs, they are subject to be discovered by name by Ohio's Open Records law.   Some folks do not apply for fear of being identified as thinking about leaving their current jobs.  In the private sector, anonymity can be and often is accorded to applicants.

In the public sector, there should precious little that the public is not fully informed upon.  Unless there is compelling proof that revelation of a private sector entity (by specific name) interest in working a deal with government at any level would likely compromise that entity's ability to compete, there should be no sheltering of the name of that entity.

The SCPR suspects that Massillon is on the cusp of making a bad deal for the Massillon taxpaying citizen in having bought a "pig in a poke" in settlement of its dispute in the closing of Affinity.

With all the secrecy surrounding current negotiations, Massillonians ought to be worrying about Massillon government making a bad deal for Massillon.

Secrecy and "rush to judgments" (e.g. a hurry up to get Council approval of any tentative agreement made) go hand-in-hand in foisting on the taxpaying public some really bad deals.

Massillonians needed to be leery of their own government!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018



"Running Scared" is the only way one can fairly describe the way many incumbents/candidates are campaigning across the nation, the state of Ohio and indeed Stark County in this election cycle.

And for the most part, they seem to be Republicans who are seeking to avoid that political albatross named Donald J. Trump being hung around their collective necks as they get out into the arena of public discourse.

It appears that we have two key "avoiders-in-chief" running for Congress in districts that include Stark County; namely, incumbent 7th Congressional District Republican Gibbs and aspirant Republican candidate (the 16th Congressional District) Anthony Gonzalez.

One local Republican who has a lot of political connections and experience suggests to The Stark County Political Report that Gibbs and Gonzalez likely are being managed by the Republican Congressional Caucus to stay out of public limelight in the sense of having to answer the incisive questioning of constituents or would-be constituents and the media.

One might call avoiding groupings of voters as being"smart" politics.  On the other hand, one might deem the avoidance of the public forums as a way to dodge answering questions on issues that they have no "real" or "defensible" answer for which causes them embarrassment and perhaps some votes.

Two (the 7th and the 16th) of three districts that Stark County is a part of (the 13th which only includes a small slice of Stark in the Alliance area) are highly gerrymandered  Republican which prompted a recent lawsuit challenging the fairness of how the districts were put together at the beginning of the current decade as part of the U.S. Constitutional mandate that congressional districts be reapportioned every 10 years.

Recently, a spate of congressional Republicans sought to and were granted the right to intervene in the lawsuit including Congressman Gibbs, to wit:

So not only is Bob Gibbs hiding from a cross section of 7th District voters (he does appear in carefully staged and managed events) he in joining the lawsuit confirms that he is for "unfairness" to how districts are drawn up (in the popular language sense called "gerrymandering") so that as in his case the district, using President Trump's oft used term is rigged" to ensure that he is highly likely to be re-elected.

Republican elected officials and candidates often portray themselves as being in favor of competition (e.g. "free trade" and "the marketplace') but betray themselves in supporting the President's recent initiative on tariffs and programs and policies which many think amount to nothing more than corporate welfare.

On the gerrymandering issue, Republicans rejoin that "organized Democrats" if given the opportunity would do the same.

And, the SCPR thinks and historical evidence supports that rejoinder.

The Report's answer to both is that the practice is antithetical to a thriving democratic-republican and to the extent that either political party puts "party" (and individual candidates' political fate) over the "country's" interest in having a competitive, accountable, transparent and accessible government; they are insidiously undermining the fundamental structure of governance and thereby demoralize the electorate to the point of thinking that individual votes do not matter.

Many of the same politicians like to wrap themselves in the American flag, but the reality of their conduct is to eat away of what make the American way of governance superior to all other forms of government.

Stark County has two politicos who have a history of endorsing gerrymandering as a tool they favor the use of in maintaining personal/political party dominance in control.

One is current state Republican Party chair Jane Timken and the other is former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr.

Timken a little over a year ago told a Cleveland City Club audience that "elections have consequences."  Maier was one of Ohio former political strongman Vern Rife's top political operatives when Maier was a part (early 1990s to lage 1990s)  of the Stark County delegation to the Ohio General Assembly.

To boot, this blogger has heard Maier rage in anger that Republican Megan Todaro had the temerity to run against him for Massillon clerk of courts back in 2005.

My God!  How much does one have to win by to feel secure?

You talk about a "wake up call" about the lack of  basic "the right to compete" democratic-republican political values on the part of Maier; such was the message this blogger took out of his rant against Todaro.

In the SCPR's book, the likes of Timken and Maier are very dangerous people to the viability of our democratic-republican structure of government going forward.

And it appears that Gibbs and Gonzalez have adopted their model of "stacking the 'political, government structure deck," in their personal political and political party's favor in letting the Republican Congressional Caucus dictate to them the context of their interaction with the voting public.

The Gonzalez campaign likes to portray him has a rough and tumble Ohio State and Indianapolis Colts football player who has the air of intellectual prowess that connotes that he is his own man to wit:

After graduating from St. Ignatius High School, it was off to Ohio State University. There, I was fortunate to earn a scholarship as a wide receiver playing for one of my mentors, Jim Tressel. On and off the field, we had many great successes — two Big Ten championships and an undefeated record against “That Team Up North” — but most importantly, it was from Coach Tressel that I learned the team motto, a motto that has stayed with me for my entire life. “With Tradition Comes Responsibility.” 

After spending a lifetime in and around Northeast Ohio, and 5 years in the NFL, it was off to Stanford University where I earned my MBA … .

That Gonzalez with his imagery as background would allow the Republican Congressional Caucus to dictate to him that he avoid public forums might indicate to voters that he is not what he implies via the aforementioned imagery that he is.

Hmm?  "With Tradition Comes Responsibility:" Is it responsible for him to avoid the collective public in a direct context or via doing "unfiltered" interviews with straight talking media.

The SCPR thinks not.

Gonzalez was accountable to Coach Tressel and The Ohio State University because the coach and university administration had him under their collective thumbs.

It appears that when the accountability factor is diffuse (i.e. the voters, the taxpayers, et cetera), then Gonzalez, Gibbs and the Republican Congressional Caucus (and one can say the same for Democrats similarly situated) feel unaccountable to be responsible to their respective publics whom they have an obligation to answer to.

Let Gonzalez pontificate about being responsible when there is no specific, direct line to his district's public.

This Report has asked the Gonzalez and Gibbs campaigns on several occasions for an opportunity to do one-on-one interviews and/or get access to public Q&A forums to the highly limited degree that either camp is willing to participate in.

None of the requests have been responded to.

Obviously such is highly irresponsible when it comes to the taxpaying public being fully informed on the candidates' leadership qualities and their positions on the issues.

Voters need to take a hard look at this guy and make a determination as to whether or not he will put the interests of 16th Congressional District constituents and indeed the American electorate itself over those of the Republican Congressional Caucus and his personal fate as a congressman going forward.

The SCPR views these people and their ilk (Democrat or Republican) as distanced politicians as barriers to America having an 'informed' electorate.

They and their handlers create images of who they are by which images are highly, highly, highly likely to be "fake" and bear little resemblance to the real person.

One has to wonder how long our democratic-republican structure can stand in the face of unrestrained self-serving attacks/conduct by the likes of Gibbs, Gonzalez, Timken and Maier?

Right now Democrats Ken Harbaugh (the 7th, "country over party") and Susan Moran Palmer (the 16th) stand out as examples of politicians who are out in public group settings fielding questions both friendly and hostile.

Of course, both are political underdogs in highly Republican-candidate-favored districts and therefore they have no alternative but to take advantage of every public opportunity that they muster up.

But if elected, will either maintain an "openness" presentation?

Both "appear" to be genuinely committed to fostering connection between the governors and the governed.

But it is interesting how self-interest takes over with politicians.

That is why many if not most of them disgust the general public.

If Palmer and or Harbaugh are elected on November 6th, the SCPR will continue to hold "the feet of both 'to the fire."'

Unchecked, politicians of both political parties are fully capable of forgetting where they came from and whom they are ultimately accountable to.

This election presents a powerful opportunity for the voting public to make it clear to all candidates who want to run away and hide from the public that the phenomenon in and of itself might well cost them a vote regardless of the political affiliation of the voter.

Thursday, August 16, 2018



CEO/president C. David Baker
"on his way out?"

Any semblance of a pretense that objective coverage of the Professional Football Hall of Fame on the part of The Canton Repository came crashing down on August 14th with the announcement by The Professional Football Hall of Fame (officially, The National Football Museum, Inc) on August 14th that Publisher James (Jim) A. Porter had been made a trustee of the organization.

From a HOF press release (The Stark County Political Report, [Stark County's ONLY reliable source of Pro Football HOF news] not copied) of Tuesday, August 14th:


Five new members were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees at its recent annual meeting. Joining the Hall’s board are: Brian J. Barker, founder & chairman of AFS Logistics, and a Limited Partner in the Atlanta Falcons; Brian S. Belden, vice president sales & marketing, The Belden Brick Company; James A. Porter, publisher of The Canton Repository and GateHouse Ohio Media; John A. Sirpilla, founder, Encourage LLC; Robert A. Zmudka, senior vice president and chief commercial officer Rail North America, GATX. Barker and Zmudka had served on the Hall of Fame's Advisory Board.

... (large print for emphasis added)

Such is the SCPR's assessment of what Porter as publisher has done to tarnish the reliability of The Repository on all things Professional Football Hall of Fame with regard to its Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP).

There can be no purer example of "conflict-in-interest" that Porter has involved himself in.

Porter already has shown he is conflicted on his priorities in choosing between HOF interests and the public interests (even before being named to the Professional Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees) in that he tried to arm twist Stark County treasurer Alex Zumbar into doing something that Zumbar's government provided lawyer says he in his official capacity is not allowed by law to do.

The Zumbar bullying attempt is not the only Porter overstep.  He has tried the same with the Stark County commissioners.

And he continues almost weekly to in his Repository column diss anybody who questions the viability and accountability of the HOF-VP.

But what does one expect from a man who reportedly accepted a "let us entertain you-esque" trip to New York City at the invitation of financier Michael Klein over the Christmas holiday period in 2017?

If accurate, every time Porter writes on the HOF-VP The Report thinks he has an ethical obligation to print a disclaimer in line with what Repository editorial page editors require of those writing letters to the editor.

Now that James A. Porter is a Professional Football Hall of Fame trustee, where do his loyalties lie if he, in his capacity of being a trustee, learns information that might be detrimental to the public interest of protecting the public's investment in the HOF-VP?

Who has ever heard of a newspaper publisher who appears to be disinterested in accountability to the public on the part of the HOF-VP team in the light of the HOF project folks soliciting/accepting taxpayer assistance?

What will it be like now as a member of an elite body that includes the likes of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell?  It appears that Porter is easily "starstruck" which is not a quality that the reading public should want in a newspaper man.

For Jim Porter's relative Todd Porter (some 27 years as a reporter, believe it or not) to pass up an opportunity to ask Goodell tough questions during the recent HOF week and to have written a number of "puff" pieces on the likes of Stu Lichter and David Baker is indication, the SCPR thinks, to the low state that the Fourth Estate as embodied by The Repository has sunk in playing the role of cheerleader rather than the guardian of the public interest with millions of dollars of taxpayer money being funneled into the HOF-VP.

While The Report believes that the reporters at The Rep know the real story regarding the troubled HOF-VP, this blogger does not believe that Porter and those on executive row at Stark County's only countywide newspaper allowed them the space and journalistic freedom to report what is really going on at 2121 George Halas Drive, NW, Canton, Ohio.

On June 9, 2016, The Repository became with great fanfare "the official newspaper of the Professional Football Hall of Fame," all to the chagrin of its reportorial staff.

Executive editor Rich Desrosiers apparently was assigned the task by Porter to reassure (?) the print newspaper reading public (a vastly diminishing breed these days) that the official relationship would not affect the thoroughness (i.e. reporting the whole story and not just "cherry picked" matter) and objectivity of Repository publisher (Porter) approved articles/stories appearing in The Rep on the HOF-VP, to wit (an excerpt):

On Thursday, the unofficial became official. The Canton Repository and the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced a three-year partnership to designate the paper as the “Official Newspaper of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” The agreement calls for enhanced marketing and advertising opportunities between the entities and special content generated about the Hall.

What does that mean, exactly? Maybe more important is what it doesn’t mean.

It doesn’t mean the newspaper will lessen its responsibility to the community to report objectively, dispassionately and accurately about the Hall, its business and the continued development of the $500 million Hall of Fame Village project.

Hmmm?  Desrosiers cites the "older than Moses $500 million" cost for the  HOF-VP.  Right under his and Porter's noses and, of course, the "collective" noses of  the Professional Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, the projected cost of a fully completed HOF-VP has escalated to over $1 billion.

No questions at all from the likes of Desrosiers and Porter and quite of number of other Stark County leaders (having places on the HOF Board of Trustees) all the while that they, the trustees, have steadily increased Baker's annual income to "at least" $675,000 and probably considerably higher than that as will be eventually revealed with the publication of Internal Revenue Service Forms 990s for 2017, 2018 and beyond as the become due.

Of course, if the National Football Museum, Inc (dba the Professional Football Hall of Fame) were transparent organization especially in light of benefiting from taxpayer monies we, the general taxpaying public, should know in advance of the 990s being published who inside the HOF organization is personally benefiting and to what degree?

And, of course, our local newspaper ought to be pushing for the revelation of that information in advance of the 990s being published, no?

Well, the SCPR for one is not buying Desrosiers' servile to Porter spiel.  Nor are many Stark County political and government leaders as well as a whole host of everyday Stark Countians.

Rather than publish self-serving propagandistic pieces like Desrosiers' of June 10, 2016, he and his boss James A. Porter need to sit down with this blogger and "on camera" look the Stark County reading public in the eye and an answer the incisive questions of The Stark County Political Report.

Only the SCPR is equipped to put Desrosiers and Porter (and hopefully one of the bigs from corporate headquarters at GateHouse Media) on the spot of what appears to be a major breach of trust on the part of The Repository with the Stark County reading public when it comes to The Rep's coverage of the HOF-VP.

This blogger does not think that Porter and Desrosiers have the intestinal fortitude to undergo a penetrating journalistic interview at the hand of the SCPR.

Desrosiers has already breached one promise (made at his initiative) to have a discussion with the SCPR via telephone, to wit:

Desrosiers, Rich <>  12/11/17 at 8:33 PM
To:  Martin Olson

... that we should talk

It's been a hectic several days with some other editors taking time off.

Perhaps later this week?

Thank you for your patience.

Rich Desrosiers
Executive Editor
GateHouse Ohio Media
"Moving Our Community Forward"

So what is a Desrosiers promise worth these days?

Apparently, nothing!

Besides the disturbing news that The Rep bigs are seemingly putting all pretense aside in Porter officially joining the HOF Board of Trustees that one can rely on the thoroughness and objectivity of The Rep on HOF-VP matters, the SCPR is hearing the interesting observations from Stark County community leaders about the future of HOF CEO/president C. David Baker.

These observations are being fueled by Baker himself.  Baker, a man, who had the audacity to tell Commissioner Richard Regula he ought to resign because he spoke the truth about the NFL.

The Report is told that Baker has been repetitively telling various audiences (e.g. volunteers recognition dinner, gold jacket PFHOF update and other enshrinement activities during the recently concluded HOF week) that he has only months (starting at 5 and now to about 4) left on his current contract.

What is that all about?

Here is the list of speculations about that:

1. Tactic used to increase contract for more money. 

2. Get people’s empathy (play on their emotion) maybe they actually contact the PFHOF via letters or calls to Board pleading on his behalf. 

3. He is leaving to head up a new International Football League (Doubt this at this time as he is making over $700k maybe even as high as $900k annually) 

4. He is getting out of town before project collapses and some other developer has to finish the project. (Like Henderson, NV - Union Village)

If the "getting out of town" scenario is what Baker is up to, it is conjectured that he is in line to become the head of the projected International Football League.

Moreover, The Report is told, that the hotel project is now said by Baker to start in October of this year.  And, interesting enough, that Welty Construction Company will not be overseeing its construction or the parking garage project.

By the way, a highly reliable in terms of having real information SCPR source says that currently the HOF-VP still owes contractors $11 million.

Looming on the financial horizon is the requirement that HOF Village LLC or its successor in interest repay the  "up to $100 million" bridge loan by March, 2019.

And that's not all.

The reconfiguration of the the HOF-VP corporate structure (currently master developer Stuart Lichter and the National Football Museum, Inc)  to include seven (7) stakeholders has been delayed to the point that there are those who doubt that the expansion of investor (beyond Lichter and the PFHOF themselves) may never happen and that perhaps the quest to get permanent private sector financing is on the verge of collapse.

Of course, there is not a word of all of this HOF-VP "inside" information that Rep publisher James A. Porter certainly must be privy to but appears to be withholding from the Stark County public which has a stake in the success/failure of the project in that taxpayer money has been invested in the HOF-VP.

Indeed, there is no way that Porter can sit down with the SCPR and on camera answer the incisive questioning of the SCPR.

And, of course, Porter as publisher of The Rep has the ability to stonewall any probing.

But there is a price to pay.

And what would that be?

Nobody should trust The Porter guided interpretation of the facts, figures and other HOF-VP material that appear in the pages of The Canton Repository!