Thursday, January 31, 2019


In direct public monies, by The Stark County Political Report's  (SCPR, The Report) calculation:
  •  which likely is only a guestimate in that getting accountability from various Ohio/Stark County political subdivision (OH-SPP)  is "like pulling teeth,"
is that millions upon millions of Federal (through Ohio gov't), OH-SPP have made it into the coffers of the the private, non-profit Professional Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF).

The Report is in the process of developing a spreadsheet of direct/indirect monies that will show millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars being pumped into the HOF-VP with little if any accounting to the taxpayer on how the money is being spent.
Note:  As far as the SCPR is concerned, Godspeed to HOF officials if they can attract private sector money which is exemplified in Tom Benson ($11 million), Johnson Controls ($100,000 million over over 18 years) and recently Constellation Energy (no amount announced, isn't that interesting? why?) and apparently more partnerships to come, privacy is perfectly acceptable in that these "investors" take a financial risk that the HOF-VP will not end up being what it has projected to be.  But for public monies, lack of accountability to the taxpaying public is unacceptable.
One talked about project:  tunneling I-77 in the proximate vicinity would if taken seriously would have a price tag of $500 million.

The SCPR thinks that the likes of C. David Baker, Repository publisher Jim Porter and the Greater Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce president Denny Saunier thought they could get away with it, they would have no problem whatsoever in "laying that dime" on federal, state and local governments.

The SCPR is especially critical of Porter for his role as publisher in shaming anyone who questions what appears to be a Baker instigated  "out-of-control" HOF village expansion project.  Kind of a strange stance for a newspaper man not to honor Constitutionally protected Free Speech and its concomitant effect of facilitating "accountability."

The more one reads Porter's columns, the more we ought to believe he is a "wannabe bully" who is known to have told one Stark County elected official that The Rep at Porter's at his direction would seek to defeat that official for re-election for having had the audacity to refuse to do the will of HOF-VP officials which would in that official's view as advised by the Stark County prosecutor's office be illegal.

Of course, Porter knows that elected officials do not want to incur the ire of the only countywide newspaper.

Sounds like something that Donald Trump would do, no?

Many federal officials (especially Republicans) take all kinds of guff from Trump for fear of becoming the object of his Twitters.

By the way, does Porter have a Twitter account?

Again, if the money comes exclusively from the private sector, God bless them  The Los Angeles Rams recently announced plans to build a $5 billion stadium totally with private sector money.

And, what's more, even for public monies invested, IF there was accountability for how the public money is been "specifically spent" and how it enhances the likelihood that the taxpayer will receive a "return on investment," then, perhaps, there would be no reason to object and might result in all-out support.

That the HOF-VP is so far unaccountable should be a red flag to the effect:  what are they hiding?
Readers are reminded that Baker at one time (2015) was projecting the rehab of Fawcett Stadium (now Tom Benson Stadium) at $22 million.  What does the HOF folks own up to these days?  $139 million (Baker once put the amount in a public statement at $150 million, recently a Stark County elected official told a SCPR source that the cost is more like $161 million) for an incomplete stadium including no locker room facilities for Canton McKinley footballers.

Beginning on Monday past, this blogger began a series on government monies put into the project  in direct/indirect government contributions.

Today, we focus on some currently "unfunded" indirect costs as sketchy as they  appear to be.  Moreover, the SCPR thinks that despite the "fuzziness" of HOF-VP promoting elected, appointed and public figures (see "Strengthening Stark") of Stark County leadership, it appears likely that those folks will be advocating taxpayer participation to the tune of (the SCPR thinks of up to $100 million.

Starting with $199,936 in grants (federal $100,000; Ohio $100,000) to SCPR to fund a Hall of Fame Land Use & Transportation Study.

After the $199,936 for the study cost, the cost of implementation of study recommendations get real murkey.

Consultant Bryan Newell said on Monday that the Fulton Road Corridor recommendation would likely cost will be some $20 million to $30 million dollars with other target recommendations being project at considerably less.

To say the least, the lack of approximate numbers for the "other than the Fulton Road Corridor" improvement made the meeting significantly less informative than it should have been.

It is hard to believe that Newell and Nau couldn't provide guestiments of what each of the possible implementation projects might cost and for those project selected where the money (public or private) would come from.

At the January 24, 2019 SCPR-led public meeting (about 30 citizens attended) there was scant discussion of actual numbers of likely indirect government support for the HOF-VP in terms of supporting infrastructure expenditure.

Here is a link to the January 24th meeting slide presentation.  In that link, see a video excerpt of meeting whereby the presenters are quizzed about the cost of recommended/targeted infrastructure improvements

The first SCPR meeting had about 100 attendees and the second about 40 according to SCPR executive director Bob Nau.

It appears to The Report that the effort to attract citizen participants to the meetings is underwhelming.

It upcoming blogs, the SCPR will endeavor to provide to the reading public numbers in the context of a gestalt that taxpayers have already "directly" sunk into the HOF-VP and likely will be asked to magnify many times in paying for "outside-the-HOF-site" infrastructure improvement.

The bottom line question that participating public entities (e.g. City of Canton, Stark County commissioners [the bed tax] and the Canton City Schools/Plain Local Schools ought to be asking is what the total cost (direct/indirect) to taxpayers for the entire HOF-VP project including off-site infrastructure improvements.

Readers can depend on the SCPR to continue digging until the overall cost to taxpayers of all aspects of taxpayer participation are identified in specificity so that we taxpayers know what we are paying for and what is a realistic expectation of the return on public investment.

With the ethically-conflicted Jim Porter at the helm of The Repository, the SCPR thinks it highly unlikely that capable reporters on The Rep's staff will be turned loose to do what unfettered reporters do.

It is hard to believe that Porter has gotten himself and his newspaper so invested in the HOF-VP that this blogger thinks that The Rep is not a reliable source for information and pressing for accountability for the taxpayer's participation in the HOF-VP!

Monday, January 28, 2019



Pictured above is just one aspect of planning for major infrastructure improvements/additions in support of, at taxpayer expense, the Professional Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF, HOF-VP, HOF) village expansion project.

Last Thursday night (January 24, 2019) at the Stark County District Library the Stark County Area Transportation Study (SCATS) office of the Stark County Regional Planning Commission (SCRPC).  It was the third of "meet with the public for input" session on contemplated PFHOF infrasture additions/improvements, the first of which occurred on March 20, 2018.

This project is a study of 'outside the HOF property itself' footprint as it impacts the HOF-VP itself to be able to handle, if the HOF-VP is completely built and increases its current approximately 300,000 visitors a year to a projected 3 million visitors.

The highlight of the Thursday past meeting was the incisive questioning of North Canton civic activist Chuck Osborne.  As North Canton government officials can vouch for:  Osborne can make the recipients of his questions "quite uncomfortable.  The likes of Osborne are a potent check on government at all levels of government.

Osborne's focus-which also the focus of The Stark County Political Report-is his questioning of Consultant Bryan Newell (of Gannett Fleming) was on the cost of the tiered scenarios of infrastructure building/improvement (depending on static or increased attendance at the PFHOF going forward)

This blogger is in Hawaii and will be for more than another month and obviously could not attend the January 24th meeting.

There can be little doubt that whatever infrastructure improvements are undertaken, the cost to Federal/Ohio and Stark County taxpayers could be staggering in terms of millions upon millions of dollars.

Here is a SCPR extract of Osborne's video (Link to the entire video)

And here are links to portable document files (pdf) which outline
  1. Request for Qualifications (RFQ) HOF Land Use Planning, August. 2017
  2. Hall of Fame Land Use & Transportation Study
  3. Hall of Fame Land Use & Transportation Study - another version
  4. SCRPC/SCATS Application Summary2017/18 EDC-4 Round ODOT State Transportation Incentive Council Grant
  5. Hall of Fame Land Use & Transportation StudyPublic Forum 1, March 20, 2018, McKinley High School
  6. Hall of Fame Village Public Forum #2, June 12, 2018, Timken/McKinley High School
  7. Hall of Fame Village Public Forum #3, January 24, 2019, Stark County District Library (Main Branch)

From the RFQ:

Project Description

The Stark County Transportation Study (SCATS), through the Stark County Regional Planning Commission (SCRPC), is issuing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the completion of a targeted Land Use/Transportation Study to supplement an overall Comprehensive Land Use Plan and Long Range Transportation Plan. The targeted study area will encompass an area surrounding the Professional Football Hall of Fame Village development project in central Stark County. The study area will include portions of Stark County and the City of Canton.

The study is part of the Federal Highway Administration Every Day Counts (EDC) InnovationInitiative and will be funded in part with a State Transportation Innovation Council (STIC) grant
and other funds.

An outcome of the study will include the development of a decision matrix tool that will be utilized to identify solutions to anticipated traffic flow difficulties in the project area. This project also includes a “Community Connections” element to connect the Hall of Fame Village with downtown Canton and adjoining neighborhoods to improve quality of life, access to employment, and economic development. (emphasis added).

This blog is the first of a series in which the SCPR will endeavor to show that the minimizing talk of HOF officials on the cost of mostly Ohio and Stark County taxpayers direct and supportive (e.g. the study's projected new/improvement costs) prospective infusion of taxpayer money is much, much much more than C. David Baker et al will admit to.

Phase I of the multiphase building of the HOF-VP (the still incomplete Benson stadium) is at least at $139 million some of which has come from public monies which even Baker himself says will not end up being paid for by private investors because of the impossibility in our life times of breaking even on the costs of the stadium; let alone - realizing a ROI (return of investment).

Ohio/Stark County/Canton, Canton City schools, Plain Township schools taxpayers and other public entities in one form or another have already expended (including extensive legal fees) millions of dollars in the HOF-VP and HOF officials appear to be working to devise addition infusions of public money the fund what appears to be a totally unrealistic project in Canton, Ohio.

This series endeavors to supply to the taxpaying public an honest look at the cost of what HOF-VP are asking it to buy into.

Because Canton Repository publisher James (Jim to his family, friends and close associates and, undoubtedly to the likes of Baker, Lichter and Roger Goodell) appears to have a "sweetheart" relationships with those pushing the HOF-VP
  • For example
    • The Rep be the "official newspaper of the PFHOF,
    • Porter being on the Board of Directors of the PFHOF, and
    • Porter being the chairman of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce
the SCPR is of the opinion that at Porter's direction the taxpaying public gets only a "rose-colored" look at the true cost to the taxpaying public and therefore cannot be relied upon in the case of the HOF-VP on the part of the public to get the unvarnished truth on the details of the project.

By his own words (in yesterday's weekly column), the ethically conflicted Porter makes it clear that elected leaders and others who demonstrate an ability not to drink the Kool-Aid are the object of his scorn.  Apparently, he only values "whatever you say" for Porter, Baker, and Saunier et al and does not abide those who analyze thoughtfully and prudently and courageously disdain cheerleading.

Porter continues his journalistic assault on the "independent' minded.

Isn't strange for someone who exercises First Amendment rights for himself, belittles those who sees things differently that he does.

His words:

Support elected officials who support economic development, and hold accountable the few who, through their actions or lack of action, do not.

An example of a simple-mind journalist, no?

It goes without saying that everybody supports viable economic development and will scrutinize anybody who comes to Stark County with a Music Man mentality.

Jim Porter seems quite susceptible to such.

He is no Marian Paroo, to wit:

Marian is almost certainly smarter than the girls Hill has "befriended" in the past, and in her he sees something that he realizes is missing from his life. Thus, he does not take the next train, choosing to remain in River City even though he knows this means he'll be discovered as a musical charlatan.

Rather than castigate Marian types who effects a reform the con artist Harold Hill," Porter ought to welcome the scrutiny that might make an untenable situation tenable.

The HOF-VP in terms of dipping into the public coffers is quite a contrast to the reported "no cost" to the taxpaying public on the proposed new Los Angeles Rams stadium.

Of course, Los Angeles a venue that there is a user base that actually might provide a ROI for private investor.

But not so in Canton, Ohio for a nearly $1 billion projected cost of the HOF-VP.

If the HOF-VP was totally funded by the private sector like the Rams stadium, who would object.

Certainly, not the SCPR.

Even with public money in the HOF-VP the quest is two fold:
  • chapter and verse accountability of how the public's money is spent, and
    • the viability of the project in terms of the taxpayer getting a ROI
The Hall Fame folks hide behind the PFHOF (National Museum, Inc) being a "private" entity and by laws enacted during former Republican governor John Kasich are legally allowed to not to have to account for taxpayer dollars put in the HOF-VP.

Why would Stark County elected/appointed officials abide the secrecy?

Friday, January 25, 2019


UPDATED:  February 14, 2019

LINK article:  Ohio Losing Clout in New Congress

On October 29th The Stark County Political Report traveled to Ashland, Ohio to take in the one and only debate between 7th Congressional District (which includes most of Stark County) incumbent Republican congressman Bob Gibbs (of Holmes County) and Democratic challenger Ken Harbaugh of Lorain County.

At that debate Gibbs touted his background of having been a farmer and having attained a spot on the U.S. House of Representatives Agricultural Committee when the House was controlled by Republicans.

Through the reporting of (aka the Cleveland Plain District; Capitol Letter)  has learned that Gibbs appears to not only lost his Agricultural Committee seat but seems in reading an article by Capitol Letter, to wit:  (LINK to Wikipedia article on the selection of committee members)
Farm team: Holmes County GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs got bumped from the House Agriculture Committee after Democrats took control of the House of Representatives and cut the number of Republican seats on each committee. Instead, he’ll be on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform where the top Republican is Champaign County’s Jim Jordan. The former Ohio Farm Bureau Federation president will continue to have a role in setting water and environmental policies important to agriculture through his service on the Transportation Committee, Gibbs’ office said.  (emphasis added)
In re-electing Gibbs in a highly gerrymander by the Republican controlled Ohio General Assembly congressional district, 7th District voters are now at a disadvantage in getting the ear of Congress.

Here is a video of a SCPR interview of Gibbs following the Ashland debate of October 29, 2018.

Stark Countians (mainly Cantonians and Massillonians) could have weighed in with a sizeable majority Harbaugh (who spent much time campaigning in Stark and who narrowly lost to Gibbs in Stark) and thereby be in a position to have much more of the ear of Congress.

The SCPR thinks Harbaugh was a vastly superior candidate to Gibbs who had the impossible task of overcoming the highly gerrymandered 7th.

And, the highly deficient Stark County Democratic Party appeared to have done next to nothing to help the Harbaugh effort in Stark.

Besides Gibbs, neophyte 16th District congressman Anthony Gonzalez by virtue of being in the minority in Congress will not be position to weigh in effectively for those parts of Stark County (north, northwonest parts of the county) which are within the boundaries of the 16th.

Lastly, in order to get the ear of Congress, Stark Countians best opportunity to be heard in the House will be through the office of Democratic District 13 of Tim Ryan.

Ryan's seat is also gerrymander but by the supermajority Ohio Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly.  What they did was to stack a predominance of Democratic registered voters in the 13th.

Ryan is one of only four Democrats representing a congressional seat from among 16 districts.

So accordingly it appears to the SCPR the Republican legislators who drew the districts as a U.S. Constitution "every ten years" reapportionment of congressional seats nationwide likely assessed that the 13th was not a winnable through the election processes took Republican registered voters and intentionally moved marginally located Republican voters into adjoining Republican represented districts to make those seats less competitive than they had previously been.

An example is the 2003 through 2013 16th congressional district map:

After long term congressman Ralph Regula retired in 2008, Democrat John Boccieri was able to defeat well known Stark Countian and Republican Kirk Schuring (some 25 years in the Ohio General Assembly) in a district that tilted Republican but obviously winnable in certain political circumstances by a Democrat.

Compare the foregoing after the 16th's gerrymander was accentuated:

There is now a federal lawsuit (southern district of Ohio) on tap with trial scheduled for March 4th that might result in a more competitive statewide districts across the state in time for the 2020 elections.

Ohioans and Stark Countians who appreciate that political competitiveness can be an effective accountability factor upon who gets elected.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

C. DAVID BAKER: The "Spin" Artist?


The Stark County Political Report (SCPR, The Report, "this blogger") would not go so far as to say C. David Baker (recently extended for 5 years) has consistently, persistently "lied" to the Stark County public about the timetable of the Professional Football Hall of Fame expansion project development announced in 2014.

Here is a video that SCPR took of Baker appearing before Canton City Council at the HOF itself on or about April 10, 2016 making quite specific statements about the imminence of the Hotel construction (to begin September, 2016) according to him) and assuring council members that the financing for all the elements of the complex was falling into place on a piece-by-piece basis.

By January, 2018 it was obvious to one and all that financing was not falling into place with the revelation that quite a number of contractors for the project had not been paid and had filed liens.

And, other than some site preparation work, the promised hotel was and remains nowhere to be seen.

Even as late as June, 2018 (less than one year ago) black contractors working on the parking site next to the stadium complex had not been paid.  So far as this blogger knows, The Canton Repository was way behind the SCPR in covering the matter, if at all and The Report likes to think that this blog's coverage of the non-payment resulted in the minority contractors eventually got paid as did the January, 2018 lien filers.

Top Photo - Parking Lot at Beginning of Construction
Bottom Photo - Parking Lot as a Finished Construction

Undoubtedly, Baker had the best of intentions and it is likely he has not intended to deceive participants from the public sector (Canton, Stark County and Ohio taxpayers) as to the viability of the Hall of Fame Village Project (HOF-VP) in the sense of taxpayers getting a substantial "return on investment" for putting taxpayer money into the project.

But it appears that he and his fellows, the managers the HOF-VP, have made quite a few statements in public and in more private settings (i.e.involving one-on-ones with various Stark County political subdivision elected/appointed officials) that have proved to be inaccurate.

In a familiar "football" phrase, the effect of the shifting sand of HOF-VP development is that "the goal posts" keep moving.

Accordingly, from The Stark County Political Report's perspective, Stark Countians need to be skeptical of new promises or projections made by Baker (see December quotes made by Baker to a Cleveland publication below)
NOTE:  Let the SCPR pause to repeat what this blogger has consistently said:  As a private enterprise project, The Report hopes the HOF-VP succeeds.  To the degree that private sector investors shoulder the risk, it is their business to keep PFHOF officials accountable.
It should be comforting to the private sector that former Disney executive Mike Crawford has been brought into the PFHOF mix as Village CEO in an endeavor to make the HOF-VP a Disney-esque entertainment complex.

The public should continue to be skeptical from the perspective of ever getting an accounting for the "return of investment" no matter how the project ultimately ends up.

Of course, it isn't only The Rep's (i.e. Porter) failure to delve deep on behalf of the taxpaying public but also public officials who are in remiss on this score.

If the HOF-VP falls far short of its ambitious goals, then it will be a time for naming names among public officialdom who failed to protect the taxpayer investment.

Only the Stark County commissioners and North Canton mayor David Held (who has first-hand experience with Lichter as the contractor for rehabbing the former Hoover complex) have conducted themselves in a scrutinizing manner that we citizens should demand of our elected/appointed officials.

There is some thought that David Held will face stiff opposition for re-election as mayor this fall because of his face-off with HOF officials in January 2018.

If Crawford can pull off making the HOF-VP into: (as Baker puts it):

"I am very excited that we have a tremendously talented and enormously experienced executive like Mike Crawford to quarterback the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village team," said Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker in a news release. "He brings demonstrated leadership through his experience at the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Company, in addition to the development and operation of Disney theme parks, hotels, and retail, dining and entertainment districts around the world. Mike Crawford will make Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village a world-class and state-of-the-art destination center."
(emphasis added; quote from Crain's Cleveland Business, December 13, 2018)

more power to him!

However, Canton, Ohio is not Shanghai, China nor Orlando, Florida nor Anaheim, California.

Time will tell, but it appears just from the language of Sunday's Repository piece he understands getting the private sector funding to complete the project as most recently envisioned is a major, major, major undertaking.

The Report believes that nearly everything that has and continues to come out of  Baker's mouth and, perhaps his successor, with respect to the Professional Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF, HOF-VP) is "pure 'spin,'" in terms of avoiding to forthrightly answering chapter and verse about the failure of promise, after promise, after promise he and his compatriots at the PFHOF have made regarding the completion of the nearly $1 billion HOF-VP being kept.

Sunday's piece in The Repository (the official newspaper of PFHOF) seems to be a confirmation of The Report's belief.

In a pretty much "nothing is new" article published this past Sunday
  • undoubtedly a HOF sweetheart and Repository Publisher James Porter directed update report:
    • "golly, gee; its been a very long time with nothing happening" and we (The Rep) need to update the Stark County public on the "nothing is new"
      • except perhaps a new name in place of "the to deliver" Baker, et al
The lack of Repository pressing on meaningfully critical questioning of HOF officials on the lack of progress and obtaining concrete information is appalling in light of:
  • The Rep billing itself as "the official newspaper of the Professional Football Hall of Fame,"
  • Publisher Porter being a member of the PFHOF Board of Directors and thereby undoubtedly has inside information of the viability of this project but by virtue of being more or less in a fiduciary relationship with the managers of the project and thereby as the publisher of Stark County's only countywide newspaper  (duty to inform its readers) seemingly has conflicting responsibilities,
  • Moreover, Porter is chairman of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce which a number of observers think is in a collusion-esque relationship with The Repository and the PFHOF to:
    •  obscure accountability to the taxaying Ohio/Stark County public for taxpayer dollars in cash and in-kind government services, and
    • keep the taxpaying public informed as to whether or not public investment in the HOF-VP will pay off in terms of  the project producing living wage "permanent" jobs.
The SCPR thinks that Publisher Porter is dragging The Rep's credibility on all things PFHOF to the absolute bottom.

Even before The Rep became "the official newspaper of the PFHOF," the union representing Rep employees sent a letter to the management of The Rep questioning whether or not the paper becoming "the official newspaper of the PFHOF" would constitute a "conflict in interest" and thereby cause the reading public to question the credibility of PFHOF reportage going forward.

The Rep may do a fine job on everything else, but articles on the HOF-VP appear to be James Porter directed public relations-esque work.

Note that the SCPR does not point the finger at any particular reporter but rather at James Porter, the publisher as the "controller-in-chief" of HOF-VP newspaper coverage.

The Stark County Political Report is the ONLY journalistic outlet that is not directed by anyone as to what topics to write on and does so in a thorough and penetrating manner.

Sunday's Repository article appears to be Porter's attempt to make excuses for the PFHOF folks and may be an indicator that the HOF-VP will never, ever realize the concept as graphically and rhetorically presented in its original form and how it has been expanded upon since 2014 into being projected as being a $1 billion project.

This development is a curious one in that last October Executive Editor Rich Desrosiers at the end of the Neighborhood Association's Candidates Forum pointed out to this blogger (a paraphrase) "Martin, here it is October and nothing is happening with the hotel."

This statement after he took issue with the SCPR's oft repeated blogging to the effect that the hierarchy of The Rep is way too entangled with HOF-VP officialdom and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce (i.e. Denny Saunier, who The Report views as the cheerleader-in-chief for the HOF-VP) for the Stark County reading public to have any confidence of the ability of The Rep to do investigative, incisive and delving into the financial troubles that have plagued the HOF-VP going clear back to 2014, which of course, has been 5 years in duration.

Reading between the lines, even with the Klein brothers and Crawford involved, obtaining finances is still a struggle.

Baker's forte is his personal magnetism; not as a manager of the day-in, day-out work of actually putting a physical complex together.

So here is the question about the future of the project:
Is Sunday's article a preparing tof he Stark County taxpaying public for learning that the projected "nearly $1 billion"  (The Rep's words) HOF-VP in never, ever going to materialize and now what is going on is a salvage operation of a greatly sized-down project?
Baker and his sidekick. developer Stuart Lichter,  (IRG and HOF Village, LLC and a host of other particular HOF project connected corporate-esque entities) seem to have (with Baker being the "mouthpiece) been on a pathway to discredit the viability of the HOF-VP ever being completed as visioned by Baker at the outset of the planning process in 2014; the first year of Baker being on the scene as the PFHOF public relations visage.

The SCPR has heard repeatedly from multiple Stark Countians in various public/private roles that they think Lichter has been the problem and that anything that comes out of 2121 George Halas Drive is to be looked at skeptically because of the "promises, promises, promises but "undelivered" history of the past regime at the PFHOF.

Some comments on the Sunday piece received by the SCPR:


I really don't know that there was really anything new or exciting in the article, other than someone new (recently appointed Village CEO, Michael Crawford), giving the same lines we've been hearing for the past almost 2 years.

The article contains expectations that construction will resume "in the near future".  Well, "in the near future" or "soon" has been the assurance given on a pretty regular basis, ever since the "groundbreaking" for the hotel in 2017, the construction of which stalled shortly thereafter and has yet to resume.  At this point, it's hard to think that most people, other than their "official newsletter" or the others who are serving or drinking the Kool-Aid have much confidence in those assurances.  At some point, to be taken seriously and rebuild some level of confidence in the statements that are being made, those statements or estimated dates actually need to be met or backed up with action.

The optimist in me says that maybe they are getting closer to finally getting something off the ground, because if I was Mr. Crawford, I wouldn't be moving to Canton, OH, unless I had some reasonable assurances that the project was about to get moving.  

As previously stated, I hope the HOF Village turns out to be everything they have promised, or even 2/3's of what they've promised.  But, as of right now, the project certainly has a credibility issue, that hopefully this new leadership can and will change.


... New CEO is experienced in completing destination projects which has been contemplated and expected. 

Time will tell...

Bricks and mortar will be the physical proof for all to see. ...


I will reiterate one thing I previously said. It’s been over a year, when are they going to resume construction?

The Stark County Political Report is the ONLY journalistic endeavor to put the light on the deficient ways (re:  accounting to the taxpaying) of the HOF-VP folks.

And, of course, none of HOF-VP officials will talk with The Report.

The SCPR is "the official guardian of the public interest."

The Repository, it seems, through the director of  its publisher, is proving that it has no interest in making a delving examination of HOF-VP achievements or lack thereof, obviously, because Porter has so enmeshed himself in the structure of the project that for many of us, The Rep has no credibility whatsoever when it comes to coverage of the project.

Monday, January 21, 2019

(YouTube Video/Audio of Dr King in Canton: March 20, 1964) "I HAVE A DREAM ... "






See (LINK) USA Today article on Dr. King's 10 most tweeted quotes.

On the "heads-up" of former Canton councilman Kevin Fisher, the SCPR has embedded the YouTube code in today's blog which is a recording of Dr. King's speech in Canton, Ohio in 1964.


Kudos! to the Stark County District Library for planning three events in Stark County to commemorate not only Dr. King but also scores of other African-Americans who have contributed richly to our American society.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


On November  l6, 2018 Canton City Council president Allen Schulman passed away.

Canton government lost a person who fit ideally as council president.

This past Saturday a memorial service for the general public was held at the Canton Cultural Center for the Arts.

On Saturday this blogger (in Hawaii for much of January, February and March) telephoned recently retired  Canton law director Joe Martuccio to learn whether or not he was going to actually file to seek to be Schulman's successor.

Martuccio had just returned from Allen's memorial service and spoke with heavy heart as he and this blogger (who goes back to the 1970s in knowing Allen) reminisced with Joe about our times connecting with Allen in (as a pre-eminent trial attorney) and out of government (as council president) over those years.

Of course there is only one Allen Schulman and whomever between the Democratic candidates (Martuccio and William Sherer, II) in the May 7, 2019 Democratic Primary election will have his own style.

Undoubtedly, either will try to model themselves after Schulman.

In the Saturday conversation with Martuccio confirmed with the SCPR that he will indeed file petitions to run in the primary election.

Whomever wins the Democratic primary will be the next Canton City Council president.  An "independent" candidate could file to run, but the SCPR cannot imagine anyone having the political clout as independent to defeat either Sherer or Martuccio.

Between now and at least until December 31, 2019, William V. Sherer, II will serve as council president having been selected by the Canton members of the Stark County Democratic Party Central Committee on December 17, 2018.

If Sherer loses to Martuccio in May, he could resign and undoubtedly the Dems would appoint Martuccio council president.

Martuccio initially indicated he was going to contest for the council president position in the December 17th central committee session, but withdrew in a December 15th letter to eligible to vote precinct committee members announcing this withdrawal.

His reason for withdrawing?

Because he did not want to put the 29 eligible voters in the position to having to choose, many of whom, undoubtedly, would be pleased to have either as the new council president.

Having political party members select between Sherer and Martuccio could well cause a ripple of discontent among those who supported the losing candidate.

It is quite another thing to put the question to the voters of Canton.

Citizens are not likely to make political calculations in deciding which of the two to vote for.

It is anybody's guess who would have won had Martuccio stayed in the central committee selection process.

Of course, the SCPR would have liked to see a competition at the central committee phase of the council president replacement process.

The results either way would have made for good blogging.

Sherer pushed hard to win at the central committee level whereas Martuccio would have taken a low profile in his effort.

It would be interesting to see which method would turn out to be the most effective with the central committee members (many of whom are politically skilled and sophisticated).

The SCPR's hunch is that Sherer, II and his being one of the foremost labor leaders in Stark County with a say in union campaign financing and producing union connected campaign workers would not be lost on those central committee members who are elected officials with aspirations to remain elected officials or those desirous of becoming elected officials.

From a political standpoint, it was probably wise for Martuccio to side-step the central committee process.

He now has the high ground of being a political peacemaker.

Moreover, he has been before the Canton voters going back a number of elections whereas Sherer, II has never run for political office before.

The SCPR believes that Sherer, II will have a tall order in putting together a winning campaign in vying with Martuccio.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 14, 2019




Humorist Will Rogers is reported to have said:  "I am not a member of an organized political party.  I'm a Democrat."

And the Heavens only knows the exact number of how divided with factions national, state and the Stark County Democratic Party is.

It now appears that Republicans are catching the same political illness.

At the national and state level there are now "Never Trumpers," Republicans supporting Trump and independent leaning Republicans.

At a very local Stark County level it has been shared with this blogger that a division is occurring within the Massillon Republican Party.

Last week a source told The Stark County Political Report that James Haavisto (who ran against Tom West for the 49th Ohio House seat in November, 2018), who lives in Massillon's Ward 4, was planning to run either for president of Massillon City Council or for mayor of Massillon.

The Report e-mailed Haavisto to confirm/disaffirm the report, but no response.

Accordingly, this blogger started watching the Massillon filings with the Stark County Board of Elections (BOE) closely.

And, lo and behold! early in the week this BOE entry appeared:

As a follow up, the SCPR contacted Massillon sources and learned the following:
  • Haavisto's action has caused a political upheaval in Tigertown among Republicans,
  • Haavisto and former Massillon mayoralty candidate (twice) Lee Brunckhart are thought to be putting together a slate of candidates to challenge sitting or Massillon Republican Party establishment candidates (MRPEC) into a number of Massillon's six wards,
  • Brunckhart himself will be filing in Ward 2  (to be pulled January 16th according to Brunckhart)  for a seat now held by Democrat Dave Irwin (a seat formerly held by Halter) even though MRPEC Jim Thierat has taken out petitions,

  • Thought to be Brunckhart/Haavisto insurgent candidate Mark Lombardi has taken out petitions to run against MRPEC sitting councilwoman Sarita Cunningham in Ward 1.
  • Thought to be Brunckhart/Haavisto insurgent candidate Michael Snee has taken out petitions to run as the Republican candidate against incumbent Democrat Linda Litman,
Massillon Council has taken a nosedive ever since Halter stepped down a few years ago.  She has been a favorite of the SCPR because of her straight forward ways vis-a-vis other council members and the mayor but nonetheless willing to work with those she has taken exception to.

The Report has moreover learned that Stark County Republican Party chairman Jeff Matthews met with representatives of the insurgents in an endeavor to learn why Haavisto and Brunckhart are putting together a slate of challengers to existing and/or "want to run" MRPEC candidates,

Answer:  Nothing definitive.

A likely effect of the challenges/or in lieu of MRPECs at the Ward level (with, apparently three more wards to be filled with insurgents in Wards 3, 4 and 5) is that the politically venerable Halter will not file petitions to be a third Republican at-large candidate along with Republican incumbents Ed Lewis, IV and Milan Chovan.

Note:  The SCPR has received at telephone call here in Hawaii about 3:00 a.m. (gotten to on voicemail about 6:30 a.m ) with a message to the effect that Halter WILL FILE for councilwoman-at-large due in large part to her receiving phone calls since the original blog encouraging her to change her mind.  The SCPR welcomes Halter's change of heart.  Perhaps she can get Massillon government headed in a more productive direction.

The third at-large seat is held by Democrat Paul Manson who if Halter were to file would be in great jeopardy of losing the Democratic seat.

If any of the insurgents are elected, one can be sure that there will be MRPEC who retain their seats and that a "battle royale" is likely to ensue involving a mix of MRPEC types, insurgents and Democrats.

Exactly what Massillon needs, no?  Not if you are a member in good standing with the MRPEC.

For the SCPR, the more candidates, the better.

Brunckhart recently appeared on Mallys (sic) Adventure and spoke for over an hour about the plan as well as making comments on Mayor Kathy Catazaro-Perrys recent State of the City address.

At about the 28:00 minute mark of the video, Brunckhart touts Haavisto's reason for running.

Although he seems to be touting Republican candidates in general, a SCPR Massillon source is not buying.

This source is convinced that Brunckhart is working with Haavisto to, over time, take over the Massillon Republican Party.

The SCPR's read of Brunckhart's appearance on Mallys Adventure is that there is room to interpret his points as being not so much Republican candidates for various Massillon council positions and the mayoralty but rather as candidates which bear the stamp of Lee Brunckhart.

As an example of the SCPR's suspicion that the Brunckhart engineered 2019 primary/general election is more particularized than being for the benefit of the Massillon Republican Party in that at about the 32 minute mark of the video he refers to "our group," "new candidates coming into 'our group."'

Both Brunckhart and Haavisto appear to be politically ambitious but neither has any electoral success.

Even though the SCPR likes a plentitude of candidates, it appears that the Brunckhart/Haavisto group is unlikely to be successful.

Just look at the campaign finance reports for Haavisto's 2018 run for District 49 of the Ohio House as compared to Mayor Catazaro-Perry's for the 2015 general election.


Of course, like it or not, money is a critical factor in achieving campaign success.
 o money.

However, Ress (who says he in running for council president this time around) has a much greater history and currency in Massillon civic life than Haavisto does.

The same goes for the rest of Brunckhart's "group" so far announced on the 2018 Primary Election slate with exception perhaps for Brunckhart himself.

Although the SCPR is unimpressed with Catazaro-Perry's performance to date as mayor, it is hard to see Haavisto becoming a matter of concern to Mayor Catazaro-Perry and her re-election bid.  And, The Report, is told; she is not worried.

It seem absolutely bizarre for Brunckhart and Haavisto to think that Haavisto can defeat Democrat Catazaro-Perry with a divided Republican Party in the Massillon electorate.

Interesting developments on the Republican side in Massillon, no?

In Massillon Democratic politics there is at least the Ferrero faction and the Johnnie A. Maier, Jr. faction. 

Perhaps there are even more.

Could there be something in the water in Massillon which induces political division no matter which political party?

Friday, January 11, 2019





Read this follow report from  Here are some excerpts:


It was a tense time in the Ohio House of Representative according to District 49 state Representative Thomas West.

West, who started his second term on Monday as the legislator in the House representing Canton, Canton Township. Massillon and Pike Township, was right in the middle of the "political sausage making" that has been going on ever since Republican Cliff Rosenberger resigned because of a reputed FBI investigation of him was said to be underway.

West wears two hats:  one as a Democrat and another as a member of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC).

Which factor, as between Democrats and Black Caucus members, was "the king maker" in pushing former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder over-the-top in a "battle royale" on Monday at the Statehouse?


The two were inseparable in being the reason why Householder upended sitting Speaker Ryan Smith from the speakership.

And, it appears to The Stark County Political Report that West and Republican and fellow member of the Stark County delegation to the House Scott Oelslager played important roles in puting Blac, Red and Blue sausage together that all Ohioans will be having for breakfast for at least two but probably four years forthcoming.

Kirk Schuring (now of the Ohio Senate, District 29) presided over the election contest between Householder and Smith.

Stark County legislator Oelslager (R, the 48th) placed Householder's name in nomination for Ohio Speaker of the House.


Both Smith and Householder courted the fourteen (14) votes of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC).

West says Householder wowed them whereas Smith could only get an attentive ear in the Caucuses' meeting with him.  Obviously, the OLBC members (members of the decidedly minority Democratic Party) were looking for promises of getting a more significant place at the table than they had in the 132nd Ohio General Assembly (OGA), part of which was under the speakership of Ryan Smith (selected in June, 2018).

It has been clear for some time that the vote of Ohio House Democrats was going to be the critical factor on whether Smith would continue to serve as speaker or be replaced by Householder.

A major player in trying to guide the vote of the members of the OLBC was Democrat Fred Strahorn of the Dayton, Ohio area.

It is believed that Strahorn had "an axe to grind" with Householder growing out of Householder's past term as speaker.

And he worked hard to take his fellow OLBC members with him as he cast his vote for Ryan Smith telling OLBC that Smith had the votes and they needed to bSe on the winning side.  Only Catherine Ingram of District 32 was willing to follow his lead.

Strahorn was unable to deliver for Smith.

As can be seen from the Ohio House Journal for January 7th, Smith was clearly the choice of a majority of the 61 Republicans who make up the Ohio House Republican Caucus.  Thirty-four (34) for Smith; twenty-six (26) for Householder.

On the Democratic side, twenty-six (26) voted for Householder whereas only twelve (12) Democrats [of which only two were OLBC members].

Isn't it interesting that the Democrats mustered as many votes for Householder as came from the Republican side of the isle (26 each).

Obviously, the Democrats calculated that they would be better off with Householder at the helm.

West says he  personally had a tough time deciding which way to vote in the Smith/Householder matchup.

A major factor in West's decision (inferred by the SCPR, but not stated directly by West) and presumably the other OLBC members who overwhelmingly ended up voting for Householder, was "organized" labor's push for Householder.

Those of us who understand political reality know that unions had to have extracted certain promises from Householder

  • no Right to Work in Ohio during a Householder speakership? 
  • and, perhaps preserving the right of unions to negotiate "prevailing wage agreements,"
    • and likely, a number of other union "close to the heart" issues.
How about the OLBC and the Democrats at large?

For the OLBC, in interpreting West's account, it appears the SCPR that 12 out of 14 OLBC vote in Householder's favor seems to be (in addition to the "organized" labor factor) was grounded of getting promises of  respect, the ear of and an attitude of cooperation from Householder.

To expand or the Strahorn/Householder matter, the "thought to be" influential OLBC member Fred Strahorn is said to have been treated roughly by Householder in his first run of being speaker and Strahorn appears to have been in "an unforgiving mood" on the Householder "current" attempt to be speaker once again.

West's take and apparently the take of the 12 of 14 House members of the OLBC was that what happened between Strahorn and Householder  (January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2004) in his earlier stint as speaker was  not relevant in 2019 given the rapport Householder developed with the OLBC in his courting of their votes in the context of strong union support for Householder.

For the Democrats, in the SCPR's view, garnered in talking with West and from a number of media reports of the union activism bearing on the speaker election (in the light of the fracturing of the Ohio House Republican Caucus between Smith and Householder, the union push seems to have been decisive inasmuch as most political analysts know that unions overwhelmingly support the campaigns (in campaign finance dollars and campaign workers) of Democratic legislative candidates.

Locally, Stark County's building trades are said to weighed in heavily for Householder.

While West said he was possibly open to voting for Smith, it is clear to the SCPR that the union factor redounded to Householder's benefit.  West recounted to this blogger how strong the unions were for Householder.

West says he is concerned with the possibility of some fracturing of the Democratic Caucus in light of Strahorn and other Democrats voting for Smith.

He confirmed that there  move afoot among some of the Caucus Democrats to punish Strahorn for his being in the minority of Democrats not voting for Householder.

Householder upon being elected, sworn in and taking the gavel called Ryan Smith to the podium.

The move obviously intended to an olive branch to Smith and his supporters including the November, 2018 elected Reggie Stoltzfus of Paris Township (a former Paris Township trustee).

But Smith did not appear to the SCPR to be grasping the branch.

On viewing the session "live" on The Ohio Channel, it was clear to this blogger, from Smith's bearing and words, that he was not a happy camper in having lost and might be a basis of a Republican/Democratic/OLBC coalition in getting Householder's agenda to passage in the House.

So there you have it folks.

The MAKING of political sausage in the selection of Larry Householder the Speaker of the 133rd Ohio House of Representatives!