Tuesday, March 17, 2009


UPDATE 2: A reader of the SCPR asked whether or not Stephen Mears had contributed to Janet Creighton's campaign. The Report has learned that Mears did make a personal contribution in 2003 of $100.


Last week a reader of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) tipped The Report off to a contractual relationship between the city of Canton and The Canton Repository (actually with The Rep's parent, Gate House Ohio Media, Inc.)

Cutting to the chase on the pertinent facts, here is a summary of what the relationship is. (Background information is provided below)

Canton has contracted with The Rep to publish a City glossy quarterly entitled Canton Connection with a annual contracted publishing cap of $20,000.

The Rep/Canton Connection business relationship is not much different than the fact that The Rep contracts with area businesses to run ads for the businesses in the daily Rep.

To The Report, the contractual advertising relationship wouldn't necessarily mean that The Rep could not render unaffected reporting on stories involving the advertiser. But it would mean that The Rep SHOULD at the front of each such story alert readers to the existing financial relationship via a prominently displayed disclaimer.

The Repository has had the publishing contract with the Canton Connection since December, 2008. Undoubtedly, deep buried in the minutes of Canton City Council meegings, is a record of Council approval of the contract. But has The Rep itself alerted readers to the fact of the relationship. Unless The Report has missed any such alert, it appears not.

As we all know, Mayor Healy is under a great deal of scrutiny these days as to whether or not he has had an allegedly "inappropriate" relationship with a 16 year old.

Another Healy curiosity is the coincidence of certain contracts being let or about to be let by Mayor Healy (Reflex Traffic Systems, if it is not overturned - by Canton City Council which earlier in the year approved Redflex at Healy administration urging) and campaign contributions being made to the TeamHealy Committee (the campaign finance vehicle by which Healy obtained funding for his 2007 mayoralty campaign).

One of the reasons that the readership of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT has increased dramatically in recent weeks is because many Stark Countians feel that they only get "the straight scoop" and the hard questions on Stark County politics and government and, in particular, on the Healy sagas - from The Report.

Readers have been amazed at the low key, extremely conservative and, at times, non-existent coverage (both reportorially and editorially) of Stark County controversies and/or issues (including the Healy matters) by The Repository - Stark County's ONLY major countywide news outlet.

The feeling is that The Rep has way too many cozy relationships with the personalities, businesses, organizations and government institutions that its reporters and editors cover.

The revelation of The Rep/Canton Connection connection does nothing but add to the suspicion or at least a perception on the part of many Stark Countians that The Rep has a lot of "sweatheart" relationships within Stark and that readers get jaundiced reports and editorials as a consequence.

Another element that exists with The Repository is its hypocrisy.

The Rep selectively jumps all over certain persons, businesses, organizations and government institutions about the lack of openness and transparency.

But who is The Rep to complain?

In light of The Rep's financial relationship with Canton, why isn't the Stark County reading public getting a front and center disclaimer on each and every story or editorial it produces on the Canton City administration, the mayor and his troubles and, indeed, Canton City City Council actions?

Below, as in depth background promised at the beginning of this blog, is Canton Communications Director Adam Herman's description of how The Repository came to become the publisher - for at least one year - for the Canton Connection.

The Canton Quarterly was started by former Mayor Creighton in 2006. She chose Strategy One/Canton Media Works to manage the operations of the magazine. There was no contract and no cap on expenses - for this reason, costs for this magazine had significantly increased since its inception. In 2008, it cost nearly $50,000 to produce and deliver.

To lower costs during our tough budget times, the City requested and accepted bids from local companies (including the original vendor) to manage and deliver the publication for $20,000 or less. Three companies responded, and Gatehouse Ohio Media, Inc. (a Canton company that owns the Repository, About Magazine, and a few other local newspapers) was chosen as the winning bid. A contract was signed in December of last year following Council's unanimous vote to approve the arrangement.

Because the previous vendor (Strategy One/Canton Media Works) copyrighted the name "Canton Quarterly" shortly after Mayor Healy was elected in November 2007, the City was unable to continue calling its official publication the "Canton Quarterly." Accordingly, the publication was re-named the "Canton Connection."

The contract is capped at $20,000/year and is good for one year with the option to extend an additional year if the City is satisfied with their performance.
Again, The Report asks: Isn't a disclaimer in order on all matters Canton government and personalities?



Very astute blog about the Rep and Healy being in bed. Please allow me to set Mr. Herman’s record straight.

Mayor Healy has been on a quest to get rid of anything Mayor Creighton did, simply because it wasn’t his idea. However, when it comes to the Canton Quarterly (CQ), Adam is misrepresenting the facts.

Healy is a vindictive person. I cannot show you facts to prove that, but I have the scars. A while back, I alerted you to a series of emails from Healy to me during the 2003 campaign. It was overheard and reported to me that the fact the emails went public and embarrassed him was the source of the chip on his shoulder.

1. StrategyONE was not the publisher of CQ. We are a marketing communications firm that performed graphic design and project management services to CMW Publishing, LLC. It just so happens that my name is on the documentation with the State of Ohio for CMW, but I am a minority owner and have little to do with the management thereof. I do own 100% of StrategyONE.

2. Adam Herman is incorrect saying that Mayor Creighton contracted with Strategy One / Canton Media Works. There was no contract until Healy took over, and that was at the urging of the auditor.

a. A committee of city employees, chaired by Sam Sliman, was tasked with developing better channels of communication with the citizens of Canton. Specifically, the Mayor tasked Sliman’s committee with finding a way to consolidate numerous city departments’ newsletters into one, to reduce the cost to the taxpayers.

b. Sam was aware that we had expertise in this area. We created a mock-up of CQ and presented it to the committee, along with a budget projection for the advertising sales versus total cost of creating, printing and mailing approximately 65,000 32-page full color magazines 4x per year.

c. We shopped the printing locally, but no Canton printing company was even close to being competitive. We chose Hess printing in Brimfield, which employed 26 Canton City Income Taxpayers at the time. That move along saved $20,000 PER ISSUE.

d. CMW invoiced the city for the difference between advertising revenue and total cost. Herman is correct that the amount was around $50,000 annually. Chump change when you look at the bigger picture.

i. $50,000 in city funds / 65,000 pieces x 4 issues per year = 260,000 magazines containing 32 pages of useful information at a cost of about 19-cents per recipient.

ii. A business spends somewhere around 2.5% of its gross revenue on marketing/communications. In this case, the city was spending .0009% of revenue on CQ.

e. CMW managed the advertising sales. We employed the sales staff and managed the program independently of the city. The city provided raw content and pictures.

3. It is true that we trademarked CQ the day after the election. We also filed a Copyright. That’s just the way business works. We beat them to it. The Repository has never reached out to us to inquire about using the name.

4. Healy / Herman put the publication out for bid, but the bid request was vague at best. For example, the bid request did not specify what kind of paper to use, what size the publication needed to be, how it would be distributed, colors to use, etc. These things alone could sway the costs by tens of thousands of dollars.

5. Certain departments receive Federal funding that must be used to communicate with the entire constituency. That is why CMW distributed CQ as a saturation mailing. We could have cut corners, but we needed to make sure those departments were in compliance. I am uncertain whether the Repository’s set-up will satisfy that … it wasn’t in the bid.


Stephen Mears, president

StrategyONE, Inc

1 comment:


What say you Jeff G. ????