Relationship between Fox, Kalahari under ethics review

An Ohio Ethics Commission investigation of Huron Schools superintendent Fred Fox centers on his friendship with Kalahari Resorts owner Todd Nelson.
Jessica Cuffman
Jun 19, 2012

An Ohio Ethics Commission investigation of Huron Schools superintendent Fred Fox centers on his friendship with Kalahari Resorts owner Todd Nelson.

Fox and Nelson readily acknowledge the friendship and say they have no concerns about it affecting Kalahari’s business relationship with the school district.

Ohio Ethics Commission has been asked to determine if reduced rates Fox received on golf outings at the Wisconsin Dells Kalahari resort violate rules against public employees soliciting or accepting anything of value from parties they regulate or with whom they do business.

Kalahari, which is partially in Huron Township and partially in Perkins Township, has received several tax abatements to encourage its expansion and growth. Any abatement must be approved by voting officials from the school district and other local government entities.

Fox, as the district superintendent, doesn't have a vote on the school board.

On May 22, after a four-hour heated executive session, the board voted 3-2 to send the investigation to the Ohio Ethics Commission for review.

“I did nothing wrong,” Fox said. “This is an apparent smear of me, trying to undermine my ability to run this district. I’ve done nothing wrong. Mr. Nelson is a friend of mine. That’s all I can tell you.”

View documents related to the investigation below and for a more in-depth look at the issues in question, pick up a copy of Tuesday's Register.

 

 

Comments

Gardenman

You are right and have a valid point but I don't think any of this has risen tothe  Cuyahoga County corruption level. There is a point to correcting a wrong but this can go to the level of the ridiculous too. It's the old story of going after a fly in the room with a sledge hammer vs a fly swatter. In the end you get the fly either way but using the sledge hammer the room can be left in utter disaster. It that the end result you really want?

There is another old saying "that folks who live in glass houses should not throw stones." I think there are school board members whonow  have raised the level of watching extremely high and each and every one of the school board member is now under that same microscope.

 

 

 

old dog

I wonder if business at Mr. Hardware's store is showing the town's support? He has screwed over more than one person in this town. Bad karma will bite you.

donutshopguy

 " Just cause" is such a "gray" area.  It's not that difficult.  If three members of the school board don't like you because they feel you are difficult to work with then that's all they need.

If any wrong doing is noted by the ethics committee than that's "just cause".  Sounds like the board is setting up the ethics committee as the bad guy.  

I personally like Fred Fox.  All my dealings with the man have been pleasant and above board. Nice family.

But, Mr. Fox works at the pleasure of the school board.  Three member against you with a ethics investigation does not look good down the road for Mr. Fox.

I know if I worked in a service industry I would never be on a school board. Every decision "Mr. Hardware" makes causes an increase and decrease in business. The public if fickle and will always be. Not sure I would want my livelyhood based on school board decisons.

 

Kimo

 

Re: state public employees

What's up with that Jessica?

Are you implying Mr Fox is a State Employee?

 

pepenik99

If the school board has that same attorney from LORAIN, OHIO; I can tell you he is acrook...somebody should burn his aise.........first of all he hates educators ;that is why he always sits on the side of the school boards........personal experience!

Kimo

 

Not wanting to support right wing ideas and goals, I quit going into all "Donut Shops".

 

donutshopguy

 Kimo,

Darn, I wanted to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and have a political discussion. Always interested in hearing all sides and having a lively debate. 

Please excuse donutshopwannabe. Still in training.  LOL

donutshopwannabe

Kimo and donutshopguy - come on give me a break.  I'm a babe in diapers trying to learn from the pro's.  LOL.  I don't know if you have ever observed but Mr. Hardware's pricing is high and much of his product is from China.  From what I here around town, the masses are slowly moving away from ACE.  There are ways to check out his business and I have.  I think he is hanging on by a string. Some have even told me you can get better stuff at Drug Mart. He considers himself a "successful businessman" but I would have to see his Income Statement and Returns before I would make that judgment.  We know he unsuccessfully started the original Hometown News and bilked many people out of big bucks. I don't know all the detail here.  Can anyone expound on this?  Just think, if that female that was running against him, forgot her name, who only lost by 70 votes would have gotten in - we would have none of this.  We would be doing what a School Board is supposed to do -- continually work on improving the School District.

In addition to all the Fox stuff, I'm assuming that the motion that was tabled in the last meeting regarding Mr. Hardware being a volunteer football coach will be back on the agenda tonight.  He must abstain so this will be a 2-2 vote.  Which means he cannot coach.  I guarantee you he will not take this lightly nor will the string puller.  So now expect some kind of rebuff here.  Isn't this a great way to run the Distr

Wald

Is the BOE meeting open to the public tonight?  If so, go and make your opinion known!

donutshopguy

 Wald,

Board meetings are always open to the public.  It would be fun to see more than a couple people there.

Let your thoughts be known.

Sold On Fox 2

WannaBe..
You are killing me !

I count seven points you made in this last post which all make sense and should certainly be taken into consideration when reviewing what is going on in the Huron School District that was running so well that someone, (Mr. Hardware), had to actually SEARCH for a problem.

Imagine that 'Mr. Hardware' would be in the running to become a volunteer FOOTBALL coach. Who requested this ? Who wanted 'Mr. Hardware' to be a coach ?

 'We would be doing what a School Board is supposed to do -- continually work to improving the School District'

Possibly the volunteer FOOTBALL coaching position is where 'Mr. Hardware' actually belongs instead of his current position of 'CHAOS' on the Huron Board of Education ?

This is a key phrase, WannaBe. A school board's only function is to provide a school district with a competent superintendent and treasurer and then to watch as these 'professionals' do their jobs. If this current Huron Board of Education is spending all of their time studying Fred Fox's golf game and friendships and also distracting Fred Fox and other school employees.. who is worrying about improving the Huron School District ?

And.. Who will take the Huron Superintendent's job when Fred Fox leaves to go somewhere functional where his work will be appreciated ? No one in their right mind would want to work with this Board's chaos. Is this board worried that they have caused a situation where they are going to end up with a superintendent who just can't get a job anywhere else ?

I don't believe this current Huron Board of Education has thought this thing through. The bully, puppet Board member who wants to coach football has orchestrated a situation that will be felt for years like the tsunami that it is.

Seems to me that 'Mr. Hardware' is trying to run the Huron City Schools like he's run his own businesses ?

 

 

 

 

donutshopguy

 Sold on Fox 2,

"Mr. Hardware" is a current volunteer football coach. Just to clarify.

Sold On Fox 2

DonutShopGuy-

Apparently from WannaBe's comment 'Mr Hardware' is not 'officially' a volunteer coach at this point. The Board of Ed actually votes on all coaching positions, including volunteers.

They usually do it as a slate. The whole list at once. A Board member can ask to do each one seperately.

I believe this is what is going to happen.

Board meetings are sometimes boring. I've been to hundreds. I think the one tonight will be filled with Fred Fox supporters, but the Board will not discuss Fred Fox so the supporters will not be 'allowed' to speak.

It's the Board's meeting and if they allow comments.. they allow comments. If they don't.. They don't.

The vote on 'Mr. Hardware' as a volunteer FOOTBALL coach should be the highlight of tonight's meeting.

donutshopguy

 It's just symantics. He is a coach now but must get renewed every year. It really doesn't matter.

donutshopwannabe

Donutshopguy - yes it is semantics but tonight the vote will be 2-2, and he will NOT be a coach this year!   Remember, he must abstain. That will get many upset but also make many of the kids happy.  The kids hate him because he bullies them just like he does the Board. 

Clementine -- they WERE  vacation days and they paid all out of their own pockets.  They have receipts!  The real travesty here is that Mr. Fox and his attorney do not have a copy of the investigation so they cannot actually see all the allegations.  If the Ethics Committee does investigate - they will bring in their own team and do there own investigation.  They will be looking for evidence and facts -- not HEARSAY.  I believe that after they do their preliminary, they will drop it and not do the investigation.  But if they do -- the good news is that FOX will get to see all the investigation results prior to the hearing to defend himself.  So he will get due process, not vigilante law.  That is good.

Bottom-line -- drop it all and get back to working on the School District.  

Also, if this was as serious as some think it is, why did they not suspend Fox with pay or without pay while the investigation is completed.  That is what is normally done if the matter is considered serious

donutshopguy

 wannabe,

If you are involved in the school board or city council these so called "agendas" happen all the time and have for years. And, I mean a 100 years.

Step into the ring of politics. Yep, school boards everywhere are full of politics. 

Most people are niave to what happens in public meetings and behind closed doors.

Mr. Fox is playing politics with his "smear campaign" spin on the subject.  It gets hard to filter out the truth sometimes.

Sold On Fox 2

Finally..
This is what the whole HUGE investigation is about..

Huron School Board members spent all of this time 'behind closed doors'..

Huron School Board members will be responsible for spending all of this time, effort and taxpayer's dollars to reprimand Fred Fox for having a 'team building' golf outing with his administrators.. (that, oh by the way, they all paid for out of their own pockets and it cost the district nothing.)..

The biggest question here is who is pulling the strings of the puppet 'bully' board member, referred to here in other comments as, 'Mr. Hardware' ?

No one has benefited more, by the friendship / working relationship of Fred Fox and Todd Nelson, than the Huron taxpayers who once again can say they have the best. This relationship has resulted in more benefits to taxpayers than the 'friendship' between ‘Mr. Hardware’ and the puppet master.

In fact.. if we look at it this way:
Fred Fox and Todd Nelson = $$$$ for Huron;
‘Mr. Hardware’ and his friends = Cost Huron $$$$

Even the few out there who thought the Board needed to make sure Fred Fox was doing his job can understand this. Fred Fox has obvious results. The Board's results speak for themselves and apparently this Board of Ed doesn't feel it gets enough credit, because they didn't even hire Fred Fox.

This issue is simple. Fred Fox, not in his official capacity of Huron School's Superintendent, but as Fred Fox, CITIZEN.. Went golfing with friends, aka other administrators. Possibly.. he and his friends got a decent rate on their golf and their rooms because Fred Fox, CITIZEN, actually has a great working relationship / friendship with the owner of the resort. Is this really a problem warranting the expenditure of approximately $30,000 of Huron's taxpayer dollars ? If Fred Fox had used Kayak or Priceline and got a deal would that have been a problem ? Could it be that 'Mr. Hardware's Board' simply have a secret agenda to 'smear' Fred Fox ? At what length will 'Mr. Hardware's Board' go ?

What exactly is out of reach for this Board of Ed who, by the way make, I believe, $140 every time they meet to discuss Fred Fox's golf habits.. What exactly is the limit ?

There's one thing I have to know.. Is Fred Fox getting free electricity for his house because of that windmill behind Woodlands School ?

clementine

For those of you who are prematurely believing Mr. Fox has done nothing wrong, you need to take the blinders off.  Let the ethics committee complete their investigation and make their decisions.

Hopefully they will look into whether Mr. Fox and his administrators took vacation days when they went to Kalahari.  Hopefully they will look into whether school funds were used for this golf outing get away.  Also, what is the treasurer's role in all of this.  Is that why he was so adamant about not referring this on to the ethics board?  What is his role? 

Talking about drinking, guys having a good time, etc., with Mr. Nelson on school email could also be inappropriate.  Teachers get in trouble for these things because of computer use agreements, and it applies to all people with school accounts.  In fact, not so sure the 8 guys is not code for 4 guys and 4 gals.  Too many people from within are talking and probably glad to because of the way they have been treated by the "good old boys club". 

Forget about solving this at a donut shop.  The only reason Asher and Caporini voted to "ignore" was to try and save the Huron name.  Instead of doing the right thing, they chose to ignore as is done so frequently in Huron.  It's time for everyone in this town to take off the blinders.

Stop boasting about academics.  Huron's academics should be much higher than surrounding districts.  It's like comparing apples to carrots.  Again, take off the blinders.

donutshopguy

 clementine,

All school board member have some type of agenda. If I remember correctly Mr. Caporini conviently ran for the school board when his brother the basketball coach was under fire. After his election the fire was doused. Strange how that happened.

Sold On Fox 2

Clementine-

Well said. The Ethics Committee will find that Fred Fox and the other administrators paid for their ways on the golf outing. No school funds were used. They do have vacation days !

I'm not certain if the treasurer went on the outing or not ?

I agree that the use of 'school' email can be innappropriate, but when discussing an outing for administrators what is permissable ? Could this be a simple case of people not understanding 'team building' ? Can 'team building' happen on a golf outing ? Apparently because just about every business in this world uses the golf course to 'work'..

I don't believe Asher and Caporini voted to 'ignore'.. I, (notice I said I), believe that their vote reflected a beleif that this whole investigation is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

We shall see. Like you said.. Let the Ethics Committee do their jobs.. and then.. let them take a look at what is really going on !

Mom of 2 boys

 "Stop boasting about academics.  Huron's academics should be much higher than surrounding districts.  It's like comparing apples to carrots. "   

Wow, if this is how people from Huron think, I'm glad my kids don't go there. Unless I am totally misunderstanding what your point could be, that sounds just like what Huron sweats in the surrounding area....snobbishness. So glad I don't have to deal with the likes of you. 

I think everyone needs to take off the blinders. ALL of the schools in Ohio are struggling with one thing or another. Levies being passed, new buiding vs. old building, teacher pay freezes. 

Unless something bigger comes from this investigation, I think the school bosard  may have picked the wrong battle at the price of their kids!!

blackjack82

Really -  Kalahari has donated mega bucks to build a first class stadium at Huron, they are the largest single taxpayer to Huron Schools, the Superintendent should be doing everything he can to keep the support of this company (and owner) that have given back so much to the Huron Schools.

Mr Fox has no vote on any issues involving Kalahari.  Kudos to Mr Fox for recognizing the contributions of this company (and owner) and developing a lasting relationship with the owner that will only benefit the Huron School System in the future.  Accepting an invitation to play golf is part of this, declining the invitation would only be a "slap in the face" to the owner.

If I recall, Huron Schools are rated "EXCELLENT" by the State of Ohio.  Thanks Mr Fox from a taxpayer of Huron Schools.  Shame on the short cited school board with personal agendas.

On a national note:  Obama has just completed his 100th round of golf as President but nobody seems to care?   A new record for a President in office.

Sold On Fox 2

Blackjack82 -
You are right on the 'money' !

This IS THE WAY business is done in the 'real' world. I am so glad to read where someone actually appreciates what Kalahari is doing for Huron's property owners and taxpayers. Some apparently do not understand the corelation between industry paying more taxes so homeowners pay less. Obviously you do !

Great post !

DonutShop -
You may be right about those agendas. I remember two board members wanted to get rid of another coach.. and everyone knew what the coach was doing with another teacher..

I have a theory from reading your posts that you are looking at this situation in a very practical way. I appreciate the way you have summed up that all politicians have an agenda. My hope is that at least a 'majority' of school board members have making better schools for students and school employees on their agendas.

eastside

Fred Fox is a real nice fellow until you challenge anything he says.

betweenlines

 It seems to me that one of the biggest benefactors of Kalahari's generosity is the football program, run by the supposed puppet master. Please explain why he would try to screw that up?

the office cat

What IS the name of the Huron Tigers football field?

Sold On Fox 2

BetweenLines-

This goes back way before the football field. Some people hold a grudge. Some of those people plot and scheme and eventually see their opportunity to right the supposid wrong.

Let me tell you a story:

A former board of ed member and his realtor wife convinced a property owner who had the property just west of the field, (that is now the football teams practice field), to donate his property to the school so that the football team's practice field would be next to their locker rooms and they wouldn't have to share it with jr high and the soccer team. The donated property was then cleared of trees so the football practice field could be put in place. The tree clearing company cleared 13 trees that were not on the school's property. The people in the neighborhood attacked the property owner, the board member, the realtor wife and the school system in general for the loss of trees, even though other trees had been planted to replace the old almost dead trees.

The 'puppet master' was mad because he wasn't in on the planning of this move and he was afraid of losing 'his' territory, (the field behind McCormick School and it's locker rooms). Not once.. did the 'puppet master' step up to calm the property owners, nor did he ever say thank you to any of the people involved in making 'his team's' situation better. Not even the property owner who donated the property and was then sorry he did.

This is who we are talking about.

grizzly2504

im sure people really complained about trees being cut down in the bike path......

Sold On Fox 2

Grizzly2504-

It was headline news in the Register.

And... it was at the other end, (southwest), of the field. I have no reason to change the facts.

Tmm

I'm somewhat of an outsider looking in.  My Mom grew up in Huron and Grandparents lived in Old Homestead II.  I have lived in Cuyahoga County for a while now...This can somewhat be compared to what has happened in Cuyahoga County politics but obviously on a much much smaller scale.  My question is this...What would the taxpayers of Huron do or say if in a few years down the road it was found out that the Super was rec'ing inproper benefits from Nelson/Kalahari Resorts or from whomever and the school board knew about it but did nothing?  What happens if/when the friendship between the Super & Nelson goes sour? Would tax payers say that at the least an investigation was warrented?  I understand that more than likely any benefits the Super has rec'd to date are minor but in todays world of corruption are we as taxpayers willing to take the benefit of the doubt?  Kickbacks typically start off small and build with time.  Is a Board of Education willing to ignore a hint of corruption in todays world?  I understand Kalahari has helped create something any school district would be extreamly proud of but would it be worth it if it meant corruption was at its core? 

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