by Roldo Bartimole
(Plain Press, May 2017) Well, the dirty deed was done.
They always had the votes. Eleven of 17 votes were there.
But they wanted one more. Why? To rush the job.
You see quick and dirty works better for muggers.
It took a bit of trickery as usual. In a last-minute maneuver city hall leadership and the Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert offered little gifts to seemingly make a Yes vote more palatable. See what we got for you! Aren’t you happy? It’s a Komoroski special. Such cheap gimmickry.
Did they really believe they were being generous? Did they think anyone with any sense would know this was masquerading as charity?
They would shift some donation money to Habitat for Humanity, which if it had integrity would refuse this “bribe.” The Cavs would refurbish (whatever that means) 20 gym floors in Cleveland schools (at the same time it is exempted millions in property taxes that would go mostly to the Cleveland schools) and do some zigzag on admission taxes, which should never go to them in the first place.
A simple shell game works. With the help of a compliant news media (Scene excepted.)
The deal is that they had to borrow money now and pay for it later. It costs more that way. But who is paying?
The city money to pay for this Gilbert expansion won’t begin to be paid until 2024. Gilbert doesn’t care. He’s not paying the carrying charge. Apparently neither does City Council or the mayor’s office.
Why? Because Gilbert is already the beneficiary of the city’s admission tax as it is already being used to pay for OTHER bonds on the arena. It’s been pretty much a secret for decades. This debt dates to the 1990s when the County borrowed tens of millions of dollars to pay for arena overruns. The former occupants, the Gund brothers, wanted extras, greedy as the present occupants. They weren’t paying the bills either.
So even what they want to do will cost much more than it should.
The reason is simple. The admission tax, the source of the city’s $88 million gift for this theft or gift, as you look at it, is still being used annually to pay for bonds for overruns on the original sin.
That’s why they don’t start repayment until 2024. They are already gifting city admission taxes to pay for the Q until the year 2023, as they have for decades. Last year alone city admission taxes of $5,473,930 were used to repay the old bonds.
West Side Councilman Brian Cummins caved Monday night and gave Council President Kevin Kelley the 12th vote needed to pass the legislation by a 2/3 vote and give it an early start. It is a vote he will carry with him throughout his career.
The five who stood firm were Kevin Conwell, T. J. Dow, Mike Polensek, Jeff Johnson and Zach Reed.
Of course, the new addition will also escape property taxes since the sports building, or shall we say our new non-taxed Cathedrals, are tax exempted, thanks to former politicians.
Mayor Frank Jackson was not at the meeting last night.
Soon, one hope, he will not be accommodated at Monday night meetings for other reasons than an unexplained absence.
Now it’s up to citizens whether our political leaders and sports owners get away with another theft of public funds.
It will happen again if they aren’t stopped now.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published by Have Coffee Will Write on April 25, 2017 the day after Cleveland City Council voted to borrow $88 million dollars to give to Cavaliers’ owner, billionaire Dan Gilbert, to expand the Quicken Loans Arena. The loans will be paid back with interest beginning in 2024 using City of Cleveland admissions tax revenue. To view more articles by Roldo Bartimole online visit http://havecoffeewillwrite.com.