You have to wonder if there is any hope.
Cuyahoga County Executive Edward FitzGerald wants to divert $100 million dollars of sales tax money to something called “economic development.”
In these days of stressful shortages he’s going to give away $100 million of borrowed money? That seems foolhardy to me.
It’s damned foolish if you think about the County’s precarious financial albatross called the Ameritrust Bank Building on its ledgers. It needs every single penny it has. There is no excess in play.
He’s going to borrow the $100 million, says the Plain Dealer, and pay it off with sales tax payments of $8 million a year. Of course, that means he’ll have to pay interest on the $100 million. For how long we don’t know.
So the $100 million will cost many millions more over a long enough time. This is not a good deal. This will squander $100 million plus interest. You can bet the agenda will be strictly corporate. A Greater Cleveland Partnership slush fund, in my opinion. Disgusting.
If the County has surplus money there are better ways of spending it. In fact, saving it wouldn’t be such a bad idea either in these times. A surplus might be helpful. In a very short time.
A PD headline says that the county executive sees the sales tax move as a “change course” measure. Nothing farther from the truth. This is Hagansville all over. Give it away.
The County Executive apparently hasn’t had enough education about his job or what his county government is doing NOW for economic development. Costly.
Without the $100 million he’s talking about maybe he should inform himself of what taxpayers are now spending for economic development. Or what they call economic development.
Please FitzGerald ask yourself: What’s the payoff to the people of Cuyahoga County?
If there is need for seed money, Cleveland foundations have billions of dollars resting in their accounts. Let them use these vast resources to seed new business. The money after all comes from diverted taxes of dead rich people. It won’t hurt the dead people.
FitzGerald needs to look at what he’s already spending because of prior decisions.
As of the end of March the County has taken and given sales taxes from Cuyahoga County residents and visitors for economic development in the following manner:
• For the Browns Stadium (and its nine or 10 games contributing to our economic life): $77 million. Exactly: $77,226,968.09. As of March 2011.
• For the Medical Mart & Convention Center for the economic development of visitors: $132-million. Exactly: $132,517,603.92. That’s as of March 2011.
• Arts & Culture Tax (and we are always being told that the arts means economic development, right?)
$76 million. Exactly: $76,585,569.00. As of March 2011.
• Total so far: $285 million.
By the way, the above institutions getting that $285 million pay not a penny of property taxes and that makes them all primarily on the welfare rolls of the Cleveland schools. That means you Dolan, Gilbert and Lerner. Deadbeats sports owners.
And now who will these new “economic development” gifts go to? What business people? For what purposes?
Does this mean we’ll insure more downtown restaurants, office building and other “economic development” that will merely puts older restaurants, office buildings and other developments out of business or crippled? That’s been the process here for five decades anyway.
Here’s what they promised in economic benefits for the Gateway tax loot, according to an ad run May 1990:
• 28,000 good-paying jobs for the jobless.
• Neighborhood housing development for the homeless.
• $15 million a year for schools for our children.
• Revenues for City and County clinics and hospitals for the sick.
• Energy assistance programs for the elderly.
They haven’t delivered a single of these promises. In addition, Commissioner Tim Hagan and Mayor Michael White lobbied successfully for property tax exemptions to take tens millions of revenue dollars FROM the Cleveland schools. They broke their promise. Nothing unusual. To be expected.
You are already obligated to provide tens of millions more dollars from sales taxes, the most regressive we have. No need to add to the obligations.
These are corporate mouths that never get full. They always need more. They always have their hands out.
Don’t you have a staff that can tell you what you don’t know but should?
What’s your learning curve? Does it depend on what you read in the Plain Dealer?
I’m not even counting what the County’s economic development department does on its own by filtering all kinds of grants, loans and other give-aways via the County, state and feds. There are already plenty of programs.
The County already has helped contributed with the city an additional $100 million plus to pay Gateway bondholders from run-overs. The bonds were let by the Commissioners. And we are still paying. And we still will be for years.
Do you not know this?
You government guys are in the business of giving away tax money and developers and “entrepreneurs” are in the business of taking as much as they can get.
It’s time not only to clean out the illegal corruption at the County, but time to deal with the legal corruption. The latter takes much more than the criminals the FBI concentrates upon.
While everyone focuses on the corruptive scandal of County Government no one is talking about investigating the legal corruption that has been rampant in the past 20 years in Cuyahoga County.
Now Fitzgerald wants to take $100 million, plus interest, for “economic development.”
Does this mean more handouts to multi-millionaires and billionaires? Of course it does.
Who does he have in line to govern this tidy sum? Tim Hagan, Dave Abbott, Joe Roman, Dennis Eckart and Joe Marinucci?
Can’t he and we think of any other needs that County residents might have if there’s loose money hanging around?
Do you think the children of Cleveland might need some recreation facilities? Playgrounds? Safe Parks? (And I don’t mean another redo of Public Square for the casino guys). Classes of all kinds to keep kids busy and out of mischief in the summer. Health clinics. Homeless services. Real needs.
How about replacing some revenue stolen from the Cleveland children via tax give-aways?
Do you think there aren’t going to be many youngsters that could use a job this summer? Can you look around and see a few tasks that need to be done? Streets and lots to be cleaned. Graffiti removed? Elderly poor to be supported in many ways.
Why not a County Peace Corp. for hard hit areas? East Cleveland alone easily could use all that money and more.
If money is given to those who have none to perform tasks that are not now being done, doesn’t that add to the economic development of the area? Will they spend that money here or take it to London or New York City as Randy Lerner does? Are we just suckers?
Don’t the many give-aways make anyone at the Plain Dealer sick or can’t they even think in these terms? Are they so removed from what’s happening to so much of the community? The same with local television. Mostly useless garbage they call news.
The public thus remains ill-informed.
Is there a single PD columnist that can get off his or her ass and give assessments of needs in the streets? And I don’t mean from the bar or barber shop.
When are we going to get a dose of reality in this town? Probably not until there is Arab street rioting here. That’s the last time anyone seemed to pay any attention. Do we need flames to wake us up?
Quite frankly, another $100 million for something we’re going to label “economic development" makes me ill.
The government raises taxes, I thought, to deal with needs of the people, not to stuff more money in the pockets of developers, of sports “entrepreneurs,” and other hustlers.
Get real, FitzGerald.
You weren’t elected to be Businessman of the Year. You were elected to get the government to govern here.
I have a friend who says I should give FitzGerald a break. He’s doing a good job. I’ve actually said the same thing to others. I agree with the PD editorial Sunday that praised him for setting a new “structure and culture” for County government.
And I will admit that he’ll use another $8 million a year for college scholarships, childhood education and patrols to hit crime hot spots. Those are good choices. I applaud them.
But this corporate welfare is a major wrong $100 million step I see coming. It continues a “gimmie” culture that needs to end.
We need real concentration on needs not wants. We don’t need new condos, restaurants and parking garages built with public funds. Especially when they put the older ones out of business.
Let the private sector take care of itself for a while.
We’ve been pushed in the wrong direction for a long time. It doesn’t have the bang for the buck. So let’s change our ways.