November 10th, 2012

Roldo Bartimole writes:

The County Council recently caved to County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s desire to satisfy downtown interests by directing its casino revenue for the first two years to the downtown area.

It’s as if the rest of the city doesn’t exist. Though it is overflowing with poverty and problems.

County residents already provide literally tens of millions of dollars for downtown projects. This benevolence doesn’t seem even receive a discussion.

Who makes this agenda? For whose benefit?

The most obvious downtown subsidy is the unvoted sale tax increase of about $200 million paid already for the medical mart and convention center. The tax increase started in January 2008. It is a 20-year tax – $800 million expected.

The second most obvious is the “sin” tax. It has provided about $100 million for Browns stadium financing. The tax started in August 2005. There already is a push to extend it another 10 years.

I believe both facilities are in downtown Cleveland. Well, of course.

This outpouring of public money ignores other needs. Some desperate needs.

There are very serious needs in other parts of the city and in some suburbs.

Why is this? Because powerful forces – Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Foundation Fixers and the range of interests that live off these projects – ignore people needs. With the help of the news media.

From lawyers to architects to investment bankers to contractors these big projects mean profits. The needs of ordinary people just don’t tabulate in this game.

They sell big projects as progress. And news outlets act as bullhorns for them.

The reasoning always declares that these efforts are job-producing. Yet invariably jobs don’t increase. Remember the 28,000 Gateway jobs? They seem to do the opposite. Jobs for those who desperately need them vanish. Real public needs are ignored.

There really needs to be a strict accounting of this money and somehow a reasonable democratic process of distribution of these casino funds. We also should not forget the fact that these casinos are TAKING that money from somewhere, someone.
FitzGerald has had his way. Will any of this change?

I’m not holding my breath. Neither should you.

And I’m wondering when construction will start on the REAL Horseshoe Casino, not the poorly located Public Square/Higbee site. Another hold your breath moment.

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