December 17th, 2015

/>roldo taxes 160129

Tie it up with a big red bow.

The gift is complete. It’s that time of year, isn’t it?

And our business leaders are great gift TAKERS.

Cuyahoga County has been awarded the business/civic establishment that rules the public agenda, as it has for 50 years and more. Not as successfully as now, however. It’s on a roll.

The reformation of corrupt Democratic control is complete. The voters gave it away under pressure from the news media rallying to the cry of “corrupt officials”—the very ones they had supported and rallied into office. Jimmy Dimora you did a lot more damage than thought. You gave them the excuse for a public takeover.

Ironically, the Plain Dealer typically headlined the final blow: Budish adds 4 more to his team, said the headline.

His team?

The story outlined four new hires by County Executive Armond Budish, who is turning out to be as mushy as apple sauce. He’ll do whatever they want.

The four in question have salaries of $190,000; $181,000 with $19,000 more in benefits; $163,000; and $140,000. Who will they favor? Not you.

This is what I call Civic Corruption. Never examined by the commercial news media.

This is still Cleveland, isn’t it? Poverty Cleveland, right?

The salaries are outrageously, unnecessarily high. Corporate style.

But we know why.

The Cleveland Foundation and Gund Foundation anted up $153,000 for a “national search.” They choose public officials. Now convenient. How undemocratic. Worse, the Cleveland Foundation is paying more than $300,000 of the salaries.

Who pays controls.

Guess who guided the search: The Greater Cleveland Partnership. They control the public agenda.

It’s bought government.

In other words, Budish bent to the corporates. Not a surprise.

They chose four top, highly paid “Budish team members” in economic development, information; human resources; and “innovation,” whatever that might be.

What gives them that right? It makes Budish a patsy of business.

We’re on the road to more gimmick government. Higher taxes (and we’re running out of taxes to weigh upon county residents.) More subsidies; more building we cannot afford.

More and more, County Council—headed by former activist, now a go-along president Dan Brady—acts very much like the sleepy Cleveland city council. Out to lunch. Brady railed at this type leadership when he was at Cleveland council.

I’ve been looking through an information disc on the hotel the County is building and will finance and it scares me. It is exactly the kind of debt the GCP promotes. Loves actually.

The hotel bond issue for $230,888,000 actually totals $256,864,057 with costs for underwriters, bond counsels and others. An addition of $25.9 million, a more than 10 percent take for Squire Sanders, Gateway’s Tim Offtermatt’s investment firm and others. Slight cost of doing business, don’t you know. For the same crew as always.

The money flows through the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, the establishment’s central bank here for economic development.

It’s a method to offer bondholders (rich interests) a tax free investment avenue. Yes, we get screwed by tax free investment, too. They dodge federal taxes that you pay.

And guess what? The agreement allows for county responsibility for capital improvements on the hotel. Sound familiar?

Our history here is not good. In fact, it’s really bad.

The old unreformed County Commissioners Three added, mostly via Tim Hagan, the one who hasn’t gone to jail, a quarter percent sales tax for the convention center & medical mart.

But it’s bringing in much, much more, as they knew.

The latest accounting shows the tax has collected $302.9 million. That’s more than the cost of the hotel.

This County is being taxed to the poorhouse.

The arts tax has cost taxpayers another $153.8 million.

The sin tax has collected $137 million as of September and new collections, as the tax has been voter extended, is some $20 million.

RTA is raising its rates because there is no new source of revenue and the present sources don’t meet the needs.

But who cares about those who need public transporation?

We have Republicans coming to town!

The Greater Cleveland Partnership and Joe Roman don’t care about carless people.

And besides, where would they get new revenue for a real need?

That’s the problem with government by business/civic control. And that’s what we have.

Our leadership—starting with Budish and Mayor Frank Jackson—are total losers, as maybe Donald Trump would say. We need a coarse but true voice. We have too many milquetoasts.

The BIG problem is that we will need more tax revenue. And probably soon.

And you know the one area that hasn’t been taxed yet?

Food. Sales taxes extended to food. It comes next.

That’s the road we’re on folks. Disastrous to the poor. But who really cares about them.

Happy New Year.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. Fran says:

    Roldo, thank you for your informative and insightful essay. Your quote above says it all, “Who pays controls”. Civic leaders bought(more) government control and Budish let them.

    Don’t forget! County taxpayers are also burdened with $75 million in bonds that were unilaterally issued by Cuyahoga County Public Library. Those $75 million in notes have already paid $42 million dollars in interest to bondholders. Money flowing from taxpayers’ pockets to bondholders’pockets.

    The Cuyahoga County Public Library bonds are supported by a November 2008 ballot issue that SAID NOTHING about these bonds or the 8 new buildings and 10 huge renovation projects that would follow. Voters were never told that is what they were voting for.

    We all love our libraries but the people who run them are fallible and should be held accountable for how they spent $122 million and counting…

    Side note: My understanding of county bonds is that they are TRIPLE TAX free–no city, state or federal taxes.

  2. Thanks for the comment Fran.

    I am not familiar with the library bonding but, as you say, voters passed the levy. The media and civic leaders always urge a favorable vote but then do little or no monitoring of the spending.

    Libraries also need oversight but get little since they are popular and serve a good purpose. Not reason, however, for no scrutiny.

  3. Angela Edwards says:

    Thank you for your discovery and insight

  4. […] can also be said that Executive Armond Budish has set a bad pattern with extravagant pay schedules for his administration. The average Cleveland household median income 2013, according to […]

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