May 20th, 2016

roldo stadium 150520

Hypocrisy abounds here among sports team owners. It’s almost as bountiful as their greed. That’s saying something.

Dee and Jimmy Haslam play the two-faced game better than their team plays football. Not hard, I guess.

We got a good example of it recently when the Plain Dealer and our TV news (what a joke—news?) gave us some “information” or what travels as “news.”

The Cleveland Browns fed them a story of their generosity to Cleveland schools. The media ate it up as if it were prime beef.

Here’s what the Plain Dealer dished out:

CLEVELAND, Ohio—The Cleveland Browns today will announce a ‘major project that will benefit students and communities throughout Cleveland.’

Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Eric Gordon will be joined by 100 school athletes at 2:30 p.m. at First Energy Stadium.

Also attending will be high school athletic directors, football coaches and Roman Oben, NFL senior director of football development.

The announcement is part of the Browns’ dedication to education, youth, high school football and Cleveland, the Browns said in a statement.

And what are the Haslams going to do.

They proudly say on the Browns web site:

CLEVELAND, Ohio—As part of the Browns’ dedication to education, youth and high school football and Cleveland, Dee and Jimmy Haslam today announced a commitment to provide five Cleveland Metropolitan School District fields with high-quality synthetic turf during the next two years.

They are excited: For Haslams, plan to refurbish 5 fields ‘one of the most exciting things’ since coming to Cleveland.

What total, unadulterated gall.

Let’s look at what the Haslams (owners of a company that has cheated truckers of millions of dollars in a scheme the company concocted) have DONE to the Cleveland school children.

In short, they don’t pay one penny of property taxes on the Browns football stadium. Never have. Never will.

The $276-million stadium, under the dirty deal given the Browns, is property tax free. Not abated. EXEMPTED. By state law engineered by Mayor White and Tim Hagan.

What does that mean to the Cleveland schools? The schools would get 61.74 percent of the property taxes. If there were any tax.

However, Mayor Michael White, City Council and dirty-dealing Fred Nance of Squires & Sanders made sure the team owners would never pay a dime in property taxes. And Mayor Frank Jackson and this City Council have continued the practice.

The city lease keeps giving.

And the Haslams are GIVING to the Cleveland schools?

No, they are TAKING. Big time.

They should be paying, based on the tax value—35 percent of the $276 million value is taxable for commercial properties. That would be on $96.6 million taxable value.

So the Haslams should be paying $61.74 on each $1,000 value of the $96.6 million of property taxes or some $5.9 million. Each year!

Cuyahoga County loses 20.9 percent of the exempted taxes; the Cleveland library system, 6.495 percent and the City of Cleveland 12.8 percent. The total millage is 101.83, according to County documents.

The same, of course, is true of the Gateway facilities. Progressive Stadium avoids taxes on $176,250,000 and the Quicken Arena on $113,040,000, or a total of $289,290,000 for Gateway, which does pay the land taxes of $433,558 on a value of $12,162,000.

And the Haslams want to brag about covering five football fields with artificial turf?

Added to this scandalous gift to the Haslams is the fact that beneath the stadium is land, owned by the city and valued at $6.6 million.

How much do the Haslams pay on that property? You guessed it. Zero.

It is paid by the generous and needy City of Cleveland, which is looking this year to raise the payroll tax from 2 to 2.50 percent, a 25 percent hike on all workers in the city. Cleveland pays $677,587 a year in taxes on the Browns stadium land, which is not tax exempt.

It was a rigged lease from the beginning. No one at City Hall is doing anything about it. The PD and TV wash their hands of the crime
And what does Cleveland charge Haslam for use of the total property each year?—$250,000, never to increase over its 30 year dirty-dealing lease.

Would you think that maybe the Plain Dealer or all the hotshot TV investigators might be interested in exposing this ongoing civic robbery? Not a chance. They’re voiceless.

They’re bought and not paid for. It’s journalism at its worse.

What’s even more mocking is that likely the Haslams or Browns are not even paying for the “exciting” field improvements. Likely the non-profit Browns Charities will pay for it, as it does other events that its web site brags about.

Even there Cleveland and its schools are cheated. The largest donation made by the Browns foundation is $100,000 for the Hero Fund for families of police/firefighters of the World Trade Center in New York City. NYC isn’t that close to downtown Cleveland. It brings to mind the comments of a New York journalist John Swinton in response to a toast offered to the independent press at a banquet in his honor in 1880. Swinton said:

There is no such thing, at this date, of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press… The business of the journalist is to destroy truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon [Haslam, Gilbert & Dolan, RB]… You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting of an independent press? We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance… We are intellectual prostitutes.”


Nothing has changed.

By Roldo Bartimole…


  1. Jeff Hess says:

    walmart hunger

    Inspired in no small part by Roldo’s incessant drum beat concerning how Cleveland sports teams (and others) have sucked the tax dollars out of the city and the county I have repeatedly used the above photograph in stories at my other blog—The Writing On The Wal—to underscore how Walmart, through the Walton family generator of good public relations and tax deductions: the Walmart Family Foundation, has over the years created the appearance of largesse while beggaring the Bentonvile Behemoth’s own people.

    That the story began only a few miles from Cleveland makes the shame all the greater.

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