May 27th, 2017

There is a hint of historical remembrance in the air over the ill-fated money grab by Cleveland’s wealthy and their political minions. Way back in the last decade another Cleveland mayor, in this case Jane Campbell, got behind a controversial development called Steelyard Commons (which gave birth to The Writing On The Wal, nee No Cleveland Walmart). Campbell shafted Clevelanders by allowing the neighborhood business-destroying big boxes, mainly Walmart, to infiltrate the central city.

Campbell lost her re-election bid in 2005 to Frank Jackson, who seeks election to a fourth term this fall, partly because of the Steelyard Commons deal. On Monday, a coalition of citizen groups presented city council with 20,603 signatures on petition calling for a referendum to stop the issuing of bonds to expand the Quicken Loans—doesn’t anyone else see the irony in that name?—Arena unless a like some of monies is invested in Cleveland’s neighborhood. Those petitions were rejected out of hand and people are pissed.

Yesterday, the next phase of the legal battle—and quite possibly the end of Frank Jackson’s re-election bid—began. Sam Allard, reporting in Lawyers to City Law Director: Certify Q Deal Referendum Signatures or We’ll See You in Court for Scene, writes:

Attorneys at the Chandra law firm representing the Q deal referendum coalition filed a taxpayer demand letter Friday morning, demanding that the Clerk of City Council accept the initiative petition that was rejected earlier this week.

“Swift action is required,” the letter says. “Not only is the City apparently expending resources against the will of the electorate under the false pretense of a so-called ’emergency measure,’ it is invoking inapplicable constitutional arguments in an apparent effort to thwart the electorate’s statutory right to referendum.”

Timing is critical here because there is a narrow construction window between Cavaliers seasons. If litigation lasts even a few weeks (and I expect several months is far more likely) the deal is dead in the water and any financial institution (except perhaps Quicken Loans) would be crazy to invest in the bonds.

Oh yeah, the Pee Dee cobbled together a response as well.

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