August 9th, 2017

270809 roldo

What a dull mayoral race this has been so far.

It could put anyone to sleep.

Maybe it’s me and my memory.

I remember the 1977 mayoral race which turned out the incumbent Ralph Perk and sent Dennis Kucinich and Ed Feighan into the final November election day.

Two big issues dominated and the news media—newspapers, radio, TV actually covered the race and made it appear important.

Today it seems there is no churn.

Dennis won on, among other things, the scorching issue of tax abatement.

It was the first at National City Bank, now PNC at the northwest corner of Euclid at E. 9th. It was the first abatement so badly done that even today the setback nature of the building breaks up retail along the street. There is no retail on the ground floor.

Maybe we’re getting far afield.

How about today’s “hot” race that’s being covered principally by the Plain Dealer with the Cleveland Press long gone.

And the PD apparently really isn’t interested in even a mildly hot race. They have already picked their candidate and he’s not a challenger.

I thought that there would be a clear issue for this campaign—downtown vs. neighborhoods.

Downtown, under Mayor Frank Jackson, has been the clear victor for attention and subsidies. The neighborhoods, except for a few, have fallen behind, left to drift as they might.

One could have expected the issue of 20,000 signatures demanding a vote on another sports team giveaway to be like a huge, low-slung piñata for challengers to swing at.

Why would the Mayor and Council President Kevin Kelley give nose thumbs to 20,000 petitioners in an election year? They kicked the issue to the Ohio Supreme Court, which seems in no hurry to give a thumbs up or down.

Shouldn’t really matter what the court decides. A decision to support Mayor Jackson just gives his nose thumb to 20,000 city voters a clear picture of the mayor’s pro-corporate position.

A decision saying there must be a vote provides a bump to the Mayor’s race. It demands a ballot issue even the PD can’t completely ignore.

The Court’s best move for Jackson is no move. At least not until the mayoral election is over.

However, it intrigues me that no competitor has sunken his teeth into the tastiest issue of corporate control of Cleveland City Hall.

Here maybe are some new figures to add to the discussion, though I thought I’d given plenty of ammunition in the past year and more.

The 20,000 signatures gathered by various groups oppose another give-away to a billionaire, a habit here now of two decades old. This one would go to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for an expansion of the Quicken Arena.

He wants a new revenue source of tens of millions of dollars from Cuyahoga County and Cleveland. This, of course, comes atop the voted extension of the sin tax.

Latest figures show that the sin tax revenue totals $25,839,858.35. You paid that. Can’t spend that money elsewhere.

Of that amount, $17,996,320.89 has been expended.

The biggest chunk has gone for First Energy Stadium: $6,412,446.73. Another $2 million goes into the same Browns stadium reserve account.

Easy come, easy go.

Since these sports facilities pay no property taxes and now an issue has popped up with a real estate venture that wants a deal with the schools to not pay property taxes as normal for 30 years.

Thirty years!

Sort of left unsaid is that this 30-year diversion of property taxes also hits Cuyahoga County, City of Cleveland and Cleveland libraries.

Also left unsaid is whether this development, close to the tax avoided Gateway complex will get other government help.

The massive funding of Jackson’s campaign by real estate and corporate interests hasn’t gotten much coverage, other than in the Scene.

And just in case there’s a candidate for the people out there, they might find some more fodder in a story I wrote nearly three years ago.

Why don’t we have a real election this time?

By Roldo Bartimole…

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