November 5th, 2017

Yes, Amazon’s HQ2 feeding frenzy inspired John Oliver to do yet another of his insightful pieces on how clueless politicians have bought into the false idea that throwing tax dollars at already really wealthy people will create jobs, really good paying jobs (like mining coal), but, as the most recent tax bill illustrates, our elected officials don’t really have a clue as to how to save any jobs other than their own.

I moved to Cuyahoga County in November, 1984 and in the last 33 years Cleveland and Cuyahoga County have thrown hundred of millions (billions?) of tax dollars at the our local plutocracy. Can anyone say, with a straight face, that all that tax money has been a good investment for anyone other than our local plutocrats?

Consider just these three portions of Roldo’s recent posts:

Cuyahoga County has released its bond prospectus showing more than $140 million to be borrowed for the Quicken Arena expansion.

The issue that never got the vote it deserved. Politicians, corporate interests and even citizen action forces jilted citizens of a voice on a give-away to seven times billionaire Danny Gilbert, all around capitalist money-grabber.

The sordid deal was made after the city refused to examine for validity more than 20,000 gathered signatures (some 6,000 valid were needed) calling for a vote on the subsidy deal and after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the city must examine the signatures. City Council, under Mayor Frank Jackson’s pressure, had voted to provide some $88 million of city money to the expansion. Council then refused to validate signatures. Some 22,000 Clevelanders didn’t matter.

It’s an old saying, but a relevant cliché: the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Let me be blunt. I think the squeaky wheels in this town have skewed the priority agenda of community needs. The squeaky wheels in recent years have been the sports teams, art, bicycles, towpaths, lakefront parks, convention centers, fancy bridges, downtown housing—all in some way worthy causes, most of them causes of middle and upper class desires. [I guess you could add Public Square and a dirt bike track since. RB].

However, these voices—many good—have championed these needs incessantly. The echo of that chorus overwhelms needs that have no vocal champions. These other voices are seemingly now passé and off the community agenda. These would voice the needs of the powerless, in essence, the poor.

We don’t pay attention to the past. So we repeat it. To our disgrace and heavy cost.

The latest Quicken Arena deal—$282 million in all—repeats the mistake of feeding the beast. Further, it opened a new source of tax revenue, ignoring the voted sin tax receipts. As of the end of March, the sin tax has produced $3,742,748.30 this year.

But finally, in this mayoral election year, there is push-back. Real resentment to this latest money grab.

And a political climate of despair fed by crime, unemployment and the usual array of social problems among so many here.

If you think jobs come from politicians, read the record and then think again.

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