CITY GIVES DEVELOPERS BIG BREAK ON MONEY THEY'VE BEEN USING FREE FOR 15 YEARS OR MORE

Submitted by Roldo on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 13:10.

UDAG HEAVEN FOR JACOBS, RATNERS

Will Cleveland Council members let Mayor Frank Jackson, Chris Warren and developers steal away UDAG repayments in the millions of dollars from depressed, declining and diminishing neighborhoods?

If Las Vegas is taking bets, I want to bet with the mayor, his economic development czar and Bart Wolstein. I’m betting on the developers getting the freed-up money.  The neighborhoods can continue to suffer. They have excellent experience to do so.

I think this shows clearly that reducing or expanding City Council makes absolutely no difference. It’s up to the people of the city to for once stand up for themselves or allow their resources to be frittered away on developments that have no benefit to them.

You may have read about this deal in the Plain Dealer, where reporting the facts appears to be about as far as the PD's editors allow themselves to think.
The city has decided to reduce developers’ repayment of money – lent amazingly to wealthy developers typically at no interest and not repayable for 20 years – at significantly lower amounts than originally borrowed.  In other words, developers will repay at discounted rates money they have been using sometimes free for 15 or 16 years! Wouldn’t foreclosed homeowners like a deal like that?  Wouldn’t you?

In one case, Playhouse Square, the city will collect $1.7 million on a $5.3 million loan at no interest that was due – not in the future – but back in 1999 and never paid.
These buy backs are a total disgrace.

They will be made more so when we see how the money, which originally came from the federal government, given to Cleveland because of Cleveland’s blight. Instead, it's gone to the city's richest - again.

Rather than deal with blight, tens of millions of dollars have gone into the hands primarily of downtown developers.

This was the work of then Mayor George Voinovich and then Council President George Forbes. A pair of Georges that never cared about the public but enjoyed giving free money to their benefactors, Sam Miller, Dick Jacobs and the Ratners, among others.

In addition, most of the development also received 100 percent tax abatements, so they didn’t even contribute the property taxes that would have been owed on the new developments and would have gone mostly to Cleveland schools.

I hope to have more on this subject in the next column that runs in Cool Cleveland, Lakewood Buzz, What’s Up in Northeast Ohio and the Cleveland Leader.

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Outrage

Mike White vs. Jacobs

  Remember Mike White's battle with Jacobs over the Chagrin Highlands?  Well, Jacobs found a way to get an interchange built and to screw us anyway.

time to organize

Looks like we might have to put on our thinking caps and sharpen our proverbial pencils to allay this debacle. Let's think how would access to University Circle not be an issue today?

Oh right, with the Lee-Clark Freeway...

There is plenty to reread as a refresher for this debate. Just google Opportunity Corridor realneo or Opportunity Corridor gcbl.

In the Urban Design Associates Boulevard Framework Study, I found this quote, "There is a lot of open space adjacent to the study area but most uses are cemeteries; there appears to be a lack of neighborhood-serving parks and open space." Well then, what about farms or getting land into Cimperman's new shiny community garden easement plan? If folks started to farm all that land in the region a hunk at a time, cordoning it off from use for anything else... hmmm...

But back to the above mentioned study: What do they really mean when they say "boulevard"? Should we expect something like the Champs-Élysées? Will it have a median with trees, an tree lawns? Maybe some public art and fountains? Or is this a means to avoid saying, "we want to build a highway in your backyard, a truck route"?

I say, improve the RTA - stop building roads - launch the maglev triangle between Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and wifi the whole public transit business. Do that and then see if you need another opportunity.  That forgotten triangle ought to be producing millions of dollars in food by that time. Think bigger!

Thanks for surfacing this Roldo

Once again, and again, I appreciate your honest analyses of the major financial developments in the region. I've wondered about this discounted loan payout program since it was first announced - the PD eally crafted public perception from first daylight till they congratulated Jackson on a job well done - no public discourse anywhere I saw... I want to know more so keep us posted on your further insights!

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this needs to stop

Multiply the waste here by every metro area in the country and you get an idea of the amount of money that could be spent on other projects or not even collected in taxes at all.

Another GREEN $$ handout

Care of Brian Cummins and the planning committee of City Council, yesterday.  Calling the addition of more sewage to our waterways a Green Project and dismissing any historical evidence of the fact. 

Good citizen Gloria pointed out all of the obvious improprieties, and our representatives in attendance from council and NEORSD had a good chuckle at the expense of the common folk, while they passed the NRP Denison Elderly project on to the next funding trough.  

Thank you Gloria for steadfastly defending the common good.  Gotham city will get cleaned up one lie at a time.   They haven't seen the last of the caped crusaders, yet.

Meanwhile, across town, the Green Hornet aka Dora McKeever takes on RTA, again. POW!

Slip Sliding Away

Two stories which demonstrate what we need and what we're losing as the countdown to one alt weekly begins (One, Two,Three and you're out on July 23).

 

notes the Scene, while the Free Times reminds us of just one possible consequence of such 'Really Brazen Incompetence' -  the collapse of the Riverbed Street into the river. A potential catastrophe brought to light in November 07, but still without any steps to prevent it.

"Last year, there was an increase in crevasses," says Jim White, executive director of the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan. "It suggests something new is happening."

 

Let's see - that repair could cost $50 million (and rising), but if the river closes down... Surprise - the City, sewer district and port folks are all involved  - in waiting.  But we have an unvoted tax for a pie-in-the-sky MediMart (had to be started right away to cut NYC out of the running, right? ...) with the collected money going where? Apparently if the bank collapses then outside money becomes available (which might let landowners off the hook).  Of course 'outside money' = tax dollars. Meanwhile, progress amounts to: 

In the coming weeks, the Failure Contingency Plan will be put into action during a series of drills that will play out on the Cuyahoga.

In good times, reporting is perhaps less critical than when funds are short. Newspaper bombshells are good IEDs  (Investigative Exposure Devices). We need more, not fewer.

 

"You're going to fuck us."

I am very sad to see Scene and Free Times merging, and some of the greatest spirits in NEO concerned about their futures, rather than ours. Thanks for highlighting here the type of coverage we shall see diminishing with fewer good eyes on the street. Instead, Jimmy D. will continue to eat Cleveland, and foolish leaders will increasingly reject open exporations of our issues with stupid perspectives like "You're going to fuck us," he said. "And I'm not going to help you" (quote of "A spokesman for the Flats Oxbow Association, a group that promotes economic development"... yeah right).

Regarding the Cuyahoga... let it return to nature, and fuck the port and the industry in the Flats! Spend the $50 million eliminating toxins and growing food throughout these brownfields, and feed 1,000,000s instead of 1,000s.

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Punching bag

I am going to invest in a real punching bag.  Chris says that I am too hard on him.  We all need to let it out.

Let's see his victory garden, and environmental footprint

From reading his bio on the Cleveland city website, I can't see how you could be hard enough on Chris Warren... he's been in the belly and feeding off of this disasterous local economy for decades, so much of this mess is his fault. I don't recall seing Chris Warren (or many other "community development leaders") at the GCLAC Annual Meeting dealing with Lead Poisoning and Urban Planning, which was designed for him and his peers, so I see Chris as a person who does not care about the lives of 1,000s of children, when it is his paid profession to do so, and has been for 35 years...

Punch away... he seems core to our problems, rather than a solution.

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Different Chris

  But that's okay--I know them both--Warren not too well, but it turns out my generation should pretty much take the blame for the state of chaos around here.  I get accused of having a myopic view of things Norm, but when it comes to poisons, you can pretty much take your pick.  I would move beyond lead for now and focus on clean water.  We're going to need it.

Hi to the other Chris

That's cool - Chris Warren doesn't have the right to ask for mercy, but your Chris does.

We gotta deal with lead and I'm still part of GCLAC so I gotta work extra hard on that so don't expect me to let up on that... I haven't even started to punch that bag.

But GCLAC has made huge, impressive progress and the 2008 annual meeting on lead poisoning and urban redevelopment surfaced some great insight and established important additional alliances.

But those missing from the discussion are still very conspicuous. I don't know for sure if Warren missed the GCLAC Annual Meeting - he shoud have been there - but no county commissioners were there... county administrator Madden made a shallow presence for them and guess what... he's now head of MedCon, which will spend $500+ million in tax dollars to pay for a Con, when we could use that to solve problems like lead poisoning.

What a con.

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I believe Cummins and Norton were at the annual meting

Now that I think about it, I seem to recall Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins and East Cleveland councilman Gary Norton at part of the GCLAC annual meeting... I'll need to get an attendee list to see who was there, as now I'm really curious. I'll post the list to realneo so we can take a look at who is getting engaged in this issue.

What I'm sure I haven't seen is any new community leaders beyond GCLAC leading any new community dialogues or initiatives to address lead poisoning as a result of lessons learned at the Annual Meeting, as is the required outcome... so more activism, outreach and education are certainly required!

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