$75-MILLION OF COUNTY TAXES FOR SPECIAL INTERESTS

Submitted by Roldo on Thu, 01/01/2009 - 14:13.

What have you done lately for Randy Lerner, Sam Miller, Albert Ratner, Tim Hagan, the Cleveland Orchestra or the Playhouse Square Foundation?

Plenty.

You may not know it but as a resident of Cuyahoga County you have been extremely generous to these richest of our rich.
The figures are in through December for a number of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County taxes.

You (collectively) gave the man who gives you that lousy football team called the Browns $47,515,450 so far for the stadium he uses for his exclusive profit-making. The take this year from the so-called sin tax, extended for 10 year after paying for Gateway, $13,810,178. Prior years: 2007 - $13,869,372; 2006 - $14,505,020; 2005 (September-December) $5,330,880.

Nice to give the billionaire Lerner family a helping hand.

Have you notice that the mountains of Plain Dealer and TV news coverage of the Browns and their depressing condition never once mentioned Lerner’s hand in our pockets? No details from the pious Terry Pluto or cheerleader Jim Donovan.

Smokers chipped in another $19,406,861 for the Arts & Culture tax, up over last year’s $17,083,350, which started this new cigarette tax in February. That’s $36,490,211 for the near two-year period.

Now I hope all the staving artists get their grant proposals into Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) before the money gets eaten up by the big arts organizations – the Orchestra and Playhouse Square.

Lastly but not least, the figures are in for the Tim Hagan Tax – typically known as the Med Mart & Convention Center sales tax. In its first year, $42,142,525 was collected.

The $42 million is the result of the one-quarter percent sale tax increase voted by two people – Hagan and Jimmy Dimora. No real public debate. Absolutely no public vote.

So thank you from Sam Miller & Al Ratner.

That is, of course, if the dysfunctional Cleveland and Cuyahoga leadership can ever get their act together to start building the new Convention Center for Sam, Al and Forest City Enterprises.

There’s a Jan. 15 deadline of some sort but knowing that the County Commissioners and Mayor Frank Jackson haven’t been able to pull this together for the last five or more years, we won’t hold our breath.

(As this was written the Plain Dealer reported that the County once again gave MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.) – operators of the venture – more time for a decision. Delay is the name of the game.)

The total collected for the three taxes for 2008 - $75,359,564.

That’s $75 million out of Cuyahoga County taxpayers’ pockets.

Some of them could have used it, I suspect. Some of us badly needed those dollars.

Tell Timmy and Jimmy. They’d likely laugh. Tim would tell you to run for office, that’s the only public participation he recognizes, unless you are a big donor or labor leader.

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A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:

 The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust, novelist (1871-1922)
http://wordsmith.org/words/imprimis.html

new eyes for NEO's municipal and county government

I emailed this to an elected county official a couple days ago:

"I was chatting with Ed Morrison at Brewed Fresh Daily today and he pointed out a way of operating government that could make you a star if you could convince your colleagues and staff to join you: (it'd make citizens and journalists happier, too)

Detailed posting by Scandinavian officials is the model for total government transparency on the Web, Gates says."

Wow! What a great idea for quelling the questions and just putting the stuff right out there!!! Could it happen in our culture? That's more innovative in the US than wind on the lake!"

He replied:

"Intriguing.  I don't know how much support could be garnered for such an enhanced public business disclosure approach, however.  Our present use of the Internet is rather pedestrian."

Well, it is shameful (but keeps him writing), that we have to rely on Roldo to dig this stuff out and offer it for our consideration. But you won't find it in the pages of the PD. Thank you Roldo for your diligence.

The idea of transparency in government is not a new notion. Could we get a city and county ethics website launched here in NEO? I'm not holding my breath...

 

A COUPLE OF OTHER THOUGHTS FOR TODAY:

"Today, a remarkable edifice of invisible control has been constructed, permitting the most far-reaching measures of social domination to escape significant public attention." - Herbert I. Schiller "Information Inequality - The Deepening Social Crisis in America."

And

"A glance at our contemporary situation indicates that while the area of greatest economic expansion is in the services of self-indulgance, growing percentages of the population are slipping back into pre-20th Century poverty. "And there lies the real paradox of modern capitalism. It is masterful at producing services people don't need and in large part probaby don't want. It is brilliant at convincing people that they do need and want them. But it has difficulty turning itself to the production of those services which people do need. Not only that, it often spends an enormous amount of time and effort convincing people that those services are either unrealistic, marginal or counterproductive." - John Ralston Saul "Voltaire's Bastards - The Dictatorship of Reason in the West."

Schiller and Ralston Saul

"The cult of expertise is one of the defining characteristics of today's rational elites, as Saul sees it. "Among the illusions which have invested our civilization is an absolute belief that the solutions to our problems must be a more determined application of rationally organized expertise," he writes."

Thanks, Roldo for the reading suggestions. I found a description/review of Voltaire's Bastards here and Information Inequality here. I'll add them to my long reading list.

On Schiiller's work at H-Net:

"... examples underscore Schiller's belief that class struggle is the shaping force behind developments in communication, a belief that leads him to reject any kind of technological determinism. In his lengthy discussion of the Information Superhighway in chapters 5 and 6, he insists that its future configuration will depend on the way existing systems of social and economic power appropriate the technology. In his view the information highway, like previous communication technologies developed at public expense, is already being, and for the near future will continue to be, turned over to private companies and exploited for profit with nominal concern for the public interest. Throughout the book, however, and especially in the final chapter, he points to the inherent instabilities within a market-driven system, arguing that the economic polarization and environmental destruction endemic to it will inevitably provoke widespread popular resistance."

REALNEO and other sites - is this part of the resistance?

Also from Ralston Saul:

""The reality is that our problems are largely the product of that application." The division of knowledge into "feudal fiefdoms of expertise" has meant that general understanding and coordinated action are increasingly difficult and often looked upon with suspicion, as evidenced by our systems of education which reward the specialist and disdain the generalist. It has also resulted in a fracturing of society into smaller and smaller and increasingly insulated professional groups. While the emergence of professionalism has paralleled the rise of individualism over the last two centuries, the result has not been greater individual autonomy and self-determination, as was once hoped, but isolation and alienation. "The professional [found] that he could build his personal empire," Saul writes, "but curiously enough, the more expert he became, the more his empire shrank."

I find REALNEO assists me with this lazyman's insulation. I have written here before about related issues: independence or interdependence.

This is rich food for thought...

.....from the starving artists who DON"T get your $$$

FYI - If you are a starving artist and have not declared yourself a non-profit for the last three to five year, you do not have access to that money. When I just worked for CIA, ( the Cleveland Institute of Art ), they have a slice of the pie to spend on admissions and outreach as they are not pulling in the $40,000 X 5 anymore and have lost revenue. The city was not sold on a tax to help private "non-profit" colleges or museums or red dot projects. They really thought it would benefit the specific movers and shakers in our cultural realm that have no " Arts Council " to draw aid from or support from local gov.org. At least Jane put on a few "arts summmits" to shut us up, frank just doles over the money not skimmed by Tom Schorgel. You were had - we were just the bait