BACK TO THE BOONDOGGLE & HOW IT STACKS UP

Submitted by Roldo on Sat, 02/14/2009 - 11:59.

Some added thoughts this morning about the Medical Mart nonsense.

I go back to original my thoughts about the Medical Mart and Convention Center. The splashy presentations by Christopher Kennedy and his MMPI gang didn’t change a thing.

The deal stinks.

How does it make sense for Cuyahoga County to build whatever Kennedy finally decrees with some $1 billion in public money (construction and financing), and then pay $108 million to Kennedy to operate this public building? That’s what memorandum of understanding between the two says. There is, of course, no signed contract so it could be worse.

The original plan says County taxpayers take a bath.

It makes absolutely no sense at all.

Tim Hagan – family friend of the Kennedy family – didn’t give that sweet a bargain to Dick Jacobs. And he gave Jacobs a sweeter sweetheart deal than one could imagine.

No one had to ask whether these facilities would pay property taxes. That’s the reason the County will build (publicly) and then give operation of the facilities to Kennedy (private). It’s public property and doesn’t pay taxes, though clearly at least the Medical Mart portion should pay property taxes. That is a business.

Once you give such broad authority to a private company you have lost control of the public building and, of course, of public interest. To say nothing of public money.

So this is a bad deal squared.

I wonder how many restaurants and other retail outlets will be built into this scheme. I suspect there will be revenue-making schemes galore. This will be to the detriment of downtown businesses the facility supposedly will help. For example, Hagan, principally with Mayor White, had a fancy 900-seat restaurant built for Jacobs at the stadium and a four-story, $5-million office building. He who talks about public interests and The People.

The latest version of the mall plan talks of a four-story Medical Mart. The previous endorsed site at Higbee’s talked of only two floors at rent free.

I speculate the four-story Medical Mart will not only be for the display of products that supposedly will draw buyers here. I’d suggest there will be fancy offices for Kennedy’s Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI), and no doubt fully accessorized by County money – meaning everything from computers and telephone system to desks and copiers.

That’s what Hagan did for Jacobs at the stadium, though the lease never called for any executive office building for the team. (Jacobs even got a special boat-shaped conference table with inlaid wood replicating baseball stitching and a metal Wahoo emblem. Nothing too good for some people.)

When the dough flows nothing is too good for these kinds of special elites.

From the beginning I’ve said that the Medical Mart was simply the gimmick Cleveland corporate leaders invented to sell the public on an expensive new convention center. They have never offered any proof of a medical mart’s economic impact.

I still rest my case on that proposition – that this is $1 billion boondoggle of a proposition.

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ditto

Kennedy was asked, "What is your purpose in building this medical mart?" His answer was "to showcase medical equipment and furnishings for the health care industry" (I'm paraphrasing). He did not say what the questioner might have been expecting him to say - "to make a profit - this is our business". He did not say to help Cleveland's failing economy through trade shows.

I agree with you, Roldo. This medcon will likely prove to be a tarnished lapel pin for Hagan.

I don't see that we need a loss leader of a convention center in a time of shrinking fossil fuel economy - corporations including hospitals are feeling the pinch. Even CCF says they can't participate in the CDC's c diff study - too expensive (my tongue firmly wedged in my cheek because they are spending out the wazoo in Abu Dhabi...)  These "protect the rich" doctors will have us build their retail business, too. Let them build their profit making venture if it is so important, but why taxpayers should pay for it is beyond me.

More low wage jobs - yippee! That's unlikely to revive Cleveland's economy. Can we get over the "growth at any cost" syndrome? Can we get back to taxing everyone including the square footage Cleveland Clinic does not use for research?

I looked at Cosgrove's campaign contributions and sure enough - protect the rich.  They are as controlling as banks, controlling the message, the money and our urban planning. Could Henry Gomez (or someone) please direct us to the local political campaign war chest's lists of contributors? I'd like to peruse them, too. Maybe that would explain some of this.

Anyone moving to Clevehoga prepare to grab your ankles - the rest of us have been bent over for these operatives for some time. So much for health and human services we NEED a party and retail center. When it's like Randall Park Mall, we may be be shaking our heads and wondering why we bought it.