Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
MED MART - WE 'NEED' IT. REMIND ME WHY. PLEASE
Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 04/14/2009 - 16:51.
Did the Plain Dealer actually think that Cuyahoga County Commissioners would really insist MMPI pay property taxes?
God. The PD has kept itself innocent all these years. And it remains naïve and innocent. Like Bernie Madoff.
I also love the PD editorial on Sunday. The headline is “One piece at a time.” It’s the subhead that really gets me: “Medical mart development agreement is acceptable; the challenge will be to make sure the project stays on course.”
Just as the paper monitored Gateway and the Browns Stadium. Kept them on course. Of course. We still don’t know what the Browns Stadium cost the city; nor what it is still costing the city.
Have you notice that not one of the high profile PD columnists has taken a crack at the issue. Why? Self-censorship. That’s why. They don’t dare cross the line. It’s safer to write about a rabbit and your 10-year old daughter. What editor can find a complaint there?
It’s why newspapers are seen as so irrelevant to so many. Just can’t pull the trigger on the big guys.
By Thursday, Cuyahoga Commissioners - possibly without Tim Hagan who is experiencing heart problems - will sign the deal to give MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.) hundreds of millions of tax dollars to do what no one can say with any confidence is a wise decision. A $1 billion dollar blunder.
But we JUST NEED a convention center. So what if we’re doing it wrong. So what if it’s done at unbelievable cost. We NEED it. So they say. Our “leaders.”
There has been dispute about who owns the final product. This has no meaning whatsoever. Since whichever entity owns it – county or MMPI – it will run the same way and the costs and profits will go the same way. A public oversight committee (named by the same people who concocted this scheme) will be meaningless. The PD’s promise of oversight will be laughable. (As was the paper’s crowing that the lease was released a week before the vote, as if it makes a bit of difference.)
MedCity News – a publication headed by two former PD reporters, Chris Seper and Mary Vanac (two the paper didn’t want to lose but took the paper’s buyout) say that MMPI now “will have to prove they know what they’re doing.” The publication deals, it says, with “health care as an economic engine of American cities.” You find it here: http://www.medcitynews.com/
It’s not assured that they will have to do so. The contact says, as MedCity reports, that “MMPI has one year to convince 10 tenants to spend three years in the medical mart.” However, MedCity already reported, “its likely many initial tenants in the permanent showrooms of the proposed medical showplace will feature beds, chairs and floor tiles meant for hospitals, private practice and some home care settings.” As I said when I read it, sounds like a barn-burner economic plus for Cleveland.
The point is that it may be easy for MMPI to get 10 outlets to rent for a time. Tower City got upscale outlets here when it opened because of Forest City’s ability to ask favors of people they do business with elsewhere. It had no long term meaning.
Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine has some interesting stuff on his blog (http://clevelandmagazinepolitics.blogspot.com/) questioning use of the bed tax that would mean more public money flowing to MMPI.
He also information from MMPI.
He quotes Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones saying that it is very possible more money will come from new sources.
Well, back last April when Squire-Sanders chief honcho Nance - conveniently consultant to Cuyahoga County, negotiator with MMPI and representing the Greater Cleveland Partnership - called for a 2 percent increase in the bed tax to produce an extra $50 million AND taking $2.5 million from Positively Cleveland (Visitors Bureau) for another $50 million over 20 years.
Think there may be any more flows of revenue unrevealed. Maybe the PD will threaten them.
This deal has stunk to high heaven from the beginning. Nothing has changed it.
Heywood Sanders, public policy professor at University of Texas-San Antonio and a national respected expert on the convention business, is skeptical of this entire deal. He has been for a long time. For very good reason, as he well knows.
“First, it’s not clear there is any demand among the medical device manufacturers for this kind of ‘mart’ or ‘showroom,” he writes in an e-mail response to me.
“They (medical device industry) already have marketing and sales staffs and approaches, and they prefer to sell their own stuff in environments that they either fully control or in hospital/clinic settings where they know how the product is being used.”
Of course, this isn’t even MMPI’s business – the medical aspect. MMPI lists such industries it serves as “office/retail, home furnishings, gift and home, kitchen and bath, fine crafts. Not a medical hint on its business list. See for yourself: http://www.mmart.com/mmart/industries/index.cfm
Sanders goes on: “Second, the tie to the convention center is simply wacky.” WOW! (Of course, we’ve said all along that the med mart has been an excuse to spend $1 billion on a convention center. We NEED it.)
“Medial and health care associations make their money from conventions, most of it from renting exhibit space to exhibitors. They have no incentive to share exhibitors with a Med Mart, and no particular reason to come to Cleveland. They’ll go to where they can get the space they need, in locations that are draws for their members (I say, think San Diego). Remember they are effectively in the business of delivering ‘eyeballs’ to exhibitors and running professional education programs that require substantial attendance.”
He concludes by writing: “It is striking to me that MMPI has effective stalled this deal for over a year, and now gets to shop around for another year (or more) to see if it works. If there really was a demand for this thing, they would know it by now.”
If that’s true what the hell is going on?
There’s a lot of money out there for the taking. Figuring out how to finagle the deal seems to be the agenda of the County Commissioners, MMPI, Fred Nance and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
I love that the Plain Dealer editors have some confidence in this deal. Even though they write in their editorial, “Based on the past performances of this trio – recall how they fumbled the Ameritrust project for their own new home – it’s hard to imagine them making such a tough decision. But they seem willing to, and this newspaper will do what it takes to make sure the people of Cuyahoga County have enough information to evaluate – and influence – their decision-making.”
Dream on, Plain Dealer, dream on.
As I said, as they will say and as the PD will say, “We NEED it.”
Well, actually, we don’t.