ROCK HALL A HEAVY BURDEN FOR TAXPAYERS

Submitted by Roldo on Sun, 03/29/2009 - 11:47.

Hopefully, the Rock and Roll induction in Cleveland will help put money into the pockets of waitresses, waiters, some downtown businesses and panhandlers.

 
Millions and millions of public dollars have gone into a private organization and for its mostly private parties for the elite and politicians.
 
So one hopes that the ordinary guy gets a little something out of it.
 
We’ve paid an enormous price so Sen. George Voinovich and his buddy Dick Pogue of Jones-Day can get some face time with the rockers.
 
Most people don’t know that millions of dollars every year from the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County go to the Rock and Roll Hall & Museum.
 
Most people don’t know that property taxes from Tower City – ah, yes that name again – are diverted from the city, county, city libraries - most important to the Cleveland School system – to pay for Rock Hall bonds. To give you an idea of how much money is being diverted every year I checked a few years ago. I found that between 1995 and 1998 more than $3 million of Tower City property taxes were diverted from the Cleveland schools to pay for the Rock Hall. The total diverted was $5 million. Such taxes will be paid until 2015.
 
 
The money went to pay $39 million in Port Authority bonds for the Rock Hall.
 
The Rock Hall started as at an estimated $28 million. It ended up costing a cool $93-million plus.
 
Then because Mayor Voinovich and Pogue, the leading elite of that time, wanted the Waterfront Line quickly to coincide with the Rock Hall opening, RTA built the line with local dollars alone. Seeking federal funds, which could have been as much as 80 percent of the total, would have required more time. So RTA used $69 million in local dollars from the County sales tax. The line, of course, operated so badly, with so few customers, that now it runs only for certain functions. A terrible waste of needed transit dollars.
 
In the late 1990s the cheer-leading Plain Dealer trumpeted the Rock Hall as another Renaissance piece of Cleveland’s Comeback:
 
There was no badmouthing the $93.3 million cost. No hand-wringing about scarce tax dollars diverted from the City of Cleveland, Cleveland schools, Cuyahoga County, city libraries, even the Port Authority, RTA and the State of Ohio. No distress that free city land was given or that the Rock Hall sits on the $8-million funded Inner Harbor that was meant for people access to the lake.
 
Hotel bed tax money, Cleveland admission taxes and County property taxes have been paying the bills for the Rock Hall. Cuyahoga County, always ready to give away your tax money, contributed outright another $5 million and the State of Ohio an $8 million grant. The Gund Foundation gave $1 million.
 
 
When then County Commissioner Mary Boyle was hesitant about the County’s $5 million share, her colleague, Tim Hagan arrogantly rebuked Boyle: “It isn’t your money; it’s public money,” he scolded. Tim believes he makes these decisions for the public good not to satisfy his elite corporate bosses.
  
Mayor Frank Jackson this year has gotten Hagan bug. Jackson contributed (as if it were his money, too) $1 million to this week’s Rock induction dinner. It’s from federal loan paybacks primarily from downtown developers who had used the money for 20 years without interest. It is money that should be used in Cleveland’s deeply declining neighborhoods.
 
It doesn’t matter to Hagan or Jackson that the music business is a multi-billion dollar business. The poorest should pay the price. Cleveland’s impoverished city provides dough for the fancy parties we’ll undoubtedly read about this week. The front page of the Pee Dee has already shifted from the hapless McFaul to the cheers for multi-million dollar entertainers.
 
Have fun if you can. You’re paying for it.
 
“What’s it going to take” to bring the dinner here, Jackson asked the New York people. I guess they said, “A million bucks more, mayor.” The city, according to the PD, also will add other in-kind help and provide security and clean-up presumably. Oh, yeah, the city put out $550,000 for an extensive renovation of Public Auditorium for the festivities.
 
The New York Rock Foundation has a large say in where the induction ceremonies are held. It’s usually not in Cleveland.
 
Of course, the big buyoff for the public to subsidize the Rock Hall was for jobs, just as it was for Gateway, as it is for the Med Mart & Convention Center and for casino gambling. We get JOBS!
 
 
The promise to City Council at the time was for between 21,000 and 27,000 new jobs with 10,000 to 13,500 for Cleveland residents. Well, these same suckers believe 28,000 for Gateway.
 
You must have notice the boom Cleveland has experienced since all those public investments were made.
 
Such bogus figures always accompany the desire for public money for private wheeler-dealers.
 
In the 1990s when I sought public tax returns from the publicly funded Rock Hall, I was told I couldn’t have Xerox copies (though I offered to pay). If I wanted to see the information I would have to sit in their offices and hand copy it. The law requires such non-profits to provide this information and most have the public responsibility to copy for reporters.
 
Presently, the Rock Hall IRS reports, as with other non-profits organizations, can be found on line at Guidestar website: (http://www.guidestar.org/).
 
You can tell why the executives at the Rock Hall were stingy with sharing information.
 
The 2007 return, latest filed by the Rock Hall, shows that its president and CEO Terry Stewart is paid $389,658 with a hefty retirement payment in 2007 of $60,637. That’s more than $450,000, similar to his income the prior year.
 
Nice work if you can get it. Pretty disgusting that it is supported by the children of the Cleveland school system.
 
In recent years, the Pee Dee reported on Saturday, the N. Y. Rock Hall, which usually requires the Induction in New York City “has been more receptive” to Cleveland, especially since Joel Peresman took over as president and CEO of the N. Y. Foundation in 2006.”
 
Got to be a trick here, right?
 
Peresman told the PD that the N. Y. foundation (The Rock Hall is the tail of New York) “is committed… to doing everything we can for the museum, not just financially, but spiritually, emotionally, marketing-wise, sponsorship-wise.” How nice.
 
The PD didn’t mention that the Cleveland Rock Hall pays him, according to the 2007 IRS return, Peresman $340,528. The N. Y. foundation paid him another $376,823, according to its 2008 report.
 
Is it any wonder he’s HIGH on Rock and Roll Halls of Fame?
 
Mr. Peresman, I’d suggest than that New York pay off the bonds that fund its Cleveland creature. That would be helpful. Also, that you don’t take money from Cleveland school children.
 
Otherwise, those nice words about Cleveland are simply empty words.
 
You wonder, would the Plain Dealer ever allow reporters to take a real look at the Rock Hall, what it has cost Cleveland. Get the public angry about the injustice of it? Would the PD stoke anger against our corporate elite as it does against easy targets as Gerry McFaul? Not likely.
 
It’s so much easier to tackle the penny ante political crooks instead of the politicians who give away millions and millions of dollars to their benefactors.
 
It should, of course, do both.
 
Our Rock Hall pays some other very fancy salaries for Cleveland’s standard of living, too.
 
Here are some of its executives and their annual pay: James Henke, v. p. exhibitions and curator: $187,957 with $35,734 in benefits; Christopher Dunworth, v. p. development: $161,430 with $45,405 in benefits; Todd Mesak v. p. sales/marketing: $92,825 with $22,032 in benefits; Diane Bond, senior finance director: $89,864 with $23,583 in benefits; Jacklyn Chisholm, v. p. institutional relations: $125,031 and $10,443 in benefits.
 
Indeed, the Rock Hall employed 22 people with salaries of more than $50,000 that year.
 
So you see the Rock Hall is helping the Cleveland economy.
 
But who’s paying most for it? Cleveland school children.
 
There’s a lot more interesting stuff on self-dealing by the board and losses on fund-raising. You can go to the 2007 return here: http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments//2007/341/520/2007-341520995-04a52b97-9.pdf
 
These reports are always revealing about how the elite and their servants live off the rest of us.
 
You can’t depend upon the Pee Dee to find out how Power works in Cleveland. They don’t cover that beat.
 
 
 

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A Museum? -- what a farce!

I have always felt that the Rock Hall & Museum was a disgrace for how little they do to produce original educational content. They should be having world class symposia with music innovators, publishing insightful exhibition catalogues, and producing inspiring film and distancing learning programs. The Rock Hall should be an exciting and unique assett to all sectors of education in Cleveland. Their collection, space and staff should be focused on education. I guess they are just too busy stealing money from Cleveland School children to pay for their fancy parties to do anything worthwhile.