It was like a bad dream. What was? The Ch. 20 viewing of some six hours of almost meaningless discussion of the city council's give-away of millions of dollars to Dan Gilbert and his Quicken Arena gang. As if he needs it.

I've seen this movie before. Too many times. Up close. This time it was another skimming of city taxes for a sports team. Nothing unusual here, folks. Look the other way. Keep walking. Council Chairman Tony Brancatelli proved to be as weak and unresponsive a chair as typical as he allowed testimony by the establishment's front-men Fred Nance of Squire-Sanders and finance front-man (who had quickly quit Gateway to suggest clean hands) Tim Offtermatt of Stifel Nicolaus, and Cavs Caveman Len Komoroski. He was overseen by Council President Kevin Kelley, who put on a feeble show and left early. Here's Offtermatt's take and bias on the last Gateway heist from his mouth:

The Cavaliers would have legal leeway to break their leases with the county and city, said Tim Offtermatt, chairman of Gateway Corp., the nonprofit that acts as landlord for the teams' stadiums. He changes hats when there's dough to be made and schemes to peddle.

Always the threats. Earlier in the meeting---what I guess was supposed to be public comment---was limited and allowed a self-interested labor leader and a known front for minority construction hiring to share time with two actual community people. What was so noticeable---except to the ill-observant Brancatelli---was the constant attempt to divert what the Greater Cleveland Congregation spokesperson Pastor Richard Gibson of the Elizabeth Baptist Church. The GCC is a coalition of church/community people organized to try to bring some participation in government by citizens. Obviously seen as dangerous by Council leadership. They sought some balance in government concern. Rev. Gibson had to continually correct the council about what he was saying. That kept trying to divert him elsewhere. He stood his ground. What was particularly difficult to watch was that this spectacle was being pursued a day after the anniversary of the assassinating of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was in Memphis where he was gunned down 49 years. He was there supporting striking sanitation workers. Gibson was pleading for similar treatment for Cleveland's impoverished neighborhoods as was being given the glamorous Q. Neither was asking much. Does 50 years erase so much? The day should have had exceptional meaning to black participants. But it certainly didn't seem to break through. Like it never happened. I'd suggest you go to Sam Allard's coverage in the Cleveland Scene for more details. But the receipts from 2016 on OTHER, OLDER Quicken Arena bonds give you an insight in how this game works. Marked "Gateway Arena Project Funding 2016" this document from Cuyahoga County tells the story of how in 2016 the city admission taxes for the arena bonds totaled $5,473,930. That's a lot of money. Here is the data of how much admission taxes from events and games at the Q were diverted from the city's general fund in 2016. Instead of going to the city for police, street repair, garbage pickup or hundreds of other city tasks it went to pay Cavalier bills from the 1990. It will continue this way until December, 2023. Thereafter, if Council votes as expected the city receipts will go to pay for new Quicken bonds used to EXPAND the Q not dress it up. The figures represent admission taxes by month for either games or events:

  • Jan 29 2016---$357,861.24 25% of admission tax for "events" for Dec. 2015
  • Jan 29 2016---$298,096.26 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Dec. 2015
  • Feb 26 2016---$132,752.02 25% of admission tax for "events" for Jan. 2016
  • Feb 26 2016---$426,444.47 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Jan. 2016
  • Mar 29 2016---$178,678.31 25% of admission tax for "events" for Feb. 2016
  • Mar 29 2016---$248,147.82 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Feb. 2016
  • Apr 28 2015---$39,335.51 25% of admission tax for "events" for Mar. 2016
  • Apr 28 2015---$184,883.19 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Mar. 2016
  • May 26 2016---$274,279.89 25% of admission tax for "events" for Apr. 2016
  • May 26 2016---$162,161.37 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Apr. 2016
  • Jul 01 2016---$77,044.07 25% of admission tax for "events" for May. 2016
  • Jul 01 2016---$452,532.51 5/8ths of Games admission tax for May. 2016
  • Jul 28 2016---$233,437.72 25% of admission tax for "events" for Jun. 2016
  • Jul 28 2016---$591,596.39 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Jun. 2016
  • Aug 26 2016---$47,832.00 25% of admission tax for "events" for Jul. 2016
  • Sep 28 2016---$69,896.03 25% of admission tax for "events" for Aug. 2016
  • Nov 03 2016---$1,468,783.00 Annual Incremental Bed Tax Payment 2015
  • Oct 28 2016---$183,927.52 25% of admission tax for "events" for Sep. 2016
  • Nov 29 2016---$251,832.73 25% of admission tax for "events" for Oct. 2016
  • Nov 29 2016---$478,607.49 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Oct. 2016
  • Dec 29 2016---$303,271.66 25% of admission tax for "events" for Nov. 2016
  • Dec 29 2016---$481,311.81 5/8ths of Games admission tax for Nov. 2016

2016 Revenue:

  • Admissions (Games/Events) Tax $5,473,930.01 (Total for 2016)
  • Excess Bed Tax from CVB $1,468,783.00
  • Total Revenue Collections $6,942,713.01

As I have said, these collections will continue through Dec., 2023. In other words, 2017-2023, another seven years, then they will shift to the new bonds to be passed by council next Monday. The gift flow that never ends. First published by Have Coffee Will Write on 6 March. Also by Roldo Bartimole...

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