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by Roldo Bartimole

(Plain Press, September 2017)     (As this was being written the biggest sell-out in Cleveland history and likely the most damaging one for a community activist group in America took place. The Greater Cleveland Congregations, just as Mayor Jackson, Kevin Kelley, Armond Budish, Dan Brady, and especially Congresswoman Marcia Fudge engineered—pulled a sellout by ignoring more than 20,000 signatures to a petition to stop a give-away of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County funds to a billionaire. Cleveland has distinguished itself once again by this backstabbing move. It sounds as though the County will ante up the dough for mental health facilities as part of the deal. What a bargain. —Roldo Bartimole)

It was announced this week that billionaire Dan Gilbert withdrew the plan to expand the Quicken Arena, mostly on the public dole. He’s worth $7.39 billion, according to Bloomberg News. He can’t pay his bills. He needs your help.

What a prince!

They are crying that the Q is now 22 years old as if that’s so old it needs to be replaced. I know that’s how you homeowners look at your house. Twenty-two, hell, how can we live in this dump?

City Hall—Mayor Frank “Failure” Jackson and Council President Kevin “Don’t Know What I’m Doing” Kelley—gave the middle finger to 20,000 Clevelanders who signed a petition distributed by the first activist grouping to hit Cleveland in decades. More than 13,000 were valid signatures.

Even the top corporates can’t depend upon these amateur politicians.

It shows what People Power can do with a little leadership.

The powers-that-be simply didn’t want voters to have an opportunity to voice an opinion on a matter they should have full rights to endorse or nix.

They want authoritarian government they can boss. It’s the Cleveland Corporate way.

And they surely didn’t want such a vote when Jackson was running for an ill-conceived fourth term. Same for those useless $80,000-a-year puppet City Council members. To say nothing of the part-time jokers at the County.

Of course in a weepy three-page letter the Cavaliers cite “strong leadership” of County Executive (and bungler) Armond Budish, County Council, prez Dan “Traitor” Brady, and the clumsy Cleveland mayor and Council President.

They got their asses kicked by citizen groups.

The letter should be a Harvard Business School model of how NOT to complain when you get your ass whipped.

The letter is so self-pitying and childish that it stoops to referring to the major groups that led the fight against their money-grab as “a group calling themselves the ‘Greater Cleveland Congregations’.”

No. It is the Greater Cleveland Congregations! It is its name.

Such pettiness from a major league franchise. Public relations, not.

And further disgustingly, the Plain Dealer—which should inform the citizenry of its First Amendment rights—played along with the charade all the way. The First Amendment is wasted on this similarly petty crew.

Now we await the next gimmick to put tens of millions of dollars into Gilbert’s dirty hands. Stay tuned. (See above, already happened.)

In a three-page shoddy howl of lies, half-truths and fantasy, the Cavaliers have the nerve to make obviously false claims.

They claim: “Co-funded along with the Indians 100 percent of their landlord Gateway Economic Corporation’s expenses, including all property taxes related to the Q.”

Easily shown to be untrue.

Yes, they do cover the operating expenses. But they “forgot” a little matter of the two sports facilities lucrative naming rights. In exchange, the two teams took the naming right on both facilities.

And claiming to pay property taxes and not mentioning that both Progressive Field and Quicken Arena, other than the land, pay NO property taxes on the buildings. Never have. Never will. NEVER.

Obfuscation or outright lie? I’d call it a purposeful lie.

“There were no new or increased taxes related to the project,” they claim.

Truth is that there is a hefty shift of taxes, especially from the city.

Presently, the County and city admission taxes make up a huge subsidy.

It totals an amazing extra $150-million plus on arena bonds. And the payments continue until 2023. So likely the public will pay more than $200 million. Must have overlooked this. That’s why the new proposed bonds wouldn’t start being paid until 2024. Here are the payments, according to County records.

Some years ago I told PD editor Chris Quinn of these payments. He did have a reporter, Laura Johnston, file a report for that particular year in a front-page article. Then, of course, Quinn and the PD never followed these payments which are made every Jan. 15. Neglect?

Gilbert promised, as part of the deal, apparently to not move the Cavs franchise. However, with its value worth more than three times what he paid for it, Gilbert could sell the team at a huge profit and the next owner could move. Nice try, Dan.

And his record is that he doesn’t do what he promises as shown by the gambling interest at the old downtown department store. He was supposed to build a new building, as promised, but not a shovel of dirt has been moved. Nor will it.

And for all the bluster about how much Gilbert does for us, he never mentioned what we do for him beyond the $150 million bond payments noted above.

The County gave me this account of the amount spent on Quicken arena this year—$20 million as the chart shows from sin tax money.


Quicken Arena/Sin Tax Spent



What continually goes unsaid is the voters here have extended the sin tax for another 20 years. That means another $260 million tax dollars and Gilbert will be in line for one-third of that stash.

It had the second highest attendance in 2016, latest available at 843,042, slightly behind the Warriors.

Latest figures show each fan spends an average of $81 in addition to the price of a ticket. With attendance of 843,032 that’s revenue of some $672 million.

Gate receipts are put at $52 million. Not to mention how much they received as a visiting team for half the season’s games.

So the arena alone provides them with more than $100 million—tickets, trinkets and food.

More revenue comes from sponsorship deals with Kia Motors and FanDuel and Forbes says Sports Ohio revenue was up “an astounding 172 percent.

Now to be fair, the Cavs spend a lot on LeBron and his teammates so they have to pay a fine to the league. That results (how we don’t know—maybe how much he pays himself) a recent $40 million annual loss.

The team, which he bought for $375 million, is now worth $1.2 billion so don’t cry for Danny.

If you trust a mortgage loan billionaire, you’d trust the devil himself.

Editor’s Note: This article was first published online on August 31st, 2017 by Have Coffee Will Write. To view more articles by Roldo Bartimole visit:


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