by Roldo Bartimole

     Who sez we need a massive land bridge from the Mall to the lakefront? Steve Litt?

     There is one of the biggest corrupt schemes in the works to provide an easy access to lakefront land. This rivals the Chagrin Highlands dealing in dirty politics.

     Mayor Justin Bibb has legislation ready to create another body that escapes the public scrutiny required and allows elected officials to hide off in the dark.

     It’s the North Coast Development Authority. We can expect all the openness and honesty we get from the Gateway Economic Development Corp. Total PR only.


     Bibb and County Executive Chris Roynane are aboard with the guidance of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the shadow government that propels public investment that propels private interests. Can the Cleveland and Gund Foundations be far behind.

     Council President Blaine Griffin is all for it and brings along a mostly pliant city council.

     First in line will be Tennessee oligarchs Dee and Jimmy Haslam, owners of the Browns. They relish taking over the entire lakefront for private development.

     Downtown councilman Kerry McCormack is already all for it. It never seems to change.

     You know how well this has been greased—not only from Litt’s typical glowing words—but the State of Ohio as I’m writing has proposed $62 million toward the “land bridge.” And the PD reported noted that the state pols couldn’t say who proposed this little gift. (Will someone check the Haslam’s political contribution.)

It is so typical of our Cleveland politicians. They bend so easily.

     With no seemingly even somewhat reasonable reason, the lakefront dealing quickly—with the help of the PD and Litt—is put on the front burner.

     It is something that MUST BE DONE. NOW. QUICKLY. Don’t look!

     So, no one takes a clear eye view and asks WHY?

     I’ve been reading a book—by Matthew Desmond “Poverty by America.” Not Poverty IN America but BY. And he makes a very strong case that nationally our government rewards the wealthy and burdens the poor. He makes the case that we reward the rich at the expense of the poor.

     The rush to serve the Haslams is a perfect example of how it works on the local level. Forget the real needs of the community; serve the desires of the oligarch interlopers. This has been going on for as long—some 55 years—as I’ve been reporting here.

     This will rival the Chagrin-Highlands as corrupting deal-making. The Haslams also want a renewed Browns football stadium.

The stadium deal shows how generous the city and its politicians are to these homegrown oligarchs. Cleveland charges the Haslams $250,000 a year rent. The City of Cleveland must pay the property taxes on the stadium land. We have to remember that our retired officials—Mayor Michael White and County Commissioner Tim Hagan—went to Columbus where with Republican legislators in command, relieved ALL from paying any property tax on the structures. (The County now doesn’t even list the property value for the public to determine how much of a gift-giving it is annually.

     However, the City of Cleveland, which charges $250,000 in rent, pays this year $796,202.08 in property taxes on the land. Now what landlord do you know that charges one-third of what is paid for only property taxes? Oh yes, the game is rigged.

     As of this year the three sports facilities, worth at least $100 million each, have paid NO PROPERTY TAXES for 26 years. It would be a tidy sum, if the County listed the value of the exempted facilities I’d know. However, you can bet that the figure is close to or more than a half BILLION dollars in property taxes not paid. For 26 years and growing.

     And worse, the taxes to pay for them are regressive sales taxes. And worse still, the promoters—White and Hagan most prominent in promos—pictured happy children who were to enjoy the benefits of the property taxes. The pols in 1990 promised NO TAX ABATEMENT. But they dishonestly went for TAX EXEMPTION.

     This is exactly how we get poverty BY—our elected officials.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the online blog “Have Coffee Will Write


  1. Arthur Hargate

    Exactly right, and well said. Poverty is a policy choice, and “leaders” in NE Ohio continue to choose to keep poor people poor while encouraging the posh, powerful and privileged to gorge themselves at the overflowing public money trough. “Public-private partnership” means one thing: public money is being used to grow private fortunes.

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