Opinion: Voting “No” on Issue 7 Is the Best Way to Keep Cleveland Actually Strong

Separating Fact From Fiction With Issue 7

Author’s note: the following is a slighty-modified version of a column scheduled to appear in The Gavel, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law’s independent student newspaper, and does not necessarily reflect the views of  Wahoo’s on First or its staff, Fansided or its partners, or anyone other than the author. 


Every time I see propaganda from the Keep Cleveland Strong campaign, I laugh a little. After my laughter, I get angry.

I laugh because the name is a complete misnomer to what the campaign actually stands for: passing Issue 7, an extension of the Sin Tax on cigarettes and alcohol, which in theory, would reimburse Cuyahoga County for updates and repairs to the stadiums of the three professional sports teams in town (along with more tacked-on public subsidies, including the Parking Tax, Bed Tax, Video Game Tax and Property Tax exemption, though these are not on the ballot with Issue 7).

issue 7

Yes, or No? Both sides of the issue present very compelling arguments. Before you vote, separate fact from fiction.

I get angry because an extension of the Sin Tax does anything but keep Cleveland strong. The marketing blitz (which you will see at any event in Quicken Loans Arena or Progressive Field until May 6; FirstEnergy Stadium does not appear to have any events until the NFL returns in August) feeds upon Clevelanders passion for their pro sports teams, and offers very little in terms of actual facts. Extending the Sin Tax will not keep Cleveland strong – if anything it will keep this city enslaved and committed to three professional sports teams more interested in their businesses’ bottom lines than having an economically healthy City of Cleveland.

Those who support the Sin Tax (often connected in some way with one of the teams) frequently cite the city’s obligations to finance the stadiums, yet there’s been no public record of how this money (an estimated $1 billion in taxpayer dollars since first enacted in 1994) has actually been used for the stadiums, or even what the obligations of the city actually are. These supporters ignore that no one – even those of us who oppose Issue 7 – is claiming the city should neglect these obligations completely, and also ignore how the owners continue to profit from stadiums supposedly owned by the public (such as Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s pocketing of a $100 million dollar sale of the naming rights to former-Cleveland Browns Stadium). There are other alternatives to fund these stadiums, ones that wouldn’t fall squarely on the already-burdened Cuyahoga County residents. I would encourage all voters to visit www.noclevelandsintax.com for a more in-depth look at a few of the alternatives.

One threat the Keep Cleveland Strong brass loves to insinuate is that if Issue 7 fails, Cleveland could lose one or more of its professional sports teams. This is an outright lie, at least as they spin it; voting “no” on Issue 7 will force the teams and the city back to the negotiating table to work on a fair deal for BOTH sides, and not use parameters from a lease hastily signed over 20 years ago. It’s also worth noting Issue 7 extends for 20 years – none of the sports teams’ leases go longer than 15 years. If one of the teams leaves Cleveland, it’s because the city leaders have failed to make Cleveland economically viable for all, not just the rich.

If you love Cleveland, please vote “no” on Issue 7 this May. If you love Cleveland sports, please vote “no” on Issue 7 this May. If you want to live, work and play in an economically-healthy and strong Cleveland, voting “no” on the Sin Tax is the BEST way to keep Cleveland strong.

[Editor's Note: Making any important voting decision comes down to having all the facts. While Ed has presented why you should vote "No" on Issue 7 and the link for the Coalition Against the Sin Tax, I feel it is important to provide you with the opportunity to review both sides. With that said, you can review Keep Cleveland Strong's information by visiting www.keepclevelandstrong.com.]

Should Issue 7, a proposed 20-year extension of the Sin Tax on Cuyahoga County residents, Pass?

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  • Joe Bialek

    This issue is the absurdity of absurdities. Let me get this straight: the purpose of the Sin Tax is to gouge those who purchase alcohol and cigarettes not because anyone is trying to discourage consumption but rather so the County can use that money to pay for sports stadiums that do not produce anything but a fleeting moment witnessing the passing of a football, the dribbling of a basketball and the throwing of a baseball so that such a minute tidbit of diversion can be enjoyed by all. The stupidity of this proposition is enough to make your head spin even though the spin doctors advocating passage of this nonsense are already doing a pretty good job of hypnotizing the voters to actually consider supporting it. At least the Robber Barons of the previous centuries provided something tangible such as oil, steel, railroads etcetera. These team owners do not even provide one tangible thing that could ever be considered with the term “value added.” Almost everyone discusses this “enterprise” as though it is the same thing as industry {which it is not}. The price of admission is essentially a voluntary tax paid by those who can afford it to pay those who don’t need it. If this isn’t a transfer of wealth I don’t know what is

    The real outrage here is the fact that taxes on alcohol and cigarettes will not be used to aid in the reduction of addiction {hence the reference to “sin”} but rather to stuff the pockets of all three teams who could easily afford to pay for the repairs themselves. The vote was rammed through the last time {under somewhat suspicious circumstances} and hear we go again. But this time…not so fast!!! We the voters of Cuyahoga County are going to fight the proponents on this one and we don’t care if the teams up and go somewhere else {please see my views on entertainment below} because quite frankly there are simply more important things than sports and the unearned money that comes with it. Those in public office who are too stupid and lazy to find other ways to grow a major American city need to resign and leave their self-seeking political ambitions on the scrapheap of history. Don’t ever let it be said that this was time when the tide ran out on Cuyahoga County but rather was the time when the voters rose up to welcome the rising tide of change and rebuked this pathetic paradigm our previous elected leaders embraced. Let the battle be joined.

    And now to the real underlying issue at hand:

    One of the most disturbing facts about our capitalist nation is the misappropriation of funds directed to the salaries of entertainers. Everyone should agree that the value an athlete, movie star, talk-show host, team-owner, etcetera brings to the average citizen is very small. Granted, they do offer a minuscule of diversion from our daily trials and tribulations as did the jesters in the king’s court during the middle ages. But to allow these entertainers to horde such great amounts of wealth at the expense of more benevolent societal programs is unacceptable. They do not provide a product or a service so why are they rewarded as such?

    Our society is also subjected to the “profound wisdom” of these people because it equates wealth with influence. Perhaps a solution to this problem and a alternative to defeated school levies, crumbling infrastructures, as well as all the programs established to help feed, clothe and shelter those who cannot help themselves would be to tax this undeserved wealth. Entertainers could keep 1% of the gross earnings reaped from their endeavor and 99% could be deposited into the public coffers.

    The old ideas of the redistribution of wealth have failed, and it is time to adapt to modern-day preferences. People put their money into entertainment above everything else; isn’t it time to tap that wealth? Does anyone think this will reduce the quality of entertainment? It seems to me that when entertainers received less income, the quality was much higher.

    • http://www.wahoosonfirst.com/ Brian Heise

      You sir have won the internet for today and get a standing ovation. That might be the longest and most well thought out and well formulated comment/argument I have ever read in the year I have managed this site. Bravo.