Cuyahoga county sinners pay so 34 other counties can listen to Indians baseball

I was excited to be listening to the Indians open the season late Monday night against Oakland. Lately, I have been extremely busy and was looking forward to sitting back and listening to the game. Masterson pitched well for Cleveland, and I thought there would be nothing to worry about if we could put a few runs on the board. Then, just as I was starting to relax I hear Tom Hamilton, the best announcer in sports, telling me to “Keep Cleveland strong by voting yes on Issue 7.” My blood pressure shot through the roof.

Cuyahoga sinners pay so 34 other counties can listen to Indians baseball.
Issue 7 is the “sin tax” that is charged to Cuyahoga county residents on alcohol and tobacco to fund the Indians, Browns, and Cavs stadiums.  Why did my blood pressure shoot up? Because taxpayers have  already contributed about $1 billion in 2010 dollars to build and maintain the three facilities. In addition, this is an early extension on a tax that does not expire until 2015. Hamilton neglected to mention this – we can “keep Cleveland strong” until 2015 with no tax renewal. Furthermore, team owners have not been transparent in their plans for the estimated $260 million from the sin tax, but have mentioned new scoreboards to “increase fan experience” (though mostly will be used to sell ads and generate revenue for the teams). I don’t think I should have to listen to a sports announcer telling me how to vote, especially when I already when I already support the team by going to games (I am now reconsidering buying any tickets this year – thanks again, Hamilton). Furthermore, the majority of the stations that are broadcasting Tom Hamilton will not even have to pay or vote on the sin tax (see map above). Maybe Hamilton should stick to what he is good at and call a game instead of talking politics.

The whole sin tax is ludicrous, the teams have some of the cheapest leases in the country, pay no taxes, and make all the money while county residents are forced to pay for maintenance of the stadiums. We have paid enough corporate welfare in Cleveland and there are much better uses for $260 million dollars. Keep in mind that Greater Cleveland Partnership, the local chamber of commerce, are the same people behind the controversial $331 Opportunity Corridor project. GCP has lied about the sin tax in the past, similar to when they told residents that the Opportunity Corridor would create 10,000 jobs even though the city estimated only 1,600. GCP is now encouraging young professionals to vote yes by buying them drinks – a seedy way to buy votes. Also, GCP has stacked the room with only pro-sinners in recent debates – another low move. Overall, GCP has not been transparent and should not be trusted with any public funding until a process is in place to hold them accountable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Cleveland fan, but I’m with Trevor Elkins, the Mayor of Newburgh Heights. Elkins was the only mayor to vote against supporting the sin tax. He is a huge Indians fan, but he’s also a fan of transparency and open dialog. Elkins told the Cleveland Scene, “I knew I’d be in the minority [but] I didn’t think I’d be that in the minority.” And that is the issue in itself, why is there not more dialog about the sin tax? Why can’t the teams at least give an itemized budget of what they are asking for? Why are we being told we have to vote yes with little discussion when the tax doesn’t even expire until 2015? Why should Cuyahoga residents pay for a stadium so that 34 other counties can be entertained? Cleveland constitutes about one third of the Cuyahoga county’s population, and median household income is only $14,290. If taxes are going to be extended to fund sports facilities, why does only one county have to pay? The Coalition Against the Sin Tax (CAST) has used Denver as an example of a better solution. Denver has a similar sized Downtown as well as three pro-sports facilities, in which nearby counties pay a small sales tax. If GCP wants to promote “regionalism,” they should include the whole region. The Indians should also refrain from discussing the issue on the Indians Radio Network, especially since the majority of stations are located in counties that do not pay the sin tax and will not vote on it (see below). The sin tax needs to be reevaluated and does not expire until 2015, because of this consider voting NO on issue 7.

Indians Radio Network

Station City Frequency County Pays Sin Tax
WTAM-AM Cleveland, OH AM 1100 Cuyahoga YES
WMMS-FM Cleveland, OH 100.7 FM Cuyahoga YES
WAKR-AM Akron, OH AM 1590 Summit NO
WFUN-AM Ashtabula, OH AM 970 Ashtabula NO
WBLL-AM Bellefontaine, OH AM 1390 Logan NO
WHBC-AM Canton, OH AM 1480 Stark NO
WBNS-AM Columbus, OH AM 1460 Franklin, Delaware, Fairfield NO
WDLR-AM Delaware, OH AM 1550 Delaware NO
WEOL-AM Elyria, OH AM 930 Lorain NO
WFIN-AM Findlay, OH AM 1330 Hancock NO
WFOB-AM Fostoria, OH AM 1430 Seneca, Hancock, Wood NO
WLOH-AM Lancaster, OH AM 1320 Fairfield NO
WMAN-AM Mansfield, OH AM 1400 Richland NO
WMRN-AM Marion, OH AM 1490 Marion NO
WMVO-AM Mount Vernon, OH AM 1300 Knox NO
WCLT-AM Newark, OH AM 1430 Licking NO
WBKC-AM Painesville, OH AM 1460 Lake NO
WLEC-AM Sandusky, OH AM 1450 Erie NO
WSPD-AM Toledo, OH AM 1370 Lucas NO
WBTC-AM Uhrichsville, OH AM 1540 Tuscarawas NO
WKBN-AM Youngstown, OH AM 570 Mahoning, Trumbull NO
WBNV-FM Barnesville, OH 93.5 FM Belmont NO
WBNO-FM Bryan, OH 100.9 FM Williams NO
WQEL-FM Bucyrus, OH 92.7 FM Crawford NO
WDOH-FM Delphos, OH 107.1 FM Allen, Van Wert NO
WWSR-FM Lima, OH 93.1 FM Allen NO
WJAW-FM McConnelsville, OH 100.9 FM Morgan NO
WLKR-FM Norwalk, OH 95.3 FM Huron NO
WQKT-FM Wooster, OH 104.5 FM Wayne NO
WRIE-AM Erie, PA AM 1260 Erie Pennsylvania NO


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