For some quick history, Cuyahoga County voters approved a tax on tobacco and alcohol products almost 20 years ago. It was due to expire soon, so in December the county decided to put its renewal back on the ballot to pay for repairs and updates for Cleveland’s three major sports facilities, used by the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. The measure passed last May.
Instead of allocating the money raised according to the needs of each facility, Ed Fitzgerald proposed what he calls the “win tax”, which would allocate a portion of the money based on how the teams perform on the field.
Yes, he’s serious. He even wants to appoint a “fan council” to determine the formula by which this would take place.
He even called called using an even distribution of the money “distribution for dummies”. The problem is, that’s exactly the proposal favored by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, a fellow Democrat.
I think Fitzgerald expected this to be so popular, that he didn’t realize just how stupid it is. He probably thought that this would be the lynch pin to locking down those important Cuyahoga County votes that Ted Strickland failed to get in 2010.
“I know! I’ll capitalize on Cleveland sports misery and tell the fans that I know how to deliver a championship!” He actually is proposing this measure as the answer to Cleveland sports fans’ dreams.
Instead, Fitz has made an epic faceplant.
First, he called the mayor, a fellow Democrat who has endorsed him for governor, a dummy. Way to go, Ed.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership, which is Cleveland’s Chamber of Commerce and who helped sell the sin tax renewal to the voters, said they don’t back the proposal.
“Team performance on the field was not an issue presented by the campaign to the voters. We know the teams want to do well on the field, and we don’t want any of these publicly owned buildings to fail to receive adequate funding for much-needed repairs,” Roman said.
It seems County Council, who apparently was not briefed on the plan, thinks it’s a horrible idea too, per Andrew Tobias of the Plain Dealer.
So final tally: I reached out to 7 County/city elected officials today. 5 oppose @EdFitzGeraldCE's win tax plan, 2 decline to comment.
— Andrew J. Tobias (@AndrewJTobias) June 5, 2014
Then, the editorial board of the Plain Dealer weighed in. 5 of the 6 agree that the idea is absurd. Look at some of these comments.
How about just figuring out which facility needs what from year to year and making a sensible priority list? I know: not political enough.
With all due respect, the two words that come to mind about this proposal are “publicity stunt.”
A fan advisory committee? Extra construction money for winning teams? Really? This sounds like a “Saturday Night Live” skit and it’s just about comical.
This is a laughably bad idea that underscores how politically opportunistic — and tone deaf — FitzGerald is.
When Jimmy Haslam, Dan Gilbert or the Dolans decide to spend money on free agents, they aren’t going to factor in the possibility of getting new carpeting or improved toilets in their respective venues down the road.
This one is the icing on the cake, though. From arguably the most liberal member of the editorial board, Sharon Broussard:
But here’s the sad part: I am losing heart nearly every time FitzGerald opens his mouth these days.
Of course, we have been saying this all along. Ed Fitzgerald is an incompetent, overambitious amateur who is not fit to run this state. He hasn’t even shown that he can manage a competent campaign. He vetted this idea about as well as he vetted his first running mate.
Ed Fitzgerald is such a leader on this issue, that for six months, he said nothing about the sin tax renewal for fear it might hurt him politically. He used his own signature to put it on the ballot and then said nary a word about it. That, my friends, is cowardice.
And now he wants to come riding in to use it in some ridiculous publicity stunt and present himself as the hero who’s finally standing up and delivering a winner for Cleveland sports fans?
Looks like Ed’s proposal is only taxing his chances of a win this November.