C.A.S.T. moves forward with alternative to sin tax, introduces plan for November ballot initiative in the City of Cleveland

by Cleveland Frowns on April 24, 2014

On Thursday, April 24th, members of the Coalition Against the Sin Tax (CAST) formally introduced the next step in the implementation of a preferable alternative to the Sin Tax put forward by proponents of Issue 7 in Cuyahoga County, OH. A Committee of the Petitioners, as allowed under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the City of Cleveland introduced a ballot issue initiative on behalf of the electors of the City of Cleveland on the steps of Cleveland City Hall, 501 Lakeside Avenue.

The CAST members have presented a plan to collect the required 5,000 signatures and submit the ordinance to the Clerk of Cleveland City Council for a citizen’s initiative to be placed on the ballot in the November 4th 2014 General Election.

Alan Glazen a retired business leader, Cleveland resident and member of the Coalition against the Sin Tax, said, “It’s unfortunate that both Mayor Frank Jackson as well as Council President Kevin Kelley forget that our city government has a home-rule charter that allows for a ballot initiative by citizens to introduce their own legislation.” He continued, “We intend to ask the voters if a fair-share Facility Fee instead of a regressive and unfair Sin Tax should be applied to each ticket to a for-profit game, concert or other event at Quicken Loans Arena, First Energy Stadium and Progressive Field.”

A copy of the proposed ballot initiative and Cleveland Code of Ordinances language is available here and embedded below.

And here are a few good reads on Issue 7 and the Sin Tax that have been published recently:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Kay Johnston covers the Cuyahoga County Sin Tax issue at Newsweek: “Wealthy Sports Team Owners Want Taxbreaks to Go on Forever

Cleveland Magazine’s Eric Trickey writes about how “We don’t know how sin tax money will be spent,” pointing out that “our elected officials would rather present a united front to get the tax passed, then argue about the messy details later.”

Finally, a Cool Cleveland editorial: “Lack of information alone is reason to vote against Issue 7.”

“The pro-sin tax campaign’s instantaneous and over-the-top attack on the “FairShare” proposal made by the grassroots anti-sin tax coalition — to raise the money via a $3.25 facility fee on each sports event ticket instead of a sin tax — and refusal to consider it at all is interesting,” Cool Cleveland writes, “because it’s so out of proportion to a reasonable proposal made by a group with much less money, media, and power than the renewal campaign.”

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    NAACP member James Hammons emailed CAST his letter to Hilton Smith, Cleveland NAACP President.

    Dear Mr. Hilton Smith,

    I am writing this letter in the wake of your decision to endorse Issue 7. I am greatly disappointed and outraged. The NAACP has historically never been influenced by politics. This organization used to make decisions in the best interest of African Americans. Now you have decided to endorse an issue that we as African Americans cannot profit from, benefit from or enjoy. There is absolutely nothing positive about this issue for African Americans.

    I heard your reasoning on television and it was absurd. You believe these rich people will give us low line jobs such as pop corn sales and maybe just maybe some marketing jobs. Lets do the math. Suppose they give us 50 pop corn jobs per facility. That is 150 low line jobs that nobody will be supporting a family off of. They are seasonal jobs at best. And they never guaranteed the higher jobs. Cuyahoga County is 29.7% African American. That is about 400,000 people.

    Mr. Smith, you and the NAACP sold out 400,000 African Americans for maybe 150 low line seasonal jobs. You and the NAACP sold out 400,000 African American people for a project they will not use, benefit from or profit from. Can you honestly tell me your decision was made in the best interest of the 400,000 African Americans in this county?

    I am outraged over your decision. If you wish to debate this issue public I am always available. You truly need to reconsider your decision. The community that can afford to patronize these facilities can also afford to pay three dollars more per ticket to subsidize Issue 7. This is not for us and you know it. Shame on you.

    You need to remember who you represent, those that cannot speak for themselves. Let your conscience be your guide and not your pocket.

    I think your decision was made in the best interest of Hilton Smith and his political statue and padded pockets. You owe the African American community an apology.

    Final question, what would Jesus do?

    James Hammons

  • 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.

  • nj0

    So Cleveland is the second poorest large city in the nation and those in favor of the status quo decided to go with “Keep Cleveland Strong”? Methinks one of those three words need to be changed.

  • Hopwin

    What are the requirements for the 5000 signatures? Ohio Voters, Cuyahoga Voters or Cleveland Voters?

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      City of Cleveland voters.

Previous post:

Next post: