Yesterday, Scene published a story about Edward Loomis, a former usher for the Cleveland Indians whose employment was terminated immediately after he wrote an email to his supervisor communicating his refusal to wear a pro-Issue 7 sticker as part of his uniform, as he was instructed to do on Opening Day. Issue 7, on the ballot in Cuyahoga County this May 6, is the proposed 20-year $260+ million sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes that the County’s business and political leaders (mostly Cleveland’s three pro sports owners) want to take from the County’s residents to use to pay for improvements to Cleveland’s three pro sports facilities.
“You will wear this or you will leave,” said Loomis’s supervisor of the Issue 7 sticker in front of approximately 40 of his co-workers, according to Loomis.
When reached for comment on the issue, the Indians, through their VP of Communications Curtis Danburg, said that they could not explain why Loomis was terminated other than to say that it had “nothing to do with” his refusal to wear the sticker. “All employees can voluntarily wear the sticker,” Danburg added, “but it is not a mandatory element of their uniform.”
Loomis then produced an employee instruction sheet from Opening Day that exposes Danburg’s statement as a lie.
Per Andrew Tobias at Cleveland.com, the instruction sheet, which is loaded with Issue 7 propaganda on “the critical importance of this campaign for the city,” states that: “An Issue 7 Keep Cleveland Strong sticker is part of your uniform. Place it chest high on your outermost layer.”
“Be sure you are wearing a name tag & an Issue 7 sticker on your outermost layer of clothing,” the document also states. “See your supervisor for both.”
Based on Tobias’s reporting and the limited view of the instruction sheet provided in a photo at Cleveland.com (also posted at right), the sheet does not state or even suggest that the sticker is a “non-mandatory” part of the uniform, and the instruction to “[b]e sure you are wearing … an issue 7 sticker” is not qualified in any way.
It’s bad enough that the Indians refuse to explain why they fired Loomis, if it wasn’t in fact for his refusal to wear the sticker. The bald-faced lie about the fact that he was required to wear the Issue 7 propaganda only makes it worse.
But no worse and certainly not inconsistent with the pro-sin tax “Keep Cleveland Strong” campaign as a whole. People with tremendously outsized power using threats, lies, and in the unfortunate case of Mr. Loomis, force, to ensure nothing as much as that they keep their tremendously outsized power while a city (and planet) rots around their shiny stadiums.
In related news, campaign finance reports were released yesterday showing that Keep Cleveland Strong, financed almost entirely by Cleveland’s three sports team owners, has already spent more than $1.9 million on its campaign, while the pair of opposition groups have raised approximately $41,500, combined. Belt Magazine’s Dan McGraw has the details here, including that “civic leaders who have made more than $1.7 million in annual salaries and who advocate that the taxpayers pay up $13 million a year for 20 years for sporting facilities whether they go to the games or not, have only donated $20 to [the pro-sin tax] cause.”
If you missed these related links in yesterday’s post:
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.”
And a Cool Cleveland editorial: “Lack of information alone is reason to vote against Issue 7.”
The fourth annual Cleveland Frowns NFL Draft party will be at Map Room on West 9th Street on Thursday May 8, starting at 6PM. More details will be posted over the weekend and Matt Borcas’s comprehensive 2014 Draft preview will run exclusively here on Wednesday, May 7.