Yesterday I appeared on WCPN’s Sound of Ideas for a discussion of the sin tax/Issue 7 with Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley and guest phone appearances by Cleveland Journalism Hall of Famer Roldo Bartimole, and Kent Whitley who was nominally representing the NAACP. We covered a lot of ground over the course of what was a 48-minute discussion, and the bankruptcy of the pro-sin tax “Keep Cleveland Strong” campaign’s position was effectively revealed. Video and audio of the program is available here, both to stream, and download via mp3. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, I recommend at least listening to the opening statements on both sides of the issue delivered by Councilman Kelley and me in the first few minutes of the program.
I also recommend checking out this short piece by Eric Sandy at Scene, featuring a 59-second excerpt of the discussion, titled “Here’s One Minute of Dialogue That Encapsulates the Real Sin Tax Debate Perfectly.”
“There have been plenty of news stories from all sorts of sources in the Cleveland area (most of whom are on record as openly supporting Issue 7),” Sandy writes, “though few reports home in on the argument brought to light here.”
What I didn’t have a chance to address on the program that I’d like to address here are the comments of Mr. Whitley, nominally on behalf of the NAACP in support of Issue 7. Had I been given some time to do so on the air, I would have pointed out that the membership of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP did not have a chance to vote on whether to endorse the Issue, but that the endorsement was decided upon behind closed doors by a small group of executives. I might have also pointed out that Mr. Whitley is the only NAACP member who has put his name anywhere near this endorsement, with Cleveland NAACP President Reverend Hilton Smith remaining conspicuously silent on the issue. Mr. Whitley is the owner of an architecture firm based in Cleveland that has solicited contracts for sports arenas in the past, including Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. Several members of the Coalition Against the Sin Tax are also members of the NAACP, and have expressed in no uncertain terms their belief that Cleveland NAACP leadership has failed to represent its members on this issue. This view is well represented by a letter to Reverend Smith by Cleveland NAACP member James Hammons, the text of which is available here.
The Coalition Against the Sin Tax need volunteers to put boots on the ground over the next few days for the final push through election day. Please call or email Erin McCardle at (216) 450-7574 and firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help. Thanks.