Whatever happened to regionalism?
If you been studying Cuyahoga County's attempts to extend the sin tax for another 20 years, you have to conclude that regionalism has lost its sex appeal.
Back in 1990 the residents of Cuyahoga County decided that every time you buy a pack of cigarettes, you should pay an additional 4.5 cents in order to support the construction of the Indians Stadium and the Cavaliers arena. In addition, extra fees were lopped onto the purchase of beer, wine, and hard liquor. By the way, the sin tax on 1 gallon of hard liquor is a whopping three dollars.
Since its passage, $350 million has been raised for those glorious sports palaces.
The new sin tax extension will generate approximately $260 million and will be applied to the Q, Progressive Field, and FirstEnergy Stadium, the Cleveland Browns facility being a newly added beneficiary of your smoking and drinking in Cuyahoga County.
Here's my problem.
The presence of the sports teams makes for better quality of life and helps us to attract business activity in the entire region of Northeast Ohio.
There are six counties that are contiguous to Cuyahoga County: Lake, Geauga, Medina, Portage, Summit, and Lorain.
They benefit from and use the sports facilities just as much as those from Cuyahoga County do.
As a matter of fact, it's no secret that the lion's share of wealth in Northeast Ohio lies outside of Cuyahoga County in the six counties I just identified where people of greater means live in luxurious housing developments far from the crime of the central city in Cleveland.
It's only fair that those that derive the greatest benefit from the sin tax should share in paying it.
Here's another way of restating my proposition.
Poor people and others who live in lower income areas are paying a higher cost for cigarettes and alcohol than wealthy folks who are the ones most likely to enjoy the benefits of the Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians.
Who can afford to attend these sporting events? I think you'll find that season-ticket holders and others who could buy the expensive seats, overpriced food, and high priced parking are people that drive in from outside of Cuyahoga County so they can entertain their families and their corporate customers.
I am urging citizens of Cuyahoga County to turn down the sin tax until the burden is shared by the entire region.
In addition, I am telling the citizens of these six contiguous counties to step up to the plate.
Stop taking advantage of those in the lower income brackets who paid for your sports playgrounds. Go ahead and have a good time, but let's not do it completely at the expense of those who can least afford it.
Something is wrong when the Kirtland millionaire at a tribe game looks with contempt at the wino who paid for the stadium.
All I'm asking you to do is pay your fair share so that the entirety of the burden doesn't fall on Cuyahoga County residents alone.
Is that so much to ask?