Cleveland votes on sin tax as teams lobby heavily for measure they say isn’t to benefit them, heaven forfend

It’s Cleveland sin tax vote day today, with opponents decrying what they say is a $260 million giveaway to the city’s sports teams (more like $160-200 million in present value), and proponents saying the city will give the money to the teams anyway, so the sin tax extension is just a way to pay the public’s already-accrued bills.

If the latter is true, though, you have to wonder why those teams that would get the money regardless are working so damn hard to get this ballot measure to pass:

The three teams are fighting to ensure that sin tax money will help assuage those costs—of the $1.4 million raised by Keep Cleveland Strong, the pro-sin-tax PAC, more than $1 million has come from the Browns, Cavs, and Indians. The opposing PAC, Coalition Against the Sin Tax, has raised a mere $6,500.

Teams aren’t just tossing in cash to make sure taxpayers help foot the bill for new scoreboards. The Indians instructed ushers to wear pro-sin-tax stickers on Opening Day, according to an employee instruction sheet a former usher gave to While the Indians had told reporters that the stickers were purely voluntary, the handout reads, “An Issue 7 Keep Cleveland Strong sticker is part of your uniform. Place it chest high on your outermost layer.” The former usher, Edward Loomis, said he was fired by the team after refusing to wear the sticker.

Even as Cuyahoga County voters cast their ballots, they still don’t have an answer to the question: What happens if the sin tax extension fails? Depending on how things go today at the polls, we could have an answer starting tomorrow.

6 comments on “Cleveland votes on sin tax as teams lobby heavily for measure they say isn’t to benefit them, heaven forfend

  1. Yet another mistake by the lake. Seems like that former usher has a potential lawsuit.

  2. Hope Cleveland can do it’s part here in shifting the national landscape on these extortionist deals.

  3. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it a Vice Tax instead of a Sin Tax?

  4. Jared S., remember, this is Ohio and still on the fringes of the Bible Belt. I think “Sin” carries a bit more of a “you should be damned to the pits of hell for doing it, so don’t complain too much about it or we’ll all think you’re just really sinful” message than “Vice” in the common vernacular.

  5. Early results have Sin Tax winning by 62% . The message of “well, if you don’t make the sinners pay more we’ll just invent another way to tax you” wins.

  6. I would say, rather, that the messages of “JOBS AND ECONOMY” and “KEEP CLEVELAND STRONG” appear to be extending their winning streak.

    I have to wonder, at this point, if there is *anything* that voters around here would ever reject, when it’s promoted with these slogans. Mandatory lip piercings? A 15 MPH speed limit on all roads? A prohibition on chicken wings?

    We don’t even have good teams, and people still vote for this fleecing… I wonder what scam will be next.