The lawsuit over whether the city of Cleveland could reject legally gathered petition signatures to overturn its $70 million Cavaliers arena upgrade subsidy deal — on the basis that the deal was “an already executed and binding contract” — was resolved on Thursday by the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled “Ha ha ha, yeah, that’s a good one.” Cleveland now has to put the issue up for a public vote, which is problematic since the city has now stalled so long with this legal battle that it may have missed the deadline for a November vote:
The deadline for filing issues with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for the Nov. 7 ballot passed on Wednesday, according to the board’s election calendar.
But a lawyer for the Cleveland taxpayers who sued to force the city to move on the issue said it’s now up to the city to make it happen.
“This is now administrative details. They should be able to do this quickly,” attorney Subodh Chandra said. If the city drags its feet, he may take them back to court, Chandra said.
And in the best quote of this whole sad saga:
“Someone just needs to call the Board of Elections and say, ‘How quickly can we restore the rule of law in Cleveland?’,” Chandra said.
What happens once the vote is scheduled remains unclear — Greater Cleveland Congregations, the coalition that is behind the petition effort, seems mostly out for a “community benefits agreement” to add some sweeteners for local community groups, not to scuttle the entire subsidy deal. But even if Cavs owner Dan Gilbert negotiates and a CBA comes to pass, if GCC switches sides to endorse the deal, does that mean Cleveland voters will follow suit? This is all shaping up to be a big-ass mess, but I guess you can’t get $70 million in public money to build a giant glass wall without a few bumps along the way.