WTF?: Commissioners' deals could blight Lakeside Avenue

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In their ongoing quest to blowtorch your wallet, then stomp it to death while doing Cherokee war cries, Cuyahoga County commissioners may have fashioned their worst deal yet to build a new convention center/medical mart in Cleveland. In an ongoing series, Ace Reporter Lisa Rab breaks down the absurdity of the deal for those of you scoring at home: In one of the poorest cities in America, with high tax rates, its largest bank on the verge of collapse, and population flight second only to New Orleans, you'd think city and county leaders would be tightening up the purse strings for the bad times ahead. Think again... “I don’t believe we have much time in this county to continue to keep making these bad decisions,” says Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek. “The clock is ticking collectively for us here as a region.” Just looking back at the county commissioners’ recent fumbles — spending $35 million on a bunch of empty, asbestos-filled buildings, then trying (unsuccessfully) to unload them on the nearest subsidy-hungry developer; and raising the sales tax without a vote to give away $1.3 billion in a convention center/med mart deal — you have to wonder about their sanity. As Polensek notes, it looks like “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and smiling while you’re doing it.” He also wonders if anyone’s thinking about the big picture. For instance, if county officials move out of their headquarters at Lakeside and Ontario as planned, and the city-owned convention center next door is abandoned in favor of a new one at Tower City, what happens to that huge swath of empty buildings on Lakeside? “We’re talking about implications that could affect… the stability of the city and this county,” Polensek says. We sure are. Unfortunately, “tomorrow” remains an alien concept in Jimmy Dimora's kingdom. -- Lisa Rab Previously on Medical Mart Watch...

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