MMPI Gets 100% Sales Tax Break

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It’s a sad sign of the times when we old school media types fail to connect the dots. Too overworked or busy hunting open PR gigs on Monster.com, probably. Anyway, thanks to Cleveland’s precious few New Media outlets, such slip-ups are fair game for the sharp eyes of readers willing to spot inconsistencies in the printed product.

Over on Cool Cleveland, grizzled ink-stained veteran Roldo Bartimole fired off a post recently about the PD’s scant coverage of what looks like a serious piece of the ongoing medical mart saga, a piece of news that he feels deserves more than cursory touch-and-go reporting. At issue is a bill passed last week in the Ohio legislature giving the mart’s operator MMPI a serious long-term tax holiday.

Facing the upcoming summer recess, lawmakers in Columbus stapled a bunch of extra bills onto other legislation during the 3 a.m. session last week outlining the do’s and don’ts for the state’s casinos. One of the add-ons was a bill that grants the mart a 100 percent property tax break as well as a sales tax break on all construction and building materials and services.

This deal, an icing on an already expensive cake, is one of those ironies that doesn’t slip by somebody with as much experience in the trenches as Bartimole. As he points out, MMPI is getting out of the very sales taxes that are paying for the mart’s construction: “Is there no justice at all? Are we to be suckers forever?” he writes.

We just can’t keep our legislators from pouring sugared dollars into the pockets of billionaires. One of the Kennedy family members in this case. Christopher Kennedy, a Hagan pal, is a principal in the deal.

We can give special thanks to Hagan. The same Hagan took a private jet ride down to Columbus in the early 1990s to lobby successfully for a full tax exemption for Gateway. The tax exemption actually extends to other sports facilities throughout the state of Ohio.

Roldo has particular ire for the PD, who only devoted a handful of words to the bill in an article about the casino legislation; the paper failed to dig in and consider how such a lack of tax money could hurt the city’s already struggling tax base.

“I guess the Plain Dealer didn’t think it was important enough to give the tax break a more prominent play. Who’d a thought?” he writes. — Kyle Swenson

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