Tuesday, April 25, 2017
The Q deal: "It Ain't Over 'til the Fat Lady Sings"
Proponents of the Q expansion deal may have been high-fiving themselves over the goal they scored last night by flipping Ward 14 councilman Brian Cummins but we think that’s just the end of the first quarter. Cummins’ about-face, which could not possibly have been about the trinkets and beads the Cavs offered [largely, refurbishing two or three dozen basketball courts at city recreation centers and high schools — does that mean varnish and buff?] and their cheerleaders raved about. The last minute maneuvering done to secure what may turn out to be a pivotal 12th vote in favor of the deal largely showed how weak County Executive Armond Budish and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson have been in representing the public interest. Seldom have last-minute cosmetics been such obvious lipstick on this pig of a deal.
By our calculus, the second quarter starts tonight at Olivet Baptist Church where the Greater Cleveland Congregations will likely have a very large crowd for their strategy session on next steps. And it is pretty plain what the next step will be: an intense citywide petition drive to secure enough signatures from registered Cleveland voters to force a referendum on last night’s vote. (I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody’s choir was singing “Ain’t nobody gon’ turn me around” as part of the meeting.)
Our understanding is that Cleveland’s charter requires ten percent of the number of voters at the last general election to force the referendum, or about six thousand signatures. GCC and its allies, who include SEIU and the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, should have no trouble getting twice that number in far less than the required 30 days. Councilmen and mayoral candidates Zack Reed and Jeff Johnson will no doubt be lending their support as well.
Call it halftime if enough valid signatures are submitted to force a vote of the people. The parties will switch sides, as it were, and the opponents of this deal [not a deal but this deal, as GCC likes to point out] would suddenly seem to have the home court advantage.
Assuming the corporate interests don’t find a way to tilt the court by resorting to the courts [this is where that 12th vote may play a role in arguments over whether “emergency legislation” of this nature is subject to referendum], the parties will fight to persuade the voters in a campaign that will be reminiscent of the Kucinich mayoral recall of 1978, decided in the mayor’s favor by something like, as I recall, a scant 238 votes.
To extend this metaphor a bit, if voters reject this deal, then the 4th Quarter would see some hard bargaining for the first time on this construction deal. But the playing surface would be enlarged, and new players would be recognized.
The Cavs would still get their expanded playhouse, but the price of the ticket will have been adjusted significantly.
At the end of the game, Dan Gilbert and his Greater Cleveland Partners may finally learn that you shouldn’t always play a Zero Sum Game with the public interest.
Now wouldn’t that be a Transformation worth celebrating by an entire region!!!!