Submitted by Roldo on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 09:09.

We all know that taxpayers were very, very generous to the owners of Major League sports teams in Cleveland. It has cost Cuyahoga County taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars since the 1990s.

What we don’t realize is that the subsidization continues for hundreds of ball games in Progressive Field and Quicken Loan Arena each year. The subsidization also suggests that city taxpayers in their neighborhoods are being deprived of services as the wealthy sports team owners are provided with the safety force protection.

Just how much service is being shifted from neighborhoods where people live to provide protection for downtown sporting events can be seen by the listing of fire and police protection provided for four dates in May as listed below.

What we don’t really understand is that the city subsidizes the team owners – billionaire families as the Dolans and Lerners – on an ongoing basis.

I asked the city to provide me with information about the servicing of Progressive Field and Quicken Loan Arena during a short period in May at the time that the Cleveland Cavaliers were in the playoffs. Four dates only.

The dates were May 2, May 10, May 12 and May 16.

The city provided at four dates at Progressive Field and four dates at Quicken Loan Arena 661.5 hours of police time at a cost of $22,950 at Progressive and 94 hours of fire service at a cost of $4,720. (One game at Progressive was a rainout but services were still provided).

You will notice that nearly all the firefighters were on overtime. Thirty of the 94 police officers assigned were on overtime.

The city noted in its information that the $4,720 at Quicken Loan is billed to the Cavs. No mention of billing for police services likely results from an agreement signed with Dick Jacobs, then owner of the Indians, by former Mayor Michael White to provide a large contingent – my memory says 35 officers – for every game when more than 35,000 in attend. Council then passed legislation to back up White’s letter of commitment.

The breakdown of figures is listed below.

What the city’s servicing of police and fire protection for the two facilities doesn’t tell you is where these services are being shifted from to provide safety for the fans.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to understand the services are being shifted from neighborhoods of Cleveland, many of which are now under siege by criminal behavior.

It’s another example of shifting crucial and diminishing assets from the poorest to the richest of our society.

The figures suggest that the city assesses the services provided by police and fire personnel at about $35 per hour.

That, in itself, seems a very low assessment, particularly because many of these city  employees  are working overtime and, possibly more important, are using city vehicles and equipment, including on occasion what is described as “apparatus” for fireworks provided at Progressive Field. I’d have to assume that it means the city provided fire trucks with, each time, 8 firemen and charged the Indians owners, the Dolan family, nothing for the service.

Date Facility Personnel Time Cost
May 2 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen 4 hours OT $248
May 2 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen 4 hours OT $248
May 2 Progressive Field 2 firemen 4 hours OT $248
May 2 Progressive Field 2 firemen 4 hours OT $248
May 2 Progressive Field 8 on 2 apparatus 1 hour no charge
May 10 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 4.5 hours $279
May 10 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 4.5 hours $279
May 10 Progressive Field 2 firemen OT 4 hours $248
May 10 Progressive Field 2 firemen OH 4 hours $248
May 10 Progressive Field 8 on 2 apparatus 1 hour no charge
May 12 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 5.5 hours $341
May 12 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 4 hours $248
May 12 Progressive Field 2 firemen OT 7 hours $434
May 16 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 5 hours $310
May 16 Quicken Loan Arena 2 firemen OT 4 hours $248
Total Cost (repayable to city, city says) $4,720
Total Personnel 42 with 26 on overtime


May 2 - 17 members on regular time - 6 hours
                    7 members on overtime            Estimated Cost: $5,000
May 10- 15 members on regular time - 7.5 hours
                  10 members on overtime            Estimated Cost:  $6,250

May 12 – 16 members on regular time   8 hours
                     9 members on overtime            Estimated Cost: $7,200

May 16   16 members on regular time       6.5 hours
                     4 members on overtime              Estimate Cost: $4,500

Number of Hours worked: 742.5     Total Cost: $22,950
Total Cost of Both: $27,670.

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Roldo keeps prying around the edges

One day, Roldo's prying might (just might) rip the top off this can of worms.

Reading this, I have to wonder if someone at the PD is not salty that they did not ask for those numbers and publish this story. And then I have to ask, why didn't they, haven't they? Is the PD asleep at the wheel? Roldo's not. Thanks Roldo.

I would suspect that some neighbors might be pretty salty the next time there is a some sordid violation of the law in their neighborhood while so much of the "force" is with the sports teams. These billionaires sure know how to get blood from a stone. What's in your wallet? Not, much...

Safety Forces priorities

  Today, I saw Cleveland's safety forces on their down time.  First, I saw Engine 4 at Lincoln Park entertaining a group of day camp kids with a tour of the fire engine, and then later--probably the same station--at Dave's Supermarket, stocking up for dinner. 

I ran into a former colleague, bilingual Spanish-English, MBA, Lincoln-West High School graduate, city resident, professional in the medical community--and we both said the same thing..."How nice to actually see the safety forces in our community."

We don't see them very often on our streets, at our stores, at our libraries--because, for the most part they don't live with us or interact with us.  They hole up in their stations and, in the case of the station by my house, don't even bother to sweep the street in front of their building or tend to the landscaping. 

When I do talk to the "guys," they mostly complain about living in the city and they complain that they don't want someone bothering them at their homes, or worse, knowing where they live. 

Gil and I said the same thing, again.  "Why should it be so hard to live in the city that pays your paycheck?"  We saw a diverse group of strong, healthy (and might I say--mighty attractive) guys at Dave's supermarket.  "What are you guys afraid of?  Me?" 

If it's just the money, perhaps, we should vote on their performance much like the library has to face approval for local support.  Then, would you take your downtime to play basketball with some of the kids in Brooklyn Centre? (the station has a court inside the station/Metro docs have a court behind the towers).


Would you show them how to play guitar and banjo?  (My station has a firefighter who plays the Kent Folk Festival).  I see you guys and you have the time to share these skills with our kids. 

*Speaking of overtime--Thank you Roldo--as a public/union employee I work out my schedule so that I never have to accept overtime.  I consider it the most blatant theft of public funding.  Unscrupulous employees know how to milk the OT cow and it's a crime. 

Campbell called the police and fire personnel on their abuse of the  sick time/OT scam. Unions only undermine public support when they allow these scams to continue.   Unions should lead the charge to eliminate the need for overtime in the work place.  SEIU has come up with a time-sharing/short term assignment strategy that offers a smaller compensation than overtime to cover staff shortages, but administrators have dragged their feet on implementation. 

Administrators/Managers are salaried and should shoulder the coverage of services offered above/beyond/outside traditional work hours, but they don't--it's obviously not a sound for-profit fiscal policy to keep providing OT to union workers, but no one calls them on it.