Submitted by Roldo on Fri, 01/02/2009 - 20:19.

What page are we on? What year is this? And where did Fred Nance go?

The latest muddle on the med mart suggests that the big boys can’t get the ducks in a row again.

Backroom dealing and pressure are being exerted. By someone upon someone. Messages are being sent.

MMPI (Merchandise Merchandise Properties Inc.) maybe wants a smaller convention center and apparently a different site than the Downtown Gang (Greater (or Lesser) Cleveland Partnership & Forest City Enterprise) desires.

That would benefit MMPI.

Well, MMPI has no contact with the County. It has just a memorandum of understanding, which ostensibly gives MMPI responsibility to build and maintain a new convention center. Of course, there is the matter that MMPI can get a handsome sum of money to do so, more than $400-million plus to build and $103-million to operate. And, of course, that will cost taxpayers – because of interest if nothing else – at least $1 billion.

Now, if MMPI has $400 to $500 to build it, MMPI may want to cut the corners some so that there is no possibility that it goes over the amount and MMPI ends up short. But experience tells me such minor details get worked out later. We know from the experience of Gateway, for example, when costs went beyond estimates , the County ended up borrowing more - $45-million and $75-million in bonds – to make up for Gateway shortfalls. With interest that’s costing us $300-million. The Rock Hall, too, went from an estimated $28-million to more than $90 million. Just details.

It may be that MMPI’s desire for a smaller convention center means that it will bargain with the politicians – who are now beginning to sweat a bit under delay after delay – for something less than has been promised or even desired. It could mean fatter profit for MMPI.

Forest City, I think, simply wants it to be built to help Tower City, to say nothing of built upon its land, a site that it is asking $40 million for what some call a “cliff” on the Cuyahoga River behind Tower City.

Mayor Frank Jackson – who apparently has been bitten by the travel bug – wants to journey to Chicago to talk to MMPI. Well, he is the Mayor and though this is a County project, he will likely be called upon for some help. What help you might ask? If they ever build it, a luxury hotel and city garages won’t be far behind. Mayor Jackson will have to raid another city kitty to help subsidize them. How, I don’t know because the Gateway garages are heavily into the city’s parking revenue, the admission tax has been taxed for the Rock Hall and the city, as every other level of government, has outspent its welcome to taxpayers’ pockets.

I t’s nice to see Peter Lawson Jones all over TV news tonight selling this dumb project. That’s because the other two County Commissioners – Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora – voted for it and he didn’t. Time for Peter to lift some political weight from the other two sell-outs.

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