Submitted by Roldo on Tue, 04/14/2009 - 15:51.

Did the Plain Dealer actually think that Cuyahoga County Commissioners would really insist MMPI pay property taxes?

God. The PD has kept itself innocent all these years. And it remains naïve and innocent. Like Bernie Madoff.
I also love the PD editorial on Sunday. The headline is “One piece at a time.” It’s the subhead that really gets me: “Medical mart development agreement is acceptable; the challenge will be to make sure the project stays on course.”
Just as the paper monitored Gateway and the Browns Stadium. Kept them on course. Of course. We still don’t know what the Browns Stadium cost the city; nor what it is still costing the city.
Have you notice that not one of the high profile PD columnists has taken a crack at the issue. Why? Self-censorship. That’s why. They don’t dare cross the line. It’s safer to write about a rabbit and your 10-year old daughter. What editor can find a complaint there?
It’s why newspapers are seen as so irrelevant to so many. Just can’t pull the trigger on the big guys.
By Thursday, Cuyahoga Commissioners - possibly without Tim Hagan who is experiencing heart problems - will sign the deal to give MMPI (Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.) hundreds of millions of tax dollars to do what no one can say with any confidence is a wise decision. A $1 billion dollar blunder.
But we JUST NEED a convention center. So what if we’re doing it wrong. So what if it’s done at unbelievable cost. We NEED it. So they say. Our “leaders.”
There has been dispute about who owns the final product. This has no meaning whatsoever. Since whichever entity owns it – county or MMPI – it will run the same way and the costs and profits will go the same way. A public oversight committee (named by the same people who concocted this scheme) will be meaningless. The PD’s promise of oversight will be laughable. (As was the paper’s crowing that the lease was released a week before the vote, as if it makes a bit of difference.)
MedCity News – a publication headed by two former PD reporters, Chris Seper and Mary Vanac (two the paper didn’t want to lose but took the paper’s buyout) say that MMPI now “will have to prove they know what they’re doing.” The publication deals, it says, with “health care as an economic engine of American cities.” You find it here:
It’s not assured that they will have to do so. The contact says, as MedCity reports, that “MMPI has one year to convince 10 tenants to spend three years in the medical mart.” However, MedCity already reported, “its likely many initial tenants in the permanent showrooms of the proposed medical showplace will feature beds, chairs and floor tiles meant for hospitals, private practice and some home care settings.” As I said when I read it, sounds like a barn-burner economic plus for Cleveland.
The point is that it may be easy for MMPI to get 10 outlets to rent for a time. Tower City got upscale outlets here when it opened because of Forest City’s ability to ask favors of people they do business with elsewhere. It had no long term meaning.
Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine has some interesting stuff on his blog ( questioning use of the bed tax that would mean more public money flowing to MMPI.
He also information from MMPI.
He quotes Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones saying that it is very possible more money will come from new sources.
Well, back last April when Squire-Sanders chief honcho Nance - conveniently consultant to Cuyahoga County, negotiator with MMPI and representing the Greater Cleveland Partnership - called for a 2 percent increase in the bed tax to produce an extra $50 million AND taking $2.5 million from Positively Cleveland (Visitors Bureau) for another $50 million over 20 years.
Think there may be any more flows of revenue unrevealed. Maybe the PD will threaten them.
This deal has stunk to high heaven from the beginning. Nothing has changed it.
Heywood Sanders, public policy professor at University of Texas-San Antonio and a national respected expert on the convention business, is skeptical of this entire deal. He has been for a long time. For very good reason, as he well knows.
“First, it’s not clear there is any demand among the medical device manufacturers for this kind of ‘mart’ or ‘showroom,” he writes in an e-mail response to me.
“They (medical device industry) already have marketing and sales staffs and approaches, and they prefer to sell their own stuff in environments that they either fully control or in hospital/clinic settings where they know how the product is being used.”
Of course, this isn’t even MMPI’s business – the medical aspect. MMPI lists such industries it serves as “office/retail, home furnishings, gift and home, kitchen and bath, fine crafts. Not a medical hint on its business list. See for yourself:
Sanders goes on: “Second, the tie to the convention center is simply wacky.” WOW! (Of course, we’ve said all along that the med mart has been an excuse to spend $1 billion on a convention center. We NEED it.)
“Medial and health care associations make their money from conventions, most of it from renting exhibit space to exhibitors. They have no incentive to share exhibitors with a Med Mart, and no particular reason to come to Cleveland. They’ll go to where they can get the space they need, in locations that are draws for their members (I say, think San Diego). Remember they are effectively in the business of delivering ‘eyeballs’ to exhibitors and running professional education programs that require substantial attendance.”
He concludes by writing: “It is striking to me that MMPI has effective stalled this deal for over a year, and now gets to shop around for another year (or more) to see if it works. If there really was a demand for this thing, they would know it by now.”
If that’s true what the hell is going on?
There’s a lot of money out there for the taking. Figuring out how to finagle the deal seems to be the agenda of the County Commissioners, MMPI, Fred Nance and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
I love that the Plain Dealer editors have some confidence in this deal. Even though they write in their editorial, “Based on the past performances of this trio – recall how they fumbled the Ameritrust project for their own new home – it’s hard to imagine them making such a tough decision. But they seem willing to, and this newspaper will do what it takes to make sure the people of Cuyahoga County have enough information to evaluate – and influence – their decision-making.”
Dream on, Plain Dealer, dream on.
As I said, as they will say and as the PD will say, “We NEED it.”
Well, actually, we don’t.
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Hagan "heart problems" ?

If Hagan isn't available to vote, then this is the time when Peter Lawson Jones needs to step up to reality and stop the MEDCON.   We have one Commissioner being investigated by the FBI who will vote.   One commissioner who I believe is violating Ohio ethics rules to provide a half billion bone to his Kennedy friend, and one commissioner who voted against the sales tax. 

Is this heart problem a strategy to make it appear that  Hagan at the last minute has recused himself - and is thus spared from ethics charges?   Will Lawson Jones let himself support the very deal he originally voted against?


What is the "heart problem", Roldo?

Hagan's heart

Ok This heart issue is the real thing.


Thanks Henry,
I don’t mean to seem hard hearted, I’m just very skeptical of Mr. Hagan’s "representative" democracy style.   Where Mr. Hagan has not shy about brushing aside ethics and trying to land a multi-million dollar public contract for his personal friend Chris Kennedy, where Mr. Hagan has pro-actively pursued a knowing scheme to avoid the required popular vote for a convention tax,    and where Mr. Hagan has condoned secret meetings with Fred The Fixer Nance to facilitate all these schemes – I just don’t trust him.  
I wish Mr. Hagan a speedy and thorough recovery from his heart issues however – politics steps aside at that personal level.
BTW, do you know how Mr. Cimperman announced his graffiti rally?  The PD sent a reporter I did that reporter find out about the event?

Graffiti rally

Cimperman announced it when he spoke to Mike McIntyre for the Tipoff column, then Mark Puente covered the protest.

I and other reporters were copied on an e-mail that went out last week about it.

I think they should pull

I think they should pull the plug on the project, it will not work. I do not think Cleveland needs a convention center it has the IX.

Make the existing center the home of the Cleveland Playhouse and combine it with CSU's art department. Make it a giant performing arts college/center?

We already know that the med mart will not work, if you want to start something medical equipment and supply related then fund an aggregate buyer. We are not a normal medical center we service outside the local community. The volume in purchasing could and should be combined. Buy from the suppliers and supply the hospitals. Then you have volume purchasing power and can keep costs down. Then you can sell to other hospitals as well.

What they are about to do is build a non-marketable redundant convention space, there is hope they can book medical conventions but the med mart will not be a draw and the city either. People do not want a convention in Cleveland. It's like or seems as a punishment to many. Can’t you hear the words, “why Cleveland” ?

Adding a player adding a layer that serves no advantage to anyone but them, it will not happen as they predict. I keep thinking maybe I am wrong, I want to be wrong, but I really think I got it correct.


People that really do not know are behind it, and the people behind it really do not know either. The leases are not there are they, read the writing on the wall.

Take the $400M and then cycle it through other projects. I got an idea, how about as no interest loans with repayment schedules that get the money back over time. Take bids and publicly display them. They have to be based on sound bussiness models and lending institution should volunteer to evaluate them as if they were loaning the money. With just more risk aversion.

I hear nothing about any cities conventions centers making money, so why bother. Think about what people are most concerned with were it gets built and how much it will cost, they just assume it can pay for itself, that’s really bad.


Pull the plug commisoners and feel free to slit your political wrists, we got people ready for your jobs.  Actually this is and could be what tips us to regional.  


The medmart will fail within 2-3 years, the convention center will not be anymore marketable then it is today, it sits under the IX is marketablity.  We really think we can support both? 

It is not an economic

It is not an economic catalyst it’s a lame duck idea, that plays on people civic pride. They all of us want to see something happen. So they sell us something very big and we get all exited.

It’s all under the guise of being creative and visionary, but are banks lining up to finance it? I am going to Cleveland to look at hospital beds and flooring and then I will also attend a conference on laser surgery?

Hello they do not go together, the fact that the CCF is here is irrelevant other than they may have expert knowledge on laser surgery and they also buy flooring. But they are not related, they think they can make them related?

The CCF sells it expertise, it does not give it away. They buy medical equipment and that’s only draw is the $6B operating budget, the only interest any suppliers have is in that. They will not sit next to it hoping to land a deal, particularly if the competitor is sitting next to them. They do not consistently change products, the research often that feeds manufacturing is sometimes already here. That’s the link to bio-med, that before the retailing end. Sell it to use…we created it!

Has this been all addressed? It is not being discussed is it. If the renovation of the convention center depends on the med mart then do not do it. Doctors do not go to equipment conventions, the chain of events does not align on the business model. They may go to convention but may decide to do that in the location with the best weather and golf courses. Conventions are really vacations that also fulfill on going educational requirements.

Roldo and the Med Mart

Reading this post that Roldo wrote in April, 2009, is chilling. Read it from beginning to end, and the story being relayed then is what is happening now.