Submitted by Roldo on Wed, 09/02/2009 - 14:08.

In 2009 so far we taxpayers of Cuyahoga County have given $8.8 million to benefit the Billionaire Lucky Lerner family.


Since August 2005 you have generously paid in those sales tax pennies on alcoholic drinks $56.4 million to aid the Lucky Lerners. My how it adds up.

Actually, you can’t blame anyone but yourselves. You voted for it.


When Cuyahoga taxpayers voted to extend the Gateway sin taxes another 10 years it resulted tens in millions of dollars going for the Lerner family.


Why the family? Because the Lerners, now headed by Randy Lerner, control the Browns Stadium for paltry $250,000 a year rent. The impoverished City of Cleveland actually pays way more than that for property taxes on just the land. Just the land because former Mayor Michael White and County Commissioner Tim Hagan saw to it that sports stadiums pay no property taxes. Tax exempt. Forever, says the law.


Lucky Lerner pays no property taxes on Browns Stadium, which sits empty almost every day of the year. Maybe nine or ten days there are paying fans – paying to Lucky Lerner, of course.


The Browns also run a charity called Cleveland Browns Foundation.


I find it almost unbelievable that the charity makes the statement that an “officer receives compensation” from the Foundation. It names Randolph Lerner. It doesn’t give much of that old transparency that everyone seems to believe would be helpful with credibility. It gives no amount of compensation or any reason for the compensation. So we don’t know how much the Lucky Lerner takes or, indeed, gives if he does.


For a link to the foundation’s IRS documents see: http://www2.guidestar.org/ReportNonProfit.aspx?ein=34-1885593&Mode=NonGx&lid=1165092&dl=True


The documents of the charity also note that “During the year, the Cleveland Browns Foundation may have received services and/or extension of credit from taxable organizations with which the officers, directors or trustees were affiliated. All such transactions were performed at arms length and did not result in any impermissible benefit.” Do we trust them?


We have to that the Browns word for it because it is not further explained.


The Browns foundation states that “the primary purpose of the Cleveland Browns Foundation is to help meet the needs of the disadvantaged youth and inner-city youth in the northeast Ohio area from childhood through teenage years. The Foundation’s goal is to attempt to address the social, cultural, financial and other problems faced by disadvantaged youth and try to cure or minimize such problems before the problems occur.”


A noble cause, indeed.


It always makes me wonder then how one of its largest, if not its largest, donations for a number of years is $100,000 annually to the Hero Fund for the “annual support of the families of police officers and fire fighters who died during the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.”


Also a noble cause but one that has many other contributors.


Why take from the needy children of Northeast Ohio for this?


And does Lucky Lerner make it appear that this is his contribution to this fund?

Lucky (Randy) Lerner is worth $1.5 billion as of 2008. He was chairman of MBNA, the credit card company which was bought by Bank of America for $35 billion. He has a penthouse “in what many consider to be New York’s most prestigious Park Avenue address. The New York Observer … pegged Mr. Lerner as the buyer of the $27.5 million apartment, which is at 740 Park Avenue and was once owned by the philanthropist Enid A. Haupt.”


So I can see why Lucky Lerner would want to contribute to the New York Fund at $100,000 a year, especially since if it comes not from his pocket but from the pockets of Northeast Ohio kids.


By the way, the fact that the Browns Stadium doesn’t pay property taxes on its structure means also that it takes tens of millions of tax dollars from the Cleveland school children while the Browns play out their lease at the lakefront.


How UNLUCKY some people are.




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