Cleveland Plain-Dealer Editorial Board Mocks Proposal to Link Sin Tax with Team Performance

June 6, 2014

Last month, Cleveland voters renewed county taxes on a variety of "sin" products (4.5 cents per pack of cigarettes, 1.5 cents per 12-ounce bottle of beer, 6 cents per 750-milliliter bottle of wine, 32 cents per gallon of mixed beverages, 24 cents per gallon of cider and $3 per gallon of hard liquor) that fund local sports stadiums for the Browns, Cavaliers, and Indians.

It jumped back in the news yesterday, when county executive (and Democratic nominee for Governor) Ed FitzGerald proposed linking 20 percent of the sin tax revenue (some $2.6 million per year) to team performance. No win, no revenue.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer editorial board offered their initial reactions.

Deputy Editorial Page Editor Kevin O'Brien: "If this nakedly populist pantomime of holding Cleveland's perennially losing sports teams 'accountable' can't win him a few more votes in the gubernatorial race, nothing can! How about just figuring out which facility needs what from year to year and making a sensible priority list? I know: not political enough."

Editorial Writer Thomas Suddes: "With all due respect, the two words that come to mind about this proposal are "publicity stunt.""

Editorial Writer Sharon Broussard: "This sounds like a "Saturday Night Live" skit and it's just about comical."

Opinion Director Elizabeth Sullivan: "This is a laughably bad idea that underscores how politically opportunistic — and tone deaf — FitzGerald is. It's unworkable, it's wrongheaded and it's going nowhere."

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