Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roberts: Vote no on port levy -- and dissolve the port authority

Right now on WCPN's The Sound of Ideas, four guests are making the case for a tax increase for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. I just heard port CEO Will Friedman make a case for funding the port's river-dredging plan and Cleveland city councilman Joe Cimperman argue to shore up the eroding Irishtown Bend.

Cleveland Magazine's longtime columnist, Michael D. Roberts, begs to differ. Roberts makes the case against the port levy in "Port Nowhere," his Talking Points column in our October issue.

"The Port Authority is an agency whose time has passed, especially with the creation of a new county government," Roberts writes. He argues that voters should reject the levy on the Nov. 6 ballot to protest Cleveland City Hall's control of the port authority and the meager results of its work on the lakefront. And that's just the start of his argument. He argues that Cleveland's suburbs are under-represented on the port board, and that Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald should sue to dissolve the port authority.

"To ask for an enormous tax increase without altering the status of the Port Authority makes as much sense for voters as giving to Jimmy Dimora’s defense fund," Roberts argues. "City Hall’s control of the Port Authority has not worked."

The port wants to increase its levy from 0.13 mills to 0.67, or $16.50 more a year on a $100,000 house. The increase would help pay for pedestrian and cycling bridges over the Shoreway at North Coast Harbor and over railroad tracks on Whiskey Island, a place to deposit sediment dredged from the rivers, and an effort to stop erosion at Rivertown Bend, near Ohio City. For more about the port levy, read my blog post from July here.

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