Here's One Minute of Dialogue That Encapsulates the Real Sin Tax Debate Perfectly

Below is one minute of transcribed dialogue from yesterday's Sound of Ideas episode, in which WCPN hosted a conversation about the sin tax. In 59 seconds, the back-and-forth between a sin tax proponent, a sin tax opponent, and a neutral radio host perfectly demonstrates the crux of the argument that's captivated the county (and is up for a vote on Tuesday as Issue 7).

(The episode was explicitly described as "not a debate," but the whole hour brings up some really worthwhile opinions/points of view/facts from all sides of the table. This back-and-forth is but one very important moment in the conversation.)

There have been plenty of news stories from all sorts of sources in the Cleveland area (most of whom are on record as openly supporting Issue 7), though few reports home in on the argument brought to light here. In fact, the Sound of Ideas conversation just sort of rolled onward after this question was presented.

Tune in here; the transcription comes from audio recorded from 25:14 to 26:13.

Peter Pattakos, member of C.A.S.T.: I think even apart from all of the debt that we still owe on these facilities and all the money that we've already put in, we still haven't heard about why the team owners continue to need public subsidies on the orders of hundreds of millions of dollars. The pro-sin tax folks can say we have a good deal, but we don't have the first bit of understanding about why that's the case.

Kevin Kelley, City Council president: Well, wait. That is an argument that kind of perplexes me, because the Cavs and the Indians provided a detailed capital list. They took journalists through and they pointed out exactly what it is. The city of Cleveland paid URS Company $400,000 to do a detailed study of our capital needs for the next 25 years. All this is public information. If you've failed to not look or not educate yourself about it, that is not, that is not on us.

Michael McIntyre, Sound of Ideas host: If I could, let me ask -

Peter Pattakos: That doesn't get to the question. The question is why do we have to pay for it. Why can't the teams, which make -

Michael McIntyre: He says because we own it.

Peter Pattakos: - which make hundreds of millions of dollars of profit -

Kevin Kelley: We own this stuff. We own it.

Peter Pattakos: Then let's take some of the profits out of it if we own it.


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About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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