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NAACP Endorses Sin Tax, Citing Economic Benefits of Stadium Funding

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 5:11 PM

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The sin tax on alcohol and tobacco in the county that would help fund stadium upkeep got another endorsement today, this one from the Cleveland NAACP. Ideastream’s Joanna Richards reports.

In the NAACP’s view, sin tax funding for the city’s three professional sports stadiums has tangible economic benefits for city residents – including minorities and women.

Chapter president Reverend Hilton Smith, in announcing the organization’s support, recounted a personal encounter at a recent Indians game. He and his grandson chatted up a young Glenville High School graduate working his way through college with a job at Progressive Field.

“He said that one day, once he graduates from Ohio State, he would like to come back to Cleveland and work, and help his community, and help the Glenville Tarblooders. And so we are pleased to see those kinds of things happening,” Smith said.

Leaders from the three teams met with his organization recently, Smith said, and the NAACP made its priorities clear: jobs for ushers and popcorn salesmen, “but we also want jobs for professionals, in the accounting field, marketing, management.”

Smith said the teams agreed to meet with his group quarterly to work on that goal and other issues.

Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley said the endorsement shows the sin tax isn’t a tax on the poor by the wealthy, as some critics have portrayed it.

“It comes with it a certain stamp, that this is a just issue, that this is for everybody, that it’s inclusive,” he said.

Critics, including some Democratic candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive, argue the tax just subsidizes well-off people who attend stadium events, and offers little benefit to the rest of the community. Others say a ticket surcharge would be a fairer way to fund stadium upkeep.

Voters will decide the issue May 6.

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