Finally, Henry Gomez got the figures we’ve been asking to see for years now, and the verdict is in: We the people of Cleveland did in fact finance these “street furniture” atrocities, allowing the recovery of startup costs by Omni Media before there was any money at all paid to the city. Once again, our elected help, following the direction of the hired help at central planning, show themselves to be the chumps of private enterprise. The central planner, Bob Brown, here seems to be siding with Omni; it seems he’s quite often not aligned with the public interest.
It took Omni two years to build and install the first kiosks. The company's first full year of sales was not until 2002, said Sandra Gallucci, Omni's sales manager and head of development.
For the next three years, Gallucci said, Cleveland's cut of the proceeds was canceled out for three reasons: Uncollected debt; money deducted to design and produce maps; and revenues lost because of kiosks being displaced by construction.
In addition, Omni and the city amended the contract to allow for fewer kiosks.
Brown said the up-front costs of maps and signs alone accounted for about $175,000 -- more than the city was entitled to under terms of the royalty agreement.
Omni determines royalties based on the previous year's numbers. The city caught up in 2006, when the storefront program received $37,136. The amount jumped to $72,841 in 2007.
But the six-figure paydays once considered a starting point have yet to be achieved.
When we were collecting signatures for the Put It On the Ballot initiative, people coming up East Ninth Street kept asking us for directions to a good restaurant, even though they’d passed two or three of these behemoth kiosks before talking to us. These aluminum hulks are not only superfluous, but they’re also in disrepair and out of plumb. They add to the visual clutter and mar the streetscape.
These obstructions need to be removed and scrapped so they do no further harm. The Omni Media parasites have already recovered their costs. They’re not performing according to projections; they misrepresented in a major way. So, amend the contract again. Clean the streetscape. Take back the sidewalks. Recover from Omni when you backcharge them for sign removal and new concrete slabs.
Omni, you came in here under false pretenses, so now take your boxes, fold your little Cleveland office, and go home. You were carpetbaggers anyway. Who brought you all in here in the first place?
It’s time for major change, yet this little freshening would be salutary and good for morale.