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04/24/06  Real world takes priority over sports in San Diego?

It's been a long time since our It's a Bad Deal!! gang told Dallas voters that we could not afford a new pro-sports facility, that the arena sales tax would hurt (if not kill) our convention business, that basic city services would be neglected -- that the team owners could afford and should afford to build their own arena.  Of course, former Mayor Con Jerk/Ron Kirk was beating the arena drum for the billionaires -- not for commonsense or Joe Taxpayer's benefit.

The idiots in Arlington who voted to tax themselves and allow Jerry Jones to steal other people's homes and businesses deserve what they get.  Their mayor, Robert Cluck, was leading the charge of liars. 

Letters from Colleyville, Arlington, Irving, Lewisville
Arlington's invisible
Sunday, April 23, 2006
    The other day a house was burglarized in our neighborhood not at night, but when it was still light outside. Nor was it by means of a back or side entrance sheltered from view. It was through the front door, which was forced open, ripping the deadbolt through the interior frame. Did the police respond? Only after three calls, and about two hours later. But then, police patrols are rare in this neighborhood, as no "elite" live here.
   In the past, juvenile hoodlums have roamed freely, defacing fences, new cars and garage doors, among other things. They have no fear of any police presence, as a police patrol here is so seldom that it amounts to about zero. Nor do vandals have to worry about streetlights, as when they fail, they are not repaired, despite numerous calls.
   What neighborhood is this that is the delight of hoodlums and thieves? Any neighborhood in Arlington that is not considered upper crust.
You see, Arlington's government exists only to serve the elite; the rest are of no concern or consideration, except when taxes are raised to support the condemnation of property for the entertainment of the elite.
Ronald L. Weston, Arlington

I don't know about you, but I took everyone of those stories of people being forced from their homes and family memories to heart.  It was surreal to know that in America a person can pay for their home, pay their taxes, be law-abiding citizens and still have their property stolen from them to give to a freak from Arkansas.  Those Arlington homeowners and business owners didn't lose their property for a school or a bridge or a new road.  They lost their homes and businesses so Arlington could build a football stadium for a billionaire who could afford to build it himself.  They lost their homes so Jerry Jones could have a stadium in one of the worst locations in the metroplex.  They lost their homes, even though the voters could see the lack of development around Texas Stadium.

Mr. Weston's comments in the DMN letters to the editor above are particularly galling, because everyone one of us knows his situation is real and not restricted to Arlington.

That's why it's amazing that common sense is prevailing in San Diego -- not that they had much choice.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Sanders calls Chargers unaffordable; Mayor supports letting team talk with county's cities April 22, 2006
   For four years, the Chargers and the city of San Diego have scrimmaged over the team's wish to play in a new football stadium. Yesterday, the tussle ended.
   Mayor Jerry Sanders announced in an afternoon news conference that the city has neither the money nor the time to focus on the issue. Instead, he said the Chargers should be allowed to seek a stadium deal elsewhere in the county.
   Council President Scott Peters said he supports the idea and will put it to a City Council vote May 1.
   In moving to change the Chargers' lease with the city, Sanders said he is unwilling to spend public money on a new stadium when San Diego faces numerous financial challenges, including a $1.43 billion deficit in the employee pension fund.

?I wanted to allow the team the opportunity to look elsewhere in San Diego County so that we have the opportunity of keeping them a regional asset,? Sanders said. ?I think this proposal is in the best interests of the city's taxpayers.?
... City Attorney Michael Aguirre said he opposes Sanders' proposal because it would not require the name ?San Diego Chargers? be kept if the team moves to another city in the county.
... Councilman Jim Madaffer, who suggested in January that the team be allowed to talk to other cities in the county, said yesterday that he wants the team to retain the name ?San Diego Chargers.?
... The team crafted several stadium proposals, including the ballot measure that was scuttled in January.
   Under that plan, the team would have built a $450 million stadium at the 166-acre Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley.
   In exchange for building the stadium, the team wanted to ask voters to approve the Chargers being given 60 acres of city-owned land at the site. The property would have been used to build 6,000 condominiums, retail stores, offices, a hotel and park. The team also would have provided $175 million in public improvements.
... Madaffer praised Sanders for wanting to amend the lease, adding that it makes sense for the city and the Chargers.
... He said he believes Chula Vista and Oceanside are the most likely cities to have a chance to land the team because of their size and financial health, though they will have the same expensive transportation, traffic and public improvement costs that San Diego faced as it contemplated a new stadium.
   Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla said he wants to pursue the idea with the City Council and residents. He said he will gather public opinion in community meetings and likely seek council approval to negotiate with the team.
Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood said he does not think his city has enough vacant land to accommodate a stadium. The city also would probably have to ask taxpayers for the money to support a stadium and other projects would have to wait, he said.
Outside of San Diego County, San Antonio's mayor said this year that the Texas city is interested in wooing the team, but those talks would have to wait until January.
   Scott Alevy, a vice president with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Sanders is right to put San Diego's priorities above those of the Chargers, but the business organization wants the team to remain in the county.
... Sanders said San Diego is in such financial straits that he scrambled to find money in his proposed budget for next fiscal year to fix city streets.
We can't go out to taxpayers and say we can afford a new stadium, but we can't resurface your streets,? he said.
   If the Chargers choose to leave San Diego after the 2008 season, the team would have to pay the balance on $60 million in bonds the city issued in 1997 to expand Qualcomm Stadium. The city pays $5.8 million a year on the bond debt.
... If the team fails to strike a deal with another city in the county, Sanders said he is willing to negotiate with the Chargers on a stadium proposal that makes money for the city.
   He said his ?No. 1 goal is to protect the city's taxpayers. As such, I would not be able to support the use of any public funds toward the construction of a new facility.?

We can't go out to taxpayers and say we can afford a new stadium, but we can't resurface your streets Can you imagine Mayor Cluck or former Mayor Con Jerk saying something like that?

  Mayor Sanders could do whatever he wanted if he presided over most cities in the metroplex.  Dallas has over $3 Billion in needed infrastructure repair, but we are spending over a billion just to do the Trinity Project, and that's not counting the budget-breaking cost of maintaining the monstrosity in the future.

We certainly have a Marie Antoinette state of mind in North Texas.

Is it possible that we might get some local grip on reality?  If we don't, it's very probable that we will face San Diego's problems sooner than we think.

We are having a special session of the Legislature to figure out a fair way to pay for the education of all children in Texas without adding to homeowners' overload.  Whether that mean Grandma has suddenly found a $4 Billion surplus or not, Texas businesses or looking at some sort of "business" tax (translate that to income tax).  Not all Texas businesses, however!  Jerry Jones, et all, wants pro sports teams exempt taxes on their broadcast revenue. 

Pro teams want broadcast revenue exempt from tax

   AUSTIN ? The state's professional sports teams have united behind a quiet lobbying effort designed to protect their broadcast revenues from a new business tax bill making its way through the House.
   Among the leading lobbyists is the firm that represents the Dallas Cowboys, although all sports franchises are included under the proposed change. An estimate from the comptroller's office indicates that broadcast revenues from the teams, if taxed, could raise $20 million a year for the state.
   The teams argue that the millions they make from their broadcast contracts are out-of-state revenue, generated from their agreements with the TV networks in New York and from viewers nationwide.
   Texas currently doesn't tax that revenue, so it shouldn't tax it now, said Bill Miller, a partner in Hillco, the lobbying and consulting firm that represented Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in his efforts to win funding from car-rental and hotel taxes for a football stadium.
   The lobbyists are also trying to tack the change onto the tax bill without a public vote in the House.
   Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton ...  said the new broad-based tax bill creates "a new tax and a new tax base," he said. "Its intent is to tax a lot of people who aren't being taxed now and expand the base."
...  Some lawmakers fear that if enough loopholes are added, the effort to approve a broad-based tax that will provide steady funding for schools could crater, imperiling the Legislature's ability to meet a Texas Supreme Court deadline to overhaul the system.
... Onto this playing field come the sports teams, which initially kicked around the idea of trying to get the salaries of their athletes exempted ? under the bill, only the first $300,000 of a salary escapes taxation.
... The House Ways and Means Committee approved the business tax bill Thursday, without the broadcast exemption. The bill is expected to go before the full House on Monday. ...

I am not hopeful that our elected guys in Austin will stand up to the pro sports hired guns.  After all the hue and cry about governments using eminent domain for economic development, sports facilities were exempted.

We are in a huge international war, but professional sports is much more important to our lawmakers.  Our legislators in Austin have not been able to find a way to equitably fund our public schools, but I suspect they will find a way to grant Grandpa Jones his broadcast revenue exemption.

Still, way out in San Diego, their Mayor and council have finally had a dose of reality and are focused on resurfacing city streets, rather than building a new football stadium.

It may have taken bankruptcy to make those politicians see the light of reality, but it's a start. 






  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8