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Gary Turner
Anonymous Observer

                             

08/02/04  Arlington Taxpayers are breaking out of the herd.

Democracy is a pesky thing, particularly when taxpayers don't do as they are told.  Those of us outside the ruling class (more and more dominated these days by class action trial lawyers) are not supposed to think for ourselves.  We are expected to live our little mundane lives, pay our bills with what's left after Our Downtown Betters and their puppets on our respective city councils and county commissioners courts tax the living daylights out of our disposable income.

When did ambulance chasers become respectable?  I've worked for and with lots of lawyers over the years.  Insurance defense lawyers (those who fight the ambulance chasers), corporate lawyers, litigators, and a couple of ambulance chasers.  Granted, the guys I worked for were not as successful as some who are now prominent in the news, but they are the same ilk.  By the time the ambulance chasers collect all their fees and padded expenses out of the settlement, the poor client gets surprisingly little. 

But, I digress.

A really smart attorney (not an ambulance chaser) called to my attention that the NY Football Mafia were ONLY asking $100 million from the city out of the $750 million they intend to spend to build their stadium.  Only shelling out 1/7th of the cost vs. 2/3rd or 1/2 (depending on who's telling the story) sounds like a bargain.  That is, it sounds like a bargain if you have $100 million to spare.  Apparently, NYC's Mayor can add and subtract better than Our Stepford Mayor because he says they can't afford this good deal.

Bloomberg Swats New Stadium for Yankees
Fri Jul 30, 6:54 PM ET
NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg agrees: The New York Yankees (news) could use a new stadium. So could the Mets. And the Knicks and Rangers could use a new home, too.
   But given the city's precarious financial status, the teams should not expect New York to kick in a lot of cash toward any of the projects, Bloomberg said Friday.
   "
It's got to be done with private money,
" Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show. "We need a new Yankee Stadium. We need a new Shea Stadium. In fact, we need a new Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, the city doesn't have a lot of money."
...  Crain's New York Business reported that the Yankees wanted to build a new, $750 million stadium across the street from the existing Yankee Stadium.
   The team was seeking $450 million in public money to build a a hotel and conference center, improve and increase public transportation to the area, and build three new parks elsewhere in the Bronx, according to the Crain's report.
... A tentative agreement to build new stadiums for the Yankees and the New York Mets (news) was announced just before Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) left office at the end of 2001. That nonbinding deal, which called for the city and the teams to split the $1.6 billion cost of the stadiums, was shelved by Bloomberg.

Now, isn't that refreshing for any elected official to tell the sports Mafia "It's got to be done with private money"?   What's this world coming to?  I'm a big Giuliani fan and mostly cannot bear Michael Bloomberg, but he's looking better and better.

We've been hearing that the Cowboys want Arlington for their new stadium.  No new hotels, no big shopping mall -- just another big hair football stadium that Arlington taxpayers get to pay for when they can't pass a bond election to fix Johnson Creek which keeps flooding and damaging more Arlington taxpayers' homes.  Now, Arlington city employees are joining the ranks of the Aginners.

Arlington employees say their benefits should come before Cowboys
Friday, July 30, 2004 By JIM GETZ / The Dallas Morning News
ARLINGTON ?
...  Even as the city is studying whether to put a tax increase on the November ballot to pay for a stadium for America's team, a hue and cry has been raised by current and retired city employees whose medical benefits could be reduced and their premiums increased. And city officials are trying to figure out how to reduce a
budget deficit of $16 million in next year's general fund.
   So, past and present workers wonder, how can the city consider sacrificing some of their longtime benefits and other city services to balance the budget while possibly giving Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about $325 million to build a stadium?
... Until his death from pancreatic cancer in January 2002, Ms. Norris' husband, Greg, was a city attorney who ran the municipality's liability insurance program ? the one that defends the city when it's sued. ... under a proposal from a consultant the city hired, her premiums could rise to $1,448 a month, up from $220.
... Former police Officer Boyce Megason told the City Council on Tuesday that no city referendum has passed in Arlington without the support of city employees.
... Resident Ravyna Missel was more forceful: "You should be thinking about how to support our firefighters and policemen, not supporting a man who has billions of dollars."
  
Supporters say a Cowboys stadium could help cure the city's budget problems.
...
 Robert Rivera, the [convention & visitors] bureau's former director and leader of the grass-roots group Touchdown Arlington, ...  the Cowboys "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that needs to be looked at, and it could help us with the economic problems we have."
... "I wish our city's coffers were able to provide the benefit packages they were promised years before," Mr. Rivera said. "But my approach is just a basic standard business philosophy of you have to control your finances and plan for the future. In my opinion, this [stadium] is a way to potentially offset future deficits."
...  If the deal looks favorable for the city and team, the city could ask voters to approve an increase of up to half a cent in the sales tax and a hike in the room tax on hotels and car rentals.
   A half-cent increase in the sales tax would raise about $19 million a year; that and other revenues could pay off, over an unknown number of years, the $325 million that would be the city's share of the stadium construction.
   A
$650 million stadium wouldn't be on the property tax rolls because it probably would be owned by a city entity, but it would generate sales taxes.
   ...  Mr. Rivera also noted that with a sales tax increase, much of the stadium's cost would be paid by non-residents.
... "I just think the voters are selective," Mr. Jurey said. "I think when they saw a demonstrated benefit, they've approved it, and when they didn't, they haven't. And another way of looking at it is that the only other time a sports facility was proposed, it passed."
... "I shop Arlington. I support Arlington. But if they cut my insurance to support a stadium, I will not."

The stadium supporters do not even bother to sing a new stanza.  Has the Hicks/Perot arena helped cure our budget problems?  Nope, it just got nearby streets servicing only the arena fixed before more needed repairs were done to other city streets.

Having a $650 million facility off the tax rolls should be the extent of any public participation in a private enterprise, and I don't think that's right either.

There are so many more important things needed in Dallas or Irving or Arlington than another football stadium  Now, Dallas has a decaying Cotton Bowl with so much neglected maintenance that it may be impossible to restore it, if the resources were available.  It will cost a fortune to demolish it. 

Irving will be in the same boat with Texas Stadium regardless of what decision is made about a new stadium for Grandpa Jones, who as a Forbes-recognized billionaire could build his business facility himself and still have millions to spare.  Who has been responsible for maintaining Texas Stadium?  Usually in a large lease, the tenant is required to pay maintenance costs.  Look at the unsightly roof on Texas Stadium.  Will they move the Cotton Bowl game to Texas Stadium?  There are not enough high school or collegiate football games and/or playoffs to keep the facility financially viable.  Irving taxpayers are looking at another drain on their limited resources while their basic services go begging.

The Jones PR people are trying to make the stadium issue about the Cowboys, but it is about Jerry Jones.  Do you know anyone who respects that philanderer?  If they did, do they still after his plastic surgery that makes him a rival for Michael Jackson's claim to being super freak?

Arlington taxpayers and city employees are right to demand the city focus on their basic necessities rather than divert needed tax revenue to Jerry Jones.  I hope the Arlington city council does put the matter on the November ballot.  It's a win-win for Dallas taxpayers either way the election goes in Arlington. 

If it fails, which is likely, it will certainly take away the hammer that Grandpa Jones has been using to hit our local politicians on the head.

If it passes in Arlington, Dallas taxpayers and Dallas County taxpayers can rest easy until the next asinine idea comes up to waste our money.  It will certainly put Dallas hotels and car rental companies in a more competitive position against Arlington for that ever shrinking convention business.

It's a good day when honest Texans stand up and refuse to be treated like an ignorant herd of cattle rushing headlong into an eventual slaughter pen.


sb


 

                                        

    





                            

 

  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