Tuesday, December 21, 2004

50% Private Financing is the Sane Choice

Let's face it. If we were in a room together, each of us concerned only with doing right by the taxpayers, mindful of the civic enjoyment sports provides but not frantic and desperate to land a team, and without fatuous, legacy obsessed politicians, we'd have a name for the people in the room who would oppose the effort to procure private financing: Crazy People.

That's because finding folks to risk venture in an investment is called, duh, capitalism. And, shit, I like making a buck as fast as the next guy. A good faith effort to find private financing would likely succeed. However, the deal we have made with the owners is basically one where we agree to fatten the calf as much as possible without becoming beholden to outside investors to muddy up the balance sheet. When the owners finally have this stadium and team in place, they'll get to sell the whole kit and caboodle and keep the proceeds for themselves. The taxpayers are stuck holding all of the risk of the venture, in addition to a debt they'll pass on to their children, with only the barest, flimsiest mirage of a half-hearted hope that maybe some sort of benefit might trickle out in return.

Socializing the entire risk while privatizing the entire profit--well, that's just about the worst kind of socialism there is.

Now, all's fair if that's what the community wants. But it isn't what DC wants. Not according to any measure of the public will that's been taken thus far. This deal is in place precisely because we have a legacy-obsessed mayor, three people on the Council who will vote for it without paying any political price, and a small but vocal group of pro-baseball lobbyists so fuckign desperate to make any deal with MLB that they'd sell their own daughters into slavery to make it happen.

And that's the problem with this deal. The crazy people, the desperate people, the irresponsible people, the legacy obsessed people, and the immune-from-political-harm people have made it. They've handed over a blank checkbook. Sold away any leverage the taxpayers have. And knowing they didn't have the standing to act on behalf of taxpayers--indeed, knowing that they wanted to avoid speaking to the people who'd be providing the money at all costs, they've rammed this through, with only Linda Cropp to pretend to do due diligence of any kind.

If the measurement of the taxpayers will on this regard was coming up in favor of the sell-out arrangement--it would still be a bad deal, but at least the taxpayers would have feathered their own uncomfortable bed. Even if the people didn't want it, but the council voted so that the measure passes with Allen, Brazil and Chavous--who represent nobody--abstaining, it'd be jake with me because then the taxpayers could at least punish somebody. Where's the check? Where's the balance? Where's the oversight? And that's why DC is screwed.

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