Friday, March 24, 2006

No Joy in Marlinville 

I like having Major League Baseball in South Florida,and consider myself a Florida Marlins fan (and, unlike many fans, actually go to the ballpark, although not as often in the past couple years as I would like).

Still, I have real reservations about public funding for a new stadium. Perhaps I could be convinced if the right site was identified (which is definitely not the Orange Bowl); one more centrally located and with good public transportation access. And no, the local bus systems don't qualify.

The Boston Globe had an recent article on public funding for stadiums in which economists question some of the arguments made for public money:
When a team wants money, and it's usually money for a new stadium, it commissions an economic impact study. The predicted economic impact tends to be dramatic. The study the accounting firm Ernst & Young did for the proposed New York Jets stadium in Manhattan predicted that it would bring in $72.5 million in additional annual tax revenue. A similar study by the consulting firm Economics Research Associates, ERA, calculated that the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas, due to open in 2009, will add between $12.48 billion and $27.65 billion to the county economy over an estimated 30-year lifespan.

Independent economists dismiss these numbers. Much of the envisioned economic impact, they argue, comes from the money spent by fans, either on tickets or concessions or in nearby restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, and the like. The problem with this argument, economists say, is that most families, whether they keep a budget or not, spend a finite amount of money on entertainment. As Vanderbilt University economist John Siegfried puts it, "What are people going to with their money if they don't spend it on the Red Sox, flush it down the toilet? No, they'll spend it on something else: books, maybe, or bowling, things that Boston would benefit just as much from."

As for new jobs, sports teams and their stadiums do create them, but remarkably inefficiently, according to Roger Noll, an economics professor at Stanford University and co-editor, with Zimbalist, of "Sports, Jobs, and Taxes" (1997), one of the most comprehensive works on the public funding of sports. In Baltimore, he says, the cost per job created by Camden Yards was $125,000, whereas for the city's other urban redevelopment programs it was $6,000 per job. And $125,000, according to Noll, is actually pretty efficient for a sports stadium.
Of course the decision is not just a question of dollars and cents, but it would be nice to know the real costs and economic benefits in advance.

Don't Knock the Gators (They'll do it Themselves) 

Let's hope this isn't a trend.

Understand Your Abuser 

Speaking of religion (see previous post), the Daily Pulp has a post on Bob Coy, minister of Fort Lauderdale's mega-church, Calvary Chapel. Seems Reverend Bob, who writes an advice column for the Sun-Sentinel, advised a woman who was concerned about her husband's verbal abuse that she should be "humbly submitting to your husband, as unto the Lord." Rather than just thinking about herself, I guess.
Not surprisingly, several readers complained bitterly to the Sentinel about it. To pay its penance, the newspaper published readers'’ diatribes against Coy this Saturday in place of the pastor'’s column. A retired police captain told [the woman seeking advice] that she was in a potentially dangerous situation and to get help immediately. A survivor of abuse conveyed a simple truth that should have had Coy on his knees asking for forgiveness: "It is the abuser who must change their behavior, not the abused."” Another survivor wrote that she'’d seen women who tried to "behave"” better for their abusive husband wind up dead. "If [she] does, then her death is not only on the head of her spouse, but also on that of Rev. Coy, and this paper for printing such a dangerous message,"” she wrote.
Maybe we should worry less about obvious clowns such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and take a closer look at what slick people such as Bob Coy are preaching.

By the way, the Daily Pulp has moved -- it's now part of the New Times website.

Understand Your Man 

I like country music (actually, I like all kinds of music), the more traditional the better, for the most part. Lately, it seems that many assume that country music is the last true bastion of uber-patriotism -- red state music -- as evidenced by the reaction to the supposed apostasy of the Dixie Chicks.

Thus my interest in a statement by Rosanne Cash in Rolling Stone about her late father:
Compounding the problem [of dealing with the death of her father] was her public opposition to the war in Iraq, which angered many of her father's admirers. "I got so much hate mail," Cash says. "Invariably, they would say, 'Your father's a real American, and you should go sleep with Sadaam.'" Ironically, Johnny Cash himself was adamantly against the war. "It broke his heart, it really did," she asserts, claiming that her father was "addicted" to war coverage on CNN during his last months. "We talked about it in every single conversation we had," she says. "He was almost a Quaker in his pacifism. He thought there was never a reason for war -- and he had felt that way, he told me, since the Vietnam War."
But then, Johnny Cash was a deeply religious man.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Way We Were 

All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking
Thus wrote conservative columnist Cal Thomas on April 16, 2003, soon after the Iraq War began.

FAIR takes Mr. Thomas up on his suggestion and has compiled a collection of what pundits, reporters and politicos had to say three years ago.

My favorite: "I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?" Bill O'Reilly, of course.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Better Late Than Never 

Let's see, Governor Bush took office on January 5, 1999. Today is March 15, 2006, and it seems he's just getting around to addressing some of the problems in our state prisons.
The warden in charge of Florida State Prison and the No. 2 official at the prison system's medical center were among nine top officials fired Wednesday by the new Corrections Department chief brought in by Gov. Jeb Bush to clean up the scandal-ridden system.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Broward County Elections 

Municipal elections in Broward County tended to put pragmatic progressives into office.

A rising star: newly-elected Coral Springs mayor, Scott Brook, who had a convincing victory.

A fortunate outcome: Pompano Beach re-elected Kay McGinn to the City Commission, rejecting the mean-spirited paranoia of challenger Ed Stanton.

Dynamic duo: Fort Lauderdale voters put City Commission candidate Charlotte Rodstrum into office. She's the wife of County Commissioner John Rodstrum (who was, himself, on Fort Lauderdale City Commission back in the 1980s).

Tightest election: The mini-municipality of Lazy Lakes had its first city election in 22 years -- the five Councilmembers elected had vote totals of 13, 13, 13, 11 and 11. The sole loser garnered four votes.

Florida Follies 

Stephen Goldstein just skims the surface of Florida's governmental disfunctions in his column in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "It's Money, Honey."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


David Neiwert, at Orcinus, discusses the "conservative bubble":
One of the reasons the conservative movement has morphed into a pathological political religion is that it has managed to largely cut itself off from the real world by insulating itself from any kind of criticism whatsoever.

Criticism of right-wing programs and policies, you see, is never confronted on its own terms, but is dismissed with a wave of the ad hominem wand: it can't be right because the critics are Bad People with Bad Motives.

Recent discussions over blame-laying in the Iraq war fiasco has provided us with the latest example of the bubble (which in this case also includes a large number of liberal warhawks). It's not Bush's fault the war has gone so badly, it's his critics'.

So it has always been: Conservatives concoct a cockamamie vision of what the world ought to look like, try to force it on the rest of us -- and when it all predictably turns to shit, find a scapegoat (usually liberals).
Although Neiwert is addressing the phenomenon at a national level, the same holds true in Florida. The Governor and his Republican toadies are not interested in discussing the real problems confronting the vast majority of Floridians -- a grossly underfunded public education system, a disfunctional system to protect abused and neglected children, lack of good employment opportunities, among many others -- rather, they attack those who want the state to address these issues as "tax and spend" Democrats, even though Florida is almost at the bottom of all states in tax burden per resident.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Look on the Sunny Side 

According to Gov. Bush, the state's government is doing such a good job that it doesn't need all the money it is collecting -- education is just fine, transportation needs have been met, college tuitions are affordable, prisons OK, health care healthy, and abused and neglected children are safe and sound. How else to interpret his call for a tax cut of 1.5 billion dollars?

Cynics would point out that most of that money will go to Florida's wealthiest corporations and individuals. But they don't understand that issues such as education should take a back seat to the financial well-being of businesses "like U.S. Sugar Corp. in South Florida, mega-entertainment companies like Disney Co. in Central Florida, and huge developers like St. Joe Corp., which owns thousands of acres across the Florida Panhandle."

And the poll that showed "Floridians aren't clamoring for tax cuts. According to February polling data, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, registered voters in Florida told pollsters for Quinnipiac University of Connecticut that they would prefer this year's budget surplus to be spent on other state needs"? What do the people know about these things?

Not to worry, everything is just dandy in the Sunshine State.

(quotes from South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

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