Sunday, February 15, 2009

City For $ale; Matthew Tully Proposes Corporate Sponsorships for Government Buildings

I have to admit that halfway through reading Matthew Tully's column this morning, I checked the calendar half expecting it to be April Fool's Day. Still I thought he was kidding.

Tully suggests that Indianapolis sell off the naming rights to various government buildings. He also suggests that city police cars have sponsorship decals placed on them. I immediately thought of the Reno 911 episode where the Reno Police Department cut a sponsorship deal with a Hooters-type franchise that required them to repaint their cars pink and wear pink uniforms.

Here are his suggestions:

"The Central Library, for instance, could become the Pepsi Library. The airport? It could be the Indianapolis International Airport at Target Field. Meanwhile, the city could slap Brink's decals on police cars and smoke-detector ads on firetrucks."
Later in the column he suggests more:

"After all, the children of Indianapolis would enjoy a park just as much if it were sponsored by Reebok. That city pool would be just as fun and splashy if Coppertone were the official sunscreen. Little would change if we had the Barnes & Thornburg City-County Building. Conventioneers surely wouldn't mind if a corporate name hung over the convention center."
It is quite evident that city leaders have been selling off the city for quite some time. But do we have to do it literally? These buildings were built with taxpayer money and any corporate contribution for naming rights is tiny comparied to how much taxpayers paid for the buidings. So why name it after a corporation?

I was certain Tully wasn't serious and was actually sarcastically mocking city leaders who are always putting business interests ahead of the taxpayers. Yet two Republicans on the council Marilyn Pfisterer and Ryan Vaughn actually are quoted in Tully's column saying that this is an idea that should be looked at.

Again, is this an April Fool's joke? I thought it was still February.


M Theory said...

Paul, is that suggestion really "selling off the city"?

If we could raise money from corporations by renaming buildings and parks, why not?

I think it has merit too. I can't think of any reasons why not, although I'm open to hearing them.

Let's just put someone in charge who will properly oversee things. That someone should not be one of the big lawfirms or the CIB.

We need to come up with some solutions and do it quickly.

First on my list is to see the Colts and Pacers pay.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Notice how Mr. Tully glosses over the fact that the Simons and the Druggy are getting/keeping $MILLIONS of dollars NOW on their little ponzi schemes. Meanwhile, the country and Marion County are going down the tubes.

Don't you just love democrats!

Anonymous said...

"Druggy"...ain't THAT the truth!

Paul K. Ogden said...

I have always hated the selling of naming rights to sports stadiums. I think they should be named after whoever gives them the most money. So Lucas Oil Stadium should be Taxpayer Stadium.

I especially find it unseemly when you're not talking about non-sport government buildings. Those buildings were built with taxpayer money that completely dwarfs any corporate payment for naming rights. Yet the facility gets named after the corporation?

I also don't trust that our city leaders wouldn't use this opportunity to give more away to corporate interests. They'd probably sell naming rights far under the market price or wouldn't make certain the corporation asctually paid the money. The CIB is already balking at telling whether the Colts paid their $57 million contributioni toward Conseco they were supposed to pay.

In short, I find the practice unseemly and don't trust our civil leaders would get fair market value for the naming rights.

M Theory said...

Paul, I hope you and your readers will attend the Republican Liberty Caucus CALLOUT on Monday February 23rd at The Melody Inn. The evening starts at 7pm.

The REAL Republicans are coming together. I understand that a lot of Libertarians will be there as well.

Monday February 23 @ 7pm
The Melody Inn

Anonymous said...

I think the Indianapolis Star should sell naming rights to it's newspaper too so they can meet payroll of their own sinking ship.
BTW, Melyssa, there were a sh*tload of democrats that voted for Ballard to. Some of them, like me, even wrote some hefty checks.
Never again!

M Theory said...

Wilson said it best over on Abdul's blog. He asked if we "Had Enough?"

Anonymous said...

Tully just exposed himself as a useful idiot... at best.

The ultimate monopoly for unregulated business would be to accomplish a merger of business and government. The goal would be to convince citizens that government would be more efficient if run like a business. Of course, those poresenting such an argument would omit the fact that representative government is a "bottom up" enterprise, rather than a "top down" enterprise that exemplifies a business model.

What better gauruntee of profit than the assurance that your biulls will be paid by the taxpayer?

For those who have fallen for this series of lies - whether it be at the local, state, or federal level, your wake up call is happening right now. There's a term for the integration of business and government. It's called corporatism. Corparatism is also known as fascism, sans the goose step.

Wake up, folks. It's not coming. It's arrived, under the guise of fiscal responsibility.

Anonymous said...

As a philosophical matter, what's wrong with this?

The police are at the beck and call of corporate interests; let's be honest about it.

Indiana is a corporofascist place where everything is done in service to Great Employer. I'd like to see the natural progression of public-private government provide a bit of embarrassment to every cop.

Serves 'em right.

Sean Shepard said...

From the article: "Little would change if we had the Barnes & Thornburg City-County Building. "

Isn't it already? ;-)

Seriously though, are we certain Tully's article wasn't 'tongue in cheek'?

And ultimately, one financial maneuver that is frequently done in the private sector is what's called a "sale and lease back". Basically, to raise capital a company might sell their buildings to a real estate investor (investment firm) and management company. They get the one time cash infusion from the sale, but then have a future lease/rent obligation. I'm not suggesting the city or state should look at that (although ... for the stadiums ... there's a thought... hmmmm...), especially in down economic times but it's an alternative to government getting into the promotion business with corporations.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Sean, I really thought it was tongue in cheek at first, but then I continued reading it and seeing the quotes of the Republicans, I think he was serious.

In an ideal world, your idea has merit. However, until we get control of the corporate welfare that is running amok in the city, I would be afraid to try your suggestion.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Sean, I would liken your idea to privatization. It's a great idea, infusing the delivery of services with market competition. Unfortunately it's been horribly bungled in implementation. It's become not a way of encouraging competition, but rather a way for politicians to get kickbacks, i.e. campaign contributions, for government contracts.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think it is a great idea! Imagine the marion County Prosecutor's Office sponsored by Brad's Brass Flamingo! where legal briefs are reviewed nightly.

Sean Shepard said...


You are very much correct that 'privatization' has not necessarily gone smoothly or provided the full benefits that it should and could.

Part of the challenge is that 'exclusive' deals are often struck for very long periods of time which effectively eliminate any competition or threat of such. You also still have the specter of corruption.

Renting office space is a bit different of course, but at the end of the day It'd be a big step if we could 'privatize' our sports teams. ;-)