Thursday, April 16, 2009

Indianapolis City-County Council Democrats Propose CIB Plan and Fully Embrace Taxpayer Money Going to Subsidize Colts and Pacers

Any thought that the Democrats would stand up for Joe and Jill Taxpayer and against giving more tax money to billionaire professional sports team owners was quashed yesterday when the Democratic members of the Indianapolis City-County Council announced their plan to bail out the Capital Improvement Board.

At the outset, it should be noted that the Democrats' plan starts with the bailout pegged at $47 million dollars. That means the the Democratic caucus, like the Republican Mayor Ballard, is conceding that they will agree to pick up the Pacers' $15 million cost of operating Conseco Fieldhouse. As a result of that concession, taxpayers would pay for the operation of Conseco Fieldhouse while giving 100% of the revenue from the building to the Pacers. It should be mentioned that the Pacers are owned by the Simons, the major contributor to Democrats in the State of Indiana.

Then the Democrats disingenuously propose the bailout involve a new Indianapolis casino, which I am sure they know has zero chance of passing the General Assembly. They also propose expanding the downtown sports district to include the to-be-built Marriott. Like the casino proposal, you're talking about revenue years down the road. The expansion of the taxing district also amounts to diverting tax revenue that would otherwise go into general revenue that could be used for other purposes like filling potholes, fixing bridges, etc.

Finally, the Democrats finish where they should have started - asking the Pacers and Colts to contribute more money to help out the CIB. Their request matches those of the other proposals: $5 million each, which demonstrates a lack of originality, if nothing else. Of course, the $5 million from the Pacers would be after giving them $15 million more per year by picking up their operating costs at Conseco Fieldhouse. Nonetheless, as with the Mayor's proposal, as with Senator Luke Kenley's proposal and now the Democrats' proposal, the $5 million from each team amounts to nothing more than a request. No party yet has demanded that the Colts and Pacers make the contribution a contractual obligation they would have to meet every year. We lawyers call it a red flag when a party does not want to put in writing part of a deal.

While I can begrudgingly understand my political party, the Republican Party, for favoring wealthy business owners like the Simons and Irsay, for the Democrats to do so, while pretending to care about working men and women, is particularly distasteful and smacks of the worst sort of hypocrisy. Democrats, in particular, should be demanding concessions from these sports teams so that taxes don't have to be raised, taxes that will fall heavily on the low paid hospitality workers who will lose jobs when the City jacks up hospitality taxes. If the Pacers and Colts are not willing to negotiate voluntarily, the CIB should ask a bankruptcy judge to rewrite the deals.

The problem of a lack of revenue for the CIB is precisely because of bad deals it made with the Pacers and the Colts that gave away nearly all the revenue from Conseco Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium. Tweaking those deals, voluntarily if possible, or, if necessary, under the direction of a bankruptcy judge, would result in the infusion of millions more into the CIB's coffers. If the Pacers and Colts decide to exercise their out in the contract for bankruptcy, so be it. Contrary to the spin of Mayor Ballard, losing the professional sports teams would not effect the convention business one bit. Event planners don't book their conventions in Indianapolis so their members have a chance to go to a Colts or Pacers game. With regard to the Colts, there is little chance they would leave anyway given the facility we built for them and the sweetheart deal they have that couldn't be duplicated anyplace else, especially not in today's economy.

As I've noted previously, the academic studies overwhelming demonstrate that professional sports is a bad investment for local government. Yet Mayor Ballard, the Indiana Senate and the Democrats on the Indianapolis City-County Council ignore all the studies, insisting that average taxpayers shell out yet more of their money to dig the CIB out of a financial hole that is due almost completely to the CIB giving away the store during negotiations with the Pacers and Colts. We'll soon hear if the Republicans on the Council ignore public opinion and follow the same course.


Jon said...

Paul, when I read the Star today I too was shocked and dismayed at the total capitulation by the mayor and the city county council. Then there is that big red flag you mentioned about 'requesting' the teams contribute 5 million dollars apiece. We all know how well that has worked in the past.

So what happens when the teams don't contribute that 10 million dollars, what tax and or fees will be increased next?

All this current legislation has is promises. Weren't we promised that when the Dome was paid off the original penny tax on restaurant would be repealed? We are sick of promises

I know said...

Somebody in the legal circles in Indianapolis pick the phone or drive to Chicago and sit down with the US Attorney Fitzgerald and lay it out about the corruption.

He might pick up the phone and call Eric Holder if someone asks him!

Some people have tried to call all the crap that is going on but get ignored or labeled a trouble maker and get sued. Until a group of lawyers either believes some of the people reporting the messes or they call their chips in with a successful Federal Attorney Indiana will continue to be a pasture with a lot of smelly excrement laid out across it.

Either round up the verifiable information of wrong doing and file the claims and reports that individuals can't or live with the tax, tax ,tax and lies, lies lies.

The Democrats and Republicans all know what is going on and they cannot vote against the establishment or they will loose their political position. Once you get booted out you can't get back in.

Jon said...

Cathy Burton, President of The Marion County Alliance of Neighborhood Associations, has an unpublished letter to the editor of the Star on this web site; This should be read by concerned taxpayers and these questions should be answered by the CIB.

It's asking all the right questions about the CIB and it's management.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I published Cathy Burton's letter a couple weeks ago. Great letter.

Attyabdul said...

Bankruptcy is not an option. Indiana law does not allow it. Sorry folks.

I know said...

If Bankruptcy is not a legal option then the legal profession needs to look at the mess and clean it up.

Who has had their hand in the cookie jar? Figure it out and have someone prosecuted! That will straighten some kids up in their chairs and they will pay attention.

I think it was the Governor who said in his State of the State address that children should sit down and shut up in the classroom and more discipline should be used.

Maybe the adults in control should practice the same discipline.