Monday, November 16, 2009

Cheering for the Colts, Pacers While Holding on to My Wallet

Big game last night. The Colts were up against their nemesis, the New England Patriots. The Colts won 35-34 thanks in no small part to the Patriot's coach Bill Belichick's brain fart he had when he had the bright idea to go for it on 4th and 2 from the Patriot's own 28, with a 34-28 lead and 2:08 left int the game. The win gave the Colts a perfect 9-0 start to their season.

The Indiana Pacers meanwhile appear to have turned the corner. The team has now won four straight games, including a win this weekend over the Boston Celtics, one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference over the last two seasons.

I love sports and have always cheered for the Colts and Pacers. However, given the attitude of the owners of the two teams it has become increasingly difficult to remain a fan the past few years. This past year, when the Capital Improvement Board and the good people of Indianapolis were looking for a way out of the CIB's budget crisis, Irsay turned his back on the City. While Indianapolis taxpayers have transformed Irsay from a millionaire into a billionaire with the sweetheart Lucas Oil Stadium deal. Irsay does not appear to appreciate it in the slightest. During negotiations, he would not even throw a bone to the city that has made him fabulously wealthy.

This morning I heard a radio broadcaster bragging about Irsay's charitable offer of donating $1 to United Way for ever person who attended the game last night. That amounts to a whole $67,476. Once the United Way's six figure salaried administrators take their cuts, there might be $476 left over to be distributed to actual charities.

A billionaire like Irsay contributing $67,476 to charity is like me flipping a shiny nickel into the Salvation Army kettle this Christmas and then holding a press conference to brag about it. The $67,476, however, is in line with Irsay's other less than charitable offerings. In 2008, when the eastside of Indianapolis was hit with a tornado and southern Indiana experienced flooding, Irsay coughed up a whole $50,000 for the twin catastrophes...on the condition, of course, that the public would match that amount.

Across town, while the Simons, the owners of the Pacers, have proven to be better corporate citizens than Irsay. However, they too are trying to get deeper into the pocket of the Indianapolis taxpayers. Supposedly "negotiations" that could result in the taxpayers picking up $15 million in operating cost at Conseco, a building for which the Pacers get all the revenue, are "intensifying." The Simons saw the sweetheart deal the City gave the Colts, and want a similar deal. Actually it would be even better. While the CIB, i.e. the taxpayers, actually foot the bill to run Lucas Oil Stadium, at least they get 1/2 of the non-Colts revenue form the building. With Conseco, the Pacers get all of the revenu off the building, yet they now want taxpayers paying for the operation of the building.

When you're winning, it is easy to look the other way from the poor behavior of the team owners. It is doubtful Irsay's arrogance and ingratitude toward the people of Indianapolis would be tolerated were he were not putting a Super Bowl caliber team on the field year after year. But eventually Manning will retire and the golden age of Indianapolis professional football will end. One only hopes that, by then, Irsay has learned to become a better citizen of the community he has proven to be thus far.

Cheering for the Colts and Pacers would be easier if the owners of those teams were not so committed to screwing over Indianapolis' taxpayers to make themselves wealthier. Excuse me if I don't clap at the victory over the Patriots last night. I have to keep one hand free to hold onto my wallet.

11 comments:

Mely's Rugs said...

A friend of mine that works in the arts once gave Ir$ay a rather substantial painting of a singer he loves. It was a commissioned piece. There was hope that Ir$ay would use his name to help promote the arts in Indy.

I know about this because I drove the well framed painting and delivered it for her to the Colts complex.

Months went by. There was not even an acknowledgment from him about the painting...let alone thanks.

It was the height of rudeness. I didn't like him then. I can't stand him now.

stAllio! said...

paul: you seriously should check out charity navigator:
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4632

United Way of Central Indiana
Organizational Efficiency

Program Expenses 85.7%
Administrative Expenses 5.8%
Fundraising Expenses 8.4%

Efficiency Rating 4 stars (of 4)

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'll take a look at it, StAllio. The Arts Council is claiming the same thing. What their President is doing is not properly classifying "adminsitrative" expenses. My guess is United Way's salaries are being lumped in as "program" and not "administrative" expenses which is in fact what they are.

I would tell you that the United Way has a history regarding extravagant spending. Remember a few years ago when a bunch of their execs were caught riding around in limos?

Paul K. Ogden said...

StAllio,

Bottom line is that very little of the dollars you contribute to the United Way actually makes it through to someone in need. Organizations like that are only a step or two above Buyer's charitable foundation.

stAllio! said...

Bottom line is that very little of the dollars you contribute to the United Way actually makes it through to someone in need. Organizations like that are only a step or two above Buyer's charitable foundation.

do you have any evidence whatsoever to support such accusations? if so, you haven't shown any.

Paul K. Ogden said...

st. Allio, didn't I do a whole column on United Way's tax return? It's funny that you don't consider tax returns to be "evidence."

It's nice to know that as a Democrat you have no problem with executives of these non-profits living high off of our tax dollars and the contributions of people who think they are giving money to a charity. So much for Democrats being for the "little guy" eh?

stAllio! said...

st. Allio, didn't I do a whole column on United Way's tax return? It's funny that you don't consider tax returns to be "evidence."

1. you only wrote a few sentences about the united way. that post was mostly about children's bureau.

2. where do you think the information in the charity navigator report came from? from the united way's tax returns!

Paul K. Ogden said...

st.Allio, I'll have to check back but I thought I wrote a later column just on United Way. Maybe I'm thinking of Good Will.

You still are avoiding the point. Very little of the money people conribute to "charities" like United Way actually reach needy people. Tell me how that is not true. Simply calling administrator salaries non-administrative expenses doesn't change that fact. It's nice you still have no problem with scores of these folks pulling in six figure salaries. So much for Democrats being for the poor and downtrodden.

HOOSIERS FOR FAIR TAX said...

Why don't these do-gooders give for the joy of giving?

Frankly, they are in it for the money.

To take money for charity work and donations is counter-intuitive unless you are greedy.

stAllio! said...

as i have repeatedly tried to explain to you, a salary in the low six figures is quite reasonable for a CEO at a decent-sized charity. simply saying their salaries are too high doesn't make it true.

You still are avoiding the point. Very little of the money people conribute to "charities" like United Way actually reach needy people. Tell me how that is not true.

it's not true. i have tried for months to point you to information that will give you perspective on this issue, but you have so far refused to follow any of my links. how am i supposed to explain anything when you refuse to listen?

Indy Student said...

stallio,

Most of Paul's criticism isn't what a not-for-profit does with their money. It's when a not-for-profit receives city funds (or in cases such as Indianapolis Downtown Inc and the ICVA, are at least majority supported by the city) to privatize out city business. And like many "privatization" efforts (see the Marion County prison #2, for example), there's no evidence that the price we're paying is actually in line with the free market value.

If a business, not-for-profit or for-profit, does what they do without spending a dime via government grands and funding, good for them. But when they use government resources to do anything other than their stated mission, then they need to be called out.