Thursday, July 09, 2009

Fire them all, again: more on the Marlin's stadium deal. by Gimleteye

Killer snakes. Cat killers. What a perfect moment to divert attention from the worst economic crisis in a century and those elected officials who voted to use a professional sports stadium as a "stimulus". Along those lines, thanks to Miami Today and its publisher Michael Lewis, also a journalist who has analyzed and reported the sordid details of the Marlins stadium deal. The devil is always in the details and, in this case, the details would not speak for themselves unless they were published.

As it turns out, the stonewalling by George Burgess before the county commission of the true, all-in cost of the Marlins deal is grounds for dismissal. He has to go. This is not a disagreement-- the matter of how much the new Marlins stadium could cost taxpayers-- among honorable friends with differing points of view. This is a very clear failure of providing information to public officials who, with that information in hand, could have taken advantage of an escape clause and voted to suspend the Marlins deal based on excessive bonding costs.

From now on, Katy Sorenson, Sally Heyman and Carlos Gimenez-- the minority of the Miami Dade County Commission-- will have to retain independent counsel and independent economists to assess reality for the blind mice who form the unreformable majority of the county commission. The skyrocketing cost of the Marlins stadium-- born mostly by general tax revenue if the tourist tax fails to meet bond obligations--will be close to $3 billion, all in.

"Amid the worldwide recession, overseas travel to Florida dropped by 13 percent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing arm." (Sun Sentinel, July 7, "United States, Florida losing battle for international tourists") If you are a decision maker, you ask yourself: is this a short-term phenomenon, or, a long-term trend? Obviously, our elected officials are surrounded by lobbyists and encouragements to drink from the pipe of tax revenue, not sip from a straw. Obviously, they are geared to a bright future for tourism, more development and construction, more tax base. They are clueless of the horror they turned Florida into, through overdevelopment and an unwillingness to protect and preserve quality of life. Marie Antoinette said of popular discontent, "Let them eat cake". Our county commissioners? "Give them all passes to the Parrot Jungle."

In the best of times, I oppose public financing of privately owned, professional sports stadiums. I disagree that the highest and best use of public tax dollars is to fund games and entertainments that benefit gladiators and the supply chain. But these aren't the best of times by a long shot. The Marlins owner and lobbyists began agitating for a publicly funded stadium in Miami during the best of times. Those ended in 2005 with the bursting of the housing market bubble. Yet the schemers, the dealers, the mortgage brokers, the politicians and their funders were all in fine fettle, with the Monte Cristos and the champagne parties at condo openings and professional athletes and movie stars and Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell elbowing their way into the coziest parties on South Beach.

No wonder a baseball stadium in Miami was just the place to put the tens of thousands of new arrivals who would jam downtown condominiums and fill Miami's streets with nightlife. Just like Singapore. Just like Paris. Just like San Francisco.

Nothing about planning. Nothing about listening to professional planners who took into account history, trend lines and infrastructure costs. Back in 2005, I started asking questions about the unfunded infrastructure deficits in Miami-Dade, as if a rationale analysis of what was needed might keep the decision makers from piling on more growth and more unsustainable debt on taxpayers. County manager Burgess kept the information hidden, at the time, like a state secret. Silly me.

Now is an excellent moment for the minority of county commissioners to hire their own counsel and experts since it is obvious Burgess is angling for a better perch once he leaves county government than operating a roller coaster ride on the side of a mountain in North Carolina.

We need to know what Miami-Dade taxpayers and tourists are on the hook for: last I checked, there were $6 billion in unfunded infrastructure costs, not counting the $2.9 billion for new global agreement, not counting the half billion plus obligation for the Performing Arsht Center, or $1.5 billion in wastewater and water infrastructure upgrades as part of the 20 year water use permit from the state of Florida. Now there is an obligation to pay as much as $3 billion for a new sports stadium. And Florida Power and Light is racing to commit ratepayers to $20 billion for two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point.

No one wonder Wall Street wants nearly 8 percent for Miami-Dade's obligations.

These are the worst times in living memory. There is no Plan B. No Plan B for federal economic stimulus. No Plan B for Miami and Miami Dade taxpayers. No Plan B for the state budget. No Plan A or Plan B for what happens within the lifetime of the Marlins bonds and the debt for nuclear reactors when sea levels start to rise and flood the lowest lying areas of the county.

6,000 unemployed showed up for 1,000 possible jobs at the new stadium site in Miami yesterday in just six hours. These people were not worried about sea level rise. Thousands of empty condo units are collecting mold in downtown Miami. The 6,000 weren't worried about mold. Condominium associations are under unprecedented pressure as foreclosures mount. They weren't worried about suburban developments sprouting the latest version of ghost towns.

But our elected officials should have been worried. They should have a plan beyond building a new sports stadium whose benefits will accrue nearly entirely to private owners when the team is flipped. Your elected officials response: open the gates and give away the store.

ALSO, SEE YESTERDAY'S POST: Fire all of them: managers and incumbent commissioners who supported the Marlins deal


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget about the Miami Commission.

Anonymous said...

Tell us how you really feel Gimleteye!
You said it all.

Anonymous said...

They should pour the foundation footings as a symbolic gesture. Then they should cancel the project. Make it like the residential condominium at 5th and Alton in Miami Beach. It only has foundation parts sticking out of the ground at the entrance to Miami Beach. A monument to greed that welcomes everybody to the beach.

Anonymous said...

We should start a campaign to fire the incompetent, and now clear liar, George Burgess. Can someone create an on-line petition? What do we do now?

Cato said...

I For one and looking forward to opening day at the New "estadium" I know I will see all the commssioners, mayors and politicos there pating themselves in the back, while smiling and shaking handing everyone in sight. The politicians names will be anounced over the loud speaker and everyone will clap. Then I will be treated to nine innings of grown men earning tens and sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars play a kids game. After having spent $130 for tickets parking a couple of beers and a hot dog, I will leave and give some change to the jobless panhandlers loitering outside the stadium (maybe panhandling will be classified as a job so politicos can fullfill the "Thousands of Jobs" promise), as I make my way to my car. Of course this dream will only be possible if I can still earn a decent living here (not sure at this point), that gas isn't $9 a gallon forcing me to take public transportation (hopefully 2nd amendment hasn't been repealed by then, that the Marlins haven't folded (Not probable after such a sweetheart deal at taxpayer expense) Or that I can still afford to live here (big ?) with all the rising property taxes and insurance rates (To feed corrupt governments at all levels).

Anonymous said...

Our world could change quite drastically if the economic storm clouds that are gathering intensify into a Cat 5 disaster. Under those circumstances this criminal stadium deal could become a capital offense. Beware Carlos Alvarez, Manny Diaz, George Burgess, Joe Sanchez, Larry Spring, Dennis Moss and Bruno Barrerio.

Save lives! Stop it now!

Anonymous said...
Please don't paint stadium seats orange

“During the long and fractious debate over the project, one critical issue was missing from the agenda: What color should the seats be painted? At ballparks such as Fenway or Dodger Stadium, the color of the seats doesn't matter because they're always obscured by the butts of actual fans. Sadly, this doesn't hold true when the Marlins play at home. At Landshark Stadium, most of the seats are bright orange. This is a disastrous hue because on television the near-vacant stadium often looks like a huge orange bedpan.”

Just another sign that this is a disaster and should never have been authorized. All the city, county commissioners, managers and mayors that permitted this Marlin Stadium travesty to happen should be sanctioned, fined, fired, tarred and feathered or all of the above. The only two City of Miami Commissioners to vote against this disaster from happening where Tomas Regalado and Marc Sarnoff. You may wish to recall this fact when you have your choice to for Miami Mayor and see the names of Joe Sanchez and Tomas Regalado on the ballot.
Harry Emilio Gottlieb

Anonymous said...

Larry Spring, the City of Miami CFO, bears responsibility. He was supposed to protect the City. Instead he put on his Pom Poms and he acted as the cheerleader for the scam fostered on the taxpayers.
$2.4 billion in interest costs? Great job Larry.

When the City has to reduce firefighters and police because of the massive bond payments we will have Larry to thank. Thankfully he will be long gone.

Anonymous said...

But... Sarnoff VOTED for it!

Oh, he voted against when that vote wouldn't kill it. Then he voted for the no-bid deal that was the real deciding vote.

He could have killed it but didn't.

I know, he wrote a letter to the community that he "had to vote for the no-bid contract to preserve democracy." What a bunch of cr*p.

It all comes down to: Sarnoff was the deciding vote on this whole thing, like David Kennedy on the Supreme Court, and he voted to keep the stadium alive.

His city nay vote would have made the deal fall apart, even for the county.

Anonymous said...

Manny Diaz and Larry Spring fudged the numbers and pressured the commissioners to vote to approve the bailout.

George Burgess would lie cheat and steal to get the taxpayers to give $2.4 to $3.0 bil for the Marlins.

Anonymous said...

We can cry and whine all day long, but what can we do? Is it possible to contact the Feds and have them investigate why was this obviously disadvantageous deal approved by both City and County mayors as well as some of their commissioners? Our state judges are obviously in bed with them. I've never heard of any lawsuit against the county being ruled i/f/o the plaintiff if it's going to affect our lily-white elected officials -and the State Attorney- ditto!

Anonymous said...

Anon, regarding Sarnoff's yes vote on the no-bid is 100$ correct. He would have killed the entire deal with a no vote on that. And the worst thing, I would forgive him if he had no idea what the effect would be, but, I know for an absolute fact that he did in fact know the true ramifications of his vote.

Anonymous said...

Larry Spring was supposed to protect the taxpayers. $2.4 bil fleecing. What a jerk. He believed every lie George Burgess and Manny Diaz told him. George Burgess should be arrested. Larry Spring did no due diligence.