Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger
As a die-hard White Sox fan (sorry Professor Turley!), it was nice to see the White Sox beat the Cubs in the first two games of the 3 game series at Wrigley Field. Now, I am not writing this article to rub Cub fan’s noses in it, but rather to discuss one of the Cub’s owners Super Pac political activities and the Cubs ownership that is looking for corporate welfare to help renovate venerable Wrigley Field. I understand that many ball parks are subsidized by the voters, including beautiful Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago. However, there is a big difference in what the Cubs organization wants to do and how they are going about it.
In case you didn’t know it, the Ricketts’ family is the majority owner of the Cubs and the patriarch of that family is Joe Ricketts. Mr. Ricketts is a billionaire and he founded TD Ameritrade and his children run the Cubs organization. Mr. Joe Ricketts was recently in the headlines because he was planning on running anti-Obama ads through his political organization that could be considered racially offensive.
“A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from. Timed to upend the Democratic National Convention in September, the plan would “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do,” the strategists wrote. The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign. “The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.
The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.” The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a ‘ “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.” ‘ New York Times
Needless to say, once the secret plan was disclosed, Mr. Ricketts has been busy trying to downplay and distance himself from the disgusting program. Even his children, some of who give to progressive causes, tried to pull their father out of the political mud that he created. I have no problem with Mr. Ricketts saying and doing whatever he wants with his Billions because due to the Citizens United decision, he has the right to spew whatever statements he wants at any candidate. I do have a problem with him complaining about Obama’s alleged over-spending on one hand, while sticking out his other hand and demanding a taxpayer subsidy for planned renovations to Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cub organization is looking to renovate Wrigley Field and they want the City and State to pony up about $150 million in bonds and they are also asking for 50% of any increase in amusement tax revenues.
“And half would come from $150 million or so in bonds to be retired with increased revenue from the existing city and Cook County amusement taxes on ticket sales. Specifically, debt service would get the first 6 percent in growth above a base level of around $15 million a year now. But it’s a little more complicated than that. The team also wants a 50 percent cut of any increase in amusement tax revenue growth above 6 percent. And unlike the bonds, which would be retired in 30 or 35 years, that would be forever.” Crains Chicago Business
Is it just me or is Corporate Welfare seem to be a bigger problem than the welfare programs for ordinary citizens? Why should any city or county or State be extorted into paying for half of a private corporation’s spending plans? Should the city of Chicago or the State of Illinois buy into this bad deal just to keep some billionaire happy? What would the City or the State get out of this plan? More jobs, increased revenues from taxes? Maybe, but I have heard that song and dance before. Why shouldn’t the ballclub be required to pay its own way? I understand the possible use of government bonds that have an end date, but to demand a share of the tax revenues with no end date is outrageous.
It is interesting that organizations and wealthy individuals that decry government regulations and taxes seem to have no problem in demanding that the government treat them differently than any other corporation or individual. At the very least, it is not a good business decision to ask the City for your help and then thumb your nose at the former boss of the Mayor of that very same city. What do you think? By the way… Go Sox!