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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hockey Proposal Privatizes Profits - Socializes Losses

After reading Saturday's Janesville Gazette, I'm convinced that if the Ice Arena isn't turned into a high-tech community convention center, taxpayers should invest the necessary dollars to keep the facility as a public-use ice arena. And I say public-use because if the WHP get their way and the city council ignores the majority of the resident's on this issue, the facility will no longer be for the public. The city manager is recommending that the WHP be given primary control of use to over-ride all others, and that means it's no longer a public facility. This is wrong.

It turns out over 26 groups and at least 3,000 people use the Janesville Ice Arena, far more than I thought. Which actually means that more members of the community will lose out if the WHP takes control. You just can't occupy the same space at the same time. The hockey group can say they will work with all user groups, but if push comes to shove, the smaller user groups lose out - the contract says so. I don't want my tax dollars paying for that, but that's not even close to the heart of my opposition.
The main sell-out points of the contract
Page 10 is the Contract Index.

The City grants WHP the exclusive right to sell and keep all revenue from the sales of admission tickets, team merchandise, advertising space and novelties (Page 13)

The City grants WHP the privilege to sell and keep all revenue from the sales of alcoholic beverages allowed in a Class B license. (Page 14)

JYHA must provide reasonable and consistent customer service to the satisfaction of WHP and the City.(Page 15)

The city is charging the team ($440) for each exhibition or game event. Monthly rental stands at $350 a month.(Page 16)
Can I get permission to bend over? So, after the drive to give away the ice arena is nearly over, this is the bottom line...
Hockey Proposal Page 3:
If the Junior team came to the City it would reduce the property tax subsidy by approximately $15,000 to $20,000 (all other factors remaining stable.)
I didn't put that in bold, the city did. They are willing to hand over a taxpayer funded public-use facility for the grand prize of a subsidy reduction, from $85,000 to $70,000. You've got to be kidding! I would rather pay the taxes.

There's something wrong here. Our city administration should be defending taxpayers full control and use of our public assets. Relinquishing those rights should come at a far higher premium than what the administration has put together. Taxpayers should not be viewed as the opposition. Whether or not this agreement is approved almost doesn't matter at this point. As a taxpaying resident of Janesville, I find this contract not only insulting, but an embarrassment of our city officials. Things have got to change. An election is coming up.

I've written extensively in opposition of turning the public facility over to the for-profit hockey group during the past couple of months and little if anything has changed contractually with the Janesville city/hockey team proposal. Yet, I'm not the only one who thinks this is a bad deal for Janesville interests. The Gazette ran a Web Poll on the issue.
Would you support a hockey team in Janesville?

Response Percent Votes
Yes........26%... 496
No.......73%... 1,348
1844 total votes
Of course the question should have been “Would you renovate the ice arena using tax dollars to pad the expenses of a private business venture in Janesville? But the Gazette poll is good enough for me. I'm convinced.

Yet, some council members will say they got 10 emails in favor and two against the hockey team deal, so that’s what really matters. If the council approves of this proposal, they should just be honest and tell the truth, "We really don't care what you or anyone thinks or wants, it's our way or the highway."

If a group of private individuals think starting up a Junior A hockey team in Janesville is a good thing – that’s good. I don't blame the WHP for this at all - I say bring it on. But legislating the taxpayers to carry their water while they are the only ones drinking from the trough is privatizing profits and socializing losses - it's corporate welfare in its most insidious form - and I am against it.

But it's up to the city council to decide.

Read previous commentary and opinion on City/Hockey proposal below.

Can Deal Pass The Swap Test?

Council Buys More Time With Hockey Proposal.

Information Short On Details
NOTE: This was written before city posted contract on the Web.

WHP Group a Republican Tool?

Reversal of Pursuit Is Key To Council Rubber Stamp.

Council Okays Beer and Tax Giv-away For Junior Hockey.

Getting Snow-Jobbed At The Ice Arena.

Will Hockey Group Skate Right In?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess Janesville has their own AIG.

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