Shocking election development in San Diego. Football one—-percenters discovered the people who sweep NFL luxury boxes aren’t willing to subsidize box owners.
Nestled far under the existential choice of Trump or Hillary on the local ballot was Measure C. The Babbits in city hall thought “C” was a chance to raise money for their legacy by taxing tourists and Trump voters and using the windfall to build a new palace for the San Diego Chargers.
Politicians love hotel taxes because this levy is the embodiment of taxation without representation.
Hotel taxes are municipal add—-ons at the bottom of the bill. The people victimized by this scam are all from someplace else. No one who pays the tax, with the exception of a few local adulterers, has any say in the political process or a means of punishing the politicians.
This tax is so repercussion—-free I’m surprised politicians aren’t riffling through tourist’s wallets as they clear baggage claim at the airport.
Call it another populist revolt or a driverlash against the Charger’s $75 parking fee; either way voters didn’t view increasing this tax as a victimless crime.
Measure C asked voters to boost the city’s hotel room tax from an unconscionable 12.5 percent to a confiscatory 16.5 percent. The additional gouge would raise money to fund $1.5 billion in bonds for a new stadium and convention center.
The rest of the cost would be covered by selling organs belonging to people who complained about the tax. Or, maybe it was to be covered by a love offering of $650 million from the NFL and the Chargers; I forget which.
Passing a tax increase, even on strangers, is never a sure thing and it was tougher in this instance because a tax increase for a specific project must be passed by a majority of two—-thirds of the voters. Politicians always on the make for tax dollars to fund their “legacy” don’t like letting the public vote in the first place and a super majority is even worse.
So they snuck Measure D on the ballot with a smaller tax increase for no specific reason —- wink, wink —- that only required a simple majority to pass.
And both measures went down to a resounding defeat. Measure C by a total of 57 to 43 percent and Measure D —- only requiring the simple majority —- was thrashed even worse: 60 to 40 percent.
The sports shill for the San Diego Tribune couldn’t believe it, “The defeat of C in no way reflected on the chances of a different proposal getting a simple majority.” Except it did since voters also delivered a crackback block to Measure D. Now he’s hoping for pressure on “the dawdling obstructionists in our local government.”
I suppose that includes voters, too.
Maybe next season the Chargers will make fans go through airport metal detectors, search their bags and confiscate any water, soda or snacks they brought from home. Wait, the NFL already does that. The only physical pressure left is locking the bathrooms.
In all the discussion of the options open to the Chargers, which include shacking up with the Rams in LA at their taxapalooza of a stadium or wasting voter’s time with yet another vote, the owner paying for his own dang stadium is never mentioned.
It’s like the topic is something polite people simply don’t discuss, but since the NFL owner keeps the profit, shouldn’t he bear the risk.
Taxpayers in other cities that paid for stadiums often discover they are still paying long after the team departed. In New York when the Giants decamped for New Jersey taxpayers were still paying off $110 million in debt on the old stadium. St. Louis just lost the Rams, but they didn’t lose $144 million in stadium debt the team left behind.
Another topic seldom mentioned is what a bad deal taxpayer—-funded stadiums are. Michael Leeds, a sports economist at Temple University, says that in spite of what stadium boosters claim, “There is no [economic] impact.
“A baseball team [with ten times the number of home games as a football team] has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store.”
Yet I don’t know of any city that is rallying voters to pay for a new Belk’s.
Then again maybe the “no” vote wasn’t an economic decision at all. Maybe the NFL is reaping what it has sown. Attending a game in person is volunteering to be fleeced. Expensive tickets, expensive parking, expensive mandatory concessions and excessive consumption of your time is simply too much, regardless of how lavishly taxpayers have furnished the stadium.
It’s easier and cheaper to watch the game at home.
© Copyright 2016 Michael Shannon, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Michael Shannon is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.”