Crazy Talk

As I said in a comment the other day, I’ve been fighting the last war with respect to public funding for ballparks for quite a while now. Really, the time to rally against this sort of thing was a good 15-20 years ago, as the majority of teams have already gotten their taxpayer handouts. But even if whatever I say about this stuff constitutes an exercise in deck chair rearranging, I can’t give up the fight, even if it’s a losing one:

A South Florida lawmaker wants to give Miami-Dade County voters the right to approve whether public funds are spent on a Florida Marlins stadium. Rep. Richard L. Steinberg of Miami Beach has filed an amendment to a bill dealing with public funding of professional sports teams. Steinberg says voters should have the right to weigh in on whether tax dollars should be spent on a stadium.

Governance by referendum can be an inefficient thing, but when it comes to big giveaways that, over the long term, are only going to benefit some very narrow interests, it’s probably not a bad idea to let the people have a say.

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  1. Chris H. said...

    I used to think public referenda were terrific until I lived in Southern California for a while; you simply can’t go to the grocery store without being assaulted by petitions for this referendum or that.

    Having said that, I think this is terrific, and I hope the people of Florida let their government know in no uncertain terms that public handouts to sports franchises need to stop.

  2. Aaron Moreno said...

    More importantly, when people aren’t educated about referenda, they’ll pass any spending that sounds good without considering the consequences. Which is why California is so shot to hell right now.

  3. Chris H. said...

    Well it’s the same issue that comes up during elections: voter decisions get made based (often) upon misleading ad campaigns funded by groups with their own agenda (e.g. the ads run by teachers’ unions that claim voucher systems will cause everyone to send kids to satan-worshipping schools and so on).

  4. Pete Toms said...

    In both Pittsburgh and Phoenix (and their surrounding counties) voters defeated proposals to spend public dollars on stadiums.  And we know what happened….they got built anyway with lots of public dough in the pot…

    Perhaps what has changed is that politicians no longer want to be seen as favoring pro sports owners and will comply with the will of their constituents.

    I digress a bit, but Norman Braman might have succeeded in killing this deal even though he lost in court.  He managed to delay the approval of the funding and during that time the public mood changed.

  5. Mad Bum said...

    and when the team leaves, who gets the blame? The owner and the politicians that let the team leave. And the owner won’t ever be held to account for it.

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