Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Key Democrats oppose free ride for Sonics

It's good to know that not all of our elected leaders are cheerleaders eager to hand the Sonics' wealthy ownership group bucketfuls full of taxpayers' hard earned dollars for the construction of a new arena.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, whose forceful and mistakenly placed support of a new viaduct has annoyed us, is thankfully flexing his political muscle in the proper direction on this issue. As Chopp put it, "I just know that our caucus members have much higher priorities, for schools and health care."

Chopp gave the Associated Press a detailed breakdown of his reasons for opposing the gift of a massive public subsidy to Sonics ownership earlier today:
  • The regional economy is already booming without the new facility.
  • The plan was tardy in arriving and only two weeks remain before a key committee deadline.
  • The Sonics already have a place to play, KeyArena in Seattle.
  • In his view, the club spends wildly for player salaries. "They ought to get their own financial house in order when their payroll is over $50 million for, what is it, 10 players? I think that's a little ridiculous...if they did [get their house in order], they wouldn't have to ask for public help."
  • He said he can't stomach diverting money from school kids "for something where the court side seats cost a thousand bucks? Give me a break!"
  • The Sonics have rejected a public vote on a plan, unlike the Seattle Seahawks (whose owner did make his case to the public).
  • The threat of the Sonics leaving so they can make more money elsewhere? "That's not my concern."
Additionally, King County's five Democratic council members - a plurality of the council - have sent a letter to the Governor and Senator Margarita Prentice saying they would not approve the use of taxes to finance an arena in King County without a public vote and authorization from the electorate.

We commend all five of the county's Democratic council members for sending this message. Again, the Sonics ownership includes four billionaires. If they want a new sports arena, they can pay for one themselves without any public assistance.

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