This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 21, 2003 10:25 PM. The previous post in this blog was Aftermath. The next post in this blog is Change the channel. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

A question of priorities

So does Oregon go for major league baseball, or not?

In many ways, the question is still in the early innings, but the State Senate is currently on the mound with the ball. If that body passes the stadium finance bill, which cleared the House earlier this month, the governor's signature seems a sure thing. Then it will be on to the major league organizations, and the City of Portland. If the State Senate says no, it's over, at least for two years and quite likely forever.

Will the bill, HB 3606, pass the Senate? If it does, it will be close. On May 7, the bill passed the House by a vote of 33 to 25, with two members absent who would have voted yes had they been present. But the Senate seems a more hostile environment, and some strange alliances may be forming there.

Shockingly to me, the legislative representatives from Portland have not been uniformly behind the bill. In the House, Rep. Diane Rosenbaum of SE Portland voted against the bill, as did Rep. Jackie Dingfelder, my representative here in NE Portland, and Rep. Deborah Kafoury, also of NE Portland. The day after the vote, The Oregonian reported:

Rep. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, echoed a popular sentiment: Lawmakers simply have more important things to do.

"My fear is that it really is distracting us from the serious problems we're facing," Rosenbaum said.

It looks like a similar trend is shaping up in the Senate. The other day, The O (which has endorsed the bill but has been running a series of supposedly objective articles emphasizing all the reasons to vote no) reported that my state senator, Avel Gordly, is dead set against the measure:
Gordly didn't throw up her hands. She held them straight out and crossed her index fingers, as if warding off a vampire.

"I don't see us getting to this in this session," she said.

This is all so disturbing to me. With the state on the ropes financially, our elected representatives seem to be taking a stance that is timid at best. Why is bringing in several hundred environmentally clean jobs to Portland, completely on found money, with no meaningful risk to the state, a "distraction"? What other matters are so important that the Legislature is so absorbed with them? The governor's made clear that there will be no serious discussion of major tax reform this time around. So exactly what else is so important?

Given the makeup of the Portland delegation down in Salem, some have suggested that the baseball bill may be facing a gender issue. If not that, there's definitely a problem getting our liberal Democrat solons to see the economic benefits that this relatively modest quasi-investment would provide.

Multnomah County has now put a plug in the dike of its school and social service functions for a while. So why turn aside the windfalls that would come from baseball?

Here's an e-mail I sent to Senator Gordly last night. So far, I have not received an answer:

From: Jack Bogdanski [mailto:bojack@lclark.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 11:54 PM
To: sen.avelgordly@state.or.us
Subject: From a constituent

Dear Sen. Gordly:

As a long-time supporter of yours, I ask that you reconsider your opposition to HB 3606, the baseball stadium financing bill. The recent quotation of your comments in The Oregonian indicates that you have uncharacteristically closed your mind to this proposal. Please uncross your hex symbol and take another look.

You indicate that baseball is a frill that we don't have time to consider. Senator, we can't afford NOT to consider this. It will create hundreds of jobs, many for residents of our own district. It's environmentally clean. Tourism will benefit. And baseball has proven itself around the country as a community builder. This is not another Portland Jail Blazer scenario.

We have a state Economic Development Department that reportedly spends more than $460 million a year, and with very dubious results. Portland just blew $100 million on a convention center expansion that's going to languish. Why, when a *good* opportunity finally presents itself, would we turn our backs on truly major economic development at no cost to the state's taxpayers?

There really is no risk to the state from this bill. The only state funds spent on the stadium would be the *found money* from the income taxes on players' and executives' salaries. If those taxes aren't enough to cover the bond payments, it's clear that someone else, *not* state taxpayers, will have to make up the difference.

Yes, we *must* have time to consider this proposal carefully. The most important policy issue in the state right now is how to restart our economy. Having major league baseball here next year would go a long way toward doing exactly that. The governor and the mayor both understand this, as does The Oregonian editorial board and many long-time Portland residents such as myself (25 years).

Please reconsider.

Thank you for your time.

Jack Bogdanski

Clicky Web Analytics