Sunday, February 18, 2018

St. Pete – noise or dollars which will it be?

Is Downtown St. Pete really fueled by draft beer and loud noise?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The City of St. Petersburg has been wrestling for years with the problem of noise. The arguments, mostly centered around the downtown area, have grown more strident as downtown St. Pete morphed from a simple “downtown” to a craft beer powered juke box.
The assault on any attempt to control or limit noise and the proposed St. Pete Noise ordinance is no exception see Fox News Dan Matics: Proposed noise rule frustrates St. Pete bar owners.

The argument from the bar and brewery owners is the loud music is what attracts the ever precious millennials through the door. Is that really true?

Do the millennials that these bar owners tout really like loud music?

Well, according to Bernadette Hasson writing for NightClub&BAR which bills itself as “The Bar Industry Authority” says, “In an anonymous survey, millennial's listed the following reasons for not going to nightclubs: cover charges, expensive drinks, long lines to get in, long waits for drinks, too-loud music, pretension, rude staff, crowds, getting jostled, meat-market atmosphere, inability to have a conversation."

With massive speakers pointed at the street, and the volume cranked up it is more like a circus midway than a city street. The objective is to get your attention, and nothing about setting a mood. 

Try having a conversation in one of these places.

Then there is the impact on the surrounding businesses and residents and that is what this noise ordinance is all about.

An area like downtown St. Pete is all about quality of live and brew pubs, and bars are just one small part of the quality of life. These businesses would have you think the entire downtown will fold without a mass impact of a loud bass.

Just not so.

There some indication that a little softer on the music just might be better for business.

For now, we need to watch the Kriseman administration and City Council as they balance the sanity of those who live down town, and in other areas of the City plagued by noisy night spots with the claims of those who deliberately make the noise.

The next public meeting on the noise ordinance is scheduled for:

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Friday, February 16, 2018

San Diego Didn’t Fall for Shady Stadium Deal; Will Tampa?

Tampa, Fl
Posted From: Tampa Bay Beat
Author: Jim Bleyer

Rendering of stadium/convention center combo rejected by San Diego voters
By Jim Bleyer
Fifteen months ago the people and politicians of a major American city stood up to protect their region’s economic health and integrity by rejecting a shakedown from a billionaire owner of a big-league sports franchise.
But the citizens of San Diego had three major advantages over their counterparts in Hillsborough County where special interests are intent on bilking taxpayers to build a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.
—Public funding of a new stadium for the NFL Chargers was put to a referendum with passage requiring a 67 percent supermajority;
—The political will existed to push back against a blackmailing bully, in this case Dean Spanos, scion of real estate magnate Alex Spanos;
—Access to accurate, complete information from the San Diego Union-Tribune which reported all facets of the issue.
San Diegans killed public financing, 57-43 percent, not even a majority let alone the required threshold.  The ballot measure asked voters whether they wanted to increase the city’s hotel room tax rate from 12.5% to 16.5%, with the proceeds to fund a new $1.8 billion stadium and convention center. The tax increase was to repay $1.15 billion in bonds, leaving the Chargers and NFL to pay the remaining $650 million.
What’s happened since the ballot defeat?  The Chargers moved to a temporary facility in Costa Mesa playing the 2017 season to a fraction of the audience they drew in San Diego.  Half the fans rooted for the opposition.  The Rays are used to that; the Chargers weren’t.  When the Chargers move to a larger, modern stadium in Inglewood for the 2020 season, the facility will be shared with the Los Angeles Rams.
Meanwhile, life goes on without the Chargers in San Diego.  Most citizens are bitter at the Spanos family; a tiny minority actually trek to Charger games.  The city is still a hotspot for high-tech innovation, an incubator for Broadway-bound theatre, home of the historic Gaslamp Quarter, culturally diverse and harmonic, an attractive beach and surfing destination and much more.
Despite offering a specific plan that had adequate access, didn’t destroy neighborhoods, and meshed with a convention center, San Diegans saw through the bamboozle of transferring wealth to a billionaire and shot down the proposal by a healthy margin.
The stadium scheme in Tampa has nothing to recommend it.  A new playpen doesn’t guarantee Rays owner Stuart Sternberg will spend more than a pittance on payroll, reduce the abominable number of food safety violations,  or ditch players coming into their prime to cut costs.  It does guarantee to increase the value of the Rays franchise by a half billion. That’s the name of the game.
Look at the above rendering.  The combo stadium-convention center in San Diego blends with the neighborhood and has adequate access.  The proposed Rays stadium in Ybor City (below) is shoehorned into a unique, celebrated district.  Access and parking are difficult if not laughable.
San Diego also had one definitive financing source; Tampa’s revenue origins are uncertain as special interests and their toady politicians are scrambling to cobble together a taxpayer-funded sports subsidy.
As for the plan, San Diego actually had a specific one.  The Union-Tribune ran factual balanced accounts about the stadium campaign, its pros and cons.  Hillsborough County residents, the few who subscribe anyway, are not as fortunate with the Tampa Bay Times publishing slanted articles and omitting important facts.
The Times is rolling over for Sternberg, real estate interests, and the investors who temporarily bailed it out of bankruptcy.
Politicians love hotel taxes because this levy is the embodiment of taxation without representation.  Prancers to the pork barrel polka, such as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan,  look for any means to leverage tax dollars to fund their “legacy.”  They abhor referendums that allow the public to interfere with their gifts to special interests.   They would find a super majority requirement lethal to their indulgences.
Taxpayers in other cities that paid for stadiums often discover they are still on the hook long after the team departed. In New York when the Giants bolted the Big Apple for New Jersey, taxpayers were still paying off $110 million in debt on the old stadium. St. Louis lost the Rams, but they didn’t lose $144 million in stadium debt the team bequeathed.
Philip K. Porter, Professor of Economics at the University of South Florida, terms sports subsidies as a “transfer of wealth” and competition for funding with more needed municipal services regardless of the revenue source.
Of the 38 metropolitan areas with at least one major professional sports team, Tampa ranks fourth in per capita subsidy, according to Porter.  That number will only increase if the Ybor City boondoggle comes to fruition.
His report, “Public Subsidies and the Location and Pricing of Sports,” can be found here.
According to Michael Leeds, an economist at Temple University, “If every sports team in Chicago were to suddenly disappear, the impact on the Chicago economy would be a fraction of 1 percent. A baseball team has about the same impact on a community as a midsize department store.”
Victor Matheson, a sports economist at College of the Holy Cross, is dubious of the economic hype surrounding professional sports facilities.
“A good rule of thumb that economists use is to take what stadium boosters are telling you and move that one decimal place to the left, and that’s usually a good estimate of what you’re going to get,” Matheson says.
Economists say the biggest reason sports teams don’t have much impact is that they don’t ignite new spending. Most people have a limited entertainment budget, so the dollars they shell out for a game is money they would have spent elsewhere such as a restaurant or small businesses where more money would have stayed in the community.  Matheson added that instead of drawing people to a neighborhood, games can actually repel them.
That certainly applies to Ybor, one of America’s most storied, culturally significant and eclectic neighborhoods.  And how much of the money that absentee owner Sternberg rakes in from his revenue sharing/cheapskate payroll template do you think remains in the Bay area?
When politicians like Hagan and Buckhorn go directly to “how should we fund the stadium” omitting all the intermediate steps and any taxpayer comment let alone vote, they’ve already lubed the public to assume the position that shoveling tax bucks toward a sports facility should be the correct priority. It eliminates discussion of uplifting economically depressed neighborhoods, educating and assisting disenfranchised youth, properly training and retraining law enforcement officers, and addressing infrastructure needs.
Buckhorn and Hagan, abetted in their misinformation campaign by the Tampa Bay Times, obsess with burnishing their legacies, however fleeting, and rewarding their real estate cronies plus Sternberg with hundreds of millions.
Tampa residents are victims of this squeeze play.  
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

District Rays Candidate Hagan Challenged As His Teflon Wears Thin

Career politicians, especially those who park themselves in the same position for 16 years, know how to work and game the system. 

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

After 16 too long years, District Rays Candidate Hagan is violating the spirit of term limits and running again for a single district seat he already held. He doesn't care that he's setting a horrible precedent doing what no other commissioner has done in the 34 years of the county charter.

When asked why, after 16 too long years, he is running again, the District Rays Candidate has said he has "things" he wants to complete. Of course! The candidate for District Rays wants to complete his pursuit of a new Rays stadium - that he's been pursuing for most of his 16 too long years as a county commissioner.

But besides a baseball stadium, what are the other "things" Hagan wants to complete? Hagan must have an earth shattering list of things to complete that he feels entitled to egregiously flip flop back to a seat he already held.

The Times even reached out in December to the county commissioners to ask each commissioner about their priorities. They got crickets from the District Rays Candidate Hagan. As the current longest serving commissioner, District Rays Candidate Hagan was the only commissioner who did not respond. Perhaps the holidays kept Hagan from getting his scripted response from his PR confidante in time to respond.

We checked Hagan's campaign website owned by HCP Associates, a professional marketing/PR firm. No list there either or much of anything else - considering Hagan's been in office for 16 years. The District Rays Candidate Hagan's professionally created website is just a shell to collect some donations of at least $100 (the big donors send checks directly) with a small blurb of political gobblygook.

From Candidate Hagan's website
Hagan may consider himself "experienced", but after 16 too long years, he is a career county commissioner who refuses to respect term limits.

Where did that first bullet about standing firm to manage the budget and growth "without increasing taxes" come from? District Rays Candidate Hagan is living in his own alternative universe, echo chamber or the Twilight zone to make such stuff up.

Did Hagan erase or BleachBit his past?

Candidate Rays campaign website also touts he wants to create high-wage, high quality jobs. Well..

In pursuit of a new baseball stadium, Candidate Rays Hagan has stated it could be more than just a ball park, but about creating an entertainment district - more restaurants, retail and fern bars. Are those high wage jobs? Is that what's needed in Ybor?

According to this article from the Economic Research of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis , 86% of economists surveyed stated state and local governments should ELIMINATE subsidies to professional sports franchises. That article also stated:

In a 2017 poll, 83 percent of the economists surveyed agreed that "Providing state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams is likely to cost the relevant taxpayers more than any local economic benefits that are generated."No wonder economists state that...especially when all the shady wheeling and dealing is being done in the dark. And in the case of District Rays Candidate Hagan, he was wheeling and dealing behind closed doors with his campaign donors.

Subsidizing sports stadiums for wealthy sports team owners does not create high wage jobs nor does subsidizing big retailers like Bass Pro. Is creating a place to host bachelorette parties part of Hagan's high wage jobs vision? Who was the local lobbyist for Bass Pro? Surprise! Hagan's cozy, close PR confidante Beth Leytham.

Bass Pro Shops recently sold their Brandon store and two other Bass Pro stores in Florida to Starwood Property Trust for a lease-back arrangement. Hmmm...

Past actions and behaviors are the best indicators of how one will behave and act in the future - not words on a website or some well scripted political rhetoric.

Hagan has been systematically recommending sales tax hikes and cunningly seeking risky financing schemes for years. It was Hagan who got Mike Merrill, former county bond/debt manager, his position as County Administrator in 2010 and the two of them have been pushing tax hikes and a baseball stadium ever since.

Something else unprecedented is Hagan has raised almost a HALF MILLION dollars for a single district county commission race, tons of it from those who cannot vote for him. It's not about District 2 for Hagan, it's about keeping his fingers in the county taxpayer cookie jar.

District Rays Candidate Hagan's campaign donations confirms he must deliver the goods to his special interests donor base.

After 16 too long years, District Rays Candidate Hagan thinks the county cannot live without him.

But the so-called "teflon" that District Rays Candidate Hagan thinks still surrounds him has worn thin or perhaps totally worn off.

Republican voters in District 2 can reject Hagan's arrogance and entitlement attitude.

In the August Primary, they should vote for Chris Paradies.
Posted by Sharon Calvert

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay