Sunday, January 3, 2010

Behind-The-Scenes Intrigue of Stadium Property Tax Rollback

"et tu, Todd?!?"

There’s plenty of back-stabbing and intrigue on the intense Stadium property tax rollback story in the halls of the County Courthouse.

We got ourselves into the Stadium financing mess in Hamilton County not because of the Reds, Bengals, and unprincipled politicians.  Indeed greedy team owners and selfish politicians did what they are expected to do – act in their self-interest. 

However, the media and the voters were asleep at the switch following the Stadium Sales Tax vote in 1996, leading to the disaster that generated many headlines, including the recent New York Times feature story.

Even worse, the voters and media are ignoring the story happening right under our noses today, exacerbating the misery of Hamilton County taxpayers.

·                     The local media steadfastly refuses to cover the continued spending of hundreds of millions of dollars from the bankrupt Stadium Fund by Commissioners Portune and Pepper, making the fiscal prospects of the fund without a tax increase or general fund subsidy impossible and the situation more urgent than it otherwise would be.  Why do they insist on ignoring the story?

·                     The Stadium Fund fiasco and Pepper’s broken promises has created a significant rift between Commissioner Portune and Pepper, including last-minute back-stabbing and name calling.  Their character shines through.

·                     Lost in the story of Portune’s vote against a property tax increase is Portune’s continuing drive towards yet another massive sales tax increase.  Methodically throughout the County’s budget processes since the failure of his sales tax hike in 2007, including in the recent Stadium Fund vote, Portune has resisted cutting spending, and dipping into reserves, making a sales tax more likely in 2010 or 2011.  Like all liberals, Portune never gives up.

·                     Finally, we rarely see a politician “outed” like Pepper has been on the rollback vote – calling his own position “deeply illegitimate” and providing a clear roadmap to the logic of his treachery.  Not one media outlet has covered his duplicity.

And we wonder how we got into this position to begin with!  As a community, let’s stop sweeping things under the rug.

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