Sports figuratively reflect the politics of political chicanery
By Derek Joy
Ah, yes. No time to dilly dally.
Super Bowl 47 is right around the corner, less than a week away for National Signing Day for high school football players to sign a letter-of-intent with the college/university of their choice.
And at the college level, the University of Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team enjoyed a 27 point blowout of then number one ranked Duke to earn a number 25 ranking. They followed up that sweet smell of success with a 24 point thumping of highly regarded in-state and ACC rival Florida State.
In the midst of that came two interesting but unrelated actions – one involving the NCAA and improprieties in its investigation of UM’s football and basketball programs. The other is Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross seeking public support in financing some $400-million in renovations to Pro Player Stadium in Miami Gardens.
On the one hand, you have the NCAA investigative unit breaking its own laws while probing into alleged wrongdoings of a member.
Those allegations were made by convicted ponzi schemer and former Canes athletic booster Nevin Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
But that will all come out in the wash. Question is, when will the final decision be made and how severe the punishment?
Many feel there should be no more than what the U has already self-imposed in a two year bowl ban and a ban on playing in last year’s ACC Championship Game.
In the interim, Ross is scurrying about in an attempt to secure at least half of the cost of the stadium renovations through public financing. And he isn’t expecting an easy go of it.
No. It won’t be. Reason being the public swindle pulled off by Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Luria in getting more than $400-million in public financing for his Marlins Stadium on the site of the old Orange Bowl.
Auto magnate Norman Braman was so incensed at the irresponsibility of elected officials; he engineered a recall drive that ended with former Miami Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and District 13 Commissioner Natacha Seijas being ousted.
District One Commissioner Barbara Jordan, District 3 Commissioner Audrey Edmonson and District Nine Commissioner Dennis Moss escaped the recall effort. And Jordan is leading the drive on the County Commission to help Ross secure some public funding for his stadium, which is in Jordan’s District.
Wouldn’t you know it? Braman is against public financing for Ross’ planned renovations, which, oddly enough, are being touted as necessary for any chance at attracting any future Super Bowls.
Ironically, defeated GOP Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney thought he was secretly complaining about some 47-percent of the public wanting public handouts.
But billionaires, which Romney, Luria and Ross are getting public financing for private projects seems more in line with what Romney identified. “Public welfare for the wealthy.”
Braman has a valid point in pointing out that any additional hotel/motel bed tax revenue could be better used to build a world class convention center to attract tourists and events.
Moreover, every elected official at the local, state and federal level would do well to do two things.
First, each should consider the egregious acts of elected officials, and the bureaucrats who did all the leg work, went unpunished for the crimes that were committed. That’s right. Crimes. What happened in that whole Marlins Stadium financing deal would have been considered crimes in the private sector?
The second point to consider is that the late Joe Robbie built what is now Pro Player Stadium without the benefit of public financing.
So, the question begging for an answer is this: When individual citizens, as well public employees at all levels of government are being asked to do more with less, why aren’t billionaire sports franchise owners asked to pay their own way?