We've all heard jokes that start off .
"Three guys are sitting at a bar....." or maybe
What do God and Barack Obama have in common?
Neither has a birth certificate.
So here is one that is a bit closer to home...........
What do the Mayor of Edmonton , a billionaire, and a hockey league commissioner have in common?
Taxpayers Money at their disposal to fulfill their dreams
Not seeing the humor in that one, don't worry neither do I. Unfortunately there are times when there is little humor in facts, and this appears to be one of those times
Earlier this month these 3 Amigos had a closed door meeting in the offices of the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. No one save these Amigos is certain what transpired at this meeting as it was closed to the public and the media.
However like the movie "The Three Amigo's" it appears that our Mayor showed up to a gun fight with nothing but good intentions and blanks in his six shooter. Unfortunately unlike the movie the other two "Amigos" (Katz and Bettman) showed up loaded for bear.
Although we didn't witness the actual "gunfight" we have already seen some of the results, and it appears that as taxpayers we are left lying in the street bleeding from numerous wounds, while the "Three Amigo's" have gone back to doing whatever it is they do on a day to day basis.
- The city will not only build our new arena at a cost of $450 million dollars, but will also commit to $20 million in marketing and sponsorship over the next 10 years, naturally the benefits from this marketing will go to the Katz group. I am a little confused on this one, could someone please explain to me what exactly a "city" has to market within it's own borders? Better yet, why are taxpayers sponsoring a "for profit" organization?
- Katz will graciously contribute the $100 million that he promised at the start. But hold your horses ( I love these western analogies) it turns out that it won't be quite as simple as his cutting a check to help pay for construction in the beginning. Katz's group will contribute the $100 mil (with interest) over the next 30 years in the form of rent (tax deductible of course) on the facility at a rate of $5.5 million a year. Again, I find myself confused, How is this viewed as a contribution to the construction? While Katz gets the "easy pay, layaway plan" the city (translated as taxpayer) will be on the hook for the entire upfront costs. Does Katz view rent on the facility as something that he being the community minded individual he is will "contribute" out of the goodness of his heart?
- In the grand scheme of this arena we continuously hear from our Mayor and Council about the $100 million that the Province of Alberta is expected to donate to the cause. There appears to be only one fly in the ointment..... the Province has made no commitment. In fact, I suspect that the $100 mil the city is so desperately counting on was spent by our new Premier Alison Redford buying the votes she need to win her parties recent leader ship race, but that's another story. At the rate that our 3 Amigo's are moving this project along I fear that if the "Provinces Donation" fails to come through, as taxpayers we will be told
"That's unfortunate we were counting on that, but so much time, effort and money has been invested up to this point that it does not make sense to stop the project"
and the city will simply pony up (note, another western analogy) the difference.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not accusing Mayor Mandell of conspiring with Katz and Bettman, or intentionally doing anything underhanded, I simply think he he was out gunned and out of his league when dealing with these two. I also believe that Mandel is blinded to many realities by his zeal for giving our downtown area a shot in the arm, and his misguided belief that somehow or other Edmonton can stand amongst the likes of Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal as a place that people want to visit.
On a last note, the next time our city is invited to a gunfight I suggest we ante up and hire a professional gunslinger. It always seems to work in the movies.