Friday, June 6, 2008

Now About Sarasota

There was a most excellent column in Friday's Herald Tribune by Max Ernst who asks whether we're in a budget crunch or not. The subject is the proposal for a new $70 million dollar stadium to lure the Boston Red Sox for Spring training. As he correctly points out, we lost the Cincinnati
Reds when voters rejected $40 million in improvements.

On the one hand, libraries and parks have been cut. Beach improvements were linked to the charging for parking, an idea so unpopular it was removed from consideration. At the same time, we are contemplating new investments, and my favorite:

County government workers just spent $112,000 on role-playing games to explain why they can't afford to provide services we've come to appreciate.

For some reason, the knee jerk reaction when money gets tight is to cut the front line troops, the people who actually provide services to the community, and who cost the county much less. I was once at a meeting of parks and libraries when a county official, who shall remain nameless, in the course of his/her speech happened to mention that employees made an average of 48 thousand dollars a year. Although I was one of the more fortunate, I looked around the room at the vast bulk of parkies and clerks who made nowhere near that amount and whose expressions were less than friendly as they did some basic math, namely calculating how much the people at the top make when they cause the average to rise to 48 thou. Add that to the amounts spent on consultants, and maybe there are economies to be found. For what it's worth.


Anonymous said...

ha most clerks make 11 bucks an hr.
the county needs to cut the higher ups where they are top heavey.

Visit said...

First of all, I think it is too early to start judging a potential project in Sarasota for the Boston Red Sox. The $70 million dollar figure is something the newspapers leaked out and are not accurate. They forgot to mention that there is an est. $24.9 million sitting in a pot of money dedicated to a new stadium. That money is derived from $17 million from a half cent from the 4th penny tourist tax enacted two years ago and $7.9 million designated by the State of Florida to keep baseball here. By the way that money cannot be used for schools, police, etc. only tourism related activities. So now suddenly a project that looks like $70 million is actually $45.1 million. Where does this come from? Taxes, tourist taxes, private development? Who knows! Until we do know, it does the public no good to get fired up.

Now lets move on to the topic of if our governmental officials should be passing the use of money for a baseball stadium when we need money for schools, police, and libraries?

The answer is YES! We need something to bring money into Sarasota, a revenue generator! The money Sarasota County collects from Spring Training, tournaments, concerts, etc. in the long run will pay for the stadium. Let me remind you that we are talking about the Boston Red Sox here not the Cincinnati Reds. For all of you non-sports fans, there is a monumental difference between the two franchises. The Red Sox Nation spans the globe from the northeast, throughout the country and over to Japan. They are not only one of the most prestigious franchises in baseball, but in all of sports. We need economic development and this is our chance!

So even if you don't like baseball and you will never visit the stadium, think about the effect it does have on our community. Along with the arts and beaches, baseball does have a history in the community. By the way did I forget to mention I am a diehard Yankees fan and I despise the Red Sox? However, I am able to put my personal feelings aside, and realize that it would be a shame to lose out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.

To find out more about the project and to voice your opinion (positive or negative) please visit Also you can come to an open public forum on Thursday, June 12th at the Lido Beach Resort.