The Miami Marlins President David Samson has caught a lot of flak for calling Miami politicians stupid. In his now infamous comments made before the Beacon Council, he dropped a bunch of gems. Among other things, saying that Miami politicians were "not the intellectual cream of the crop." And my personal favorite, "we're not the smartest people in Miami. If you're in this room, you're instantly in the top one percent."
Samson insists that his statements were mischaracterized, and a lot of people have attacked his comments. But heck, maybe his words did have some credence. Okay, we aren't really stupid, but our politicians must have been to let the likes of Samson and Marlins owner/papa-in-law Jeffrey Loria sell them on having taxpayers give them one of the biggest corporate welfare checks that we've seen in quite some time. And even if Samson spit in the face of every day citizens that bailed his lackluster operation out, our politicians probably still won't do anything to stop hardworking taxpayers, like you and me, from being robbed blind.
The fact is, the Marlins Stadium has been built on hand-outs, deception and lies. In case you don't remember, the stadium took over a half billion dollars from taxpayers to build. Even when the county had to borrow $400 million dollars to build the Little Havana landmark, we still weren't promised a penny for our troubles. On the contrary, we're stuck with a $2 million a year bill to pay for the property taxes... of the now infamous parking garage.
Are you angry yet? If not, please go back and read it again.
To build this stadium for Miami's dumb folk, as apparently they think we are, owner Jeffrey Loria had to get it approved by our "cream of the crop"commissioners. The proposal was built on two ginormous false premises. First, we were told that sports stadiums, like the Marlins Stadium, would provide a massive economic benefit. Secondly, that poor owner Jeffrey Loria, who's only worth $500 million, didn't have enough money to build it on his own.
No matter what a jerk, like Samson, tells us dumb people, one percenters, as he labels himself, admit to each other that welfare-fed stadiums don't create many jobs at all. When "boy-wonder" told the Miami Herald that Loria and the Marlins have "been losing money like crazy," he was lying. But at the time, most of our commissioners never bothered to demand that the team open its books before receiving a dime from the taxpayers. If they did, they would have found that while Samson claimed that the Marlins were losing money like crazy, they were actually raking in millions in profit.
So let's get this straight, in Miami-Dade County, when a working mother gets laid off and needs to apply for food stamps to feed her kids, she has to disclose all of her income just to get $140 a month. If you are a millionaire and you want a $600-million welfare check to build a stadium that allows you to keep the profits, you don't have to disclose anything?! Are you serious?
When our Miami-Dade County Commission closed the deal, only four out of the nine commissioners opposed the already shady transaction. Maybe Samson is right, our politicians may not be that bright after all. On the flip side, Samson isn't smart enough to avoid a federal probe. As we speak, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the Marlins Stadium deal to see whether our politicians were really that dumb or just playing the part.
Dumb or not, we know that the former mayor (Carlos Alvarez) and the chair of the commission (Bruno Berreiro), who voted for the stadium received money either directly from Samson and Loria or from firms with a direct interest in the project. Samson, with all of his intellectual prowess, joined with Pops Loria to double dip into the profits of the team by hiring a "management" consultancy firm, Double Day Play Company. The funny part is that the firm they "hired" listed themselves as the president and CEO, respectively.
To put this all in perspective, Miami is being forced to watch as Jackson Health Systems, ranked one of the best hospitals by US News and World Report, lays off 1,100 hardworking health professionals in order to save $60 million dollars a year. In the meantime, we are blowing $600 million plus another $2 million a year on a stadium and parking garage for a team run by someone that thinks we are stupid!
In past articles, I have been really critical of Mick Arison, the owner of the Miami Heat and Carnival Cruise Lines. But at least Arison only took $300 million from taxpayers to build the American Airlines Arena. He was so gracious to receive the handout, he agreed to share some of the profits from the arena (something he still hasn't given us). At least he is only under investigation by the County, and not the feds. Plus, the last time we checked, he hasn't called any of us stupid.
Tim Elfrink, from the Miami New Times, has speculated that the Marlins Stadium deal might just be the "worst flipping deal ever." And if that doesn't make you mad, you are not paying attention. But if you are paying attention, then let us do something about it. Tax day is coming up, and the people of Miami are done being called dumb. Let's give a tax bill to Samson and Loria and demand that they pay their fair share. It's not personal, just business.