A Flood of Tax Dollars

Do sports teams benefit cities enough to justify the tax dollars spent on them? Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards seems to think so as he rolls out a $450 million plan to renovate the Superdome that comes with a 15 year extension for the Saints to stay in New Orleans.

Of course the Saints and officials with the Superdome itself will tell you that these upgrades are needed for the the dome to be competitive. There is always the lingering threat that some other city will build the Saints a new stadium and lure the team away with something nice and shiny.

Roger Noll, a Stanford economist, calls this idea hogwash. With infrequent use, the tax dollars generated by these stadiums will never justify the money spent on them. To Noll, “[a]renas are used more often”.

But it is difficult to take Noll’s words as the gospel in New Orleans. Other stadiums may only be used for 10 games a year. The dome is used year round. Concerts, Mardi Gras balls, monster truck shows, and many other events make use of the Superdome. When the Rolling Stones finally performed in New Orleans, they used the Superdome as their venue. It was a great show.

I also have some questions that I do not feel get answered by economists when discussing these issues. Let’s say the Saints don’t extend the deal with the state because we said that Louisiana’s portion of the plan could be better spent other places (ignoring for a second that the Saints are putting up about a third of the money and the rest is going to come from bonds). If the Saints go away and the season ticket holders are now holding extra money to spend, who is to say that money will be spent here in New Orleans? What if those people decide that they will take an extra trip to Disney World instead. Perhaps they will take a cruise. At least with the Saints here, the locals will spend money to support their beloved team. Without the Saints, money could very well leave the state.

With the Saints picking up $150 million of the cost and $210 million raised via a bond issue, I assume the other $90 million would be provided by the Louisiana itself. This would mean that in order to justify the amount of money raised with bonds the Saints would have to generate $14 million plus bond interest each year for 15 years to pay off the bond. If they are able to generate that amount, then the bond is clearly worth it.

What if the amount of money generated doesn’t equal $14 million plus interest. Is it worth it to see the team go? There are some immeasurable factors that come with having a team in general, let alone one like the Saints. New Orleans has always loved the Saints. Even in the bad years, we supported our team. The rebirth of the City of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina came hand in hand with the reopening of the Superdome. On a national stage, via the Saints, New Orleans announced “we are back”. It didn’t matter that we won or lost (of course the fact that we beat the Falcons made it that much more sweet). What mattered is that we were not going to give up.

New Orleans has a lot of pressing issues that still need to be resoled. Recent flooding issues being the biggest of them all. Unnamed rain storms flood areas that Katrina never touched. Our pumps are aged and failing. We absolutely need help in getting those fixed. We did get some of that this year from the Louisiana legislative session. We all know that we need more. But what would New Orleans be without the Saints? They kept us afloat during the hard times, it is difficult to justify letting them go now. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. When we need something to hope for, why let our best shot at redemption go down the drain?

There is one more thing to consider. Governor Edwards faces a potentially difficult reelection bid for a second term in a state where he probably shouldn’t have won a first term. Only by making the runoff with David “serious sins” Vitter did Edwards manage to pull off a first term. In the same election, a Republican won the Lt. Governor’s seat by a similar margin. Twelve percent of Louisiana voters felt that Edwards was just conservative enough to support over the former Senator who admitted to serious sins involving prostitutes.

Governor Edwards repaid those Conservatives by signing a redundant abortion ban following the wave of “heartbeat bills” that passed in the South. Louisiana already had an abortion ban that would trigger if Roe v Wade was overturned, so his signing this new law was merely a symbolic gesture.

Now that Edwards tossed a bone to the extremist Conservatives, he may need to throw everyone else a bone as well. That could very well be the reason he is supporting the new renovations to the dome. If voters in the New Orleans area knew that Edwards simply let the Saints go, his grim changes of reelection could vanish. By seeing a commitment to the area, perhaps enough voters will keep his campaign afloat.

Liberal Dan Radio 04/06/2016: New Orleans Taxi and Uber Drivers

On the April 6, 2016 episode of Liberal Dan Radio I will be discussing various issues including:

Election 2016 coverage after the Wisconsin Primary.

The passage of a new Mississippi law meant to allow discrimination of persons who are gay.

The Supreme Court ruling regarding one person/one vote.

And at the bottom half of the hour I will be inviting Jason Coleman from Pro Line Management, Inc. He will be giving us the Taxi Driver side of the lawsuit by some Taxi Drivers against some Uber Drivers and the implication.

Those issues and more at 8pm Central on Liberal Dan Radio, Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

Liberal Dan Radio 09/02/2015: Rising Tide Recap and more

On the September 2, 2015 episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

I review some of the great things at Rising Tide X including the awesome speech given by Deray Mckesson of #blacklivesmatter. I will also talk about some of the other issues pertainting to #blacklivesmatter. I will discuss other topics as well, time permitting.

Those issues, tweet of the week, headlines, and more Wednesday at 8pm Central on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

Remember, I am still holding the fundraiser at the Liberal Dan Radio GoFundMe page.

Liberal Dan Radio 8/29/2015: New Orleans 10 years after the storm

On a special Saturday edition of Liberal Dan Radio I will be broadcasting live from Rising Tide X at Xavier University at 10 am Central. I will have an open mic to join in the conversation live or you can call in as usual. All topics relevant to Katrina are on the table. From the good, to the bad, to the ugly everything should be on the table. It is my opinion that while some people may have Katrina fatigue that we never allow anyone forget what happened to us in New Orleans and the Gulf South.

If you see me at the convention I will half the reward levels from the Liberal Dan Radio GoFundMe for t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Liberal Dan Radio 2/19/2015: Mardi Gras the good, the bad, and the ugly

On the November 19, 2015 episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

Mardi Gras took place this past week in New Orleans and I will review some of my personal experiences as well as some of the other events that took place. Some have even sggested that this was one of the rudest Mardi Gras in recent history. Is it tourists? Locals? Students?

But before that I will discuss several other issues that have been going on in the news recently.

Marie Harf made a ruckus because of comments she made about terrorism and poverty. While I do not necessarilly agree with her assessment completely I also question the legitimacy of the arguments made by those who are attacking her for making what they call “stupid” arguments. Some point to the lack of criticism of President Bush when he pretty much said the same thing previously. However, there is another reason why we shouldn’t take such folks seriously.

Finally, the City of New Orleans passed a smoking ordinance that I feel goes way to far in some areas and completely misses the boat in other areas. I will go over why the ban should pretty much be flipped from what it currently is using my mardi gras experiences as an example.

Those stories, headlines, tweet of the week and more this week on Liberal Dan Radio, Talk From the Left That’s Right. Thursdays at 8pm Central on Blog Talk Radio.

Remember, the Liberal Dan Go Fund Me page is still up and running. Please consider supporting the show.

Should printing companies be held responsible for political mailers?

Richard Perque is running for traffic court judge in New Orleans. A lot of my friends are supporting him. I voted for him. Oh,and there is something else unrelated to his qualifications for Judge: he is openly gay. Yes, he shares the fact on his campaign website. But in reality it has nothing to do with his qualifications.

Other people disagree. For some reason they believe that because he is openly gay he would have some problem determining if someone was speeding or not. A hate piece has just been mailed out suggesting that people should think “long and hard” about this candidate.

The flyer was mailed out by the “Committee for Common Decency”. While such hatred is all to common in Louisiana, I find nothing decent about it. According to the above article, there is no such committee in the State of Louisiana. There are laws in Louisiana that require certain reporting for paid political activities (especially this close to an election). I doubt this mailer was reported to the state. And that leads me to the question posed in the title of this post.

If a printing company is creating a political flyer, shouldn’t it be required to affirm that the information on the flyer is factual (at least the required information about who paid for it)? If they are not, then you wind up with anonymous hate flyers like this mailed out. If the law doesn’t require printing companies to verify this information, it should.

 

 

 

Liberal Dan Radio August 29, 2013: Syria, Katrina, and I Have a Dream

On the August 29th, 2013 Episode of Liberal Dan radio:

This is the 8th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. What has happened since then. Are we better off? How are we still being failed? What needs to improve?

The Obama Administration is currently weighing our options after evidence points to Syria using illegal chemical weapons against the rebels. Do we need to get involved? Is this our problem or the worlds problem? Should we be more patient? Will anything this President does be considered correct by Republicans? Are there other reasons why we care about what is going on in Syria while ignoring other massacres around the world (i.e. Africa)?

Finally, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King speech at the march on Washington. Conservatives are complaining that more conservative folks were not invited. Republicans like to say that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican himself. I will go into why the Conservatives and the Republican Party needs to clean up some of their behavior before complaining about a lack of inclusion in the festivities.

Those topics, headlines, tweet of the week and more, tonight on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

Remember, the show is moving to Wednesdays starting next week.

And remember, there are two more days left until the end of the Liberal Dan Radio Kickstarter. Great deals are there for potential advertisers. Listeners can also help for as little as $1. So act fast and help me expand Liberal Dan Radio.

It’s not about the tolls anymore.

UPDATE: I have created a new Facebook Group to Stop the May 4th Toll Disenfranchisement. Join now!

 

In a previous post I had stated I was glad that the judge ruled against the tolls because it would give people time to see how life without the tolls would be. This would at least paint a partial picture so people could get a more informed view of the results of having no tolls on the bridge.

However, as I have had time to think about the results, the problems of having this “re-vote” are becoming more and more apparent and the attitudes of many of the anti-toll activists are shining through as clear as day.

We were told by G. Patrick Hand (attorney for Michael Teachworth, head of stopthetolls.org) that the reason for the lawsuit over the result of the election is to “ensure the integrity of the election“. However, after the election, Michael Teachworth gives a contradictory statement as to what this was all about. He states: “This is really about the little guy getting another shot, that’s what this is all about.” So what is it? Is it about making sure the election maintains its integrity or is it about the “little guy” getting another shot.

Well this isn’t Rocky II nor is this about maintaining election integrity. This is about the “no tolls” faction making sure that their side wins no matter what. It is about the ends justifying the means. It is about “stop the tolls” making sure as FEW people vote on this proposal as possible. When they couldn’t win convincingly at the polls, the group pushed to disenfranchise the thousands of voters who cast a valid ballot for the hundreds of voters who turned in a legal provisional ballot but were not able to cast a vote on the toll issue.

Let’s be very clear. People who were unable to vote should be allowed to vote. Louisiana law allows for this remedy without tossing out the legally cast ballots of others. The same statute used by the judge in this case to call a re-vote also allows a call for a “restricted election” where only certain voters are allowed to vote. If the stop the tolls organization really wanted to maintain the integrity of the election and make sure that as many legally cast ballots were counted, they would have pushed for this remedy and not for the remedy that throws out thousands of legally cast ballots.

However, with the exception of one very loud liberal friend of mine, most of the people who I have met who oppose the tolls are Conservatives. They are the kind of people who think that winning at all costs is OK. Their mindset in this election is like the PA GOP who gerrymandered districts because they won state elections in 2010. Their mindset is like the Republicans in other states that want to make it so that the winner of a state’s popular vote could get less than half of the electoral college votes. To them, the ends justify the means. To me, they do not.

Thousands of people should not be asked to vote twice in order for hundreds to vote once. Just allow everyone to cast a vote once, count the votes, and let the election results speak for themselves. If at the end of the day those voters care enough about the issue and they come out in opposition to the tolls and they lose, then so be it. They will be gone. But the possibility exists that even if none of those provisional voters come out on May 4th that the election could still be overturned. How on earth is that “fair”? How on earth is that maintaining the “integrity” of the election?

 

Why the toll ruling is a good thing.

Earlier today the election to continue the tolls on the Crescent City Connection was thrown out and a new election was set for May 4th (May the Fourth be with you). The reason given was that provisional ballots that were given to voters only contained federal candidates and did not allow for those voters to cast ballots on the toll issue. Whoever was responsible for those provisional ballots needs to be reprimanded because this, on top of our recent water issues in the City of New Orleans, is helping to prove that we are just a third world city.

But while the ballot integrity may make the re-vote a necessity, it is not the reason why I am happy the re-vote will happen. See, back during the election I made this post about the Crescent City Connection toll election. I made some claims about how traffic conditions on the bridge would become worse without the tolls. I witnessed some of this first hand after hurricane Issac. However, it was not really possible for me to prove it. We couldn’t have asked for a “dry run” so the voters could see what a toll free bridge would be like. Now that we will have two whole months without tolls, the drivers on the Westbank who commute to New Orleans every morning will witness what happens to their commute first hand. If I am wrong then great, the tolls will go away and I will admit that I am wrong. However, if I am right…. if the traffic becomes more congested without the regulating impact of the tolls to help ease the flow from 12 lanes to 4 and if there are more accidents because people are travelling at higher rates of speed as their cars are required to merge down to 4 lanes then the people of the Westbank will see what I have been saying all along and will realize the 40 cents of tolls they pay each day to travel to work will be worth the shortened commute time they are given by having well regulated traffic going through the toll booths.

Mike Teachworth of Stop The Tolls is happy that the Westbank voters will get another chance to stop these “unfair tolls”. Well, I personally do not consider the tolls to be unfair because I also believe that people who use a bridge should be the ones who pay for the maintenance of the bridge. But I think Mr. Teachworth will also be sadly mistaken when more and more Westbank traffic goers learn just how badly the traffic can get when the tolls are gone.

And what I found the most amusing today was that previously Paul Connick had suggested that the toll collections in the afternoon were causing a backup of Eastbank bound traffic. Well, the tolls were gone today and the backup was just as bad as ever. Perhaps that backup could be blamed on, oh… I don’t know… the SUN IN THEIR EYES? Nah, that couldn’t be it…

Update: People seem to think that two days of traffic is proof that I am wrong with my fears about how the traffic may have issues. It obviously is not. And I may very well be wrong about the traffic and if I am I will definitely admit it. However, the biggest concern is the people merging from 12 lanes to 4 at a faster rate of speed than they were doing so previously. This, to me, would obviously be less safe. Does that mean more accidents will happen every day? Obviously not. However, I do believe that in heavy traffic times we will see an uptick in accidents that take place over the next 8 weeks. And again, if I am wrong I will admit it. I am just asking the anti-toll folks to also have an open mind and look at the data we are able to collect because of this ruling.

Toll Opponent Proposes More Tolls?

State Rep Pat Connick opposed the Crescent City Connection tolls when they came up for a vote last year. However, he is now proposing a new set of tolls to be placed on drivers who enter onto the Lakebound Expressway from three exit ramps in the Central Business District.

Connick believes that the tolls will stop a traffic issue that takes place in the afternoons as the drivers from the west bank are trying to cross over the bridge through the toll plaza. I guess he believes that by slowing down people as they enter the expressway that the traffic would be less backed up on the expressway? Perhaps he believes that some people would take alternate routes to skip the tolls and as such the total traffic on the expressway would be lower?

Rep. Connick must not drive in that area much. I would urge him to just look at the absolute mess that is the intersection of Baronne and Calliope to see how already backed up that area is. Adding more of a backup getting up those ramps on that side of the river is absurd.

Connick believes that the tolls will help evenly spread the responsibility of the upkeep to east bank drivers as well. I reject this argument. The tolls on the bridge cover drivers on the bridge regardless of what side of the river they come from. If you go from the east bank to the west bank, on the way back you will pay the toll.

So it seems silly that someone who most recently opposed tolls is now for them and wants to tax people who likely don’t use the bridge to make it “fair”. It also seems silly that a couple of toll ramps will make the traffic jam in the afternoons on the bridge. I would be more likely to believe that the traffic has more to do with the sun in the eyes of the drivers crossing in the afternoon than some lack of tolls.

Needless to say, I will need to see more information about the plan before fully coming out against it. But at this point, it just seems silly.