He lied to us.
Those four little words are the papier maché shield being used by politicians from Seattle to Olympia to deflect the blame for the Seattle Sonics inevitable departure for Oklahoma City.
“I have been lied to. All of the people of the state of Washington have been lied to. I’m shocked and I’m very disappointed,” said Gov. Christine Gregoire.
The “lie” consists of e-mail messages revealing that the Oklahoma city owners of the Sonics were eager to relocate the team if prospects for a better arena didn’t pan out.
Either the governor has a very short memory or she deserves Oscar consideration for her patently feigned outrage.
There was open speculation on the FIRST DAY the sale of the Sonics was announced two years ago that Clay Bennett and his group were interested in moving the Sonics to Oklahoma City. The handwriting was big, bold, simple and clear: if the new owners couldn’t get a better deal than the previous owners, the team wouldn’t be here for long. Did they say it outright? No, they didn’t have to. Everyone knew it. Article after article here and in Oklahoma City chronicled the enthusiasm of fans there for big league basketball, of their politicians who were eager to help land a team, and that their impressive new basketball arena would be packed night after night with 18,000-plus fans.
As it turns out, those stories were accurate. Oklahoma City voters even went to the polls and raised their taxes to seal the deal.
Let’s contrast that with our politicians here.
When Howard Shultz and his group wanted taxpayer financing for a $200 million make-over for Key Arena he was jeered, both at Seattle City Hall and in Olympia. The politicians were reflecting public impatience with public subsidies for rich players and mega-rich owners. And who can blame them? Key Arena was renovated in the mid-90s from the ground up exclusively for the Sonics, with public financing. Next came Safeco Field and Qwest Field, also built with some public dollars. Then the Sonics owners come back looking for even more public money for a make-over. No. Not this time. Enough’s enough.
To drive the point home, a local ballot measure demanding no new public subsidies for the Sonics passed overwhelmingly in the city last year.
Meanwhile, in Olympia, State Senator Margarita Prentice tried to put a package together to build a new arena complex off I-405 in Renton. Had it succeeded it would have transformed Renton’s future the way Microsoft changed Redmond. It fell short, and Senator Prentice gave props to Bennett and company for mounting a serious effort to make it happen. To her credit, the Democrat from Renton refuses to follow the script condemning the current Sonics owners.
Earlier this year, four local guys with deep pockets, including Eastsiders John Stanton, Costco’s Jim Sinegal and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer lobbied Olympia with a tempting new offer: they would toss in $150 million to improve Key Arena, then buy the team from Bennett if the State and city would supply the remaining $150 million. It was a good deal. But the legislature dallied, then did nothing, claiming that the proposal was “last minute” and couldn’t be appropriately vetted.
Actually, the legislature and Governor knew two months before the end of the session about this offer. The “last minute” claim was, well, a lie to cover their inaction. The Governor and legislature simply couldn’t get it done.
So now the Governor complains that she was “lied to”. Cry me a river. The team is leaving because Olympia and Seattle’s political leaders simply didn’t make a new arena a top priority. It’s that simple. End of Story. End of Sonics.
There is a very unattractive trend in the course of public debate these days when it comes to promoting views that are not supported by fact or are inconsistent with the public good. It starts with presenting the issue in terms that if one was to disagree, would be politically incorrect. If the opposition is successful in refuting that argument with facts, the next step is to create your own “facts” and let the opposite side bear the burden of proving your “facts” to be fiction. If all else fails, a personal attack is the next step in preventing substantive argument of vital issues of the day.
So it seems is the case with the Bypass. Even though the City Council has decided to kill the project on specious arguments, some concerned citizens continue to promote fact-based decision making in Issaquah’s transportation planning. Given the time and money spent on this project to date, and the obvious need, it would seem that killing the project without a reasonable alternative would merit further study. For some reason, a majority of the City Council claims a voter mandate and sees no reason to solicit community opinion. The council apparently believes that the small number of citizens that attend their meetings (mainly the members of the Issaquah Environmental Council) present all the opinions they need to know.
Yet some concerned citizens fight on, armed with facts and a desire to make the decision-making process inclusive of more than a small faction by recommending a legitimate polling of Issaquah residents on the issue. As demonstrated in the April 4 issue of the Reporter, this faction has now decided to fight with personal attacks.
Issaquah needs to look for more strength in character from those who pretend to represent the public good.
Issaquah business owner
Rossi for governor
We are told it is a time for change in our nation, but what about our state?
The state budget was increased 33 percent since 2005, and there are no tangible improvements to show for it. Think I’m kidding? Honestly, where did that money go to improve traffic congestion, education, ferry system, roads/bridges, illegal immigration or poverty? Where did the increase come from? Despite the irresponsible tax increases we are headed for a $2.4 BILLION dollar budget deficit in 2009, with nothing but bloated bureaucracy to show for it.
Dino Rossi offers bipartisan appeal and a willingness to make tough decisions when they are called for. He will work for the people and not special interests. He has received contributions from more than 27,000 Washingtonians and is statistically tied with the incumbent governor in recent polls
Want change while keeping your change in your pocket? Re-elect Dino Rossi.
-Mark L. Bowers