Your Tax Dollars at Work

Being the considerate soul I am, I refrained from comment the night of the Saints’ return to the Superdome. I didn’t have a problem with FEMA (read:our money) dollars being spent to refurbish a New Orleans landmark, even though it’s obvious there are crushing needs elsewhere. Having spent bunches of time in the city, I know what that place and it’s pitiful but always beloved gridiron squad mean to the denizons of Duvalle. My beef, pure and simple, is with the AMOUNT FEMA spent. Out of ONEHUNNERTEIGHTYFIVEMILLIONDOLLAH ~ yes, $185 MILLION ~ the NFL ponied up…$15 mil.

Tagliabue, whose league provided a $15 million grant for repairs and improvements that cost $185 million, urged the team leading the reconstruction to ratchet up the job.

Well, thank you, white man. Now…
Do. The. Math.

According to Doug Thornton, regional vice president of the private management company for the Superdome (which is owned by the State of Louisiana), the remaining $170 million

“was from the public-assistance program from FEMA on insurance disasters to cover state property.”

I’m also wondering if the National Flimflam League is quietly still collecting their extortion payola from the city and state for the privilege of hosting said team, per our post in May 2005.

Under the current agreement, the state will pay the Saints $15 million this year and in 2006, $20 million in 2007 and 2008 and $23.5 million in 2009 and 2010. The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District refinanced bonds on the Superdome to cover this year’s payment.

That sort of stuff just hurts coming from an organization (ed.note: the NFL) with teams that can pay just ONE ‘PLAYER” $35+ million a year and has an average salary (read: regular player) of

The NFL Players Association’s research department says the average player salary rose 5% in 2005 to $1.4 million and that the average starter earns $2,259,000. The median salary for all starters was $1.7 million, an increase of 17%. The average for quarterbacks, running backs and offensive tackles was in excess of $3 million.

…and income streams like this…

The popularity of the game and the players and the NFL’s ceaseless efforts to market every aspect of it make this a lucrative operation for all parties.
“The revenues are continuing to grow and the salary cap will continue to grow alongside it,” says agent Neil Schwartz. “Therefore, players make more money, owners make more money and so do general managers, coaches and assistant coaches. Everyone reaps the fruit.”

…while generously giving the American Taxpayer (read: us) $15 million to fix a part of that very revenue stream.
So why did I bring this up now? Besides the fact that it bugs the sh*t out of me, we have, here in Bangla-cola, that very thing happening in miniature. And it bugs the SH*T out of me. ELEVENMILLION FEMA dollars (read: yours) have been allocated to repair…our fishing bridge.

Fishing bridge reels in support
FEMA will help pay remaining cost of span across Pensacola Bay
…The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to help pay the remaining cost to replace a local landmark — Escambia County’s portion of the fishing bridge over Pensacola Bay.
FEMA, which already had agreed to pay Escambia $5.3 million, will put up another $5.8 million to help demolish and rebuild the north half of the old bridge.
The old three-mile, two-lane bridge — formerly U.S. 98 — was replaced in the 1960s by the current four-lane span. The center portion of the old bridge was removed, creating the separate Escambia and Gulf Breeze fishing piers.
For years, the two sides of the bridge were popular fishing sites because of access to water up to 30 feet deep. They also were a sort of walkway for people who wanted exercise with a view of the bay.
But Hurricane Ivan’s storm surge on Sept. 16, 2004, lifted many segments of the old bridge off their pilings and dumped them into the bay.

Happy, happy fisherfolk voices are raised in support, but COME ON. “SORT of a walk way”? An $11 million ‘sort of a walkway‘?
Hey, it’s your money ~ I’m just the messenger. I also like fish and fisherfolk, but there’s a whole lot in this backwater that those greenbacks (note: not the turtles) could help. They left the old bridge standing to begin with because it was cheaper(!) than dismantling it (imagine that) and schmaybe someone could make a buck or two charging folks to fish.
Hel. Lo.
Before and after…
And Hell.

11 Responses to “Your Tax Dollars at Work”

  1. Lisa says:

    Who owns the Superdome? Why wasn’t there a hurricane or flood policy on a multi-million dollar structure that was in a city UNDER FUCKING SEA LEVEL?
    This shit boggles my mind.

  2. Nightfly says:

    We had a similar non-disaster related hassle up here with the planned Giants Stadium renovation – it was one of the few plans for any arena in the past ten years in which the team paid for the stadium in full, and people (including Enlighten, as I recall) still dinged it as unfair to taxpayers. ENJ may well be right, but at least it’s much less unfair than milking the entire region for an additional bond issue for something they don’t ever own.
    One correction, THS – no Saint makes $35 million a year. The largest yearly annual salary in team sports currently belongs to A-Rod at $25M. Three different Saints are between $7.6M and $8.7M; perhaps the $35M was the total contract value over several seasons.

  3. I wasn’t talking about the Saints as ‘an organization’, Diptera ~ I was talking about the NFL in that string of quotes. Granted and my bad, teams pay players, so I should have been more specific, but the revenue streams and average salaries are all from the NFL as a whole. The $35+ million belongs to Peyton Manning:

    Peyton Manning
    For a single season, it is Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts. They signed him to a 7-year contract for 98 million dollars. According to Forbes magazine he was the third highest paid athlete in the world in 2004, earning $42 million dollars in 2004.

    FROM FORBES:In March the second cog in the Manning quarterback dynasty received the largest signing bonus in the history of team sports—$34.5 million. Manning remains the highest-paid football player off the field as well, resulting from endorsement deals with companies like Reebok, Gatorade and DirecTV.

    Lots of other guys have their incentives and bonuses built into contracts that don’t qualify as ‘salary’ either (for salary cap maneuvering), so aren’t part of the ‘who gets paid what’ figure at the start of the year. The figure is very different at the end of the year when all those triggers are tripped.
    It’s an obscene amount of money.

  4. As for the Saints’ players pocketbooks:

    After skipping a mandatory team meeting on July 28, 2006 as part of a contract hold-out, he signed a contract for six years the following day and reported on July 30. The deal includes $26.325 million guaranteed and $51 million total. Incentives can bring the deal up to $62 million

    So that’s $8.5 million per year if he does all 6 years ($26.325 million regardless if he lasts 6 weeks) AND $10.33 million per year if he trips those incentive triggers. And the Saints LOSE money, according to this, anyway:

    But let’s take the realistic viewpoint: All this Saints excitement will matter little if things don’t change in New Orleans. There is no way, under the current system, that the Saints can make a go of it in the post-Katrina New Orleans.

    If the city, state and NFL think the money that was put into fixing up the Superdome will keep the Saints in New Orleans, they can forget about it.

    Selling season tickets can’t come close to giving this team the money it needs to be competitive under the new CBA, especially since they’re being sold at a reduced rate. It takes corporate sponsorships, club seats, luxury-suite sales and much more from the business community.

    Problem is, there is no business community now. The NFL got involved with trying to help facilitate some corporate help this year, and even their people could do little, according to league sources.

    Nobody in the NFL or associated with the Saints wants to talk about the economics of the team right now, but owner Tom Benson lost an estimated $10 million to $12 million last year. That’s tough to take.

    When I asked Saints general manger Mickey Loomis about the long-term prognosis for the team in New Orleans, he wasn’t sure.

    “I don’t know the answer to your question,” Loomis said. “That’s a long-term question that’s relative to the city of New Orleans and not just the Saints. What’s the long-term prognosis for the city of New Orleans?”

    This year, without corporate sponsorships, the Saints will find it tough to make a profit again. That can’t — and won’t — happen for a long time. If things don’t change, the Saints will have no other choice but to move or for Benson to sell the team. He has already been offered $1 billion by someone who wants to move it to Los Angeles.

    Benson prefers to keep the team in New Orleans. But the financials could change that. He has a Superdome lease through 2010 and says he’ll honor it. There is no way the state of Louisiana can justify building a new stadium now — which Benson asked for before Katrina hit — so the options look gloomy.

    And for those who think the league will do something for the good of the city and force the Saints to stay, you can forget about that. The owners work with each other, and the commissioner works for them. The owners won’t vote to block a deal that would move a team for one valuable reason: One day it could be them. Not only that, new commissioner Roger Goodell is a big proponent of the NFL going back to Los Angeles.

    If Benson wants to sell or move his team, he won’t get resistance from his peers.

    So enjoy nights like Monday, New Orleans. There probably won’t be many more like them after the next couple of years. …

    That could be a lovely, $185 million indoor flea market we paid for. Whoops! Only $170 million of it. Forgot.
    So now you can see why I’m pissed about this stoopid fishing bridge. About as many people’ll use it as go to a Saints game and pay a whole lot less.
    Ya’ll oughta come on down and drop you a line in the bay. After all, you bought it.

  5. Nightfly says:

    Good point, though even then, that $42 million Forbes mentions is total income, including endorsements and whatnot. His actual salary from playing football for the Colts (with bonus and incentive compensation, etc.) may even only be half of that. It’s still a huge, gross number.
    I used to think it was unrealistic, playing Madden 02 and 03, to see the salary cap escalating so quickly in “future” seasons that it was never a problem keeping all of my key players. In real life, however, that actually seems to be happening. That cover curse doesn’t injure the wallet, apparently.

  6. Nightfly says:

    Whoops, cross-posted that.
    Wow. Double-wow, even. I’m sorry, I think I got caught up on a side issue. (Sitting down now. Thanks, teacher!)

  7. Diptera, no it’s not. The $42 million is his gross 2004 Colts’ paycheck ~ salary and a $34.5 million signing bonus “PAID athlete”. Forbes makes sure to mention that “Manning remains the highest-paid football player off the field as well”, which is separate from what he is PAID to be a quarterback. (Check out how they differentiate between endorsement and salary on the list). I just read somewhere that Peyton’s total a year ~ sans those pesky ‘bonus’ years that throw everything off ~ with salary and endorsements comes to $21.5 million.

  8. major dad says:

    You guys are off on a tangent, the crux for our little burg is spending that much money for a fraction of the population to hang a pinfish off a bridge when we still have crap everywhere, the most sought after waterfront property has a dilapidated water treatment plant on it which yes makes the whole downtown smell like shit and to top it off we are I think the poorest county in Florida with no prospect of any employer coming here that pays a decent wage but we have what, 10 Wal Marts?. The pinheads who make these decisions should be shot

  9. Ever the truth sayer, my honey.

  10. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Yeah, some of the oddest things get put onto the priority project list, don’t they? It’s amazing how philosophical people can get when they aren’t the ones signing the check.

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