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‘The economic impact of a minor-league team is not sufficient to justify the relatively large public expenditure required for a minor-league stadium.” That was the conclusion of Arthur T. Johnson, author of the 1995 book Minor League Baseball and Local Economic Development, from the University of Illinois Press. Politicians in Escondido, who want to build a stadium for a minor-league team, should read that book.

Johnson studied a number of minor-league teams, searching for any economic impact they might have on their communities. “If new development is the goal, more is needed than building a stadium in the middle of a corn field and waiting for businesses to grow around it,” wrote Johnson. “Consumers must be nearby or about to move into the area. A stadium, by itself, will not attract businesses or residential development.”

In fact, the same is true for a major-league team. A ballpark or football stadium or hockey/basketball arena does not attract development. “Ask any independent economist — one not being paid by a league,” says Philip Porter, economist at the University of South Florida. Income, population, and retail sales are “not affected by the presence of a minor-league team or a major-league team. It’s been studied ad nauseam.”

Even when economic development is part of the deal for a taxpayer subsidy, it won’t work if there is no market for it. Look at the deal in East Village that the Padres wangled. They promised to build office buildings, retail establishments, hotels, and condos. They reneged on most of the promises, and the condos and hotels that were built have few people in them.

But Escondido wants to spend $50 million of taxpayer money to build a ballpark and infrastructure for the Portland Beavers, the Padres’ AAA affiliate, who have been pushed out of their longtime Oregon home because their stadium is being switched to soccer-only and no other place in the area wants them. A syndicate (not the Padres as a team) headed by Padres’ chief executive Jeff Moorad is considering buying the Beavers and moving them to Escondido. The team would play at the home of the Padres’ A-level affiliate, the Lake Elsinore Storm, next year while a new stadium is being built in Escondido for occupancy in 2012.

Plans aren’t finalized, but what seems likely is that the new 9000-seat ballpark would be on city land east of I-15 and south of Highway 78, near the Sprinter light-rail line. The Moorad group would not put money into the project and would get all ticket, concession, and naming-rights revenue.

Dick Daniels, a councilmember who is running for mayor, claims the team could draw from a market including Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Temecula, Murrieta, Carlsbad, and some other North County and Southwest Riverside County locations — a total market of around 700,000. Single-game tickets would be $8 to $16, says Daniels, and attendance should be 6000 to 7000 a game. The Padres, who are 30 miles away, charge $10 to $63, and there should be no cannibalization, he says. (Even though the Padres are in the running for the playoffs, attendance has been very weak this year, mainly because of parking and other logistical difficulties, high ticket and concession prices, and the recession.)

Escondido would sell redevelopment bonds to finance the project. “We can make the case for blight,” a requirement to qualify for redevelopment status, says Daniels. Because the Moorad group wants a commitment by December 1, citizens will not vote. “This will be a political decision. There would be no way to bring it forward if it required a vote.”

The City of Escondido owns 18 acres at the site, including 8 acres used for storing vehicles and the like. The overall area now has warehouses and industrial buildings. “What we’re looking at is the potential for redeveloping — we need to stir office building, a little bit of residential and retail; it would give impetus to the building of life science parks,” says Daniels.

“That’s total nonsense,” says Porter. “Minor-league teams move all the time. There is never any indication that economic variables change when a team moves in or out. Expecting development is silly.”

Ed Gallo, who is running for Escondido council, opposes the expenditure. The stadium for the Lake Elsinore Storm has been a severe drain on that city, he points out. And it has not brought development: “Two business have been built and opened in the Lake Elsinore ballpark area in the 16 years of the ballpark’s existence,” says Gallo. The debt capacity for the Escondido project is $75 million, and the $50 million plus $25 million to move the equipment yard eats it up. “Holy cow. We’re covered,” he says sarcastically. “We have no idea what the financial ramifications will be, and we have no idea what the potential economic impact is projected to be.”

Sam Abed, another candidate for mayor, favors the project with three conditions. He wants the Moorad group to commit to financing collateral development, or at least agree to put money into land. He also wants to see a reasonable interest rate and a cap on costs “so the City will not be at risk from overruns like Lake Elsinore has been.”

Obviously, Escondido’s leaders should do their homework before deciding that the presence of a ballpark will enhance development. But there are other reasons to be skeptical of this proposal.

First is the idea of locating a team within the parent Padres’ market. Of the 30 AAA teams, only 3 are located close to big-league teams. The Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Red Sox are 36 miles from the Boston Red Sox; the Tacoma Rainiers are 34 miles from the Seattle Mariners; and the Gwinnett Braves are 25 miles from the Atlanta Braves. Two are farther: the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are 61 miles from the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Toledo Mud Hens are 53 miles from the Detroit Tigers.

Eighteen of the 30 AAA teams are not only in metro areas of above 1 million but are long distances from a major-league team. These include teams in markets that are large enough to be home to professional teams in other sports, such as Buffalo, Charlotte, Columbus (Ohio), Indianapolis, Nashville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, and (you guessed it) Portland. In fact, Portland, with 2.2 million people in its metro area, has the largest market of any AAA team. And the Beavers can’t make it there, even though the team has been a part of Portland since 1903.

So the Beavers may be moving to Escondido, a city of 145,000 (and a purported market of 700,000), which is located only 30 miles from a major-league team.

Escondido resident Bill Stephenson is gathering an opposition group. “City leaders are not doing due diligence, are only being cheerleaders, and aren’t discussing it publicly,” he says. “The public has to have a seat at the table.”

Somebody in Escondido leadership has to sober up. Ditto for Moorad’s group. Its chief negotiator, Steve Peace, did not return phone calls for comment.

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Comments

SanDiegoParrothead Sept. 22, 2010 @ 1:05 p.m.

"..Its chief negotiator, Steve Peace.." THE Steve Peace? THat should tell everybody that it's a bum deal if that crook is running it.

"..attendance should be 6000 to 7000 a game..." Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I nearly fell off my chair. THey can't get 20000 for the Padres in a pennant race.

I would investigate everyone that's in favor of it to see what kind of kickback they're getting.

They better watch it. They've seen the city of Bell leaders get arrested. There's no free ride anymore!

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2010 @ 2:52 p.m.

Response to post #1: Steve Peace has been working for John Moores for many years. Agreed: the attendance expectations in Escondido are as inflated as the expectations for ballpark-related economic development.

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David Dodd Sept. 22, 2010 @ 4:45 p.m.

It's more than unreasonable in this economy for Escondido to fork over 50 million for what will amount to nothing more than publicity for the city. It will provide some jobs, but that certainly doesn't make the large expense worth the effort. The prudent thing would be to share the Lake Elsinore facility for a number of years until the economy improves to the point where a more suitable location can be found in a city that could better benefit from having a AAA team.

I will argue the point about attendance. Unlike the Major League franchises, minor league teams have a better opportunity to draw fans that would otherwise not attend. If I lived right in the middle between Petco and Escondido, I would likely attend more games in Escondido. It is less expensive, more conducive to a true family outing, and the smaller teams are able to offer discounts and specials that have much appeal. Lake Elsinore, for example, is very successful at drawing good crowds.

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Founder Sept. 22, 2010 @ 4:53 p.m.

Did I hear someone cry, "Foul Ball"?

50 Million sounds like a steal to me, from the tax payers of Escondido.

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2010 @ 5:36 p.m.

Response to post #3: A stadium would provide construction jobs. After that, it would provide mainly part-time, poorly-paid jobs -- certainly nothing worth the $50 million investment. As to attendance: Lake Elsinore is 76 miles from Petco and 45 miles from Anaheim (L.A. Angels). Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2010 @ 5:37 p.m.

Response to post #4: Hopefully, Escondido will sober up and realize it does not have the money for this. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Sept. 22, 2010 @ 6:22 p.m.

Re #5: Note than I'm not claiming the projections made by Mr. Daniels in your story are accurate; they are far from it. The Portland Beavers only averaged 4,265 per game this year and that's a much easier market to draw from. Escondido could do no better.

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Don Bauder Sept. 22, 2010 @ 8:57 p.m.

Response to post #7: As the column says, Portland is the largest AAA market, and didn't support the Beavers this year. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Sept. 23, 2010 @ 9:20 a.m.

This is just another stadium scam in the pattern of the Petco scam and the ongoing Chargers scam. Escondido is not an affluent city, although many of its boosters wish it so. Once before it tried something like this, the now infamous California Center for the Arts, Escondido, which has disappointed for more than fifteen years. Do these rubes ever learn? That arts center was put in place in a curious reversal of how things should work. The city should be prosperous and sufficiently affluent first, then the trappings of success--whether a performing arts venue or a stadium--follow. Instead the civic boosters in Escondido decided that if the city took on the appearance of a modern, up-and-coming metropolis, the prosperity would follow. It didn't happen, and the city is subsidizing the center from the general fund every year, and is looking for a way out!

Just as rain was promised to follow the plow and economic activity would follow the rails (in the 19th century), neither of which was true, this scam will just further impoverish a city that is already struggling.

And one more point that makes it all inexplicable is the fact that a minor league team in the county will surely reduce attendance at Padres games. I'd estimate that half the attendance in Escondido would be at the expense of seats not filled at Petco.

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2010 @ 9:24 a.m.

Response to post #9: Market size is only one factor, but a very important one. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2010 @ 9:26 a.m.

Response to post #10: The failures of the East County and Escondido arts centers were very harmful to the county. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 23, 2010 @ 1:11 p.m.

Once before it tried something like this, the now infamous California Center for the Arts, Escondido, which has disappointed for more than fifteen years. Do these rubes ever learn?

Do you really want the answer to that-using OTHER PEOPLES MONEY to build YOUR white elephants!!!!

Please.

You already know the answer.

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Visduh Sept. 23, 2010 @ 1:14 p.m.

That was a rhetorical question. Of course I know that they DO learn, but WHAT do they learn? They learn that they can pull off these schemes and there's really no fallout with the voters.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 23, 2010 @ 1:18 p.m.

I won't go to a major leage baseball game anymore-just not worth the cost/investment to me.

Now mior league is a whole new ball game. And as someone else pointed out-it is 100 times funner, more family oriented and truly what a sport is about.

Lived across the STreet from the minor legaue Lansing Lugnuts and Oldsmobile Park was such a cool place to go...... loved it! http://www.ballparkreviews.com/lansing/lansing.htm# http://www.ballparkreviews.com/lansing/lansing.htm

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2010 @ 6:27 p.m.

Response to post #13: When the public is getting screwed, either by the private or public sector, and you ask why, the answer is often OPM -- Other People's Money. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2010 @ 6:28 p.m.

Response to post #14: Righto: if a scam is working, and government is looking the other way -- or participating -- you can bet it will continue. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 23, 2010 @ 6:32 p.m.

Response to post #15: Yes, but many say that the difference between minor and major league baseball is like the difference between a $10 hooker and a $1,000 "fashion model." Once you experience the latter, it's difficult going back to the former. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Sept. 24, 2010 @ 12:28 a.m.

Rip me off with a ball park Give me corporate pork Buy me a mayor and council seat After the vote our team always gets beat

'cause it's fraud, fraud, fraud economics Taxpayers lose, it's a shame

Then it's one, two, three million gone From this big shell game

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David Dodd Sept. 24, 2010 @ 2:24 a.m.

Fred, you deserve an award for that. Extremely clever.

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Founder Sept. 24, 2010 @ 8:43 a.m.

Reply #19 & #20

How about the MVP Award: Awarded for his poetic ability to describe a foul ball when he sees one!

Here is my "pinch-hit":

  • Time Out -

When taxpayers are getting hit, in the balls It's not the time to build Stadiums or Malls

It is sure to be a BIG WIN, for some Wealthy folks in the know but for the rest, it will be a place they cannot afford to go

With so many things to fix in Escondido why should voters choose to build a place they won't go

Remember this when you're voting this fall and be on the lookout for more Foul Balls

.

BTW: Fred_Williams, Have I got a Blog for you:


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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2010 @ 8:46 a.m.

Response to post #19: Fred, that is a tender and touching song to be sung in the 7th inning of every game. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2010 @ 8:47 a.m.

Response to post #20: As an award, Fred will be given a nip of arsenic in his beer at Petco Park. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2010 @ 8:52 a.m.

Response to post #21: Remember, the taxpayers of Escondido won't be able to vote on this one. Best, Don Bauder

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SanDiegoParrothead Sept. 24, 2010 @ 1:12 p.m.

"...The Moorad group would not put money into the project and would get all ticket, concession, and naming-rights revenue..."

How does someone not put any money in yet still get ticket, concession & naming rights revenue?

Can anyone form a group with these conditions? How about I head the San DIego County Parrotheads group, and we get all ticket, concession & naming rights revenue?

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Don Bauder Sept. 24, 2010 @ 4:28 p.m.

Response to post #25: You have to own a pro sports team to be able to steal money in broad daylight. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 25, 2010 @ 10 a.m.

Response to post #27: The question is whether Escondido has the money for this project. Moorad's group wooed other North County cities without success before getting Escondido's pols interested. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Sept. 25, 2010 @ 5:50 p.m.

I think that Escondido could manage to put around 5,000 in the stands on average, so it isn't really a question of attendance. Five thousand per game is not horrible. The problem is in the city spending 50 million on something it doesn't need.

Here's an idea: Schedule the AAA team to play home games when the Padres are on the road, and let them play at Petco.

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Don Bauder Sept. 25, 2010 @ 5:57 p.m.

Response to post #29: If the ticket and concession prices were low, San Diegans would remember how great it was when the Padres played at Qualcomm. That was before citizens voted 60 to 40 to price themselves out of major league games. Best, Don Bauder

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David Dodd Sept. 25, 2010 @ 8:46 p.m.

Re #30: Qualcomm was not a good venue to watch a baseball game unless one could afford expensive seats. I went to many games there. The concessions were high, as they are at all MLB stadiums. Petco is an much better baseball stadium, there are no bad seats there. Ticket pricing is reasonable, concessions are expensive as they are at all MLB stadiums. Petco may have been a sham in so far as how taxpayers were stuck with the bill, but it is an excellent baseball venue, and since it is built and history cannot be changed, I think it is something that San Diego can be very proud of.

If you look around all MLB venues I think that you'll find that Petco is a bargain for fans, in comparison. They are not selling out because the economy sucks, plain and simple (one reason I have not attended a game this season is that I simply cannot afford it at almost any price). They are fielding an excellent team and ownership has already shown that it will do what it can to compete. I hope this continues.

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Founder Sept. 26, 2010 @ 7:09 a.m.

Reply #30 & 31 With ticket and "scalping" prices as high as they are, concession prices MUCH higher than fair plus what the parking fees costs; it's no wonder that just about the only folks that attend games are the Wealthy.

These stadiums are JUST A HUGE CONCESSION "GIFT" for the rich and every time I see a professional game on TV and notice all the empty seats; I think of the sham that is portrayed by these Pro Teams "giving back" to the Community! We give them hundreds of millions of dollars and they give us autographs!

I'm happy that fans have teams to root for and enjoy a good game with honest referees as much as the next person, but I will never support building Public Stadiums for their ULTRA WEALTHY Owners, that can afford to build them themselves!

Remember the Charger ticket guarantee was "A GREAT DEAL", for the Owners, not the voters; and the City folks that made that deal, are now all very "well off", unlike the City of San Diego!

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Don Bauder Sept. 26, 2010 @ 8:38 a.m.

Response to post #31: Somebody is getting a wonderful deal from Petco. It's not fans. The team's value, according to the April 26, 2010 Forbes, is $408 million, or 15th highest among the 30 teams. That's very good for a market the size of San Diego. But the team's payroll is among the lowest in baseball, a bit above $40 million. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 26, 2010 @ 8:40 a.m.

Response to post #32: I watched part of a Padres/Reds game Saturday and noticed all the empty seats. This is with the team seemingly headed for the playoffs in a tight race. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Sept. 26, 2010 @ 12:11 p.m.

Reply #34

Folks here are trying to keep up the smiling face image. But when you really look around, except for the Wealthy (who are really enjoying themselves now that everything is "On Sale") and the College crowd, there are growing numbers of San Diegans with worried looks in their eyes now, because of the economy, where even a few years ago one would see that "No Problema" attitude because, "Hey, we live in San Diego"!

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Don Bauder Sept. 26, 2010 @ 5:23 p.m.

Response to post #34: That's when the mischief was done: when San Diegans thought everything was wonderful. One example: the $300 million Petco giveaway. Another: the 60,000 seat guarantee gift for the Chargers. Another: the thievery from the pension fund in 1996, followed by the granting of pensions to City workers that are now the reason the City is insolvent. Those came in the early 2000s. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Sept. 27, 2010 @ 8 a.m.

Don, regarding your #36...

Yes, there seems to be a strong correlation with optimism and boneheaded decisions.

In fact, Martin Seligman, a noted researcher in the field of optimism and pessimism, points to proof that optimism makes one discount risk and ignore long term problems.

Pessimists, however, tend to accurately assess risk and consider the longer term prospects of an action.

Yet Seligman's research also shows, conclusively, that Americans overwhelmingly elect optimists.

If there is any fatal flaw for democracy, it could be this. Democracies, in consuming their bread and circuses, elect optimists who cannot foresee the inevitable consequences of their hubris.

So professional liars-for-hire like Fabiani and Peace who wear rose colored spectacles to shade their eyes from the blindingly bright future. They delude themselves, then go on to delude others to great acclaim and wealth. These myopics crowd the cameras to denounce the nay sayers and pessimists, who right thinking people should scorn.

We sourpusses were quite correct to be pessimistic when assessing these chumps' bold schemes. Our record is solid, theirs dismal.

To be a professional political hack in today's San Diego requires a certain dullness of mind, lack of curiosity, and endless sunny optimism. Such lumpen-pols will always fall for the crooks gimmicks.

Maybe it's time we elected a few pessimists for a change? Otherwise, democracy isn't going to be with us for much longer...it just doesn't work when too many optimists run the show.

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Founder Sept. 27, 2010 @ 8:27 a.m.

Reply #38 Very well put! My question to you is this, Would "a few pessimists" even have a chance in today's MEGA Expensive Election process; since they would not have the Ultra Wealthy campaign supports behind them?

Here is my wish list for "Campaign Promises", I'd suggest that someone running for City Council make:

..1. Reducing their own City Council salary and their Pension amount. ..2. Pushing for declaring Bankruptcy ASAP, to save what money we still have. ..3. Start a "Amount of City Debt" Counter and refer to it at every discussion. ..4. Re-Negotiate all Pension promises. ..5. Immediately stop all "Managed Competition" negotiations, until a true PUBLIC discussion has taken place with both Pro's and Con's debated. ..6. Voluntary limiting of all contributions accepted. ..7. Replacing all local or appointed Boards with Boards elected by District and demand that all Board members also do Public Service tasks one for one for each hour spent in meetings, so "some" folks could not populate all Boards! ..8. Publish weekly crime stats and push for greater enforcement of ABC laws, by adding additional PD-Vice positions (like Ventura County) paid for by the licensee's fees. ..9. Use most of our Redevelopment Money for repairing instead of Building. ..10.Demand that the Planning Dept. provide widely noticed PUBLIC education instead of what they currently do before all zoning and or Community Updates.

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2010 @ 1:09 p.m.

Response to post #37: You make excellent points. Excessive bullishness is usually a good sign of a market selloff. But that's only part of it. Look at the long term. Throughout history, disastrous decisions have come in periods of rosy glows and utter fearlessness. Wars are a classic example, dating as far back as recorded history. Horrible economic commitments are made during periods of giddiness. The old statement is still valid: optimists think this is the best of all possible worlds and pessimists fear that's so. The pessimists by far have the best track record. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 27, 2010 @ 1:12 p.m.

Response to post #38: Many excellent suggestions there. But just try renegotiating all pension commitments. Best, Don Bauder

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LiarsCrooksThieves Sept. 30, 2010 @ 10:41 p.m.

ESCONDIDO

City Manager: $234,800 (includes car allowance $9,000)

Assistant City Manager: $185,400 (includes car allowance $5,400)

City Attorney: base salary $234,800 (includes car allowance $9,000)

Mayor: maximum base salary $55,119; (includes car allowance $9,000

City Council members: maximum base salary $27,063 (includes car allowance $9,000) For more info...http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/article_0be7e065-4d64-5965-b01d-76b2a8ab11ea.html

(What is "maximum base salary"? Isn't that an oxymoron? Like "jumbo shrimp"? It sounds like you can't pay any less but you can't pay any more. It's public, right? So what exactly is the salary amount for public employees?)

In a city of 145,000 people, let me just spell that out...One Hundred Forty five thousand, the City Manager makes ohhh roughly what.. 10 times what a new City council member does? Really? I'm sickened. That means if you aren't independently wealthy when you take office, you must also hold a full time job to support your family. So tell, me, really, how much time can they really devote to the job and how effective do you think a city council member really can be? (For the record The Median Income in Escondido, CA is around 30K to 50K.)

In a city where the police have had to resort to trolling retail parking lots looking to ticket minor parking violations, expired tags and broken tail lights in order to increase city income, it is actually planning to spend 50 to 150 million dollars on a BALL PARK? Here? Everyone must know, by now, that Building a Ball Park with Public Funds is one of the oldest private money making scams on record. And if you didn't know that fact, you've been living under a rock!

(DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Google it for the facts!)

I am outraged in so many ways. Not only that our City Manager of a measly 145 thousand people is compensated $240,000 dollars a year for his decision to even entertain such a appalling idea as that one, but that the Escondido City Council members are not even paid a living wage for their service.

This city that I love, is being looted and, as usual, right under our noses. I for one am ashamed that only recently have I discovered that fact.

Mr. Bauder, Who really has the authority to make a decision to bankrupt the city of Escondido? Is it the City Manager?, or City Council? Who did we give that power to? Once again, I am ashamed that I have to ask such a question.

I thank you, Mr. Bauder, for your information and your talented writing skills. I have found your comments to be enlightening and I am totally in agreement.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 30, 2010 @ 10:54 p.m.

Mr. Bauder, Who really has the authority to make a decision to bankrupt the city of Escondido? Is it the City Manager?, or City Council?

City clowncil, they and only they have the legal authority to take a muni into BK.

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 11:15 a.m.

Response to post #41: From my interviews, I got the impression that Escondido was taking its information from the Moorad group. I found no evidence that anyone in the Escondido decision-making process had done much homework, other than to consult Lake Elsinore. By now, however, somebody may have done some objective research. Somehow, though, I doubt it. It appears to me that a handful of people in that city want that minor league team, and intend to ram it down the citizenry's throat. Remember, some in Escondido wanted a Chargers stadium and it didn't work out. So this may be coming in on the rebound. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 11:17 a.m.

Response to post #42: Perhaps only the council can take the city into BK. However, many others including the city manager can make the disastrous decisions that lead to the bankruptcy. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 6:53 p.m.

Reply #41 LCT

Great post, please continue to spread the word and see if you can get some more like minded folks in ESC to join US here to discuss what is going on there!

Your description of the Police Officers trolling for minor infractions while the Leaders of ESC "go for the City's Gold" was most impressive...

Well Done!

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Founder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 6:54 p.m.

Reply #44 Sad but true, there are lots of Players on ECS's Fiscal Team that should be much more vocal about what is being proposed!

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 9:52 p.m.

Response to post #45: If Escondido police write out tickets for picayune offenses to fill empty city coffers, the city is not alone. Speed traps have been around for as long as autos have, e.g. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 1, 2010 @ 9:54 p.m.

Response to post #46: One reason politicians shut up when their city is being scammed by pro sports team owners is that 20% of fans are fanatically attached to teams. Opposing pro sports swindles does not lead to political longevity. Best, Don Bauder

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