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Detroit seems to have swept away legal impediments to a Chapter 9 bankruptcy, but it hasn't swept the cobwebs out of leadership's brains. Despite the bankruptcy, the city is going ahead with subsidizing a hockey arena for the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, owned by billionaire Mike Ilitch, whose wife owns a casino downtown. (Ponder that ownership arrangement.) The $450 million arena will initially cost taxpayers anywhere from $261.5 million to $283 million, depending on who is doing the figuring. But over the long term length of the project, taxpayer costs will run over $400 million. The Michigan governor says the project will help the economy. Apparently, some believe him.

The city has more than $18 billion in liabilities. Some are eyeing great paintings in the Detroit Art Institute -- by Picasso, Tintoretto, Van Gogh, etc -- as a way to raise up to $3 billion. Vultures such as Christie's have already combed through the art museum to see if it can snap up bargains.

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Comments

aardvark July 26, 2013 @ 3:59 p.m.

Don: Of course a new stadium, ballpark, arena will help the economy. Look at Petco Park. Oh, wait, that's not a good example.

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 6:48 p.m.

aardvark: The City said Petco would be economically neutral. The initial subsidy was $300 million and the facility is costing San Diego from $11 million to $17 million a year, depending on who is doing the figuring. Best, Don Bauder

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ImJustABill July 26, 2013 @ 4:15 p.m.

This is a joke, right? "Almost factual news" parody got put here by mistake, right? They can't be serious..

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aardvark July 26, 2013 @ 4:31 p.m.

ImJustABill--Tragically, it is serious. After all, what's a few hundred million more when you are already many BILLIONS of dollars in debt?

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aardvark July 26, 2013 @ 6:34 p.m.

Detroit is MANY billions of dollars in debt. San Diego isn't there--yet. All the things certain people in San Diego want to build--stadium, arena, convention center expansion, host Olympics, etc., along with our own pension issues, could get us to a loftier debt level.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:39 a.m.

aardvark: Detroit's infrastructure is in terrible shape. Forty percent of streetlights are shut off. On average, it takes an hour to get response for police help, according to CNNMoney. But the state legislature votes for this massive subsidization of a billionaire pizza king. Go figure. Best, Don Bauder *

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 7:04 p.m.

viewer: Of course that is the direction that San Diego's downtown boosters want to go. Filner wanted to do something about this mentality. Alas.... Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 6:51 p.m.

aardvark: The governor says it will stimulate development. He hasn't read or doesn't understand work by objective economists. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 6:49 p.m.

ImJustABill: You can look it up. It's not a joke. The governor enthusiastically endorses it. It is a state bond, but most of the tax money going into the project would otherwise go to Detroit schools. Best, Don Bauder

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monaghan July 26, 2013 @ 4:42 p.m.

This is the saddest story I've read since, well, yesterday. Stunning.

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 6:56 p.m.

monaghan: Apparently, artworks in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum were bought when Detroit was a thriving metropolis where some of the nation's richer people lived. If the art available for sale is worth $2 billion to $3 billion, it indeed is a civic treasure. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark July 26, 2013 @ 5:18 p.m.

It gets even better. Washington DC, already on the hook for the $611 million Nationals Park, has committed with soccer club DC United to build a new $300 mil soccer-specific stadium. The city has to pick up roughly half of that cost--the dreaded "public-private partnership". A 20-25,000 seat soccer stadium. For $300 mil. Damn.

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 6:58 p.m.

aardvark: Yes, if memory serves me right, taxpayers paid every cent of the Nationals stadium. If DC is now going to pick up half the cost of a $300 million soccer stadium, you have to conclude that the ways of Congress have rubbed off on the city where the politicians meet.

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Visduh July 26, 2013 @ 5:26 p.m.

It's a sad story all right, but not only for the reasons stated. A typical denizen of that city has no life beyond sports worship. So, whatever may happen, that sort of resident lives and dies by what the Lions, the Tigers, the Pistons, the Red Wings, etc., etc. do. When they win, he/she wins. When they lose, he/she loses. What was once probably the greatest industrial city success story in history is now in the dustbin, aka trash can. So, when nobody cares much beyond pro sports (with a dose of college sports added for flavor) why not spend the last dollars on something like this? It is just what makes life worth living.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:45 a.m.

viewer: It's not that the "typical" resident of San Diego or any other city lives or dies by the success of pro sports teams. The problem is that a loud, fanatical, powerful, and extremely well financed 20% of the population does, and politicians know it. That is how these scams get through, even when an economy is ailing. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:48 a.m.

viewer: Sports fanaticism is hard to fathom. Did you read about a mob that beheaded a soccer referee in South America? (I don't remember where it was.) It happened not long ago. Best, Don Baude

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 7 p.m.

Visduh: Unfortunately, Detroit isn't the only city that lives or dies by the success of its professional teams. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:49 a.m.

viewer: Don doesn't want to admit that you are correct? I have been writing against pro sports scams since 1996. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh July 26, 2013 @ 7:48 p.m.

I agree. Detroit is just the (or an) extreme example. Cleveland and Cincinnati, "Bawlmer" and Philly are in the same sort of situation. But none of these cities are in the mess that is Detroit.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:54 a.m.

Visduh: I lived in Cleveland when the Browns were good, and a religion. However, the Cleveland Orchestra and the city's superb art museum were objects of reverence, too. Now the Browns are bad but the fanaticism remains. The orchestra plays half its season in Miami and Severance Hall is sometimes half-filled, I understand. I don't know about the art museum, but suspect is it still wonderful. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 26, 2013 @ 7:01 p.m.

SurfPup: Why do children need schooling when a billionaire needs a massive subsidy? The same applies to San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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Yankeedoodle July 26, 2013 @ 7:15 p.m.

San Francisco voted against paying for the Giants' downtown stadium, and then the owner paid for it himself.

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aardvark July 26, 2013 @ 11:01 p.m.

4 times it was voted down, I believe.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:59 a.m.

aardvark: Yes, I think it was voted down four times, but one of those votes was in Silicon Valley, which has now capitulated and is anteing up for the 49ers. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:58 a.m.

Yankeedoodle: But San Francisco wouldn't ante up enough for the 49ers, who are going to Santa Clara with a fat subsidy. In Boston, governments refused to shell out a huge subsidy; finally, the Kraft family paid for the Patriots' stadium, but the governments did come forward with infrastructure improvements that made the stadium possible. If I remember correctly, San Francisco chipped in for infrastructure for the Giants' stadium. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2013 @ 3:06 p.m.

The Boston/Kraft deal is how they should all go down, if the dumbass muni's would ay NO, like they did to the NE Patriots, who did not leave, the muni $ problems would cease...but it is hard to NOT spend other peoples money.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:23 p.m.

SurfPup: At one point Kraft was threatening to move the team to Hartford, Connecticut, which is not a market big enough for a pro team, and is not economically robust, either. It was a gambit that intelligent people didn't take seriously. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK July 27, 2013 @ 1:53 p.m.

not to be offensive, but this is tantamount to raping a corpse

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:24 p.m.

Murphyjunk : That analogy doesn't offend me at all. It is right on the money. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 27, 2013 @ 2:16 p.m.

Don, one interesting fact of life is that Detroit, like Chicago, have had corrupt democratic political leadership as a way of life.

Again, one wonders if American Democracy can survive federal, state and local politicians who have no integrity, and far too many sexual predators, that the majority of voters keep enabling.

With Powers That Be like Manchester and Filner, one wonders how close San Diego is to bankruptcy when the majority of our leaders fail the tests of honor and morality daily.

Meanwhile. Manchester keeps proving daily that propaganda still rules, just like his role model Goebbels proved until we bombed Germany back to the stone age, for a little while at least. And Filner is the gift that keeps on giving to Manchester at the expense of the Democratic Party that is as dysfunctional in San Diego as it is in Detroit and Chicago.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2013 @ 6:31 p.m.

Anon92107. The Democratic Party has ruled Chicago for as long as I can remember, and I lived in Chicago suburbs beginning in 1936. Votes were stolen at will; dead people used to arise and vote -- several times. Mayor Richard J. Daley would put on a long face and growl that the Republicans were interfering with his ability to run the city. But there was never more than a handful of Republicans on the city council. Daley and his Democrats had a complete monopoly. I can remember one mayor named Kelly in the late 1940s. People charged he was running the mob. He replied that you either ran the mob or the mob ran you. Best, Don Bauder

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