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Braves stadium funding deal approved with no debate and no chance for opponents to speak

May 28, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT

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A week after Braves president John Schuerholz admitted that the move to Cobb County had to be agreed to in secret lest anyone oppose it, the Cobb County Commission approved the use of $392 million in public funds to build the new ballpark.

As with everything else in this move, it went really smoothly, with a unanimous vote being registered on most of the specifics and everyone home in time to catch “The Voice” or whatever. Of course it did, because there was no public debate on the matter and the Commission allowed only 12 citizens to speak, all of whom supported the ballpark deal:

The meeting was dominated by supporters of the stadium who executed a strategy to shutout the voice of critics. They were lined up for the 12 speaking slots by 1:45 p.m., for the meeting that started at 7. They effectively snatched up all the speaking slots for the public comment portion of the meeting. A handful of critics were escorted from the room when it became clear early on they would not be allowed to speak and they approached the front of the room to ask the commission to create more speaking slots.

Commissioners denied the request and all 12 speaker slots were filled by stadium supporters.

Also worth noting: the bond documents which detailed how the $392 million would be funded, were released at 6pm on Friday. That is, after working hours on the Friday before a holiday weekend. Which, history shows, is always the time governmental bodies like to release documents that establish taxpayers are getting a great deal and popular measures are being approved.

Practically speaking, this is academic. The deal was going to pass no matter how many opponents spoke and no matter how long ago the documents were released. That’s because the original deal was struck in secret, allowing the messiness of public officials deliberating and being lobbied to go unnoticed. If a big thing like this is going to be unwound, it’s going to be unwound early, when proponents aren’t able to have ready-made publicity and p.r. and fancy websites with artists’ renderings to deploy. When government officials who would otherwise be under scrutiny can’t simply wave the banner of a local sports team to distract some potential critics, tout their unanimity and cohesion to calm other potential critics and begin the conversation as if everything were already decided, which has the effect of making those who are opposed seem behind the game and engaged in a quixotic endeavor. It’s pretty slick politics, I’ll tell you.

And maybe it doesn’t matter even without that stuff. Maybe it still passes easily if the whole thing were announced in the open early and voted on Greek democracy-style with every single citizen of Cobb County being 100% informed and 100% present in turning out to cast a ballot. Heck, my gut tells me it probably would. I don’t presume that there is some really large silent majority out there who doesn’t want a ballpark in Cobb County.

But it’s a shame that Cobb County and the Braves and those who engineered all of this didn’t have the stomach or the decency to test that hypothesis. That they chose to do something, however nobly-intentioned and inevitable it was, in the same manner in which one would enact something ignobly-intentioned and publicly unpopular. Really, if a government wanted to pass the “Screw Every Last One of You Act of 2014,” they’d proceed in much the same fashion.

Process matters. Even if the outcome is preordained. Maybe especially when it is.

  1. psly2124 - May 28, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Copo your dead wrong. Just because you get money taken out of your paycheck doesn’t mean you pay taxes. Have you heard of the earned income tax credit. People who pay maybe 500 in taxes get back 3-4k on April. And a majority of the uneducated vote democrat for the handouts. Of course there are some of the bleeding heart liberals that vote democrat. Just go to any major city and see the who they elect. And welfare recipients pay how much again. Get over yourself and learn something

    • tmc602014 - May 28, 2014 at 6:56 PM

      Dude, it’s a debate you cannot win. Here we pay 9% sales tax, which represents a much higher portion of income for those lower on the economic scale. Many of these also pay taxes, because the EITC does not apply to all taxpayers. Meanwhile a certain political party refuses to raise the minimum wage, which would probably help reduce EITC payouts. It is a complicated situation.

    • crackersnap - May 28, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      You do not seem to grasp the idea that income taxes are based on INCOME.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 28, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Copo your dead wrong. Just because you get money taken out of your paycheck doesn’t mean you pay taxes. Have you heard of the earned income tax credit. People who pay maybe 500 in taxes get back 3-4k on April.

      Asked and answered. I told you they pay them, what comes back the next year is irrelevant. They still paid them.

      And welfare recipients pay how much again. Get over yourself and learn something

      I always love when I post something that has five or six points in it, and someone ignores the majority of them because they refute his argument. Then tries to tell me to read something.

      And a majority of the uneducated vote democrat for the handouts.

      Where are the worst states by education nationally? in the south. What does the south predominantly vote? Republican. This isn’t up for debate.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - May 28, 2014 at 9:08 PM

      People who pay maybe 500 in taxes get back 3-4k on April.

      Haha holy crap. So you have no clue about economics, no clue about voter breakdowns, and now you show you don’t know how taxes work. Just give up man. Or in other words:

  2. psly2124 - May 28, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    Raising the minimum wage only increases unemployment and drives up the cost of goods. Minimum wage was meant for kids and people on there first jobs. If you are an adult making minimum wage you are a democrat and you should hang yourself. When minimum wage increases it cuts other people jobs at that minimum wage job. The government should not dictate what a person should be paid. You are worth what someone pays you. If you are so dumb that you cannot make more you should have stayed in school. Because you dropped out why should the taxpayer be on the hook for you housing, food, kids and every other expense that you cannot afford.

    • crackersnap - May 28, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      The reason that governments take such action on minimum wage is simple economics. When the economy takes a hit, people are laid off. The increases the number of people competing for the same job, driving down wages. As wages go down, people have less to spend, driving the economy down further. Again, simple economics. You should edumicate yourself on it.

      By the way, about half the people on minimum wage are adult women. I suppose if they all hanged themselves it would “decrease the surplus population”, and you would be happy.

      Oh, and about that “you are worth what someone pays you” idea, how do you feel about the CEO club that decides to pay themselves what they, themselves, think they are worth?

      • Henshaw - May 29, 2014 at 8:29 AM

        Odd that you mention “simple economics” when the majority of economists believe the minimum wage should either be unchanged or eliminated entirely. In fact, it was just 25 years ago that this was settled economics. It’s one of those issues the social economists keep dredging up only for it to be killed again.

    • tellyspop - May 29, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      “If you are an adult making minimum wage you are a democrat and you should hang yourself.”

      I see you are a “final solutions” kinda person.

      “Of course there are some of the bleeding heart liberals that vote democrat. Just go to any major city and see the who they elect.”

      Cleverly stated to verbally walk right up to the race card line without using the actual race baiting words. You didn’t mention names of any of “the who they elect.” Was it Horton? Would you be so kind as to elaborate with some names please?

    • tved12 - May 29, 2014 at 1:16 PM

      I know some “bleeding heart conservatives” that have collected unemployment. Now on their Facebook feeds I see all these posts about how we should do away with unemployment. I have yet to see one conservative that was laid off for an extended period who refused to collect unemployment. They sure love to talk the talk, but when the rubber meets the road they’re going to take advantage of those benefits as well.

      As for your minimum wage argument, if companies could police themselves in the first place we wouldn’t have so many regulations in place. For example, why do we have a law against monopolies? companies can police themselves, right? Why would we need a law to keep them under control? Oh ya, corporations have proven time and time again that without rules and regulations they will exploit the little guys.

      History teaches us not to make the same mistakes. If you truly think we should do away with minimum wage, you will see the consequences of letting corporations set the bottom line.

  3. yahmule - May 28, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    Didn’t Walt Kelly set Pogo in Cobb County?

  4. Henshaw - May 29, 2014 at 8:46 AM

    I have followed this stadium issue very closely and I’ve been amazed at the coverage. It’s all been negative and one sided. That’s great in the long run because maybe will eventually feel outrage. Taxpayer funded projects like this are a waste of money.

    I’m not sure though that anyone will every really care. The federal government wastes money everywhere. Both parties are guilty and people turn a blind eye.

    In Cobb County the reason that all 12 people who spoke were supporters were because the supporters are more vocal. They’ve recently held an event at the stadium site. They showed up early.

    A poll in November showed that most of Cobb County liked the idea even though they were opposed to tax dollars funding it. They just weren’t THAT opposed to it.

    The public hearing about this was held in November. This vote was just a procedural vote. Cobb was pretty much on the hook.

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