Sunday, March 30, 2008

Ballpark Village Fiasco

The recent collapse of Centene deciding to opt out of building its HQ in St. Louis Downtown ballpark village, a.k.a. the downtown quarry, has been the most recent and largest setback for the building of ANYTHING in Ballpark village. And is a major setback for the City of St. Louis. The Centene HQ was going to bring 1200 jobs into the city and probably kickstart the whole deal. So lets analyze the situation and start pointing fingers, because quite frankly it is time for people to start getting pissed.

Two years and two baseball seasons have gone by one bringing a world championship home and the Cardinals cannot finish the job here in St. Louis. It is my understanding that the Cardinals own the land and have contracted with a Baltimore based Cordish Company to develop the property. So what is the deal? Everyone in town knows that this is possibly the best real estate in the entire state of Missouri. Not only that, the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri have secured tax credits/funding of $100 million dollars, and Centene was set to receive an additional $70 million dollars for the construction of their building alone. I know that the market for real estate, lending and development is tanking, but $170 million is a lot of money. If you gave me $170 million and said build something, I am betting I could put up a fairly good set of buildings. Heck they could fill out the site in phases, build one or two buildings rent them out. They will be rented out, this is the best baseball town in America. St. Louisans will definitely rent offices, buy lofts and patronize retail and commercial space ACROSS THE STREET FROM BUSCH STADIUM no matter what the economy is doing.

Ok, now for the fun part, lets start pointing fingers:
The players-- Cardinals, Cordish, Centene, City of St. Louis, State of Missouri

Let's start with the biggest loser in this situation, the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri. The City and State was on a tax dollar giveaway for this thing. Bigtime. They already helped finance the Stadium, taking political heat from around the State to get something done with out even mucking up the process with really any kinds of rules or restrictions. I give them a pass, they bucked up (our money) quite liberally without much of a guarentee in return, save perhaps that the Cardinals would have to build something nice. I don't think that is really too much to ask for, given that we have already helped pay for the new stadium, which was also unnecessary (the Old Busch could have had quite a few more years in her).

So that leaves us the St. Louis Cardinals, Cordish and Centene.

Centene I also give a pass too. They as far as I could tell wanted to build a HQ bringing 1200 jobs to St. Louis to Ballpark Village.

This leaves us with the real culprits: the St. Louis Cardinals and Cordish Co.
From what I hear from people working around this deal is that Cordish is the big hold up in this whole process. I don't really know any details why, and I know the economy is bad right now, but $170 million in public financing should be enough to secure some kind of loans. There has to be some bank out there that is willing to say "hmmm, $170 million that is one heck of a down payment, here's some money! now start building." I know the financing for a project like this is actually ridiculously more complicated, but we are not reinventing the wheel here people. Deals like this have been done in the past. So what is the hold up (not like we will ever find out from the Post-Dispatch press release aggregator/newspaper)?

Now for the beloved St. Louis Cardinals. They have to shoulder the blame also. Our out of town owners have asked for us all to chip in so that we can enjoy our baseball in a brand new facility and consequently, increase the value of the team by hundreds of millions of dollars. So when they sell the team they can pocket that money and we get to pay higher ticket prices. Does that sound like a fair deal to you? I bet this would be a lot more fair if, perhaps, they had to actually spend some money building a thing called Ballpark Village in the mud hole that is currently next to the stadium. But if that part of the deal falls through, (where would they get that idea....Kiel/Savis/Scottrade and the infamous we'll renovate Kiel Auditorium deal...still worthless) they would be off scot-free to make a ton of money selling the team.

So let's sum up the situation, the Cardinals don't want this on their hands anymore, it is too hard for Cordish Co., Centene needs an HQ and can't wait around, and us the citizens bucking up a lot of lucre for this want our god-damned ball park village. I wonder who isn't going to get what they want?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Villa NOT running for Senate!

State Rep Tom Villa is NOT running for the 5th District State Senate Seat as I guessed earlier. So the question is what IS he running for? He has $190K in the bank....

Let's run through some scenarios:

1.) Villa, the notorious prankster, could just not be running for anything, it all could be a big joke! However, $190K, of which $165K of his own money is a lot of work and money lost in accrued interest for a joke. This is the least likely scenario in my book.

2.) I think Mr. Villa is going to use that cash as seed money for a larger campaign. But what could he run for? Let's look at what we know:
A. He is 63 years old.
B. He comes from one of the longest standing political dynasties in St. Louis City Politics.
C. He has been President of the Board of Alderman and has run unsuccessfully for Mayor.

Take these into consideration and we see a man who has been successful in politics has been an Alderman, State Representative, Majority Whip and Floor Leader in the State House, ran for Treasurer, President of the Board of Alderman and failed in a bid for Mayor. Since he is 63 years old, how many campaigns does the old boy have left in him, not many, unless he is related to John McCain. So for one of his last campaigns what is Tom going to run for? State Senate is a moderate promotion, but most likely he will still be in the minority? His pension is probably set and being a State Senator isn't that much a promotion. So what does Tom do?

Why not pull a big prank, keep any white candidates out of the Senate Race, keep the seat black, earn some goodwill in the black community, who is not that much of a fan of Mayor Slay these days and run for Mayor. Think about it, what black candidate is going to run against the mayor? Lewis Reed, not enough cash right now and he just got in as President of the Board. Mike McMillan, word is Mike wants a coronation rather than a streetfight to win room 200.

So Tom Villa runs for Mayor, hurts the mayor in his base in South City and wins the North Side as the Not Slay guy running for Mayor. The only question is can Mike McMillan restrain himself from running in a race between two southside politicians? No matter what, I think Tom Villa is going to run for Mayor.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Racism and the Democratic Party

I have already made a post about "the Speech" however there are repercussions for the Obama campaign by making "the Speech" in lieu of doing what pretty much every other politician in this country would have done, a.k.a. the smart and politically convenient action, throwing the preacher under the bus.

I read this article in today and it made me realize, as someone who grew up in South City why this is damaging. Many of these working class whites racism is different from the Country Club Racism one encounters among more educated whites, and in the conservative media.

The South City/working class white racism seems (in my very inexpert opinion) to be based on economic competition, cultural tensions between people living in close proximity to each other. The Country Club racism is bred more through ignorance and the Ronald Reagan "welfare queens driving Cadillacs" stereotypes, people who would never utter the n-word yet think all their tax dollars are lining the pockets of people living in the ghetto the conservative Southern Strategy still at work.

No matter either of these racist persuasions, the comments of Rev. Wright give racists the excuse to say why they WON'T vote for Obama. The folks in the article never would have told that reporter that they wouldn't vote for Obama because he is black, but the anti-white and anti-American comments are the perfect copout (don't give me a lecture about Black Liberation Theology either, it is not going to change these folks minds). Some people would say that these folks aren't voting for the Democratic Party no matter what, the country club racists yes, but working class? But the first time that the problem of racism in the Democratic Party crossed my mind as a problem is after Ohio and I heard exit polling results on CNN about how 20% of voters cited race (Q:"race of candidate was important to you?") as a factor in determining their choice and that 60% of those respondents were voted for Hillary, who won by a ten point spread (54% to 44%) with 76% of the turnout being white, winning 64% of those white voters.

What we see in these numbers are white voters voting for Hillary/against Obama admittedly based on race , at least in part. This is going to be problematic in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These states are not only geographic neighbors but share many of the same demographics. AND they now have the Rev. Wright excuse that they aren't the ones throwing the first racially charged stone.

Best Burgers in St. Louis Gone Forever.

Dooley's Pub, best burgers in St. Louis hands down, closed their doors on St. Patrick's Day last Monday. I don't know where I'll get lunch downtown any more. Article in the Post here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Obama: The Speech

(Disclosure: I am a full fledged Obama supporter)

We have all heard about in the news last few days about the amazing speech Obama gave on race. The media really can't stop proclaiming how great it was, yet they really don't explain why. They play a few choice sound-bytes from it but stop short of actually telling anyone what it was about.

Why this speech was important (and different from the politics we are all so used to):

He didn't blame this on anyone, he didn't point fingers, he didn't throw anyone under the bus, he didn't disavow his minister (even though everyone in the world would have understood, given his comments). He made picked up an underlying theme that nobody, especially politicians, likes to talk about: Racism in America. But he didn't do it like any other politician previously has. He explained to the white folks that there is racism against black Americans and they don't feel too kindly about it. He spoke of racial tensions in his own bi-racial family. But then he did something that I've never heard a Black politician do, he told black people about how white people feel some policies are unfair, affirmative action, economic and class tensions broken along racial lines, etc.

Politically genius, not to mention courageous. This guy just turned a major campaign gaffe into a conversation about the racial problems we have to solve in this country. And the Media who was ready to drag this juicy story on and on has to shut up about it, save Rush Limbaugh. That is why they are all speechless. In one reserved, quiet speech Barack Obama changed the national conversation about race from a militant black preacher to how this problem belongs to all of us. Hillary Clinton in her dreams could never accomplish such a feat.

Villa for Senate?

Is State Rep Tom Villa running for Senate? His campaign committee reflects that he is, he has loaned himself $165K. So why would one speculate that he may be running for something else?

1. He hasn't filed yet. And yes, I do know that he always files on the last day.

2. He isn't raising any money. He was sitting on $27,000 before he loaned himself the $165K giving him a cash on hand of $190K, more than enough to run a decent campaign, however he likes to hire the big D.C. consultants. I heard that Axelrod (Obama's campaign manager) did his mayoral campaign. If that is the case he will need more money than that.

3. Why stake the whole campaign himself when he definitely has the capability to raise that amount of cash...........

or is that just seed money for a larger campaign?

We will see on Tuesday when filing closes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Going the Distance Hillary v. Obama Part I

"I'm not a member of any organized party. I'm a Democrat."
--Will Rodgers--
The nomination as it stands today, is Obama's. As long as he stays competitive, in Pennsylvania and wins the rest of the states he should win, he will walk into the convention with the most votes (Florida and Michigan notwithstanding), most delegates and most states won.

So the question remains is why is Hillary Clinton doing this? What does she have to gain?

Some would say the Presidency. Yet the question remains is, at what cost? Hillary is staying in the race and is ready to slice and dice Obama into little bits until her crew bolstered by the media looking for a story will try to rip him to shreds in hopes that something damaging enough will surface and torpedo the Obama juggernaut.

This situation is untenable and cannot go on all summer. Something has got to give. What it is will be one of the following (in no particular order):
1. Superdelegate Vanguard: Al Gore, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Jimmy Carter et al come out early to end this for one or the other.
2. Hillary loses Pennsylvania, possible but not likely.
3. Hillary and the Media and the Republicans can find better dirt than Obama's pastor (btw where's Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when a black preacher is being slimed??? not enough money to be made, if you don't know I'll address this in a later posting.)
4. Obama bombs, they find something irreparably damaging that kills his candidacy.
5. This drags on, and the time comes for Obama to give up the high road and come out swinging, and the winner of the slugfest is the nominee.

More posts to come.