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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Rants on the Saturday paper

I don't take the local paper on a regular basis anymore. I haven't the time to read it daily, which is a shame because I have done so since my undergrad days in Athens, Georgia. I now pick up the Saturday version. Here are some things I have issues with:

  • In this article about the state's sales tax holiday, we find a hint about the future ability of the city of Arlington to service the debt load that will be incurred for the Cowboys Stadium:
    At North East Mall in Hurst, three generations of females from Arlington arrived at 10:05 a.m., early enough to snag a parking space five rows away from Dillard's.

    The trio -- Pattie Hibler, 53, her daughter, Cloudy Ticknor, 34, and Ticknor's daughter, Summer, 13 -- spent $400-plus on jeans, shorts, capris, tops and lingerie by 11 a.m. But they saved about $40 in state and local sales taxes, they said.

    For those not around here, Hurst is a town to the north of Arlington. Back when the baseball stadium was financed with a city-specific 1/2 penny sales tax Arlington was the only place to shop for the border cities of Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Grand Prairie, Mansfield, Kennendale, Grapevine, and South Fort Worth. That meant that folks had to come to Arlington to shop, and they did. Today, there are a lot more malls than there were 15 years ago - when folks are leaving the city limits to shop they are also leaving the stadium-tax jurisdiction. This does not bode well for the future.

  • The same article discusses the amount of shopping that will take place. City and county officials are quick to point out that no one makes shopping decisions based upon sales tax issues- at least that was the line of bull we were fed here about the increase in the local sales tax. The decrease in the sales tax will generate a lot of business so it seems that people respond when prices drop.

  • In this article admittedly written for the more liberal Los Angeles Times comes this nice language:
    Conservatives largely embraced the proposals as a crucial shift in tenor from what they have viewed as a government too lenient with immigrants and foreign agitators. The plan is forcing Britain, much like the United States did after 9-11, to reflect on how far to push police powers. The measures do not appear to be as sweeping as some imposed by the Bush administration, but they certainly move Britain in a conservative direction regarding civil liberties.

    I understand that this is common language, but the Bush administration didn't impose anything that the Congress didn't vote for. Unlike Abe Lincoln suspending the writ of habeas corpus (which I'm pretty sure he "imposed" without Congressional approval), the anti-terrorism laws in the U.S. are the result of legislation, which is what Congress does. I am sure that the writer knows the difference, but it still seems to be sloppy.

  • The open warfare that is being experienced on the Southern border with Nuevo Laredo continues to escalate. It seems that any public official who runs counter to the drug cartel and its interests is being gunned down. I use the term warfare because last week there was a pitched battle in a residential area of Nuevo Laredo in which heavy caliber machine guns, bazookas, RPGs, and fully automatic small arms were involved. This activity is already spilling over to the Laredo side of the border.

    When we have armed insurgents (of the drug cartels, not necessarily of Al Qaeda) crossing the border are we gonna finally wake up to what is going on from Brownsville to San Diego? More here According to Mexican officials, the warfare is fueled by guns that come from the United States, therefore it is our fault. Implicitly, I suppose, when the violence spills over the border (as RPGs don't recognize national boundries) the Mexican government will blame us.

  • Adding insult to injury, the city of Arlington expects to pay between $70 million and $100 million for the properties that will be bulldozed to build the Cowboys stadium. What's the big deal? That's only twice as much as was originally planned!!

    The math is staggering. The extra fifty million dollars is the first of what I predict to be a long series of cost overruns that will plague the project. The initial estimated cost for the stadium was $650 million (that included the original estimate of land costs). Therefore we are up to $50m over budget to begin with and we know that Jerry Jones is not going to skimp on the actual stadium construction. The mayor insists that the city's portion of the stadium cost is capped at $325m which is why I immediately conclude that the city's portion of the stadium cost is not capped at $325m. Before construction starts we are already 6% over budget. I had predicted that the stadium would eventually come in at 10% over budget, but I might have been optimistic in that predition.

    Arlington used to have 5,000 hotel rooms, which magically turned into 11,000 hotel rooms in the ERA impact study of the stadium. The city has already lost one hotel, the Knights Inn at the corner of Lamar and Collins, not two miles from the current and new stadium site. What is going to replace the old Knights Inn? Perhaps the Cadillac/BMW dealershp currently located across the street.

    The Ballpark Inn is slated to be destroyed as well. That hotel has 186 rooms. Oh well, I suppose Hyatt or some other hotel company will come in and make up the loss of our hotel rooms before the 2011 Super Bowl.

    I do hate sounding like a broken record, but this voter has more "buyer's remorse" every time I read the paper.

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