By Marc Campos

Paying for Sports Cribs and DAs

"It's not going to be done the way it was done with other stadiums, where the taxpayers picked up the tab. We're not going to do some special deal of giving a lot of money that could go to police or fire to a sports owner." That quote came from yesterday’s Chron on an article about a new crib for the Houston Dynamo – H-Town’s pro soccer team. Not so fast!

On the issue of public funding for sports stadiums and arenas, this is a debate that major cities have had throughout the country for years. Folks in California say no way and that’s the reason why LA doesn’t have an NFL team. Folks here in Texas have had that debate and that’s why Arlington, San Antonio and H-Town have new cribs for some of their clubs. Translation – we decided.

Back in 1996, the voters of Harris County had a big debate and an election on using public funds to build a baseball and football stadium. We had the same for a basketball arena in 1999 and 2000. We voted for them and the rest is history.

I don’t think it should be characterized as “some special deal” when 766,787 Harris County voters weighed in on the matter and decided back in 1996 on the baseball stadium. 822,422 of us weighed in 2000 on whether or not to use public monies for a basketball arena. In 1996, 1999, and 2000 we had a lengthy public policy discussion and debate on funding for stadiums/arenas and the voters decided. A whole lot of folks were part of the debate. Just like the voters decided who would be H-Town’s Mayor back in 1991, 1997, and 2003.

Money wasn’t diverted from police and fire departments to a sports owner. It was a tax on hotels and rent cars that for the most part are paid by out of town folks.

I would hate to think that over a quarter of a million local folks didn’t know what we were voting on back then – we did. I would also hate to think that a majority of us voted on a “special deal” for Drayton, Les and Bob – we didn’t.

Hey, as far as I’m concerned, we did OK. Minute Maid Park is the cornerstone of Downtown’s redevelopment. I wonder what Downtown H-Town would look like without Minute Maid Park or Toyota Center.

Disclosure – Commentary hangs out with Pam-In-Charge who reports to Drayton.

Hot shot Assistant DA Kelly Siegler’s campaign for Harris County DA is getting off to a terrible start. First she had to crack on her hubby for sending out inappropriate emails and now she has pi__ed off the congregation of America’s number one best selling author. She called the Lakewood church goers “nuts”. Nice move. Before you take on congregations, it is best to check out where they worship. In the case of Lakewood, they praise the Lord in a freaking NBA basketball arena. I think it is time for Siegler to throw in the towel.

In the case of Chuck Rosenthal, it’s time to say adios. Nobody wants you to stay in office. Your GOP leaders, your staff and the NAACP all want you to take a hike. Do the right thing and walk away, try to cut a deal with the investigators, and hopefully a caretaker replacement can be named. Then we can have a good old debate on who should be elected to the position this November.

Rosenthal and Siegler have been the tough and aggressive public face of the Harris County DA’s office for the past few years. This morning they are the butt of countless wisecracks and jokes.

Speaking of The Yard, I got in the mail yesterday the upcoming season giveaway list. Berkman, Hunter Pence and Roy O will get bobbleheads. They’re also handing out “interlocking” B-G-O and Bagwell bobbleheads – huh? I guess I’ll ask Sweet Marisa what is an “interlocking” bobblehead. Fans also get to vote on a bobblehead. How about a Drayton bobblehead, a Coop, a Matsui, Tejada, or Valverde? The ‘Stros also are continuing to “go green.” They’re handing out canvass grocery tote bags so you can skip the paper/plastic stuff – cool.

January 11, 2008 9:00AM

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