Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

March 9, 2014

Jack Lessenberry: Why government doesn't work anymore

Want two glaring examples of why many liberals - as well as conservatives - think government doesn’t work anymore?

Consider these: First, bankrupt Detroit is paying to build a new hockey arena and entertainment center for a billionaire, and stands to get exactly nothing in return. Nobody yet knows how the city’s bankruptcy process will play out, or how much pensioners will be hurt. Nobody yet knows if the deal to save the treasures of the Detroit Institute of Arts will go through. Nobody knows, furthermore, how Detroit is supposed to stay solvent after bankruptcy.

Everybody agrees that the city doesn’t have enough money to provide basic services: Not enough police, not enough emergency vehicles, firefighters or ambulances.

But Detroit’s Downtown Development Authority thinks city taxpayers should pay to build a new hockey arena and entertainment complex for the Ilitch family, which owns the Detroit Red Wings. (Forbes Magazine estimates Mike and Marion Ilitch’s current worth at $3.2 billion.) Funding for the deal is complex, and some apparently will be reimbursed by the state.

But taxpayers will spend more than $260 million, largely from school property taxes, to build the arena.

That’s an estimated 58 percent of the total cost. The city also sold the Ilitch family all the land it needs for a dollar. Granted, it was largely blighted land nobody else wanted anyway.

However, this will be the second time since 1979 that the city of Detroit has built an arena for the Red Wings. Currently, the city does get a share of the proceeds at the Joe Louis arena, amounting to about $7 million a year.

So how much will the city get from the new arena it is building for the billionaires? Nothing. Olympia Development of Michigan, the Ilitch family’s holding company, gets all the ticket revenues, all the money from the parking lots and concession stands.

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow