Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sell the Damn Thing

I love the Astrodome. Before I moved to Houston it was the one symbol of the city that stood out the most. I have attended baseball games, football games, rodeos, concerts, and trade shows there. I have fond memories of "Dome dogs" and gigantic beers. But I am tired of paying for this massive monument to the past.

The Dome has been sitting idle for years, and despite occasional debates over its future, nothing has been done. And during this period taxpayers have had the privilege of paying about $4.4 million a year for insurance, debt, and interest. Now, the Chronicle reports that we will get to pony up some more money:
The Astrodome's future could range from a $128 million teardown to its renovation as part of a $1.35 billion makeover of Reliant Park, leaders of the stadium complex said Monday.

Whatever the option, the public is almost certain to be asked to pay a big portion of the price.
Before I comment on the actual proposal, consider the dishonesty of the wording in the last sentence above. We will be "asked" to pay for whatever plan is adopted. This is like a mugger claiming that he "asked" for your wallet. And what happens if you don't comply? Both the mugger and the taxman will bash your head in. Now back to our story.

For years, taxpayers have been paying for the debt and interest on a vacant building. Our esteemed leaders have been so wise that we have been continuing to pay on this building long after it quit being used. And now they claim that they have a good idea for the property. Just like they claimed that all of the other sports stadiums were a good idea. Lest anyone forget, it wasn't that long ago that the city unloaded one if its previous "good ideas"--the facility formerly known as The Summit--in a fire sale because it needed to reduce its budget deficit.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me five, six, ten times, I'm a damn idiot. Government officials are playing taxpayers for idiots, and with good reason. Taxpayers (or at least voters) have continued to buy into the claptrap that we must pay for these playgrounds or else we won't have major leagues sports teams. And then we won't be a "world-class city". I have news for the whiners who make such claims: There isn't any class in forcing taxpayers to "invest" their money into these boondoggles.

I have a suggestion that won't cost taxpayers a penny. In fact, it will help reduce taxes. Sell the damn thing.

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