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Thursday, August 23, 2012

They Didn't Build That
Posted by Jill | 5:55 AM
I read this morning that the theme for the Republican National Convention is going to be "We Built It" -- flogging a comment by the President that was expressed far less artfully than Elizabeth Warren did while saying the same thing. All of this makes me hope that the theme for the Democratic National Convention is "The Uterus Is Not a Garage Door Opener", and would make me hope for the Goddess to turn Isaac into a nice Cat-3 or 4 hurricane and smite Tampa with it just as some fundie nutball is on the podium speaking derisively how climate change is a myth concocted by left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers, were it not for the fact that such a hurricane would also strike Naples, where my father is going for his first post-chemotherapy lymph node scan next Thursday and then up to New Orleans, where Liberal Dan lives. So scratch that second part.

But rest assured, there will be a whole lot of people who made their money from a government paycheck and K-street campaign dollars up there talking about how business owners are rugged individualists who headed west on foot and in covered wagons, armed only with their rifles and a dream, facing rain, desert, floods, and injuns as they soldiered on with their individual grit and determination, and praising the edifice in which they're sitting,

Oh, wait:

The Republican Party's convention site is creating an awkward reality at odds with the conservative media mythology that is at the center of the convention's theme.

In recent days, Fox News has praised Republicans for adopting "We Built It" as a theme for its upcoming convention. "We Built It" is based on the Fox-fueled distortion of President Obama's remarks tying the success of businesses to "this unbelievable American System" that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.

However, the selection of the Republican convention site actually proves President Obama's point about the role of government assistance. The construction of the Tampa Bay Times Forum was majority financed by the public; the arena is owned by local government; and the Republican convention has received tens of millions in government funds to help with costs and security.   

Republican Convention Site: Publicly Financed, Publicly Owned

Republicans will host their 2012 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was majority financed by the public.

The Forum was built in 1996 by the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which was created as a public agency in 1965 for the purpose of "planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive complex of sports and recreational facilities" in the area. According to the Authority's 2011 financial statements, the Forum is actually owned by Hillsborough County, which then leases it back to the Authority. This step was taken specifically to avoid the inclusion of the arena on the county's tax rolls.

Reports on the actual cost of construction are inconsistent, ranging from $139 million to $162 million [Tampa Tribune, 8/17/97, via Nexis]. But the Forum was reportedly majority-financed using more than $80 million in city and county bonds backed in part by taxes, with additional funding from the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning is owned by a small businessman named Jeff Vinik. He's a hedge fund manager. You know, a small business -- just like the mom 'n' pop bagel shop around the corner.

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