Friday, April 25, 2008

More thoughts on Clay Bennett, NBA owner, duplicitous S.O.B. extraordinaire, and proponent of socialism for the wealthy.

Yep, the hits just keep on coming. Just as with all the various Bush administration scandals, revaluations are coming so frequently that it is hard to keep up with them. Here are some excepts, via the Seattle Times, of some of the e-mail between the various parties intent on moving the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City that are coming to light in two separate court cases. (One is by the city of Seattle, intent on making the Sonics play out their remaining two years of their valid at Key Arena, and the other is by former owner (and Starbucks coffee magnate) Howard Shultz, claiming that the ownership group that he sold the team to lied to him. Gee, Howard. Who would have guessed?)

• Bennett, like Litvin, worried that McClendon's comments could land the owners in legal trouble. In an Aug. 13, 2007, e-mail to McClendon, Bennett wrote: "Yes sir, we get killed on this one. I don't mind the PR ugliness (pretty used to it), but I am concerned from a legal standpoint that your statement could perhaps undermine our basic premise of 'good faith best efforts'... "

That's a reference to the language in the contract Bennett's group signed with former owner Howard Schultz promising to make "good faith best efforts" through Oct. 31, 2007, on a Seattle-area arena deal. Earlier this week, Schultz filed his own lawsuit, accusing Bennett's group of fraud and seeking to void the 2006 sale of the Sonics to the Oklahoma group.

• Sonics owners began trying to persuade NBA executives to approve an Oklahoma City relocation as early as last April, when it became clear the Washington Legislature would not approve a $500 million Renton arena.

Bennett e-mailed Litvin on April 23, 2007, saying a decision to leave Seattle was "not made in haste but in the context of now years of failing economics" and no prospects for a new arena. While Oklahoma City "is certainly a much smaller media market, this ownership group provides a unique relationship" with the city's business, media and political leaders and "can deliver a viable business operation and commitment to competitive teams," Bennett told Litvin, president of the NBA's league and basketball operations.

• In a July 2007 e-mail to fellow team owners, Bennett still left open the possibility of a Seattle-area arena deal, saying he was issuing a "last call to action to Seattle and Washington." Noting his good-faith promise to Schultz, Bennett said "we believe our efforts in the Legislature this past session satisfied the good faith condition" and that the owners' overall actions would persuade the NBA "we are exhausting every avenue in Seattle."

• Bennett displayed frustration with politicians. In an e-mail last April to Stern and Litvin, Bennett groused that he "wouldn't trust [Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis] as far as I could throw him." He added that the political leadership in Washington state "has never valued the threat of moving to Oklahoma City. They don't even know where it is."

• Bennett vented in other e-mails about the Seattle media. In an e-mail to McClendon and other co-owners last July, Bennett reacted to a column by Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley: "All of these guys are against us. Seattle has the most inept and difficult sports media of any major market. That was the view of the league before we arrived and I now completely agree."

Bennett added: "They still don't get the deal ... Ultimately it is not up to us to build them a building — it is up to the leadership and the broad public to build a building.”

That last bit is what really got to me when I read it. “Ultimately it is not up to us to build them a building ” What is left unsaid in that sentence is “to build US a building SO WE CAN ALL MAKE LOTS OF MONEY.”

Tell me, what other industry or financial concern expects the government and citizens of the location to actually build them the infrastructure? Does the Ford Motor Company threaten to move all their plants to Alabama if Michigan won’t build them brand new, state of the art automotive assembly plants? O.K., yes, many corporations are getting lots of tax breaks when they are looking around for a new location. The Boeing Company played that very well when they were looking around the country for a location at which to assemble their new jet, the 787. And they got some attractive packages, for sure. But the local governments and the taxpaying citizens most certainly did NOT fund expansion of the Boeing facility in Everett, so Boeing could continue to make tons of money off their product.

What in God’s Name are the rich people in this country thinking?!? Conservatives and Republicans complain about entitlements and government support of various programs intended for the greater good, calling it “socialism”. Depending on your definition, that may be. But what the heck do you call millionaires expecting government subsidies and out-and-out handouts for a private, multi-million dollar business like professional basketball? What is that? Seattle “has never valued the threat of moving to Oklahoma City”? Were we supposed to?

Man, rich people make me ill. They think the world owes them even more than they have already. It’s too bad that we don’t have a time machine, where we could go plunk these people down in Neolithic North America, where one of their biggest problems would be trying to find food while not getting eaten by a saber-toothed cat.

I find that I get a certain amount of satisfaction in that visual imagery.

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