Miami Today: Michael Lewis Editorial on The Marlins

Lewis says: Don’t blame rich Marlins because we gave them $3 billion:

If building a $3 billion stadium and handing it over for 50 years for pennies didn’t faze Miami-Dade commissioners when they OK’d the deal with a wink, they’re now horrified that their beneficiary was rich.

Shucks, they say, if they’d known the Florida Marlins had operating profit of $49 million over two years they’d have shaved several million off their $3 billion gift that raised the team’s market value at least $250 million.

He says further:

The first rule in a deal is to know fully who’s on the other side. That includes character and financial status.

The commission violated that rule by a mile. You have to reveal more to get a wireless phone than the Marlins told commissioners, who then gave away the store.

It wasn’t just that most commissioners didn’t read the contracts and voted, as they often do, to taxpayers’ detriment. It’s that they didn’t really want to know. After all, if they didn’t know they can’t be blamed — unless you expect commissioners to open their eyes and ears.

As it was, nine of them — just the right number for baseball — played a game of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. The only thing the Marlins’ nine asked about the worst county contract in history was “What’s in it for me?”

Lewis Concludes:

Commissioners, this disaster isn’t the Marlins’ fault. Divide the blame equally between the county manager you trusted and the Marlins’ nine who didn’t want to examine the giveaway they signed off on. The mayor and manager leave in two years. Voters get to decide how to deal with the nine of you. Don’t blame the Marlins for your $3 billion gift. It’s on your backs.
See the full Editorial.

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