Baseball sparks debate via email

In case you read this story about baseball emails, here are the full texts of the four emails I quoted.

From: Ginger Metcalf []
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 3:10 PM
To: Jeanne Stewart; Jeanne Harris/City (Jeanne Harris); Bart Hansen; Jack Burkman/Council; Larry Smith; Tim Leavitt;; Steve Stuart; Tom Mielke; Marc Boldt (E-mail)’

Dear City of Vancouver and Clark County elected officials:

In case you all are not familiar with Identity Clark County’s project Portland-Vancouver USA, Land Here, Live Here, it is a $250,000+ grass roots regional marketing strategy to 1) create an awareness of where this greater metropolitan region on the map (as distinct from any other Portland or Vancouver), and 2) heighten the level of curiosity about the region to attract BUSINESS AND JOBS.

The organization that I previously represented is a supporter and financial co-sponsor of the Land Here, Live Here Fly-In event being held at Pearson on September 24th. ICC’s financial commitment isn’t even close to the $88,000 committed by Greater Portland, Inc., private sector dollars, to host 13 Presidents and CEOs of highly desirable companies that we would like to recruit to this area. BECAUSE THEY BRING JOBS!!!!!!!!

There is a portion in the TIP Strategic Plan that speaks to the glaring absence of family entertainment opportunities that are a part of “selling” a family friendly . . . (read LIVE Here) . . . region. Additionally, the Economic Impact of the Proposed Multi-use Facility (below) addresses the fact that the region can comfortably support a baseball team in Vancouver.

What a disappointment to not have the support of the two jurisdictions that will make the final decision on whether baseball comes to Clark County. The private sector is busting its buns and cobbling together scarce private dollars to help bring jobs to this area. Somewhere in this equation there is a huge gap – and I fear that gap lies within the realm of the electeds. The private sector “gets” economic development. What in the world is the matter with the public sector? Get a grip. Bite the bullet. Which of the County’s or City’s plans has created 280 constructions jobs or a return on investment as described in the report below? We’re trying to do our part. You too should be pitching in (pardon the pun) to help us attract the type of businesses and jobs we so desperately need. Or are you too busy strategizing the next election campaign and counting votes?

When has the County or the City EVER asked for our support and not received it?

Ginger Metcalf, a VERY disappointed private citizen who sometimes wonders why in the heck the private sector even tries.

From: Burkman, Jack
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 3:09 PM
To: Metcalf, Ginger
Cc: Stewart, Jeanne; Harris, Jeanne; Hansen, Bart; Smith, Larry; Leavitt, Tim; Campbell, Pat; Stuart, Steve; Mielke, Tom; Boldt, Marc; Holmes, Eric




“Or are you too busy strategizing the next election campaign and counting votes?” That’s uncalled for, Ginger. I expect to hear those type of rude comments from some of our ‘frequent fliers’, not from you.

My job as an elected official is to listen to all and represent them to the best of my ability. I’m hearing strong support for the stadium and strong opposition to the use of a new tax to fund it. There is strong pushback to any new tax in this recessionary economy. Equally problematic is a tax on only two businesses (Regal Cinemas and Cinetopia) that is used to benefit a direct competitor, subsidizing that competitor’s low ticket prices.

Then there is the issue of Vancouver imposing a new tax for a recreation item while cutting services, closing a fire station, and laying off large numbers of service providing employees. It’s like a family who can’t pay the mortgage, finds a way to get more money, only to turn around and buy a shiny, new recreation toy instead of paying on the mortgage – it’s not a rational, supportable position.

That matches my personal views, too.

You talk about creating 280 construction jobs. The vast majority of those would be created due to spending the admissions tax on the stadium. That return would occur regardless of which project was paid for with the tax money. We would get the same economic benefit by spending the tax money on a road, a water main, electrical transmission, etc. It’s not unique to the stadium proposal.

I have consistently asked if investing the tax money in the stadium is the highest and best use of the money. The admissions tax can be bonded for at least $10 million dollars. Given all the economic development needs in our region, and the scarcity of public money for investing, is the stadium the best investment? What about the infrastructure to open Section 30 or the Discovery Corridor?

There has been no evaluation of alternative investments. What else could we, what else should we consider to produce jobs by investing at least $10 million dollars? While the stadium proposal begins to address family entertainment options, it’s a poor investment of money for job creation: 12 full time jobs and a lot of part time jobs that only provide $1500-2000/annual per employee.

I’m sorry, but I find the economic analysis fundamentally flawed. As I mention above, the economic benefit due to construction jobs is not unique to this proposal. More troubling is the report’s assertion that there will be a $4.1M economic benefit to the community, out of a total $7.5M benefit, due to spending by Clark County residents. This number does not account for money residents don’t spend elsewhere because they are spending at the stadium. A significant amount of the $4.1M is not new money, instead, it is likely to be money ‘shuffled’ from a different business to the stadium. That ‘shuffling’ is not economic development and it comes at the expense of other businesses in the county.

So what is the real economic development and how does it compare to alternative investments?

With respect to public participation, there is really $12 million in public participation either already proposed via the use of Clark College land and parking or potential via property tax exemption.

• $7 million (land value of $500,000/year) (land value derived from leaseholder tax value in economic development report)

• $1 million (parking value – as stated by Mike Thiessen as Council workshop)

• $4 million ($23 million in construction resulting in $300,000/year exempted property taxes)(the facility is supposed to end up owned by Clark anyway)

I “get” economic development. I also “get” that we have very limited public money to invest. It must be invested where it will produce the biggest return, not invested in the first to ask for the money.


On Sep 9, 2011, at 4:02 PM, Mike Bomar wrote:

Thanks for forwarding your reply Jack,

I think that you have proven Ginger’s points and that most of the business folks included on this email can see the glaring flaws in your rationale for not supporting the project so I won’t go too in depth in my response.

  1. This “recreational toy” also comes with up to $206 million in economic benefit to the community over the life of the bonds.
  2. A project that doesn’t exist can’t provide 280 construction jobs. Those jobs are NOT there either way.
  3. The infrastructure you’re referring to investing in instead of this project could not be achieved with this level of revenue nor would it be appropriate to tax admissions fees for purely private benefit. Your proposal would also put the city much further in debt. The original proposal doesn’t carry that risk.
  4. The payroll alone created by this project is much greater than the public share, it’s disappointing that you don’t see the value in jobs that will help kids through college and teachers earn additional income in the summer. I haven’t seen another project on the table with that return, have you?
  5. This economic recession is precisely the time to invest in projects that will benefit this community tremendously in the short term and significantly in the long term. I honestly can’t think of a better time to implement a discretionary tax for an asset like this.
  6. Your current “public participation” numbers (I question their accuracy) are precisely what the college is offering for the great benefit that they receive and yes it is significant. It’s a huge academic and athletic boost for the college without them having to take money from scholarships or other academic investments.
  7. The money that will be spent elsewhere will be baseball fans spending money in Portland or elsewhere in OR, not instead of movies. This argument is ridiculous and scheduling conflicts with concerts and the fair can be worked out. I attend movies, concerts, the fair, Blazers games. – Never in my life have I spent a dime of professional sports dollars in Vancouver because that amenity only exists across the river.

I strongly encourage you to spend our money to make money and not spend money to spend money. If this project does not go through it will be a regional, if not national embarrassment for our community. Now is not the time to be penny-wise and pound foolish. Your approach is a recipe for many more “frequent fliers”.

Thank you all for your service and for taking the time to respond.

Have a great weekend!

Mike Bomar
SWCA Executive Director
(360) 694-7922 Office

On Sep 9, 2011, at 9:36 PM, “Tim wrote:

Jack, Ginger, Mike, (All),

I believe that through sincere and respectful debate of alternative views we can normally arrive at a healthy outcome. I hope we can keep it that way.

It is obvious by this string of emails that there are strong feelings and a passion for our community’s economic health. The good news is that we all care, if we didn’t there wouldn’t be such emotion. I don’t think we disagree on where we want to go, but some certainly disagree on what are the good decisions we need to get us there. I certainly wish the economic development arena were only so simple such that it would permit us to make direct connections to individual actions and definite future results. But it isn’t. Economic development, like marketing and business development in many of our own businesses is not an event or any one project. It is a process. It takes time. It can be full of anxiety. Success will necessitate bold actions and yes, some risk. But I encourage us to recognize that is also risk in inaction. There are always unintended consequences to passivity. Future economic development opportunities that we aren’t even aware of yet are probably watching from the the sidelines to see how this community grasps this opportunity (or not). Surely they will interpret the outcome, likely without the benefit of any of our explanations. It will be a sound bite. “Clark County or Vancouver turns away professional baseball” or “Clark County hits a homerun!!” what do we want the message to be?

Our return to economic success must be accompanied by a collection of community assets: cheap and predictable energy, a robust K-16 education system, a new bridge, a healthy transit system, a supportive business environment, and yes, in my opinion…a new multi-use public stadium that will host a professional sports franchise. I personally support this bold move. I hope that this community and it’s leaders (elected and private) can find a path to home plate on this one.

It’s the bottom of the ninth, 2 outs, full count, and the winning run is in scoring position….I for one, hope we hit the ball.

-Tim Schauer
President / CEO
MacKay Sposito, Inc.

2011 Chair Elect, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce
2011 Board Member, Columbia River Economic Development Council

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