On April 7 I blogged a challenge to candidates for public office, in the event a candidate is elected, the candidate will either refuse to accept passes to suites at Colts or Pacers games or at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or donate any such proffered passes to charity.
I like sports. I like watching basketball---I was born in Indiana. I would like to quit watching NFL games. The brain damage to players has been shown to be lethal. And I have listened to the Indianapolis 500 on radio, or watched it "live," since I was a kid. I think those suites are great places to watch events (except baseball---gotta be down close for baseball) for people who can afford them, or who win them by contest or whatever. I say "bully" for them.
However, elected officials, who, in the course of their representation of all the people, are asked to consider public subsidies to sports teams owned by billionaires, have no valid reason to accept passes to suites. There are two reasons an elected public official would accept such a gift. First---as a way of fact-finding. Yes, a State Rep needs passes to a luxury suite to see how such things function during games or races. That's sort of like a State Rep getting free passes to the VIP room at a strip joint as an undercover investigation of vice. If there is reason to look at a facility to determine whether public funds are needed---and many would say public funds never should be spent to subsidize professional sports as nearly all the studies on the subject say to do so is folly (see "Field of Schemes")---then an elected public official can obtain necessary paperwork and tour the facility when games are not being played or races are absent.
The second reason for such perquisites, or "perks," to be extended to elected public officials is to gain favorable consideration for the bestowal of public monies. Does anyone seriously believe people in the suite are evenly split between those trying to persuade a lawmaker to open our public checkbooks and those who believe it prudent, instead, to pay for schools, roads, and police? There might not be an overt quid-pro-quo, but "free tickets" play a part in the whole game of corruption.
Every candidate this campaign cycle who has appeared on Civil Discourse Now has agreed to this pledge. I will post a list of the candidates who have done so, along with precise wording of the pledge. In the event someone is elected, and reneges on this, we should know. In the meantime, this is not meant as an overall attack on corruption, but at least one step toward a cleaner system.
And how many elected public officials will be in suites when YOUR Indiana Pacers(r) begin the playoffs?