Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Tax $ have been wasted on the Super Bowl.

   Here we are in November. The weather on Saturday was beautiful. Three candidates for City-County Council, all Republicans one of whom is incumbent, appeared on the show. Susan Blair is a candidate for First District. Sahara Williams is running in the Seventh. Angel Rivera holds an at-large seat.

   I missed a lot of college, and some professional, football when I was in college. I was on the debate team. Debate tournaments are held on weekends, generally Friday-Saturday or Fri through Sunday. I never played football, but I like to watch games. I always was a Bears fan. In the 1970s there was not much to miss. DePauw was Division III and games were plausible excuses to start drinking early in the day. The only game that mattered was Monon Bell. IU and Purdue's programs were not taken seriously enough to be carried on TV. Notre Dame, while technically within the boundaries of Indiana, really is in a geopolitical zone of its own, especially when it comes to football. When I came to Indy to attend law school in 1986, the Colts were newly-arrived. They sucked. For those who remember how badly they sucked, force yourselves to watch them now. The Pacers sucked, too. There was the occasional upset of whatever the premiere team of the moment was, but that was very occasional. Then Reggie Miller arrived, other players were acquired to fight alongside him, and the Pacers began a run that never quite got that championship. Now the Pacers suck. Also, the NBA is locked out and there might not be a season at all.

   As for the Colts, we pay for them. We built the new stadium for them. We paid damages to Jim Irsay  for tearing down the Hoosier Dome (again I insist on calling it that---they had a contest to name it, Hoosier Dome won, Hoosiers paid for it, and RCA has outsourced a lot of jobs not just from Indiana but from the United States) so we could build the new stadium.

   And the Pacers? Even though they are not playing any games, we still pay for them. When I suggested yesterday that maybe we could make up shortfalls downtown businesses have suffered by getting more events down there like tractor pulls (just came to mind was all; this is Indiana), I was reminded the Pacers take all the money from any events held in Conseco Fieldhouse. So---they make  money while we prop them up? I am not sure, if she wins on Tuesday, Melina Kennedy will get tougher on the Pacers than Mayor Ballard has been. She received a sizeable campaign contribution from the Simons (owners of the Pacers).

   During the show, Councilor-at-Large Rivera said one concern the City has is that out-of-town vendors will see Indy as a place to make money. Woody Allen directed a movie titled "Take the Money and Run." I was not sure I had heard Councilor-at-Large Rivera correctly. Why should we be concerned about enriching people from out of town?

   Studies consistently show public subsidies of professional sports are not cost-effective. Yes, I am a sports fan. I watch the Colts (and currently cheer for them to lose, an adherent of the "suck-for-Luck" philosophy). I watched the Pacers when they were worth watching, before Larry Byrd and others mangled an otherwise good team. After all, I have paid taxes for those teams. The thing is, none of us should pay taxes to support professional sports. Indianapolis would be a different city, no doubt, without either franchise. Maybe we would be known for our great schools, low crime rates, beautiful streets and boulevards, and marvelous parks. We never will know. Instead we hope to lure conventioneers here to spend money. But apparantly we do not seek to have that money spent with our merchants and businesses. We want to make the city attractive to outside businesses. So we have established a place at the side of the road where others come to set up flea markets. They conduct their business, then leave. A couple of gas stations and fast food places nearby make some coin. That's it. The real money departs with the vans and trailers from out of town.       

   "Civil Discourse Now" is in its early days. The questions will get sharper. There are a few questions that should have been asked yesterday that were not. Questions can be sharp and aimed at important matters without being uncivil. We can challenge our guests without insulting them. That is how discourse used to be. Also, as you watch "Civil Discourse Now," please realize we have spent about 45 minutes hauling wooden bases up 29 steps, fixing pieces of conduit in them, and chaining other pieces of conduit between the vertical posts on which we have then hang quilts---also carried up those 29 steps and down a hallways---to kill the echo in the room. Liz, the owner of Big Hat Books, is a wonderful person to provide us with space for the show, but the acoustics of the room, with its bare, wooden floor and flat, hard-surfaced walls and ceilings, leave something to be desired. We are a little out of breath when the show starts. I hope you will watch the show. The content is good and will improve. In the meantime, I would suggest that, on Sundays, people cheer for the Colts to lose. We will need a new quarterback next year (that's heresy, I know, but it looks like Peyton Manning's injuries are worse than first announced), and Luck looks to be the real thing. Of course, I thought that about Ryan Leaf a few years back.  

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