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Friday, March 14, 2008

Save The CWS / Omaha Councilman Jim Suttle's Response

So B at Exit 177 sent along a e-mail yesterday regarding the Omaha College World Series stadium issue.

B--like myself and several Heavy Soul contributors--is in favor of building the new stadium. So he sent along a link to a website called "Build It Omaha," and the contact info for every Omaha City Council member. As a public service, I'll post these at the end of the post.

Anyways, although I hate everything that has been involved with the stadium issue and how it has been handled, I do support the new stadium being built. I think it is going to completely suck-ify the CWS into the Corporate World Series. I think a new stadium will kill a lot of the charm of the CWS.

That said, everything above does not trump the simple fact that anything is better than no College World Series whatsoever. And the way that King Fahey has gone about this--apparently using "Negotiating and Public Office for Dummies" as a guide--has left us in a spot where it's his way or the highway. So I wrote into my Councilman, Mr. Jim Suttle. Here's what I wrote:

Mr. Suttle,

Just wanted to send along some support towards the city building the new stadium.

While I do believe that with the new stadium comes a "new" CWS, which is not a good thing. I'm very afraid that the fun and innocence of the CWS is going to go away with Rosenblatt, and be replaced by a new stadium and a new corporate sensibility, which is unfortunate.

That said, I would take a corporate-ized CWS over no CWS. I hope that you, the rest of the Council, and the people of Omaha keep that in mind. Omaha without the CWS is unimaginable, and it would be an incredibly sad day to see it go away.

Thank you.

Here is the response I got from him:

FROM OMAHA CITY COUNCILMAN JIM SUTTLE

Thanks for sending your note. I appreciate having your thoughts.

After the initial Baseball Committee press conference 3 weeks ago, I said that I would go back on the “listening mode” with the public and with businesses. I wanted to verify my position of supporting Rosenblatt as our baseball facility.

To date, my verbal conversations, telephone calls, letters and e-mails have fluctuated, but now seem steady again at 80% ‘no’ on the Downtown Stadium. The order of the reasons has shifted to 1) uncomfortable with the financing burden on the City; 2) serious traffic and parking concerns; 3) nostalgia for the Old Stadium. Comments are from City wide sources. Throughout the summer, fall and winter, the count was 80% for Rosenblatt.

I just had a briefing by the financial consultants. I asked for a sensitivity analysis. That is, if the numbers changed, does their conclusion on the Downtown Stadium change? For example:

• The City has assets but little cash without going into debt or foregoing services in order to do this Stadium. Can’t the City have a cash credit for the fair market value of Lots C/ E and for the 47 acres at Rosenblatt? (My guess is $ 20m each site)?

• How can the City get out of issuing bonds and providing its credit guarantee? Thus, no extra hotel nor rental car tax. This would let the City hold these options for more pressing problems (e.g. Qwest principle payment; higher national tourism advertising; etc.).

• Where is the ante from Creighton and the Royals into the capital pool for this new stadium?

• Where are these missing costs for the Downtown Stadium proposal:

$16m for parking garages next to stadium per the NoDo Plan?
$10m environmental mitigation at Lots C & E?
$5m for a traffic control center for the Stadium/Qwest traffic /parking flow management?
$4m for trams and jitneys to shuttle to and from all parking lots?

I was criticized again recently by a rep from the Committee for asking these questions. I replied “If a Plan is that good, then it should hold up to the scrutiny of all questions”. I firmly believe that whether it is my idea or someone else’s, asking questions IS a good thing. I will continue to ask my tough questions.

I would appreciate having your thoughts on the above.

Regards.


That's great and all, Mr. Suttle, but did you not READ my e-mail?? What a jackass this guy (along with the rest of our Council) is. He may as well have written "I assume you hate the idea of a new stadium as I do, so I went ahead and skipped reading your e-mail and formulated this ridiculous response that makes me sound like I'm out on the front lines, fighting the good fight for my constituency!" It's not that the questions he asks are not legitimate. But the tone and the fact that it does not in any way address anything that I said is ridiculous. I mean, it's not like I sent this e-mail to the White House. In fact, I've sent e-mails to U.S. Senator Ben Nelson before and I have a direct response from him or a staffer within 24 hours, and it's not some stupid canned Word document. I'm guessing that a U.S. Senator has a few more notes and commitments passed along to him in a day than a Omaha City Councilman does in 2 years.

Omaha's city leadership is honest to God embarrassing. I've never seen such a group of self-serving people all serving in public office at the same time (well, at a local level). They don't listen to anyone other than themselves, and they always assume that what they want is what the people want.

If I'm working at the NCAA and watching all of this from a distance, I would at first chuckle, then be bummed out. Bummed out because I know that I'm going to have to start taking bids from cities all over the country that want to host the College World Series. Because if Omaha even remotely had their stuff together, I would have another 10 years of 20 hour work weeks, because I wouldn't have to worry about all this crap. Instead, Omaha's city "leadership" is making this way too hard to justify letting them continue to host this event.

It is stunning to me that you can screw up a process as badly as Mr. Fahey and the Council have. You take something that is a source of enormous civic pride that virtually everyone in your city loves and somehow completely divide the same group of people into two angry mobs where compromise is no longer even a reality.

Well done, City of Omaha. When is the next city election again?

**EDIT** Whoops, forgot to paste in those Council contacts. Here you go--don't say Heavy Soul never did anything for you!

District 1
Jim Suttle
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, NE 68183
Work: (402) 444-5527
Email: jsuttle@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 1: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District1.pdf

District 2
Frank Brown
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, NE 68183
Work: (402) 444-5524
Email: fbrown@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 2: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District2.pdf

District 3
Jim Vokal
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, Nebraska 68183
Work: (402) 444-5525
Email: jvokal@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 3: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District3.pdf

District 4
Garry Gernandt
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, Nebraska 68183
Work: (402) 444-5522
Email: ggernandt@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 4: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District4.pdf

District 5
Dan Welch
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, Nebraska 68183
Work: (402) 444-5528
Email: dwelch@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 5: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District5.pdf

District 6
Franklin Thompson
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, Nebraska 68183
Work: (402) 444-5523
Email: fthompson@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 6: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District6.pdf

District 7
Chuck Sigerson, Jr.
1819 Farnam Street, LC-1
Omaha, Nebraska 68183
Work: (402) 444-5526
Email: csigerson@ci.omaha.ne.us
Map of District 7: http://www.ci.omaha.ne.us/departments/city_council/district%20maps/District7.pdf

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