NASCAR Not an Election Issue?

Steven Gardner writes:

Unless you have a short memory you’ll remember the discussion from the last post, which addressed the speedway as an election issue.

ISC’s Grant Lynch said he didn’t think the speedway should be an election issue, but union guy Virgil Hamilton said, “Anybody who is against this track will not get our endorsement.”

Already it’s proving to be an issue, at least among Republicans. Our reporter Brynn Grimley attended the Bremerton Chamber’s “Eggs & Issues” forums last week and Thursday morning. It didn’t come up much at the Democrat meeting, but Thursday it ended up being the main issue in more than half the questions asked of Patty Lent and Jack Hamilton. Lent said she’s a committed undecided, because she still wants to be in a position to negotiate. Hamilton said he’s for it, but that it’s in the Legislature’s court for now.

And then there’s the GOP meeting Wednesday night in Port Orchard. According to Travis Baker’s story, all the candidates for the different offices expressed general support, though there were enough caveats thrown around to cast doubt on whether they’d vote for it as it’s proposed now.

17 thoughts on “NASCAR Not an Election Issue?

  1. For most of the past year or so most Republican positions are saying that they support it in principal but are not willing to commit to the details of the package. That is a total political cop out. That is like saying you support Mayor Nickel’s of Seattle plan for a multi-billion dollar “big dig” tunnel to replace the viaduct but I am not going to commit to the funding package. With all political issues that reflect on spending our hard earned tax payer money it the devil is in the detail. Besides the legislative candidates are the only ones that are really ever going to vote on the Pork proposal in Olympia should it ever make it to or out of committee.

  2. Also Virgil Hamilton is a construction guy that group benefits from the urban sprawl that a massive track would create. Of course if the right wing Republicans were in power they would make Washington a “right to work” state and his union would be effectively destroyed. He does not speak for all the unions in Kitsap county. Not by a long shot.

  3. If you look at the right wing Republican party 200 platform the spell out how they support ending all unions. Check out the last paragraph on page 57.

    “And no one should be kept out of
    a job for which they are qualified simply because they choose to remain independent of
    labor unions. We therefore support the right of states to enact Right-to-Work laws.”

    http://www.gop.com/media/2004platform.pdf

    This was adopted by the Washington State Republicans. ANY union worker that votes for a Republican cannidate is voting to end their union job plain and simple.

  4. It’s apparent that the only Republican at the Wednesday night meeting who understands what the legislature is being asked to do is a man who isn’t running for a seat in the legislature: “County assessor incumbent Avery said he’s for the racetrack, but sees no reason to grant the track an exemption that its proponents seek from property taxes for much of the affected land.”

    For once, Jacob got something right — the legislature will be where the decision is made whether to exempt the speedway from local property taxes (or the leasehold excise tax, if the facility is gov’t-owned and then leased to ISC/GWS).

    Patty Lent and Jack Hamilton also don’t show any indication of understanding the threshold issue of tax exemptions that eliminate any increase in our tax base. While they wouldn’t have a vote in the legislature, it would be nice to have someone sitting as a county commissioner who would say “whoa!!” to the idea of the proposed tax exemption.

    Is there any way to clone Jim Avery and substitute him for all the other GOP candidates this year? He’s the only one who seems to have the ability to understand the nature of the legislative proposal and the purpose for gov’t involvement in economic development.

    The gov’t purpose in economic development is to increase economic activity (and thereby increase jobs) and increase the tax base. The ISC proposal does little for jobs and nothing for the property tax base.

  5. I read with interest the canidates comments on the Speedway. I don’t know if the comments are based on willful ignorance or just a politically “safe” strategy so as not to alienate the business community and NASCAR supporters. Either way, I’d suggest if any candidate is serious about running for and winning their race in support of the voters in Kitsap County they educate themselves and and read the analysis presented in the “Open Letter” posted earlier in this blog.

  6. The unions write checks and doorbell for candidates…if that support goes away, candidates will rethink positions. Also, the Washintgon State Labor Council DOES speak for ALL unions in Washington, and they are in lock step support of the racetrack.

  7. “McMahan and Boehme were the most enthusiastic. McMahan saw it as an economic boon. Boehme favored it as a form of family-friendly entertainment, and for the national focus it would bring to the area. He called it “a no-brainer.”

    But even he said that should it go to a popular vote and the voters say no, he’ll honor that. ”

    I think Boehme may have the most reasonable proposal. Let the state negotiate on a final proposal, and then put it on the ballot. Vigorous campaigning and exchange of information can take place, and the voters can decided if it is something they feel their state should undertake.

    I do find Jacob’s comments interesting though. Jacob, do you favor ANY development of land in the area currently proposed for the track? What about Linda’s proposal for a manufacturing facility? What would be worse for urban sprawl?

    I do like your use of the unions though. Use their clout when they support your political positions. Tar and feather them and insinuate they’re in the pocket of some clandestine political operation when they disagree with you. People against right-to-work proposals haven’t adequately explained to me why someone should be compelled to join a union for employment purposes if they judge that union membership doesn’t afford them benefits that outweigh the costs. I thought this was America, land of the free and home to free market capitalism? How could we be any more democratic than allowing individuals to choose whether or not to join a union?

  8. From reading more info about NASCAR , I can see the many pros and cons as to why a person could be in the middle . . I Myself can not really get past the tax break for NASCAR for the speedway . I know it has become acceptable to do so , Gary Locke allowed large concessions with Boeing , the benefit is jobs . But at a cost that put higher burdens on
    the average citizen tax paying citizen , unless you worked for Boeing of course. Not as cut and dry to me . I have noticed some anti NASCAR rhetoric that appears to promote mis information in regards to the benefit of bringing millions of dollars to Kitsap instead of always sending it out with our commuters . That is a good economic benefit .

  9. The Kentucky Lawsuit against NASCAR and ISC is worth looking at. A group of investors built a Race track and decided they wanted a NASCAR Racwe there. Without consulting with NASCAR BEFORE they built….not a very bright idea. ISC says well, how about we give you a BUSCH Race and we will even give you a few Truck Races each year. The investors were not exactly happy with that and decided to sue. Maybe just maybe the investors should have thought about the risk involved before building. Yes, Kentucky Speedway IS profitable as it stands. ISC WANTS a track here…YES it will be profitable…My dollars will be spent there, instead of going out of state to see a race.

  10. The Kitsap Sun’s “Voters Guide” is interesting — the candidates for the legislature who are in contested primary elections were asked whether they favor the speedway proposal.

    There’s an old saying to the effect that you should be careful what you wish for. I wanted to know what the candidates say in their own words. Now I regret the granting of my wish, since there is so much nonsense in what they say.

    Jim Hines and Lois McMahan both seem to favor something about it — but it’s hard to tell if either one understands the proposal.

    The question was “Do you support the proposal to build a NASCAR-style speedway in South Kitsap using state-backed bonds to pay about half the construction cost?”

    Hines said, “Yes -– though I favor out-of-state visitors to pay the cost of retiring the public debt. Many folks, myself included, like the development, however, use of public money is something folks have shared that they are wary of.”

    What does he mean? The spending by out-of-state visitors would generate state general fund revenue — which would include taxes paid directly by those visitors and “indirect” and “induced” taxes paid by people who earn their living providing goods and services to those visitors.

    This new state general fund revenue would pay (indirectly via the sales tax credit) the $166 million bond debt. Only two-thirds of the state revenue from the speedway’s operations which would be used to pay that debt would be from taxes paid directly by the visitors.

    Does Hines want to reduce the amount from $166 million to whatever can be repaid with taxes paid directly by the visitors? Or is he simply not making sense?

    McMahan’s answer makes no sense to me. She says at the beginning, “I was very relieved to find out that the bonds will be PRIVATELY sold. That removed my constitutional objections to the track.”

    The $166 million in bonds would be issued by the government, so what does McMahan mean?! Does she think there would be no government revenue used to repay those bonds?

    McMahan then said, “The extra revenue collected by the state should go to improvements to SR3 and SR16 that will be necessary. There will be a lot of sales tax collected by the state, and I will introduce legislation to make sure that it goes into these transportation projects, and not the General Fund.”

    The tax revenue generated by the visitor spending would be collected by the state through the sales, lodging and B&O taxes — and would go straight into the general fund. It would then be used to fund the sales tax credit that would protect taxpayers in Kitsap, Mason and Pierce counties from the impact of the public speedway authority’s sales tax.

    The whole idea of the proposal is to use state general fund tax revenue generated by the speedway’s construction and operation to pay the $166 million debt.

    But, McMahan thinks that revenue ought to be used for highway construction.

    Wouldn’t that mean she opposes the ISC proposal?

    Trent England and Ron Boehme also appear to favor something about the proposal.

    But, Trent England misunderstands the public financing aspect. He said: “If the NASCAR track can, in fact, be built without increasing taxes or taking existing funds, I will support it. The current proposal appears to do this by issuing bonds to private buyers backed by revenues tied to the performance of the track itself.”

    The $166 million in bond debt is not “tied to the performance of the track.” It would be paid directly by the PSA sales tax collected in Kitsap, Mason and Pierce counties from everyone throughout the year. The bond holders would have absolutely no reason to care whether the speedway ever attracted a single fan — they would only care whether the economies of those three counties performed at historical levels in order to produce the tax revenue needed to pay them back.

    If the speedway does a lot worse than the projections, the state general fund would suffer, since the sales tax credit takes the money indirectly from the general fund for that $166 million debt.

    There is nothing in the proposal that limits the state’s exposure to the risk that the speedway won’t perform up to projections. That is to say, if it turns out that there are fewer out-of-state visitors or they spend less, there won’t be as much new revenue as expected — and revenue that isn’t generated by the speedway’s operations would have to be used to fund the sales tax credit.

    There can be no “fact” that the visitor spending will generate enough new revenue to pay the state’s share — the future cannot be known as a fact.

    So, is England in favor of the proposal, or in favor of what he mistakenly thinks is the proposal?

    Ron Boehme says, “yes.” He also says, “The current public-private financing plan would be the best one in the state.”

    It’s probably true that the ISC proposal is better than the football and baseball stadium deals, since it holds the promise of paying the state’s share with money that wouldn’t otherwise be here.

    But, is that a good standard by which to decide? A lot of things would be better than the deals that subsidized professional sports teams in Seattle.

    Tim Sheldon and Kyle Lucas both oppose the proposal.

    Tim Sheldon says, “I am opposed to public funding for professional sports.”

    Some people would argue that the proposal isn’t “public funding,” but they would be wrong. The proposal would use taxes paid by visitors and by the people who sell goods and services to those visitors (and the sales tax on construction) to pay more than half the cost. (And another big chunk is paid via the tax exemption that would allow GWS/ISC to use $3 million a year to pay their share of the construction cost, rather than pay property taxes or the leasehold excise tax.)

    Lucas is just as plainspoken: “I didn’t support utilizing state funding of sports stadiums, nor do I support utilizing state-backed bonds to fund a speedway.”

    Why is it that only those who oppose the ISC legislative proposal can make sense?

    Are there any legislative candidates who can state a position in favor of the proposal without demonstrating that they don’t understand it?

  11. Zach I am sure that your local Kitsap library would have a good book or two on the many benefits that the Organized Labor and the Progressive movements have build America into the country that it once was and can be again. The weekend, 40 hour work week, workplace safety protections, disability insurance, child-labor laws and retirement security just off the top of my head. Good labor unions is one thing that keeps what is left of our industrial workplaces from the near slave conditions of the industrial dystopian factories of China and Viet Nam.

  12. Jacob, you have explained to me the benefits that unions have helped every worker achieve in the last 150 years. I don’t doubt their critical role they played and thank them every day for it. What you haven’t explained to me is:
    1) How having a right-to-work statute would make them dissappear. Just because labor unions happened bring them about doesn’t mean that taking away requirements to join a union to get a job will make the benefits dissappear.
    2) Some of the benefits you listed are completely unreasonable in today’s world. The expectation that one should not have any responsibility for managing their retirement (through a 401k) or health care (through co-pays and premiums) is completely unrealistic and happens to be on of the more unreasonable demands of the unions employed by my employer. The concept that one should be able to work for an employer for 30 years, draw full retirement and health care benefits after those 30 years, and be on the COMPANY’S retirement rolls longer than they actually worked for the company is ludicrous.
    3) No one has been able to explain to me why if someone is an American I should have pay a higher price for their widget given a cheaper product from somewhere else in the world, given some caveats. Those caveats are that it’s obvious that the US worker can’t compete with a foreign laborer where environmental and labor safeguards are nowhere near our own minimal standards. But, given those conditions, why shouldn’t I be able to buy widgets or get service from a foreign educated doctor to minimize cost and maximize value? A great text on this topic can be found at: http://www.conservativenannystate.com/.
    4) Now here’s a point you and might agree on (for once): the solution to all of this is better education. We certainly need to improve across the board, but I think the schools could do something even more useful for alter in life than teaching the 3R’s. This starts at all levels, but it really pays off in high school. Why isn’t every student in America required to take a “personal economics” class. You could teach about the career and earning opportunities open to that child, the concept of compounding interest and retirement accounts, personal investing, taxes, household budgeting, etc. This might all lead students to make better decisions about careers and purchasing decisions later in life. And it would certainly lead to better public discourse as well. To me, combine that with a reasonable union and you’ve got a very powerful laborer that is a partner with the business.

  13. Oh, and keep in mind that the Kentucky Speedway is owned by Speedway Motor Sports and ISC. Again, who do think wins out in getting NEXTEL cup races? A rival track owner, or the tracks owned by the same people running the racing league? There is NO WAY ISC would build this track in Kitsap County and not have a Nextel Cup race at it.

  14. Zach the more the Right-Wing says publicly that they do not support The right to unionize, the weekend, 40 hour work week, workplace safety protections, disability insurance, child-labor laws, fair-trade and retirement security the more it will help bring about change and restore the lasting progressive majority that the American people deserve. Actually Zach my mother is a public school teacher in Eastern Washington and she does teach a personal finances class.

  15. Jacob, I am not oppossed to the right to unionize. I support it whole-heartedly. I support the right of a worker to decide to join or not join a union when accepting job offer. I support workplace safety protections, child labor laws, fair trade (see my prior post), a reasonable work schedule (I don’t care whether the days off are on the weekend or during the week, it’s up to the employee to decide), and reasonable retirement security via 401ks and other portable retirement accounts. I am for a 40 hour work week, if the employed individual only wants to work 40 hours. If they want to work more or less, let them do it – its a decision they can work out with their employer. I am against the concept that any employer – government or private – should be on the hook for anyone’s retirement up to 68 years after the employee begins working for the company (i.e. a 22 year old that retires at 52, starts drawing benefits at 55, and lives to 80). That’s ludicrous and unrealistic, and it’s why so many companies with such plans are either converting them or going bankrupt. The federal and state retirement and benefit plans will be next on the chopping block.

    That’s the difference. I am about choice and freedom for the worker – choose where to work and on what terms one will work. The typical progressive view is that if one isn’t a member of the union and doesn’t tow the union line then they are just working to turn back the clock. No one has been able to show me yet that if the majority of workers chose not to unionize that they would lose all of the benefits you listed above, and even in jobs that don’t have them unions have found it tough to organize. That’s because the majority of workers find they would be no better off with the union, and they democratically rejected the organization drive.

    I commend your mother for teaching the class. I just wish it were some federal requirement so that ALL students had to take it, not just the few lucky enough to enroll in your mom’s course.

  16. If the taxpayers do not have to pay for this track then do not include them in polls or at the ballot box. Otherwise we have a right to express where our tax dollars are spent. I am totally against this track. The road to Shelton from Bremerton needs widening and it has for years. Why are they not working on this project before considering a new multi-million dollar track?

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