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County may refuse to cut check to Bengals for $2.67m in stadium operations costs

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Among the many, many terrible provisions in the Cincinnati Bengals‘ stadium lease (holographic replay systems!) is one that, in the last nine years of the lease, requires Hamilton County to pay for $2.67 million a year of stadium operating costs. County officials have been trying to renegotiate that clause for the past year, and have gotten nowhere, so instead it looks like they’re going to straight-up refuse to make the payment and see what happens next:

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune told WCPO he has no plans of writing that check to the NFL team.

When asked if the Bengals are aware the county intends to ignore the request for payments, Portune said: “I think they know it’s coming.”

The Hamilton County administrator also did not include the payments in his proposed budget for 2018.

On the face of it, this sounds like a great way to get sued for breach of contract. (Portune says he has an “old opinion from the prosecutor” that the payments are illegal but can’t divulge it because of attorney-client privilege, which, that’s not how attorney-client privilege works, you know that, right, Todd?) But that may not actually be such a bad thing, for several reasons:

  • The Bengals’ lease only has nine more years to run, because the terrible, terrible lease only required them to stick around for 26 years rather than the 30 that is more standard in these things. So even if the team sues, and then threatens to move, they’re probably going to do that soon anyway, so might as well save $2.67 million a year in the meantime.
  • The rest of the deal, including that infamous state-of-the-art clause that the county has to buy the Bengals anything that other NFL teams get, is only going to get more expensive in coming years, as more NFL teams get other things that the Bengals don’t have. So if you’re going to break the lease, this is as good a time as any.
  • There aren’t any cities with newer stadiums out there for the Bengals to threaten to move to, so it would be a multi-year process for them to try to find one and get a stadium deal there, at which point the lease will likely be about to expire anyway.
  • Who knows, maybe the county really does have some kind of legal opinion that the lease clause is illegal? Anything is possible.

I don’t actually know if Portune is trying a “break up with the Bengals before they break up with us” gambit, but if so, it’s not a bad one at all. He told WCPO-TV that he’s hoping to start renegotiating a longer-term lease immediately rather than wait until 2026 is nearer, and this will certainly start the ball rolling in the right direction; given other recent lease extension deals, the county is probably looking at some pricey demands from the team owners, but may as well find out now. This is almost certainly going to involve move threats (or at least saber-rattling) from the team, and a huge uproar over which would be worse, Cincinnati losing its NFL team or throwing even more good money after bad on its stadium lease — but as we’ve seen before, you can’t win in the stadium negotiation game without playing hardball, so if that’s what this is, it’s a noble start.

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jefron
2 days ago
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Bengals moving to north london
Chicago
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Catalunya Lliure

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This is too complicated even for the margins of the blogpost, but the situation in Spain is pretty messed up. There's a weird bias against regional independence movements premised on the idea that they're somehow fake. Nobody really speaks Scots or Welsh or... but they do. Also people speak Catalan. Sure everybody in Catalonia speaks Castilian, too, but outsiders don't get that a second language is still a second language, even if you are fluent in it. You can be fluent in a language without being adept at it, and there are things (like university admissions) which require people to be adept.

Language isn't the only issue, of course. Catalonia has been a distinct region for hundreds of years. But the important issue is not "is independence good or bad?" Not my judgment call. Probably not yours, either. But the crackdown from Madrid on free speech and assembly related to the independence movement is obscene. It's bad.
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jefron
3 days ago
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Chicago
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The Resistance

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We have a D president, 63 D senators, a majority of the House.

What is the agenda?
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jefron
14 days ago
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Chicago
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Mandate

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I have all of the microeconomic models of insurance burned into my head from when I was a graduate student because...they were pretty hard! I had to study a lot! The math of economics was always...well, let's say, a few inches from my fingertips. I managed, but barely. Funny how these things sink in over time. I'd be lost on the mechanics of advanced math at this point, but I get it intuitively much more than I did then. On those occasions I do look at something really mathy I actually get the point now, even if I couldn't replicate the steps myself to save my life.

Anyway, back to the insurance mandate. It isn't necessary. Health insurance is not auto insurance (and, let's be clear, auto insurance mandates are actual mandates, not Sunsteiny nudges). The mandate concept is based on the idea that without it young healthy people won't buy insurance. Okay, sure, there are some of those, because young people have broken brains and forget to tie their shoes sometimes. They also forget to file their taxes and sign up for health care and... anyway, you get the point. It's irresponsibility and complexity that leads to young people not buying health insurance, not a supposedly rational examination of their economic choices. To put it another way, make our health care system simpler stupid. That's the barrier, not young healthy people who don't think spending money on health insurance is worth it. Adverse selection, blah blah blah. This is your life. Make it easy and sort of affordable and sort of worthwhile and people will buy the damn insurance.

That the mandate is bad politics is dumb, but that the mandate is thought to be necessary is also dumb. And if the mandate is "necessary" the mandate is the stupidest way to, well, mandate that people buy insurance. It isn't a mandate. It's a fine. That's really stupid.
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jefron
16 days ago
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Chicago
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Is This the End of the NFL?

di
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A general view of a large section of empty seats as two fans watch the action from the upper level during an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Chicago. The Bears won 17-3. (Scott Boehm via AP)
Just a few years ago, it was an unassailable empire. Now, suddenly, it’s the fall of Rome.
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jefron
17 days ago
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Chicago
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Turkee!!

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Once upon a time I had to downgrade an image quality to make sure this blog wouldn't get shut down because of too much bandwidth use. The internet was old and creepy in those days. The sad thing is I don't have a decent image anymore. Maybe on an old hard drive.



It's a joke that can't even be explained anymore. The original thing it was working from was actually quite sad. A little girl (I think?
Might have been a boy) said her mom was a lesbian in school and her teacher made her promise not to say it anymore. The ACLU filed suit. "Cep my mouf shut" is from the original.

...commenter rhymes with mofo provides the original. The student was (apparently) a boy, Marcus.


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jefron
18 days ago
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One of my favorite traditions
Chicago
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