THE R&G SHOULD PLAY BALL

Here's some advice for Louis A. (Chip) Weil III:

Dear Chip,
As publisher of the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette, you can emerge from this stadium-tax deal as the biggest winner of all.

It's no secret your newspaper company owns that white elephant of a warehouse located right in the middle of the land Jerry Colangelo and his group must buy to build their stadium. Here's something you can do for the town:

Donate the land as a gift to the county.
Suppose the county paid your company a million or two for that warehouse.
Sure, that money would look good to your board of directors back in Indianapolis.

But in the long run, a donation of this magnitude would be something the residents of Phoenix would remember a lot longer.

Think about it for a minute, Chip.
There isn't a richer newspaper company than yours in the entire country. And this would be the best chance you will ever have to show the people of Phoenix and all Arizonans how public-spirited you really are.

Patriotically yours,
Tom Fitzpatrick

P.S. Besides, this charitable gesture will quiet all those skeptics who are whispering that your support for the stadium is based only on the profit the sale of the warehouse will bring.

@rule:
@body:Don't fault yourself if you didn't read a great deal about that warehouse in the Republic and the Gazette.

There was very little written about it in either daily newspaper. Even E.J. Montini kept away from it. When mention did appear, it was always confined to a single paragraph, deep inside the newspaper.

Are you surprised?
Here's another thing. The offer by John F. Long of a cost-free site for the stadium on the west side of town was never seriously considered by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors.

This despite the fact that it would have knocked millions off the cost of the stadium.

Do you still wonder why?
Betsey Bayless, one of the five supervisors, also happens to own property in the downtown site projected by Colangelo's group.

She was unable to vote because of a conflict of interest. But that conflict didn't keep her from opposing the ballpark site offered by Long on the west side.

There are rumors that the ballpark may be moved from the site originally publicized to a location south of the railroad tracks downtown. Even if that occurs, the park will be close enough to the original site that the Republic warehouse and Bayless' property will increase in value.

Colangelo's baseball dream turns Weil and Bayless into the equivalent of lottery winners.

@rule:
@body:Who else gets in on the windfall? I am always amazed by the size of the bills sent by certain law firms.

That's why the bill submitted to the Board of Supervisors by the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy for its work in negotiating the contract with Colangelo is significant.

It turns out that the firm will be paid $485,000 for representing Colangelo in the negotiations with the board.

Why does a firm that represents Colangelo not send the bill to Colangelo instead of the taxpayers?

The bill's magnitude demonstrates that law firms truly have no conscience. And wouldn't it be nice to know what Gallagher & Kennedy's lawyers did for that $485,000?

Don't hold your breath. We probably will never know.
Gallagher & Kennedy submitted its demand for payment to the Board of Supervisors on a single sheet of paper stating how much money it wanted.

We are not told which lawyers worked on it. We are not given an accounting of their hours. There are no documented expenses.

And the rubber-stamp board quickly moved to roll the $485,000 into the tax bill so that we, the taxpayers, can foot the bill.

There is a lesson here, of course: Who cares how big the bill is as long as the taxpayers are the ones who get stuck with it?

And how many members of the public will ever even learn about it?
Search through the lengthy stories describing the meeting at which the vote was taken. I defy you to find a single mention of Gallagher & Kennedy's $485,000 bill.

At the close of the meeting last Friday, Supervisor Tom Rawles was the only one who wanted the $485,000 taken out of the tax bill.

Rawles, who also voted against imposing the tax, made a motion that Gallagher & Kennedy's fee not be sandwiched in for the taxpayers to bear.

Supervisors Jim Bruner and Ed King looked embarrassed. This was a look they wore most of the night, as citizen after citizen berated them.

Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox can't be embarrassed. You can't do it with a little charge or a big one. She simply can't be shamed.

Arizona State University has been trying, without success, to collect a bill for tuition from her for more than ten years.

Wilcox still hasn't paid.
As a lawmaker, Wilcox seems to vote with the quickest bidder of campaign cash. She doesn't even wait for the highest bidder.

Last week, she turned petulant each time a questioner brought up the fact that Colangelo served on her election committee.

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