Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Speak out, and dodge the flood of spam

I probably shouldn’t have written anything.

My recent advisory post about those e-mails that come out of nowhere offering you a job seems to have struck a nerve in the community of those who send out such e-mails.

I got hit with a flood of “scamployment” offers for all sorts of pseudo-jobs. It really isn’t that big a deal since I just delete them all and add their domains to my rejected list, but they’re clever, and the names just keep on changing.

I’m not sorry, though. If someone becomes more skeptical because of my writing and does not get scammed, that’s a hearty “mission accomplished” for me.

And while I have you reading, check out this story in the Vero Beach Press Journal, one of my former newspapers, which corrects some misinformation I put out in my comments on the stadium game.

I goofed when I said that the Dodgers had to pay back the bond issue that was made when Indian River County, Fla., bought the Dodgertown complex from the Dodgers. The team had threatened to leave unless the deal, dubbed by some letter writers to the paper “the DDD: Dumb Dodger Deal,” went through.

They signed a long-term deal after the county ponied up the dough, but decided to split to Arizona for spring training, leaving the county holding the complex, and the bag, not to mention the cost of keeping the complex in good shape in case they can steal a team from another Florida city.

As my ex-colleague Elliott Jones notes in the story from Feb. 13, 2009:

For now, though, the county is left paying $102,000 a month to keep up Dodgertown, according to county budget figures.

And the county and city, which co-own Dodgertown, still are left with paying off a $17 million bond issue approved in 2001 to keep the World Series-winning team here.

The county paid the Dodgers $10 million for the facility, then leased it back to the organization for $1 a year to operate at the baseball organization’s expense.

The local government spent $7 million of the bond issue on building new facilities, including a new administration building.

When the Dodgers announced the team was leaving, “It was tough,” said Vero Beach City Manager Jim Gabbard. Before becoming city manager, he was a member of the Save the Dodgers Committee, a local group that advocated the $17 million bond issue.

Under the county’s contract with the Dodgers, it could have required the Dodgers to pay off the bond issue and pay fair market value for the property. But Baird said that could have risked dismantling Dodgertown, if the Dodgers paid the county back by selling the complex to developers.

Gabbard said Dodgertown’s highest value depends on keeping it a tourist-oriented baseball facility.

Currently, $13.4 million of the bond debt principal still has to be paid off. Ultimately the bond issue will cost $27.9 million, including interest. The county’s share will be paid off in 2021; the state’s in 2031, said county Budget Director Jason Brown.

The state is locked into paying off the bond issue, county officials said.

Annual bond payments now total $1.26 million, all of which is being paid with local tourist and sales taxes, along with $500,000 a year authorized by the state Legislature. A county half-cent sales tax pays $390,000 a year. The local tourist tax share is $375,000.

“There is no one more than Joe Baird who wants this (costs) off our backs,” said Baird, the county administrator who has been deeply involved in negotiations to try to bring another baseball organization to the community.

In addition to the bond issue, the city of Vero Beach alone spent $10 million buying the former nine-hole, 37.6-acre Dodgertown Golf Course site. The purchase from private developers, said Gabbard, was done in part to ensure the vacant land remains available for use in conjunction with a spring training site.

Also, city and county officials set aside $2 million for future repairs and improvements at Dodgertown.

Florida politicians tend to lose all sense of perspective when it comes to sports, and thus would rather “invest” money in spring training stadiums that get six weeks of usage (more if the team has a Florida State League team) than “waste” it on roads, infrastructure, etc.

Jones also writes that the end result of all this love for the Dodgers was repaid the way any city that’s ever coughed up dough for a team has been repaid:

In the end, the Dodgers moved its spring training to new publicly paid for facilities in Arizona, more than half a continent closer to its home base in Los Angeles.

Like we expected a different outcome.

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February 15, 2009 - Posted by | The business of sports, The jobless chronicles | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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