I know that you guys must be tired of me harping on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel staff press statement transcriber Don Walker, but seriously, what’s with this guy? One day after writing an article on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s plans to give the Bucks owners $220 million that consisted entirely of quotes from one of the Bucks owners (he’s surprisingly in favor!), Walker followed up with an article arguing that giving the team only makes sense because they’re richer than ever:
The dramatic increase in the rights deals between the league and the broadcasting companies ensured franchises in the leagues that revenue would at least double over the nine-year term of the deal. That means both teams and their players are in line for fatter bottom lines and bigger paychecks.
The prospect of increased revenue gave Walker assurances that capturing the new income-tax growth from visiting NBA players, members of the Milwaukee Bucks and even the team’s employees would be enough to pay the debt service on state-backed bonds.
There is a kind of logic here, which is that because the Bucks are projected to be raking in the simoleons in coming years, Walker can point to all the income taxes they’ll have to be paying, call that found money, and offer to hand it right back to the team. But still, the crux of the argument remains: Good thing the Bucks owners are even richer than ever, or we might not be able to give them tax money!
This is a point that you would expect someone critical of the arena plan to make somewhere in the article, probably down around the 15th paragraph, but Walker doesn’t usually play that way. Here’s who’s cited in the piece, in order of appearance: the state’s chief economist (helped come up with the arena subsidy plan), the governor (helped come up with the plan), the state assembly speaker (helped come up with the plan), state finance committee co-chair (likes the plan), state finance committee member (calls the plan “somewhat of a good plan”) — and finally, in paragraph #20, we have someone actually critical of the deal:
Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) acknowledged in a statement that salaries of pro athletes had increased dramatically. “As those salaries rise, so too does the income tax collected by the state from those players. These revenues currently go into the state’s general fund and are used to for general operations, which includes everything from education to roads.
“The governor’s proposal would divert these increased tax dollars, which are included in future revenue projections, away from taxpayers to the owners of the Bucks to help fund the Milwaukee arena.”
The practical impact, he said, “is that all state taxpayers would be funding the new arena. The total cost, using average assumptions and including interest payments, could range from approximately $300 (million) to $400 million.”
This is now the second time that a Walker article has had a tacked-on quote at the very end that subverts the main point of the article, and the second time that Journal Sentinel statehouse reporter Patrick Marley has been credited as “contributing” to the piece. Which makes me wonder why the Journal Sentinel doesn’t just assign Marley to write about the Bucks arena controversy, since he clearly knows how to use a telephone, but I guess we should just be happy he’s involved at all.