Pretentious enemy of glory boys, Gregg Easterbrook, released his latest massive word dump of a column on Wednesday. About midway through, Greggggg issued his latest gripe against an example of taxpayers being bilked when it comes to stadium upgrades. While commendable in principle, it generally helps the get the details right on these sort of things.
And that’s where, as Jaguars site Big Cat Country noticed, Easterbrook goes way off the rails. Here’s what he wrote about the financial impact of the planned EverBank Stadium upgrades:
Jacksonville just agreed to pay $43 million to spruce up the stadium where the Jaguars play. Owner Shad Khan, net worth estimated by Forbes at $3.8 billion, will contribute only $20 million. A new hotel tax will fund the giveaway: Ordinary people using hotels in the Jacksonville will pay more so that a billionaire can have a new toy. If the gigantic scoreboard to be funded by the tax sells more tickets, the billionaire will keep the gains. And will hotels in Jacksonville lose business owing to the new tax, or hotel workers face layoffs triggered by an NFL owner’s subsidized toy?
Meanwhile a Jacksonville public school district needs $51 million in facility upgrades. The same month Jacksonville had no problem finding $43 million right away for a gift to the NFL, local politicians said the school money could only be supplied over several decades.
Gregg’s first, and slightly less glaring, error is the claim that the hotel tax is new. Nope, it’s been on the books for nearly 30 years and hasn’t been modified for nearly 20 years. At any rate, it isn’t slated to increase. Then again, municipal budgets are notoriously tricky when it comes to moving around money to make expenditures appear less costly than they really are. While $43 million won’t come from the general fund, a commitment of $43 million doesn’t just come from nowhere. Either way, Gregg is wrong on that score.
The more hilarious miscue comes at the end, when Easterbrook cites as evidence of Jacksonville’s lax attitude toward its schools an article from The Journal-Courier, which is a newspaper that covers Jacksonville… Jacksonville, Illinois. So either Gregg Easterbrook does the amount of research on Google for his work that a 9th grader does on a social studies paper or he’s been under the assumption all this time that the Jaguars are based in the Midwest.