27 August 2009

Keeping the Old Team Together

Deputy mayoral candidate Keith Coombs decided to build his campaign team around a trusted core.

The man who helped bring taxpayers the Wells-Coombs Memorial Money Pit -  a.k.a Mile One -  is using Lisa Neville as the media liaison for his election campaign.

Neville was unceremoniously turfed from her job as council and the Money Pit board tried to staunch the seemingly never-ending flow of red ink at St. John’s Sport and Entertainment. It remains mired in debt despite Neville’s commitment in 2006 to see the centre “debt free and subsidy free by 2010.”

In 2008, the Mile One crew claimed to have a surplus of $110,000.  However, when the increased taxpayer subsidy was taken into account, the red ink still totalled almost $2.0 million.

Since 2005, the city has increased its subsidy to the centre which has – nonetheless – continued to lose money each year. Way back then – when just by the purest of pure coincidences the stadium was a hot election issue -  there was even a claim the thing might make money in 2005. 

Of course, in the spirit of being responsible with taxpayers’ money,  at least one candidate has been known to endorse the red ink.  In December 2007, Ron Ellsworth apparently felt that bleeding taxpayers is okay since the centre pumps money into the pockets of local businesses:

"As a businessperson I certainly wouldn't take it on and run it as a business, because it wouldn't put money into my pocket as the owner," said Ellsworth, who represents the city on the board of St. John's Sports and Entertainment, which governs Mile One.

"Why the City of St. John's can do it, and why we are doing it, is that it's an economic development engine that's been created."

Talk about keeping the old team together.

Imagine Ron as mayor with Keith as his Number Two. 

Now that would be a dream team for someone.

But that someone wouldn’t be the average debt-burdened taxpayer.