Pay for it yourself: The fact that Miami-Dade investigators are now probing whether the Miami Heat has been cheating taxpayers by not sharing profits with the county ("Heat Cheats," Francisco Alvarado, January 19) is another example of why the government should never use the taxpayers' money to go into business with the private sector. With these so-called joint ventures, the taxpayers always get screwed. Just look at Jungle Island, at the billions taxpayers will eventually pay on the new Marlins stadium, and at the millions spent on the new Miami Art Museum.
County Lawyers Suck
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Arison cheats: The same way Heat owner and Carnival CEO Micky Arison will move his cruise ships out of ports that make him pay taxes, follow regulations, or pay living wages, he will just move the Heat to Seattle, San Diego, or St. Louis if he has to pay anything for the arena.
Half the Man I Used to Be
His dad was rich: There are two reasons Arison is a billionaire. First, he had a rich father, and second, his lawyers are much smarter than the county's and city's lawyers. The county will keep paying $6.4 million per year to the Miami Heat, Arison will keep refusing to stop using the wall of the AA Arena as an illegal billboard, and he and his sleazy employees will always refuse to pay rent.
Sleazy and Stupid Lawyers
A sordid history: Back in 1997, the owners of the Heat — which then played in the eight-year-old, publicly financed Miami Arena — threatened to move to Broward County unless they were given the bayside plot of land originally slated to become a public park. The Miami-Dade mayor at the time was Alex Penelas, who has a devastatingly pretty face and the business acumen of a Labrador retriever. After the county and team reached an agreement, Raúl Masvidal, the consultant hired to represent Penelas in negotiations with billionaire Carnival Cruise owner Micky Arison, told the New York Times: "We expect the county not only to come out even, we expect it to make money."
Private jails profit: Thanks for writing about Sen. Larcenia Bullard, the Miami politician spearheading a move to legalize medical marijuana ("Unlikely Pothead," Tim Elfrink, January 19). Having lost my husband after hospitalization forced him to shift from cannabis to Oxycontin, I am angry that legislators continue to believe lies about pot's dangers. There are two words to explain it: private prisons.
The Justice Policy Institute recently noted that private jail companies make more money through longer prison sentences, but you don't need a report from a nonprofit group to know that. Just look at the prisons' own investor reports. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest for-profit prison company in the nation, notes that "any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them." CCA also told investors it would make less money if there were lower minimum sentences and more inmates released early for good behavior.
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Preaching through football: Uncle Luke thinks Tim Tebow should retire from the NFL to preach for a living ("Luke's Gospel: Tim Tebow Should Quit Now," Luther Campbell, January 19), but why would he settle for 70,000 people in a stadium when he reaches 40 to 50 million viewers for every televised football game? As Tebow has said many times, his sports fame gives him a fantastic platform to spread the word of Christ. I strongly believe he will continue to learn and mature as a quarterback, ultimately becoming one of the premier players in the NFL. He has already mastered the toughest parts of being a quarterback: leadership, late-game comebacks, and his teammates' trust. Everyone wants to compare Tebow to longtime starters. Tom Brady has approximately 5,000 pass attempts during games, and you wonder why he looks so polished? Given time and coaching, Tebow will one day walk side-by-side with, not in the shadows of, the best in NFL history.
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