News Sonic Denial
posted by April 11 at 11:34 AMon
The e-mails that the city of Seattle got through discovery (and wisely/gleefully/foxily handed off to the Seattle Times!) in its federal case to prevent the Sonics from breaking their KeyArena lease, prove exactly what City Attorney Tom Carr has been saying all along: Oklahoma-based Sonics owner Clay Bennett had no intention of keeping the team in Seattle and has been bargaining in bad faith from day one.
The balance of power has just shifted and Carr should be able to extract some serious money out of Bennett if the warring parties decide on a payout settlement that lets the Sonics leave before 2010. (Bennett offered $26.5 million in February. Carr turned that down. And rightly so. As I’ve written ad nauseam, the city, which revamped KeyArena for the Sonics in 1995 for about $75 million, has ended up picking up the Sonics’ payments to the tune of $2 to $3 million a year. And we still owe more than $30 million.)
Here’s what I like about today’s follow-up story in the Seattle Times: Reporter Jim Brunner puts the spotlight on State Sen. Margarita Prentice (D-11, Renton). Longtime Olympia powerhouse Prentice—a moderate who’s actually facing an election challenge this top-two-primary year from energized progressive Juan Martinez—has been Bennett’s biggest apologist, sycophant, and booster in Olympia.
Last year, after the legislature scoffed at the idea of building a $500 million arena for the Sonics in Renton, Sen. Prentice told the Tacoma News Tribune:
“I know for a fact that [Bennett] wanted to stay.”
This week, Brunner got her inept response to the e-mails.
State Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, said she thinks Bennett gave Seattle plenty of chances, despite the latest reports about the e-mails.
The money Bennett’s group spent on lobbyists and consultants to promote a proposed $500 million arena in Renton, Prentice said, convinced her that Bennett genuinely wanted the Sonics to stay here.
“I’m not making excuses for anyone, I only know what I saw,” she said. “He was very disappointed when we didn’t even get a decent hearing on the Renton site.”
Asked about co-owner McClendon’s e-mail in July 2006 — just after buying the team — celebrating “the OKLAHOMA CITY SONIC BOOM,” Prentice dismissed it: “This just sounds like guy talk.”
Well, Gov. Gregoire (and the other 6,395,797 people who are alive in Washington state) think it sounds like Bennett and Co. were lying.
Prentice, who kept dragging the legislature through hearings, owes her colleagues and the public an apology.
Although, I won’t hold my breath. She still hasn’t apologized for uttering this bit of wisdom in 2006:
For those who complain that millionaires would end up the being recipients of public dollars:
“Poor people don’t buy teams,” she said.