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Friday, April 11, 2008

Sonic Denial

posted by on April 11 at 11:34 AM

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.

RSS icon Comments


Why should she apologize for that last statement? It's true. Sports teams are worth the millions that poor people don't have.

Posted by Jason Josephes | April 11, 2008 12:05 PM

Since poor people can't afford to go to the games, why on earth would they want to own a team to begin with?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 11, 2008 12:10 PM

parties have a duty to act with good faith in performing that contract. negotiations can require good faith if the parties agreed that they would negotiate with good faith.

Posted by vooodooo84 | April 11, 2008 12:11 PM

I'm not following it that closely, but all the coverage of I've seen of this in the national media, or SF local media, has been painting the move as a done deal for the past year. It's only been the Seattle dailies, and some electeds, that seemed to think the Sonics might be staying.

Whether we can chalk that up to locals having the inside scoop, or that everyone outside the sphere of their PR seems to have more perspective on this, I'm not sure.

Posted by Dougsf | April 11, 2008 12:13 PM


Maybe my sarcasm radar is off, so in case you're in earnest Jason: The reason she should apologize is because that quote is a slap at working class taxpayers. Her statement "poor people don't buy teams" doesn't justify giving rich people a big subsidy because they do. It's like saying only rich people benefit from George Bush's tax cuts, so... oh wait.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 11, 2008 12:16 PM

Holy murph. Prentice is an asshat. Without subsidies from poor peoople, richies couldn't make a dime off of sports.

Posted by tomasyalba | April 11, 2008 12:20 PM

I can think of a couple of things Feit should apologize for. He never will, though.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 11, 2008 12:31 PM

When is your last day again?

Posted by worcester | April 11, 2008 12:34 PM

Will there be a party? One without you?

Posted by pencil riot | April 11, 2008 12:40 PM

Maybe if the poor pooled their Pay Day Loan money, they could buy a team...

Posted by NapoleonXIV | April 11, 2008 12:52 PM

It's $10 for a game ticket.

Posted by cw | April 11, 2008 12:54 PM

Prentice is a joke. And Bennett should pay the city exactly what he would have paid over the life of the lease if the team was still here. Every penny of it. He's a crook. Make him pay.

Posted by Fnarf | April 11, 2008 12:55 PM

Everyone is looking forward to the upcoming Seattle Sounder FC games and the hardcore Green River Killers krewe that will be there!

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 12:59 PM

they're still gone - bennett et al have the support of stern & a vast majority of the other NBA owners. probably only Cuban & Allen will vote no. the rest want to protect their ability to extort subsidies from their respective cities.

this merely increases the bill for buying out the lease.

the only reason we act like this isn't a done deal is because its breaking our hearts.

Posted by max solomon | April 11, 2008 2:37 PM

Prentice is not facing a challenge. Martinez is not energized, and whereas nobody knows where he stands on anything, there is no evidence that he is a "progressive."

Juan's not a bad guy, but he is so far over his head it isn't funny. But Josh is determined to lie to his readers that this "challenge" is in any way viable.

Josh will be gone soon, but we will have Margarita Prentice for another four years, and people should be glad about that.

The Sonics and payday loans are not the only two issues in the world for the chair of Ways and Means. Margarita has helped more people in more areas over a longer period of time than, evidently, the attention span of Stranger staffers can handle.

The voter of the 11th District know this, and she will be re-elected by a wide margin.

Posted by ivan | April 11, 2008 3:33 PM

@15 - in our state's Top Two Primary - yes, she is. Because the cold hard reality is the District will get to choose between two Dems.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 11, 2008 3:53 PM

You know what I mean, Will. Any putz can file and run. That doesn't make it a challenge.

Martinez has lived in the District less than a year, he was sent there just for this challenge, he rarely if ever shows his face at District meetings, and he has no chance of getting a party endorsement.

But I guess if you call yourself a "progressive," all else is meaningless.

Posted by ivan | April 11, 2008 4:02 PM

Margarita Prentice always has and always will be a political prostitute who whores out her public policy to the highest bidder.

Posted by Gomez | April 12, 2008 1:23 AM

Sorry, Gomez. You're just plain full of shit.

Posted by ivan | April 12, 2008 7:14 AM

Margarita Prentice is unforgivable after the payday loan bullshit.

Posted by roar! | April 12, 2008 10:09 AM

Oh, bullshit! She's wrong on that issue but every legislator in Olympia is wrong on one issue or another. I'll repeat what I said earlier. She has done more people more good in more areas of the state over a longer period of time than most other people in Olympia have.

We'll work with her, and around her, to get a cap on payday loans. But quit pretending that she's holding the whole payday loan industry up all by herself. She's not a single issue legislator, so don't you be a single-issue voter.

She's so much better for her District than the poor newbie who is "challenging" her that it isn't even funny.

Josh is pissed at her because she blows him off -- as well she should. He has earned it and he continues to.

Posted by ivan | April 12, 2008 11:40 AM

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