Airline officials can say the darnedest things. Take, for instance, Brian Davis.
It was back in June 2015, as vice president for marketing at Allegiant Air, that he was raising a stink over proposed subsidies for Elite Airways at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz.
“It’s completely inappropriate,” Davis told The Arizona Republic. “We don’t mind competition … what we do mind is subsidized competition.”
Fast-forward to this month.
Allegiant announced that this spring it will begin seasonal service from Pittsburgh International Airport to Charleston, S.C., and year-round service to Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
And the service will be subsidized with a “small marketing incentive,” the full amount of which has not been set, said a spokesman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
So much for “completely inappropriate … subsidized competition,” eh?
Curiously, just this week the very same Elite Airways that was the subject of Allegiant’s ire in Arizona pulled out of a plan announced late last year — with great fanfare – to begin non-stop service to the same Sarasota-Bradenton airport, near the home to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training camp.
The authority was to pay Elite a $30,000 “marketing” subsidy. Elite’s cancellation came a day after Allegiant announced its subsidized flights.
Things that make you go “Hmmmm … .”
Turns out there was more to the compensation package of new Port Authority CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman than first revealed.
As the Post-Gazette reported this week, when Kelleman was hired, her compensation package was announced as being a $230,000 salary, the same defined benefit pension package as other authority nonunion employees and a 3 percent match for a 401(k) savings plan.
But, as the P-G reports, a month after the Nov. 8 announcement of her hiring, the Port Authority board “approved an additional contribution of 15 percent of her salary every year to her 401(k), which was agreed to when she was hired and amounts to $34,500 this year.”
That’s a darn generous package. The public should expect big things from her.
Kelleman faces a variety of challenges at the Port Authority. While she says she considers it to be “one of America’s bedrock transit systems,” its “underlying cost problems have yet to be addressed in a substantial way,” Allegheny Institute researchers reminded when Kelleman was hired.
If Pittsburghers thought the sour experience of majority taxpayer funding for a baseball field, a football stadium and a hockey arena taught government-types elsewhere an experience not to be emulated, think again.
The Washington Times has the shocking details of the drubbing Nevada taxpayers and the general public will experience for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders’ new $1.9 billion football stadium in Las Vegas:
“The public’s $750 million contribution – financed through tax-exempt bonds – is the largest public subsidy ever granted for a U.S. stadium. It will be used in combination with a $500 million contribution from the Raiders and an additional $600 million loan from Bank of America.
“The Raiders’ contribution, however, will be about $50 million from the team itself. About $200 million of its portion will be financed with a loan from the NFL and the remaining $250 million will be generated from the sale of personal seat licenses. …
“Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, will raise the funds to pay those bonds by raising the hotel tax on the famous strip by nearly 1 percent.”
But that’s not all.
The Times further reports the deal allows the Raiders “to break the lease and look for another home if Nevada attempts to impose new taxes over the next three decades” specifically “on the team, stadium, fans or players,” including visiting teams and fans.
The Raiders, however, “will collect revenue of the sale of (luxury) suites, tickets, stadium naming rights and local television broadcasts,” the newspaper reminds, estimated to be about $130 million in the first year of operation.
Quoting Neil deMause, a longtime critic of publicly funded sports complexes, “This is adding insult to injury. It’s bad enough that Nevada is handing over $700 million in cash, now (it has) made things even worse by agreeing to a deal that makes sure Nevada taxpayers never see a penny from the stadium.”
Which makes the economic contribution of this football stadium redefine, downward, the term de minimis – which long has described the economic benefits of publicly subsidized homes for the barons of sport.
Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (email@example.com).