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shadowdrinker 05-01-2005 01:15 AM

Blanco's last stand
Crouere: Louisiana Governor Playing Class Warfare Against New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Sports
Author: Jeff Crouere | 4/29/2005 Home : Politics

In her negotiations with Saints owner Tom Benson, Governor Kathleen Blanco seems intent on making his wealth an issue. In reality, Benson’s wealth is irrelevant to these discussions. When the state is trying to land a deal with a major corporation, the wealth of the CEO is not an issue. If Microsoft was trying to move a facility to our state, would we be quibbling with his net worth? He’s rich, but who cares, any Microsoft presence in Louisiana would be good for our state. Same with Benson, he is also rich, but the Saints provide prestige, economic development and entertainment value for the state, so we should make every effort to keep them.

Instead, Governor Blanco seems intent on running the franchise from the state. During the negotiation period, the story leaked about Benson’s yacht and its value. The leak was designed for one reason only, to embarrass Benson. He is a rich person with a yacht who owns a NFL team, but so what? His team is the only one this state has and the only one we will ever have, so why is Governor Blanco trying to continually upset him? Also, Blanco pushed for the team to open up their books for public inspection. Again, this tactic was employed to make Benson defensive and to remind the public that he is a wealthy man that does not need as much state help as he is asking for.

After Benson halted negotiations, Blanco addressed the media yesterday and lambasted Benson. According to the Governor, “I knew there was probably little room to ask a wealthy person to give up a lot of money. They don’t do that easily.� Again, why interject Benson’s wealth? It has nothing to do with the fact that this team needs a renegotiated deal to stay competitive in the NFL. The Saints are based in a very poor city and a very poor state that has little if any corporate community. Without the corporate involvement and with very limited wealth in the community, Benson is forced to deal with the state. He can’t deal with the City of New Orleans because the city has no money available, so the state is the only option.

If Blanco keeps up the class warfare tactics, then the fading hopes that the team will stay here, will completely disappear. When a state is trying to lure or retain a major business, it is pretty stupid to keep insulting the owner of that business. However, Governor Blanco seems intent to force Benson to leave the state and, as a result, hopes that her class warfare tactics and the anti-New Orleans sentiments of Louisiana voters will enable her to benefit politically. Hopefully, when the next election rolls around, the voters will prove to be smarter than Blanco realizes and she will have to pay the political consequences for her ill-advised actions during these talks.

She's really out of line...There is absolutely no excuse for that sort of behavior...Benson hasn't once brough up her financial status onto the talks..and it would hold just as much relevance...none....She will be the main reason the Saints are forced into leaving...It's no wonder Benson ignores her calls...

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