In response to WhoDat's Blanco vs. Benson
This is in response to WhoDat's Blanco vs. Benson article.
IMHO, WhoDat is trying to put Mr. Tom Benson on trail. But the last time I checked Mr. Tom Benson had broken no laws.
And speaking from a business owner's view-point, all Tom Benson has done is "posture" to get the best deal he can for his business. That business being the New Orleans Saints.
WhoDat basically wants to hold Mr. Benson to an incredibly high standard. WhoDat suggests Mr. Benson is up to no good by refusing to open his books. But Mr. Benson is under no obligation to open his books to Blanco or anyone else. That doesn't make Benson dishonest. (as WhoDat is suggesting) If anyone has ever had their business records looked at by a government agency, then you know that the goverment can twist and manipulate "figures" to say basically whatever they want. Never trust the government to tell you how much profit you are making. That might be why businesses hire accounting firms.
Then there's the yacht issue. The truth is that Benson could afford this yacht before he received one penny from Louisiana. If you believe WhoDat, then Benson went and cashed the check from the State of Louisiana and ran down to the boat store and purchased a 20-million dollar yacht. What WhoDat doesn't talk about is Benson's net-worth before he received the money from the State. Making a purchase under a company name isn't unusal. In fact, it's quite common. I own part of a time-share condo in Florida that's purchased under my company name. It's a tax write-off because I say I use it for business. It's just business.
In fact ... this whole Blanco vs. Benson situation is nothing but business. One side trying to feel the other side out.
Benson isn't the bad guy. He's not telling the whole truth. And he's not going to. Neither does Donald Trump or Bill Gates. It's just business.
But if you think Blanco is shooting you staight ... you might ought to rethink that.
WhoDat painted Benson as the bad guy. Don't be fooled. Benson could sell this team and buy a whole fleet of luxury yachts. And a few mansions too. Maybe a private island.
Benson wants the Saints to stay in Nawlins. If I had to support someone it would be Benson.
The mysterious 360-million that Blanco found should make her feel much better about the situation.
RE: In response to WhoDat
What I see is a statement devoid of any facts. That's a nice opinion, but it's totally unsupported.
Benson is under no obligation to open his books - you're right about that. But the State is under no obligation to give him the stadium he is demanding either. Benson claims to want a new stadium and to stay in New Orleans. The State claims to want to keep the team there. The State says it is willing to work with Benson to make the team profitable, but has doubts about it being unprofitable now (in fact, it is profitable). Benson is making claims about his inability to make money, but won't provide any truth. The outside agencies suggest that what Benson is saying is untrue (see Forbes).
So you're right, Benson doesn't HAVE to open his books, but he SHOULD, in good faith. Moreover, the fact that he refuses to makes him look suspicious.
Additionally, the fact the Tom Benson bought a yacht is not the issue. There are two issue related to the yacht which you and many others seem not to be able to grasp. First, TOM BENSON did NOT buy a yacht. Tom Benson does not currently own a yacht. Tom Benson's COMPANY, which gets money from the State of LA owns a yacht. Do you understand the difference? A multi-millionare doesn't own a yacht. The company he claims is so poor does. That company gets money from the state and uses it to buy yachts.
The second issue is that Benson claims that he cannot make money in football in New Orleans. He claims that he needs the state funding to keep up with the other NFL teams. But what does he do with that money? Invest it in marketing efforts? Hire new staff? Drum up corporate sponsors? No, he buys a $15 - $20 million toy for himself with money that came from the state. That is not OK, which is why the rest of the world shook their heads when that story broke.
Tom Benson is a sleezy car salesman who is using sleezy tactics. Even you said that he isn't telling the truth. Regardless of what you say, there is a difference between playing it close to the vest and lying. Benson is NOT as poor as he claims to be. He did NOT get a bona fide $1.2 Billion offer from an investor. Lying in negotiations is not OK. It's bad faith. Benson is a sleeze and he's doing whatever it takes to get rich off of tax payer money.
Saints, state millions apart
By MICHELLE MILLHOLLON
Capitol news bureau
How close did the state get to reaching a deal with the Saints?
The gap can be measured in the millions of dollars.
As New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson recharged at a religious retreat, the Blanco administration Friday released the details of the offer he rejected earlier in the week. Officials also revealed the NFL franchise's counteroffer.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco wanted the football team to kick in $40 million to a $174 million Superdome renovation and to agree to a $14 million cut in cash payments from the state beginning in three years.
The Saints only offered to shell out $17.5 million for renovations and wanted $4 million more a year in cash than the state was willing to pay, said Tim Coulon, the governor's point person on the negotiations.
"And it's important to note, as well, that when we talked about the $4 million difference, we asked the Saints to substantiate the need," Coulon said.
"Let me repeat, substantiate the need as opposed to a want. That was never forthcoming," Coulon said.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said the team would decline comment on the negotiations.
Blanco asked the Saints to pay $40 million to spruce up the Superdome. The team had offered to spend that amount in their 2003 proposal, which a previous governor rejected.
Blanco had agreed to help fund the improvements with an eye on making the Superdome more profitable through renovations, such as, better seating and more concessions.
The franchise did not want to take the risk that their profits would increase after the renovation, preferring the guaranteed cash payments instead, Coulon said.
"They've got a contract for another seven years," Superdome manager Doug Thornton said. "They're entitled to receive $140 million and to convert some of that to earned income presents a risk to them. That's it."
Blanco wants the Saints to open their financial books to show why they need millions from the state. The Saints have resisted her request, arguing that only the publicly owned Green Bay Packers disclose their finances.
Blanco's predecessor, Gov. Mike Foster, tripled the subsidies the Saints receive in 2001. He brokered a deal that guaranteed $186 million to the team over 10 years, in addition to previous incentives.
New Orleans area hotel/motel tax collections were supposed to cover the cost of the deal. Tourism plunged in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, causing the state to struggle to pay the subsidies.
The subsidies include a sliding scale of annual cash payments that reach $23.5 million in the final years of the contract. Last year, the state raided an economic development fund to pay the team. This year, the state expects to be $9 million short of the $15 million due in July.
The cash crunch prompted Blanco to huddle with the Saints on restructuring their deal with the state. She dangled a $174 million Superdome renovation as an enticement for accepting less money from the state.
Other points in her offer:
n The Saints would pay $800,000 a year in rent for the Superdome.
n The state would pick up the tab for the $1.4 million a year in game-day expenses and the $14 million a year it takes to operate the Superdome.
n The Saints would keep the revenue -- about $15 million a year -- from parking and concessions.
n The Saints would agree to stay in New Orleans through the 2025 NFL season.
n The state would honor the current contract until the completion of renovations
n In three years, the state's payment to the team would drop to $9.5 million and increase 2 percent a year after that.
Benson turned down the offer Wednesday in a letter posted on the team's Web site.
He acknowledged a challenging economic marketplace but cited the increasingly competitive economics of the NFL. Despite the mutual agreement to keep the negotiations private, Benson says he discussed the talks with the league, other NFL owners and his family before deciding to reject the offer.
"At the conclusion of the Saints season, we once again look forward to continuing our dialogue with the state," he wrote.
Blanco doesn't want to wait that long. She called Benson's office Thursday in an effort to have "one last conversation." She was unable to reach Benson, who was said to be at a religious retreat.
Saints' Executive Vice President Arnold Fielkow said Friday that Benson will be out of state for at least a week.
He said he doesn't know if it will be possible for Blanco to speak to Benson while he's out of town.
Coulon said the Saints probably want their fans to speculate they'll now leave the state.
That fear gives them leverage in lobbying for more money from the state, he said.
When Benson bought the team in 1985, he signed a deal with the state to keep the Saints in New Orleans until 2006. Instead of sticking with the original deal, he has returned to the negotiation table about every four years.
By 2011, state inducements for the Saints will total a projected $376 million, dating back to 1985.
The lesson, Coulon said, is that for the Saints, a deal is never a deal.
I have owned a business for many years and I must tell you that you are not looking at things from a business standpoint. The fact that Tom Benson made a purchase under his company's "corporate umbrella" isn't underhanded or unusual. Do I need a link on tax laws to prove I'm right on this or do you agree?
Furthermore, if I wasTom Benson I wouldn't open my books to a goverment agency either. That's asking for trouble and no good can come out of it if your name is Tom Benson. I do not trust goverment to tell me how much profit I am making. I suppose you've got a little more faith in the Louisiana State Government than I do. That, however, doesn't mean Benson is suspicious. It just means he's been around the block and knows better. Can you blame him?
And again, I don't think the most gullible person in Louisiana thinks Benson is telling the complete truth about his finances. Benson wants a new stadium so he can make as much money as the other owners. The other owners have received financal help from their States. Benson is just following standard practices. Surly you understand that?
You can use whatever you find to make Benson out to be the bad guy. That, however, is just your opinion based off the facts that you wanted to find.
Like I said, there is no right or wrong. Only the way you feel about the situation.
I feel that Benson is a crooked, old, greedy bastard.
What's the sale tax rate in Monroe? TEN PERCENT, I believe?
Property taxes are through the roof. And they just tried to raise taxes in Monroe and the surronding areas last month, I believe.
But, how's that charity hospital doing? How 'bout all those government handouts? How 'bout all that waste?
You think Benson is a crooked, old, greedy bastard? I think more attention should be focused on Blanco on the state government if you want to find the crooks and the greedy bastards.
voodoo i love your post and i am with you. especially on the fact that you have a time share in your companies name as a write off. i am just now reading a book on starting a corporation and the tax benefits of doing so. to me what everyone wants to do is attack benson because he is rich. well he is rich because he worked hard. not many people are able to get rich sitting on their behind. you dont punish someone for hard work. you reward them. at times in this country it seems to be quite the opposite.
i would give this example. you have two sons. one does a lot of yard work and earns 80 dollars per month. the other does nothing. so as a father or mother what you would do then is take 20 dollars from the hard worker and give it the son who does nothing.
my example has nothing to do with benson but a lot to do with the rich and poor dilemma in this country. that does have a lot to do with the states argument in my opinion.
Speaking of government handouts and waste...How about those annual payments made to Benson?
scotty ro why is he greedy because you say so. because he wont part with his money. that you think he has enough so there for he should be more then willing to part with it. maybe other people should work for their own and not take from someone else. i would be also willing to bet that benson probally donates a lot of money. most of the rich do. most big corporations donate a lot of money to the community.
In my dictionary "greedy" is defined as wanting or taking all that one can get with no thoughts of others' needs; desiring more than one needs or desrves.
"No thoughts" is a little vague. Does it mean never thought of or simply in disregard thereof? Thus that doesn't disqualify him as greedy.
Benson is definitely trying to get all that he can disregarding the needs of the state. I think it is fairly obvious that he will make a deal that has the state make nothing, if he can.
I think it is equally obvious that he is desiring more than he needs. He is claiming his team is poor, but Forbes disagrees.
Similarly, I think he is desiring more than he deserves. We are a funny bunch, we fans. We are dedicated to a team that has not delivered a scintilla of a product that it should have. One playoff win in 37 years? That's hardly return on investment that the fans and the state have made. We have one playoff appearance in the last 12 seasons or so? Seems like Benson has delivered less and less over the course of his ownership while demanding more and more.
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