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fragile tough immediate , long-lasti g Shaming of the Sun . i , 1 ^ 4, . 1 ittOredibie ri g S” On’ thelearst ‘; : all-new tabula ir , Pro.dinect by indigo SIrls and Davidieon,ard -, , , “Epr and 4,a Reg: US. ”’Pl;t. FeTtli. Ott. !Rama Rogigtraclo./C , !hi Sony 7iusto Rniort*mont epic “Stealing,” from page 12 was a decision made by the citizens of Arlington to support a half cent sales tax,” said Bush. “They voted overwhelmingly to do so. It was laid out in front of everybody….So the citizens decided this.” Not so fast, says Jim Runzheimer, an Arlington attorney and longtime critic of the stadium deal. Runzheimer claims that the pro-stadium forces spent more than $130,000 to pass the sales tax referendum \(not including, one assumes, the cost of friendly only $3,000. Calling the stadium project “a basic perversion of government,” Runzheimer says that Arlington’s city officials “used government and its taxing authority to benefit a small elite of powerful and privileged people.” Those benefits could be direct; Runzheimer points out that Arlington city councilmembers and other city officials receive free tickets and use of a skybox at Rangers’ home games. Thus, they had a big incentiveand possibly a conflict of interestin promoting the new stadium. Arlington citizens did vote for the stadium, but Bush’s project was backed by the same “governing elite” that he excoriated on the campaign trail. When Bush helped arrange the deal to buy the Rangers, he was the eldest son of the sitting President, a connection that didn’t hurt his prospects. He also got help from Peter Ueberroth, an influential Republican who was at the time the commissioner of baseball. Ueberroth helped Bush line up deep-pocketed Texans, like billionaire investor Richard Rainwater, to buy the Rangers,. Rainwater brought in another investor, Rusty Rose. And Bush also relied on his Ivy League connections. Roland Betts, the Rangers’ biggest shareholder, is Bush’s roommate from Yale. The bill that allowed the Rangers to build the stadium and acquire the power of eminent domain was crafted by some of the most powerful business people in the state, including Ray Hutchison \(husband of U.S. Senator Kay throughout the stadium deal. By getting help from the governing elite, Bush’s team now owns the most profitable stadium in major league baseball, according to Financial World. And while Bush and his partners can argue that many other cities have given huge subsidies to attract or keep pro sports franchises, Bush is the only governor in the country who got this kind of deal. And he is also the only owner of a major sports team lining up a bid for the White House. Given the financial history of the governor’s Ballpark at Arlington, one might expect Bush at least to cool his rhetoric condemning people who abuse welfare. And as the Bush presidential train continues to roll, one might expect a few state and national reporters to begin asking tougher questions about the accomplishment that the coy candidate proudly insists qualified him for his current job. Some of those skeptical questions might touch upon such matters as corporate welfare, tax subsidies, private property rights, and the manipulation of public policy to private ends. Those are hard questions. But before the governor gets promoted to the Majors, he might consider working on a few fundamentals. Robert Bryce is a Contributing Editor to the Austin Chronicle. 22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 9, 1997