Fiddling while Rome burns

Astrodome_thumb.jpgMy wife and I attended the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Barbeque Cook-off at Reliant Park over the weekend, so we again were reminded of the wasteful land use represented by the Astrodome.

With the rodeo and related activities cramped for space and Reliant Park desperately in need of more convenient parking, why do our local leaders persist in chasing rainbows over an obsolescent stadium that is expensive to mothball and has no alternative use absent a massive and risky governmental subsidy?

Meanwhile, with our local governments already locked into tens of millions of dollars of subsidies in regard to a proposed stadium for Houston’s minor league soccer club, perhaps a few of our local leaders should review this AZCentral.com article about the bath that Glendale, Arizona is taking in regard to bailing out the Phoenix Coyotes National Hockey League team, which is the primary tenant of the Glendale’s local arena. The Coyotes have lost over $200 million since moving to Glendale five years ago.

Thus, on one hand, Houston governmental leaders waste millions annually while they dither over what should be an easy decision regarding valuable government-owned property. On the other hand, local leaders have committed tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to a venture that is far more speculative than even a National Hockey League team.

In short, our leaders are fiddling while Rome burns. And, as Leo Strauss once observed, what makes matters worse is that those leaders not only fail to realize that they are fiddling, they don’t even appear to understand that Rome is burning.

5 thoughts on “Fiddling while Rome burns

  1. It’s not every blog in town that will give you sober analysis of local issues AND references to Strauss. Well done, sir!

  2. Keep this stuff out there. The failure of leadership in this country and now this city is mind boggling. Our leaders spearhead a rediculous gift to pay credit card debt for certain people? City wants to subsidize a soccer stadium? Use tax dollars to maintain a stadium we will never use? The mayor promotes a private downtown development using city resources? Give me a break. Give us good water, police protection, and basic city services, and then use any extra money for amenities that people want–parks, public soccer and baseball fileds, bikeways, events all can enjoy. If we have too much money, rebate it or lower tax rates. Its “guns or butter” time now–allocate the dollars where it is needed, and “just say no” to the pork. Please someone sane run for office.

  3. Keep this stuff out there. The failure of leadership in this country and now this city is mind boggling. Our leaders spearhead a rediculous gift to pay credit card debt for certain people? City wants to subsidize a soccer stadium? Use tax dollars to maintain a stadium we will never use? The mayor promotes a private downtown development using city resources? Give me a break. Give us good water, police protection, and basic city services, and then use any extra money for amenities that people want–parks, public soccer and baseball fields, bikeways, events all can enjoy, etc. If the city has too much money (er, duh, not), rebate it or lower tax rates. Its “guns or butter” time now–allocate the dollars where it is needed with a critical eye, and “just say no” to the pork. Please someone sane run for office.

  4. I was a young shaver when they built the Dome. I was there with my brother when the Astros played the longest number of innings scoreless in Major League baseball, to win one to zero in the 24th inning. I attended the last Rodeo ever held in the Dome. [I think Red Rooster scored the run]. I even played in a Mega Band Day on the field, and a school kid All Star Football demonstration, when I was in junior high school, on the field.
    There is not much anyone can tell me about the Dome, and its acreage for parking and for strolling across the old bridge to Astro World. And there are millions like me: and that, my friends, is your knowledge base.
    Newcomers in Houston have no idea what it is all about.
    Sitting there like it does, I speculate it is costing more than what it originally cost to build. BTW, that is the reason it was considered a Wonder of the World. It was built within budget, by hometown folks, and finished on time to be the first Domed Stadium in modern history.
    We drove by it on South Loop Sunday evening, and there was Houston’s joyous people out in the parking lots, wrapping up the evening. There are three things I thought would always be part of the Houston experience:
    1-annual collecting of Geese out by Addicks levees as migrating gaggles gather in the past rice fields for a respite,
    2-a Downtown Foley’s,
    3-and the Astro-Domain
    4- alomost forgot: There would always be a downtown Stelzig’z wood-floor saddle\tack and boot shop…
    Solution\Ideas?
    I suggest along with “guns and butter” we add “shepherd’s crooks and wine,” and turn the Dome over to the people who built it in the first place, and ask them what should we do with it.
    You know in Houston there is a centralized government, police and EMS responsible for the largest sprawled out modern city in the country.
    Take a Chance card in this monopoly game: unplug central government, and put areas on their own. Let people act locally while thinking globally. Like West University Place, River Oaks or Bellaire, become your own smaller suburban towns, with mayor and police force… let people control what happens in their own neighborhoods; let them police their own, and maintain their own. You already have water districts and Neighborhood Associations.
    What other “Centralized Government” can you think of that has everyone’s neck in a noose? I’m thinking of a Northeast town that’s under six inches of snow today. Unplug that waste dump today.
    Think Astro Domain: Use your shepherd crooks and weed out wolves in sheep’s clothing.
    Yours, truly,
    Patrick Darnell

  5. With respect to the Astro Dome and surrounding area, we (Houston) would be about a third of the way to sensibility, if we followed the Seattle model, but with Minute Maid park as it is, it’s too late now; i.e. after twenty-three years of use the King County Kingdome was demolished and in its place Seattle now has Qwest Field and Safeco Field, state-of-the-art football and baseball venues.

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