A REALLY SOUR APPLE CUP JOKE

THE NEWS THIS WEEK is bad. The economy is getting worse, the state budget deficit will exceed $5 billion -- yes, that's a "b" as in billion -- and WSU and the rest of the state's universities are being asked to make painful cuts to core academic programs. But apparently the folks over on Montlake don't follow the news.

If they did, you'd assume they might rethink asking the State Legislature for a tax bailout of Husky Stadium.

You'd be wrong.

Football clearly trumps academics at the UW. They want $150 million of our taxpayer dollars to undertake what would be the most expensive and lavish football stadium project in NCAA history.

COMMENTARY

This is the same school that makes no bones about it's willingness to spend more than $2 million per year on Ty Willingham's replacement. This is the same school that has budgeted hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire lobbyists and print full-color brochures in support of their blatant money grab.

You can check out their glossy booklet here: Husky Stadium a community resource.

Pretty isn't it?

Actually, it's outrageous -- not to mention highly misleading. Do you really believe Husky Stadium is about to crumble? I know it collapsed once. If it's about to do it again, why would we give money to an organization that can't take care of its "landmark" facilities?

If it's in such disrepair, why not play at Qwest Field instead?

If it's in such disrepair, why all that initial hoopla about this grand project adding the fanciest luxury boxes this side of Austin, Texas? Was public safety taking a backseat to concern over what type of caviar to serve the biggest Dawg donors?

Or are we to believe it was just a coincidence that the stadium's structural integrity became a primary talking point only when it was clear there might be opposition to this grand plan?

Indeed, our efforts to make this state's elected state officials aware of the Dawgs' plans have worked. UW partisans are running into resistance and they know their plan is in trouble. So their solution is to spend more and more money to hire lobbyists and tell fibs.

The inappropriate use of our tax dollars is bad enough. It's Apple Cup week and the UW power brokers think its fair for the state to give one of its Pac-10 football programs a competitive leg up at the expense of the other. That is truly a rotten apple.

For the official record, the UW wants to "re-purpose" the King County restaurant, hotel and rental car tax that is being used to pay the public debt portions of Safeco and Qwest fields. Rather than let that tax sunset as intended, or perhaps to extend it and direct the money toward the state's pressing needs in education and transportation, the UW wants to pirate it to build a Taj Mahal for Tyee Club members.

Tell your friends. Call your legislators (again). Call Governor Gregoire (again). Let them know that a state with a $5 billion deficit and two -- count 'em, two -- teams in the Pac-10 has no business playing loose with the public trust.

Spread the word.

Click here to find and contact the legislators in Olympia who represent you. You can also call the Legislative Hotline -- 800-562-6000 -- to determine who represents your neighborhood.

Governor Gregoire can be reached at 360-902-4111 or via her web address. And her mailing address is Office of the Governor, PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002.

In addition, I encourage WSU alums and other citizens interested in good government and sound public policy to join the growing list of more than 1,000 Cougars who have signed on to the group's Facebook account to help fight the UW's proposed money grab. To join the Facebook brigade, click to
http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=33790377754

MARK THE CALENDAR:
A joint task force from the state House and Senate will hold a public meeting on the Husky Stadium tax proposal in Bellevue on December 1 at 9 a.m., and concerned Cougars are invited to attend. WSU alum Glenn Osterhout, who has helped organize the move against the UW's taxpayer money grab, will be among those testifying. Come give Glenn your support. The meeting will go into the afternoon but is not expected to last all day. It will be held at Bellevue City Hall.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Bernard, the author of this commentary, is a WSU graduate and Bellevue tax consultant. He began spearheading opposition to the UW's proposed money grab earlier this year.


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