Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fehr of the Unknown

A fractured and fragmented National Hockey League Players Association has- apparently- found their man to lead them. Donald Fehr, the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to accept the position of Executive Director of the NHLPA pending a vote of the Player Association representatives.

So, what does this mean for the Player's Association? More importantly, what does it mean for the upcoming negotiations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement?

Should fans of the NHL be Fehrful?

Already, concerns have been voiced over the ascension of Fehr to the position of Executive Director. Some have presumed that this means that there will be a strike by the players in a militant stance against the owners. Fehr's past has conjured up this grim vision as he famously led the MLBPA on a strike that lasted for part of two seasons and caused the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

Does that same fate await hockey fans in 2012?

Is the NHLPA under the direction of Donald Fehr a work stoppage waiting to happen?

Perhaps not.

Step away from Fehr's reputation as controversial and tenacious negotiator and looks at the issues surrounding the PA and the League, and one can see where having Fehr in charge of the PA could be beneficial both to the union and the League.

Fehr can step in to the role of Executive Director and provide strong leadership to a union that has, at times, been dysfunctional, to put it generously. Having a leader that is experienced in tough labor negotiations and in handling the disparate interests of union members can form a fractious membership into a reasonably functioning body. Does this mean that a cohesive union would be ready to walk out when the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires in 2012?

Not necessarily.

What strong, consistent leadership will- hopefully- bring to the union is an end to the backroom, backstabbing deals that have occurred throughout the history of the union. Remember Paul Kelly? Ending the internal strife is healthy for the union, and ultimately will be healthy for the game. It may not appear that way now, but having a healthy union to represent the players is good. A healthy union can reasonably represent the players position when it comes to negotiating a CBA, something that could be argued has not effectively occurred in the past.

As it now stands, the union feels like they got hammered in the last CBA negotiations. The natural tendency is to want to "get back" at the owners and the League. This is unhealthy for both sides.

There is a natural adversarial relationship between owners and the players. When that relationship gets out of balance, the stage is set for labor unrest and confrontation that is obviously bad for the game and for the fans. If the union, and the players, feel that their interests have been represented adequately and fairly, the probability of labor unrest diminishes.

Fehr is familiar with some of the players on the other side of the table. Brian Burke, President of the Maple Leafs and Bill Daly, Deputy Commissioner of the NHL, served with Fehr on the Board of Directors of the Sports Lawyers Association. There is an element of respect between Fehr and those that will be involved in the negotiations for the NHL.

That respect is healthy.

Fehr and the PA will have a number of issues that will have to be resolved in the next CBA. Those issues could be contentious, and it remains to be seen if these issues will be contentious enough to lead the players to strike. Looking at these issues is instructive.

The Olympics 

The players are nearly unanimous in their desire to have an opportunity to play for their respective country in the Olympics. The League has to recognize and honor the desire of its players to perform on the world stage, and it is expected that this issue will be one that generates much discussion.

The League loathes the two week shutdown and fears for injury to their players. The players love the world stage. Stars such as Alex Ovechkin have even gone as far to say they would leave their team to play in the Olympics if the NHL does not allow players to do so. This untenable situation has to be resolved. One idea may be for the IIHF to compensate the League for the use of their players. This does not resolve the potential for injury to a key player for an NHL club, but may be a step in the right direction to resolving this issue.

Allowing the players to participate in the Olympics may be one of the the most powerful bargaining chips the NHL holds in the upcoming negotiations. By agreeing to Olympic participation, the League signals an acknowledgement of the importance of the world stage to the players and a respect for their desire to represent their country.


The Kovalchuk contract has brought the cap circumventing nature of the the long term contracts to to the forefront, and it is expected that this will be a point of negotiation to determine what constitutes a valid contract.

The Kovy contract points out some of the weaknesses that currently exist. Although Richard Bloch was appointed as an arbitrator for this particular situation, the fact is that since the ratification of the last CBA, both the League and the PA have been without a full time systems arbitrator.

Why is that important?

The systems arbitrator is agreed upon by both parties to review and rule on player contracts. The League can compel a team to provide records and information on an existing contract, but it cannot make a player or his agent do so. That is the role of the systems arbitrator.

Without the agreed upon arbitrator in place, we have situations like the disallowed Kovalchuk contract and the re-examination of other lengthy contracts. This is unhealthy for both sides. Clearly defining the parameters of an acceptable contract eliminates  the "do-over" and the resulting friction that occurs.  And frankly, it will save some GM's and owners from themselves. And that is good for the game.

The Kovalchuk situation has defined the unacceptable nature of a long term contract. The question for the League, the PA and the agents representing players is what is acceptable? That, I believe, will be a significant part of the next CBA negotiation.

Salary Cap and Escrow

The salary cap was implemented in the last CBA as a way to level the playing field between large market teams and teams in smaller markets. The claim was that smaller market teams could not compete on a revenue basis with teams that had a larger television market and population base. This sounds eerily similar to the arguments made by the owners in professional baseball in 1994 when a salary cap was proposed for that sport.

Unlike baseball, a salary cap was implemented in the last CBA. Like baseball, there exists an element of distrust between the players and the owners, although it can be argued that it is not a severe in hockey as it was for baseball in 1994. Nevertheless, the attitude of the players is one of being taken advantage of in the last CBA.

That sense of aggrievement is, in my mind, exactly the reason that Donald Fehr is being proposed to head the NHLPA.

Fehr lead the MLBPA through a contentious strike with the owners that changed the relationship between owners and players. The players had been wronged (witness a settlement from the owners to the MLBPA of $280 million for charges of collusion) and Fehr was the leader that led the union through the recovery of lost wages and the dismantling of the proposed salary cap.

Could Fehr be tasked with dismantling the NHL salary cap and eliminating the escrow arrangement? That remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that his experience in the down and dirty of hardball negotiations has factored into the decision to bring him on board as the Executive Director of the NHLPA.

The risk to the good of the game and to the fans who passionately support their hockey team rests with the end goals of the PA. If they feel a need to get back at ownership; if they genuinely feel that they have been wronged by the owners, then the upcoming negotiations for a new CBA will be contentious at best.

Currently, the revenue generated by the League is split with 57% going to the players and the balance to the owners. The escrow is held back to make certain the revenues hit the agreed upon percentages. Escrow is great if the players are receiving funds at the end of the season; not so fun if revenues dip and the escrow is held by the league.

It is speculation on my part, but I believe that on the table in the upcoming CBA negotiations will be the escrow arrangement; the determination of the cap amount; calculation of salary for a player sent to the minors or shipped overseas (the salary "dump" to free up space); and the acceptable type of contract that clubs and players can enter into (see above).

I also believe that owners will use as a bargaining chip the removal of the salary floor. As the cap has risen, small market teams are being required to pay more dollars out to meet the minimum payroll requirement. I would think that an upper limit will remain in place, but that the floor could be eliminated in negotiations (stick tap to Stu Grimson for bringing that option to my attention).

Make no mistake, if Donald Fehr takes the reins of the NHLPA, expect a brawl when it comes to negotiating the next CBA. In March, while serving in an advisory capacity to the PA, Fehr was quoted as saying:

"It is an organization that has, I believe, a membership that is ready and willing and interested in making things right so that it is an effective voice for the players."
A unified PA under the direction of an effective and tenacious Executive Director with great experience doesn't mean that a strike and a lockout is imminent.

It does mean that negotiations will be tough, and there will be some give and take on both sides. The days of owners dealing with a disjointed and dysfunctional union are most likely gone.

The upcoming CBA negotiations are a cloud of the unknown for all sides- owners, players, and fans. Hopefully, the parties to the CBA will realize how bad it was to have a lost season due to a lockout and how long it has taken for hockey to regain its footing in the U.S.

The admonition to both sides is to remember your fans and to negotiate the upcoming CBA fairly. Negotiate diligently, even toughly, but keep the bigger picture of the good of the game and its fans in the forefront of these talks.

And don't fear the unknown.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

One area of the economy that has been a bright spot through the years has been the technology sector. Technological advances improve productivity at work and in our personal lives. The technology sector continues to show gains in an otherwise dismal employment environment. Unfortunately for our country and for the people that work in that sector, this could soon be over. Intel CEO Paul Otellini, speaking at the Aspen Forum of the Technology Policy Institute offered a grim assessment of the future of this sector of the economy. Otellini said, "Not long ago, our research centers were without peer. No country was more attractive for start up capital (than the U.S.). We seemed a generation ahead of the rest of the world in information technology. That simply is no longer the case." Why is this? According to Otellini, the U.S. legal environment has become so hostile to business in general that there is likely to be "an inevitable erosion and shift of wealth, much like we are seeing in Europe- this is the bitter truth." He went on to state that the current economic policies coming out of Washington have created more uncertainty than have been faced in recent memory. "Every business in America has a list of more variables than I have ever seen in my career. I can tell you definitively that it costs $1 billion more per factory for me to build, equip, and operate a semiconductor facility in the United States." If Washington realizes the adverse effect of their myriad laws and regulations, and corrects the present course, then companies will invest in the United States. If not, we will continue to lose jobs and the economy will continue to suffer.

If you throw a cat out of your car window, does it become kitty litter?

Senator Bob Corker was in Franklin this past week to speak to one of the local Chambers of Commerce. His talk brought out some important points that we should consider as we try to understand the fiscal situation in which we find ourselves. Here are some salient points:

Government spending continues to substantially outpace the revenues that are received. Over the next ten years, government spending at the federal level will be $1.25 trillion more than revenue received if we change nothing.

For every dollar that the government spends, it borrows another .40. This is why spending and our debt is  growing so rapidly.

Here is an interesting comparison: in 1970, 7% of our revenue was spent on interest on the debt; 31% was spent on mandatory payments like social security; and 62% was spent on discretionary spending like defense, transportation, and education. Today, 6% is spent on interest (thanks to a very low interest rate environment); 56% is mandatory spending (reflecting the growth of social programs); and 38% is discretionary.

Since February, Washington has spent $266 billion (BILLION) that it did not have.

And here is the most interesting challenge: to balance the budget, we must cut $6.7 trillion (TRILLION) dollars over the next  10 years, or $670 billion dollars a year. And we must do this in the face of an aging population that will expect, and demand, their payments from social programs to which they have paid over the years.

One can see the dilemma and challenge that our leaders in Washington face.

What do people in China call their good plates?

Here is an example of the fiscal "bleeding" that is occurring in Washington. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says that it will need another $1.8 billion from taxpayers just to survive. Since the government took over the failed mortgage lender two years ago, more than $64 billion has been pumped into Freddie Mac just to keep it alive. Along with its counterpart, Fannie Mae, a total of $150 billion in taxpayer dollars have been expended to keep these institutions afloat. This begs the question, "How much will taxpayers have to pay to keep these failed institutions in business?" How long before Washington decides, if ever, to pull the plug? Who knows, as Washington has shown no signs of fiscal restraint or the ability to make the hard decisions to finally put these institutions out of their- and our- misery.

If they squeeze olives to get olive oil, how do they get baby oil?

And that, my friends, is my view.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Predators Ink Hornqvist to Three Year Deal

The Nashville Predators signed restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist to a three year, $9.25 million contract, the club announced today.

Hornqvist led the Predators this past season with 30 goals, most scored in the dirty area in front of the net. His physical presence rattled opposing goalies and opened space for other forwards in the offensive zone. His signing was considered a must for the Predators in the off season, and this announcement was eagerly anticipated by Predator fans.

The deal will pay Hornqvist $3 million in each of the next two seasons and $3.25 million in the third year.

There are two significant aspects of this signing for the Predators.

Hornqvist WANTED to be in Nashville. This was stated by Hornqvist and reiterated by his agent. After his breakout season, it was assumed that Hornqvist could test the market, and a player that plays his type of game would certainly be coveted by any number of teams that needed a player that could establish a physical presence in front of the net.

Hornqvist desired to remain with the Predators. It is not believed that he seriously tested the market, but instead focused his efforts on working out an acceptable contract with the Predators.

This speaks well of what is happening with the Predators, both on the ice and in the locker room. Hornqvist is comfortable with the coaches and the system in Nashville and that weighed heavily in his decision to try to work a deal to remain with the team.

The other aspect that is significant is that the Predators stepped up to sign a key component of the team. Predator fans had worried that Hornqvist would receive an offer that the team could not, or would not match. The Predators allowed some signings to occur that set the market and then stepped up to sign an important cog in the offense.

The Predators have been referred to as a team that attempts to build a winner "on the cheap" and would not pay to keep talent. The Hornqvist signing goes a long way toward dispelling that myth. This was a good contract for a player that had the potential to try the market waters.

This signing was the Predators showing that they will commit the resources to a player that is integral to the success of the team.

This was the Predators showing that the "Predator Way" is one that will keep the players that are essential to the continued on ice success of the franchise.

The onus of this contract is now on Hornqvist to prove that he is not a one hit wonder. Fans and management will be watching to see his improvement on last season's performance.

I think they will be pleasantly surprised.

The commitment of management- and the owners- to step up and sign a key player like Hornqvist should be viewed as nothing but positive. This commitment to a key player is a statement to Predator fans and to the hockey world that this team will continue to reward those players that contribute to the success of the team.

Take that statement as a sign of the stability and health of this franchise.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

Lee Iacocca, the former CEO of Chrysler Corporation, once famously said, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." With all the rhetoric and bloviating that emanates from Washington, it is very easy to lose sight of the "main thing". So, friends, I am going to attempt to give you the "main thing" that each of us should, regardless of political persuasion or station in life, should be focused upon. Ready? Here it is. Our government has more fiscal obligations than they ever possibly can cover. Or, to put it more bluntly, our country is bankrupt. How do I come to this dire conclusion? Professor Lawrence Kotlikoff of Boston University has estimated that the present and future obligations of our government (social security, medicare, medicaid, socialized medicine, and other social programs) is $202 trillion. TRILLION. With a T. Our Gross Domestic Product, basically our national income, is $14 Trillion per year, of which, approximately $2 trillion is collected in taxes. Total long term indebtedness of our country is $202 trillion dollars; our annual taxation is $2 trillion. You can tax 100% of the earnings of this country annually and not get close to paying what we owe. And that is the main thing.

If you think about it, the original "point and click" interface was made by Smith and Wesson.

To continue the point I was making above: currently, our country spends 62% of our GDP on paying debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. By 2030, we will spend 146% of GDP if nothing changes. Consider that Greece defaulted when spending was 120% of GDP and had to be bailed out by the European Monetary Union. Our profligate spending in Washington has doomed our country to a severe and austere fiscal future. Last month, our government spent $165 billion dollars that it didn't have and this was added to our budget deficit. $165 BILLION! IN ONE MONTH! This was more than the entire budget deficit for the full year of 2007. While we have in times past been able to grow ourselves out of recessions and deficits, the ability to do so now is absent without substantial spending restraint from Washington. With spending occurring at this rate, there is no way to outgrow these deficits. Despite the rhetoric, obfuscations, and lies that come out of Washington, this is what we should know: that our government is fiscally dangerous with our future and they are spending us into oblivion. And that is the main thing.

The other day, my wife asked me if I would like to know how and when I would die. I told her, "No." She said, "Okay, forget it."

Think of the situation in our nation as if it was a situation in your own household. The financial decisions that you make can have a lasting if not life long affect on your standard of living. Commit early on to save a little each payday and live within your means, and generally you are in good financial shape. Overspend on credit cards or equity lines of credit and the consequences can be disastrous, especially if the unexpected happens. Lose a job or have uninsured medical expenses and the tenuous financial situation is now desperate. Get desperate enough, and be unable to pay your debts, and there are few options. Bankruptcy is the most likely course of action for many people. Our country is no different. Yes, Ben Bernanke can smugly state that he has the power to print all the money that he thinks is necessary, but here is the reality: that money (the U.S. dollar) is worth only what world markets say it is worth. And here is the truth: a nation cannot print its way out of debt. To attempt to do so will cause the currency to collapse. Our current levels of spending and failure to implement fiscal responsibility are limiting the options that we will have in the future for financial stability and solvency in this great nation.This will impact you and me as our standard of living diminishes significantly. And that is the main thing.

I got a sweater for Christmas. I really wanted a screamer or moaner.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

In July, the International Monetary Fund released its annual review of U.S. economic policy, which can be found here. In the review, the IMF stated that "...a larger than budgeted adjustment would be required to stabilize the debt to GDP." In this rather benign statement is an ominous warning to to all tax paying Americans, and that warning is that your taxes are going up. The IMF gets more specific later in the report by saying "closing the fiscal gap requires a PERMANENT annual fiscal adjustment to GDP of 14%." That statement doesn't mean, dear reader, that taxes have to go up by 14% to close our budget deficit (what the IMF calls a "fiscal gap"). No, it means that our income taxes, business taxes, and FICA taxes all have to double. How do I conclude this? Currently, all taxes collected by the federal government total 14.9% of our current GDP. The IMF report states to cover existing and future social program liabilities (promises of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, prescription drugs, socialized medicine, etc) as well as pay for past government spending, another 14% of GDP must be taken in taxes. This means money out of your pocket and the pockets of businesses to pay for our profligate spending that has occurred throughout the years. and is getting worse every year. And it will get worse every year until government at all levels begins to show fiscal restrain and the willingness to live within a realistic budget.

They say that we only use about 10% of the capacity of of our brain. Can you imagine what it would mean if we used the other 60%?

At the end of 2009, the U.S. GDP (the value of all the goods and services produced) was $14.25 trillion dollars, according to the IMF. Currently, the government "consumes 14% of our GDP, or nearly $2 trillion dollars in taxes and other revenue collections. To stabilize our financial situation, that figure must double. The majority of those revenue collections come in the form of taxes and levies on income from all sources (earned, investment, capital gains, etc.), the largest of which is individual and business income taxes. As previously mentioned, the IMF has said for the United States to pay their debts and future obligations, tax collections must double to 28% of GDP. Permanently. I seriously doubt that the folks in Washington will rely strictly on tax increases to cover this massive shortfall. Make no mistake, tax increases- huge tax increases- are on the way, but there will be other maneuvers by the government to work their way out of this dilemma. Look for  promised benefits to be cut. Expect a means test to be implemented for Social Security to go along with a rising eligibility age (which is already occurring). The means test will reduce your Social Security payment if you have been thrifty and saved for retirement and have investment income. Also look for the government to begin to print even more money to cover its debts. This will cheapen the dollar even further and lower the standard of living for all of us. Each day that Washington fiddles with substantive solutions to this dire situation, the worse it will be for us and especially for our children.

I signed up for an exercise class and they told me that I should wear loose fitting clothing. If I had any loose fitting clothing, I wouldn't be in an exercise class!

Earlier this week, the U.S. stock market took a dive on weak employment numbers which indicated that our economy is not making significant strides towards recovery. The number that is often bandied about is that unemployment is around 9.5%  of the potential workforce, or about 14.5 million people. In reality, that number is much worse. The 9.5% that is reported is a measurement by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)called the U-2 measurement. This counts people that have lost their job and are drawing unemployment benefits. The interesting aspect of government accounting is that there are numerous ways to measure the same data and produce the results that, while technically true, paint a different picture. For instance, did you know that once the unemployment benefits run out for an individual the U-2 measurement used by the BLS does not count that person as unemployed any longer. No job, still unemployed, but not counted. Why? Only the lunatic ravings of a government accountant can explain that. I can't. The BLS does count these individuals that have exhausted their benefits in a measurement that is dubbed U-6. BLS states that as of June 2010, unemployment was 16.5% using the U-6 measurement. Many economists believe that U-6 even understates the severity of the problem as it does not count the long term unemployed- those who have lost jobs and have found no comparable replacement and have been unemployed over one year. Using their estimates, unemployment rises to 22%. The highest level of unemployment experienced in this country was at the depth of the great depression at 25%. This is why I believe that it is going to take much longer than expected for our economy to recover.

A company merger between Xerox and Wurlitzer was announced today. The new company will make reproductive organs.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Analyzing the Predators Front Office Moves

As a hockey fan in the off season, the focus is often on what is happening with with additions and subtractions to the roster. The advent of free agency is often viewed with the same eagerness as Christmas morning for a bright eyed young child. The direction and the competitive level of a team, positive or negative, can be altered by off season activities.

What often happens in the front office of a hockey club can make as much difference toward winning and losing as what happens with the players. Bring in the right front office personnel and a franchise can take on a new focus and drive that can change the results on and off the ice. The opposite is also true.

The Nashville Predators have made a pair of front office moves that bode well for the future of the team, not only on the ice but in the community, and have tangibly demonstrated the commitment of the owners to making the team a centerpiece of the Nashville sports community.

Jeff Cogen has been hired as the CEO of the hockey club and Sean Henry has been hired as President and Chief Operating Officer.

Cogen comes to the Predators from the Dallas Stars, where he was President.

 Henry arrives from the Tampa Bay Lightning after serving as interim CEO and the team and St. Pete Times Forum arena Chief Operating Officer since 1999.

Current Predators President Ed Lang will be leaving the organization.

The significance of these moves is twofold.

Start with the departure of Lang. He arrived with the Predators from day one and has served in various adminstrative roles until moving into the President's role in 2007. Lang's background was with former owner Craig Leipold at S.C. Johnson and Company in Racine, and he was heavily involved in assisting Leipold with the bid for the Predators franchise and was one of the organization's first employees.

Ed Lang represented the legacy of the organization, the ties to the past ownership and the sense of the history of the franchise in Nashville.

Now he, and that sense of history, that legacy, is gone.

And that is a good thing.

Don't misconstrue that last statement. I have met Ed on several occasions and he is an astute businessman and a consummate gentleman. Nashville hockey fans owe a great debt of gratitude to Craig Leipold and Ed Lang for getting the NHL into Nashville and for establishing the team here.

In the early years, the team was very oriented to driving attendance through the doors. Gate receipts were vital to the survival of the franchise, and there was heavy emphasis on putting butts in the seats. That emphasis, while necessary and successful for the short term, was not optimal for making inroads into the Nashville business community and building relationships with sponsors for the long term.

Now thirteen years into building a presence in this market, the team is faced with the same dilemma that was present in the first year of existence; more individual ticket sales as the main source of revenue than corporate sales and sponsorships.

The absence of significant corporate support has subjected this franchise to the whims of the individual ticket buyer, which can ebb and flow for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the state of the local economy.

Building a solid- and consistent- base of corporate support not only ties the business community to the success of the Predators but also stabilizes the revenue streams from year to year.

And this is where, from a purely business perspective, that the departure of Lang and the arrival of Cogen and Henry are good for this team, at this time, in this market.

The second significant aspect of this front office realignment is that two individuals that have had significant success in growing hockey in non-traditional markets are now in place to provide leadership, energy, and maybe even a jump-start to move the organization to the next level of performance off the ice.

Their experience in building a hockey franchise in southern, "non-traditional" markets will be invaluable to the long term financial growth of the Predators revenue streams from sources beyond the individual ticket holder.

This means, obviously, selling more tickets and putting more happy butts in the seats at the Bridgestone. Happy butts spend more money AND they come back to the arena multiple times. More than that however, it means making the Predators "first in mind" when businesses in the Nashville area decide to spend their marketing and advertising dollars.

First in mind means cultivating relationships with the business community. Deep relationships, not just speaking relationships. As much as I appreciate Craig Leipold for bring NHL hockey to Nashville, the fact remains that he was an absentee owner. Sure, he had a condo in downtown Nashville and he jetted in for most games. But Craig was never a "Nashvillian". He never developed those deep local ties that would endear him to corporate sponsors, and consequently, the burden of that process fell to Ed Lang.

And we see how that has turned out.

Local ownership has made significant improvements and inroads in this area. The local owners, however, have to have not only proficiency but energy and perhaps even a touch of aggressiveness from the people that are running the day to day operation.

Welcome Messrs. Cogen and Henry.

At first blush, Predator fans should feel good about these two gentlemen helming the operation. Both of these executives understand what it takes to run a hockey club from the business side and this is essential for a frugal organization like the Predators. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the fact that they understand the essential dynamic between the business side of hockey and the on-ice product. Cogen said it best in his interview with Pete Weber after the announcement of his hiring. Paraphrasing, he said that if they operations side of the business can generate more fan support, more business support, then there is more money to support the product on the ice.

Cogen understands the long term development of a franchise cannot be sacrificed for short term revenues. When he arrived in Dallas, there was one sheet of ice in the entire city. As he leaves for Nashville, there are 14. The Stars organization knew that drawing young kids into the game would draw in families and generate interest from broad sectors of the community. This takes a vision for the long term direction of the franchise and the time and commitment to see that vision through.

The owners have stated that they want to make Bridgestone Arena the premier entertainment venue in the United States. Sean Henry has a track record of operating an arena profitably and successfully. Under his direction, the St. Pete Times Forum was one of the busiest and most profitable arenas in the U.S.

Think that the downtown business community would like to see the Bridgestone Arena busier? And be one of the premier entertainment venues in the country?

Just as adding a key component to the roster can move a team to the next level, adding key players in the front office can do the same. Fans look to management to see what kind of message is being sent by the players being added or let go.The same holds true for front office personnel.

Predator fans should look at these front office moves and take away a sense of commitment from the ownership group to really make this franchise work at an optimal level in this community. This is a commitment by the ownership to bring in the front office talent that will generate more community support for the Predators and will begin to develop even deeper and more meaningful bonds to the Nashville business community.

Predator fans should also know that talent in the front office, just like talent on the ice, can move around to where the prospects for success and the the quality of life are the best. These men chose Nashville. There is something here that is positive and attractive, both with the organization and the city. Their sense of the future for this organization was one of growth and success.

We welcome you in to Nashville, gentlemen. Make yourself at home and get to know us. I think you will like us.

And, once we get to know y'all, I am certain we will like you too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My View

Random thoughts from a warped and fevered mind...

More and more, we are finding the land mines that our "friends" in Congress have hidden in the socialized medicine bill that they passed earlier this year. The latest to come to light is a tax buried deep in the 2700 page bill that creates a tax on home sales. That's right, sell your home after 2012 and you will be subject to a 3.8% sales tax on the total value of the transaction. Currently, the first $500,000 in gain from the sale of your primary residence is exempt from any capital gains tax. Now, under this hidden piece of legislation, all sellers are subject to a 3.8% sales tax from the first dollar. For example, if you sell your home for $200,000, you will owe $7600 in sales tax. That tax is assessed regardless of the balance of your first mortgage. In my example, if your first mortgage is $100,000 and you sell your house for the aforementioned $200,000, you will owe the 3.8% not only on the gain, but also on the balance of the first mortgage, or $7600. This tax takes more money out of the pocket of the American public that has built a substantial portion of their wealth through home ownership. Consider what will happen to people, such as your parents, who are empty nesters and want to downsize their house. You can count on more surprises surfacing as the full extent of this odious bill are brought to light. I'm not sure that we need "friends" like this in Congress.

I wonder, is it okay to use an AM radio after noon?

Remember that stimulus program that was passed last year and is being touted as saving so many jobs? Wonder where that money has been spent? Besides buying off unions, here are some examples of where your tax dollars have been employed. According to ABC News, researchers at Wake Forest University received $300,000 to study whether yoga can be an effective method of reducing hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. The California Academy of Science received $1,000,000 to send researchers to East Africa and the Southwest Indian Ocean islands to photograph exotic ants. The U.S. Forest Service received $500,000 to replace windows in an unused visitor center at Mount. St. Helens.The City of Boynton, OK, received $90,000 to replace a quarter mile stretch of sidewalk that is five years old. British Petroleum (BP) of gulf oil spill fame, received $175 million to participate in Hydrogen Energy California to build a power plant that will not break ground for another two years.And the list goes on and on. Think about this the next time you hear a politician from either party say that we have to have more stimulus (read: your tax dollars) dollars to "save jobs and bolster the economy".

A friend of mine told me his wife was an angel. I said that he was lucky, because mine is still alive.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the number of new boards, agencies, and commissions created under the socialized medicine program passed by Congress is "unknowable". The reason- the language in this bill lacks specificity and is purposely vague. For instance, the law has a section entitled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The wording of the law says that a newly created agency called the Patient Centered Research Institute "may appoint permanent or ad hoc expert advisory panels as 'determined appropriate' by the institute." How many panels will be appointed is obviously unclear. The problem, besides the impending proliferation of more bureaucracies, is that there appears to be no oversight on these panels or commissions. As Americans, we are going to faced with a maze of bureaucrats, commissions, and panels, that will be involved with our health and any treatment all with little to no oversight. What happens to one of us when a healthcare decision is rendered by one of these bureaucracies and we have no recourse or way to appeal the decision? This is one of the more troublesome aspects of the socialized medical bill- our healthcare decisions are going to be taken away from the doctor/patient relationship and transferred to bureaucrats with little recourse for us as citizens and patients. This is indeed a very scary proposition.

I have learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do stalk them and hope they give in.

And that, my friends, is my view.