Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marlins Financial Records Fiasco -- "I Just Don't See It" Redux

Much ink has been spilled over the last few days over the shocking discovery -- much to the amazement of several Miami-Dade commissioners -- that apparently the Marlins were doing pretty good financially during the very time they were pleading poverty in order to get our tax dollars spent on their stadium:
``It's all very explainable, because the people we negotiated with at the county and city knew everything, our banks know everything, our partners know everything,'' Samson said.
But in an e-mail exchange Tuesday with The Miami Herald, Miami-Dade spokeswoman Victoria Mallette said the county never saw the Marlins' financial records during the negotiations, although it was not surprised to hear the club made money.
Yet several members of the County Commission, who gave their final approval to the stadium's $500 million city-county funding package in March 2009, have expressed shock at the extent of the Marlins' profitability.
The problem I have with this coverage -- which includes fine Miami Herald columnists Fred Grimm and Greg Cote -- is that none of the articles provided any historical perspective to the numbers at issue.

In particular, Adam Beasley's article quotes from Dave Samson, but makes no effort to press him on contradictory statements and positions in the past taken by Marlins representatives (including Samson himself).  And the reader thus has no ability to judge the present positions against the historical record.

This important historical context is not very hard to locate btw.

In fact, we covered the very question of the Marlins' financial condition when Roberto Martinez went into Judge Escharte's courtroom back in June of 2008 and specifically asked for public disclosure of that information because Dave Samson -- incredibly, in my view -- refused to answer any questions about the topic during his deposition:
The Florida Marlins and Miami-Dade County won a slight victory in court Friday when Circuit Court Judge Pedro Echarte Jr. shot down several attempts to get Marlins President David Samson to disclose the ball club's financial picture.
The two sides are readying for a July 1 court date, with auto dealer Norman Braman contending the $609 million stadium and parking garage plan -- to be built with almost $500 million of public money -- doesn't benefit the public.
On Friday, Braman attorney Bob Martinez tried to get Echarte to compel Samson to answer dozens of questions the Marlins executive had waved off when he was deposed earlier this month.
Echarte shot that down, ruling that almost all of Martinez's questions dealing with club finances weren't relevant to the trial.
When Martinez tried to get Samson to hand over projections of attendance, the judge questioned whether such figures are paramount to the public purpose of a stadium. ''I just don't see it,'' Echarte said.
Both sides will be back in court most of this week setting witness questioning and attempting to narrow the proceedings so the trial doesn't run too long. Echarte said he has vacation plans for most of July.
Here's what I wrote back then:
We've all heard Samson cry and whine on Lebby's show about how badly the Marlins are doing financially without a publicly-financed stadium in the picture, but now he refuses to answers questions at a deposition about this very topic? I guess we're stuck with his mediocre and stunningly pedestrian movie reviews instead.

I also don't get the Judge's ruling if it is based -- as it appears to be -- entirely on relevancy grounds. Something has to be completely way off-base for the entire topic to be excluded from discovery on relevancy grounds. Were there other grounds raised? 
"I just don't see it" indeed.


Anonymous said...

Funny how Samson's statement from yesterday says everybody knew except the public.

Shoot The Lawyers said...

This has been a scam from day one. For these politicians to now claim they were duped is a joke. They knew all along what the score was and went along with it anyway to benefit their cronies who will build a useless money pit that benefits construction bigwigs who will flip a lot of that money into campaign cash. The public will be paying for this travesty for the next 50 years. And it will happen again (and again). Read Field of Schemes: How The Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit, by Neil deMause. It just proves the old adage: there is no delusion like self delusion. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

the Herald won't press the issue becuase they need Marlin advertising revenue. The public got scammed by the politicians, the baseball team and the judicial system. In otherwords, just another day in South Florida. Fuck the Marlins and Fuck you Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Anonymous said...

Nice job Judge Escharte!

Anonymous said...

Pedro didn't want to be known as the judge who single handily put the kibosh on pro-baseball in miami

Anonymous said...

Mixed feelings on the marlins stadium:

1) Hate the stadium. Think its a scam. Tax payers got screwed. Use the money instead to feel the hungry. Baseball is boring anyways.

2) dying for the stadium to open so they get that stupid in-field off out of the way for the Dolphins and UM.

Anonymous said...

I mean "feed" the hungry, not "feel" the hungry. LOL

Anonymous said...

What suckers

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado asked the city attorney Thursday whether the city can reopen its contract to build a $100 million parking garage for the Florida Marlins' new stadium in Little Havana.

The mayor's pitch: To secure a more favorable return for Miami amid reports that the baseball franchise profited handsomely while securing hundreds of millions of dollars in backing from city and county governments.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

His movie reviews do suck.

Anonymous said...

As much as I hate agreeing with that weasel Samson, he did not "lie," as the loudmouth co-host of Dan The Bastard Show suggested on Wednesday. The city and the county decided to go through with the deal without seeing the financials. A deal IS a deal. What I wonder is why the Marlins fought so hard to keep the financials secret. Anyone who has bothered to read the 2008 financial statements would see that the "profit" earned by the Marlins was entirely based on subsidies from other major league owners. The ticket revenues were a mere $21 million - compared to the Angels' $103+ million - and the broadcast revenues were a shade under $16 million - compared to the Angels' $43 million. They do need to capture concession revenue -- $2.2 v. the Halos' $16.5 is a big disparity. Yes, the Marlins fail to use the small profits they do make as a result of the subsidy on more expensive free agent players and to lock up more arbitration-eligible players, but the cold truth is that until and unless the loudmouth fans start buying tickets, they do not have that much to complain about. Sorry.

South Florida Lawyers said...

This is a good insight -- the commenter who noted that Samson said everyone was in the know but the general public hit it on the head.

It disturbs me as a litigator that a witness could refuse to answer questions at a deposition on grounds of relevancy and the court ends up endorsing that practice, so obviously I wish the Judge had went the other way on that.

Indeed, had the financials come out then, the politicians now complaining would have had a lot less cover to hide behind.

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