The legislature is not working today – could we call the last couple of weeks “working” though, really? – so I want to catch up on some of the hijinks they’ve been up to while the rest of us stand aghast at their attack on the working poor as well as the poor poor. It’s important to distinguish the kinds of poor so that you can divide them  and distract them from their penury, especially now that it’s 2013. From slashing unemployment benefits, that kept one of their families  afloat for more than a year, to working on blocking Medicaid expansion, ending drivers’ licenses for immigrants, and reinstating predatory payday lending, the General Assembly is full of busy beavers. Sadly, they’ve also had time to ban topless rallies in Asheville. What a bunch of buzzkills.
Leg leaders are making time to talk  about giving $62.5 million of state money to one Jerry Richardson, owner not only of the Carolina Panthers but also of the team’s stadium. Richardson contends that he needs state money for a premium upgrade of his stadium because he shouldn’t have to pay for it himself. Seriously, that’s his reasoning. He shouldn’t have to because people all over the nation are slavering over the mere possibility of landing a team such as his. Don’t laugh, he’s already convinced the city of Charlotte to pay for fully half of the $250 million renovation  even though he’s only putting up a quarter of the total. Richardson claims he’s doing it all out of love, of course, he just wants the owner who buys it after his death to keep it in Charlotte. In other words, Richardson wants all those unemployed people in Graham County, Scotland County, and around the state  who are getting kicked off federal extended benefits because the state doesn’t want to charge businesses $21 per employee per year, to pay for his playhouse. And if they don’t, well, who knows? Someone might take the ball and refuse to play. Awww, does baby want a bah-bah?
‘I would never move the team,’ Richardson told lawmakers who represent Mecklenburg County at the legislative office building Wednesday morning. But, he said, he intended to sell the team before he dies to avoid tax consequences for his estate.
‘Are you familiar with the death tax?’ Richardson asked reporters. ‘Fifty percent of my assets are going to go away. Why would I want to leave debt to my estate?’
Richardson said he has been approached to sell the team by two potential owners and has been lobbied by the mayor of Los Angeles”.
Jeez, Jer, it’s called an estate attorney! Set up a trust and your heirs could avoid a lot of inheritance tax. Not “death tax” by the way, Jer, you’re not going to pay it. You’ll be dead, remember? But maybe that’s complicated for you since you obviously want to keep the team out of your heirs’ hands. You made that plain when you fired your two sons  on the same day a few years ago, and since then, when you required the sale of the team after your death . Put the ball down, Jer, before you run off crying with it. Take your big bag of BS with you instead.
The travesty is, of course, that House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger are actually considering  giving Richardson some dough. Their statement:
Conversations with the Carolina Panthers organization and local and legislative officials are ongoing and productive. The Panthers not only produce thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact, but are a source of pride for the Charlotte region and the entire state. We remain steadfast and committed to keeping the Panthers in North Carolina and will continue to work together to achieve that goal.”
I know that the Panthers are valuable to Charlotte, and I’ve got nothing to say about the city doing what it wants to keep the team in town, but the state? No. The rest of us shouldn’t have to pony up for an alleged “source of pride.” We shouldn’t be threatened into giving generously to a privately owned corporation that doesn’t help us at all at a time when the state government is doing all it can to avoid helping anyone who really needs help. Except the tighties who can’t appreciate the occasional topless rally.