By Mike Salk
It’s one thing to oppose the arena deal. It’s another
to do so after accepting an actual government handout. But
that’s exactly what The Seattle Times has done.
The Times has reminded us that there is no such thing
as a free lunch. That the proposed arena deal is “too good to be
true.” Aphorisms, it reasons, that have survived for a
I guess it left out “those in glass houses should not
throw stones” or some old cliché about the pot and
In 2009, the state of Washington enacted a bill that lowered the tax rate for newspapers to
0.2904 percent. According to the report in The Times itself, “the new
law gives newspaper printers and publishers a 40 percent
cut in the state’s main business tax.”
Not a bad break, if you can get it. It seems, in fact,
like the perfect kind of public/private partnership!
I wonder what the editorial board would think? This,
after all, is the same group that wrote of the arena deal,
“Take any public money, credit or risk out of the
I guess that principal goes right out the window when
you’re the one receiving the subsidy.
The publisher and chief executive officer of The
Seattle Times is Frank
Blethen. His bio states that he is a “fourth
generation member of the Blethen family, which founded The
Seattle Times in 1896.”
He is also very wealthy. The family is believed to be
worth some $650 million, as of 2006.
I have no problem with a wealthy family owning a
newspaper. And I have no problem with his business
receiving a subsidy from the government, especially in an
era that has seen rising publishing costs combined with a
free Internet that is death to print media.
But when his same paper asks, “Why these deep-pocketed
investors need any public participation is a mystery?”
then I have a problem.
Meanwhile, his editorial writer, Bruce Ramsey, states that he “doesn’t like
to see the city put its capital at stake for what [he
thinks] is a private venture. …I don’t really like
public/private partnerships for things like this.”
Maybe he’s OK with capital flowing from the state
instead of the city? Or maybe his own self-interest
trumped the philosophy.
Regardless, The Times found a way to accept a tax
break. Despite its wealthy owner, it bought into a
public/private partnership that helped itself do business
and actually cost each citizen of Washington real money.
I won’t ask for it back, though. I guess that’s the
difference between me and this Ed Board.