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A Hall Of Fame Sucker’s Bet

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It’s no secret that Seattle receives more than its fair share of rain, but even so the city’s mayor seems to be displaying a grossly unnatural case of excessive water on the brain. Or maybe it’s too much coffee, resulting in badly jangled nerves and misfired brain synapses that lead a seemingly normal person into random fits of bizarre behavior. How else to explain Ed Murray’s doomed bet with Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter?

Murray and Clodfelter, according to dueling city press releases, have engaged in a so-called friendly wager over the Seaweasels/Panthers playoff game. It’s a silly bit of political grandstanding that normally would go without notice. But these are not normal times, and in this particular case it raises questions about the sagacity and overall mental health of Seattle’s mayor. What kind of intellectually incapacitated dolt, after all, goes around laying bets with a politico who has no apparent compunction watching his city welch on a multi-million dollar loan?

Or maybe I’m being too hard on Murray; maybe the Seattle mayor has some visceral sense that leads him to trust the integrity of his Queen City counterpart. But I doubt it, and the Charlotte City Council’s decision to bailout on its ill-conceived loan for the NASCAR Hall of Fame should breed a deserved mistrust of the city’s leadership and rightful skepticism of its ability, or even passing desire, to uphold any degree of accountability.

Indeed, the den of hucksters, hustlers and scam artists who have their fingerprints on the city’s latest financial disaster reads like a Who’s Who of uptown’s Manicure Mafia, and even after seeing nearly $18 million of bad debt slip through their grubby fingers, they’re all still living the high life. Michael Smith, capo dei capi of Center City Partners who helped champion the initial effort to land the Hall of Fame, is still firmly ensconced in his ivory bunker and pulling down a six-figure salary; ditto his counterpart over at the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, the group that under prior leadership concocted wholly bogus and thoroughly discredited attendance and revenue projections for the racing museum. The white elephant’s executive director, Winston Kelley, is collecting a fat paycheck and spewing gibberish about marketing campaigns to nurse the Hall to financial health, while Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, who helped craft bailout terms for the HOF loan, is busy hawking a redevelopment deal for the old coliseum, a.k.a. the Big Biscuit, with gilded promises of delivering throngs of tourists and prosperity.

And what of the of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s biggest booster, the man who doggedly pursued it and shook Charlotte’s pom-poms with vociferous zeal as he consistently pronounced the Hall’s fraudulent attendance and revenue projections solid and sound, who gleefully whooped when his cheerleading efforts and half-baked promises delivered the Hall of Fame and its boatload of debt to Charlotte? He’s sitting in the Governor’s Mansion.

Who knows; maybe Pat McCrory has placed a “friendly wager” on the Seasquawks/Panthers game with the State of Washington’s governor. If that’s the case, and the Seachickens deliver the beating an 11-point Vegas line portends, Washington’s governor and Seattle’s mayor may need more than the 12th Man to help collect their winnings.

For What It’s Worth – The Wager:

If the Panthers lose, Clodfelter owes a package that includes a pair of recyclable sneakers by Charlotte-based ReKixx; salted caramel brownies from Amelie’s French Bakery; and assorted goodies from Old Mecklenburg Brewery.

If the Seasqueals lose, Murray owes a package from Seattle’s record label Sub Pop, including vinyl LPs by Nirvana, Mudhoney and the Shins; contemporary CDs by Shabazz Palaces, Sleater-Kinney and Sarah Silverman; and other assorted memorabilia.

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