Paying $1 million to the NFL: how would your county commissioner vote?

After the election, the Pinellas County Commission will be voting on whether to pay $1 million to the NFL for a “Super Bowl marketing deal.” Given the divisive organization the NFL has become, we asked all four Pinellas county commission candidates how they would vote on this symbolically and fiscally important issue.

We asked the two commissioners and their two opponents via e-mail: “if elected, would you vote yes or no to the proposed marketing deal, and why.”

Tammy Sue Vazquez

Seminole businesswoman and Bark Life Market owner Tammy Sue Vasquez (R) is running against former state representative and incumbent commissioner Charlie Justice (D) for the at-large district 3 seat.

“Taxpayers should not carry the burden of a million dollar marketing deal at a time when their taxes have already been raised. That cost should fall to on the NFL or their sponsors,” Vasquez responded via e-mail.

Based on her statement, one would presume that Vasquez would vote “no” on spending money with the NFL in this instance, although she didn’t explicitly say so.

Charlie Justice

“I haven’t seen the proposal or the details of the marketing agreement yet,” responded County Commissioner Charlie Justice, who is Vasquez’ opponent. “When I have had a chance to review, I would be happy to share my thoughts with you. We will have a discussion at the November 12th meeting during the Agenda Review Meeting.”

Justice is endorsed by the St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters, while Vasquez is endorsed by the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association.

The $1 million Super Bowl “marketing deal” involves the upcoming Super Bowl in Tampa in February. The Pinellas Tourism Development Council (TDC) has already approved a deal capped at $1 million, after nixing plans of $1.5 million and $1.25 million. Trimming the spend may just be political theater aimed at persuading voters that some kind of accountability is happening on the crony-laden TDC.

Former State Representative Larry Ahern (R) is running against incumbent Janet Long (D) for the at-large district 1 seat.

Larry Ahern

“I’d be a definite no on that NFL vote,” Ahern told the Guardian. “We’re already getting great national exposure, so why spend more taxpayer money in these tough times? People are coming to Florida anyway right now.”

Ahern’s opponent Janet Long, like Charlie Justice, also did not respond to our question e-mailed to her county commission and and campaign e-mail accounts. Long has never responded to questions from the Guardian, including questions about her never-ending Florida campaign financing law violations (1st time, 2nd time, 3rd time) this year.

The NFL has generated controversy and division among the populace since players, coaches and owners kneeling during the national anthem began in 2015. The league lost many fans as a result. However, all major sports are losing viewers this year in particular due to their divisive and partisan stances during the national unrest.

The NBA just experienced its by far worst finals viewership in history, and MLB had the fewest viewers for game 1 of the World Series in its rating history going back to the late 1960’s. However, according to Yahoo Sports the plunging ratings aren’t likely to lead to lower ad prices.  That is, until advertisers say “no” one day.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

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