[An open letter to Globe columnist Shirley Leung, in the spirit of her recent open letter to Red Sox Executive Larry Lucchino.]
Just read your open letter to Larry Lucchino, in which you implore him to save the city’s Olympic bid.
It’s clear you think pretty highly of the guy — his “storied career,” his “outsized role” in the Sox turnaround, his “discerning eyes,” etc. Heck, in your view of things, Larry Lucchino can build stadiums that “transform entire sections of cities and make people realize we can be better than we are.”
As you argue, Larry accomplished this very thing in San Diego, getting voters to approve a referendum to build a stadium for the Padres. The stadium, in turn, was to be the cornerstone of a bigger redevelopment project.
But here’s some more about that stadium and that redevelopment project that your open letter didn’t include. Back in 1998, at the urging of San Diego’s mayor and the redevelopment team (of which Lucchino was a part), the voters of San Diego voted to contribute $275 million to the project in the form of bonds. The beauty part for the San Diego electorate was that the bonds would be paid off by the property taxes that the project would create. A free lunch, as it were.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, something happened to that free lunch along the way. A California-wide budget crisis in 2011 led to a new state law that intercepted the property taxes that the city was counting on to pay off the bonds. When the city asked to be exempted from the new law, the state said “no.” Now the whole thing is in litigation and the city may well be on the hook for the money it ponied up in reliance on what may have turned out to have been a broken promise. You can read more about it here and here.
So, here’s to recognizing what, as you said, Larry Lucchino knows: God is in the details. All of them.