State spending needs prioritization

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fiscal lunacy seems to hold no boundaries when it comes to Louisiana’s political checkbook.

With Gov. Bobby Jindal imposing deep cuts in the health care system that threaten the very existence of seven LSU-operated hospitals, with the governor’s administration Jindal pushing for privatizing correctional facilities that could result in thousands of state employees losing their livelihoods, word comes that earlier this year legislators approved $60 million for the Hornets to build a state-of-the-art practice facility as well as freshen up the New Orleans Arena, which apparently is not aging gracefully if the structure already needs a facelift.

Admittedly, having an NBA franchise is an added amenity but not one that should be considered critical to the overall cultural or athletic enhancement of the region. The reality is the Hornets are and will always be a distant stepchild to the Saints and LSU.

They are basically a stealth franchise during football season unless the Los Angeles Lakers come to town, and even after the Saints or LSU end their seasons, the Hornets still attract a small albeit loyal fan base.

Quite simply the round ball will never supplant the oval pigskin as a crowd favorite in the hearts of Louisiana sports fans.

Given that as a foundation was it really necessary to allocate $60 million so Anthony Davis can dress in comfort after a two-hour practice? Does New Orleans really need the Taj Mahal of NBA practice facilities?

But don’t just blame the Hornets. For at least the past decade professional sports franchises have unleashed a feeding frenzy on their local state governments, threatening relocation if their outrageous demands are not met. To be sure, Louisiana has not been absolved of such pressure.

What does it say about a society when athletics trump life, when the comfort of a professional athlete who is paid millions of dollars and has little to no loyalty to the city in which they live takes priority over the life of a fellow resident?

Sure, Anthony Davis or Eric Gordon will soon have palatial surroundings in which to don their thousand-dollar suits after practice but at what cost? The life of an elderly man who died because the hospitals in his area were shuttered so money could be spent on frivolous projects?

One has to wonder when the life of a human being becomes less of a priority than the comfort of a professional athlete. At what point did our priorities become so jaded?

The days of professional franchises feeding at the troughs of state governments and ultimately the taxpayers must be stopped. Not when those luxuries come at the expense of the lives of others.