Guest Opinion: No need to support billionaires

David Tepper, billionaire owner of the Panthers and a new MLS franchise

OPINION. Dec. 18. Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett sent this letter to Mayor Vi Lyles and Charlotte City Council

Dear Mayor, Council members: I am writing in hopes you will reconsider  investing in Major League Soccer.  I would propose a more impactful and prudent investment.  I believe the better and more inclusive of those funds would be for the city start to participate, like every other town in Mecklenburg County, in funding Parks and Recreation capital investments.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)  is currently making appropriations in greenway and park development as well as Park and Recreation operations in a financially reckless manner.


Much if not all of  the driving force behind this is the Trust for Public Land report misleadingly listing Charlotte and by association the county as being 97 out of 100 in meeting park needs.

If the proposed tax dollars currently being considered for MLS can’t or won’t be spent on public safety, affordability issues, infrastructure etc., I would humbly suggest rather than subsidizing a billionaire’s very profitable enterprise, the City should instead join the small towns and make a $110 million investment into the parks and greenways located within Charlotte city limits.

These are assets that impact every citizen, enhance the city’s allure for tourist and provide venues for increased entertainment options.  All of these projects would likely fall within the scope of the hotel/motel and prepared food tax approved allocations.  It would make great strides in getting the city off the Park and Recreation “bad list” and relieve the county from having to inappropriately divert tax resources from higher and better uses such as education, health, courts, environmental concerns etc.

I find it the height of hypocrisy that many on City Council decry the unfair nature of the personal wealth of the 1% and the economic gap between the rich and the non-rich.

Many denounce the support of crony capitalism at the expense of the middle class, yet it appears most of you will leap at the opportunity to subsidize the 39th richest man in America and help up-fit a privately held asset worth $2.4 billion.

Let’s not forget in 2018 the NC legislature voted to exempt the land for Panther stadium from property taxes and saved them over $357,000 a year.

How about Mr. Tepper [David Tepper is also the founder and president of Appaloosa Management, a global hedge fund based in Miami Beach] reallocate those savings into his newest venture professional soccer.  MLS and Mr. Tepper are very capable of making the investments (and reaping the returns) required for a stadium of which they have sole use.  Let’s make the taxpayer’s dollars pay off for ALL the taxpayers not a select few.  Please reconsider any allocation of the people’s tax dollars into a highly profitable private venture whose direct impact will be limited to a very few persons and instead provide opportunity and access to all your constituents

—Jim Puckett

Puckett is a former Mecklenburg County commissioner, as well as a member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education. He lost his bid for re-election to the county board last year. The president of Long Creek Industrial Services Inc. says he will run again in 2020.


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