As a City Council member, one of my jobs is to try to make sure community development projects funded by city taxpayers actually benefit the community, at least as much as they are benefitting the project developers.
City Council and County Commission will soon be called upon to authorize the Sports Authority to make written agreements to pay for a proposed baseball stadium with at least $65M of city and county taxpayer money. This effectively means that there will be a solid, public, written agreement that holds the city and county to its word on its investment in this project. We should expect no less from the partner developers when they give their word about their projects providing specific community benefits.
It is not only disappointing but distressing that the main driver of this project refuses to sign a good faith agreement to certify that he means everything he says about his intentions to benefit our community.
According to United Way, more than half (58% in 2018) of Knoxville’s households are unable to pay for some essential costs of living, even though in most of those households someone is employed and paying taxes. With a major commitment of dollars from hard-working yet struggling taxpayers, the least this project must do is to guarantee in writing some decent opportunity for the men and women of our local workforce, thereby actually uplifting our working families, and thereby our local economy.
I am calling upon my fellow City Council members to vote against authorizing taxpayer funding of the proposed baseball stadium, unless a written and signed agreement can be produced between authorized representatives of Knoxville-Oak Ridge Central Labor Council, its partner Labor organizations, and Boyd Sports, Inc., Knoxville Area Urban League, GEM Development, and Denark Construction.
I strongly support the specific proposals that the Labor organizations have put on the table, including a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour, workforce safety standards, using local contractors and subcontractors and U.S. Dept of Labor apprenticeship programs.
I know a great deal of good intention and hard work has gone into these proposals, from the developers as well as from the Labor organizations, but also from members of the Sports Authority, supported by the hard work of city and county staff. Through it all I hear wonderful talk of good jobs with benefits and a better economy for our city, because of all this collective effort.
Let’s get all of this wonderfulness in writing and signed by all of the parties, and you will have my vote
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