Roundtable: Health Care Reform, Mayor's Race, Padres Sale
March 30, 2012 3:17 p.m.
Today on the Roundtable, reporters discuss health care reform in the Supreme Court, the San Diego mayor's race and the troubled Padres sale.
Kenny Goldberg, KPBS health reporter;
Katie Orr, KPBS Metro reporter;
Jay Paris, sports reporter at The North County Times.
Related Story: Roundtable: Health Care Reform, Mayor's Race, Padres Sale
PENNER: This is KPBS Midday Edition Roundtable. Tuesday is Friday, March†30th. I'm Gloria Penner. Here with me today at the Roundtable are Kenny Goldberg, health reporter for KPBS. It's good to be with you again.
GOLDBERG: Nice to be with you.
PENNER: And Katie Orr. Metro reporter. MY idol! Also from KPBS. And Katie, fun to see you today on this holiday.
ORR: That's right. You're my idol, Gloria.
PENNER: Well, I was hoping you'd say that. And jay Paris, sports reporter at the norm times. Our first time working together.
PARIS: Bonjour, good to see you.
PENNER: Many people believe that the healthcare law enacted as the healthcare reform act is the -- for millions without health insurance, it's supposed to protect them by requiring that everyone carry health insurance or pay a penalty. A recent Roiters poll found that 65% of respondents favored some kind of U.S. healthcare overhaul. 35% oppose the law. The question before the Supreme Court is not popularity. It's legality. The Court began deliberating Wednesday afternoon, and today is the first vote. It's actually already been taken. We don't know what it is. It's just the beginning. So Kenny, let's start off, what are the challenges to the law? Why is it being challenged?
GOLDBERG: Well, opponents say it's unconstitutional because it's an unconstitutional extension of congressional powers to require Americans to buy a product. The mandate to purchase health insurance they say is unconstitutional. Now, what supporters of the bill say and what the liberal judges were arguing is that healthcare is a unique commodity, and it deserves special protection. And it's only reasonable to require people to buy insurance if it will help bring down the cost for everybody. Because healthcare is unlike other products. Everybody, they argue, is going to need it at some point in their life. Therefore healthcare deserves a special exception. And to require people to buy it is not unreasonable.
PENNER: The way you explain it, very clearly explanation by the way, appreciate it, it sounds pretty cut and dry. Should people be required to buy health insurance or not? But it seems that the issues before the Court sound much more complex.
GOLDBERG: Oh, I'm sure they are. But that's what it really boils down to. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, these are what the arguments are. Is it an unconstitutional extension of congressional powers if Congress mandates Americans to buy a product? Now, the people that would say it is unconstitutional say what's next? If we allow that, we'd have to require everybody to eat broccoli or we'd have to require everybody to get inoculated against certain diseases. Where does this stop? That's what the people who are arguing against it would say.
PENNER: And that last part, the inockulation, that's an emotional thing because there are people who say I don't want my kid inoculated. Let me ask our listeners, do you believe that everyone must have health insurance or pay a penalty? That's part of it too. If you don't have health insurance, then you have to pay a penalty. Katie, challengers to the law are saying that if the justices strike down that provision, that mandate, you must have health insurance, then the entire law must be scraped. Why would this be?
ORR: Well, I think the idea is that this -- that is the core of the law, and so if you take that away, then everything else sort of falls by the wayside. That is what is holding up the entire law. I was reading up on it and it said that normally causes like this have a severability clause, where you can separate different parts of the law out. And so for instance the mandate went away, the rest of the law would stand. But at the 11th hour, they didn't put it into this law. The Senate wasn't able to convene a meeting and get the clause in there. So is it implied? Because it's not in there, will the whole thing fall?
GOLDBERG: You're absolutely right. And the Supreme Court can basically decide whatever it wants to decide. They could invalidate the mandate that people buy insurance and then let the other parts of the law stand. Or they could remove the mandate and say we're going to invalidate the entire law, and Congress you have to go back to square†1.
PENNER: That's an interesting issue. The Supreme Court can say anything that at the present times to say. Supreme Court has been dinged in the past for making some decisions that were felt to be political decisions such as in the Al Gore, George bush election campaign. What are the dangers here that the Supreme Court might lose its credibility if it makes a decision that goes on either side?
PARIS: Are, I know lady justice is supposed to be blind, and that's a great theory. But I've seldom seen an issue of this magnitude not have political ramifications, and those decisions swayed by it. I think this is all like a Saturday night live skit. Why Americans cannot have health insurance, why the government can't have you buy it but they can make you buy car insurance, they can make you buy flood insurance if you're living in a flood plain. What is going on with Americans? What is wrong with looking out for Americans? Everybody needs healthcare. It's more expensive to wait until you have to go to the emergency room, and when you're in dire circumstances health-wise. Why can't we wrap our hands around that and say everybody has to go at some point to get medical care? Somebody has to pay it eventually, why not be proactive instead of reactive and get a handle on this? This isn't tough. Come on.
PENNER: Who ends up paying for it when people have to go to the emergency room because they don't have health insurance?
PARIS: The insured people. So where's the argument? Why should anybody have insurance? Why shouldn't everybody go to the emergency room?
ORR: Well, the fact that the Court is -- it's political. They're appointed by the conservative justices are appointed by conserve presidents. They know what their limits are, but the law is how you interpret it. The law is open to interpretation. So you bring your own political beliefs to that -- to whatever decision you're making.
PENNER: You don't think the law is the law and it has --
ORR: Well, I think the constitution is a document that people can interpret in a variety of ways. It's been called a living document. People look at it, some people are -- word for word, that's what we should do. Other people think the words imply different things. It's just how you view the law. So to say that the Court isn't political, I don't think that that's accurate. I think that it is a political body.
PENNER: Let's hear what Andrew in Ocean Beach has to say. Then Kenny, I promise we're coming to you. Welcome to the Midday Edition Roundtable. Hello? Uh-oh. We lost Andrew. Sorry, Andrew. Oh, I do hear you. There you are. Go ahead.
NEW SPEAKER: I just wanted to say awesome show, as usual. My $0.02 is that, yeah, I agree. I think a society thing. Unfortunately, I was a welfare baby because my mom was in a bad predicament. But I'm blessed that people pay into welfare, that I was grownup to be a good electrician, a good young man, ready to help out the world. Why people don't want to put their $0.02 in, they should just basically tax us and make us all have some kind of insurance.
PENNER: So you're bringing up another issue, or maybe a stronger issue which is that we should all be involved in some way in helping out others. Is that what you're saying?
NEW SPEAKER: Definitely. My credit score has gone from 700-5 hundred going through the emergency room, and I'm a healthy, 37 year-old man who avidly surfs, and it's unfortunate that I'm a victim of just -- I wish I would have had health insurance. But I'm in construction, so you know how construction workers don't get health insurance most of the time.
PENNER: Okay. I understand that. And for those who don't know, I'm assuming that a 500 credit score is much worse than a 701.
ORR: It is.
NEW SPEAKER: Most definitely.
ORR: It's lower.
PENNER: Thank you so much for calling. We'll go back to Kenny Goldberg.
GOLDBERG: Something we haven't really jumped into about this whole thing is the whole political ramification ofs of it. And something that I wanted to throw out there, it just baffled the hell out of me. Why the Obama administration, including the president himself, haven't done a better, more forceful job of selling this law to the American people. With all of its benefits and all the things people get out of it. Now, even before it's fully kicked in, people have been pretty mute about it until lately. It just really surprises me.
PARIS: It surprises me as well, and I could be one of their spokes map. I have a son in the UC school, and because of the Obama-care, he's covered under my policy which is a $1,600 a year savings. Because of Obama-care, my sister-in-law can get coverage now. There's some real hands-on, real-life experiences that Kenny says aren't be exposed to really get out the benefits of this.
PENNER: So personally, jay, it's working for you and your family.
PENNER: But then I suppose that there are people who are saying, well, I don't see how it's going to work for me. Where might it not work for people?
PARIS: Well, I think a lot of people are wrapped up -- usually those people have health insurance, that it's not going to work for. You have to expand your vision a little bit, and if we all are all Americans, we should be looking out for our own kind. I understand they're trepidatious about being stuff, and the constitutional ramifications. But my goodness! This is healthcare we're talking about, are not some river project down the road.
PENNER: Our listeners want to get in on this conversation too. And I don't blame them. Let's hear from Maria in La Jolla. Thank you for calling in.
NEW SPEAKER: Oh, hello?
PENNER: Yes, we're waiting for you.
NEW SPEAKER: I wanted to bring up the fact that both state and federal law demands that any person who is in a life-threatening situation either because of accidents or illness has to be seen and treated in a healthcare facility. That is only true in first world country, and we're the only first world country where we do not have some form of universal coverage and healthcare. And this law ends up costing all of us a lot of money. Eventually, most people qualify either for county medical services or for some form of Medicaid, but in any case, it is incredibly expensive. It is a mandate from the government. And if you're going to mandate that people be cared for when they're critically ill, I don't see why you shouldn't mandate that there be a form of coverage of payment.
PENNER: Okay, thank you Maria. Is there not a requirement that somehow this insurance has to be paid for either by the person, the employer, or a subsidy from the federal government?
GOLDBERG: Are you talking about under the affordable care act now?
GOLDBERG: Right. You either have to have insurance through your employer or you have to pay for it yourself. And people that can't afford it, that fall below a certain threshold, they'll get subsidies from the federal government to help them buy the insurance.
PENNER: How can insurance companies pay for all those really sick people if the federal government doesn't require that all people must carry insurance? It's going to take the payments ont insurance in order to help support the insurance companies.
GOLDBERG: I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. Are you asking how are they going to pay for all the people that they'd be mandated to cover?
PENNER: That's exactly right. There is a provision that insurance companies accept all those who want insurance. Even those who have preconditions, who are already sick.
GOLDBERG: Well, frankly, even if there wasn't a requirement that everybody pay for it, insurance companies are so wealthy and of such enormous bank accounts and profits they could probably cover people anyway, to be honest with you want
PENNER: But they are raising their ratings. That's today's news.
GOLDBERG: Of course! That's par for the course!
PENNER: Profit-making industry.
PARIS: By getting the young people in that are reluctant to buy the insurance now, and you can blend that with the guys that are going to need some medical help, that's how it works. That's why the younger, healthy people have to jump aboard. Otherwise it doesn't work as well.
ORR: I had an interesting experience at a station I worked at before here. It was a smaller station. I think there was maybe about 40 people. We had insurance, but a couple people on the staff who were very sick, and they didn't qualify for Medicare yet. And as a result, everybody's payment went sky-high to cover for this plan. And it got to the point -- and our company was paying more and more too. So I think that's a struggle a lot of small businesses face these days. When your primary way of getting insurance is through your employer, and you're a small business who has maybe two or three employee, you might not be able to afford offering somebody these kinds of plans. And I know more and more businesses aren't offering those plans because they just can't afford it.
PENNER: Okay. And I know that our whole panel wants to chime in on that one. . But we do have a lot of listeners waiting. So we're going to take turns. And this turn is Chris's in San Diego. You're on with the panel.
NEW SPEAKER: Yes, I just wanted to comment on that -- the Obama administration and the house could have made this very easy on themselves by framing it -- imposing a tax to pay for this or setting up a single-payer system like we have with Medicare and Medicaid. But they knew that the American people didn't want an extra tax, so they put in this individual mandate. So now you have this whole constitutionality issue arise. There were other very established constitutional ways they could have gone about this. But for political expediency they went through with this individual mandate, which does raise serious questions. Whether the Supreme Court goes with them or not, we'll see. But they could have avoided this, and it's worth noting that when they were pitching this all to the American people, they said it's not a tax, it's not a tax. As soon as they get to the point where it was going to pass on to the Supreme Court, now they're saying, well, this is a tax that we can regulate under Congress' tax provisions. So it really does seem like a sleight-of-hand to me.
PENNER: And are you saying then that it is not constitutional?
NEW SPEAKER: My personal opinion is that it is not constitutional. The Supreme Court will decide that. But the point is that they could have made the whole question moot if they had gone through with established constitutional powers instead of saying we're going to do an individual mandate and then afterwards say, well, it's actually a tax.
PENNER: Well, interestingly enough, the issue of Medicaid or as we call it in California, Medi-Cal, is a major issue in all of this, whether the states will be required to help pay for this, and whether the federal government can require the states to do that. And we'll get into that. But I have a question on what you had to say, Chris, for Kenny. Do we have single-payer for Medicare people over 65 more or less? And for Medicaid people who don't earn enough to afford insurance care? Is that a single-payer?
GOLDBERG: Well, it is in the sense that we all pay for it, that we all pay Medicare tax on our taxable income, and it comes out of our pocket through state income tax and the like. Of and that's an interesting question. Opponents say to may everybody pay for healthcare, we may not need it, and this and that. Well, we do that right now for Medicare. We're all paying, and when you're over 65, you get Medicare. That's the difference between that and asking people to start paying it younger so everybody gets it younger?
PENNER: I'm going to take one more call, then we're going to have to move on. This is a hopping segment, and everybody wants to get in. We're going to hear from Michael in Poway. If you can make it relatively brief, I've already gone over my time.
NEW SPEAKER: I just want to mention that as a younger -- -- or just graduating out of college, I am benefiting from getting coverage under my parents' coverage. And I was able to save enough to buy a house recently due to the savings, and not having to buy my own insurance. And I think it's just more money in the pocket of students that are already having a hard time getting a job currently. Of
PENNER: Well, congratulations to you. Just out of college, and buying a house. You're doing something right in addition to everybody involved with your medical insurance. Congratulations. And thank you for your call. As much as I hate to wrap this up, I'm going to have to because we've got a couple of other segments that are really, really interesting.
PENNER: The race for San Diego mayor was going along rather predictably with supporters of some saying they were ahead, and the polls showing a possible runoff with Republican City Council man Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner. And then there are two other Republicans, Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney, and assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. And they kind of lagged behind. Of then on Wednesday, Nathan Fletcher dropped his Republican label. Will that change where the voters lineup? Katie, you've been following this race, done a lot of interviews with the candidates. Why did Nathan Fletcher say that he did it?
ORR: Well, he says it's a decision he's been struggling with for a while. That the Republican party has become too partisan, that you're not allowed to make compromises and deals with people on the other side, and it's increasingly conflicted with his own personal values. Of he embraces the environment more, big on open space. Those aren't really typically causes championshiped by the Republicans. And so he says he just it was time to make or break. Critics have said this is a calculated move because as you said, he was lagging in the polls, he wasn't really making that much ground. And he knew he had to do something big to have that chance of making it through the primary.
PENNER: You mentioned critics. Let's pinpoint it a little more. Why did his former Republican leadership say that he did it? People like the head of the local Republican party.
ORR: Well, Fletcher did not get the local GOP endorsement, and they're saying that he's desperate. It's a ploy to try and get some voters. Surveys out there have said that up to as many as 35% of the electorate doesn't know who they're going to vote for. And this is just an attempt to get some of those votes and syphon away some votes from Filner, Dumanis, and DeMaio.
PENNER: I'm going to put the call out now. Do you think it was a good idea for assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, formerly a Republican, to drop his Republican party label? Good for his campaign? Kenny?
GOLDBERG: Even if it was a desperate ploy, what's wrong with that?
ORR: No, from Fletcher's standpoint, I've talked to people who say he really has nothing to lose. DeMaio and Filner throughout the polls have had a commanding lead, and if he wants to do something, he's got to make a move. The question may be for Fletcher, if it doesn't work, where does that leave him? He's an independent, he was once seen as the rising star in the Republican party. Well, he's not a Republican anymore.
PENNER: But he could change back.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: He could.
PENNER: We know other people who have done some changing.
ORR: But he would have to explain it, you know? And it might be difficult. It might not. But it's a question for his future.
PARIS: What's funny, I think Nathan's defense, or the problem is he's about 40 years too late in the Republican party. The EPA was started by Richard Nixon, and here's a candidate talking about the environment, and the Republican establishment, or what it is now, it gets raised eyebrows, and can't believe he's going down that road.
PENNER: Tell us what EPA is for people who don't know.
PARIS: The environmental protection agency. At a time, the Republicans were on board with the environment. But it seems that they're pro business, which is fine. But they're leaning so hard that way that a man of Nathan's beliefs and philosophy is looked at as an outsider, when actually he used to be a mainstream Republican.
ORR: Well, and there was actually a column by David brooks in the New York Times this morning talking about Nathan Fletcher dropping the Republican party and going out on his own. And he made reference to a voice of San Diego column by Scott Lewis talking about the Republican party in San Diego going more right as the years have gone by, which doesn't really jive with voter registration in the city, which is increasingly democratic. But Carl DeMaio fits that mold, at least in terms of fiscal conservatism. And so I think that's why Fletcher just doesn't fit with the local party right now.
PENNER: Well, are we are getting pretty close to the primary now. The primary is June†5th, I believe. And here we are in the early part of April, or will be in a couple of days. Do you sense that people are really paying attention, or is this, like, interesting to those of us in the media and everybody else is kind of sitting back saying Nathan who? And Republican what? And I thought this was a nonpartisan race. I thought that it wasn't Republican or Democrat.
ORR: Right. And I think it's probably the latter. It's something that people who watch it pay a lot of attention to, but I think the general San Diegan might not have much of an idea of what is really going on. It technically is a nonpartisan race, but everyone I talk to, it's basically -- it's nonpartisan in that Republican and Democrat don't appear on the ballot. But for all intents and purposes, it's a partisan race.
GOLDBERG: Katie, what does his defection from the Republican party say about the Republican party? In other words, one of his arguments of they can't seem to tolerate some of these other views he has that are out of the mainstream, quote unquote with the Republican party.
ORR: Well, that's what he would say. He's not a party insider, he would say. The party has become too partisan, it won't allow him to negotiate with other sides. That he likes to form coalition, and that is frowned upon. If you talk to the Republicans I'm sure they would disagree with that assessment. But that appears to be Fletcher's assessment. What is interesting is whether or not it's going to work. And there seem to be two schools of thought on that, whether some people say this will allow people who like Nathan Fletcher but didn't want to vote for a Republican vote for him. But there's another thought that the people who vote in primaries are hardcore party supporters, and they're not going to come out and vote for an Independent. In the primary the turnout is so low, that it won't have an impact.
PENNER: Let's talk more about who will be attracted to Nathan Fletcher because of what he did. Politically, there are Democrats who are not attracted to Bob Filner because he's on the liberal end of the political spectrum. Can you see some uncommitted Democrats, those let's say who might be in the middle or even toward the more -- if you pardon this, conservative end of the Democratic Party, attracted to Fletcher because he has surrendered his Republican credential?
ORR: I think so. Of there's a lot of support in San Diego for that pension reform initiative that would eliminate pensions for new city hires except police officers. Filner of course does not support that. Of he supports capping pensions but keeping some kind of pension in place. I guess it is possible to see a voter who is maybe more liberal leaning but is still frustrated with these pensions and so maybe they would be attracted to someone like Nathan Fletcher. Also he's younger, 35, less established than these other candidates. Maybe people want a new face in City Hall. They buy into his message that it's time for a new generation of leadership.
PARIS: What I think is frustrating is we're looking at that stupid little rower case letter, Dor R, instead of the man's ideas. He has some good ideas, and let those stand on their way. It's almost irrelevant. If the guy has solid ideas, he's an American war hero as well, and I admire him for that, run on your philosophy, run on your ideas, and run on your convictions.
PENNER: And he's not letting us forget that was a marine.
PARIS: Heck yeah.
PENNER: Reminds me a lot of Pete Wilson's time running up to office, and in office. Pete Wilson was a marine, he was an assemblyman, he then ran for mayor of San Diego. He then ran and won as a U.S. Senator from California, he then ran and won as governor of California. So the trajectory is there. I mean, that's already a pattern.
GOLDBERG: There is, but --
PARIS: But he's going to have to do it in a different way. Mr. Wilson was as Republican as he could be, and always had the backing of the Republican party. This is a new little curve ball. And maybe with his age, and maybe it doesn't pay off this election, maybe it pays off down the road.
ORR: And Pete Wilson had endorsed Fletcher, and when he left the Republican party, Pete Wilson expressed disappointment with his decision in doing that. So this is a risky move for him. It could propole him forward a little bit in this race, but it could also alienate a lot of people who had supported him, a lot of the establishment that was mentoring him along. But clearly he felt he needed to do something to shake it up. The thing that might hurt him is money. He doesn't have the party behind him to get moneys. Of there are limits on individual contributions. So he's not able to get as much of the money as Bob Filner or Carl DeMaio might get.
PENNER: Now there are two Republicans left. And I think that maybe this works to the benefit of them. There were three Republicans. Now it's down to two Republicans. Might this having dropped the Republican label, might Fletcher perhaps have sabotaged his own chances?
GOLDBERG: I think it's very interesting. And what jay was saying I think is also provocative. Maybe this is a long term move temperature won't just have impact in this race, but maybe Fletcher is positioning him for his next move, wherever that might be.
ORR: Someone pointed out to me today that in 2008, Steve Francis was running against Jerry Sanders. And in 2005, he had had the Republican backing,
PENNER: He did.
ORR: And then in 2008, they endorsed Jerry Sanders, so Francis became an independent and ran and lost. So we've seen this before in San Diego, and it didn't work. So it'll be interesting to see what happens this time around.
PENNER: What I find interesting is, okay, he's getting all this publicity now, it may not last more than a few days. But it's there. But there are things people are not talking about. They're not talking about his job as district director for Randy duke Cunningham, certainly not one of San Diego's most favorite names. They're not talking about issue that surfaced when Fletcher apparently cut a closed door deal in Sacramento to lift the cap on how much money CCDC could raise downtown for the purpose, according to the news stories, of allowing a Chargers stadium to be built.
PARIS: Yeah, that was a 11:59 move, and I didn't respect that at all. All the lead up to that was how this is going to be transparent and out in the open. And for him to do the backdoor deal like that in the dead of night didn't sit well with me, and a lot of other people as well.
PENNER: But it's not coming up!
ORR: It really hasn't been an issue. Now because redevelopment has gone away, it's probably les of an issue. They are not going to get that extra money that this bill would have allowed them because they don't exist anymore! Oh, they're winding down. And I talked to him about that in an interview I did, and he defends his move. He says, listen, it went to a full vote of all the assembly, of the state Senate, the house, and the govern signed TJerry Brown signed it into law. And he says it was unfortunate that it was portrayed that way but it wasn't accurate. And he said it secured millions of dollars for San Diego. People were not happy about it. But it really has not been an issue in this campaign.
GOLDBERG: It's very interesting, all these ins and outs of the whole thing. And as you said, Gloria, I think we're speaking as media professionals and media insiders, and maybe all of these things just fly over the heads of the voting public. I don't really know.
ORR: It's just out there in the community, talking about these people, not just Nathan Fletcher, all of of them, people say who is that? Who's my City Council man? I'm bang my head against a wall.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PENNER: One of the most interesting questions I get, people don't even know who their members of Congress are. Not a clue.
ORR: And that plays into this whole thing. If people are so unaware, the chances that they're going to go to the primary and vote are pretty slim. And that's why we only see the party faithful come out and vote for the Republican, vote for the Democrat. And so this is a long shot best of your recollection it's something he's trying to do to get himself past the primary.
PENNER: Thank you very much.
PENNER: We have some good news for the Padres. They announced yesterday that next Thursday's baseball season opener against the Los Angeles dodgers is a virtual sellout. Leading up to this news is the strange story of who owns the Padres. We thought it was someone called Jeff Murad who not only was preparing to be owner but also took on the job of CEO. But that seems to have changed. So jay Paris, what is the current situation?
PARIS: The current situation really isn't too much different than what it's been in the last couple years. Murrad was the lord of the layaway, if you will. He was going to buy a major league baseball team like people used to buy a washer and drier at sears, on layaway.
PENNER: Is this really true? Was it layaway?
PARIS: Yeah, in increments. I don't know how else you can describe it. You do a little, and pay that baby down, and before you know it you're doing a spin cycle. Of the warrant should be to the Padre fans. I can't state how patient that fan base has been. I can't state what a big bait-and-switch that Petco Park was on the back of the taxpayers' money. They contributed $300†million toward that stadium.
PENNER: Not they. Us!
PARIS: Yeah, well, I'm not San Diego City.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PARIS: It was implied, said, whatever you want to say. They lawyered it up from here, but that team would be competitive, the revenue streams would be big-time, and here we go Padres! And all you fans have waited all these years, we're going to have a team that can compete every year. That hasn't happened. And Mr. Murrad came in, and Mr. Moors got tired of owning the team and tried to switch it over. The key was that Mr. Murad in a previous life was a player agent. And he dealt with most of these owners on the other side of the table. And his job was to get as much money from that owner for his player that he could. Years later, he's asking for the same owners' vote to approve him to own the team. And of them -- most of those guys have long memories. And that vote didn't go well. And here we are less than a week from opening day not knowing what channel the games are going to be on.
PENNER: We really don't know that?
PARIS: No, we don't. And what the owner situation is. It's a 3-ring circus. It's embarrassing for a major league city and franchise to conduct their business in this manner.
PENNER: So we know that jay Paris is a sportswriter, and of course it's important to him. But what about to you? The listener who maybe dips into baseball sometimes or maybe you're an avid fan? How important is all this to you? Do you really care whether the ownership changes? Do you care whether you can turn on a channel and get the game? I'd like to hear from you, or is it just like a ho-hum? The name Ron Fowler has come up. And I don't know who he is, jay. Why is his name becoming associated with the new sale?
PARIS: He's really, I guess, the beer baron of San Diego through adult refreshes, and social spark lers. He's made a pretty good living. It's believed he's one of the members of the Murad gang, if you. His group of investors that are taking it on. And it's pretty evident that Mr. Moors is tired of owning a baseball team. So the thinking is maybe Mr. Fowler can step up with his wealth and local connections and be the face of the franchise, and be the same owner. We just have to look north 100†miles to the buzz, the excitement of magic Johnson's group buying the Los Angeles dodgers. The question here is, who is our San Diego Magic? Is it the Jacobs family? A former athlete? Who is somebody that has roots in San Diego that would give them instantly credibility? This team finishes 20 games under 500 last year and dead last. They need a boost. They don't need this green slime of money, if you will, crowding opening day.
PENNER: As long as it's not pink slime, we're okay.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: Jay, I just have a question, I grew up in San Diego. I never remember the Padres being good. Of
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: So is it new ownership? Is it -- what do we need more? Moors has owned the team for a while. It doesn't seem like -- I guess I'm saying it doesn't seem like the Padres have ever been stellar.
PARIS: Right. And I think -- they have been around since 1969, professionally, and made the playoffs five times. And really that goes back to the previous argument, that was the argument for Petco Park. They couldn't make money in Qualcomm stadium splitting the revenues with the Chargers. It was too big. If we could just get that downtown ball park! That'll get the revenue stream so we can compete with the big boys. We saw the exact opposite. The payrolls went down, the projection went down, and the fans are going, hey, what happened?
GOLDBERG: Well, I wanted to ask you, what does this codun drum over at the park, and what's happened after that, what does that fly for the Chargers trying to get people to go in on an eventual new stadium here? What does that mean?
PARIS: They're a little bit different. I think the Chargers, if nothing else, you can sometimes argue where they spend that money. But they always spend the money. They always spend the cap. And I think that's more of a concerted effort there to bring the championship to San Diego, where on the Padres, and that's part of the baseball persona, it's all draft and develop and get rid of the other guys. But what kills me in this brief span that Mr. Murad was in control, the Padres last Adrian Gonzalez, an icon. Mike Andrews. And there's no connection between the fans and the city and the team, it's starting to dissipate. I don't have kids in little league anymore be but I still coach little league. Of and the beginning of each season, I say what's your first food, where do you go to school, and what's your favorite player? And for years and years it was Tony Gwin, Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego guys. Now I get Derek Jeter. Alex Rodriguez. You know? These are kids. Not only are they kids, they are future customers. And the Padres have to be very careful here not to lose a generation or two of kids not knowing who the heck on the team.
PENNER: Dale is with us from Carmel Valley. You're on with the Roundtable.
NEW SPEAKER: Hello all. My comment is that I'm a reasonably avid Padres fan. And I think that everybody is going to care a lot if we can't even get the games on TV. And I agree with the things jay was just saying about not having -- trevor is gone, and the big names that have been in continuity for all these years are sort of gone. I think the fans can get over that if we start investing in winning. But right now, I don't so much care who owns the team as long as they invest enough that we're a competitive team, and with the big bucks you hear about the Fox deal, it seems like there ought to be some money there to pay for a player.
PENNER: Yeah, and that sort of is what I was going to get at as well. How does that all play together? A television deal vizza Vee who is the owner? Or who wants ownership.
PARIS: The team is almost secondary now in professional sports. Usually these are real estate deals. Or they're TV deals. That's where the money is. The vehicle is the team, but there's lots more money to be made in the real estate as we saw in the east village, and a lot more money to make in increased broadcasting fees. The Padres have been quick to play that small market card. But you look at the revenue sharing they receive, and this new TV contract. Although I got my rabbit ears out now. So the money is coming and the money's there, and that's why I think they're doing a disservice to fans not putting a better product on the field.
PENNER: So are you basically saying that the Padres will have the resources necessary to compete this season and to spend enough to make it into a reasonable team?
PARIS: Well, I think so. And I think the other leg on that chair is that to get an owner who has a deep pockets. We're used to, here in San Diego, especially this new group, it's the old rabbit ears with two guys standing there with their pockets out. That's what we got. We're broke. Well, you're not really broke. And if you're not broke, don't buy the team. It's like the guy who wants to play in your poker game every week. You finally invite him, and he complains about the ante. Well, do you want to play or not? Come with some money, come with some resources.
PENNER: Maybe you know this Katie or Jenny. Was everything okay with John Moors until the divorce?
ORR: That unfortunately is a question for jay.
PARIS: Exactly. And again we parallel with the dodger situation because of a divorce, he had to come up with a chunk of change, Mr. Moore, and that is why he got out of the -- or wants to get out of the baseball business, as in with LA and frank McCourt and his divorce troubles up there.
GOLDBERG: But now, Moors is going to make even more of a fortunate because the dodger deal has bumped up the price. It's like the house next to you selling for $10†million.
PARIS: Yeah, all those boats are rising in major league baseball. And Forbes magazine pegged the Padres being worth $458†million. Now after the dodger deal, it might be worth $700†million. They just need the right person to own it.
GOLDBERG: But is there an obligation on behalf of a sports team owner to really field a competitive team?
PARIS: Maybe not. But when the citizens of that city donate $300†million, that is a public asset as well as his team. Of
PENNER: Did they know they were donating $300†million?
PARIS: Well, it was taxed. They voted for it, yeah.
ORR: They voted for it. Vote C.
GOLDBERG: But maybe they were duped!
PARIS: It's the bait-and-switch. Let's be clear here. They were baited into buying this thing, he billed up the payroll and went to the world series. The euphoria was there, and the fans were sitting there with their tongues out, salivating, waiting for this money coming in, and they're still out there salivating on the corner of Petco Park.
PENNER: Let's hear from Kent from San Diego County.
NEW SPEAKER: S unbelievable, you're exactly right. The common man has spent a lot of money on them, a lot of people make a lot of money. The common man doesn't own a hotel, a parking lot. The only problem I have when they have a big game, it's costing more in an expert witness to go into court and they jack up the prices. I live in North County, so how does it help the common man, who's a surfer, and really doesn't care about baseball.
ORR: I think he's asking how does everyone benefit? If he doesn't go to games and -- how does he benefit from paying taxes to have a brand-new stadium? And I think -- the argument that civic boosters will tell you, having a team, a nice new stadium gives you a sense of pride in your city, it puts you on the national stage, it gives you something you can rally around. Those are the things they always put up as a reason to build a new baseball stadium, build a new Chargers stadium. And if the team is not great, well, that's almost seen as an insular thing. The team can deal with however they want to perform. On the civic side, this is a great thing for our city, and if it doesn't pencil out, well, it's still worth it.
PENNER: So Katie, are you saying that the potential was there for Petco Park and the potential has basically been spoiled?
ORR: Well, I have to say, and this is not on the sports side, this is on, like, a redevelopment side. People defend that park as totally revitalizing the east village area.
PARIS: I would agree with that.
ORR: And there is a question, would it have happened if Petco hadn't been there? It is held up nationally as a model for redevelopment. But that's all apart from the team and how they perform. You could make the argument if they were better, there'd be even more money down there.
PENNER: And you're going to get the last question on this, jay. If the Padres continue their dismissal track record. If this all keeps going down the line, what chance is there that the fans will stick with them? And if the fans don't stick with them, then what happens to Petco Park?
PARIS: Well, are that's a bit drastic. But I hear you on the fans. And those fans, they sat through another last-place team last year. What's the key? The TV deal. These are young players here. And you have to sell your players. And you have to sell these new faces, and you have to sell these new names. And if they start off slow and aren't doing well, and half the people aren't even getting the games, that doesn't bode well for a summer full of baseball. It bodes well for critics going off down there.
PENNER: I want to thank my panel. That was a great discussion. Thank you so much.