Friday, March 09, 2001

Another fine mess

Bengals fumble; we pay again

        Suppose you were a Bengals fan. And suppose you were a sucker.

        But I repeat myself.

        Once more, Bengals fans — those gluttons for punishment — have been played for suckers by the owners of the very team they paid good money to cheer.

        Only this time, Bengals owner Mike Brown, his underlings and some Hamilton County officials want us — the taxpayers — to play along, too. They want us to pay for their mistake.

        Thanks anyway. We'll pass.

        The county and the Bengals got into this mess by selling seat licenses for Paul Brown Stadium. When design changes altered seating plans, some fans with licenses in choice sections wound up sitting in zones with lower ticket prices and lesser vantage points.

        It's bad enough these fans had to buy high-priced permits for the right to purchase tickets to watch a lousy football team. They were also promised good seats but got suckered into sitting in less desirable spots. And no one gave them a refund.

That's all, folks

        Dissatisfied fans sued the Bengals and the county in September. Talks started this week to reach a settlement.

        Settling the seat-license suit could come with a starting price of $1.5 million.

        Mike Brown and others in Bengals-dom want that money to come from us, the taxpayers. The county hired a company to sell the seat licenses. The team's officials claim they didn't know the seating chart changed. The latter seems a tad far-fetched. Mike Brown and his relatives are known for attending to every detail of their family business.

        If this settlement comes to pass and we're stuck with the bill, Mike Brown will have pulled another one over on the county's taxpayers.

        The seat-license foul-up resembles the plot of a Road Runner cartoon. Mike Brown goes “Beep! Beep!” and skedaddles. Wham! An Acme anvil lands on our heads, flattening our noggins into pie-eyed pancakes as we pay the price for playing the part of the dim-witted sucker, Wile E. Coyote.

Enough's enough

        Don't know about you, but I'm tired of being suckered by the Bengals.

        So's Todd Portune. Hamilton County's newest commissioner told me “the county's on the wrong side of that lawsuit.”

        The county should be working for the people, not against them. Stop bowing to Mike Brown's whims.

        So far, the county is going along with the suit.

        This need not happen. The county commissioners have ways to make Mike Brown foot the bill.

        Commissioner Portune outlined two such plans. The county could “file a cross claim against the Bengals.” Or the commissioners “could enforce the indemnification amendment in the contract with the Bengals. That clause turns control of the seat license program over to the team.”

        Either course of action could send Mike Brown on his way toward paying for the settlement. To get the ball rolling would take just two votes from the three-man county commission.

        Count on Mr. Portune for one “yes” vote. That leaves Tom Neyer or John Dowlin.

        Let them know how you feel. To reach Commissioner Neyer, call: 946-4409. Commissioner Dowlin's number is: 946-4405.

        Be polite. But firm.

        Remind them:

        Just because we're taxpayers doesn't mean we're suckers.

       Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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