November 1, 2006

The Facts on Funding

For the clubs supported by TNT Fireworks the issue in this election is simply funding. Not Safety. Not noise, air or water pollution.

Their argument is typical of most campaigns. If we loose fireworks that will be the end of our club. Nonsense.

Lets look at the facts:

* The City Council was ready to ban fireworks outright in March of this year after the Dunrobin explosion. But after some quick mobilization and lobbying by TNT and its "gang of clubs", the city council backed off and let the clubs sell fireworks in July 2006, but telling them to plan for loosing the election in November and to find alternative funding sources in July 2008. So what have the clubs done in that regard? Nothing. Except for letting TNT spend 40,000 to make sure "their" fireworks get sold in 2008.

* Many of these clubs belong to large national organizations like the YMCA. Even if there was no funding assistance there, surely they could seek out funding ideas from other similarly situated clubs.

* There were over 40 clubs selling fireworks in Lakewood before the group was "selectively" whittled down to 27. So what did those clubs do? What about newly formed clubs that cannot get into the fireworks "inner circle"? Did those clubs dry up and blow away? No. The found other funding and cut out overly funded projects.

* No one has ever answered the question about how clubs raise funds in other cities that don't have firework sales. And as you can see from this website, that is the majority of cities in Southern California.

* Sports at all levels is about corporate sponsorship. Look at all the stadiums and arenas that are now named after large companies. Legitimate companies want their name lent to sports with positive images, especially youth sports. Why would you want to associate youth sports with fireworks. That is almost as bad as associating them with cigarette brands! I ran a sports team of over 100 people and raised thousands of dollars year after year based simply on relationships with the members and their employers or companies that were looking for advertising possibilities.

* Clubs argue that we cannot get by on bake sales alone! No I expect not but this just shows their mentality. Think small. Without fireworks money perhaps some real clubs leaders will evolve that know how to raise funds.

* The city is restrictive on what these clubs can do with the money raised via selling fireworks in Lakewood. It can only be used to benefit Lakewood residents. Well many of these clubs have members and activities that spill over into adjoining cities. So eliminating the fireworks money would make it much easier for clubs to spend the funds without having to do a lot of paperwork and "cut out" non Lakewood kids from recieving the benefits of the "fireworks money".

* The reason the clubs (actually TNT) are fighting so hard in this campaign is because TNT has led them to believe that fireworks is the only way to raise money. Its not. But as TNT makes huge sums off the sweat of these clubs, it is not about to loose this revenue. And TNT is putting over 40,000 into this campaign to make sure it doesn't.

* Clubs are so used to this money rolling in that they have become immune to the danger, pollution and nuisance costs of the fireworks themselves. They apparently don't even want to show the fireworks on the flyers as none of the flyers show even one firework.

* The "real" cost of the fireworks is borne by the residents of the city and the taxpayers. $100,000 was spent by residents last year just so the the clubs could "raise funds". As the clubs and TNT don't appear to be interested in paying these costs (which are being incurred due to their fireworks) they (or TNT) should be taxed for the costs of the extra law enforcement.

* I hear people complain that by preventing the sale of fireworks we are trampling their "rights". Better go back and read the Bill of Rights as I don't recall a right to fireworks in there. There is also no "right" to play baseball in a new uniform. All organized sports at all levels are a privilege that we like to grant to everyone, but it is not a right. Sports are pay to play. Always have been always will be. To the extent private organizations can make it easier on those less fortunate to play, that's great but lets not trample everyone's right to a safe, quiet pollution free environment, for the "privilege" of a few.

* Of all the clubs that sell fireworks I am sure that a large percentage of those club members buy fireworks for their own use, and likely more than 100.00 worth. Wouldn't it make more sense to take the 30% that would go to the club for the sale and just donate it directly? You could also get a tax deduction if done properly. Of course TNT would loose out on its 70%. But isn't this about the clubs funding and not TNT's?

* If there are 27 clubs making $300,000 off fireworks that is just over 11,000 per club. Now if you assume 4 days of labor to sell them at 12 hrs per day by by 10 people that is close to $4,000 in labor costs assuming 8.00 per hour. So really the clubs are netting $7,000. Also this does not include overtime pay, health benefits etc. But of course all these people "volunteer" their time. Good deal for the fireworks companies I'd say. There has to be a more efficient way to get corporate sponsorship. Also for the club workers it seems a whole lot easier to write a tax deductible check.

Vote YES on Measure D

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