Friday, February 05, 2010

Bankrupt Six Flags Flees Town, Closes Park

I'm sure that by now you have read the news about the closure of the Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom amusement park. In this Courier-Journal article, Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro whines about the cost of the lease at the fairgrounds. Shapiro also griped about not receiving a percentage of the parking fees. It should be noted that Six Flags is in bankruptcy due to the company's failed leadership, not because of an unfavorable lease agreement at the Louisville location.

Kentucky Kingdom is perhaps best known throughout the country as the place where a 13 year old girl had her feet cut off in 2007 by a ride that was improperly maintained and was being operated by a teenage employee.

Mayor Jerry Abramson said he was "shocked" by the announcement, and the convention bureau claims 10,000 nights of hotel room stays would be lost along with about 1000 seasonal, part-time, minimum-wage jobs. Contrary to what you may read, the park was not a huge part of the local economy and was not some sort of "mecca" for roller coaster enthusiasts. It will only be missed by parents who used it as a daycare program for their children.

That's the bad. Now the good:

1. Our community won't have to endure another annoying Six Flags commercial that featured that weirdo pimping the park's attractions.

2. Now that the property will be vacated, there's room for a new basketball arena for the Louisville Cardinals that provides ample parking. Oh, wait....

3. It is my opinion Kentucky Kingdom was not a good corporate citizen, if there is such a thing.

I'm sure that your family can find other entertaining, less expensive and more appealing activities to participate in this summer. Spend some quality time with your children and take them to one of the many museums or performing arts centers in Louisville.  They may even learn something.

Below is a copy of a press release from the Fair Board regarding the situation:
Statement from Harold Workman, President & CEO of the Kentucky State Fair
Board, Regarding Information Released by Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

“Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom announced this evening that „as it nears the scheduled end of
its restructuring process, it has decided to reject its lease with the Kentucky State Fair Board
relating to the Kentucky Kingdom Park. In recent weeks, Six Flags had proposed a new lease
arrangement to the fair board that would have enhanced the viability and future of the
park. Unfortunately, those proposals were not accepted and the park will cease operations and
the company will move expeditiously to re-locate employees and several of the more than 40
rides and attractions to one of its 13 other markets.‟

The statement misrepresents what has taken place.

Approximately thirty days ago, the Kentucky State Fair Board (KSFB) reached out to Six
Flags Kentucky Kingdom (SFKK) to offer to extend the park‟s bankruptcy court-imposed
deadline of January 9, 2010 to either accept or reject its lease with the KSFB. The KSFB
initiated dialogue with SFKK in an attempt to allow the park to maintain its operations.
However, SFKK did not schedule a meeting with me until January 4, 2010, only days before
the bankruptcy court-imposed deadline. At that point the KSFB did not have any financial
information regarding the profitability of the park and only obtained that information a few
days ago.

As suggested by the KSFB, we entered into an agreement with SFKK to extend their deadline
and that agreement was approved by the bankruptcy court. The time frame for the park to
accept or reject its lease was extended by 90 days, expiring April 9, 2010. The intention was
for the parties to renegotiate the lease terms during that period.

The parties also entered into a confidentiality agreement shortly thereafter so that the KSFB
could evaluate the park's financial status in order to validate its request for a lease
modification. Representatives of SFKK had told the KSFB that the bankruptcy proceeding
would NOT affect operations and, in fact, the park was doing well.

The KSFB asked SFKK for a written proposal outlining revised lease terms on at least four
separate occasions. However, counsel for SFKK never provided a written proposal and to date
the KSFB has been reviewing financials and awaiting a proposal from SFKK that would
include the proposed terms of the modification.

Tonight‟s announcement by SFKK caught the KSFB completely by surprise. The KSFB
remains ready and willing to discuss any reasonable proposal that SFKK may put forward in
order to continue the park‟s operation.”

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thursday's Southwest News

- Rather than attack the real problem, (a foreign-owned, for-profit utility that threatens you with service disconnection before holding you at knifepoint and raping your pocketbook), some Metro Council members see fit to pad the utility's bottom line by raising money through non-profits to help struggling citizens pay heating bills. The idea of helping people stay warm is a noble one, but there is a better, more forcible way.  Stronger action must be taken immediately to lower costs, prevent service disconnections and protect the needy from the whims of the greedy, profit-mad e.On/LG&E monster. Here's more on the valiant, yet shortsighted effort.

- The May primary for the City of Shively's political offices is crowded. With Democrats. No Republicans filed to run. [CJ]

- It's that time again. The Louisville Asset Building Coalition, Metro United Way and your Metro Council are again sponsoring the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. This year the Southwest VITA office is located at the Sun Valley Community Center, 6505 Bethany Lane. The phone number for that VITA office is 292-6171.

VITA provides FREE tax service to families and individuals making less than $49,000. Your return will be prepared and reviewed by an IRS Certified Volunteer Tax Preparer. You will need to bring your Social Security card, Drivers’ License, and earnings statements (W2’s, interest and dividend statements, etc.)

Your Southwest VITA office is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 am - 7:00 pm, Wednesdays from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:30 am - 2:30 pm.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

General Assembly Gets Weird, Wastes Time

Rather than deal with a massive budget deficit, revamping an outdated tax system, attracting new high-paying jobs to the state or allowing people to gamble as they see fit, Kentucky's General Assembly seems content to while away the days passing ridiculous and unnecessary measures which do nothing for the average citizen of this once-great Commonwealth. To Wit: Today, the dolts in the House passed legislation that creates an "In God We Trust" license plate. Here's a snippet from the CJ article:

In 2008 the religious group Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana sought permission from the state Transportation Cabinet to create a specialty plate that would have cost $34 to purchase.

Those who bought the plate could then have volunteered to contribute $10 more to the group.

The Transportation Cabinet rejected that request, saying that the group promotes a “specific faith or religious position.”

So, instead of a private "group" promoting a religious position, we have an entire government doing it.

In other General Assembly idiocy, a House panel has approved a measure that would ban texting while driving.  Driving while distracted is a dangerous proposition, but here are many questions with this bill and how it will be enforced.  The bill allows you to make a phone call while driving.  How can a police officer tell the difference between someone placing a call or texting?  Why are police officers exempt?  Can you be pulled over for an alleged violation?

HERE is an article about a study on texting-while-driving bans.  They do not work.

The time has come to seriously consider term limits and a return to biennial sessions for the State Legislature The legislature clearly has lost the will to deal with any of the major problems facing the Commonwealth, choosing instead to focus on folly. When we impose term limits and only allow them to meet every other year, they have less of an opportunity to take up time-wasters like these. What say ye?

Monday, February 01, 2010

More of the Same From Jerry, Inc.

Mayor Abramson and his henchman are still refusing to kick in back-pay for a group of retired city firefighters for miscalculated overtime. The mayor's government is appealing to the state Supreme Court, a tactic that has failed miserably in the past. The thinking seems to be to put it off on the courts until Abramson is out of office. [C-J]

What do you think of the way Metro Government has treated vital city employees during Abramson's tenure as mayor? Don't hold back. I really want to hear your opinion on this.