If there is one thing that is certain from the Phillies’ 25 year, 2.5 billion dollar television deal with Comcast, it is the fact that Philadelphia’s public schools will continue to get screwed by one of the city’s largest tax dodger. While Phillies fans will rejoice the extra $100,000,000 a year for the next 25 years their team will get from the cable monopoly, the city, school district and workers will continue feel Comcast’s political wrath.
When it comes to manipulating state and local politics, Comcast is at the top of its game. The mega corporation is partly responsible for withholding school funding last summer. Comcast executive David Cohen, who was Chief of Staff for Ed Rendell and a Tom Corbett campaign contributor, played a part in delaying a $45 million package that would open the Philadelphia School District on time. Cohen wanted those greedy teachers to lose more money from their paychecks. The broken Philadelphia School District didn’t get that money until October when the details of Laporshia Massey’s, a 12 year old student, death were released to the public. The 12 year old student attended a school where no nurse was present and died from complications of an asthma attack.
When it comes to tax dodging, the monopoly is at the top of its game. On the local level, Comcast cheats the school district out of $1.5 million a year in property taxes thanks to a 10 year property tax abatement program, which allows developers to erect large shiny objects in Center City. On the state level, Comcast is a beneficiary of the infamous Delaware Loophole, which allows corporations in Pennsylvania to set up a fake address in Delaware so they can skip paying corporate taxes. Because of the loophole, the Commonwealth loses over $500,000,000 a year in corporate taxes and when questioned about their exploitation of this loophole, Comcast referred all questions and criticisms to the PA Chamber of Business and Industry.
When it comes to screwing workers, Comcast is at the top of that list as well. During the paid sick leave fight that was waged by workers, unions and community organizations, Comcast spent over $108,000 to make sure you have to go to work with the flu or some other type of illness. Dan Denvir at City Paper writes:
As City Councilman Bill Greenlee recently fought to pass a bill mandating that some companies offer employees paid sick leave, he got a lesson in how Philly’s largest businesses feel about such regulations. One lobbyist, says Greenlee, broke it down for him: The lobbyist “said to me, in a frustrated manner, ‘Dammit, we don’t want you to tell us what to do,’” Greenlee recalls. “I think that’s really what [the resistance to paid sick leave] is all about.”
I’ve been a Phillies fan when the only fireworks you’d see at the ballgame where the fireworks being set off in Veteran Stadium’s 700 level, but as a someone who has spent the better part of the past 4 years fighting for public education, public higher education and against income inequality, it’s time to seriously question my “fandom.” It’s not because Ruben Amaro has sent this team into purgatory for the next 3-5 years, but because of the bread and circuses social ramifications this television contract represents.