Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Ice

I will not be modest here: I am a master of prosaic bureaucratic prose. With a quick turn of phrase, I can drive the recipient of one of my letters to the depths of despair or to the heights of ecstasy.

OK, maybe not the "heights" of ecstasy. Maybe twice the height of "Meh". But the "depths of despair" bit is true, as this is The Bureaucracy and with our dark gray suits, bad comb overs, and absent senses of humor, we do despair very well.

But anyway, there's a skill involved in calling a letter recipient an asshole, without calling him/her an "asshole." Besides, it's much more satisfying to say that "your lack of collaboration with our organization has led us to believe that you put your needs above the needs of the public."

Which is why Mario's letter to Rendell, Onorato et ux. is so much fun to read: it is a very polite throwdown.

When Mario says, "The risk has been magnified by what we perceive as a lack of collaboration from the public sector in the negotiations. That does not bode well for the public/private partnership necessary to successfully navigate the multiple issues of an arena development of this magnitude," he's really saying "you guys are jerks for not giving us what we want."

Words like "seem," "appear," or "it can be perceived that" can all be substituted for "are". It is much nicer to say "One may perceive you to be a jerk," over "You are a jerk," even though they mean the same thing.

At least, they appear to be the same.

Anyway, those kinds of words are hedge words; Mario seems to be bluffing: for whatever reason, he's interested in keeping the Pens in Pittsburgh. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have been negotiating for all these months, he would have moved to Kansas City.

He wants to see if he's squeezed out every last dime he can from the deal; for whatever reason, he believes that there is a bit more money to be had, a better interest rate, or some more development rights that can be had for free.

Even though he's flirting with Las Vegas and Kansas City, I think the Governor thinks Mario's bluffing too... at least it appears that way. Unfortunately, there's no betting in hockey.

Or is that baseball? And crying?


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