Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

A closer look at blood money, baseball bonds and legal spats

Three matters worthy of your attention:

1 The early 2012 merger of Florida's three major nonprofit blood supply organizations was supposed to yield a streamlined group and lower-priced blood. So far, it has produced mostly complaints about outsized paychecks for executives.

Florida Blood Services in St. Petersburg, Florida's Blood Centers Inc. in Orlando and Community Blood Centers of Florida in Lauderhill, near Fort Lauderdale, combined early this year to form the giant OneBlood.

A closer look at OneBlood by the Orlando Sentinel finds salaries have climbed by more than $4 million and could increase 35 percent or more for top executives. A plan calls for $545,000 in bonuses for administrators, or an average of $36,333 per person. The Sentinel says St. Petersburg CEO Don Doddridge makes a base salary of $444,000 and is eligible for a 35 percent bump, plus a bonus, that could push his pay package over $635,000. Doddridge, who previously ran Florida's Blood Centers in St. Pete, is OneBlood's top executive. Other top executives are also due hefty increases at the same time that operating revenues have dropped by $7 million, driven by reduced consumption by hospitals and a glut of blood products nationwide that is depressing prices.

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2 A key report for the future of baseball in Tampa Bay will be made public soon by a group of regional business leaders. The Baseball Stadium Financing Caucus explored ways to finance a new Tampa Bay Rays stadium — regardless of its location. The group was formed last year by lead members of the Tampa and St. Petersburg chambers of commerce with Sykes Enterprises CEO Chuck Sykes as caucus chief.

The report should be out shortly. An early executive summary emphasizes the importance of finding ways to pay for at least a portion of a new stadium — estimated to at $500 million to $600 million — with public funding. Mindful of today's antitax sentiment, the report looks at bond financing that could be used to raise money for a stadium. The bonds could be paid for by existing taxes used to cover debts that will soon be paid off. That would make tax money available for stadium funding — without the need for new taxes.

If that sounds rather basic, well, it is. But it's an important step that could allow some public contribution to a Rays stadium, without the political fury that a new tax would inspire. We look forward to reading the full report soon.

3 Corporate fisticuffs are not new, but Tampa Bay is enjoying a robust fall season of litigation between area businesses, competitors and employees. An example:

A lawsuit filed this month by two lenders accuses Tampa gold dealer Mark Yaffe, several family members and family company Gainesville Coins of stealing $1 million from them in a complex transaction. The plaintiffs, two out-of-state specialty lenders to the coin industry, seek triple damages of $3 million, plus punitive damages. Yaffe's business, National Gold Exchange, has already been liquidated in bankruptcy court. He's still trying to sell his 29,000-square-foot home in the posh Avila community to pay off creditors. Asking price is a reduced $14.9 million.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

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