Yesterday we wrote A Summary of Ark Park Financial Gimmicks, using material from the Cincinnati Enquirer. They didn’t give a complete list of the tax goodies the project is getting, nor did we agree with all of their opinions, but it was a good article nevertheless.
Today, as expected, there’s a response — not to our humble blog article, but to what the newspaper said — from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo). He’s the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed not only for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG), but also for the infamous, mind-boggling Creation Museum, and for building an exact replica of Noah’s Ark.
Ol’ Hambo’s new post is A Cincinnati Enquirer Ark Hit Piece. We imagine he’s red in the face, foaming at the mouth, and rolling around chewing the carpet. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Along with the generally positive and balanced news coverage we have enjoyed, now comes a recent, glaring exception. It’s from our hometown newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer. Two articles about the Ark have appeared on the Enquirer website. Because the paper is a part of the Gannett network, other papers like USA Today will be carrying one or both of the Ark articles. Sadly, the myths found in the articles will see a wide distribution. … While we have appreciated the fair coverage that we have received about our Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, the June 23 article on our Ark Encounter revealed the growing bias the paper has against those of us who embrace biblical Christianity. Here are just some of the misrepresentations and outright falsehoods found in the Enquirer article.
These are the “myths” and “misrepresentations” and “outright falsehoods” ol’ Hambo found so objectionable:
First, there’s the original headline: “Who Pays for the New Ark? Taxpayers.” Now, in the latest web version circulating on the Internet, the title has been slightly altered (after we protested) to “Who Pays for the New Ark? Taxpayers Help.” Even with that Band-Aid, and after years of the Enquirer being shown the facts regarding the Ark’s funding, it is startling that the writer or headline writer would create such a highly misleading headline.
[*Groan*] That’s worth complaining about? We noticed the headline change while we were writing our post. It seemed to us that the newspaper had left out a word by mistake and then quickly fixed it. We changed our draft before it was posted, so we always had the new headline. We didn’t regard the change as important. Does Hambo have anything else to say? Let’s read on:
For the umpteenth time, I need to say that taxpayer/public funds have not been used in any way to fund the construction of our life-size Noah’s Ark … . All funds (i.e., bonds and donations) to build the Ark Encounter came from private supporters of the Ark project.
Yes, but as the newspaper accurately said: “That [the tax incentives] leveraged Answers in Genesis’s foray into the bond market in the first place, experts say.” That seems correct. The promise of millions in tax rebates certainly helped to make the bonds look more attractive. Hambo continues:
The writer’s statement that the Ark Encounter “landed a series of local and state incentives worth $80 million over 20 years” is just flat out wrong. Yes, the Ark Encounter has the opportunity through Kentucky’s tourism incentive program to receive a future rebate of sales taxes that it generates at our theme park, up to $18.25 million over a 10-year period after it opens … .
The newspaper wasn’t talking only about the sales tax rebates; they were including local tax incentives too. Hambo nit-picks a few other things, and he gloats about the benefits of the new jobs his project will generate, but that’s too boring to bother with. Oh, and regarding the the issue of church and state separation, he once again says:
[The reporter] brought up the old church-state issue that a federal judge dealt with last January in handing us a victory in court against the state of Kentucky for unlawful religious discrimination.
We’ll have to repeat ourselves on that one. In yesterday’s post we wrote:
Hambo claims he won in court and the press always goes along, but it didn’t happen that way. As we reported in Ken Ham’s Ark Wins First Round in Court, after the state decided not to give AIG the sales tax rebates, Hambo went to court and got a preliminary injunction against the state’s freezing him out of the sales tax rebate program. The case was in its very early stages. They weren’t even close to having a trial. But at that point Governor Matt Bevin got involved and decided that the state wouldn’t contest the injunction, and wouldn’t take any further action against the tax rebate scheme. So AIG won, but it was a political, not a judicial victory.
That’s about it. Hambo is furious, but the article in the Cincinnati Enquirer was accurate — although it could have gone even further than it did. None of this is important, however.
Everything will depend on a large number of people willing to visit the ark, at a ticket price of $40 for adults and $28 for children, plus $10 for parking. That’s a lot of money just to wander around a big wooden hulk and hear Hambo’s guides preach about the bible. There will need to be a large volume of such people, year after year. If that should happen, then the project will be successful — albeit with the help of an ark-load of constitutionally dubious tax incentives.
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