Shocker: public dollars given to a baseball team are being used in a questionable manner

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Via Deadspin, here’s an investigative report from 810 WHB radio in Kansas City, detailing how millions of public dollars given to the Kansas City Royals for repairs and maintenance to Kaufman Stadium have not been used for repair and maintenance. Indeed, 91% of it has been used for things besides maintenance:

The Royals have received at least $12.7 million from taxpayers that was approved by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as part of the RMMO provision of the team’s lease with the county and spent it on full and part time employee salaries, security, cable tv, first aid, utilities, telephones and even payroll taxes.  By using the money for payroll taxes, the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes. The Sports Authority approved the expenses and operates separately from Jackson County government.

This is frightening. Not just because it’s kinda fishy, but because it means that tax payers may be indirectly paying Jeff Francoeur nearly $7 million to hit .238/.275/.366 this year!

Is it illegal? No: there is a provision in the Royals lease which allows them to use the fund to pay “Event Day Operations.” 810 WHB has a detailed breakdown of what the Royals are spending this money on. I suppose a bit of it actually goes for day-of-event expenses in the common use of the term. The rest of it: not really, but I’m assuming the lease’s definition of such operations is pretty expansive.

But the notable part for me: those “Event Day Operations,” however defined, were not approved by taxpayers. The fund, when put before voters, literally was just for stadium upkeep. The Royals negotiated the expanded uses for that fund later, with the Sports Authority, and without voter approval.

A baseball team making any effort it can to have its operations underwritten by taxpayers with minimal voter say-so?  I am SHOCKED.

(via Deadspin)

He gone! Hawk Harrelson called his last game yesterday

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Ken Harrelson has been broadcasting for decades but yesterday was his last one. As of today the Hawk has hung up his mic and entered retirement. He gone!

Harrelson, 77, who played in the majors for nine seasons with the A’s, Red Sox, Indians and Senators and led the AL in RBI in 1968. He was also the White Sox’ general manager for a single season in the mid-80s. That didn’t go well — he famously fired Tony La Russa and Dave Dombrowski and traded away a young Bobby Bonilla, but his career as a broadcaster went swimmingly.

Harrelson served as a Red Sox broadcaster from 1975 through 1981. Despite his reputation as an unrepentant homer for his White Sox — who he called “the good guys,” as opposed to the “bad guys” playing them — he was actually fired as a Red Sox broadcaster for being critical of ownership. He then embarked on his first stint with the White Sox before his move into the front office, worked as a Yankees broadcaster from 1987-88 and worked games for NBC’s Game of the Week in the mid-1980s as well. He then returned to call games for the White Sox in 1990 and the rest is history.

Hawk will still be a team ambassador for Chicago so he not totally gone, but the White Sox broadcast booth is entering a new era.