As perhaps you've heard, we eventually won the Stanley Cup. It's all good now. But something else unfair happened May 15 with regard to the St. Louis Blues. That was the night Missouri's inept General Assembly made a horrific hand pass of its own: It dished out $70 million in taxpayer dollars over a twenty-year period to the Blues — along with $60 million in handouts to the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals sports franchises.
"It was so unfair that the legislative session ended that way. The wrong way," said no one.
Actually, within the minuscule next-day coverage, Representative Bruce DeGroot (R-Chesterfield) did have the courage to denounce it as a "welfare-for-the-rich bill." But DeGroot was outvoted, with quite a handful of Democrats voting for the rich as well. And his voice was drowned out by civic types in St. Louis and Kansas City blathering about the exciting economic benefits that would trickle down to the masses.
Mostly, the story was eclipsed by larger dramas, and most people — myself included — missed the news entirely. (I'm not proud of that, in my case, since being in the media, it's my job to have noticed it, but ironically an obsession with the Blues' playoff run was preoccupying my waking hours.)
Last week, Governor Mike Parson signed the bad bill into law, and cash-strapped Missouri continued to participate in the disgraceful national tradition of transferring public wealth to the private hands of multi-millionaire — and sometimes, billionaire — owners of local sports monopolies. Yes, most other major cities are doing this, but that doesn't make it right. Not even remotely.
For the next ten years, the Enterprise Center will receive a no-strings-attached gift of $2.5 million annually, and that number will grow to $4.5 million annually for the decade after that. As bill opponent Representative Tracy McCreery (D-Olivette) points out, the politicians who scored local points making the handout will be long gone — if for no other reason than term limits — while their gift keeps on giving.
This is wrong.