Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Supporting the billionaires -- the McCourts thank you
Frank and Jamie McCourt are the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, over which they have been fighting non-stop for two years in such a bitter divorce that the team is now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
They are among the wealthy 1 percent of Americans who own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth and who the Republicans/Tea Partyers are forcing the rest of us to support by refusing to lift the Bush tax cuts while demanding Middle Class sacrifices, such as cuts Medicare and poverty programs.
In the last five years the McCourts have pulled more than $100 million out of the team’s coffers, on which, according to a revealing article in the August Vanity Fair magazine – A Major League Divorce – they paid few or no taxes.
But they have been paying for other things:
· Seven homes including two adjacent homes in Malibu ($27.3 million and $19 million), two in Holmby Hills, Calif. ($21.3 million and $6.5 million), a mansion in Brookline, Mass. ($16 million), a Cape Cod estate ($19.5 million) and a ski condo in Vail, Colo. ($6 million).
· A $10,000-a-month hair dresser, whom they fired as an economy measure and replaced with a $2,500-a-month hair dresser.
· A $12 million indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool so Jaime could swim laps at the main Holmby Hills house.
· Rental of more than 250 hours a year on private jets at $12,500 an hour.
· A driver and security staff costing more than $800,000 a year.
· A $500,000 Bar Mitzvah for their son, Gavin.
· $180,000 to have the kitchen of their Brookline house shipped to California.
You cannot say, however, that the McCourts are not what the Republicans love to call “job creators.” They have, after all, created jobs for several very high-priced baseball players, for their children, for their household and security staffs, and for the Dodgers organization itself. In fact, Vanity Fair reports, Frank fired 70 Dodgers staffers who had picked up and moved from all over the country to take those jobs, because he felt they were too loyal to Jaime.
Since the divorce proceedings started, a California court has ordered Frank to pay Jaime $600,000 a month for living expenses and the mortgages on their homes. The homes are in her name and the Dodgers are in his, and she won’t sell until he coughs up 50 percent of the team. He says he can’t pay her on his $5 million a year income and he has been struggling from month to month to make the team payroll as well.
According to ESPN, which has been covering the whole affair extensively, Frank says he had to file for bankruptcy because “I simply cannot afford to support [Jaime’s] lifestyle any longer.”
Worse, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig put the kibosh on a $3 billion broadcasting deal with Fox Sports that Selig says was “structured to facilitate the further diversion of Dodgers assets for the personal needs of Mr. McCourt.”
The creditors include the Dodgers’ top players – Manny Ramirez ($21 million), Andruw Jones ($11 million), Hiroki Kuroda ($4.4 million) – announcer Vin Scully ($150,000), the Chicago white Sox ($3.5 million for shared spring training facilities), and a San Francisco Giants fan named Bryan Stow who had the crap beat out of him by Dodgers fans on opening day at Dodgers Stadium.
I couldn’t care less about the Dodgers or about how the piggish McCourts spend their money. What I’d like to know though is this: How much money have we taxpayers had to pick up and will we have to pick up as a result of the tax loopholes the McCourts have been able to enjoy and the tax forgiveness that bankruptcy protection brings with it?