No, Frank McCourt, I Will Not Donate a Percentage of My Salary To Help You and Your Wife Get Into Heaven

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frankjaimemccourt.jpg

Remember when Jaime McCourt, wife of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and new team president, chose to undermine then-free-agent Manny Ramirez by comparing his salary demands to the amount of money it would take to build 50 youth baseball fields? Well, the Dodgers eventually mended fences with Manny and super agent Scott Boras by bringing the charismatic slugger back into the fold for $45 million over two years. Well, really it was $44 million, because the McCourts insisted Manny donate $1 million to the Dodgers Dream Foundation to help build those fields for underprivileged cancer kids with twelve toes or something.

Fast forward two weeks and the public-relations-challenged legal department at the Players Union have decided now would be a good time to file a grievance against the Dodgers and twenty-one other teams for these so-called forced charitable donations.

"Players are free to choose to make donations to club charities, but clubs can't require such donations by contract," union general counsel Michael Weiner said Saturday. "Provisions that require players to make contributions to clubs' charities are unenforceable under the basic agreement. It's not a subject that the Basic Agreement permits individual bargaining on."

Article II of baseball's labor agreement states contracts can include special covenants "which actually or potentially provide additional benefits to the player."

So basically, a team can include special wording in contracts that allows for luxury boxes, use of corporate jets, and unlimited baskets of plantains. Weiner claims that forced charitable donations are not beneficial to players, and he's right, especially in Manny's case. Charity feels best when it is not an contractual obligation, but rather emerges out of the kindness of one's heart. To write it off merely as a public relations benefit as McCourt does is dishonest and, frankly, despicable:

"I have not seen the grievance, but I find it odd that in these challenging times, that we encounter a complaint against the idea of players giving back to the communities that support them," he said in a statement. "We believe there are qualities that represent the Dodger way. The player's contributions to the team, appreciation of the fans, and impact on such a supportive community all combine to help our organization live up to our core values. We seek players who embrace these values. The Ramirez provision is a blank line to be filled in with whatever number a player chooses."

Forcing players to make a donation is one thing, but forcing players to make a donation specifically to an organization that serves first to stroke the collective ego of McCourt and his wife is simply miserable. The McCourts claim that they donate money to the foundation out of their own pockets, but don't make their tax returns public, so we have no idea what percentage of their own earnings go towards charitable contributions. So while we fans can track every dollar Manny makes in salary and used grill sales, his employers continue to preen about how wonderfully giving they are and prepare for their ascent into heaven. Or for their reincarnation, depending on what exactly they believe in.


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10 Comments

Two things.

A. That picture reminds me that I had a dream last night that I was dating a girl and Barbara Streisand was her mom and she tried to kiss me.

2. I agree that putting a charity clause in a contract could be a good thing, but players ought to be able to choose where they want to donate the money. Otherwise a percentage of every dollar the McCourt's pay out to players is automatically funneled back into their foundation.

Lay off the McCourts. Until you see Angela's Ashes you have no idea how tough they had it.

They do donate out of their pockets. Their money goes to players, who then are contractually obligated to donate to the McCourt charity.

It's called trickle down, Rob.

Excuse me one moment; I'm sending this to Sussman to justify my five-minute rant at the end of yesterday's podcast about this very topic. Then he's going to make me live in my chrome soapbox until next week's show anyway. Do you think Andre Ethier gets to choose his team and his contract terms? Goddamn.

This is what is known in some circles as, "White-Guy Money Laundering".

Give me back my money, bitch!
Is that the Dodger way?

The Dodgers Dream Foundation is just a front to offset the costs of Lasorda's hooker, pay-per-view and scungilli habit.

As a tax-exempt organization, The Dodgers Dream Foundation's tax return is available to the public (you can search for it at guidestar.org). Last year their sole employee, Howard Sunkin, was paid $400,000, which is obviously quite a lot for a non-profit executive (I should know - I am one). He also serves as the Dodgers' Senior VP for Public Affairs and presumably pulls down a hefty salary from them too. Nice little deal for him. That year the Foundation's total revenue was $1.2 million, so a million from Manny would be a big boost to them, and I'm sure Mr. Sunkin would appreciate it.

Thanks, Tim, for providing actual perspective on something we really know very little about. It's refreshing to have smart commenters.

A few facts about the Doodger Dream Foundation:

President - Frank McCourt, Vice Preisdent - Jamie McCourt

LA Times story - biggest planned donor/securities fraud charges - and he has a past record also.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-friedman6-2009mar06,0,412723.story

Is this indcitment the reason they leaned on Manny – the expected contributions and matching funds were being vaporized? Yes, Manny signed 4th March (pending a physical) , but what did the McCourts know and when did they know it? Did their pressure not allow Manny to do due diligence on the Foundation, its management and its donors? Was the idea to only tender contracts to players who donated to the owner’s charity a result of the indictment of Friedman?

Does MLB union chief Rob Manfred still believe that being linked to a Foundation with known criminal donors is something that accrues to a player's benefit?


2007 990's

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2007/954/623/2007-954623022-041bb7f8-9.pdf

Page 5 - it is not arm's length. Frank McCourt is President of the Foundation. His wife, the newly named CEO of the Dodgers, is VP. Ask Rob Manfred who is really receiving the benefits of any contribution.

Page 10 - who is Howard Sunkin and why does he get $ 400,000 or 40% of the cash donations during the 2007 fiscal year? Why, he's the senior VP of public affairs for the Dodgers.

http://tigers.mlb.com/la/community/executives/sunkin.html

"Most notably, Sunkin oversees the outreach of the Dodgers Dream Foundation, spearheads ongoing development of the organization’s relationship with its neighboring community, and maintains open lines of communication with local, city, county and state officials."

"He joined the Dodgers after nearly 20 noteworthy years as Vice President of Local Public Affairs with Cerrell Associates Inc., one of Los Angeles’ oldest and most reputable public affairs firms. At Cerrell, Sunkin headed the local government affairs unit, primarily working with the Los Angeles City Council and other Los Angeles County cities and agencies. Sunkin has been a key figure in strategically building relationships, formulating and implementing strategies, and providing advocacy services for Cerrell clients. He is experienced in legislative matters at all levels of government."

He's a lobbyist. Funny, but there's no lobbying money listed being spent by the Foundation...(Page 15).

He received $ 139,242 in 2006 (40 hours work) and $178,242 in 2005 (20 hours work and listed as executive director).

What did he do for this money, especially that bonus of 200% in 2007 for his work? Was he paid by the not for profit AND the Dodger front office payroll? Was his salary placed into the not for profit's expenses for some reason - and if so, it should have listed the lobbying that he does for the team on the 990.

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