The Atlanta Braves won the World Series in stunning fashion, a wonderful story of overachievers who defied all expectations. But as we rejoice, we should remember their triumph literally came at a price for every Cobb County taxpayer.

This column appeared in March, 2019, and I mean no disrespect to the late Tim Lee, the key county official at the time:

When former Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee, sat down with executives representing Liberty Media Corporation’s Atlanta Braves, he found himself negotiating with a school of powerful and monied barracudas.

We know what went down. Behind closed doors and out of sight and hearing of Cobb County taxpayers, Lee cut a woeful deal with Liberty, one in which y’all are footing nearly $400 million for the Braves’ stadium, a glaring example of corporate welfare taking precedence over Cobb citizens.

Liberty Media Corporation doesn’t need my money or yours. It has a market cap of over $8 billion. John Malone, Liberty’s CEO, has a net worth of $7.5 billion. The Braves made a $94 million profit in 2018.

It was not the first time Braves executives and their corporate masters in Englewood, Colorado worked this kind of taxpayer squeeze. Over in Gwinnett County, they’re on the hook for a ballpark where the Braves’ Triple A team plays, a deal that has never lived up to all the promises made by the Braves or county officials. More recently, Sarasota County, Florida taxpayers covered half of the cost of a new $100 million spring training facility and minor league stadium for the Braves.

“Over the last 15 years, the Braves have extracted nearly half a billion in public funds for four new homes, each bigger and more expensive than the last…They showered attention on local officials unaccustomed to dealing with a big-league franchise and, in the end, left most of the cost on the public ledger,” reported Bloomberg Businessweek in April, 2016 under the headline “The Braves Play Taxpayers Better Than They Play Baseball.”

Lee basically presented the new Cobb County stadium to voters as a fait accompli to the consternation of tea party activists and others jealous of how their hard-earned dollars are spent by county officials. The predictable howls of outrage followed, but the deal was done in the blink of an eye.

“If it had leaked out,” Braves then-President John Schuerholz admitted in 2013, “this deal would not have gotten done...more people would have started taking the position of, ‘We don’t want that to happen.’”

Or maybe not. Just maybe, if Lee had handled things in a principled way, remembering his priority was Cobb taxpayers not Liberty Media, he would have earned public support for the deal. In the end, voter anger over the stadium caught up with Tim Lee. Rather than ensuring his re-election by grateful Cobb taxpayers, he was defeated by past Commission Chairman Mike Boyce in 2016.

Liberty Media Corporation, meanwhile, is reaping the manifold financial benefits of the deal, while Cobb County taxpayers continue to pay for a stadium Liberty Media could have and should have built with zero public funding. But that’s not how those barracudas swim. Why spend our money when we can spend yours? That’s a much better deal for Wall Street.

***

Speaking of sports. The University of Georgia’s great running back Herschel Walker showed up at the Cobb County Republican Party’s breakfast last Saturday and invited people who disagree with his politics to leave America.

What a sophomoric statement, but one I’ve come to expect from the right; it’s our way or the highway.

Walker says Democrats don’t love America. Except we do, not in his childish way, but in an adult way. Rather than ignore her many faults – rampant white supremacy comes to mind - we call them out, hoping to achieve a more perfect union.

The GOP Senate candidate spoke at that busy little beehive of conservative politics, the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta. Walker also thinks those who don’t believe in the Constitution are pariahs. He should tell that to his ex-employer, the New Jersey Generals’ former owner, who used the Constitution as a doormat for four years.

Oddly, Walker’s walk-on music was the Battle Hymn of the Republic, a 19th century abolitionist anthem calling for trampling out the grapes of wrath - slavery.

“(Y)ou got to acknowledge my Lord Jesus Christ…” added Walker. Cobb County Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, members of other religions, agnostics, and atheists will say, no we don’t, and here’s why: religion has no role in America’s secular politics.

Walker went on to mouth the usual GOP bromides, proving he has no grasp of how to unite anyone other than far right conservatives. I’m about as prepared to run the football for the Dawgs as Herschel Walker is to serve in the United States Senate representing all Georgians.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, writer and author who lives in Kennesaw. You can contact him through his website at kevinemmetfoley.com.

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(10) comments

George Don Spruill

[Okay I broke my promise to myself and read your column.] “I’m about as prepared to run the football for the Dawgs as Hershel Walker is to serve in the United States Senate representing all Georgians.” So, you’ll vote for that fake minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Raphael Warnock, who believes in abortion? Oh, that right. You vote Democrat, the party of abortion. Of course you will vote for Warnock and little Jon-boy Ossoff, too. The Democrat Party, the party of slavery in the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, and that fought all civil rights laws tooth and nail. And, is now the party of race, race, race. Every White is a White Supremacist…from birth, and every Black is mistreated. You’re a typical Democrat…blaming others for what you yourself believe in. You’re pathetic, Foley.

Shelly Leitheiser

Tell us how Herschel Walker with his lack of law degree and his lack of any sort of political experience and his background of threatening people and also holding a gun on his ex-wife makes him a good candidate for the US Senate. Tell us.

Howard Peterson

Let's hear all about Raphael Warnock's law degree! Tell us.

Shelly Leitheiser

Herschel Walker is in no way fit for Senate duty. He threated to kill his ex-wife by holding a gun up to her head. He has/had multiple personalities as outlined in his book. He has serious mental issues as he himself wrote about. Herschel's wife committed voter fraud, by voting in Georgia when she lived full time in Texas. So - Who thought he'd be a great senate candidate? Oh yeah, the big dumb orange muppet himself. What a joke.

Allie Bradford

Herschel's wife was CLEARED of any wrongdoing, lady. Please don't post lies. And I haven't researched the other stuff you threw out, but I imagine it's just as biased and inaccurate.

Butch Smith

Shelly you are just jealous because he has all of the attributes the Dems are looking for yet he is running as a Rep.

George Don Spruill

Shelley, did you read my comments? I wiuld never vote for a phony minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ like Raphael Warnock, who has said he’s for abortion …THE MURDER OF INNOCENT BABIES IN THE WOMB or any other Democrat. They’re all for abortion. By the way, my candidate is a fellow church member of mine, Kelvin King. But I WOULD vote for Hershel Walker before voting for that phony minister.

George Don Spruill

So, because a man doesn’t have a law degree or experience in office, he’s not qualified. You know who has a law degree and 48 years experience? The worst president in the history of the Republic, Joe Biden, a demented, retarded man. Yet people who will vote for abortion-approvers VOTED for that simpleton. Did you, Shelly?

Howard Peterson

Hey Shelley!! You forgot the KEY Democrat talking point. Since Herschel Walker is a Republican, he is also a White Supremicist......LOL!!!! Forget football games today, go back to watching XiNN & MSNBXi. They always tell you what they want you to hear sick as they are.

Howard Peterson

I'm going to make a prediction of what your column will be written about for tomorrow's edition of the MDJ. I predict you will write about the new re-districting maps drawn by of course, Republicans and how mad you are at the fact that Marjory Taylor Greene will now get some votes from SW Cobb County and that Lucy McBath has to go further east & north into Republican Territory to try to get votes there. LOL!!!!!

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