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Three nominated for sports authority

Updated: 2013-02-20T06:15:18Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

Gov. Jay Nixon has a fresh list to choose from in appointing a new member of the board overseeing the Truman Sports Complex.

The Jackson County Legislature nominated three candidates Tuesday to fill an open seat on the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority.

Yet whomever the governor picks, that choice could get nixed by the Republican-controlled Missouri Senate because all three nominees are Democrats.

Such a rejection isn’t likely, but it’s possible. Just ask former Jackson County Democratic Party chairman Steve Bough. He recently lost his seat on the authority over politics.

Whoever is selected, the pressing issue is how much that person will side with County Executive Mike Sanders when it comes to enforcing greater fiscal discipline on the Royals and Chiefs on future stadium fixes.

Fealty to the county executive didn’t come up during the interview process — since there wasn’t one — when the county legislators nominated Teresa Chu, Aimee Gromowsky and Ana M. Valdez as the candidates to replace Bough, a Sanders loyalist.

But Sanders and members of the county legislature hope that person represents the county’s interest well when the state-run sports authority takes up a resolution next month on whether to approve a $4.3 million payment to the Royals from a taxpayer-funded account.

The payment was up for discussion Tuesday at the same hour the county board made its picks. But behind the scenes, the county lobbied successfully for a delay.

Had the payment gone through, the county would have lost much of the leverage it mounted in recent months to pressure the teams to set aside a prescribed amount of money for coming stadium upkeep.

The Chiefs and Royals are responsible for that work but don’t have to put money in a special kitty. Under terms of the stadium leases, the teams are guaranteed reimbursement for certain expenses out of the taxpayer-funded RMMO fund, which stands for repairs, maintenance, management and operations.

But since last summer, Sanders’ allies on the five-member board managed to block payments from the RMMO fund until the teams set up an agreed-upon schedule for replacing worn-out equipment and other repairs at the recently refurbished stadiums.

Key to that was Bough’s appointment last August to replace former board member Beto Lopez, who Sanders felt had been too willing to approve team expenses without forcing the teams to agree to a detailed repair and maintenance schedule.

Bough served for five months, awaiting the Senate’s consent. Sanders declined to comment on the nominees to replace him.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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