I’ve been a Kansas City Royals fan all my life.Well, for 44 years of it, anyway — the Royals came into existence in the spring of 1969, when this 51-year-old newspaper editor was four months shy of his seventh birthday. I’ve seen the Royals play in many places — the old Memorial stadium a few blocks up Brooklyn Avenue from where the original Arthur Bryant’s still smokes some of the best barbecue in the world; about 800 games at Kauffman Stadium and the old Yankee stadium in New York before they tore it down. One place I had not seen them play before last week was at spring training. I kept talking about it when they held spring training in Florida for decades. And I’ve talked about heading to the desert for some spring training baseball ever since the Royals moved to Surprise, Ariz. in 2003. Last week, I scratched spring training off the bucket list. And yes, I realized recently that I’m getting old enough to have a bucket list. Anyway, about 10 hours after last week’s issue came off the press, my wife, my son, a friend of his and yours truly jumped on a plane for Surprise. Of course, I had a great time, which was no surprise. And I played a little golf, which is no surprise, either. But here are few things I was surprised about: • Royals manager Ned Yost is bigger in person that he appears on TV. Yes, this is true of many athletes and former athletes like Yost, but I was still surprised by how sturdy Ned looked. He didn’t act as feisty and know-it-all as he sometimes comes across in metro media reports. In fact, he was pleasant and chatted with a bunch of us fans, who got him to hang out down the third-base line and sign a few autographs. • Superstar outfielder Alex Gordon didn’t interact with the fans or sign any autographs the two games I attended. I’m a Gordon fan and I was surprised a little by this, because KC fans for the most part have stuck with him through thick and thin. Anyway, I guess he lived up to his rep of being totally focused on the game and his preparation for it. • The amount of Royals fans who traveled there from KC and specifically, the Northland. It’s one thing to see a bunch of San Francisco Giants or LA Dodgers or Arizona Diamondbacks fans running around everywhere, it’s quite another to see a plethora of Royals fans. It’s a decent trip getting there and it’s not cheap (I’m glad I have good credit). But Royals fans should be proud of the way they are represented at the Cactus League games in and around the Phoenix area. So, those are just a few observations. Like I said, we had a great time, an item was scratched of the bucket list and I would recommend spring training to any baseball fan. FREE SPEECH DOESN’T MEAN IT’S OK TO BREAK THE LAW Last week, we published a story about a Northland political action committee (PAC) that was cited by the Missouri Ethics Commission for violating state statutes concerning campaign finance disclosure. In the story, it was explained that the Ethics Commission investigated Taxpayer Protection PAC after The Citizen — that would be me — filed a complaint after last April’s election, in which the PAC sent out neat little neon postcards two days before the election urging voters to say no to the Platte County parks sales tax renewal. I did so — even though their efforts failed and the tax was renewed by a comfortable margin — because after I checked Taxpayer Protection PAC’s organizational papers and expenditure report at the Ethics Commission’s website, it was apparent to me that the PAC had not formed a minimum of 60 days prior to the election it was participating in, as it is required by state law to do. I also did it because I thought it was a sneaky and cowardly way to try to influence an election. Anyway, the story that we published included a statement from Taxpayer Protection PAC treasurer Evan Maxon, whose residence is listed in Parkville on the PAC’s forms. Maxon’s statement said that the PAC would have liked to fight the law in court, and that he and his Taxpayer Protection PAC buddies feel that law violates the first amendment. You know, the one guaranteeing freedom of speech. The statement, which I received by e-mail after I placed a few phone calls to Maxon and Taxpayer Protection PAC, also went on to blast yours truly through inference — it never named me directly — and questioned my commitment to freedom of speech. It also alleged that I only allowed Citizen paid advertisers to speak their opinions in my publication. I guess publishing their letter bashing me kind of shoots holes in that rubbish, huh? You know you’re getting to these right-wingers when they resort to questioning your ethics. The bottom line is this: as a newspaper owner, of course I cherish free speech. But not when it comes while breaking the law. And Taxpayer Protection PAC got caught breaking the law. It’s that simple. And these PACs do this stuff all the time — it’s about time somebody called them on it. I’m happy to do it. Thanks for reading.
Lee Stubbs is owner/publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.