The price you pay for bigotry: Is Clippers owner Donald Sterling getting off too easy?

I was listening to various radio hosts poll listeners about the fine levied against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling as punishment for disparaging comments he made about black folks.

NBA officials said Sterling has admitted that the voice on an infamous recording first released by TMZ was his. Sterling is heard telling a friend, identified as V. Stiviano, that she should not associate with black people or bring them to Clippers games.

Callers into the radio shows were outraged that the price Sterling would pay for his bigotry wasn’t high enough.

The NBA has banned Sterling for life from any association with the league or the Clippers and fined him $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed by the league.

But the punishment may not stop there. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he is going to try to force Sterling to sell the team.

“The league constitution allows owners to be forced out for offenses such as gambling, rigging games or ordering the team not to show up for games,” writes The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold and Matt Zapotosky. “There is nothing that fits Sterling’s comments precisely. The closest might be a provision to force a sale if an owner should ‘fail or refuse to fulfill its contractual obligations . . . in such a way as to affect the Association or its Members adversely.’ ”

Forcing Sterling to sell must be approved by three-quarters of the NBA owners. But even if Sterling sells, he still makes out big time. The team is worth millions.

“Would the end result be better if he made nothing from his ownership?” Post columnist Jonathan Capehart asks. “Yeah, but this is America. No matter how unsavory and loathsome you are, if you sell your profitable business, you should profit from its sale. But whatever money Sterling gains from unloading the Clippers, he’ll never be able to buy respect.”

Color of Money Question of the Week

In the end, will Sterling really pay the price for his racist comments? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name and city.

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Mother’s Day Deals

My husband, asking on behalf of my children, wanted to know what I’d like for Mother’s Day and if I wanted to dine out.

What I want for Mother’s Day can’t be found in a store. Really, all I want is a quiet day at home or a long, uninterrupted nap.

I don’t want to cook, but I also don’t want to eat out. I asked him to grill at home instead of having us go out for some overpriced meal deal at a local restaurant.

But that’s just me. If you know your mom or wife would like a nice gift, the time to get bargains on certain items may have passed.

“We’ve seen jewelry styles actually increase in price at the beginning of the month, and buying such items now means you may not be getting the best possible value,” writes Lindsay Sakraida in a blog post at MoneyTalkNews.com. “Instead, consider gifting Mom something that’s seeing great deals, like spring clothing.”

Unfriendly Skies: Nickel-and-Diming Us to Death

With summer vacation time coming soon, you may have already begun looking for discount flights. And you may be getting annoyed at being nickel-and-dimed by the airlines. I know I am.

Frontier is the latest carrier to announce new fees, including charging you if you want to select your own seat. Understand what I’m saying: I’ve come to expect up-charges for seats with more leg room, but Frontier is now going to impose a fee for passengers who want to select their seats when they book their flight, reports the Associated Press.

Frontier says the new fees will allow it to lower base fares by an average of 12 percent.

What baloney. By the time you add up fees for various things such as choosing your seat, carrying on a bag or ordering a bottle of water, that discount becomes less and less of a price break.

Seat assignments — even for the dreaded middle seat — will cost an extra $3 for those who buy while booking online; $8 at check-in, AP reports. If don’t pay the fee, Frontier will assign you whatever seats are left over.

“For ‘select’ seats, which are just in the front half of the plane, Frontier will charge an extra $5 to $15 per flight, depending on when they are purchased,” according to AP. Those seats with an extra five to seven inches of leg room will cost $15 to $50 per flight segment, depending on the distance flown. Oh, and get this: Passengers connecting to other flights have to pay each fee twice.

Want to use the overhead bin for your carry-on? It will cost from $20 for frequent fliers who book online to $50 for those who don’t pay until they get to the gate. Frontier previously only charged a fee for carry-on bags to people who booked the cheapest tickets through third-party sites such as Expedia and Orbitz, reported AP.

Spirit Airlines began charging customers carry-on fees in 2010 and now has two dozen baggage fees, depending on when you book and where your bags are stored, reports Time magazine.

I’m all for a discount. I’m a life-long penny pincher, but I hate the nickel-and-dime approach these airlines are taking. I flew Frontier once. Hated it. Boarding took longer than usual because the gate check-in folks tested to make sure every carry-on bag was of a certain size. Even people with small backpacks or clearly tiny carry-on items had to place them in a metal bag-sizing box. It was ridiculous. Passengers were annoyed. The gate agents were testy because people were annoyed. It was not a pleasant flight.

And passengers who were unaware of the add-on fee for beverages complained about having to pay for soft drinks, which prompted an aggravated and surly flight attendant to tell the person sitting next to me: “Tell it to management. They won’t listen to us.”

Is Home Ownership Worth It?

Americans are more likely to think real estate is the best option for long-term investments, ranking ahead of stocks and gold, according to a recent Gallup poll.

But owning a home has not proved to be a terribly lucrative investment, either, writes Catherine Rampell, an opinion columnist at The Washington Post. “Never mind that so many people lost their shirts (among other possessions) in the recent housing bust,” she says.

So I asked: Is homeownership still worth it?

One of the best comments I received came from Amy Haden of Scottsville, Va. She wrote: “I’ve never understood why people think of their homes as investments, either. Or express the difference between renting and owning a home in only financial terms. To me, home ownership is basically a lifestyle choice. I love being at home, doing what I want inside and outside. There is no place I’d rather be. I even vacation at home!”

However, Haden went on to say: “If people thought about it, they would see, that if you have a mortgage, your house is definitely not an investment. It’s a debt. And even if you own your home outright, it’s not worth anything until you sell it, and then you still need another place to live. And what happens if you cannot sell it when you want? So, a house is simply a house. I’ll keep saving and investing for my future in other ways — Roth IRA, 401K and even the good-old federally insured savings account at my local bank!”

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com. Follow Michelle on Twitter.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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