At the height of his power when the leadership of LA still was driven by a vision of greatness for the city as well as greed for themselves, Tom Bradley pushed through a 1978 Charter measure that barred the use of public funds to support the 1984 Olympics because he knew it was the only way the people of the city would support it (Olympics-Charter.rtf).
It was a great Olympics by any measure, hugely profitable, a grand spectacle and dire warnings about traffic gridlock never materialized because trucks were banned from freeways during rush hours and major companies staggered their work hours.
Oh, what happy days those were!
It’s been a long downhill slide ever since as the commitment to public benefits has disappeared from the agenda of politicians and the civic and business leadership, resulting in thwarted demands from the people for major reforms from Valley secession to devolution of power through a borough system.
What happened instead as the broad coalition of developers, contractors, consultants, unions and other special interests coalesced into a political machine motivated only by self-interest as they looted the public treasury and profited from a war against the middle class that has driven hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs out of the city and chased away the very class that is the backbone of any community.
We are now at the point of no return.
City Hall is moving rapidly forward to gut the public’s protections from zoning and planning regulations in order to allow the continued profiteering by special interests from developments large and small.
The protectors of the public interest, the people who are supposed to make sure that every development, provides at least as much benefit to the public as to the private interest, are our elected officials.
That those officials have sold out the public interest for the political money and favors they get by squeezing all the “juice” they can from this network of special interests needs no further proof. It is transparent and has been for a long time.
So when it comes to as audacious and questionable a proposal as AEG’s to build an NFL stadium near its properties at Staples Center and LA Live, tear down half the Convention Center, rebuild it and take over its operation, we need to make sure the public interest is 100 percent protected.
Toward that end, we need the Bradley solution: An iron-clad Charter measure that takes AEG’s Tim Leiweke at his word that no public money will be used for it, that every element will be financed and paid for by AEG.
Here is draft language that could be put on the March ballot if the mayor and City Council are the least bit serious about giving this stadium proposal consideration:
“The City of Los Angeles, its officers, employees, agencies and instrumentalities shall be prohibited both directly and indirectly from appropriating funds, issuing bonds, lending credit, diverting funds received or to be received under grants, levying taxes or assessments, incurring expenses, making or undertaking any capital expenditures, or entering into any financial agreements in aid or in furtherance of the of the development or construction of a professional football stadium and related Convention Center project. The City of Los Angeles shall be prohibited from surrendering any admissions, ticket, parking and similar attendance connected taxes or revenues from these venues to private interests for a professional football stadium and related Convention Center project.”
Without that protection for the public, it is unthinkable to even consider this proposal.
Leiweke claims AEG built Staples entirely by itself (see videos) when it got a $14 million subsidy and the land for it was seized by the Community Redevelopment Agency and turned over to it. He also ignores the fact that the luxury hotel at LA Live gets to keep the 10 percent hotel tax — a $300 million gift of public money — that other businesses don’t get and the public doesn’t get the benefit of the revenue so badly needed when services are being slashed.
There’s a lot of other serious questions about this proposal but there’s no point in even talking about unless the public interest is fully protected.