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Great Minds: Hiltzik and Modesti Question AEG’s One-Sided Stadium Deal, McIntyre Finds the Citizen Hero Who Stopped Red-Light Cameras

By Kevin Modesti in the Daily News

The debate over whether to build a $1.2 billion
superstadium in downtown Los Angeles has a lot of moving parts. But they
spin around one fixed assumption: That the city and one of its most
powerful companies should find a way to hitch their futures to football.

If it’s me, and I happened to find $1.2 billion under a cushion, I would not invest it in America’s (current) favorite sport.

Before last year’s Super Bowl, I wrote a news feature in which
parents, youth coaches and sociology-of-sports observers said
football’s long-term popularity is threatened by rising awareness of its
health hazards. They envisioned a tad fewer great athletes going into
football in generations ahead. Which could mean a perceptible slide in
quality – and watchability.

The article didn’t cause great trembling among football
promoters, who imagine themselves as tough and as indestructible as they
imagine middle linebackers to be.

But since then, when statistics showed ex-pro football players
to be 19 times more likely to suffer memory-related disease, headlines
have raised the issue’s profile.

In February, Pro Bowl safety Dave Duerson committed suicide at
age 50 after years of mental and physical problems linked to brain
injuries. In early July, Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey died at 69
after a long battle with dementia. Two weeks ago, All-Pro center Forrest
Blue died at 65 after a 15-year fight with dementia.

(READ FULL STORY)       

By Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times

Take it from me: If you attend a City Hall hearing on the proposed
downtown pro football stadium/convention center project, you better be
spry enough to keep out of the way of the stampede.

I refer to the stampede by downtown politicians, business groups and
construction unions to drape the proposal with the label of that elusive
municipal quarry, the “win-win.” That was the case at a hearing last
week of the Los Angeles City Council’s ad hoc committee on the downtown
project, which convened to consider the tentative memorandum of understanding, or MOU, negotiated by city officials with AEG, the operator of Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex.

AEG, which is owned by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, is the promoter
of the project, which would be wedged next to Staples Center, L.A. Live
and the existing convention center. AEG’s president, Tim Leiweke, has
displayed a deft touch for making urban commercial developments work.
He’s also a master salesman. Under his leadership, AEG has built up a
reservoir of good will in the city, not least by spreading around
millions in political contributions. At the public event where AEG
unveiled its proposal in February, the slobbering by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosahttp://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20110731,0,1425488.column and other politicos was so copious you needed scuba gear to breathe.

So it’s perhaps encouraging to see that the city has refashioned AEG’s
original proposal to shift more financial risk off the taxpayers’
shoulders and onto the company. The council even refused Leiweke’s
demand that it meet a spurious deadline of Monday to approve the
tentative MOU, which in any case would still be subject to final
revisions. The ad hoc committee will meet again this week, followed by
another session of the full council a few days later, presumably for a
vote.

AEG has put the council under the gun to approve the tentative MOU
before it takes its summer recess in the next few weeks. The implicit
threat is that any greater delay could put the deal in jeopardy. Yet
nothing good can come of haste, and that sounds like a bluff. More to
the point, there are still lots of questions about whether the taxpayers
are as protected, and whether the project pencils out as neatly, as the
promoters claim.

(READ FULL STORY)


By Doug McIntyre in the Daily News

The City Council followed the unanimous recommendation of the Police Commission and also voted unanimously to end American Traffic Solutions’ abusive and extortive red-light camera rip-off.

We needed this.

With 180,000 tickets mailed to registered car owners since cameras first went up in 2004, a staggering $86 million has been sucked out of the economy by this blatant revenue scheme that produced zero public safety benefit – in fact increased accidents at some intersections – and cost the city over $1million a year to boot!

We can thank Jay Beeber for ending this madness.

Jay may not be famous like his singing almost-namesake, but anyone who cares about honest government should have “Beeber Fever.”

Beeber of Sherman Oaks formed Safer Streets L.A., which challenged the cameras and argued that measures like longer yellow lights could make intersections safer.

Jay Beeber proved we can fight City Hall and win, even against big money.

And American Traffic Solutions is huge money, with a $15 million contract on the line and possibly more considering the powerful client list represented by ATS’ lobbyist, Sage Advisors Inc.

Sage Advisors grabbed $150,000 representing ATS in City Hall. They also lobby for AEG, owners of Staples Center and the proposed downtown NFL stadium.

They also represent Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – the Department of Water and Power’s union -- whose head, Brian D’Arcy, is a kingmaker in L.A. politics.

Beeber wasn’t messing with lightweights when he entered this fight. And he won!

“You have to be relentless,” says Beeber. “And you have to know your stuff.”

(READ FULL STORY)

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5 Responses to Great Minds: Hiltzik and Modesti Question AEG’s One-Sided Stadium Deal, McIntyre Finds the Citizen Hero Who Stopped Red-Light Cameras

  1. Ernani Bernardi's ghost says:

    And yet – both the Times and Daily News endorsed Mr. Officer/Councilman “I can’t WAIT to vote for the stadium…tee hee” last time around.
    So much for the wisdom of Spring Street and the Green Sheet.

  2. Repeat Question says:

    If any of our tax dollars are being used for this (which could mean an increase in taxes or rates elsewhere), shouldn’t this be a ballot initiative?

  3. James McCuen says:

    The City has the right to finance projects with bonds and restructure existing finances.
    But anyone (with money) can put out a referendum including one on this deal.
    That would take someone with big bucks.

  4. anonymous says:

    Thanks for answering my question Mar McCuen.
    I wish I had the buck to do that. This will pass.
    Besides, it’s possible I’ll be moving, not that the next location will be any better. Wherever we go, it’s the same politicians, just different names.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “They also represent Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – the Department of Water and Power’s union — whose head, Brian D’Arcy, is a kingmaker in L.A. politics.”
    Um…. Local 11 is not run by Brian D’Arcy
    Good job Daily News. Who needs facts when you can just make shit up

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