Calling the charade that passed for the City Council’s debate on AEG’s stadium deal a dog and pony show does a disservice to both canines and equines.
Dogs and ponies would have howled and snorted if they found themselves part of such event where the house was packed with union and business types with their hands out hoping to catch some of the cash being bestowed by Tim Leiweke in his divine benevolence on the peasants of the realm.
The Queen of Downtown Development, wannabe mayorJan Perry, set the tone at the outset of the Council’s long-awaited former unveiling of the deal by asking all those who support the AEG’s stadium/Convention Center plan to stand up and cheer. Her rival for such office and occupancy rights to Getty House, Eric Garcetti, made the same point at the start of Public Comment by counting the speaker cards: 42 for, 7 neutral, 2 against.
Then, he agreed with babbling Tom LaBonge’s suggestion and limited comment to one-minute per person, maybe two minutes at most.
At that very moment, Earvin “Magic” Johnson miraculously, or magically at least, materialized out of nowhere and was given the podium. The one-minute clock never started as Magic offered God’s blessing to one and all, offered praise for how well the Council is doing God’s work and assured believers and non-believers that what AEG plans for the city is proof positive of God’s love us, and this City of Angels.
With that, he offered a final blessing and revealed that it is his business partner, Tim Leiweke, is the one chosen to lead us to this promised land where our great love for football will again find voice in the roar of the crowds at Farmers Field.
Poor Vince Ferragamo was assigned to follow Magic’ opening act. But it didn’t matter. AEG already has won the day.
Mitch Englander embarassed himself by wishing out loud that he good vote to approve the deal right then instead of waiting a week.
Only Paul Krekorian asked tough questions but seemed content with the same kind of non-answers that Bill Rosendahl has gotten.
To their credit, the city’s negotiators, Miguel Santana and Gerry Miller, have moved the terms of the deal with AEG from a complete giveaway of the public’s wealth to ultra-conservative Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz to the point where it’s only a substantial giveaway.
With the ball teed up for elected officials to squeeze out a real share of the profits from this deal. it would impossible not to think what County Supervisors like Zev Yaroslavsky, Mike Antonovich or Gloria Molina would have done under the same circumstances.
Quite simply, the mayor and City Council are leaving a fortune on the table.if Leiweke’s boasts about how much this will mean to the city’s economy, the tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, the millions of tourists, the new luxury hotels, the booming Convention Center.
Officially, right there in the negotiating documents, the deal is barely profitable, returning just 6.9 percent in profits on its investment to AEG.
Why the fracking gas driller and oil wildcatter could make nearly that much taking his entire $7 billion kitty and putting it in the Bank of China down the street from Staples Center.
That is the big lie at the heart of the deal. Anschutz might give away millions to charities and right-wing causes but he doesn’t invest his money in projects with prospects for paltry rates of return.
What was obscured by the AEG-paid city consultant CSL — a company that has been involved in 15 stadium deals on side of owners as well as governments — is that Anschutz’s actual investment will turn out to a fraction of the $1.2 billion thanks to the NFL and the two teams he will bring to L.A. and the profits will be enormously higher with the 40 or digital billboards that will adorn the stadium and rebuilt Convention Center.
For all their experience, the CSL consultants have a long history of under-estimating the actual cost of stadiums to local governments. In this case, the issue of costs to the public for freeway, street, transit and other infrastructure improvements were not even looked at so the cost-benefit analysis is meaningless, just numbers on a sheet of paper.
This was a done deal a long time ago and nothing will stop it or redefine the terms to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. Maybe it’s time we stop kidding ourselves. Big business, big labor and big government have become inseparably united, an irresistible force.
Let’s just turn over the whole city to AEG and Tim Leiweke and the man of the hour, his business partner Magic Johnson.
Who better than Magic to be our next mayor? He’s rich and famous and has God on his side.