Don’t mess with Mike Antonovich – he’s the closest thing
to an untouchable politician in these parts since Kenny Hahn.
Nothing sticks to him. Many who tried to set a fire at
his feet can tell you now they ended up badly burned sooner or later.
So what kind of arrogant fool would try to besmirch his
reputation and use his wife to do it, the beautiful Chinese actress Christina Hu,
the mother of his two children?
Who else but the man who brought all 18 elected LA city
officials to their knees, who spit in the face of the city-county-state
appointees to the Coliseum Commission and now has laid down the law to the entire
Legislature of the great State of California.
The foolish pride of Tim Leiweke knows no bounds these
days. He drools like a starving man at the prospect of feasting on the billions
in profits from owning a football stadium with two pro teams and a college
team, running the nation’s fifth largest convention center, filling thousands
of his hotel rooms with visitors on company credit cards, and packing his
overpriced restaurants and bars.
The hubris of it all, it’s gone to Leiweke’s head. He
dismisses critics as “crazies,” competitors he calls “liars,” everybody else
from ordinary citizens to non-profit do-gooders to elected officials are
nothing but beggars with their hands out willing to sell out to him for a penny
on the dollar.
King Tim’s latest bombshell came Tuesday and got this
headline on the LA Times front page: “Stadium foe backs down in the face of a
“Intensifying its push for an NFL stadium in downtown
L.A., entertainment conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group launched an
unusually direct and public attack on one of the most prominent critics of the
proposal,” the story begins.
What Antonovich was proposing to his colleagues on the
County Board of Supervisors where he has served for 31 years was what they
supported two years again when Gloria Molina opposed AEG’s rival and former
partner Ed Roski effort to get the legislature to exempt his stadium project in
the City of Industry from the California Environmental Quality Act.
What Antonovich got was a letter from Leiweke’s lawyer sent
all over town accusing him of a conflict of interest because his wife has a bit
of a dispute with AEG or rather its Chinese spinoff which hired her as a
consultant and she says didn’t pay her something like $200,000 she was owed.
As a famous actress in China and incidentally the wife of
a powerful LA political figure, Christina Hu Antonovich was sought out by AEG’s
people in Shanghai who wanted her to show them the ropes and to introduce them
to the only kind of people they respect, the rich and the powerful
The company, AEG Business Management Consulting, is based
in Shanghai-based and trying to develop sports venues, presumably in the way
Anschutz does such things with bribery, blackmail and influence peddling.
For the moment, Antonovich backed down to the bullying by
AEG, a $10 billion company spawned by the public subsidies that built Staples
Center and LA Live.
was quite surprised at the reaction of the AEG, interjecting my wife into a situation that has
no relationship to this because her involvement was in a helping to assist in
an effort in China with a city that she was a resident, where she was born but
she is an American citizen as you all know,” Antonovich told his colleagues.
will withdraw this motion at this time but my concerns are still there. But I really
have lost — let’s say faith in people who try to interject a family member into
a policy decision that this board has had previous positions
for and in working to protect the interests of the taxpayers of this county
that any special legislation that’s ever passed ought to also include nonprofit
and those vital projects like schools and libraries. They should not be victimized
and held hostage to that type of action.”
Leiweke has gone too far this time. He’s given greed a
bad name, which is no small accomplishment in an age when greed isn’t just
good, it’s like holy water providing absolution for wickedness.
Anybody who has watched Mike Antonovich over his
four-decade career in politics knows he is a patient man, a shrewd politician
who is both a formidable ally and a dangerous foe, a man who usually gets what
What’s important to note in this case is that Antonovich
isn’t a foe of the stadium as much as someone who thinks CEQA is abused to
block or delay important public projects like a hospital in Antelope Valley in
his district and ought to be fixed for everyone, not just AEG.
Leiweke could care less.
As the Times’ article notes AEG “has become increasingly
aggressive in its arguments for the $1.2-billion stadium, putting pressure on
state legislators … threatened to abandon its
stadium … lashed out at (Roski’s) Majestic Realty.”
“With an extensive retinue of lobbyists and community organizers, AEG sent hundreds of construction workers, high school football players and hospitality industry workers to state and local hearings on the stadium, which has a planned opening date of 2016. The company also has retained Martin Ludlow, a former Los Angeles city councilman convicted five years ago in a felony campaign finance case, to build support among neighborhoods and youth sports teams.”
Leiweke said Tuesday that his company’s recent
assertions, coming just days before the Legislature goes into recess, were an
effort to respond to critics. “Everyone is taking free shots,” he
said in a statement. “Are we trying to set the record straight so that
those that are questioning our intentions … are called out? Yes.”
Shameless and unrepentant, here’s Leiweke’s defense for
Ask yourselves why would anyone do business with someone
like him, with a company life AEG that buys its “friends,” bullies its
opponents and fears anything resembling an honest public debate.