Field of Schemes: Crony Capitalism Is Alive and Well in L.A.’s Pursuit of Pro Football.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Troy Senik,a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom and a contributor at Ricochet.com, wrote this article for City Journal. 

By Troy Senik, City Journal

California, a state whose greatest innovation in recent years has been finding creative ways to inhibit economic growth,
stepped out of character in late September: it went easy on a
developer. Seated at a table outside the Los Angeles Convention Center,
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill expediting the resolution of legal
challenges to–and thus speeding the construction of–Farmers Field, the
stadium that, its backers hope, will usher in the National Football
League’s return to the City of Angels.

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This is the latest step in L.A.’s nearly two-decade-long effort to
exorcise the Ghost of Christmas Past. The yuletide in question was in
1994, when both of the region’s professional football teams–the Los
Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Raiders–played their final games in the
Southland on Christmas Eve. By the time the next season rolled around,
the Rams had decamped to their new home in St. Louis, and the Raiders
had retraced their steps northward, departing downtown L.A. for Oakland,
the city that they left in 1982.

___________________________________________

The plan even manages to debit taxpayers in other states. Los Angeles officials in February used
$1 million in federal community-development grant money–earmarked for
“the most vulnerable in our communities”–to move the architecture firm
working on Farmers Field from Santa Monica to a location near the site
of the future stadium. The highly questionable idea was that a new
stadium would produce enough economic benefits to qualify as a public
good, though the experiences of similarly situated cities in the past
have almost universally disproved that supposition.

When Governor Brown signed the bill speeding up the AEG project, he
said, “There are too many damn regulations, let’s be clear about that.”
He was certainly correct about the excesses of California’s regulatory
regime. But he ignored the fact that the same bureaucracy that impedes
stadium projects with stratospheric price tags also chokes off prospects
for much smaller businesses throughout the state. While enormous
corporations like AEG and Roski’s Majestic Realty can grease the
legislative skids to make their development projects viable, small and
midsize entrepreneurs enjoy no similar source of relief. Removing those
burdens for all Californians, at a time when the state’s
unemployment rate is stuck above 12 percent, would demonstrate a serious
commitment to jump-starting economic growth. Removing them for just a
privileged few is nothing more than crony capitalism.

(READ FULL STORY)

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Down the path to mutual destruction — Sunday Column for News-Press & Leader

When the queen of upbeat soulful talk and self-empowerment gets the
blues about the state of the world, you know something is wrong, really
wrong.

“The world is a mess. We all know it and talk about in our
private lives,” Oprah Winfrey posted on her Facebook page last week as
part of her promotion for her new “Lifeclass” show on her OWN cable
network.

“It’s depressing and overwhelming at times to look at how much potential
we have and yet we’re constantly bombarded by images and information
that speaks to the lowest common denominator. We can do better. We can
be better. I know it’s true.”

So do I.

The challenge is to figure out how we get from where we are to where have to be.

Think
about this: Oprah was unseated from her No. 1 ranking this year on
Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful celebrities by Lady Gaga.
Justin Bieber ranked third.

Talk about LCD, lowest common
denominator — it is pretty sad when you think about it, when you think
about how we have allowed ourselves to be trivialized for commercial
exploitation and reduced ourselves to being party to a culture that
celebrates outrageous misconduct and demeans age-old virtues.

This
weekend at the L.A. Convention Center — the white elephant loser that
is going to be rebuilt to justify putting in a football stadium to
enrich a billionaire and add to the circus atmosphere of downtown — is
hosting two events: A medical marijuana expo and a star-studded
porn-queen convention.

“The combination of Hempcon and EXXXOTICA
is a virtual playground for inquisitive adults,” an organizer declared.
“We are getting an amazing reaction from the people of Los Angeles. Our
show always does well in L.A., but we are expecting even greater results
with EXXXOTICA next door.”

Potheads meet Sex Freaks — what could better symbolize the decline and fall of Los Angeles?

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One More Lie from AEG, One Less LA Convention

AEG’s TIm Leiweke has good reason for pulling out all stops to block anyone from suing over his NFL stadium plan in downtown LA — lies aren’t perjury if you didn’t swear on a stack of Bibles in court to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

No sooner did Leiweke bamboozle the City Attorney’s office and the City Council into signing off on a Memorandum of Understanding that gives away the farm to AEG for next to nothing, then we learn a key element wasn’t the way AEG said it was.

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It took the Society of Critical Care Medicine to figure out that the framework stadium plan just approved is not what it was supposed o be with regards to the promise that the new wing of the LA Convention Center — a $2 billion white elephant heading towards its fourth disastrous incarnation — will be completed and operational before the old wing is demolished.

The medical association on Thursday canceled plans to hold a gathering of 5,000 members at the Convention Center in February 2014 after the group’s CEO David Martin was “told by officials with the Los Angeles’ convention and visitors bureau, known as LA Inc., that part of the new building would overlap with the existing one, so the latter would have to be removed before the former is built,” according to Associated Press reporter Jacob Adelman..

“We really can’t risk our largest event of the year on construction,” said Martin, who added that the group had not changed an existing plan to hold its 2021 convention at the Los Angeles venue. 

LA Inc. spokeswoman Carol Martinez could not immediately account for the discrepancy between the construction schedule related to Martin and the plan that was approved by city officials, AP reported. She said she regretted the medical group’s cancellation, but saw it as an acceptable loss in light of what would be an improved convention center campus that can attract bigger events once work is complete.

“In the long run, this will be extremely beneficial,” she said.  

Don’t expect anyone involved in this sham to lose much sleep over the exposure of this deceit, certainly not ambitious state Sen. Kevin DeLeon who is holding a dog-and-pony show Friday for Leiweke’s stadium plan to drum up support for the legislation needed to exempt the deal from legal challenge under the state’s tough environmental laws.

The event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan State Building’s auditorium (AEG-DeLeon.docx) is headlined “Community Impacts of Proposed Stadium Weighed by State Senate Select Committee on Sports and Entertainment.


Since the departure of the Raiders
for Oakland in 1995, Los Angeles has not had an National Football League team.
Friday’s hearing will examine the latest plan to bring football back to Los
Angeles,” the press release says. “This proposal must be fully scrutinized to expose any financial risk
to taxpayers and to reveal potential environmental impacts. This project
will be thoroughly vetted to ensure that any action improves the local
residents’ quality of life.”

To fulfill his commitment for scrutiny and vetting, DeLeon who surely must be headed to the City Council has set up six “panels” starting with NFL defensive great Michael Strahan as a solo act on Panel 1 called “The Need for Football Downtown” and Leiweke as a solo on Panel 3.called “Minimizing Taxpayer Risk, Stadium Financing and the Return of Football.”

In between them, CLA Gerry Miller and his assistant Mark Whitaker who negotiated the MOU with AEG will defend what they have wrought. Panel No.4 features four union leaders answering the topic question “Will Farmers Field Create Jobs?” in the affirmative based on Leiweke’s claims.

There might be some concerns expressed in the last two panels but I doubt if they will be very loud. They bring together experts for “Examining Land Use and Environmental Concerns” and community people for “Balancing the Event Center and Community Needs.”

It’s probably worth noting that immediately after shilling for Leiweke, DeLeon is rushing to Vernon where the Chamber of Commerce of the notoriously corrupt town is staging a rally in support of his plan for “reform” instead of Assembly Speaker John Perez’s nuclear option of dissolving Vernon and making it an unincorporated part of the LA County governed by the Board of Supervisors.

Tim Leiweke Says Thank You L.A. — New Questions about Bloated City Revenue Claims



Hi
——,

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Los Angeles City Council voted
unanimously on Tuesday to approve the memorandum of understanding on
Farmers Field and the New Hall for the Los Angeles Convention Center.

I wanted to personally express my gratitude for your time, effort, and
support of Farmers Field – and I couldn’t just do it in writing. Please
take a look at this video I recorded and share it with all of the Farmers
Field fans you know: 


This project – and the jobs, economic revenue, city pride and professional
football it will bring with it – would not have been possible without your
hard work.

There is still a lot to do before we break ground on the project. Stay
tuned for updates on the progress of Farmers Field, and for ways that you
can stay involved in the process.

For now, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. From everyone at
AEG, thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Tim Leiweke

President & CEO
AEG


Even as Leiweke was blasting out his “thank you” to the business, labor and civic leaders who aligned with his NLF stadium proposal, new questions were being raised about the claims made about the financial benefits to the city and region.

Associated Press writer Jacob Adelman, doing far and away the best reporting on L.A. these days, went through the details of AEG’s and the city’s analyses of the project and after talking with experts concluded that “a close reading of an economic study that AEG released last month shows that the promise of a sales and property tax windfall appears to be overblown.”

“It anticipates a highly optimistic number of events, some of which would not be new to the region. And a chunk of the tax revenue included in the tally is apparently already spoken for by other projects.”

AEG’s financial study by Metropolitan Research and Economics estimatedthat new economic activity from the stadium and rebuilt LA Convention Center would yield $41.8 million a year in new tax revenue for the city, county and state, with more than half going to the city,” $11.6 million hotel room taxes.

Yet, two of the largest hotel offerings in the area got breaks on those taxes to spur their development. The JW Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels in AEG’s adjacent LA Live entertainment complex get to keep their respective room taxes until 2035, unless better-than-expected business gets it to a maximum rebate of $246 million before that.

“Also unlikely to materialize are the $3.1 million in property tax and $1 million in parking taxes that the study says would go to the city, since the deal approved this week would earmark that cash for the repayment of a loan taken out to move the convention center building.”


Adelman notes the city’s own consultants expect $14.7 million in new taxes to the city, a third less than AEG’s study.  


He concludes:

“With the vast majority of sales tax money going to state and county government agencies, it is questionable how much of an impact on tax rolls these events would be if they are simply shifted around the region, said David Carter, a sports marketing professor at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

“Is the fact that you’re moving the game two miles going to affect how much is spent?” he said. “How much is that spending actually different from what is already occurring in the area?”

(READ FULL STORY)

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The Lies That Blind: The Truth about AEG’s Stadium, the Convention Center and City Hall

UPDATE 2:10 p.m.: John Semcken, Vice President Majestic Realty and the man in charge of the alternative NFL stadium plan in the City of Industry, just released a statement about the City Council’s decision: “Our
stadium proposal will generate more money, jobs and long-term success
for the region and the NFL. We are more active than ever and are
currently working with the league, owners and teams to bring a franchise
back to Los Angeles.” 
Also, listen to Which Way L.A.? with Warren Olney at 7 p.m. tonight where Rick Orlov, Jan Perry and me will be talking about the downtown L.A. stadium.

EDITOR”S NOTE: The City Council approved AEG’s stadium/’Convention Center deal on Tuesday without asking any new questions or seeking to add any new terms. It was unanimous with Dennis Zine and Tom LaBonge absent. The city’s documents and consultant’s reports can be found by clicking here. You can also read some of the concerns raised by community activist and researcher Joyce Dillard (JOYCE DILLARD.docx) and by USC Adjunct Professor Quentin Fleming (fLEMING-submission.pdf) and (QFleming Aug9.pdf)
Under City Council rules imposed by President Eric Garcetti, a quorum must be present by 10:15 a.m. or the meeting will be cancelled. 
Garcetti made an exception Tuesday when not even 10 members could bother to show up on time. The reason for the exception was that AEG’s Tim Leiweke had laid down the law that he wanted the Memorandum of Understanding for the NFL stadium/Convention Center project approved and in hand without further delay since it already nine days past the deadline he had set in his ultimatum months ago.
As the clock clicked past 10:30 a.m., the glibly deceitful Garcetti declared he would wait longer “out of courtesy” to the public in attendance in the Council Chamber — not out of subservience to Leiweke.
On the scale of all the grand lies that have been told about this deal, it was a minor fib.
Start with the claim, the MOU is “non-binding.” It is only in the sense the city could walk away from the deal. But the MOU provides the controlling terms, the framework that “guides the development of definitive agreements that will establish contractual obligations for the project,” city documents say. Or as the LA Times said in endorsing the deal Tuesday despite numerous misgivings, the MOU does not bind the city “entirely” — substantially but not entirely or it wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.
Then, look at the city’s unalterable demand that any Convention Center deal create one million square feet of contiguous space so L.A. can attract the biggest conventions.
The MOU actually provides for less Convention Center space (down from 750,000 to 720,000 square feet) than now exists although it would be contiguous with the West Hall torn down and rebuilt at a cost $275 million.
The city’s consultant CSL implies that the price tag is actually going to be much higher and the stadium with a retractable roof cost will run far more than $1.2 billion being discussed when the Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey cost $1.6 billion without a roof, without needing to be safe in earthquakes. 
The deceit is compounded by claiming the football stadium itself will push the available space over the one million mark when CSL points out that space will only come into play in two possible events a year at most.
The whole theory that sinking this kind of money into the Convention Center when the old West Hall could be modernized for $50 million is doubtful. The Convention Center has been a white elephant financial disaster for the city for 40 years, bleeding $45 million a year from the general fund in the best of times, far more in the worst of times, more than $1 billion over time.
The revenue the city actually expects to get for the general fund from this whole deal over and above debt service on the rebuilt wing of the Convention Center is estimated at $210 million over 30 years — $7 million a year, leaving the general fund still losing $38 million for debt service on the main hall.
Then, there’s the problem of what it takes for the city to attract even five more large conventions on top of the 23 it now gets.
L.A. now has only 1,700 hotel rooms within a half mile of the Convention Center and needs to build 5,500 more rooms to support those additional conventions. That’s five more Ritz-Carlton/JW Marriott skyscrapers nearby.
AEG’s financial figures used by the consultants claim Phil Anschutz, the right-wing owner of AEG, wants to gamble on a $1.2 billion stadium in hopes of earning a 6.7 percent profit. Trust me Phil Anschutz is a gambler, an oil and gas wildcatter who never invested a penny in something producing such a low profit.
The consultants only looked at revenue from one football team playing at Farmers Field, not two which is clearly the NFL’s intent, and they badly underestimated the revenue from the dozens of digital billboards — revenue that AEG gets all of just as they get all $700 million from naming rights and hundreds of millions from secondary sponsors.
That’s all gravy for AEG but what about the two NFL teams. Can they really sell out 74,000 seats every Sunday from August to January with the average price running somewhere between $200 and $300 — that’s average, not top prices.
This is a 14-acre city-owned property that AEG is leasing for $5 million a year. They call it a “fair market” price yet a property around the corner just sold at a price that would make the land for the stadium worth well close to $300 million —meaning  AEG is getting the land at a fraction of what it’s worth, a gift of public money if ever there were one.
How will the month-long Auto Show in November or any other fall conventions operate when football games with huge crowds are going on every Sunday? 
How will football games and their huge crowds impact all the Lakers, Clippers and Kings games on Sunday?
Non-answer answers were enough to satisfy the Council’s only critic of this deal, Bill Rosendahl. But they won’t stop the controversy that swirls around it as long as the city officials leave hundreds of millions of dollars on the table and fails to face the truth of the upsides and downsides.
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AEG Stadium Critics Plead for Fair Share of Profits for the People — Cries That Fall on Council’s Deaf Ears

EDITOR’S NOTE: With Bill Rosendahl joining the chorus of supporters, Jan Perry’s Ad Hoc Committee unanimously voted Wednesday evening to recommend approval of the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with AEG for construction of an NFL stadium and the tearing down and rebuilding of the old West Wing of the LA Convention Center. USC Adjunct Business Prof. Quentin Fleming and business Cary Brazeman, founder of L.A. Neighbors United which has bought full-page newspaper advertisements about the deal, raised new questions about why the city isn’t getting a fair share of the profits. Here’s video of Fleming’s remarks to the Committee and Brazeman’s written submission to the Committee and video of his remarks.



Honorable Councilmembers:

We are pleased to provide these observations, comments and questions about the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Los Angeles and AEG for the development of a new professional football stadium and event center, and a reconfiguration of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

First, many thanks and much appreciation to the City Team of negotiators. Due to their efforts, the City is in a significantly better place today than it was several months ago. Taxpayer risk has been significantly mitigated, though some have jokingly suggested that the only way to fully mitigate the risk is for the City to accept Mr. Anschutz’s children as collateral to secure AEG’s obligations. We certainly wouldn’t object to that!

Attention now should be paid to increasing the deal’s hard return to the City, so the project helps fund essential City services beyond project-specific debt service. If the City leaves money on the table, it’s the same as giving taxpayer money away.

Continue reading AEG Stadium Critics Plead for Fair Share of Profits for the People — Cries That Fall on Council’s Deaf Ears

Welcome to Blade Runner City — There’s No Turning Back

Editor’s Note: City officials released two documents Tuesday that answer some of the many questions about AEG’s stadium/Convention Center, including those posed by Councilman Bill Rosendahl (AEG-Rosendahl.pdf) and others that arose at Jan Perry’s ad hoc committee meetings (Questions-for-AEG-Addendum.pdf), including those raised by business and financial expert Quentin Fleming.
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This isn’t Chinatown anymore, Jake. It’s Blade Runner City.
We’ve reach the point of no return.
Plopping a giant football stadium into downtown, plastering digital signage all around it and the rebuilt Convention Center designed as a match, throw up several hotel towers like the planned new Wilshire Grand that is going to be a 50-story billboard and you’ve got Los Angeles 2019 — Blade Runner City, just as director Ridley Scott envisioned it nearly 30 years ago.
Which came first — the dystopian City of Angels or the filmmaker’s vision of where L.A. was headed? 
When you look at AEG’s L.A. Live/Staples Center/Marriott-Ritz-Carlton, there can’t be any doubt that Ridley Scott’s movie has inspired architects and designers to create a reality resembling the nightmare world evoked in “Blade Runner.”
The stadium is the piece that will bring the vision to life.
In an article last week, Time magazine wrote glowingly about the “Manhattanization” of downtown L.A., quoting Convention Center CEO Pouria Abbassi about the need to tear down the West Hall and build something that architecturally blends with what AEG is doing:
“Forget about functionality; aesthetics-wise it’s just very odd. It
stands out,” said Abbassi, calling the West Hall’ built in 1971 an antique “juxtaposed to L.A. Live
and Staples Center.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry boasted that what has happened is the result of a
concerted effort by city officials to use tax revenue to make downtown
“an area that can be considered alive 24/7 and be a major center for
arts, entertainment and culture,”
That’s true. For 30 years, City Hall has taken billions of dollars in taxes and poured that money into subsidizing development in downtown (and Hollywood) while the rest of the city deteriorated, poverty soared, jobs disappeared. Pipes are 100 years old, the electrical system is out of date, streets and sidewalks have crumbled.
It is a failed vision.
Last Saturday, 60,000 people were at the Coliseum for L.A. Rising, thousands of others at Staples and L.A. Live for the X Games, yet two blocks away on Figueroa and Flower, all the restaurants were closed as usual at lunch time and streets deserted.
By contrast, Little Tokyo  was jammed with people strolling, shopping, grabbing a bite to eat while there was hardly a soul to be seen on Bunker Hill or along Grand Avenue near Disney Hall.
The discontent that has driven so many big companies and hundreds of thousands of middle class families out of the city arose from the decision made by the city’s political, business and civic leadership after the election of Tom Bradley as mayor to pour the public’s wealth into downtown.
A lot of people got fabulously rich on it, and the city got a lot poorer — actually losing tens of thousands of jobs despite having a million more people than three decades ago.
They built a subway and light rail system that only went to downtown but skipped every single major destination point from the airport to the Coliseum to Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl.
They built towering glass and steel skyscrapers around plazas that took people off the streets, resulting in a downtown that is cold, unfriendly to pedestrian traffic unlike the great avenues of New York, Chicago, San Francisco or other great cities.
Now they are going to build a giant football stadium that will create nearly 7,000 jobs, many part-time, all but a few hundred of them low-paying service jobs,
And they are going to rebuild the Convention Center which is so saddled with debt it robs at least $45 million a year from libraries, parks, police and other core services by borrowing even more in hopes of getting a few more major events, five at most, none of them utilizing the football stadium, according to their own documents.
But to even stand a chance to get those new conventions, 5,000 new hotel rooms will have to be built within half a mile of the Convention Center — all of them subsidized, all of them plastered with digital billboards.
Welcome to Blade Runner City. Turn out the lights on L.A., the electricity is going to be needed to keep those bright lights of downtown burning 24/7.Enhanced by Zemanta

Lots of big questions remain about proposed AEG stadium project

EDITOR”S NOTE: Here’s the Op-Ed piece I wrote for Monday’s edition of the Daily News. Councilwoman Jan Perry — leading advocate for the stadium — is holding public hearings at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall and 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Van Nuys City Hall. On Friday, the full Council will take up the issue for the first time with approval expected by mid-August.

You can take super-salesman Tim Leiweke’s word for
what the deal is for AEG’s proposed downtown football stadium — it just
depends which day of the week he’s talking and which side of his mouth
he’s talking from.

The proposal has shifted more times than the earthquake-prone ground beneath Los Angeles.

Back in December, Leiweke, president and CEO of AEG, gave the
city 90 days to sign off on a deal. When that didn’t work, he issued an
ultimatum that he needed a done deal by July 31 or it is dead.

Now, the deadline is Aug. 20, unless there’s still 100
unanswered questions and enough public concern to allow for a full and
complete examination of what half a dozen City Council members have
called the most important decision they will make during their years of
public service.

The $1 billion stadium with a retractable roof will seat
64,000 – or maybe it’s 75,000 and really will only cost $850 million.
That’s barely half the cost of the roof-less Meadowlands Stadium in New
Jersey, and a third less than the domed Dallas Cowboys new stadium – if
you believe Leiweke.

AEG will operate the torndown and rebuilt white elephant
Convention Center – or maybe it won’t. It will guarantee the payments
for the $350 million the city has to borrow for the Convention Center
(or is it only $285 million?) – or maybe it won’t.

AEG will get the land for a dollar a year – or maybe it will pay fair-market rent. It will split the tax revenue with the  city — or maybe not. It will keep all the money
from numerous digital billboards and the $700 million in naming rights
from Farmers Insurance — a company with a history of anti-unionism and
employee and customer lawsuits — or maybe it will share some with the
city.

The one consistency in his story is that L.A. will be mobbed by
millions of tourists and conventioneers, tens of thousands of jobless
people will be put to work, luxury hotels will spring up all over town
and 100,000 people who actually live inside buildings will populate
downtown.

We’ve only got Leiweke’s word for it.

(READ FULL STORY)

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NFL Stadium Update: Grudging Progress for an Informed Public Debate Despite Resistance

Forced once again to spend 90 minutes of their precious time in circling around the issue of honest, open and thorough public debate on AEG’s NFL stadium/Convention Center deal, the queen of downtown subsidized development ended the discussion succinctly.

“It’s stupid,” said Councilwoman Jan Perry as she obliterated efforts by Bill Rosendahl to force colleagues to demand to know in public exactly what the Chief Legislative Analyst and City Administrative Officer are negotiating with AEG under an ultimatum and deadline set for what passes for Mr. Big in L.A. these days, Tim Leiweke.

Perry not only had the votes,she had a point.

Nimbly dancing on both sides of the debate, President Eric Garcetti — Perry’s wannabe mayoral rival — made a solemn promise that despite all the political gamesmanship going on, he would devote the entire session on Friday July 29 to a full and complete airing of where the negotiations are, what the terms are and allow adequate time for public scrutiny and debate as well as for the Council to thoroughly examine the deal.

Leiweke’s drop-dead deadline of July 31 for Council agreement on a memorandum of understanding will not be recognized by the Council, Garcetti assured.

CLA Gerry Miller went further and suggested AEG only wanted a tentative agreement with the negotiating team by July 31 and knew along the Council and the public would need more time, though a deal needed to be cut before the Council breaks for vacation later in August.

Even that might be hard to achieve with the city so far unable to get AEG’s billionaire owner and Denver Broncos fan Phil Anschutz to guarantee the city taking on some $300 million in new Convention Center debt in addition to the $450 million it still owes and costs $45 million a year from the general fund, money that would restore library, parks and fire services if the Convention Center ever was able to pay its own way.

In fact, the word around the Council horseshoe for the handful of us ordinary citizens who came to support Rosendahl was that nothing has been finalized despite six months of negotiations. 

The lack of progress and the lack of the city’s preparedness to negotiate what Council members on both sides agreed was the most important issue of their terms as the nation’s highest paid elected city officials was dramatized by the need to approve up to $1 million for outside advisers on financial and bonding matters. 

AEG is paying the bill and negotiators swore the company had no role in selecting the advisers although no one on the Council was satisfied with answers to questions about the who, what, where and why they were chosen.

In the end, Perry got her way to continue running her ad hoc committee on the stadium without the state open meeting law in force but remains committed to being transparent at the two meetings planned over the next two weeks.

Still, she buried Rosendahl’s motion in the wastebasket with the support of everyone but Krekorian, Koretz and Huizar. The majority included Garcetti and newcomer Mitch Englander who did his best imitation of Cardenas’ insulting questioning technique of asking bureaucrats really stupid questions to get really stupid answers  because we the people are the really truly stupid ones.

Harder to get around is the problem of how often NFL stadiums are a financial disaster for local government, as the Wall Street Journal reported today and increasingly frequent questions asked even by the gadflies about what is in this deal for the city, direct benefits that will end the bleeding of city services and punishment of city workers., 

The IBEW and Building Trades Council shared none of these concerns, arguing to a receptive City Council that they know enough already to approve the deal sight unseen even if they know nothing except it will create temporary jobs for electricians and constructions workers.

They are undoubtedly right. This was a done deal with the mayor and key players a long time ago. The MOU — non-binding as they insist it is — will be approved and AEG in company with city officials will orchestrate adoption of the environmental report a year from now and the NFL will come back for a third try in L.A. 

The Convention Center will remain a w
hite elephant bleeding the city dry and as Richard Alarcon noted, the Los Angeles Chargers-Vikings-Bills-Jaguars had better be winners on the field or the NFL will take leave of the city a third time. 

Countdown to AEG’s Sweetheart Deal: Show Us the Money

AEG’s Tim Leiweke is in hard-sell mode, running all over town promoting the idea that he can bring the National Football League back to Los Angeles for a third try at no cost and no risk to the public.

That’s his story and he’s sticking to it, right up to the July 31 deadline he has set for the mayor and City Council to sign off on the deal or he’s picking up Staples Center and LA Live and leaving town.
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Only it’s not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
You can take the City Council’s word for it that the negotiations under AEG’s ultimatum will be completely transparent and open and that no public money will be used for the deal or put at risk.
“There are no backroom deals,” Councilman Ed Reyes said at a meeting Thursday of the Council committee tracking negotiations.

Lead city negotiator Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller offers his own assurance:“The point of this is not to get a football team  The point of this is to leverage a football team and a stadium to generate economic activity and generate money we don’t have today to fix a convention center that has to be fixed. We’ve got to fix it one way or another.”

Clearly football has nothing to do with it and freeloading mayor and Council members would never take complimentary tickets from Leiweki or political money or favors would they?

The trouble with this deal is simple: Even as Leiweke changes the deal from week to week, the basic premise is the same in that all the profits from tickets, concessions, digital billboards, naming rights, even a lot of the tax revenue goes straight into Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz pocket and any tax or other revenue that comes to the city goes to pay off the roughly $750 in debt the will be carrying for a white elephant Convention Center.
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The Convention Center, like the billboard signage, are among the issues the transparent and open City Council doesn’t even want to talk about.

But if AEG picks the artchitect, Populous, to design the rebuilt wing of the Convention Center which will be an integrated part of the stadium and the city is ready to completely privatize the Convention Center, who do you think is going to run it and reap what Leiweke claims will be spectacular profits because downtown L.A. will suddenly be the hottest ticket in the country.

Maybe yes, maybe no. The same goes for all the other vague claims about luxury hotels on every corner and how tens of thousands of jobs will be created and billions of dollars will come flooding ito town and we’ll all be rich again.

As for the billboards, Dennis Hathaway of Ban Billboard Blight has brought his expertise to tracing how City Hall has been setting up a giveaway worth tens of millions of dollars in digital signage to AEG but never finalized the terms of the sweetheart deal.

Understand that whatever benefits Staples Center has brought the city and the far from successful LA Live has produced, they both were heavily subsidized by taxpayers and make no mistake — Leiweke’s claims to the contrary — when a business gets to keep the taxes customers pay for its goods and services, it is a subsidy, a $300 million subsidy in the case of the hotel/condo complex at LA Live.

As things stand, the only Council member who has raised questions about this deal is Bill Rosendahl and he’s taken to accepting non-answers to his questions as answers and talking more and more like the football is the most important thing L.A. needs to restore its pretensions to greatness.

So we are left with former Councilman Nate Holden to stand up for the public interest as he did before the Council committee Thursday and at Rosendahl’s town hall in Mar Vista on Monday.





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