March Madness in L.A. — A Soulless City Searches for the Fall Guy for the Farmer’s Field Scandal

It’s getting harder every day to tell the players in L.A.’s drama apart — maybe they should wear numbered jerseys at least while they mourn the loss of another National Football League franchise, an unnamed one that joins the Rams and Raiders in the city’s scrap heap.

Take Michael Hiltzik, the LA Times politically correct business columnist who on Sunday fell prostrate before right-wing extremist billionaire Phil Anschutz in idolizing how he called the NFL’s “bluff” and is the greedy league’s “worst nightmare: a potentialy team owner who can call his own shots.”

I guess all the other billionaire owners are just gutless lackeys but not Phil who spent up to $55 million to bribe and buy local and state officials, unions and poverty pimps to get $2 billion in entitlements for Farmer’s Field but is “not certain that pro football would be an unalloyed plus for his enterprise,” not anyway on “our campus” as if he owned all of downtown and not just the pieces City Hall bestowed up him.

Amazingly, Hiltzik finally has come to the conclusion that Anschutz has “done city officials the favor of demonstrating this project always amounted to a pig in a poke; he’s even showing them the ‘oink.’ ” Anschutz is certainly showing them something but it’s not an oink.

Even more incredibly, Jim Newton, the Times’ star editorial columnist, suddenly noticed the real pig in the AEG story was Tim Leiweke who owned City Hall so completely he got officials to write into the Farmer’s Field contract a provision that required him to be AEG’s chief executive or it could be killed by the city.

“Leiweke got his projects done by making sure that Los Angeles’ many interests all got something out of them. That wasn’t always pretty, and Leiweke sometimes resembled a ward boss. Labor got union jobs; community groups got parks or special treats; certain interests got donations to charity or programs for the homeless; politicians, of course, got political contributions.”

Citing leftist/labor leader Madeline Janis and downtown developers’ frontwoman Carol Schatz support for Leiweke’s giving them what they wanted, Newton turns from critic to admirer despite finding Anschutz’s Staples Center/LA Live “campus” something that is “gaudy and anonymous, a collection of chain stores and restaurants you could find in Kansas City just as easily as here.”

But in his morally equivocated world, it turns out bribery is a good thing in Leiweke’s case “he got things done . . .  The ability to deliver made Leiweke powerful. Some people didn’t like it — and sometimes for good reason. But he proved that with the right leverage and the right friends, big things could get done in Los Angeles.”

In other words, the ends justify the means because the soulless space Leiweke developed created some jobs and economic activity and replaced “a few scruffy buildings and empty lots” as if strong leadership couldn’t have insisted on something far more organic and interesting with longer-term impact for the health and wealth of the community.

Strong leadership was the problem as the statements from top two cheerleaders for this rotten deal gone nowhere, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and downtown Councilwoman Jan Perry, both of them now quite happy to rebuild the Convention Center without a football stadium.

The mayor who had insisted the AEG contract was “iron-clad” now is looking for a way out as if had not completely screwed up the deal.

Writing to woebegone City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana who is required to do the bidding of the people like the mayor that Leiweke bought, the mayor said:

“We are investing over $4 billion  into LAX to finally give L.A. the welcome mat to the world it deserves: World class destinations and attractions. A modernized Los Angeles Convention Center with an expanded contiguous floor space will help us book more and larger conventions.”

Added Perry: “Our first priority as a city is to make our Convention Center a leader by modernizing our facilities and increasing exhibition space. We want to make Los Angeles competitive nationwide, attracting more convention business, tourism, and the investment that comes with it. The bottom line is we need to have a plan in place with or without an NFL team.”

So we don’t have a plan. We don’t have leadership. We don’t even have Leiweke the Fixer anymore.

All we have is Miguel Santana. So fix it, Miguel, or you’re out. Every political scandal needs a fall guy and I’m afraid you’re it.

 

 

 

Farmer’s Field Is Dead, AEG Not for Sale, Leiweke Forced Out: Who Is Accountable, Who Will Pay the Bill?

UPDATE: The mayor, living in his own fantasies, responds to the news by suggesting they done him wrong: “For the past three years, the City has expedited our process and lived up to our end of a deal to bring the NFL to Los Angeles and create a world-class convention center. Now that AEG is no longer for sale and they have indicated that bringing an NFL team to L.A. remains a priority, I call on AEG to live up to its commitment by immediately sitting down with the NFL to reach an agreement.” He still wants the Convention Center rebuilt and promises that “we will continue to pursue the important work of making downtown L.A. a better place to work, live, visit and dine regardless of whether the NFL and AEG reach that agreement.”

Somebody is going to have to pay for this, right here on Earth before they go to Hell.

No NFL. No Farmer’s Field. No AEG Sale. No Convention Center Expansion. No Tim Leiweke.

No accountability for the mayor, the City Council and the bureaucrats who wasted the public’s time and money on deal that never made any sense at all, was the fantasy of a hustler who lavished them all with money and favors and flattery.

Truly, if there any honor among the self-serving boobs at City Hall they would do the right thing and fall on their swords. But we know there is no honor among these thieves.

They gave away the farm for nothing, filled the newspapers and airwaves with lies built on phony studies and ignored data, and then failed address legitimate and well-documented concerns.

Not a one of our professional politicians challenged the AEG stadium/Convention Center; our beloved mayor was confidently defending the deal back in September when the NFL made it clear that Farmers’ Field didn’t pencil out financially, just as the outside experts had been warning all along.

“Our contract is iron clad. (The new owners) are gonna have to continue moving ahead,” he said, clearly uninformed that deal was not a deal.

Neither did Clueless Valley Girl Wendy Greuel who said at the time: “I have every indication that AEG will make sure that whomever purchases it will live up to the expectations. I’m gonna make sure we pick up that phone and make sure they live up to the commitment to make sure the city is whole.”

And just three weeks ago, the man who guided the AEG deal through the Council, its President and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti explained:

It would be great to bring football back to Los Angeles. While football is only 8 games a year, having a large indoor multi-use arena will help the city attract NCAA Final Fours and other large attractions that will draw more visitors to L.A. And the project would also improve the L.A. Convention Center, making it world-class and bringing conventions and business to Los Angeles. Improving our convention center while building a downtown stadium without any public subsidy would help us bring immediate jobs and long-term jobs to our economy.

Yes, professional football is a uniquely popular attraction that draws fans from across the region. Big games, like the Rose Bowl and Super Bowl, draw huge interest in our city and encourage talented individuals to move to L.A.

So Mr. Wannabe Mayor, what’s your plan to bring those millions of tourists flocking to downtown L.A. and to the Convention Center that is no bigger than the one we got, the one usually referred to as the White Elephant that eats a $50 million hole in the city budget year after year?

And what about all those construction jobs and the jobs serving beer and hot dogs and cleaning toilets and the massive migration of “talented individuals” like you and your friends who are going to come here and rejuvenate are aging and failing city.

I could go on and on for thousands and thousands of words for days on end. I could say I told you so from day one.

But the only thing worth saying is that somebody does have to pay: I got news for you suckers, that somebody is you.

 

AEG MOVIE ACT 4: “LA — Open for Business Or Up for Sale”

And the Oscar for political theater goes to … Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group for a brilliant performance running circles around LA’s politicians and bureaucrats and bamboozling the public with a fantasy of football, jobs and prosperity.

Magnificent!

In the climactic scene of a two-year “drama” over what always was a done deal, the City Council voted unanimously Friday to give AEG entitlements to build Farmers Field and rebuild the white elephant Convention Center (which it is sure to operate) without any significant direct benefits coming to the city.

Clearly, it was something to cheer about. Junior Council members Mitch Englander and Joe Buscaino, the reserve cop and the ex-cop, high five each other in joy at the thrilling historic moment and Buscaino salutes Tim Leiweke sitting at the end of the front pew.

Then, Council members and top bureaucrats rush in a line for the chance to shake the man with the golden hand and congratulate him for how he managed to get them to vote for a project that commits all tax revenue to pay its costs, requires huge public expenditures for infrastructure and leaves eight critical environmental areas — including air quality and traffic congestion — with significant unmitigated impacts.

While indicted felon Richard Alarcon throws a football to the audience, a single Councilman remains seated and doesn’t even look up from his papers during the festivities — former Police Chief Bernard Parks — while the architect of the approval stands nearby basking in the glory.

Beautiful! Don’t you love LA?

AEG MOVIE ACT 4 “The Pitch”: “LA — Open for Business or Up for Sale”

AEG MOVIE ACT 4 “The Vote”: “LA — Open for Business or Up for Sale”

AEG Movie Act One: “LA — Open for Business or Up for Sale”

The first thing you need to understand about government in America today is that the public story has nothing to do with what is really going on behind the scenes in the political back rooms.

That’s why all these politicians are surrounded by experts in spin – public relations experts, strategists, lobbyists, manipulators of the truth of all sorts who invent myths for the media and the public that purposely obscure the real purpose of their policies and actions.

Decades of the system evolving sophisticated techniques and complex inter-relationships among themselves and with politicians, business and civic leaders, non-profits, mainstream media and ethnic and economic “cohorts” has created a political system that is nothing more than a political machine, a politburo, that is exclusionary by its very nature.

It is corrupt to its core but though not usually criminal since he who makes the laws, enforces, prosecutes and adjudicates the laws has great leeway to decide who to punish, who to forgive and who to reward.

It is a conspiracy of consciousness for the most part with its unwritten, unspoken rules of propriety and acceptance. If you are in the game, you know the rules. You know you are getting a piece of the action while the masses are out there begging for crumbs from the table of power; some pigs clearly are more equal than others and the ordinary variety of human being is just an algorithm willfully or ignorantly waiting to be manipulated.

On Friday, the LA Political Machine produced a masterpiece of propaganda — a three-hour carefully orchestrated and scripted production broadcast live on Channel 35, the City Council’s final vote closing the deal for Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a football stadium and rebuild the Convention Center.

It was an event without even the pretense of drama since this was a done deal even before it was made public two years ago.

Still, it was great theater because of the shameless way the final act was scripted to exploit public sentiment on everything from the military to the Dodgers to the Watts Tower with hundreds of schoolkids bused to City Hall as extras.

It even had a 15-minute infomercial for Time Warner Cable which will launch its sports networks in English and Spanish Monday to exploit its long-term ownership of exclusive rights to broadcast Lakers games, something fans will find means they now have to pay to view what previously was free.

AEG, The Movie, ACT ONE:  “Los Angeles — Open for Business or Up for Sale?”

It’s a work of art, an act of genius, bravo to the producers, directors, editors, writers and the performers whoever they are – propaganda so brilliant that light of truth could never shine in.

Consider the set-up of the narrative that is what Part One is about. On this historic day – the day the machine says the future of LA will be decided – there is no drama. This was a done deal long before the public ever heard a word about it.

The two years since have just allowed time for refinements, legalities, technicalities and a massive sales campaign to obliterate all oppositions, all questions, about a plan to bring the NFL back to LA – the city it twice abandoned two decades ago because it wasn’t that popular and still shows no signs it isn’t any more in demand today.

How else would you start the show but with a salute to the flag and the men and women who protect us and who better to provide this interruption of getting to where the emcee is so anxious to get than the former Council emcee, now a candidate for mayor, none other than leading man Lt. Eric Garcetti who brings out his fellow Navy reservists for a well-deserved round of applause whether or not they have been in combat.

Cut to the emcee ready to move forward … Oops, Bernard Parks interrupts to introduce an emergency measure to get approval to offer a $50,000 reward for information about who killed an innocent youth, Patrick Caruthers, 19, a learning disabled park volunteer sitting at a picnic bench – a crime that would have been caught on camera except somewhere along the line someone dropped the ball the Councilman acknowledged by apologizing to the youth’s grieving mother.

Her heartbreaking story of loss and her pleas for help in catching the killer, her dignity and faith could not but help touch the coldest heart. They did inspire mayoral candidate Jan Perry – who competed throughout the event for air time with her rival Garcetti – to sound a lot like a law-and-order candidates who wants her community locked down in the name of public safety.

Much to the feigned irritation of Wesson, Ed Reyes interrupted his march to finalizing the billion-dollar gift to Phil Anschutz and AEG by staging a “presentation” for Time Warner Cable, something that turned into a free 15-minute commercial for the company which is launching its regional sports networks in English and Spanish – a national first – on Monday.

There were so many Time Warner executives introduced that any who did not make in to the introductions probably ought to be looking for another job.

The source of this excitement is the cable company has paid $4 billion to lock up the Lakers game broadcasts for simultaneous live showing for a fee on cable and hopes to sign the Dodgers to a similar deal next year.

The games no longer will be free to fans – now that’s something City Hall can celebrate.

With a tip of the hat to patriots, blacks, Latinos, it’s time for an interruption to touch the hearts of the Jewish community and Paul Koretz gets the honor to ask the Council to support him in renaming a park after Roz Wyman, who at the age of 22 became the first woman LA Council member in the 1950s and played a critical role in bringing the Dodgers to LA.

Who better to speak to Wyman’s historic role than Peter O’Malley who recalled how his father Walter never wanted to leave Brooklyn but the city wouldn’t help him get hold of the land. Roz Wyman let the effort to clear the hurdles to make Chavez Ravine and the Dodgers happen, allowing the city to not only have the Rams (stolen from Cleveland 10 years earlier) but Major League Baseball as well.

Top that for making it sound like history was repeating itself which it isn’t.

Cut then to Richard Alarcon. He is standing with a group of beautiful grade school kids around his desk – just a handful of the dozens of kids from all over the city who were bused in to be props for this historic event, though most of them were relegated to hallways and the overflow room to watch on TV.

And now the climax to the setup: The Invocation of the iconic Watts Towers.

Garcetti showed his clout by getting camera time – something he needs badly since the AEG deal belongs for good or ill to rival Jan Perry – to close out the set-up portion of the show with an homage to Simon Rodia and the man who saved his sculpture from destruction more than 50 years ago, William Cartwright, now frail and elderly.

COMING SOON, ACT Two of the show of shows: “Los Angeles — Open for Business or Up for Sale?”

 

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of the AEG Movie: “Los Angeles — Open for Business or Up for Sale?”

Councilwoman Jan Perry’s committee to sell the public on the Farmers Field/Convention Center deal met for the last time Monday to provide the stage for a dress rehearsal before the climax to the show that would come on Friday in a perfectly orchestrated unanimous finale.

The celebration of this two-year long exhibit of the art of salesmanship did turn out to be a work of genius — a three-hour performance orchestrated down to the smallest detail, tightly scripted, every word programmed for the cameras to create a seamless narrative that had nothing to do with reality.

It was brilliant, pure propaganda — the great Nazi documentary filmmaker Leni Reifenstahl would have admired it. It turned the truth inside out: “LA is for sale … and so are we” was inverted to become “LA is open for business … come see us.”

This fragment from Perry’s hearing is a window into what goes on behind the curtain in the back room where unknown producers, directors and writers put together the scripts for each and every City Council meeting. The entire scene shown in this video was left on the cutting room floor in Friday’s final script and nothing at all was said by city planners about the “signficant” unmitigated environmental impacts of the project in just about every area.

This is not government in action what you see on Channel 35 or the online video: It’s television — show business, a staged performance to create a video record that will always stand for the story line designed for public consumption. That’s why they nearly always vote unanimously and why there is so rarely a word of truth spoken — except sometimes by the gadflies and activists.

That was the case Monday when Ed Reyes, chosen for his discipline as a character actor who is convincingly obtuse to hide his deliberate efforts to obscure all truth.

Among the troublemakers — there were not many other than the unstoppable Joyce Dillard, LA Can and the Fair Play Coalition — who objected to this deal during public comment, there was one who reported serious problems remain despite the 10,000 page Environmental Impact Report and the 100 pages of mitigation measures.

There are eight different problems that were identified and not fixed — an issue that if left in the record might wake people up some day that things didn’t turn out the way Tim Leiweke promised they would — things the mayor, City Attorney and City Council had a responsibility as elected officials to have known about, informed the public about and fixed if they were doing their jobs honorably.

Reyes started with all his bit player’s usual ignorant innocence by saying, “Just for the record I just want to make sure there’s clarity” about the eight areas of “environmental concerns” — not problems — that were mentioned.

“I want to make sure we’re mitigating those concerns or how we’re mitigating them,” he told city planners. “If you will just address them briefly.”

Briefly is the keyword — so they don’t give away questionable details, just offer vague assurances for the “record” that everything was considered and dealt with.

That was what this whole show has been about all these months, creating a video record that tells the story about the strong leadership, vision and hard work when the reality has more to do with cowardice, moral blindness and sloth.

It fell to city planner Karen Hu to put these concerns about the public’s health and safety to rest.

“There are eight areas to which you as a Council in approving this document will also have  to approve a statement of overriding considerations because we could not reduce those impacts to a level that was less than significant,” she told them in the matter-of-fact way that honest bureaucrats talk.

“Those eight  areas are in transportation, air quality, aesthetics and visual resources, cultural and historic resources, views, artificial light and glare, noise, utilities, solid waste.”

Concerned that those eight covered just about everything, Reyes pursued his goal to clean up the “record,” asking: “So given those areas, we are addressing them with mitigating conditions?”

“Yes, there are conditions,” she answered.

“That’s what I need to hear for the record,” Reyes pleaded.

“Cause we’ve raised the concerns but you haven’t spoken to how we are mitigating those concerns and that to me is crucial for the record given the public comment that’s been made. I don’t want to leave that open because I believe it leaves us vulnerable in the future.

“So to be very clear to support this process and this program, if you can just address it briefly. That’s what I think is important to this process.”

A confession to the crime of faking the public record. Again, an order — Reyes’ gesturing forcefully with his hand pointed, beating a steady drumbeat to planners –to keep it brief and without detail, just make this go away, neutralize the record.

This mission will not be left to a sincere person trying to do the best job for the city that she can all things considered.

No way, City Planning Director Michael LoGrande — a man who got this job without credentials as an urban planner and without the scruples of Karen Hu — will close the book for the record on concerns about unmitigated impacts on just about every aspect affecting the quality of life for millions of people.

He calls the EIR “a legally very defensible document” and declares that major projects often have “certain items that can’t be mitigated under CEQA to a level of insignificance” –shifting the language from “problems and concerns” to “items” and “significant” to insignificance.”

“That’s why we have these statements of overriding considerations saying the benefits of this project outweigh some of the issues,” LoGrande adds, swearing “we’ve done our best to mitigate those impacts to tolerable levels  … using the best sophisticated technology methods available  to us … acceptable levels .. confident … conservative document … forward thinking ..  state-of-the-art mitigation.”

“All CEQA requtres legally is that we are transparent, disclose that information to the public and to the decision makers … ”

It was so brief, so to the point, so loaded with vague, hollow words intended to put minds at ease and close the record to any questions later.

After all, none of these people want to find they are “vulnerable in the future” when this deal turns out to have all kinds of problems like the environmental “items” aren’t tolerable and acceptable, the Convention Center is still a white elephant, the subsidized hotels with empty rooms can’t afford the “living wage,” a part-time “living wage” job doesn’t pay people’s bills and the benefits to the city do not in fact outweigh the costs.

COMING SOON: “Open for Business: Selling Out LA’s Future.” Act One.

LA’s Death Valley: AEG, Leiweke, Farmers Field and Council’s Uncritical Examination of a Deal Without Public Benefits

Union uber-boss Maria Elena Durazo told the City Council’s ad hoc Farmer’s Field committee Monday not to worry about Phil Anschutz cashing in on the billion-dollar-plus gift of entitlements he’s getting from City Hall because “extraordinary trust exists between AEG, the community and labor.”

That’s the only protection the city needs since the unions will profit no matter, no matter thst the chiseling NFL owners twice abandoned LA, locked out its players union last year and its game officials this year, according to the County Federation of Labor who loves to talk about “working people” when she only means the one in seven who are union workers.

Bad faith treatment of the city, stripping private sector workers of defined benefit pensions as the NFL is trying to  do to the referees, nothing matters much to Durazo except that all construction work on Farmers Field and the Convention Center will be done by union workers, excluding the thousands of non-union construction workers and contractors.

No, what matters is the living wage for all workers at Farmers Field — something that is not in fact guaranteed in the development agreement the Council will approve on Friday just as Jan Perry’s ad hoc Farmers Field committee did on Monday.

That “guarantee” is a verbal promise from AEG which has put its $7 billion to $15 billion up for sale to the highest bidder. The actual development deal only requires that 80 percent of workers get the living wage within five years of the stadium being in operation or AEG or its successor company will face a $25,000 fine.

All the committee needed to hear was AEG’s CEO Tim Leiweke fill the Council Chamber with hot air and city staff double-talking around the holes in the various planning agreements and theory of how this deal will make the white elephant Convention Center a booming success — that after all is the biggest lie in this deal since nothing can make it successful.

To skirt any serious questioning of the deal despite Anschutz’s last-minute admission he always intended to cash in on the spectacularly valuable entitlements the city was granting without getting anything in return, Leiweke guaranteed that he and the AEG’s management will stay on and run things — until Farmers Field opens in 2017.

That’s when he gets to fully cash out and claim his status as a billionaire — if he hasn’t reached it already.

Hoodwinked at City Hall or Co-conspirators? AEG Selling Out to Profit from Stadium Deal; LA Only Gets the Bills

“This was always part of the game plan. It’s the right time for Mr. Anschutz to find an exit strategy.” — Tim Leiweke, CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, on the global sports and entertainment company being put up for sale days before final city approval of the Farmers Field/Convention Center deal in downtown LA.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he has “known about this potential sale for some time,” but felt no need for the public to know because he’s got a “commitment from both” Leiweke and Anschutz that the NFL is coming back to LA and the deal “will not affect my support for moving ahead with Farmers Field and the Convention Center site.”

Really?

Councilwoman Jan Perry, the mayoral candidate and point person for the deal, is just as sanguine, saying: “Whoever steps into the shoes of the previous owner would have to fulfill all the responsibilities and obligations as the current owner.  The city has been well-negotiated and well-protected.”

Really?

Throughout the mad rush to exempt AEG from state environmental law, to short-circuit the city approval process and to make this just about football and not a major investment in LA’s future, Leiweke and AEG representatives have rested their case as an issue of trust.

With generous public subsidies, AEG built the the spectacularly successful Staples Center and then added the hideously artificial LA Live with its struggling hotel-condo towers and lived up to all their promises, the AEG team argued over and over.

Trust AEG — that was why their transit plan is nothing but a bunch of unenforceable goals, why their commitment to pay all workers the “living wage” amounts to only an 80 percent target with a $25,000 penalty if it isn’t achieved after five years of operation, why everything in the development agreement is vague and left to be worked out after the fact.

Yet, the City Council is set to rubber-stamp it in nine days, surrendering all power to AEG, a company that is going to cash in handsomely on the value added by its masterful manipulation of the process with the help of the politicians it bought.

Consider how they got their CEQA exemption by throwing millions of dollars around the state Capitol for lobbyists and to fill the coffers of dozens of politicians.

Among the 40 or so recipients identified back in early 2011 were  Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, $10,100; Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, $8,100;  Sen. Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles, $5,300; Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, $4,000;  Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, $3,600, and the Moorpark Republican team of Sen. Tony Strickland $10,500  and Assemblywoman Audra Strickland $7,300.

AEG bought off environmental groups and charities like the Midnight Mission and Salvation Army, turned this into a chance for LA to turn its white elephant Convention Center that devours $45 million or more a year into a smashing success and transform downtown into a digital billboard paradise for millions of tourists housed in 5,000 new luxury hotel rooms.

What’s horrifying about this, revealing just how deep the corruption runs in the leadership of the city, is that AEG didn’t hoodwink anyone into buying this deal if Leiweke and the mayor are to be believed — admittedly a big “if” to be sure.

This was always part of the game plan!

In the light of AEG’s scheming to cash in on huge bonus the “Events Center” provides, the development deal needs to be thoroughly scrubbed by independent lawyers and experts from out-of-town who have no connection to any of the interests involved.

This isn’t like any deal ever put together before. It was written by AEG itself with some minor tweaking by city bureaucrats who have no experience in matters of this sort.

It isn’t good enough that AEG and its successor gets all the profits and the people of LA get all the bills. That’s what has been wrong with the deal from day one.

The Convention Center will still be a massive drain on the general fund. Nearly all the infrastructure costs and support services needed to keep this from being a “carmageddon” fiasco on game and event days will be paid for by taxpayers. All the profits from dozens of digital billboards trashing the vista and night sky go to the owners and so does all of the profits from operations and most of the tax revenue.

Someday when those involved in this dirty deal are free to talk honestly and openly about what has transpired, we will know the truth about one of the greatest scandals in city history, the Great Farmers Field Ripoff.

Today’s LA Dirty Deal: Gifting the Coliseum to USC

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the daily swindles of L.A. residents and taxpayers — but there’s still a few hours to protest, maybe even delay, your city, county and state officials giving away one of LA’s most prized and historic facilities to USC, the region’s wealthiest private university.

Here’s how to protest by email:  comments@lacoliseum.com

At 2:30 p.m. today, the Memorial Coliseum Commission meets to discuss and possibly vote   on — an important question left deliberately unclear depending on how strong the protests are — to approve this amazingly generous gift of the Coliseum, Sports Arena and related properties to USC under a 42-year lease that Gov. Jerry Brown will soon extend to 99 years.

The terms of the deal give nothing back to the public. USC takes over the Coliseum Commission’s $1 million annual rent payments to the state and gets to keep all revenue, including naming rights, tickets sales, concessions, advertising — although sufficient signs of public disgust might squeeze some community benefits out of the deal just as they got the commissioners to surrender the benefits they wanted to take for themselves.

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With all the transparency of an armed robber in the dead of a moonless night, the commission posted a terse statement on its website, yesterday apparently, saying that on April 24 the nine commissioners — city and county electeds and the governor’s appointees — had decided to drop the requirement that USC give each them 10 tickets to every event forever as if that makes the stench of this dirty deal any less nauseating.

It’s not like they are going to pay for all the free tickets and free trips to Super Bowls they have been taking all these years.

Proposed Restated Lease Agreement between Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and The University of Southern California

April 24, 2012
Deletion of Paragraph 4.5(c)

(c) Ninety (90) complimentary tickets and associated parking to each USC Home Football Game during the Term in seating locations substantially similar to the seating and parking locations for the Complimentary Tickets provided to Landlord
under the Prior Agreement for the 2010 football season, along with access for USC games to a hospitality area at the Coliseum to be designated by Tenant for use by Landlord and its invitees, but not for sale by Landlord to any Person. Access to the
sidelines during each USC Home Football Games shall comply with USC Athletic Department and Office of Athletic Compliance policies and procedures for noninstitutional and institutional personnel. Tenant also agrees to use good faith efforts to
negotiate a reasonable allocation of complimentary tickets and associated parking for Landlord’s use to any NFL football games held in the Coliseum in the event Tenant negotiates a sublease or occupancy agreement with an NFL team.

Nothing like the crooks who chased away two professional football teams, failed to deliver on endless promises to modernize the Coliseum — only stadium in the world to host two Olympics, two Super Bowls and a World Series — and allowed the management to steal them blind, cutting a deal that benefits themselves while robbing the public once again.

Even the agenda for today’s meeting says a lot about what these public officials think of the public.

They will wade through how they have been losing money, respond to devastating audits and then provide the “USC Lease Update” before slamming the door on the public and going into closed session with officials from USC, California Science Center, Pac 12 Conference, Mahlmann Media and “Other Potential Tenants/Licensees” to finalize “Both Price and Terms of Payment” for the various properties under the commission’s control.

They also will discuss the various lawsuits their disgraceful failure to fulfill their responsibilities have led to — not to mention the criminal charges against the people they were supposed to be supervising and approving contracts with.

Then, they might seal the deal without even considering alternatives like a proposal from U.S. Capital, a sports and entertainment company, that has been trying unsuccessful to meet with Coliseum officials for a long time, without even responding to the company’s demand for public records or heeding its warnings that it was acting illegally. (D-Israel_LAC-Commission_LTR_4-30-12)

It’s hard not to see how this whole sports stadium game is playing out in so many fronts in a connected way — all part of the feeding frenzy going on among those who have feasted so long on City Hall and now see officials will to give away everything to buy another year or two:

  • Angels owner Arte Moreno talking with AEG’s Tim Leiweke about relocating to LA.
  • Leiweke ready to build an NFL stadium next to his Staples Center and LA Live.
  • Leiweke’s close pal and sometime partner Magic Johnson taking a stake in the Dodgers with the possibility of turning Chavez Ravine into a residential-entertainment-shopping enclave and the team potentially moving to a downtown site.

It’s such a small greedy world and the people supposedly protecting your interests are the same people who turned the Coliseum into a perpetual scandal and have sold out your interests time and again to Tim Leiweke and the greed merchants like him.

Just for record, here are the names of the Coliseum Commission members, take note that Bernard Parks has fought this deal, the alternate member from the state is the wife of Council President Herb Wesson and the mayor’s appointee, Barry Sanders, is the  president of Rec & Parks Commission who wants to commercialize the parks with advertising and father of the mayor’s press deputy Peter Sanders:

From the State of California: David Israel (President), Glenn Sonnenberg, William J. Chadwick, Fabian Wesson (alternate)

From the County of Los Angeles: Zev Yaroslavsky, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Don Knabe (Vice President), Mike Antonovich (alternate)

From the City of Los Angeles: Barry A. Sanders, Bernard C. Parks, Johnathan Williams, Tom LaBonge (alternate), Jill Werner (alternate)

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Leiweke Demands LA’s Unconditional Surrender or Face the Big Chill of an ‘Economic Nuclear Winter for This City’

EDITOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Tim Leiweke’s NFL team — if he gets one — should be called the “Angelenos” as the email blast he sent out announcing release of the draft EIR promises his football stadium will  benefit “Angelenos 365 days a year” and urges the public to “support approval by spreading the word to all Angelenos.” (Leiweke-EmailBlast) Go Angelenos, go, win one for Leiweke but only if you call yourself an Angeleno.

Call it the Big Chill for LA, an “economic nuclear winter for the city,” says Mr. Big, Tim Leiweke, if he doesn’t get his way to enhance the spectacular wealth of himself and his hermit boss Phil Anschutz by building a football stadium in the heart of downtown.

Arrogant con man that he is, you have to feel at least a little sorry for Leiweke just before he released his 10,000-page environmental impact report on Farmers Field.

“Leiweke was stressed” LA Weekly’s Hillel Aron reported after interviewing the AEG before the EIR was released. “Jacket off, slumped in a chair, drinking a Coke, he didn’t seem like president of a firm with the biggest footprint downtown, maybe even citywide.”

“There’s a lot of people shooting at us,” Leiweke says. “We still have a lot of controversy about, Can we do it? Is this the right place? Is this the right vision? Do we even want an NFL team?”

No Tim, there’s no evidence people are hoping and dreaming for the return of football — except for the selfish union and business interests (like yourself) who hope to profit from it — as much as they are praying their car would fall into a giant pothole or sinkhole and that an ambulance will arrive in time if its does.

It hurts his hermit billionaire boss about as much as a grande latte to us peasants but Leiweke has spent $45 million on designs and plans for Farmers Field and $27 million on an EIR and that doesn’t count that cost of buying City Hall and the legislature.

Worst of all, the EIR is as big a disaster as confirmation last week by Jason Cole at Yahoo sports that NFL sources think the whole deal stinks because AEG wants all the profits, something that doesn’t sit well with greedy team owners.

What’s really funny about the EIR is it doesn’t fulfill the promise Leiweke made to get the  state legislature to gut the environmental protection process for him by promising record-breaking use of public transit.

“That law requires that AEG operate a stadium with fewer car trips than any other NFL facility in the nation,: the LA Times quotes company officials saying at Thursday’s dog-and-pony-and-cart stunt to show what the 17-volume EIR looked like as it was delivered to City Hall for rubber-stamp approval within the next 45 days.

“Fewer car trips than any other NFL” is a tough standard to reach when more than 30 percent of fans going to Target Field in Minneapolis and more than a third coming to San Francisco’s AT&T Park arrive by public transit.

The best numbers Leiweke’s team could come up with is 18 percent coming by public transit on weekends and 27 percent on weekdays.

And even to get to those numbers, the con man had to admit: “We have to change people’s habits from the day they buy their first ticket to Farmers Field.”

Yeah, right Tim, you even left the LA Times laughing at you with that one, saying you “sound more like a starry-eyed urban planner than a hardball negotiator” claiming you you’re going to bring about “a dramatic change in the behavior of L.A. sports fans.”

The B.S. was so deep after selling that crap, you must have needed a hot shower and a whole new outfit.

Actually, the EIR there will be 19,000 more vehicles flooding the streets and freeways around downtown for football games. Sounds like fun alright.

AEG’s generosity includes spending $35 million on transportation improvements, including $10 million to upgrade the Blue Line station on Pico Boulevard and $2.4 million to plan an additional lane on the northbound 101 Freeway between the downtown four-level interchange and Alvarado Street in Echo Park.

If I read that right, it means “plan,” not build, the taxpayers will pay for that and a whole lot more. Note the added lane on the 405 Freeway through Sepulveda Pass is costing nearly $1 billion, which you are still claiming will be the cost of your dome-less maxi-pad stadium.

Here’s how the Times describes the traffic nightmare the stadium will cause:

The company also plans to upgrade traffic signal controls at 73 intersections and widen crosswalks in a dozen locations. Yet even with those investments, downtown would see “significant, unavoidable impacts” at dozens of intersections.

After Saturday games, such effects would be felt at 42 intersections. Before weekday games, that number would grow to 72, the report said. The project also would have significant effects on freeway onramps after AEG put its traffic management plan in place. That includes six locations on weekday evenings and as many as 11 on Saturdays.

“No feasible physical improvement mitigation measures were identified for these impacts,” the report said.

Then, there is Leiweke’s answer to requirements for a tailgating area before and after games.

The Weekly reported Leiweke’s solution: “Use Gil Lindsay Plaza, a forgettable slab of pavement between Staples Center and Pico Boulevard, in front of the would-be stadium. The plaza would become, in the words of Leiweke, ‘the largest, best tailgating party in all of L.A. 15,000 people could step off a light-rail car, walk over to Gil Lindsay Plaza, and choose from iconic food vendors including, wait for it … Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles!”

And Jon Regardie of the Downtown News added this Leiweke comment on the tailgating venue:  ““It does it in a way where we don’t have to worry about it becoming nothing more than a drinking event, ’cause we don’t want that,” Leiweke said. “We will not allow that to happen here…. The one thing we don’t want is another Bryan Stow incident.”

Great high-priced food from vendors paying AEG huge fees instead of a shrimp on the barbie and no beer — sounds like quite a tailgating party to me.

There are a few other problems like the glare at night all over the LA Basin from stadium lights and 30 giant digital billboards — 14 facing the freeway.

Minor problem, said Leiweke, there will be “green building” features like energy efficient lights and an “up-to-date” air conditioning system at the stadium and rebuilt Convention Center.

The clock is ticking on this time bomb. Only 44 days left to comment. So read the 10,000 pages and give them an earful at eircomment.conventionstadium@lacity.org and join the Tim Leiweke Laughing Club.

No matter what happens, Leiweke is sure he will have the last laugh even if the stadium deal falls apart because shallow as he is, way down deep he is altruistic and loves and cares about you and more than anything wants to see that white elephant Convention Center become a huge success despite the lack of any supporting evidence.

“Will we then turn our attention to how do we fix the Convention Center without a football stadium? Yes. Because as a community, as corporate leaders, and from a political standpoint, even the leaders at City Hall will tell you we have a real problem with our Convention Center. We have a West Hall that’s 40 years old that needs $80 million worth of improvements and we don’t have it. We have to go fix that. If we don’t fix it, our problem will not be how do we get to [a] top five [convention destination]? Our problem will be we’re going to slide back to where we were before the JW Marriott opened, which is 26th in the convention business.

“That will be an economic nuclear winter for this city.”

So why aren’t we spending $80 million to modernize the Convention Center? Because Leiweke’s plan is for the city to borrow what is getting close to $400 million to rebuild part of the Convention Center so he can bring more customers to his heavily subsidized LA Live and JW Marriott project.

 

What’s Missing from AEG’s Maxi-Pad Stadium Deal: Study of Alternatives That Might Actually Succeed

With City Council members set Thursday to rubber stamp yet another version of AEG’s ever-changing designs (this one mocked as the Maxi-pad version) for its downtown NFL stadium, City Controller candidate Cary Brazeman has proposed a road map for exploring alternatives and finding ways to actually make the stadium and Convention Center successful.maxipad.jpg

In a submission to the City Council on behalf of the group Brazeman founded, LA Neighbors United, he says that “a 360-degree
analysis of the proposed stadium deal is particularly important given the
public-private n
ature of the
arrangement” because city officials only performed a “superficial analysis” of alternatives to AEG’s plan. He doesn’t waste his energy pointing out that was because Jan Perry and the rest of the Council are in the deep financial pockets of AEG.

He raises these key concerns: 

  • Redevelopment plan alternatives for
    the convention center site that potentially could provide greater financial
    returns to the City, i
    ncluding
    more permanent jobs and more economic activity, without the downside risk of
    the stadium d
    eal
  • Alternative sites for a downtown stadium that potentially could be more
    powerful catalysts f
    or
    downtown’s continued revitalization
  • Potentially significant negative
    environmental i
    mpacts
    of the proposed stadium on the City at large and the Pico-Union neighborhood in
    particular

In City Hall’s rush to pander to AEG and Tim Leiweke, alternatives were “dismissed out of hand” without even utilizing experts in land use employed in city agencies.

“LA
Neighbors United could undertake analysis of both of these alternatives, but as
a private citizens 
group
we shouldn’t have to do that,” Brazeman, a land use expert himself, wrote.

“The City
employs brilliant analysts at the Community R
edevelopment
Agency and in the Community Development Department.
  Our understanding is that They
were not instructed to analyze alternatives including the concepts proposed
here.
  We say unleash
the analysts and let them analyze!”

What a concept: City Hall actually doing due diligence to serve the public interest instead of rolling over to influence peddlers and contributors.

Farmers Field will provide most of its economic benefits to its owner AEG because it would be adjacent to Staples Center and LA Live, which it also owns — not to the city as a whole.

But alternative sites exist along the LA River south of Union Station to the 10 freeway where a stadium “would
catalyze River revitalization, including hydraulic and hydrology
improvements and, potentially, ecosystem restoration.”

“The Piggyback Yard site on the LA River is approximately
125 acres.  It could conceivably accommodate the stadium, parking and other commercial
uses, and still have room for recreation and park space that would benefit the nearby residents of
Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights. We are not suggesting definitely that the stadium be
located at the Piggyback Yard, only that there are so many compelling reasons to analyze the site’s
potential viability.”

Even reviving plans to rebuild the Memorial Coliseum make more sense, he notes, and like the river proposal would not have the same “traffic
impacts on the PicoUnion neighborhood, and impacts on people from the expanded
sign district that is envisioned” at Farmers Field.

The Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the stadium meets at 9 a.m. Thursday at City Hall in Room 1010 to hear the “presentation from AEG on the status of the design of the Events Center” but don’t expect Perry, LaBonge, Cardenas, Rosendahl or even Ed Reyes — the driving force behind river revitalization — to ask any penetrating questions.

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