EDITOR’S NOTE: The giveaway of public property — the Coliseum, Sports Arena and control of Exposition Park — to USC without public benefit ranks as one of the most outrageous acts by public officials in LA in years, especially given the criminality and incompetence in the management of these historic facilities. The city, county and state officials who serve on the Coliseum Commission have long taken as many as 20 free tickets each to events as well as other valuable freebies — something that continued last month when four of them filled one of the Sports Arena’s two luxury seats with luxurious catering to get free admission to the sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert, according to the LA Times latest expose.Councilman Tom LaBonge, an alternate commissioner, idiotically sounding like Marie Antoinette, defended the freebies by saying it lets them keep an eye on things and their presence to lift the spirits of ushers, fire inspectors and others. “When a councilman or commissioner walks through,” he said, “it makes them feel good.” The Coliseum deal combined with USC’s pending plans to take over much of the neighborhood around the campus has ignited anger in South LA and prompted Gloria Zurveen, publisher and editor-in-chief, of the PACE News community newspaper to demand “The Public Has a Right To Know What the Coliseum Commissioners are Up To With the USC Deal.” (may25pacenews1)(may25pacenews2)(may25pacenews3)
By Gloria Zurveen, Editor-in-Chief PACE News
Because of a tight deadline, I am going to be real brief on the issue about what is going on with the Coliseum Commissioners and their literally giving away, what belongs to the people, the taxpayers.
Yes, it is sweetheart deal they have cut with the University of Southern California (USC) whereby, if we are blessed a little we will get some crumbs off the table.
The public has a right to know, yet with all the secret dealings and backroom negotiations, the public has been practically ignored and trampled over by the members of the commission.
Look at this, according to a Los Angeles Times article recently, the 8-to-1 vote would virtually end public stewardship of the 88-year-old stadium, which is teetering on the brink of financial ruin.
Now mind you, this didn’t happen without the neglectful stewards in charged. Their solution to the problem is not to seek open bidding from sources who will not only benefit the historic Coliseum but who will also bring jobs to the local community in this distressed economy we are currently facing.
The neglectful crew want to throw in the towel to USC and say we are threw with having the public’s view.
This is not good. We, the public, we the taxpayers must not allow this to go down like this.
The Times point out that the pact signals the failure of the public officials to maintain the Coliseum as a self-sustaining venture and it follows a financial scandal that led to corruption charges against three former managers, two rave concert promoters and a former Coliseum contractor.
It amazes me that while this corruption is found to be so blatant, none of the Commissioners have lost their positions. It seems like they are rewarding themselves with this sweetheart deal of giving taxpayers property away with little or no benefits to us.
Honey, I hear Moms Mabley in the air, “Here comes the judge.” This situation calls for a legal redress and not later but now.
The people have a right to know what they can do to stop this highway robbery of the people’s possessions.
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It is reported that USC will put up just 70 million into stadium upgrades under the deal, and take control of the Coliseum’s revenue with the assumption of the $1-million annual rent payment to the state which owns the land under the stadium and the companion Sports Arena. Get this, the value of the complex in 2005 was at $240 million to $400 million. Now is this a deal or a steal? Who wouldn’t try to close this quick fast and in a hurry.
But I am saying to the people we need to let the state know that they need to hold up on signing off on what the Commissioners have already sold us out on. We need to ask some critical questions pertaining to the benefits to the public.
Terry Francke, general counsel for California Aware, an open government group said, “This is an unloading of a huge public asset through a process entirely contemptuous of public involvement.”
Speaking with him on Wednesday, he said the meetings held to cut the deal was a direct violation of the Brown Act which was passed in 1953 that guaranteed the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.
Francke said that he is contemplating on seeking a court order to nullify the deal.
Anna Caballero, the Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency appointed by Governor
Jerry Brown and has the authority to sign off on the deal has said she will not rubber-stamp the Coliseum panel agreement. She said she was concerned about the control USC will have over the parking lots used by patrons of the state’s free California Science Center museum and California African American Museum. The revenue from those facilities help maintain Exposition Park where the Coliseum and museums sit.
So it is not a done. The public has a right to know what’s in it for them.
Call, email and contact Anna Caballero at:Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday – Friday) (916) 653-4090 Fax: (916) 653-3815 Address: State and Consumer Services Agency 915 Capitol Mall, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95814-2719 Let your voice be heard on this urgent matter because again, the public has a right know.
The following individuals represent the Coliseum Commission:
From the State of California: David Israel (President), Glenn Sonnenberg, William J. Chadwick, Fabian Wesson (alternate)
From the County: 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 (alternateInterim General Manager : John Sandbrook
Correspondence to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission canbe sent to: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission
3911 South Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90037 Ph: 213/747-7111