Lawsuit seeks new vote on Coliseum-USC lease deal
A 1st Amendment group and the Los Angeles Times have sued the Coliseum Commission, accusing it of violating state laws by deliberating a lease in secret with USC and failing to release numerous public records.
The suit asks the court to order the commission to hold public deliberations on the lease and schedule a new vote on it. Joining The Times in the suit is the nonprofit Californians Aware.
A commission attorney said he could not comment on the suit because he had not seen it. In previous statements, however, the commission has said its actions on the USC agreement complied with the open-meeting law known as the Brown Act.
The commission also has denied running afoul of the California Public Records Act. The Times alleges that the commission has withheld or improperly delayed the release of documents that should be available to the public, including records of communications between USC and the Coliseum's interim general manager.
The suit does not name USC, a private institution.
The commission sought the new lease after running out of money to pay for stadium upgrades it promised USC under the current agreement. That happened shortly after the scandal erupted in early 2011, following Times reports on alleged financial irregularities.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the governing body of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission learned that losses for the year ending June 30, 2013, would probably total about $5 million — roughly a third of the Coliseum's total operating budget.
The Coliseum has been mired in a corruption scandal. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's office has indicted three former Coliseum managers and three other people who did business with the commission.
-- Ron Lin and Paul Pringle
Photo: A pedestrian takes a walk near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in March. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times