Steve Lopez: Mr. Mayor, don’t keep us in dark on AEG sale
"I'm not going to tell everybody everything we're doing," said hizzoner, defending his decision not to reveal to city officials or anyone else that he knew AEG was up for sale in the middle of negotiations to build a downtown stadium.
"Because we want a football team," he went on, "and a lot of what happens here has got to be negotiated quietly."
Pardon me, but one of the public risks in investing in a football team is that owners can't be trusted not to just up and leave. It's happened twice, with the Rams and Raiders, and now before we even get a third team, AEG is flying the coop.
Let me remind the mayor that more than his ego is at stake. Public money is on the line, too, with the city issuing nearly $400 million in debt, with AEG required to pay back the money under the terms of the deal.
Villaraigosa says whoever owns AEG, the same terms will apply, and the City Council will decide next week whether to proceed.
But why should we trust an owner whose identity we don't know?
What if we build a stadium and never get a team?
What if the whole proposition turns out to be a big loser and the hoodwinked city ends up in court begging to get its investment back?
Villaraigosa also said, astoundingly, that it wasn't relevant to him why AEG owner Phil Anschutz has his company up for sale.
How could it not be relevant?
Maybe Anschutz doesn't think the deal pencils out. Maybe he thinks L.A. Live runs a risk of failing, that empty condos will never be sold, and that convention bookings in a larger venue will never materialize.
Wouldn't you want to know that if you were the mayor?
I don't want quieter, behind-the-scenes negotiations, with Villaraigosa running the show and keeping everyone in the dark. Nothing could be scarier. I want it all out in the open, and I want to know a lot more before I say sure, what the heck, let's roll the dice.
How about you?
-- Steve Lopez