Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who also ran the Democratic National Convention, has now embroiled himself in a scandal of epic proportions with taxpayer dollars. Villaraigosa and staff negotiated a deal with Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The price tag for the taxpayers: almost $400 million in debt, supposedly to be repaid by AEG. The stadium will be built on land currently occupied by the Los Angeles Convention Center. Los Angeles, as you may recall, doesn’t have a football team.
Sounds like a typical stadium boondoggle.
Except that it turns out that AEG is being sold, which means that the group that will perform the contract with the City of Los Angeles is not the same as the group that negotiated the contract. Here’s where it gets truly ugly: Villaraigosa knew about the upcoming sale, and told nobody. He kept it a secret. He said nothing to Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. Members of the City Council, who will have to sign off on the deal, were kept in the dark, too.
“I’ve met with ... people who are looking to bring a football team. I'm not going to tell everybody everything we’re doing because we want a football team. And a lot of what happens here is, it’s got to be negotiated quietly,” said a frustrated Villaraigosa to the media.
Now, there is only one reason for Villaraigosa to hide the AEG sale from those who most needed to know about it. According to mayoral candidate Kevin James, that reason is simple: AEG received a sweetheart deal at taxpayer expense, which upped AEG’s sale price. Now the new buyers will have a great deal with the City of Los Angeles. And Villaraigosa will get to look like a hero for bringing the NFL to Los Angeles. Perfect for his gubernatorial run.
There’s something seriously fishy going on here. The details of the AEG deal must be examined closely, especially given the fact that Los Angeles already carries a $258 million deficit and a $27 billion unfunded pension liability.
But this is how Democrats do business. There’s a reason that Villaraigosa and Barack Obama are thick as thieves – when it comes to taxpayer dollars, they are thieves.