Reading the media coverage of the MOUs regarding the Angels lease negotiations (not to mention the over-the-top reactions from certain gadflies), I am struck by the amount of misleading and false information.
The Name Change Scare
Take the Voice of OC, for example. It’s article initially bore the inflammatory headline, “Angels May Drop Anaheim from Team Name.” Where did that claim come from? Section 5 of the stadium lease MOU:
“Team Name: ABLP has absolute control and exclusive rights concerning its team name.”
It says nothing about what the Angels plan to do with that right if it is included in the final agreement, so a headline reading “Angels May Not Drop Anaheim From Team Name” would be just as accurate.
And since the Angels have already, in effect, dropped Anaheim from the team name and prevailed over the city’s legal challenges to hat action, granting that right to the Angels isn’t much of a concession.
The VOC of OC has since dialed back the inflammatory factor and changed the headline to “Angels Could Drop Anaheim Name In Proposed Lease.”
Angels Getting All Tax Revenue From Stadium District Development? Nope.
Then there is this misleadingly-worded paragraph from the same article:
The land lease outline being considered next week could allow team owners to keep all tax revenue, such as hotel room taxes and sales tax generated from developing the area.
Here’s what the MU actually says:
“Section 3. Economic Assistance: Developer and the City will identify all of the particular taxes and fees which would presently be assessed for the benefit of the City related to the development of the Stadium District, and consistent with applicable state law and local ordinances, and following completion of a feasibility gap analysis, negotiate in good faith with respect to providing Developer and General Fund-neutral economic assistance from those revenues generated from the ground Lease development pursuant to a mutually acceptable arrangement.”
In light of the actual MOU language, the paragraph excerpted from the VOC story is a real stretch. Yeah, the VOC’s characterization is theoretically possible, but not politically likely.
It would have been more accurate and reasonable to report the MOU states the city and the Angels will negotiate a revenue-sharing agreement that is revenue-neutral vis-a-vis the general fund. Instead, the VOC chose the inflammatory, worst-case-scenario route of writing it up to incite critics to scream “it’s another giveaway!”
And nowhere does the article does inform readers that the MOUs are non-binding and the only binding action up for a vote is moving the termination right date from 2016 to 2019. It glosses over the reality that these MOUs are a framework for negotiation rather than a “deal,” and the final agreements still must be negotiated.
False Claim of CEQA Exempt Development
Las pulgitas of the blogosphere are in full outrage mode, already casting this as a “giveaway.” Personally, I am not sure they really understand what they are screaming about.
For example, in a comment on the OC Register story, gadfly Cynthia Ward makes this claim regarding the development rights addressed in thr second MOU:
“One dollar for a 66 year lease, for some of the most valuable real estate in OC, with development exempted from CEQA (how do they do that?)”
The short answer is the city can’t, because it doesn’t (unless Cynthia believes cities have the power to nullify state law). If Cynthia had actually read the agenda documents, she’d have understood the resolution notes that the act of merely extending the Angels’ lease opt-out date to 2019 is exempt from CEQA – a finding which is not unusual.
While the fringe element claims this is an attempt to ram through a deal while the good people of Anaheim sleep through the holiday weekend, in fact, what is happening is the negotiation framework is being put out there for public consideration and input. Now the citizens of Anaheim have the opportunity to weigh in and make themselves heard, and nothing in the MOUs prevents the city from acting on that feedback as it negotiates with the Angels. This reality seems to have escaped the largely breathless coverage of this council vote.
This matter will be going on for some time to come. The citizens of Anaheim will be better served by coverage that seeks to inform rather than inflame.
UPDATE: I’m watching video of the council meeting and wondering what part of “non-binding” is it that some of the hysterics speaking during public comments don’t understand?
Also, when did long-time Fullerton gadfly and Friend for Fullerton’s Future blogger David Zenger move to Anaheim? At least, I assume he did since I keep hearing him include himself among Anaheim taxpayers.