The Orange County Register published an interesting opinion article on Sunday by Chapman University President James Doti and economist Esmael Adibi, a “running the numbers” economic impact analysis based on the Angels-Anaheim negotiation framework. It won’t be surprising if some of the usual suspects who assail the Angels negotiations during public comments try to use the Doti/Adibi article as ammunition to lambaste the council majority.

The trouble is the flawed nature of the analysis.  For example, it refers to “proposed lease terms,” when they are instead simply framework within which to negotiate proposed lease terms for the council’s consideration.

Or take this statement, for example:

“In addition, the city would rebate to the Angels sales and property taxes it would otherwise receive from the property and any future development.”

The problem with this statement is it is untrue. Nothing in the negotiation framework requires the city to surrender tax revenue from development on the stadium site. The framework is non-binding, for one thing. And that isn’t what it is, for another. This is the pertinent section:

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 development of the Stadium District, and consistent with the applicable state law and local ordinances, and following completion of a feasibility gap analysis, negotiate in good faith with respect to providing Developer with General Fund-neutral economic assistance from those revenues generated from the Ground Lease development pursuant to a mutually acceptable arrangement.

There is no requirement for the city to provide any economic assistance to Moreno — and by baking this non-existent requirement into their analysis, Doti and Adibi have rendered it flawed from the get-go. One has to wonder how closely they read the actual negotiation framework MOU.

Doti and Adibi also examine the issue purely from a “what does the city get?” perspective, when the City Council should be looking at it from the standpoint of how it benefits the community: residents, businesses, property owners, workers and the benefits to them of increased economic activity on the stadium site. it’s more than a question of purely   

There are also smaller but revealing errors:

“Should the city accept lease terms that represent a significant transfer of economic value from the city to the Angels? If it doesn’t, Anaheim risks the Angels’ departure. Such a move would entail the loss in direct city taxes on admissions and other spending generated in Anaheim by the Angels.” [Emphasis added]

Anaheim won’t lose admission tax revenue because it doesn’t tax admission (as much as Jose Moreno, Brian Chuchua and the Los Amigos crowd wish otherwise).

Doti and Adibi dimiss the findings of economic impact study prepared by Convention Sports & Leisure study as “based on unrealistic assumptions,” without specifying which assumptions are unrealistic. Perhaps that is true of some or all, but it’s hard to disagree when one doesn’t know what they are.

There are other problems with the analysis, but the point I am making is I expected something more rigorous, timely and illuminating from two individuals I hold in great esteem.