Anaheim Blog today received a copy of this letter sent by Convention, Sports & Leisure to Councilwoman Lucille Kring, in which the firm rejected “conflict of interest” claims being fanned by some local gadflies and picked activists opposed, and reported on by the Voice of OC.
This story was “broken” by a VOC commenter, “Anaheimer” (aka Kevin Hogan, part gadfly Cynthia Ward’s claque). The conjured “conflict” was the claim that CSL parent company Legends Entertainment was selected as Angels Baseball’s new food service contractor because the CSL report arrived at the unremarkable conclusion that the Angels have a positive economic impact on the city.
The key part of the Voice of OC article casting doubt on CSL’s assertion of its independence from Legend’s food service business:
Yet filings with the state of Texas, where CS&L is based, indicate that the consulting and hospitality firms have the same top executives.
The Legends website lists Dan Smith as “President, Hospitality,” a position he has apparently held since at least 2012. However, on a 2013 filing with the Texas Secretary of State, Smith is listed as president of CS&L.
Additionally, Texas filings show three other executives for CS&L also serving as executives at Legends Hospitality LLC. They include David Checkett, David Hammer and Marty Greenspun.
Despite these filings, the parent company’s letter claims that “Legends management nor staff have involvement in the day-to-day operations of CSL or have any influence on projects in which CSL provides advisory services.”
The letter from CSL directly addresses this part of the VOC story:
Dear Council Member Kring:
We have followed some of the recent reports attempting to cast a false light on CSL, Legends and our recent work for the City of Anaheim. As we have stated in the past, CSL and the various operations of Legends, are run as completely separate divisions, including our customers in the Legends Hospitality line of business. Any discussion with the Angels regarding Legends Hospitality’s food and beverage services took place completely independently of the CSL work for the City. As such, we categorically deny any implied wrongdoing between the two.
Furthermore, no Legends Hospitality management or staff had any input or knowledge whatsoever of the work performed by CSL on behalf of the City, and no CSL management personnel working on this project for the City, or any other CSL project, were at any time involved any Legends Hospitality negotiations or other related discussions with the Angels. Additionally, we feel that it is important to note that Dan Smith is not an officer of CSL nor has he ever served as President of CSL, nor has he had any interaction whatsoever with the analyses conducted by CSL for any project it conducts, including our work for the City of Anaheim.
During the original CSL acquisition process, officers of Legends various divisions, including Legends Hospitality, of which Mr. Smith is, were used in the CSL company tax filings. This formality is in the process of being adjusted to reflect CSL’s actual responsibilities and leadership structure. Bill Rhoda was serving as president of CSL prior to and after the date of the acquisition. Mr. Rhoda has over 20 years of professional sports experience, including analysis of economic impact in markets throughout the country.
That didn’t seem very difficult to clear up. The Voice of OC article was published on April 24. The letter to Kring from CSL is dated April 25. Although the VOC article states that “Legends spokesman Eric Gelfand declined to comment,” I have no idea how much time Gelfand was given to provide a comment. Since CSL is an independent subsidiary of Legends, I’m guessing Gelfand declined to comment because he didn’t have the facts readily at hand. It would seem allotting just a little more time to ascertaining the truth of the matter could have led to a more complete and factual story.