May 022016
 

Videos will be posted later and we can all enjoy hearing councilmembers parade their personality today (be that Bruce’s sports phrase usage, Gonzales’ groaning at said sports phrases, Juarez’s talk of dams, or Johnson’s suggestion that 30% of the city is used for roads, as if a city can function with only 10′ footpaths and bus lanes).

Short summary – O’Brien, Burgess, Harrell, and Johnson voted in favor of the street vacation and Sawant, Herbold, Gonzales, Juarez, and Bagshaw voted against the street vacation.  There were many amendments and clarifications stated (including that a privately financed arena could be built to the terms of the MOU, excluding all those bits about public financing).  Interestingly, the Sonics Rising council vote live thread had a poll predicting the “yes” votes from the council which, at the start of the council meeting, had a tie between 4 and 5 (failing and passing), suggesting many knew all too well that the knife was being readied (insert GIF of proud new pappa Roose Bolton behind shived by “bastard” Ramsey Bolton).

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

Screencap from shortly after the full council vote concluded.

In any event, now Hansen has to consider applying again?, changing his preferred site, or how he’ll design a privately financed arena with a public right of way running through the middle of it.  The location in SoDo requiring a street vacation has been something Hansen was pretty well set on, to the point of acquiring properties long before the MOU was even approved.  The current function of Occidental is why Hansen’s group carved a new North-South access road to the East of the arena.  It’s also a part of why the EIS’s site selection was somewhat lacking, it didn’t really give much imagination to using street-vacation-required parcels.  In many respects, this is the city council’s procedural way to escape this roller-coaster they’ve been on for years, particularly with a Nov 2017 expiration date functioning not so much as a deadline but being a harbinger of MOU re-negotiations/extensions.

Of course, Hansen does still own (or have options on) a bunch of land in SoDo, so he could still build LA Live-like attractions or parking garages or new commercial spaces like TV studios, if they pencil out.

Edit:  Video from the Seattle Channel has been posted.  The council takes up the street vacation at 1:12:15.

Two of (at least) Four Street Vacation Hearings Down, Arena next to Tracks for “Oil Train Bombs”

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Mar 162016
 

The current issue before the city council is the Occidental Avenue street vacation necessary to clear the public roadway from the middle of Hansen’s preferred site for an arena.  This street is, in my opinion, how the explored alternate sites all ended up looking lackluster.  The EIS search focused on tracts of land without city streets running through the middle and Hansen’s site ignored Occidental.

The street vacation materials are here, with the presentation from 3/15/2016’s 2 pm meeting being this pdf.  The council staff memo outlines the following concerns of the street vacation (although public benefits can be somewhat nebulous – remember that McGinn opposed and urged a no vote for an alley vacation because Whole Foods wasn’t paying living wages, in his opinion):

1. Are the functions of the street right-of-way to be vacated protected?
2. Would there be adverse land use impacts resulting from the vacation?
3. Will there be sufficient public benefits to offset the loss of the right-of-way?

The Port has mentioned Occidental functioning as a relief valve, used when other main streets get backed up.  Proponents focus on public benefits of having an arena (and Hansen building railroad pedestrian overpasses and bike lanes that would further “calm traffic” in the area).

Adverse Land Use Impacts = 20,000 More Seats, Over 200 Events Adjacent to Oil Trains

“Adverse land use impacts” might also encompass the building of another arena located right next to rail lines used by oil trains which some council members protest/suggest are mobile bombs terrorizing our city.  A creative “NO” vote might be to attach the condition that any new building’s occupancy can’t exceed a few thousand people if oil trains still run along those tracks during times of peak usage, for the safety of the public.  You might not currently have the power to stop the oil trains, but you can restrict stitching together tracts of land to enable new buildings for mass assemblies of people that would be in the oil trains’ path.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen. That’s what protesters say about oil trains running right past the stadiums in SoDo. They staged a rally outside the Mariners game to raise awareness about the possible danger.  Thousands of people turned out to see the Mariners tonight. According to protesters, they were all putting their lives on the line, probably without realizing it.

It is such high time that we put a stop to this,” says Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, who joined the protesters today. But she doesn’t have the power to change when or where the trains run.  “The governor doesn’t really have the power to stop the trains, nor does the county executive, nor does the mayor,” says Perk.

From 2014 “If an oil train did explode here, then downtown would be turned into an incinerator,” said City Council member Kshama Sawant. She called for a moratorium on oil trains in the city.

A 2015 protest with Mike O’Brien at nearby King Street Station had photos captured by Alex Garland.

"EXPLODING OIL" are the words behind Councilman O'Brien.

“EXPLODING OIL” are the words behind Councilman O’Brien.

Other Meetings

Additional Sustainability and Transportation Committee meetings planned to include this street vacation should occur on April 5th and April 19th (both at 2 PM) with the April 19th meeting being the earliest time a committee vote could be held.  The full council vote could happen after the sub-committee vote is held.

Video Record

Meeting #1 – At 18m 50sec in the following 3/15 meeting, you have the vacation presentation given to the council.

Meeting #2 – The 2.5 hrs of public comment from the evening meeting on 3/15.

KeyArena Remodel – Geoff Baker and Sports Radio Roundup

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Feb 252016
 

Geoff Baker at the Seattle Times has launched into a theory that the city council buried the AECOM report about potential use of the Seattle Center Coliseum (formerly sponsored to be named the KeyArena).  The city council drafted a memo that, as Field of Schemes puts it, says “nyah” but the report does have footers and headings with April, May, and June dates in just the first few pages, despite titling it for a June release.  The April and May footers agree well with Baker’s published timeline and suggest some sort of lackadaisical editing as delays occurred.  Godden is reported to have said the report was posted to the council website, but I was looking and the council’s nice collection of arena documents had gone 404 by May, so we’re left to presume Jean is referring to official city clerk files, somewhere, while not discussing it publicly.

 

Local sports radio personalities Danny, Dave and Moore discuss this between about 20 – 34 minutes in the following show.  The hosts appear to have not actually read the AECOM report, instead looking at pictures, as evidenced by commenting about “simply twisting the ice” as the report clearly states that the rebuild completed in the 90s made the lower bowl and seats a structure separate from the roof floating structure, allowing for a relatively cheap rebuild of the new configuration.  It would require excavation and new seating, etc but apparently there’s a lot of unused space below that roofline currently.

 

Ian and Puck also discussed the same things in their 2-23 hour 1 show at 11:30ish here, with added rants about “bikes” and “bertha” thrown in.  Softy also interviewed Chris Daniels in his 2-23 hour 3 show here who does agree that the delays are oddly timed (Chris starts speaking at about 18:30 into the show).  Daniels suggests that a soft majority of the council is ready to vote in favor of the vacation to clear the plate,being  somewhat emboldened by recent media coverage.

The sports radio folks are pushing hate on the Seattle Times and a public comment “rally” at the street vacation hearing, while calling that vacation the “last major step” which is, of course, factually wrong as made very clear by the county council stating they had to vote before issuing any bonds (and the city would have to do so as well).  Oh well, February is kind of boring for sports around here.

 

Sports radio is pushing the public comment period on March 15th at 5:30 as the next “battle” and “showdown” and is not really discussing all the nuances of the vacation (what public benefits are required, etc), so expect lots of “rah”.  You can read the source vacation documents posted here. March – April 2016 is several months behind the timeline outlined a year ago for when this would occur.

SoDo Arena’s Necessary Occidental Avenue S Street Vacation Resurfaces

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Feb 022016
 

Street Vacation Hearings in March

Chris Daniels reported that Mayor Ed Murray has thrown some weight around to push the Occidental Avenue South street vacation forward to a vote.  Councilmember O’Brien has scheduled the public meeting at the “afterhours” time of 5:30 PM March 15th (sure to be more pep rally than discussion of the public’s value of the street) with subsequent potential subcommittee meetings on April 5th and 19th and, based on the subcommittee’s recommendation, a full council vote following as early as the 25th.  The street currently runs through the middle of Hansen’s proposed arena and would need to be removed to allow construction of the arena.

I am still looking for application documents related to the street vacation, but right now I’m only seeing this document related to designating Occidental Avenue S a Green Street in front of Centurylink and next to SafeCo’s parking garage. (UPDATE – see edit at bottom for a map of this one block street vacation).

The hashed green outline marks the newer green street designation.

The hashed green outline marks the newer green street designation.

The Occidental Avenue S street vacation is expected to only be granted with the acquisition of an NBA team, construction of an arena, pedestrian walkways, and many other improvements.  The county and city councils would still have to vote to issue bonds used to pay Hansen for the arena land and portion of the arena, but if that vote must occur prior to construction activity is something I’ll have to review.  As it stands now, the 5 year deadline on Hansen’s MOU expires in October 2017.

Seattle’s SoDo Arena – No Need to Rush

I will remind you that in May 2013, nearly 3 years ago, comments were along the lines of

“We think we’ll get through the EIS process at the end of the year, and then we’ll probably pay some appeals and (there will) be some things we need to mitigate,” Hansen said. “And we think it will be shovel-ready by this time next year.”

While Sacramento’s arena was, locally, viewed as being further behind in early 2013, with full motivation the Sacramento arena has pushed forward to a very complete state (live cameras here) with opening expected by October 2016.

 

Edit 2/4 – Documents related to the street vacation are trickling in.  This has a map.

Vacated street is the blue portion inside the arena project site outlined in red.

Vacated street is the blue portion inside the arena project site outlined in red.

Donald Sterling’s Not Ready to Fade Into Obscurity, Clips Sale of Team

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Jun 102014
 

Donald Sterling has reversed course, instead vowing to fight the sale of the LA Clippers to Steve Ballmer.  Yes, we all saw this coming, but that doesn’t make this any less amusing.

“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers,” he said in the letter. “I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. Adam Silver’s conduct in doing so without conducting any real investigation was wrong.

“The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans.”

Different circumstances, entirely, but it will be entertaining to see what goes on in a lawsuit against the NBA (like so many had suggested Hansen should do re: the Kings).  Will LeBron and the Players Association follow through on their threats to boycott ?

$2.5 Billion Dollars ???

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May 272014
 

Ok, so this could all be bluster, but this is absolutely an insane amount of money for an NBA team.  Maybe we all vastly under-estimate how profitable this game is.  Remind me again how Ballmer and Hansen couldn’t pay for their own building ?

 

From Sterling’s response, it sounds like I need to pick up some popcorn.

INTRODUCTION
On the basis of remarks made in a livingroom during a “lovers’ quarrel,” which were illegally recorded and then disclosed months later in retaliation for a lawsuit by Mr. Sterling’s wife, the NBA seeks to forcibly strip Mr. Sterling and his wife of their ownership interest in the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA’s use of this illegal recording constitutes a clear and blatant violation of Mr. Sterling’s California constitutional rights. The authors of the charge did not have the courage, decency, or honesty to acknowledge the circumstances surrounding Mr. Sterling’s jealous rant or even that the source of their information was borne from the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” So, in reality, Mr. Sterling is being banned for life, fined $2.5 million, and stripped of his ownership for a purely private conversation with his lover that he did not know was being recorded and that he never intended would see the light of day. We do not believe a court in the United States of America will enforce the draconian penalties imposed on Mr. Sterling in these circumstances, and indeed, we believe that preservation of Mr. Sterling’s constitutional rights requires that these sham proceedings be terminated in Mr. Sterling’s favor. This is particularly true when over its entire history the NBA has never fined anyone as much as $2.5 million, never suspended any owner for life, and never undertaken to confiscate an owner’s team for any offense, much less an alleged offense originating in a conversation in a private setting that was illegally recorded

 

I Missed My Chance ?

update 5/28  at 7PM PST

 

Bids are In

update 5/29 at 4 PM

The first round of bids are in, Ballmer may be in the lead.

Sources close to the process believe that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s group currently has the leading bid, however the situation remains fluid as negotiations continue with the two other strong groups and Shelly Sterling works to persuade her husband of 58 years to agree to sell the team.

Did Chris Hansen Ever Register As a Donor ?

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May 082014
 

I’ve periodically browsed the California Secretary of State website to follow up on my concerns about the PAC “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager” not being a valid name for a primary named ballot committee according to the rules for naming such committees as stated on Form 410:

Primarily Formed Committees  –  Ballot Measures:

The name of each committee primarily formed to support or oppose a ballot measure must include:

•A statement identifying the ballot measure(s) number or letter and whether it supports or opposes the measure(s) (e.g., Committee For Proposition/Measure __ or Committee Against Proposition/ Measure __).

•The name must include the economic or other special interests of its major donors of $50,000 or more, in descending order based on the amount contributed to the committee. The list of these economic or special interests may not be interspersed with constituencies such as “concerned citizens, or consumers.”

According to the report by the FPPC, the following facts are stated:

On the afternoon of Friday, August 16, 2013, Mr. Baric emailed the Enforcement Division copies of campaign statements he intended to file on behalf of his clients. The filings included a Statement of Organization (Form 410) for a primarily formed committee called Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager (“Citizens”).  Brandon Powers was listed as the principal officer for Citizens and Lysa Ray the treasurer.  Also, included was a semi-annual campaign statement (Form 460) for Citizens for the January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013 reporting period. The statement indicated that Citizens received a $100,000 contribution from Chris Hansen, and listed Loeb & Loeb as an intermediary on that contribution. The statement also listed a payment of $80,000 to GOCO Consulting, Inc., amongst other expenses. Lastly, Mr. Baric provided a semi-annual campaign statement for Mr. Hansen (Form 461) identifying him as a major donor for his $100,000 contribution on June 21, 2013 to Citizens.  Upon receiving copies of the campaign statements from Citizens and Mr. Hansen, the Enforcement Division dismissed the civil complaint against Loeb & Loeb.  On August 21, 2013, each of the campaign statements listed above were filed with the City of Sacramento Clerk’s Office.

As best I can tell, there’s still nothing on the SoS website for Chris Hansen as a major donor in 2013, still no registration for a committee “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager,” listed online.  At best, we have the form 460 from the sac bee that, based on the pending committee number and lack of official stamps, was likely provided by Baric as what they intended to file and was not provided as a copy from the California Secretary of State’s documents.

Back in August 2013 I e-mailed the FPPC inquiring if the “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding by Investment Manager” recipient committee was registered and received a reply from A(removed) K(removed) that:

SOS hasn’t yet posted on their website that they’ve logged the original (although they may have it), but I spoke with someone at the City of Sacramento who said she expects to receive a copy today.

Her contact information is: H(removed) C(removed), Senior Deputy City Clerk, (phone number removed)

Please let me know if you are unable to get it later today because we expect a copy to arrive at our offices today.

But, as is listed as a footnote to the “On August 21, 2013” statement, maybe the fax machine ate it.

The City Clerk’s office received the original copies of the statements in the mail on August 21, 2013 and date-stamped them that day. The attorneys for Mr. Hansen and Citizens stated that they faxed copies of the statements to the City Clerk’s office on the afternoon of August 16. The City Clerk said it did not receive those faxes but stated that it was having technical problems with its fax machine on August 16.

Dec 092013
 

Chris Hansen stories pop up every so often to remind us that he’s still out there.  He want to reassure supporters that he’s not done yet.  Recently, he sat down with Chris Daniels for a long interview for KING5.

Chris Daniels with Chris Hansen

Some excerpts:

“We ended up losing $30 million dollars in the process, we thought we had the team moving here. It was tough, losing it,” he says, reflecting on his failed purchase and relocation of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.

Of course, that was due to his relatively without-precedent maneuver of using a non-refundable deposit with his purchase agreement for an NBA franchise.

“It was a mistake. I apologized to the people of Sacramento,” he counters, “There was nothing illegal being done. The law firm representing us, did not handle the donation correctly.”

Actually, not filing your disclosure of a major donation is illegal.  They use the same rule for filing taxes…  even if your tax preparer dies and doesn’t file, it’s your responsibility to do so.  The recipient committee not filing a disclosure of the donation is also illegal.  While the SacBee obtained preliminary filings that does not actually conform to the rules for committee name, to date, you still can’t find paperwork for the PAC registered as “Citizens for a Voice in Government, Major Funding By Hedge Fund Manager”.

Hansen was in Seattle for the Thanksgiving holiday and appeared at a special event on the Eastside.  He says he’s had meetings, including visiting with Seattle’s Mayor-Elect Ed Murray.

“I haven’t had a chance to meet with the new council member (Sawant). I have had a chance to meet with Murray, and we look forward to working with him, he seems like a reasonable person,” said Hansen.

I’m sure that the incoming Mayor is going to play nice for a while.  Certainly in this puff piece Mr Daniels is not going to push on how Chris expects Sawant to further vote for handing tax money to mulch-billionaire Ballmer and hedge fund manager Hansen’s sports palace with no guaranteed profit.  I really don’t see that happening.

Mike McGinn with Brian Callanan

Soon to be ex-Mayor McGinn was on a November Ask the Mayor and was given slow-pitch questions about the arena and I-91.

I’m happy to see McGinn pedaling off into the sunset without another 4 years.  I, personally, had preferred Steinbrueck in the primary, but Ed Murray still satisfied my “Anyone But McGinn” desire.

Sonics Without Subsidies

A new group, Sonics Without Subsidies, organized and emerged mid-November with a report outlining how they account for the proposed arena getting $731 million from the public, despite McGinn’s saying “it won’t cost the public anything”.  If you want to see some white-washing by Chris Daniels, listen to the audio here.  Art Theil did a decent  job summarizing their study’s findings, but I would encourage you to look through the source material here.  At FieldofSchemes, author and semi-professional sports-stadium subsidy tracker Neil deMause took issue with the accounting by Sonics Without Subsidies, but wildly speculative numbers and inaccurate accounting are really par for the course with figuring who pays for sports stadia.  Oftentimes, it ends really badly for the backer of the bonds.

Meanwhile, In Sacramento….

Sacramento has been busily proceeding forward with their planning and acquisition for their downtown arena.  The signatures that were gathered with Hansen’s money are, to the best of my knowledge, still in the hands of Sacramento’s anti-arena group STOP.  This morning, the Sacramento Bee had a story announcing 40,000 signatures were being submitted.  They need about 22,000 that are legit.  They say they have about 40,000…  Crown Downtown says about 14,000 signatures are being rescinded through their own efforts with “oops, please withdraw me from that petition I signed, petitions” and Chris Hansen’s donation ended up paying for 18,000 signatures to be gathered, which he then asked if they could be returned…  which they weren’t.  Marcos Brenton doesn’t mince words (“There are certain terms that fit Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen to a T. But the best ones are not fit for a family newspaper.”) but he forgets that Hansen has produced no evidence that he himself is a billionaire and he currently (and for the past many years) lives in the rolling hills of Tiburon California.

UPDATE:  And, the signatures are in.  It’s going to be a long, complicated count for some people at city hall.

video after the jump because it autoplays

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