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.

CM Lisa Herbold Affirms “No NHL-First Arena”

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Dec 072015
 

Lisa Herbold, the former Nick Licata aide, is officially the Councilwoman-Elect for Seattle City Council District 1 after a manual recount.  Nick Licata was a council member who once testified to Congress (along with economists Brad Humphreys and Heywood Sanders and Field of Schemes author Neil deMause) about professional sports’ extortion of the cities, particularly from his experiences with the Sonics.  Nick is retiring from the council and was one of the two members who voted against Hansen’s SoDo arena MOU.

In Lisa’s interview with Tracy Record of the West Seattle Blog, Lisa mentioned a desire to keep a close watch on the SoDo arena proposal and that no NHL-first scenarios happen.  This should not surprise anyone who listened to the Seattle Arena Review Committee’s report or the councilmember comments while voting on the MOU (which, when first announced by McGinn and Constantine, was “must have NHL and NBA both before building”).

She also plans to keep close watch on the SODO arena proposal, insistent that it can’t be built “hockey-first.”

Personally, I wish she’d also commit to shelve any street vacation votes as well.  It only serves to pave the way for Hansen’s land parcels to be stitched together.

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.

Phil Jackson was to GM with Figurehead Coach ?

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Mar 202014
 

Not that it matters too much for Seattle, but apparently the rumors of legendary coach of the multi-championship Bulls/Lakers Phil Jackson being on board with Hansen weren’t all wrong.   Of course, his crazy old-man plan was to have a relative unknown actually be in the coach’s hot seat for the team.

From Yahoo Sports:

They’re going to implement a system here – the triangle offense – and Jackson plans to pursue Steve Kerr to come coach the Knicks. Jackson had convinced Kerr to come to Seattle as his coach, league sources told Yahoo Sports, only to have those plans foiled when a purchase agreement with the Sacramento Kings fell apart.

 

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

Continue reading »

Aug 162013
 

Hansen = STOP rumors ARE TRUE

I too had seen the rumors (I’ll credit SactownRoyalty’s JasoninNYC on 8/10) and seemingly wild accusations around who was funding the STOP signature drive in Sacramento.  I shoved it aside because, as much as I dislike Chris Hansen’s arena drive, I didn’t think he was crazy enough to fund any sort of “anti-sports arena funding” efforts while he was still desiring to join the club of NBA team owners.  Boy was I wrong.

Today, the Sacramento Bee (and many other outlets, including those closer to home) have this bombshell confirming that Hansen cut a $100,000 donation to the signature effort, which is likely their entire funding.

Chris Hansen Secretly Funded Campaign Against New Sacramento Arena

So it turns out that the guy who tried to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle is kind of a giant scumbag. Huh, how about that.

A volunteer group known as STOP (Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork) has been trying to force a public referendum on the construction of a new arena that is a necessity for the Kings to stay in Sacramento. About a month after the NBA turned down Chris Hansen’s bid to move the Kings to Seattle, STOP received a mysterious $80,000 donation from a Los Angeles law firm.

Yesterday, a California watchdog group filed suit to force the firm to reveal the identity of the donor, something it had been fighting for weeks. Today, the identity leaked. It was Chris Hansen.

The story is still developing, and there’s a lot of spin being thrown around by Hansen supporters but no statement from Hansen yet on SonicsArena.com (a place he once announced his increase bid for the Kings to the entire world).

In absence of the response, I’ll leave you with this statement from May 20th’s SonicsArena statement:

This was never about Seattle fans versus Sacramento fans, and it goes unsaid that there is a mutual respect given the circumstances we have both been through. This process was instead about our group and our city putting our best foot forward in an honest and transparent way to return basketball to Seattle, and in that regard our efforts remain undeterred.

UPDATE 6:30 PM:

Hansen has released a response on the SonicsArena website.  It basically says that he contracted a law firm to monitor groups seeking to undermine Sacramento’s arena plans and “made a mistake” giving a donation to support their efforts.  Deadspin got it wrong, Hansen is no billionaire, so I really have to wonder if he didn’t realize he was giving enough money to pretty much entirely fund a signature drive.  Hansen’s response also calls into question the bravado of his statements regarding a binding agreement that all parties know is the right deal.

EDIT:  As pointed out by a commenter, Hansen’s donation was listed as being received  6/21 (more than a month after the 5/15 NBA BoG vote in Sacramento’s favor).  Maybe you could spin that to “Hansen promised them a bunch of money before mid-May and then decided to make a mistake and send the check via really slow delivery methods such that it took a long time to arrive and be recorded”, but that’s laughably unlikely.

I made a mistake I regret.

When our binding agreement to purchase the Sacramento Kings became a competitive situation and we were faced with both the prospect of seeing our transaction fail and losing our $30 million deposit, I engaged Loeb & Loeb to canvas the various opposition groups to gain an understanding of their efforts and the prospects of their success. 

During this time I was approached through Loeb by the opposition about making a contribution to the opposition’s efforts as part of a broader group and agreed to make a donation.

On a side note, I thought the NBA collectively offered to make Hansen whole on the $30M deposit and he declined.  Was that a Sports Illustrated error ?  If you don’t take advantage of a money-back offer then I think you don’t get sympathy for that.

Seattle Channel – City Inside/Out Officially a City PR Fluff Show

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May 262013
 

Ever since CR Douglas left the Seattle Channel, I have significantly cut back on my watching.  CR would ask tough questions and push for answers.  Brian Callanan has a very “different” style.  He’s pretty much in the back pocket of McGinn and the arena.  Callanan wraps his monologue in every possible PR point Hansen gave, especially the bit about boosting franchise values everywhere (because obviously other billionaires without 5 year agreements to build arenas will all be equally enthusiastic about upping their own bids) and not remembering that Hansen was only buying 65% of the team and was funneling money through the Maloofs towards a relocation fee.

That said, on their 5/17/2013 show, they had Art Thiel, Elise Woodward (both sports radio hosts), KXPA host Mercedes Garcia (apparently a station on AM radio for immigrant communities), and Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics/Arena Solution/Sonics Central/Sonics Rising.  Brian Robinson was saying that, in the next few weeks, he thinks the NBA needs to offer a olive branch to Seattle NBA fans.  Brian also suggested that many underestimated the political capital that would be gained by Sacramento parties who saved the Kings franchise…   some would call that pandering but political capital being captured is a fine description too.  This show is already dated, as the Kings sale hadn’t yet gone through and they were still talking about anti-trust lawsuits.  Of course Elise and Mercedes take an opportunity to pander to kids…  because without kids being able to go to Pro NBA games they will never learn to love the game (nevermind all the middle/high-school basketball games, pick up games, or even college games that seem to work in all markets outside the 30 existing NBA cities).

I especially enjoyed the comments at the end from average people – I’d like the Sonics back, I’m tired of this saga, I’d rather have the NHL here, if we have the money for this we should be able to take care of the homeless problem.

There is also a 5/22 update …  about 4 minutes, although it looks like they tacked it onto the original program’s beginning.

 

Other news, FYI, we’re now being linked to by an ad on FieldOfSchemes .  I guess I can’t let this domain expire right away.

May 152013
 

Today we learned just a bit ago that Hansen’s attempt to bring the NBA to Seattle is now on hold.  The Kings are staying in Sacramento. Expansion still off the table. Better luck next time Chris and Steve.

BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE on a SoDo arena dream, for now at least.

Arena Go BOOM!

Arena Goes BOOM!


No TV announcer, they were cheering for the dome to go away.  The crowd  didn’t realize we still owed about $80 million on that thing though.