Good news: The city of Anaheim has finally received its completed appraisal of the value of stadium parking lot land that Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno wants development rights to as part of a new lease deal, after weeks of saying it only had a “draft” version that couldn’t be released to the public. Significantly less good news: The Anaheim city council still won’t release the appraisal to the public, because reasons.
The City Council directed the city staff to make the appraisal “available to both the public and Council,” according to the meeting minutes. On Tuesday, the City Council received the results of the appraisal — then declined to share those results with the public.
After a handful of speakers urged the council to be transparent in its negotiations with the Angels, Councilman Jose Moreno proposed a public presentation of the appraisal next month. He needed three votes out of seven. He got two votes, one of them his own…
None of the council members who opposed Jose Moreno’s proposal explained why — including Stephen Faessel, who voted last November in favor of releasing the appraisal publicly.
This is disturbing, if not exactly shocking: The state of New York, after all, only released its appraisals of public land being provided for an Islanders arena three and a half hours before the final public vote on the plan (and still has only released the executive summaries, not the complete appraisals). And as the Los Angeles Times notes, Anaheim itself kept its appraisal of Ducks arena land under wraps until five days before voting on that team’s new lease deal.
The advantage for public officials of not wanting to release land value figures is obvious: You can negotiate anything you like without anyone in the press or the public trying to kibitz whether you’re getting a fair price or not. This is also why the public might want to consider screaming bloody murder when officials pull this sort of move, since democracy still involves public oversight of elected officials’ actions, at least last I checked.
All of which could still be fine, so long as the Anaheim city council uses its powers to negotiate in secret to strike a deal that gets the best value for the public, while sitting in a room with only Angels execs and no danger of anyone else knowing what they’re talking about until it’s too late to do anything. That’s not impossible — Anaheim didn’t do a terrible job with the Ducks deal under similar circumstances, after all — but still, it would be nice to have more than five days to make sure everything is on the up and up. Let’s just hope the don’t choose to release it, say, the day before Thanksgiving, with the vote the following Monday. (Oh, crap, I probably shouldn’t give them any ideas, should I?)