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Tough times get tougher for the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Andres Aguila/KPCC

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Note: The Coliseum Commission could not make someone available to participate in today's discussion.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission is projected to lose millions this year stemming from a pricy corruption scandal and pending lawsuit.

The suit, brought by the Los Angeles Times and first amendment group, Californians aware, aims at nullifying a 42-year lease the Coliseum Commission signed with USC in May. The Times led a year-and-a half long investigation finding that commission officials withheld and delayed the release of documents that should have been made available to public under the California Public Records Act.

"There are some things you do in private, when you're negotiating price or terms of payment, public agencies are permitted to do that behind closed doors, at least until they come to the point where they take a final vote," said L.A. Times reporter Paul Pringle.

However, he says that the price and terms of payment weren't discussed in these private meetings. Instead, he says the private meetings were held to discuss matters in which the public should have been able to participate.

This includes, "Just how the stadium would be used, everything from the number of days the public would have access to the stadium under the lease, whether the sports arena would be part of the lease, the whole range of components of the lease were deliberated behind closed doors," said Pringle.

In addition, the suit cites meetings with USC that did not comply with the Brown Act’s open meeting laws.

"We want an acknowledgement that the Brown Act was violated at at least 10 meetings where they had long discussions about the lease with USC," said Jeff Glasser, attorney representing the L.A. Times in the lawsuit. "We want meaningful public discussion and debate as to the terms of the lease and that should have taken place in public."

Prosecutors also accuse the commission of bribery, embezzlement, conflicts of interest, and more, which cost the commission more than $2 million.

The commission attorney , Thomas Faughnan, issued a letter earlier this month stating the panel has not violated the Brown Act of California Public Records Act.


Paul Pringle, reporter, Los Angeles Times

Jeff Glasser, Attorney, Davis, Wright, Tremaine law firm, representing the Los Angeles Times