Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares we all might ask ourselves.
Open government attorney Bill Aleshire always does his homework. On June 29, just following the Council deliberation on the Precourt Sports Ventures soccer deal, Aleshire sent this letter to Austin City Attorney, Anne Morgan. It contained this warning:
“I am confident that a court will grant an injunction if the City proceeds in that mistaken direction of offering McKalla Place to be leased for a soccer stadium.”
Aleshire points out in his letter that on March 5th the Ohio Attorney General and the city of Columbus filed suit against Precourt. Then, on June 21, the 10th District Court of Appeals swiftly denied Precourt’s motion to dismiss. This quote from Columbus City Attorney, Zach Klein, in this City of Columbus release, explains the simple essence of the case:
“This statute is in place to prevent owners from taking taxpayer benefits, and then shopping their team to the next highest bidder.”
Precourt sued in Ohio, but who cares? Aleshire tells the Austin City Attorney:
“One must also wonder about the City of Austin conspiring with Precourt to violate an Ohio law designed to protect local taxpayers from harm when a sports franchise tries to abandon the city after accepting public benefits.”
Aleshire then advises the City of Austin, free of charge mind you:
“It would seem to make sense for Council to wait and at least not make a commitment to Precourt until they get their legal mess in Ohio straightened out so we know if Precourt will even have a MLS franchise to locate here.”
Then, Aleshire goes on to drop a not-so-subtle hint:
“What Austin has done to Columbus, Ohio smacks of tortious interference in their contract with Precourt.”
And, here’s the real Aleshire open government kicker
. He points out that the City tried to hide the appraisal and financial analysis for this property. The city did so by denying open records requests in an alleged violation of the law. Meanwhile, the Aleshire letter notes the feigned support by Mayor Steve Adler and District 6 Council Member Jimmy Flannigan for “transparency.”
Do Soccer and Sucker Sound the Same to You?
We all know now that McKalla property is worth over $18 million. You have to ask yourself how the Austin City Council could even entertain a long-term “lease” to Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) for $1?
Could it have anything to do with who Precourt hired to lobby their –sucker, oh we mean, soccer — deal? First, there is of course Richard Suttle, with a long history of working sucker deals at City Hall. Like how ‘bout those Formula 1 subsidies? Then there is longtime City Hall insider lobbyist/consultant, Mark Littlefield.
The Austin Water Utility owns the McKalla property. This is the second time Aleshire has caught the city undermining its own water utility. But, once again, there’s no seeming concern for your water rates and your pockets. “Sucker deals” like Precourt’s send lobbyists hunting to make honey pots for themselves — like AWU – at your expense.
Our favorite quote from the Aleshire letter:
“The Dalai Lama said, ‘A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.’ The Dalai Lama was referring to China totalitarianism, but it is equally true in Austin, Texas.”
Plan to Come to Council, August 9th
The August 9th City Council meeting should be a doozy. Many people are reasonably pushing for affordable housing at the Precourt chosen site. We hope that Precourt sued by Ohio becomes a bumper sticker too.
KUT Hands Adler a Pass Today
KUT radio, which genuinely strives for objective and in-depth coverage, missed a beat in this morning’s interview with Mayor Steve Adler. Adler is heard bemoaning the state’s challenges to Austin’s local control having moved from the legislature into the courtroom. Fact is, the Mayor has done little to clean up the city’s apparent appetite for open government violations and transparency transgressions. And, we’ll say it again. Adler and his narrow majority could have put CodeNEXT up for a public vote. Instead he chose to force a citizen petition drive and now a court battle.
Bulldog Ain’t No Sucker Delivers More Bite
No one told you the full story behind the Attorney General’s lawsuit to make the City follow it’s own charter on the composition of the Austin Planning Commission. Read the full story here in The Austin Bulldog.
As we await the court’s decision on your right to vote on the CodeNEXT petition, we also suggest you read this Austin Bulldog report.
Additional News! Audit Petition Filed Today, Troxclair Out
Petitioners just filed nearly 33,000 raw signatures today to place an Austin Efficiency Audit petition on the ballot for a public vote this November. The effort was led by former Ellen Troxcair aide, Michael Searle. Congratulations to the entire team. Read the Austin Bulldog story about the audit measure here, printed on May 25.
District 8 Council member Ellen Troxclair announced today that she will not be running for reelection. This article in today’s Statesman has a inelegant quote from Mark Littlefield. He appears to forget that city council elections in Texas are supposed to be non-partisan. Troxclair, the only conservative voice on the Council, deserves a simple thank you for her service.